Signs Supplement: The Suicide Bombing Cycle
Strike Flash Presentation by a QFS member
of the Day
you conclude that I myself must be unhinged even to raise such a
question, ask yourself this: If a man talks as if he has lost contact
with reality, then might he actually have done so? Granted
that this possibility deserves evaluation, then consider President
George W. Bush's rhetoric in his March 19 speech to diplomats
and others at the White House.
The president begins by stating his interpretation of the recent
bombings in Madrid, reiterating one of his recurrent themes of the
past two and a half years: "[T]he civilized world is at war"
in a "new kind of war." The concept of war, of course,
ranks high among evocative metaphors. Not by accident have politicians
declared wars on poverty, drugs, cancer, illiteracy, and an assortment
of other alleged enemies. A society at war, as William James observed
in 1906 in his call for the "moral equivalent of war,"
finds a reason for unaccustomed solidarity and—here's
where the politicians come in—for unaccustomed
submission to central government authority. James himself,
after all, was arguing that "the martial type of character
can be bred without war." Political
leaders are always seeking to establish such character, with themselves
in command of the battalions of "disciplined" subjects.
Insofar as the so-called war on terrorism merely represents the
latest attempt to bend the war metaphor to an obvious political
purpose, we might well dismiss the president's rhetorical
flourish as nothing but the same old same old.
Bush, however, will allow no such dismissal. "The war on
terror," he insists, "is not a figure of speech."
Well, I beg your pardon, Mr. President, but that is precisely what
it is. How can one go to war against "terror," which
is a state of mind? Even if the president were to take more care
with his language and to speak instead of a "war on terrorism,"
the phrase still could not be anything more than a metaphor, because
terrorism is a form of action available to virtually any determined
adult anywhere anytime. War on terrorism, too, can be only a figure
War, if it is anything, is the marshalling of armed forces against
somebody, not against a state of mind or a form of action. Wars
are fought between groups of persons. We might argue about whether
the United States can wage war only against another nation state,
as opposed to an indefinitely large number of individuals committed
to fanatical Islamism who in various workaday guises are living
in scores of different countries. The expression "war on certain
criminals and conspirators of criminal acts" would fit the
present case better and would entail far more sensible thinking
about the proper way to deal with such persons. The idea of war,
obviously, calls to mind too readily the serviceability of the armed
forces. Hence the application of such forces to the conquest of
Iraq in the name of "bringing the terrorists to justice,"
although that conquest was actually nothing but a hugely destructive,
immensely expensive diversion from genuine efforts to allay the
threat posed by the Islamist maniacs who compose al Qaeda and similar
groups. "These killers will be tracked down and found, they
will face their day of justice," the president declares, speaking
as always as if only a fixed number of such killers exist, rather
than a vast reservoir of actual and potential recruits that is only
augmented and revitalized by actions such as the U.S. invasion of
Iraq. It would be a boon to humanity if the president could be brought
to understand the distinction between waging war and establishing
Whatever our understanding of the president's
"war on terror" might be, however, he definitely parts
company with reality when he states, "There is no neutral
ground—no neutral ground—in the fight between civilization
and terror, because there is no neutral ground between good and
evil, freedom and slavery, and life and death." Of
course, this Manichean pronouncement echoes the administration's
previous declaration that everybody on earth is either with us or
against us—and if they know what's good for them, they'll
fall into line with our wishes. Aside from the undeniable fact that
some nations simply prefer, as did the Spanish people (as opposed
to the Aznar government), to avoid the blowback of U.S. interventions
around the world, the president's insistence on equating U.S.
policy with good, freedom, and life and all alternative policies
with evil, slavery, and death represents the sort of childish bifurcation
one expects to find expressed by a member of a youth gang, not by
the leader of the world's most powerful government.
To raise but a single example, though a highly relevant one in this
context, can any dispassionate person argue that the U.S. position
on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is entirely good, whereas every
alternative position is entirely evil?
Observers endowed with humane moral sensibilities
recognize that there is plenty of evil to go around in Israel and
elsewhere. In Iraq, for example, the U.S. government bears
clear responsibility for killing and injuring thousands of noncombatants
in the past year—not to mention the horrendous mortality and
suffering it brought about previously by enforcement of the economic
sanctions used to cripple that country for more than a decade. Some
people maintain that the price was worth paying, that ultimately
the good obtained will more than compensate for the harm caused
in the process, but even if one accepts that assessment for the
sake of argument, it remains true nevertheless that much harm was
caused, that the burden of responsibility for evils perpetrated
must be borne by the U.S. side as well as by the demonized enemy
(Saddam Hussein having been made out after 1990 as "another
Hitler"). International conflicts in the real world do not
often divide neatly into nothing-but-good versus nothing-but-evil.
For the president of the United States to
employ such a juvenile characterization raises the possibility that
his mind is so immature that he ought to be removed from office
before he propels the world into even worse disasters.
Seemingly aware of previous criticism, the president declares that
"the terrorists are offended not merely
by our policies—they are offended by our existence as free
nations." I myself have seen no evidence to confirm such a
statement; certainly the president has adduced none. I have
seen, however, the translated testimony of one Osama bin Laden,
who in a famous October 2001 videotape objects to U.S. support for
Israel in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, to the presence of U.S.
forces in Saudi Arabia, and to U.S. economic sanctions and other
hostile actions against Iraq—that is, to various U.S. policies.
"Millions of innocent children are being killed in Iraq and
in Palestine and we don't hear a word from the infidels. We
don't hear a raised voice," says bin Laden. In my ears,
this statement sounds like an objection to U.S. policies. I have
seen no evidence that bin Laden or any other known Islamic terrorist
takes offence at our very existence, provided that we mind our own
business in our own homeland.
In the president's mind, however, every
deviation from adherence to his promulgated national-security policy
of U.S. world domination and preventive warfare represents a dangerous
form of appeasement: "Any sign of weakness or retreat
simply validates terrorist violence, and invites more violence for
all nations. The only certain way to protect our people is by early,
united, and decisive action"—that is, by global military
intervention by the United States, with all other nations serving
as its lackeys. In the neoconservative vision to which the president
has been converted, time stands still: It is always 1938, and if
we fail to bring all our military might to bear preventively against
the Hitler du jour, we shall certainly be plunged into global catastrophe.
Waxing positive, the president credits recent U.S. and allied military
actions with bringing about "a free Afghanistan" and
the "long-awaited liberation" of the Iraqi people. He
maintains that the fall of the Iraqi dictator has removed a source
of violence, aggression, and instability in the Middle East. . .
. [Y]ears of illicit weapons development by the dictator have come
to the end. . . . [T]he Iraqi people are now receiving aid, instead
of suffering under the sanctions. . . . [M]en and women across the
Middle East, looking to Iraq, are getting a glimpse of what life
in a free country can be like. . . . Who would begrudge the Iraqi
people their long-awaited liberation?
This effusion evinces a tenuous grip on reality.
Nobody begrudges the Iraqi people their freedom, but many of us
have serious doubts about just how much freedom those long-suffering
people really have. Their country is occupied by a lethal
foreign army whose soldiers roam freely, breaking into homes and
mosques at will, maintaining checkpoints that often become the venues
of unjustified killings, carrying out police activities by employing
such means as aerial bombardment and bursts of heavy machine-gun
fire. If this unfortunate scene is the "glimpse of what life
in a free country can be like" that others throughout the
Middle East are getting, then woe unto anyone who yearns to stimulate
those Middle Easterners to seek freedom. "With Afghanistan
and Iraq showing the way, we are confident that freedom will lift
the sights and hopes of millions in the greater Middle East,"
the president states. If he really harbors such confidence, one
can only note how ill-founded it is.
The president seems to have no idea of what
a free society consists of. Violent
military occupation and the complete absence of the rule of law
totally invalidate any claim that either Iraq or Afghanistan is
now a free society. At present Iraq is awash with violence
perpetrated by resistance fighters and occupation forces and with
criminality of all sorts unleashed by the disruptions associated
with the war and by the U.S. dissolution of the old police apparatus.
"We will not fail the Iraqi people,
who have placed their trust in us," Bush declares. But they
never placed their trust in us in the first place; they simply suffered
our invasion and occupation of their country. In any event,
we have already gravely disappointed the hopes that many Iraqis
held for life after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime.
The country is rife with resentment and hostility, and the people
are eager for U.S. forces to get out. Although the president maintains
that "[w]e've set out to break the cycle of bitterness
and radicalism that has brought stagnation to a vital region,"
one cannot help concluding from the facts on the ground that the
upshot of the U.S. invasion and occupation has been just the opposite,
that U.S. actions in Iraq have only poured fuel on the fires of
terrorism there as well as in the wider world.
It is disconcerting for me to listen to the president's speeches.
I get the unsettling feeling that the man inhabits another world
in which things are the exact opposite of how they seem to me. Of
course, I may be the one whose perspective is askew. Unlike Bush,
I cannot claim that the Almighty has licensed my position. Yet I
fear that time will tell in favor of my view of the matter—a
view shared, of course, by most people on the planet, indeed, by
nearly everybody who has not been bribed, intimidated, or blinded
by partisan loyalty to the Bush administration. For now, this difference
of views might seem to be nothing more than that—just one
man's opinion jousting with another's—but reality
has a way of passing definite judgment, and I will not be surprised
if Bush's pronouncements ultimately come to be seen as having
no more substance than a bad dream.
While campaigning for reelection,
President Bush declared: "Knowing what we know today, we still
would have gone into Iraq." That Hussein had no weapons of
mass destruction nor ongoing efforts to create them, no Iraqi ties
to al Qaeda or involvement with the attacks of 9/11 were, by Bush's
own admission, irrelevant to his plans to attack an innocent nation.
Truth, in other words, has no meaning in this
man's calculation of his actions. Mr. Bush went even
further in declaring, on the one hand, "I don't think
you can win" the war on terror, but adding that America cannot
retreat from this war because, to do so, would "show weakness"
to the world.
Most Americans are probably uncomfortable with
the thought that their president might suffer from madness. The
mere contemplation of such a possibility simply does not compute
within minds that have been conditioned to believe in the rationality
of the political process which is supposed to filter out the unstable,
the crazed fanatics, and those of "extremist" dispositions.
How could a man become and remain president if his thinking and
actions were dominated by irrational impulses?
And yet, unless the rest of us are equally affected
by madness, how else do we explain behavior that not only bears
no relation to clearly demonstrated truth, but admittedly contradicts
that truth? One dictionary defines "paranoia" as "a
tendency toward suspiciousness and distrustfulness of others that
is based not on objective reality." Might this definition describe
a man whose thinking is dominated by the worldwide presence of an
"axis of evil," and who persists in the childish view
that "if you're not with us, you're against us?"
And when there is absolutely no evidence to support a war he undertook
and insists on continuing, are his acts not grounded in a lack of
Another dictionary defines "paranoia"
as a "mental disorder, characterized by persistent delusions."
A "delusion" is further defined as a "false opinion
or belief which cannot be shaken by reason." What better term
to describe a man unrestrained by revelations that his stated reasons
for attacking Iraq were totally unfounded but that, even on the
basis of such falsehoods, he would still have gone to war? Might
his insistence on going to war – and seeking new enemies to
replace the beleaguered Iraqis – not qualify as an "obsession,"
which one dictionary tells us is "an anxious and inescapable
preoccupation with an idea or feeling?"
Paranoia is often associated with "megalomania,"
which dictionaries define as "a mania for doing great or grandiose
things," or "an excessive overestimation of one's
own importance." Did Bush not confirm this symptom of himself
when he declared that "God wants me to be president?"
What more exalted delusion of grandeur than to imagine oneself to
be God's anointed agent for ferreting out the forces of "evil"
In partial mitigation of his deluded mindset, it must be noted
that the madness of George Bush is the madness
of a society that produced such a man – and others like him
– elevated him to power, and sustains his authority
even in the face of his continuing patterns of lies, deceptions,
and arrogance. I wrote, shortly after 9/11, that the attacks of
that day "have struck deeper into our conscious and unconscious
minds than any of us has begun to imagine." In varying ways,
most of us are still engaged in a catharsis associated with these
events, with many of us yet unable to discover their deeper meaning.
[...] Iraq had been selected as the designated scapegoat for America's
unrequited anger, and if the Iraqis objected to this "honor"
bestowed upon them by America, this provided all the more reason
to intensify the attack. In June of this
year, the ultra-jingoistic Bill O'Reilly raged against the
Iraqis for not fully appreciating the destruction and killing American
forces were perpetrating upon them. His proposed solution was to
"bomb the living daylights out of them," a recommendation
he also made regarding Iraqi resistance in Fallujah. "Why doesn't
the U.S. military just go ahead and level it?," he asked, adding
"we know what the final solution should be." This is the
kind of thinking that represents the collective madness in which
so much of America is enmeshed.
In January, 1940, Christopher Isherwood wrote the following in
his diary: "Am I afraid of being bombed? Of course. Everybody
is. But within reason. I know I certainly wouldn't leave Los
Angeles if the Japanese were to attack it tomorrow. No, it isn't
that. . . . If I fear anything, I fear the
atmosphere of the war, the power which it gives to all the things
I hate – the newspapers, the politicians, the puritans, the
scoutmasters, the middle-aged merciless spinsters. I fear the way
I might behave, if I were exposed to this atmosphere. I shrink from
the duty of opposition. I am afraid I should be reduced to a chattering
enraged monkey, screaming back hate at their hate."
While 9/11 Commissions conduct their make-believe investigations
and conclude that events of that day were produced by failures of
intelligence, it is more to the point to suggest that there is a
continuing "failure of intelligence" in this country that
has nothing to do with the CIA, FBI, NSA, or the Pentagon.
Long before that deadly day of three years ago, the minds of most
Americans had collapsed into a preoccupation with irrelevancies,
trivia, and a continuing insistence upon being entertained. The
idea that the intelligence of Americans might be energized to address
problems which the political establishment prefers not to be recognized,
has long been absent from social discourse. Even the Democratic
and Republican conventions reflected this flight from thoughtfulness.
The William F. Buckleys and Gore Vidals no longer exchanged thoughtful
observations – and barbs – with one another as they
had decades ago. Boobus electorus was now treated to the ruminations
of Hollywood performers, rock musicians, country-western singers,
and professional wrestlers!
To abandon one's mind – along
with the control and responsibility for one's life that follows
– is to collapse into madness. When done by enough
people, the social effect is to turn a country into a Mad Hatter's
tea party, or worse. One saw reflections of this collective madness
in the faces of airhead Republicans listening to Arnold Schwarzenegger,
as he crowed from his perch about the alleged "virtues"
of President Bush, a "leader who doesn't flinch, who
doesn't waiver, who does not back down." He failed to
mention that such steadfastness was most pronounced when Bush's
house of lies and deceptions came crashing down, a quality Schwarzenegger
would equate with "inner strength," but which could also
be taken as evidence of paranoia. [...]
The madness of war-making goes well beyond the dead and maimed
bodies and minds of its immediate victims. Casualty counts reflect
only what is of interest to institutions to calculate, namely, the
material costs of combat. There is a toxic
quality to war that affects the inner life of individuals and, as
a collective consequence, the society itself. In the degradation
and dehumanization of the individual lies the destruction of all
mankind. This is the point of Isherwood's observations. It
is difficult to avoid war's venomous nature. Even the individual
who manages to retain a constant energized awareness, will never
be fully insulated from war's impact upon his or her life.
The political spectacle of the 2004 elections ought to have made
clear to you that there is absolutely nothing that either the politicians
or the state can do to bring an end to the destructiveness of war.
Politics is the mobilization of war, what Randolph Bourne called
"the health of the state." Politicians
will no more act to dismantle the war system than crime syndicates
will work to end the war on drugs. We need to extricate ourselves
from this organized insanity, a task we can accomplish only by observing
our own thought processes – at the same time being aware that
the "observer" is the "observed."
In his work on the processes of "individuation," Carl
Jung offered crucial insight into our efforts to withdraw our energies
from the collective madness that is destroying us. The observations
of J. Krishnamurti are also relevant to our task:
"War is the spectacular and bloody projection of our everyday
living. We precipitate war out of our daily lives; and without a
transformation in ourselves, there are bound to be national and
racial antagonisms, the childish quarreling over ideologies, the
multiplication of soldiers, the saluting of flags, and all the many
brutalities that go to create organized murder."
Politicians and the media continue to exploit 9/11 for their narrow
ends. For the rest of us, however, these events – and the
political forces that produced them – continue
to represent a form of entropy that we have yet to work out of our
systems. We must remove such destructive energy, recognizing
that those who stand to gain from our remaining in a state of fear
about "terrorism" will be of no help to us, and will try
to keep us groveling at their feet. Our choice, as always, is to
look within our own souls, and listen for those inner voices that
continue to speak to us, even over the roar of the crowd.
There have been many attempts
made, by both the legal and mental health communities, to define
"insanity." But it seems to me that that term can be
most succinctly defined as: "a disconnection from reality."
And the severity of any individual's insanity is a function of the
degree of that person's disconnection from reality.
That definition, of course, is entirely dependent on how "reality"
is defined. From the point of view of the state, "reality"
is whatever the shapers of public opinion say it is. Anyone who
disagrees with the voices of authority is, therefore, insane. From
that perspective, people such as, for instance, yours truly, are
But if we base our definition on a relatively
objective reality, then most of the people that I know are, without
question, insane. Most of my relatives are insane. Most of my friends
are insane. Most of the people that I work with are insane. Damn
near everyone in the country is at least mildly insane. A very large
majority are moderately to severely insane. And according to polls,
at least a third are stark raving mad.
These people hold beliefs that are clearly delusional, that
have absolutely no connection to reality. And they persist in holding
these beliefs even when not a shred of evidence can be produced
to support them. And no, I'm not talking about people who believe
in UFOs, reincarnation, and the Loch Ness Monster. And I'm also
not talking about people who believe in some supreme spiritual entity.
I'm talking about people who believe that 'weapons of mass destruction'
have been uncovered in Iraq . . . who believe that 'weapons of mass
destruction' were used against our troops over there . . . who even
believe that 'weapons of mass destruction' is something other than
a arbitrary term cooked up recently by Uncle Sam to describe weapons
systems possessed by our 'enemies,' regardless of the actual destructive
capability of those systems.
The functionally insane also believe that Iraqis were among
the hijackers who allegedly commandeered the planes on September
11, 2001. It is difficult to fathom, but these people are so
crazed that they have actually taken the government's already fanciful
conspiracy theory, which is itself totally disconnected from reality,
and they have made it even more ludicrous by adding some Iraqis
to the mix. I'm betting that a few years down the road these same
people will also believe that there were a couple of Liberians on
one of the planes, as well as an Iranian guy, a couple of North
Koreans, a Syrian, and perhaps a Cuban or two. Maybe even a French
"I don't spend a lot of
time trying to figure me out," George Bush once said. "I'm
just not into psychobabble."
The president will not need a shrink, then, to tell him he is unlikely
to enjoy Bush on the Couch, a new book by a Washington
psychiatrist and Democrat, who tries to explain his subject's quirks
and policies by examining his personal history, and comes up with
some unflattering conclusions.
Justin Frank, a clinical professor of psychiatry
at George Washington University, argues that the president's inclination
to see the world in black-and-white, good-versus-evil terms, and
his tendency to repeat favourite words and phrases under pressure,
are not simply politics as usual, but classic symptoms of untreated
Mr Bush was a heavy drinker from his youth but stopped at 40, becoming
a born-again Christian. But Professor Frank, who has never met the
president, argues he never treated the underlying cause of his alcohol
"He reminded me of my more disturbed patients,"
the psychiatrist said. "Being on the wagon is not the same
thing as having alcoholism treated. That means taking responsibility,
and making amends to the people you've damaged.
"Bush switched from alcoholism to religion.
It takes responsibility out of his hands. Being born again is a
way of denying the past," Prof Frank said.
The White House has not commented on Bush on the Couch. "We
don't do book reviews," said the White House spokesman, Scott
But the book has come under fire for mixing politics with analysis.
A review in Salon.com, a liberal online magazine, described it as
"far too partisan a work to make any claim to being a judicious
examination of Bush the man", although the book offered "some
genuinely enlightening hypotheses".
A spokeswoman for the American Psychiatric Association (APA) pointed
to its code, which states it is "unethical for a psychiatrist
to offer a professional opinion unless they have conducted an examination
and been granted proper authorisation".
However, Prof Frank, not an APA member, argued it was not necessary
to meet his subject to make a judgment.
His book suggests the president's childhood trauma, the death of
his little sister from leukaemia when he was seven, and his parents'
decision to suppress their grief and not hold a funeral, left the
young George burdened with guilt and unprepared to face the consequences
of his actions.
And there was the competitive relationship with his father, which
the author believes is a driving force behind an administration
which has sought in many fields to distance itself from the first
Prof Frank's prescription is for Mr Bush to join an Alcoholics
Anonymous programme - and for him to be relieved of his high-pressure
What drives a man to go against
the wishes of his countryfolk and the entire world community - including
the presidents of Russia, China, France and Germany?
How can a professed Christian continue to defy church leaders worldwide
- including the Bishops of Britain and the Pope? How does he rationalize
breaking the commandments of his God, which clearly prohibit coveting
another's property, theft of their oil, and mass murder of defenseless
How can he ignore his own generals when they complain, "We're
advocating a policy that says we will invade another nation that
is not currently attacking us or invading any of our allies."
[Capitol Hill Blue Jan, 22, 2003]
To those who deem it unseemly to count the brick's on one man's
load, let us recall that this unelected President is one brick short
of killing what the UN fears could be up to a half-million people
in Iraq. This massacre could easily see Pakistan's government –
and its 30 to 40 nukes – falling to an al Qaeda/Taliban majority.
Bush's announced plans to attack North Korea and Iran have already
prompted both countries to hit the nuclear gas pedal, virtually
assuring a "nuclear event". And his $5 trillion blowout
has taken the American economy to a $2 trillion deficit in two short
years. As ignored global warming triggers Extreme Weather Events,
frightened Nobel price-winning economists warn that GW's proposed
$600 billion tax cut is "fiscal madness" - "a very
serious economic error" that will collapse the country in exactly
the same way the ex-Soviet Empire went bust buying and deploying
so many arms in so many places. Ditto Imperial Rome.
Are these the acts of a rational person?
Not since Nixon's famous freak-outs in the White House, which saw
National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger ordering military commanders
to ignore nuclear launch orders from their Commander-In-Chief, is
it so urgent that we examine a president's cognitive capacities.
[The Trial of Henry Kissinger]
It might be useful to scrutinize the following findings. While
everyone "goes nuts" from time to time, the salient question
is whether traits described below dominate and drive today's presidential
decisions. Is a man called by other government reps, "an idiot"
"an imbecile" "dangerously incompetent" and
"a moron" competent, capable and qualified to direct America's
unchallenged military might?
Read on. If you dare.
" Is The 'President' Nuts?" asks Carol Wolman, M.D. "Many
people, inside and especially outside this country, believe that
the American president is nuts, and is taking the world on a suicidal
path." [Counterpunch Oct. 2, 2002]
A board-certified psychiatrist in practice for 30 years, Dr. Wolman
feels compelled to understand the "psychopathology" of
man "under tremendous pressure from both his family/junta,
and from the world at large." Dr. Wolman wonders if GW is suffering
from Antisocial Personality Disorder, as described in the Diagnostic
and Statistical Manual Fourth Edition:
"There is a pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation
of the rights of others: 1) failure to conform to social norms with
respect to lawful behaviors as indicated by repeatedly performing
acts that are grounds for arrest; 2) deceitfulness, as indicated
by repeated lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal
profit or pleasure; 5) reckless disregard for safety of self or
others; 7) lack of remorse by being indifferent to or rationalizing
having hurt, mistreated or stolen from others."
GW Bush is highly regarded for "kicking" the twin demons
of cocaine and alcohol addiction. If he is still off both wagons
and there is no proof that isn't – such a triumph, encouraged
and aided by his wife, is commendable.
When probing the mysteries of GW's brain chemistry, a key point
to ponder is that damage done to brain cells from drug abuse is
permanent and irreversible.
Quaker and university professor Katherine van Wormer co-authored
the definitive, 2002, Addiction Treatment. This expert writes that
"George W. Bush manifests all the classic patterns of what
alcoholics in recovery call 'the dry drunk'. His behavior is consistent
with being brought on by years of heavy drinking and possible cocaine
use." [Counterpunch Oct. 11, 2002]
"Dry drunk," explains the professor, "is a slang
term used by members and supporters of Alcoholics Anonymous and
substance abuse counselors to describe the recovering alcoholic
who is no longer drinking - one who is dry, but whose thinking is
Such an individual is 'dry' but not truly sober. Such individuals
tend to go to overboard. A good example of Bush' "polarized
thinking" is his call for "crusades" based on "infinite
justice" for "evil-doers" comprising an "axis
Bush's "obsessive repetition" also remind this professor,
"of many of the recovering alcoholics/addicts I had treated."
Van Wormer worriers, "His power, in fact, is such that if he
collapses into paranoia, a large part of the world will collapse
Paranoia? Impatience? Rigid judgmental outlook? Grandiose behavior?
Childish behavior? Irresponsible behavior? Irrational rationalization?
Projection? Overreaction? these are all "dry drunk" traits.
Van Wormer observers that Bush's pompous pledge: "We must
be prepared to stop rogue states and their terrorist clients before
they are able to threaten or use weapons of mass destruction"
is a projection from the world's leading rogue state preparing to
attack with nuclear weapons.
"Bush's tendency to dichotomize reality" should be emphasized.
Prof. van Wormer describes this is as either/or reasoning - "either
you are with us or against us". A White House spokesperson
puts it this way: "The President considers this nation to be
at war, and, as such, considers any opposition to his policies to
be no less than an act of treason.'' [Capitol Hill Blue Jan, 22,
BUSH'S BINGES – HISTORY IMPACTS THE PRESENT
Bush's binges were legendary. Van Wormer describes "years
of binge drinking starting in college, at least one conviction for
DUI in 1976 in Maine, and one arrest before that for a drunken episode
involving theft of a Christmas wreath." She adds:
"The Bush biography reveals the story of a boy named for
his father, sent to the exclusive private school in the East where
his father's reputation as star athlete and later war hero were
still remembered. The younger George's achievements were dwarfed
in the school's memory of his father. Athletically he could not
achieve his father's laurels, being smaller and perhaps less strong.
His drinking bouts and lack of intellectual gifts held him back
as well. His military record was mediocre as compared to his father's
as well. [He went AWOL] "
In Fortunate Son, Bush himself explained: "Alcohol began to
compete with my energies ... I'd lose focus". Though
he once said he couldn't remember a day he hadn't had a drink, he
quickly added the giveaway phrase that he didn't believe he was
Van Wormer notes that "Bush drank heavily
for over 20 years until he made the decision to abstain at age 40.
About this time he became a 'born again Christian' – going
as usual from one extreme to the other." When asked
in an interview about his reported cocaine use, he answered reasonably,
"I'm not going to talk about what I did 20 to 30 years ago".
One motive driving Dubya could be his need "to prove himself
to his father - to achieve what his father failed to do - to finish
the job of the Gulf War, to get the 'evildoer' Saddam." Adds
van Wormer, "His drive to finish his father's battles is of
no small significance, psychologically."
According to Van Wormer, "scientists can now observe changes
that occur in the brain as a result of heavy alcohol and other drug
abuse. Some of these changes may be permanent."
Van Wormer characterizes this damage as "barely noticeable
but meaningful." Researchers have found that brain chemistry
irregularities caused by long bouts of drinking or drug abuse cause
"messages in one part of the brain to become stuck there. This
leads to maddening repetition of thoughts."
One of these powerful "stuck" thoughts, says van Wormer,
is that "President Bush seems unduly focused upon getting revenge
on Saddam Hussein ('He tried to kill my Dad'), leading the country
and the world into war, accordingly."
Grandiosity is another major trait of former addicts brain-damaged
by their addiction. Bush has reversed the successful, five-decade
old U.S. policy of containment and no first strikes. Now he says,
Americans can attack anyone, anywhere at any time with any weapons
of their choosing – including banned cluster bomb munitions,
radioactive explosives and nuclear bombs.
AN AGENT OF ARMAGEDDON?
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, a person suffering
from Narcissistic Personality Disorder, "Has a grandiose sense
of self-importance-exaggerates achievements and talents, expects
to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements."
This personality is preoccupied with fantasies of power and being
loved. Such a person requires "automatic compliance".
He or she is "exploitative" of others, "lacks empathy,
is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs
of others." And also "shows arrogant, haughty behavior
"This set of characteristics," says Dr. Wolman, not too
reassuringly, "may describe Rumsfeld and Cheney better than
For those who, like Nobel Prize winner Joseph
Stieglitz, warn that Bush "has been captured by a small group
of ideologues," Dependent Personality Disorder describes someone
who "has difficulty making everyday decisions without an excessive
amount of advice and reassurance from others." [CBC
Feb. 10, 2003]
From a Jungian perspective, writes Dr. Wolman, "Dubya may
be identifying with an archetype – something out of Revelations,
perhaps, whereby he sees himself as an instrument of God's will
to bring about Armageddon." Concurs Katherine van Wormer, "To
fight evil, Bush is ready to take on the world, in almost a Biblical
A PRESIDENTIAL PATHOLOGY
Is Bush's belligerence bent on securing another oil fix? Katherine
van Wormer believes that a Portland peace protestor's sign, "Drunk
on Power" nailed it. Says this quiet Quaker, "The drive
for power can be an unquenchable thirst, addictive in itself."
Senator William Fulbright agrees. His bestseller, The Arrogance
of Power defined power politics as the pursuit of power. "The
causes and consequences of war may have more to do with pathology
than with politics," Fulbright wrote.
A key "dry drunk" trait is impatience.
Bush, who often describes himself as "a patient man",
is not. Just four weeks after inspectors went into Iraq, he called
for obliterating Baghdad. "If we wait for threats to fully
materialize", Bush pointed out to West Pointers, "we will
have waited too long". Translations: It's okay to attack projections
of our own fearful imaginings – in case those phantom threats
someday become real.
Alan Bisbort's "Dry Drunk - Is Bush Making a Cry for Help?"
appeared in American Politics Journal. Bisbort believes that Bush's
"incoherence" when speaking away from prepared scripts
is a classic sign of addicted brain damage.
For Bisbort, another "dry drunk"
tip-off is Dubya's irritability with anyone who dares disagree with
him – including Germany's new leader, who insists he
is opposing Bush's folly in Iraq as a concerned long-time friend
of America. (Schroeder's wife is American.)
Another "Dry drunk" sign says van Wormer, is Dubya's
"dangerous obsessing about only one thing (Iraq) to the exclusion
of all other things."
Van Wormer's bottom line prognosis: "George W. Bush seems
to possess the traits characteristic of addictive persons who still
have the thought patterns that accompany substance abuse. The fact
that some residual effects from his earlier substance abuse - however
slight - might cloud the U.S. President's thinking and judgment
is frightening, however, in the context of the current global crisis."
The Toronto Star recounts how NYU author and media critic Mark
Crispin Miller attempted to catalogue GW's verbal gaffes. Some favorites:
"The vast majority of our imports come from outside the country."
"If we don't succeed, we run the risk of failure."
"The future will be better tomorrow."
"He meant it for a laugh," wrote the Star. "Not
The author of Boxed In: The Culture of TV believes "Bush
is not an imbecile. He's not a puppet. I think that Bush is a sociopathic
personality. I think he's incapable of empathy. He has an inordinate
sense of his own entitlement, and he's a very skilled manipulator.
And in all the snickering about his alleged idiocy, this is what
a lot of people miss."
Miller's judgment - that an unelected president might suffer from
a clinical personality disorder - is much heavier than being called
the global village idiot. "He has no
trouble speaking off the cuff when he's speaking punitively, when
he's talking about violence, when he's talking about revenge. When
he struts and thumps his chest, his syntax and grammar are fine,"
Miller mentions. "It's only when he leaps into the wild blue
yonder of compassion, or idealism, or altruism, that he makes these
Bush even has trouble repeating comforting clichés. "Fool
me once, shame ... shame on ... you," Long, uncomfortable pause.
"Fool me - can't get fooled again!"
While the world was laughing, Miller saw something
darker. "What's revealing about this is that Bush could not
say, `Shame on me' to save his life. That's a completely alien idea
to him. This is a guy who is absolutely proud of his own inflexibility
and rectitude," wrote Miller.
Miller says that Bush saying, "I know how
hard it is to put food on your family" is not 'cause he's stupid,
but "because he doesn't care about people who can't put food
on the table."
When Bush is envisioning "a foreign-handed foreign policy,"
Miller contends it's because he can't keep his focus on things that
mean nothing to him. "When he tries to talk about what this
country stands for, or about democracy, he can't do it," Miller
According to Miller, this is why GW is so closely watched by his
handlers. "Not because he'll say something stupid," the
Star paraphrased, "but because he'll overindulge in the language
of violence and punishment at which he excels."
"He's a very angry guy, a hostile guy," Miller says.
"He's much like Nixon. So they're very, very careful to choreograph
every move he makes. They don't want him anywhere near protestors,
because he would lose his temper." Adds this media expert,
"It would be a grave mistake to just play him for laughs."
DEPRESSION CAN BE DANGEROUSLY DEPRESSING
Confronted by a man who will not listen to anyone but a few "chickenhawks"
urging worldwide war, why shouldn't we feel depressed? Not surprisingly,
Seventy percent of U.S. pastors constantly fight depression. Right
now, almost three million Canadians are seriously depressed. (Multiply
by four or five for approximate U.S. figures.) We can't blame GW
for this. Or the fact that suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death
in 15 to 24 year olds. But as the man responsible for perpetrating
a worldwide bummer, George isn't helping! [www.tonycooke.org; National
Institute of Mental Health]
If it's politically incorrect to ask these questions, how "correct"
is it to launch 800 cruise missiles and thousands of one-ton bombs
on a captive urban population already suffering the ravages of deliberately
imposed hunger and disease?
Another big clue to Dubya's
displays of dementia comes in "photo-ops" showing him
slugging back diet Coke with other
Aspartame addicts, like Chicago's mayor Richard Daley. Their beet
red faces spell either embarrassment over Bush's hijacking of America,
or aspartame poisoning. [Chicago Sun Times, Sept. 27, 2002]
According to Carol Guilford, an Aspartame expert
and support worker, the President-Select's "pretzel" pratfall
was most likely an Aspartame seizure. Bush, like Carter, Al Gore
and millions of Americans, is addicted to this constant caffeine
hit. Among the FDA's listed 92 symptoms for Aspartame poisoning
are: "Difficulty Swallowing", "Fainting" and
Bush's facial lesions, removed as a result of "Too much sun"
is another sign of Aspartame poisoning. So was his recent knee surgery:
Aspartame depletes synovial fluid lubricating the joints.
Would you drink 6 to 12 cans of formaldehyde a day? It turns out
that methanol in Aspartame converts to formaldehyde in the tissues.
As Guildford wrote to USN Captain Eleanor Marino, Physician to the
President (Feb. 21, 2002): 10% of a 200mg can of diet soda is straight
methanol wood alcohol! Methanol is such a gross cumulative poison,
the EPA's limit for drinking water is 7.8 mg daily. For serious
addicts like Bush, the methanol intake can exceed 32 times the EPA's
Now the punch line: Clinical case studies
shows that, among other symptoms, Aspartame ingestion results in
"mind fog", feeling "unreal", poor memory, confusion,
anxiety, irritability, depression, mania, and slurred speech. [Neurology
Alcohol-related brain damage is not helped by chugging formaldehyde.
James Turner, consumer protection lawyer and author of The Chemical
Feast learned that an Oct. 1980 FDA inquiry found that the formaldehyde
formed by Aspartame actually eats microscopic holes and triggers
tumors in the brain.
That finding banned Aspartame from the food supply. But three months
later, Searle CEO Donald Rumsfeld told that
pharma giant's sales staff he would get Aspartame approved pronto.
The next month, the FDA commissioner was replaced by Dr. Arthur
Hayes. In Nov. 1983 the FDA approved aspartame for soft drinks.
Under fire for accepting corporate bribes, Hayes went to work for
Searle's public-relations firm. Searle lawyer Robert Shapiro coined
the name NutraSweet. Monsanto bought Searle. Rumsfeld received $12
million for his help. Shapiro now heads Monsanto.
The same "revolving door" swings wide for arms makers
and the oil mafia. The Big Question is: Why hasn't Dick warned George
that the diet drinks he's swilling are eating his brain and making
Crazy? Am I calling the President-Select of the Excited States
crazy? Not me. As a journalist, I can only point out that published
medical evidence goes frighteningly far in explaining GW's behavior.
For certain, this good ol' boy should go in for a brain scan before
being allowed to command more firepower than the next 11 nations
combined. If George W. Bush is not crazy - he's sure acting like
| Many people,
inside and especially outside this country, believe that the American
president is nuts, and is taking the world on a suicidal path. As
a board-certified psychiatrist, I feel it's my duty to share my understanding
of his psychopathology. He's a complicated man, under tremendous pressure
from both his family/junta, and from the world at large. So the following
is offered with humility and questioning, in the form of a differential
From the Freudian point of
Dubya may be acting out a classical Oedipal drama--overcome Daddy
to get Mommy. By deposing Saddam, when his father did not, he may
want to prove himself more worthy of his mother's love. His rationale
that he is avenging the assassination attempt on George, Sr., may
be a reaction formation- his way of hiding the true motive from
From the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual Fourth
Antisocial Personality Disorder--301.7
There is a pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of
the rights of others since age 15 years as indicated by at least
three of the following: 1) failure to conform to social norms with
respect to lawful behaviors as indicated by repeatedly performing
acts that are grounds for arrest; 2) deceitfulness, as indicated
by repeated lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal
profit or pleasure; 5) reckless disregard for safety of self or
others; 7) lack of remorse by being indifferent to or rationalizing
having hurt, mistreated or stolen from others.
Another possibility from DSM IV:
Dissociative Identity Disorder (formerly Multiple Personality Disorder)
A) The presence of two or more distinct identities, each with its
own enduring pattern of perceiving, relating to and thinking about
the environment and self.
B) At least two of these identities or personality states recurrently
take control of the person's behavior.
This disorder is typical of people raised by satanic cults, and
might explain how Dubya can think of himself as a born-again Christian
and yet worship money, oil and profit, and sanction killing thousands
of innocent Iraqi and Afghani children.
Narcissistic personality disorder 301.81
1) has a grandiose sense of self-importance- exaggerates achievements
and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate
2) in preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance,
beauty or ideal love;
3) believes that he or she is "special" and unique and
can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special
4) requires excessive admiration;
5) has a sense of entitlement- unreasonable expectations of especially
favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her
6) is interpersonally exploitative;
7) lacks empathy, is unwilling to recognize or identify with the
feelings and needs of others;
9) shows arrogant, haughty behavior or attitudes.
This set of characteristics may describe Rumsfeld and Cheney better
Or, for those who feel that he's just a puppet for others:
Dependent Personality Disorder 301.6
1) has difficulty making everyday decisions without an excessive
amount of advice and reassurance from others;
2) needs others to assume responsibility for most major areas of
3) has difficulty expressing disagreement with others because of
fear of loss of support or approval;
4) has difficulty initiating projects or doing things on his own
because of a lack of self-confidence in judgment or abilities.
5. goes to excessive lengths to obtain nurturance and support from
others, to the point of doing things that are unpleasant.
From a Jungian point of view:
Dubya may be identifying with an archetype (as
Hitler did with the ubermensch)--something out of Revelations, perhaps,
whereby he sees himself as an instrument of God's will to bring
Dr. Carol Wolman is a board certified psychiatrist, in practice
for 30 years. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
| When Mark Crispin Miller first set
out to write Dyslexicon: Observations on a National Disorder , about
the ever-growing catalogue of President George W. Bush's verbal gaffes,
he meant it for a laugh. But what he came to realize wasn't entirely
amusing. - Since the 2000 presidential campaign, Miller has been compiling
his own collection of Bush-isms, which have revealed, he says, a disquieting
truth about what lurks behind the cock-eyed leer of the leader of
the free world. He's not a moron at all... [...]
In studying Bush's various adventures in oration, he started to
see a pattern emerging. "He has no trouble speaking off the
cuff when he's speaking punitively, when he's talking about violence,
when he's talking about revenge. "When he struts and thumps
his chest, his syntax and grammar are fine," Miller said. "It's
only when he leaps into the wild blue yonder of compassion, or idealism,
or altruism, that he makes these hilarious mistakes." While
Miller's book has been praised for its "eloquence" and
"playful use of language," it has enraged Bush supporters.
By stumbling blithely along, he has been able to push his image
as "just folks" — a normal guy who screws up just
like the rest of us. This, in fact, is a central cog in his image-making
machine, Miller says: Portraying the wealthy scion of one of America's
most powerful families as a regular, imperfect Joe. But the depiction,
Miller says, is also remarkable for what it hides — imperfect,
yes, but also detached, wealthy and unable to identify with the
"folks" he's been designed to appeal to. An example, Miller
says, surfaced early in his presidential tenure. "I know how
hard it is to put food on your family," Bush was quoted as
saying. "That wasn't because he's so stupid that he doesn't
know how to say, `Put food on your family's table' — it's
because he doesn't care about people who can't put food on the table,"
Miller says. [...]
| December 5, 2002 — If
any of us are to have a future worth having, the world's leaders,
the members of Congress, the US corporate media and people of all
political persuasions who value freedom and democracy had better start
seeing George W. Bush for what he is: a sociopath and a passive serial
Psychiatrists tell us that all serial killers lack
the emotions that make us human; that they have to learn to emulate
those emotions in order to get by in society. Hence, a charming,
well educated fellow like Ted Bundy who is known to have murdered
15 women and may have killed 36 before he was caught.
While Bush is no Bundy, when it comes Bundy's education and acquired
charm, and to our knowledge has never personally murdered anyone,
it has been evident to us that there is something missing in George
W. in terms of his lack of compassion and empathy. As governor of
Texas, he set a record in signing death warrants — 154 in
five years. He even made fun of the way convicted killer Karla Faye
Tucker begged for her life.
If we believe the psychiatrists, a sign of
a future serial killer is a child who delights in torturing and
killing animals. George W., as a child, did exactly that. In
a May 21, 2000, New York Times' puff piece about the values Bush
gained growing up in Midland, Texas, Nicholas D. Kristof quoted
Bush's childhood friend Terry Throckmorton: "'We were terrible
to animals,' recalled Mr. Throckmorton, laughing. A dip behind the
Bush home turned into a small lake after a good rain, and thousands
of frogs would come out. 'Everybody would get BB guns and shoot
them,' Mr. Throckmorton said. 'Or we'd put firecrackers in the frogs
and throw them and blow them up.'"
On Sept. 12, 2000, Baltimore Sun reporter Miriam Miedzian wrote,
"So when he was a kid, George W. enjoyed putting firecrackers
into frogs, throwing them in the air, and then watching them blow
up. Should this be cause for alarm? How relevant is a man's childhood
behavior to what he is like as an adult? And in this case, to what
he would be like as president of the United States."
We're finding out, aren't we? While we, in two
articles before the 2000 election — Sept. 21 and Oct. 23 —
noted Bush's penchant for blowing up frogs, the corporate media
blew it off, just as it had no interest in what he was trying to
hide by obtaining a new Texas driver license and his 1976 drunk
driving conviction, or the fact he was AWOL from the Texas Air National
Guard. Instead, they bought into his nonsensical claim of being
a "compassionate conservative" and "a uniter not
a divider" who was going to "restore honor and dignity
to the White House."
All through the 2000 campaign and up to Sept. 11, 2001, the corporate
media depicted Bush as an affable, tongue-tied bumbler — the
kind of guy Joe Six-pack would like to have a beer with —
turning a blind eye to his dark underside. It mattered not that
he stocked his illicit administration with the worst of the worst:
John Ashcroft, Donald Rumsfeld, Gale Norton, Paul O'Neill, Harvey
Pitt, Thomas White, John Negroponte, Otto Reich and convicted Iran-contra
felon Elliot Abrams who received a 1992 Christmas Eve pardon from
George W.'s father.
Then, despite his peculiar behavior on Sept. 11,
the corporate media and his handlers transformed him into a leader
extraordinaire in the mold of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln
and Winston Churchill rolled into one.
And as Bush had Afghanistan bombed back beyond the Stone Age to
rid the world of Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, then switched to
claiming it was the Taliban that had to go, then declared there
was an "axis of evil" and it was really Saddam Hussein
who was the "mother of all evil" and that war with Iraq
was in the offing to get rid of Saddam, the corporate media cheered
him on and to this day continues to beat the war drum. They have
yet to consider that the passive serial killer needs to feed his
lust for blood by sending others to put their lives on the line
and do the killing for him.
In his Sept. 12 article, White House insiders say Bush is "out
of control," Mike Hersh wrote, "Some
among Bush's trusted White House staff fear what they are seeing
and where Bush is taking us. His state of mind hauntingly reminds
them of Richard Nixon's Final Days. They fear Bush is becoming Nixonesque
. . . or worse. Although Bush lacks Nixon's paranoia, he may entertain
even more dangerous notions."
But their desperate late night phone calls to trusted reporters
has not seen the light of day in the corporate media. Yet, some
of us outside the Beltway have long had an inkling of what we are
More proof lies in Alexandra Pelosi's documentary, Journeys with
George. Pelosi, the daughter of incoming House Minority Leader Nancy
Pelosi, was a producer for NBC when she wangled the assignment to
spend 18 months as part of Bush's campaign press corps.
From the surface, Pelosi's "home movie," as she calls
it, seems to be nothing more than a love fest as George W. works
to charm the pants off her and the rest of the press corps. The
striking thing about this George, even though Karen Hughes is often
seen hovering at his elbow, is that he isn't tongue-tied when he
is pumping up his ego, dishing out digs and being sarcastic and
Mark Crispin Miller, author of The Bush Dyslexicon and professor
of media studies at New York University, who also sees the darker
Bush, said in a Nov. 28 interview with the Toronto Star, ""Bush
is not an imbecile. He's not a puppet. I think that Bush is a sociopathic
personality. I think he's incapable of empathy. He has an inordinate
sense of his own entitlement, and he's a very skilled manipulator.
And in all the snickering about his alleged idiocy, this is what
a lot of people miss."
Miller said he did intend The Bush Dyslexicon to be a funny book,
but that was before he read all the transcripts, which revealed,
according to reporter Murray Whyte, "a disquieting truth about
what lurks behind the cock-eyed leer of the leader of the free world.
He's not a moron at all on that point, Miller and Prime Minister
Jean Chretien agree."
"He has no trouble speaking off the cuff when he's speaking
punitively, when he's talking about violence, when he's talking
about revenge," Miller told Whyte. "When he struts and
thumps his chest, his syntax and grammar are fine. It's only when
he leaps into the wild blue yonder of compassion, or idealism, or
altruism, that he makes these hilarious mistakes."
In a speech last Sept. in Nashville, trying to strengthen his case
against Saddam, Bush's script called for him to say, "Fool
me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." But the
words that came out of his mouth were, ""Fool me once,
shame . . . shame on . . . you," followed by a long pause,
then, "Fool me — can't get fooled again!"
Said Miller, "What's revealing about this is that Bush could
not say, 'Shame on me' to save his life. That's a completely alien
idea to him. This is a guy who is absolutely proud of his own inflexibility
Another example, Miller said, occurred early in Bush's White House
tenure when he said, "I know how hard it is to put food on
According to Miller, "That wasn't because he's so stupid that
he doesn't know how to say, 'Put food on your family's table' —
it's because he doesn't care about people who can't put food on
Miller told Whyte, "When he tries to talk about what this
country stands for, or about democracy, he can't do it."
"This, then, is why he's so closely watched by his handlers,
Miller says not because he'll say something stupid, but because
he'll overindulge in the language of violence and punishment at
which he excels," Whyte wrote.
"He's a very angry guy, a hostile guy. He's much like Nixon.
So they're very, very careful to choreograph every move he makes.
They don't want him anywhere near protestors, because he would lose
his temper," Miller said.
"I call him the feel bad president, because he's all about
punishment and death," Miller told Whyte. "It would be
a grave mistake to just play him for laughs."
A grave mistake, indeed.
If all that has happened since Bush was first mentioned as a possible
GOP presidential candidate hasn't set off alarms, his naming of
war criminal, mass murderer and international fugitive Henry Kissinger
last week to head up the 9/11 investigation should have. And this
week another alarm should have gone off when Bush promoted Elliot
Abrams to lead the National Security Council's office for Near East
and North African affairs, which oversees Arab-Israeli relations.
Bush must be stopped now, before he sets the world aflame. And
set it aflame is what he intends to do, even if Iraq has no "weapons
of mass destruction" or Saddam stands on his head, naked, on
the White House lawn.
| Laura Spinney
New Scientist vol 183 issue 2461 - 21 August 2004, page 40
Could one in a hundred of
us be a psychopath? Look out, says Laura Spinney, you might be sharing
your office with one
HE WAS a natural leader, creative, energetic
and ambitious. "Mike" had appeared to be the ideal recruit
for a fast-growing electronics company. It was only after he got
the job that certain less favourable aspects of his behaviour came
to light. He couldn't get along with his secretary, he "forgot"
to take on less interesting projects, he bullied colleagues and
walked out of meetings. But since he'd already complained about
his boss to senior management, his boss's concerns were never taken
seriously, and the company even singled Mike out as a "high-potential
Perhaps you know someone like Mike. Someone charming, yet aggressive;
a manipulative boss who can't be bothered with paperwork; one who
constantly switches allegiance as different people become useful.
Mike embellished the truth on his application form, failed to document
his expense claims and turned out, in the end, to be setting up
his own business on company time and resources. He
is what some psychologists describe as an industrial or corporate
The psychologists do not use the term lightly. They believe that
Mike shares exactly the same constellation of personality traits
as the violent and sadistic killers we more commonly call psychopaths.
New research suggests that people like Mike
vastly outnumber the psychopaths who commit crimes and end up in
prison. Psychopathy, say the researchers, is a spectrum of character
traits, milder forms of which could even be useful and adaptive.
What's more, studies reveal that Mike's
genes contribute to his psychopathic personality.
Had you known what to look for, the traits would probably
have revealed themselves at a very tender age.
The researchers are going to have a battle on their hands changing
the deeply ingrained popular image of psychopaths as criminals -
the likes of Charles Manson or Jack the Ripper. There is a good
reason for this image, says Paul Babiak, the New York-based industrial
organisational psychologist who studied Mike. Psychopaths
make themselves known by their crimes, so those who don't commit
crimes, or who successfully cover their tracks, tend to remain invisible.
So what makes Babiak so sure that the label is appropriate?
It is only recently that psychopathy has
been defined by criminal or antisocial acts. In the 1940s, the definition
relied chiefly on personality traits - narcissism,
lack of remorse, lack of empathy, ability to manipulate others and
inability to accept responsibility. These
traits, if they persist over time, are still what distinguish psychopathic
antisocial behaviour from "normal" aggression or teenage
rebelliousness. Thinking is now reverting to these older
descriptions, with researchers beginning to concur that there are
degrees of psychopathic personality, rather than its being an all-or-none
character flaw. It means that a larger subset of society is included.
As far back as 1977, Cathy Spatz Widom, then at Harvard University,
suggested a means of luring what she called "non-institutionalised
psychopaths" out into the open. She put an ad in a non-mainstream
Boston paper: "Wanted: charming, aggressive,
carefree people who are impulsively irresponsible but are good at
handling people and looking after number one." Of the 73 people
who responded, she interviewed 29. All of them met the criteria
for psychopathy as defined by personality traits and antisocial
behaviour, and two-thirds had a history of arrest. But of those
who had been arrested, only 18 per cent had been convicted. On the
whole, they had managed to stay out of prison. The main difference
she noted between her respondents and convicted criminals who were
typically studied at that time was that they were better educated.
She showed that if you went looking for psychopathic traits in the
non-criminal population, you would find them.
For a decade or so, people have been asking what makes a psychopath.
Is it the result of biology or upbringing? [...]
Adrian Raine, a psychologist at the University
of Southern California in Los Angeles, suggested that psychopathy
tends to be associated with abnormalities of the prefrontal cortex,
a part of the brain responsible for regulating behaviour, that could
arise from birth complications. [...]
But until now studies have provided information only about psychopaths
who were identified and who are, generally speaking, criminals.
What has been lacking, says the psychiatrist and renowned psychopath
expert, Robert Hare of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver,
are studies looking for the origins of psychopathic tendencies that
start with children and follow them as they grow up. [...]
At the Institute of Psychiatry in London, Essi Viding has also
made attempts to spot the future Mikes. Thanks to the institute's
ongoing study on twins, she had access to around 4000 seven-year-old
English and Welsh twin pairs whose teachers had rated them on two
measures at the end of their first year at school. [...]
Of the twin pairs who were in the top 10
per cent for antisocial behaviour, about half also had high scores
for callous-unemotional traits. Antisocial behaviour seemed to fall
into two types. When it occurred in
combination with callous and unemotional traits, it was far more
likely to be the result of genes than when these traits were not
apparent. While 70 per cent of the antisocial behaviour in
non-psychopathic children was down to environmental causes - a poor
home environment, say - only 20 per cent of the callous- unemotional
children's antisocial behaviour could be accounted for by environment.
The rest was down to their genes. "There
is a sub-group of children who seem to be very strongly predisposed
to antisocial behaviour," Viding says. For these kids, their
genetic predisposition may mean that even a good family influence
can't rescue them, or that bad influences have an especially strong
effect, she suggests.
If you were to isolate the really extreme cases, the top 1 or 2
per cent of children on scores for psychopathic tendencies, you
would see how different these children really are, she says. "They
are different from the antisocial children who are impulsively antisocial.
They can be very devious, they can manipulate the teachers against
each other in a school setting; they lie very fluently; they can
be incredibly charming if they want to." Now she is
testing the twins on their moral reasoning. So she might ask a child
if it was alright to hit another child in the playground. Assuming
they said no, she would then ask them why not. The "psychopathic"
reasoning tends to be self-referential - the child will say, "Because
I'll get into trouble," rather than, "Because it might
hurt or upset them." [...]
Only time will tell if and how many of Viding's antisocial, psychopathic-
leaning seven-year-olds will go on to commit crimes. But
Hare suggests that plenty will blend in and become "successful"
- and hence invisible - psychopaths. Or as he calls them, "snakes
in suits". He estimates that 1 per cent of the population
of North America could be described as psychopaths. And now Babiak
and Hare have teamed up to look for them.
For the past two years they have been developing what they call
the Business Scan 360, derived from the PCL-R. The "360"
refers to the fact that the screen involves interviews with all
those people surrounding the individual under scrutiny - secretaries,
colleagues and managers. "If you imagine the conscientious
employee at one end of a continuum and a prototypical corporate
psychopath at the other end, the B-Scan 360 attempts to gauge where
the individual is," Babiak says.
Hare and Babiak have almost finished assessing 100 economic criminals
in the US, people who have been convicted of fraud or embezzlement,
to provide a benchmark of the ultimately undesirable employee. Next
they will assess a "normal" business population of managers.
And finally, they will test a group of high-flyers in an attempt
to see whether they can distinguish promising future bosses from
potential disasters like Mike.
Their mission, as Babiak sees it, is to warn employers that apparent
leadership skills could mask something more sinister. That is not
to say that people like Mike might not also prove valuable employees
in certain capacities. As Raine says, psychopathic traits could
prove useful on the front line, or even in a US president. But bosses
might think twice about promoting a high-risk individual to a position
of power from which he or she could cause great damage. Remember
the disgraced British media tycoon Robert Maxwell, who stole from
his own company pension fund? "I'm not saying Maxwell was a
psychopath," Hare says, "But he sure had psychopathic
Viding, too, hopes that her research will pick out those who show
strong psychopathic tendencies. But she is also interested in intervention.
There is a tendency to assume that psychopathy is untreatable on
the basis of limited success with adults. A
recent study suggested that a programme designed to improve the
empathy skills of sex offenders in some cases made them more dangerous,
by improving their ability to groom their victims. But a
better understanding of their genetic vulnerability could translate
into novel interventions, psychological and even pharmacological,
just as it has done for anxiety and depression, Viding says.
Viding even has a gene in mind, whose expression she wants to investigate
in twins. Ahmad Hariri of the National Institute of Mental Health
in Bethesda, Maryland, implicated a serotonin
transporter gene in various forms of neuroticism and psychopathology,
especially anxiety traits. Viding wants to find out if some mutation
here could contribute to psychopathic antisocial behaviour. If so,
there is every chance of finding a way to intervene.
Lorraine Johnstone, a clinical forensic psychologist at Glasgow
Caledonian University, UK, says that it is important to look for
the childhood precursors of psychopathy, because it is possible
that vulnerable children could be identified early on and deflected
from a life of crime. She agrees it is a minefield, however. "Children
are unreasonable, they're selfish, they test out lots of antisocial
behaviours and then most of them think, well actually that doesn't
work, so I won't bother doing it again." Only when those traits
are stable over time do they become suggestive. But over how long,
and who decides what is stable?
But if Viding's findings, bolstered by others in the future, convince
the scientific community that psychopaths-in-waiting can be reliably
spotted among children, they also suggest something else that may
be even harder to swallow: "Prevention efforts need to begin
in the preschool years," Viding says. Once a child starts school,
it may already be too late to save him from Wormwood Scrubs, or
the White House.
A brief history of antisocial behaviour
In the 18th century French doctor Philippe Pinel described a patient
who defied all existing categories. He showed no remorse or personal
restraint. Pinel labelled his condition "manie sans délire"
(madness without delirium).
The term "psychopath" was coined in the 19th century.
But until 1941, there were no clear diagnostic criteria and the
syndrome was also referred to as "moral insanity" and
In 1941, Hervey Cleckley wrote The Mask of
Sanity, in which he defined a set of clinical symptoms that
distinguished psychopaths. This description,
notable for the absence of criminal or antisocial behaviour, comes
from the 1964 edition of his book: "...superficial charm and
good intelligence; absence of delusions and other signs of irrational
thinking; absence of 'nervousness' or other psychoneurotic manifestations;
unreliability, untruthfulness, and insincerity; lack of remorse
or shame; inadequately motivated antisocial behaviour; poor judgement
and failure to learn by experience; pathologic egocentricity and
incapacity for love; general poverty in major affective reactions;
specific loss of insight; unresponsiveness in general interpersonal
relations; fantastic and uninviting behaviour with drink and sometimes
without; suicide rarely carried out; sex life impersonal, trivial
and poorly integrated; and failure to follow any life plan."
From 1952, "psychopath" and "sociopathic personality"
came to be used interchangeably by psychiatrists, under the heading
With the second edition of the American Psychiatric Association's
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-II),
published in 1968, "sociopathic personality" yielded to
"personality disorder, antisocial type". The third edition
of DSM, published in 1980, listed antisocial personality disorder
(APD), the diagnosis of which relies almost exclusively on antisocial
and criminal behaviour, and no longer on personality traits.
At the moment psychopathy is not recognised as a formal mental
disorder. But the issue of psychopathy versus APD is still hotly
debated in psychology and legal circles.
Laura Spinney is a writer based in London and Paris
| The word psychopath strikes fear
into the hearts of most ordinary individuals conjuring up images of
axe-wielding mass murderers or sexual predators stalking the wards
of prison isolation wings.
But that is far from the whole truth and one of the world's experts
on psychopaths arrived in Cardiff on Tuesday with some disturbing
In a talk entitled Snakes in suits: when psychopaths go to work,
Professor Robert Hare from Canada argued that psychopaths may not
be what we think they are.
And as BBC News Online found out, they can exist successfully in
every walk of live.
"I'm not worried about security - if they were going to get
me they would have got me by now."
These were the words of the world's leading authority on psychopathy
before he gave a talk in front of a packed out lecture theatre at
Robert Hare, who is a Professor of Psychology at the University
of British Columbia in Canada, has spent most of his working life
studying psychopaths - a dangerous occupation, it seems.
"The first one I met at a maximum security prison in Canada
stared at me so hard I felt like I was being pushed up against the
wall," he said.
"Then he got a knife out and was moving it around in front
"I didn't know what I was getting myself into."
And he has been "into it" for the past 25 years.
But you would never guess this diminutive, unassuming man has been
in contact with real life Hannibal Lecters.
"They get interested in me - and blame me that they're in
prison," he said.
"I've had death threats as a result but I keep going - what
can you do?"
So was Professor Hare in Cardiff to warn us about the proliferation
of psychopaths in Welsh prisons? No, but they could be in your office
Psychopaths are defined as a person with an antisocial
personality disorder, manifested in aggressive, perverted, criminal,
or amoral behaviour without empathy or remorse.
Is your boss a psychopath?
Here are just some of the tell tale signs:
They are manipulative
They lack specific goals
They have superficial relations with people
They are impulsive
They are irresponsible
They crave power and prestige
They lack empathy
They lack remorse
They lie easily
They have predatory instincts
They are cool under pressure
They seek excitement and thrills
They take credit for the work of others
They fly into rages
And Professor Hare, along with colleague Dr Paul Babiak, has developed
a new 107-point questionnaire - the B-Scan - which can enable people
like you and me to identify which desks those smooth-talking, manipulative
colleagues might be hiding behind.
"We normally associate psychopaths with death but they're
not always in prison," he said.
"We think of them as crazy people but Ian Brady described
himself in his book as a businessman.
"You can spot them quite easily in the workplace - so you
may want to think about people you know."
Former Daily Mirror tycoon Robert Maxwell, who stole £400m
from pension funds to help his ailing companies, was named as a
classic example of a man in a powerful position who might very well
have displayed psychopathic traits.
So what should we be looking out for?
According to Professor Hare psychopaths
are impulsive - they lack empathy and remorse.
They crave power and prestige, and are extremely
He described them as "knowing the words but
not the music."
"They can learn to use ordinary words and
to reproduce the pantomime of feeling but the feeling itself does
not come to pass."
So is he describing your boss?
They interview well, they get into organisations by using people
as pawns, sweet talking patrons and creating conflict.
"I don't see any difference between the people I meet
in prison and those in business," he added.
So should we be running for the hills?
You have been warned.
| Bush himself, as Maureen Dowd points
out in her lampoon piece, operates at about the intellectual level
of a 10 year old. However, there is something far more troubling about
Bush's use of language. Have a look at some of his most revealing
"There ought to be limits to freedom. We're aware of the
site, and this guy is just a garbage man." — Bush,
commenting on the website www.gwbush.com
"I will do everything in my power to restrict abortions."
— George W. Bush, Dallas Morning News October 22, 1994
"I saw the report that children in Texas are going hungry.
Where? You'd think the governor would have heard if there are
pockets of hunger in Texas." — George W. Bush whose
state ranks 2n in total number of children living in poverty to
Austin American Statesman, 12/18/99
"People that are really very weird can get into sensitive
positions and have a tremendous impact on history." "If
I decide to [run for President], it will be to restore the promise
of America. And I'll define what that means later." (11/15/98)
"The vast majority of our imports come from outside the
"The Holocaust was an obscene period in our nation's history.
I mean in this century's history. But we all lived in this century.
I didn't live in this century."... 9/15/95
"I have made good judgments in the past. I have made good
judgments in the future."
"The future will be better tomorrow."
"I stand by all the misstatements that I've made."...
"We have a firm commitment to NATO, we are a part of NATO.
We have a firm commitment to Europe. We are a part of Europe."
"We are ready for any unforeseen event that may or may
not occur." ... 9/22/97
"Illegitimacy is something we should talk about in terms
of not having it." ... 5/20/96
"Well, I think if you say you're going to do something
and don't do it, that's trustworthiness."
"I mean, there needs to be a wholesale effort against racial
profiling, which is illiterate children."
"You f--cking son of a bitch. I saw what you wrote. We're
not going to forget this."-- to writer Al Hunt, 1998
"They misunderestimated me."—Bentonville, Ark.,
Nov. 6, 2000
"I know how hard it is for you to put food on your family."—Greater
Nashua, N.H., Chamber of Commerce, Jan. 27, 2000
"I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully."-
Saginaw, Mich., Sept. 29, 2000
"Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?"-
Florence, S.C., Jan. 11, 2000
"The most important job is not to be governor, or first
lady in my case."- Pella, Iowa, as quoted by the San Antonio
Express-News, Jan. 30, 2000
"I think if you know what you believe, it makes it a lot
easier to answer questions. I can't answer your question."—
Reynoldsburg, Ohio, Oct. 4, 2000
"Natural gas is hemispheric. I like to call it hemispheric
in nature because it is a product that we can find in our neighborhoods."—Austin,
Texas, Dec. 20, 2000
"The senator [McCain] has got to understand if he's going
to have—he can't have it both ways. He can't take the high
horse and then claim the low road."—To reporters in
Florence, S.C., Feb. 17, 2000
"They want the federal government controlling Social Security
like it's some kind of federal program."—Debate in
St. Charles, Mo., Nov. 2, 2000
Now, what is so troubling about these "mixed up" remarks?
Those of you who have read the segments of the Adventures Series
about psychopathy, are already aware that this "thinking discrepancy"
is proposed as one of the observable symptoms of congenital psychopathy.
What makes psychopaths different from all others is the remarkable
ease with which they lie, the pervasiveness of their deception,
and the callousness with which they carry it out.
But there is something else about the speech of psychopaths
that is equally puzzling: their frequent use of contradictory
and logically inconsistent statements that usually escape detection.
Recent research on the language of psychopaths provides us with
some important clues to this puzzle, as well as to the uncanny
ability psychopaths have to move words - and people- around so
Here are some examples:
When asked if he had ever committed a violent offense, a man
serving time for theft answered, "No, but I once had to kill
A woman with a staggering record of fraud, deceit, lies, and
broken promises concluded a letter to the parole board with, "I've
let a lot of people down… One is only as good as her reputation
and name. My word is as good as gold."
A man serving a term for armed robbery replied to the testimony
of an eyewitness, "He's lying. I wasn't there. I should have
blown his fucking head off."
From an interview with serial killer Elmer Wayne Henley:
Interviewer: "You make it out that you're the victim of
a serial killer, but if you look at the record you're a serial
Henley: "I'm not."
I: "You're not a serial killer?"
H: "I'm not a serial killer."
I: You're saying you're not a serial killer now, but you've serially
H: "Well, yeah, that's semantics."
And so on. The point that the researchers noted was that psychopaths
seem to have trouble monitoring their own speech. What is more,
they often put things together in strange ways, such as this series
of remarks from serial killer Clifford Olson: "And then I had
annual sex with her." "Once a year?" "No. Annual.
From behind." "Oh. But she was dead!" "No, no.
She was just unconscientious." About his many experiences,
Olson said, "I've got enough antidotes to fill five or six
books - enough for a trilogy." He was determined not to be
an "escape goat" no matter what the "migrating facts."
Sounds like Dubya, eh? And that's the scary part. Read the following
interview with this issue in mind:
Q Gore wants more stringent gun control laws. What's your answer
to him, governor?
A Bush "Guns don't kill people; guns are designed and manufactured
for the purpose of enabling people to use the guns to kill people."
Q Governor Bush, what's your opinion of negative advertising?
A Bush ""If you ask me, these cheap, mudslinging ads
drag the political process down to a level so juvenile and debased,
I can actually understand it. Ha-ha."
Q , what should be done about the problems in Chechnya?
A Bush "The U.S. should waste no time in condemning General
Mashimkov's brutal occupation of the city of Plovsk in the Chechen
province of Azgakasban. Okay, I made that up."
Q Mr. Bush, with prescription-drug prices higher in the United
States than elsewhere, what would you do as President to correct
A Bush "I think what's getting lost in this whole debate
is this: Taking drugs is wrong."
Q a judge in Texas recently banned prayer before football games.
What's your position on this?
A Bush "I think it's fine, as long as it's Christian prayers.
Anything else is un-American."
Q Governor, in Texas there are full-time wage earners who are
homeless. How will your compassionate conservative programs help
A Bush "Thank God we've finally stopped looking at the causes
of this terrible social problem and started focusing on the symptoms."
Q And about the little Cuban kid? What would you do?
A Bush ""We can't let this child come under the sway
of an isolationist, tyrannical state led by a self-obsessed sociopath.
By all means, send him back to Cuba."
I'm just shaking my head in amazement that this man can even dress
himself. And he's the head of state of the most powerful nation
on Earth, for God's sake! Oy vey!
However, there is the problem of Bush's "unnatural power of
persuasion." The polls indicate that there are people being
persuaded by what he says - which is another symptom of the psychopath
- even though they speak in a contradictory way, people are persuaded
by what they say to such an extent that they will defend them against
all attacks, even if the psychopath is caught doing something red-handed!
The psychopath is able to persuade large groups of people to believe
in them with no visible and logical reasons for doing so.
Manipulation is the key to the psychopath's conquests. Initially,
the psychopath will feign false emotions to create empathy, and
many of them study the tricks that can be employed by the empathy
technique. Psychopaths are often able to incite pity from people
because they seem like "lost souls" as Guggenbuhl-Craig
writes. So the pity factor is one reason why victims often fall
for these "poor" people.
Hare cites a famous case where a psychopath was "Man of the
Year" and president of the Chamber of Commerce in his small
town. (Remember that John Wayne Gacy was running for Jaycee President
at the very time of his first murder conviction!) The man in question
had claimed to have a Ph.D. from Berkeley. He ran for a position
on the school board which he then planned to parlay into a position
on the county commission which paid more.
At some point, a local reporter suddenly had the idea to check
up on the guy - to see if his credentials were real. What the reporter
found out was that the only thing that was true about this up and
coming politician's "faked bio" was the place and date
of birth. Everything else was fictitious. Not only was the man a
complete impostor, he had a long history of antisocial behavior,
fraud, impersonation, and imprisonment. His only contact with a
university was a series of extension courses by mail that he took
while in Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary. What is even more amazing
is the fact that before he was a con-man, he was a "con-boy."
For two decades he had dodged his way across America one step ahead
of those he had hoodwinked. Along the way he had married three women
and had four children, and he didn't even know what had happened
to them. And now, he was on a roll! But darn that pesky reporter!
When he was exposed, he was completely unconcerned. "These
trusting people will stand behind me. A good liar is a good judge
of people," he said. Amazingly, he was right. Far from being
outraged at the fact that they had all been completely deceived
and lied to from top to bottom, the local community he had conned
so completely to accrue benefits and honors to himself that he had
not earned, rushed to his support!
I kid you not! And it wasn't just "token support." The
local Republican party chairman wrote about him: "I assess
his genuineness, integrity, and devotion to duty to rank right alongside
of President Abraham Lincoln." As Hare dryly notes, this dimwit
was easily swayed by words, and was blind to deeds.
Most people are able to combine ideas that have consistent thought
themes, but psychopaths have great difficulty doing this. Again,
this suggests a genetic restriction to what we have called the Juvenile
Dictionary. Not only are they using extremely restricted definitions,
they cannot, by virtue of the way their brains work, do otherwise.
Virtually all of the research on psychopaths reveals an inner world
that is banal, sophomoric, and devoid of the color and detail that
generally exists in the inner world of normal people. This goes
a long way to explain the inconsistencies and contradictions in
The situation is analogous to a movie in which one scene is shot
under cloudy conditions and the next scene - which supposedly takes
place a few minutes later - is shot in brilliant sunshine. […]
Some moviegoers - the victims of psychopaths - might not notice
the discrepancy, particularly if they are engrossed in the action.
Psychopaths are notorious for not answering the questions asked
them. They will answer something else, or in such a way that the
direct question is never addressed. They also phrase things so that
some parts of their narratives are difficult to understand. This
is not careless speech, of which everyone is guilty at times, but
an ongoing indication of the underlying condition in which the organization
of mental activity suggests something is wrong. It's not what they
say, but how they say it that gives insight into their true nature.
But this raises, again, the question: if their speech is so odd,
how come smart people get taken in by them? Why do we fail to pick
up the inconsistencies?
Part of the answer is that the oddities are subtle so that our
general listening mode will not normally pick them up. But my own
experience is that some of the "skipped" or oddly arranged
words, or misused words are automatically reinterpreted by OUR brains
in the same way we automatically "fill in the blank" space
on a neon sign when one of the letters has gone out. We can be driving
down the road at night, and ahead we see M_tel, and we mentally
put the "o" in place and read "Motel." Something
like this happens between the psychopath and the victim. We fill
in the "missing humanness" by filling in the blanks with
our own assumptions, based on what WE think and feel and mean. And,
in this way, because there are these "blank" spots, we
fill them in with what is inside us, and thus we are easily convinced
that the psychopath is a great guy - because he is just like us!
We have been conditioned to operate on trust, and we always try
to give the "benefit of the doubt." So, there are blanks,
we "give the benefit of the doubt," and we are thereby
hoisted on our own petard.
According to one individual who suffered at the hands of a psychopath:
"The World has only one problem, Psychopaths. There are two
basic types of Psychopaths, Social and Anti-Social. The essential
feature of Psychopaths is a Pervasive, Obssesive- Compulsive desire
to force their delusions on others.
But then, there are psychopaths, and their close kin, and far more
Portals... In either case, their "signature" is Wishful
[...] Maybe later the media
would figure out that they were being punked: that for those with
eyes to see this was not a "moderate" gathering in any
recognizable sense of word. [...] the shame of the convention stories
they so assiduously missed.
One of them concerns the central argument emanating from the podium:
that George W. Bush is creating a new world of peace and stability
in the Middle East.
That story has shattered like a window pane, and the administration's
architects and implementers have been the ones wielding the bricks.
Men like Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, who wrote the interrogation
policy that, via Abu Ghraib, has rendered every American in Iraq
vulnerable to the kind of savagery described in—well, an astonishing
article in the previous morning's New York Times, on how the Taliban-like
militias in control of the strategically crucial city of Falluja
(of most of Western Iraq in fact), are beheading leaders of the
American-trained security forces.
Men like War on Terrorism guru Richard Perle, singled out in a
report that dropped Wednesday for culpability in the looting of
95 percent of the net income of a company, Hollinger International,
on whose board he sat.
Men like defense department analyst Larry Franklin, and the American
Israel Public Affairs Committee, and who knows how many neoconservatives
to be named later—not to mention Ahmed Chalabi, Laura Bush's
State of the Union Address companion, announcing his return to Iraq's
political scene on Wednesday—all implicated as details emerged
through convention week on an eye-popping two- year FBI investigation
of the passing of classified intelligence to Israel.
It was Wednesday night that Vice President Cheney said, "Just
as surely as the Nazis during World War II and the Soviets during
the cold war, the enemy we face today is bent on our destruction."
I'm inclined to agree with him. Which leaves me in something of
a spot. What to do about the fact that so many of the men the Bush
administration has charged with redeeming the fear are turning out
to be incompetents and crooks? [...]
More and more as convention week went on, I found myself lamenting
the lack of a word in the English language to describe the kind
of utterance that produces this uncanny frustration, this furious
oscillating over whether to call something you swear you just heard
a lie, a product of ignorance, or a side- effect of lamentable political
self-hypnosis. All are morally contemptible if uttered by figures
at this level.
Be that as it may, the problem is terminological efficiency. And
it was the Great Communicator himself, the hero of this convention,
who came through for me in the pinch. Ronald Reagan used to love
to repeat, "It's not that our liberal friends are ignorant.
It's just that they know so much that just isn't so."
Just so. [...]
Surely this is historic. A presidential campaign
is being built on a tissue of demonstrable falsehoods. And those
are just the biggest not-so's. Here are some of the smaller. They
came faster than I could fact check them. And, apparently, faster
than the New York Times or Washington Post could fact-check them.
Zell exhorts, to a standing ovation that lasts 20 seconds, that
"today's Democratic leaders see America as an occupier, not
A Nexis search indicates that Senator Kerry has never been quoted
saying that. Nor Senate minority leader Tom Daschle, nor House leader
Nancy Pelosi, nor Senate or House Democratic whips Harry Reid or
Steny Hoyer; nor Hoyer's deputy whips Charlie Stenholm, Nita Lowie,
Maxine Waters. I'll admit at this point I stopped searching. Maybe
Miller is referring to the clerk in the House Democratic cloakroom.
The great straight-talker himself, John McCain, breathed a not-so
(like all the most vintage examples of the genre, this one also
received a standing ovation) when he said Michael Moore's film depicted
"Saddam's Iraq as an oasis of peace" (Moore's actual claim:
there are children in Iraq, and they fly kites).
Bill Frist not-so'ed compulsively, not least when he implied that
it was George Bush, not a generation of Democrats, who proposed
a prescription drug subsidy under Medicare (the GOP stonewalled
the notion until they had a president of their own who could claim
credit for it).
"Arnold Leaves Them Laughing," Newsday
headlined. He also, Newsday neglected to note, not-so'ed: "The
President didn't go into Iraq because the polls told him it was
popular. A matter of fact, the polls said just the opposite."
The facts: two-thirds supported the invasion the month before it
happened, 58 percent on its eve, and almost three-quarters after
They even not-so'ed before the convention even started. Colin Powell
skipped the event, officials claimed, because cabinet secretaries
never participate in conventions. Poor Elaine Chao: perhaps she
was presented in prime time Wednesday night not for her position
as the president's labor secretary, but because she was the only
Asian woman they could find?
The not-so's and the nutsos, those coarse threads woven within
the skein of "compassionate conservatism": That is the
story of this Republican convention.
In the home stretch to come—only seven more weeks!—expect
more waves of slashing attacks on John Kerry, on John Kerry's wife,
even if an animated video shown on the screen at the convention
is any indication, John Kerry's dog.
The media won't call them on it. Nor will they
call them on their habitual indulgence of a grassroots extremism
that increasingly borders on mania.
The media didn't call the Republicans on Donnie McClurkin. He came.
He sang. He conquered. He was surrounded on the stage by a cloud
of singing little children, sitting cross-legged, wearing white,
pure and innocent—a semiotic coding unmistakable to that narrow
world where millions of people know that Pastor McClurkin has devoted
his life to saving children from the cult-like snares of the homosexual
recruiters. "The gloves are off," he told the 700 Club.
"And if there's going to be a war, there's going to be a war."
The media missed that message.
Mr. Bush has been acting very
erratic lately, and his profanity laced outbursts are becoming almost
a daily occurrence, according to White House insiders.
When Bush was questioned about his relationship with Kenneth Lay,
the scandal ridden ex-CEO of Enron, Bush stormed off the podium
and screamed to his aides: "Keep those motherf***ers away from
me," and then "If you can"t, I"ll find someone
Other aides report "In meetings with top aides and administration
officials, the President goes from quoting the Bible in one breath
to obscene tantrums against the media, Democrats and others that
he classifies as "enemies of the state."
In interviews with several White House staff, they paint a picture
of an administration under siege has emerged, led by a man who declares
his decisions to be "God's will" and then tells aides
to "fuck over" anyone they consider to be an opponent
of the administration.
When Bush was first running for president,
he was very adamant about telling the public he was a born again
Christian, but his behavior is quite the opposite. The first
sign that something wasn"t quite right was when Bush said he
enjoyed the Austin Powers movies series. The Austin Power movies
are heavily laced with sexual connotations, innuendos and overt
sexual humor. A born again Christian would find these movies abhorrent.
There is more reason to be concerned because Bush
has a history of chemical dependency. Bush is an admitted alcoholic,
and he never sought treatment. Then there are the stories about
his cocaine use when he was younger.
George Washington University psychiatrist Dr. Justin Frank in his
book Bush on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President. Dr. Frank
diagnosed the President as a "paranoid megalomaniac" and
"untreated alcoholic" whose "lifelong streak of sadism,
ranging from childhood pranks (using firecrackers to explode frogs)
to insulting journalists, gloating over state executions and pumping
his hand gleefully before the bombing of Baghdad" showcase
It is rumored that Bush is now being treated with
anti-depressants, however, angry outbursts, stating they are doing
God"s work, and systematic attacks on perceived enemies are
not symptoms of clinical depression. Bush is displaying symptoms
of schizophrenia and paranoid delusions.
Bush"s Doctor expressed concerns about prescribing anti-depressants
to a person who has a history of alcohol addiction - this is a mystery
because anti-depressants are not addicting and are frequently used
to treat people with alcohol addictions. This should eliminate the
concern that Bush is in a depressive state. It could be Bush is
being treated with narcotic based tranquilizers - which would validate
the physicians concerns.
Depression is characterized by withdrawal from society, sullen,
sudden outbursts of crying, sadness, suicidal idealizations, and
in severe cases, the person is immobilized to the point where even
getting out of bed is a task too difficult to take on. Bush is showing
none of these symptoms. A person with depression does not have angry
outbursts or paranoid delusions.
We are also starting to hear that Aides who raise questions quickly
find themselves shut out of access to the President or other top
advisors. Among top officials, Bush's inner circle is shrinking.
Secretary of State Colin Powell has fallen out of favor because
of his growing doubts about the administration's war against Iraq.
But the President who says he rules at the behest
of God can also tongue-lash those he perceives as disloyal, calling
them "fucking assholes" in front of other staff, berating
one cabinet official in front of others and labeling anyone who
disagrees with him "unpatriotic" or "anti-American."
Attorney General John Ashcroft appears to be the
only tefloned member of the shrinking Bush close inner circle. Ashcroft
and Bush have close bonds with this "we are doing God"s
will" mentality and delusion.
Ashcroft is also under heavy fire for his approach and actions
that threatens the very freedoms granted by the Constitution.
One long-time GOP political consultant who - for obvious reasons
- asked not to be identified said, "We have to face the very
real possibility that the President of the United States is loony
tunes," he says sadly. "That"s not good for my candidates,
it"s not good for the party and it"s certainly not good
for the country."
I am reminded of the last days of Hitler. He too saw enemies everywhere,
honestly believed he was doing God"s will, summarily expelled
those who were critical of his decisions, and held close those who
shared his psychosis.
Mr. Bush, it might be best for the country if you step down and
not run for reelection. You need to get a handle on what is going
on inside you - the American people would support that decision
and we"d be behind you if you stepped down. If you win the
election and stay in the White House, you'd be putting this country
in even more peril. When Nixon resigned, yes, we did breathe a sigh
of relief, but if you noticed, he also won the hearts, and respect,
of America for doing the right thing.
Pravda.ru readers can find more information at:
Fidel Castro on Monday lashed out at his US counterpart for claiming
Cuba was a favored destination for pedophiles and other sex tourists,
and pointed to George W. Bush's past alcohol problems.
In a speech attended by members of the diplomatic corps, Castro
dismissed the claims Bush made during a recent speech in Florida
as "crude calumnies" made by "a sinister caracter
who threatens and insults us."
"In the feverish and fundamentalist mind of the all-powerful
head of the White House ... one now has to save Cuba not only from
tyranny but one also has to save Cuban children from sexual exploitation
and the trafficking of people," Castro said.
He questioned the Bush's mental capacities, quoting
from the "Bush on the couch" book to describe the US president
as a past alcoholic. About half his 90-minute speech was devoted
to quotes from the book, written by psychoanalist Justin Frank who
portrays Bush as a man driven by rage and fear.
Earlier this month, Bush claimed that Castro's communist regime
has made Cuba the favored destination for pedophiles and sex tourists
from the United States and Canada, replacing nations in Southeast
Asia that have fought for years to end the trade.
Castro claimed "Bush's lies" were fabricated to justify
last month's adoption of measures to restrict travel to the island
He claimed the measures would cost the US president votes. "The
idea of a vote of punishment is gaining ground among thousands of
Cuban-Americans who normally would have voted for Bush," he
said, adding that 15,000 to 20,000 voters could sink the US president's
hopes for re-election in November.
Most Cuban-Americans live in Florida, a state that could again
be pivotal in the presidential election, as it was in 2000.
Clad in his traditional green fatigues, Castro spoke at a ceremony
in Santa Clara to mark the 51st anniversary of the rebel assault
on the Moncada Barracks, in which he participated and which launched
the Cuban revolution.
In a speech tinged with irony toward the US president, Castro said
that while Bush believes he had divine inspiration to invade Iraq,
"hopefully, that won't be the case for Cuba and God won't give
instructions to Bush to attack our country, but rather induces him
to avoid this enormous mistake."
"Those of us who are not afraid to die, are not scared of
your huge might, of your unstoppable rage, nor of your dangerous
and cowardly threats toward Cuba," Castro said.
President George W. Bush is anti-depressant
drugs to control his erratic behavior, Capitol Hill Blue has learned.
The prescription drugs were administered by Col. Richard J. Tubb,
the White House physician.
Tubb prescribed the anti-depressants after Bush stalked off stage
on July 7, refusing to answer reporters' questions about his relationship
with indicted Enron executive Kenneth J. Lay.
Bush's mental stability has become the topic of Washington
whispers in recent months. Capitol Hill Blue first reported on June
4 about increasing concern among White House aides over the President's
wide mood swings and obscene outbursts.
Although GOP loyalists dismissed the reports an anti-Bush propaganda,
the reports were later confirmed by prominent George Washington
University psychiatrist Dr. Justin Frank in his book Bush on the
Couch: Inside the Mind of the President. Dr. Frank diagnosed the
President as a "paranoid meglomaniac" and "untreated
alcoholic" whose "lifelong streak of sadism, ranging
from childhood pranks (using firecrackers to explode frogs) to insulting
journalists, gloating over state executions and pumping his hand
gleefully before the bombing of Baghdad" showcase Bush's
"I was really very unsettled by him and I started watching
everything he did and reading what he wrote and watching him on
videotape. I felt he was disturbed," Dr. Frank said. "He
fits the profile of a former drinker whose alcoholism has been arrested
but not treated."
Dr. Frank's conclusions have been praised by other prominent
psychiatrists, including Dr. James Grotstein, Professor at UCLA
Medical Center, and Dr. Irvin Yalom, MD, Professor Emeritus at Stanford
University Medical School.
The doctors also worry about the wisdom of giving anti-depressant
drugs to a person with a history of chemical dependency. Bush is
an admitted alcoholic, although he never sought treatment in a formal
program, and stories about his cocaine use as a younger man haunted
his campaigns for Texas governor and his first campaign for President.
"President Bush is an untreated alcoholic with paranoid and
megalomaniac tendencies," Dr. Frank adds.
The White House did not return phone calls seeking comment on this
Although the exact drugs Bush takes to control his depression and
behavior are not known, White House sources say they are designed
to bring his erratic actions under control. While Col. Tubb regularly
releases a synopsis of the President's annual physical, details
of the President's health and any drugs or treatment he may
receive are not public record and are guarded zealously by the secretive
cadre of aides that surround the President.
Veteran White House watchers say the ability to control information
about Bush's health, either physical or mental, is similar
to Ronald Reagan's second term when aides managed to conceal
the President's increasing memory lapses that signaled the
onslaught of Alzheimer's Disease.
It also brings back memories of Richard Nixon's final days
when the soon-to-resign President wandered the halls and talked
to portraits of former Presidents. The stories didn't emerge
until after Nixon left office.
Now that our president has embedded
us in the Middle East for an indefinite future, you might as well
start trying to educate yourself about the area and its conflicts.
As one can say about so many problems in this world, it all began
with the British Empire.
When you look at a map of the Middle East, you are looking at a
map drawn by two Europeans by the names of Sykes and Picot. This
map represents the betrayal of the Arabs and the Kurds. Before this
map was drawn, the area had been part of the Ottoman Empire. (That's
Turkey, for those of you who hate history and geography.)
The British, with their usual perfidy, had promised everything
to everybody. Help us overthrow the Turks, they said to the Arabs,
and you can have an independent Arab nation afterward. Help us overthrow
the Turks, they said to the Kurds, and you will get an independent
Kurdistan. And for some reason historians still argue about, they
also promised European Zionists that they (the Brits) would establish
a Jewish homeland in Palestine. They betrayed them, too, because
what they did was establish the Palestine mandate — or, in
plain language, British occupation of Palestine.
Britain and France divided the Middle East between themselves,
and this basic fact set off the conflicts we are still dealing with.
The problem with establishing a Jewish state was that Arabs already
occupied the area chosen. While they initially had no quarrel with
Jews who wanted to immigrate to Palestine (the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict has nothing to do with religion and never has), as soon
as they figured out that European Jews were not coming to be Palestinians
but to take their land away from them, the Arabs revolted. The British
It wasn't too long, however, before Jews became impatient with
British occupation and so, to drive out the British, did what Palestinians
are doing today — used terror. Two of the premier Jewish terrorists
— Menachem Begin, who led the Irgun, and Yitzhak Shamir, who
led the Stern Gang — would later become prime ministers of
Israel. It is the political parties these terrorists started that
rule Israel today. Begin is famous for blowing up the King David
Hotel, Shamir for reputedly ordering the assassination of Swedish
diplomat Count Folke Bernadotte, who had been sent on a peace mission
by the United Nations. Both of their groups joined forces to commit
one of the most infamous massacres in history at the little village
of Deir Yassin, where more than 200 men, women and children were
slaughtered. Much of modern terrorist methods were pioneered by
Begin. You should read his book "The Revolt."
Sometime in 1947, the British had had enough of Palestine and announced
they were going to end the mandate the following year and dump the
problem in the lap of the United Nations. The Zionists fiercely
lobbied both Harry Truman and Joe Stalin. The deal was to get a
vote to partition Palestine. The Jews would immediately proclaim
the state of Israel, and, as preplanned, the United States and the
Soviet Union would instantly recognize it. This was the first instance
of the United States using a combination of threats and bribery
to round up votes at the United Nations.
Jews and Palestinians were already fighting, and in the course
of that fighting, the better-organized Zionists decided to expand
beyond the boundaries set by the partition resolution and to do
a little ethnic cleansing, since Arabs still outnumbered Jewish
residents 2-1. Despite some volunteers coming in from other Arab
countries, the Zionists had accomplished both goals by the cease-fire
in 1948. In a 1967 war, the Zionists took the rest of Palestine,
and Palestinians, who stubbornly insist on self-determination (once,
but no longer, an American value), are fighting them the best way
With the United States loading the Israelis down with both modern
arms and billions of dollars, however, the Palestinians are having
a hard time. This issue has made the United States hated in the
region and the king of hypocrites because we have vetoed 35 U.N.
resolutions to prevent the international community from giving any
justice or help to the Palestinians.
Now, our president has included Palestinian organizations that
are not international terrorists (Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah)
on our list of enemies. Originally, they were just aiming their
attacks at Israel, but I suppose this might change since George
Bush has become the puppet of the Israeli government.
Hang on to your hats, folks. You're in for a violent
next 50 years or so.
Flipping the pages of a newspaper
I ran across an AP dispatch buried in the back pages. In it, a grief-stricken
father in Florida just informed that his 20-year-old marine son
had been killed in Iraq, angrily tried to ignite the van carrying
the marines sent to tell him the news, and in the process burning
him severely. "My husband did not take the news well,"
his wife said. And a few days later another story about a mother
in New York state mourning the death of her soldier son and filled
with anger. "I don't think it's fair that so many
mothers and fathers, siblings have to go through what I'm
going through. Is it about oil? I don't know what this war
is for. We don't want anyone else to die in this useless,
It's too much to bear.
I used to commute to work by rail with a neighbor who lived down
the road. He had been an Air Force Captain during the Vietnam War
and one of his jobs was to visit families and tell them a family
member had died in the war. Tell me more, I pleaded. I'm sorry
I told you that, he said apologetically. It was hard. He did tell
me that he'd never allow his sons to join the military.
Some memories: My boyhood pal Porky never returned from the Korean
War. The laconic and pleasant Trinchintella boy, who helped around
his father's neighborhood gas station and was trained for
Vietnam as a helicopter gunner, was grievously wounded and died
in a military hospital in Japan, his parents at his side. My former
student Ronald Boston, shy, unathletic, African American, a kid
who tried so hard to get good grades. His mother tended my mother
in a nursing home and told me one day she had a dream in which Ronald
was killed in Vietnam. Poor Mrs. Boston. Poor Ronald. He never did
make it home except in a casket. In an earlier "good war,"
Irving Starr, whose family owned the Deli next door, was killed
during a raid over Ploesti oil fields. His body was never found.
Phil Drazin who used to play ball with us younger kids. When his
father learned the news he raced out of his store and ran screaming
into Strauss Street. I wish I remembered the name of an 18-year-old
who lived in an adjoining apartment. 0ne summer afternoon his father
walked from work toward the bench outside the building in which
he lived and began sobbing. My mother, who was very good about such
things, embraced him as he cried for his only son.
I have never forgotten any of them. I visit the Vietnam Memorial
in Washington and New York City. I devour books by Paul Fussell,
Samuel Hynes, W.Y. Boyd, E.B. Sledge, all of whom lived as soldiers
or marines through the carnage of war and memorized Donald Hall's
poem "1943" ("They toughened us for war…Dom
died in the third wave at Tarawa…"). During the Vietnam
War, I interviewed several hundred combat veterans for a book I
wrote about three hawkish soldiers who believed they were fighting
for freedom, four doves that spoke of atrocities and smashed ideals,
and three I thought of as "haunted," perhaps forever.
I wrote, "Never before in American history have as many loyal
and brave young men been as shabbily treated by the government that
sent them to war."
These days I scan the lists of killed GIs in the New York Times,
many of whom, now nearing a thousand, are rarely mentioned in conservative
or liberal mass media. Perhaps they really don't care enough
to even print their names.
But mainly I think of them because the same people
who sent them to war in Iraq and are now subtly promoting yet another
war, this time against Iran. "Forget an 0ctober Surprise, a
much worse one could come in September," wrote the experienced
foreign correspondent Martin Sieff in the Washington Times. "Full-scale
war between the U.S. and Iran may be far closer than the [distracted]
American public might imagine. Iranian defense Minister Ali Shamkhani's
recent bombshell threatened to retaliate should the U.S. or its
Israeli partner target nuclear facilities. "Believe him,"
said Sieff, ominously.
September or not, and given the fact that U.S. troops are currently
tied down in Iraq and more than 130 other places around the world,
it's still "a serious confrontation," said Iran
expert Cliff Kupchan of the Nixon Center. And who is promoting the
notion of another preemptive attack and if need be wasting yet another
generation of American men and women in war? None other than our
neocons, who always remind me of Charles Edward Montague's
delicious put down of British hawks in World War I when 8 million
soldiers were killed and millions of others perished in an entirely
unnecessary war. "War," said Montague, "hath no fury
like a non-combatant." Don't hold your breath waiting
for news that members of the clan will be sending their kids to
Leading the charge on the government side is Under Secretary of
State John Bolton, their point man and ultra hawk in Colin Powell's
reticent and pusillanimous State Department. Bolton recently told
his fellow true believers at the Hudson Institute that Iran has
hidden a vast nuclear arms program for nearly two decades. "We
cannot let Iran, a leading sponsor of international terrorism, acquire
nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them to Europe, most of
Central Asia and the Middle East, or beyond" – meaning
New York, Washington and Los Angeles, I imagine. The same bellicose
talk has emanated from Condaleeza Rice and the usual hard line pundits,
the identical people who brought us the daily casualty lists but
whose caskets we are not allowed to photograph or see. They can't
come right out before the election and admit Iran is next on their
imperial agenda, but it's very much on their minds.
Here's a nightmarish scenario: U.S. and Israelis
bomb Iran, its nuclear facilities and even more (or vice versa)
and Iran counterattacks against Israel's Dimona nuclear facilities
and maybe Israel proper. A draft is reinstated to provide hundreds
of thousands of additional cannon fodder to fight 70 million non-Arab
Iranians who in the 1980s absorbed 500,000 deaths in a savage war
against Sadam's Iraq. More Middle Eastern terrorists are created
and American college campuses erupt in fury. Sixties redux, only
But possibly this is just a replay of the hoary Dulles-Nixon "madman"
theory to keep adversaries guessing. Or maybe there will be secret
talks aimed at settling the problem? Or that Washington's
neocons have learned a painful lesson after Iraq and rue all those
American and Iraqi deaths, not to mention the badly wounded. Frankly,
I wouldn't bet on it.
Prowar imperialists such as Theodore Roosevelt and Rudyard Kipling
changed their tunes once their sons died in World War I. Kipling
could only assuage his grief and guilt in his shattering couplet:
If any question why we died
Tell them, because our fathers lied.
In Manhattan this week, a group
calling themselves Billionaires for Bush has been protesting in
top hat and tails. I first saw them outside Madison Square Garden
- where the Republican National Convention was meeting - as the
first President Bush arrived. They toasted him with champagne and
chanted "No Justice? No Problem!" One of them yelled,
"Huzzah to Bush for lining our pockets with the sweat of the
American worker!" Like all good satire, it works because it
is dangerously close to the truth. It's not hard to see why America's
billionaires love Bush. Two thirds of his massive $350bn programme
of tax cuts has gone to the richest 10 per cent of Americans.
But even in America, the rich are a minority. So as I wandered
through the platoons of Republican delegates stomping around New
York this week, I kept asking myself: why do so many poor and middle-income
Americans support a party that has done nothing but spit on them
for four long years? The poorest county in the United States (MacPherson
County, Nebraska) voted for Bush in 2000 by more than 80 per cent.
That wasn't a fluke result.
The most rabid delegates I've met here are not the preppy Republican
college kids or the tanned, corpulent middle-aged couples. No, the
most enthusiastic Bushies are poor people from poor states, some
of them visiting New York for the first time. I sat next to a sweet,
neat woman in the convention hall called Lily. She works for the
minimum wage in an Oklahoma Wal-Mart. If she voted according to
class issues, she'd be a solid left-winger - yet she howled in quasi-sexual
ecstasy throughout Dick Cheney's speech, punching the air at every
mention of the very liberals who might redistribute wealth in her
How did this happen? The mutation in American politics that helps
to explain it can be traced to the 1950s, and the corporate buy-out
of US democracy. Since both parties now served the richest Americans,
their economic policies became startlingly similar, but rather than
admit this, politicians changed the debate to the areas where they
still disagreed - social issues like abortion, gay rights, and religion.
Only now - with the smirking face of George Bush - has this process
finally become complete. Bush is dismantling the few social programmes
in the US that help the poor, but he talks up his agreement with
the hyper-patriotism, homophobia, evangelism and opposition to abortion
prevalent among poor Americans. That's how he passes as a "regular
guy" - unlike the pro-gay, pro-choice, quiet-about-religion
John Kerry. Since Kerry has no alternative class agenda, of course
the American poor opt for the guy who at least agrees with them
I tried to talk to Lily about these issues and
she looked at me as if I was a Martian. "Oh no, that's communism,
honey," she said about even the most moderate social democratic
In the US, the twin opiates of religion and nationalism have become
more successful than any Marxist sociologist could have ever imagined.
Lily's gaze has been distracted by a colourful flag and a cross,
while the welfare state designed to protect her has been trashed
and the already-rich have been handed the proceeds.
It takes a lot to make me feel sympathy for evangelicals, but the
way they have been taken for a ride by the Republican Party almost
does it. The likes of Cheney - and before him, Reagan - are happy
to use divisive social issues as bait to lure in the poor (who form
the vast bulk of the evangelical movement) at election time. The
Bush posse aren't going to do any of the things Lily wants. They
won't criminalise abortion and homosexuality or start censoring
"the tide of atheism and porn" coming from Hollywood;
they have chosen these issues precisely because they are politically
impossible. They guarantee a handy source of pro-Republican evangelical
rage until kingdom come.
As the 2000 election approached, it seemed that the evangelicals
might be waking up to this political con. They were gradually seeing
through patrician Republicans like Bush senior. The two wings of
Republicanism - corporate lackeydom and social conservatism - looked
less and less compatible. Then George W Bush came along. He was
the perfect choice to keep the Republican coalition together, because
he is a rare combination of hick theology and absolute obedience
to corporate interests. The evangelicals can focus on his born-again
narrative while the corporations pocket the receipts.
In the age of Dubya, anybody who tries to explain this dark tale
is denounced as trying to "provoke class warfare" and
"divide Americans". It's a clever corporate trick: fight
a militant class war on behalf of the rich, and then silence your
critics by changing the subject and accusing them of being the ones
obsessed with class. The last time I saw the Billionaires for Bush,
they were playing croquet in Central Park. I asked what they thought
about social issues. "Oh, vote for Bush, and he'll be very
angry about gays and abortion and what-not. But he won't have time
to do much about it: he'll be too busy giving tax cuts for us! All
together now - hip-hip, hooray!"
When will women like Lily - travelling back to her $7-an-hour job
as you read this - realise they've been had?
They didn't change the Republican
platform, prevent the nomination of President Bush or even make
a lot of noise about voting for Democratic nominee Sen. John Kerry.
But the half-million or so people who protested during the GOP convention
this week didn't come for that.
Protesters said they had shown that not all
Americans agree with Bush and that dissenters can speak out. "People
are recognizing they need to vote with their feet. They need to
be out in the streets," said Tanya Mayo, 36, national organizer
of Not In Our Name, an anti-war group.
The protests were believed to be the largest ever at a U.S. political
On Thursday, police in riot gear greeted demonstrators for a final
night outside the Republican convention as Bush spoke inside. Police
said late Thursday that there were no major incidents. [...]
Organizers said the protests succeeded in focusing attention on
the anti-war sentiment in the country and providing a boost to a
movement they say will continue long after the Republican convention.
"We feel very heartened by the massive turnout this week,"
said Brian Becker, national coordinator for the ANSWER Coalition.
"It gave the anti-war movement a great gust of wind in its
Leslie Cagan of United for Peace and Justice said, "I think
people are coming off of this week feeling very strong, very empowered.
... So hopefully people will go back into their neighborhoods and
be inspired ...and keep the action going."
Andrea Buffa, a national organizer for Code Pink, a women's anti-war
group that was highly visible at protests thanks to members' hot
pink outfits and Statue of Liberty crowns, said a teenager from
Queens joined them Saturday and then spent nearly every day demonstrating
with the group. She even encouraged members to protest Bush's visit
in Queens on Wednesday night, Buffa said.
"She's 14 (years old) and she's going to become an activist
for the rest of her life because of what she participated in this
week," Buffa said.
"We brought the naked truth to the (convention) floor,"
said Asia Russell, 28, a spokeswoman for ACT UP, the AIDS activist
group that disrupted a Young Republicans meeting Wednesday and also
unfurled a banner during Laura Bush's speech Tuesday. But she was
not pleased by the overall outcome. "The police and Secret
Service acted violently, and they didn't need to," Russell
said. "Real issues didn't get discussed unless we were forcing
people to pay attention."
More than 1,800 people were arrested during convention-related
protests, including 29 on Thursday. Activists and attorneys continued
to criticize police for the mass arrests of demonstrators.
Buffa reflected the mixed emotions some protesters felt toward
the police. "We felt we were able to
establish pretty good rapport with the police out on the streets,"
she said. "We tried to engage them in dialogue and said that
these protests are not against you, they're against the Bush agenda.
At the same time, I think that, especially on Tuesday, there was
a policy implemented that was kind of like a pre-emptive strike
against the protesters. And I think that violated people's First
New York officials released about 470 protesters late Thursday
after being fined by a judge because the protesters had been held
too long without being arraigned. New York Supreme Court Justice
John Cataldo fined the city $1,000 for every protester held past
5 p.m. "These people have already been the victims of a process,"
Kim Sue, 19, a New York college student, spent more than 24 hours
in custody after she helped disrupt the Young Republicans rally
in Madison Square Garden. She faces charges of assault from the
ensuing scuffle - although she says she was punched by people attending
the rally who were not arrested.
"I feel like my whole experience was utter hell. Every second
of the way, I was scared ... but I would do it again in a heartbeat,"
Sue said after she was released Thursday. "Because 8,000 people
a day are dying and they don't have the same access to the media.
Their voices are silent, and it's my responsibility."
There are certain rules in the
press about taking serious pokes at presidential offspring, especially
those in the pre- and post-pubescent stages of their lives. It is
always better to give them a break, even when they have engaged
in minor youthful indiscretions.
But with their national convention appearance, the Bush twins,
Jenna and Barbara (who hardly look related), now can expect that
most deferential treatment will disappear rapidly. And while they
have had some minor publicity over spreading their wings in college,
that is nothing compared to what they might run into if they continue
to campaign for their father the next two months.
Welcome to the really hard knocks of national politics.
Very simply, the introduction of their mother before a nationally
televised convention Tuesday night was ineptly performed by two
formerly sheltered, nervous young ladies whose giggling teleprompter
reading of insipid, slightly off-color lines was embarrassing even
for those who aren't related to them. If the idea was to make some
contact for their father with the 19-to-30 MTV crowd, it failed
miserably, despite references to a popular rock song and less than
high fashion outfits.
Sandwiched between a rousing speech by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger
and a thoughtful, sincere and amazingly polished speech by their
mother, Laura, the girls' performance was not only incongruous but
also jarring, reflected by the crowd's tepid response. Probably
the mildest critique came in a post mortem of national pundits who
suggested that it now is clear that it wasn't for nothing that the
girls have been kept out of the limelight.
That's probably unfair given the fact they weren't the architects
of this generally silly episode. After all the twins, with their
newly minted college diplomas, have spent the last four years engaged
in the three Bs of college life _ books, boys and beer _ and could
hardly be expected to know the difference between acceptable humor
and bad taste. Most college kids don't have a clue about such things.
Even in this age of enlightenment, it just isn't good to josh your
grandmother publicly, let alone on national television about her
Victorian sense of propriety about sex, particularly when she's
the former first lady and you're introducing the current one. Grandmother
Barbara Bush, sitting with the former president in the box of honor,
reflected her disapproval stoically.
The real culprits are the persons who dreamed up this farce, those
who wrote it and those who approved it. The really smart thing to
do would be to assign them all to walking the Alaska pipeline during
the dead of winter and in the midst of the mosquito season. Their
one genuinely funny line was in reference to John F. Kerry's daughter,
Alexandra, telling the Democratic Convention that her father had
saved their hamster from dying by giving it artificial respiration.
"We had a hamster, too," Barbara Bush noted. "Let's
just say ours didn't make it."
It is also unfair to compare the twin's performance generally with
that of the two Kerry daughters in Boston. Not only was their material
far more professional, they themselves are older, more extensively
educated, and clearly more experienced and polished in these situations.
The Bush twins, if they continue, will get a crash course in the
niceties _ and not so niceties _ of presidential campaigning, and
because they are bright they will learn.
Since the days of Theodore Roosevelt's free wheeling, spirited
daughter Alice, every president wants to shelter his children, particularly
the adolescent ones, from what frequently can be a cruel climate.
In most cases the press will honor this.
Despite the allegations of personal impropriety by Bill Clinton,
his daughter, Chelsea, was treated with sympathy by most of the
press. She went from high school through college generally protected
from the anger and criticism that surrounded her father.
The Bush twins have been treated similarly with the exception of
a couple of incidents when they committed the most common of teenage
college sins and presented a false ID at a bar. Horrors!
The twins are energetic, extremely attractive young ladies embarking
on their own great adventures. Those running their father's re-election
campaign should make certain that the material they are given keeps
the faith with their intellect and their image and their position
as part of the presidential family. Otherwise, there is no need
for them to be a major part of this race and they should refuse
to do so.
Sonoma State University's student
run media research group Project Censored announces the release
of its annual publication, censored 2005, a compilation of the year's
25 most significant news stories that were overlooked or underreported
by the country's major national news media, as well as chapters
on the grass roots media democracy, media ownership maps, real news
about US involvement in Palestine, Haiti, Iraq, and more.
With introduction by Greg Palast and the political cartoon commentary
of Tom Tomorrow throughout, this year's book covers critical issues
facing the American public this election year. In Chapter 1's list
of top 25 stories focus on politics, economics, foreign policy,
food and health, the environment, energy, domestic policy, and the
"We define censorship as interference with the free flow of
information," states Peter Phillips, Director of the Project,
Corporate media in the United States is interested primarily in
entertainment news to feed their bottom-line priorities. Very important
news stories that should reach the American public often fall on
the cutting room floor to be replaced by sex-scandals and celebrity
The Sonoma State University research group is composed of nearly
200 faculty, students and community experts who review about 1000
story submissions for coverage, content, reliability of sources
and national significance. The top 25 stories are submitted to a
panel of judges who then rank them in order of importance. Current
judges include, Norman Solomon, Michael Parenti, Cynthia McKinney,
Howard Zinn, and 20 other national journalists, scholars and writers.
For more information, contact:
Top Most Censored News Stories
- Wealth Inequity in 21st Century Threatens Economy and Democracy
- Ashcroft vs. the Human Rights Law that Holds Corporations Accountable
- Bush Administration Manipulates Science and Censors Scientists
- High Uranium Levels Found in Troops and Civilians
- The Wholesale Giveaway of Our Natural Resources
- The Sale of Electoral Politics
- Conservative Organization Drives Judicial Appointments
- Secrets of Cheney's Energy Task Force Come to Light
- Widow Brings RICO Case Against U.S. Government for 9/11
- New Nuke Plants: Taxpayers Support, Industry Profits
- The Media Can Legally Lie
- The Destabilization of Haiti
- Schwarzenegger Met with Enron's Ken Lay Before the California
- New Bill Threatens Intellectual Freedom
- US Develops Lethal New Bio-weapon Viruses
- Law Enforcement Agencies Spy on Innocent Citizens
- U.S. Government Represses Labor Unions in Iraq in Quest for
- Media and Government Ignore Dwindling Oil Supplies
- Global Food Cartel Fast Becoming the World's Supermarket
- Extreme Weather Prompts New Warning from UN
- Forcing a World Market for GMOs
- Exporting Censorship to Iraq
- Brazil Opposes US-style FTAA agreements, But Provides Little
Comfort for the Poor of South America
- Reinstating the Draft
- Wal-Mart Brings Inequity and Low Prices to the World
-- Peter Phillips Ph.D. Sociology Department/Project Censored
Sonoma State University 1801 East Cotati Ave. Rohnert Park, CA 94928
Seeing its first post-9/11 terrorism
case collapse had to be horribly embarrassing to the Justice Department,
but to its credit the department took the right and honorable course.
On Tuesday, the department agreed that terror charges against two
Arab immigrants, once said by Attorney General John Ashcroft to
be members of an al Qaeda sleeper cell, should be thrown out, their
convictions vacated. The two will receive a new trial on lesser
charges of document fraud, a substantial comedown from what was
once hailed as a major victory in the war on terror.
The department was prodded into that course by U.S. District Judge
Gerald Rosen in Detroit and by the defense attorneys for the two
immigrants, who were bagged in a raid by federal agents looking
for someone else. The department investigated defense charges that
assistant U.S. attorneys withheld and misrepresented evidence, and
indeed found evidence of prosecutorial misconduct fatal to the case.
Photos and drawings found in the pair's apartment
did not represent what the prosecution said they did. A key witness
turned out to be a known jailhouse liar. A videotape of alleged
terrorist targets may well have been an ordinary vacation video.
Potentially exculpatory evidence by an ex-CIA agent was withheld
from the defense.
So instead of what the department insisted was "a sleeper
combat cell" seeking weapons and terror targets, we don't know
what we have - maybe just a couple of grifters supplying bogus documents
to illegal immigrants, practically a cottage industry in this country.
Ashcroft is prone to make high-profile announcements about purported
breakthroughs in the war on terror and the presence of vague new
threats. Indeed, the judge admonished him
for "a distressing lack of care" in his public comments
on the Detroit case.
Combined with the attorney general's deep penchant for secrecy,
the public could be excused if it begins wondering if, like this
case, there's less there than meets the eye.
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) - The
United States and its allies have moved closer to capturing Osama
bin Laden in the last two months, a top U.S. counterterrorism official
said in a television interview broadcast Saturday.
"If he has a watch, he should be looking at it because the
clock is ticking. He will be caught," Joseph Cofer Black, the
U.S. State Department coordinator for counterterrorism, told private
Geo television network.
Asked if concrete progress had been made during
the last two months - when Pakistan has arrested dozens of terror
suspects including some key al-Qaida operatives - Black said, "Yes,
I would say this."
Black, who briefed a group of Pakistani journalists after talks
with officials here Friday, said he could not predict exactly when
bin Laden and other top al-Qaida fugitives would be nabbed.
"What I tell people, I would be surprised
but not necessarily shocked if we wake up tomorrow and he's been
caught along with all his lieutenants. That can happen because of
the programs and infrastructure in place," he told Geo.
Bin Laden and his top associate, Ayman al-Zawahri, are believed
to be hiding some place along the rugged border between Pakistan
and Afghanistan. Officials have divulged no solid intelligence about
bin Laden's precise whereabouts, and it's not clear if they have
Pakistan is a key ally of the United States in its war on terror,
and Black's visit comes weeks after Pakistani security forces captured
Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, a Tanzanian wanted for the 1998 U.S. embassy
bombings in east Africa, and Mohammed Naeem Noor Khan, a Pakistani
computer expert allegedly linked to al-Qaida operatives around the
The arrests led to a terror warning in the United States, and arrests
in Britain and the United Arab Emirates.
Black attended a meeting of the Pakistan-U.S. Joint Working Group
on Counterterrorism and Law Enforcement in Islamabad on Thursday
During the talks, Pakistan asked U.S. officials for more helicopters,
surveillance and communications equipment to help Pakistani forces
guard border areas near Afghanistan "more efficiently,"
a Pakistani official at the talks said.
"We got a positive response from the American officials,"
said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Pakistan has deployed about 70,000 troops along the Afghan border
and conducted several military operations this year in its lawless
and largely autonomous tribal regions against al-Qaida suspects
and their local supporters.
Black hailed Pakistan's efforts in counterterrorism - despite criticism
from Western officials who say that elements of the former ruling
Taliban regime in Afghanistan still operate inside Pakistan.
"In terms of national programs and effectiveness,
I would put Pakistan up against anyone else ... If you look at the
arrests they have made, the information they have developed and
the lives that have been saved, Pakistan is doing a great job,"
He added, however, that, "you can always do more."
ISLAMABAD (AFP) - Pakistan rejected
as pre-election politicking a US official's weekend claim that Osama
bin Laden was close to being captured.
"He can say this but we have no sound information.
This is a political statement," Information Minister Sheikh
Rashid told AFP.
The US State Department official in charge of counter-terrorism
affairs, Joseph Cofer Black, told local Geo television on Saturday
that the forces pursuing the Al-Qaeda chief had got closer to him
in the past two months.
"If he has a watch, he should be looking at it because the
clock is ticking. He will be caught," Black, who headed a US
delegation to Islamabad for bilateral anti-terrorism talks, said
in the television interview.
"What I tell people, I would be surprised but not necessarily
shocked if we wake up tomorrow and he's been caught along with all
his lieutenants. That can happen because of the programs and infrastructure
Rashid however said no new information had come to light despite
a series of high-profile Al-Qaeda arrests which began in mid-July.
"I think there is no confirmed information
about him. We have no knowledge. Maybe he (Black) has. We exchange
our information but we have no new information," the minister
"There has been no change (in the information)
since then." [...]
| WASHINGTON - A former Senate Intelligence
Committee chairman asserted Sunday that the general who ran the war
in Afghanistan said more than a year before the U.S.-led invasion
of Iraq that his resources were being shifted in preparation for taking
on Saddam Hussein.
Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla., contends that just months into combat
in Afghanistan, Gen. Tommy Franks also told him that fighting terrorism
in Somalia, Yemen and elsewhere should take priority over invading
Graham said Franks told him he thought the United
States knew less about the situation in Iraq than did some European
governments, and the Bush administration should ask them for advice.
The senator, who is retiring at year's end, said his conversation
with the now-retired general came in February 2002, when Graham
was chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
That was the month that Secretary of State Colin Powell told a
House committee that President Bush was considering "the most
serious set of options one might imagine" to bring "regime
change" in Iraq, including the possibility of doing it alone.
At least one European leader, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder,
said a few days later that Bush had assured him "he harbors
no attack plans."
The invasion began March 19, 2003, over the vigorous protests of
Germany and most other major U.S. allies except Britain, which joined
the invading force. Graham opposed the war.
Graham said on NBC's "Meet the Press" that his meeting
with Franks was at the general's headquarters, Central Command in
"He laid out a very precise strategy for
fighting the war on terror," Graham said.
"First, we should win the war in Afghanistan. Second, move
to Somalia, which as he described was almost anarchy but with a
substantial number of al-Qaida cells; then to Yemen. And
that we should be very careful about Iraq, because our intelligence
was so weak that we didn't know what we were getting into,"
Graham said. [...]
Greivous Constitutional Destruction;
The End Of Free Speech Nears
Recently, within a defense bill on Capitol Hill another bill was
hidden. This hidden attachment pertains to so-called "hate
crimes." The bill is Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act
(S. 933), a pro-homosexual hate crimes bill.
The Defense bill with the 'hate crime' attachment passed the senate
65 to 33, and will now be going to the house.
What does this mean?
Simply put, it permits the GOVERNMENT to decide what is a hate crime.
The measure also extends into our freedom of speech.
EVERYONE should be aware, that almost anything you do or say can
be construed as a 'hate crime' by someone, somewhere if that person
or group chooses to silence the views and thoughts you are discussing.
We've already seen the Patriot Act abused during the RNC, as over
1000 Americans have been arrested merely for expressing their rights
of free speech and dissent as AMERICANS. [...]
Here is another write up about the problems such a bill can create
from the senate: http://rpc.senate.gov/_files/CRIMEcr071503.pdf
Russia (AP) - A shaken President Vladimir Putin made a rare and
candid admission of Russian weakness Saturday in the face of an
"all-out war" by terrorists after more than 340 people
- nearly half of them children - were killed in a hostage-taking
at a southern school.
Putin went on national television to tell Russians they must mobilize
against terrorism. He promised wide-ranging
reforms to toughen security forces and purge corruption.
"We showed weakness, and weak people are beaten,"
he said in a speech aimed at addressing the grief, shock and anger
felt by many after a string of attacks that have killed some 450
people in the past two weeks, apparently in connection with the
war in Chechnya.
Shocked relatives wandered among row after row of bodies lined
up in black or clear plastic body bags on the pavement at a morgue
in Vladikavkaz, the capital of North Ossetia, where the dead from
the school standoff in the town of Beslan were taken. In some open
bags lay the contorted, thin bodies of children, some monstrously
In Beslan, people scoured lists of names to see if their loved
ones survived the chaos of the day before, when the standoff turned
violent Friday as militants set off explosives in the school and
commandos moved in to seize the building.
Beslan residents were allowed to enter the burned-out husk that
was once the gymnasium of School No. 1, where more than 1,000 hostages
were held during the 62-hour ordeal that started Wednesday. The
gym's roof was destroyed, windows shattered, walls pocked with bullet
Regional Emergency Situations Minister Boris Dzgoyev
said 323 people, including 156 children, were killed. More than
540 people were wounded - mostly children. Medical officials said
448 people, including 248 children, remained hospitalized Saturday
Dzgoyev also said 35 attackers - heavily-armed and explosive-laden
men and women reportedly demanding independence for the Chechen
republic - were killed in 10 hours of battles that shook the area
around the school with gunfire and explosions.
Putin made a quick visit to the town before dawn Saturday, meeting
local officials and touring a hospital to speak with wounded. He
stopped to stroke the head of an injured child.
But some in the region were unimpressed, as grief turned to anger,
both at the militants and the government response.
Marat Avsarayev, a 44-year-old taxi driver in Vladikavkaz,
questioned why Putin and other politicians didn't "even think
about fulfilling the (militants') demands to save the lives of the
children. Probably because it wasn't their children here."
During his visit to Beslan, Putin stressed that security officials
had not planned to storm the school - trying to fend off potential
criticism that the government side provoked the bloodshed. He ordered
the region's borders closed while officials searched for anyone
connected to the attack.
"What happened was a terrorist act that was
inhuman and unprecedented in its cruelty," Putin said in his
televised speech later. "It is a challenge not to the president,
the parliament and the government but a challenge to all of Russia,
to all of our people. It is an attack on our nation."
Comment: Sound familiar?
Including the school disaster, more than 450 people have been killed
in the past two weeks in violence. Two planes crashed nearly simultaneously
on Aug. 24, killing 90 people, and a suicide bomber killed eight
people in Moscow on Tuesday. Chechen separatists are suspected in
Putin took a defiant tone, acknowledging Russia's weaknesses but
blaming it on the fall of the Soviet Union, foreign foes seeking
to tear apart Russia and on corrupt officials. He said Russians
could no longer live "carefree" and must all confront
Measures would be taken, Putin promised, to overhaul the law enforcement
organs, which he acknowledged had been infected by corruption, and
"We are obliged to create a much more effective
security system and to demand action from our law enforcement organs
that would be adequate to the level and scale of the new threats,"
An unidentified intelligence official was quoted by the ITAR-Tass
news agency as saying the school assault was financed by Abu
Omar As-Seyf, an Arab who allegedly represents al-Qaida in Chechnya,
and masterminded by Chechen rebel leader Shamil Basayev.
Isn't it amazing how organized al-Qaeda is these days? Even against
a foe with the combined resources of multiple countries, including
the sole military superpower on the planet, al-Qaeda still flourishes...
Also, the Federal Security Service chief in North Ossetia, Valery
Andreyev, said Saturday that investigators were looking into whether
militants had smuggled explosives and weapons into the school and
hid them during a renovation this summer.
It was still unclear exactly how the standoff fell apart into bloodshed
at 1 p.m. on Friday. Officials say security forces were forced to
act when hostage-takers set off explosives. But some questioned
The militants seized the school on the first day of classes Wednesday,
herding hundreds of children, parents who had been dropping their
kids off, and other adults into the gymnasium, which the militants
promptly wired with explosives - including bombs hanging from the
basketball hoops. The packed gym became sweltering, and the hostage-takers
refused to allow in food or water.
One survivor, Sima Albegova, told the Kommersant newspaper she
asked the militants why the captives were taken. "Because you
vote for your Putin," one militant told her, she said.
Another freed hostage said a militant told her, "If Putin
doesn't withdraw forces from Chechnya and doesn't free our arrested
brothers, we'll blow everything up," according to the Moskovsky
Russian officials said the violence began when
explosions were apparently set off by the militants - possibly by
accident - as emergency workers entered the school courtyard to
collect the bodies of hostages killed in the initial raid Wednesday.
Diana Gadzhinova, 14, said the militants ordered her and other
hostages to lie face down in the gymnasium as the bodies were collected.
"They told us that there were going to be talks," she
was quoted as telling Iszvestia. Others also
told of how militants appeared to be confused and surprised at the
Hostages fled during the blasts, and the militants shot at them,
prompting security forces to open fire and commandos to move in,
The explosions tore through the roof of the gymnasium, sending
wreckage down on hostages and killing many. Many survivors emerged
naked, covered in ashes and soot, their feet bloody from jumping
barefoot out of broken windows to escape.
With families gathering for wakes for the dead Saturday, some were
"Fathers will bury their children, and after
40 days (the Orthodox mourning period) ... they will take up weapons
and seek revenge," said Alan Kargiyev, a 20-year-old university
student in Vladikavkaz.
Public Was Misled On Scale
MOSCOW, Sept. 5 -- The Russian government admitted Sunday that
it lied to its people about the scale of the hostage crisis that
ended with more than 300 children, parents and teachers dead in
southern Russia, making an extraordinary admission through state
television after days of intense criticism from citizens.
As the bereaved families of Beslan began to lay their loved ones
to rest Sunday, the Kremlin-controlled Rossiya network aired gripping,
gruesome footage it had withheld from the public for days and said
government officials had deliberately deceived the world about the
number of hostages inside School No. 1.
"At such moments," anchor Sergei Brilyov
declared, "society needs the truth."
The admission of an effort to minimize the magnitude of a hostage
crisis that ensnared about 1,200 people, most of them children,
marked a sharp turnabout for the government of President Vladimir
Putin. In previous crises with mass fatalities, such as the sinking
of the nuclear submarine Kursk in 2000 and the 2002 siege of a Moscow
theater, officials covered up key facts as well, but afterward never
acknowledged doing so.
"It doesn't suit our president," a Kremlin political
consultant, Gleb Pavlovsky, said on the broadcast. "Lies, which
really acted in the terrorists' favor, did not suit him at all.
Lies were weakening us and making the terrorists more violent."
The broadcast included no apology and referred only to the most
blatant misstatement by officials, the claim that only 354 hostages
were inside the school. It did not acknowledge that the hostage-takers
had demanded an end to the war in Chechnya or that the government
continues to give conflicting information about whether any of the
guerrillas remain at large, who they were and how many were killed.
Nor did it mention that many residents of Beslan have been outraged
that the government now appears to be understating the death toll,
which stood officially at 338 Sunday night, although nearly 200
people are still unaccounted for.
As for the hostage-takers, Deputy Prosecutor General Sergei Fridinsky
said authoritatively on Saturday there were 26 of them, and all
had been killed. On Sunday, he said there were 32 -- 30 of them
dead -- and bragged about the capture of one "member of the
gang" who was to be charged in court on Monday.
Putin made no public comment Sunday on the deadliest terrorist
attack of his presidency, and no senior member of his government
has commented publicly since the siege began at 9 a.m. Wednesday.
A day after the president vowed in a televised address to take unspecified
new security measures in response to the killing of "defenseless
children," the Kremlin was silent on what those steps would
Sergei Markov, a political analyst with close
ties to the Kremlin, said the deadly outcome of the school standoff
had left Putin at a loss as to how to respond beyond the former
KGB colonel's instinct to strengthen police powers and centralize
control over government institutions. "They don't know
what to do," he said. "Vladimir Putin didn't explain in
detail what will be happening."
Speaking before the Sunday night broadcast of the state television
news program "Vesti," Markov said it had been clear that
the government had engaged in a clumsy coverup. "Everybody
understands they are lying," he said. "Everybody can do
the math and know there were more than 1,000 people inside the school."
The Kremlin sought to distance Putin from the
deceptions through Sunday's broadcast, in which the anchor chided
"generals and the military and civilians" for failing
to act "until the president gives them ideas of what to do."
Pavlovsky, the political consultant, said Putin had given Russia's
political system "a no-confidence vote" for its handling
of the crisis.
Such statements could never be aired unless the
Kremlin directly ordered them, according to political analysts here.
Criticism of the president is never broadcast on state television,
the continuing war in Chechnya is almost never mentioned, and even
mild questioning of government policy is not allowed without approval
from the Kremlin.
"Nothing happens on Rossiya television without the permission
of the Kremlin," commentator Andrei Piontkovsky said. [...]
Akhmed Zakayev, a special envoy
to Chechen separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov has said that "a
third force that brought Russian President Vladimir Putin to power"
is behind all the terrorist attacks committed in Russia over the
past two weeks. London-based Zakayev said this in an exclusive
interview with the Caucasus Times newspaper, printed in Prague,
Zakayev said that "Chechen resistance
forces led by Ichkeria President Aslan Maskhadov have nothing to
do with the hostage crisis in North Ossetia". He called
the events a sad fact and condemned actions against Russian children
Zakayev believes that the twin aircraft crash last week, the blast
near Rizhskaya metro station on 31 August and today's events
in North Ossetia are links in the same chain and that "the
same power that wants to destabilize the situation in the North
Caucasus region" is behind them.
A militant Muslim group called the Islambouli Brigades earlier
claimed responsibility for downing two passenger plains and for
the bomb blast in Moscow. The legitimacy of the group and the authenticity
of such statements have not been verified.
Fla. (AP) - Hurricane Frances crashed ashore at Florida's east coast
early Sunday with sustained wind of 105 mph and pelting rain, knocking
out power to 2 million people and forcing Floridians to endure a
frightening night amid roaring gales that shredded roofs and uprooted
The National Hurricane Center said the eye of the hurricane officially
made landfall near Sewall's Point, just east of Stuart - about 40
miles north of West Palm Beach - at about 1 a.m.
Transformers popped along streets, sending sparks into darkened
skies, as families huddled in shelters, bathrooms and hotel lobbies.
The wind-whipped coastal waters resembled a churning hot tub.
In Melbourne, 65 miles north of Stuart, the wind and rain looked
like a giant fire hose going off at full blast.
"I've never seen anything like this, and
no one in my family has," said Darlene Munson, who was riding
out the storm with family members at her Melbourne restaurant.
The storm's slow-motion assault - Frances was crawling at just
8 mph - came more than a day later than predicted. The western portion
of the hurricane's eye crept over parts of the east-central Florida
coast Saturday night, with its strongest winds hitting early Sunday.
"Those folks are getting pounded, and they've got worse to
come," said Max Mayfield, director of the National Hurricane
A hurricane warning remained in effect for nearly 300 miles along
Florida's east coast, from Florida City north to Flagler Beach,
including Lake Okeechobee.
A continued slow west-northwestward motion was expected to move
the entire eye of the hurricane inland by sunrise, the weather service
Maximum sustained wind was near 105 mph with higher gusts. There
was little chance of strengthening before the eastern half of the
eye moved inland, the weather service said.
Hurricane force winds extended up to 85 miles from the center,
and tropical storm-force winds, which range from 39 mph to 73 mph,
extended up to 200 miles.
Coastal storm surge flooding of 4 to 6 feet above normal tide levels,
along with large and dangerous battering waves, were expected near
and to the north of Stuart. Storm surge flooding of 5 feet above
normal levels was expected in Lake Okeechobee.
Florida Power & Light, the state's largest
electric company, said power outages to its customers affected 2
million people. Nearly all of Vero Beach, 30 miles north of Stuart,
was blackened, the city's utility said.
In Martin County, where Stuart is located, 630 people taking shelter
at a school had to move to another shelter when part of the roof
blew off, flooding 16 rooms. More than 300 people were able to remain
in the school.
Four people were hospitalized in Boynton Beach after breathing
carbon monoxide fumes from a generator that was running in a house.
No other injuries were immediately reported.
En route, Frances shattered windows, toppled power lines and flooded
neighborhoods in the Bahamas, driving thousands from their homes.
The Freeport airport was partially submerged in water. At least
two deaths in the Bahamas were blamed on the storm.
For many Floridians, this would be a night to remember.
Mary Beth and Jack Stiglin, evacuees from nearby Hutchinson Island,
sat in their hotel room in Fort Pierce, eating ham and cheese wraps
by candlelight as the power lines outside their room sparked and
"It's a little romantic. I brought the roses from our garden
because they would have been blown away anyway," Mary Beth
Frances' arrival came three weeks after Hurricane Charley killed
27 people and caused billions of dollars in damage in southwestern
For some Floridians, the second storm couldn't arrive soon enough.
"I just want it to be quick. Just get it over with,"
said Woodeline Jadis, 20, tired of waiting at a shelter in Orlando.
The storm's leading edge pounded the Florida coast early Saturday.
Frances was so big that virtually the entire
state feared damage from wind and water. Forecasters said
the storm would dump 8 to 12 inches of rain, with up to 20 inches
in some areas.
"This is the time to show some resolve and not be impatient,"
Gov. Jeb Bush said. "This is a dangerous, dangerous storm."
In Washington, President Bush declared a major disaster in the
counties affected by Frances, meaning residents will be eligible
for federal aid.
The largest evacuation in state history, with 2.8
million residents ordered inland, sent 80,000 residents and tourists
into shelters. The storm shut down much of Florida, including airports
and amusement parks, at the start of the usually busy Labor Day
Some evacuees, frustrated by Frances' sluggish pace, decided to
leave shelters Saturday and return later.
Deborah Nicholas dashed home from a Fort Pierce shelter to take
a shower, but stayed only a few minutes when the lights started
flickering and trees began popping out of the ground. She has slept
in a deck chair at a high school cafeteria since Wednesday.
"I'm going stir crazy," Nicholas said. "I'm going
to be in a straitjacket by Monday. I don't know how much longer
I can take it. Have mercy."
Residents could take comfort that Frances weakened as it lingered
off the coast. Forecasters downgraded it to a Category 2 hurricane
as sustained winds receded to 105 mph, down from 145 mph earlier.
But the heavy rain forecast still threatened to cause widespread
flooding, and the outer bands of the storm packed plenty of punch.
In Palm Bay, winds pried off pieces of a banquet hall roof, striking
some cars in the parking lot. Trees were bent and light posts wobbled
in the howling gusts.
In Fort Pierce, the storm shredded awnings and blew out business
signs. Many downtown streets were crisscrossed with toppled palm
One gust reached 115 mph at Fort Pierce, according to the National
Hurricane Center, damaging the mast of a truck measuring the storm's
intensity. Florida Power & Light pulled crews off the streets
because of heavy wind, meaning those without power would have to
wait until the storm subsided, utility spokesman Bill Swank said.
In Stuart, traffic lights dangled, and one hung by a single wire.
Downed trees blocked at least one residential street, and signposts
were bent to the ground. The facade at a flooring store collapsed,
as did the roof of a storage shed at a car dealership.
Roads, streets and beaches were mostly deserted - the occasional
surfer notwithstanding. Roads were littered with palm fronds and
other debris. Businesses were shuttered and even gas stations were
closed, their empty pumps covered with shrink wrap.
Not everyone stayed home: Two men were charged with looting for
trying to break into a Brevard County church.
As the weather worsened, a yacht adrift on the Intercoastal Waterway
struggled for more than half an hour in choppy water to anchor in
West Palm Beach before tying up to a dock. Other boats bobbed like
toys. A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter rescued a man and his cat riding
out the storm on a sailboat anchored in Biscayne Bay.
At Palm Beach International Airport, the roof and a door were blown
off a hangar.
The storm extended vacations for about 10,000 passengers on nine
cruise ships unable return to Florida ports on schedule. They were
expected to arrive late Sunday or Monday.
Kevin Palmer, a photographer in Palm Beach County, said the wind
blew so hard at his front door that it was making the copper weather
stripping around it vibrate and shriek violently.
"It's become our high-gust alarm," Palmer said. "It
sets the tone for your ambiance when you've got the rumbling outside,
you have this screeching from the weather stripping and you keep
wondering if that thumping you just heard is another tree going
over or a coconut going flying."
Frances was expected to push across the state
as a tropical storm just north of Tampa, weaken to a tropical depression
and drench the Panhandle on Monday before moving into Alabama.
In the central Atlantic Ocean, the ninth named storm of the season
grew stronger Saturday. Tropical Storm Ivan was about 1,355 miles
east-southeast of the Lesser Antilles with winds of 70 mph. Forecasters
expect Ivan to become a hurricane with winds of at least 74 mph
on Sunday and to continue to strengthen.
STUART, United States (AFP) -
Tropical storm Frances killed two as it crossed Florida, authorities
said, as yet another hurricane loomed in the far distance.
The deaths occurred Sunday in the city of Gainesville in north-central
Florida, 386 kilometers (240 miles) northwest of Stuart, which lies
on the state's hard-hit Atlantic coast.
A man died when he lost control of his car and hit a tree, and
a woman was killed when an oak tree fell on her mobile home, Captain
Beth Hardee of Alachua County Fire and Rescue said.
Their deaths bring the total storm toll to four thus far. Two people
died in the Bahamas when Hurricane Frances battered the Atlantic
island chain for more than 30 hours Thursday and Friday.
Gainesville was still under driving rain and high gusting wind
early Monday, some 22 hours after the storm first entered the area,
"I've lived in Florida all my life and I've
never experienced a storm like this," she said.
The remnants of the eye of Frances have moved off Florida's west
coast, but "it's trying to reform. It could build up strength
again" over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. [...]
But Florida, which is barely recovering from the devastation wrought
last month by Hurricane Charley, was warily eyeing yet another hurricane,
which loomed on the far horizon.
Hurricane Ivan, a dangerous Category 4 storm packing
maximum sustained winds of nearly 215 kilometers (135 miles) per
hour, was a thousand kilometers away, but long-term forecasts put
it dangerously close to the US state by the end of the week.
Early Monday, Ivan was 1,010 kilometers (625 miles) east-southeast
of Barbados, which issued a hurricane watch.
As Ivan headed toward the Caribbean windward islands, Frances lost
steam as it crossed Florida, though forecasters said it could regain
hurricane strength over the Gulf of Mexico on Monday. [...]
LOS ANGELES - A seismologist
who predicted that a magnitude-6.4 earthquake may strike a 12,000-square-mile
area in Southern California said Saturday the forecast was a false
Vladimir Keilis-Borok of the University of California, Los Angeles
and a team of scientists worldwide in January said they had determined
there was a 50-50 chance that by Sunday the quake would hit the
area east of Los Angeles. That region encompasses the Mojave Desert,
the Coachella Valley, the Imperial Valley and eastern San Diego
The day before the nine-month window ended, Keilis-Borok said he
was wrong, blaming the faulty prediction in part on unreliable data.
"It's not something that has absolute precision. It's kind
of like military intelligence," he said. "There is a trade
off. Tell people nothing and they will suffer. Tell them everything
and they will suffer in another way."
The team led by Keilis-Borok, 83, based its prediction on a pattern
of earthquakes recorded in the region over the past decades.
Most recent, the predominantly desert area sustained a magnitude-7.1
quake in 1999 near Joshua Tree and a magnitude-7.3 earthquake in
1992 in Landers. A magnitude-6.4 quake struck the Imperial Valley
Keilis-Borok's team got credit for calling two earthquakes. The
group predicted the magnitude-6.5 San Simeon quake in December and
the magnitude-8.1 quake last year off Japan's Hokkaido island.
In both cases, the scientists set wide parameters in place and
time using research that includes geodynamics, chaos theory and
| A strong earthquake has rocked western
Japan, the meteorological agency says.
The quake, which struck shortly after 1900 (1000 GMT), had a magnitude
of 6.8 and was centred in a remote area some 50km (30 miles) off
the coast of Japan.
The quake made tall buildings in central Tokyo sway, the AP news
agency reported, but there were no official reports of injuries
There are reports of a 50cm (20in) tidal wave off the coast of
the Kii peninsula, south of Osaka.
| TOKYO (Reuters)
- An earthquake measuring about 7.3 on the Richter scale shook western
Japan on Sunday, the second strong quake to hit the area in five hours,
and evacuations were ordered as tsunamis approached the coast, NHK
The Japan Meteorological Agency said tsunamis
measuring up to 6 feet high could hit some areas of the Pacific
coast, and some measuring less than 1 meter had already struck.
Residents of Owase City in Mie Prefecture were ordered to evacuate
to higher ground to avoid the tsunamis -- water waves generated
by seismic activity -- and there were reports of fishing boats being
overturned in the town's harbor.
Television pictures showed residents leaving home, carrying children
NHK said at least seven people had been injured in the latest quake,
which struck at 11:55 p.m.
An official in Wakayama City in Wakayama Prefecture saw what appeared
to be a tidal wave 1 meter high surging up a river, the broadcaster
Three people were injured in the earlier quake, which measured
6.9 on the Richter Scale and struck just after 1000 GMT, media reports
Both quakes measured five on the Japanese intensity scale of seven
and were centered in the Pacific Ocean about 310 miles southwest
of Tokyo at a depth of about 6 miles.
There may be strong aftershocks, Katsuyuki Abe, a seismologist
at University of Tokyo, told NHK.
Much of affected area relies on fishing and agriculture as well
as tourism, centered on the cities of Nara and Kyoto.
Japan is one of the world's most seismically active areas, with
an earthquake occurring every five minutes.
The country accounts for about 20 percent of the world's earthquakes
of magnitude six or greater. A quake of that magnitude has potential
to cause major damage in built-up areas.
Memories are still vivid of the earthquake in the western city
of Kobe which killed more than 6,400 people in 1995. That quake
measured 7.2 on the Richter scale.
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