Article - 911 Eye-witnesses
Article - High Strangeness
Article - The Blair Belief Project
Strike Flash Presentation by a QFS member
of the Day
| WASHINGTON, Oct 21 (IPS) -
Three out of four self-described supporters of President George W
Bush still believe pre-war Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (WMD)
or active programmes to produce them, and that Iraqi President Saddam
Hussein gave "substantial support" to al-Qaeda terrorists,
according to a survey released Thursday.
many or more Bush supporters hold those beliefs today than they
did several months ago, before the publication of a series of well-publicised
official government reports that debunked both notions.
Those are among the most striking findings of the survey, which
was conducted in mid-October by the University of Maryland's Programme
on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) and Knowledge Networks,
a California-based polling firm.
The survey, which polled the views of nearly 900 randomly chosen
respondents equally divided between Bush supporters and those intending
to vote for Democratic Senator John Kerry in November's presidential
election, found a yawning gap in the world views, particularly as
regards pre-war Iraq, between the two groups.
"It is normal during elections for supporters of presidential
candidates to have fundamental disagreements about values or strategies,"
said an analysis produced by PIPA.
But "the current election is unique
in that Bush supporters and Kerry supporters have profoundly different
perceptions of reality. In the face of a stream of high-level assessments
about pre-war Iraq, Bush supporters cling to the refuted beliefs
that Iraq had WMD or supported al-Qaeda."
Indeed, the only issue on which the survey found broad agreement
between the two sets of voters was on the question of whether the
administration itself actively propagated the misconceptions about
Iraq's WMD and connections to al-Qaeda.
"One of the reasons that Bush supporters have
these (erroneous) beliefs is that they perceive the Bush administration
confirming them," noted PIPA Director Steven Kull. "Interestingly,
this is one point on which Bush and Kerry supporters agree."
The survey also found a major gap between Bush's
stated positions on a number of international issues and what his
supporters believe that position to be. A strong majority of Bush
backers believe, for example, that the president supports a range
of global treaties and institutions, which he is actually on record
On pre-war Iraq, the survey asked each respondent questions about
WMD and links to al-Qaeda on three levels: 1) what the respondents
themselves believed about the two issues; 2) what they believed
"most experts" had concluded about them; and 3) what they
believed the Bush administration was saying about them.
The survey found 72 percent of Bush supporters believe either that
Iraq had actual WMD (47 percent) or a major programme for making
them (25 percent), despite the widespread media coverage in early
October of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA's) 'Duelfer Report',
the final word on the subject by the one-billion-dollar, 15-month
investigation by the Iraq Survey Group.
It concluded Hussein had dismantled all of his WMD programmes shortly
after the 1991 Gulf War and had never tried to reconstitute them.
Nonetheless, 56 percent of Bush supporters said they thought most
experts currently believe Iraq had actual WMD, and 57 percent said
they thought the Duelfer Report had concluded that Iraq either had
WMD (19 percent) or a major WMD programme (38 percent).
Only 26 percent of Kerry supporters, by contrast, said they believed
that pre-war Iraq had either actual WMD or a WMD programme, and
only 18 percent said they believed "most experts" agreed
with those two possibilities.
Similar results were found with respect to Hussein's alleged support
for al-Qaeda, a theory that has been most persistently asserted
by Vice President Dick Cheney, but that was thoroughly debunked
by the final report of the bipartisan 9/11 Commission earlier this
Seventy-five percent of Bush supporters said they
believed Iraq was providing "substantial" support to al-Qaeda,
with 20 percent asserting Baghdad was directly involved in the 9/11
attacks on New York and the Pentagon.
Sixty-three percent of Bush supporters even believed
that clear evidence of such support has been found, and 60 percent
believed "most experts" have reached the same conclusion.
By contrast, only 30 percent of Kerry supporters said they believe
such a link existed and that most experts agree.
But large majorities of both Bush and Kerry supporters agree that
the administration is saying Iraq had WMD and was providing substantial
support to al-Qaeda. In regard to WMD, those majorities have actually
grown since last summer, according to PIPA.
Remarkably, asked whether the United States should
have gone to war with Iraq if U.S. intelligence had concluded Baghdad
did not have a WMD programme and was not supporting al-Qaeda, 58
percent of Bush supporters said no, and 61 percent said they assumed
the president would also not have gone to war under those circumstances.
"To support the president and to accept that
he took the U.S. to war based on mistaken assumptions," said
Kull, "likely creates substantial cognitive dissonance and
leads Bush supporters to suppress awareness of unsettling information
about pre-war Iraq."
Kull added that this "cognitive dissonance" could also
help explain other remarkable findings in the survey, particularly
with respect to Bush supporters' misperceptions about the president's
In particular, majorities of Bush supporters incorrectly
assumed he supports multilateral approaches to various international
issues, including the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT)
(69 percent), the land mine treaty (72 percent), and the Kyoto Protocol
to curb greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming
In all of these cases, majorities of Bush supporters
said they favoured the positions that they imputed, incorrectly,
to the president.
Large majorities of Kerry supporters, on the other hand, showed
they knew both their candidate's and Bush's positions on the same
Bush supporters were also found to hold misperceptions
regarding international support for the president and his policies.
Despite a steady flow over the past year of official statements
by foreign governments and public-opinion polls showing strong opposition
to the Iraq war, less than one-third of Bush supporters believed
that most people in foreign countries opposed Washington having
gone to war.
Two-thirds said they believed foreign views were either evenly
divided on the war (42 percent) or that the majority of foreigners
actually favoured the war (26 percent).
Three of every four Kerry supporters, on the other hand, said they
understood that most of the rest of the world opposed the war.
Kull, who has been analysing U.S. public opinion on foreign-policy
issues for two decades, said misperceptions
of Bush supporters showed, if anything, the hold the president has
over his loyalists.
"The roots of the Bush supporters' resistance to information
very likely lie in the traumatic experience of 9/11 and equally
into the near pitch-perfect leadership that President Bush showed
in its immediate wake," he said.
"This appears to have created a powerful bond between Bush
and his supporters -- and an idealised image of the president that
makes it difficult for his supporters to imagine that he could have
made incorrect judgements before the war, that world public opinion
would be critical of his policies or that the president could hold
foreign-policy positions that are at odds with his supporters."
October 20, 2004—Sinclair
Broadcasting Group has tried to influence the outcome of elections
long before the media company became a lightning rod for criticism
due to its decision to air a controversial documentary, election
critical of Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry's activities
during the Vietnam War, 10 days before the Nov. 2 election. [...]
In September, Sinclair and Ehrlich once again made headlines as
a result of the media company's cozy relationship with the governor.
Sinclair produced a series of tourism ads in which Ehrlich appeared
and waived its production fee on the condition that the state of
Maryland purchase $60,000 worth of time on a Sinclair-owned station
to air them, a deal which Ehrlich agreed to.
A week after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Sinclair
Chief Executive David Smith and his three brothers who control the
media company handed down an edict to their news and sports reporters,
and even a weatherman, at the company's flagship Baltimore television
station, WBFF, requiring the broadcasters to follow up each on-air
report with a statement conveying full support for President [sic]
Bush and the war on terror.
The Sun reported that several journalists objected
on the grounds that it would undermine their objectivity. Reporters
and management, however, reached a compromise. The message read
by reporters on-air said that it came from "station management."
"Still, according to at least four people at WBFF, some staffers
believe they now look as though they are endorsing specific government
actions," the Sun reported in a Sept. 18, 2001, story. "Several
people interviewed at WBFF described the choice as "no-win":
do something that could erode their reputations as objective journalists,
or appear unpatriotic and uncaring toward the victims of last week's
Sinclair also aired spots on its 60 other stations during the aftermath
of 9/11 declaring support for Bush and other government leaders
to battle terrorist groups
The controversies continued to pile up.
Then in December of 2001, Sinclair was fined $40,000 by the FCC
for exercising illegal control of business partner Glencairn Ltd.
The fine was the culmination of a three-year FCC investigation into
the companies' relationship.
The FCC's three Republican commissioners said Sinclair and Glencairn
were liable for misinterpreting FCC policies. Democratic Commissioner
Michael Copps wanted the FCC to pursue harsher penalties against
Sinclair, saying Sinclair has repeatedly 'stretched the limits'
of FCC ownership rules. "Several factors contributed to the
FCC's finding that Glencairn's president and former Sinclair employee
Edwin Edwards did not exercise control of his companies," according
to a Dec. 1, 2001, report in the trade magazine Broadcasting &
"His incorrect report on the amount of debt Glencairn would
assume with the purchase of several Sullivan stations. Purchase
rights held by Sinclair for Glencairn stations at prices well below
market rate. Glencairn's agreement to sell all but two of its stations
to Sinclair as soon as the FCC relaxed rules restricting ownership
of local TV stations," the trade publication reported.
The controversies surrounding Sinclair's blatant political leanings
took its toll on the company's stock, but none more so than an announcement
the company made on Christmas Eve 2002 by Sinclair's board of directors
who voted in favor of investing $20 million in cash in Summa Holdings
Ltd., which owns auto dealerships, retail tire franchises and a
leasing company controlled by Sinclair CEO David Smith.
In a post-Enron world, the deal appeared to be a serious conflict-of-interest.
Sinclair said Summa would spend money to advertise its auto dealerships
on Sinclair-owned television stations. The deal sent Sinclair's
stock plummeting 17 percent on Christmas Eve, a historically light
day for trading, and sparked shareholder outrage, with many stockholders
calling for a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation and
threatening to file shareholder lawsuits.
Sinclair told its shareholders at the time that it set up a special
committee of outside directors to evaluate the investment and approved
the deal, saying a conflict did not exist.
"Because the automobile industry represents the largest category
of advertisers for television stations, and because Summa is a profitable
and well-run company, we believe that the Summa investment is an
attractive one for Sinclair," said communications attorney
Martin Leader, who chaired the committee of outside directors.
Now, two years later, Sinclair plans to
air a controversial documentary on Friday, 10 days before the Nov.
2 election, highlighting Democratic presidential candidate John
Kerry's antiwar activities during the Vietnam War. But the move
is backfiring on the company big time.
More than 80 of Sinclair's advertisers have abandoned the media
company's five-dozen television stations since last week, according
to National Public Radio, due to fears of a massive public boycott.
Moreover, Sinclair's stock has been battered over the past two days,
falling 10 percent to settle Tuesday at a 3 ½ year low of
$6.35—a direct result of its decision to air the anti-Kerry
film, "Stolen Honor," on a majority of its television
The company's decision to broadcast the documentary and its impact
on Sinclair's shares has led to another shareholder revolt and at
least one prominent securities litigator, William Lerach, has threatened
to take legal action against the company.
But on Tuesday, David Smith, Sinclair's chief executive, said Sinclair
would not air the anti-Kerry documentary "Stolen Honor."
Instead, Sinclair stations will broadcast a "special one-hour
news program" entitled "A POW Story: Politics, Pressure
and the Media," which will "focus in part on the use of
documentaries other media to influence voting, which emerged during
the 2004 political campaigns, as well as on the content of certain
of these documentaries."
"The program will also examine the role of the media in filtering
the information contained in these documentaries, allegations of
media bias by media organizations that ignore or filter legitimate
news and the attempts by candidates and other organizations to influence
media coverage," according to the news release.
But, according to the company's news release,
excerpts of "Stolen Honor" will be aired "in the
context of the broader discussion outlined above" and will
discuss the allegations surrounding Senator John Kerry's anti-Vietnam
War activities in the early 1970s raised by a number of former POWs
in "Stolen Honor."
Joe DeFeo, Sinclair's Vice President of News said, "As with
all news programming produced by Sinclair's News Central, 'A POW
Story' is being produced with the highest journalistic standards
and integrity. We have not ceded, and will not in the future cede,
control of our news reporting to any outside organization or political
group. We are endeavoring, as we do with all of our news coverage,
to present both sides of the issues covered in an equal and impartial
Sinclair claimed on Tuesday that company executives have met privately
with members of Kerry's campaign, "including a recent face-to-face
meeting with senior campaign officials, for approximately two weeks
in order to negotiate participation in the special by either Senator
Kerry or his designee."
Kerry has declined Sinclair's invitation.
Smith said those involved in producing the documentary
"have endured personal attacks of the vilest nature, as well
as calls on our advertisers and our viewers to boycott our stations
and on our shareholders to sell their stock. In addition, and more
shockingly, we have received threats of retribution from a member
of Senator John Kerry's campaign."
A spokesman for the Kerry campaign vehemently denied the allegations,
and Wall Street doesn't buy it, either. Many of Sinclair's largest
shareholders have said privately that Smith has failed to take responsibility
for the firestorm he created and has blamed Democrats for the toll
his actions have taken on Sinclair's finances.
Indeed, as Jim Glickenhaus, general partner of Glickenhaus &
Co., a Wall Street firm whose clients own about 6,100 shares of
Sinclair stock, said Tuesday in an interview with CBS Marketwatch,
Sinclair "management is not acting in the interest of shareholders.
By showing something that's clearly propaganda, they are damaging
the (broadcast) network."
The Iconoclast received considerable
criticism this past week
after its editors endorsed John Kerry for President. Several subscriptions
and advertisements were canceled after the newspaper hit the stands
The editorial, co-authored by the newspaper’s publisher,
W. Leon Smith, and writers Don Fisher and Nathan Diebenow, expressed
the opinion that Kerry would take the country in a better direction.
There have been both positive and negative comments.
We expected that perhaps a few readers might cancel subscriptions,
and maybe even ads, but have been amazed at a few of the more intense
communications, some of which bordered on outright personal attacks
and uncalled-for harassment.
We have been told by several avid Bush supporters that the days
when newspapers publish editorials without personal repercussions
are over. As publishers, we have printed editorials for decades,
and have endorsed candidates, both Republican and Democrat. When
Bush was endorsed four years ago, the Gore supporters did not respond
with threats, nor did Democrats when we endorsed Reagan twice. Republicans
did not threaten us personally or our business when we endorsed
Carter and Clinton for their first terms.
In the past, when individuals disagreed with an editorial, they
would write a letter to the editor politely expressing a different
point of view in contrast to the views of the publishers, which
we have usually published. Occasionally someone would cancel a subscription
or an ad, but this was rare.
The goal of the editorial page has been to provide an arena for
the expression of a variety of thoughtful opinions, some by the
publishers, some by columnists, and some by our readers.
The new mode of operation, I am told, is that when a newspaper
prints an editorial of which some sectors might disagree, the focus
is now upon how to run the newspaper out of business. Out the window
are the contributions the newspaper has made to the community in
the past and the newspaper’s extensive investment in the community.
We do understand peoples’ rights to pull subscriptions and
ads, and to express a differing opinion, but we have some trouble
understanding threats and payback since in politics there are often
a variety of options. For the publishers to herald one of the options
should be no cause for persecution.
When you think about it, editorials are often displayed in people’s
yards with campaign signs. These are endorsements by residents.
Is it proper to persecute them for stating their opinions in this
manner if you disagree with their choices? Should they be harassed
and threatened? We don’t think so.
Unfortunately, for the Iconoclast and its publishers there have
been threats — big ones including physical harm.
Too, some individuals are threatening innocent commercial concerns,
claiming that if they advertise in The Iconoclast, they will be
run out of business. We consider this improper in a democracy.
Several young members of our staff covering Tonkawa Traditions
this past weekend were angrily harassed and threatened that they
must leave, which cut short their ability to fully do their jobs
and instilled in them considerable fear for their safety. These
reporters had nothing to do with that editorial. They were part-time
college students working to pay their way through school and better
Although several members of the community are upset at the newspaper,
there are still those who want us to continue with local coverage
as we have in the past. We do have concern for the safety of our
staff, however, and find it troubling when they are bullied and
cannot do their jobs.
From the period of Tuesday through noon Saturday of this past week,
The Iconoclast has received over 700 letters to the editor related
to the editorial which received more attention than we had expected.
Some of the dispatches are very critical and some are very supportive
of the editorial. And a few do offer a thoughtful, differing point
of view on the issues, which we do appreciate.
Since The Iconoclast has a very small staff, it has been impossible
for us to verify each and every signature as is our normal procedure
prior to publication, but to provide the letters for the public
to read, we are posting them on our website with the names of the
authors listed as initials.
We have been told that some letters e-mailed to us did not get
through, perhaps since our internet system became overloaded at
times this past week. The letters posted are the ones we received
that pertained to the editorial (as opposed to being simply questions
or other correspondence).
A few have been edited slightly due to offensive language or the
writer’s identity being revealed in the body of the letter,
but we have attempted to publish them, with few exceptions, just
as we received them.
To publish them in the print edition would require substantially
too much space (about 30 pages, in our estimation). So go to www.iconoclast-texas.com
if you want to peruse the letters.
Nearly a hundred individuals (including some Crawford residents)
have purchased new subscriptions to help replace those lost, and
a few have expressed a desire to become new advertising clients.
For this, we are thankful.
The publisher has read every e-mail and letter received and sends
appreciation to each and every letter-writer for expressing an opinion,
pro or con, as this shows a passion for their positions and a keen
interest in the upcoming election.
Whether readers agree or disagree with the recommendation rendered
by the publishers, we do encourage them to vote in the upcoming
election. We consider it more than a privilege, but a duty.
— W. Leon Smith
NEW YORK - Retail giant Wal-Mart
has banned America (The Book), a fake textbook written by Jon Stewart,
the host of The Daily Show, from its stores.
The chain will not be selling the book because it contains a fake
photo of the members of the U.S. Supreme Court in the nude.
"We were not aware of the image that was in the book [when
Wal-Mart ordered it] and we felt the majority of our customers would
not be comfortable with it," Wal-Mart spokeswoman Karen Burk
told the Associated Press by way of explaining why the corporation
had cancelled its order.
"We offer what we think our customers want to buy," Burk
added. "That just makes good business sense." [...]
According to the Comedy Central website, America (The Book) explores
"the reasons why concepts like 'One man, one vote,' 'Government
by the people,' and 'Every vote counts' have become such popular
Israel's bid to grab Palestinian
land and its strangulation of the Palestinian economy are destroying
hopes for an end to the Middle East conflict, a new report has said.
Christian Aid, a UK-based aid agency, said on Thursday that without
urgent international intervention generations of Palestinians and
Israelis face a future of crippling poverty and relentless insecurity.
Its report, Facts on the Ground, explains how Israel is taking
more land from the occupied West Bank for Jewish settler roads and
As a result, Christian Aid says, poverty and unemployment
levels are rising, malnutrition and anaemia are mounting, and farmers
are being prevented from tilling their land.
In the West Bank, illegal Jewish settlements
control 42% of the land.
Israelis-only roads and highways criss-cross Palestinian territory,
intersecting villages in the West Bank and cutting the Gaza Strip
Unable to get their goods to market or travel
to work, Christian Aid says Palestinians are seeing their economy
strangled and their future vanishing before their eyes.
'Politics of separation'
The aid agency adds the separation barrier which surrounds large
parts of the West Bank is the starkest sign yet of Israel's politics
For Palestinians, there is no freedom of movement between its
two sides except through Israeli-controlled military checkpoints.
"Israel has steadily built and then expanded settlements on
the land which it has occupied since 1967 in violation of international
law," the report said.
"The announcement, in August 2004, that another thousand
homes were to be built in the West Bank is a sign of the impunity
with which Israel operates.
"This steady expansion, together with the construction of
the separation barrier through the West Bank is creating ever greater
"These settlements have all but destroyed the possibility
of a viable Palestinian state."
Christian Aid says the two-state solution would make it possible
for Palestinians to tackle the endemic poverty that permeates the
Occupied Palestinian Territories.
It also offers Palestinians and Israelis the prospect of security
and sovereignty that both peoples so desperately need.
"The increasing culture of violence, marked by suicide bombings,
overwhelming military force in civilian areas and wanton destruction,
threatens people in the region and beyond," said the Christian
"But the policies of separation and division which we see
today are heightening, not solving, the conflict.
"The UK, Irish and EU governments have a legal
obligation, under international law, to ensure they hold Israel
to account for its actions in the Occupied Palestinian Territories."
In particular, Christian Aid recommends that Jewish settlements
and their infrastructure be dismantled, and construction of the
separation barrier around the West Bank be halted.
It also recommends that Palestinians be allowed to hold free and
fair elections in the Occupied Territories.
Following the report's publication, Chris Doyle, director of the
Council for Arab-British Understanding, urged the British government
to take seriously Christian Aid's findings and recommendations.
"It is crystal clear that action is urgently needed to prevent
both a full scale humanitarian disaster, but also the death of the
two state solution around which an international consensus has so
successfully been built over the last two decades.
"For too long successive Israeli governments have been allowed
to ignore international criticism about the settlement policy and
the building of the separation wall.
"It is also to be hoped that the British Prime Minister,
when as promised gets re-engaged with the Israeli-Palestinian issue
after November, urgently considers these recommendations."
Aljazeera.net's correspondent in the West Bank
says a significant minority of Palestinians who believe Israel will
never allow a viable Palestinian state now favour a one-state solution.
This would entail Jews, Muslims and Christians
living side by side in all of historic Palestine on the basis of
equal rights for all.
However, the main obstacle to this solution is Israel's fear that
it would effectively signal the end of Zionism and its elevation
of Jews above other peoples.
Israel, meanwhile, argues it is unrealistic for it to return to
its 1967 boundaries as West Bank settlements have become large population
And it says it has been forced to build the separation wall to
keep out Palestinian "suicide bombers" intent on killing
A US soldier at the centre of the Abu Ghraib
prisoner abuse scandal was yesterday sentenced to eight years for
sexually and physically abusing detainees.
Staff Sergeant Ivan "Chip" Frederick, 38, who admitted
carrying out a mock electrocution of a detainee, was also given
a reduction in rank, forfeiture of pay and a dishonourable discharge.
Frederick, an army reservist from Buckingham, Virginia, pleaded
guilty at the court martial on Wednesday to eight counts of abusing
and humiliating Iraqi detainees.
It was the longest sentence in the three convictions so far related
to the abuses at Abu Ghraib, exposed in April with the publication
of photographs and video showing US soldiers abusing naked Iraqis.
Frederick's lawyer, Gary Myers, called the sentence excessive and
said he intended to appeal to seek a reduction.
Frederick, a military policeman who is a prison
officer in civilian life, acknowledged his part in the abuse but
also blamed his chain of command, telling the court prisoners were
forced to submit to public nudity and degrading treatment "for
military intelligence purposes."
During the court martial, Chief Warrant Officer Kevin Kramer, a
military intelligence soldier called as a witness, referred to an
email from the US command in Baghdad telling him to order his interrogators
to be tough on prisoners. "The gloves
are coming off, gentlemen, regarding these detainees," said
the email. It added that the command "wants the detainees broken."
Frederick, who was in charge of the night shift
at the "hard site" facility at Abu Ghraib, west of Baghdad,
said military intelligence soldiers and civilian interrogators told
guards how to treat detainees.
That included stripping detainees, depriving them of sleep or taking
away their cigarettes, Frederick said. Investigators wanted detainees
"stressed out, wanted them to talk more," he added. [...]
Instead of reprimands or dismissals, one general
tied to the torture and abuses at Abu Ghraib prison will probably
receive a promotion and another has been recommended for a new command
position. At the same time, both US corporations with direct ties
to the abuse scandal have been rewarded with lucrative contracts
valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and General
Richard Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, want to
promote Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, the former commanding
general of US troops in Iraq, according to "senior defense
officials" who spoke to the Los Angeles Times. Investigators
have cited Sanchez for creating an environment that contributed
to the torture of Iraqis at Abu Ghraib.
A fourth star for Sanchez might not come until after the November
2 presidential election, however, because the general is what one
source termed politically "radioactive" right now due
to his role in the prison abuse and torture scandal. If President
Bush is re-elected, Rumsfeld, Myers and other top officials at the
Pentagon will reportedly push aggressively for Sanchez's promotion.
Meanwhile, the Army's chief of intelligence
said this week that he thinks Major General Barbara Fast, formerly
the chief military intelligence officer in Iraq, should be put in
command of the Army's intelligence school in Arizona. Lieutenant
General Keith Alexander told reporters Friday he has "great
confidence" in Fast's ability to supervise the training of
Army interrogators. The same investigation
that cited Sanchez also blamed Fast for failing to properly monitor
activities by CIA interrogators at Abu Ghraib.
In the private sector, the US government has awarded
lucrative contracts to security technology and mercenary contracting
firms tied to the Abu Ghraib scandal by General Antonio Taguba's
CACI International, which provides interrogators to supplement
the US Army's intelligence and counterintelligence operations in
Iraq, revealed last week that it has obtained contracts valued at
That announcement came less than a month after the US Army awarded
a six-month "bridging contract" worth as much as $400
million to Titan Corp, the San Diego-based security firm also tied
to the Abu Ghraib abuses. That contract will likely keep Titan's
force of over 4,000 translators working in Iraq until September
Later last month, Titan landed a National Security Agency deal
that will rope the publicly traded defense giant another $300 million.
On October 1 Titan scored a five-year "indefinite-delivery,
indefinit-quantity multiple-award" technical contract from
the US Navy valued at over $1 billion. To continue the streak, on
Thursday the Navy awarded Titan a separate five-year contract worth
It's another story of the American Dream come
true, the kind you see every day in George Bush's blessed realm.
All the usual inspiring elements are there: a couple of plucky kids
starting a business with nothing but hustle and a whole lotta heart;
a few lucky breaks crowned with big-time success; a duffel bag stuffed
with millions in cash from a war-zone slush fund; a father and son
held hostage at gunpoint to block a corruption probe, then dumped
in hostile territory with no papers, no money, no protection.
Yes, it's the story of Custer Battles LLC., a mercenary firm run
by two former covert operators and Bushist Party bagmen who sharked
up more than $40 million in the usual no-bid conquistador contracts
from the rape of Iraq -- and may have skimmed an extra $50 million
in fraudulent cream, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Custer Battles is not, as you might think, named for that earlier
undermanned, overconfident military incursion that ended in disaster
at Little Big Horn. No, the ill-omened moniker comes from the company's
founders: ex-Army Ranger and "Special Operations" vet
Scott Custer and his partner, fellow Special Opnik Mike Battles,
who also brings his experience as a clandestine CIA officer, FOX
News commentator and failed Republican congressional candidate to
Although CB had no previous security experience,
the plucky firm somehow won a $16.8 million no-bid contract to provide
security for Baghdad Airport. This was followed by $24.4 million
to take part in the gargantuan porkfest surrounding the replacement
of Iraqi currency, along with sundry other hired-gun work -- including
a sideline in supplying military dogs for raids on Iraqi homes,
which the company called a "beneficial interaction with civilians,
lessening the cultural divide."
But their gravy train hit a roadblock last week, when the firm
was suspended from further government pork-gobbling. The Pentagon
and FBI were forced to launch investigations after former company
executives -- including ex-FBI man Robert Isakson -- filed a "whistleblower"
lawsuit against CB citing what the Pentagon itself called "adequate
evidence of ... fraud, antitrust violations, embezzlement, theft,
forgery, bribery, false statements" and other offenses "indicating
a lack of business integrity." Actually, that sounds like a
dream resume for a top post in the Bush Administration, but with
a pesky civilian court making noise, the Pentagon pets are in the
doghouse -- for now.
CB's alleged shortcomings in business integrity include setting
up offshore front companies and sham sub-contractors to inflate
costs in its lucrative, Halliburtonish "cost-plus" contracts,
where the government covers all expenses and guarantees a set profit
for favored cronies. The company's own documents also detail "forged
leases and inflated invoices" and an outrageous $6 million
overcharge on its expenses in the currency-exchange racket. When
Isakson objected to the scams, two unnamed "top company officials"
burst into his office with machine guns, held him and his 13-year-old
son at gunpoint for hours, then stripped Isakson of his ID, money
and gun and told them to find their own way out of Iraq, the LA
Times reports. Father and son finally made their way through the
hellhole of Fallujah to safety in Jordan.
Custer Battles still has friends in high
places, however. In what legal experts say is a "highly unusual
move," the Justice Department is refusing to join the case,
which could recoup tens of millions of defrauded taxpayer dollars.
The reason given for this coyness is the usual cartload of cowflop
from Attorney General John "Jesus is King of America"
Ashcroft. His office says the federal government has no jurisdiction
in the matter because CB's contracts were not with the federal government
but with the "Coalition Provisional Authority" -- i.e.
the occupation authority appointed, led and funded by, er, the federal
government. Such logical contortions are beyond the ken of mere
mortals, of course -- but then the Lord works in mysterious ways,
His cronies to reward.
Ashcroft's divine non-intervention effectively
puts the kibosh on the case: As Knight Ridder notes, whistleblowers
-- and taxpayers -- win 95 percent of such fraud-recovery suits
when the Justice Department joins in, but only 25 percent when the
feds stay on the sidelines. Thus it's a good bet that the
smooth operators will get to keep every drop of blood money they've
squeezed from Iraq. And why not? Plucky little guys with plenty
of moxie always win out in the American Dream.
But just how little are these pluckers? Their web site offers a
suitably Lincolnesque tale of humble origins: how they had to scrape
and borrow money just to get to Iraq, where their unknown company
was magically chosen by an unnamed Bush honcho who gave them the
no-bid airport contract -- along with a duffel bag stuffed with
$2 million just to get the ball rolling. Plucky Mike promptly deposited
this swag in a Lebanese bank, far from the prying eyes of American
regulators. From this seed sprang a mercenary/consulting outfit
now worth $100 million.
Yet this pretty tale of cash-strapped kids chasin'
the dream is rather belied by the partners' hard wired connections
into the military-corporate power grid that rules the former American
republic -- and by Mike's other career as well. He's a top executive
in the Camelot Group, a heavy player on the international "private
equity" scene -- colleagues of the Carlyle Group, that deep
well of backroom deals where Bushes and bin Ladens once watered
No doubt all will be clear when Mike finally finishes the book
he's been touting on the company web site -- a title that captures
the essence of the whole Bushist enterprise: "Blood in the
Streets: Seizing Opportunity in Crises."
Americans are heading to the polls, and concerns
in Germany are rising about the outcome of the election. The problem
isn't as simple as you might think. If Kerry wins, Berlin expects
stepped up pressure to send troops to Iraq. If Bush wins, it will
be easier to say "no," but the war could expand to Iran.
Iran could become the next country under Washington's gun.
In June, Richard Holbrooke paid a visit to German Chancellor Gerhard
Schroeder in Berlin. After a short chat with Holbrooke, who is seen
as a possible Secretary of State in a John Kerry White House, Schroeder
got straight to the point: "What would Kerry do if he were
"The first thing he would do," Bill Clinton's former
ambassador to the United Nations said, "would be to invite
you and French President Jacques Chirac to the White House."
Schroeder could read between the lines. A joint invitation to the
Iraq war opponents could only mean one thing -- Kerry would want
a military contribution in Iraq.
"That's what I was afraid of," Schroeder
An attempt by a new American president to seek military aid could
throw Schroeder into a serious dilemma. If he refused, he would
be ruining his chance to kick-start foundering German-American relations.
Unlike George W. Bush, with his penchant for going it alone, Kerry
has said he would pursue a "multilateral" foreign policy
and consult America's allies on important issues. A "no"
from Schroeder could be a major and early embarrassment for Kerry.
If he agreed, he would be undermining one of the strongest pillars
of the pact he made with voters: that German troops wouldn't set
foot in Iraq.
Candidate Kerry has been pledging the opposite. He wants to bring
as many allies as possible to Iraq -- including Germany's army,
the Bundeswehr. "Kerry is taking a big risk," said Gernot
Erler, deputy of the parliamentary group of the Social Democrats,
before ruling out the possibility Berlin would accept any troop
request -- even from a Democratic president.
A Bush win wouldn't leave German politicians breathing any easier.
Nor would German voters be any happier, with recent polls showing
as many as 74 percent saying they would vote for Kerry if they had
the chance. Part of Bush's German problem is style -- the hometown
swagger doesn't play well to a German crowd used to more intellectually-oriented
leaders. But there is also substance, specifically Iraq, where Bush's
unwavering unilateralism has angered Germans and made it easy to
stick to a "no troops" mantra. A Bush re-election would
make maintaining that firm stance more plausible. Popularity problems
aside, Bush comes with even greater baggage than Kerry. The overarching
concern in Germany is that he could shift the current row from Iraq
to Iran, where evidence is strong that the country has ambitions
to produce weapons of mass destruction.
Trouble in Teheran
Since it began its program to produce enriched uranium, Iran has
catapulted itself to the top of the list of the world's most dangerous
nations. Teheran is building missiles and warheads that can already
reach Israel and may, in the future, travel as far as Europe --
and they could soon be tipped with nuclear weapons. Add to that
the mullah's decades-long support of terrorist networks in their
battle against Israel and it's easy to understand the growing concern.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has given the mullahs
until November 25 to cease all nuclear-bomb-related building. But
what happens if Teheran doesn't budge? Based on his track record,
a re-elected Bush wouldn't wait too long before threatening military
strikes. John Kerry has also taken a firm stance against Iran, but
he has also said he would offer to sell nuclear fuel to the country
so it wouldn't have to enrich its own uranium. The candidate says
it's a "test" to determine whether Teheran is pursuing
a nuclear program for peaceful purposes.
The language used by the Bush administration today to discuss Iran
isn't much different from the vocabulary it used before the Iraq
war. "Iran is a country that is not part
of the civilized world in terms of its behavior," Defense Secretary
Donald Rumsfeld said on Tuesday. John Bolton, an undersecretary
of state in the State Department, confirms that the Bush administration
is "determined" to ensure that Teheran does not become
capable of producing nuclear weapons.
The similarities don't stop there. After Bush brought the Iraq
case to the UN Security Council in September 2002, western governments
bickered for six months over whether a violation of a Security Council
resolution automatically justified going to war. Now, in autumn
2004, the fight has been over whether the IAEA should refer Iran's
clandestine nuclear weapons program to the Security Council for
disciplinary action even before the November 25 deadline. Observers
in Berlin also believe any US attempt at a resolution would be vetoed
by China and Russia.
It's a sequence of events European diplomats have carefully sought
to avoid. One year ago, the foreign ministers of Germany, France
and Britain got the mullahs to agree to abandon their uranium enrichment
efforts. In return, Europe guaranteed it would help technologically
deficient Iran develop its civilian nuclear energy program. Even
Bush spoke of a "very positive development." But it was
an empty victory. In June, Teheran announced it would resume production
of centrifuges that can be used in the enrichment process. On Thursay,
diplomats from the EU trio are meeting with Iranian negotiators
in Vienna, where they will sweeten the pot by offering to help them
purchase a civilian reactor from Russia. But this time around, the
US has said it would not support the European offer.
A ticking time bomb
If Iran continues with its nuclear program, one German diplomat
told DER SPIEGEL, the "clock will start ticking" towards
a US military attack. If Washington doesn't strike, then Israel
Just as certain as the possibility of a
US or Israeli strike is the expectation of a counter strike from
the Iranians. In fact, they've promised one. "We're not going
to wait with tied hands for someone to do something to us,"
Iranian Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani warned. In
Berlin, officials fear retaliation could pull Iran's crisis-plagued
neighbors into the crisis, causing the entire Middle East and Central
Asia to erupt.
As happened in the run-up to Iraq, the issue could again divide
America's allies, who will this time ask more probing questions.
How far are we allowed to go in our fight against rogue states?
And which poses a greater danger for world peace: weapons of mass
destruction in the hands of Islamic terrorist states or an arrogant
US superpower that goes to war unilaterally wherever and whenever
Of course, with over 1,000 soldiers already dead in the Iraq war
and the US military already stretched thin with missions in the
Persian Gulf, in Afghanistan and elsewhere, it's unlikely Washington
could create a new battlefront. But would those considerations stop
it from engaging in targeted strikes against Iranian nuclear installations
and from prompting Teheran to retaliate?
Whether the winner is John Kerry or George W.
Bush, fears are growing in Germany about its friends across the
WASHINGTON, Oct. 20 (UPI) -- Former U.S. President
Bill Clinton has set his sights on becoming U.N. secretary-general.
A Clinton insider and a senior U.N. source have told United Press
International the 56-year-old former president would like to be
named leader of the world body when Kofi Annan's term ends early
"He definitely wants to do it," the Clinton insider said
A Clinton candidacy is likely to receive overwhelming support from
U.N. member states, particularly the Third World. Diplomats in Washington
say Clinton would galvanize the United Nations and give an enormous
boost to its prestige. But the former president's hopes hang on
a crucial question that will not be addressed until after the presidential
elections: can he get the support of the U.S. government -- a prerequisite
The political wisdom is that a second George W. Bush presidency
would cut him off at the pass. The notion of Clinton looming large
in the international arena from "the glass tower" in New
York would be intolerable to the Bush White House. If Democratic
candidate, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., wins on Nov. 2 the prospect
of Clinton as secretary-general won't exactly be welcome either,
but Kerry would find it much harder -- if not impossible -- to go
against it. [...]
New "terrorism" laws have been recently
pushed through Parliament.
Answer this 5 point quiz:
1. Have you ever disagreed with any government policy and joined
with others to express this by sending emails or phoning any politician,
government department or bureaucrat?
2. Have you ever joined or been associated with the activities
of a trade union, local protest group, or political or religious
3. Have you ever participated in a non-violent protest, rally or
4. Have you ever donated money, bought raffle tickets or in any
other way supported an international environmental, political or
human rights organisation such as Amnesty International or Greenpeace?
5. Have you ever provided any professional advice for any political
If you reply "YES" to any one of these questions the
Government could brand you a 'terrorist' using this legislation...
The definition of 'terrorism', includes actions made 'with the
intention of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause'.
It is so broad that it would cover civil disobedience by peace groups,
M1 and other anti-globalisation blockades, union pickets and strikes,
actions to stop logging in forests and similar activities. The demonstrators
who pushed over a fence at the refugee detention centre at Woomera
would be defined as 'terrorists'... [...]
UNITED NATIONS - Britain staunchly defended
the right to use human embryos for medical research while the Vatican
backed a complete ban on human cloning as U.N. members Thursday
began two days of debate on the highly contentious issue.
The U.N. General Assembly's legal committee will meet again Friday
to discuss two competing resolutions:
Costa Rica's draft calls for a treaty banning all cloning. Belgium's
draft calls for a treaty banning the cloning of babies but allowing
countries to decide on using embryos for research, which many scientists
believe may lead to new treatments for diseases.
Britain's U.N. ambassador Emyr Jones Parry said his country was
among the first to ban human reproductive cloning when it passed
such an act in 2001.
"However, we cannot support any attempt to ban or unreasonably
restrict cloning for research purposes, known as therapeutic cloning.
We are convinced that therapeutic cloning holds enormous promise
for new treatments for serious degenerative conditions that are
currently incurable," he said.
Jones Parry offered his country's legislation as "a model
to the United Nations or any other country" for how to ban
reproductive cloning while permitting the therapeutic variety. He
also rebutted claims that therapeutic cloning would require an endless
supply of embryos and said that in May Britain set up the first
stem cell bank.
Roman Catholic Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Vatican's U.N.
representative, argued that the distinction between reproductive
and therapeutic cloning "seems specious" because they
involve the same cloning process and differ only in their goals.
"Both forms of cloning involve disrespect for the dignity
of the human being," Migliore said, calling it impossible to
enforce a ban on one type of cloning while permitting another. He
also argued that adult stem cell research posed no ethical questions
and had so far proved more promising than embryonic stem cell research.
"We would say that the choice is not between science and ethics
but between science that is ethically responsible and science that
is not," he said.
All 191 U.N. member-states have the right to vote on the matter
but the Vatican, which has permanent observer status, does not.
The committee has not set a date to vote and has until Nov. 10 to
Last November the legal committee voted 80-79 to delay consideration
of a cloning treaty for two years, a move requested by Islamic nations.
In December, the General Assembly decided without a vote to delay
the discussion of a global treaty for one year.
Costa Rica's U.N. Ambassador Bruno Stagno Ugarte said Wednesday
his resolution has 62 co-sponsors, including the United States,
but "the divide that was there is still there." He said
the international community must face its responsibilities on this
vital matter, rather than put off a decision.
"We believe it's extremely urgent, and the fact that in South
Korea, in a veterinary school, they have had the most success in
human cloning is extremely worrisome," Stagno Ugarte said.
The parliamentary committee appointed
to investigate the Beslan tragedy may keep the results of its investigation
a secret, simply because they are too scary.
Over 330 people — half of them children — died in the
three-day hostage drama in a school in southern Russia after up
to 30 militants stormed the building on the first day of class.
“The truth about the real organizers of the terror attack
may be so scary that revealing it would lead to new, bloody conflicts,”
Newsru.com quoted Duma deputy and committee member Yuri Savelyev
as saying at a press conference in St. Petersburg.
Earlier this week, committee chairman and Duma speaker Alexander
Torshin announced that new videotapes found in Beslan over the weekend
shed light on the events of September 1-3.
The committee also plans to meet Thursday with former president
of Ingushetia Ruslan Aushev, who was instrumental in negotiating
with the terrorists on the second day of the siege, leading to the
release of dozens of children.
“We have a lot of questions for Aushev, in particular, why
he got involved in the investigation, why he led 26 people out of
the school [on the second day of the siege] and who they were,”
Newsru.com quoted Savelyev as saying.
|The 1918 flu virus spread across
the world in three months and killed at least 40 million people. If
it escaped from a lab today, the death toll could be far higher. “The
potential implications of an infected lab worker – and spread
beyond the lab – are terrifying,” says D. A. Henderson
of the University of Pittsburgh, a leading biosecurity expert.
Yet despite the danger, researchers in the US are working with
reconstructed versions of the virus at less than the maximum level
of containment. Many other experts are worried about the risks.
“All the virologists I have spoken to have concerns,”
says Ingegerd Kallings of the Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease
Control in Stockholm, who helped set laboratory safety standards
for the World Health Organization.
Work on the 1918 flu virus is not the only worry. Some experiments
with bird flu have also been criticised as dangerous (New Scientist
print edition, 28 February 2004).[...]
What is more, all the safety precautions are aimed at preventing
escape, not dealing with it should it occur. If any of Kawaoka’s
lab workers are exposed to the virus despite all the precautions,
and become infected despite taking oseltamivir, the consequences
could be disastrous.
“I experienced disbelief…regarding the decision to
relocate the reconstructed 1918 influenza strain from a BSL-4 facility
to a BSL-3 facility, based on its susceptibility to antiviral medication,”
Ronald Voorhees, chief medical officer at the New Mexico Department
of Health, wrote on ProMED-mail, an infectious
diseases mailing list.
By contrast, the team in Georgia, the first to experiment with
genetically engineered 1918 viruses, did all its work at BSL-3Ag.
Meanwhile, Michael Katze at the University of Washington at Seattle
is planning to expose monkeys to aerosols of 1918-type viruses at
BSL-3, a step down from BSL-3Ag. The recent SARS escapes were from
“There is no effective national system to ensure consistency,
responsibility and good judgement in such research,” says
Edward Hammond of the Sunshine Project, a biosecurity pressure group
in Austin, Texas. In a review of IBCs published this month, he found
that many would not provide minutes of recent meetings as required
He says the IBC that approved the planned 1918
flu study at the University of Washington considered only one scenario
that could result in workers being exposed to airborne virus –
the dropping of samples. Its solution: lab workers "will be
trained to stop breathing".
Sunshine Project Challenges
the Defense Department to Release "Non-Lethal" Weapons
(Austin - 19 July 2004) - Last week, when the Pentagon's lawyers
insisted that the Sunshine Project remove documents about US Army
chemical weapons research from its website, they called attention
to the secrecy that surrounds US development of so-called non-lethal
weapons. Belatedly realizing that censorship might backfire and
draw more – not less - attention to "non-lethal"
secrets, the Marine Corps tried to compensate with delay. It waited
until 5:00 PM on Friday to respond to journalist's inquiries so
as to try to ensure that the news cropped up outside of major US
and international news cycles. Even then it said nothing of substance
– it says it is investigating the matter.
The Pentagon has never been forthcoming about the extent of its
"non-lethal" programs; but after the Sunshine Project
and others began to take action against them at the Chemical Weapons
Convention, secrecy has increased and the quality of disclosure
under laws such as the Freedom of Information Act has plummeted.
For more than three and half years, the Sunshine Project has closely
followed the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate (JNLWD), the coordinating
body for US military "non-lethal" weapons research. In
September 2002, the Sunshine Project went to the Chemical Weapons
Convention (CWC) and called for the Organization for the Prohibition
of Chemical Weapons to investigate programs to develop prohibited
chemical weapons under the "non-lethal" moniker. In reply,
the US State Department blocked the Sunshine Project’s accreditation
to the meeting.
One month later, more than 120 innocent hostages were killed in
the Moscow theater by the same kind of "non-lethal" chemical
weapon. In 2003, it wasn’t the Sunshine Project that went
to the CWC to request action, it was the International Committee
for the Red Cross (ICRC). But the result was much the same: The
Bush administration again used backroom maneuvers to prevent the
ICRC from speaking and to keep "non-lethal" chemical weapons
off the CWC's agenda.
"Non-lethal" weapons are a hodgepodge of technologies
ranging from simple, well-understood items such as police batons
and shields, to the weirdest frontiers of weapons science, like
the Navy researcher whose proposal is to permanently "pacify"
people by chemically burning out the neurological systems that make
humans capable of violence. (His paper was accepted for discussion
at a JNLWD-sponsored conference.) With new technologies, such as
directed energy, JNLWD plays up the "gee-whiz" factor,
resulting in headlines such as "Set Phasers to Stun",
although to many observers the various directed-energy devices remind
them more of the electric chair than reruns of Star Trek.
When it comes to chemical and biological "non-lethal"
weapons, which are prohibited by treaty, JNLWD has the most explaining
– and disclosing – to do. To begin with, if all of JNLWD's
programs are treaty-compliant and truly "non-lethal",
as it insists they are, why operate these programs under high classification?
It is difficult to understand why a purportedly non-lethal weapon
for missions such as peacekeeping would need to be shrouded in secrecy
like that applied to nuclear weapons technology.
Beyond the three documents that the Marine Corps has insisted that
the Sunshine Project remove from its website, a world of recent
and undisclosed JNLWD and other Pentagon chemical and even biological
"non-lethal" weapons research exists. The outlines of
these programs can be ascertained through the Freedom of Information
Act, related laws, and open sources. It is time for JNLWD and its
military partners to come clean and prove that these programs are
treaty-compliant and "non-lethal".
To begin the process of adequate public disclosure and discussion,
Sunshine Project challenges the Pentagon to release the following
1. The unredacted reports of the project Chemical Immobilizing
Agents for Non-Lethal Applications, conducted by Optimetrics, Inc
for the US Army Aberdeen Proving Ground in 2000 – 2001, as
well as those of all follow-on projects;
2. The unredacted reports of the JNLWD technology investment project
Front End Analysis for Non-Lethal Chemicals, conducted in fiscal
years 2001 and 2002;
3. The unredacted reports of the project Technical Assessment
of Antimateriel Chemical and Biological Agents, conducted at Dugway
Proving Ground, Utah, in 2000;
4. The unredacted videotapes of late 1990s US Navy (Dahlgren,
VA) testing of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, or "drones")
equipped with "non-lethal" payload systems, requested
by the Sunshine Project under FOIA a year and half ago, as well
as documentation related to this program;
5. The unredacted reports of JNLWD's Loitering Non-Lethal Submunition
program, as well the reports of Pentagon projects to develop "non-lethal"
chemical missile payload systems, such as those for the ERGM (extended
range guided missile) and the loitering "Tomahawk Tactical"
6. The full record of the lectures on antipersonnel "non-lethal"
chemical weapons, classified "secret" and periodically
given by JNLWD staff at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College
since at least 2002.
7. All records deposited at the National Academies of Science
for its JNLWD-sponsored non-lethal weapons study. (NAS has been
refusing to release these records, at the behest of the Marine Corps
and in violation of the Federal Advisory Committees Act, for a year
and a half.)
Memory Fresh Up
On September 13th 2001, during his Senate Confirmation Hearing,
General Myers, acting chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on September
11th stated that no military aircraft was scrambled until after
the Pentagon strike, which was at 9.38 AM . 
According to a news release from NORAD on September 18th, 2001
, the FAA notified them about the hijacking of the first airliner
(flight 111) at 8.40 AM . Subsequently they ordered to scramble
two F15’s from Otis Air Force Base at 8.46 AM , which were
airborne at 8.52 AM . 
Major Gen. Larry Arnold from NORAD stated on different occasions
that “when the fighters took off, they were flying straight
to New York City ” and that they were going at a speed of
"about 1.5 Mach”. He also stated that at the time of
impact the F-15’s were 71 miles away, about 8 minutes out,
and going very fast  .
Conclusion: The statements of General Myers end Major General
Arnold are in contradiction with one another. There is a discrepancy
of 46 minutes. [...]
The distance between Otis Air Force Base and the WTC is 153 mile.
The two F15’s were airborne at 8.52.00 AM. The impact of Flight
175 at the second WTC tower was 9.02.54 AM.
This means they had about 10.54 minutes to intercept Flight 175.
They could have arrived in the area above the WTC within 10 minutes
if their average speed had been (15.3 mile per minute x 60 =) 918
miles per hour (71 miles slower than the slowest mach 1.5). However,
at the time of impact they were still 71 miles away from the WTC.
This means they have flown (153 71 miles =) 82 miles in 10.54
minutes, which means their average speed has been 82/10.54 = 7.78
miles per minute (x 60) = 466,79 Mph. It seems to be a remarkable
coincidence that the average speed these F15’s must have flown,
calculated on basis of the timeline NORAD released, is exactly their
official cruise speed.
Arnold also stated that the F-15’s were about 8 minutes away
at the time of impact of the second plane. 71 miles/8 = 8,875 Mp
minute (x 60) = 532,5 per hour. That speed is nowhere near mach
1.5 (about 989 -1100 Mph).
Conclusion: We can be short about the mach-tale. It didn’t
1. Why did General Myers initially state that no military aircraft
scrambled until after the Pentagon was hit?
2. Why did Major Gen Arnold contradict that statement a few days
3. Why did Major Gen Arnold state that they flew at mach 1.5, when
it is obvious they didn’t?
4. Why didn’t the F-15’s accelerate to mach 1.5 or higher?
5. If there are any plausible reasons why they didn’t accelerate
to mach 1.5 or higher, why didn’t NORAD to this very day bother
to explain them?
6. Why do the statements about the notification time of the FAA
and NORAD contradict each other?
By ignoring these (and many other) questions for over three years,
NORAD and the Pentagon not only show an unacceptable contempt for
the families of the victims and the public, by now they also completely
forfeited all credibility.
In "American Assassination,"
two professors explain how.
Who Killed Senator Paul Wellstone?
New Book Presents Damning New Research,
Authors, Publisher Call for Senate Investigation
Monday, October 25th, 12 Noon
National Press Club • Holeman Lounge
529 14th St NW • Washington, DC
Two years ago, all eyes were on the Senate race of Senator Paul
Wellstone. In the wake of the defection of Jim Jeffords, the White
House hand-picked Norm Coleman to attempt to unseat the populist
Wellstone. But Coleman still trailed Wellstone late in the campaign.
On October 11th, Wellstone voted against the President’s war
on Iraq, despite a dire personal warning of "severe ramifications"
from Vice President Cheney. As the result of his vote, Wellstone’s
Then tragedy struck. Just ten days before his probable re-election,
Senator Wellstone was killed in the mysterious crash of his small
aircraft. On October 25, 2002, the American people suffered the
loss of a leader for peace and justice. Some folks harbored suspicions.
And some remember how the media blamed the weather.
After two years of research, James Fetzer, Ph.D. and Don "Four
Arrows" Jacobs, Ph.D., prove that the weather did not kill
Senator Wellstone. Nor were the two pilots incompetent, as the final
report of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) would
With impeccable logic, these two highly-lauded university professors
ask the hard questions: Why the mysterious cessation of communication
from the airplane right before the crash? Why did a passer-by experience
cell phone interference at the exact time the pilots lost control?
How did the FBI arrive at the crash scene, only an hour or so after
the first responders, and eight hours before the NTSB?
At the time of Senator Wellstone’s death, 69% of Minnesotans
polled said they had a hunch a "GOP Conspiracy" was at
play. Now, a new book makes the case that the common people were
right all along..
On October 25th, on the two year anniversary of Wellstone’s
crash, Authors Jim Fetzer and Four Arrows will join Publisher Sander
Hicks in Washington to reveal about what really happened that day.
At the National Press Club, they will announce publication of American
Assassination: The Strange Death of Senator Paul Wellstone.
"With new evidence and scientific rigor, Drs. Fetzer and
Jacobs systematically appraise the alternative explanations for
the death of a United States Senator. Their conclusion–that
Paul Wellstone was the target of an assassination–is very
disturbing. It should motivate authorities to launch a formal inquiry
into the death of this remarkable American."
–Donald T. Phillips Author, Lincoln on Leadership
"Meticulous research...rigorous analysis. Their efforts lead
us to only one conclusion."
–David Gabbard Professor, East Carolina University
BOSTON - A college student celebrating the
Red Sox come-from-behind victory over the New York Yankees was killed
after a police officer called in to control
the rowdy crowd shot her in the eye with what was designed to be
a non-lethal projectile.
Fifteen other people, including a police officer, suffered minor
injuries in Boston's Kenmore Square neighborhood early Thursday,
after thousands of baseball fans spilled onto the streets near Fenway
Park to celebrate the Red Sox winning the American League pennant
at Yankee Stadium.
Boston's mayor said he was considering banning alcohol sales in
the city during the World Series to avoid a repeat of the rowdiness.
Victoria Snelgrove, a 21-year-old journalism major
at Emerson College, was hit by a projectile fired by an officer
on crowd-control duty. Snelgrove, of East Bridgewater, died of a
head injury at Brigham and Women's Hospital later in the day.
Police Commissioner Kathleen O'Toole said officers were using projectiles
"designed to break upon impact, dousing the target with (pepper-like)
"While I firmly and emphatically accept responsibilities for
any errors," O'Toole said at a news conference Thursday, "I
also condemn in the harshest words possible the actions of the punks
(Wednesday) night who turned our city's victory into an opportunity
for violence and mindless destruction."
O'Toole and Mayor Thomas Menino pledged to fully investigate. Menino
said he will seek cooperation from city colleges, bars in the Fenway
Park neighborhood and the Boston Red Sox to help prevent future
disturbances. He said he would press colleges to expel students
found guilty of criminal conduct in the melee.
Rick Snelgrove expressed outrage and said his daughter did nothing
wrong. Standing outside the family home, he held up a photograph
of his smiling daughter.
"What happened to her should not happen to any American citizen
going to any type of game, no matter what," he said. "She
loved the Red Sox. She went in to celebrate with friends. She
was a bystander. She was out of the way, but she still got shot.
Awful things happen to good people. My daughter was an exceptional
Rip-Off Lillian Willoughby,
a Deptford Quaker who will turn 90 in January, went to jail Wednesday
to protest the war in Iraq.
Shortly before noon, Willoughby rose from her wheelchair, gave
her husband of 64 years, George, a hug and a kiss, and disappeared
into the federal detention center at Seventh and Arch streets here.
Reporting with her were five other peace activists, including a
young couple from Camden, Cassie Haw, 22, and her husband, Chris,
23. All were convicted of obstructing the entrance to the federal
building in Philadelphia on March 20, 2003, the day the United States
Given a choice between a $250 fine and a seven-day jail term, the
six chose jail.
"I don't believe supporting the war in any way," Willoughby
Addressing a group of about 50 supporters who gathered a block
away, Willoughby said nonviolence isn't something that just happens.
"You have to learn to do it," she said, "to train
for change," whether it's dealing with violence on the street
or violence between nations.
Marion Brown, 59, of Northeast Philadelphia, one of those who would
go to jail with Willoughby a few minutes later, recalled how she
told the federal judge who sentenced them that she'd pay the fine
if "you can use the money to provide clean drinking water to
children in Iraq or to lessen our grandchildren's tax burden for
paying for this war."
"He said, `No,' " Brown said. "He said he didn't
think I was in any position to negotiate."
Willoughby, a native Iowan who has been active in anti-war and
civil rights campaigns since the start of World War II, said Wednesday
she was not nervous as she prepared to enter jail for the first
time, although she confessed to being nervous at times since her
sentencing last month.
She expects to be in solitary confinement, with only an hour a
day outside her cell.
EARTH CITY, Mo. - A former employee walked
into a conveyor belt factory and opened fire Thursday while workers
were changing shifts, at one point reloading his shotgun in a parking
lot before re-entering the building.
Though witnesses reported hearing multiple shots, only one person
was wounded in the shooting that began about 3 p.m. at Beltservice
Corp., in an industrialized area west of St. Louis, police spokesman
Mason Keller said. The man was grazed by a bullet and his injury
was not serious, Keller said.
By evening, only the gunman was still in the building, which is
near the training facility of the St. Louis Rams football team.
Keller said the man was in an area of the factory where he could
not escape, but he did not elaborate.
Company co-founder and chairman Dick Engelsmann said 110 employees
were in the building at the time of the shooting, and all were evacuated.
He said the gunman left the company, which makes industrial conveyor
belts, a year ago. He believes he was fired but could not say why.
One plant worker said he knew the shooter and that the man was
having personal problems and missing too many days at work when
he was fired.
"He told me if he lost his job he wouldn't be able to support
his family," Marcus Jordan said.
Other workers said the shooting happened near the company's special-fabrication
department, not far from a hallway containing a time clock.
Craig Kopplin said he had just begun his shift when he heard a
gunshot. "Boom! Then instantaneously, I heard another,"
Another worker, Kevin Tippit, said he heard at least five gunshots.
He bolted and sought shelter in a neighboring building's dock area.
"I was looking through the windows, and the guy came out,
reloaded his gun and went right back in," he said. "It's
The news is good and bad for
James Berkland, Santa Clara County's former staff geologist who
claims he can predict earthquakes based on tides and runaway pets.
After 100 years of looking, scientists have finally found a connection
between tides and earthquakes. In some parts of the world, and on
certain faults, quakes are three times as likely when tides are
But the connection does not work the way Berkland thought. A separate
analysis found no more quakes during his predicted ``seismic windows''
than would be expected from chance alone.
While the news may be a blow for Berkland's unorthodox prediction
method, it is exciting for scientists, who say it ends a long quest
and confirms that a relatively small nudge can trigger a quake.
It also opens the possibility that tidal stresses could be used
to identify faults that are about to fail, said Ross Stein, a geophysicist
with the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park.
There already are intriguing hints. In one study, small quakes
that peppered the regions around six faults tended to occur at times
of high tidal stress. But after a strong quake hit, the tidal connection
The seismologist who did that study, Sachiko Tanaka of Japan's
National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Prevention,
is scheduled to report her findings at a San Francisco meeting in
Scientists have known for years that tides make the stress level
in the Earth's crust rise and fall twice a day. So it has been a
mystery why, despite dozens of studies, no one could show that tides
triggered quakes, said Thomas Heaton, a seismologist at the California
Institute of Technology in Pasadena.
``This paper says we do see it if tides get above a certain threshold,''
he said. ``And knowing that threshold gives us some clues about
how earthquakes start.''
It is thought to be the most extreme example of
global warming on the planet.
Some estimate that the sea moves inland
three metres a year
The village of Shishmaref lies on a tiny island on the edge of the
arctic circle - and it is literally being swallowed by the sea.
Houses the Eskimos have occupied for generations are now wilting
Some have fallen into the sea. Not only is the earth crumbling
underfoot, but the waves are rising ominously all around.
As we walked across the narrow strip of beach that was his playground
as a kid, village elder Tony Weyiouanna pointed to a series of barricades
that have been erected over the years in the hope of stemming the
"All of our efforts have been to protect our community,"
he told me. Has it worked? "Not yet."
Tony estimates the tide moves an average of 10
feet (three metres) closer to the land every year. When he was growing
up, it was roughly 300 feet (91 metres) from where it is now.
| Maldives: Paradise soon to
| By Nick Bryant
BBC correspondent in Maldives
To visit the Maldives is to witness the slow death of a nation.
For as well as being blessed with sun-kissed paradise islands and
pale, white sands, this tourist haven is cursed with mounting evidence
of an environmental catastrophe.
To the naked eye, the signs of climate change are almost imperceptible,
but government scientists fear the sea level is rising up to 0.9cm
Since 80% of its 1,200 islands are no more than
1m above sea level, within 100 years the Maldives could become uninhabitable.
SAN JOSE, CALIF. - A keychain
device that enables people to turn off TVs just about anywhere is
flying off the shelves, its inventor says.
Cornfield Electronics, which makes the device, is rebuilding its
website because of the rush of orders.
The TV-B-Gone ($14.99 US) remote control was made public Monday
in Wired magazine and on the web.
"I thought there would just be a trickle, but we are swamped,"
the inventor, Mitch Altman of San Francisco, told the Associated
Press. "I didn't know there were so many people who were into
turning TV off."
The device, an on-off switch, works on about 1,000
TV models, offering users relief from unwanted pictures and noise
in airports, restaurants and bars.
It's like a universal remote control programmed
to run through about 200 infrared codes that turn TVs on or off.
Aim the device, push the button and most TVs will
Altman, an electrical engineer, says he tested the device all over
the world and most people didn't react when the TV went off.
He doesn't like television and doesn't own one.
CHICAGO - Federal aviation officials were
searching for an engine that fell off a Boeing 747 cargo plane in
mid-flight, possibly over Lake Michigan in the Great Lakes region,
The Kalitta Air jet was en route from Chicago's O'Hare International
Airport to New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport when
the pilot radioed air traffic controllers to alert them to mechanical
Controllers instructed the pilot to make an emergency landing in
Detroit, Michigan, officials with the Federal Aviation Administration
It was only at that point that officials realised
that the jet had not suffered engine failure, but that one of its
four engines had physically disappeared, an FAA spokeswoman said.
The National Transportation Safety Board and the FAA are collaborating
to find the errant engine, which officials
suspect may have ditched in the drink.
Lake Michigan, approximately 118 miles wide and 925 feet deep a
its deepest point, is the second-largest Great Lake. It separates
Michigan from Illinois, which is home to Chicago.
Halifax - The transcription
of the last remarks exchanged between the air controller and the
pilot of the Boeing 747 which crashed last week in Halifax will
not be made public.
However, a transcription of this kind had been subjected to the
public in 1998, a little after a Swissair plane had plunged in the
Atlantic Ocean, off Nova Scotia. But a spokesman of the Security
Office in transport of Canada, John Cottreau, affirms that the publication
at that time was made inadvertently.
Louis Garneau, a spokesman of VOR Canada, the private agency which
manages the air traffic in Canada, adds that any retranscription
of the conversation would be a violation of federal law. Moreover,
the private life of its employees would be violated.
The legal cause on the relevance of publishing such recordings
will be discussed in federal Court in January.
Let us recall that the air crash on the runway of the International
airport of Halifax caused seven deaths, all members of crew.
MILAN - There's no peace for Linate. The Milan airport's radar
system has let it down again. At 9.54 am,
the equipment that controls air traffic all over the north west
suffered a three-minute blackout, after those on Wednesday.
ENAV, the state-owned air traffic control authority which manages
the system, said that the cause was a technical hitch, "a problem
of fine-tuning the system".
Meanwhile, yesterday's two incidents are still shrouded in mystery.
According to Marco Alberti, the operational director of SEA, the
company that manages Milan's Linate and Malpensa airport terminals,
"the cause has not yet been identified".
After Wednesday's two breakdowns, today's
was the third radar failure at Linate in little over 24 hours.
The blackout this morning caused a one-hour hold-up for flights
at all airports in northern Italy. The situation at airports in
Lombardy seemed to be returning more or less to normal this morning.
There were no problems at Malpensa or Orio al Serio. Then came the
At 11.14 am, ENAV issued a note saying, "the Milan system
is functioning again". According to the bulletin, landings
and departures were starting again, albeit in a much reduced fashion.
Actual delays accumulated by passengers to and from Milan had not
yet been calculated, nor was it clear what delays there would be
for passengers whose flights involved a technical stop at Linate.
All flights could be delayed or cancelled because of the radar
blackout. This sums up what passengers at Linate were told, after
fog problems at Fiumicino had delayed the arrivals of many planes,
causing severe problems (at least 18 flights were cancelled and
24 redirected to the Rome airport).
Milan's mayor, Gabriele Albertini, commented on the double blackout
of CRAV (regional air traffic control) computers."The main
thing is that in this case, the system malfunction was managed with
the necessary functionality and security," said Mr Ablation.
ENAV chairman Bruno Need assured journalists
that the Linate radar failure would be identified and corrected,
but declined to say when.
"We apologise to consumers for this problem," he told
reporters at a conference on air security being held in Milan. "There
were major difficulties with the power supply system. The gravity
of the incident is not being underestimated."
The Solar System could be teeming with almost
invisible comets, according to some astronomers' calculations. If
they are right, such extra comets would significantly increase the
risk of a catastrophic impact with Earth.
These objects have never been observed, but the astronomers argue
that 'dark comets' provide a likely explanation for an astronomical
puzzle: we can only see a tiny fraction of the comets that theory
Astronomers think that many comets come from the Oort cloud, a
field of billions of icy objects that lies up to 100,000 times farther
away from the Sun than the Earth does and marks the outer boundary
of our Solar System. The icy objects are sometimes driven towards
the Sun by gravitational tides generated by the shifting masses
of stars in our Galaxy. When this happens they become comets, orbiting
the Sun every 20 to 200 years on paths that lie at an angle to the
Given the size of the Oort cloud, astronomers
have calculated that there should be about 3,000 comets in these
orbits, 400 times more than are actually observed.
The common explanation for this discrepancy is that the comets
quickly disintegrate into smaller lumps after just one or two orbits,
says Bill Napier, a recently retired astronomer who worked at the
Armagh Observatory, Northern Ireland. But his mathematical model
now suggests that, if this were true, the debris should cause many
more major meteorite showers on Earth than we see, perhaps up to
30 every year.
In a paper to be published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal
Astronomical Society1, Napier concludes that the predicted comets
are out there after all; we just cannot see them.
Little fluffy clouds
Napier worked with Chandra Wickramasinghe, an astronomer at Cardiff
University in Wales, to explain the comets' invisibility. Wickramasinghe
has suggested that Sedna, the most distant body identified in our
Solar System, could have an orbiting twin that is dark, fluffy and
made of tarry carbon compounds (see "Sedna 'has invisible moon'").
As Sedna may be a member of the Oort cloud, Napier thinks that
other members of the cloud could be equally dark. Once ejected,
the tarry comets would simply suck up visible light, he says, remaining
cloaked in darkness. "Photons go in, but they don't come out."
"It's an intriguing possibility," says Alan Fitzsimmons,
an astrophysicist at Queen's University of Belfast in Northern Ireland.
"But while we have seen dark objects before, Bill is proposing
something much, much darker than anything we've ever detected."
NASA's Stardust probe, which is bringing back samples of dust from
the comet Wild 2, lends some support to Napier's idea. In June this
year it reported finding lots of tarry carbon compounds spraying
from the comet2.
The dark comets would present a major challenge to astronomers
searching the skies for objects that might collide with the Earth.
"They're so black you can't see the damn
things," says Napier. "These things will just come out
of the dark and hit you with no warning. It looks as if we're dealing
with a substantial impact hazard that people haven't clicked into
However, although they reflect almost no visible light, the dark
comets should give out a tiny glow of heat, visible as infrared
radiation. The infrared Spitzer Space Telescope, which has been
operating from Earth orbit for just over a year, has not seen any
dark comets. But this could be because it focuses on very small,
distant parts of the sky, says Napier.
Fitzsimmons disagrees, saying that if these objects existed in
the numbers proposed by Napier, either Spitzer or near-Earth object
surveys such as Spacewatch, based at the University of Arizona in
Tucson, would have picked them up by now.
A new space telescope might provide the answer.
Earlier this month, NASA announced that it would launch an orbiting
infrared telescope called the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer
(WISE) in 2008, which will map much wider areas of the sky. Given
enough time, it should be able to detect the dark comets, says Napier.
Health/Science/Tech By measuring
variations in satellite orbits, scientists have found the first
direct evidence of one of the hallowed tenets of Albert Einstein's
theory of general relativity -- that the
Earth and other large celestial bodies distort space and time as
Researchers reporting yesterday in the journal Nature said improved
satellite data had enabled them to show the effect known as "frame-dragging"
with a degree of precision never previously possible.
"We improved our accuracy by orders of magnitude," said
geodesist Erricos C. Pavlis of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
in Greenbelt and the University of Maryland at Baltimore. "In
a while, we should be able to do even better."
Scientists expect that the results of the experiment, by Pavlis
and Ignazio Ciufolini of Italy's University of Lecce, will be reinforced
by NASA's ongoing Gravity Probe B, a satellite mission designed
to measure frame-dragging and another Einsteinian effect by a different
method -- calculating gyroscope deviations over time.
"Gravity Probe B is less systematic, but will provide higher
accuracy -- within a margin of error of less than 1 percent,"
said Michael Salamon, NASA's discipline scientist for fundamental
physics. "What this research [yesterday's report] means is
that GPB may not in fact provide the first direct evidence of frame-dragging."
In the early 20th century, Einstein theorized that the gravity
of large bodies such as the Earth distorts space and time, much
the way a bowling ball would stretch a rubber sheet held aloft on
all four corners.
Frame-dragging occurs, he said, because the Earth's rotation pulls
space-time along with it. Salamon likened the effect to dipping
a spoon into a cup of honey and turning it. Close to the spoon the
honey twists, but the effect dissipates with distance.
Scientists have wanted to prove Einstein's theory since the dawn
of the space age. Gravity Probe B, conceived more than 40 years
ago, is measuring frame-dragging from a satellite by focusing a
telescope on a distant "guide star" and measuring how
the axes of gyroscopes deviate from their original positions pointing
directly at the star.
Pavlis and Ciufolini used satellites in a completely different
way. They closely tracked the orbits of LAGEOS and LAGEOS2, passive
satellites covered with "retroreflectors" that reflect
laser beams from ground stations, giving precise measurements of
distance from the station to the satellite.
The satellites' orbits are slightly distorted -- not perfectly
circular or elliptical -- because irregularities in Earth's surface
jog them. But even after subtracting this surface-caused "noise,"
the researchers were still left with orbits that deviated slightly
from what they should have been. The difference, they said, reflected
"The satellite orbits are not perfect because the Earth is
not perfect," Salamon said. "So subtract them out, and
what you're left with are the effects of space time. The results
are better with two satellites, and three would have been even better."
The key to the experiment's success was better data on Earth's
gravity field -- a better map of the Earth-induced orbital distortions.
This information, collected by another new satellite, enabled Ciufolini
and Pavlis to shrink their margin of error dramatically from the
20 percent they obtained from an earlier attempt.
"There was a tremendous amount of criticism then, and a lot
of people said 20 percent was on the edge of being acceptable,"
Salamon said. "This result, between five and 10 percent, is
a lot cleaner."
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