Jerusalem Post : The First Word: Why we met with Hugo Chavez

Thursday, August 31, 2006

The First Word: Why we met with Hugo Chavez

By ISRAEL SINGER | August 31, 2006

Permit a Brooklyn-bred Jew the use of British understatement: "Ceaucescu was no saint." He was a warped megalomaniac who had no respect for the idea of human rights and ruthlessly trampled on the dignity of his citizens - reducing them to impoverished helots. He threatened the use of anti-Semitism and on occasion made good on that threat - all the while maintaining an independent policy toward Israel and ransoming "his" Jews.

Despite the Romanian dictator's long litany of misdeeds, WJC President Edgar Bronfman and I kept talking to him. We did that because there were Jews in Romania whose very lives depended on the despotic whims of that despicable dictator. Because of that open channel to Ceaucescu, Romanian Jews were able to live as Jews and to stave off starvation thanks to the steady flow of material aid from abroad. They were allowed to emigrate to Israel, and hundreds of thousands took advantage of that opportunity. No less important, Israel was able to maintain a foothold in the Communist bloc and reap many diplomatic benefits as a result.

We thought of those days several weeks ago when, at the invitation of Argentina's president Nestor Kirchner, we met with Venezuela's controversial leader Hugo Chavez at the presidential palace in Buenos Aires. Many of us had misgivings about the wisdom of meeting a man who was on record as regurgitating time-worn anti-Semitic canards and who regularly pilloried Israel. But meet with him we did, together with senior representatives of Latin American Jewry.

Over the years, when Jewish communities were imperiled, time and again Edgar Bronfman and I met with leaders we found distasteful and even repugnant. But thousands of Jews live in Venezuela and there are thousands more in neighboring countries. And they cannot ignore the rumblings of social revolution in their backyard, especially when there is a distinct anti-Jewish accent to that purported social change.

President Chavez aspires to bring about a social revolution destined to change the face of Latin America, but the question is what will be the face of that revolution. Those of us old enough to remember the 1950s recall asking that same question when Castro and his followers rode through the streets of Havana.

In forceful language, Chavez told us that he has no quarrels with the Jews of Venezuela and that he considers his Jewish subjects "dearly beloved citizens" and valuable assets to his nation.

But this week, since that hopeful encounter, one must come to believe that the skeptics may have been right and that our willingness to give Chavez the benefit of the doubt was naive. More and more, it seems that ours was a confrontation with a shameless friend of evil.

THE RANTINGS of Chavez, and his reckless overtures to states supporting terror have an impact far beyond the borders of Venezuela. Chavez is seen as the voice of Latin America's Indian population, which has long been relegated to the bottom of the socioeconomic totem pole. Washington is associated with the ancien regime which Chavez is determined to bury once and for all. Today we confront a new political persona in South America, which forces us to reassess our previous understanding of politics there.

Chavez hates President George W. Bush, and vilifies Israel. He meets with Ahmadinejad and courts Syria. He regularly parrots anti-Jewish calumnies even while continuing to insist that he is no anti-Semite. But above all he wants to be the leader of a social revolution that will change South America. Chavez makes no secret of the fact that the ailing Cuban leader Fidel Castro is his idol.

But Chavez's attempts to imitate Castro are not quite convincing. Castro protected and respected his Jewish community despite the fact that he later severed relations with Israel (though he did so years after the rest of the Communist Bloc, and one suspects that it was a pragmatic move more than one motivated by any real ideology).

Whatever the Cuban dictator's other shortcomings, and there are many to be sure, a search of his many speeches will reveal no hint of anti-Semitism. I met with Castro many times, and never suspected for a moment that he was an anti-Semite.

I do not know whether President Chavez reads The Jerusalem Post, but suspect that this article will eventually reach him. Therefore this is an opportunity to send him the following message:

Your Excellency,

You are on the brink of defining the Bolivarian revolution that you aspire to lead across Latin America. Whether you like it or not, the way in which you deal with your country's small Jewish minority will ultimately define your place in history. Will you be recorded as a complex and controversial personality, perhaps even a genuine statesman - or as a crude mimic of one of the 21st century's worst tyrants and Holocaust deniers, one branded by the entire civilized world as the most powerful and dangerous spokesman of rogue regimes?

History has proven that no society can flourish in which the Jew feels unease.

You may think that you can separate Jews from Israel. Others have tried. But as you will soon learn, you cannot. The courageous Jews of Venezuela, Venezuelan patriots whose support for Israel, both in word and deed, is unwavering, have proven that. Take heed. If you think you can maintain a friendship with rocket rattlers and the bankrollers of international terrorism - and also receive support, or even acceptance in the family of civilized nations, you are mistaken.

But at the end of the day, the choice is yours.

The writer is the Chairman of the Policy Council of the World Jewish Congress.

VOA : Bush Wants Consequences for Iran Missing Nuke Deadline

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Bush Wants Consequences for Iran Missing Nuke Deadline

by Scott Stearns | White House | August 31, 2006

President Bush says there must be consequences for Iran's refusal to meet a U.N. deadline to stop enriching uranium. The president says Iran must not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons, something Iran insists it is not trying to do.

President Bush told a gathering of U.S. military veterans in the western state of Utah that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons in open defiance of its international obligations.

"We know the death and suffering that Iran's sponsorship of terrorism has brought," said the president, "and we can imagine how much worse it could be, if Iran were allowed to acquire nuclear weapons."

The International Atomic Energy Agency says Iran is continuing to enrich uranium, despite the deadline, set by the international community, to stop that work. The IAEA report puts the issue before the U.N. Security Council, where the Bush administration is pushing for sanctions against Iran.

President Bush says the international community made a reasonable proposal to Iran to stop enriching uranium in exchange for economic and diplomatic incentives. So far, Mr. Bush says, Iran has responded with further defiance and delay.

"It is time for Iran to make a choice," said the president. "We've made our choice. We will continue to work closely with our allies to find a diplomatic solution. But there must be consequences for Iran's defiance, and we must not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon."

Not all Security Council members agree that sanctions are the best response to Iran's defiance. China and Russia, which both have veto power in the Security Council, have expressed reservations about the idea of imposing sanctions, saying it could make matters worse.

Iran has insisted that its nuclear program is for production of energy and its enrichment program is for research. Speaking on the day of the Security Council deadline for Iran to cease its enrichment activity, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said he will not be intimidated into giving up his nation's right to nuclear technology.

Iran says it is ready for negotiations to resolve the dispute with the West.

European Union officials say EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana talked by telephone with Iranian nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani, and the two agreed to meet "soon."

U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns will join counterparts from the other permanent Security Council members and Germany at talks about sanctions early next week in Europe.

U.S. officials say they are confident that at least a first set of penalties against Iran will be approved within weeks.

NYT : Bush Says Iraq War Is Part of a Larger Fight

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Bush Says Iraq War Is Part of a Larger Fight

by DAVID STOUT | August 31, 2006

President Bush began a new drive today to rally the American people behind him on the Iraq war and national security, declaring that the United States must stay the course in Iraq because it is a battleground in an epic struggle between democracy and tyranny.

Mr. Bush told the American Legion convention in Salt Lake City that the terrorists who attacked the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, have much in common with the suicide bombers of Baghdad and the Hezbollah militants who rain rockets on Israel.

Whatever their ethnic or religious differences, Mr. Bush said, they are united in their wish “to turn back the advance of freedom, and impose a dark vision of tyranny and terror across the world.”

Mr. Bush scoffed at his critics’ charges that the American-led campaign in Iraq is a distraction from the real struggle against Al Qaeda terrorists. “That would come as news to Osama bin Laden,” he said, asserting that terrorists from other countries in the Middle East are making their way to Iraq to try to smother the emerging democracy.

The president’s 40-minute address, coming on the heels of similarly aggressive speeches on Tuesday by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to the legionnaires and Vice President Dick Cheney to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, underscored the White House’s determination to make the Iraq war a fundamental issue in the November elections.

Doubtless familiar with polls showing increasing numbers of Americans drawing a distinction between the Iraq war and a larger battle against terrorism, Mr. Bush invoked the approaching anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks to rebut that view.

That September morning brought to the United States “a war we didn’t ask for, but a war we must wage, and a war we will win,” Mr. Bush said. And if the United States tires of fighting in the streets of Baghdad, he said, “we will face the terrorists in the streets of our own cities.”

“So the United States will not leave until victory is achieved,” Mr. Bush said, warning that more sacrifice lies ahead and that the struggle will be a long one.

Seeking to disarm critics who say that the administration has bungled the war in Iraq, Mr. Bush said he and his commanders are united in their resolve for victory yet flexible enough to adapt tactics to changing conditions. But he said the war, in Iraq and against terrorism generally, will not be won by military might alone.

“Every element of national power” is being marshaled in “the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century,” Mr. Bush said.

Unlike Mr. Cheney and Mr. Rumsfeld, Mr. Bush did not use the word “appease” today. As for those who doubt the wisdom of the war in Iraq, he said, “Many of these folks are sincere and patriotic. They cannot be more wrong.”

The president again described America’s purpose in Iraq as at once idealistic and deeply pragmatic. Victory there will guarantee the Iraqi people freedom, and the country will be a beacon for other freedom-loving peoples in the Middle East, Mr. Bush said. And a free country does not become “an incubator for terrorist movements,” he went on.

Mr. Bush was applauded frequently. He had not only a friendly audience but a friendly setting: he carried Utah over Senator John Kerry by 71 to 29 percent in 2004, for his biggest margin of victory in any state.

The battles in Iraq will one day rank alongside those at Omaha Beach and Guadalcanal as mileposts on the path to liberty, Mr. Bush said. “We know that the direction of history leads toward freedom.”

Gwynne Dyer : Why worry about the "nuclear crisis" in Iran?

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Why worry about the "nuclear crisis" in Iran?

by Gwynne Dyer | | August 31, 2006

The United Nations Security Council deadline for Iran to stop producing enriched uranium expires on Aug 31, and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annnan arrives in Tehran on Sep 2. Washington demands UN sanctions against Iran if it doesn’t stop and hints at air strikes against Iranian nuclear installations if sanctions don’t happen or don’t work.

Welcome to the crisis.

The media love a crisis, but this one seriously lacks credibility. In June, John Negroponte, US Director of National Intelligence, told the BBC that Iran could have a nuclear bomb ready between 2010 and 2015. But he said “could,” not “will,” and only in five or 10 years’ time. So why are we having a crisis this autumn?

The US government’s explanation is that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad threatened in May to “wipe Israel off the map,” and that nuclear weapons are the way he plans to do it. (Any that are left over would presumably be given to terrorists.) As proof of Iran’s evil ambitions, it points to the fact, revealed in 2003, that Iran had been concealing some parts of its so-called peaceful nuclear energy program from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for 18 years.

But there are a number of holes in this narrative, and the first is that Ahmadinejad never said he wanted to “wipe Israel off the map.” This is a strange and perhaps deliberate mistranslation of his actual words, a direct quote from the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the font of all wisdom in revolutionary Iran, who said some 20 years ago that “this regime occupying Jerusalem (ie Israel) must vanish from the page of time.”

It was a statement about the future (possibly the quite far future) as ordained by God. It was not a threat to destroy Israel. Attacking Israel has never been Iranian policy, and a few days later the man who really runs Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, publicly stated that Iran “will not commit aggression against any nation.” While Ahmadinejad continues to say nasty things about Israel, he too has explicitly rejected accusations that Iran plans to attack it.

Of course it doesn’t. Israel has had its unacknowledged nuclear weapons targeted on Iran since Ahmadinejad was a small boy. Even if Iran were eventually to get some too, it could not realistically hope to catch up with Israel’s hundreds of weapons and sophisticated delivery vehicles.

Israel can strike Iran with aircraft, with ballistic missiles and possibly with Harpoon missiles fired from its German-built Dolphin-class submarines and refitted to carry nuclear warheads.

If Iran doesn’t have a serious nuclear weapons program, why did it hide two of its nuclear facilities from the IAEA for 18 years? Eighteen years before 2003 was 1987, at the height of Saddam Hussein’s US-backed war against Iran, with Iraqi missiles falling daily on Iranian cities. They had conventional explosive warheads, but the Iranians suspected (rightly, at that time) that Saddam was working on nuclear weapons as well.

So the Iranians probably decided to revive the Shah’s old nuclear weapons program and hid the plans for the new facilities to keep them off Saddam’s target list and to avoid an early confrontation with the IAEA. Then the war ended, and work on Iranian nuclear weapons stopped too, at the latest after UN inspectors dismantled Saddam’s nuclear program in the early 1990s. We can be sure of this, because Iran would have had nuclear weapons long ago if it had wanted them badly enough: it doesn’t take over 18 years for a country with Iran’s resources.

The undeclared nuclear facilities remained secret because it was embarrassing to admit that Iran had concealed them, but no great effort went into finishing them.

In fact, President Ahmadinejad finally opened one of them, the heavy water facility at Arak, only this month.

But the fact that Iran hid them for so long is the only reason that anybody has for doubting the legitimacy of its current actions, since it is quite legal for a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to develop the technologies and facilities for enriching nuclear fuels for power plants.

Iran probably does now intend to work steadily towards a “threshold” nuclear capability (the ability to break out of the NPT and build nuclear weapons very rapidly if necessary) because it is surrounded by nuclear weapons powers: India and Pakistan to the east, the Russians to the north, Israel to the west and US forces on both its western and eastern borders in Iraq and Afghanistan. But a threshold nuclear capability is still perfectly legal, and many countries that have signed the NPT have achieved it already.

Iran’s actions are not worth a real crisis, and the situation is certainly not very urgent. Iran’s reply to the Security Council offered further negotiations on the issue, though it will not agree to stop enriching uranium as a precondition for talks. In these circumstances, neither Russia or China, two veto-holding powers, will vote to impose serious sanctions on Iran, nor will a number of the non-permanent members of the Security Council. So if the Bush administration truly believes that this is important and urgent, it will have to act alone and outside the law.

Would it really do such a foolish thing again after the Iraq fiasco? Unfortunately, it might.

Gwynne Dyer is a London-based independent journalist whose articles are published in 45 countries. His column appears regularly in Vue Weekly.

Infowars : British Ministry Of Truth Wants To Prosecute American Bloggers

Thursday, August 31, 2006

British Ministry Of Truth Wants To Prosecute American Bloggers

If our Government doesn't like your news you may be a criminal, Next things to be banned on planes may be newspapers

by Steve Watson | August 31, 2006

The decision made by the New York Times to block British readers from seeing an article detailing the liquid terror plot suspects has raised vital questions regarding freedom of information in this country and within cyberspace.

The New York Times said on Tuesday it had blocked British Internet readers from seeing a story detailing elements of the investigation into a suspected plot to blow up airliners between Britain and the United States.

However, this raises the question, what action could be taken against anyone else in America who posts details of the information on their own blog or website?

Well it turns out that you could be prosecuted by the redcoat government.

"There has not been a prosecution for contempt over anybody publishing outside this jurisdiction (Britain), but logically there is no reason why there should not be," said Caroline Kean, partner at UK media law firm Wiggin.

This means that should Alex Jones or Jeff Rense, or anyone in the alternative media in America, post the New York Times story online for all to see then they could face criminal proceedings.

The official reason the story was banned is because it may influence jurors and prevent suspects receiving a "fair trial."

The story reportedly raised questions over the authenticity of the entire plot and suggested that an attempt to blow up the airliners was not as imminent as authorities had suggested.

Any juror in this case that would be influenced by such information would no doubt also be influenced by the furor that the government has made out the alleged plot and its own milking to death of it in an attempt to fear-monger the British public into total subservience and acquiescence.

Whilst many people in this country seem to be scared to death and accepting of whatever the authorities tell them is going to happen, many more seem to have finally woken up and are able to see straight through the mist of lies and spin, doubting that any plot ever existed in the first place.

A Guardian/ICM poll last week revealed that just 20% of British voters believe the government is telling the truth about the threat to bomb transatlantic airliners using liquid explosives - meaning 80% of the country do not trust Blair and the war on terror agenda.

This means that it's OK for the government to make public whatever information it sees fit and influence the trials of the suspects as well as shaping public opinion, but for anyone else to do so, either in the UK or in other countries, is a criminal offence.

British newspapers the Times and the Daily Mail also published details from the New York Times article. According to a Reuters report, a government source said no injunctions had been taken out against the British papers, but action could not be ruled out.

So what happens if you attempt to bring a copy of the New York Times in on a plane? Is that terrorism now? Should newspapers be banned on all flights as well as baby milk and i-pods?

This highlights how much of a threat our governments now see the internet as. The free flow of information between people around the world is breaking down and dissipating the lies and spin that they have come to rely on to plough ahead with their chosen foreign and domestic agendas.

This week it has also been revealed that Government spending on spin has almost quadrupled since Labour came to power nine years ago. The Government spent £154 million on advertising over the past 12 months – making it the third biggest advertising outlet in the country in front of almost every major global corporation that has a UK base.

It is telling that the government feels that only by keeping people entirely in the dark and suffocating them with their own brand of propaganda can they operate without hindrance. This blackout media, a tactic regularly used in Communist China, is transgressing borders now and targeting the individual citizen, regardless of the sovereign laws of their country. Is any of this indicative of a free society?

Pakistan Times : Rashid Rauf most likely to face Extradition

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Rashid Rauf most likely to face Extradition

'Pakistan Times' NWFP Bureau | August 31, 2006

PESHAWAR: British national Rashid Rauf, a key suspect in the London terror plot, who also holds Pakistani passport, is most likely to face extradition to United Kingdom as soon the interrogation process is completed here despite the fact that the two countries have no extradition treaty.

It is believed that both the states are about to ink extradition treaty to facilitate the handing over of the suspect for interrogation by the UK security agencies.

Though Pakistan and UK have no extradition treaty in place but even then the two sides could handover wanted people to each other using diplomatic channels.

Head of the Press & Public Affairs in British High Commission, Aidan Liddle said this during Peshawar Press Club Guest Hour Programme here Tuesday.

However the head of British press squad in Islamabad claimed that the suspect Rashid Rauf was also wanted by his government in a murder case committed in Scotland Yard of some four years back.

Liddle sounded optimistic that Islamabad would not turn down the London request in this regard adding both countries had been working on the draft of an extradition treaty, which was now in final stage and it was possible that Islamabad and London could have the accord in near future.

“Once we have the treaty in place, the process of handing over of wanted people will become easy and simple in the future”, Aidan Liddle observed.

Mr. Riddle did not agree to a questioner that plot to explode the transatlantic jetliners was a drama jointly prepared by secret agencies of UK and Pakistan.
“How could secret agencies plot a game at such a high scale, which may involve lot of complications”, the British press officer asked.

To a query about UK move to declare Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) as terrorist organization, Aidan Liddle said Pakistan and England had been close partners in the war against terrorism and it was the moral responsibility of the two countries to give weight to the demands and requests of each other.

Riddle, however skipped a question about the so–called US and UK war against terrorism when asked if it was a fact that it was unleashed by America against the Islamic Ummah under the vague concept of war on terror.

VoltaireNet : The Liquid Bomb hoax: The larger implications

Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Liquid Bomb hoax: The larger implications

by James Petras | August 31, 2006

The charges leveled by the British, US and Pakistani regimes that they uncovered a major bomb plot directed against nine US airlines is based on the flimsiest of evidence, which would be thrown out of any court, worthy of its name.

An analysis of the current state of the investigation raises a series of questions regarding the governments’ claims of a bomb plot concocted by 24 Brits of Pakistani origin.

The arrests were followed by the search for evidence, as the August 12, 2006 Financial Times states: “The police set about the mammoth task of gathering evidence of the alleged terrorist bomb plot yesterday.” [1] In other words, the arrests and charges took place without sufficient evidence — a peculiar method of operation — which reverses normal investigatory procedures in which arrests follow the “monumental task of gathering evidence.” If the arrests were made without prior accumulation of evidence, what were the bases of the arrests?

The government search of financial records and transfers turned up no money trail despite the freezing of accounts. The police search revealed limited amounts of savings, as one would expect from young workers, students and employees from low-income immigrant families.

The British government, backed by Washington, claimed that the Pakistani government’s arrest of two British-Pakistanis provided “critical evidence” in uncovering the plot and identifying the alleged terrorist. No Western judicial hearing would accept evidence procured by the Pakistani intelligence services that are notorious for their use of torture in extracting ‘confessions’. The Pakistani dictatorship’s evidence is based on a supposed encounter between a relative of one of the suspects and an Al Qaeda operative on the Afghan border. According to the Pakistani police, the Al Qaeda agent provided the relative and thus the accused with the bomb-making information and operative instructions. The transmission of bomb-making information does not require a trip half-way around the world, least of all to a frontier under military siege by US led forces on one side and the Pakistani military on the other. Moreover it is extremely dubious that Al Qaeda agents in the mountains of Afghanistan have any detailed knowledge of specific British airline security, procedures or conditions of operations in London.

Lacking substantive evidence, Pakistani intelligence and their British counterparts touched all the propaganda buttons: A clandestine meeting with Al Qaeda, bomb-making information exchanges on the Pakistani-Afghan border, Pakistani-Brits with Islamic friends, family and terrorist connections in England . . .

US intelligence claimed, and London repeated, that sums of money had been wired from Pakistan to allow the plotters to buy airline tickets. Yet air tickets were found in only one residence (and the airline and itinerary were not stated by the police). None of the other suspects possessed plane tickets and some did not even have passports. In other words, the most preliminary moves in the so-called bomb plot had not been taken by the accused. No terrorist plot to bomb airplanes exists when the alleged conspirators are lacking travel funds, documents and tickets. It is not credible to argue that the alleged conspirators depended on instructions from distant handlers ignorant of the basic ground level conditions.

The Liquid Bomb story

Initially the British and US authorities claimed that the explosive device was a “liquid bomb,” yet no liquid or non-liquid bomb was discovered on the premises or persons of any of the accused. Nor has any evidence been produced as to the capability of any of the suspects in making, moving or detonating the “liquid bomb” — a very volatile solution if handled by unskilled operatives. No evidence has been presented on the nature of the specific liquid bomb question, or any spoken discussion or written documents about the liquid bomb, which would implicate any of the suspects. No bottle, liquid or chemical formula has been found among any of the suspects. Nor have any of the ingredients that go into making the “liquid bomb” been uncovered. Nor has any evidence been presented as to where the liquid was supposed to come from (the source) or whether it was purchased locally or overseas.

When the liquid bomb story was ridiculed into obscurity, British Deputy Assistant Commissioner Peter Clark claimed that, “bomb making equipment including chemicals and electric components had been found,” [2]

Once again there is no mention of what “electronic components” and “chemicals” were found, in whose home or office and if they might be related to non-bomb making activities. Were these so-called new bomb-making items owned by a specific person or group of persons, and if so were they known by the parties implicated to be part of a bombing plot. Moreover, when and why have the authorities switched from the liquid bombs to identifying old fashion electronic detonators? Is there any evidence — documents or taped discussions — that link these electronic detonators and chemicals with the specific plot to “blow up 9 US bound airliners”?

Instead of providing relevant facts clearing up basic questions of names, dates, weapons, and travel dates, Commissioner Clark gives the press a laundry list of items that could be found in millions of homes and the large number of buildings searched (69 so far). If stair climbing earns promotions, Clark should be nominated for a knighthood. According to Clark the police discovered more than 400 computers, 200 mobile telephones, 8,000 computer media items (items as catastrophic as memory sticks, CDs and DVDs); police removed 6,000 gigabytes of data from the seized computers (150 from each computer) and a few video recordings. One presumes, in the absence of any qualitative data demonstrating that the suspects were in fact preparing bombs in order to destroy nine US airliners, that Commissioner Clark is seeking public sympathy for his minions’ enormous capacity to lift and remove electronic equipment from one site to another in up to 69 buildings. This is a notable achievement if we are talking about a moving company and not a high-powered police investigation of an event of “catastrophic consequences.”

Some of the suspects were arrested because they have traveled to Pakistan at the beginning of the school year holidays. British and US authorities forget to mention that tens of thousands of Pakistani ex-pats return to visit family at precisely that time of year.

The wise guys on Wall Street and The City of London never took the liquid bomb plot seriously: At no point did the Market respond, nose-dive, crash or panic. The announced plot to bomb airlines was ignored by all Big Players on the US and London stock markets. In fact, petrol prices dropped slightly. In contrast to 9/11 and the Madrid and London bombings (to which this plot is compared) the stock market ‘makers’ were not impressed by the governments’ claims of a ‘major catastrophe.’ George Bush or Tony Blair, who were informed and discussed the “liquid bomb plot” several days beforehand, didn’t even skip a day of their vacations, in response to the catastrophic threat.

The "Martyrs messages"

And each and every claim and piece of ‘evidence’ put forth by the police and the Blair and Bush security authorities runs a cropper. Some of the alleged suspects are released, and new equally paltry ‘evidence’ is breathlessly presented: two tape recordings of “martyr messages” were found in the computer of one suspect, which, we are told, foretold a planned terrorist attack. The Clark team claimed with great aplomb that they found one or a few martyr videotapes, without clarifying the fact that the videos were not made by the suspects but viewed by them. Many people the world over pay homage to suicide martyrs to a great variety of political causes. Prime Minister Koizumi of Japan visits a shrine dedicated to World War II military dead — including kamikaze suicide pilots, defying Chinese and Korean protests. Millions of US citizens and politicians pay homage to the war heroes in Arlington cemetery each year, some of whom deliberately sacrificed their lives in order to defend their comrades, their flag and the justice of their cause. It should be of no surprise that Asians, Muslims and others should collect videos of anti-Israeli or anti-occupation martyrs. In none of the above cases where people honor martyrs is there any police attempt to link the reverent observer with future suicide bomb plots — except if they are Muslims. Hero worship of fallen fighters is a normal everyday phenomenon — and is certainly no evidence that the idolaters are engaged in murderous activity.

A “martyr message” is neither a plot, conspiracy nor action, it is only an expression of free speech — one might add, ‘internal speech’ (between the speaker and his computer) which might at some future time become public speech. Are we to make private dialogue a terrorist offense?

As the legal time limit expires on the holding of suspects without charges, the British authorities released two suspects, charged eleven, and eleven others continue to be held without charges, probably because there is no basis for proceeding further. As the number of accused plotters thin out in England, Clark and company have deflected attention to a world-wide plot with links to Spain, Italy, the Middle East and elsewhere. Apparently the logic here is that a wider net compensates for the large holes. In the case at hand, of the eleven who have been remanded to trial, only eight have been charged with conspiracy to prepare acts of terrorism; the other three are accused of “not disclosing information” (or being informers . . . of what?) and “possessing articles useful to a person preparing acts of terrorism.” [3] Since no bombs have been found and no plans of action have been revealed, we are left with the vague charge of ‘conspiracy’, which can mean a hostile private discussion directed against US and British subjects by several like-thinking individuals. The reason that it appears that ideas and not actions are in question is because the police have not turned up any weapons or specific measures to enter into the locus of attack (air tickets to board planes, passports and so on). How can suspects be charged with failing to disclose information, when the police lack any concrete information pertaining to the alleged bomb plot. The fact that the police are further diluting their charges against three more plotters is indicative of the flimsy basis of their original arrests and public claims. To charge a 17 year-old-boy with “possessing articles useful to a person preparing acts of terrorism” is so open-ended as to be laughable: Did the article have other uses for the boy or for his family (like a box cutter). Did he ‘possess’ written articles because they were informative or fascinating to a young person? Since he still possessed the article, he had not passed these articles to any person making bombs. Did he know of any specific plans to make bombs or any bomb-makers? The charges could implicate anyone possessing and reading a good spy novel or science fiction thriller in which bomb making is discussed. The eleven have already pleaded innocent; the trial will begin in due time. The government and mass media have already convicted the accused in the electronic and print media. Panic has been sown. Fear and hysterical anger is present in the long security lines at airports and train stations . . . Asian men quietly saying prayers are being pulled off of airplanes and planes diverted or airports evacuated.

The economic consequences of the propaganda operation

The bomb plot hoax has caused enormous losses (in the hundreds of millions of dollars) to the airlines, business people, oil companies, duty free shops, tourist agencies, resorts and hotels, not to speak of the tremendous inconvenience and health related problems of millions of stranded and stressed travelers. The restrictions on laptop computers, travel bags, accessories, special foods and liquid medicines have added to the ‘costs’ of traveling.

Clearly the decision to cook up the phony bomb plot was not motivated by economic interests, but domestic political reasons. The Blair administration, already highly unpopular for supporting Bush’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, was under attack for his unconditional support for Israel’s invasion of Lebanon, his refusal to call for an immediate ceasefire and his unstinting support for Bush’s servility to US Zionist lobbies. Even within the Labor party over a hundred backbenchers were speaking out against his policies, while even junior cabinet ministers such as Prescott stated that Boss Bush’s foreign policy smelled of the barnyard. Bush was not yet cornered by his colleagues in the same way as Blair, but unpopularity was threatening to lead his Republican party to congressional defeat and possible loss of a majority of seats.

According to top security officials in England, Bush and Blair were “knowledgeable” about the investigation into a possible “liquid bomb” plot. We know that Blair gave the go-ahead for the arrests, even as the authorities must have told him they lacked the evidence and at best it was premature. Some reports from British police insiders claim that the Bush Administration pushed Blair for early arrests and the announcement of the ‘liquid bomb’ plot. Security officials then launched a massive, all-out ‘terror propaganda’ campaign designed to capture the attention and support of the public with the total support of the mass media. The security-mass media campaign served its objective — Bush’s popularity increased, Blair avoided censure and both continued on their vacations.

The bomb plot political ploy fits the previous political pattern of sacrificing capitalist economic interests to serve domestic political and ideological positions. Foreign policy failures lead to domestic political crimes, just as domestic policy crises lead to aggressive military expansion.

The criminal frame-up of young Muslim-South Asian British citizens by the British security officials was specifically designed to cover up for the failed Anglo-American invasion of Iraq and the Anglo-American backing for Israel’s destructive but failed invasion of Lebanon. Blair’s “liquid bombers” plot sacrificed a multiplicity of British capitalist interests in order to retain political offices and stave off an unceremonious early exit from power. The costs of failed militarism are borne by citizens and businesses.

In an analogous fashion, Bush, his Zioncon and other militarists exploited the events of 9/11 to pursue a militarist multi-war strategy in Southwest Asia and the Middle East. With time and scientific research, the official version of the events of 9/11 have come under serious questioning — both regarding the collapse of one of the towers in New York, as well as the explosions in the Pentagon. The events of 9/11 and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq sacrificed major US economic interests: Losses in New York, tourism, airline industry and massive physical destruction; losses in terms of a major increase in oil prices and instability, increasing the costs to US, European and Asian consumers and industries.

Likewise the Israeli military invasion of Gaza and Lebanon, backed by the US and Great Britain, were economically costly destroying property, investments and markets, while raising the level of mass anti-imperial opposition.

In other words, the politics of US, British and Israeli (and by extension World Zionist) militarism has been at the expense of strategic sectors of the civilian economy. These losses to key economic sectors require the civilian-militarists to resort to domestic political crimes (phony bomb plots and frame-up trials) to distract the public from their costly and failed policies and to tighten political control. On both counts, the civilian militarists and the Zioncons are losing ground. The “liquid bomb” plot is unraveling, Israel is in turmoil, the Zioncons are preaching to the converted, and the US is, as always, the United States: The Democratic civilian militarists are capitalizing on the failures of their incumbent colleagues.

Pakistan Times : Three more Charged in UK Jetliner Bomb Plot

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Three more Charged in UK Jetliner Bomb Plot

Pakistan Times' UK Bureau | August 31, 2006

LONDON (UK): British anti-terrorist police charged three more people late Tuesday with conspiring to commit murder in the alleged plot to blow up U.S.-bound airliners.

The three, Mohammed Yasar Gulzar, Mohammed Shamin Uddin and Nabeel Hussain, were also charged with preparing to commit terrorism by helping in an alleged plan to smuggle explosives aboard the planes, police said.

Eleven people have now been charged on those two counts. Four others were charged with lesser offenses, including having knowledge of a terrorist activity but not disclosing information about it.

Gulzar, Shamin and Nabeel conspired with eight other suspects in the alleged plot and had intended to commit "acts of terrorism engaged in conduct to give effect to their intention to smuggle the component parts of improvised explosive devices onto aircraft and assemble and detonate them on board."

All three men were to be arraigned today, Wednesday.

Of 25 people originally arrested, 15 have been charged and are being held by police, five others remain in custody without charge and five have been released.

Chief Magistrate Timothy Workman earlier ordered Nabeel Hussain's brother Mehran Hussain held in custody until Sept. 19. Mehran Hussain, and his other brother, Umair, are charged with failing to tell police about Nabeel's alleged involvement in what prosecutors say was a plot to down airliners using plastic and liquid explosives.

Workman also ordered Cossar Ali, 24, held in custody until Sept. 5, when her lawyer David Gottlieb said he intends to apply for bail. Ali, the only woman charged so far in connection with the alleged plot, is accused of failing to disclose information about a possible terrorist attack.

Her husband, Ahmed Abdullah Ali, also is among the 15 people charged in the case.

Earlier, a 17-year-old accused of storing an explosives manual and other documents connected to an alleged plot to blow up trans-Atlantic airliners was denied bail during a court appearance.

The teenager, who cannot be identified, was remanded until a Sept. 19 hearing at City of Westminster Magistrates' Court.

His attorney, Gareth Peirce, said the teenager intended to plead not guilty. He faces up to 10 years in jail if convicted, prosecutor Colin Gibbs told the court.

Gibbs told the court the teenager is accused of storing an explosives manual, a map of Afghanistan and five wills made out by people planning to commit suicide bombings, items police consider likely connected to planned acts of terrorism.

A deadline for the detention of the remaining five suspects held without charge expires on Wednesday, but a police spokesman said it was not yet decided whether they would be charged or if police would seek further time for questioning.

Investigators have found chemicals that can be used to make bombs, including hydrogen peroxide, and electrical components during their searches, said Peter Clarke, head of Scotland Yard's anti-terrorist department.

Months of surveillance had produced "significant video and audio recordings" about the alleged plot, he said, including "martyrdom videos" by some of the suspects.

More than 8,000 items of data storage, such as compact discs, DVDs and memory sticks, were found, authorities said.

UK terror plot: Custody of five extended

Thursday, August 31, 2006

UK terror plot: Custody of five extended

August 31, 2006

LONDON: British police on Wednesday give one more week to question five suspects in the UK terror plot while three others were formally charged with conspiracy to murder and planning acts of terrorism by plotting to blow up US-bound planes.

The decision means that investigators can question the five men until September 6 when they will either have to be charged or released. British law allows police to hold suspected terrorists for a maximum of 28 days without charge, subject to court approval.

Out of the 25 people arrested in raids on August 9 and 10, 15 have been charged, five remain in custody without charge and five have been released. Earlier, three British Muslims were remanded to custody in connection with the plot until September 18.

The three, Mohammed Shamin Uddin, 35, Mohammed Yasar Gulzar, 25, and Nabeel Hussain, 22, are accused of conspiracy to murder and preparing an act of terrorism.

The City of Westminster Magistrates court remanded the three, all from London, in custody until September 18 when they will appear at the Old Bailey.

District Judge Nicholas Evans, the presiding magistrate, denied Hussain's application for bail. Lawyers for the two other suspects did not seek bail. Eleven people have now been charged on counts of conspiracy to murder and preparing to commit terrorist acts. Four others are accused of lesser offenses, including withholding from police information about the planned terror act.

BBC : Venezuela to seize golf courses

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Venezuela to seize golf courses

August 30, 2006

The mayor of Venezuela's capital Caracas says he plans to expropriate two exclusive golf courses and use the land for homes for the city's poor.

Mayor Juan Barreto has said playing golf on lavish courses within sight of the city's slums is "shameful".

Mr Barreto, an ally of President Hugo Chavez, has been trying to address a dramatic housing shortage in Caracas.

But critics say property rights are being eroded in Venezuela, where farms and ranches have also been seized.

Three years ago Mr Chavez's left-wing government started redistributing agricultural land that it said was underused to help landless peasants.

But this is the first time officials have announced plans to expropriate privately-owned urban land to make way for public housing, says the BBC's Greg Morsbach in Caracas.

Affluent suburbs

Mr Barreto had ordered the "forced acquisition" of the golf courses, city attorney Juan Manuel Vadell told the Associated Press.

He said compensation would be paid, at a level decided by an appraisal commission.

The golf courses - the Country Club and Valle Arriba club - are in the city's most affluent suburbs, home to millionaires, foreign diplomats and celebrities, and are seen by some as a haven for the rich.

They are also in districts run by the opposition.

Mr Chavez has not yet said whether he supports the move.

But opposition city council member Carlos Ciordia called the plans "electoral demagoguery" by Mr Chavez, who is hoping for re-election in December.

Fernando Zozaya, president of the Caracas Country Club, said "this has created great concern" among his club's members.

But Mr Barreto said: "It's shameful to see people playing golf and just right there in front of them is a shantytown."

"We are following the policies laid out by President Chavez... to give a new social direction to the city, so the city can be enjoyed by everyone," he said in a television interview.

Mr Barreto has said 5,000 people could be housed in the space taken up by a single golf course.

Guardian : New York Times blocks UK access to terror story

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

New York Times blocks UK access to terror story

by Owen Gibson | media correspondent | August 30, 2006

The New York Times has blocked British visitors to its website from accessing a front-page story on this month's terror alert for fear of breaching contempt laws.

Anyone trying to read Monday's in-depth account of the investigation that led to 24 arrests in connection with a suspected plot to blow up transatlantic flights saw only a message saying it had been blocked for legal reasons.

Nor was the story available in physical form on this side of the Atlantic. The entire shipment of the paper bound for Britain was cancelled.

The case is the most high-profile example yet of growing nervousness among newspapers that stories cleared for publication by lawyers in one country may fall foul of the law in another. In an article published yesterday, the New York Times explained how it had used technology usually enlisted to target advertising to web users in particular geographic locations to block access.

"We're dealing with a country that, while it doesn't have a first amendment, it does have a free press, and it's our position that we ought to respect that country's laws," said George Freeman, vice-president and assistant general counsel of the New York Times Company.

The attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, has warned British newspapers of the consequences of speculating about terror suspects. Duncan Lamont, a lawyer at Charles Russell, wrote in the Guardian that the thirst for detail about the suspects, and the willingness of politicians to talk about the alleged plot, was "straining our contempt laws to breaking point".

Several high-profile defamation cases had already established that libel could be considered an international offence, said Caroline Kean, the head of litigation at the media law firm Wiggin, and it was "a logical next step" for contempt of court to be treated in the same way.

If a large international publisher such as the New York Times Company was found guilty of contempt of court, its UK assets could be seized and its editor and directors be liable for prosecution.

For all the precautions taken by papers, legal experts agree there is little to stop bloggers and others from quickly disseminating articles around the globe via websites, messageboards and email.

Mark Stephens, a media lawyer at Finer, Stephens, Innocent, said he did not believe the article was prejudicial and blocking it would increase the likelihood of British readers reading it.

"Lawyers have a tendency to be overcautious on occasions," he said. "By not publishing it, it is almost inevitable that the information will come into the public domain in the UK. It is already being copied on to blog sites and emailed around the globe.

Pakistan lodges formal protest with India on violation of ceasefire across LoC

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Pakistan lodges formal protest with India on violation of ceasefire across LoC

Source: Government of Pakistan | August 29, 2006

ISLAMABAD, Aug 29 (APP): Pakistan said Monday it has lodged formal protest with India over the violation of ceasefire on the Line of Control.

Replying to a question at the weekly news briefing, Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam said the ceasefire was holding very well but in just two weeks there have been two violations by India.

The Spokesperson said, the violation of ceasefire across LOC is a matter of concern to Pakistan.

She said in two violations, Indian forces fired upon innocent civilians.

To another question she said President General Pervez Musharraf is likely to attend the NAM summit at Havana in Cuba next month.

"We believe the Indian Prime Minister is also attending (the summit). It is natural that when two leaders are there they will come across each other."

The spokesperson told newsmen that Rashid Rauf was arrested in Rawalpindi and he was under detention.

She said investigations focused on his links with Al-Qaeda and threats in UK and Pakistan.

She said the information obtained is being shared with the United Kingdom.

To another question she said the UK has sought his extradition and the matter is under consideration.

Replying to yet another question she said Rashid Rauf was arrested after some specific information was received from the British Government.

Ms. Tasnim Aslam told another questioner, "the UK government has completed the process for declaring the BLA a terrorist organization."

About visit to General Abizaid to Pakistan she said it is part of his periodic consultations with our military authorities.

To a question about the recent Tripartite Commission meeting, the Foreign Office spokesperson referred to the joint statement issued after meeting which said, "the participants discussed and agreed to a proposal to conduct coordinated petrol by Afghan National Army, Pakistan Army, Coalition forces and NATO forces based in Afghanistan on their respective sides of the border, simultaneously.

To a question she said death of Mr. Bugti was internal matter of Pakistan and we do not expect any foreign government to issue statement on his death.

Responding to a question she said Pakistan condemns target killings by Israel in Palestine as these would feed the cycle of violence.

To a question, she said, the United Kingdom has sought the extradition of Rashid Rauf and "the matter is under consideration."

The Foreign Office Spokesperson told the newsmen that Rashid Rauf was arrested in Rawalpindi and, adding, "this should put an end to all speculations."

She said, presently Rashid Rauf is under detention and "We are investing his terrorist activities in three areas including his link with Al-Qaida, threat projected to UK and threat projected in Pakistan."

"The information being obtained from the investigation is being shared with the United Kingdom through appropriate channels.", she maintained.

With the exception of public UN sources, reproduction or redistribution of the above text, in whole, part or in any form, requires the prior consent of the original source.

Guardian : Bomb plot jury shown effect of attack on gas pipelines

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Bomb plot jury shown effect of attack on gas pipelines

by Ian Cobain | August 30, 2006

The potentially devastating consequences of a terrorist attack on Britain's gas pipeline network were demonstrated to an Old Bailey jury yesterday.

They were shown video footage of gas explosions which had been detonated by engineers in an attempt to assess the impact of such an attack.

In one explosion at a test site in Cumbria, the engineers used plastic explosives, and in a second they triggered a homemade device made of ammonium nitrate fertiliser and diesel fuel.

Both ripped the ground apart, sent flames more than 500 metres in the air and damaged buildings 300 metres away. During one test, plumes of flame could be seen five miles away.

The footage was shown at the trial of seven men accused of plotting to carry out a bomb attack on an unspecified target, which is alleged to have been either a nightclub, shopping centre, or high-pressure gas pipeline.

Dr John Evans, a scientist with Advantica, formerly the research arm of British Gas, told the court: "When the gas comes out of the pipe it reacts with the air and it may ignite. If the gas is released in a confined area such as a room or something with walls and a ceiling that will result in an explosion from a rapid build-up of pressure.

"That pressure has to go somewhere. In this courtroom such an explosion would be eight times what it could support and push the walls out by eight times.

"At about 15 millibars of pressure, people will be hurt. At 100 metres from the blast there will be several hundred millibars of pressure build-up."

A number of the defendants are alleged to have stored 600kg (1,323lbs) of ammonium nitrate in a London lock-up before their arrest.

Earlier, the court heard that one defendant, Omar Khyam, has admitted downloading an instruction manual on the building of a fertiliser bomb.

The jury has heard that an explosives handbook and a US military training manual were found on a computer at the home of another defendant, Jawad Akbar.

Yesterday, Joel Bennathan QC, for Mr Khyam, said: "It is my case that the documents were put on this computer by my client Omar Khyam and then deleted."

Mr Khyam, 24, of Crawley, West Sussex, denies conspiring to cause an explosion likely to endanger life or injure property between January 1 2003 and March 31 2004.

Waheed Mahmood, 34, Mr Akbar, 23, and Shujah-ud-din Mahmood, 19, all of Crawley, Anthony Garcia, 24, of Ilford, Essex, Salahuddin Amin, 31, of Luton, and Nabeel Hussain, 20, of Horley, Surrey, deny the same charge.

Mr Hussain, Mr Garcia and Mr Khyam also deny possessing 600kg of fertiliser for the purposes of terrorism, and Mr Khyam and Mr Mahmood deny possessing aluminium powder for purposes connected with terrorism.

The trial continues.

Hindustan Times : British air terror plot was not imminent, says NYT

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

British air terror plot was not imminent, says NYT

New Delhi | August 30, 2006

A major terror plot uncovered in Britain that led to global panic was not imminent as stated earlier and claims that up to 10 planes may have been targeted was exaggerated, says The New York Times.

In an exhaustive investigation into the probe still underway in Britain and other countries, the daily says there was no evidence that the suspects who were taken into custody on Aug 10 were preparing to strike.

British Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff had suggested in the wake of the arrests that the suspected plot was imminent and that it was "getting really quite close to the execution stage".

The Times said, "But the suspects were unprepared to move immediately, five senior British officials said. Two of the suspects did not have passports. One official said the plot's leaders were still recruiting and radicalising would be bombers."

The daily said interviews with high-ranking British and European and American officials showed that "the plot did not appear to be in its final stages.

"Instead, the reactions of Britain and the US were driven less by information about a specific, imminent attack than that other, unidentified terrorists might strike in the wake of the arrests...

"In fact, two and a half weeks since the inquiry became public, British investigators have still not determined whether there was a target date for the attacks, how many planes were to be involved or how many suicide bombers were intended to be abroad each plane. British officials said the estimate of 10 planes was speculative and exaggerated."

British officials had announced Aug 10 after arresting 24 suspects that they had broken up a terrorist network that was then planning to bomb US-bound flights over the Atlantic with liquid bombs.

In the wake of the startling disclosure, unprecedented security measures were put in place almost throughout the world, scores of flights were cancelled, all liquids and carry on bags were banned in many countries, and virtual panic set in.

The Times said despite charges against the accused, officials "are still unsure of one critical question: whether any of the suspects was technically capable of assembling and detonating liquid explosives while airborne".

"While officials and experts familiar with the case say the investigation points to a serious and determined group of plotters, they add that questions about the immediacy and difficulty of the suspected bombing plot cast doubt on the accuracy of some of the public statements made at the time."

One official was quoted as saying: "There may have been too much hyperventilating going on."

In addition, British authorities are still scouring the evidence for clues to whether there is a global dimension to the plot, particularly the extent to which it was planned, financed or supported in Pakistan, and whether there is a connection to remnants of Al Qaeda."

When the arrests were unfolding, Britain raises its terror alert level to "critical" and a senior official said the attacks would have been "mass murder on an unimaginable scale".

"Two weeks later, senior officials have characterised the remarks as unfortunate."

Gulf Times : Three more charged over UK ‘bomb plot’

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Three more charged over UK ‘bomb plot’

August 30, 2006

LONDON: Three more people have been charged in connection with the foiled alleged terror plot to blow up US-bound passenger aircraft from Britain, bringing the total number to 15, a police spokesman said yesterday.

Nabeel Hussain, Mohamed Yasar Gulzar and Mohamed Shamin Uddin were among the 25 people arrested since police staged pre-dawn raids on August 10 in connection with the plot. Five have since been released without charge.

Police also have warrants to quiz the remaining five until today. Under British anti-terror laws, suspects can be detained for up to 28 days without being charged, subject to regular court approval.

Hussain, Gulzar and Uddin bring the total number of the terror suspects to face the most serious charge of conspiracy to murder to 11. They will appear at City of Westminster Magistrates Court today.

Umair Hussain, 24, was last week charged under anti-terror legislation for failing to disclose information about Nabeel, his brother.

Of the remaining 11 facing charges, eight others, in addition to the three charged yesterday, are accused of conspiracy to murder and preparing acts of terrorism, and will appear in court again on September 4.

The remaining three, including one young mother, were remanded in custody yesterday when they made brief appearances in court.

Of the three, two were charged with withholding information about an impending terrorist attack, including Mehran Hussain, another of Nabeel Hussain’s brothers.

The third, a 17-year-old youth who cannot be named because he is a minor, was accused of possessing a book about bomb-making, suicide notes and wills, and a map of Afghanistan with information "likely to be useful" to someone planning an attack.

Security at British airports was stepped up to unprecedented levels in the aftermath of the police raids on August 10, with the country upgrading its threat level to ‘critical’ – the highest of five levels.

The suspects were allegedly planning to smuggle seeming innocuous liquids on to planes with the intention of assembling them into bombs on board.


24 Dash : Three more charged over 'aircraft terror plot'

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Three more charged over 'aircraft terror plot'

Publisher: Ian Morgan | August 30, 2006

Three more men appeared in court today charged in connection with the alleged plot to blow up transatlantic airliners.

Nabeel Hussain, Mohammed Yasar Gulzar and Mohammed Shamin Uddin are accused of conspiracy to murder and of preparing an act of terrorism.

The three appeared before City of Westminster Magistrates' Court in central London this morning.

Hussain, 22, of Chingford, east London, Gulzar, 25, of Barking, east London, and Uddin, 35, of Stoke Newington, north London, spoke only to confirm basic details about their identities during the hearing.

They all wore white sweatshirts and had dark hair and beards.

A bail application on behalf of Hussain was refused. No bail application was made on behalf of either Uddin or Gulzar.

The three were remanded in custody until September 18, when they will appear at the Old Bailey.

The first charge against the three men alleged that they "conspired with other persons to murder other persons" between January 1 and August 10 this year.

The alleged offence is contrary to Section 1(1) of the Criminal Law Act 1977.

The second charge alleges that they "engaged in conduct to give effect to their intention to smuggle the component parts of improvised explosive devices onto aircraft and assemble and detonate them on board" between January 1 and August 10 this year.

The alleged offence is a new offence contrary to Section 5(1) of the Terrorism Act 2006.

Eight other men face the same charges. They appeared before magistrates last week and were also remanded in custody until September 4.

Three other people have been charged in relation to the alleged plot to smuggle improvised explosive devices on to transatlantic passenger jets and detonate them on board.

They include Nabeel Hussain's older brothers, Umair Hussain, 24, and Mehran Hussain, 23. They are both accused under the Terrorism Act 2000 of failing to disclose information about Nabeel.

Umair has been remanded in custody until September 1, while Mehran will next appear on September 19.

The other person charged so far is Cossar Ali, 24, from Walthamstow, east London, the mother of an eight-month-old baby. She is accused of failing to disclose information about her husband Ahmed Abdullah Ali - who is also charged in connection with the alleged plot.

She was remanded in custody yesterday for one week.

Another of the 24 people originally arrested in connection with the investigation appeared in court yesterday on a terrorism charge.

The 17-year-old youth is accused of an offence under the Terrorism Act 2000 alleging that he possessed a book on improvised explosive devices, some suicide notes and wills with the identities of persons prepared to commit acts of terror and a map of Afghanistan.

He has been remanded in custody until September 19.

Detectives are continuing to question five other people and they have until this evening to decide whether to charge, release or apply for a further custody extension.

If they apply for a further extension, they will have to do so in front of a High Court judge.

Four of those originally arrested have been released without charge.

Copyright Press Association 2006

Guardian : UK readers blocked from NY Times terror article

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

UK readers blocked from NY Times terror article

Julia Day | | August 29, 2006

The New York Times has blocked British readers from accessing an article published in the US about the alleged London bomb plot for fear of breaching the UK's contempt of court laws.

Published in the US yesterday under the headline "Details emerge in British terror case", the article claims to reveal new information about the alleged terror bomb plot that brought British airports to a standstill earlier this month.

Online access to the article from the UK has been blocked and the shipment of yesterday's paper to London was stopped. The story was also omitted from the International Herald Tribune, the NYT's European sister paper.

The article purports to contain new information about Scotland Yard's surveillance of the alleged plotters and the subsequent police operation which resulted in the arrest of 24 suspects.

The claims in the article are based on testimonies from "British officials and others briefed on the evidence, all of whom spoke on condition of anonymity, citing British rules on confidentiality regarding criminal prosecutions" with six reporters contributing to the piece from New York, Washington and Pakistan.

Anyone from the UK attempting to read the article via the New York Times website is met with the message: "This Article Is Unavailable. On advice of legal counsel, this article is unavailable to readers of in Britain. This arises from the requirement in British law that prohibits publication of prejudicial information about the defendants prior to trial. "

It is believed to be the first time that the paper has stopped British readers accessing one of its articles because of worries about UK law.

Earlier this month, the home secretary, John Reid, and the attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, issued a joint warning to the media to avoid coverage of the current terror investigations which might prejudice future trials.

The statement threatened possible contempt proceedings against publications that failed to show appropriate "restraint".

Mr Reid took the unusual step of seeking the attorney general's legal advice before publicising details of the alleged plot.

Because of the "exceptional" nature of the allegations, it was agreed he could reveal a significant amount of information surrounding the arrests of the 24 suspects.

The New York Times has been contacted by but had not responded by the time of publication.

Jill Abramson, a managing editor at the paper, said: "It's never a happy choice to deny any reader a story. But this was preferable to not having it on the web at all."

"I think we have to take every case on its own facts," said George Freeman, vice president and assistant general counsel of the New York Times Company.

"But we're dealing with a country [the UK] that, while it doesn't have a First Amendment, it does have a free press, and it's our position that we ought to respect that country's laws."

While shelving the print versions of the article in Britain was straightforward, the issue of the publication on the web was more complicated, said the newspaper in an article published online today.

Richard J. Meislin, the paper's associate managing editor for internet publishing, said it used the paper's online advertising technology to discern the internet address of users connecting to the site.

Guardian : More charges in plane bomb investigation

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

More charges in plane bomb investigation

Guardian Unlimited | August 29, 2006

A ninth man has been charged with conspiracy to murder in connection with the alleged airliner bomb plot, Scotland Yard said today.

Nabeel Hussain was one of 24 people arrested earlier this month by police investigating an alleged conspiracy to blow up passenger jets flying between the UK and the US.

He is the 13th person charged in connection with the plot and the ninth to face the most serious charges of conspiracy to murder and planning acts of terrorism, Scotland Yard's anti-terrorist branch said.

Eight other men appeared in court last week facing the same charges. They were all remanded in custody. Detectives have until tomorrow night to charge or release seven people still being held.

Mr Hussain will appear at the City of Westminster magistrates court tomorrow.

He is the brother of Umair Hussain and Mehran Hussain, who have both been charged with failing to disclose information that could have prevented an act of terrorism.

Yesterday, the Home Office confirmed that it had requested the extradition of Rashid Rauf, 25, who is being held in Pakistan over the alleged plot.

Pakistani authorities describe him as a "key person" in the investigation. But the Home Office said the request was made in connection with a murder committed in April 2002.

Seattle PI : Caracas takes golf courses for housing

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Caracas takes golf courses for housing


CARACAS, Venezuela -- Three major Caracas golf courses, long favored by the city's wealthy, are being expropriated to build housing for thousands of poor and middle class Venezuelans, officials said Tuesday.

The city expropriations, which will likely generate new friction between supporters and opponents of President Hugo Chavez, are part of an ambitious government effort to provide more homes amid an acute housing shortage that has driven up real estate prices.

Mayor Juan Barreto's office has ordered the "forced acquisition" of two golf courses and will soon issue another decree expropriating a third course in the ritzy hills of southern Caracas, city attorney Juan Manuel Vadell told The Associated Press.

Vadell said the golf courses' owners have 30 days to appear before the mayor's office, starting a negotiation period in which a commission will eventually decide on fair compensation for the courses.

Barreto told state television as many as 50,000 homes would be built on 363 acres spanning the three golf courses.

The expropriations broaden a campaign by Barreto and other Chavez allies to acquire land for public housing projects.

Barreto has said that new courses could be located in the suburbs. He also said the courses are unjustifiably lavish expenses in a country where an estimated 1.6 million families lack decent housing.

Critics, including residents living in the few upscale homes located within the golf course lands, claim that property rights are being eroded under Chavez.

"This isn't an expropriation aimed at collective benefit," said Oscar Garcia Mendoza, a banker who lives at Caracas Country Club. "It's a violation of private property rights."

Chavez, a critic of capitalism and an ally of Cuban President Fidel Castro, says land and housing reforms are important, but he has insisted he also will respect private property rights.

One of the courses affected, the Caracas Country Club, was founded in 1918 and has long been a gathering place for Venezuela's elite. The course existed long before urban sprawl filled up much of the mountain-fringed valley.

uExpress : Democrats Flunk Wartime IQ Test

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Democrats Flunk Wartime IQ Test

by Ted Rall | August 29, 2006

NEW YORK--The war against Afghanistan is no different, no more justifiable, and no more winnable than the war against Iraq. Both were underfunded, poorly planned and based on lies. Neither had anything to do with 9/11. And now, finally, the American public is starting to learn the truth.

George W. Bush's war against Iraq, most Americans believe, was a distraction from the war on terrorism. But so was Afghanistan. Osama bin Laden has been in Pakistan since before 9/11. Bush knew that. Nevertheless, he bombarded the military dictator of Pakistan, who financed the Taliban and Al Qaeda's training camps and hosted bin Laden, not with cluster bombs but with millions of our taxdollars. He never tried to catch Osama.

In Iraq, we won the invasion, but lost the occupation because Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld refused to deploy the "something in the order of several hundred thousand soldiers" that then-Army Chief of Staff General Eric Shinseki told the Senate he needed to pacify the country. (Rumsfeld rewarded that accurate assessment by forcing Shinkseki to quit.)

Two years earlier, military officials had put in a similar request for the conquest of Afghanistan, a nation about the same size as Iraq that had in the past defeated both the British and the Soviets. Out of the 400,000 troops requested, the Pentagon received 8,000. Because of that decision in 2001, Afghans today are terrorized by bombings, kidnappings and murders by radical Islamists waging all-out civil war against the U.S.-backed puppet regime of Hamid Karzai. Afghanistan is every bit as much of a mess as Iraq.

In order to sell the invasion of Iraq to the American public, Bush and his cabal of ideologues stooped to all sorts of grotesque lies: WMDs for which they had no evidence, linking Saddam Hussein to 9/11, calling him "a grave and gathering threat to America and the world," claiming that we would be "welcomed as liberators" by rose-petal-flinging throngs, and that we'd liberate so much oil that the war would pay for itself. And why wouldn't they have lied? They'd used analogous propaganda to con us into bombing 18th century Afghanistan back to the 14th. The Taliban, Bush lied, had refused to turn over Osama. (Actually, they had. But the Taliban were lying too. Since bin Laden was in Pakistan, the Taliban couldn't turn him over.) We came to liberate Afghans from Sharia law and the burqa, yet both remain. Life for Afghan women today is just as harsh as before, only more dangerous.

Five years later, the canard that Bush neglected the good war against Afghanistan to start a bad one against Iraq is beginning to unravel. "Nothing that [Afghan puppet president Hamid Karzai] promised has materialized," Ahmad Fahim Hakim, deputy chairman of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, told The New York Times. "Beneath the surface, it is boiling." Afghans chant "Death to Karzai!" in the streets of Kabul. "Corruption is so widespread, the government so lethargic and the divide between rich and poor [are] gaping," reports the Times.

"A lack of electrical power and other services constrains large-scale job creation, and hundreds apply daily for visas to find work in Iran or Pakistan. Poverty and joblessness are among the among the factors pushing people into the arms of the Taliban, local leaders in the south say...Afghan and international forces find themselves fighting daily battles across five provinces of the south, while casualties are rising sharply among civilians, foreign troops and government forces alike. The scale of the insurgency has virtually wiped out the government's ability to provide services in many places."

These reports aren't new. I've been filing them since 2001. Yet Democratic leaders and media allies continue to beat the classic eye-on-the-ball talking point into the ground. Their argument is that we should pull out of Iraq so we can fight harder in Afghanistan:

· Howard Dean, passionate and so right so often, messes up here. "The President has taken his eye off the ball in Afghanistan," he said in 2003. "I supported the invasion of Afghanistan and the elimination of the Taliban. I thought that group was a clear and present danger to the United States, and I supported what the President did." [I'm still waiting for someone to explain to me exactly how the Taliban planned to attack the United States. With rocks? They did have lots of them.]

· "They have taken their eye off the real ball," John Kerry said, with characteristic clumsiness, during the 2004 presidential campaign. "They took it off in Afghanistan and shifted it to Iraq."

· "This administration," said Senator Joe Biden in 2005, "took our eye off the ball in Afghanistan and diverted our attention and resources to Iraq."

· "I think we're less safe," ex-Clinton Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said. "It happened when we took our eye off the ball in Afghanistan after having made so much out of the need to capture Osama bin Laden." [Who was, of course, in Pakistan.]

· A few months ago liberal-come-lately blogmeister Arianna Huffington wrote: "For all the disastrous consequences of the Iraq of the most devastating has been the way it caused us to take our eye off the ball in Afghanistan. You do remember Afghanistan, don't you?"

· Ned Lamont, who exploited anger over the Iraq war to defeat Senator Joe Lieberman in the Connecticut primaries, gets it just as wrong as the others: "I think the invasion of Iraq took our eye off the ball in Afghanistan, took our eye off the ball when it comes to Osama bin Laden and, as I said before, destabilized the Middle East."

A person's stance on Afghanistan has become a national litmus test on one's political intelligence. That includes semi-antiwar Democrats like Hillary Clinton. Anyone who can't see that Afghanistan is as much of a distraction as Iraq from the war against those who attacked us on 9/11--political and religious figures in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt--is a fool. They don't want peace. They want to replace one pointless and distracting conflict with another. Republican or Democratic, such people deserve neither our respect nor our votes.

(Ted Rall is the author of the new book "Silk Road to Ruin: Is Central Asia the New Middle East?," an in-depth prose and graphic novel analysis of America's next big foreign policy challenge.)

NYT : Inquiry Criticizes U.S. Broadcasting Official Over Hiring

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Inquiry Criticizes U.S. Broadcasting Official Over Hiring

by STEPHEN LABATON | August 29, 2006

WASHINGTON, Aug. 29 — State Department investigators have concluded that Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, the head of the federal agency that oversees most government broadcasts to foreign countries, improperly hired a friend on the public payroll for nearly $250,000 over two and a half years, according to a summary of their report made public this afternoon by Democratic Congressional staff members.

They also said that Mr. Tomlinson, whose job puts him in charge of the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe, used his government office for personal business, including running a “horse racing operation” in which he supervised a stable of thoroughbreds he named after leaders from Afghanistan, including President Hamid Karzai and the late Ahmed Shah Massoud, that have raced at tracks across the United tates. They also said that Mr. Tomlinson repeatedly used government employees to do his personal errands and that he billed the government for more days of work than the rules permit.

The State Department inspector general presented those findings in a report last week to the White House and on Monday to some members of Congress. Three Democratic lawmakers, Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut and Representatives Howard Berman and Tom Lantos of California, requested the inquiry last year after they were approached by a whistleblower from the agency about the possible misuse of federal money by Mr. Tomlinson and the possible hiring of phantom or unqualified employees.

In providing the report to the members of Congress, the State Department warned that making it public could be a violation of federal law, people who have seen the report said. Today, Mr. Berman’s staff released a summary of the report.

Mr. Tomlinson was ousted from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting last year following a separate inquiry that found evidence that he had violated rules meant to insulate public television and radio from political influence. His renomination by President Bush to another term as chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors is pending before the Senate.

The summary of the State Department inspector general’s report said the United States attorney’s office in Washington had been given the report and decided not to conduct a criminal inquiry into the matter. It said the Justice Department was pursuing a civil investigation that focused on a contract Mr. Tomlinson had awarded to his friend.

The three lawmakers who had requested the inquiry sent a letter to the president this afternoon urging him to remove Mr. Tomlinson from his position immediately “and take all necessary steps to restore the integrity of the Broadcasting Board of Governors.”

Emily Lawrimore, a White House spokeswoman, said President Bush continues to support Mr. Tomlinson’s renomination. She declined to comment about the State Department report.

Asked about the report and the call for his ouster, Mr. Tomlinson and his lawyer, James Hamilton, would not immediately comment.

Mr. Tomlinson is a 62-year-old Republican and former editor of Reader’s Digest who has close ties to Karl Rove, Mr. Bush’s political strategist and senior adviser. Mr. Rove and Mr. Tomlinson served together on the board of predecessor agency to the Broadcasting Board in the 1990’s. Mr. Tomlinson has been chairman of the Broadcasting Board since 2002.

The board, whose members include the secretary of state, plays a central role in public diplomacy. It supervises the government’s foreign broadcasting operations, including Radio Marti, Radio Sawa and al-Hurra; transmits programs in 61 languages; and says it has more than 100 million listeners each week.

Mr. Tomlinson’s ouster last November from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting was prompted by a separate investigation by that organization’s inspector general. That inquiry found evidence that Mr. Tomlinson had violated rules as he sought more conservative programs and that he improperly intervened to help the staff of The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page win a $4.1 million contract — one of the largest programming contracts issued by the corporation — to finance a weekly program on public television.

The heavily edited State Department report on Mr. Tomlinson’s activities at the Broadcasting Board of Governors did not specify the identity of the friend who received the improper contract at the direction of Mr. Tomlinson. Agency officials said he was a retired worker already on a government pension who was rehired by Mr. Tomlinson, without the knowledge of the board or any competitive bidding process, to work on projects for him. The employee was known by other employees as “the phantom” because he was often not at work, other agency employees said.

Mr. Tomlinson was rebuked in the earlier inspector general report by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting for improperly hiring an acquaintance from a journalism center founded by the American Conservative Union to monitor several public radio and television shows, including Bill Moyer’s “Now” program, for political bias.

The State Department report said that from 2003 through 2005 Mr. Tomlinson had requested compensation in excess of the 130 days permitted by law for the post he holds. It said that he had requested and received pay from both the broadcasting board and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting for the same days worked on 14 occasions, but that investigators were unable to substantiate whether they were for the same hours worked on the same days.

Investigators who seized Mr. Tomlinson’s e-mail, telephone and office records found that he had improperly and extensively used his office at the Broadcasting Board to do nongovernmental work, including work for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and horse racing and breeding ventures. The material seized included racing forms and evidence that he used the office to buy and sell thoroughbreds.

Mr. Tomlinson’s longstanding interest in foreign affairs has carried over to his horse breeding operation. As the owner of Sandy Bayou Stables near Middleburg, Va., his most recent horses have been named after Afghanistan leaders who have opposed Russian and Taliban control of the country. The horses include Massoud, Karzai and Panjshair, the valley that was the base used by forces to overthrow the Taliban. Most of the horses have not been in the money, although Massoud appears to have been quite successful, earning purses of more than $140,000 over the last two years, according to track records.

People who have seen the report said it noted that in the middle of in interview with investigators, Mr. Tomlinson terminated the interview on the advice of his lawyer. One person familiar with the inquiry said Mr. Hamilton ended the interview as the investigators started to ask about the use of Mr. Tomlinson’s office for his horse-racing venture.

Mr. Hamilton declined to comment about the interview.

WP : Ahmadinejad Has History of Needling Bush

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Ahmadinejad Has History of Needling Bush

The Associated Press | August 29, 2006

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's call Tuesday for a televised debate with President Bush is not the first time the hard-line leader has made such a direct overture.

Earlier this year, Ahmadinejad wrote a letter to Bush portraying the world as filled with an "ever-increasing global hatred of the American government." Washington promptly dismissed the letter as irrelevant and not addressing the key issue of Iran's disputed nuclear program.

In a news conference Tuesday, Ahmadinejad challenged Bush to a live debate on "world issues and the ways of solving the problems of the international community."

"We announce our views. They can say theirs provided that there will be no censorship, especially for the American people," he said.

Ahmadinejad said the debate would serve to show the world "how this (U.S.) method is oppressive and compare it with the proposals of the Iranian nation on how to run the world better, different from the U.S. method of use of force and special advantage."

The White House dismissed the proposal as a distraction.

"Talk of a debate is just a diversion from the legitimate concerns that the international community, not just the U.S., has about Iran's behavior, from support for terrorism to pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability," said spokeswoman Dana Perino.

When Ahmadinejad sent his letter to Bush in May, the then-White House spokesman Scott McClellan accused Iran of trying to change the subject from demands that it abandon uranium enrichment.

Ahmadinejad called that letter "words and opinions of the Iranian nation" aimed at finding a "way out of problems" facing humanity, according to the official Iranian news agency. The letter, an English-language text of which was released by the United States, portrayed the world as filled with people who are tired of corruption and poverty and angry at the U.S.

WP : Bolivia's Constitution Being Rewritten

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Bolivia's Constitution Being Rewritten

By DAN KEANE | The Associated Press | August 29, 2006

LA PAZ, Bolivia -- The assembly rewriting Bolivia's constitution could on Tuesday make a major power grab supported by the president by giving itself supreme authority to draw up a new framework without having to answer to Congress or the courts.

However, a vote on the motion could be delayed because of disputes among delegates from President Evo Morales' Movement Toward Socialism party.

The assembly began earlier this month, and elected delegates have one year to create a new constitution for the South American country.

Morales, a leftist elected as Bolivia's first Indian president in December, envisions the assembly as a means to undo the centuries-old dominance of the European-descended minority and to create more opportunity for the poor, indigenous majority.

He has called for the assembly to be declared "original" _ or free to create an entirely new Bolivia without interference of the current government.

"We want no power to exist above the assembly, so that it can develop in absolute freedom and according to the mandate of the people," said Robert Aguilar, a delegate for the Movement Toward Socialism party, or MAS.

Opponents, though, say declaring the assembly all-powerful goes against the body's own bylaws, and would divide the country in two. They fear Morales could use it to shut down all branches of government but his own.

"It would be a grave political error, and a grave tactical error," said conservative former vice president Victor Hugo Cardenas of the National Revolutionary Movement party.

Cardenas said conservatives would decry such an assembly _ and any government it would create _ as illegitimate, creating the "possible danger of confrontations, which no Bolivians wish for."

Conservative party Podemos, which has sought to limit the assembly's mandate to merely editing Bolivia's current constitution, claims the MAS delegates plan to establish a totalitarian regime.

"The only thing Morales aspires to is the complete power to throw out the legitimately chosen authorities," said Ruben Dario Cuellar, head of the constitutional delegates from Podemos.

MAS holds a thin majority in the assembly, but not the two-thirds needed to control the 255-member assembly outright.

To obtain minor-party support for the motion, MAS on Sunday agreed to adhere to the two-thirds requirement, meaning the opposition still will have the power to eventually block the new document from becoming the law of the land.

However, some MAS delegates Tuesday were still hoping to disregard the two-thirds rule and control the assembly through their party's simple majority. Negotiations among party delegates were continuing, with the assembly scheduled to meet in the afternoon.

Any changes to government structures approved by the assembly won't go into effect until the new constitution it creates is passed by a nationwide referendum at the end of 2007.

Bolivia's current constitution was adopted in 1967 under Rene Barrientos Ortuno, who rose to power in a military coup and was then elected president. Its last modification came in 1994, when President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada pushed through changes to the electoral process, including expanding presidential terms from four years to five.

Global Research : Media Disinformation on 911: Anatomy of a Hatchet Job: CBC Radio’s “The Current” and Scholars for 9/11 Truth

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Media Disinformation on 911: Anatomy of a Hatchet Job: CBC Radio’s “The Current” and Scholars for 9/11 Truth

by Prof. Michael Keefer | August 29, 2006

Most of us, I would guess, are well aware of the constructed nature of the news and news commentaries fed to us daily by the corporate or “mainstream” media. We’re not surprised to find, in those cases where we have managed to obtain independent knowledge of a subject, that mainstream news stories are often only tenuously connected to what appears to have been the actual series of events. And we’re coming to expect, on the part of the people who construct these news stories and tell us how to interpret them, an increasingly slender respect for such archaic notions as truth, rudimentary ethics, and intellectual integrity.

As Arundhati Roy puts it, “In the ‘free’ market, free speech has become a commodity like everything else—justice, human rights, drinking water, clean air. It’s available only to those who can afford it. And naturally, those who can afford it use free speech to manufacture the kind of product, confect the kind of public opinion, that best suits their purpose.”1

Critical understanding of this kind has been assisted by the spectacular deconstruction in recent years of a whole series of major news stories, which have noisily disintegrated before our eyes—rather in the manner of those self-destructing public sculptures which enjoyed a brief vogue in the latter part of the twentieth century. When those Rube-Goldberg or Heath-Robbins-ish artifacts were exhibited by their creators, they clanked, grunted, heaved, threw off sparks, set themselves on fire, and eventually collapsed into smoking heaps of cogs, wires, pulleys and girders before appreciative audiences of avant-garde cognoscenti.

That’s much what happened in 2003 and since to the corporate media’s narratives about Saddam Hussein’s fearsome weapons of mass destruction, about the supposed reluctance of Bush and Blair to go to war in Iraq, and their supposedly pure and democratic motives when they did. That’s much what’s happening now to the claims advanced by Israel to legitimize its renewed aggressions against the Palestinians and Lebanese (Hizbollah’s “kidnapping” of two Israeli soldiers rather loses its steam as a casus belli once people learn about Israel’s prior provocations—and about the fact that all the early Israeli statements and press reports identified the soldiers as having been on Lebanese soil when they were captured).2 It’s happening as well to two somewhat more complex stories that have, until recently, been managing to sustain themselves in the corporate media.

One of these is the story that George W. Bush actually won the 2004 presidential election, and hence has some right to the office he continues to occupy.3 The other is the no less fraudulent story that the terrorist crimes of September 11, 2001 were perpetrated by a gang of Islamist fanatics led by a bearded Saudi in an Afghan cave—rather than being organized (and subsequently covered up) by civilian and military officials at the highest levels of the Bush regime.

Even if the general pattern is well known, one small further example of how the mainstream media typically operate may still be of some interest—not least because it provides an indication of the degree to which publicly-owned broadcasters have been swayed in the same direction as the rest of the corporate media by the often unsubtle pressures exerted on them by corporatist politicians. In the present case, the immediate operators are functionaries within the radio division of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, which as a publicly owned broadcaster provides news that is still in some respects distinguishable from the offerings of the privately-owned media. But savage government cuts followed by internal reorganizations have effectively lobotomized much of CBC Radio’s public affairs programming.

It would seem that the recent and ongoing public disintegration of the 9/11 story has been a matter of concern to CBC functionaries. Existing demolitions of the official 9/11 narrative have gained added weight in recent months from the public interventions of Professors James Fetzer and Steven Jones, co-founders of Scholars for 9/11 Truth, who together with other distinguished scholars and scientists who have joined this group, notably the theologian David Ray Griffin, have been publishing scrupulously researched studies of the 9/11 evidence—and have as well been making increasingly high-profile media appearances across the U.S.

Why should this concern the CBC? Because together with the rest of the Canadian mainstream media, the CBC has taken on the task of swinging Canadian public opinion into support for Canada’s increasingly aggressive participation in the occupation of Afghanistan—a country that was bombed, invaded, and occupied by the United States in 2001 as punishment for giving refuge to Osama bin Laden, the man accused of masterminding the atrocities of 9/11. Obviously enough, if the real organizers of the 9/11 attacks were in fact senior officials of the U.S. government, then that opinion-molding project collapses into rubble.

CBC Radio’s “The Current”

When I learned on August 17, 2006 that “The Current,” CBC Radio’s leading weekday public affairs program, intended to devote a major part of its time on the following day to “conspiracy theory” and the Scholars for 9/11 Truth, I emailed Anna Maria Tremonti, the program’s host. Indicating my own awareness of “the converging conclusions both of many citizen-activists and of researchers from disciplines including mechanical engineering, physics, philosophy, and economics that the attacks of 9/11 were an inside job,” I expressed hope that the program “[would] be treating scholarly investigative research into this subject with the seriousness it deserves.”

I said that I assumed “The Current” would be interviewing one or the other of the co-founders of Scholars for 9/11 Truth, James Fetzer, McKnight University Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the University of Minnesota, and Steven Jones, Professor of Physics at Brigham Young University. I noted that this group has some Canadian members (myself among them). And I ventured to add my opinion that “‘conspiracy theory’ is in most of its applications a foolish term, which serves primarily to obstruct critical and scientific rationality”; a more helpful term, I said, might be “‘deception theory’—a notion whose roots in Western philosophical and literary culture go back to Plato and to early humanist textual criticism.”

Fishing for an interview? I think not: the program’s contents must long since have been finalized, and I don’t much like stints on radio or television.4 More probably, the teacher in me was working overtime. When one has devoted long hours to critically analyzing a subject, it’s hard to resist passing on some of what one knows.

On the afternoon of August 18, I received a boiler-plate response from Lisa Ayuso at “The Current.” Thanking me for sharing my thoughts on their programming, she informed me that they had interviewed Mark Fenster, provided the website address for the program’s “showlog,” and assured me that my comments would be forwarded “to the staff for their perusal.”

By the time I received this message, I’d already listened to the audio stream of the August 18th edition of “The Current” on the CBC’s website. The entire segment on 9/11 and “conspiracy theory” consisted of a single long interview with an academic whose work in the field of cultural studies I respect—but who was at once arrogantly dismissive of the Scholars for 9/11 Truth and quite astonishingly underinformed about the state of research into the events of 9/11. Since the staff at “The Current” were so amiably willing to peruse the opinions of their listeners, I thought I’d give them something more substantial to chew on. Here’s the text of my second missive, emailed on the evening of August 18.

A second letter to “The Current”

Dear Lisa Ayuso,

Thank you for your response.

I was able to catch Susan Ormiston’s interview with Professor Mark Fenster of the University of Florida this-morning, though only on the audio stream provided by your website—which tantalizingly omitted a couple of segments, making it impossible to guess what the debate involving a member of Scholars for 9/11 Truth that Ormiston and Fenster commented on might have consisted of.

I know Mark Fenster’s book ‘Conspiracy Theory’ (U of Minnesota Press, 1999): it’s an excellent piece of work, full of fine analyses of what Richard Hofstadter famously called “the paranoid style in American politics.” Fenster has illuminating things to say about subjects like ‘The X-Files’, the militia movement, Christofascist apocalyptic thought, and appalling conspiracy fictions like ‘The Turner Diaries’. As one might expect of someone with a Ph.D. in communications, he’s well up on contemporary literary and cultural theory, and deploys it interestingly.

But I can’t help wondering why Professor Fenster thought himself qualified to comment on current historical and materials-science research into the events of September 11, 2001, and why he thought it appropriate to conflate this kind of research with the popular-culture paranoia on which he is indeed an expert.

Fenster himself made a point of raising the issue of scholarly credentials when he said of the Scholars for 9/11 Truth that “Their credentials are not quite at the level that one would expect for the sort of blue-ribbon panel—.” Starting his thought afresh, he continued, “And frequently they have expertise, but not necessarily in the areas in which they’re making arguments and making claims.”

Let’s follow up that thought. Fenster advanced some fairly strong claims in the course of his interview—not least in identifying the Scholars for 9/11 Truth as “conspiracy theorists.” As he knows, this is both a disabling rhetorical move and an insult. (In the introduction to his book ‘Conspiracy Theory’, he observed that in political discussion, “one can hurl no greater insult than to describe another’s positions as the product of a ‘conspiracy theory’.”)

Fenster somehow knows, then, that the analyses by credentialed physicists and mechanical engineers of the collapses of the Twin Towers and of WTC 7 that have been published on the website of the Scholars for 9/11 Truth ( and in the ‘Journal of 9/11 Studies’ are rubbish—on a level, one must presume, with crackpot speculations about the Illuminati, or anti-semitic fantasies about the ZOG’s black helicopters. And Fenster knows this even though some of these scientists’ 9/11 analyses have been peer-reviewed or refereed—which means that their evidence and arguments have been critically assessed and approved by other scientists and scholars with appropriate expertise.

On the basis of what expertise, I wonder, does Fenster arrive at a conclusion at once so definitive and so insulting?

I wouldn’t guess that he knows much himself about physics, or chemistry, or mechanical engineering. (In remarking on the debate over planned demolition involving an unnamed member of Scholars for 9/11 Truth, Fenster seemed to think that the presence of sulphur compounds in the ruins went against the evidence for demolition: sulphidation and intergranular eutectic melting of structural steel are actually signatures of thermate, which there are other reasons as well to think was used in the demolition of the World Trade Center towers).

Moreover, during his interview Fenster made it very clear that he also knows next to nothing about published research into the material and historical evidence we possess of the events of 9/11. He stated at one point that there was an interesting delay between those events and the point at which “conspiracy theory” interpretations of them began to appear: “the lag was about four to five years,” he said, adding that only after the 2004 U.S. election did conspiratorial interpretations of 9/11 begin to be produced.

Setting aside Professor Fenster’s difficulties with arithmetic (from September 11, 2001 to November 2nd, 2004 is actually just three years and a bit), what he was confessing here—though Susan Ormiston wasn’t up to noticing the fact—is that he’s been asleep at the wheel.

Here are just a few of the critical studies—all of them published prior to the 2004 election, and dealing partly or in whole with 9/11—that Fenster managed not to notice, and has presumably still not got around to reading:

Michel Chossudovsky, ‘War and Globalisation: The Truth Behind September 11’ (2002).

John McMurtry, ‘Value Wars: The Global Market Versus the Life Economy’ (2002).

Eric Hufschmid, ‘Painful Questions: An Analysis of the September 11th Attack’ (2002).

Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed, ‘The War on Freedom: How and Why America was Attacked, September 11, 2001’ (2002).

------, ‘Behind the War on Terror: Western Secret Strategy and the Struggle for Iraq’ (2003).

David Ray Griffin, ‘The New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions about the Bush Administration and 9/11’ (2004).

Michael C. Ruppert, ‘Crossing the Rubicon: The Decline of the American Empire at the End of the Age of Oil’ (2004).

To these one might add Paul Thompson’s ‘9/11 Timeline’, an analytic compilation based wholly on material published in the mainstream media which has been available online, in ever-expanding versions, since 2002, and was recently published in book form.

Fenster might well not agree with some of the interpretations advanced by these writers (Professor McMurtry, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and internationally recognized philosopher, and Professor Griffin, an equally distinguished scholar who has published some two dozen books, are both members of the despised Scholars for 9/11 Truth, and therefore mere conspiracy theorists). But he might find it instructive to engage with the historical evidence—matters of undisputed public record—that are assembled and reflected on in these and other more recent studies of the 9/11 events and their aftermath.

Let me conclude with two suggestions.

I would propose, as a matter of caution if not of intellectual principle, that Professor Fenster make some effort to inform himself about the subject under discussion before he next chooses to make a fool of himself on Canadian national radio.

And I would suggest that the producers of “The Current” try to remember the CBC’s distinguished past as a public and public-interest broadcaster. The network’s reputation is not well served by programs which are so transparently designed to present one opinion only—and that opinion a singularly ill-informed one—on matters of major public and historical interest.

Yours sincerely,…
By way of coda…

Thinking on the evening of August 18 that my correspondence with “The Current” might be of interest to James Fetzer and Steven Jones, I forwarded them a copy of it—and heard back from Professor Fetzer almost at once.

“This is very interesting,” he wrote. “‘The Current’ interviewed me (taped in advance) on Wednesday, 2 August”—for a program that “was supposed to be broadcast on Friday, 4 August, but was ‘bumped’ because of the new ‘terrorist ring’ break-up. I was told they would reschedule and let me know when it would run.”

Fetzer thought this interview had gone very well—in part, he said, because he “took the host’s questions apart.” (For samples of Fetzer’s polite but formidable command of the facts, and of his astute explanations of the appropriate protocols of interpretation, see the links to his recent interviews with various U.S. broadcasters that are provided at the website of Scholars for 9/11 Truth: He found it interesting as well—perhaps amusing, if I’m not over-interpreting his brief message—that after spiking an interview that one might guess was a good deal too lucid and well-informed for the CBC’s taste, “The Current” then sought to bury the issue by bringing in another scholar, Fenster, whose name sounds vaguely similar.

So there we have it, folks: just a little something to mull over the next time we hear Anna Maria Tremonti or her clones pontificating on the War on Terror, the vital (if also vehemently unwanted) job that Canada’s soldiers are doing in bringing democracy-at-gunpoint to Afghanistan’s surly inhabitants, or the self-evident follies and inanities of 9/11 research.

It’s not simple ignorance we’re hearing over our national airwaves, but intentional and malicious ignorance; not stupidity alone, but intellectual dishonesty as well.

Michael Keefer is Professor of English at the University of Guelph, and a Contributing Editor to the Centre for Research on Globalization.

1 Arundhati Roy, War Talk (Cambridge, Mass.: South End Press, 2003), p. 78.

2 See Joshua Frank, “Kidnapped in Israel or Captured in Lebanon? Official justification for Israel’s invasion on thin ice,” (25 July 2006), available at the Centre for Research on Globalization,; Trish Shuh, “Operation ‘Change of Location’? How Reports of the July 12th Capture of IDF Soldiers Soon Shifted from Lebanon to Israel,” Counterpunch (15 August 2006),; and George Monbiot, “Israel responded to an unprovoked attack by Hizbollah, right? Wrong,” The Guardian (9 August 2006), available at the Centre for Research on Globalization,

3 Early challenges to this fiction included my article “The Strange Death of American Democracy: Endgame in Ohio,” Centre for Research on Globalization (24 January 2005),; more recent and more wide-ranging studies include Mark Crispin Miller, Fooled Again (New York: Basic Books, 2005); Steven F. Freeman and Joel Bleifuss, Was the 2004 Presidential Election Stolen? (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2006); and Greg Palast, Armed Madhouse (New York: Dutton, 2006), pp. 187-263.

4 You can blow the dust off a textual critic, but why torment him with microphones? Ruminative pauses that students might interpret as evidence of cogitation are just dead air to media audiences.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Centre for Research on Globalization.

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