Saturday, August 07, 2004
Quote of the Day - Henry Wallace on Fascism - 11
Friday, August 06, 2004
Playing the game of politics without a referee
Arizona Republicans have been worried about the integrity of the vote. The threat they’re facing isn’t touchscreen voting machines, irregularities in voter eligibility lists, or police intimidation when minorities go to vote. Nope. It’s undocumented immigrants. Those little brown-skinned people have been insinuating themselves into the voting booths and casting ballots— presumably for Democrats. They haven’t found any evidence for it yet—but they know it’s happening.
The problem has grown to such proportion in Arizona that they’re trying to get an initiative on the November ballot known as “Protect Arizona Now.” The Republican leaders promoting the initiative “believe that electoral fraud is rampant among undereducated, non-English speaking immigrants.” The initiative would require “all Arizonans to prove their citizenship to vote and to apply for state and local government services.”
But you’d think the Repugs would be safe from voter fraud in an internal party vote, where the only undocumented migrants for miles around are the ones that can be seen through the windows of the Republican conference rooms—manicuring the lawn. It turns out that Republicans are not even safe in their own home.
At a party conference in May, the Repugs were to elect three members to the Republican National Committee. Balloting was close, with the right-winger Pullen—one of the leaders of the “Protect Arizona Now” initiative—beating out the moderate Hellon with 289 votes to 284.
But questions about the election's validity moved the state party leadership to conduct an internal investigation. The investigation revealed that a few Pullen supporters voted more than once using other delegates' credentials. Overzealous partisans stuffed the ballot box in good ol' fashioned election chicanery.
The party's hired attorney reported that "the available evidence is sufficient to conclude that illegal voting likely took place in the election for national committeeman." He also wrote that "the evidence is sufficient to make an election challenge."
So what did the party leadership do about it? Investigate further? Hold a new election? Disqualify the tainted ballots and recount the votes? Not these “democrats.” They did nothing.
One of the party leaders said,
... the party electoral process was confusing and fraught with misunderstanding. He said it will be fixed next year.
Columnist Portillo asks,
What, was this the first time GOP activists cast votes? If it were a first-grade election for class president, confusion could be an acceptable excuse.
So when some GOP stalwarts commit electoral fraud, it's a misunderstanding. But if a non-citizen were to vote, that would be dishonest.
Liberals and leftists have for too long assumed a “level playing field” as they got their butts kicked year after year. They assumed the other side was playing by the same rules. No, folks. This is a game played mostly without referees. And when we resorted to the referees, as in the 2000 elections, it turns out that even the referees are biased.
Quote of the Day - Henry Wallace on Fascism - 10
Thursday, August 05, 2004
Quote of the Day - Henry Wallace on Fascism - 9
Whither the Kerry economy? And what does the Democratic Convention have to do with it?
.... Kerry will return the federal government to the principle of paying for new initiatives without increasing the deficit. Known as "pay-as-you-go," these common-sense budget rules were instrumental in creating the economic growth of the 1990s but were quickly abandoned by the Bush administration. In addition to reintroducing "pay-as-you-go," Kerry will take steps to ensure discretionary spending - excluding defense and homeland security - does not grow any faster than inflation.
Later this afternoon, Kerry is scheduled to discuss his budget framework with members of the Business Roundtable. He will be joined at this meeting by former Clinton Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin and Deputy Treasury Secretary Roger Altman. [emphasis added]
If you really want to know what to expect for the economy in the next four years, should Kerry win (and he will), you’d better tune in to "Wall $treet Week" on PBS, then start reading the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, and maybe Bloomberg.com.
I know, I know. You don’t own any stocks and the last bond you owned was a bail bond. The headlines are puzzling, the writing is as dry as the Sahara, and why should you care?
The reason you should care is that the folks being discussed and the corporations they control are going to have far more to do with the direction this country takes than the President or Congress. That’s, of course, because they own the President and Congress.
Those who should know tell me that "Wall $treet Week" can be absolutely hilarious when viewed on a psychedelic. Taken alone, Karen Gibbs, one of the moderators, is worth the price of admission. She has this way of mumbling that looks and sounds as if she’s trying to keep her dentures from falling out.
So here I was, tuned in last Friday night, listening to a Wall Street panel discuss the Democratic Convention, when I heard this:
Colvin [the panel moderator]: I didn't hear any of the network commentators mention this, but during Kerry's acceptance speech, seated in the audience next to his wife, on one side of him was John Edwards. On the other side, on her right hand was Robert Rubin, who of course was Treasury Secretary during the Clinton administration. Mark Zandi, would the markets like to see Bob Rubin in a Kerry administration?
This is the kind of talk that can bring thousands of capitalists to the edges of their seats. There’s a lot of meat in this question.
First, Colvin is correct that the network commentators didn’t point out the seating arrangement. In fact, the only other outlet I’ve discovered that noted the seating arrangement was Bloomberg.com.
Watching the speech in the hall, Kerry's wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, was flanked by Edwards and Robert Rubin, chairman of Citigroup Inc.'s executive committee. Rubin encouraged President Bill Clinton to push deficit-reduction legislation in 1993 and served as his Treasury Secretary from 1995 to 1999.
The seating arrangement wasn’t mentioned by the popular media because it’s what is known as “a signal to the markets.” You’re not supposed to know, much less care, about such things. 1
Second, “Rubinomics” is so hot on Wall Street that just a few weeks ago a number of media hacks were actually speculating that Rubin was going to be Kerry’s choice for Vice President.
But back to "Wall $treet Week,"
COLVIN: Kevin Hassett [right-wing thinktank-head], you've spent a lot of time in Washington. You've worked on a campaign or two. Robert Rubin seated next to Teresa Heinz Kerry doesn't happen by chance at a political convention. What does it mean?
HASSETT: I would have to say that what it means is that Kerry's trying to signal that even though he's promised things that don't add up and that would vastly increase the deficit, what he really is is a deficit hawk of the Rubin style, and that really what's going to happen after he's elected is he's going to give up those promises and pursue deficit reduction first.
The subtext of the panel talk was that Kerry is going to win. I mean, here’s a Bush supporter from the American Enterprise Institute saying “after he’s elected.” Now, I know. I know that sentence doesn’t say that Kerry will be elected. But on the other hand, Hassett might easily have picked a more skeptical expression, such as, “if he’s elected.”
Poor Bush. Wall Street has decided he's toast, and there ain’t a damned thing he can do about it. The only things he's still got going for him are ignorance and fear.
But all this economic talk has got Ryan Lizza at the New Republic worried,
[T]he left has good reason to be worried about Kerry's first 100 days, at least on economic policy. This afternoon CNBC brought together a small group of journalists over at the Old State House for a luncheon with Kerry's senior economic advisers. Bob Rubin and Roger Altman ... were the main speakers, but also in attendance were Gene Sperling, Clinton's chief economic adviser, and Jason Furman, Kerry's economic policy director. The message from Altman and Rubin was that Kerry is a passionate advocate of Clintonomics—especially an emphasis on deficit reduction and the return of congressional spending rules. Altman made a point of noting that like no other politician he knows, Kerry has publicly said he would trim some of his spending priorities back to achieve a fiscally conservative budget.
Asked about why corporate America sometimes fears a Democratic administration, Rubin told a story about how Clinton once confided to him that ... some in the business world are always scared that somewhere in the White House "a liberal was going to jump out of the closet." ... [T]he message to the media—and perhaps the warning to the left—was that in a Kerry White House, on economic policy there won't be any liberals hiding in the closets. However, I think there will probably be a lot more knocking on the front door. [emphasis added]
Wednesday, August 04, 2004
A diverting flight
Have you ever had an airline make an unscheduled stop to pick you up? I thought not.
KansasCityChannel.com has a little survey of your opinion on this. Go vote. It's fun, and we all need to get in practice for November.
Whither China? Whither the world?
Le monde diplomatique has just published a sobering review by Ignacio Ramonet of China’s development "Chine, megapuissance," which I’ve excerpted. It’s not available in English, but is available in Spanish.
China has become a Wonder of the World in exports:
In the euphoria of initial globalization, [China] was depicted as a veritable windfall for shrewd investors by the hundreds of companies that offshored their factories there (after having dismissed millions of wage-earners). Thanks to the system of “special economic zones” set up along its maritime front, it quickly became a phenomenal exporting power. And it took the lead among world exporters in clothing and textiles, shoes, electronics and toys. Its products invaded the world, particularly the U.S. market, bringing with it a huge imbalance: in 2003, the American commercial trade deficit with Peking reached $130 billion! [emphasis added]
The money pouring in from the U.S. has raised the standard of living for millions of Chinese and allowed the Chinese government to invest in the country’s infrastructure.
This exporting frenzy was to provoke a spectacular takeoff of growth which, for two decades, has surpassed 9% each year! This “democratic market communism” also brought with it, in millions of homes, an increase in buying power and standard of living, and has encouraged the rise of a genuine Chinese capitalism. The state, in the same spirit, launched into a forced-march modernization of the country, increasing the construction of its infrastructure: ports, airports, highways, railways, bridges, dams, skyscrapers, stadia for the Olympic Games in Peking in 2008, facilities for the World’s Fair in Shanghai in 2010, etc.
(The article fails to mention that this influx of cash is also allowing China to hasten its military development.)
The internal development has in turn made China a gargantuan consumer—
... Last year it was the top buyer in the world of cement (importing 55% of the world production), coal (40%), steel (25%), nickel (25%) and aluminum (14%), and the second largest importer of oil, after the United States.
The demand, of course, has affected world prices.
These purchases have caused a price explosion in the markets—particularly in the petroleum markets. Admitted to membership in the World Trade Organization in 2001, China is now one of the great economies of the world—the sixth, to be precise....Where is China heading?
If China continues at this pace, by 2041 it will surpass the United States and become the top world economic power, which will have major geopolitical consequences. It also means that by 2030, its energy consumption will equal that of the United States and Japan today, and that—not having enough petroleum on hand—it will be forced between now and 2020 to double its nuclear capacity and to construct two nuclear power stations per year for 16 years.
And there will be environmental consequences.
... China—which ratified the Kyoto protocol—will leave the second tier of polluters of the planet, which it presently occupies, to move to the first tier. It will then release colossal quantities of greenhouse gasses that will aggravate the climatic change underway.
The article ends by raising perhaps the most important question facing all
How to lift billions of people out of the distress of underdevelopment without plunging them into a model of production and “Western-style” consumption, disastrous for the planet and fatal for humanity as a whole?
This is a question for capitalism itself. Don’t expect any solutions from George Bush or this Congress.
Quote of the Day - Henry Wallace on Fascism - 8
Tuesday, August 03, 2004
Quote of the Day - Henry Wallace on Fascism - 7
CIA: Secret Wars — Part III-c
With the recent Senate report on intelligence and with the subsequent debate over the reorganization of the intelligence services in the news, this series of posts may be of topical as well as general interest.
William Karel is not well-known in the U.S. In fact, a Google search of his name turns up a plethora of links in French, Dutch, German but very few in English. I discovered him by accident while searching for some CIA-associated names.
Karel is a Swiss documentary filmmaker, and his most recent foray into the news came thanks to his film “Le monde selon Bush”—“The World according to Bush.”
According to the Hollywood Reporter,
When "Fahrenheit 9/11" was selected for the Cannes film festival, another documentary about George W. Bush was waiting in the wings in case Michael Moore's film wasn't ready in time. "The organizers were keen to include our film in the Official Selection but felt it was politically incorrect to have two anti-Bush documentaries at Cannes," says Jean-Francois Lepetit, whose Flach Film produced "Le monde selon Bush."
“The World according to Bush” premiered on French television in June and has been released in French theaters.
But it’s about a previous documentary “CIA: Guerres secrètes” or “CIA: Secret Wars,” produced last year, that I am writing. It’s a three-part film, Part III covering the years from Gulf War I to the lead-up to the Iraq war, the period 1990-2001. [Note: I haven't yet located a vendor for the film, though it's my understanding that it's available. As soon as I've found one, I'll add the information.]
Karel says of his film,
I had already made a film on the workings of the White House in times of crisis. This time I wanted to try to do the same, but about the true power of the CIA. Meeting with the higher-ups of the Agency, but also the men on the ground—those who dreamed of being new James Bonds but who were left only a dirty job for little money. These CIA agents are neither naive nor choirboys.
Yet they were willing to talk.... They talk because they have scores to settle—with their predecessors, with their successors. [my translation]
And Karel describes his approach as—
Knitting together a story with several voices. Leaving the words of the witnesses to make the point. Almost no commentary, a few facts required to understand the subject.
“CIA: Secret Wars” was shown on French television, the Arte channel, in 2003. De defensa, a French journal of political analysis, considers the film to be so outstanding that it has published a transcript of Part III of the film, of which it says,
This documentary is remarkable for its rhythm, its profusion of circumstances, of connections, of established facts that paint a picture that captures the state of power in the USA, of its vertiginous decadence, of its corruption that is as much psychological as venal. We think the transcript brings its effect back to life.
Another aspect that stands out in the document is the feeling of the extraordinary depth of the crisis in the US intelligence services, primarily the CIA, essentially because of the treatment to which they have been made to submit and to which they are being made to submit by Presidents Clinton and GW Bush. This is an unprecedented factor: everybody knows that the CIA is in crisis, but what is brought out here is that it may be a matter of a mortal crisis, notably stemming from a complete rupture—at the level of activities and of confidence—between the CIA and the political authorities. [my translation]
I chose to divide the transcript into three parts, and I've translated and presented the last of the parts first. This section deals with the period from George Jr.'s ascension to the Presidency. There is material in the other sections that is, if anything, even more gripping. And I will try to get them posted in the next few days.
In the meanwhile, this post remains, so far as I know, the only English version available of this document. Enjoy.
Warning: I am not a French-to-English translator by trade. In addition, I have the odd task of translating language that was originally uttered in English, then rendered into French, back into English. It’s a little like the children’s game of Gossip in which a child passes a "secret" to another child, who passes it to still another, until the “secret” returns to the first child. There is inevitably some distortion.
To anyone more versed in French than I: You are welcome to comment or to write me with suggestions for corrections or other edits. They will be promptly noted in
VOICEOVER: With the presidential election of 2000, George Bush Junior, governor of Texas, contrary to all expectations, goes on to win the race to the White House by the skin of his teeth. His opponent, Vice-President Gore, yields the ballot in order not to discredit the American electoral system.
WILLIAM QUANDT [National Security Advisor]: Bush rejects everything that is complex, all the nuances, and he ends up convincing people here and abroad that he is poorly informed.
STANSFIELD TURNER [CIA Director 1978-81]: I don’t believe he had enough of the necessary experience in foreign policy to assume this responsibility by himself, nor that he had the intellectual capacity to do it.
WILLIAM QUANDT: His inexperience, and I would say his lack of seriousness when faced with the complexity of foreign policy prompts him to simplify everything.
ROBERT STEELE [CIA - Operations]: When you have as a President a mediocre student who knows very little about the problems of the planet, you have every chance to run into a disaster.
GEORGE W. BUSH, JR. (public speech): And I want to thank my father -- the most decent man I have ever known. All my life I have been amazed that a gentle soul could be so strong. And Dad, I want you to know how proud I am to be your son. [August 3, 2000. Nomination acceptance speech.]
VOICEOVER: George Bush Sr., before becoming director of the CIA and then President of the United States, had created in 1960 the Zapata Company, an oil company, tiny but one that had obtained the right to exploit the drilling fields in Kuwait. George Bush Sr.’s fortune was made. His son had followed his advice and founded in ’79 his own petroleum company in Texas—Arbusto Energy—which was catastrophically managed and which was saved from failure by Selim bin-Laden, the half-brother of Osama, who repurchased for a high price a large portion of the shares. The bin-Laden family was already owner of the Houston airport in Texas. Before being elected governor, George Bush Jr. received $120,000 from the petroleum group Arken Energy for the position of consultant. A quarter of the company belonged to the Saudis, and the company attorney was Secretary James Baker, former Secretary of State to Bush Sr.
JOSEPH TRENTO [Historian]: Listen. George Bush Sr., the former President, clearly said that our strategic interest was to wage war against Saddam. What does that mean? The only strategic interest we have in the Gulf is oil.
JAMES SCHLESINGER [CIA Director 1973]: Secretary of State Baker said, "It can be said in one word—oil"
VOICEOVER: George W. Bush (Sr.) ended up making a fortune by selling all his shares for one billion dollars. Two months later, Iraq invaded Kuwait. An investigation—opened to determine if there had been insider-trading by Bush, then President of the United States—was dropped.
JOSEPH TRENTO: You have the President of the United States [and] his father, the former President and Vice-President of the United States, all of whom have made their fortune in the oil business solely thanks to their relations with the [Saudi] royal family.
ROBERT STEELE: The people don’t know that the government that they trust to stamp out crime is in fact directly linked to the criminals.
JOSEPH TRENTO: I can assure you that there never would have been negotiations with the Taliban if Enron hadn’t demanded it and if they hadn’t largely financed Bush’s campaign.
ROBERT BAER [CIA – Special Operations]: Realizing the way this government does business, I end up missing the Clinton era. These people are crazy.
ROBERT STEELE: The Bush family enjoys solid relations with the criminals. Dick Cheney also has ties with the criminals. It’s a veritable Mafia.
VOICEOVER: In 1989, George Bush Jr. took the post of advisor to the management of the Carlyle Group, a position that he retained until ’94 without ever declaring his income. This gigantic enterprise works primarily in the defense sector: missiles, planes, tanks. $16 billion in assets. George Bush Sr. is always a mainstay of Carlyle. The board of directors is composed of a network of powerful men in the foreground [who are] capable of influencing any and all political decision-makers. Each partner holds $200 million in capital. The Carlyle Group is led by Frank Carlucci—former Deputy Director of the CIA and Secretary of Defense under Reagan. The day after his election, George Bush Jr. signed an arms contract with the Carlyle Group of $12 billion that concerned a new artillery system, contrary to the opinion of all Pentagon experts, who deemed it completely inappropriate.
ROBERT STEELE: The Carlyle Group probably has direct access to everything the CIA knows about the rest of the world.
JOSEPH TRENTO: No one to account to, no shareholders; it serves as a cover for a very effective intelligence service. When you’re facing Frank Carlucci, you’re at the heart of the American government.
ROBERT STEELE: Carlucci can call anyone he wants to at the CIA and talk to him as an equal.
JOSEPH TRENTO: His wife Marsha worked in a large accounting firm. Her job consisted of hiding the secret budget of the CIA inside the budget of the Department of Defense. Everything was kept in the family.
FRANK CARLUCCI: There are numerous accusations concerning our so-called “political enterprise” but nobody can cite the slightest example of political pressure in which we would have been implicated, nor any occasion whatsoever where we would have attempted to use our influence. We don’t try to exercise political influence; we buy and sell businesses—that’s how we earn our money.
[Carlucci acknowledges here “our influence.” Truly remarkable, isn’t it, that someone with all that influence would not use it.]
JOSEPH TRENTO: They went on to some secret operations, they laundered dirty money through an intermediary of the Carlyle Group. George Bush is associated with the affair. Even Colin Powell took part in it.
FRANK CARLUCCI: James Baker, John Major, Arthur Lewit, yes, these are the personalities recognized in the forefront. But these people have a talent for business and so they do business.
ROBERT STEELE: And I find it would be interesting if the public would look a little more closely at where their money comes from.
JEAN-CHARLES BRISARD [French intelligence]: The Carlyle Group is very well established in Saudi Arabia, of course, and it is thought that the bin-Laden family, for example, and the investors in the Carlyle funds in London have very strong ties and that has undoubtedly been one of the driving forces of that privileged relationship that has been able to tie together the United States and Saudi Arabia, particularly the Bush family.
FRANK CARLUCCI: It was a matter of a very modest investment, one or two million, I believe. We have recouped our funds, and we have of course ceased to do business with bin-Laden, obviously.
VOICEOVER: Since his entry into the White House, George W. Bush was warned by the CIA—Bin-Laden now directly threatens the United States. Two months later, in March 2001, a government commission published a 150-page report that ends with these words: “A direct assault against American citizens on American soil causing death and destruction appears likely. Against this threat, our nation has no coherent governmental structure.”
ROBERT GATES: Several of us were saying since the middle of the 90s that terrorists were very likely going to use weapons of mass destruction on the soil of the United States and that we needed to prepare for it. Several commissions had underlined that a fearsome, large-scale terrorist attack was going to happen. It was practically inevitable.
STANSFIELD TURNER: The CIA was shouting “The United States is going to be attacked own its own territory.”
PETER EARNEST [CIA operations officer, analyst]: They were receiving an enormous quantity of information about the terrorist threats, about the terrorists’ plans, about the fact that something was going to happen, something very important
ROBERT GATES [CIA Director 1991-93]: After all, and without speaking of the attempt on the World Trade Center in ’93, they were thinking that there were going to be other attacks in New York. There was that plot to cause 12 airliners to crash in ’95, another [plot] at the same time that anticipated an airplane crash into CIA headquarters, and the anticipated attack against the Los Angeles airport on the eve of the year 2000.
PETER EARNEST: There had been a plan to attack CIA headquarters at Langley and of course all those threats regularly launched at the White House and the Capitol. Someone is going to show up behind the steering wheel of a vehicle and attempt an attack.
DALE WATSON [Assistant Director of the FBI's Counterterrorism Division]: We were absolutely persuaded that America was going to be attacked. We weighed the gravity of the situation and we prepared ourselves against that.
ROBERT GATES: Unfortunately, all the politicians who agreed with us, with an understanding look, did nothing.
JAMES WOOLSEY [CIA Director 1993-1996]: The whole country was in fact slow to act.
VOICEOVER: Despite the threats that were increasingly precise, the battle in which the CIA and the FBI had indulged themselves does not end. The rivalries and the withholding of intelligence continue. The head of the FBI warns his agents: “You don’t share any information with the CIA.”
STANSFIELD TURNER: Apparently, several errors were committed, such as the lack of intelligence exchange between the [intelligence] services and the rest.
WILLIAM WEBSTER [CIA Director 1987-89, FBI Director 1978-87]: It wasn’t a matter of keeping the intelligence secret, we didn’t have the necessary means to transmit it to the CIA.
ROBERT STEELE: They don’t communicate between themselves, their computers aren’t linked to each other, their agents don’t train together, they refuse to work together.
WILLIAM QUANDT: When they receive any information, each service has a tendency to keep it for itself. They never trust each other.
WILLIAM COHEN: It isn’t a matter of fighting each other. Each agency has a different mission, a different mentality.
DUANE CLARRIDGE [CIA-Director of the Counterterrorist Center 1986-89]: It was war, but a war that extended throughout the domain of counterespionnage.
VOICEOVER: In February 2001, Israel warns the CIA: Terrorists are going to pirate one or two airlines and use them as weapons. King Abdullah of Jordan, President Mubarak, then Chancellor Gerhard Schroder transmit the same information to the Pentagon: An attack on American soil will take place shortly in which airplanes would be involved.
JAMES WOOLSEY: For years the Islamic extremists were training to hijack an airline in an old downed plane that we could observe in our satellite photos. They trained in small groups of four or five to take control of the plane using iddy-biddy knives.
ROBERT BAER: In ’98 I sent an email to the CIA about Raledchek Mohamed concerning airplane hijackings and some aliases that he would be using when he traveled in Europe. I never received a reply.
PETER EARNEST: Several people from Arab countries were taking pilot training but they declared they weren’t interested in learning to land—details that would have merited additional investigation.
DUANE CLARRIDGE: You can imagine a guy considered competent to pilot an airplane saying to his instructor: “I’d just like to know how you turn left and right.” Really!
ROBERT STEELE: They received several indicators that weren’t seriously examined. A young man landed in the FBI office in Newark, New Jersey, a year before September 11 and warned the FBI. He had been informed of a plan that airplanes were going to be used to crash into the World Trade Center. The FBI couldn’t verify any element of the story, but instead of taking it seriously, of trying to understand what they didn’t know, of discovering what the CIA didn’t want to tell them, they discounted it.
WILLIAM BLUM: They must have thought that the air pirates planned a run-of-the-mill airplane hijacking with hostage-taking and demands. They probably didn’t know that they planned to use the airplane as a bomb, missile. So they preferred to wait, and they waited until it was too late.
ROBERT BAER: That’s just the way it was with the intelligence on Zaccharia Moussawi.
JOSEPH TRENTO: On August 24, the French Secret Service, the DST, sent a document to the FBI representative in Paris that proved that Moussawi had links with al Qaeda.
JEAN-CHARLES BRISARD: The intelligence [we] sent—we know now—was, in spite of everything, relatively precise, notably regarding the fact that Moussawi was trained in Afghanistan, in this camp controlled by bin-Laden. Likewise we knew that he had relationships in Europe with the leaders or members of al Qaeda, whom we had named, whom we had pointed out to the United States.
JOSEPH TRENTO: You can believe that that document never reached the FBI agents in Minneapolis where Moussawi was located. They not only prevented the intelligence that was gathered [by the French] to rise to the leadership of the FBI, but the leadership itself refused to pass on their own intelligence.
DUANE CLARRIDGE: The FBI person in charge in Minneapolis is a kind of prince, a little king, a baron. He only lets reach headquarters in Washington what he jolly well wants.
JEAN-CHARLES BRISARD: The FBI decided at some point or other that the items passed on by the French concerning Moussawi were not enough to prompt additional investigation—and especially wiretaps.
ROBERT BAER: The French had had the information passed on to the United States, but the Americans responded, “We’re not interested.” They didn’t tap his telephone or search his computer. They never listen.
JOSEPH TRENTO: Everybody wails, “It’s the FBI’s fault, it’s the CIA’s fault.” But when you have the whole Presidential team telling you, “Don’t dig too deep; you don’t want to know what’s down there. We don’t want problems. We don’t want to hear about it. The Saudis are our friends.” What do you want the agents of the intelligence services to do?
DUANE CLARRIDGE: The biggest mistake, the real mistake was not to have authorized the CIA to go investigate inside Saudi Arabia.
ROBERT STEELE: They said to us: “The Saudis are our friends and we don’t spy on our friends.”
JOSEPH TRENTO: The king had the message passed: “I don’t want to know.” I’m speaking about the king George W. Bush or about the advisor to the king, Dick Cheney. But in truth they didn’t let the intelligence services do their job.
ROBERT BAER: Maybe--and I emphasize “maybe”--if they had let the CIA do its job right, we could have prevented September 11.
VOICEOVER: ROBERT BAER, 5 years after having slammed the door on the CIA, decides on his own to renew contact with the groups that he infiltrated and to gather intelligence on the operation being prepared.
ROBERT BAER: I had become close with a group of dissidents in the Gulf who were current on those plans. When I resigned and didn’t take my retirement, I left for Beirut and once there, these people warned me: “Raledchek Mohamed is getting ready to hijack airplanes.” This was the former cell of Ramsey Yousef, who had already bombed the World Trade Center.
STANSFIELD TURNER: From the month of August 2001 on, he warns the President: “We’re going to have a terrorist attack within the United States.”
ROBERT BAER: I knew that the CIA wouldn’t listen to me. They had decided that nothing would happen. That’s the way they work. These are bureaucrats. They refuse to listen to someone who comes from outside.
ROBERT STEELE: We should have seriously examined all those documents and realized that they were starting up again, but this time with a plan on a much grander scale.
RICHARD KERR: Whether it was the fault of the FBI or of the CIA—you can accuse whom you wish—what is certain is that nothing was done right in the center.
ROBERT STEELE: You know, to give all the resources over to the incompetents is like pouring oil on the fire. That’s what happened.
DUANE CLARRIDGE: Everybody talks about it [9/11] as if [it were] an extraordinary operation. “My God, these people are geniuses, such a complex operation.” That’s completely absurd. That was done by a handful of crazies.
RICHARD HOLM: But we couldn’t imagine that they were capable of it, that so many people were ready to kill themselves, to set up such a structure.
DUANE CLARRIDGE: We were completely left by the road.
VOICEOVER: September 11, 2001, George W. Bush, who has just taken 5 weeks of vacation on his ranch in Texas, does his morning in Florida. His brother, governor of the State, has invited him to begin his crusade for education here; the President chats with the journalists. In an hour, he’s going to visit a school in Sarasota. At 8:47, as the President chats with the students, his advisor receives a call.
ROBERT STEELE: They have never succeeded in finding bin-Laden. All those ridiculous declarations of the President of the type: “Bring him to me dead or alive”—that was worthy of a Texas cowboy. Our military doesn’t have the means to do it, particularly because of the uselessness of the American secret services. We have never been effective on this terrain. So Saddam Hussein is going to pay because bin-Laden escaped us. They would never have attacked him if everything hadn’t failed.
WILLIAM QUANDT: There is no link between the two, and the government knows it.
GEORGE W. BUSH (public speech): On September 11, 2001, the American people saw what terrorists could do using four airplanes as combat weapons. We are not going to wait and see if some terrorists, or terrorist states, are capable of using chemical, biological or nuclear weapons. Saddam Hussein is going to try to play one last hand, tossing out a new string of lies, of denials, attempting a sucker’s game at the last hour, but the party’s over.
WILLIAM QUANDT: Bush talks about the War on Terror, about the Axis of Evil or about Saddam Hussein as a new Hitler.
JOSEPH TRENTO: Bush repeats everywhere: “He’s the incarnation of evil, he’s evil, we have to get rid of him.” Yet in the 80s he was one of our best friends. President Reagan even sent his personal physician to Baghdad to treat him for his back pains. And suddenly he isn’t our friend any more. Who are we going to put in his place?
WILLIAM QUANDT: We will discover another face of George Bush when his inexperience becomes more evident. This rush to start a war with Iraq is anything but rational. The President ceaselessly changes the explanation. One day he’s invoking the threat of nuclear weapons; the next day he’s betting on a terrorist threat; the following day it’s a matter of defending the United Nations, and the day after he insists that Iraq is going to attack us if we don’t act. I think he’s—I’d say—manipulated by certain of his advisors.
ROBERT STEELE: He’s in the hands of a group of the extreme right. Moreover, this group is so extremist that he places their own analyses first and substitutes them for those of the CIA These people nourish him in the proper meaning of the term; they make him swallow what they want instead of furnishing him the intelligence he needs to act as President.
WILLIAM QUANDT: He thinks that if the United States overthrows Saddam’s regime to replace it with a friendly regime, and makes itself more or less officially at home in Iraq where the petroleum reserves are gigantic, the Americans will then have at their disposal a second powerful ally. An Iraq placed under American control would permit surveillance of Iran and above all cause Saudi Arabia to lose its importance. You could also add Turkey to the list of friendly countries. Israel, Turkey and Iraq, turned pro-American. And once that objective is accomplished, they will say “Who still needs the rest of the Middle East? Who still needs the Saudis?” They have no importance any more.
MILTON BEARDEN: Are we going to occupy Iraq for 30 years; are we going to become a country of the Middle East, maybe a new member of OPEC?
WILLIAM QUANDT: I think there is a risk because it draws us into a terribly dangerous terrain without having taken the trouble to explain why it’s necessary for the United States to go to war today. Who is going to stop us, who can stop us?
Monday, August 02, 2004
Turkish hostage executed
In a spine-chilling video footage, posted on a website, Murat Yuce was shown being lectured, blindfolded and shot in the head. As his body slid forward, the executioner shot him twice more in the head.
News of the execution prompted Turkish truckers to stop ferrying goods to US forces in Iraq. "In today’s conditions there is no security for drivers in Iraq. Until security can be guaranteed, we have stopped transporting goods for US forces," Cahit Soysal, head of the International Transporters’ Association (UND), said in Ankara. The group represents around 40 companies.
The AP runs a much lengthier piece, which struggles to describe everything happening in the Middle East, then says this—
Several nations — most recently the Philippines — have withdrawn troops from Iraq in the increasing militant violence, and several companies have met militant demands to spare employees. The same group that claimed to have killed the Turk said Monday it would free a Somali captive because his Kuwaiti employer agreed to cease business in Iraq.
In the videotape, posted on an Islamic Web site used by militant groups, a man kneels in front of three armed men and reads a statement in Turkish. He identifies himself as Murat Yuce from the Turkish capital, Ankara, an employee of a Turkish company that subcontracted for a Jordanian firm.
"I have a word of advice for any Turk who wants to come to Iraq to work: 'You don't have to be holding a gun to be aiding the occupationist United States. ... Turkish companies should withdraw from Iraq," he says.
At the end of the statement, one of the masked men takes out a pistol and shoots the Turk in the side of the head. He slumps to the ground, and the kidnapper shoots him in the head twice more. Blood is seen on the ground next to his head.
A black banner on the wall identifies the group as Tawhid and Jihad. The group — led by the Jordanian militant linked to al-Qaida, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi — kidnapped two other Turks last week, both truck drivers.
In Ankara, Yuce's employer, Bilintur, issued a statement saying it had heard of his killing. It said he was one of two employees missing in Iraq for three or four days. "Our grief is huge," it said. It said Bilintur was providing a laundry service for a Jordanian company in Iraq. It did not identify the other missing employee. [emphasis mine]
Pretty awful stuff.
The head of Turkey's International Transportation Association, Cahit Soysal, said Monday that by agreeing to stop working with U.S. forces in Iraq, Turkish truckers hope the kidnappers will release the two drivers.
Soysal said the stoppage would affect only the 200-300 trucks owned by more than a dozen Turkish companies that had brought supplies — mostly fuel — to U.S. forces every day. Another 1,700-1,800 trucks with supplies for other purposes would continue to cross the border into Iraq, he said.
If his numbers are correct, that is between 11% and 18% of the truckers no matter how you spin it. And by the way, who's going to replace them? Are the U.S. forces just going to do without the fuel?
Quote of the Day - Henry Wallace on Fascism - 6
KidSpy — Sold out!
KIDSPY: Spy for a Day
Thursday 26 August 2004; 9 am to 3 pm Sold Out!
A fun day of secrets, surprises, and adventure awaits!
As a Spy Recruit, you will don a disguise, take on an alias, perfect a cover story, and venture forth on missions we can't reveal to the adults who may be reading this description! Operation Beat the Heat will put your spy-skills and street-smarts to the test. Code making and breaking, surveillance and counter surveillance, and even concealment device-making are just some of the challenges that await.
Ages: 9-13 No Grown-ups Allowed!
Tickets: $85 per participant*
Space is limited – advance registration required!
*Includes activities,1 lunch, and take-home spy tools
Tickets are available through Ticketmaster.
What community leaders are saying—
Paul L. Vance, Superintendent of the District of Columbia Public Schools
We believe that the proposed programs for school groups will provide a unique opportunity to add an intriguing dimension to the study of history, world geography, foreign languages, special effects, computer technology and intelligence operations as possible career options...
Maudine R. Cooper, President and CEO of the Greater Washington Urban League, Inc.
.... We believe that the International Spy Museum and Malrite’s interest in working with the Urban League’s various youth and training programs will help further our ongoing objectives.
Sunday, August 01, 2004
Quote of the Day - Henry Wallace on Fascism - 5
Thinking about death? Vote Bush!
Two studies in psychology may shed some light on an enigma: Given the Bush administration’s incompetence in affairs both foreign and domestic, its destruction of American civil rights, its failure to benefit anyone but the elite, and its unparalleled mendacity, how is it that almost 50% of the voting population still intends to vote for Bush?
Jeff Greenberg and Sheldon Solomon have been working on the problem.
In their first study, university student volunteers were divided into two groups. One group was asked to think about their own death; the other group was given a neutral topic. They were then read campaign statements representing three leadership styles:
- • charismatic
- declaring the country to be great and the people in it to be special
- • task-oriented
- "let’s get the job done"
- • relationship-oriented
- "let’s get the job done together"
Of those who thought about exams,1 only 4% chose the charismatic leader; but of those who thought about death, 30% went for charisma.
Additional studies were then conducted that related the findings specifically to the coming election. In one study, half of the subjects were asked to think about television, and the other half about 9/11.
When asked to think about television, the 100 or so volunteers did not approve of Bush or his policies in Iraq. But when asked to think about Sept. 11 first and then asked about their attitudes to Bush, another 100 volunteers had very different reactions.
"They had a very strong approval of President Bush and his policy in Iraq," Solomon said.
Solomon, a social psychologist who specializes in terrorism, said it was very rare for a person's opinions to differ so strongly depending on the situation.
In another study, volunteers from 18 into their 50s of all political persuasions, “tend to favor Bush” over Kerry after thinking about death. “Otherwise, they preferred Kerry.”
"I think this should concern anybody," Solomon said. "If I was speaking lightly, I would say that people in their, quote, right minds, unquote, don't care much for President Bush and his policies in Iraq."
"If people are aware that thinking about death makes them act differently, then they don't act differently," Solomon said.
What Solomon is referring to may be thought of as “psychological innoculation.” By becoming aware of techniques of social control, we are better able to resist them. The military uses this type of training to help soldiers who may be captured.
Since to some extent we are all now a captive population, the better we understand the methods of our captors, the better we will be able to resist.
1 "Exams" doesn't seem to me to be a very neutral topic for students. Unfortunately these studies are not yet published, so I can't get more detail than is in the CNN article. As a general caution, I would like my readers to be aware that science reporting is as bad or worse than political reporting. [back]