Friday, July 08, 2005


Quote of the Day

I mean, my first thought when I heard -- just on a personal basis, when I heard there had been this attack and I saw the futures this morning, which were really in the tank, I thought, "Hmmm, time to buy."
—Brit Hume, Fox News Managing Editor and anchor

The silencing of an American journalist

A comment to a post at The Ranter caught my eye—
I was the lead investigator and Senior Editor for The Jakarta Post on the Bali bombings. Shortly after my analysis was printed (signed off on by the Chief Editor and Publisher) I was sacked at the order of U.S. Ambassador Ralph Boyce for outing a CIA contract agent (Hermawan Sulystio) in connection with the bombing. The Ambassador REFUSED to answer my question - yes or no - as to U.S. involvement. My journalist visa was then cancelled and I was forced out of the country despite being married to an Indonesian national.

There it is. It is my firm belief that the CIA/MOSSAD was responsible for the bombings in London.

Let's hope that there are some good independent investigators on the ground in London.

Inquiries are welcome.

Robert S. Finnegan
Managing Editor
Southeast Asia News [edited for a typo]

I don't bring this to your attention because of Finnegan's belief that "the CIA/MOSSAD was responsible for the bombings in London" but to show the way our government is suppressing dissident voices in the foreign media.

This is in fact a stated government policy, as you will see in my post "Why isn't the press defending freedom of the press?", which was written over a year ago.

Related post
Why isn't the press defending freedom of the press? (6/16/2004)


Questions grow on London bombing

Yesterday evening watching BBC News, I was stunned to hear that only after the third explosion did the London police decide that a bomb attack was underway and shut down the system. Until that point they had been theorizing that the train had experienced "a power surge."

I'm sorry that with my limited resources I can't find the video for you (if someone can, please send me the link), but I have a timeline from the Australian Herald Sun

  • 8.49am (GMT): An incident on the train line between Liverpool Street and Aldgate is reported to British Transport Police.
  • 9.15am: Media reports emergency services called to London's Liverpool Street station after an explosion.
  • 9.24am: Police say the incident was possibly caused by a collision between two trains, a power cut or a power cable exploding. Police report "walking wounded".
  • 9.33am: Passengers told that all underground train services are being suspended because of a power fault across the network.
  • 9.33am: Reports of another incident at Edgware Road station.
  • 9.40am: Police say power surge incidents have occurred on Aldgate, Edgware Road, King's Cross, Old Street and Russell Square stations.
  • 10.02am: Scotland Yard says it is dealing with a "major incident".
  • 10.09am: Witness Christina Lawrence, who was on a train leaving King's Cross, tells BBC: "There was a loud bang in the tunnel and the train just stopped and all of a sudden it was filled with black, gassy smoke and we couldn't breathe."
  • 10.14am: A witness says that a bus has been ripped apart in an explosion in central London.
  • 10.21am: Scotland Yard reports "multiple explosions".
  • 10.23am: Police confirm an explosion on a bus in Tavistock Place.
  • 10.25am: The BBC's Andrew Marr, with Prime Minister Tony Blair in Scotland, says the PM is "still unsure" whether the explosions are a terrorist attack.

  • ....
  • 10.53am: Home Secretary Charles Clarke makes a statement outside Downing Street about "dreadful incidents" causing "terrible injuries". He says Mr Blair has been informed and advises the public not to make unnecessary journeys.

  • ....
  • 11.18am: London's Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair tells the BBC he knows of "about six explosions", one on a bus and the others at train stations.
  • 11.26am: The president of the European Parliament, Josep Borrell, blames terrorism for a "co-ordinated series of attacks".

This, of course, immediately puts into question the assertion that the Israeli embassy was alerted after the first explosion. What was the notification? That there had been an explosion caused by a power surge?

The second issue raised by the timeline is the level of ineptness and unpreparedness. That the London Transport Police had no way to distinguish between a bomb and a power surge is simply incredible.

The third issue is the parallel with the timeline of 9/11 wherein authorities failed to act on information they already had to prevent the second attack on the World Trade Center and on the Pentagon. The media are comparing this event with the Madrid bombings when they should be comparing it with 9/11.

The fourth issue is what the loss of liberty that the British have already suffered—and which the British government is in the process of augmenting—has done to make the British public safer.

7/9/05 3:40 pm

In the continuing revision of what transpired and when, Canadian CTV reported today that

The three bombs that struck the London subway system last week blew up nearly simultaneously, police said, as families of the missing continued their search.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Brian Paddick said the bombs in the subway system exploded starting at about 8:50 a.m. local time Thursday, revising earlier accounts that the Underground bombs detonated within a 26-minute span.

"A slightly different picture has emerged around the timing of the incidents," Deputy Paddick said Saturday at a news conference.

"It would appear now that all three bombs on the London Underground system went off within seconds of each other."

The synchronization suggests that the explosives used in the attack were triggered using timing devices, not suicide bombers, although authorities have not ruled that out.

"It is high explosive," Paddick said. "That would tend to suggest that it is not homemade explosive, but whether it is military explosive, whether it's commercial explosive, whether it's plastic explosive, we don't want to say at this stage."

If the simultaneity of the explosions is true, it would render moot any question of whether the police were quick enough in identifying a bomb attack in the present instance. But if they truly thought the events could have been caused by a power surge, it would seem vital to develop a system of detection that can distinguish between a bomb and an electrical malfunction.

While officials are inclined toward a theory of timed explosions in the Underground, there are rumors of a suicide bomber on the bus—

There are reports that British security officials may have recovered the body of one of the bombers, though this has not yet been confirmed.

Eyewitness accounts say after the driver of the double-decker bus announced that the bus was being rerouted because of police activity, someone was seen on the upper deck fiddling with a bag.

"Everybody is standing face-to-face, and this guy kept dipping into this bag," Richard Jones of Berkshire, west of London, told the British Broadcasting Corp.

Shortly after that, say the witnesses, the explosion went off.

According to [Alex] Standish, [editor of Jane's Intelligence Digest], the man may have intended to leave his bomb on the subway, but was unable to board because the system had already been shut down. The man may have gotten on a bus instead and detonated the package sooner than he meant to.

Follow-up post
A note on rail tickets and timers (7/19/05)

Previous post
How to drive conspiracy theorists mad... (7/8/05)

Related post
Dirty propaganda in a "Dirty War" (updated) (2/24/05)

Thursday, July 07, 2005


How to drive conspiracy theorists mad ...

From Andrew Sherry and Christine Saah of USA Today's "London News Blog"—
Israeli confusion: At 6:33 a.m. ET, AP ran an alert saying "Senior Israeli official says Scotland Yard told Israel minutes before explosions it had received warnings of possible terror attacks." At 7:10 a.m., AP ran a story saying Israeli Finance Minister Netanyahu changed his plans to attend an economic conference in downtown London due to the warning. But at 7:37 a.m., AP quoted Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom as denying that Israel was warned about possible terror attacks just before the explosions. The Israeli paper Haaretz quoted him as adding that the warning came after the first blast.

7/8/05 10:30 am

Please see update "Questions grow on London bombing"


Am I scared? Yes

There are now 40 confirmed deaths in the London bombings. My sympathies are entirely for their families and for the injured.

But what frightens me is the second paragraph of "First Read," the internal NBC News document that is posted online—

Reuters reports that the European markets reeled upon hearing the news, and the Wall Street Journal says US markets are also likely to be affected today. Potential political reverberations may take awhile longer to show. In the United States, Bush may see a bump in his poll standing. At the same time, his Administration may face questions about whether the country is sufficiently prepared to stave off such an attack. Jittery lawmakers and citizens may be open to further moves, including further restrictions on visas or on personal liberties, in the name of homeland security. Democrats may have a tougher job of convincing voters that they're tough enough.
And thus the Homeland Security prison is built.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005


Headline of the Day

Anti-Americanism in Turkey 16%, Anti-Bush Perspective 71%
Zaman, a Turkish newspaper

Where's the antiwar movement?

There is an interesting article by Scott McConnell in the latest issue of The American Conservative.1 "How They Get Away With It" tries to ferret out why the current antiwar movement is so lame—
There were no major antiwar demonstrations this spring, no campuses shut down by protest, no marches on Washington big enough to notice. In the capital itself, a journalist can go to cocktail parties full of foreign-policy establishment types, all prudently opposed to the war, their talk spiked by witticisms about the failings and hypocrisy of the Bushites.

And McConnell sees the absence of a strong antiwar movement as the equivalent of giving the Bush administration carte blanche

The failure of Americans to generate a politically significant domestic opposition to the war is now one of the most important developments in world politics. It means that the Bush administration can contemplate, without any fear of adverse domestic political consequences, expansion of its war to Syria or a large-scale bombing of Iran. The only constraints on its behavior are international.

I hope that is overstated. While the Iraq invasion boosted Bush's poll numbers, I'm not so sure the trick will work again. A crisis would have to be manufactured such as "Fanatic Iranian about to obtain nuclear weapons" or "Syria conspires to aid the Iraqi resistance." But the public has begun to cast a jaundiced eye on the news coming from the White House.

In any case, McConnell attributes the current passivity to—

1. Absence of a draft

We fight in Iraq with a volunteer Army, working-class in origin—men and women who may have signed up originally for good pay and benefits or the possibility of a college education they couldn’t otherwise afford. The professional class is hardly represented, the political class not at all. Unlike the 1960s, the children of the establishment don’t have to calculate how they will avoid service or maneuver to find safe spots in the National Guard. This changes the political atmosphere on campus considerably, where there is now as much a likelihood of unrest about something to do with gays and lesbians or the wages of janitors as an aggressive war.

2. Greater economic insecurity

This was [in the 60s] a political economy that not only allowed dissent, but indeed one that seemed to make it, in economic terms, nearly cost-free. The contrast with the present day—where one hears continually from those with a stake in the middle-class that dissent is something only the wealthy (or very poor) can afford—could not be more striking.

3. The rightward turn of Jewish political leaders

Of course, it is true that most American Jews are still politically liberal and a majority now tell pollsters they oppose the Iraq War. But this is beside the point. Nowadays, political passion, engagement, and activism are as likely to be found on the Jewish Right—at least a Right favoring a pro-war, pro-imperialist (and very pro-Israel) foreign policy—as they are on the Left. Nothing could be more different from 1968.

4. The rise of the Christian Soldiers—the evangelicals

With the ... decline in political numbers and influence of the mainline Protestant churches, this increased energy on the evangelical Right changed dramatically the way most American Christians regard war. In the hands of evangelicals, Just War principles became, in Bacevich’s words, “not a series of stringent tests but a signal: not a red light, not even a flashing yellow, but a bright green that relieved the Bush administration of any obligation to weigh seriously the moral implications of when and where it employed coercion.”

And thus, in the developed world’s most devout country, Christian witness against war “became less effective than in countries thoroughly and probably irreversibly secularized.” Evangelicals have in great part transformed the Christian view of Just War into a crusade theory in which the United States is believed to embody God’s will and its enemies are “God’s enemies.”

Up to this point I'm with McConnell all the way. Then he makes a remarkable statement—

For those yearning for a revival of a peace movement that might slow down this administration, there is nothing reassuring about this analysis. It is far from clear that even the revival of the draft could ignite the kind of campus protest that would make an impression on Congress and the administration. Where would the leaders of campus protest come from? For if they are less likely, given the rise of neoconservatism, to come from ranks of activist Jews, it is even more implausible to imagine them emerging from the remains of the WASP establishment, whose children are not the academic and social leaders on the nation’s elite campuses. It is perhaps only slightly more likely to come from the new Asian immigrant groups, who are generally still focused on professional advancement or purely ethnic concerns. And only the wooliest of neo-Marxist romantics can see it emerging from the poor or working classes.

I guess that's what makes him a Conservative and me a ... well, whatever. When you can only imagine leaders coming from the ranks of activist Jews or the WASP establishment, you naturally slump into depression.

And I'm not sure it matters whose children are the current leaders on the nation's campuses, elite or otherwise. It may be that those who opposed the Vietnam War will just have to return to activism, as unwelcome as that may be. As for leaders, if we can't find anyone who'll do from the American lower or middle classes, maybe we can hire a Brit. George Galloway's coming in September.


1The magazine was founded by McConnell, Pat Buchanan and a columnist for the London Spectator Taki. The first issue came out in September 2002. It is antiwar and anti-neocon. [back]


The Reservists' award

The Army Reservists (and National Guard) from all accounts have been getting the short end of the stick. They were asked to serve in a mission for which they were not prepared. They're kept on active duty for a stint that no one could have imagined. And they don't receive all the benefits of being in the regular Army.

While I wasn't paying attention, the Congress and President Bush made it up to them. Last year they created the "Warrior Citizen" award. Formally it's part of the Army Reserve Welcome Home Warrior Citizen Award Program.

The Reservists deserve a better welcome home—like good health care and enforcement of the law guaranteeing their jobs when they return. But the Bush administration prefers symbol over substance, symbol being so much cheaper.

But this symbol bothers me. I know, I know—It's just a word. But now that we have the ominous connotation of "Homeland" Security and the deceptive meaning of the "Patriot" Act, I'm not looking forward to seeing the "Warrior Citizen" license plates that some state legislature is sure to come up with.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005


Update on "Brits and Americans divided over Iraq pullout..."

Important breaking news on the British pullout from Iraq. The British government, apparently dissatisfied with the lack of reaction to the series of disclosures on the pullout in the Scotsman (except for Simply Appalling there was none), has bumped it up a notch. Jimmy Burns and Peter Spiegel of the Financial Times report,

The Ministry of Defence has drafted plans for a significant withdrawal of British troops from Iraq over the next 18 months and a big deployment to Afghanistan, the Financial Times has learnt.

It's not clear whether the Financial Times (FT) learned this directly from the government or from an interview with Ministry of Defense Secretary John Reid on the BBC's "Radio 4 Today" to which reporters Jimmy Burns and Peter Spiegel refer.

Now that the FT is carrying the story, it has been picked up by, of all places, Science Daily, a number of newspapers in the East and Far East and the UPI. Adoption of the story by UPI, now a Moonie-owned newswire, has resulted in an abridged and somewhat neutralized story in the Washington Times, which appears to be first indication of it in the American press. No word yet whether the MSM have even heard of a British pullout, but if so, they're keeping it a secret.

The Financial Times disclosures carry the story forward in several respects. They also indicate the delicate balancing act the British government is engaged in—slowly ratcheting up notice of its resolve to withdraw on the one hand (which will be warmly received by the British public) while not provoking an American hissy fit on the other.

I say "ratcheting up" advisedly. Discussion by the Secretary of Defense on BBC radio raises the issue to a higher level than the words of a military advisor in Kabul and places it just one step away from Prime Minister Tony Blair. It also sets forth a more definite timeline and makes clear that the withdrawal is likely to begin sooner rather than later.

In what would represent the biggest operational shake-up involving the armed forces since the Iraq war, the first stage of a run-down in military operations is likely to take place this autumn with a handover of security to Iraqis in at least two southern provinces.

Emphasis on the "southern provinces"—the relatively quiet Shia areas where British troops have been stationed—is also a further step in the explanation of why the British are withdrawing.

... senior UK officers believe the four south-east provinces under UK command, which are largely Shia and have not seen the same violence as more Sunni-dominated areas north of Baghdad, may be ready for a handover earlier than those under US command.

Vis-à-vis the Americans this is very clever, diplomatically speaking. By arguing that it is the progress that has been made in Iraq that now permits the British to withdraw, the Americans are put somewhat in a bind. To argue publicly that the British must stay is to deny that progress has been made—not something that shadow-President Dick "In their last throes" Cheney is eager to do.

Mr Reid went on: "So although Donald Rumsfeld may have said, correctly, that this may take years before it is finally completed, that did not imply that all that period will have to be led by the multi-national forces or the British forces.

"I personally think that within a year we could begin that transition to the Iraqi forces leading the effort themselves."

Previous posts
What's up in Britain? (9/23/04)
What's up in Afghanistan and why is Blair sending more troops? (4/5/05)
The secret that's not a secret: British troops to Afghanistan (5/23/05)
A further note on the Brits and Afghanistan (6/2/05)
What does this man know about the British? (6/28/05)
Brits and Americans divided over Iraq pullout as Afghanistan slides toward civil war (6/29/05)

Monday, July 04, 2005


Lie of the Day

British Economist Stephen King has just had his critique of a singer's remarks dutifully published by the Independent.

Chris Martin, lead singer of Coldplay, reportedly said, "I think shareholders are the great evil of this modern world." You wouldn't think such a remark would merit a 1300-word response by an economist, would you? But it did. Here's why—

Mr Martin's comments are symptomatic of a more general backlash against businesses and corporations: and, because Coldplay, alongside other like-minded rock stars, have a huge global audience, they cannot help but influence the moral compass of others. So, if Chris Martin thinks that shareholders are evil, a lot of other people are going to end up thinking the same thing.

That would be bad, wouldn't it?

It's easy enough to see how this view can take hold. Some companies, and some shareholders, don't always behave in quite the right way, whether it's their use of sweatshops in Asia, or their unwillingness to provide drugs to combat HIV in Africa. These observations, though, are not good enough to suggest that all shareholders are really in league with the devil. It's a bit like saying that, because Hitler was an evil leader, all leaders are evil. And that would be less than fair on, say, John Major.

Just because some corporations are responsible for economic slavery and millions of deaths—they're not behaving "quite the right way"—doesn't mean we should throw out the baby with the bath water, Mr. King argues. Fair enough.

But here comes the deception—

The real problem, I think, is that people simply don't understand fully how economies work, and how successful economies get wealthier over time. In these circumstances, it's easy to suggest that the haves benefit only at the expense of the have nots. This "static" view simply assumes that each of us is struggling to get our hands on a decent share of a fixed pie. But the really big issue, the one that matters in explaining the difference between rich and poor, is how the pie can be made bigger and bigger over time.

No, Mr. King. No one disputes that economies grow by making a bigger pie, but the "really big issue" is who gets to eat that growing pie.

Notice also that Mr. King coyly uses the adjectival nouns "rich" and "poor." Rich and poor what? Countries? Or people? The pie metaphor handily explains the difference between rich and poor countries but says nothing about the people of those countries.

Mr. King backhandedly acknowledges this later on, but then ends by asserting another lie—

The irony is that those who are most sympathetic to Africa's plight are often those who are most critical of capitalism. This is understandable. Capitalism has nothing to say about the distribution of income and wealth: instead, its concern is limited only to the efficient allocation of resources. Yet the joint stock company, underpinned by the legal rights and framework that allow and protect its existence, has been one of the most successful institutions in the history of mankind in creating wealth for the many rather than for the few.

Socialism has been the most successful institution in the history of mankind for creating wealth for the many rather than for the few. It may be criticized—and invariably is—for not being the most successful institution for baking bigger pies.

Previous post
Lie of the Day (6/20/05)


What quid pro quo?

Among the things that the personnage "George Bush" and the personne George Bush share are the attitudes of bullying and querulousness, as in "What have you done for me today?"

Once again, poor Tony Blair has not done enough. Marie Wolfe in "Bush strikes blow to Blair's hopes of global warming deal" for the Independent writes,

As G8 leaders prepared to gather in Gleneagles for Wednesday's summit, the US President signalled that there would be no quid pro quo on climate change.

In an apparent snub to Tony Blair, who has been trying to get the US on board over global warming, Mr Bush said he was heading to the G8 "with an agenda that I think is best for our country". Asked by Sir Trevor McDonald, in an interview to be broadcast tonight on ITV1, whether the Prime Minister could expect "unstinting support" because of Britain's backing for Iraq, Mr Bush replied: "You know, Tony Blair made decisions on what he thought was best for the people of Great Britain, and I made decisions on what I thought was best for Americans. I really don't view our relationship as one of quid pro quo."

In fact, BushCo views every relationship as involving a quid pro quo. It's just that it's all quid and no quo.

I have to wonder if a factor in BushCo's recalcitrance over global warming at the G8 summit is the emerging Anglo-American split over Iraq and the issue of British troop withdrawal. If the British begin to withdraw troops, they can forget any thanks for a job already done.

Related posts
A slight shudder and a pulling-away (5/16/05)
Brits and Americans divided over Iraq pullout as Afghanistan slides toward civil war (6/29/05)


Capitalists at work

The rock stars have packed up their instruments, the vast crowds that gathered to watch them have dispersed. Now it is the politicians' turn to take centre stage as eight of the world's most powerful men prepare to discuss the future of Africa in the genteel surroundings of a Scottish golf course.
—Blurb in The Independent promoting a link to this article

Related post
CAFTA will proceed; the workers be damned (6/30/05)

Atom feed

Weblog Commenting and Trackback by
Blogarama - The Blog Directory

Blog Search Engine

Blog Top Sites

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?