August 31, 2008

Is Murdoch Pulling The Rug?

Check out the feature article at today. It's a MarketWatch article in Murdoch's WSJ, but it's not that paper's usual fare:
Yes, America's economy is a war economy. Not a "manufacturing" economy. Not an "agricultural" economy. Nor a "service" economy. Not even a "consumer" economy.

Seriously, I looked into your eyes, America, saw deep into your soul. So let's get honest and officially call it "America's Outrageous War Economy." Admit it: we secretly love our war economy. And that's the answer to Jim Grant's thought-provoking question last month in the Wall Street Journal -- "Why No Outrage?"

There really is only one answer: Deep inside we love war. We want war. Need it. Relish it. Thrive on war. War is in our genes, deep in our DNA. War excites our economic brain. War drives our entrepreneurial spirit. War thrills the American soul. Oh just admit it, we have a love affair with war. We love "America's Outrageous War Economy."
The author details how trillions of dollars are wasted by opportunistic warmongers, and how the US public cheers it on even as they get taken for a financial ride. What's even more interesting, however, is the closing paras:
Comments? Tell us: What will it take to wake up America, get citizens, investors, anybody mad at "America's Outrageous War Economy?"

Why don't you rebel? Will the outrage come too late ... after this massive war bubble explodes in our faces?
Provocative stuff for the staid WSJ! And as I write, there are 997 comments already posted.

Sooner or later somebody like Murdoch is going to realise that you can make money by selling this story. But that would mean pulling the rug on the War Machine. And despite appearances, I don't think Murdoch is ready to do that.

Articles like this are just in the paper for what they call "colour" (I wouldn't be surprised if it's not even in the print edition). They generate debate, score lots of hits, and drive revenue. Then, when critics say the WSJ is a rightwing warmonger's propaganda tool, Murdoch can point to articles like this to argue against them. But you are not meant to take it seriously.

Maybe the WSJ wants to trigger a few antiwar riots ahead of the coming election?

August 29, 2008

The Dude Abides

Sometimes there's a man, I won't say a hero...

... a man who is just trying to be himself ...

... but sometimes things don't go as planned ...

... in fact, sometimes they get worse...

... and sometimes even worse ...

You try to keep a sense of humour, a sense of identity...

... but sometimes things seem to just keep repeating themselves, over and over, going nowhere ...

... sometimes the competition sometimes seems unbeatable...

... and sometimes even the seemingly good things in life are not what they appear...

Sometimes you wonder if you are the only one who even gives a shit...

And so, sometimes, you just gotta be yourself, and keep doing the best you can.

In your own unique way.

Of course.

And now....


Not many people (I am thinking nobody?) have ever focused on the political theme of this great cult classic movie. But I will give it a try, using the above vids, my own memory, and this Wikipedia plot synopsis as a guide...

In the movie, there's a scene at the start where George H.W. Bush says "This aggression will not stand". Saddam has just invaded Kuwait. Then The Dude says "this aggression will not stand" when bad guys pee on his rug. So there's the movie's basic analogy: the US Everyman Dude's space has been invaded, and his rug is Kuwait. But who is Saddam? And why did he invade?

That's where things get interesting.

The bad guys pee-ed on the wrong guy's rug. They were really after someone else: a wheelchair-bound US millionaire. Saddam pissed on Kuwait, the little US rug in the Middle East which "really pulled together the room" of the USA's petrol-addicted economy. But who was Saddam really trying to piss on? The ordinary citizens of the USA, who got so very upset, so upset that they went on the warpath? Or the US government and their Big Oil supporters?

Of course, from Saddam's perspective, US Big Oil might easily be confused with the US government and/or the US people, just as The Dude is easily confused with a millionaire of the same name.

So just as The Dude is forced to go and resolve this dilemma himself, in order to maintain his much-loved lifestyle, it was the US people - by the force of public opinion, overwhelmingly, but by soldiers in particular, and their families (cf. the Dude's friend who pulls a gun) - who had to go and confront Saddam, and drive him out of Kuwait.

The invasion of Kuwait wasn't really their problem, but they knew they were going to be affected by it. Just like The Dude.

The pretext for the invasion of the Dude's privacy was that the Big Lebowski's wife had been kidnapped. Lebowski's goons mistakenly thought The Dude did it. But in fact it was the Nihilists. In fact, the wife might even have helped them fake the whole thing! Who knows? Mystery upon mystery...

I'll leave it to my thousands of regular commenters to unravel the minor plot details, but I am happy to stand my this high-level synopsis of the plot. No doubt the Coen Brothers manipulated subplots to fit the overall plot dynamics, but I think this is a credible version of what basically inspired the script.

Over to you...

August 27, 2008

How We Let Down The Afghans (Again)

Prof Q takes another look at Afghanistan today. This is my comment in response:
I find it impossible to think about Afghanistan today without thinking about what might have been... Perhaps that's a good thing, because we Westerners cannot look to the future of Afghanistan without looking at how things went so wrong, acknowledging our own mistakes, and (dare we hope?) holding the prime architects of those mistakes accountable.

The Taleban's behavior before the war was intolerable, of course, and the international community was obliged to do something to help ordinary Afghans. You say "Afghanistan was not a war of choice" but in fact there might have been other more diplomatic ways to achieve change. For example, the Taleban's offer to hand over Bin Laden is just one more war story that has been buried because it does not fit the script.

It's nice to imagine where we might be today if the money wasted on war in Iraq had instead been spent on Afghan schools, roads and other manifestations of Western "soft power". Such a massive show of altruism might have won the hearts and minds of people across the Middle East, bringing calls for widespread democratic change.

Ironically, this is exactly what the architects of the Iraq War claim to have desired. But like the Bible says, "by their fruits shall ye know them." It seems increasingly obvious that their real objective - in both Afghanistan and Iraq - was control of oil by Western corporations.

This gives away the big lie about "our" concern for the suffering people of Afghanistan. Perhaps ordinary voters in NATO countries like Australia, the UK, Canada and the USA did care about the brutal suffering of Afghans under the Taliban, but our governments obviously did not. They used popular support for the war as a pretext for realising their own geo-political ambitions, and the ordinary citizens of Afghanistan (and Iraq) have suffered miserably as a result.

With the Cold War now being reignited in Georgia, we Westerners need to go back and look at the tattered remains of the "American Dream", and the vaunted promises of freedom which were posited for decades in contrast to Communist oppression. Was that all just a PR stunt? It seems that such promises have amounted to very little since the walls came down in 1989/90.

Again, I would suggest that the reason for this is not that we ordinary citizens of the West do not hold such visions of freedom and equality dear to our hearts, but that our supposedly representative governments - beholden as they are to corporate interests, including the giant US military industrial complex - do not truly share that vision.

As long as this is the case, there is little we can do for the peasants in Afghanistan, Sudan, Burma, Mozambique or anywhere else. We need to put our own house in order before we can go out and help others. And that process surely starts with some long-overdue accountability.
Meanwhile, still in Ozblogistan, Antony Loewenstein's new book, The Blogging Revolution, is out soon and he has just unveiled the official website. Here's a review for starters.

And don't miss this story: Iraqi PM Al-Maliki is set to sign new oil deals... with China and Russia. Naughty, naughty!

August 26, 2008

In Case You Missed It: Bush Versus Confucius

Others are clear and bright,
But I alone am dim and weak.
Others are sharp and clever,
But I alone am dull and stupid.
When I was young and merry in my ways, I read (as intellectually curious young Westerners are wont to do) a bit of Chinese philosophy, including the simple but enlightening Tao Te Ching by Lao Tse and the rather more obscure Analects of Confucius.

As a young man seeking wisdom for my personal growth, I was frequently frustrated by how often these Chinese philosophers started talking about Big Picture issues, like Kings and Empires, politics and good government. How is that going to help me in life, I wondered, unless I become the bloody Prime Minister?

Now that I am older and wiser in my ways, of course, and particularly over the past five years, I can appreciate such guidance more readily. For example:
If you governed your province well and treat your people kindly, you kingdom shall not lose any war. If you govern selfishly to your people, you kingdom will not only lose a war, but your people will break away from your kingdom.
There are inevitable parallels between self-governance and "government" as we normally understand the word. If a man cannot control his own desires, how is he going to control a nation? If a man does not understand his own self, how can he understand others?
"If you govern the people legalistically and control them by punishment, they will avoid crime, but have no personal sense of shame. If you govern them by means of virtue and control them with propriety, they will gain their own sense of shame, and thus correct themselves."
Another example (touching on the death penalty, which George W. Bush so readily endorses):
Chi K'ang asked Confucius about government, saying, "What do you say to killing the unprincipled for the good of the principled?" Confucius replied, "Sir, in carrying on your government, why should you use killing at all? Let your evinced desires be for what is good, and the people will be good. The relation between superiors and inferiors is like that between the wind and the grass. The grass must bend, when the wind blows across it."
Oh, for a breath of such fresh air!

These Big Picture issues inevitably have an impact, for better or worse, on one's spiritual development. How is a person to find inner peace when surrounded by social chaos, immorality and violence? Consider for example this little parable:
One day, his students and he passed a grave where they saw a women weeping at a gravestone. She told Confucius that her husband, her husband's father, and her son were killed by a tiger. When Confucius asked her why she didn't leave such a fated spot, she answered that in this place there was no oppressive government.
Confucius said, "Remember this my child. An oppressive government is fiercer and more feared than a tiger."
If George W. Bush is still trying to understand why Iraqis still show such tolerance for violent "insurgents" and religious fundamentalists in their midst, he could do worse than contemplate that story. If that's a little too obtuse for him, how about this (switching back to Lao Tse):
Whenever you advise a ruler in the way of Tao,
Counsel him not to use force to conquer the universe.
For this would only cause resistance.
Thorn bushes spring up wherever the army has passed.
Lean years follow in the wake of a great war.
Just do what needs to be done.
Never take advantage of power.

Achieve results,
But never glory in them.
Achieve results,
But never boast.
Achieve results,
But never be proud.
Achieve results,
Because this is the natural way.
Achieve results,
But not through violence.

Force is followed by loss of strength.
This is not the way of Tao.
That which goes against the Tao comes to an early end.
This is the wisdom of the ancients. But Bush is a modern-day fool, a serial liar and a bragging buffoon who evinces no visible sign of intellectual curiosity other than fretting (lately) about how history will judge his illegitimate rule.

Egged on by the neoconservative ideologues who brought him to power, Bush has sought to impose a global US Empire using "awesome" military might. The results have been exactly the opposite of what the fools in the White House expected. We now have a superpower loathed across the globe, an army at breaking point, an economic bubble waiting to explode. It's not as if these things could not have been foreseen:
The universe is sacred.
You cannot improve it.
If you try to change it, you will ruin it.
If you try to hold it, you will lose it.
I have often said "we get the governments we deserve". As caring citizens of the world, we should all try to improve ourselves, every day. And hopefully one day we will be able to select leaders who are a bit closer to what Lao Tse once called "the men of old".
Good weapons are instruments of fear; all creatures hate them.
Therefore followers of Tao never use them.
The wise man prefers the left.
The man of war prefers the right.

Weapons are instruments of fear; they are not a wise man's tools.
He uses them only when he has no choice.
Peace and quiet are dear to his heart,
And victory no cause for rejoicing.
If you rejoice in victory, then you delight in killing;
If you delight in killing, you cannot fulfill yourself.

On happy occasions precedence is given to the left,
On sad occasions to the right.
In the army the general stands on the left,
The commander-in-chief on the right.
This means that war is conducted like a funeral.
When many people are being killed,
They should be mourned in heartfelt sorrow.
That is why a victory must be observed like a funeral.
UPDATE: The Prophet Isiaiah was also pretty on the ball:
Yes, with stammering lips and in a strange language he will speak to this people...

Joe Biden: "I am a Zionist"

Via Information Clearing House.

Justin Raimondo at highlights a few other major issues (like you didn't already know):
Biden has been one of the War Party's most reliable servants... This earned him the approbation of John McCain, who, on April 11, 1999, declared to Tim Russert on Meet the Press: "We need Joe Biden for secretary of state." An astounded Russert asked: "Is that an offer by President McCain?" McCain replied: "Absolutely!"

McCain wasn't joking, and his comments underscore the essential unity of Washington's bipartisan foreign policy consensus, which is firmly anchored in an interventionist outlook, a militarist mindset that assumes unlimited American power and a position of unchallenged preeminence.
Personally, as weird as it sounds, I think Biden is about the BEST CHOICE that Obama could have made, given where Obama himself is coming from. I mean, he's gotta pick a high profile Dem who can help him win the White House - who else is he gonna pick???? Dennis Kucinich? Imagine the media reaction to that!

As Raimondo confesses:
I did have some hope in Obama, in the beginning, I'll admit it, but that has quickly dissipated into a sinking feeling that the War Party – already shifting away from a focus on Iraq, and taking up a new campaign to target Vladimir Putin's Russia – is way ahead of us on that front and has all its bases covered.

Yes, I know, it's depressing. We all want change, especially when it comes to our war-crazed foreign policy, yet it doesn't at all look as though we're going to get it, come November, much to my regret. So, what now?
What now? We cross our fingers and hope that Obama/Biden '08 is not as bad as it sounds, or (God help us) that a President McCain is not as bad as it sounds, and...?

We push on.

August 25, 2008

Shaking The Tree

Possums Pollytics moves to

Meanwhile, still in Oz, PM wannabe Malcolm Turnbull is revealed as the man who trashed The Goanna's bid to take control of Fairfax in 1991:
The meeting between Mr Turnbull and Mr Westerway took place in Mr Westerway's car in a quiet North Sydney street, the program says.

The notes confirmed Mr Packer's plans to exercise control over Fairfax, breaching cross-media ownership rules, if the consortium won its bid.

Fairfax publishes The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald newspapers.

The notes gave the tribunal the knowledge it needed to subpoena the originals, forcing Mr Packer to withdraw from the bid two days later.

Sydney University media academic Rod Tiffen told Four Corners the notes "showed that Packer was lying" about his planned role in Fairfax.

Mr Turnbull's actions "helped Australian democracy - it stopped Packer getting control of Fairfax", he said, adding, "we'll never know" what Mr Turnbull's motives were.

Mr Turnbull declined to confirm the story to the ABC.
Gosh, a media baron wanting full editorial control of his newspapers. Who would have believed such crazy conspiracy theory nonsense could be true?

Blair's Crusade: Things Fall Apart

This shit is hitting the fan in the UK, with a new High Court ruling exposing MI5's role in US torture:
The judgment makes a clear finding of complicity:
By seeking to interview BM in the circumstances described and supplying information and questions for his interviews, the relationship of the United Kingdom Government to the United States authorities in relation to BM was far beyond that of a bystander or witness to the alleged wrongdoing.
It is this which now really puts the cat among the pigeons. During the war on terror both MI5 and MI6 have flown around the world giving assistance to the US by providing information and conducting interviews with detainees known to them. They are known to have questioned people detained by the US in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantánamo Bay and are believed to have assisted in renditions such as that of Jamil el Banna and Bisher Al-Rawi from the Gambia to Afghanistan and then Guantánamo.

The full extent of British "facilitation" has not yet come out but this action could be the tip of an iceberg. Did the British allow Diego Garcia to be used as a secret prison? Does our government or security services know of other secret prisons or arrangements with foreign governments?
More here.

Something Is Happening But You Don't Know What It Is

I guess if you want to "recreate 1968" then it helps to have a nerd in Buddy Holly glasses playing the role of Mr Jones:

August 22, 2008

Credibility Collapses

NIST has attempted to explain why WTC7 collapsed, but skeptics very quickly dismissed their 92-page report. To quote one witty commentator:
I hope demolition companies watched this report. Next time they want to bring down a large building, all they need to do is to set the the office furnoture [sic] on fire. This would be much cheaper than rigging up hundreds of charges through out the building.
The highly productive George Washington blog has lots more contrary arguments, including this:
NIST said fires alone brought down Building 7, but other office fires have burned longer and hotter without causing collapse.

No Explosive Sounds

NIST also said:

"No blast sounds were heard on the audio tracks of video recordings during the collapse of WTC 7 or reported by witnesses."

Oh, really?

What about this, this, this, this, this and this?

Moreover, as discussed below, high-tech explosives don't necessarily make the same loud "booms" that dynamite make.

High-Tech Explosive Residues

And why were there residues for high-tech explosives at ground zero (and see this)?
See the link for URLs.

Surprisingly, perhaps, the NYT's Eric Lipton does a good job of addressing these concerns in his coverage of the report:
During the last four decades, other towers in New York, Philadelphia and Los Angeles have remained standing through catastrophic blazes that burned out of control for hours because of malfunctioning or nonexistent sprinkler systems. But 7 World Trade Center, which was not struck by a plane, is the first skyscraper in modern times to collapse primarily as a result of a fire. Adding to the suspicion is the fact that in the rush to clean up the site, almost all of the steel remains of the tower were disposed of, leaving investigators in later years with little forensic evidence...

The skeptics — including several who attended Thursday’s news conference — were unimpressed. They have long argued that an incendiary material called thermite, made of aluminum powder and a metal oxide, was used to take down the trade center towers, an approach that would not necessarily result in an explosive boom. They also have argued that a sulfur residue found at the World Trade Center site is evidence of an inside job.

Dr. Sunder said the investigators chose not to use the computer model to evaluate whether a thermite-fueled fire might have brought down the tower, since 100 pounds of it would have had to have been stacked directly against the critical column that gave way, which he said they did not believe had occurred.

To the skeptics, it was a glaring omission.

“It is very difficult to find what you are not looking for,” said Shane Geiger, who contributes to a Web site that follows the topic and who had come to Maryland from Texas to quiz Dr. Sunder about his findings, with a bumper sticker on his laptop computer that says, “9-11 was an inside job.”...

Within moments after the news conference ended, leaders of a group called Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth held their own telephone conference briefing, dismissing the investigation as flawed.

“How much longer do we have to endure the coverup of how Building 7 was destroyed?” said Richard Gage, a California architect and leader of the group.

Told of the doubts, Dr. Sunder said he could not explain why the skepticism would not die.

“I am really not a psychologist,” he said. “Our job was to come up with the best science.”
Exactly right: the best science money can buy.

Listen, I am not civil engineer. But when a key report like this does not even address a major issue like the potential use of thermite, which has been discussed countless times on "conspiracy" blogs, what are we supposed to believe? The 911 Commission, which Bush and Cheney resisted even setting up, failed to deal with similar glaringly obvious possibilities. We are entitled to ask why. We are entitled to remain skeptical. We are entitled to draw our own conclusions.

Unfortunately, the Bush administration has already been caught out on several massive lies, not least the carefully orchestrated nonsense about Saddam's WMDs and his links to Al Quaeda. Credibility, once lost, is very hard to regain. We are entitled to demand airtight evidence from these mendacious criminals, and once again - as with 911, as with the anthrax attacks, as with PlameGate and so much more - the facts just don't add up.

This NIST report has been another colossal waste of US taxpayer money. But no doubt it will give the McCain campaign a big boost in the polls, which is all that really matters to those who commissioned it.

August 21, 2008

Who Knew???

Protesting against war can actually make you money.

Don't tell Dick Cheney. He'll launch a hostile takeover of the tie-dye industry.

Anthrax: Secret Programs Unveiled

Let's start with a potted version of the Eric Olsen story:
When he was nine, in 1953, he was woken in the night to be told, by two men he barely recognised, that his father had "jumped or fallen" from a hotel window in New York and that his death was a work-related accident. He's spent 50 years trying to find out what really happened. In 1975, the CIA told Olson they had spiked his father's drink with LSD to see how government scientists would respond to being unwittingly drugged. They said he had a bad trip and jumped a week later. Olson didn't believe this story, either, and had his father's body exhumed. A new autopsy pointed to murder. Then his father's friends began to speak out. They said Frank Olson was murdered because he was going to blow the whistle on the US army's use of anthrax in the Korean war. Declassified memos point to some kind of cover-up in the Ford White House.
Wha-a-at? The US government was running a secret anthrax program back in the 1950's? Can you believe it? And wait a minute - "Ford White House"? Wasn't Dick Cheney working there? And Donald Rumsfeld too? OMFG etc.

This is from Eric Olsen's website:
Dr. Frank Olson was an expert for anthrax and other biological weapons and had top security clearance...

Eric Olson has returned to live in the house his father built for the family in Frederick in 1950. Back then, Olson senior was one of the biochemists responsible for the biological weapons center the U.S. army ran nearby. The anthrax letters that killed five and caused illness to several others have haunted Eric ever since. Could there be a connection between his father’s death five decades ago and the acts of terror taking place today? (3.00)

The deadly disease that frightened America after the terrorist attacks on September 11th seems to have come from the same US Army Laboratory in Frederick where Olson had worked: Fort Detrick.

The biological weapons lab was founded in 1943. At the time, the Americans feared Hitler might attack the allied troops with a virus or bacteria. They quickly produced gas masks and anthrax weapons, in order to be able to strike back in kind.

Dr. Frank Olson, an army captain and one of the first scientists at Fort Detrick, worked together with Norman Cournoyer. The two became good friends. Their first sons were born within a few days of each other in 1944.

4.18 Voice of Norman Cournoyer/Friend of Frank Olson:
“We worked about five months in this thing called aerosols to see if we could test gas masks and impregnated clothing to see how good they were. And then one day he was transferred to working on hot agents. He said: 'Norm, how about working for me in the hot stuff?' That's how we always referred to it. N was Anthrax, X was botulism and so forth.”
Frank Olsen was pushed out a window and died on the pavement, desperately trying to speak as blood flowed out of his eyes, nose and ears. The CIA agent in the hotel room phoned a colleague to say Olsen was dead, then told police he had been asleep at the time.
Pictures taken in Frankfurt and Heidelberg will later turn up among Olson’s slides. These cities were home to the US Army’s most important facilities in Germany. There is also a picture of the top secret CIA headquarters in Germany, located in the building of IG Farben in the heart of Frankfurt.

What is Olson’s new assignment? He is now working in an area that has nothing to do with biological weapons. Here, in the German offices of the CIA, the biochemist is conducting important conversations with US intelligence officers.

Increasingly, he can be found in the company of other CIA agents, including a certain John McNulty. It has to do with a top secret project to use chemicals, drugs and torture on human beings in order to break their will and make them submissive. Brainwashing.

The code name for this operation: Artichoke.
"IG Farben", the company that built Auschwitz? Wasn't Prescott Bush involved with them? Why yes he was, and so was Allen Dulles, who became the first head of the CIA.
At “House Waldhof,” in June 1952, the CIA begins conducting brain-washing experiments, using various drugs, hypnosis, and probably torture. One of the top secret protocols documents a Russian agent being pumped full of medication.

The goal of the experiments is to manipulate the human mind in order to extract secrets from its subjects. And then to erase their memory, so they can’t remember what happened to them.

Dr. Frank Olson arrived in Frankfurt on June 12, 1952, from Hendon Military Airport near London. He left the Rhine-Main region three days later, on June 15.

On June 13, experiments are conducted with “Patient No. 2”, a suspected Soviet double-agent.

28.03 Voice of Norm Cournoyer
“He was troubled after he came back from Germany one time. He came back and told me and he said Norm, I tell you right now you and I never talked about this, but we were both grown-ups and this was rough. He said ‘Norm, you would be stunned by the techniques that they used.’

They made people talk! They brainwashed people! They used all kinds of drugs, they used all kinds of torture.”
Remember that guy who tried to assassinate Reagan when George H. W. Bush was Vice President? Wasn't he a friend of Neil Bush? Remember that guy who killed John Lennon? Oh, But this is ancient history and the world has changed. Hasn't it?
Frank Olson was also in Berlin early in August 1953.

In Zehlendorf he photographs the headquarters of the American army.
Is Frank Olson on a secret Artichoke mission? Several top-level communist agents were being interrogated in Berlin at the time. It was a time of intense political and military tension in the divided city, just weeks after the civilian uprising in the Soviet sector. At the army headquarters in Berlin, Olson apparently witnessed brutal interrogation methods.

42.19 Voice of Norman Cournoyer/Friend of Frank Olson
“After he came back from Germany the last time he sounded different. When he talked to me he said, I can probably tell you things, that I can’t tell other people, because they are still in top secret material. The people he saw in Germany went to the extreme. He said: ‘Norm, did you ever see a man die?’

I said ‘No.’

He said, ‘Well, I did.’

Yes, they did die. Some of the people they interrogated died. So you can imagine the amount of work they did on these people.”

43.10 Voice of Norman Cournoyer/Friend of Frank Olson
“He said, that he was going to leave. He told me that. He said, ‘I am getting out of that CIA. Period’.”
He got out all right. But the secret programs never stopped and never came to light. And the people who ran them went on to bigger, if not better, things.
The conspiracy originated at the top, in the White House, initiated by Donald Rumsfeld and Richard Cheney. It had just been learned that the CIA allegedly drugged its employee Frank Olson with LSD before his supposed suicide.

Rumsfeld and Cheney, heads of the White House chiefs of staff, at the time recommended to President Gerald Ford that he apologize to the family in the name of the government, and to support retribution. In order to prevent worse things from happening. That’s the content of this White House memo:

“There (is...) the possibility that it might be necessary to disclose highly classified national security information in connection with any court suit or legislative hearings.”

Ten days later, Ford hosted the Olson family and apologized. This allowed him to remain silent about state secrets – and the true reasons for Frank Olson’s death.

49.52 Voice of Eric Olson
“What this means for me is that a national security homicide is not only a possibility, but really it is a necessity, when you have a certain number of ingredients together.

If you are doing top secret work that is immoral, arguably immoral, especially in the post-Nuremberg period, and arguably illegal, and at odds with the kind of high moral position you are trying to maintain in the world, then you have to have a mechanism of security which is going to include murder.”

The two politicians who collaborated in the conspiracy in 1975, Rumsfeld and Cheney, are back in power. As vice president and secretary of defense of the government of the United States. The Frank Olson case, it seems, is far from being closed, even 50 years later. That, at least, is one thing of which Olson’s son is now certain.
Now let's take a look at this interesting little story from UK journalist David Rose in September 2007:
My secret life began, as if scripted by P G Wodehouse, with an invitation to tea at the Ritz...

Over the eclairs and Darjeeling a day or two later, Bourgeois explained that while the service - "the Office", as it is invariably termed by insiders - had always had a few, very limited contacts with journalists and editors, it now felt the need to put these arrangements on a broader and more formal basis. After eight decades in which the very existence of MI6 had been an official secret, the Tory prime minister, John Major, had just avowed it in the House of Commons for the first time - part of a process of incipient glasnost, Bourgeois said.

From time to time, he went on, it might be possible to "give me a steer", and if things worked out we might progress from meeting for tea to luncheon. Of course, he would be extremely constrained as to what he might ever be able to say about real, individual spy cases. If potential MI6 sources started to think their handlers might start blabbing about them to the papers, the Office's work would soon become impossible. Nevertheless, there would be things I might find interesting that would not compromise sources or security. Anyway, here was his number.
Of course, there were conditions:
Our conversations would not merely be off-the-record, and hence attributable in print to an unnamed MI6 official. In public I would have to pretend they had never happened, and if I wanted to quote or paraphrase anything Bourgeois said, I would have to use a circumlocution so vague as to make it impossible for any reader to realise that I had spoken to someone from the Office at all. Should I breach these conditions, Bourgeois made clear, I could expect instant outer darkness: the refusal of all future access. MI6, in other words, would maintain a priceless advantage, a quality regarded as essential in intelligence operations of many kinds - what spies call "plausible deniability". And if, heaven forfend, the service told me something that turned out to be mistaken, or even tried to plant sheer disinformation for who knows what purpose, there would be no comeback, no accountability. I could put up, or shut up.

At the time, I pushed my misgivings to the back of my mind, accepting Bourgeois's assurance that eventually MI6 would like to have an ordinary public press office like the Home Office or Department of Health. After all, as he pointed out, "the friends" across the Atlantic, the US Central Intelligence Agency, had long had such a bureau - an entire public affairs division - without apparent harm.
Fifteen years later, according to Rose, "every national paper and broadcasting outlet has one - and usually, only one - reporter to whom each agency will speak". And Rose, who is no longer part of the program, makes this confession:
To my everlasting regret, I strongly supported the Iraq invasion, in person and in print. I had become a recipient of what we now know to have been sheer disinformation about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction and his purported "links" with al-Qaeda - claims put out by Ahmad Chalabi and his Iraqi National Congress. I took these stories seriously because they were corroborated by "off-the-record" intelligence sources on both sides of the Atlantic...

More recent media briefings seem equally questionable.
Which brings us back to anthrax. Rose was one of two Observer reporters (the other was Ed Vulliamy) who first linked Iraq to the 2001 anthrax attacks. Here's their story from October 14 2001:
American investigators probing anthrax outbreaks in Florida and New York believe they have all the hallmarks of a terrorist attack - and have named Iraq as prime suspect as the source of the deadly spores.

Their inquiries are adding to what US hawks say is a growing mass of evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved, possibly indirectly, with the 11 September hijackers...

Leading US intelligence sources, involved with both the CIA and the Defence Department, told The Observer that the 'giveaway' which suggests a state sponsor for the anthrax cases is that the victims in Florida were afflicted with the airborne form of the disease....

In liquid form, anthrax is useless - droplets would fall to the ground, rather than staying suspended in the air to be breathed by victims. Making powder needs repeated washings in huge centrifuges, followed by intensive drying, which requires sealed environments. The technology would cost millions.

US intelligence believes Iraq has the technology and supplies of anthrax suitable for terrorist use. 'They aren't making this stuff in caves in Afghanistan,' the CIA source said. 'This is prima facie evidence of the involvement of a state intelligence agency. Maybe Iran has the capability. But it doesn't look likely politically. That leaves Iraq.'

Scientists investigating the attacks say the bacteria used is similar to the 'Ames strain' of anthrax originally cultivated at Iowa State University in the 1950s and later given to labs throughout the world, including Iraq.

According to sources in the Bush administration, investigators are talking to Egyptian authorities who say members of the al-Qaida network, detained and interrogated in Cairo, had obtained phials of anthrax in the Czech Republic.

Last autumn Mohamed Atta is said by US intelligence officials to have met in Prague an agent from Iraqi intelligence called Ahmed Samir al-Ahani, a former consul later expelled by the Czechs for activities not compatible with his diplomatic mission.

The Czechs are also examining the possibility that Atta met a former director of Saddam's external secret services, Farouk Hijazi, at a second meeting in the spring. Hijazi is known to have met Bin Laden.
Nearly all of that information turned out to be pure bullshit. But while there was a healthy air of skepticism running through the Observer piece, the editors of the Wall Street Journal went full bore the next day on their terrified US audience:
Several circumstantial links to Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda network are already known. Some of the World Trade Center hijackers, including suspected ringleader Mohamed Atta, visited an airfield near the site of the Boca Raton, Florida, anthrax mailings.

The anthrax package sent to a Microsoft office in Reno, Nevada, was mailed from Malaysia, another al Qaeda haunt. One of the September 11 hijackers, Khaled Almihdhar, visited Malaysia earlier this year, appearing in a surveillance tape with another suspected associate of bin Laden. The terrorist's followers also met in Kuala Lumpur, the Malaysian capital, in January 2000 as part of the plot to bomb the USS Cole in Yemen later the same year.

As for the package sent to NBC in New York, it was postmarked on September 18 from Trenton, New Jersey. That state, especially Jersey City, was the home of the first attempt to destroy the World Trade Center in 1993, a plot also linked to bin Laden associates.

More generally, as Dick Cheney said last Friday on PBS's "NewsHour with Jim Lehrer," "We know that [bin Laden] has over the years tried to acquire weapons of mass destruction, both biological and chemical weapons." Mr. Cheney added that the U.S. has obtained "copies of the manuals" that al Qaeda "actually used to train people" in how "to deploy and use these kinds of substances."

Which brings us to who might have supplied bin Laden's gang. The likeliest answer is some government... The leading supplier suspect has to be Iraq. Saddam Hussein used weapons-grade anthrax against his own Kurdish population with lousy results, before turning to more efficiently lethal chemical weapons. U.S. intelligence sources believe Saddam has stockpiled thousands of pounds of biological agents, including anthrax.
When the Saddam link failed to pan out, Ed Vulliamy (presumably relying on the same secret sources) wrote another Observer story fingering a new culprit:
Neo-Nazi extremists within the US are behind the deadly wave of anthrax attacks against America, according to latest briefings from the security services and Justice Department. Experts on "survivalist" groups and extreme-right "Aryan" militants have been drafted into the investigation as the focus shifts away from possible links with the September 11 terrorists or even possible state backers such as Iraq.

"We've been zeroing in on a number of hate groups, especially one on the West Coast," a source [said].
So is Ed Vulliamy still with the program? Probably not. After six years as UK foreign correspondent, Ed Vulliamy left the USA with evident feelings of bitterness:
It is incumbent upon journalists, I think, to distrust conspiracy theories. But the problem with the conspiracy theory of the machine that lifted George 'Dubya' Bush to high office is that it never lets you down; you wait for the trip wire, but walk on. This is hardly the place to recount my inspections of that mechanism but I did spend many weeks listening in Texas and days at the Securities and Exchange Commission sifting through box files, to become acquainted with its workings.

I wanted, just for instance, to find out which company bought Dresser Industries, once the world's biggest oil services company, of which Prescott Bush (Dubya's grandfather) was director and for which George Bush senior opened up the West Texas oil basin. It was Halliburton, recent beneficiary of a contract in Iraq, where Vice President Dick Cheney made his fortune after being Bush senior's Defence Secretary. And on it goes...

For nearly a decade a group of people exiled from power during the Clinton years had been making plans. Their names are now more or less well known: Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, James Woolsey, Douglas Feith. In a series of papers they devised a blueprint for unchallenged and unchallengeable American power, military and political, across the globe, with the Middle East and Iraq as fulcrum. All that was needed to realise that dream - said a document produced by one of their many think-tanks, the Project for the New American Century - was 'a new Pearl Harbour'...

This is no time to recount the drive to war in Iraq, the third turning of that gyre, except to say that all the authors of the 'Project for the New American Century' are now senior members of, or close advisers to, the Bush administration.

Chimp President Revealed As Rubber Suit

This story about the Bigfoot hoax really has all the ingredients you could wish to see, if you wanted to expose the corporate media nonsense we've seen over the past decade.

August 19, 2008


Writers accuse Random House of censorship:
"I started writing Jewel for the pleasure of presenting Aisha to the Western world," Jones wrote.

"I finished it and started its sequel with the hope that these books would become bridge-builders to other counties and increase understanding of Islam, as it was originally intended.

"Although I've been aware from the start that my books might offend some people, I've never been afraid of physical harm ... I've expected controversy, yes, but never terrorism.

"There are no sex scenes in this book. The novel is a work of serious historic fiction detailing the origins of Islam through the eyes of the Prophet Mohammed's youngest wife."

Coming Home

It feels a bit strange coming home to Bush Out after so long. Lots of cobwebs and old memories...

I notice that this background on Bush, the CIA and American Fascism is now the top-ranked post: I thought it was good at the time, but of course it got little attention way back in February 2004!

Also interesting to note that this little story has triggered a curious amount of aggressive comments feedback from the military. I wonder how many young soldiers and innocent Iraqi civilians have died under Lt Col Julian Alford's command?

August 18, 2008

Bye Bye Pervez

Another Bush ally bites the dust. Musharraf's resignation speech sounded a lot like Nixon's "when the president does it, it's not illegal" defence:
"Not a single charge in the impeachment can stand against me," he said.

"No charge can be proved against me because I never did anything for myself, it was all for Pakistan."
Cheney's concept of Executive Privilege has been globalized. And look who had a plane parked on the runway, waiting for Pervez to run across the tarmac - Bush's other fine friends, the Saudis. Well, who else will take him? Pervez has a multi-million-dollar residence just nearing completion on the outskirts of Islamabad, but may never be able to live there without rockets raining down from the main road across the fence.

UPDATE: Who knew that fleeing to Mecca was a traditional Muslim rite:
Officials from both the ruling coalition and the security services said that in the wake of his resignation Musharraf would travel to close ally Saudi Arabia in coming days to perform Muslim rites.

A senior coalition official told AFP that Musharraf would then head for London or Turkey, but his aides insisted he would return after his religious duties in the Gulf kingdom.

The party of Nawaz Sharif, who was ousted by Musharraf in 1999, has said that the former president should not be granted a safe exit but the leading group in the coalition, led by the widower of slain opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, has remained quiet.
Dear Benazir was always a great and loyal subject, your majesty.


Blog Archive