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The US-Iran sound bite showdown

May 20, 2008

By Pepe Escobar

They just can’t keep from going at each other’s throats.

Just in time for President George W Bush’s special guest appearance at the 60th anniversary of the founding of Israel, his ultimate nemesis, Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, unleashed another rhetorical shot across the bow as his own way of “celebrating” the anniversary.

And once again the substance of what Ahmadinejad actually said risks being lost in (mis)translation.

According to Agence France Presse (AFP), quoting the Fars news agency, Ahmadinejad, speaking in the Iranian northern province of Golestan in one of his popular provincial tours, said, “They [Israel] must know that the nations of the region hate this

counterfeit regime. And if there is the slightest chance, they will uproot this counterfeit regime.”

Reuters had a much more bellicose take. According to its translation, “They [Israel] should know that regional nations hate this fake and criminal regime and if the smallest and briefest chance is given to regional nations they will destroy it.”

It is hardly a secret that for a substantial majority of Arab populations in the Middle East – but not for their unrepresentative regimes – an Israel driven by Zionism should not have a place in the region. Thus Israel would qualify as a “counterfeit” regime that should be “uprooted”. But this does not mean that Arabs – or Persians – are in favor of the actual physical destruction of Israel.

The Associated Press’s (AP) version of the quote is even more apocalyptic. It reads: “The criminals assume that by holding celebrations … they can save the sinister Zionist regime from death and destruction.” The AP copy notes, “Ahmadinejad used an Arabic word, ismihlal, than can also be translated as destruction, death and collapse.” An Arabic expert contacted by Asia Times Online said ismihlal means basically “to break down in smaller parts”. That’s not exactly nuclear annihilation.

We are back to the situation of Ahmadinejad’s 2005 alleged threat to “wipe Israel off the map”. What he actually said then, quoting his personal icon, the leader of the Islamic revolution in 1979, ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, was that the “regime occupying Jerusalem should vanish from the pages of time”. Yes, this means regime change – as much as the Bush administration always wanted regime change in Tehran. It does not mean a call for a nuclear holocaust.

Now, the fact remains that the Reuters translation – distributed to countless newspapers all over the world – will inevitably be seized by the Bush administration and assorted armchair neo-conservative warriors as yet more evidence that Iran wants to “destroy” Israel – muscling up the case in Washington for a preemptive US attack on Iran.

This week, Philip Giraldi published a groundbreaking story on the American Conservative, according to which the US National Security Council (NSC) has agreed – in principle – on a cruise missile strike against an Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps Quds Force training camp near Tehran. This would be a sort of “warning” to the Iranian leadership. The only NSC member to urge for a delay was allegedly Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Giraldi carefully noted that Bush “will still have to give the order to launch after all preparations are made”. But the decision to attack seems to have been made.

Annihilation a-go-go
Juicy extras are inevitable when it comes to Ahmadinejad’s runaway tongue at ease in cozy provincial settings. What AFP translates as “the Zionist regime is on the verge of dying … throwing a birthday party for this regime is like having a birthday party for a dead person”, Reuters prefers to package as “the Zionist regime is dying. The criminals imagine that by holding celebrations … they can save the Zionist regime from death”.

But in this case it was up to APTN, the video arm of AP, to provide the meatier translation: “The criminals wrongly suppose that by holding celebrations, coming to the occupied lands of Palestine and supporting these criminals, they can save the resented Zionist regime from death, annihilation and from the claws of Palestinian fighters.”

This is as contextual as what Ahmadinejad had said a day before, in a press conference in Tehran. According to the Deutsche Presse Agentur, the German news agency, he said, “This terrorist and criminal state is backed by foreign powers, but this regime would soon be swept away by the Palestinians.” And he added, “As far as the regional countries are concerned, this regime does not exist.” This is better in terms of framing the anger expressed by Ahmadinejad – as well as the theocratic leadership in Tehran, and most of the Arab world for that matter – towards Israel as a direct consequence of Israel’s mistreatment of Palestinians.

It is interesting to note that for the Iranian press, the references to Israel were not even on the map. Press TV, for instance, went with the headline “Ahmadinejad: Tyranny falling from grace”, stressing other parts of the president’s speech, for instance when he said that “tyrannical powers have fallen from grace and the sound of their cracking bones can be heard”.

Whatever Ahmadinejad said, Bush, for his part, totally stuck to script. Even before his arrival in Jerusalem on Wednesday, Bush commented that “the message to Iran is that your desire to have a nuclear weapon, coupled with your statements about the destruction of our close ally, have made it abundantly clear to everybody that we have got to work together to stop you from having a nuclear weapon. To me the single-biggest threat to peace in the Middle East is the Iranian regime.” Once again, a call for regime change.

To add fuel to the fire, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal – in synch with Washington – started accusing Iran of backing a Hezbollah coup in Lebanon. That is predictable, considering that the Hariri clan in Beirut is a Saudi client. But nothing could be further from the truth. Last week, Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah was blunt: “Had we wanted a coup, they [government leaders] would have woken up to find themselves in jail, or [thrown) in the sea.”

Nasrallah was cunning enough to see it would be politically impossible for Hezbollah to control Beirut – even though they proved they could do it, on the ground with weapons, in less than 24 hours. Nasrallah also said last week, “If they told us to come and take over, we would say ‘no thank you’.”

There is no evidence the celebrity sound bite showdown will abate any time soon. Bush appears to want war – to bolster his “legacy”. Ahmadinejad, too, might want war to bolster his faltering administration. American and world public opinion can only hope the clock does not run out before a possibly upcoming changing of the guard in the White House.

Just as the rhetoric between Tehran and Washington was once again at red alert levels, former Democratic presidential candidate Senator John Edwards stepped into the ring to announce his endorsement of Democratic Senator Barack Obama in the US presidential race – sucking out the hate waves. “Walls” inside and outside the US may soon come tumbling down, as Edwards hinted in his speech. But the fact remains that the hardline faction in the Bush administration centered around Vice President Dick Cheney still has over five months to fulfill its agenda of regime change in Iran. And the danger is Ahmadinejad will do absolutely nothing to dissuade them.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. He may be reached at pepeasia@yahoo.com.

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They knew, but did nothing

March 8, 2008
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In this exclusive extract from his new book, Philip Shenon uncovers how the White House tried to hide the truth of its ineptitude leading up to the September 11 terrorist attacks. .

In the American summer of 2001, the nation’s news organisations, especially the television networks, were riveted by the story of one man. It wasn’t George Bush. And it certainly wasn’t Osama bin Laden.

It was the sordid tale of an otherwise obscure Democratic congressman from California, Gary Condit, who was implicated – falsely, it later appeared – in the disappearance of a 24-year-old government intern later found murdered. That summer, the names of the blow-dried congressman and the doe-eyed intern, Chandra Levy, were much better known to the American public than bin Laden’s.

Even reporters in Washington who covered intelligence issues acknowledged they were largely ignorant that summer that the CIA and other parts of the Government were warning of an almost certain terrorist attack. Probably, but not necessarily, overseas.

The warnings were going straight to President Bush each morning in his briefings by the CIA director, George Tenet, and in the presidential daily briefings. It would later be revealed by the 9/11 commission into the September 11 attacks that more than 40 presidential briefings presented to Bush from January 2001 through to September 10, 2001, included references to bin Laden.

And nearly identical intelligence landed each morning on the desks of about 300 other senior national security officials and members of Congress in the form of the senior executive intelligence brief, a newsletter on intelligence issues also prepared by the CIA.

The senior executive briefings contained much of the same information that was in the presidential briefings but were edited to remove material considered too sensitive for all but the President and his top aides to see. Often the differences between the two documents were minor, with only a sentence or two changed between them. Apart from the commission’s chief director, Philip Zelikow, the commission’s staff was never granted access to Bush’s briefings, except for the notorious August 2001 briefing that warned of the possibility of domestic al-Qaeda strikes involving hijackings. But they could read through the next best thing: the senior executive briefings.

During his 2003 investigations it was startling to Mike Hurley, the commission member in charge of investigating intelligence, and the other investigators on his team, just what had gone on in the spring and summer of 2001 – just how often and how aggressively the White House had been warned that something terrible was about to happen. Since nobody outside the Oval Office could know exactly what Tenet had told Bush during his morning intelligence briefings, the presidential and senior briefings were Tenet’s best defence to any claim that the CIA had not kept Bush and the rest of the Government well-informed about the threats. They offered a strong defence.

The team’s investigators began to match up the information in the senior briefings and they pulled together a timeline of the headlines just from the senior briefings in the northern spring and summer:

“Bin Ladin Planning Multiple Operations” (April 20)and “Bin Ladin Threats Are Real” (June 30)It was especially troubling for Hurley’s team to realise how many of the warnings were directed to the desk of one person: Condoleezza Rice, the National Security Adviser. Emails from the National Security Council’s counter-terrorism director, Richard Clarke, showed that he had bombarded Rice with messages about terrorist threats. He was trying to get her to focus on the intelligence she should have been reading each morning in the presidential and senior briefings

“Bin Ladin Public Profile May Presage Attack” (May 3)

“Terrorist Groups Said Co-operating on US Hostage Plot” (May 23)

“Bin Ladin’s Networks’ Plans Advancing” (May 26)

“Bin Ladin Attacks May Be Imminent”

(June 23)

“Bin Ladin and Associates Making Near-Term Threats” (June 25)

“Bin Ladin Planning High-Profile

Attacks” (June 30),

“Planning for Bin Ladin Attacks Continues, Despite Delays” (July 2)

Other parts of the Government did respond aggressively and appropriately to the threats, including the Pentagon and the State Department. On June 21, the US Central Command, which controls American military forces in the Persian Gulf, went to “delta” alert – its highest level – for American troops in six countries in the region. The American embassy in Yemen was closed for part of the summer; other embassies in the Middle East closed for shorter periods.

But what had Rice done at the NSC? If the NSC files were complete, the commission’s historian Warren Bass and the others could see, she had asked Clarke to conduct inter- agency meetings at the White House with domestic agencies, including the Federal Aviation Administration and the FBI, to keep them alert to the possibility of a domestic terrorist strike.

She had not attended the meetings herself. She had asked that the then attorney-general, John Ashcroft, receive a special briefing at the Justice Department about al-Qaeda threats. But she did not talk with Ashcroft herself in any sort of detail about the intelligence. Nor did she have any conversations of significance on the issue with the FBI director, Louis Freeh, nor with his temporary successor that summer, the acting director Tom Pickard.

There is no record to show that Rice made any special effort to discuss terrorist threats with Bush. The record suggested, instead, that it was not a matter of special interest to either of them that summer.

Bush seemed to acknowledge as much in an interview with Bob Woodward of The Washington Post that Bush almost certainly regretted later. In the interview in December 2001, only three months after the attacks, Bush said that “there was a significant difference in my attitude after September 11” about al-Qaeda and the threat it posed to the United States.

Before the attacks, he said: “I was not on point, but I knew he was a menace, and I knew he was a problem. I knew he was responsible, or we felt he was responsible, for the previous bombings that killed Americans. I was prepared to look at a plan that would be a thoughtful plan that would bring him to justice, and would have given the order to do that. I have no hesitancy about going after him. But I didn’t feel that sense of urgency, and my blood was not nearly as boiling.”

If anyone on the White House staff had responsibility for making Bush’s blood “boil” that summer about Osama bin Laden, it was Rice.

The members of Mike Hurley’s team were also alarmed by the revelations, week by week, month by month, of how close the commission’s chief director, Philip Zelikow, was to Rice and others at the White House. They learned early on about Zelikow’s work on the Bush transition team in 2000 and early 2001 and about how much antipathy there was between him and Richard Clarke. They They heard the stories about Zelikow’s role in developing the “pre-emptive war” strategy at the White House in 2002.

Zelikow’s friendships with Rice and others were a particular problem for Warren Bass, since Rice and Clarke were at the heart of his part of the investigation. It was clear to some members of team that they could not have an open discussion in front of Zelikow about Rice and her performance as National Security Adviser. They could not say openly, certainly not to Zelikow’s face, what many on the staff came to believe: that Rice’s performance in the spring and summer of 2001 amounted to incompetence, or something not far from it.

David Kay, the veteran American weapons inspector sent to Iraq by the Bush Administration in 2003 to search for weapons of mass destruction, passed word to the commission that he believed Rice was the “worst national security adviser” in the history of the job.

For Hurley’s team, there was a reverse problem with Clarke. It was easy to talk about Clarke in Zelikow’s presence, as long as the conversation centred on Clarke’s failings at the NSC and his purported dishonesty.

Long before Bass had seen Clarke’s files, Zelikow made it clear to the team’s investigators that Clarke should not be believed, that his testimony would be suspect.

He argued that Clarke was a braggart who would try to rewrite history to justify his errors and slander his enemies, Rice in particular. The commission had decided that in its private interviews with current and former government officials, witnesses would be placed under oath when there was a substantial reason to doubt their truthfulness. Zelikow argued that Clarke easily fell into that category; Clarke, he decreed, would need to be sworn in.

When he finally got his security clearance and was allowed into the reading room, Bass discovered he could make quick work of Rice’s emails and internal memos on the al-Qaeda threat in the spring and summer of 2001. That was because there was almost nothing to read, at least nothing that Rice had written herself.

Either she committed nothing to paper or email on the subject, which was possible since so much of her work was conducted face-to-face with Bush, or terrorist threats were simply not an issue that had interested her before September 11. Her speeches and public appearances in the months before the attacks suggested the latter.

Tipped off by an article in The Washington Post, the commission discovered the text of a speech that she had been scheduled to make on September 11, 2001 – the speech was canceled in the chaos following the attacks – in which Rice planned to address “the threats of today and the day after, not the world of yesterday”. The speech, which was intended to outline her broad vision on national security and to promote the Bush Administration’s plans for a missile defence system, included only a passing reference to terrorism and the threat of radical Islam. On the day that Osama bin Laden launched the most devastating attack on the United States since Pearl Harbour, bin Laden’s terrorist network was seen by Rice as only a secondary threat, barely worth mentioning.

But if Rice had left almost no paper trail on terrorism in 2001, Clarke’s files were everything that Bass could have hoped for. Clarke wrote down much of what he saw and heard at the White House, almost to the point of obsession when it came to al-Qaeda. Bass and his colleagues could see that Clarke had left a rich narrative of what had gone so wrong at the NSC in the months before September 11, albeit filtered through the writings of the very opinionated Clarke.

Repeatedly in 2001, Clarke had gone to Rice and others in the White House and pressed them to move, urgently, to respond to a flood of warnings about an upcoming and catastrophic terrorist attack by Osama bin Laden. The threat, Clarke was arguing, was as dire as anything that he or the CIA had ever seen.

He pushed for an early meeting in 2001 with Bush to brief him about bin Laden’s network and the “nearly existential” threat it represented to the United States. But Rice rebuffed Clarke. She allowed him to give a briefing to Bush on the issue of cyber terrorism, but not on bin Laden; she told Clarke the al-Qaeda briefing could wait until after the White House had put the finishing touches that summer on a broader campaign against bin Laden. She moved Clarke and his issues off centre stage – in part at the urging of Zelikow and the transition team.

Bass told colleagues that he gasped when he found a memo written by Clarke to Rice on September 4, 2001, exactly a week before the attacks, in which Clarke seemed to predict what was just about to happen. It was a memo that seemed to spill out all of Clarke’s frustration about how slowly the Bush White House had responded to the cascade of terrorist threats that summer. The note was terrifying in its prescience.

“Are we serious about dealing with the al-Qaeda threat?” he asked Rice. “Decision makers should imagine themselves on a future day when the CSG [Counterterrorism Security Group] has not succeeded in stopping al-Qaeda attacks and hundreds of Americans lay dead in several countries, including the US.

Bass’s colleagues said he knew instantly that the September 4 email was so sensitive – and potentially damaging, especially to Rice – that the White House would never voluntarily release a copy to the commission or allow him to take notes from the room if they came close to reproducing its language. Under a written agreement between the commission and the White House, notes could not “significantly reproduce” the wording of a classified document.

Bass decided he would have to try to memorise it in pieces, several sentences at a time, and then rush back to the commission to bat them out on a computer keyboard.

The day he discovered the document, Bass all but burst into the commission’s offices and rushed over to Hurley.

“Holy shit, chief,” Bass said excitedly. “You won’t believe what I found.”

He told Hurley that Clarke’s September 4 memo was a “document that grabs you by the throat, a document that you write when you’re at the end of your tether – or well past it”, as Clarke clearly was in the weeks before September 11. Hurley instantly understood the significance of what he was being told by Bass. The question for both men was whether Zelikow would allow them to share any of it with the public.

Months later, Bass could not take it any longer. He was going to quit, or least threaten to quit, and he was going to make it clear that Zelikow’s attempts at interference – his efforts to defend Rice and demean Clarke – were part of the reason why. He marched into the office of Dan Marcus, the general counsel, to announce his threat to leave the investigation.

“I cannot do this,” he declared to Marcus, who was already well aware of Bass’s unhappiness. “Zelikow is making me crazy.”

He was outraged by Zelikow and the White House; Bass felt the White House was trying to sabotage his work by its efforts to limit his ability to see certain documents from the NSC files and take useful notes from them. Marcus urged him to calm down: “Let’s talk this through.” But Bass made it clear to colleagues that he believed Zelikow was interfering in his work for reasons that were overtly political – intended to shield the White House, and Rice in particular, from the commission’s criticism. For every bit of evidence gathered by Bass and Hurley’s team to bolster Clarke’s allegation that the White House had ignored terrorist threats in 2001, Zelikow would find some reason to disparage it.

Marcus and Hurley managed to talk Bass out of resigning, although the threat lingered until the final weeks of the investigation.

On May 15, 2002, CBS network reported that a daily briefing presented to Bush a few weeks before the September 11 attacks warned him specifically about the threats of a domestic hijacking by al-Qaeda.

Instead of releasing the briefing or at least offering a detailed explanation of what was in the document, the White House chose to have Rice hold a news conference at the White House in which she raised as many questions about the briefing as she answered.

It would later become clear to many of the commission’s members and its staff that she had tried to mislead the White House press corps about the contents of the briefing.

She acknowledged that Bush had received a briefing about possible al-Qaeda hijackings, but she claimed that the brief offered “historical information” and “was not a warning – there was no specific time, place, or method”.

She failed to mention, as would later be clear, that the briefing focused entirely on the possibility that al-Qaeda intended to strike within the United States; it cited relatively recent FBI reports of possible terrorist surveillance of government buildings in New York.

Tom Kean, the commission’s chairman, could not deny the thrill of this. A former governor of New Jersey who had left politics to become president of Drew University in his home state, Kean took a seat in the reading room in the New Executive Office building where the commission was reviewing the White House’s most secret files.

Kean was handed a sheaf of presidential briefings from the Clinton and Bush administrations. Here in his hands were the documents that the White House had been so determined for so long to keep from him. Lee Hamilton liked to refer to the briefings as the “holy of holies” – the ultimate secret documents in the government – and Kean assumed that must be the case.

“I thought this would be the definitive secrets about al-Qaeda, about terrorist networks and all the other things that the President should act on,” he said. “I was going to find out the most important things that a president had learned.” He assumed they would contain “incredibly secretive, precise, and accurate information about anything under the sun.”

Each brief was only several pages long, so Kean could read through months of them in a stretch of a few hours.

And he found himself terrified by what he was reading, really terrified. Here were the digests of the most important secrets that were gathered by the CIA and the nation’s other spy agencies at a cost of tens of billions of dollars a year.

And there was almost nothing in them.

“They were garbage,” Kean said. “There really was nothing there – nothing, nothing.”

If students back at Drew turned in term papers this badly researched, “I would have given them an F,” he said.

Kean pointed that out to one of his White House minders who accompanied him to the reading room. “I’ve read all this,” he told the minder in astonishment. A lot of the information in the briefings and other supposedly top secret intelligence reports had already been revealed by the nation’s big news organisations. “I already knew this.”

“Oh, but you’re missing the point,” the minder replied. “Now you know it’s true.” It occurred to Kean that this might be the commission’s most frightening discovery of all: The emperors of espionage had no clothes. Perhaps the reason the White House had fought so hard to block the commission’s access to the briefings was that they revealed how ignorant the Government was of the threats it faced before September 11. Kean could understand their fear. Imagine the consequences if al-Qaeda and its terrorist allies knew how little the US really knew about them.

Commission member Jamie Gorelick, who, along with Zelikow, was given access to the larger universe of briefings, was more impressed by the documents than Kean had been. Or at least she was less unimpressed. She knew the Bush Administration was right to complain that much of the intelligence in the briefs in the months before September 11 was maddeningly non-specific about a possible date or place of an attack. Some of the intelligence in the briefs was “paltry”; sometimes the information contradicted itself from one day to the next, Gorelick said.

But she was astonished by the sheer volume of the warnings. Flood, cascade, tsunami, take your pick of metaphors. She could see that in the spring and summer of 2001, there was a consistent drum beat of warnings, day after day, that al-Qaeda was about to attack the United States or its allies. It was clear to Gorelick that the CIA had gone to Bush virtually every morning for months in 2001 to give him the message that the United States needed to be ready for a catastrophic terrorist strike, and from what she was reading, no one ruled out the possibility of a domestic attack.

“Something is being planned, something spectacular,” she said, summarising what the President had been told by George Tenet and what Bush should have read in the briefings. “We don’t know what it is, we don’t know where it is, but something is happening.”

She said CIA analysts were trying to tell Bush, as bluntly as they could, that the threat in those months was “the worst thing they’ve ever seen – an unprecedented threat,” worse than the threats before the millennium.

It seemed to Gorelick that Rice had “assumed away the hardest part of her job” as national security adviser – gathering the best intelligence available to the White House and helping the President decide how to respond to it. Whatever her job title, Rice seemed uninterested in actually advising him. Instead, she wanted to be his closest confidant – specifically on foreign policy – and to simply translate his words into action. Rice had wanted to be “the consigliere to the President”, Gorelick thought.

Domestic issues seemed to bore her. Her deputy, Stephen Hadley, had told the commission something remarkable in his private interview the month before: He and Rice had not seen themselves as responsible for co-ordinating the FBI and other domestic agencies about terrorism. But if they weren’t responsible, who was? There was no separate domestic security adviser in the White House. They had just demoted Clarke.

At the time of her May 2002 news conference, no reporter had a copy of the presidential briefing. CBS had broken the story of its existence but had few details of what was actually in the document. So the White House press corps would have to trust Rice’s description of what was in it.

She described it as a “warning briefing but an analytic report” about al-Qaeda threats and said that it contained “the most generalised kind of information – there was no time, there was no place, there was no method of attack” mentioned apart from a “very vague” concern about hijacking. “I want to reiterate,” she said. “It was not a warning.”

Asked if September 11 didn’t represent an intelligence failure by the Administration, she replied almost testily: “I don’t think anybody could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Centre, take another one and slam it into the Pentagon – that they would try to use an airplane as a missile.”

Rice’s news conference came eight months after the attacks. Yet she was suggesting that in all that time, no one had bothered to tell her that there were indeed several reports prepared within the CIA, the aviation administration, and elsewhere in the Government about the threat of planes as missiles.

Had no one told her in all those months that the Department of Defence had conducted drills for the possibility of a plane-as-missile attack on the Pentagon? Had she forgotten that when she and Bush attended the G8 summit in Italy in July 2001, the airspace was closed because of the threat of an aerial suicide attack by al-Qaeda?

Commission member Tim Roemer made it his goal to get the August 6 briefing made public and to prove once and for all that Rice and her White House colleagues had a concept of the truth about September 11 that was, at best, “flexible”. To Roemer, Rice had long ago passed the “threshold” between spin and dishonesty.

“She’d lost credibility with me,” he said. The question among the Democratic commissioners was whether anybody would be brave enough to go public to question Rice’s competence and her honesty.

Much as the staff felt beaten down by Zelikow, so did the other Democratic commissioners. By the end, they had given up the fight to document the more serious failures of Bush, Rice, and others in the Administration in the months before September. Zelikow would never have permitted it. Nor, they realised, would Kean and Hamilton. The Democrats hoped the public would read through the report and understand that September 11 did not have to happen – that if the Bush Administration had been more aggressive in dealing with the threats flooding into the White House from January 2001 through to September 10, 2001, the plot could have been foiled. The Clinton administration could not duck blame for having failed to stop bin Laden before 2001.

But what had happened in the White House in the first eight months of George Bush’s presidency had all but guaranteed that 19 young Arab men with little more than pocket knives, a few cans of mace, and a misunderstanding of the tenets of Islam could bring the US to its knees.

The Commission – The Uncensored History Of The 9/11 Investigation by Philip Shenon (Little, Brown, $35) is published on Monday.

The Gulf of Tonkin and the Strait of Hormuz

January 9, 2008

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By ROBERT FANTINA

As the U.S. government continues to demonstrate its inability to learn from history, an alarming report from the Strait of Hormuz was broadcast to the world on January 7. The Associated Press reported the following: “In what U.S. officials called a serious provocation, Iranian boats harassed and provoked three U.S. Navy ships in the strategic Strait of Hormuz, threatening to explode the American vessels.” These Iranian ships are believed to part of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s navy, the organization that the U.S. Congress officially decreed a ‘terrorist’ organization.

Those either old enough to remember, or cognizant enough to understand history, will immediately be reminded of the infamous ‘Gulf of Tonkin’ incident, reported on August 2, 1964. On that day, the U.S. destroyer Maddox, on an espionage mission in the Gulf of Tonkin off the Vietnam coast, reported being fired on by North Vietnamese torpedo patrol boats. In response the Maddox fired back, sinking one boat. Tensions in the area were already growing, and now the world watched and waited.

On August 4 of that same year, the Maddox and the C. Turner Joy, another destroyer, were again patrolling the Gulf of Tonkin. Instruments on the Maddox indicated that it was either attacked or was under attack, and both the Maddox and the C. Turner Joy began firing back, with assistance from U.S. air power.

It was less than 24 hours later when the captain concluded that there might not have been an attack; why the instruments indicated otherwise was not clearly explained. The pilot of a Crusader jet, James B. Stockdale, undertook a reconnaissance flight over the gulf that evening. He was asked if he saw any North Vietnamese attack vessels. Mr. Stockdale did not equivocate in his response. Said he: “Not a one. No boats, no wakes, no ricochets off boats, no boat impacts, no torpedo wakes–nothing but black sea and American firepower.”

Yet this non-event, either misinterpreted or fabricated altogether, was seen by an hysterical U.S. Congress, ever willing to protect America from its enemies, real or imagined, as aggression against the U.S. It also provided members of that august body with some additional ‘I’m-strong- on-Communism’ credentials, which were ever in demand from the end of World War II until the dawn of the world’s newest bugaboo, ‘terrorism.’ Congress quickly passed the so-called ‘Gulf of Tonkin Resolution,’ which empowered President Lyndon Johnson to take all measures he deemed necessary to repel aggression. While this was not the start of the Vietnam War, it represented the first major escalation that did not end for over a decade, and cost the lives of over 50,000 U.S. soldiers, and between 1,000,000 and 2,000,000 Vietnamese citizens. It caused havoc with the U.S. economy, brought near-revolution to American streets and campuses and drew hostility towards the U.S. from most of the world.

Today, an unidentified Pentagon official called this ‘incident’ in the Strait of Hormuz “a serious provocation.” Defense Department spokesman Bryan Whitman referred to it as a “serious incident.” Mr. Gordon Johndore, National Security Council spokesman said the United States urges the Iranians “to refrain from such provocative actions that could lead to a dangerous incident in the future.”

It must be remembered that it was just a month ago that the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) determined that Iran ceased its nuclear weapons program four years ago. As President Bush was busy rattling his saber, and apparently itching to start yet another war, the NIE took the wind out of his bloody sails. He huffed and puffed and said, inexplicably, that the NIE report proved that Iran was still a great threat to the U.S., but it seemed that no one took him too seriously. Now, however, we have an ‘incident.’ Obviously, we are told, like in the Gulf of Tonkin 44 years ago, the U.S. has been the victim of ‘aggression.’

It is, of course, unimportant to consider that Iran might understandably be a little trigger-happy when it sees U.S. naval vessels approaching. Just because Iran’s next-door neighbor was invaded by the U.S. without provocation, and now is in the midst of a deadly occupation, should not in any way justify Iran’s wariness. The fact that it was only a year ago that Mr. Bush sent a second aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf for no other reason than to intimidate Iran, and to participate in ‘war games’ (an oxymoron if ever there was one) in clear sight of one of the members of Mr. Bush’s ‘axis of evil,’ should simply be ignored by Iran. The fact that the U.S. has a long and violent history of invading countries that displease it in some way (perhaps they have a democratically elected government that does not bow and scrape to the occupant of the White House throne) should not alarm Iran. Mr. Bush and his spokesman have not said that they plan to invade Iran; they simply said no options are off the table.

One waits in anxious impatience to see how Congress will react. Surely the slowly-dwindling multitudes seeking the Republican and Democratic presidential nominations will race each other to the microphone to denounce Iranian aggression, thus shining their patriotic credentials. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), who last fall voted to name Iran’s Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization, can gloat and glow with jingoistic satisfaction that that organization has now proven her right and her critics wrong, at least in her own mind. Perhaps former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, stumbling along on the path if not towards the Republican nomination, at least in its general direction, will endorse whatever Mr. Bush proclaims; after all, Mr. Romney has stated that it is Mr. Bush who has kept America safe (save for one or two unfortunate incidents in September of 2001). Will former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who never tires of reminding the voters that he and he alone was mayor of New York on September 11 2001 (whatever that may be worth), now raise the specter of Iranian terrorism in the U.S?

One could sit back and laugh at the nonsense proclaimed by the men and women who seek to lead the United States if their actions were not so dangerous. In 1964 an incident not unlike the one that allegedly took place in the Strait of Hormuz on January 8 of this year caused Congress to officially embark on America’s most deadly imperial disaster. ‘Flawed intelligence,’ at best, and outright lies at worst paved the way for the current imperial mess which has the potential to dwarf America’s Vietnam catastrophe. And now, with a lame duck president seeking to salvage his disgraced reputation, one wonders if this reported incident from Iran will have the same effect as the non-incident in the Gulf of Tonkin 44 years ago.

Mr. Bush & Co. have never been particularly interested in facts. They have not had any desire to listen to opposing opinions. They have happily ignored the wishes of the U.S. citizens. They apparently have been very interested in enriching themselves and their cronies, and have focused their desire for riches on oil, at the expense of the blood of their own, and Iraq’s, citizens. They have used fear to get Congress to support their crimes. There is nothing to cause one to think things will be different now. Congress has proved its spinelessness over and over, and we all know that there is no reason for statesmanship when interesting, pander-to-the-fear-of-the-moment sound bytes are so much easier.

Whether or not this current situation leads Congress to justify an invasion of Iran, or other actions that will lead to an invasion, remains to be seen. But the U.S. has not learned from its own history, and another repeat of an unneeded and catastrophic war is not, unfortunately, unthinkable. That the president will not stop it is not surprising; that Congress will be complicit once again is unspeakable.

Robert Fantina is author of ‘Desertion and the American Soldier: 1776–2006.

Blowback From Moscow

November 30, 2007

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Our next president will likely face a Russia led by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, determined to stand up to a West that Russians believe played them for fools when they sought to be friends.

Americans who think Putin has never been anything but a KGB thug will reject accusations of any U.S. role in causing the ruination of relations between us.

Yet the hubris of Bill Clinton and George Bush I, and the Russophobia of those they brought with them into power, has been a primary cause of the ruptured relationship. And the folly of what they did is evident today, as Putin’s party, United Russia, rolls to triumph on a torrent of abuse and invective against the West.

Entering the campaign’s final week, Putin, addressing a rally of 5,000, ripped the Other Russia coalition led by chess champion Gary Kasparov as poodles of the United States, “who sponge off foreign embassies … and who count on the support of foreign resources and governments, and not of their own people.”

“Those who oppose us,” roared Putin, “don’t want our plans to be completed. They have completely different tasks and a completely different view of Russia. They need a weak, sick state, a disoriented, divided society, so that behind its back they can get up to their dirty deeds and profit at your and my expense.”

Putin is referring to the time of the “oligarchs” of the Yeltsin era, who looted Russia when its state assets were sold off at fire-sale prices.

Putin is also accusing his opponents of attempting to use the Western-devised tactics of mass street protests to bring down his government. “Now that they have learned some things from Western specialists and tried them in the neighboring republics, they are going to try them on our streets.”

Putin is talking here about the “color-coded” revolutions that the U.S. and NATO embassies, the National Endowment for Democracy, and allied foundations and front groups engineered in Ukraine and Georgia. Governments tilting toward Moscow were dumped over and pro-Western regimes installed – to bid for membership in NATO and the European Union.

Blowback is a term broadly used in espionage to describe the unintended consequences of covert operations. The revolution that brought the Ayatollah to power is said to be blowback for the U.S.-engineered coup to overthrow Mossadegh in 1953 and install the Shah.

The nationalism and anti-Americanism rife in Putin’s Russia is blowback for our contemptuous disregard of Russian sensibilities and our arrogant intrusions into Russia’s space. How did we lose a Russia that Ronald Reagan and Bush I had virtually converted into an ally?

We pushed NATO into Moscow’s face, bringing six ex-Warsaw Pact nations and three ex-Soviet republics – Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia – into our Cold War alliance and plotted to bring in Ukraine and Georgia.

We financed a pipeline from Baku through Georgia to the Black Sea to cut Russia out of the Caspian oil trade. After getting Moscow’s permission to use old Soviet bases in Central Asia to invade Afghanistan, we set about making the bases permanent. We pulled out of the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty over Moscow’s objection, then announced plans to plant ABM radars in the Czech Republic and anti-missile missiles in Poland.

Putin has now responded in kind, and who can blame him?

As we tried to cut him out of the Azerbaijan oil with a Black Sea pipeline, he is slashing subsidies on Ukraine’s oil and colluding with Germany on a Baltic Sea pipeline to cut Poland out of the oil trade with Western Europe.

As we moved our alliance and bases into his front and back yard, he has entered a quasi-alliance with China and four nations of Central Asia to expel U.S. military power from the region.

As we abandoned the ABM Treaty, the Duma, in November, voted 418 to 0 to suspend participation in the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty, which restricts the size of the Russian army west of the Urals.

If we recognize Kosovo as independent, at the expense of Serbia, Putin is now threatening to recognize South Ossetia and Abkhazia, the breakaway republics of Georgia and Transneistria, claimed by Moldova.

Where we backed the Orange Revolution in Ukraine and the Rose Revolution in Georgia, Russia backs its favorites in Kiev and supports street protests in Tbilisi against the pro-American regime of Mikhail Saakashvili, whom the United States now seems powerless to help.

It was not NATO that liberated Eastern Europe. Moscow did – by pulling out the Red Army after half a century. Why, then, did we think moving NATO into Eastern Europe was a surer guarantee of their continued independence than the goodwill of Russia?

Many among our foreign policy elite now talk of a Second Cold War. John McCain wants Russia kicked out of the G-8.

But do we not have enough enemies already that we should add the largest nation on earth?

November 30, 2007

Patrick J. Buchanan [send him mail] is co-founder and editor of The American Conservative. He is also the author of seven books, including Where the Right Went Wrong, and A Republic Not An Empire.

It’s the Oil

November 25, 2007

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by Jim Holt

Iraq is ‘unwinnable’, a ‘quagmire’, a ‘fiasco’: so goes the received opinion. But there is good reason to think that, from the Bush-Cheney perspective, it is none of these things. Indeed, the US may be ‘stuck’ precisely where Bush et al want it to be, which is why there is no ‘exit strategy’.

Iraq has 115 billion barrels of known oil reserves. That is more than five times the total in the United States. And, because of its long isolation, it is the least explored of the world’s oil-rich nations. A mere two thousand wells have been drilled across the entire country; in Texas alone there are a million. It has been estimated, by the Council on Foreign Relations, that Iraq may have a further 220 billion barrels of undiscovered oil; another study puts the figure at 300 billion. If these estimates are anywhere close to the mark, US forces are now sitting on one quarter of the world’s oil resources. The value of Iraqi oil, largely light crude with low production costs, would be of the order of $30 trillion at today’s prices. For purposes of comparison, the projected total cost of the US invasion/occupation is around $1 trillion.

Who will get Iraq’s oil? One of the Bush administration’s ‘benchmarks’ for the Iraqi government is the passage of a law to distribute oil revenues. The draft law that the US has written for the Iraqi congress would cede nearly all the oil to Western companies. The Iraq National Oil Company would retain control of 17 of Iraq’s 80 existing oilfields, leaving the rest – including all yet to be discovered oil – under foreign corporate control for 30 years. ‘The foreign companies would not have to invest their earnings in the Iraqi economy,’ the analyst Antonia Juhasz wrote in the New York Times in March, after the draft law was leaked. ‘They could even ride out Iraq’s current “instability” by signing contracts now, while the Iraqi government is at its weakest, and then wait at least two years before even setting foot in the country.’ As negotiations over the oil law stalled in September, the provincial government in Kurdistan simply signed a separate deal with the Dallas-based Hunt Oil Company, headed by a close political ally of President Bush.

How will the US maintain hegemony over Iraqi oil? By establishing permanent military bases in Iraq. Five self-sufficient ‘super-bases’ are in various stages of completion. All are well away from the urban areas where most casualties have occurred. There has been precious little reporting on these bases in the American press, whose dwindling corps of correspondents in Iraq cannot move around freely because of the dangerous conditions. (It takes a brave reporter to leave the Green Zone without a military escort.) In February last year, the Washington Post reporter Thomas Ricks described one such facility, the Balad Air Base, forty miles north of Baghdad. A piece of (well-fortified) American suburbia in the middle of the Iraqi desert, Balad has fast-food joints, a miniature golf course, a football field, a cinema and distinct neighbourhoods – among them, ‘KBR-land’, named after the Halliburton subsidiary that has done most of the construction work at the base. Although few of the 20,000 American troops stationed there have ever had any contact with an Iraqi, the runway at the base is one of the world’s busiest. ‘We are behind only Heathrow right now,’ an air force commander told Ricks.

The Defense Department was initially coy about these bases. In 2003, Donald Rumsfeld said: ‘I have never, that I can recall, heard the subject of a permanent base in Iraq discussed in any meeting.’ But this summer the Bush administration began to talk openly about stationing American troops in Iraq for years, even decades, to come. Several visitors to the White House have told the New York Times that the president himself has become fond of referring to the ‘Korea model’. When the House of Representatives voted to bar funding for ‘permanent bases’ in Iraq, the new term of choice became ‘enduring bases’, as if three or four decades wasn’t effectively an eternity.

But will the US be able to maintain an indefinite military presence in Iraq? It will plausibly claim a rationale to stay there for as long as civil conflict simmers, or until every groupuscule that conveniently brands itself as ‘al-Qaida’ is exterminated. The civil war may gradually lose intensity as Shias, Sunnis and Kurds withdraw into separate enclaves, reducing the surface area for sectarian friction, and as warlords consolidate local authority. De facto partition will be the result. But this partition can never become de jure. (An independent Kurdistan in the north might upset Turkey, an independent Shia region in the east might become a satellite of Iran, and an independent Sunni region in the west might harbour al-Qaida.) Presiding over this Balkanised Iraq will be a weak federal government in Baghdad, propped up and overseen by the Pentagon-scale US embassy that has just been constructed – a green zone within the Green Zone. As for the number of US troops permanently stationed in Iraq, the defence secretary, Robert Gates, told Congress at the end of September that ‘in his head’ he saw the long-term force as consisting of five combat brigades, a quarter of the current number, which, with support personnel, would mean 35,000 troops at the very minimum, probably accompanied by an equal number of mercenary contractors. (He may have been erring on the side of modesty, since the five super-bases can accommodate between ten and twenty thousand troops each.) These forces will occasionally leave their bases to tamp down civil skirmishes, at a declining cost in casualties. As a senior Bush administration official told the New York Times in June, the long-term bases ‘are all places we could fly in and out of without putting Americans on every street corner’. But their main day-to-day function will be to protect the oil infrastructure.

This is the ‘mess’ that Bush-Cheney is going to hand on to the next administration. What if that administration is a Democratic one? Will it dismantle the bases and withdraw US forces entirely? That seems unlikely, considering the many beneficiaries of the continued occupation of Iraq and the exploitation of its oil resources. The three principal Democratic candidates – Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards – have already hedged their bets, refusing to promise that, if elected, they would remove American forces from Iraq before 2013, the end of their first term.

Among the winners: oil-services companies like Halliburton; the oil companies themselves (the profits will be unimaginable, and even Democrats can be bought); US voters, who will be guaranteed price stability at the gas pump (which sometimes seems to be all they care about); Europe and Japan, which will both benefit from Western control of such a large part of the world’s oil reserves, and whose leaders will therefore wink at the permanent occupation; and, oddly enough, Osama bin Laden, who will never again have to worry about US troops profaning the holy places of Mecca and Medina, since the stability of the House of Saud will no longer be paramount among American concerns. Among the losers is Russia, which will no longer be able to lord its own energy resources over Europe. Another big loser is Opec, and especially Saudi Arabia, whose power to keep oil prices high by enforcing production quotas will be seriously compromised.

Then there is the case of Iran, which is more complicated. In the short term, Iran has done quite well out of the Iraq war. Iraq’s ruling Shia coalition is now dominated by a faction friendly to Tehran, and the US has willy-nilly armed and trained the most pro-Iranian elements in the Iraqi military. As for Iran’s nuclear programme, neither air strikes nor negotiations seem likely to derail it at the moment. But the Iranian regime is precarious. Unpopular mullahs hold onto power by financing internal security services and buying off elites with oil money, which accounts for 70 per cent of government revenues. If the price of oil were suddenly to drop to, say, $40 a barrel (from a current price just north of $80), the repressive regime in Tehran would lose its steady income. And that is an outcome the US could easily achieve by opening the Iraqi oil spigot for as long as necessary (perhaps taking down Venezuela’s oil-cocky Hugo Chávez into the bargain).

And think of the United States vis-à-vis China. As a consequence of our trade deficit, around a trillion dollars’ worth of US denominated debt (including $400 billion in US Treasury bonds) is held by China. This gives Beijing enormous leverage over Washington: by offloading big chunks of US debt, China could bring the American economy to its knees. China’s own economy is, according to official figures, expanding at something like 10 per cent a year. Even if the actual figure is closer to 4 or 5 per cent, as some believe, China’s increasing heft poses a threat to US interests. (One fact: China is acquiring new submarines five times faster than the US.) And the main constraint on China’s growth is its access to energy – which, with the US in control of the biggest share of world oil, would largely be at Washington’s sufferance. Thus is the Chinese threat neutralised.

Many people are still perplexed by exactly what moved Bush-Cheney to invade and occupy Iraq. In the 27 September issue of the New York Review of Books, Thomas Powers, one of the most astute watchers of the intelligence world, admitted to a degree of bafflement. ‘What’s particularly odd,’ he wrote, ‘is that there seems to be no sophisticated, professional, insiders’ version of the thinking that drove events.’ Alan Greenspan, in his just published memoir, is clearer on the matter. ‘I am saddened,’ he writes, ‘that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil.’

Was the strategy of invading Iraq to take control of its oil resources actually hammered out by Cheney’s 2001 energy task force? One can’t know for sure, since the deliberations of that task force, made up largely of oil and energy company executives, have been kept secret by the administration on the grounds of ‘executive privilege’. One can’t say for certain that oil supplied the prime motive. But the hypothesis is quite powerful when it comes to explaining what has actually happened in Iraq. The occupation may seem horribly botched on the face of it, but the Bush administration’s cavalier attitude towards ‘nation-building’ has all but ensured that Iraq will end up as an American protectorate for the next few decades – a necessary condition for the extraction of its oil wealth. If the US had managed to create a strong, democratic government in an Iraq effectively secured by its own army and police force, and had then departed, what would have stopped that government from taking control of its own oil, like every other regime in the Middle East? On the assumption that the Bush-Cheney strategy is oil-centred, the tactics – dissolving the army, de-Baathification, a final ‘surge’ that has hastened internal migration – could scarcely have been more effective. The costs – a few billion dollars a month plus a few dozen American fatalities (a figure which will probably diminish, and which is in any case comparable to the number of US motorcyclists killed because of repealed helmet laws) – are negligible compared to $30 trillion in oil wealth, assured American geopolitical supremacy and cheap gas for voters. In terms of realpolitik, the invasion of Iraq is not a fiasco; it is a resounding success.

Still, there is reason to be sceptical of the picture I have drawn: it implies that a secret and highly ambitious plan turned out just the way its devisers foresaw, and that almost never happens.

To Pick the Winning Team, You Have to Know Who The Players Are

November 10, 2007

by George Washington

http://georgewashington.blogspot.com/2007/11/911-roster.html
You have to know who the players are before you can pick the winning team, right?

So take a look at what the top military leaders, intelligence professionals, scientists, structural engineers, architects, members of Congress, 9/11 Commissioners, legal scholars, heroic first responders, family members of 9/11 victims and psychiatrists say before you make up your mind about who’s on the winning side of the 9/11 debate:

MILITARY LEADERS

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense under President Ronald Reagan (Col. Ronald D. Ray) said that the official story of 9/11 is “the dog that doesn’t hunt” (bio)

Director of the U.S. “Star Wars” space defense program in both Republican and Democratic administrations, who was a senior air force colonel who flew 101 combat missions (Col. Robert Bowman) stated that 9/11 was an inside job. He also said:

If our government had merely [done] nothing, and I say that as an old interceptor pilot—I know the drill, I know what it takes, I know how long it takes, I know what the procedures are, I know what they were, and I know what they’ve changed them to—if our government had merely done nothing, and allowed normal procedures to happen on that morning of 9/11, the Twin Towers would still be standing and thousands of dead Americans would still be alive. [T]hat is treason!

U.S. Army Air Defense Officer and NORAD Tac Director, decorated with the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star and the Soldiers Medal (Capt. Daniel Davis) stated:

“there is no way that an aircraft . . . would not be intercepted when they deviate from their flight plan, turn off their transponders, or stop communication with Air Traffic Control … Attempts to obscure facts by calling them a ‘conspiracy Theory’ does not change the truth. It seems, ‘Something is rotten in the State.’ “

President of the U.S. Air Force Accident Investigation Board, who also served as Pentagon Weapons Requirement Officer and as a member of the Pentagon’s Quadrennial Defense Review, and who was awarded Distinguished Flying Crosses for Heroism, four Air Medals, four Meritorious Service Medals, and nine Aerial Achievement Medals (Lt. Col. Jeff Latas) is a member of a group which doubts the government’s version of 9/11

U.S. General, Commanding General of U.S. European Command and Supreme Allied Commander Europe, decorated with the Bronze Star, Silver Star, and Purple Heart (General Wesley Clark) said “We’ve never finished the investigation of 9/11 and whether the administration actually misused the intelligence information it had. The evidence seems pretty clear to me. I’ve seen that for a long time.”

Air Force Colonel and key Pentagon official (Lt. Colonel Karen Kwiatkowski) finds various aspects of 9/11 suspicious

Lieutenant colonel, 24-year Air Force career, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at the Defense Language Institute (Lt. Colonel Steve Butler) said “Of course Bush knew about the impending attacks on America. He did nothing to warn the American people because he needed this war on terrorism.”

Two-Star general (Major General Albert Stubbelbine) questions the attack on the Pentagon

U.S. Air Force fighter pilot, former instructor at the USAF Fighter Weapons School and NATO’s Tactical Leadership Program, with a 20-year Air Force career (Lt. Colonel Guy S. Razer) said the following:

“I am 100% convinced that the attacks of September 11, 2001 were planned, organized, and committed by treasonous perpetrators that have infiltrated the highest levels of our government ….

Those of us in the military took an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic”. Just because we have retired does not make that oath invalid, so it is not just our responsibility, it is our duty to expose the real perpetrators of 9/11 and bring them to justice, no matter how hard it is, how long it takes, or how much we have to suffer to do it.

We owe it to those who have gone before us who executed that same oath, and who are doing the same thing in Iraq and Afghanistan right now. Those of us who joined the military and faithfully executed orders that were given us had to trust our leaders. The violation and abuse of that trust is not only heinous, but ultimately the most accurate definition of treason!”

U.S. Marine Corps lieutenant colonel, a fighter pilot with over 300 combat missions flown and a 21-year Marine Corps career (Lt. Colonel Shelton F. Lankford) believes that 9/11 was an inside job, and said:

“This isn’t about party, it isn’t about Bush Bashing. It’s about our country, our constitution, and our future. …

Your countrymen have been murdered and the more you delve into it the more it looks as though they were murdered by our government, who used it as an excuse to murder other people thousands of miles away.

If you ridicule others who have sincere doubts and who know factual information that directly contradicts the official report and who want explanations from those who hold the keys to our government, and have motive, means, and opportunity to pull off a 9/11, but you are too lazy or fearful, or … to check into the facts yourself, what does that make you? ….

Are you afraid that you will learn the truth and you can’t handle it? …”

U.S. Navy ‘Top Gun’ pilot (Commander Ralph Kolstad) who questions the official account of 9/11 and is calling for a new investigation, says “When one starts using his own mind, and not what one was told, there is very little to believe in the official story”.

The Group Director on matters of national security in the U.S. Government Accountability Office said that President Bush did not respond to unprecedented warnings of the 9/11 disaster and conducted a massive cover-up instead of accepting responsibility

Additionally, numerous military leaders from allied governments have questioned 9/11, such as:

Canadian Minister of Defense, the top military leader of Canada (Paul Hellyer)

Assistant German Defense Minister (Andreas Von Bulow)

Commander-in-chief of the Russian Navy (Anatoli Kornukov)

Chief of staff of the Russian armed forces (General Leonid Ivashov)

INTELLIGENCE PROFESSIONALS

A 27-year CIA veteran, who chaired National Intelligence Estimates and personally delivered intelligence briefings to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, their Vice Presidents, Secretaries of State, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and many other senior government officials (Raymond McGovern) said “I think at simplest terms, there’s a cover-up. The 9/11 Report is a joke”, and is open to the possibility that 9/11 was an inside job.

A 29-year CIA veteran, former National Intelligence Officer (NIO) and former Director of the CIA’s Office of Regional and Political Analysis (William Bill Christison) said “I now think there is persuasive evidence that the events of September did not unfold as the Bush administration and the 9/11 Commission would have us believe. … All three [buildings that were destroyed in the World Trade Center] were most probably destroyed by controlled demolition charges placed in the buildings before 9/11.” (and see this).

20-year Marine Corps infantry and intelligence officer, the second-ranking civilian in U.S. Marine Corps Intelligence, and former CIA clandestine services case officer (David Steele) stated that “9/11 was at a minimum allowed to happen as a pretext for war”, and it was probably an inside job (see Customer Review dated October 7, 2006).

A decorated 20-year CIA veteran, whose Pulitzer-Prize winning investigative reporter Seymour Hersh called “perhaps the best on-the-ground field officer in the Middle East”, and astounding career formed the script for the Academy Award winning motion picture Syriana (Robert Baer) said that“the evidence points at” 9/11 having had aspects of being an inside job .

The Division Chief of the CIA’s Office of Soviet Affairs, who served as Senior Analyst from 1966 – 1990. He also served as Professor of International Security at the National War College from 1986 – 2004 (Melvin Goodman) said “The final [9/11 Commission] report is ultimately a coverup.”

Professor of History and International Relations, University of Maryland. Former Executive Assistant to the Director of the National Security Agency. Former military attaché in China. 21-year career in U.S. Army Intelligence (Major John M. Newman, PhD, U.S. Army)
questions the government’s version of the events of 9/11.

The head of all U.S. intelligence, the Director of National Intelligence (Mike McConnel) said “9/11 should have and could have been prevented”

9/11 COMMISSIONERS

The 9/11 Commissioners knew that military officials lied to the Commission, and considered recommending criminal charges for such false statements, yet didn’t bother to tell the American people (free subscription required).

Indeed, the co-chairs of the Commission (Thomas Keane and Lee Hamilton) now admit that the Commission largely operated based upon political considerations.

9/11 Commission co-chair Lee Hamilton says “I don’t believe for a minute we got everything right”, that the Commission was set up to fail, that people should keep asking questions about 9/11, that the 9/11 debate should continue, and that the 9/11 Commission report was only “the first draft” of history.

9/11 Commissioner Bob Kerrey said that “There are ample reasons to suspect that there may be some alternative to what we outlined in our version . . . We didn’t have access . . . .”

9/11 Commissioner Timothy Roemer said “We were extremely frustrated with the false statements we were getting”

Former 9/11 Commissioner Max Cleland resigned from the Commission, stating: “It is a national scandal”; “This investigation is now compromised”; and “One of these days we will have to get the full story because the 9-11 issue is so important to America. But this White House wants to cover it up”.

The Senior Counsel to the 9/11 Commission (John Farmer) who led the 9/11 staff’s inquiry, said “I was shocked at how different the truth was from the way it was described …. The tapes told a radically different story from what had been told to us and the public for two years…. This is not spin. This is not true.”

SCIENTISTS

A prominent physicist with 33 years of service for the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, DC (Dr. David L. Griscom) said that the official theory for why the Twin Towers and world trade center building 7 collapsed “does not match the available facts” and supports the theory that the buildings were brought down by controlled demolition
A world-renowned scientist, recipient of the National Medal of Science, America’s highest honor for scientific achievement (Dr. Lynn Margulis) said:

I suggest that those of us aware and concerned demand that the glaringly erroneous official account of 9/11 be dismissed as a fraud and a new, thorough, and impartial investigation be undertaken.

The former head of the Fire Science Division of the government agency which claims that the World Trade Centers collapsed due to fire (the National Institute of Standards and Technology), who is a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering, with more than 25 years experience in fire research and its applications, and is a professor in the Department of Fire Protection Engineering at the University of Maryland (Dr. James Quintiere), called for an independent review of the World Trade Center Twin Tower collapse investigation. “I wish that there would be a peer review of this,” he said, referring to the NIST investigation. “I think all the records that NIST has assembled should be archived. I would really like to see someone else take a look at what they’ve done; both structurally and from a fire point of view. … I think the official conclusion that NIST arrived at is questionable.”
Former Director for Research, Director for Aeronautical Projects, and Flight Research Program Manager for NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center, who holds masters degrees in both physics and engineering (Dwain A. Deets) says:

The many visual images (massive structural members being hurled horizontally, huge pyroclastic clouds, etc.) leave no doubt in my mind explosives were involved [in the destruction of the World Trade Centers on 9/11].”

A prominent physicist, former U.S. professor of physics from a top university, and a former principal investigator for the U.S. Department of Energy, Division of Advanced Energy Projects (Dr. Steven E. Jones) stated that the world trade centers were brought down by controlled demolition

A U.S. physics professor who teaches at several universities (Dr. Crockett Grabbe) believes that the World Trade Centers were brought down by controlled demolition

An expert on demolition (Bent Lund) said that the trade centers were brought down with explosives (in Danish)

A Dutch demolition expert (Danny Jowenko) stated that WTC 7 was imploded

A safety engineer and accident analyst for the Finnish National Safety Technology Authority (Dr. Heikki Kurttila) stated regarding WTC 7 that “The great speed of the collapse and the low value of the resistance factor strongly suggest controlled demolition.”A 13-year professor of metallurgical engineering at a U.S. university, with a PhD in materials engineering, a former Congressional Office of Technology Assessment Senior Staff Member (Dr. Joel S. Hirschhorn), is calling for a new investigation of 9/11

A Danish professor of chemistry (Dr. Niels Harrit) said, in a mainstream Danish newspaper, “WTC7 collapsed exactly like a house of cards. If the fires or damage in one corner had played a decisive role, the building would have fallen in that direction. You don’t have to be a woodcutter to grasp this” (translated)

A former guidance systems engineer for Polaris and Trident missiles and professor emeritus, mathematics and computer science at a university concluded (Dr. Bruce R. Henry) that the Twin Towers “were brought down by planted explosives.”
A professor of mathematics (Gary Welz) said “The official explanation that I’ve heard doesn’t make sense because it doesn’t explain why I heard and felt an explosion before the South Tower fell and why the concrete was pulverized”

STRUCTURAL ENGINEERS AND ARCHITECTS
A prominent engineer with 55 years experience, in charge of the design of hundreds of major building projects including high rise offices, former member of the California Seismic Safety Commission and former member of the National Institute of Sciences Building Safety Council (Marx Ayres) believes that the World Trade Centers were brought down by controlled demolition (see also this)

Two professors of structural engineering at a prestigious Swiss university (Dr. Joerg Schneider and Dr. Hugo Bachmann) said that, on 9/11, World Trade Center 7 was brought down by controlled demolition (translation here)

Charles Pegelow, structural engineer, of Houston, Texas (and see this)

Dennis Kollar, structural engineer, of West Bend, Wisconsin

Doyle Winterton, structural engineer (retired)

Haluk Akol, Structural Engineer and architect (ret.)

William Rice, P.E., structural engineer, former professor of Vermont Technical College

An architect, member of the American Institute of Architects, who has been a practicing architect for 20 years and has been responsible for the production of construction documents for numerous steel-framed and fire-protected buildings for uses in many different areas, including education, civic, rapid transit and industrial use (Richard Gage) disputes the claim that fire and airplane damage brought down the World Trade Centers and believes there is strong evidence of controlled demolition (many other architects who question 9/11 are listed here)

LEGAL SCHOLARS

Former Federal Prosecutor, Office of Special Investigations, U.S. Department of Justice under Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan; former U.S. Army Intelligence officer, and currently a widely-sought media commentator on terrorism and intelligence services (John Loftus) questions the government’s version of 9/11.

Former Inspector General, U.S. Department of Transportation; former Professor of Aviation, Dept. of Aerospace Engineering and Aviation and Professor of Public Policy, Ohio State University (Mary Schiavo) questions the government’s version of 9/11.

Professor of International Law at the University of Illinois, Champaign; a leading practitioner and advocate of international law; responsible for drafting the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989, the American implementing legislation for the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention; served on the Board of Directors of Amnesty International (1988-1992), and represented Bosnia- Herzegovina at the World Court, with a Doctor of Law Magna Cum Laude as well as a Ph.D. in Political Science, both from Harvard University (Dr.
Francis Boyle) questions the government’s version of 9/11.

Former prosecutor in the Organized Crime and Racketeering Section of the U.S. Justice Department and a key member of Attorney General Bobby Kennedy’s anti-corruption task force; former assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois (J. Terrence “Terry” Brunner) questions the government’s version of 9/11.

Professor Emeritus, International Law, Professor of Politics and International Affairs, Princeton University; in 2001 served on the three-person UN Commission on Human Rights for the Palestine Territories, and previously, on the Independent International Commission on Kosovo (Richard Falk) questions the government’s version of 9/11.

Bessie Dutton Murray Distinguished Professor of Law Emeritus and Director, Center for Human Rights, University of Iowa; Fellow, World Academy of Art and Science. Honorary Editor, Board of Editors, American Journal of International Law (Burns H. Weston) questions the government’s version of 9/11.

Former president of the National Lawyers Guild (C. Peter Erlinder), who signed a petition calling for a real investigation into 9/11. And see petition.

Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at Troy University; associate General Counsel, National Association of Federal Agents; Retired Agent in Charge, Internal Affairs, U.S. Customs, responsible for the internal integrity and security for areas encompassing nine states and two foreign locations; former Federal Sky Marshall; 27-year U.S. Customs career (Mark Conrad) questions the government’s version of 9/11.

Professor of Law, University of Freiburg; former Minister of Justice of West Germany (Horst Ehmke) questions the government’s version of 9/11.

Director of Academic Programs, Institute for Policy and Economic Development, University of Texas, El Paso, specializing in executive branch secrecy policy, governmental abuse, and law and bureaucracy; former U.S. Army Signals Intelligence officer; author of several books on law and political theory (Dr. William G. Weaver) questions the government’s version of 9/11.

Famed trial attorney (Gerry Spence) questions the government’s version of 9/11.

Former Instructor of Criminal Trial Practice, Boalt Hall School of Law, University of California at Berkeley 11-year teaching career. Retired Chief Assistant Public Defender, Contra Costa County, California 31-year career (William Veale) said:

“When you grow up in the United States, there are some bedrock principles that require concerted effort to discard. One is the simplest: that our leaders are good and decent people whose efforts may occasionally warrant criticism but never because of malice or venality… But one grows up. … And with the lawyer’s training comes the reliance on evidence and the facts that persuade… After a lot of reading, thought, study, and commiseration, I have come to the conclusion that the attacks of 9/11 were, in their essence, an inside job perpetrated at the highest levels of the U S government.”

MEMBERS OF CONGRESS

Current U.S. Senator (Patrick Leahy) states “The two questions that the congress will not ask . . . is why did 9/11 happen on George Bush’s watch when he had clear warnings that it was going to happen? Why did they allow it to happen?”

Current Republican Congressman (Ron Paul) states that “we see the [9/11] investigations that have been done so far as more or less cover-up and no real explanation of what went on”

Current Democratic Congressman (Dennis Kucinich) hints that we aren’t being told the truth about 9/11

Former Democratic Senator (Mike Gravel) states that he supports a new 9/11 investigation and that we don’t know the truth about 9/11

Former U.S. Republican Congressman and senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, and who served six years as the Chairman of the Military Research and Development Subcommittee (Curt Weldon) has shown that the U.S. tracked hijackers before 9/11, is open to hearing information about explosives in the Twin Towers, and is open to the possibility that 9/11 was an inside job

FAMILY MEMBERS AND HEROIC FIRST RESPONDERS

A common criticism of those who question 9/11 is that they are being “disrespectful to the victims and their families”.

However, half of the victim’s families believe that 9/11 was an inside job (according to the head of the largest 9/11 family group, Bill Doyle) (and listen to this interview). Many family and friends of victims not only support the search for 9/11 truth, but they demand it (please ignore the partisan tone). See also this interview.

Indeed, it has now become so clear that the 9/11 Commission was a whitewash that the same 9/11 widows who called for the creation of the 9/11 Commission are now demanding a NEW investigation (see also this video).

And dying heroes, soon-to-be victims themselves, the first responders who worked tirelessly to save lives on and after 9/11, say that controlled demolition brought down the Twin Towers and that a real investigation is necessary.

PSYCHIATRISTS AND PSYCHOLOGISTS

Finally, those who attack people who question the government’s version of 9/11 as “crazy” may wish to review the list of mental health professionals who have concluded that the official version of 9/11 is false:

Psychiatrist Carol S. Wolman, MD

Psychiatrist E. Martin Schotz

Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University Medical Center, as well as Radiology, at Duke University Medical Center D. Lawrence Burk, Jr., MD

Board of Governors Distinguished Service Professor of Psychology and Associate Dean of the Graduate School at Ruters University Barry R. Komisaruk

Professor of Psychology at University of New Hampshire William Woodward

Professor of Psychology at University of Essex Philip Cozzolino

Professor of Psychology at Goddard College Catherine Lowther

Professor Emeritus of Psychology at California Institute of Integral Studies Ralph Metzner

Professor of Psychology at Rhodes University Mike Earl-Taylor

Retired Professor of Psychology at Oxford University Graham Harris

Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Nebraska and licensed Psychologist Ronald Feintech

Ph.D. Clinical Neuropsychologist Richard Welser

THOUSANDS OF OTHERS

The roster above is only a sample. There are too many Ph.D. scientists and engineers, architects, military and intelligence officials, politicians, legal scholars and other highly-credible people who question 9/11 — literally thousands — to list in one place. Here are a few additional people to consider:

The former director of the FBI (Louis Freeh) says there was a cover up by the 9/11 Commission

Former air traffic controller, who knows the flight corridor which the two planes which hit the Twin Towers flew “like the back of my hand” and who handled two actual hijackings (Robin Hordon) says that 9/11 could not have occurred as the government says, and that planes can be tracked on radar even when their transponders are turned off (also, listen to this interview)

Former Deputy Secretary for Intelligence and Warning under Nixon, Ford, and Carter (Morton Goulder), former former Deputy Director to the White House Task Force on Terrorism (Edward L. Peck), and former US Department of State Foreign Service Officer (J. Michael Springmann), as well as a who’s who of liberals and independents) jointly call for a new investigation into 9/11

Former FBI agent (Robert Wright) says “The FBI, rather than trying to prevent a terrorist attack, was merely gathering intelligence so they would know who to arrest when a terrorist attack occurred.”

Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg said that some of the claims concerning government involvement in 9/11 are credible, that “very serious questions have been raised about what they [U.S. government officials] knew beforehand and how much involvement there might have been”, that engineering 9/11 would not be humanly or psychologically beyond the scope of the current administration, and that there’s enough evidence to justify a new, “hard-hitting” investigation into 9/11 with subpoenas and testimony taken under oath

Former FBI translator, who the Department of Justice’s Inspector General and several senators have called extremely credible (free subscription required) (Sibel Edmonds), said “If they were to do real investigations we would see several significant high level criminal prosecutions in this country. And that is something that they are not going to let out. And, believe me; they will do everything to cover this up”. She also is leaning towards the conclusion that 9/11 was an inside job

Given the unbelievable strength and depth of the roster of people who question 9/11, now who do you think the winning team is?

If you are a reporter, news editor or publisher, and you do not cover the strength of the team questioning 9/11, then you are part of the cover-up and no longer a part of a free, democratic press.

Poisoning for profit: Book exposes US corporate cover-up of toxic pollution

November 2, 2007

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Part 1

By E. Galen
2 February 2004

http://www.wsws.org/articles/2004/feb2004/poll-f02.shtml

Deceit and Denial: The Deadly Politics of Industrial Pollution, by Gerald Markowitz and David Rosner, University of California Press

The 1999 film The Insider exposed the criminal methods of the tobacco industry. The tobacco industry moguls weren’t ignorant of the health risks of smoking. They weren’t misguided. The health risks of smoking had been well researched and documented—by the industry’s own scientists. Through suppression of information, cover-ups, lies and outright gangsterism, these industry heads sought to continue their conspiracy against the public.

Such methods are not the exception for corporate America, they are standard operating procedure. In Deceit and Denial, Gerald Markowitz and David Rosner examine in detail how the lead and plastics industries covered up and suppressed the truth about the dangers of poisoning by lead and vinyl chloride monomer (VCM), the base from which polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is produced. The book, well written and engrossing, lays bare the incompatibility between production for profit and public health.

Markowitz is a professor of history at John Jay College and the Graduate Center of City University of New York. Rosner is a professor of history and public health at Columbia University and director of the Center for the History and Ethics of Public Health at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health. The two previously collaborated on a 1994 book, Deadly Dust: Silicosis and the Politics of Occupational Disease in 20th Century America, and on other volumes on working conditions in industry.

The two authors had unique access to materials on the inner workings of the two industries they studied. Because of their expertise on occupational health, they were asked to review corporate records of the lead industry and the plastics industry by lawyers working on class action suits on behalf of child victims of lead poisoning and workers harmed by exposure to vinyl chloride in chemical plants. The result is a chronicle of corporate malfeasance, using internal memos, letters, minutes and other corporate and industry documents.

Lead and plastics are not peripheral industries, but played central roles in the expansion of the American economy, in the first and second half of the twentieth century, respectively. Lead was critical to every industry involved in building the infrastructure of modern cities and their suburbs, as well in agriculture and, above all, transportation (through leaded gasoline). Plastics, used in vinyl siding, flooring, tabletops, computers and thousands of other products, became pervasive in American life after World War Two.

Whitewashing a known poisonThe harmful effects of lead have been well known for over 100 years. In the early 1900s, Alice Hamilton, an occupational physician, published studies on the effects of lead in popular magazines and in medical journals such as the Journal of the American Medical Association. In 1910, she pointed out that “the study of the past thirty years has shown that lead enters the body through inhalation and swallowing, not through the skin.” Her 1913 report for the US Bureau of Labor Statistics asserted the danger of white lead in paint. White lead is the paint pigment usually made of lead carbonate. It was also known at that time that children’s health was especially at risk from lead poisoning.Outside the US, many countries investigated lead poisoning and recommended the substitution of non-lead pigments that were available. Countries that banned or restricted the use of white lead for paint included France, Belgium and Austria in 1909; Tunisia and Greece in 1922; Czechoslovakia in 1924; Great Britain, Sweden and Belgium in 1926; Poland in 1927; Spain and Yugoslavia in 1931; and Cuba in 1934.

Any restriction on the use of lead was a threat to a major American industry. By the late nineteenth century, the United States was the largest lead-producing country in the world, with mines in Minnesota, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Montana. The development of rail transportation meant lead could be shipped by train and barge to manufacturing plants in towns like Pittsburgh, Chicago and Buffalo, where it was refined into consumer goods.

During this period, millions of working class families moved into new single-family homes, where lead was used in pipes, solder for plumbing, appliances, and paint, as well as to seal canned food. The major lead companies, such as the largest, National Lead, owned everything from smelters to factories to paint companies.

As the authors point out, in 1906 National Lead began a 50-year campaign to promote white lead: “Beginning in 1906, with the introduction of the Dutch Boy Painter, the young boy in workman’s cap, clogs, and overalls with a paintbrush in his hand, as its advertising symbol, National Lead linked lead, whiteness, healthfulness, prosperity, and purity with its ‘pure white lead’ product.” Lead was advertised as healthful, pure and benign, with ads urging parents to use the paint for children’s rooms because it was bright, clean and “helps to guard your health.”

There soon came to be another use for lead. In the early 1920s, Ford dominated the auto industry with its Model A and Model T, cars that were nearly indestructible. General Motors (GM), on the verge of bankruptcy, decided to try to compete through a new marketing strategy. It offered more powerful cars whose styling and features changed annually. And with its interlocking directorate relationship with the DuPont Company and the petrochemical industry, GM looked for a fuel it could patent and profit from. Tetraethyl lead was developed by Thomas Midgley, Jr. in 1922 at the General Motors Research Laboratory in Dayton, Ohio, as an additive for gasoline. Ethyl became the brand name for leaded gas, and in 1924 GM and DuPont created the Ethyl Gasoline Corporation to produce and market it. By 1927, the race of changing styles and increasing power was on.

Scientists warned that the production of tetraethyl lead could seriously jeopardize public health. The response of the surgeon general at the time, H.S. Cummings, was to ask Pierre S. DuPont, GM’s board chairman, about the safety of Ethyl. In response, Thomas Midgley himself reassured Cummings that GM and DuPont were confident of Ethyl’s harmlessness.

Sanitizing scientific researchAs the authors demonstrate, industry repeatedly used a series of well-developed techniques to ward off criticisms of dangerous products and to increase their market among consumers. This included making sure that research supported company claims of safe products. In the case of tetraethyl lead, DuPont and GM paid for an investigation by the US Bureau of Mines at government facilities. The bureau had often done testing as a service to the mining and metal industries. The bureau agreed to GM’s demands: it did not allow its scientists to give out the usual progress reports, and it used the brand name Ethyl instead of “lead” even in internal correspondence because it was afraid of popular sentiment against lead.The agreement between the Bureau of Mines and GM, DuPont, and the Ethyl Gasoline Corporation in June 1924 gave GM control over the research reports, stipulating that “‘all manuscripts, before publication, will be submitted to the Company for comment, criticism, and approval (emphasis added).’”

As the bureau research on lead continued, 40 of the 49 workers at Standard Oil’s Bayway labs in Elizabeth, New Jersey, were severely poisoned. During five days in October 1924, five workers died and 35 others showed severe neurological symptoms of lead poisoning from what everyone at the plant called “insanity gas.” The poisoned workers were taken from the plant in straitjackets, hallucinating, convulsing and screaming.

Nonetheless, the industry set out to convince the public that lead was not a threat to the public health. Rather, poisonings by industrial products could be confined and perhaps solved within the factory. Industry defined the problem as an occupational health issue for the workforce, not a threat to the general public.

The day after the fifth worker died, the Bureau of Mines released its preliminary findings exonerating tetraethyl lead. The New York Times headlined the story, “No Peril to Public Seen in Ethyl Gas/Bureau of Mines Reports after Long Experiments with Motor Exhausts/More Deaths Unlikely.”

Dr. Emery Hayhurst, of the Ohio Department of Health, became a key figure in convincing the public lead was not a danger, writing an unsigned editorial in the American Journal of Public Health that lead was completely safe. The public knew him as a respected and independent industrial hygienist. What the public didn’t know was that at the same time he was advising labor organizations on industrial hygiene, he was working for the Ethyl Corporation as a consultant.

At the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Professor of Physiology Robert Kehoe promulgated a view that is heard commonly today about PCBs and other chemicals. Kehoe ran Kettering Laboratories, which was funded by Ethyl and the major auto producers and controlled the research on tetraethyl lead. It was normal, Kehoe stated, for certain amounts of lead to be in all human beings; it was a natural ingredient in the human environment; and people had natural mechanisms for eliminating it. To show this, Kehoe experimented on 16 of his employees, feeding them measured amounts of lead or subjecting them to lead fumes. The human experiments continued from 1937 until 1971.

Another big part of the Ethyl Corporation’s public relations campaign was to frame the discussion as one between those for progress and those against it. In a three-pronged argument, Ethyl claimed that leaded gasoline was essential to industrial progress and civilization, that along with innovation comes risks, and that the poisonings in the plants happened because the workers did not follow instructions and were careless. In addition, tetraethyl lead was “an apparent gift of God,” in the opinion of the first vice president of Ethyl.

Continuing technical advances were made in the auto industry, and the catalytic converter was invented in the late 1960s. The catalytic converter reduced pollution by converting carbon monoxide into carbon dioxide and water. Use of the catalytic converter created a rift between the auto industry and the Ethyl Corporation because it was incompatible with leaded gas.

By the 1970s, the known dangers of lead in gasoline had led to reduced use but not a ban. It wasn’t until the end of 1995 that the Clean Air Act and corresponding EPA regulations finally prohibited leaded gasoline as a motor vehicle fuel.

To be continued http://www.wsws.org/articles/2004/feb2004/poll-f02.shtml

See Also:
US: Report shows additional millions affected by lead poisoning
[24 July 2003]
US chemical pollution threatens child health and development
[6 October 2000]
Cancer and social life: Review of Living Downstream: An Ecologist Looks at Cancer and the Environment , by Sandra Steingraber
[13 May 1999]


Gallery of
Lead Pollution Promotions

The Democrats who enable Bush

October 9, 2007

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By HELEN THOMAS
HEARST NEWSPAPERS

WASHINGTON — President Bush has no better friends than the spineless Democratic congressional leadership and the party’s leading presidential candidates when it comes to his failing Iraq policy.

Those Democrats seem to have forgotten that the American people want U.S. troops out of Iraq, especially since Bush still cannot give a credible reason for attacking Iraq after nearly five years of war.

Last week at a debate in Hanover, N.H., the leading Democratic presidential candidates sang from the same songbook: Sens. Hillary Clinton of New York, and Barack Obama of Illinois and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards refused to promise to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq by 2013, at the end of the first term of their hypothetical presidencies. Can you believe it?

When the question was put to Clinton, she reverted to her usual cautious equivocation, saying: “It is very difficult to know what we’re going to be inheriting.”

Obama dodged, too: “I think it would be irresponsible” to say what he would do as president.

Edwards, on whom hopes were riding to show some independence, replied to the question: “I cannot make that commitment.”

They have left the voters little choice with those answers.

Some supporters were outraged at the obfuscation by the Democratic front-runners.

On the other hand, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, and Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., are more definitive in their calls for quick troop withdrawals.

But Biden wants to break up Iraq into three provinces along religious and ethnic lines. In other words, Balkanize Iraq.

To have major Democratic backing to stay the course in Iraq added up to good news for Bush.

Now comes a surprising Clinton fan.

President Bush told Bill Sammon — Washington Examiner correspondent and author of a new book titled “The Evangelical President” — that Clinton will beat Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination because she is a “formidable candidate” and better known.

Sammon says Bush revealed that he has been sending messages to Clinton to urge her to “maintain some political wiggle room in your campaign rhetoric about Iraq.”

The author said Bush contends that whoever inherits the White House will be faced with a potential vacuum in Iraq and “will begin to understand the need to continue to support the young democracy.”

Bush ought to know about campaign rhetoric. Remember how he ridiculed “nation building” in the 2000 presidential campaign? Now he claims he is trying to spread democracy throughout the Middle East.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is another Democratic leader who has empowered Bush’s war.

Pelosi removed a provision from the most recent war-funding bill that would have required Bush to seek the permission of Congress before launching any attack on Iran. Her spokesman gave the lame excuse that she didn’t like the wording of the provision. More likely, she bowed to political pressure.

Is it any wonder the Democrats are faring lower than the president in a Washington Post ABC approval poll? Bush came in at 33 percent and Congress at 29 percent.

Members of Congress seem to have forgotten their constitutional prerogative to declare war; World War II was the last time Congress formally declared war.

Presidents have found other ways to make end runs around the law, mainly by obtaining congressional authorization “to do whatever is necessary” in a crisis involving use of the military. That’s the way we got into the Vietnam and Iraq wars.

So what are the leading Democratic White House hopefuls offering? It seems nothing but more war. So where do the voters go who are sick of the Iraqi debacle?

Helen Thomas is a columnist for Hearst Newspapers. E-mail: helent@hearstdc.com. Copyright 2007 Hearst Newspapers. On Nov. 3 Thomas will be the guest speaker at the ACLU of Washington’s Bill of Rights Celebration Dinner; for details, contact aclu-wa.org.

The southern axis of evil

October 6, 2007

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By Pepe Escobar

“Hitler” did New York and was received like, well, the new Adolf Hitler. Then he flew south and was received like a revolutionary hero. Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad has seen the face of two radically different Americas. Call it a practical lesson in the new multipolar world order.

After the sparring at Columbia University and his speech at the United Nations, the Iranian president visited Bolivian President

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Evo Morales in La Paz and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in Merida. Both countries are rich in natural resources, against the George W Bush administration’s hegemonic designs, and supportive of the Iranian civilian nuclear program. As such, they are configured as Iran’s key strategic allies in South America. From the point of view of the Islamic Republic, this is regarded as nothing short than a key geopolitical victory.

Ahmadinejad arrived in La Paz on a Venezuelan government plane. Iran and Bolivia swiftly established diplomatic relations and immediately agreed on a five-year, US$1 billion industrial cooperation plan, plus a $100 million plan to boost technology and trade. According to the Bolivians, the Iranians are very much interested in exploiting lithium and uranium in South America.

Then Ahmadinejad flew to Venezuela for a new flurry of bilateral agreements on joint projects in both countries. The rhetoric was epic. Ahmadinejad greeted Chavez as “one of the greatest anti-imperialist fighters”. Chavez answered in kind: “An imperial spokesman tried to disrespect you, calling you a cruel little tyrant. You responded with the greatness of a revolutionary. We felt like you were our representative.”

Ahmadinejad and Chavez have already met six times, in both Iran and Venezuela. Their economic and energy deals – on oil refineries, petrochemicals, the auto industry – amount to $17 billion, and counting. Iranian diplomats were ecstatic. Chavez’ tacit support for the “peaceful use of nuclear energy” is considered “very important” – a counterpunch to the heavy pressure of the US and the European Union. The overwhelming majority of Latin American governments – including President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in Brazil, who has very good relations with the Bush administration – regard Iran’s nuclear program as a totally legitimate path to generate electricity.

Naturally the Iran/Venezuela strategic partnership was widely denounced by the medieval Bolivian landowning oligarchy – which strictly follows White House cue cards and swears Iran is a terrorist state that wants a nuclear bomb. And there is nothing like “revolutionary nations” getting together to make the US industrial/military complex go nuts – with the usual ensuing apocalyptic rhetoric of an imminent communist-style “back yard” cross-border invasion.

This is especially so when someone like Bolivian Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera regards Ahmadinejad’s visit as a “political project”. Morales’ and Linera’s MAS (Movimiento al Socialismo, the party in power) sees it as consolidating an anti-neo-liberal, anti-US-hegemony “alternative bloc”, even if Bolivia, Venezuela and Iran do not exactly share the same political ideology. What they do share is a lot of precious natural resources, between Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries members Iran and Venezuela, and Bolivia’s second-largest gas reserves in Latin America.

Rafael Correa in Ecuador, Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua and eternal US nemesis Fidel Castro of Cuba also qualify for the “alternative bloc”. On Sunday, Correa, a US-trained socialist economist, captured a huge victory at the polls, with a new, truly representative batch of parliamentary members expected to follow the current corrupt, right-wing-controlled House and perform as a true constituent assembly.

The big picture
One does not need to be the invaluable Immanuel Wallerstein, professor emeritus at Yale and director of the Fernand Braudel Center in New York, to read the writing on the wall. Wallerstein argues that the Bush administration’s endless-war ethos has not only exposed all the limits of US bombs-and-bullets power but has also laid bare to the world US political impotence.

This is the real talk of the town in western Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, Asia and Africa: US hegemony coming to an irreversible end, revealing, Wallerstein would say, “multiple poles of geopolitical power”. We are entering “a situation of structural crisis towards the construction of a new world system” – with no hegemonic power.

The multiple poles include the US, western Europe, Russia, China, Japan, India, South Africa, Iran, Brazil and the southern cone and, Wallerstein would add, “maybe South America as a regional bloc”.

South America already boasts a powerful regional economic bloc, Mercosur (Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay as full members; Venezuela to be ratified soon). Mercosur could eventually gobble up the Andean Pact nations as well (Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia). Internal tensions are rife – even if most are now under leftist/progressive governments. But every actor now knows the name of the game is to push toward true geopolitical autonomy.

On one side it’s possible to follow major steps toward regional integration – such as Brazil and Venezuela discussing the implementation of a gigantic southern gas pipeline. On the other side it’s possible to detect familiar seeds of discord – the US doing all it can to keep Colombia as a client state.

In a recent interview to Venezuelan/American lawyer and essayist Eva Golinger, US author Noam Chomsky very much put it all in perspective for those not familiar with the extraordinary egalitarian push now at work in South America:

For the first time since the Spanish invasion, the countries are beginning to face some of the internal problems in Latin America. One of the problems is just disintegration. The countries have very little relationship to one another. They typically were related to the outside imperial power, not to each other. You can even see it in the transportation systems.

But there is also internal disintegration, tremendous inequality, the worst in the world; small elites and huge [numbers of] massively impoverished people, and the elites were Europe-oriented or US-oriented later – that’s where their second homes were, that’s where their capital went to, that’s where their children went to school. They didn’t have anything to do with the population. The elites in Latin America had very little responsibility for the countries. And these two forms of disintegration are slowly being overcome.

So there is more, there is a pretty close correlation between wealth and whiteness all over the continent. It’s one of the reasons for the antagonism to Chavez, it’s because he doesn’t look white.

Now it’s conceded that there is a move to the left, but there are the good leftists and the bad leftists. The bad leftists are Chavez and Morales, maybe [Argentine President Nestor] Kirchner, maybe Correa in Ecuador – they haven’t decided yet, but those are the bad leftists. The good ones are Brazil, maybe Chile and so on. In order to maintain that picture, it’s been necessary to do some pretty careful control of historical facts. For example, when Lula the good leftist was re-elected, his first act was to go to Caracas, where he and Chavez built a joint bridge over the Orinoco … it wasn’t even reported here [in the US], because you can’t report things like that, it contradicts the party line – the good guys and the bad guys.

Well, it’s not about good guys and bad guys. Most of all it’s about the old, arrogant, corrupt, sub-imperialist order, and the desire for a more just, equitable, continentally integrated order. Iran has seen which way the wind is blowing – and it’s rather toward Caracas and La Paz than toward the bright lights, the big city.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007). He may be reached at pepeasia@yahoo.com.

Al Gore experts’ choices for the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize

October 6, 2007

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By John Acher

OSLO (Reuters) – Former Vice President Al Gore and other campaigners against climate change lead experts’ choices for the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, an award once reserved for statesmen, peacemakers and human rights activists.

If a campaigner against global warming carries off the high world accolade later this month, it will accentuate a shift to reward work outside traditional peacekeeping and reinforce the link between peace and the environment.

The winner, who will take $1.5 million in prize money, will be announced in the Norwegian capital on October 12 from a field of 181 nominees.

Gore, who has raised awareness with his book and Oscar-winning documentary “An Inconvenient Truth”, and Canadian Inuit activist Sheila Watt-Cloutier, who has shed light on how global warming affects Arctic peoples, were nominated to share the prize by two Norwegian parliamentarians.

“I think they are likely winners this year,” said Stein Toennesson, director of Oslo’s International Peace Research Institute (PRIO) and a long-time Nobel Peace Prize watcher.

“It will certainly be tempting to the (Nobel) committee to have two North Americans — one the activist that personifies the struggle against climate change, raising awareness, and the other who represents some of the victims of climate change.”

Jan Egeland, head of the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs, agreed the award committee could establish the link between peace and the environment.

“I think the whole issue of climate change and the environment will come at some point and reflect in the prize,” Egeland told reporters last week.

“There are already climate wars unfolding … And the worst area for that is the Sahel belt in Africa.”

There has been a shift to reward work away from the realm of conventional peacemaking and human rights work.

In 2004, Kenyan environmentalist Wangari Maathai won for her campaign to get women to plant trees across Africa. Last year’s prize went to Bangladeshi economist Muhammad Yunus and his Grameen Bank for their efforts to lift millions out of poverty through a system of tiny loans.

IN WITH A CHANCE

Toennesson said others with a chance included former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari, a perennial nominee for decades of peace mediation work, and dissident Vietnamese monk Thich Quang Do for his pro-democracy efforts.

His shortlist also includes Russian human rights lawyer Lidia Yusupova, who has fought for victims of war in Chechnya, and Rebiya Kadeer, an advocate for China’s Uighur minority.

The secretive five-member Norwegian Nobel Committee does not disclose the names of nominees, though some who make nominations go public with their candidates.

Toennesson said by giving the award to those fighting climate change, the committee would thrust itself into the public debate ahead of a key U.N. climate conference in Bali, Indonesia, in December.

If Gore is seen as too political, the committee could opt instead for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) — the scientists who advise the United Nations and produce key reports on the climate problem, Toennesson said.

To give it a face, the prize could be shared by the IPCC’s Indian chairman Rajendra Pachauri, experts said, though Pachauri told Reuters in London he did not think he stood a chance.

“I have a feeling it will go to Al Gore, and I think he deserves it. He certainly has done a remarkable job of creating awareness on the subject and has become a crusader,” he said.

Watt-Cloutier told Reuters she was flattered to be mentioned as a possible winner but did not expect to win.

Toennesson said Ahtisaari deserves the prize most for helping to bring peace to the Aceh region of Indonesia in 2005.

(Additional reporting by Alister Doyle)