"Ain't Gonna Study War No More"

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Right-To-Life Party, Christian, Anti-War, Pro-Life, Bible Fundamentalist, Egalitarian, Libertarian Left

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Incident on Haifa Street

Quotes of the Week: "When the Americans fire back, they don't hit the people who are attacking them, only the civilians," said Osama Ali, a 24-year-old Iraqi who witnessed the attack [in Baghdad]. "This is why Iraqis hate the Americans so much. This is why we love the mujahedeen." (DexIncident on Haifa Streetter Filkins, Raising the Pressure in Iraq, the New York Times, Sept. 14)

"The United States military seemed set to press ahead with more attacks in Falluja. In areas just outside the city, American forces spoke through loudspeakers and called for a local militant, Omar Hadeed, to ‘come out and fight,' witnesses said Monday." (Sabrina Tavernise, U.S. Attacks Rebel Base in Falluja; 20 Are Killed, the New York Times, Sept. 14)

"Every step of the way in Iraq there have been pessimists and hand-wringers who said it can't be done. And every step of the way, the Iraqi leadership and the Iraqi people have proven them wrong because they are determined to have a free and peaceful future. People said that there couldn't be a transitional administration law, and there was one that was adopted by the Iraqi people. People said that there couldn't be a transfer of sovereignty by June 30th -- and it happened even before June 30th. So every step of the way, the Iraqi people are proving the hand-wringers and the doubters wrong." (White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, Press Briefing, September 15.)

Incident on Haifa Street

Are there any statistics from Iraq in recent weeks which don't indicate trouble? Oil production, which Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz once swore would fund the reconstruction of a democratic Iraq, is now crippled and well below prewar levels, while attacks on oil pipelines and facilities have risen sharply; American deaths are on the rise (53 for just over half of September) as are the numbers of our wounded, as are attacks on American troops, which are now averaging more than 80 a day, "four times the number of one year ago and 25 percent higher than last spring"; while the strains on American Guard and Reserve units, being called up ever more frequently, grow greater by the week; Iraqi civilian casualties have soared in recent weeks; and on the rise are the killings of Iraqi policemen, targeted by the insurgency, but also of translators, cleaning women, clothes washers, carpenters, anyone in fact who works with the occupying forces; "no-go" areas for American troops have been increasing steadily as parts of Iraq simply blink off the American map; the kidnapping of foreigners has risen as evidently has the under-the-table payment of ransom demands; the number of car-bombings has gone up and they are being ever more carefully coordinated; estimates of the numbers of insurgents and their supporters have been rising rapidly; more mortar shells are being dropped on U.S. bases; desertions from and the infiltration of the Iraqi battalions the American military has been training are high and possibly on the rise; the sophistication and deadliness of guerrilla attacks is on the rise; the number of CIA agents in the country has risen; American air strikes on heavily populated neighborhoods of Iraqi cities are on the rise; the fighting is still spreading (as the battles around Tal Afar, near the Turkish border, indicated last week); more schoolchildren are dropping out of school at ever earlier ages to help support their families; more highways are too dangerous to drive; the number of countries supporting the "coalition" with even handfuls of troops has been falling as have the numbers of troops in allied contingents; the number of articles in leading American newspapers announcing that large swathes of Iraq have passed from American control is on a precipitous upward curve; the number of military experts ready to declare the war in Iraq in some fashion lost is also on a steep upward climb; while -- and nothing could be more devastating than this -- on advice from its new staff and ambassador in Baghdad, the Bush administration has gone back to Congress to switch $3.4 billion in Congressionally mandated reconstruction funds from two of the most important areas of daily life -- the generation of electricity and the purification of water supplies ("'Maku Karaba, Maku Amin' -- no electricity, no security -- is still the cry of Iraqis on the street") -- largely to "security"; that is, to the creation of Iraqi forces that will nominally fight under the banner of Iyad Allawi's regime but essentially under American command. (Does no one remember Richard Nixon's disastrous "Vietnamization" program?) The only number in this last month that seems not to have risen precipitously, but has remained doggedly at zero is the number of weapons of mass destruction (nuclear, biological or chemical) in Saddam Hussein's possession before the invasion began.

But let's turn from the large and statistical to a single incident that made the news repeatedly last week, an incident on Baghdad's Haifa Street, known locally as "Death Street" for the regular ambushes that take place there. The thoroughfare, part of a Sunni neighborhood in the capital that has been a hotbed of opposition to the Americans, lies across the Tigris river from, but only several hundred yards away from what's now being called the "International Zone" (as in neocolonial Shanghai) but is better known as the Green Zone, the highly fortified area where the U.S. embassy and the Allawi government have existed, until recently, in air-conditioned (relative) splendor.

On Saturday night, September 11, unknown guerrillas began pounding the Green Zone with mortars. The area had certainly been mortared before, but on a distinctly hit and run basis. This time, there was evidently far more mortaring and far less running. The initial September 13 New York Times report (Sabrina Tavernise, "Scores Are Dead After Violence Spreads in Iraq") commented that "rarely has the bombardment [there] been so persistent and intense." When the intermittent mortaring hadn't stopped by morning, the Americans sent out troops to locate the guerrillas and undoubtedly fell into a planned ambush, one aspect of changing tactics as the insurgency grows ever stronger. ("Militants," reports Kim Housego of the Associated Press, "now follow up roadside bomb attacks with a deluge of rocket-propelled grenades instead of fleeing, or fire off mortar rounds to lure soldiers out of their base and into freshly laid mine fields, [U.S.] military commanders say.")

Those troops, in turn, came under fire, or were attacked by a suicide car bomber or a car bomb, and Bradley Fighting Vehicles were then sent out to rescue them. One of the Bradley's was subsequently disabled on Haifa Street, possibly by a suicide car bomber or a car bomb, and its crew promptly came under fire. In the course of all this, six American soldiers were wounded, including two of the Bradley crewmen who were quickly rescued and evacuated leaving the wrecked vehicle behind. Later, a crowd gathered, including children; the black and yellow banner of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's Tawhid and Jihad terrorist group was brought out; members of the Arab media appeared to do TV reports; time passed -- three hours according to the BBC -- and then two American helicopters returned, made several passes over the vehicle with the black banner by now stuffed in the Bradley's gun barrel and the guerrilla fighters evidently long gone.

At that point, according to Patrick J. McDonnell of the Los Angeles Times, the helicopter pilots let loose a barrage of "seven rockets and 30 high-caliber machine-gun rounds onto a crowded Baghdad street," an action American officials later deemed "an appropriate response." The vehicle was pulverized and thirteen people, evidently mainly bystanders including a girl, died and many more were wounded. Most important, in terms of the attention the incident has received, Mazen Tomeizi, a Palestinian producer for the al Arabiya satellite network of Dubai was killed in the attack while on camera, his blood spattering the lens, and Seif Fouad, a Reuters cameraman, was wounded. The scene of Tomeizi dying, while crying out, "Seif, Seif! I'm going to die. I'm going to die," which briefly made prime-time news in the U.S., was shown over and over again on Arab networks, to local and regional outrage.

The American military promptly offered three explanations for the attack in crowded Baghdad: the helicopters were providing covering fire for withdrawing American troops; the Bradley had "sensitive equipment and weapons" that might be looted by "anti-Iraqi forces" ("The helicopters `fired upon the anti-Iraqi forces and the Bradley preventing the loss of sensitive equipment and weapons,' the [U.S.] statement said. ‘An unknown number of insurgents and Iraq civilians were wounded or killed in the incident'''); and that the helicopters took ground fire from the crowd as they passed overhead (though TV film of the incident indicates that no firing came from around the Bradley itself, at least in the moments before the attack, nor can the sound of gunfire be heard before the helicopters let loose their missiles).

The first of these explanations was withdrawn the next day. The second has been largely withdrawn since. The third -- that the helicopters were just returning fire -- stands along with a claim that, according to the LA Times' McDonnell, "it was unclear what caused the casualties -- volleys from the helicopters, explosions from ammunition in the Bradley or insurgent fire." The fog of war is, of course, a convenient hiding place for military officials in situations like this as, after a fashion, it was for military investigators of the acts seen in those photos at Abu Ghraib. There, as Mark Danner pointed out recently in the New York Review of Books, they spoke of "'misinterpretation/confusion incidents' (those committed by military intelligence soldiers, who, however, were ‘confused' about what was permitted at Abu Ghraib as a matter of policy)."

Self-defense based on ground fire was, in fact, the basis on which, according to Dexter Filkins of the New York Times, the commander of American forces in Baghdad, Maj. Gen. Peter Chiarelli would, by week's end, explain the deaths on Haifa Street. He took a rare step (for Americans in Iraq), addressing Arab and Western reporters in a conference room at "Camp Victory," the ill-named American military headquarters, on the incident ("We wanted to explain, particularly to the Iraqi people, that we do everything we can to eliminate collateral damage."), defending the military's acts ("The actions of our soldiers and pilots were well within their rights."), sympathizing with the families of the dead ("I grieve their losses and give my condolences to their families."), but not, of course, apologizing.

Among the unacceptable military explanations for the deaths on Haifa Street: Frustration, anger ("The Army said it was not the sight of the insurgent flag on the Bradley vehicle that triggered the helicopter strike."), or revenge (think: punishment) as in Falluja last April; and certainly not the fear of sending troops a few hundred yards from the Green Zone into a possible further ambush. Many Iraqis are naturally outraged that American helicopters missiled a crowd in downtown Baghdad, whatever the reason. (Imagine the same thing happening on, say, Connecticut Avenue in Washington or upper Broadway in New York.) But what are we to make of this? What does the incident on Haifa Street tell us about our situation in Iraq?

From no-go to free-fire zones

For the last weeks, there have been a number of front page stories in major papers about the way in which the insurgency in Iraq has altered. On Wednesday, for instance, Farnaz Fassihi and Greg Jaffe of the Wall Street Journal had a front page piece headlined "Rebel Attacks in Iraq Reveal New Cooperation" with passages like:

"Iraq's once highly fragmented insurgent groups are increasingly cooperating to attack U.S. and Iraqi government targets, and steadily gaining control of more areas of the country… 'The insurgents are no longer operating in isolated pockets of their own. They are well-connected and cooperating,' said Sabah Kadhim, a senior adviser to Iraq's Interior Ministry, which oversees the police and security around the country."

In the meantime, information about the first CIA National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq since the infamously cooked NIE of October 2002 -- this one initiated before former Director George Tenet left the Agency and perhaps a case of Tenet's revenge -- was leaked to Douglas Jehl of the New York Times. That paper then front-paged its gloomy scenarios. These ranged from the maintenance of a "tenuous," strife-torn country to outright civil war. ("A classified National Intelligence Estimate prepared for President Bush in late July spells out a dark assessment of prospects for Iraq, government officials said Wednesday.") But until the incident on Haifa Street, recent reporting had focused on the loss of Falluja or Ramadi or Samarra or Baquba or the way the "Sunni Triangle" was blinking off the American map of Iraq. What was remarkable about the incident on Haifa Street was that a part of Iraq only hundreds of yards from one of our most fortified strongpoints was blinking off as well -- so much so that when our commanders decided to take out a disabled vehicle or offer payback, they chose to do so from the air.

Though headlines about bombing runs over Falluja are increasingly commonplace, the use of air power is certainly one of the great missing stories in our ongoing war in Iraq. I've seen a single, modest AP piece by Robert Burns featuring the subject -- but no overviews at all; no strategic discussions of the subject even as our military comes to rely ever more on air power for attacking in urban Iraq; and certainly no legal or moral discussions of the programmatic bombing of heavily populated urban areas. Nothing.

In our ability to let loose destructive power at great distances and by air, the United States military is undoubtedly unparalleled as a power today. And yet here's the counterintuitive way you have to think about American airpower in Iraq: Watch where the bombs and missiles are falling -- starting with Falluja and ending up on Haifa Street -- and you can map almost exactly where American power is blinking off. The use of air power, in other words, is a sign of American weakness. Its use maps our inability to control Iraq. To the extent that you can monitor our air power, you'll know much about what's going badly in that country, in part because the resort to air power in a guerrilla war means the surefire alienation of the contested population. It means that you've given up on "hearts and minds," to use a classic Vietnam-era phrase, and turned to the punitive destruction of bodies and souls.

Air power -- as in Vietnam -- is a harder story to cover than ground fighting. The planes take off; the reporters don't follow. And yet, for any reporter looking for a good story, there's a great -- if horrific -- one here, one with deep history in Iraq. After all, when the Brits found they couldn't control the country in the 1920s, they pioneered the use of air power as a weapon of bloody punishment and retribution in the resistant villages of Iraq.

(There is, by the way, another intertwined missing story here: that of Western reporters in Baghdad and what they can actually report -- which seems to be next to nothing. If you listen to the New York Times' John Burns and other American reporters taking up their nighttime jobs as pundits on shows like Nightline or Charlie Rose, they sometimes do discuss, at least in passing, the extreme limitations on their ability to report in person on any story from Iraq. But have you seen a single piece in any American paper on a day in the life of a reporter in Baghdad? I think not, although for many western reporters it is clearly now increasingly perilous simply to leave one's fortified post or hotel to report within the confines of Baghdad itself, no less travel anywhere in the country.

If anything, parts of Iraq began blinking off the map of American reportage long before they disappeared from the military map of the country. Now our reporters, unless embedded with American forces, are largely trapped in restricted parts of Baghdad, waiting for the war to come to the Green Zone. Most of the major papers have hired Iraqi reporters to help them out, but don't imagine for a second that what you're reading is simply the news from Iraq. Note, for instance, that when the helicopters struck in Haifa Street, only several hundred yards from the Green Zone, Arab television was there but, as far as I could see, not CNN or the networks. The reasons for all this are quite understandable. Iraq is now a desperately perilous place for unarmed, or even armed, westerners. I won't be surprised when the first American news organizations, like the last of the relief organizations, simply decide to pull out. What's far less understandable is that the conditions for reporting in Iraq, for our "news" on Iraq, go largely unreported.)

In the meantime, as the incident in Haifa Street indicated, Iraq is blinking off the map of Iyad Allawi's government as well. Unlike Hamid Karzai ("the mayor of Kabul") in Afghanistan, Allawi turns out not even to be the mayor of Baghdad. The vast Shiite slum of Sadr City in the capital, with two million residents, has long been a near no-go area for American or allied Iraqi troops. But what the incident on Haifa Street made clearer is that a neighborhood only the equivalent of three football fields from one of the most fortified spots in Iraq has also slipped from American -- and Allawi – control, and so has become a target for air power.

Perhaps the week's most remarkable story appeared in the conservative British Financial Times which in its editorial pages only the week before had called for some kind of staged withdrawal of American and British forces from Iraq. In a September 15 piece headlined, "Green Zone is ‘no longer totally secure,'" James Drummond and Steve Negus reported that:

"US military officers in Baghdad have warned they cannot guarantee the security of the perimeter around the Green Zone, the headquarters of the Iraqi government and home to the US and British embassies, according to security company employees. At a briefing earlier this month, a high-ranking US officer in charge of the zone's perimeter said he had insufficient soldiers to prevent intruders penetrating the compound's defences.

"The US major said it was possible weapons or explosives had already been stashed in the zone, and warned people to move in pairs for their own safety. The Green Zone, in Baghdad's centre, is one of the most fortified US installations in Iraq. Until now, militants have not been able to penetrate it."

This is a remarkable development actually, far worse than anyone is yet saying, and our response is to loose air power on the situation. We still generally claim, of course, that our strikes whether in Falluja or on Haifa Street, like the Israeli targeted assassinations in Gaza and the West Bank on which they were originally patterned, are "surgical," "targeted," "precise," and carefully planned to avoid "collateral damage." But reports from hospitals in Falluja and elsewhere indicate that, as is hardly surprising when you bomb heavily populated civilian areas, this is at best a fantasy of military planners. In fact, we already seem to be in a process -- familiar enough from our Vietnam experience -- by which "no-go" areas will slowly be transformed into "free fire zones."

Just this Sunday, a New York Times front-page piece by Dexter Filkins (U.S. Plans Year-End Drive To Take Iraqi Rebel Areas) reports that, according to an unnamed senior American commander, "the military intend[s] to take back Falluja and other rebel areas by year's end" -- after, that is, the November elections in the U.S. but before the scheduled Iraqi ones.

Here, then, is a vision of Iraq's future (and ours) not to be found in the latest National Intelligence Estimate: Barring some spectacular negotiated deal, we "take," which would mean "flatten," Fallujah. (For comparison, just consider what happened to the old city of Najaf, blocks of which are now in rubble after a couple of weeks of fighting which ended dramatically with a 2,000 pound bomb being dropped on a hotel near the holy shrine of the Imam Ali.) Imagine further whole swaths of urban Iraq being turned into free-fire zones and transformed into rubble -- and an ever larger insurgency.

It is in this context that our President now rejects the CIA's July National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq and speaks of continuing "progress" in that country. It is in this context that his press spokesman decries "handwringers" and "pessimists." It is in this context that he and his vice-president continue to shellac another layer of fantasy onto what Jonathan Schell in his most recent column in the Nation (Organizing Amnesia) calls the "delusions that have been laid down now, layer after layer, for more than fifty years." In much of this, from early reporting on Saddam's weapons of mass destruction through our vaunted "transfer of sovereignty" to the Allawi interim government, our media and the whole pundit class has been conjoined with the administration in delusional activities.

But those Iraqi insurgents threatening to make their way into the Green Zone also threaten to make their way into George Bush's fantasy Iraq (as the Vietnamese once fought their way into another President's fantasy of battlefield and political "progress"). Parts of Iraq are already blinking off the President's map. The only question is whether he can hold his fantasyland together through November 2. On this, his opponent has been of great aid and comfort.

Tom Paine

No Stars, Just Cuffs

In World Wars I and II, gold star mothers were the queens of their neighborhoods, the stars in their windows ensuring that they would be treated with great respect for their sacrifice in sending sons overseas to fight and die against the Germans and Japanese.

Instead of a gold star, Sue Niederer, 55, of Hopewell, N.J., got handcuffed, arrested and charged with a crime for daring to challenge the Bush policy in Iraq, where her son, Army First Lt. Seth Dvorin, 24, died in February while attempting to disarm a bomb.

She came to a Laura Bush rally last week at a firehouse in Hamilton, N.J., wearing a T-shirt that blazed with her agony and anger: "President Bush You Killed My Son."

Mrs. Niederer tried to shout while the first lady was delivering her standard ode to her husband's efforts to fight terrorism. She wanted to know why the Bush twins weren't serving in Iraq "if it's such a justified war," as she put it afterward. The Record of Hackensack, N.J., reported that the mother of the dead soldier was boxed in by Bush supporters yelling "Four more years!" and wielding "Bush/Cheney" signs. Though she eventually left voluntarily, she was charged with trespassing while talking to reporters.

The moment was emblematic of how far the Bushies will go to squelch any voice that presents a view of Iraq that's different from the sunny party line, which they continue to dish out despite a torrent of alarming evidence to the contrary.

Aside from moms who are handcuffed at Bush events and the Jersey 9/11 moms who are supporting John Kerry after growing disillusioned with White House attempts to suppress the 9/11 investigation, the president is doing very well with women. The so-called security moms, who have replaced soccer moms as a desirable demographic, are now flocking to Mr. Bush over Mr. Kerry, believing he can better protect their kids from scary terrorists.

In the new Times poll, 48 percent of women supported the president, compared with Mr. Kerry's 43 percent - a reversal from July, when Mr. Kerry had the women's vote 52 to 40 percent. This is an ominous sign for the Democrat, who lost his gender gap advantage after his listless summer and the G.O.P.'s convention swagger.

How did the president who has caused so much insecurity in the world become the hero of security moms? He was, after all, in charge when Al Qaeda struck, and he was the one to send off Mrs. Niederer's son and other kids to die in a war sold on a false premise. And that conflict has, despite what Mr. Bush claims, spurred more acts of terror and been a recruiting bonanza for Osama bin Laden.

In the Times poll, half of all registered voters said they had a lot of confidence in Mr. Bush's ability to protect the nation from another terrorist attack, compared with 26 percent who felt that way about Mr. Kerry.

While Mr. Bush managed to duck service in Vietnam and let Osama get away, he has been relentless in John Wayning the election and turning war hero John Kerry into a sniveling wimp.

Last week, Mr. Kerry finally tried to change the subject from Mr. Bush's mockery of Mr. Kerry's tortuous stances on Iraq to the awful reality of what's happening in Iraq.

He got an assist from the president's own intelligence community, which issued a gloomy report that gave the lie to the administration's continued insistence that Iraq is a desert flower of democracy.

This was followed by a report by Charles A. Duelfer, the top American weapons inspector in Iraq, that found no evidence that Iraq had begun any large-scale program for weapons production by the time of the American invasion last year. To rationalize its idée fixe on Iraq, the administration squandered 15 months, with 1,200 people - at a time when our scarce supply of Arabic experts should have been focused on the Iraqi insurgency and Al Qaeda - just to figure out that Saddam would have loved to have dangerous weapons if he could have, but he couldn't, so he didn't.

Even with the help of his new Clintonistas, Mr. Kerry is nibbling around the edges of the moral case against W(rong) and Dark Cheney. He charged that the president was living in "a fantasy world of spin" on Iraq.

But the Bushies are way beyond spin, which is a staple of politics. These guys are about turning the world upside down, and saying it's right side up. And that should really give security moms the jitters.


Friendly Fire: Code named Operation Northwoods

Book: U.S. Military Drafted Plans to Terrorize U.S. Cities to Provoke War With Cuba

In the early 1960s, America's top military leaders reportedly drafted plans to kill innocent people and commit acts of terrorism in U.S. cities to create public support for a war against Cuba.

Code named Operation Northwoods, the plans reportedly included the possible assassination of Cuban émigrés, sinking boats of Cuban refugees on the high seas, hijacking planes, blowing up a U.S. ship, and even orchestrating violent terrorism in U.S. cities.
The plans were developed as ways to trick the American public and the international community into supporting a war to oust Cuba's then new leader, communist Fidel Castro.

America's top military brass even contemplated causing U.S. military casualties, writing: "We could blow up a U.S. ship in Guantanamo Bay and blame Cuba," and, "casualty lists in U.S. newspapers would cause a helpful wave of national indignation."

Details of the plans are described in Body of Secrets (Doubleday), a new book by investigative reporter James Bamford about the history of America's largest spy agency, the National Security Agency. However, the plans were not connected to the agency, he notes.

The plans had the written approval of all of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and were presented to President Kennedy's defense secretary, Robert McNamara, in March 1962. But they apparently were rejected by the civilian leadership and have gone undisclosed for nearly 40 years.

"These were Joint Chiefs of Staff documents. The reason these were held secret for so long is the Joint Chiefs never wanted to give these up because they were so embarrassing," Bamford told ABCNEWS.com.

"The whole point of a democracy is to have leaders responding to the public will, and here this is the complete reverse, the military trying to trick the American people into a war that they want but that nobody else wants."

Gunning for War

The documents show "the Joint Chiefs of Staff drew up and approved plans for what may be the most corrupt plan ever created by the U.S. government," writes Bamford.

The Joint Chiefs even proposed using the potential death of astronaut John Glenn during the first attempt to put an American into orbit as a false pretext for war with Cuba, the documents show.

Should the rocket explode and kill Glenn, they wrote, "the objective is to provide irrevocable proof … that the fault lies with the Communists et all Cuba [sic]."

The plans were motivated by an intense desire among senior military leaders to depose Castro, who seized power in 1959 to become the first communist leader in the Western Hemisphere — only 90 miles from U.S. shores.

The earlier CIA-backed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba by Cuban exiles had been a disastrous failure, in which the military was not allowed to provide firepower.The military leaders now wanted a shot at it.

"The whole thing was so bizarre," says Bamford, noting public and international support would be needed for an invasion, but apparently neither the American public, nor the Cuban public, wanted to see U.S. troops deployed to drive out Castro.

Reflecting this, the U.S. plan called for establishing prolonged military — not democratic — control over the island nation after the invasion.

"That's what we're supposed to be freeing them from," Bamford says. "The only way we would have succeeded is by doing exactly what the Russians were doing all over the world, by imposing a government by tyranny, basically what we were accusing Castro himself of doing."

'Over the Edge'

The Joint Chiefs at the time were headed by Eisenhower appointee Army Gen. Lyman L. Lemnitzer, who, with the signed plans in hand made a pitch to McNamara on March 13, 1962, recommending Operation Northwoods be run by the military.

Whether the Joint Chiefs' plans were rejected by McNamara in the meeting is not clear. But three days later, President Kennedy told Lemnitzer directly there was virtually no possibility of ever using overt force to take Cuba, Bamford reports. Within months, Lemnitzer would be denied another term as chairman and transferred to another job.

The secret plans came at a time when there was distrust in the military leadership about their civilian leadership, with leaders in the Kennedy administration viewed as too liberal, insufficiently experienced and soft on communism. At the same time, however, there real were concerns in American society about their military overstepping its bounds.

There were reports U.S. military leaders had encouraged their subordinates to vote conservative during the election.

And at least two popular books were published focusing on a right-wing military leadership pushing the limits against government policy of the day. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee published its own report on right-wing extremism in the military, warning a "considerable danger" in the "education and propaganda activities of military personnel" had been uncovered. The committee even called for an examination of any ties between Lemnitzer and right-wing groups. But Congress didn't get wind of Northwoods, says Bamford.

"Although no one in Congress could have known at the time," he writes, "Lemnitzer and the Joint Chiefs had quietly slipped over the edge."

Even after Lemnitzer was gone, he writes, the Joint Chiefs continued to plan "pretext" operations at least through 1963.

One idea was to create a war between Cuba and another Latin American country so that the United States could intervene. Another was to pay someone in the Castro government to attack U.S. forces at the Guantanamo naval base — an act, which Bamford notes, would have amounted to treason. And another was to fly low level U-2 flights over Cuba, with the intention of having one shot down as a pretext for a war.

"There really was a worry at the time about the military going off crazy and they did, but they never succeeded, but it wasn't for lack of trying," he says.

After 40 Years

Ironically, the documents came to light, says Bamford, in part because of the 1992 Oliver Stone film JFK, which examined the possibility of a conspiracy behind the assassination of President Kennedy.

As public interest in the assassination swelled after JFK's release, Congress passed a law designed to increase the public's access to government records related to the assassination.

The author says a friend on the board tipped him off to the documents.

Afraid of a congressional investigation, Lemnitzer had ordered all Joint Chiefs documents related to the Bay of Pigs destroyed, says Bamford. But somehow, these remained.

"The scary thing is none of this stuff comes out until 40 years after," says Bamford.

ABC News
David Ruppe

Into the Dark

How can Donald H. Rumsfeld be certain of more terrorist attacks against the American people? Because these attacks will be ordered by the U.S. Secretary of Defense himself.

This column stands foursquare with the Honorable Donald Rumsfeld, U.S. Defense Secretary, when he warns that there will be more terrorist attacks against the American people and civilization at large. We know, as does the Honorable Donald Rumsfeld, U.S. Defense Secretary, that this statement is an incontrovertible fact, a matter of scientific certainty. And how can we and the Honorable Donald Rumsfeld, U.S. Defense Secretary, be so sure that there will be more terrorist attacks against the American people and civilization at large?

Because these attacks will be instigated at the order of the Honorable Donald Rumsfeld, U.S. Defense Secretary.

This astonishing admission was buried deep in a story, which was itself submerged by mounds of gray newsprint and glossy underwear ads in last Sunday's Los Angeles Times. There -- in an article by military analyst William Arkin detailing the vast expansion of the secret armies being massed by the former Nixon bureaucrat now lording it over the Pentagon -- came the revelation of Rumsfeld's plan to create "a super-Intelligence Support Activity" that will "bring together CIA and military covert action, information warfare, intelligence and cover and deception."

According to a classified document prepared for Rumsfeld by his Defense Science Board, the new organization -- the "Proactive, Preemptive Operations Group (P2OG)" -- will carry out secret missions designed to "stimulate reactions" among terrorist groups, provoking them into committing violent acts which would then expose them to "counterattack" by U.S. forces.

In other words -- and let's say this plainly, clearly and soberly, so that no one can mistake the intention of Rumsfeld's plan -- the United States government is planning to use "cover and deception" and secret military operations to provoke murderous terrorist attacks on innocent people. Let's say it again: Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, George W. Bush and the other members of the unelected regime in Washington plan to deliberately foment the murder of innocent people -- your family, your friends, your lovers, you -- in order to further their geopolitical ambitions.

For P2OG is not designed solely to flush out terrorists and bring them to justice -- a laudable goal in itself, although the Rumsfeld way of combating terrorism by causing it is pure moral lunacy. (Or should we use the Regime's own preferred terminology and just call it "evil"?) No, it seems the Pee-Twos have bigger fish to fry. Once they have sparked terrorists into action -- by killing their family members? luring them with loot? fueling them with drugs? plying them with jihad propaganda? messing with their mamas? or with agents provocateurs, perhaps, who infiltrate groups then plan and direct the attacks themselves? -- they can then take measures against the "states/sub-state actors accountable" for "harboring" the Rumsfeld-roused gangs. What kind of measures exactly? Well, the classified Pentagon program puts it this way: "Their sovereignty will be at risk."

The Pee-Twos will thus come in handy whenever the Regime hankers to add a little oil-laden real estate or a new military base to the Empire's burgeoning portfolio. Just find a nest of violent malcontents, stir 'em with a stick, and presto: instant "justification" for whatever level of intervention/conquest/rapine you might desire. And what if the territory you fancy doesn't actually harbor any convenient marauders to use for fun and profit? Well, surely a God-like "super-Intelligence Support Activity" is capable of creation ex nihilo, yes?

The Rumsfeld-Bush plan to employ murder and terrorism for political, financial and ideological gain does have historical roots (besides al-Qaida, the Stern Gang, the SA, the SS, the KGB, the IRA, the UDF, Eta, Hamas, Shining Path and countless other upholders of Bushian morality, decency and freedom). We refer of course to Operations Northwoods, oft mentioned in these pages: the plan that America's top military brass presented to President John Kennedy in 1963, calling for a phony terrorist campaign -- complete with bombings, hijackings, plane crashes and dead Americans -- to provide "justification" for an invasion of Cuba, the mafia/corporate fiefdom that had recently been lost to Castro.

Kennedy rejected the plan, and was killed a few months later. Now Rumsfeld has resurrected Northwoods, but on a far grander scale, with resources at his disposal undreamed of by those brass of yore, with no counterbalancing global rival to restrain him -- and with an ignorant, corrupt president who has shown himself all too eager to embrace any means whatsoever that will augment the wealth and power of his own narrow, undemocratic, elitist clique.

There is prestuplyeniye here, transgression, a stepping-over -- deliberately, with open eyes, with forethought, planning, and conscious will -- of lines that should never be crossed. Acting in deadly symbiosis with rage-maddened killers, God-crazed ranters and those supreme "sub-state actors," the mafias, Bush and his cohorts are plunging the world into an abyss, an endless night of black ops, retribution, blowback, deceit, of murder and terror -- wholesale, retail, state-sponsored, privatized; of fear and degradation, servility, chaos, and the perversion of all that's best in us, of all that we've won from the bestiality of our primal nature, all that we've raised above the mindless ravening urges and impulses still boiling in the mud of our monkey brains.

It's not a fight for freedom; it's a retreat into darkness.

And the day will be a long time coming.

Chris Floyd, ICH

US Behind Rising Wave of Global Terrorism: Boutros-Ghali

Former UN secretary general Boutros Boutros-Ghali held the US administration accountable for rising wave of terrorism, saying Washington’s unilateral approach has fuelled civil wars across the world.

Boutros-Ghali also asked American President George W. Bush to order his forces out of Iraq and to allow Arab countries mediate a peaceful settlement to the crisis gripping the war-scarred country.

Currently holding the presidency of Egypt’s National Council for Human Rights (NCHR), Boutros-Ghali blamed the US policies for the break-up of many conflicts everywhere in Africa, Latin America and Asia.

“The US adopts a unilateral approach in handling international conflicts, without taking into account viewpoints of other world countries that have different mechanisms to settle them.”

He said the Middle East long-standing conflict makes a case in point.

“Washington has turned down attempts by the European Union to mediate a settlement to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, at the same time it also supports Israel’s right-wing parties.”

Boutros-Ghali believes such a US unilateral approach causes to complicate the situation in the Middle East and “plays into the hands of terrorists to gain more ground in the Arab and Islamic countries.”

The former Egyptian diplomat was elected to the top post of the UN in 1992 - but the US veteoed an extension of his term to 2001 despite approval of many other member states of the world organisation.

Violence Begets Blood

The 82-year-old Boutros-Ghali called on the Bush administration to withhold its staunch support for the ruling Israeli Likud party in order to help establish peace in the region.

“Violence begets violence. This is exactly the situation in the occupied territories as only one side has warplanes and tanks, a fact naturally leading the other side to try to possess a weapon to use in its defense.”

The ex-UN secretary general expected the deteriorating situation in the region to continue as long as the US kept siding with Israel.

“The situation will keep move worse till the world system is turned into bipolar for allowing to better run the world affairs.”

He warned that Palestinians have made up a “ticking population bomb”, as the number will rise up remarkably to make Jews in Palestine a 40 percent minority.

Arabs Have ‘Iraq Clue’

The former UN chief said the Arab countries are the one and only party having capacity to settle the Iraq crisis.

“The Arabs have the clue about resolving the crisis in Iraq.”

“The Iraqi crisis would not be solved by foreign parties. The task must be left for an Arab mediator approved by all Iraqi parties for helping draw up a better and democratic future for Iraq as was the case with the Lebanese civil war,” Ghali said.

Boutros-Ghali, the former Secretary General of La Francophonie, called on the US administration to pull out forces from Iraq for putting an end to the bloodshed in the war-torn country.

“The mistake of the US administration is that it only adopted force to achieve its goals and sought the help of inexperienced experts to do this - something which has led to the ongoing tragic situation in the Arab country.”

The former veteran Egyptian diplomat said the US administration has admitted that it has made a grave mistake when it had launched an offensive on Iraq.

He said Washington now searches for a way for its troops to pack up and leave the Iraq as Iraqis and peoples of the region could not accept the fact that the oil-rich country is under the occupation of foreign forces.

Boutros-Ghali was the sixth secretary general of the United Nations on 1 January 1992 and served for a five-year term.

At the time of his appointment by the U.N. General Assembly on 3 December 1991, Ghali was Egypt's deputy prime minister for foreign affairs.

He further had a role in negotiating the Camp David accords between Egypt and Israel, signed in 1979.

Hamdi Al-Husseiny, IOL Correspondent

Britain to Cut Troop Levels in Iraq

The British Army is to start pulling troops out of Iraq next month despite the deteriorating security situation in much of the country, The Observer has learnt.
The main British combat force in Iraq, about 5,000-strong, will be reduced by around a third by the end of October during a routine rotation of units.

The news came amid another day of mayhem in Iraq, which saw a suicide bomber kill at least 23 people and injure 53 in the northern city of Kirkuk. The victims were queueing to join Iraq's National Guard.

More than 200 people were killed last week in one of the bloodiest weeks since last year's invasion, strengthening impressions that the country is spinning out of control.

Yesterday grim footage apparently showing a British engineer kidnapped from a house in Baghdad last week along with two American colleagues surfaced in a video released in the Iraqi capital. The group holding the three threatened to execute them unless Iraqi women prisoners are released from jail.

And last night it was reported that 10 more staff working for an American-Turkish company had been seized as hostages.

There are now fears that scheduled Iraqi elections in January will have to be delayed because of the growing instability.

Last week Geoff Hoon, the Defence Secretary, said that more troops could be sent to safeguard the polls if necessary, although Whitehall sources said there was no guarantee that they would be British.

The forthcoming 'drawdown' of British troops in Basra has not been made public and is likely to provoke consternation in both Washington and Baghdad. Many in Iraq argue that more, not fewer, troops are needed. Last week British troops in Basra fought fierce battles with Shia militia groups.

The reduction will take place when the First Mechanised Infantry Brigade is replaced by the Fourth Armoured Division, now based in Germany, in a routine rotation over the next few weeks.

Troop numbers are being finalised, but, military sources in Iraq and in Whitehall say, they are likely to be 'substantially less' than the current total in Basra: the new combat brigade will have five or even four battle groups, against its current strength of six battle groups of around 800 men.

A military spokesman in Basra confirmed the scaling back of the British commitment.

Currently there are 8,000 British troops in the 14,000-strong 'multinational division' in southern Iraq, which has responsibility for about 4.5 million people.

The cuts will occur in the combat elements of the deployment - the 5,000-strong infantry and armoured brigade that is committed to the provinces of Basra and Maysan. Four Royal Navy ships will remain in the Gulf.

However, the incoming force will leave its heavy armour, mainly Challenger tanks, behind, but will be equipped with a unit of Warrior armoured troop carriers.

Senior officers say the scaling back of the British commitment in Iraq is a sign of their success in keeping order and helping reconstruction. But both Basra and Maysan have seen heavy combat recently, with some units sustaining up to 35 per cent casualties, and remains restive. The al-Mahdi army, which was responsible for most of the fighting, remains heavily armed.

'Whatever they say, fewer troops mean less capability,' a military expert told The Observer . 'You need as many boots on the ground as you can get for low-intensity warfare and peace-keeping operations.'

Iyad Allawi, the interim Iraqi Prime Minister, will hold talks with Tony Blair at Chequers tomorrow on security issues, including elections and the strengthening of border patrols.

News of the troop withdrawal comes at a difficult time for Blair, with the publication yesterday of leaked documents suggesting that he was warned a year before the invasion that it could prompt a meltdown.

However Tessa Jowell, the Culture Secretary and a close ally of Blair, told The Observer that the Prime Minister still believed that Britain's actions would be justified by the restoration of democracy 'however difficult and remote a prospect that seems at the moment, when our headlines are crowded with further attacks by the insurgents'.

In another embarrassment for the Prime Minister, a draft report from the Iraqi Survey Group, set up to investigate Saddam Hussein's weapons programme, has concluded that the former dictator's only chemical or biological armament was a small amount of poison for use in political killings.

Jason Burke, chief reporter
Sunday September 19, 2004
The Observer

India's 'PATRIOT Act' Repealed

NEW DELHI - After snaring thousands of politicians, teenagers, politicians, journalists, members of minority communities but few terrorists, India, this week, repealed its "PATRIOT Act" introduced in response to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

A government statement said the cabinet headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had at a meeting Friday decided to replace the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) with a new law.

"It is important to note the intention of the government is to protect the rights of people vis-à-vis the misuse of POTA," the statement said.

The unpopularity of POTA contributed to the electoral debacle of the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government in May by the communist-backed, Congress-led, United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Indeed, the Congress Party and its allies had made misuse of POTA a major election issue and vowed to make its repeal a priority, ignoring dire warnings from BJP leaders, including former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, that this would be an invitation to increased incidents of bombings and suicide attacks.

The Congress Party and its allies had opposed the introduction of POTA in Parliament on the grounds that it would be used by a pro-Hindu government to victimize members of the minority Muslim community. But Congress did not have the numbers to prevent passage of the bill on Mar. 26, 2002.

Impetus for the introduction of POTA picked up after a suicide squad stormed Parliament House on Dec. 13, 2001 but failed to blow up the monumental red sandstone building only because the car bomb that was used did not detonate owing to faulty wiring.

The then Vajpayee government blamed neighboring Pakistan for the incident and made preparations for an armed confrontation with Islamabad.

Friday's repeal, subject to the formality of presidential approval, came by bureaucratic fiat because the government was denied a chance to gain Parliamentary approval after BJP legislators recorded their objections by disrupting all business during the just-concluded budget session.

"The government has been concerned with the manner in which the POTA has been misused in the past two years," Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil told reporters after the release of the government statement.

Patil dismissed charges made by BJP leaders that the repeal compromised India's fight against terrorism, saying that the government would soon strengthen the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act passed in 1967.

According to Patil, the older law would, on amendment, include such POTA features as the banning of terrorist organizations and their support systems, including funding. In fact, he said, all 32 militant organizations banned under POTA would continue to be declared illegal.

Importantly, the onus of proving the guilt of the accused once again shifts back to the prosecution and provisions in POTA that allow the arrest, interrogation and detention of suspects for 30 days before production in a court of law have been done away with.

Under POTA, confessions made to security forces can be used as evidence, as can communications secretly intercepted and recorded.

The Congress Party's prediction that the BJP government would use POTA to victimize members of the Muslim community seemed to come true in western Gujarat, where all 287 cases brought before the courts after the anti-Muslim pogrom in the state in 2002 were from the minority community.

Fifty-eight people were killed when a train carrying Hindu activists was allegedly set ablaze by a Muslim mob near the town of Godhra in western Gujarat. More than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, died in riots following the attack.

Gross misuse of POTA in Gujarat has come under criticism by India's National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) – a statutory body – and by the London-based human rights watchdog Amnesty International.

"Over the past two years POTA has been used mostly against juveniles, old people, members of dalit [ritually low caste Hindus groups], adviasis [aborigines], women, political opponents and those struggling for their socioeconomic rights," Colin Gonsalves, a well-known lawyer and human rights activist told IPS.

Gonsalves organized hearings by "People's Tribunals" of testimonies by victims of POTA, which were widely publicized and were greatly influential in its eventual repeal.

Ram Jethmalani, who was Union Law Minister at the time POTA was passed, told the media later that he deeply regretted it afterwards. "I supported it only because it was done in obedience to United Nations Security Council resolutions," he said.

The law has also been a subject of debate for its alleged use or abuse by several provincial governments against political rivals.

One such controversy relates to a regional leader in Tamil Nadu, Vaiko, who was imprisoned for more than a year under POTA for his alleged support of the banned Sri Lankan rebel group the Tamil Tigers.

Vaiko's party, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), was among those who had approved POTA in parliament. But he and his southern allies later pulled out of the BJP government.

Meanwhile, human rights groups were guarded in welcoming the withdrawal.

"We are happy at the repeal of POTA," said Ravi Nair, director of the South Asian Human Rights Documentation Center, an affiliate partner of the Bangkok-based regional rights body Forum Asia.

"But we would like to see what the government intends to do by bringing amendments to some of the laws for handling terrorism," Nair told IPS.

Ranjit Devraj
(Inter Press Service)

News Flash: President Bush Wants to be Re-elected

An Iraq Strategy to Reelect George Bush

If he fails in that endeavor, it most likely will be because American voters will have rejected him on the very issue he thought was his best asset: his strong leadership in the War on Terrorism.

In case you haven't noticed, things aren't working out as planned in Iraq.

Even U.S. military leaders are starting to talk, and they're saying that the entire Iraqi campaign is a terrible disaster.

Kill 'em!

But why should it be?

After all, the Bush administration has done exactly what so many people have recommended — impose overwhelming force to achieve victory. Since 9/11 I've received dozens (perhaps hundreds) of emails from people calling for exactly that. Here's a paraphrased summary of what these emails say:

The only thing the terrorists understand is force. The U.S. should blitzkrieg them with so much force that they realize that their cause is futile. For every one of ours that dies in a terrorist attack, we should kill a hundred of them, without worrying whether the dead were terrorists or innocent bystanders. You can't reason with these people; they don't understand anything but force.

None of the emails revealed that the writers had arrived at their conclusions through actual discussions with terrorists, but no matter. The email writers were joined by a lot of people in the press, radio, and television in their belief that the only answer was overwhelming force.

Force in Action

When four U.S. civilians were killed in Fallujah, Joseph Farah of WorldNetDaily said:

It's time to take off the velvet gloves. It's time to stop being Mr. Nice Guy [sic]. It's time to cease worrying about collateral damage.

It's time to show all Iraqis and their brothers and sisters throughout the Middle East that it doesn't pay to mess with Americans. They need to see there is no profit in it. They need to understand we mean business. They need to accept things will never be the same in Iraq. They need to feel the heat. They need to be provided with visible disincentives to further attacks on Americans, free Iraqis and other coalition partners. . . .

We should not try to gain an international consensus for this action. We should not apologize for it. We should not restrain our Air Force and our artillery batteries from wreaking devastation. We should not expose our ground troops to unnecessary risks.

In other words, we may need to flatten Fallujah. We may need to destroy it. We may need to grind it, pulverize it and salt the soil, as the Romans did with troublesome enemies.

Quite frankly, we need to make an example out of Fallujah.

Here's a chance for justice. Here's an opportunity to show the people of the Middle East it doesn't pay to resort to barbarism and terrorism.

In effect, the U.S. military took Mr. Farah's advice. The city was pulverized. At least 600 Iraqis — mostly civilians — died in the American attack, which was a reprisal for the deaths of just 4 Americans.

As John Pilger has pointed out, this is no different from when members of the World War II French Resistance (the same "spineless" French that conservatives like to make jokes about) killed or kidnapped a Nazi in occupied towns, causing the Nazis to shoot dozens of innocent Frenchmen in reprisal.

In Iraq the reprisal failed. The Americans eventually had to withdraw entirely from the city, and content themselves with an occasional bombardment. Now the city is run by Islamic emirs and mujahideen who enforce Islamic law strictly. (There probably are quite a few Fallujah residents who would prefer Saddam Hussein to either the Americans or the Islamic emirs.)

But notice the important outcome: once the Americans abandoned Fallujah, so did the news media. We no longer get daily news reports about that city. Few people in the U.S. are aware of what's going on in Fallujah.

How Bush Might Win

The entire Iraqi campaign has been a failure for George Bush.

As is now well known, none of the original accusations against Hussein — WMDs, mobile laboratories, uranium from Niger, unmanned planes that could shower biological weapons on America, the aluminum tubes for nuclear weapons — turned out to be valid.

And, contrary to expectations, Iraqis seem to mistake American "liberators" for foreign occupiers.

So what should Bush do — assuming that he's more concerned about reelection than about the future of Iraq?

As I see it, he has two choices available to him:

Door #1

The first choice is to elevate the force being used against the Iraqi resistance. He can send more troops to Iraq — even reactivating the draft, if necessary to acquire enough bodies. In other words, he can keep moving in the direction he's been going.

As we've seen, this hasn't worked out very well, it has produced skepticism even among some of his supporters, and it should now be evident that no amount of force is going to "pacify" Iraq.

Door #2

The second choice is to do what he did in Afghanistan — declare victory and withdraw attention from the battleground, taking the country out of the news and allowing people to believe George Bush when he says that all is well.

Afghanistan is a mess. There has been no victory there. But because the President turned our attention to Iraq, no one notices the violent Civil War that rages in Afghanistan.

So Bush could go before the American people in October and say something like this:

My fellow Americans, I have very good news for you. We continue to win the War on Terror. Our latest victory is the liberation of Iraq. The country now has tens of thousands of Iraqi security police, trained by the good men and women of the U.S. military, and the new democratic government of Iraq is able to govern the country peacefully.

In short, we have prevailed — just as we thought we would.

Accordingly, we can now begin withdrawing our troops from the country. Today I have ordered the immediate return home of 20,000 American soldiers and marines. The withdrawals will continue in an orderly way, and nearly all the troops will be home by February.

At the request of the Iraqi government, we will maintain six military bases in Iraq — in order to protect the country from foreign attack. This will require a token force of 15,000 American troops to remain there indefinitely, but all other American forces will be home by February.

We also have signed an agreement with the Iraqi government to buy all of Iraq's oil production — guaranteeing that Iraq will be able to grow, be self-sufficient, and prosper economically.

God bless America, God bless Iraq, and don't forget to vote next week.


Needless to say, there will be voices raised that say this pronouncement is a sham. There is no peace, no liberation in Iraq.

But a majority of Americans will never hear the rebuttals, only the President's claims. After all, there were people in late 2002 pointing out that "Operation Iraqi Freedom" was a stupid idea, but their arguments received only a fraction of the news coverage that was given to Bush's claims.

Expecting John Kerry to take apart anything George Bush says is about as realistic as expecting George Bush to keep a campaign promise. And CNN, Fox News, and the broadcast networks will interview plenty of administration sycophants who will congratulate the President on a job well done.

Once the election is over and Bush is safely in the White House for another four years, anything can happen. But Bush will be concerned then about his "legacy," and he may have come to realize that attacking another country could lead to another Iraqi-type disaster. And he made be restrained as well from going back on his word to withdraw American troops from Iraq.

Once the U.S. troops are gone, any killing in Iraq will no longer be big news in America. Iraq will be off the front pages, out of the Evening News, and out of the minds of American citizens. Like Afghanistan, Iraq will be thought of as just one more "victory" in the War on Terrorism.

I can't predict the future. But if I can think of such a ruse, why can't Dick Cheney or Karl Rove?

Let's just say I won't be surprised if George Bush announces in October that victory has been achieved and the troops will be coming home from Iraq.

Harry Browne

The 9-11 Commission Report: the greatest whitewash since the Warren Commission's report

Everyone is to blame and no one is to blame, according to the twisted logic of the 9-11 Whitewash Commission.

So who is talking about logic in this Bushwellian land? Surely not the 9-11 victims' families, who were bought off for an average of $2 million each, that are patting themselves on the back for forcing the Bushies to set up this travesty of a commission, comprised of handpicked cronies.

Having spent several hours—hours that could have been better used—going through the 567-page "report," we agree with Kurt Nimmo that it is a "fantasy novel."

The only dots it connects are the ones in the Official 9-11 Legend, which will now stand alongside the Warren Whitewash Commission Report on the Assassination of John F. Kennedy. Only this time, instead of Arlen Specter's "pristine bullet" theory, we have all these Arab men flying in and out of the US—some with dodgy passports or expired visas—meeting with their cohorts around the world, between learning how to fly airplanes at flight schools around the US, while telling their flight instructors they could skip the parts about taking off and landing the crafts. And no one noticed? Not even when they were told about these antics? When some of these alleged hijackers were on "terrorist" watch lists?

Yet, millions of our ignorant fellow Americans—especially those in the corporate media—will buy into the fantasy. ABC News' John Donvan called this work of fiction the greatest thing since the Warren Whitewash Commission's work of fiction.

If that isn't scary enough, now the corporate media, the knuckleheads in Congress and the dolts on the street who appear on camera are clamoring to implement the commission's recommendations to keep them "safe" from brown-skinned Muslims out to kill them. Hey, we don't need no steenking freedom. Hello, police state.

Why NBC's flagship station, WNBC, in New York announced it is going to run a daily countdown until the final elements of the police state are in place.

The New York Times offered up this bit of Bushwellianism: "As expected, the commission called for creation of a new national intelligence director to supplant some functions now performed by the director of central intelligence, who heads not only the Central Intelligence Agency but supervises the work of a dozen or more agencies scattered through the government. 'No one person can do all these things,' the commission said."

Let's see, no one person can do it all, so let's have a spook czar—a cabinet level spook czar. Got it? Does that mean there will be some divine intervention in the choice of the political hack to "do all these things" that the CIA director can't do? Drat, there we go with logic again.

Not exactly, according to the next paragraph in the same NYT article: "It called, too, for creation of a national counterterrorism center that would both unify strategic intelligence-gathering against Islamic terrorists and operational planning against them. But the report emphasizes that the enemy is not Islam, 'the great world faith, but a perversion of Islam.'

Aha, another multi-billion dollar agency. And only to gather "intelligence" against "Islamic terrorists?"

What about the perversion of Christianity and Judaism? You know, those Christian terrorists who torch abortion clinics and kill doctors? What about those Zionist terrorists who are slaughtering Palestinians and threatening those of us who speak out against the genocide? What about those Christians terrorists who are aiding and abetting the Zionist terrorists in the hope of bringing about Armageddon, and, if successful, plan to kill all the Jews, along with all others, who refuse to accept Christ as their savior?

Yes, this shameful work of fiction goes on for pages in a thinly veiled indictment of Muslims, particularly brown-skinned Muslims, for the horrific acts that should be laid at the feet of the Bush administration. Then, this is a work of fiction.

The commission has the audacity to falsely talk about the failure of "imagination." The imagination was there, but the commission chose not to mention Operation Northwoods, dreamt up by the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1962, which laid out a scenario similar to what happened on 9-11, as a way of conning the American people into going to war against Castro. Nor did the commission make any reference to the Project for a New American Century, which said the US might need a "new Pearl Harbor" to achieve global hegemony.

Nowhere does the commission point out that Osama bin Laden was the CIA's point man in Afghanistan, during the time the Reagan administration was bent on pushing the Soviets out of that country. Nor does the commission note that al Qaeda is a creature of the CIA, born out of the Afghan Mujahadeen, which it armed and financed. Yes, we loved those "Muslims" when they were doing our dirty work, but they have served their purpose and now they are "evildoers."

While the commission admitted there were no ties between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, it failed to mention that Saddam also was the recipient of US largesse and weapons of mass destruction, when the double-dealing Reagan administration wanted him to win the war with Iran. What the Reaganites didn't tell him was they also were trading arms for hostages with Iran at the same time, in order to illegally finance the Nicaraguan Contras.

But the commission didn't see it as its job to connect those dots, so people would understand who was really behind 9-11, how 9-11 was used to strip us of our freedoms and illegally invade Afghanistan and Iraq. If it had, and had laid blame at the feet of the real perpetrators, the American people would have the big picture of this failed mad scheme that cost this country what little respect it had left in the world and why there are now people who truly hate us.

Had the commission stepped back and reflected on the nightmare we're in, it would have seen that the way out is not with "intelligence" czars, national counterterrorism centers, taking away more of our freedoms, preemptive strikes on sovereign nations, labeling other people "terrorists" and "evildoers" and a bogus "war on terror." The way out is by changing our attitude toward the world; by reeling in the corporations that exploit other peoples and their resources; by respecting other peoples and the sovereignty of their nations. But that wasn't the commission's job, either. Nor could we expect the corporate-connected commissioners to bite the hand that feeds them.

The commission was tasked with shoring up the Bushwellian Official 9-11 Legend for the consumption of the ignorant, without causing those responsible for the dastardly deed to be brought to justice, and persuading the people to trade the rest of their liberty for "safety." If Benjamin Franklin were still with us, he would say that people who would do that are deserving of neither liberty nor safety.

Bev Conover
Online Journal Editor & Publisher