Sunday, October 24, 2004

Guest Blog: Health Careless

Comment: taken from

Sunday, October 24
Guest Blog: Health Careless
This from a law school friend of mine:Until this year, I was a registered Republican. Finally, in August, I changed my registration. I am now a Democrat. Looking back on the past four years, convincing me to change my voter registration is the best thing George Bush has done for me and my family since he was elected. I became pregnant with my 7 month old daughter in June of 2003. Both my husband and I were in school at the time; I was entering my second year of law school and he was entering his last year of college. I, like 45 million other Americans, was uninsured. I was uninsured because, despite the fact that I came into law school with a scholarship that was to pay about 2/3 of my tuition annually when I received it, law school tuition has gone up from around $6800 in my first year to $10252 in my final year, in large part due to education cuts from the state and national level. I was uninsured because my husband’s Pell Grants had been cut in each of the four years he was enrolled in school, even as our cost of living was growing. I was uninsured because we could not afford to pay the premiums for student health insurance, and because insurance providers are only concerned with their bottom line, as private companies, no one would insure me with a “pre-existing condition.” (Note: this is not a criticism of private corporations generally but a mere aside; their concern with their bottom line is understandable since they are in business to make money. But isn’t it alarming to people that we put our very health care into the hands of private corporations? Isn’t it disturbing that companies whose goal is to make money are making decisions about what medical procedures you and your family will or won’t be allowed to have? Private for-profit health insurance companies spend between 20 and 30 % of premiums on profits and administration; the federal Medicare system spends only 3% on administration.)As soon as I found out I was pregnant, I stupidly tried to get student health insurance anyway. I knew I could not afford the cost of prenatal care, let alone the expense of having a baby. But I still wanted to be responsible—I wanted to be able to do what I thought was right, and contribute something to my health care, even if it was just in the form of insurance premiums. I was of course denied. I needed help—my first of many prenatal visits cost nearly $700. Although I was resistant to the idea, I knew my only option was to apply for Medicaid. As a pregnant student, I easily qualified and all my prenatal and delivery costs were covered. I appreciated the irony every month when my medical card came in the mail, emblazoned on the outside with the words “Education Pays in Kentucky.” I couldn’t help but think that education did not, in fact, pay in my life at that time; had I not been a student, in a graduate program whose tuition has increased by over $2000 per year in the past two years, I would have been able to afford private health insurance. I would have been able to hand the receptionist an insurance card instead of a Medicaid card at my doctor’s appointments, and not have felt as though I were being judged every time I had an appointment, by someone who knew nothing about me or my situation. Many people have such a negative impression of Medicaid recipients, believing anyone who benefits from public programs like WIC, Medicaid, or food stamps is lazy and unemployed. For 1 year, I was a Medicaid recipient and was none of those things; I worked when I could, and stayed in school throughout my pregnancy. Medicaid recipients are no longer on the fringes: they are our friends, neighbors, and family members. They are graduate students and the working poor. I was one of 45 million Americans—17% of the total population—who were unable to get health insurance because of the broken health care system that exists in our country today. This number is up from just 15 million uninsured Americans in 1999. You may be thinking, “of course the health care system is broken. Tort reforms are needed in order to decrease the costs of health care for all Americans.” This is simply not true. The traditionally proposed tort reforms which cap a plaintiff’s punitive damages have been proven ineffective in many states where they have been enacted. Because most physicians have an upper limit on their malpractice liability insurance coverage for punitive damages, such reforms would be largely ineffective in many states for physicians. Further, try telling a mother who has just lost her baby due to medical negligence that her recovery is limited to $250,000 or some other arbitrarily created amount. It is the availability of punitive damages claims that protect the indigent from unaccountable practices and provide the only recourse for many individuals from negligent medical action. If tort reforms are to be enacted, they must be of the type supported by John Kerry—cutting off frivolous lawsuits before they get to the courtroom. Limiting a truly damaged plaintiff’s right to recover does not solve the problem of high malpractice premiums—it merely takes away one of a patient’s few remedies against malpractice. It is possible to emerge from this broken health care system with a plan that protects all Americans—old or young, poor or wealthy, whatever their race or personal situation—a system of universal health care (UHC). Now of course, many oppose such a plan because they “know someone who lives in Canada, where health care is terrible.” I have experienced a UHC system—namely, the health care provided to military members and their spouses. I have not experienced any major problems in scheduling appointments or in the quality of care provided. The 2002 Kaiser Report on Medicaid and the Uninsured found that the federal government spent about $146 billion on Medicaid that year, and states kicked in an additional $100 billion. The Government Accounting Office estimates that switching to a single-payer UHC system would save about $67 million almost immediately in administrative insurance overhead costs; a Harvard University study estimated that UHC could save $286 billion per year on a reduction in paperwork alone in a UHC system—enough to provide health care and full prescription drug coverage to all Americans. The cost of providing health insurance to all Americans—the previously insured and the newly insured—is estimated by the GAO to be $64 billion annually. Furthermore, the U.S. spends 40% more per capita on health care than any of the 28 industrialized nations which have a UHC system in place. Thus, the federal government in conjunction with the states could provide UHC to ALL AMERICANS for less than the cost of providing Medicare and Medicaid to current recipients. If the inability of the poor to obtain health insurance is not incentive enough to provide UHC for all Americans, consider this: my baby daughter was born with a congenital heart defect. A heart defect that was classified by insurance companies as a pre-existing condition, and whose care could not be covered by a private insurance company for a year or more after my baby’s birth. That a baby can be born with a pre-existing condition is utterly ridiculous. Were we not covered under the military’s UHC system, Tricare, we would have had to pay for my daughter’s health care for this defect for at least a year under most private insurance schemes. This includes expensive procedures like chest x-rays, EKGs, and Echocardiograms. It includes visits to a pediatric cardiologist and more detailed exams at her routine checkups. Thankfully, the defect is easily treatable with surgery which will take place several years from now, but what about other children who are born with more serious pre-existing conditions? What could be more devastating to a working poor family with a sick child, trying to get by and get off Medicaid, than to be told that when you do finally succeed your child’s medical bills won’t be paid for? What is the incentive to try under our current scheme? The cost to the average American would not increase under a single-payer UHC plan, either. Anyone who is responsible for paying his own health insurance premiums and co-pays knows that these costs have spiraled out of control in the past few years—particularly in our home state. Kentucky state employees pay an average premium of $541 per month for health care—that’s about $6500 per year. These premiums are the highest in the nation and do not include co-payments and deductibles. For many state employees—including hard-working teachers who went to college for four or more years, whose wages do not reflect the effort they put into their jobs--$6500 per year is devastating. This is surely not the best our government can do by its families. This is surely not what the Commonwealth means when it claims on Medicaid cards that, in Kentucky, “Education Pays.”

What happened to the money

What happened to the f***ing money
Bob Geldof meant well when he launched Band Aid 20 years ago, says Daniel Wolf; whether he did well for the starving is another matterDaniel Wolf A pale, intense young man with a soft Irish accent and a mane of dark hair is banging the glass table: ‘Don’t go to the pub tonight,’ he says, ‘there are people dying now. So please, stay in and give me the f***ing money.’
‘Do you want cash, cheque or casino poker chips?’It is one of the indelible television moments. On that day — 13 July 1985 — Bob Geldof laced together rock music, live television and the extremes of human misery into a single, potent brew, inventing a new way, not just of giving, but of feeling. Live Aid initiated a global culture of direct emotional response to suffering, and a global demand for direct action to make the suffering stop. It was a great achievement. Unfortunately, the Geldof approach to humanitarian emergencies can also be a liability: it favours action in place of careful thought, gestures instead of an engagement with complex realities. We are riding into the valley of anniversaries: next month, it will be 20 years since Geldof and Midge Ure set the ball rolling by founding Band Aid. Once again we will celebrate our remarkable generosity, once again we will hear that we ‘saved’ Ethiopia and ‘fed the world’. Earlier this month, on BBC Radio 5, Geldof laid down a preliminary barrage, saying that, in Ethiopia in 1984, ‘30 million people were about to die ...’. It is an absurd statement: the suggestion that everyone in a huge region would have died, had it not been for the emergency aid, ignores virtually everything we know about both famines and aid. Yet, in the face of a Geldof campaign, it seems feeble to mention the facts. Why think about how to help when the only question on offer is whether? Geldof narrows the debate to one of compassion machismo: do you have the cojones to give? He promotes impatience as the greatest virtue, as typified by his recent comment, while touring Africa with Tony Blair, that a European commissioner was ‘talking through his arse’. This is the sort of simplistic shtick that plays well in our media-saturated world, yet in a number of African crises, ill-conceived emergency aid has proved of questionable value. And the event that made Geldof’s reputation is a classic illustration of this awkward, unsettling truth. When Michael Buerk’s first report on the Ethiopian famine was transmitted on BBC News on 23 October 1984, the idea immediately took hold that this was a natural disaster — ‘a biblical famine’, in Buerk’s words — which would be alleviated by massive food aid. There was a severe drought in the region, but the creation of famine was a military tactic of the Dergue government of Colonel Haile Mariam Mengistu. For journalists like Buerk and activists like Geldof, the wars in Ethiopia were an inconvenience which were complicating relief efforts. Yet the wars were the principal cause of the tragedy. When I spoke to Michael Buerk in the late 1990s, he still held the view that the wars had ‘complicated matters’, but he did agree that self-censorship had played a role in his own and others’ reportage at the time: ‘You’ve got ... to make the decision, is this side story of any real significance? And also, at the back of your mind, is: if I overemphasise a negative angle to this, I am going to be responsible for ...inhibiting people from coughing up their money.’ In the time of Band Aid, ‘negative angles’ were out. It would have been negative, although true, to have emphasised that Mengistu was one of the most vicious African dictators of the previous quarter century, that he was fighting three wars at the time (two in the north, in Tigray and Eritrea, and one in the Oromo lands of the south), and that his troops were committing atrocities in the region where the famine was unfolding. It would have been distinctly negative to have reported that the dictator was using food as a weapon of war — bombing crops and markets while setting up roadblocks to prevent the movement of food. The methods used by Mengistu’s armies were bound to create famine, and they did. Journalists and aid workers were not the only ones wary of confusing viewers at home with ‘negative angles’. While it was Band Aid and, later, Live Aid that caught the imagination of the world, they funded only a small proportion of the aid effort: 90 per cent or more of the aid came from Western donor governments. As the governments would only deal with a recipient government, not with rebel movements, most of the aid — again, roughly 90 per cent — was channelled through Mengistu’s hands. In a grotesque irony, we found ourselves supporting the very government that was causing the famine we were supposed to be alleviating. This was certainly a ‘negative angle’, and therefore, unsurprisingly, it received hardly any attention at all. Geldof was the front man, and he has played his part to perfection, then and ever since. This is not to impugn his motives: Geldof is undeniably charming and sincere, but that does not mean that what he says is holy writ. He told the international media that agencies had to trust the representatives of the Mengistu government, thus seeming to deny, by implication, that the aid operation was being used by that same government. Yet the places where the aid was distributed, and the conditions under which it was distributed, were determined by Mengistu. There is something remarkably patronising in the assumption that an African dictator — as ruthless and cunning as they come, a survivor among survivors — might fail to see an opportunity when it was staring him in the face. As it turned out, Mengistu knew a hawk from a handsaw. In 1984–85, up to a billion dollars’ worth of aid flowed into Ethiopia. Thousands of Western aid workers and journalists flew in with it. The regime ensured that the visitors converted their Western dollars to the local currency at a rate favourable to the government: in 1985 the Dergue tripled its foreign currency reserves. It used this influx of cash to help build up its war-machine, it commandeered aid vehicles for its own purposes and, by diverting aid supplies, helped feed its armies. The UN in Addis Ababa, which was co-ordinating the aid operation, denied that the level of diversion was significant. Later on, it became clear that a significant proportion of the relief food in Tigray — the epicentre of the famine — was consigned to the militia. The militias were known locally as ‘wheat militias’. Above all, the government used the aid operation to support its military strategy: it saw food aid as both a tool for consolidating control over disputed territory and as bait for luring people from rebel-held areas into government territory. Michael Buerk’s viewers did not realise — how could they? — that he was speaking to them from a government enclave. They did not realise — again, how could they? — that the Ethiopian government did not control much of the territory where the famine was occurring, and that a huge proportion of the famine victims, possibly more than half, were outside the reach of the international aid effort. Mengistu maintained that he could reach virtually every famine victim, and that therefore all the aid should be distributed on his side of the lines. It was nonsense, and you did not have to be unduly sceptical to trace the thread of self-interest in the claim. Yet the UN went along with it, and the great majority of aid agencies fell into line. What happened in Ethiopia in the mid-1980s was not the glorious episode of Geldof’s promotion. Despite the efforts of many noble individuals and the expenditure of huge amounts of money, it was a badly flawed exercise. To sustain the mythology of Band Aid’s success, its supporters tell us that some neat, round number of lives were saved. Last Sunday in the Observer Michael Buerk was quoted as saying, ‘The money raised would have saved about one to two million lives.’ Numbers are easy to bandy around (even ones with a 100 per cent margin of error) but it is surprisingly hard to determine how many lives the aid saved. While the agencies certainly fed large numbers of starving people, equally large numbers of the starving were out of their reach, and had to save themselves. There was little counting of those they did feed. And no one knows what happened to people after they left the camps, other than that they returned to the conditions from which they had emerged. These conditions included not just the war but Mengistu’s programme of ethnic cleansing through ‘resettlement’, itself funded, directly and indirectly, by the aid operation. ‘Resettlement’ led to some half a million people being forcibly moved from the north of the country to the south, costing, it has been estimated, some 100,000 lives. One point is certain: the war which we helped fuel continued for another six years, claiming many thousands more lives. That is, in itself, no reason to have passed by on the other side, but the balance sheet remains far less conclusive than Geldof believes. According to him, critics of emergency aid are by definition guilty of indifference. Yet how can we learn if we are not prepared to think? No one has all the answers, but a more informed public debate about the limits of aid would be a step in the right direction. Those who benefit most from the simplifications and evasions which characterised aid to Ethiopia in the mid-1980s are local governments, aid agencies and the media. The victims are, so often, those whose suffering attracted the attention of the world in the first place. Daniel Wolf was series producer of the Channel 4 programmes on emergency aid in Africa, The Hunger Business.

Report: CIA Took Detainees Out of Iraq

Report: CIA Took Detainees Out of IraqSat Oct 23, 2004 11:28 PM ET WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. intelligence officials have transferred detainees out of Iraq for interrogation, a move that experts say violates international law, The Washington Post reported in its Sunday edition.
The CIA has invoked a confidential memo written by the Justice Department to justify secretly transferring as many as a dozen detainees out of Iraq in the last six months, the Post said.
The CIA has hidden the detainees from the International Red Cross and other authorities, the Post said, citing an unnamed intelligence official.
In a March 19, 2004, memo the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel said the CIA can take Iraqis out of the country for a "brief but not indefinite period" and can permanently remove those determined to be illegal aliens, the Post said.
Some specialists in international law say the opinion amounts to a reinterpretation of the Geneva Conventions, which prohibits forcible transfers of civilians during wartime, the Post said.
The CIA and Justice Department declined to comment for the article, but a White House official disputed the notion that the Justice Department's interpretation of the Geneva Conventions was unusual.
The memo noted that violation of that portion of the treaty could constitute a war crime and that officials should proceed carefully, the Post said.
The U.S. government transferred al Qaeda fighters out of Afghanistan during the war there after it ruled that they were not protected by the treaty. Former members of the Iraqi military and Saddam Hussein's Baath Party, by contrast, are considered to be protected by the treaty, the Post said.
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The 9/11 Distractions
The government’s lies are obvious,but some skeptics are far more subtle
by John
People ask me about 9/11, understandably enough, since I’ve written many articles about it, and I do a lot of radio interviews — all for free — to try to warn people that the government’s explanation is not true.
I invariably tell them that the most damning pieces of evidence are the government’s own provable lies, which include the failure to conduct a legitimate investigation into the events of that tragic day, the instantaneous blaming of terrorists in caves in Afghanistan, and the preposterously phony commission that took its place in history along with the Warren Commission as a glaring political swindle.
The best piece of evidence that shows the U.S. government was involved in the planning and execution of the 9/11 disasters is simply the responses uttered by Vice President Cheney, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, and military chief of staff Myers immediately after the attacks. (See They all feigned surprise, and said they hadn’t realized this kind of disaster could happen.
Yet, their lies were exposed mere hours later when the FBI released the 19 names of the alleged hijackers, indicating the government had been tracking these individuals for months. If they didn’t know it could happen, how did they know the names of the hijackers?
These lies were further amplified more recently with the revelation outlined by “October Surprise” author Barbara Honegger (see the bottom of that the government was running various drills on Sept. 11, 2001 using airplanes as weapons, so when top government officials denied they knew of the threat of fuel-laden planes slamming into buildings could actually happen, they were actually running multiple drills to prevent this very thing from happening — ON THAT VERY DAY. How’s that for chutzpah?
So despite the total mainstream media news blackout on these facts, and the apparent unwillingness of a majority of Americans (especially elected officials and law enforcement officers) to confront their government over these obvious lies, virtually everyone else in the world knows the real story, that the U.S. government has lied continually about what happened on 9/11, and this is what gave birth to the worldwide 9/11 skeptics movement.
Three other obvious items also have contributed to this widespread disbelief in anything the American government says about terrorism in general or 9/11 in particular:
1. In addition to the failure to objectively investigate what happened on 9/11, President Bush and his sycophants did everything possible to stonewall investigators they themselves appointed from gathering relevant information, AND, ordered the destruction and/or suppression of evidence (primarily audio and video evidence) extremely germane to an accurate judgment of what actually happened.
2. To this day, the American government has never produced a shred of evidence (other than fabricated and unconvincing so-called intelligence on the order of some of the infamous Iraq fictions) linking either Osama bin Laden or so-called Islamic terrorists to the attacks.
3. The military invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq that followed 9/11 and were advertised as a response to 9/11 “terror” were actually planned PRIOR to 9/11.
So, despite all the coverups and the cynical blackout of these skeptical contentions by mainstream media, the whole world knows what the American people do not — that the American government is undoubtedly responsible for the mass murders of 9/11, the lives of nearly 3,000 American citizens sacrificed for the secretive financial planning of those who wished to foment a permanent war against the Muslims and profit mightily from this evil enterprise.
That this conclusion has not swept through the collective American mind and resulted in mass arrests of rich bureaucrats in Washington is primarily due to two factors:
• The corporate censorship of the Zionist-controlled mainstream media, which are as complicit as treasonous government officials in suppressing facts that would reveal the real story ...
• And the American people themselves, who have been dumbed down into a frightened coma by the combination of a mind-dulling educational system in which critical thinking is discouraged; a food supply infected with debilitating additives that diminish alertness; a medical system eager to administer vaccines that create hidden afflictions that has been corrupted by pharmaceutical giants eager to peddle mind-numbing antidepressants; and mind-controlling, hateful religions which preach fear and advocate the mass murder of strangers as a way to demonstrate one’s righteousness.
And that brings us to today.
At this very moment, a larger number of Americans than ever before is ready to embrace the idea that something is very wrong with their government’s explanation about the curious disasters in New York, Washington, and Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and how these disasters have been exploited into a convenient excuse to attack oil-producing nations around the world as well as curtail traditional civil liberties at home.
But what happens when these finally brave individuals go looking for alternative information about the unspeakable tragedy and cynical deception that followed?
Total confusion is what.
Those who finally screw up their courage and say, “What I have heard is not right,” are met with a bewildering array of competing theories, endless arguments over technical minutia, and even some claims that rely on high-tech film analysis that other skeptics, equally qualified and ardent in their belief about government lies, dismiss as suspicious fiction.
What is a person who seeks real answers to do?
Since I am person in that category, I have lately advised sticking to the core issues that can be proven (rather than striving for a mind-blowing smoking gun that no one could deny). Too many skeptics are claiming they have “the” smoking gun, only to be ridiculed by others who say they don’t.
I myself have been subject to this ridicule, simply for advocating sticking to the provable lies of the situation. My attitude led one well-known so-called film analyst, Phil Jayhan of the infamous missile theory featured in a very popular video now making the rounds, to declaim that I didn’t care about the people who died on 9/11.
It’s good to know where people stand. Now there’s no chance I’ll ever believe anything he says again, and it also makes it easier for me to decide about the veracity of the film footage he has collected.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Sorry to take so long to unfold this. I’ve spent many months thinking about these things. Most of all, I don’t want to disparage someone who doesn’t deserve it. I am not a principal 9/11 researcher. I am only a writer and an average citizen trying to figure things out. It is with these mundane qualifications that I, above all, try to keep my eye on the ball.
Number one is: try to catch the real perps. Every other revelation must be subordinate to that goal. Many so-called 9/11 skeptics have admitted by their actions that this is not their goal. They would rather promote their particular theories than work toward catching the culprits.
OK, on with the analysis.
Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11” provided the first real crack in the mainstream media mindlock about the coverup, and brought President Bush’s odd behavior to the attention of millions who wouldn’t otherwise have been forced to peruse it. This alone was of inestimable value. But as time went on, critics noticed that Moore really didn’t touch on any of the core 9/11 issues, and worse, that he deflected attention toward the Saudis and away from the Israelis. I think today the prevailing opinion of the film is that it is merely Democratic campaign propaganda which nevertheless at least brought attention to the rapid erosion of American civil liberties, but didn’t really get to the meat of the 9/11 lies.
A subsequent video, “9/11 In Plane Site,” has take over the lead in popularity from the Moore film among those who wish to know about the real facts of 9/11, and I shall return to this subject in a moment.
At present (late October 2004), the highest hopes for revealing the true 9/11 story are vested in the new book, “Crossing the Rubicon,” by Mike Ruppert, who since day one after the tragedy has established himself as the No. 1 9/11 researcher through his From The Wilderness website. Perhaps because of competitive jealousy, perhaps through legitimate concern, Ruppert has become the target of criticism from many other 9/11 researchers because of his decision to link his research focus to Peak Oil, a concept that insists the real problem is that the world is running out of oil, and that will create unprecedented chaos and disaster in the very near future. It is an issue which many people do not regard as legitimately connected to 9/11. Hence, some people feel Ruppert is creating a distraction where none need exist.
This was certainly the case at a major 9/11 conference held recently in San Francisco, which Ruppert’s dominating presence managed to turn into a conference on Peak Oil. Few deny that Peak Oil is an important subject to talk about. But many, including me, don’t see its relevance to catching the 9/11 crooks, and hence regard it as a distraction from the investigation.
Nevertheless, many people hold out hope that Ruppert’s fingering of Vice President Dick Cheney as the mastermind of the confusion that allowed the terrorists to accomplish their evil objectives on 9/11 will lead to his prosecution for dereliction of duty and abetting the terrorist enterprise.
However, others believe this line of inquiry is, in itself, a limited hangout, because, in addition to maintaining the fiction that actual hijackers flew the planes, it focuses on allowing the events to happen rather than Cheney, Bush et all being responsible for the whole attack scenario themselves.
So who can tell? Is Ruppert’s effort a legitimate attempt to uncover the real truth or a sophisticated labyrinth meant to limit damage and deflect culpability?
And you can’t say “only time will tell” because we’re still debating what happened in the assassinations of both Lincoln and Kennedy. The fact is: sometimes we never do find out what happened.
A second hopeful sign in the public arena lately is the lawsuit filed by San Francisco lawyer Stanley Hilton alleging that President Bush and numerous other public officials conspired to let the 9/11 attacks happen. This action is seeking billions of dollars in damages on behalf of relatives of the 14 victims, and asserts Bush and his pals stood to profit billions from the changed political atmosphere of the United States that enabled them to wage profitable wars wherever and whenever they wanted.
The Hilton lawsuit contains many legitimate criticisms of the 9/11 non-investigation and coverup that all make very interesting reading for the unenlightened (see for a basic roundup, but like Ruppert’s angle of attack, it begs the question of who planned it, and hence has similarly been critiqued as a limited hangout meant to conceal the real planners of the event even as it aims to sacrifice some truly big names to the wheels of justice.
So both of these well-known endeavors fail to address the heart of the matter: who really did it? Who were the fat cats who run Bush and Cheney (and Kerry and Edwards, for that matter) from the deep, dark shadows of incredible wealth that put together this demonic plan to change the character of American civilization from nominally insular innocence to outwardly aggressive depravity?
Though the efforts by Ruppert and Hilton are generating a lot of hope amongst those who believe in their hearts that America has become an evil corporate cyborg eliminating as many actually honest humans as possible, the deeper possibility exists that they are exotic, extremely well-thought-out parts of the greater coverup designed to sacrifice a few high-level patsies in order to protect the demonic billionaires who thought the whole thing up in the first place.
Which leads us back to the popular video, “9/11 In Plane Site,” which has probably recruited more people to the 9/11 skeptics cause than any other single maneuver. But the big question — and the giant shadow that it casts over the whole 9/11 skeptics movement — is: Is it real? And more importantly? What happens if it isn’t?
Effective disinformation always contains large amounts of factual truth contaminated with small but devastating germs of falsehood, which when discovered, undermine the credibility of all the facts in the package.
According to some observers, notably Brian Salter of the respected website, “9/11 In Plane Site” contains a factual inaccuracy in a segment known as “the plume footage.” Narrator Dave Von Kleist states in the film that this plume of smoke began rising from the base of the Twin Towers BEFORE either of the towers began to fall. Salter, using the previous work of researcher Jim Hoffman, noted that the film had been fudged, and that in fact, the South Tower had already begun to fall.
Von Kleist, when confronted with this news at a recent 9/11 skeptics conference in New York City, told several different stories about the issue to different people. A few days later, he cobbled together a defense of his footage on his website, but has since refused to respond to anyone with questions about the incident.
In addition, Salter’s produced a story that regards Jayhan’s spectacular video analysis of missiles apparently being fired from the planes that hit the towers as subject to interpretation.
When the subject was brought up in a recent e-mail debate triggered by a question asked by’s webmaster Peter Meyer, it resulted in an incredibly abusive barrage of insults from all those 9/11 skeptics who are committed to the “no-plane theory” (which theorizes that based on their intense video analysis that no planes hit the Twin Towers on 9/11). Principally, these irate no-planers include The Webfairy, Gerard Holmgren, and Scott Loughrey, all of whom have distinguished themselves with various discoveries of the 9/11 puzzle. Jayhan is not a no-planer, because he believes the planes fired missiles.
The incredible scattershot barrage of accusations against all those who merely asked questions was culminated by Jayhan’s remark that I didn’t care about the 9/11 victims because I disagreed with what he was saying, and was typical of the level of abuse being spewed by all of them. So on the basis of their personal behavior, I would tend to distrust anything any of them said.
However, we all say things in the heat of proving our arguments that we wish we hadn’t, so I don’t base my opinion of the evidence they have produced (and in Holmgren’s case, it is undeniably compelling and apparently authentic, particularly in regard to proving at least two of the 9/11 flights never really existed) on how stupidly or rudely they behave when challenged.
What remains at issue is the plume footage in “9/11 In Plane Site” and the apparently false claim made by Von Kleist. My concern about the film has always been that if part of it is proven false, will all those who are converted to 9/11 skepticism as a result of the film abandon their judgments when they realize they were not told the truth?
That has always been my concern about the film. As some of you may remember from my previous review, I enthusiastically endorsed the Pentagon segment of the film and left it up to the viewer to decide about the rest of it.
Now, after VonKleist’s initial dissembling and subsequent silence, I would advise the film be viewed paying particular attention to his claim about the plume and the especially subjective interpretation of the planes firing missiles.
That I don’t believe any of those parts should not be accepted by viewers. I would like you to decide for yourselves.
So ... the principal reason I have reaped so much scorn from those who prefer their own exotic interpretations of what happened on 9/11 is that I have suddenly gone conservative in what I choose to believe about that fateful day.
No, not conservative as in “neocon” or “fundamental Zionist.” Conservative as in wanting to point only those 9/11 questions which I know can be proven, or as Peter Meyer asked in that original e-mail, the “incontestable” 9/11 issues.
First and foremost, as I outlined above, are the government lies, the heaps of them which prove to any reasonable skeptic that uncountable officials have simply not told the truth about that sad day, and that numerous crimes have been committed, including obstruction of justice, treason, and mass murder.
Second, I believe the government has failed to produce any evidence that the so-called hijackers were responsible for the tragedy, that there is no evidence they were even on the planes and no demonstrable proof they could fly such planes if they were, and that since they undoubtedly used false IDs, there is no way to affix blame on any country (except the one that specializes in stealing people’s identities), so that the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq were monstrous mistakes, as is blaming the Saudis.
Third, I like the phrase “the time the towers took to fall.” When you realize that debris ejected off to the side of the falling Twin Towers fell at the same rate as the towers themselves, you realize there was no resistance to the towers falling, which means they were demolished. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have come down so smoothly; each floor, as well as the very strong 47 core columns, would not have collapsed evenly had they not been blown up. Combined with the mysterious, on-demand collapse of WTC7 later in the day, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind the Twin Towers were demolished and the plane crashes were merely staged to cover up the demolition and then conveniently used an excuse for the corporate power elite to make war on the whole world.
Fourth, the clearest path to me to determining who was responsible for this horrible celebration of greed is identifying the pre-9/11 investors who reaped billions with their savvy financial bets based on foreknowledge of the events to come. That the FBI has declared these investments not to be suspicious is simply more evidence that the FBI does not work for the American people, but for the billionaires who control the government, the media, and the jeopardized lives of everyone in the world.
And fifth is the great unspoken “elephant in the living room.” It is the aspect of 9/11 least mentioned, and recently prohibited by law from even being discussed.
Yes, Israeli involvement. Jewish influence on the political process, undeniable, yet mostly unspoken out of fear of financial ruin, or being murdered. Israel is the country running around the world, killing tourists and stealing their IDs. Israel is the country that gets billions in U.S. foreign aid every year and never pays back a penny. Israel is the country that controls the American media, so that you don’t get any news about its continuing butchery of Palestinian children, or Zionist fingerprints on the church bombings and bloody beheadings in Iraq. Israel is the country that completely owns George W. Bush and John Kerry.
So ... in deciphering the 9/11 distractions, I prefer to stick to the core issues, that I can tell people right off the top of my head and convince them that the government has not told the truth.
You can keep your missiles and holograms (and your shallow insults, too). The government lied and the world is in grave jeopardy as a result of it.
It’s easy to prove that 9/11 was an inside job devised, executed, and then covered up by the highest levels of the American government. We don’t need exotic film footage that may or may not have been doctored to prove it. My great worry is, as with the VonKleist video, that when aspects of these theories are disproven, it will actually hurt the 9/11 skeptics movement much more it could possibly help it.
Enough ordinary evidence already exists to indict and convict thousands. America’s wholly corrupt judicial system is another question entirely.
The real problem now is an American populace that is hell-bent on denying what I’ve just said. This continuing denial on the part of those who refuse to listen and understand will take both them and us to exactly where their denial is headed — straight to the hell of widespread slavery, poverty, disease, more acts of suspicious terror, and ultimately to World War III and the end of human society as we know it.
John Kaminski is a writer who lives on the Gulf Coast of Florida. Mostly he writes essays that appear in various websites on the Internet. These have been collected into two anthologies, "America's Autopsy Report" and "The Perfect Enemy." For information go to

Further abuse at Abu Ghraib detailed

Further abuse at Abu Ghraib detailed
Boston Globe
WASHINGTON -- Government documents made public Thursday provide fresh details about allegations of abuse by guards at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and other detention facilities in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Richard A. Serrano and Greg Miller
October 23, 2004
Further abuse at Abu Ghraib detailed
ACLU forces US to disclose records
By Richard A. Serrano and Greg Miller, Los Angeles Times October 23, 2004
WASHINGTON -- Government documents made public Thursday provide fresh details about allegations of abuse by guards at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and other detention facilities in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
They include incidents in which a female prisoner was sexually humiliated by US military intelligence officers and a male inmate was shot at to force cooperation.
Meanwhile, a military judge has ordered two US Army reservists to stand trial in Baghdad for allegedly abusing Iraqi inmates at Abu Ghraib. Specialist Charles Graner Jr., 36, of Uniontown, Pa., will face a court-martial Jan. 7, while Sergeant Javal Davis, 26, of Maryland, is set to be tried Feb. 1.
The US documents, obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union under court order, include an internal FBI memo from last May that shows bureau employees based at Abu Ghraib witnessed a number of troubling incidents, but ''did not believe [that what they saw] rose to the level of misconduct or mistreatment."
The materials also describe the deaths of three Abu Ghraib prisoners, all reportedly of heart attacks, within days of each other in August 2003, weeks before the now-infamous episodes of photographed abuse began occurring at the prison.
Eight US soldiers have been charged with crimes in the Abu Ghraib scandal. Three have pleaded guilty, and one, Staff Sergeant Ivan L. ''Chip" Frederick II, was sentenced Thursday to eight years in prison.
The latest documents were released after a federal court directed the Defense Department and other government agencies to comply with the ACLU's request under the Freedom of Information Act for more details about alleged prisoner torture and abuse.
''After more than a year of stonewalling, the government has finally released some documents, though many are heavily redacted," said Amrit Singh, an ACLU staff lawyer. ''Unfortunately, the government continues to withhold records that would show who was ultimately responsible for the systemic abuse of detainees."
A preliminary review of some of the newly released material showed one case in which three US soldiers were each ordered detained for a month, fined up to $750, and reduced in rank for an incident in October 2003 in which a female Iraqi prisoner was partially stripped, abused, and threatened with more physical harm.
The woman told army investigators that she was in her cell at Baghdad's Al-Salhyat Prison when three military interrogators escorted her to an abandoned cell. While one soldier ''acted as a lookout," the woman said, another held her hands behind her back while the third soldier ''forcefully kissed" her. She said she then was taken downstairs and shown a naked Iraqi man.
© Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

Don't believe the hype

Don't believe the hype by Chris in Paris - 10/23/2004 10:35:36 AM For whatever reason (and I can think of a few, one of which starts with the name "bin") Zarqawi has become the most evil man in the world according to the Bushies. Of course he's a murderer and of course they should eliminate the guy but haven't they already had the chance to do this a few times and they passed on it? Our Pentagon-led media has been hyping Zarqawi for weeks now and if we believe the media spin, this guy has been in hundreds of locations all over Iraq blowing up people every day. The recent news about who is actually behind the attacks tells us something else.Now, the Pentagon-media is hyping the capture of a "senior al-Zarqawi leader" again to make us believe that they're cutting off the head of the monster. A monster, sure, but al-Zarqawi and his lot are just a small piece in a big puzzle of trouble. The problem is considerably larger than just Zarqawi, so don't believe the hype.


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