Sunday, May 29, 2005

High noon for high news - The Washington Times: Commentary - May 28, 2005

High noon for high news - The Washington Times: Commentary - May 28, 2005: "Victor Davis Hanson"

BG: Idiot!

High noon for high news
By Victor Davis Hanson
Published May 28, 2005
The recent Dan Rather and Newsweek controversies hardly seem connected. But on closer examination, both incidents symbolize what has gone wrong with traditional news organizations. The old assumption was that opinion media -- such as the National Review, the Nation and the New Republic -- offer a slant on current events, but that major news outlets, outside their designated opinion sections, do not. This commitment to disinterested reporting -- and along with it the public's trust in mainstream media -- has been shattered in recent years. It's easy to see why people no longer feel they can rely on a CBS News or a Newsweek for information without bias. At CBS, Dan Rather persistently wished us to believe a clearly forged memo was authentic. Michael Isikoff's reliance on a single anonymous and unreliable source about supposed desecration of the Koran made an already jaded public believe Newsweek was too eager to deliver a one-sided story. Three now-common themes appeared in each controversy: (1) The misinformation erred predictably against the current American government. In CBS' case, anchorman Dan Rather impugned the president's past military service. The Newsweek article questioned the ethics and sense of the U.S. military. (2) These were not minor slips. The counterfeit documents Mr. Rather circulated undercut a sitting commander-in-chief in the midst of a national election. The fraud had the potential to alter the very governance of the United States. Newsweek's wrong information incited the Middle East's lunatic elements. Rioting and death followed, complicating the U.S. military effort. (3) Neither organization was markedly contrite when exposed. The culpable Mr. Rather refashioned himself as the maligned target of the blogosphere. Newsweek spokesmen whined that a vindictive administration was hounding their management. In response, the public assumed haughty news organizations were caught exhibiting the usual partiality -- and then on spec retreated to victim status when challenged. These recent controversies about our flagship news agencies were old news to the public. The New York Times still has not recovered from the Jayson Blair scandal, in which a young reporter wrote fictitious stories. Mr. Blair's compliant editors worried more about political correctness than the qualifications and experience of their own reporters. The same syndrome was true earlier at The Washington Post and the Boston Globe, which were red-faced over the fabrications of reporter Janet Cooke and columnist Patricia Smith, respectively. In other example of media bias, CNN executive Eason Jordan confessed his network censored coverage of a mass-murdering Saddam Hussein -- and later tossed offhanded false allegations that the U.S. military deliberately targeted journalists in Iraq. With each expose the harm has been cumulative, driving the public away from a stained mainstream media. News purists mock the yelling of conservative talk radio, hypersensitive renegade bloggers on the Internet and cable news' sharp elbows. They shouldn't. All provide an antidote to "disinterested" High News the public no longer entirely believes. Bigheaded lectures for the umpteenth time about the "century-old standards" at the New York Times, the "legacy" of Edward R. Murrow or the "prestige" of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism don't cut it anymore in a world of Jayson Blair, Eason Jordan and Dan Rather. Liberal copycats of talk radio fail, not because they are always boring but because there is little market or even need for such a counter-establishment media. The progressive audience already finds its views embedded in a New York Times or CBS "news" story. So why turn to a redundant and less adept Al Franken, Phil Donahue or Arianna Huffington? Yet the irony is that though our major media are considered liberal, they are hardly populist. When Dan Rather and Newsweek are exposed, they seek refuge in stuffy institutional reputations and huffy establishment protocols. Meanwhile, a million bloggers with pitchforks -- derided by a former CBS executive as "guys in pajamas" -- couldn't care less about degrees or titles but use their collective brainpower to poke holes in the New York-Washington gatekeepers. A fire-breathing Rush Limbaugh or snapping Bill O'Reilly might not receive many honorary doctorates, speak at Ivy League commencements or carry off the Peabody Award. Yet they come off as no more opinionated than an anointed Peter Jennings or insider Bill Moyers -- and a lot more honest about their own politics and the medium in which they work. If the left wishes to curb the influence of the new prairie-fire media, the answer is not to subsidize an Air America, the failing liberal talk-radio network. There is no need to lure Al Gore back into the picture, or to pour more George Soros money into another Web site. Instead, liberals themselves must begin balking at the infusion of their political views in the mainstream media. Once the public again trusts major news outlets to be objective, media bias will no longer be news.

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a nationally syndicated columnist.

Thursday, May 26, 2005


EschatonPeople have been murdered, tortured, rendered to foreign countries to be tortured at a distance, sexually violated, imprisoned without trial or in some cases simply made to "disappear" in an all-American version of a practice previously associated with brutal Latin American dictatorships. All of this has been done, of course, in the name of freedom.

The Raw Story | Interview transcript: Veteran Democrat says country's direction raises red flags

The Raw Story | Interview transcript: Veteran Democrat says country's direction raises red flags

Another Day in the Empire � The Bush Gulag and Amnesty International�s Annual Report

Another Day in the Empire � The Bush Gulag and Amnesty International�s Annual Report

Flickr: Merina

BG: As they used to say on The Monty Python Show, And now for something completely different....

Flickr: Merina

Crooks and Liars: Helen Thomas-Gets Scotty

Crooks and Liars

Crooks and Liars - Voinovich cried on the Senate floor-Video

Crooks and Liars

ZNet |Terror War | What Really Happened at Guantanamo Bay?

ZNet |Terror War | What Really Happened at Guantanamo Bay?

News Hounds: Liberal Lady Lawyer Runs Rings Around Bill O'Reilly on Subject of GITMO Detainees

News Hounds: Liberal Lady Lawyer Runs Rings Around Bill O'Reilly on Subject of GITMO Detainees

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Times Argus

Times Argus: "Giuliani faces protest"

Taking the Heat

Bg: Menandering Post... Don't like the tone (and the headline is unduly laudatory), but worth a read.
Taking the Heat: "
Taking the Heat

By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 25, 2005; 9:06 AM

The press, it is clear from the filibuster coverage, loves moderates.
The same can't be said of the blogosphere.
In the Old Media portrayal, McCain and the Gang of 14 (how did new members slip in there after we'd all decided on the Gang of 12?) are principled mavericks who care deeply about the institution of the Senate and are willing to risk their careers and buck their parties to preserve it.
But to bloggers on the left and right, the Mod Squad is comprised of finks, scoundrels and sellouts.
The talk in Washington had been that it would be hard for the two sides to cut a deal because both Democrats and Republicans are under strong pressure from their interest groups. And some of those strong feelings are being vented online in the wake of Monday night's squishy compromise.
Being denounced by right-wingers and left-wingers, respectively, does tend to burnish one's reputation as a thoughtful man (or woman) of the middle. But does that reputation mean anything in an age of polarized politics?
'The fate of the agreement defusing the Capitol Hill confrontation over judicial nominations now rests as much in the hands of President Bush as the senators who crafted it,' says the Los Angeles Times. 'The dramatic deal reached Monday night by a bipartisan group of 14 senators forestalled a showdown over a GOP effort to ban the filibuster for judicial nominations. It produced immediate results today when the Senate swept away a filibuster preventing a final vote on Priscilla R. Owen, a long-stalled Bush nominee to the federal court of appeals now expected to win confirmation Wednesday...
'But the deal, in which seven"

Listen to My Wife - New York Times

BG: Interesting....
Listen to My Wife - New York Times


May 25, 2005
Listen to My Wife
"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world," wrote George Bernard Shaw. "The unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man."

Or maybe on the unreasonable woman. Take my wife.

Jody - and I mean this in a sweet and not a clinical way - has been in a state of perpetual schizophrenia since our daughter was born. She used to run a company, but she loves being a mom. So she's settled on a string of part-time roles that (in my view, at least) call on a fraction of the skills corporate America spent two decades helping her develop.

Maybe you know a woman (or a few million) like her. It's hardly news that the issue vexing talented people is the struggle to balance their professional lives with time for fulfilling lives outside of work. The shock is that after decades of wrestling with these tradeoffs, the obvious answer is the one everyone has been too skeptical or afraid to explore: changing the way top jobs are structured.

In a world where most people are struggling, the search for "balance" in high-powered jobs has to be counted a luxury. Still, there is something telling (if not downright dysfunctional) when a society's most talented people feel they have to sacrifice the meaningful relationships every human craves as the price of exercising their talent.

Nowhere is there a greater gulf between the frustration people feel over a dilemma central to their lives and their equally powerful sense that there's nothing to be done. As a result, talented people throw up their hands. Women are "opting out" after deciding that professional success isn't worth the price. Ambitious folks of both sexes "do what they have to," sure there is no other way. That's just life.

My unreasonable wife rejects this choice. If the most interesting and powerful jobs are too consuming, Jody says, then why don't we re-engineer these jobs - and the firms and the culture that sustain them - to make possible the blend of love and work that everyone knows is the true gauge of "success"? As scholars have asked, why should we be the only elites in human history that don't set things up to get what we want?

When your wife declaims like this daily for a decade, the effect can be surprising. For years I listened politely but inadequately, to judge from Jody's grumbling. Now, thanks to her persistence and my exhaustion, I've discovered I'm a feminist ("humanist," Jody corrects). They say spouses come to look like each other; maybe their convictions do, too. In any event, now that I've internalized this, I can help other men avoid my agonizing learning curve.

Here's the deal: this isn't a "women's" problem; it's a human problem. Yet for 30 years women have tried to crack this largely on their own, and one thing is clear: if the fight isn't joined by men (like me) who want a life, too, any solutions become "women's" solutions. A broader drive to redesign work will take a union-style consciousness that makes it safe for men who secretly want balance to say so.

Today talented people live in fear of sounding anything less than 24/7. Tell your boss you have to deal with a drinking problem and you'll be fine; say you want more time with your family and you're on the endangered species list. As a result, my wife says, we're being led by a class of people who made choices (because there was no alternative) that are alien to what most of us want.

Some call this "whining." Others like working 24/7. Still others assert that you can never change the nature of work near the top. But our corporate experience persuades us that change is inevitable. In a globalizing world, many senior jobs are already impossibly big. If they need to be restructured anyway (we're working on how), why not do so in ways that give folks the option to have a life? Skeptics should recall that everyone once "knew" that a weekend or a minimum wage would spell economic ruin, too.

The first step in any tough transformation is what A.A. famously teaches: admit that we're powerless and that our lives have become unmanageable. It's time workaholic males took up this cause, because top jobs will never change unless we do. Jody even has an incentive plan.

In Aristophanes' play "Lysistrata," the women withhold their charms until the men agree to stop making war. Jody thinks that's a promising model. Talk about unreasonable.

E-mail:; Matt Miller is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. Maureen Dowd is on book leave.

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BBC NEWS | Europe | Amnesty accuses US over 'torture'

BBC NEWS | Europe | Amnesty accuses US over 'torture'

Great Lies of the American free press - PRAVDA.Ru

Great Lies of the American free press - PRAVDA.Ru

Lookout, France! Google hires neo-con headbanger | The Register

Lookout, France! Google hires neo-con headbanger | The Register

Galloway vs. The US Senate: Audio and Transcript of Statement
George Galloway, Respect MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, delivered this statement to US Senators today who have accused him of corruption

NewsGateway - Truth and Lies of 9/11

NewsGateway - Truth and Lies of 9/11
BG: General Discussion Page

ZNet |Iraq | The Anti-War Movement and Iraq

ZNet |Iraq | The Anti-War Movement and Iraq

Depression / Treatment

BG: Maybe Fintan is right about Big Pharma? Look how negatively Tom Cruise is portrayed...

MSN - News - Gossip

Cruise Down on Brooke's Anti-Depressants

Tom rails against drugs, pushes vitamins; plus, news on Renée, Gwyneth & Chris, Angelina & Brad and more ...

May 23, 2005

Has Tom Cruise received a medical degree in his spare time? The megastar is openly questioning the treatment Brooke Shields received for her crippling postpartum depression, a struggle she details in her new memoir, "Down Came the Rain."

Tom, sticking close to Scientology's anti-psychiatry party line, believes Shields, despite experiencing what she has described as suicidal thoughts, should have avoided taking the anti-depressant drug Paxil following the birth of her daughter, Rowan, in 2003.

"These drugs are dangerous. I have actually helped people come off," Cruise proselytizes, er, says, in an interview with Access Hollywood set to air Thursday (via the New York Daily News). "When you talk about postpartum, you can take people today, women, and what you do is you use vitamins."

According to Dr. Tom, "There is a hormonal thing that is going on, scientifically, you can prove that. But when you talk about emotional, chemical imbalances in people, there is no science behind that. You can use vitamins to help a woman through those things."

(And somewhere, a "War of the Worlds" marketing exec smacks his forehead and tries to convince himself that moms really won't comprise too much of the movie's opening weekend audience.)

The actor, who made his film debut in the 1981 Shields clunker "Endless Love," adds, "Here is a woman, and I care about Brooke Shields because I think she is an incredibly talented woman -- you look at, where has her career gone?"


When he's not dissing the "Suddenly Susan" star's B-list status and medical choices, Cruise, 42, has been out promoting his ardor for girlfriend-of-about-a-month Katie Holmes, 26, to major media outlets.

But was the actress, who has had a difficult few weeks, what with the tabloids gleefully analyzing her facial blemishes and allegedly bunion-filled feet, a runner-up for toothy Tom's affections?

According to the Daily News, the A-lister originally hoped to woo the once and possibly future flame of Orlando Bloom.

"Before Katie, he was interested in Kate Bosworth," a mole tattles to the paper. But it appears the 22-year-old actress, currently Down Under filming the blockbuster-to-be "Superman Returns," was able to resist the all-consuming Cruise charisma.

While Kate's rep is mum, Tom's sister-turned-mouthpiece LeeAnn Devett pooh-poohs the rumor, insisting to the Daily News, "That is completely and utterly false information."

Either way, he seems perfectly content in his current choice, with his admiration now bordering on hysteria.

"I love this woman," Cruise enthuses to Access. "I've got to tell you something, I'm not going to hide it. I am so happy and I am not going to pretend or hide it or be shy. This woman is magnificent ... I'm really, really happy and I can't contain it. I'm not going to pretend."

He's equally effusive on Monday's Oprah, pumping his fists and falling to one knee in excitement, and racing backstage in an attempt to bring out a skittish Holmes, who tries to scamper away (go with that feeling, sweetie).

"I've known Tom a long time, and he has always been so private," marvels Oprah. "I've never seen him like this before -- he's gone."

When MTV News asked him why he's going so public with his amour, he explains, "When I make a move like that, I'm saying, 'This is my woman.'" (No word on whether that statement was followed by a grunt and some chest-beating.)

Says the star, "People are going to do what they are going to do. Here's the thing: You can't think in terms of what are people going to do or say. [Stepping out with her publicly is] saying, 'I want to share my life with this woman; this woman is exceptional, she is special, she is extraordinary and I have great respect for her.' And it's saying, 'I got nothing to hide. I'm happy.' I'm happy, man ... she is something else."

So what does Cruise look for in a woman, besides the ability to reciprocate his immediate and intense passion? "I'm concerned about whether or not someone can keep up with me," he tells MTV. "I got a fast life. I got a lot going on."

Including the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard, which he seems to be introducing to Holmes. The couple, who recently enjoyed a Mexican holiday with Tom's two kids, reportedly visited a Scientology-affiliated school in Los Angeles two weeks ago.

And just in case you've been in a cave ... on Mars ... with your fingers in your ears, Cruise hits theaters in "War of the Worlds" on June 29, while Holmes plays second banana to Christian Bale's Caped Crusader in "Batman Begins" starting on June 15.

Iraq Started the Iran/Iraq War? :: from :: news from occupied Iraq - it

Iraq Started the Iran/Iraq War? :: from :: news from occupied Iraq - it



BBC NEWS | South Asia | FBI 'ignored Pakistan US torture'

BBC NEWS | South Asia | FBI 'ignored Pakistan US torture': "'Routinely tortured' "

Another Day in the Empire � Michael Isikoff: Government News Source Junkie

Another Day in the Empire � Michael Isikoff: Government News Source Junkie
BG: Not sure I buy all of this. I'm sure if real truth about 911 isn't part of the discussion, then, a big part of the truth is missing.

Afghan Poppycock - Hamid Karzai's halfhearted jihad. By David Bosco

Afghan Poppycock - Hamid Karzai's halfhearted jihad. By David Bosco

Pics for Fun

Statement of Senator Russ Feingold on Tonight's Decision Regarding Judicial Nominees and the Filibuster

Statement of Senator Russ Feingold on Tonight's Decision Regarding Judicial Nominees and the Filibuster

A Troubled Hunt - Newsweek World News -

A Troubled Hunt - Newsweek World News -
BG: Chastised: Newsweek serves the masters.... (of propaganda).
Technorati Tags: sept11 bin Laden disinformation

blogpost cartoon

August J. Pollak -

August J. Pollak - have nothing new to add to the filibuster discussion
So I walk in the door and turn on the TV to check out the "all-nighter" session the Senate declared and to see if Bill Frist was wearing the Spongebob pajamas James Dobson bought him and instead get the most fearsome of images in the form of Joe Lieberman trying to smile. I apparently already missed the speeches from Mike DeWine explaining that his name was Mike DeWine and he was actually a United States Senator, and Robert Byrd telling a story about how he knew Ben Franklin.

Friedman Agonistes - Will the New York Times columnist read himself? By Timothy�Noah

Friedman Agonistes - Will the New York Times columnist read himself? By Timothy�Noah

What Women Want - New York Times

What Women Want - New York Times


May 24, 2005
What Women Want
Suppose you could eliminate the factors often blamed for the shortage of women in high-paying jobs. Suppose that promotions and raises did not depend on pleasing sexist male bosses or putting in long nights and weekends away from home. Would women make as much as men?

Economists recently tried to find out in an experiment in Pittsburgh by paying men and women to add up five numbers in their heads. At first they worked individually, doing as many sums as they could in five minutes and receiving 50 cents for each correct answer. Then they competed in four-person tournaments, with the winner getting $2 per correct answer and the losers getting nothing.

On average, the women made as much as the men under either system. But when they were offered a choice for the next round - take the piece rate or compete in a tournament - most women declined to compete, even the ones who had done the best in the earlier rounds. Most men chose the tournament, even the ones who had done the worst.

The men's eagerness partly stemmed from overconfidence, because on average men rated their ability more highly than the women rated theirs. But interviews and further experiments convinced the researchers, Muriel Niederle of Stanford and Lise Vesterlund of the University of Pittsburgh, that the gender gap wasn't due mainly to women's insecurities about their abilities. It was due to different appetites for competition.

"Even in tasks where they do well, women seem to shy away from competition, whereas men seem to enjoy it too much," Professor Niederle said. "The men who weren't good at this task lost a little money by choosing to compete, and the really good women passed up a lot of money by not entering tournaments they would have won."

You can argue that this difference is due to social influences, although I suspect it's largely innate, a byproduct of evolution and testosterone. Whatever the cause, it helps explain why men set up the traditional corporate ladder as one continual winner-take-all competition - and why that structure no longer makes sense.

Now that so many employees (and more than half of young college graduates) are women, running a business like a tournament alienates some of the most talented workers and potential executives. It also induces competition in situations where cooperation makes more sense.

The result is not good for the bottom line, as demonstrated by a study from the Catalyst research organization showing that large companies yield better returns to stockholders if they have more women in senior management. A friend of mine, a businessman who buys companies, told me one of the first things he looks at is the gender of the boss.

"The companies run by women are much more likely to survive," he said. "The typical guy who starts a company is a competitive, charismatic leader - he's always the firm's top salesman - but if he leaves he takes his loyal followers with him and the company goes downhill. Women C.E.O.'s know how to hire good salespeople and create a healthy culture within the company. Plus they don't spend 20 percent of their time in strip clubs."

Still, for all the executive talents that women have, for all the changes that are happening in the corporate world, there will always be some jobs that women, on average, will not want as badly as men do. Some of the best-paying jobs require crazed competition and the willingness to risk big losses - going broke, never seeing your family and friends, dying young.

The women in the experiment who didn't want to bother with a five-minute tournament are not likely to relish spending 16 hours a day on a Wall Street trading floor. It's not fair to deny women a chance at those jobs, but it's not realistic to expect that they'll seek them in the same numbers that men will.

For two decades, academics crusading for equality in the workplace have been puzzled by surveys showing that women are at least as satisfied with their jobs and their pay as men are. This is known as "the paradox of the contented female worker."

But maybe it's not such a paradox after all. Maybe women, like the ones who shunned the experimental tournament, know they could make more money in some jobs but also know they wouldn't enjoy competing for it as much as their male rivals. They realize, better than men, that in life there's a lot more at stake than money.

For Futher Reading:

Do Women Shy Away from Competition? by Niederle Muriel, and Lise Vesterlund (working paper)

Performance in Competitive Environments: Gender Differences by Uri Gneezy, Muriel Niederle and Aldo Rustichini (Quarterly Journal of Economics, CXVIII, August 2003, 1049 – 1074)

Women Don’t Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever (Princeton University Press, 240 pp., September 2003)

Heroes, Rogues, and Lovers: Testosterone and Behavior by James McBride Dabbs with Mary Godwin Dabbs (McGraw-Hill, 256 pp., July 2000)

The First Sex : The Natural Talents of Women and How They Are Changing the World by Helen Fisher (Random House, 377 pp., May 1999)


Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company Home Privacy Policy Search Corrections RSS Help Contact Us Back to Top

ZNet |Mainstream Media | Daniel Okrent's Revealing Closeout as Public Editor of the New York Times

ZNet |Mainstream Media | Daniel Okrent's Revealing Closeout as Public Editor of the New York Times

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

BlondeSense: Found, The Holy Grail of Why Our Country is in so Much Trouble

BlondeSense: Found, The Holy Grail of Why Our Country is in so Much Trouble



All In One Chunk - 9/11 Basic Questions-WRH 9/11 Index-Questions for Michael Moore

All In One Chunk - 9/11 Basic Questions-WRH 9/11 Index-Questions for Michael Moore



Great Lies of the Amercian free press :: from :: news from occupied Iraq - it

Great Lies of the Amercian free press :: from :: news from occupied Iraq - it Kevin Benderman Defense Committee, Congressman McKinney Kevin Benderman Defense Committee

Israel, Iran and a Nuclear False Flag Attack

Israel, Iran and a Nuclear False Flag Attack

German magazine names alleged 9/11 messenger

Khaleej Times OnlineHAMBURG - The courier sent from Hamburg to forewarn Al Qaeda chiefs in Afghanistan about the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington will be named in evidence to be produced in a Hamburg court this week, German news magazines said on Saturday.

The man, Moroccan student Zakariya es-Sabar, has been widely identified in past accounts of the attack as the conspirator who passed a cryptic message from the Hamburg cell to Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, a senior Al Qaeda operative who is in US custody.

The Focus weekly said he would be officially named in a new collation of evidence by US authorities that has been sent to Germany for production at the trial of Mounir al-Motassadeq, another Moroccan student who did arms training at an Afghan camp and returned to Hamburg.

Es-Sabar has not been seen since shortly before the attacks. Focus said that another captive, Ramzi bin al-Shibh, stated that he sent es-Sabar to Pakistan to tell a contact there the date of the attack.

However no contact with Khaled Sheikh Mohammed could be established, and es-Sabar phoned Hamburg to say he had been unsuccessful. It was not clear how Al Qaeda was ultimately informed.

The website of another magazine, Der Spiegel, said the US documents would quote bin al-Shibh as stating that a courier was told to pass on the words “eleven nine” without knowing what they meant.

Es-Sabar was also allegedly ordered to obtain a US visa so he could participate in the attacks, but was denied such a visa.

Focus said the documents did not incriminate the Hamburg defendant, Motassadeq, while Spiegel said they undermined the prosecution case that the plot was developed in Hamburg in 1999. Bin al-Shibh said the conspiracy began in 2000.

Focus quoted Motassadeq’s lawyer as saying the new evidence was mainly of assistance to the defence case. Motassadeq is being re- tried after a German appeals court overturned his original conviction and sentence to 15 years in jail for being a terrorist.

Both news magazines go on sale Monday with the story.

While elaborate accounts of the conspiracy have appeared in the media and in the US congressional 9-11 report, Hamburg judges have pushed hard to be told the precise provenance of the evidence.

ZNet | Iraq | Abu Ghraib

ZNet | Iraq | Abu GhraibZNet | Iraq

Abu Ghraib

by Seymour Hersh; The Guardian; May 23, 2005

It's been over a year since I published a series of articles in the New Yorker outlining the abuses at Abu Ghraib. There have been at least 10 official military investigations since then - none of which has challenged the official Bush administration line that there was no high-level policy condoning or overlooking such abuse. The buck always stops with the handful of enlisted army reservists from the 372nd Military Police Company whose images fill the iconic Abu Ghraib photos with their inappropriate smiles and sadistic posing of the prisoners.

It's a dreary pattern. The reports and the subsequent Senate proceedings are sometimes criticised on editorial pages. There are calls for a truly independent investigation by the Senate or House. Then, as months pass with no official action, the issue withers away, until the next set of revelations revives it.

There is much more to be learned. What do I know? A few things stand out. I know of the continuing practice of American operatives seizing suspected terrorists and taking them, without any meaningful legal review, to interrogation centres in south-east Asia and elsewhere. I know of the young special forces officer whose subordinates were confronted with charges of prisoner abuse and torture at a secret hearing after one of them emailed explicit photos back home. The officer testified that, yes, his men had done what the photos depicted, but they - and everybody in the command - understood such treatment was condoned by higher-ups.

What else do I know? I know that the decision was made inside the Pentagon in the first weeks of the Afghanistan war - which seemed "won" by December 2001 - to indefinitely detain scores of prisoners who were accumulating daily at American staging posts throughout the country. At the time, according to a memo, in my possession, addressed to Donald Rumsfeld, there were "800-900 Pakistani boys 13-15 years of age in custody". I could not learn if some or all of them have been released, or if some are still being held.

A Pentagon spokesman, when asked to comment, said that he had no information to substantiate the number in the document, and that there were currently about 100 juveniles being held in Iraq and Afghanistan; he did not address detainees held elsewhere. He said they received some special care, but added "age is not a determining factor in detention ... As with all the detainees, their release is contingent upon the determination that they are not a threat and that they are of no further intelligence value. Unfortunately, we have found that ... age does not necessarily diminish threat potential."

The 10 official inquiries into Abu Ghraib are asking the wrong questions, at least in terms of apportioning ultimate responsibility for the treatment of prisoners. The question that never gets adequately answered is this: what did the president do after being told about Abu Ghraib? It is here that chronology becomes very important.

The US-led coalition forces swept to seeming immediate success in the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, and by early April Baghdad had been taken. Over the next few months, however, the resistance grew in scope, persistence and skill. In August 2003 it became more aggressive. At this point there was a decision to get tough with the thousands of prisoners in Iraq, many of whom had been seized in random raids or at roadside checkpoints. Major General Geoffrey D Miller, an army artillery officer who, as commander at Guantanamo, had got tough with the prisoners there, visited Baghdad to tutor the troops - to "Gitmo-ise" the Iraqi system.

By the beginning of October 2003 the reservists on the night shift at Abu Ghraib had begun their abuse of prisoners. They were aware that some of America's elite special forces units were also at work at the prison. Those highly trained military men had been authorised by the Pentagon's senior leadership to act far outside the normal rules of engagement. There was no secret about the interrogation practices used throughout that autumn and early winter, and few objections. In fact representatives of one of the Pentagon's private contractors at Abu Ghraib, who were involved in prisoner interrogation, were told that Condoleezza Rice, then the president's national security adviser, had praised their efforts. It's not clear why she would do so - there is still no evidence that the American intelligence community has accumulated any significant information about the operations of the resistance, who continue to strike US soldiers and Iraqis. The night shift's activities at Abu Ghraib came to an end on January 13 2004, when specialist Joseph M Darby, one of the 372nd reservists, provided army police authorities with a disk full of explicit images. By then, these horrors had been taking place for nearly four months.

Three days later the army began an investigation. But it is what was not done that is significant. There is no evidence that President Bush, upon learning of the devastating conduct at Abu Ghraib, asked any hard questions of Rumsfeld and his own aides in the White House; no evidence that they took any significant steps, upon learning in mid-January of the abuses, to review and modify the military's policy toward prisoners. I was told by a high-level former intelligence official that within days of the first reports the judicial system was programmed to begin prosecuting the enlisted men and women in the photos and to go no further up the chain of command.

In late April, after the CBS and New Yorker reports, a series of news conferences and press briefings emphasised the White House's dismay over the conduct of a few misguided soldiers at Abu Ghraib and the president's repeated opposition to torture. Miller was introduced anew to the American press corps in Baghdad and it was explained that the general had been assigned to clean up the prison system and instil respect for the Geneva conventions.

Despite Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo - not to mention Iraq and the failure of intelligence - and the various roles they played in what went wrong, Rumsfeld kept his job; Rice was promoted to secretary of state; Alberto Gonzales, who commissioned the memos justifying torture, became attorney general; deputy secretary of defence Paul Wolfowitz was nominated to the presidency of the World Bank; and Stephen Cambone, under-secretary of defence for intelligence and one of those most directly involved in the policies on prisoners, was still one of Rumsfeld's closest confidants. President Bush, asked about accountability, told the Washington Post before his second inauguration that the American people had supplied all the accountability needed - by re-electing him. Only seven enlisted men and women have been charged or pleaded guilty to offences relating to Abu Ghraib. No officer is facing criminal proceedings.

Such action, or inaction, has special significance for me. In my years of reporting, since covering My Lai in 1969, I have come to know the human costs of such events - and to believe that soldiers who participate can become victims as well.

Amid my frenetic reporting for the New Yorker on Abu Ghraib, I was telephoned by a middle-aged woman. She told me that a family member, a young woman, was among those members of the 320th Military Police Battalion, to which the 372nd was attached, who had returned to the US in March. She came back a different person - distraught, angry and wanting nothing to do with her immediate family. At some point afterward, the older woman remembered that she had lent the reservist a portable computer with a DVD player to take to Iraq; on it she discovered an extensive series of images of a naked Iraqi prisoner flinching in fear before two snarling dogs. One of the images was published in the New Yorker and then all over the world.

The war, the older woman told me, was not the war for democracy and freedom that she thought her young family member had been sent to fight. Others must know, she said. There was one other thing she wanted to share with me. Since returning from Iraq, the young woman had been getting large black tattoos all over her body. She seemed intent on changing her skin.

Extracted from The Chain of Command, published in paperback by Penguin Press

Monday, May 23, 2005 news article news articleThe 9/11 Commission Report: A 571-Page Lie
by Dr. David Ray Griffin
9/11 Visibility Project
Sunday, May 22, 2005
Link to Original

In discussing my second 9/11 book, The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions, I have often said, only half in jest, that a better title might have been “a 571-page lie.” (Actually, I was saying “a 567-page lie,” because I was forgetting to count the four pages of the Preface.) In making this statement, one of my points has been that the entire Report is constructed in support of one big lie: that the official story about 9/11 is true.

Another point, however, is that in the process of telling this overall lie, The 9/11 Commission Report tells many lies about particular issues. This point is implied by my critique’s subtitle, “Omissions and Distortions.” It might be thought, to be sure, that of the two types of problems signaled by those two terms, only those designated “distortions” can be considered lies.

It is better, however, to understand the two terms as referring to two types of lies: implicit and explicit. We have an explicit lie when the Report claims that the core of each of the Twin Towers consisted of a hollow steel shaft or when it claims that Vice President Cheney did not give the shoot-down order until after 10:10 that morning. But we have an implicit lie when the Commission, in its discussion of the 19 alleged suicide hijackers, omits the fact that at least six of them have credibly been reported to be still alive, or when it fails to mention the fact that Building 7 of the World Trade Center collapsed. Such omissions are implicit lies partly because they show that the Commission did not honor its stated intention “to provide the fullest possible account of the events surrounding 9/11.” They are also lies insofar as the Commission could avoid telling an explicit lie about the issue in question only by not mentioning it, which, I believe, was the case in at least most instances.

Given these two types of lies, it might be wondered how many lies are contained in The 9/11 Commission Report. I do not know. But, deciding to see how many lies I had discussed in my book, I found that I had identified over 100 of them. Once I had made the list, it occurred to me that others might find this summary helpful. Hence this article.

One caveat: Although in some of the cases it is obvious that the Commission has lied, in other cases I would say, as I make clear in the book, that it appears that the Commission has lied. However, in the interests of simply giving a brief listing of claims that I consider to be lies, I will ignore this distinction between obvious and probable lies, leaving it to readers, if they wish, to look up the discussion in The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions. For ease in doing this, I have parenthetically indicated the pages of the book on which the various issues are discussed.

Given this clarification, I now list the omissions and claims of The 9/11 Commission Report that I, in my critique of that report, portrayed as lies:

1. The omission of evidence that at least six of the alleged hijackers---including Waleed al-Shehri, said by the Commission probably to have stabbed a flight attendant on Flight 11 before it crashed into the North Tower of the WTC---are still alive (19-20).

2. The omission of evidence about Mohamed Atta---such as his reported fondness for alcohol, pork, and lap dances---that is in tension with the Commission’s claim that he had become fanatically religious (20-21).

3. The obfuscation of the evidence that Hani Hanjour was too poor a pilot to have flown an airliner into the Pentagon (21-22).

4. The omission of the fact that the publicly released flight manifests contain no Arab names (23).

5. The omission of the fact that fire has never, before or after 9/11, caused steel-frame buildings to collapse (25).

6. The omission of the fact that the fires in the Twin Towers were not very big, very hot, or very long-lasting compared with fires in several steel-frame buildings that did not collapse (25-26).

7. The omission of the fact that, given the hypothesis that the collapses were caused by fire, the South Tower, which was struck later than the North Tower and also had smaller fires, should not have collapsed first (26).

8. The omission of the fact that WTC 7 (which was not hit by an airplane and which had only small, localized fires) also collapsed---an occurrence that FEMA admitted it could not explain (26).

9. The omission of the fact that the collapse of the Twin Towers (like that of Building 7) exemplified at least 10 features suggestive of controlled demolition (26-27).

10. The claim that the core of each of the Twin Towers was “a hollow steel shaft”---a claim that denied the existence of the 47 massive steel columns that in reality constituted the core of each tower and that, given the “pancake theory” of the collapses, should have still been sticking up many hundreds of feet in the air (27-28).

11. The omission of Larry Silverstein’s statement that he and the fire department commander decided to “pull” Building 7 (28).

12. The omission of the fact that the steel from the WTC buildings was quickly removed from the crime scene and shipped overseas before it could be analyzed for evidence of explosives (30).

13. The omission of the fact that because Building 7 had been evacuated before it collapsed, the official reason for the rapid removal of the steel---that some people might still be alive in the rubble under the steel---made no sense in this case (30).

14. The omission of Mayor Giuliani’s statement that he had received word that the World Trade Center was going to collapse (30-31).

15. The omission of the fact that President Bush’s brother Marvin and his cousin Wirt Walker III were both principals in the company in charge of security for the WTC (31-32).

16. The omission of the fact that the west wing of the Pentagon would have been the least likely spot to be targeted by al-Qaeda terrorists, for several reasons (33-34).

17. The omission of any discussion of whether the damage done to the Pentagon was consistent with the impact of a Boeing 757 going several hundred miles per hour (34).

18. The omission of the fact that there are photos showing that the west wing’s façade did not collapse until 30 minutes after the strike and also that the entrance hole appears too small for a Boeing 757 to have entered (34).

19. The omission of all testimony that has been used to cast doubt on whether remains of a Boeing 757 were visible either inside or outside the Pentagon (34-36).

20. The omission of any discussion of whether the Pentagon has a anti-missile defense system that would have brought down a commercial airliner---even though the Commission suggested that the al-Qaeda terrorists did not attack a nuclear power plant because they assumed that it would be thus defended (36).

21. The omission of the fact that pictures from various security cameras---including the camera at the gas station across from the Pentagon, the film from which was reportedly confiscated by the FBI immediately after the strike---could presumably answer the question of what really hit the Pentagon (37-38).

22. The omission of Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld’s reference to “the missile [used] to damage [the Pentagon]” (39).

23. The apparent endorsement of a wholly unsatisfactory answer to the question of why the Secret Service agents allowed President Bush to remain at the Sarasota school at a time when, given the official story, they should have assumed that a hijacked airliner might be about to crash into the school (41-44).

24. The failure to explore why the Secret Service did not summon fighter jets to provide air cover for Air Force One (43-46).

25. The claims that when the presidential party arrived at the school, no one in the party knew that several planes had been hijacked (47-48).

26. The omission of the report that Attorney General Ashcroft was warned to stop using commercial airlines prior to 9/11 (50).

27. The omission of David Schippers’ claim that he had, on the basis of information provided by FBI agents about upcoming attacks in lower Manhattan, tried unsuccessfully to convey this information to Attorney General Ashcroft during the six weeks prior to 9/11 (51).

28. The omission of any mention of the FBI agents who reportedly claimed to have known the targets and dates of the attacks well in advance (51-52).

29. The claim, by means of a circular, question-begging rebuttal, that the unusual purchases of put options prior to 9/11 did not imply advance knowledge of the attacks on the part of the buyers (52-57).

30. The omission of reports that both Mayor Willie Brown and some Pentagon officials received warnings about flying on 9/11 (57).

31. The omission of the report that Osama bin Laden, who already was America’s “most wanted” criminal, was treated in July 2001 by an American doctor in the American Hospital in Dubai and visited by the local CIA agent (59).

32. The omission of news stories suggesting that after 9/11 the US military in Afghanistan deliberately allowed Osama bin Laden to escape (60).

33. The omission of reports, including the report of a visit to Osama bin Laden at the hospital in Dubai by the head of Saudi intelligence, that were in tension with the official portrayal of Osama as disowned by his family and his country (60-61).

34. The omission of Gerald Posner’s account of Abu Zubaydah’s testimony, according to which three members of the Saudi royal family---all of whom later died mysteriously within an eight-day period---were funding al-Qaeda and had advance knowledge of the 9/11 attacks (61-65).

35. The Commission’s denial that it found any evidence of Saudi funding of al-Qaeda (65-68).

36. The Commission’s denial in particular that it found any evidence that money from Prince Bandar’s wife, Princess Haifa, went to al-Qaeda operatives (69-70).

37. The denial, by means of simply ignoring the distinction between private and commercial flights, that the private flight carrying Saudis from Tampa to Lexington on September 13 violated the rules for US airspace in effect at the time (71-76).

38. The denial that any Saudis were allowed to leave the United States shortly after 9/11 without being adequately investigated (76-82).

39. The omission of evidence that Prince Bandar obtained special permission from the White House for the Saudi flights (82-86).

40. The omission of Coleen Rowley’s claim that some officials at FBI headquarters did see the memo from Phoenix agent Kenneth Williams (89-90).

41. The omission of Chicago FBI agent Robert Wright’s charge that FBI headquarters closed his case on a terrorist cell, then used intimidation to prevent him from publishing a book reporting his experiences (91).

42. The omission of evidence that FBI headquarters sabotaged the attempt by Coleen Rowley and other Minneapolis agents to obtain a warrant to search Zacarias Moussaoui’s computer (91-94).

43. The omission of the 3.5 hours of testimony to the Commission by former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds—-testimony that, according to her later public letter to Chairman Kean, revealed serious 9/11-related cover-ups by officials at FBI headquarters (94-101).

44. The omission of the fact that General Mahmoud Ahmad, the head of Pakistan’s intelligence agency (the ISI), was in Washington the week prior to 9/11, meeting with CIA chief George Tenet and other US officials (103-04).

45. The omission of evidence that ISI chief Ahmad had ordered $100,000 to be sent to Mohamed Atta prior to 9/11 (104-07).

46. The Commission’s claim that it found no evidence that any foreign government, including Pakistan, had provided funding for the al-Qaeda operatives (106).

47. The omission of the report that the Bush administration pressured Pakistan to dismiss Ahmad as ISI chief after the appearance of the story that he had ordered ISI money sent to Atta (107-09).

48. The omission of evidence that the ISI (and not merely al-Qaeda) was behind the assassination of Ahmad Shah Masood (the leader of Afghanistan’s Northern Alliance), which occurred just after the week-long meeting between the heads of the CIA and the ISI (110-112).

49. The omission of evidence of ISI involvement in the kidnapping and murder of Wall Street Reporter Daniel Pearl (113).

50. The omission of Gerald Posner’s report that Abu Zubaydah claimed that a Pakistani military officer, Mushaf Ali Mir, was closely connected to both the ISI and al-Qaeda and had advance knowledge of the 9/11 attacks (114).

51. The omission of the 1999 prediction by ISI agent Rajaa Gulum Abbas that the Twin Towers would be “coming down” (114).

52. The omission of the fact that President Bush and other members of his administration repeatedly spoke of the 9/11 attacks as “opportunities” (116-17).

53. The omission of the fact that The Project for the New American Century, many members of which became key figures in the Bush administration, published a document in 2000 saying that “a new Pearl Harbor” would aid its goal of obtaining funding for a rapid technological transformation of the US military (117-18).

54. The omission of the fact that Donald Rumsfeld, who as head of the commission on the US Space Command had recommended increased funding for it, used the attacks of 9/11 on that very evening to secure such funding (119-22).

55. The failure to mention the fact that three of the men who presided over the failure to prevent the 9/11 attacks—-Secretary Rumsfeld, General Richard Myers, and General Ralph Eberhart---were also three of the strongest advocates for the US Space Command (122).

56. The omission of the fact that Unocal had declared that the Taliban could not provide adequate security for it to go ahead with its oil-and-gas pipeline from the Caspian region through Afghanistan and Pakistan (122-25).

57. The omission of the report that at a meeting in July 2001, US representatives said that because the Taliban refused to agree to a US proposal that would allow the pipeline project to go forward, a war against them would begin by October (125-26).

58. The omission of the fact that Zbigniew Brzezinski in his 1997 book had said that for the United States to maintain global primacy, it needed to gain control of Central Asia, with its vast petroleum reserves, and that a new Pearl Harbor would be helpful in getting the US public to support this imperial effort (127-28).

59. The omission of evidence that some key members of the Bush administration, including Donald Rumsfeld and his deputy Paul Wolfowitz, had been agitating for a war with Iraq for many years (129-33).

60. The omission of notes of Rumsfeld’s conversations on 9/11 showing that he was determined to use the attacks as a pretext for a war with Iraq (131-32).

61. The omission of the statement by the Project for the New American Century that “the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein” (133-34).

62. The claim that FAA protocol on 9/11 required the time-consuming process of going through several steps in the chain of command--even though the Report cites evidence to the contrary (158).

63. The claim that in those days there were only two air force bases in NORAD’s Northeast sector that kept fighters on alert and that, in particular, there were no fighters on alert at either McGuire or Andrews (159-162).

64. The omission of evidence that Andrews Air Force Base did keep several fighters on alert at all times (162-64).

65. The acceptance of the twofold claim that Colonel Marr of NEADS had to telephone a superior to get permission to have fighters scrambled from Otis and that this call required eight minutes (165-66).

66. The endorsement of the claim that the loss of an airplane’s transponder signal makes it virtually impossible for the US military’s radar to track that plane (166-67).

67. The claim that the Payne Stewart interception did not show NORAD’s response time to Flight 11 to be extraordinarily slow (167-69).

68. The claim that the Otis fighters were not airborne until seven minutes after they received the scramble order because they did not know where to go (174-75).

69. The claim that the US military did not know about the hijacking of Flight 175 until 9:03, when it was crashing into the South Tower (181-82).

70. The omission of any explanation of (a) why NORAD’s earlier report, according to which the FAA had notified the military about the hijacking of Flight 175 at 8:43, was now to be considered false and (b) how this report, if it was false, could have been published and then left uncorrected for almost three years (182).

71. The claim that the FAA did not set up a teleconference until 9:20 that morning (183).

72. The omission of the fact that a memo by Laura Brown of the FAA says that its teleconference was established at about 8:50 and that it included discussion of Flight 175’s hijacking (183-84, 186).

73. The claim that the NMCC teleconference did not begin until 9:29 (186-88).

74. The omission, in the Commission’s claim that Flight 77 did not deviate from its course until 8:54, of the fact that earlier reports had said 8:46 (189-90).

75. The failure to mention that the report that a large jet had crashed in Kentucky, at about the time Flight 77 disappeared from FAA radar, was taken seriously enough by the heads of the FAA and the FBI’s counterterrorism unit to be relayed to the White House (190).

76. The claim that Flight 77 flew almost 40 minutes through American airspace towards Washington without being detected by the military’s radar (191-92).

77. The failure to explain, if NORAD’s earlier report that it was notified about Flight 77 at 9:24 was “incorrect,” how this erroneous report could have arisen, i.e., whether NORAD officials had been lying or simply confused for almost three years (192-93).

78. The claim that the Langley fighter jets, which NORAD had previously said were scrambled to intercept Flight 77, were actually scrambled in response to an erroneous report from an (unidentified) FAA controller at 9:21 that Flight 11 was still up and was headed towards Washington (193-99).

79. The claim that the military did not hear from the FAA about the probable hijacking of Flight 77 before the Pentagon was struck (204-12).

80. The claim that Jane Garvey did not join Richard Clarke’s videoconference until 9:40, after the Pentagon was struck (210).

81. The claim that none of the teleconferences succeeded in coordinating the FAA and military responses to the hijackings because “none of [them] included the right officials from both the FAA and the Defense Department”---although Richard Clarke says that his videoconference included FAA head Jane Garvey as well as Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and General Richard Myers, the acting chair of the joint chiefs of staff (211).

82. The Commission’s claim that it did not know who from the Defense Department participated in Clarke’s videoconference---although Clarke’s book said that it was Donald Rumsfeld and General Myers (211-212).

83. The endorsement of General Myers’ claim that he was on Capitol Hill during the attacks, without mentioning Richard Clarke’s contradictory account, according to which Myers was in the Pentagon participating in Clarke’s videoconference (213-17).

84. The failure to mention the contradiction between Clarke’s account of Rumsfeld’s whereabouts that morning and Rumsfeld’s own accounts (217-19).

85. The omission of Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta’s testimony, given to the Commission itself, that Vice-President Cheney and others in the underground shelter were aware by 9:26 that an aircraft was approaching the Pentagon (220).

86. The claim that Pentagon officials did not know about an aircraft approaching Pentagon until 9:32, 9:34, or 9:36---in any case, only a few minutes before the building was hit (223).

87. The endorsement of two contradictory stories about the aircraft that hit the Pentagon---one in which it executed a 330-degree downward spiral (a “high-speed dive”) and another in which there is no mention of this maneuver (222-23).

88. The claim that the fighter jets from Langley, which were allegedly scrambled to protect Washington from “Phantom Flight 11,” were nowhere near Washington because they were mistakenly sent out to sea (223-24).

89. The omission of all the evidence suggesting that the aircraft that hit the Pentagon was not Flight 77 (224-25).

90. The claim that the military was not notified by the FAA about Flight 93’s hijacking until after it crashed (227-29, 232, 253).

91. The twofold claim that the NMCC did not monitor the FAA-initiated conference and then was unable to get the FAA connected to the NMCC-initiated teleconference (230-31).

92. The omission of the fact that the Secret Service is able to know everything that the FAA knows (233).

93. The omission of any inquiry into why the NMCC initiated its own teleconference if, as Laura Brown of the FAA has said, this is not standard protocol (234).

94. The omission of any exploration of why General Montague Winfield not only had a rookie (Captain Leidig) take over his role as the NMCC’s Director of Operations but also left him in charge after it was clear that the Pentagon was facing an unprecedented crisis (235-36).

95. The claim that the FAA (falsely) notified the Secret Service between 10:10 and 10:15 that Flight 93 was still up and headed towards Washington (237).

96. The claim that Vice President Cheney did not give the shoot-down authorization until after 10:10 (several minutes after Flight 93 had crashed) and that this authorization was not transmitted to the US military until 10:31 (237-41).

97. The omission of all the evidence indicating that Flight 93 was shot down by a military plane (238-39, 252-53).

98. The claim that Richard Clarke did not receive the requested shoot-down authorization until 10:25 (240).

99. The omission of Clarke’s own testimony, which suggests that he received the shoot-down authorization by 9:50 (240).

100. The claim that Cheney did not reach the underground shelter (the PEOC [Presidential Emergency Operations Center]) until 9:58 (241-44).

101. The omission of multiple testimony, including that of Norman Mineta to the Commission itself, that Cheney was in the PEOC before 9:20 (241-44).

102. The claim that shoot-down authorization must be given by the president (245).

103. The omission of reports that Colonel Marr ordered a shoot-down of Flight 93 and that General Winfield indicated that he and others at the NMCC had expected a fighter jet to reach Flight 93 (252).

104. The omission of reports that there were two fighter jets in the air a few miles from NYC and three of them only 200 miles from Washington (251).

105. The omission of evidence that there were at least six bases with fighters on alert in the northeastern part of the United States (257-58).

106. The endorsement of General Myers’ claim that NORAD had defined its mission in terms of defending only against threats from abroad (258-62).

107. The endorsement of General Myers’ claim that NORAD had not recognized the possibility that terrorists might use hijacked airliners as missiles (262-63).

108. The failure to highlight the significance of evidence presented in the Report itself, and to mention other evidence, showing that NORAD had indeed recognized the threat that hijacked airliners might be used as missiles (264-67).

109. The failure to probe the issue of how the “war games” scheduled for that day were related to the military’s failure to intercept the hijacked airliners (268-69).

110. The failure to discuss the possible relevance of Operation Northwoods to the attacks of 9/11 (269-71).

111. The claim---made in explaining why the military did not get information about the hijackings in time to intercept them---that FAA personnel inexplicably failed to follow standard procedures some 16 times (155-56, 157, 179, 180, 181, 190, 191, 193, 194, 200, 202-03, 227, 237, 272-75).

112. The failure to point out that the Commission’s claimed “independence” was fatally compromised by the fact that its executive director, Philip Zelikow, was virtually a member of the Bush administration (7-9, 11-12, 282-84).

113. The failure to point out that the White House first sought to prevent the creation of a 9/11 Commission, then placed many obstacles in its path, including giving it extremely meager funding (283-85).

114. The failure to point out that the Commission’s chairman, most of the other commissioners, and at least half of the staff had serious conflicts of interest (285-90, 292-95).

115. The failure of the Commission, while bragging that it presented its final report “without dissent,” to point out that this was probably possible only because Max Cleland, the commissioner who was most critical of the White House and swore that he would not be part of “looking at information only partially,” had to resign in order to accept a position with the Export-Import Bank, and that the White House forwarded his nomination for this position only after he was becoming quite outspoken in his criticisms (290-291).

I will close by pointing out that I concluded my study of what I came to call “the Kean-Zelikow Report” by writing that it, “far from lessening my suspicions about official complicity, has served to confirm them. Why would the minds in charge of this final report engage in such deception if they were not trying to cover up very high crimes?” (291)

The 9-11 Passenger List Oddity

Wing TV - Connect The DotsTechnorati Tags: sept11 ... Which brings me to Ellen Mariani: she’s the woman who lost her husband Louis on Flight 175 that crashed into the South Tower on 9-11. With the help of a lawyer named Phil Berg, she filed a lawsuit against President Bush and company under the RICO act. Also, she refused

WorldNetDaily: FDR and the Pearl Harbor attack

WorldNetDaily: FDR and the Pearl Harbor attack

Wing TV - Connect The Dots

Wing TV - Connect The DotsBreaking the Illusion:
Does Alternative Media = Mainstream Media?

Seriously, the Joke Is Dead - New York Times

Seriously, the Joke Is Dead - New York Times


May 22, 2005
Seriously, the Joke Is Dead
IN case you missed its obituary, the joke died recently after a long illness, of, oh, 30 years. Its passing was barely noticed, drowned out, perhaps, by the din of ironic one-liners, snark and detached bons mots that pass for humor these days.

The joke died a lonely death. There was no next of kin to notify, the comedy skit, the hand-buzzer and Bob Newhart's imaginary telephone monologues having passed on long before. But when people reminisce about it, they always say the same thing: the joke knew how to make an entrance. "Two guys walked into a bar"; "So this lady goes to the doctor"; "Did you hear the one about the talking parrot?" The new humor sneaks by on little cat feet, all punch line and no setup, and if it bombs, you barely notice. The joke insisted on everyone's attention, and when it bombed - wow.

"A joke is a way to say, 'I'm going to do something funny now,' " said Penn Jillette, the talking half of the comedy and magic duo Penn & Teller and a producer of "The Aristocrats," a new documentary about an old dirty joke of the same name. "If I don't get a laugh at the end, I'm a failure."

It's a matter of faith among professional comics that jokes - the kind that involve a narrative setup, some ridiculous details and a punch line - have been displaced by observational humor and one-liners. Lisa Lampanelli, who describes herself as the world's only female insult comic, said that in the business, straight jokes were considered "the kiss of death."

"You don't tell joke jokes onstage ever," she said. "Because then you're a big hack."

But out in the real world, the joke hung on for a while, lurking in backwaters of male camaraderie like bachelor parties and trading floors and in monthly installments of Playboy's "Party Jokes" page. Then jokes practically vanished. To tell a joke at the office or a party these days is to pronounce oneself a cornball, an attention hog, and of course to risk offending someone, a high social crime. "I can't remember the last time I was sitting around and heard someone tell a good joke," Ms. Lampanelli said.

While many in the world of humor and comedy agree that the joke is dead, there is little consensus on who or what killed it or exactly when it croaked. Theories abound: the atomic bomb, A.D.D., the Internet, even the feminization of American culture, have all been cited as possible causes. In the academic world scholars have been engaged in a lengthy postmortem of the joke for some time, but still no grand unifying theory has emerged.

"There isn't a lot of agreement," said Don L. F. Nilsen, the executive secretary of the International Society for Humor Studies and a professor of linguistics at Arizona State University.

Among comics, the most cited culprit in the death of the joke is so-called "political correctness" or, at least, a heightened sensitivity to offending people. Mr. Jillette said he believed most of the best jokes have a mean-spirited component, and that mean-spiritedness is out.

"You used to feel safer telling jokes," he said. "Since all your best material is mean-spirited, you feel less safe. You're worried some might think that you really have this point of view."

Older comics tend to put the blame on the failings of younger generations. Robert Orben, 78, a former speechwriter for President Gerald R. Ford and the author of several manuals for comedians, said he believed a combination of shortened attention spans and lack of backbone among today's youth made them ill-suited for joke telling.

"A young person today has a nanosecond attention span, so whatever you do in a humor has to be short," he said. "Younger people do not wait for anything that takes time to develop. We're going totally to one-liners."

"Telling a joke is risk taking," Mr. Orben added. "Younger people are more insecure and not willing to put themselves on the line, so a quick one-liner is much safer."

(Asked if he had a favorite joke, Mr. Orben said, "The Washington Redskins," suggesting that even veteran joke tellers might have abandoned the form.)

Scholars say that while humor has always been around - in ancient Athens, for example, a comedians' club called the Group of 60 met regularly in the temple of Herakles - the joke has gone in and out of fashion. In modern times its heyday was probably the 1950's, but the joke's demise began soon after, a result of several seismic cultural shifts. The first of those, Mr. Nilsen said, was the threat of nuclear annihilation.

"Before the atomic bomb everyone had a sense that there was a future," Mr. Nilsen said. "Now we're at the hands of fate. We could go up at any moment. In order to deal with something as horrendous as that, we've become a little cynical."

Gallows humor and irony, Mr. Nilsen said, were more suited to this dire condition than absurd stories about talking kangaroos, tumescent parrots and bears that sodomize hunters. (Don't know that one? Ask your granddad.)

Around the same time, said John Morreall, a religion professor and humor scholar at the College of William and Mary, the roles of men and women began to change, which had implications for the joke.

Telling old-style jokes, he said, was a masculine pursuit because it allowed men to communicate with one another without actually revealing anything about themselves. Historically women's humor was based on personal experience, and conveyed a sense of the teller's likes and dislikes, foibles and capacity for self-deprecation.

The golden age of joke telling corresponded with a time when men were especially loathe to reveal anything about their inner lives, Mr. Morreall said. But over time men let down their guard, and comics like Lenny Bruce, George Carlin and later Jerry Seinfeld, embraced the personal, observational style.

"A very common quip was, 'Women can't tell jokes,' " Mr. Morreall said. "I found that women can't remember jokes. That's because they don't give a damn. Their humor is observational humor about the people around that they care about. Women virtually never do that old-style stuff."

"Women's-style humor was ahead of the curve," he said. "In the last 30 years all humor has caught up with women's humor."

The mingling of the sexes in the workplace and in social situations wasn't particularly good for the joke either, as jokes that played well in the locker room didn't translate to the conference room or the co-ed dinner party. And in any event, scholars say, in a social situation wit plays better than old-style joke telling. Witty remarks push the conversation along and enliven it, encouraging others to contribute.

Jokes, on the other hand, cause conversation to screech to a halt and require everyone to focus on the joke teller, which can be awkward.

Whatever tenuous hold the joke had left by the 1990's may have been broken by the Internet, Mr. Nilsen said. The torrent of e-mail jokes in the late 1990's and joke Web sites made every joke available at once, essentially diluting the effect of what had been an spoken form. While getting up and telling a joke requires courage, forwarding a joke by e-mail takes hardly any effort at all. So everyone did it, until it wasn't funny anymore.

"The Aristocrats," the documentary produced by Mr. Jillette and the comic Paul Provenza, says a lot about what the straight-up joke once was, and what it isn't any longer. The film, which was shown at Sundance in January and will be released in theaters this summer, features dozens of comics talking about and performing an over-the-top vaudeville standard about a family that shows up at a talent agency, looking for representation.

The talent agent agrees to watch them perform, at which point the family goes into a crazed fit of orgiastic and scatological mayhem, the exact details of which vary from comic to comic. The punch line comes when the agent asks the family what they call their bizarre act. The answer: "The Aristocrats!"

Much of the humor in the documentary comes not from the joke, which nearly everyone in the film concedes is lousy, but from watching modern-day observational comics like Mr. Carlin, Paul Reiser and Gilbert Gottfried perform in the anachronistic mode of Buddy Hackett, Milton Berle and Red Skelton. Imagine watching a documentary of contemporary rock guitarists doing their teenage versions of the solo in "Free Bird" and you'll get the idea; with each rendition it becomes more and more clear why people don't do it anymore.

"Part of the joke is that it's even more inappropriate because we don't do that anymore," Mr. Nilsen said.

One paradox about the death of the joke: It may result in more laughs. Joke tellers, after all, are limited by the number of jokes they can memorize, while observational wits never run out of material. And Mr. Morreall said that because wits make no promise to be funny, the threshold for getting a laugh is lower for them than for joke tellers, who always battle high expectations.

"Jon Stewart just has to twist his eyebrows a little bit, and people laugh," he said. "It's a much easier medium."

Some comics who grew up in the age of the joke say they are often amazed at how easy crowds are in the era of observational humor. Shelley Berman, 79, a comic whose career took off on "The Ed Sullivan Show" and who now plays Larry David's father on the HBO show "Curb Your Enthusiasm," said these days even the most banal remark seemed to get a response.

"I don't tell jokes in my act," he said. "But if I tell an audience I don't tell jokes, I'll get people laughing at that line."

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Disinformation :: Contracting Rush For Security Led To Waste, Abuse

Disinformation :: Contracting Rush For Security Led To Waste, Abuse

Friday, May 20, 2005

xymphora 5/19

xymphora: "We're starting to see a pattern in the new American way of war. The assault on the town of Al Qa'im (or here or here or here) is remarkably similar to the attack on Falluja. The characteristics:

Pick an area with a significant local insurgency that can be destroyed for the purposes of teaching other areas a lesson.

Seal off the town, so the civilians can't leave."

xymphora: The CIA is going to file papers in court today to block the release of documents relating to its employee, George Joannides.


$1 trillion missing : Military waste under fire

$1 trillion missing : Military waste under fire

The Nation | Lookout | Torture's Dirty Secret: It Works | Naomi Klein

The Nation | Lookout | Torture's Dirty Secret: It Works | Naomi Klein

News Hounds: O'Reilly: "9/11 was the genesis of ALL the action that we've taken"

News Hounds: O'Reilly: "9/11 was the genesis of ALL the action that we've taken"
BG: Bill O'Reilly agrees, the 911 Psyop is a pretext to all sorts of atrocities.

Technorati Tags: sept11

Mohamed Atta, Teetotaler

Technorati Tag: sept11 atta hopsicker coverup
Mohamed Atta, TeetotalerMohamed Atta didn’t drink, do cocaine, or hang out in strip clubs, and the official FBI account of the terrorist conspiracy to take down the World Trade Center is pretty much right on the money, according to a new book, "Perfect Soldiers: The Hijackers, Who They Were, Why They Did It," by Terry McDermott, a reporter for the L.A. Times. News | The lies that led to war News | The lies that led to war: "The lies that led to war
A leaked British memo, and other documents, make it clear that Bush intended all along to invade Iraq -- and lied about it to the American people. The full gravity of his offense has not yet sunk in.
- - - - - - - - - - - -
By Juan Cole

May 19, 2005 | When Newsweek's source admitted that he had misidentified the government document in which he had seen an account of Quran desecration at Guant�namo prison, Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita exploded, 'People are dead because of what this son of a bitch said. How could he be credible now?'
Di Rita could have said the same things about his bosses in the Bush administration.
Tens of thousands of people are dead in Iraq, including more than 1,600 U.S. soldiers and Marines, because of false allegations made by President George W. Bush and Di Rita's more immediate boss, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, about Saddam Hussein's nonexistent weapons of mass destruction and equally imaginary active nuclear weapons program. Bush, Rumsfeld, Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice repeatedly made unfounded allegations that led to the continuing disaster in Iraq, much of which is now an economic and military no man's land beset by bombings, assassinations, kidnappings and political gridlock.
And we now know, thanks to a leaked British memo concerning the head of British intelligence, that the Bush administration -- contrary to its explicit denials -- had already made up its mind to attack Iraq and 'fixed' those bogus allegations to support its decision. In short, Bush and his top officials lied about Iraq.
Going to war is the most serious decision a president can make. It should never be approached in a cavalier fashion. American lives, the pre" Politics: The press rewrites the Jeff Gannon story Politics

The press rewrites the Jeff Gannon story

Watching ensconced Beltway journalists get busy trying to rewrite the Jeff Gannon story in recent weeks has made for some strange reading, as scribes argue they were right to ignore the controversy because, in retrospect, it was no big deal. The whole revisionist exercise would be funny if it weren't so sad; a telltale sign of today's press corps timidity.

A good chunk of the recent Vanity Fair feature on Gannon -- the former male escort who used a phony name while volunteering for a phony news organization and got instant access to the White House briefing room without having to submit to a full background check -- was set aside to explore the media elite notion the controversy was a big nothing. The Washington Post's Mike Allen and ABC's Terry Moran, two White House correspondents who all but ignored the Gannon story as it unfolded right in front of them for weeks last winter, were quoted to that effect. Allen assured readers it was "super-naive to think" the White House had anything to do with getting Gannon whisked inside, while Moran tipped his hat to Gannon, calling some of his briefing questions "valuable and necessary."

That's their (defensive) spin and they're entitled to it. But it was a revisionist Boston Globe column from this week that really made War Room's jaw drop. Penned by the paper's D.C bureau chief Peter Canellos, the piece, "Gannon's Story Left Critics Tarnished, Too," took a tsk-tsk approach to Gannon's online accusers. War Room thinks that's a bit of a stretch, but so be it. But this passage was just unpardonable:

"In many respects, the Gannon scandal followed a similar trajectory as the similarly unproven allegations of the swift boat veterans who claimed that John Kerry had lied about his military service: Newspapers could not verify any of the allegations except one that Kerry himself acknowledged. But the veterans' TV ads nonetheless commanded wide coverage as symbols of Kerry's weaknesses as a presidential candidate."

That's right, the Gannon story, which, as Salon detailed, was essentially boycotted by major media outlets for weeks at a time last winter, "followed a similar trajectory" as the Swift Boat story which dominated the political news cycle for a solid month last summer, to the point where it helped wipe out Sen. John Kerry's post-convention bounce last August, and arguably cost him the election.

For some context, consider that during the roughly four weeks last February as the Gannon story made news the Boston Globe published exactly three stories or columns that mentioned the controversy, according to the Nexis electronic database. During the roughly four weeks the Swift Boat story made news last August, the Boston Globe published 41 articles or columns that mentioned the controversy.

Search Nexis' category of major newspapers for mentions Gannon last February and you get 122 hits. Do the same search for Swift Boat Veterans for last August and you get 748 hits.

Yet according to the Globe, the two stories, a fictitious one that targeted a Democratic candidate and was embraced by the Beltway press, and a factual one that targeted a Republican White House and was downplayed by the Beltway press, "Followed a similar trajectory."

It would be funny if it weren't so sad. Politics: WSJ phones in media attack Politics: "
WSJ phones in media attack

Is being a conservative press critic the easiest, least taxing job in American journalism? Honestly. So little effort goes into documenting the media's alleged liberal sins that the whole practice has become a bit of a joke.
Today's phoning-it-in award goes to Leo Banks, who wrote an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal complaining about the 'elite media' and its skewed coverage of the Minutemen, those southwest volunteers who patrolled the U.S./Mexico border in an effort to keep illegal aliens out of this country. The Minutemen received an extraordinary amount of press coverage and Banks complains the liberal press got it all wrong.
It's an utterly predictable attack from the WSJ editorial page, but what makes the piece so amazing is that Banks doesn't provide a single example to show how the press got it wrong. Not one article is quoted and not one television report is cited. Apparently too busy to do any actual media analysis, Banks simply insists the press did X,Y,Z and expects everyone to believe it.
For instance, Banks writes, 'In the view of most of the reporters who parachuted into Arizona for this story and, disturbingly, local ones as well, you'd get the distinct impression that the Minutemen are the problem along the border.'
Press examples to back up that claim? Zero.
'[Reporters] wanted to stand up the angle that went something like -- no, exactly like -- this: Gun-toting vigilantes run amok in the desert, hunting harmless illegals who are only looking for work.'
Press examples to back that up? Zero.
'These border residents are routinely snickered at and called racist vigilantes.'
Press examples to back that up? Zero.

'Big Heads and Little Resumes'

Tomlinson used Diane Rehm interview to further distort his actions as CPB chairman

Ezra Klein: Minimum Wage Woes

Ezra Klein: Minimum Wage Woes

Crooks and Liars

Crooks and LiarsSean Hannity and The Nurses Part II/ Video

I was just emailed this short video clip of Sean Hannity coaching the two nurses that appeared on his show during the Terri Schiavo case. We reported on it April 15th.

mediabistro: FishBowlDC

mediabistro: FishBowlDC

The Counter-Recruiters: All the Charm of the Draft- And Then Some

The Counter-Recruiters: All the Charm of the Draft- And Then Some

The Huffington Post | The Blog

The Huffington Post | The Blog

Another Day in the Empire » Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Syria: More Black Propaganda from the Bush Lie Factory

Another Day in the Empire » Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Syria: More Black Propaganda from the Bush Lie Factory

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Blowing Up an Assumption - New York Times

Blowing Up an Assumption - New York Times The New York Times
May 18, 2005
Blowing Up an Assumption


MANY Americans are mystified by the recent rise in the number and the audacity of suicide attacks in Iraq. The lull in violence after January's successful elections seemed to suggest that the march of democracy was trampling the threat of terrorism. But as electoral politics is taking root, the Iraqi insurgency and suicide terrorism are actually gaining momentum. In the past two weeks, suicide attackers have killed more than 420 Iraqis working with the United States and its allies. There were 20 such incidents in 2003, nearly 50 in 2004, and they are on pace to set a new record this year.

To make sense of this apparent contradiction, one has to understand the strategic logic of suicide terrorism. Since Muslim terrorists professing religious motives have perpetrated many of the attacks, it might seem obvious that Islamic fundamentalism is the central cause, and thus the wholesale transformation of Muslim societies into secular democracies, even at the barrel of a gun, is the obvious solution. However, the presumed connection between suicide terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism is misleading, and it may spur American policies that are likely to worsen the situation.

Over the past two years, I have compiled a database of every suicide bombing and attack around the globe from 1980 through 2003 - 315 in all. This includes every episode in which at least one terrorist killed himself or herself while trying to kill others, but excludes attacks authorized by a national government (like those by North Korean agents against South Korea). The data show that there is far less of a connection between suicide terrorism and religious fundamentalism than most people think.

The leading instigator of suicide attacks is the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, a Marxist-Leninist group whose members are from Hindu families but who are adamantly opposed to religion. This group committed 76 of the 315 incidents, more than Hamas (54) or Islamic Jihad (27). Even among Muslims, secular groups like the Kurdistan Workers' Party, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Al Aksa Martyr Brigades account for more than a third of suicide attacks.

What nearly all suicide terrorist attacks actually have in common is a specific secular and strategic goal: to compel modern democracies to withdraw military forces from territory that the terrorists consider to be their homeland. Religion is often used as a tool by terrorist organizations in recruiting and in seeking aid from abroad, but is rarely the root cause.

Three general patterns in the data support these conclusions. First, nearly all suicide terrorist attacks - 301 of the 315 in the period I studied - took place as part of organized political or military campaigns. Second, democracies are uniquely vulnerable to suicide terrorists; America, France, India, Israel, Russia, Sri Lanka and Turkey have been the targets of almost every suicide attack of the past two decades. Third, suicide terrorist campaigns are directed toward a strategic objective: from Lebanon to Israel to Sri Lanka to Kashmir to Chechnya, the sponsors of every campaign - 18 organizations in all - are seeking to establish or maintain political self-determination.

Before Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 1982, there was no Hezbollah suicide terrorist campaign against Israel; indeed, Hezbollah came into existence only after this event. Before the Sri Lankan military began moving into the Tamil homelands of the island in 1987, the Tamil Tigers did not use suicide attacks. Before the huge increase in Jewish settlers on the West Bank in the 1980's, Palestinian groups did not use suicide terrorism.

And, true to form, there had never been a documented suicide attack in Iraq until after the American invasion in 2003. Much is made of the fact that we aren't sure who the Iraqi suicide attackers are. This is not unusual in the early years of a suicide terrorist campaign. Hezbollah published most of the biographies and last testaments of its "martyrs" only after it abandoned the suicide-attack strategy in 1986, a pattern adopted by the Tamil Tigers as well.

At the moment, our best information indicates that the attackers in Iraq are Sunni Iraqis and foreign fighters, principally from Saudi Arabia. If so, this would mean that the two main sources of suicide terrorists in Iraq are from the Arab countries deemed most vulnerable to transformation by the presence of American combat troops. This is fully consistent with what we now know about the strategic logic of suicide terrorism.

Some have wondered if the rise of suicide terrorism in Iraq is really such a bad thing for American security. Is it not better to have these killers far away in Iraq rather than here in the United States? Alas, history shows otherwise. The presence of tens of thousands of American combat forces on the Arabian Peninsula after 1990 enabled Al Qaeda to recruit suicide terrorists, who in turn attacked Americans in the region (the African embassy bombings in 1998 and the attack on the destroyer Cole in 2000). The presence of nearly 150,000 American combat troops in Iraq since 2003 can only give suicide terrorism a boost, and the longer this suicide terrorist campaign continues the greater the risk of new attacks in the United States.

Understanding that suicide terrorism is mainly a response to foreign occupation rather than a product of Islamic fundamentalism has important implications for how the United States and its allies should conduct the war on terrorism. Spreading democracy across the Persian Gulf is not likely to be a panacea so long as foreign combat troops remain on the Arabian Peninsula. If not for the world's interest in Persian Gulf oil, the obvious solution might well be simply to abandon the region altogether. Isolationism, however, is not possible; America needs a new strategy that pursues our vital interest in oil but does not stimulate the rise of a new generation of suicide terrorists.

BEYOND recognizing the limits of military action and stepping up domestic security efforts, Americans would do well to recall the virtues of our traditional policy of "offshore balancing" in the Persian Gulf. During the 1970's and 1980's, the United States managed its interests there without stationing any combat soldiers on the ground, but keeping our forces close enough - either on ships or in bases near the region - to deploy in huge numbers if an emergency. This worked splendidly to defeat Iraq's aggression against Kuwait in 1990.

THE Bush administration rightly intends to start turning over the responsibility for Iraq's security to the new government and systematically withdrawing American troops. But large numbers of these soldiers should not simply be sent to Iraq's neighbors, where they will continue to enrage many in the Arab world. Keeping the peace from a discreet distance seems a better way to secure our interests in the world's key oil-producing region without provoking more terrorism.

Robert A. Pape, an associate professor of political scienceat the University of Chicago, isthe author of the forthcoming "Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism."