Sunday, November 27, 2005
Tags: wp willie pete white phosphorus iraq
THE CONFLICT IN IRAQ
A Journey That Ended in Anguish
Col. Ted Westhusing, a military ethicist who volunteered to go to Iraq, was upset by what he saw. His apparent suicide raises questions.By T. Christian MillerTimes Staff WriterNovember 27, 2005"War is the hardest place to make moral judgments." Col. Ted Westhusing, Journal of Military Ethics*WASHINGTON — One hot, dusty day in June, Col. Ted Westhusing was found dead in a trailer at a military base near the Baghdad airport, a single gunshot wound to the head.The Army would conclude that he committed suicide with his service pistol. At the time, he was the highest-ranking officer to die in Iraq.The Army closed its case. But the questions surrounding Westhusing's death continue.Westhusing, 44, was no ordinary officer. He was one of the Army's leading scholars of military ethics, a full professor at West Point who volunteered to serve in Iraq to be able to better teach his students. He had a doctorate in philosophy; his dissertation was an extended meditation on the meaning of honor.So it was only natural that Westhusing acted when he learned of possible corruption by U.S. contractors in Iraq. A few weeks before he died, Westhusing received an anonymous complaint that a private security company he oversaw had cheated the U.S. government and committed human rights violations. Westhusing confronted the contractor and reported the concerns to superiors, who launched an investigation.In e-mails to his family, Westhusing seemed especially upset by one conclusion he had reached: that traditional military values such as duty, honor and country had been replaced by profit motives in Iraq, where the U.S. had come to rely heavily on contractors for jobs once done by the military.His death stunned all who knew him. Colleagues and commanders wondered whether they had missed signs of depression. He had been losing weight and not sleeping well. But only a day before his death, Westhusing won praise from a senior officer for his progress in training Iraqi police.His friends and family struggle with the idea that Westhusing could have killed himself. He was a loving father and husband and a devout Catholic. He was an extraordinary intellect and had mastered ancient Greek and Italian. He had less than a month before his return home. It seemed impossible that anything could crush the spirit of a man with such a powerful sense of right and wrong.On the Internet and in conversations with one another, Westhusing's family and friends have questioned the military investigation.A note found in his trailer seemed to offer clues. Written in what the Army determined was his handwriting, the colonel appeared to be struggling with a final question.How is honor possible in a war like the one in Iraq?Even at Jenks High School in suburban Tulsa, one of the biggest in Oklahoma, Westhusing stood out. He was starting point guard for the Trojans, a team that made a strong run for the state basketball championship his senior year. He was a National Merit Scholarship finalist. He was an officer in a fellowship of Christian athletes.Joe Holladay, who coached Westhusing before going on to become assistant coach of the University of North Carolina Tarheels, recalled Westhusing showing up at the gym at 7 a.m. to get in 100 extra practice shots."There was never a question of how hard he played or how much effort he put into something," Holladay said. "Whatever he did, he did well. He was the cream of the crop."When Westhusing entered West Point in 1979, the tradition-bound institution was just emerging from a cheating scandal that had shamed the Army. Restoring honor to the nation's preeminent incubator for Army leadership was the focus of the day.Cadets are taught to value duty, honor and country, and are drilled in West Point's strict moral code: A cadet will not lie, cheat or steal — or tolerate those who do.Westhusing embraced it. He was selected as honor captain for the entire academy his senior year. Col. Tim Trainor, a classmate and currently a West Point professor, said Westhusing was strict but sympathetic to cadets' problems. He remembered him as "introspective."Westhusing graduated third in his class in 1983 and became an infantry platoon leader. He received special forces training, served in Italy, South Korea and Honduras, and eventually became division operations officer for the 82nd Airborne, based at Ft. Bragg, N.C.He loved commanding soldiers. But he remained drawn to intellectual pursuits.In 2000, Westhusing enrolled in Emory University's doctoral philosophy program. The idea was to return to West Point to teach future leaders.He immediately stood out on the leafy Atlanta campus. Married with children, he was surrounded by young, single students. He was a deeply faithful Christian in a graduate program of professional skeptics.Plunged into academia, Westhusing held fast to his military ties. Students and professors recalled him jogging up steep hills in combat boots and camouflage, his rucksack full, to stay in shape. He wrote a paper challenging an essay that questioned the morality of patriotism."He was as straight an arrow as you would possibly find," said Aaron Fichtelberg, a fellow student and now a professor at the University of Delaware. "He seemed unshakable."In his 352-page dissertation, Westhusing discussed the ethics of war, focusing on examples of military honor from Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee to the Israeli army. It is a dense, searching and sometimes personal effort to define what, exactly, constitutes virtuous conduct in the context of the modern U.S. military."Born to be a warrior, I desire these answers not just for philosophical reasons, but for self-knowledge," he wrote in the opening pages.As planned, Westhusing returned to teach philosophy and English at West Point as a full professor with a guaranteed lifetime assignment. He settled into life on campus with his wife, Michelle, and their three young children.But amid the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, he told friends that he felt experience in Iraq would help him in teaching cadets. In the fall of 2004, he volunteered for duty."He wanted to serve, he wanted to use his skills, maybe he wanted some glory," recalled Nick Fotion, his advisor at Emory. "He wanted to go."In January, Westhusing began work on what the Pentagon considered the most important mission in Iraq: training Iraqi forces to take over security duties from U.S. troops.Westhusing's task was to oversee a private security company, Virginia-based USIS, which had contracts worth $79 million to train a corps of Iraqi police to conduct special operations.In March, Gen. David Petraeus, commanding officer of the Iraqi training mission, praised Westhusing's performance, saying he had exceeded "lofty expectations.""Thanks much, sir, but we can do much better and will," Westhusing wrote back, according to a copy of the Army investigation of his death that was obtained by The Times.In April, his mood seemed to have darkened. He worried over delays in training one of the police battalions.Then, in May, Westhusing received an anonymous four-page letter that contained detailed allegations of wrongdoing by USIS.The writer accused USIS of deliberately shorting the government on the number of trainers to increase its profit margin. More seriously, the writer detailed two incidents in which USIS contractors allegedly had witnessed or participated in the killing of Iraqis.A USIS contractor accompanied Iraqi police trainees during the assault on Fallouja last November and later boasted about the number of insurgents he had killed, the letter says. Private security contractors are not allowed to conduct offensive operations.In a second incident, the letter says, a USIS employee saw Iraqi police trainees kill two innocent Iraqi civilians, then covered it up. A USIS manager "did not want it reported because he thought it would put his contract at risk."Westhusing reported the allegations to his superiors but told one of them, Gen. Joseph Fil, that he believed USIS was complying with the terms of its contract.U.S. officials investigated and found "no contractual violations," an Army spokesman said. Bill Winter, a USIS spokesman, said the investigation "found these allegations to be unfounded." However, several U.S. officials said inquiries on USIS were ongoing. One U.S. military official, who, like others, requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case, said the inquiries had turned up problems, but nothing to support the more serious charges of human rights violations."As is typical, there may be a wisp of truth in each of the allegations," the official said.The letter shook Westhusing, who felt personally implicated by accusations that he was too friendly with USIS management, according to an e-mail in the report."This is a mess … dunno what I will do with this," he wrote home to his family May 18.The colonel began to complain to colleagues about "his dislike of the contractors," who, he said, "were paid too much money by the government," according to one captain."The meetings [with contractors] were never easy and always contentious. The contracts were in dispute and always under discussion," an Army Corps of Engineers official told investigators.By June, some of Westhusing's colleagues had begun to worry about his health. They later told investigators that he had lost weight and begun fidgeting, sometimes staring off into space. He seemed withdrawn, they said.His family was also becoming worried. He described feeling alone and abandoned. He sent home brief, cryptic e-mails, including one that said, "[I] didn't think I'd make it last night." He talked of resigning his command.Westhusing brushed aside entreaties for details, writing that he would say more when he returned home. The family responded with an outpouring of e-mails expressing love and support.His wife recalled a phone conversation that chilled her two weeks before his death."I heard something in his voice," she told investigators, according to a transcript of the interview. "In Ted's voice, there was fear. He did not like the nighttime and being alone."Westhusing's father, Keith, said the family did not want to comment for this article.On June 4, Westhusing left his office in the U.S.-controlled Green Zone of Baghdad to view a demonstration of Iraqi police preparedness at Camp Dublin, the USIS headquarters at the airport. He gave a briefing that impressed Petraeus and a visiting scholar. He stayed overnight at the USIS camp.That night in his office, a USIS secretary would later tell investigators, she watched Westhusing take out his 9-millimeter pistol and "play" with it, repeatedly unholstering the weapon.At a meeting the next morning to discuss construction delays, he seemed agitated. He stewed over demands for tighter vetting of police candidates, worried that it would slow the mission. He seemed upset over funding shortfalls.Uncharacteristically, he lashed out at the contractors in attendance, according to the Army Corps official. In three months, the official had never seen Westhusing upset."He was sick of money-grubbing contractors," the official recounted. Westhusing said that "he had not come over to Iraq for this."The meeting broke up shortly before lunch. About 1 p.m., a USIS manager went looking for Westhusing because he was scheduled for a ride back to the Green Zone. After getting no answer, the manager returned about 15 minutes later. Another USIS employee peeked through a window. He saw Westhusing lying on the floor in a pool of blood.The manager rushed into the trailer and tried to revive Westhusing. The manager told investigators that he picked up the pistol at Westhusing's feet and tossed it onto the bed."I knew people would show up," that manager said later in attempting to explain why he had handled the weapon. "With 30 years from military and law enforcement training, I did not want the weapon to get bumped and go off."After a three-month inquiry, investigators declared Westhusing's death a suicide. A test showed gunpowder residue on his hands. A shell casing in the room bore markings indicating it had been fired from his service revolver.Then there was the note.Investigators found it lying on Westhusing's bed. The handwriting matched his.The first part of the four-page letter lashes out at Petraeus and Fil. Both men later told investigators that they had not criticized Westhusing or heard negative comments from him. An Army review undertaken after Westhusing's death was complimentary of the command climate under the two men, a U.S. military official said.Most of the letter is a wrenching account of a struggle for honor in a strange land."I cannot support a msn [mission] that leads to corruption, human rights abuse and liars. I am sullied," it says. "I came to serve honorably and feel dishonored."Death before being dishonored any more."A psychologist reviewed Westhusing's e-mails and interviewed colleagues. She concluded that the anonymous letter had been the "most difficult and probably most painful stressor."She said that Westhusing had placed too much pressure on himself to succeed and that he was unusually rigid in his thinking. Westhusing struggled with the idea that monetary values could outweigh moral ones in war. This, she said, was a flaw."Despite his intelligence, his ability to grasp the idea that profit is an important goal for people working in the private sector was surprisingly limited," wrote Lt. Col. Lisa Breitenbach. "He could not shift his mind-set from the military notion of completing a mission irrespective of cost, nor could he change his belief that doing the right thing because it was the right thing to do should be the sole motivator for businesses."One military officer said he felt Westhusing had trouble reconciling his ideals with Iraq's reality. Iraq "isn't a black-and-white place," the officer said. "There's a lot of gray."Fil and Petraeus, Westhusing's commanding officers, declined to comment on the investigation, but they praised him. He was "an extremely bright, highly competent, completely professional and exceedingly hard-working officer. His death was truly tragic and was a tremendous blow," Petraeus said.Westhusing's family and friends are troubled that he died at Camp Dublin, where he was without a bodyguard, surrounded by the same contractors he suspected of wrongdoing. They wonder why the manager who discovered Westhusing's body and picked up his weapon was not tested for gunpowder residue.Mostly, they wonder how Col. Ted Westhusing — father, husband, son and expert on doing right — could have found himself in a place so dark that he saw no light."He's the last person who would commit suicide," said Fichtelberg, his graduate school colleague. "He couldn't have done it. He's just too damn stubborn."Westhusing's body was flown back to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. Waiting to receive it were his family and a close friend from West Point, a lieutenant colonel.In the military report, the unidentified colonel told investigators that he had turned to Michelle, Westhusing's wife, and asked what happened. She answered: "Iraq."
Blogger Thoughts: Catapulting the Propaganda!
November 22, 2005Milton was right. Truth is stronger than factionBy David Pannick, QC
“IT IS a fair summary of history,” as Mr Justice Frankfurter observed in the United States Supreme Court in 1950, “that the safeguards of liberty have frequently been forged in controversies involving not very nice people”. The Government’s proposals, in the Terrorism Bill, to make it a criminal offence to encourage terrorism and to glorify terrorism undoubtedly address the conduct of some very unpleasant people who sympathise with the July 7 London bombings. But the proposals are unprincipled, unjustified, and unlikely to make any significant contribution to the battle against terrorism.
Clause 1 of the Terrorism Bill will make it a criminal offence, punishable by imprisonment for up to seven years, for a person to make a statement “that is likely to be understood” as “a direct or indirect encouragement or other inducement” to commit, prepare or instigate acts of terrorism. Defendants are guilty of this offence if they intend their statements to be so understood, or are reckless as to whether they are likely to be so understood. The Bill adds that indirect encouragement of terrorism covers any statement that “glorifies the commission or preparation (whether in the past, in the future or generally)” of any terrorist acts, so as to suggest emulation of such conduct to members of the public.
“Terrorism” is very broadly defined by the Terrorism Act 2000 to cover not just suicide bombings but any action involving serious violence against a person or serious damage to property, so long as the conduct is designed to influence the Government or to intimidate the public and is done in order to advance a political, religious or ideological cause. There are three main problems with this legislative proposal.
The first is that the Government has failed to identify how existing law is deficient. It has long been a crime to incite another to commit murder, or any other serious offence. Incitement may be general in nature. In 1881, in R v Most, Lord Chief Justice Coleridge and four other judges upheld the conviction of a man who had published a newspaper article praising the recent murder of the tsar and commending it to revolutionaries throughout the world. If prosecutions are not being brought today against Islamic militants who encourage their followers to kill infidels, that is not because of a gap in the law, but because of the absence of evidence or because of a (debatable) judgment by prosecuting authorities as to the wisdom of giving a platform to such defendants.
The second problem is the breadth of the proposed new offence and the consequent inhibitions it places on political debate. I could be guilty of unlawful “encouragement” by “glorification” if I write an article assessing Islamic fundamentalism or animal liberation or “fathers for justice”, drawing attention to previous examples of violent action to secure political goals, praising (for example) the conduct of the ANC during the apartheid years in South Africa, or those who plotted to assassinate Hitler in Germany during the Second World War. Because the new offence would apply to the encouragement of terrorism here or abroad, I could not suggest in public that the Burmese or the Zimbabwean people might be justified in damaging government property in their country in an attempt to overthrow their oppressive regimes.
There is a very heavy onus on the Government to justify preventing people from stating their opinion on political issues. One of the most valuable features of the society we are defending against terrorist attack is that we have the right to express uncensored opinions, however controversial, about government. Vigorous debate promotes the adoption of wise and effective policies. The right to say what we think is an important safety valve, the removal of which makes violence more likely.
Perhaps none of this would matter if Clause 1 made a real contribution to preventing another July 7 bombing. The third problem with the proposal is that it is unrealistic to think that it will alter the views of those irrational and inhuman enough to believe that it is appropriate to set off a bomb on a bus or a train in supposed support of the policies (whatever they are) of Islamic fundamentalism.
In our society, any statements purporting to defend such indefensible conduct rightly attract widespread revulsion. To make it a criminal offence to express sympathy with such behaviour would drive the warped message underground and prevent the proponent from being exposed, answered, condemned and (if a foreign citizen) deported. I prefer to know which people, representing which groups, seek to justify what happened on July 7. Some of us still hold to the unfashionable principle stated by John Milton in Areopagitica (1644): “. . . who ever knew Truth put to the worse, in a free and open encounter?”
The author is a practising barrister at Blackstone Chambers in the Temple and a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford
Thanx to Georg Galster for the comment which reminded me to add subtext.
In Terror Cases, Administration Sets Own Rules
When Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales announced last week that Jose Padilla would be transferred to the federal justice system from military detention, he said almost nothing about the standards the administration used in deciding whether to charge terrorism suspects like Mr. Padilla with crimes or to hold them in military facilities as enemy combatants.
"We take each individual, each case, case by case," Mr. Gonzales said.
The upshot of that approach, underscored by the decision in Mr. Padilla's case, is that no one outside the administration knows just how the determination is made whether to handle a terror suspect as an enemy combatant or as a common criminal, to hold him indefinitely without charges in a military facility or to charge him in court.
Indeed, citing the need to combat terrorism, the administration has argued, with varying degrees of success, that judges should have essentially no role in reviewing its decisions. The change in Mr. Padilla's status, just days before the government's legal papers were due in his appeal to the Supreme Court, suggested to many legal observers that the administration wanted to keep the court out of the case.
"The position of the executive branch," said Eric M. Freedman, a law professor at Hofstra University who has consulted with lawyers for several detainees, "is that it can be judge, jury and executioner."
The government says a secret and unilateral decision-making process is necessary because of the nature of the evidence it deals with. Officials described the approach as a practical one that weighs a mix of often-sensitive factors.
"Much thought goes into how and why various tools are used in these often complicated cases," Tasia Scolinos, a Justice Department spokeswoman, said on Friday. "The important thing is for someone not to come away thinking this whole process is arbitrary, which it is not."
Among the factors the government considers, Ms. Scolinos said, are "national security interests, the need to gather intelligence and the best and quickest way to obtain it, the concern about protecting intelligence sources and methods and ongoing information gathering, the ability to use information as evidence in a criminal proceeding, the circumstances of the manner in which the individual was detained, the applicable criminal charges, and classified-evidence issues."
Lawyers for people in terrorism investigations say a list of factors to be considered cannot substitute for bright-line standards announced in advance.
The courts have given the executive branch substantial but not total deference, often holding that the president has the authority to designate enemy combatants but allowing those detained to challenge the factual basis for the administration's determinations. Some courts have suggested that a detainee's citizenship, the place he was captured and whether he was fighting American troops should play a role in how aggressively the courts review enemy-combatant designations.
A look at the half-dozen most prominent terrorism detentions and prosecutions does little to illuminate the standards that have informed the government's decisions.
One American captured on the battlefield in Afghanistan was held in the United States as an enemy combatant. Another was prosecuted as a criminal. One foreigner seized in the United States as a suspected terrorist is being held as an enemy combatant without charges in a Navy brig in Charleston, S.C. Others have been prosecuted for their crimes.
In three high-profile terrorism cases, the government obtained convictions in federal court. Zacarias Moussaoui, a French citizen, pleaded guilty to taking part in the conspiracy that led to the Sept. 11 attacks and faces the death penalty. Richard C. Reid, who is British, pleaded guilty to trying to blow up an airliner over the Atlantic with bombs in his shoes and is serving a life term. And John Walker Lindh, the California man who pleaded guilty to aiding the Taliban, is serving 20 years.
In three other cases, the administration designated terrorism suspects as enemy combatants who may be detained by the military indefinitely without charge. One, Yaser Esam Hamdi, an American citizen of Saudi descent, was released and sent to Saudi Arabia after the Supreme Court gave him the right to contest the government's claims. A second American, Mr. Padilla, was transferred to the custody of the Justice Department last week.
The only remaining enemy combatant known to be detained in the United States, Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri, traveled the same road as Mr. Padilla, but in the opposite direction. "Al-Marri is precisely the flipside of Padilla," said Lawrence S. Lustberg, one of Mr. Marri's lawyers.
After 16 months of criminal proceedings on fraud charges, and less than a month before Mr. Marri's trial was to start in July 2003, President Bush designated him an enemy combatant. Mr. Marri, a Qatari who had been working on a master's degree at Bradley University in Peoria, Ill., was immediately transferred into military custody and moved to the Navy brig in Charleston.
John Yoo, a former Justice Department official who is now a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, said two issues tended to determine how the government proceeded.
"The main factors that will determine how you will be charged," Mr. Yoo said, "are, one, how strong your link to Al Qaeda is and, two, whether you have any actionable intelligence that will prevent an attack on the United States."
Jonathan M. Freiman, one of Mr. Padilla's lawyers, questioned that, saying the administration's decisions had often seemed to be reactions to actual and anticipated court decisions.
"The government continues to be more focused on protecting its strategies than allowing them to be subjected to legal review," Mr. Freiman said.
In the indictment unsealed Tuesday, Mr. Padilla was not charged with some of the most serious accusations against him, including plotting to explode a radioactive device, because the evidence needed to prove the case had been obtained through harsh questioning of two senior members of Al Qaeda, current and former government officials have said. The statements might not have been admissible in court and could have exposed classified information, the officials said.
The Moussaoui case was also complicated by his lawyers' demands that they be given access to potentially exculpatory evidence that the government said had to be kept secret for reasons of national security.
The mere possibility of being named an enemy combatant, coupled with the difficulty of divining the standards the administration uses in choosing whom to call one, can affect the decisions of defendants in criminal plea negotiations.
"In the case of John Walker Lindh," said his lawyer, James J. Brosnahan, "there was a suggestion that even if we got an acquittal that he could be declared an unlawful combatant, that he could be a Padilla."
Indeed, the plea agreement Mr. Lindh signed contains an unusual provision. "For the rest of the defendant's natural life," it says, "should the government determine that the defendant has engaged in" one of more than a score of crimes of terrorism, "the United States may immediately invoke any right it has at that time to capture and detain the defendant as an unlawful enemy combatant."
Mr. Freiman said he, too, had been told that the government reserved the right to detain Mr. Padilla again should he be acquitted.
Arguably, it may sometimes be preferable for a defendant to be held as an enemy combatant rather than being prosecuted. Mr. Lindh's case, for instance, is at least superficially similar to that of Mr. Hamdi, another American captured in Afghanistan. But Mr. Hamdi is free after three years of confinement, though he had to relinquish his American citizenship. Mr. Lindh is in the early part of his 20-year sentence.
The government has not offered an explanation for the disparate treatment of the cases.
Mr. Marri's detention, on the other hand, is potentially lifelong. Though he has not been convicted of a crime, said Jonathan Hafetz, one of his lawyers, the conditions in the Charleston brig are as bad or worse than those in the toughest high-security prisons.
"He has been in solitary confinement for two and a half years," Mr. Hafetz said of Mr. Marri. "He hasn't spoken to or seen his wife and five children since he was designated an enemy combatant" in June 2003. "There's no news, no books, nothing."
This year, the same South Carolina federal judge heard challenges from Mr. Padilla and Mr. Marri. In July, the judge, Henry F. Floyd, ruled that the administration was authorized to detain Mr. Marri. Four months earlier, the judge had reached the opposite conclusion in Mr. Padilla's case.
The difference, he said, was that Mr. Padilla was an American citizen.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in Richmond, Va., reversed the ruling in the Padilla case. The administration's decision last week to charge Mr. Padilla and try to moot his appeal of the Fourth Circuit's decision to the Supreme Court may have been driven by its desire to maintain a helpful precedent in the circuit where it brings many of its terrorism cases.
"They are seeking to keep their options open," said David D. Cole, a law professor at Georgetown, "by avoiding Supreme Court review in the Padilla case. It lets them keep standing the Fourth Circuit decision."
In Mr. Hamdi's Supreme Court case last year, the four justices who joined Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's controlling opinion used a narrow definition of "enemy combatant," saying, at least for purposes of that case, that it meant someone "carrying a weapon against American troops on a foreign battlefield."
The government has proposed a much broader definition.
"The term 'enemy combatant,' " according to a Defense Department order last year, includes anyone "part of or supporting Taliban or Al Qaeda forces or associated forces."
In a hearing in December in a case brought by detainees imprisoned in the naval facility in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, a judge questioned a Justice Department official about the limits of that definition. The official, Brian D. Boyle, said the hostilities in question were global and might continue for generations.
The judge, Joyce Hens Green of the Federal District Court in Washington, asked a series of hypothetical questions about who might be detained as an enemy combatant under the government's definition.
What about "a little old lady in Switzerland who writes checks to what she thinks is a charitable organization that helps orphans in Afghanistan but really is a front to finance Al Qaeda activities?" she asked.
And what about a resident of Dublin "who teaches English to the son of a person the C.I.A. knows to be a member of Al Qaeda?"
And "what about a Wall Street Journal reporter, working in Afghanistan, who knows the exact location of Osama bin Laden but does not reveal it to the United States government in order to protect her source?"
Mr. Boyle said the military had the power to detain all three people as enemy combatants.
In January, Judge Green allowed the detainees' court challenges to their confinement to proceed. Another judge on her court reached the opposite conclusion, and an appeal from the two decisions is pending.
Between August 26 and September 11, 2001, a group of speculators, identified by the American Securities and Exchange Commission as Israeli citizens, sold "short" a list of 38 stocks that could reasonably be expected to fall in value as a result of the pending attacks. These speculators operated out of the Toronto, Canada and Frankfurt, Germany, stock exchanges and their profits were specifically stated to be "in the millions of dollars." Short selling of stocks involves the opportunity to gain large profits by passing shares to a friendly third party, then buying them back when the price falls. Historically, if this precedes a traumatic event, it is an indication of foreknowledge. It is widely known that the CIA uses the Promis software to routinely monitor stock trades as a possible warning sign of a terrorist attack or suspicious economic behavior. A week after the Sept.11 attacks, the London Times reported that the CIA had asked regulators for the Financial Services Authority in London to investigate the suspicious sales of millions of shares of stock just prior to the terrorist acts. It was hoped the business paper trail might lead to the terrorists. Investigators from numerous government agencies are part of a clandestine but official effort to resolve the market manipulations There has been a great deal of talk about insider trading of American stocks by certain Israeli groups both in Canada and Germany between August 26 and the Sept.11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Lynne Howard, a spokeswoman for the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), stated that information about who made the trades was available immediately. "We would have been aware of any unusual activity right away. It would have been triggered by any unusual volume. There is an automated system called 'blue sheeting,' or the CBOE Market Surveillance System, that everyone in the business knows about. It provides information on the trades - the name and even the Social Security number on an account - and these surveillance systems are set up specifically to look into insider trading. The system would look at the volume, and then a real person would take over and review it, going back in time and looking at other unusual activity." Howard continued, "The system is so smart that even if there is a news event that triggers a market event it can go back in time, and even the parameters can be changed depending on what is being looked at. It's a very clever system and it is instantaneous. Even with the system, though, we have very experienced and savvy staff in our market-regulations area who are always looking for things that might be unusual. They're trained to put the pieces of the puzzle together. Even if it's offshore, it might take a little longer, but all offshore accounts have to go through U.S. member firms - members of the CBOE - and it is easily and quickly identifiable who made the trades. The member firm who made the trades has to have identifiable information about the client under the 'Know Your Customer' regulations (and we share all information with the Securities and Exchange Commission.)" Given all of this, at a minimum the CBOE and government regulators who are conducting the secret investigations have known for some time who made the options puts on a total of 38 stocks that might reasonably be anticipated to have a sharp drop in value because of an attack similar to the 9/11 episode. The silence from the investigating camps could mean several things: Either terrorists are responsible for the puts on the listed stocks or others besides terrorists had foreknowledge of the attack and used this knowledge to reap a nice financial harvest from the tragedy. Adam Hamilton of Zeal LLC, a North Dakota-based private consulting company that publishes research on markets worldwide, stated that "I heard that $22 million in profits was made on these put options..." Federal investigators are continuing to be so closed-mouthed about these stock trades, and it is clear that a much wider net has been cast, apparently looking for bigger international fish involved in dubious financial activity relating to the 9/11 attacks on the world stock markets. Just a month after the attacks the SEC sent out a list of stocks to various securities firms around the world looking for information. The list includes stocks of American, United, Continental, Northwest, Southwest and US Airways airlines, as well as Martin, Boeing, Lockheed Martin Corp., AIG, American Express Corp, American International Group, AMR Corporation, Axa SA, Bank of America Corp, Bank of New York Corp, Bank One Corp, Cigna Group, CNA Financial, Carnival Corp, Chubb Group, John Hancock Financial Services, Hercules Inc, L-3 Communications Holdings, Inc., LTV Corporation, Marsh & McLennan Cos. Inc., MetLife, Progressive Corp., General Motors, Raytheon, W.R. Grace, Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd., Lone Star Technologies, American Express, the Citigroup Inc. ,Royal & Sun Alliance, Lehman Brothers Holdings, Inc., Vornado Reality Trust, Morgan Stanley, Dean Witter & Co., XL Capital Ltd., and Bear Stearns. The Times said market regulators in Germany, Japan and the US all had received information concerning the short selling of insurance, airlines and arms companies stock, all of which fell sharply in the wake of the attacks. City of London broker and analyst Richard Crossley noted that someone sold shares in unusually large quantities beginning three weeks before the assault on the WTC and Pentagon. He said he took this as evidence that someone had insider foreknowledge of the attacks. "What is more awful than he should aim a stiletto blow at the heart of Western financial markets?" he added. "But to profit from it? Words fail me." The US Government also admitted it was investigating short selling, which evinced a compellingly strong foreknowledge of the coming Arab attack. There was unusually heavy trading in airline and insurance stocks several days before Sept.11, which essentially bet on a drop in the worth of the stocks. It was reported by the Interdisciplinary Center, a counter-terrorism think tank involving former Israeli intelligence officers, that insiders made nearly $16 million profit by short selling shares in American and United Airlines, the two airlines that suffered hijacking, and the investment firm of Morgan Stanley, which occupied 22 floors of the WTC. Apparently none of the suspicious transactions could be traced to bin Laden because this news item quietly dropped from sight, leaving many people wondering if it tracked back to American firms or intelligence agencies. Most of these transactions were handled primarily by Deutsche Bank-A.B.Brown, a firm which until 1998 was chaired by A. B."Buzzy" Krongard, who later became executive director of the CIA. More serious was an article in the Sept. 28, 2001 edition of the Washington Post stating that officials with the instant messaging firm of Odigo in New York confirmed that two employees in Israel received text messages warning of an attack on the WTC two hours before the planes crashed into the buildings! The firm's vice president of sales and marketing, Alex Diamandis said it was possible that the warning was sent to other Odigo members, but they had not received any reports of such. The day after, the Jerusalem Post claimed two Israelis died on the hijacked airplanes and that 4,000 were missing at the WTC. A week later, a Beirut television station reported that 4,000 Israeli employees of the WTC were absent the day of the attack. This information spread across the Internet but was quickly branded a hoax. On Sept. 19, the Washington Post reported about 113 Israelis were missing at the WTC and the next day, President Bush noted more than 130 Israelis were victims. Finally, on Sept. 22, the New York Times stated "There were, in fact, only three Israelis who had been confirmed as dead: two on the planes and another who had been visiting the towers on business and who was identified and buried." Investigators from numerous government agencies are part of a clandestine but official effort to resolve the market manipulations There has been a great deal of talk about the insider trading of American stocks by certain Israeli groups both in Canada and Germany between August 26 and the Sept.11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Government investigators have maintained a diplomatic silence about a Department of Justice (DOJ) probe of possible profiteering by interested parties with advance knowledge of the attack. On Sept. 6, 2001, the Thursday before the tragedy, 2,075 put options were made on United Airlines and on Sept. 10, the day before the attacks, 2,282 put options were recorded for American Airlines. Given the prices at the time, this could have yielded speculators between $2 million and $4 million in profit. The matter still is under investigation and none of the government investigating bodies -including the FBI, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and DOJ -are speaking to reporters about insider trading. Even so, suspicion of insider trading to profit from the Sept. 11 attacks is not limited to U.S. regulators. Investigations were initiated in a number of places including Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Luxembourg, Hong Kong, Switzerland and Spain. As in the United States, all are treating these inquiries as if they were state secrets.
November 26, 2005
Even Supporters Doubt President as Issues Pile Up
By KATE ZERNIKE
COLUMBUS, Ohio, Nov. 22 - Leesa Martin never considered President Bush a great leader, but she voted for him a year ago because she admired how he handled the terrorist attacks of 2001.
Then came the past summer, when the death toll from the war in Iraq hit this state particularly hard: 16 marines from the same battalion killed in one week. She thought the federal government should have acted faster to help after Hurricane Katrina. She was baffled by the president's nomination of Harriet E. Miers, a woman she considered unqualified for the Supreme Court, and disappointed when he did not nominate another woman after Ms. Miers withdrew.
And she remains unsettled by questions about whether the White House leaked the name of a C.I.A. agent whose husband had accused the president of misleading the country about the intelligence that led to the war.
"I don't know if it's any one thing as much as it is everything," said Ms. Martin, 49, eating lunch at the North Market, on the edge of downtown Columbus. "It's kind of snowballed."
Her concerns were echoed in more than 75 interviews here and across the country this week, helping to explain the slide in the president's approval and trustworthiness ratings in recent polls.
Many people who voted for Mr. Bush a year ago had trouble pinning their current discontent on any one thing. Many mentioned the hurricane and the indictment of a top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney, which some said raised doubts about the president's candor and his judgment. But there was a sense that something had veered off course in the last few months, and the war was the one constant. Over and over, even some of Mr. Bush's supporters raised comparisons with Vietnam.
"We keep hearing about suicide bombers and casualties and never hear about any progress being made," said Dave Panici, 45, a railroad conductor from Bradley, Ill. "I don't see an end to it; it just seems relentless. I feel like our country is just staying afloat, just treading water instead of swimming toward somewhere."
Mr. Panici voted for President Bush in 2004, calling it "a vote for security." "Now that a year has passed, I haven't seen any improvement in Iraq," he said. "I don't feel that the world is a safer place."
A USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll in mid-November found that 37 percent of Americans approved of Mr. Bush, the lowest approval rating the poll had recorded in his presidency. That was down from 55 percent a year ago and from a high of 90 percent shortly after Sept. 11, 2001.
An Associated Press/Ipsos poll earlier in the month found the same 37 percent approval rating and recorded the president's lowest levels regarding integrity and honesty: 42 percent of Americans found him honest, compared with 53 percent at the beginning of this year.
Several of those interviewed said that in the last year they had come to believe that Mr. Bush had not been fully honest about the intelligence that led to the war, which he said showed solid evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.
"I think people put their faith in Bush, hoping he would do the right thing," said Stacey Rosen, 38, a stay-at-home mother in Boca Raton, Fla., who said she voted for Mr. Bush but was "totally disappointed" in him now. "Everybody cannot believe that there hasn't been one shred of evidence of W.M.D. I think it goes to show how they tell us what they want to tell us."
Mark Briggs, who works for Nationwide Insurance here, said he did not want to believe that the president "manipulated" intelligence leading the country into war, but believed that, at least, Mr. Bush had misread it.
Still, however much he may disagree with Mr. Bush's policies, Mr. Briggs said, he admires the president for standing by what he says.
"There is the notion of leadership and sticking with the plan, which I believe in," he said. "George Bush is clear and consistent. He made a tough decision to go to war - and others voted for it, too. And I think he's right: those people may be trying to rewrite history."
Kacey Wilson, 32, eating lunch with Ms. Martin, said she, too, had concerns about the death toll from the war, but she felt that Mr. Bush spoke the truth, even if it might not be what the country wanted to hear. "I like his cut-and-dry, take-no-prisoners style," Ms. Wilson said. "I think people are used to more spinning."
Others, though, saw arrogance in that approach.
"We need to not be so stubborn," said Vicky Polka, 58, a retired school principal in Statesboro, Ga., who voted for Mr. Bush and described her support for him as "waning." "Something's not going right here. We need to resolve this. I hate to say it, but I think Iraq is going the way of Vietnam."
Few people said they were following the leak scandal, which led to the indictment of I. Lewis Libby Jr., Mr. Cheney's former aide. Some who could cite main characters and events dismissed it as little more than political theater. Even fewer said they had paid attention to other scandals preoccupying Washington: the indictment of Representative Tom DeLay, the powerful Texas Republican, and the guilty plea by his former spokesman.
But several people said that the leak scandal had left them with the sense that the president was not leveling with the public about his involvement.
"He has to give us more information," said Phil Niemie, 51, an elementary school principal eating lunch with his family in Columbus. "The longer it goes without closure, it begins to trigger those Nixon Watergate years. I felt the same way with Clinton."
But for Mr. Niemie, who voted for Mr. Bush, and others, the leak scandal raised the biggest doubts about Vice President Cheney.
"A lot of problems tie back to some of Cheney's shenanigans," Ms. Martin said. "It just seems like he could have done better for vice president the second time around."
In Atlanta, Selena Smith, a director at an advertising agency, echoed others when she said she thought too much time had already been spent on the investigation.
"The war is more important to me now," said Ms. Smith, 46. "What's the plan? Give us something to hang our teeth on. What's really top of mind for me is how many people are getting killed across the creek, and how are we going to get them home?"
Here in Ohio, the most hotly contested state in the 2004 election, the heavy toll on a local Marine battalion had played out on television and in newspapers throughout the summer's end, and the majority of two dozen people interviewed here said they wanted to see the troops come home.
Some, though, faulted Americans as having short attention spans.
"Anything that takes more than a couple of months, we get bored with," said Rich Canary, 35, an information technology specialist here. "Progress has been made. The Iraqis have a constitution. They're actually creating their own country. When you hear the soldiers talk, they feel what they're doing is important."
And there was much division about how to end the war. Some military families said it was important to finish the task the troops had begun; others said they resented accusations of being unpatriotic when they criticized the war. Some who said their approval of the president had not wavered nevertheless argued for a quick end to the war, while some of Mr. Bush's strongest critics said it would destabilize Iraq to withdraw the troops anytime soon.
"Too many people would get hurt," said Laurence Melia, 28, a salesman from Newton, Mass., who campaigned against President Bush last year. "There has to be a last foot on the ground in the end, and there might be more problems if we run away too fast."
In Houston, Geoff Van Hoeven, an accountant, said he thought the war in Iraq had aggravated the terrorist threat by creating "a breeding ground for Al Qaeda." Still, Mr. Van Hoeven said a quick withdrawal was not possible, "because America's going to be perceived as extremely weak and unreliable coming in, and when the going gets rough, they pull out."
Even those who voted against Mr. Bush a year ago saw little satisfaction in his woes.
"Part of me enjoys watching him squirm," said Shirley Tobias, 46, sitting with a colleague from Netscape at a coffee shop in Grandview, a suburb of Columbus. "But he's squirming on our behalf. We're all in this together."
Reporting for this article was contributed by Cindy Chang from Los Angeles; Bill Dawson from Houston; Brenda Goodman from Atlanta; Kelli Kennedy from Boca Raton, Fla.; Gretchen Ruethling from Chicago; and Katie Zezima from Boston.
Blogger Thoughts: Hooey. The hooey starts with the three types of war prisoners. This is made up (by the Bush Admin) out of whole cloth. It's heinous to foist this nonsense, which is a hoax on the American People and the World.
Krathhammer is shameless and unattached to any morality I can discern.... except the lies of 9/11 and Empire.
Blogger Thoughts: What a bunch of hooey!
Blogger Thoughts: Having nothing better to say than complain about Bush Bashers
Blogger Thoughts: Cliff Kincaid.....Morally Challenged
Blogger Thoughts: Disgusting Hooey