Saturday, October 30, 2004

The Skinny on Osama

So is it him? Maybe. Maybe not. But really - since when has it mattered?

He isn't as fat as the last Osama who claimed he brought down the towers, but the nose and cheekbones still look broader than that of the bin Laden we saw in 2001, seen below. And in Friday's tape, I didn't see the long, narrow face symptomatic of Marfan's Syndrome, with which bin Laden reputedly suffers.

Whomever it was, Walter Cronkite saw something fishy. From a Larry King interview last evening:

CRONKITE: So now the question is basically, right now, how will this affect the election? And I have a feeling that it could tilt the election a bit. In fact, I'm a little inclined to think that Karl Rove, the political manager at the White House, who is a very clever man, he probably set up bin Laden to this thing. The advantage to the Republican side is to get rid of, as a principal subject of the campaigns right now, get rid of the whole problem of the al Qaqaa explosive dump.

Now I must say, I'm not the conspiracy theorist Walter Cronkite turns out to be. The only thing Rovian I'm seeing is the dizzifyin' spin, which makes the Lewis Carroll-like argument that a healthy and trim bin Laden at large three years after 9/11 means George Bush is the best choice on national security. Rove would have put other words his mouth - maybe call John Kerry "a man I could do business with" - and blunted the zingers. ("If we hate freedom, why didn't we attack Sweden?" would never have made the second draft.)

If this is a hoax tape, I don't expect it's psyops from the Bush Crime Family. It would more likely be a "fuck you very much" from the CIA, or rather the faction therein that means to turn the knife as payback for the White House's imprudent alienation of the agency. ("Say it was our fault, will ya? Well let's see how you like Osama 2.0 raggin' you about the goat story!")

Assuming for a moment it is Osama, could he be found by tracking Amazon's shipments of Fahrenheit 911 DVDs to North Waziristan? Because whomever it was, this is his most important remark:

We had agreed with the general emir Mohammed Atta, God bless his soul, to carry out all operations within 20 minutes before Bush and his administration noticed. It never occurred to us that the commander in chief of the American armed forces will leave 50,000 of his citizens in the two towers to face these horrors alone.

It appeared to him that a little girl's talk about her goat and its butting was more important than the planes and their butting of the skyscrapers. That gave us three times the required time to carry out the operations, thank God.

His astonishment at the lack of response, and gratitude for it, is noted.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Remembering Hope

"We gonna charge, we gonna stomp, we gonna march through the swamp,
We gonna mosh through the marsh, take us right through the doors...."

Monday the 25th marked the second anniversary of the Wellstone crash. I recall watching the news break on CNN, and my dawning sense of dread that omigod, it's happened again. But then, two years ago, I was still prepared to concede the benefit of the doubt, that it probably was nothing but a terrible accident. I was, however, disgusted by many early responses to the news I read online, which amounted to the bullying dare, Nobody better suggest that it wasn't!

In the years since I've learned enough about the crash, and about Bush's America, to no longer make that concession. I now believe it much more likely that Senator Wellstone, his wife and daughter were political murder victims. And I'm pleased that Monday also marked the launch of American Assassination: The Strange Death of Senator Paul Wellstone, by professors James Fetzer and Four Arrows.

One of the ancillary offenses of political assassination is that the deaths of good people can come to eclipse their lives. Getting Wellstoned has entered our language, bitterly, to describe political murder disguised as accident. Undoubtedly Russians and Germans of wisdom and good conscience whispered similar neologisms to themselves in the 1930s and '40s.

It's all but certain that Paul Wellstone's killers will evade justice as surely as the Kennedys' and Dr King's. But with every terrible loss comes the small victory of added clarity: we know a little more of what the criminalized state is capable.

Fetzer and Four Arrows are right to call for an inquiry, but always we should remember that Wellstone's life is greater than his death. Wellstone is not encompassed by his Wellstoning. The legacy of his life is hope, and we ought to lift the shroud with which his killers draped it.

So then, on with hope.

Have you seen the "911 Truth Statement"? Take a look. Released Tuesday, and signed by 100 prominent Americans and 40 relatives of 9/11 victims, it demands immediate answers to 12 basic questions, including:

  • Why were the extensive missile batteries and air defenses reportedly deployed around the Pentagon not activated during the attack?
  • Why haven't authorities in the U.S. and abroad published the results of multiple investigations into trading that strongly suggested foreknowledge of specific details of the 9/11 attacks, resulting in tens of millions of dollars of traceable gains?
  • Why did the Bush administration cover up the fact that the head of the Pakistani intelligence agency was in Washington the week of 9/11 and reportedly had $100,000 wired to Mohamed Atta, considered the ringleader of the hijackers?

Most impressive is the list of signatories. It includes expected names such as Ed Asner, Catherine Austin Fitts, Daniel Ellsberg and Cynthia McKinney, but also prominent figures who have not had as high a profile on 9/11; some of whom, perhaps, are identifying with the "9/11 truth movement" for the first time. Included are Ralph Nader, Janeane Garofalo, Mark Crispin Miller, Michael Parenti, Michelle Shocked and Howard Zinn.

With such names attached, 9/11 skepticism is well out of the shadows, albeit still on the margins. And a story such as the one below - a new report that at least three of the WTC planes' four black boxes were recovered, official denials notwithstanding - is almost enough to make me expect justice, or something like it, someday.

But then along comes eminem, and makes me think today is that day.

If you haven't seen "Mosh," please do. Here's a page of links to the video (I found iFILM the most stable host), and here's a link to a direct download. This weekend, eminem is Saturday Night Live's musical guest.

This is the anthem for the last days. Whether of Bush's presidency or of America itself is yet to be determined. But the clock is ticking. And with the video's montage of "Bush Knew" headlines, and the cardboard bin Laden collapsing to reveal a chuckling Cheney and Rumsfeld on a soundstage, it appears eminem hears the ticking very well.

"Mosh" makes me think, for the first time in a long time - maybe since the Wellstone crash - that maybe, just maybe, they won't be able to steal this one.

And if they try....

"Mosh now - or die"

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Report: WTC black boxes were recovered

No comment besides to say, if this breaking story - which will appear tomorrow in The Philadelphia Daily News - is true, then it supports our suspicion that the black boxes contained data that was never meant for disclosure. The Daily News piece is an abbreviation of this report, which begins:

Two men who worked extensively in the wreckage of the World Trade Center claim they helped federal agents find three of the four "black boxes" from the jetliners that struck the towers on 9/11 - contradicting the official account.

Both the independent 9/11 Commission and federal authorities continue to insist that none of the four devices - a cockpit voice recorder (CVR) and flight data recorder (FDR) from the two planes - were ever found in the wreckage.

But New York City firefighter Nicholas DeMasi has written in a recent book -- self-published by several Ground Zero workers -- that he escorted federal agents on an all-terrain vehicle in October 2001 and helped them locate three of the four.

His account is supported by a volunteer, Mike Bellone, whose efforts at Ground Zero have been chronicled in the New York Times and elsewhere. Bellone said assisted DeMasi and the agents and that saw a device that resembling a "black box" in the back of the firefighter’s ATV.

Their story raises the question of whether there was a some type of cover-up at Ground Zero. Federal aviation officials - blaming the massive devastation - have said the World Trade Center attacks seem to be the only major jetliner crashes in which the critical devices were never located.

A footnote to the 9/11 Commission Report issued this summer flatly states: "The CVRs and FDRs from American 11 and United 175" - the two planes that hit the Trade Center - "were not found."

And officials for the FBI - which oversaw the cleanup at Ground Zero - and the New York City Fire Department repeated this week that the devices were never recovered.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Vreeland, again

We now have some specifics regarding Delmart Vreeland's latest jailhouse warning of an impending attack.

Reportedly while in custody, he called at least two trusted contacts with the message that four one-megaton devices would be detonated "soon" in the Minneapolis area. Vreeland additionally claims to have been tracking the conspirators when he was picked up.

For what it's worth - which likely, hopefully, is nothing - there are now also unconfirmed stories of a sudden emptying of a huge armory near the Twin Cities - said now to be one close to the airport - and movements of military hardware westward.

This was posted on Democratic Underground by a new member, "eyeswideshut":

This morning a friend of mine sent me the email with the information about the armory. Her friend is a truck driver that drives by the armory all the time. It is about an 80 acre site that normally contains trucks, tanks humvees, earth movers etc. When he drove by the armory today, almost all of the equipment is gone. He said that only about 2 acres of the site had equipment left on it. As he was driving toward Des Moines, he saw contractors in a convoy moving heavy military equipment - obviously from the Twin Cities facility.

My friend said that her friend is normally not the kind of guy to notice much - but this - he noticed and he told her something is up which is why I sent out the inquiry.

As anyone acquainted with the Vreeland saga knows, grains of salt are de rigeur. Discriminating truth from untruth is frustrating and potentially discrediting labour. (I recall Gary Sick's words about characters such as Vreeland: "they are meant to be.") What adds to the frustration is Vreeland can't be taken at his word, but his word must still be taken into account. Even disinformation, if it's recognized, can be revealing.

More on Vreeland's warning and the armory can be found here.

There's also this, from Sunday's article in The Toronto Star:

Then in September, 2002, after spending an evening preparing for his case with Slansky, Vreeland disappeared. Police went to his apartment, which his lawyers called "ransacked."

Galati believed Vreeland had been kidnapped by American agents — a fear that led to Galati's decision last December to drop his high-profile cases involving national security.

Reached yesterday, Galati said he believes Vreeland is still working as an American agent.

Lubkeman said yesterday they're being cautious with the Vreeland case — taking measures that included having to verify a reporter's identity before giving an interview.

"He has lots of stories to tell. He thinks himself very important and he wanted to make sure people in the government were contacted," Lubkeman said.

And I wonder whether this AP story is relevant:

Several people have been taken into custody recently on charges not related to terrorism, but officials are investigating whether they may have been involved in terror activities, said another law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

As for the person who warned the CIA, at least some of that individual's reporting no longer is seen as credible, said a U.S. intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity. The official stressed, however, that a number of other sources point to terrorist activity around the election season.

I still say that it's probably nothing. But I also agree with Cryptogon: "The cauldron is definitely swirling now."

Saturday, October 23, 2004

It's Probably Nothing....

so I shouldn't even mention it. But 10 days before the election, I'm finding my intuition isn't as rigorous as it used to be. So forgive this one time.

Here's the thing: there is a convergence of - let's call it "chatter" - regarding an impending bombing in the Twin Cities. According to the story, the attack would be nuclear. Whether suitcase or radiological "dirty bomb" is uncertain. The window seems to be Oct 27-31. The Mall of America is a known high-value target.

One, big trigger for this buzz has been the arrest of Delmart Vreeland. It's true, Vreeland is a criminal, but he's more than a criminal. The criminal Vreeland is his "legend." He is also, as was proven in a Toronto court and supported by other covert operatives, an asset of the Office of Naval Intelligence. He stumbled upon advance warning of 9/11, and for several months his Canadian attorneys tried desperately to find a security service which would take heed of it. Vreeland vanished while on bail, awaiting a ruling in his extradition hearing.

That Vreeland turns up now is suspicious enough. That he claims to have allowed himself to be arrested because he's learned of another imminent attack is worrisome. That his warning reportedly confirms what some others have heard - Twin Cities, nuclear, end of October - is ominous.

Compounding the anxiety surrounding Vreeland's reappearance are reports such as John Ashcroft's rare conference call with all 93 US attorneys, in which he allegedly stated that a massive terrorist attack before the election was a certainty; FEMA's "Community Emergency Response Teams" having scheduled a simulated terror attack for November 2; and the August testimony of a Texas National Guardsman, who claimed to have been told that the Bush government would undoubtedly declare martial law on November 1. His interview can be heard here. I can take or leave the over-excited and rather indiscriminate host Alex Jones, but to my ears, the guardsman sounds genuine. And really, we'll know soon enough.

Vreeland and his latest warning are discussed, heatedly, in several other active threads at Democratic Underground, including here, here and here.

In my experience, one way to ensure nightmares don't become prophecies is to talk them out. I hope I haven't given you one in the process.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Breaking: Delmart Vreeland Arrested

As if the portents weren't ominous enough.

We already had plenty of cause to worry about next week. Vreeland's turning up now seals the deal. I believe bad news is coming, fast.

Here's the story, as reported (and here's the story as it's not reported).

If you need a Vreeland refresher, here's a report from The Toronto Star, Dec 3rd of last year: ""Post-9/11, this doesn't seem all that weird"; a link to court documents; confirmation by Leo Wanta, longtime intelligence asset who destabilized the Soviet ruble in the '80s for the Reagan White House request, that Vreeland was an operative of the Office of Naval Intelligence; and an interview.

Head's up, and stay safe.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Iraq Against the Grain

For Americans paying attention, here was some "happy news" from Iraq by way of the United States Central Command, Sept 28:

MOSUL, Iraq – Multi-National Forces, in cooperation with Texas A&M Unviersity, Colorado State University, Kansas State University and the World Wide Wheat Company will distribute more than 1,000 pounds of wheat seeds to Iraqi farmers located in the Ninevah Province by October.


To help this area’s wheat yields meet demands, leaders from the World Wide Wheat Company in Arizona began meeting with agriculturalists from Texas A&M, KSU and CSU to determine what wheat species would best survive Iraq’s arid climate. They chose several winter wheat variants from Arizona because the state’s climate is very similar to Iraq.

Here's what the Occupier's press release neglects to mention: Iraqi farmers are now forbidden from saving their own seeds, because the market is now the property of the huge transnationals and their genetically-modified, patent-protected product. This, according to Paul Bremer's "100 Orders," which engraved Iraq's economic thralldom into law before the "handover of sovereignty." Specifically, "Coalition Provitional Authority Order 81: Patent, Industrial Design, Undisclosed Information, Integrated Circuits and Plant Variety Law."

Here's what GRAIN says about the impact of the patent law upon Iraqi farming:

For generations, small farmers in Iraq operated in an essentially unregulated, informal seed supply system. Farm-saved seed and the free innovation with and exchange of planting materials among farming communities has long been the basis of agricultural practice. This has been made illegal under the new law. The seeds farmers are now allowed to plant - "protected" crop varieties brought into Iraq by transnational corporations in the name of agricultural reconstruction - will be the property of the corporations. While historically the Iraqi constitution prohibited private ownership of biological resources, the new US-imposed patent law introduces a system of monopoly rights over seeds. Inserted into Iraq's previous patent law is a whole new chapter on Plant Variety Protection (PVP) that provides for the "protection of new varieties of plants." PVP is an intellectual property right (IPR) or a kind of patent for plant varieties which gives an exclusive monopoly right on planting material to a plant breeder who claims to have discovered or developed a new variety. So the "protection" in PVP has nothing to do with conservation, but refers to safeguarding of the commercial interests of private breeders (usually large corporations) claiming to have created the new plants.

To qualify for PVP, plant varieties must comply with the standards of the UPOV Convention, which requires them be new, distinct, uniform and stable. Farmers' seeds cannot meet these criteria, making PVP-protected seeds the exclusive domain of corporations. The rights granted to plant breeders in this scheme include the exclusive right to produce, reproduce, sell, export, import and store the protected varieties. These rights extend to harvested material, including whole plants and parts of plants obtained from the use of a protected variety.


The new law is presented as being necessary to ensure the supply of good quality seeds in Iraq and to facilitate Iraq's accession to the WTO. What it will actually do is facilitate the penetration of Iraqi agriculture by the likes of Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer and Dow Chemical - the corporate giants that control seed trade across the globe. Eliminating competition from farmers is a prerequisite for these companies to open up operations in Iraq, which the new law has achieved. Taking over the first step in the food chain is their next move.

This is disastrous for Iraqi farmers and potentially calamatous for Iraq's food security, and is another sad blow to global biodiversity. The neoliberals - imperial fellow travellers with the neoconservatives - are remaking Iraq into a laboratory for Chicago School economic theory. Not since the Khmer Rouge took Phnom Pen has a gang of such bloody-minded ideologues experimented unfettered on a national scale.

Nearly two million Cambodians died under Pol Pot. In Iraq, it's early days.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Bushthink, and the Strength of Venezuelan Steel

Here's the latest quote from a White House senior advisor sounding like O'Brien schooling Winston Smith strapped to the rack in the Ministry of Love:

The aide said that guys like me were ''in what we call the reality-based community,'' which he defined as people who ''believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ''That's not the way the world really works anymore,'' he continued. ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors...and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.''

Bushthink's created reality is on display in The Weekend at Bernie's romp across Iraq of that feisty one-legged dead man, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Since most mainstream American organs purged themselves long ago of the remaining vestiges of oldthink, only a few on the margins of the respectible press recall the earlier pronouncements of his amputation and death, and the peculiar loss of his Jordanian accent on the notorious Nick Berg tape. (And Berg's own story, with his bizarre Oklahoma connection to Zacharias Moussaoui and the denial that he had ever been in US custody in Iraq, was subjected to its own vigorous campaign of Bushthink.) Seymour Hersh recently suggested that Zarqawi is a composite character, but according to Richard Perle's reality Hersh is the closest thing American journalism has to a terrorist, so don't expect Hersh alone, this time, to overturn conventional madness.

Zarqawi may be a ghost, but to perpetual war strategists in need of a villain, he's a friendly ghost, and a valuable one at that. (His reputed oath of allegiance to al Qaeda couldn't have been more welcome, since it post facto resolves, according to the new reality, the problem of Iraq's lack of ties to the SPECTRE-like gang of Islamo-supermen bent on world domination.) So let's call him Goldstein 2.0, since the Osama release was quite buggy, especially in the kidneys.

But Bushthink hasn't carried all before it - there are still proletarian pockets which ought to be cleansed and freethinkers who need to be made sane. And Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez is the loudest and surest voice on the world stage to affirm that 2 + 2 is still, and always, 4.

Though Chavez's threat of jail for governors who lose in the Oct 31 election but refuse to leave office certainly bucks the precepts of Bushthink, the latest example from Venezuela is the stubborn resistance of the East Tower of the Parque Central block to obey the new physics of the War on Terror. The 56-storey Caracas landmark has been burning since Saturday, and still hasn't folded neatly into its footprint, as we've been led to expect steel-frame structures are wont to do from fires in the post-9/11 era.

Ever since 9/11 changed everything, a steel-framed structure doesn't need so much as a passenger jet strike to make it topple. The collapse of World Trade Center Building 7, the third-steel frame high rise to collapse due to fire in history, and all on the same day, proved that. So what's the deal, Caracas? You're so far behind the times, it's not funny.

Of course, the usual thought criminals suspect Building 7 came down for other reasons. Such reasons as its tenants who, it's suspected, may have had secrets they wanted disappeared. Tenants of Building 7 included the CIA, which had a clandestine bunker on the 23rd floor; the Department of Defense; the US Secret Service; New York City's Office of Emergency Management (immediately replaced by the bigger, better FEMA camp established in lower Manhattan for the coincidentally scheduled "TRIPOD 2" biowar drill); a number of banks implicated in wire transactions to the 9/11 hijackers; and the Securities and Exchange Commission, which lost many irreplaceable filings in the collapse, including those pertaining to Enron.

These same sick in the head conspiracists persist in the belief that a video tape exists in which World Trade Center leaseholder Larry Silverstein said, about Building 7:

I remember getting a call from the, er, fire department commander, telling me that they were not sure they were gonna be able to contain the fire, and I said, "We've had such terrible loss of life, maybe the smartest thing to do is pull it." And they made that decision to pull and we watched the building collapse.

Since "pulling" a building requires the knowledgeable placement of demolition charges, and there was no time to wire the building on September 11, the charges must have been placed beforehand, in anticipation of the attack. Therefore, in Bushthink, this is all crazy talk and must never have happened.

But perhaps it was possible charges were set in other than the conventional fashion, though they would still need a lead time that preceded the crashing of airliners. For what it's worth, there's this new curio to add to the mix:

...the Chinese Companies in WTC tower that specialized in "Spray o­n Demolition Explosives" --called "Slurry Explosives" ..a company that also specialized in high rise demolition ...and it's connection with the company o­n the same floor that specialized in "high rise" fire extinguishing products which happens to have a secret formula that is highly effective to put out Jet Fuel o­n contact.

How fascinating that would be...the "airplanes hit"...the "sprinkle heads start to sprinkler a very foul smelling liquid.." according to some survivors? The jet fuel NEVER caught hold. The fire was from another source. Other explosions were detonated. Then the "slurry" explosives that were used to cover the interior girders of the building instead of the "spray o­n fire-proofing" that was contracted for by the Port Authority. Otherwise, what a silly coincidence for a "Chinese" company that just happens to install both "anti-jet fuel" spray o­n fireproofing and "spray o­n explosives for high rise demolition."

The company was working on the developement of remote control aircraft and on Sept 6th I recieved word that some of my people may have been released from China to work on a change over of ATC Radar. I was told they had been contacted to be in a work detail in the WTC which was being renovated.

Whatever the truth, it may be worth noting that the WTC elevator system was undergoing renovation in early September 2001, which would have provided access to the core columns.

Regardless, Cheney willing, someday the structural integrity of Venezuelan high rises will rise to match the spectacular performance of the former New York City skyline.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Lincoln's Bed and Bush's Crown

Sidney Blumenthal, yesterday, in Salon:

Even now, the White House is being redecorated for President Bush's second term -- or at least one room, the Lincoln Bedroom, is. The famous long bed will remain; so will the original Emancipation Proclamation in its glass case. But dominating the room, above the bed, will be a large carved crown from which will flow, ceiling to floor, royal purple satin drapes. The crown has been sent to be gilded with gold in anticipation of Bush's triumphant return from his campaign.

This looked like satire, until I found "Lincoln's Sleepy Bedroom Gets a Wake-Up Call" in the September 25 Washington Post:

Gilded crowns and royal colors strike an unusual note in a house carefully stage-managed to symbolize the democracy. Neither element would have been acceptable to George Washington, who was advised to surround himself only with things that were "substantially good and majestically plain." Eagles were fine in "the President's House." Allusions to monarchy would have been anathema.

I was reminded of the Cheney family's 2003 Christmas card, and this warm, seasonal greating:

And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?

Do they know something we don't know? No, not really. We know it, too. It's just most of us don't want to admit it.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Nixon's Lip and Bush's Palsy

Stop kicking Dick Nixon around, already. The beads of sweat on his lip are on account of the flu. The five o'clock shadow is because he chose not to wear make-up. That he showed up for the first televised presidential debate "as is" should be commended, not excoriated.

Some pundits compare George Bush to Nixon. If only things were that bad. And not just for us. Judging from Bush's bizarre appearance and performance in the debates, he's not just an evil clown; he's a very sick man.

Last night was genuinely frightening.

There again was the box affixed to his back beneath his jacket. Is it a prompter? A hearing aid? A drug pump? The only hard denial from the Bush camp has been to rule out a bullet-proof vest. Otherwise, serious questions are answered with the familiar refrain of "Elvis," "aliens" and "conspiracy theories"; the off-the-rack ridicule delivered whenever they can't answer a charge.

While it's refreshing to see a story like the "box" go mainstream ("Technical Expert: Bush Was Wired"), there is so much more that hasn't, and won't. For instance, what the hell was wrong with his face?

Draw a line down the middle, and you could see two different Bushes. The left corner of his mouth was drooping egregiously, and his right eye was screwed up in a perpetual squint. He looked as though a blindfolded child had played pin-the-eyebrows-on-the-monkey.

Again, one hour into the debate, Bush's mood dramatically shifted down, as though his medication was wearing off. The manic whoops and cackles and bizarre associations were replaced by a sluggish, drowsily indifferent delivery. Simply put, he crashed.

The final debate also saw the white spitball at the right edge of his lip, resembling the classic "cotton mouth" side-effect of certain medications.

Finally, the clincher that there's nothing Elvis-like about this particular "conspiracy theory": Bush has postponed his annual physical until after the election. In 2001, 2002 and 2003, Bush had his check-up in August. What's different about this year? An election hasn't prohibited previous presidents from taking their physicals, not even Ronald Reagan.

In other words, what's Bush's problem? Because undoubtedly he has one. Has he suffered a mild stroke? Does he have seizures? (How many times must he "fall off the bike" or "choke on a pretzel" before his frequent facial abrasions sound alarm bells?) Was the left side of his face frozen to quell his smirk reflex? Could he be afflicted with pre-senile dementia?

His incompetence isn't simply "Dubya being Dubya." Watch this video, courtesy of "Bushbuzz", which contrasts his performance in 2004 with the Texas gubernatorial debate in 1994. The deterioration is striking. The Bush of ten-years ago speaks without stumbling or hems and haws. He's capable of formulating coherent arguments and is a competent debater. Something has happened in the interim, and is still happening to him.

Those who prefer Roman to Nixonian analogies have compared Bush to Caligula or Nero. Perhaps a case could be made in 2000, but both Caligula and Nero led Rome in its health; all their madness and excess could not destroy it. But even then, Bush arose to power - and could have arisen to power only - in the twilight of American Empire. The Empire isn't a Bush/Cheney creation. Let's be honest. It's been an on-the-ground reality for decades, and responsible for millions of deaths. But apart from the front lines of the latest War on Something, it presented, generally, a benign face to the world. That has markedly changed with the Bush years, perhaps because of the exegencies of oil and gas and the bubble-nature of US fiscal health. The seizure of power in 2000 afforded the neoconservative, neoliberal imperialists the opportunity to lengthen the years of American hegemony by employing the US military as an aggressive economic weapon. But as soft power is replaced by coersive, the more fragile the American Empire is revealed.

And after four years of his cheerleading the precipitous ruin of the Homeland formerly known as the United States, Bush does not deserve to be compared with even the worst Julio-Claudian.

Call him, rather, the deranged Elagabulus, the last Antonine. His reign ended in his murder, and his body was dragged through the streets and thrown, weighted, into the Tiber. The Senate ordered his name erased from history.

But Elagabulus had it in his power only to destroy Rome, and Bush doesn't care about history, since "we'll all be dead."

Let's all pray he's not really that sick.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

October Portents

Three weeks till the election, and it's beginning to feel as though the world is hunched over on death row in Texas, holding out hope for a pardon from - oh, right - the Governor.

After tonight's final debate, which is likely the last opportunity America's corporate media will afford John Kerry to be spotlighted as the better of two Bonesman, I have a suspicion - dread, really - that things are going to unravel rather quickly.

Recently we discussed the rare conference call between John Ashcroft and all 93 US Attorneys in late September, in which he apparently left no room for doubt that a 9/11 scale attack on American soil was coming before the election. In the past few days, we've seen several more reports that suggest the militants who seized power in 2000 are preparing to play their doomsday card.

Perhaps most worrisome is yesterday's announcement by Senator Mark Dayton that he is "closing his Washington office because of a classified intelligence report which made him fear for the safety of his staff."

"I take this step out of extreme, but necessary, precaution to protect the lives and safety of my Senate staff and my Minnesota constituents, who might otherwise be visiting my Senate office in the next three weeks," he said.

Dayton said he could not give details of the intelligence report, which he said Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., presented to senators at a briefing two weeks ago.

Dayton is the Democratic Senator of Minnesota who told a Governmental Affairs Committee hearing last July that NORAD's accounting for 9/11 was grossly missleading. Its chronology claimed the FAA notified the military's emergency air command of three hijackings while the planes were still airborne, but Dayton corrected it with the 9/11 Commission's own findings that the FAA had failed to inform NORAD until after all three had crashed. Dayton also raised the awkward fact that a squadron of NORAD interceptors was directed out over the Atlantic Ocean, and was 150 miles from the capitol when Flight 77 struck the Pentagon ("farther than they were before they took off"). He alleged NORAD "lied to the American people, they lied to Congress and they lied to your 9/11 commission to create a false impression of competence, communication and protection of the American people."

That Dayton went so far as to say NORAD lied about 9/11 suggests he's more sensitized than most Senators to the dark games being played, though his sensitivity may not yet have broken through into conscious thought. (It would be interesting to know his private thoughts regarding the fate of his late colleague and fellow Minnesotan, Paul Wellstone.)

Though I still don't know what to make of the provenance of the "Voice of the White House" (reputedly a reporter assigned to the White House press corps), and I find the fact he posts on the revisionist "TBR News" almost wholly discrediting, many of his posts do have the ring of truth. Unfortunately, so does his latest, in which he claims knowledge of an imminent US-Israeli strike upon Iran. I suppose we'll know soon enough the value of his words:

The U.S. has no troops available for an Iranian adventure and the Israelis would rather not lose any warm bodies so…it has been firmly decided that both Israel and the U.S. will launch a surprise attack against 1., Iranian missile sites, 2. Iranian nuclear facilities and 3. the leadership of Iran located in and around Tehran. How will this be done? By aircraft attack using U.S. developed “smart bombs” and the so-called “bunker-buster” bombs designed to destroy underground reinforced concrete facilities .We just sent these to Israel. Because of the political ramifications, the Israelis will conduct the main strikes, supported by U.S. aircraft as needed. The aim will be to wipe out any vestige of nuclear weaponry, its delivery system and all the Iranian leaders capable of starting any attacks on Israel (mostly Tel Aviv…too many fellow Muslims in Jerusalem.) Since it would be a problem for Israeli Air Force units to fly round trip from Israel, the solution will be to launch these attacks from U.S. aircraft carriers located in the Persian Gulf area. As I write, the super carrier USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67) is now in the Persian Gulf along with the so-called Essex Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) [31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) (SOC)] which consists of:: USS Essex (LHD 2) USS Juneau (LPD 10) USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49) USS Mobile Bay (CG 53USS Hopper (DDG 70) USS Preble (DDG 88) The initial attacks will be an early-morning surprise attack launched to coincide with religious services in Tehran’s Muslim mosques with the idea of catching not only the leading Mullahs inside but a large number of their congregations as well. One attack will concentrate on these religious centers and the other will hit both the underground nuclear facilities and identified (courtesy of U.S. satellite shots) missile launching sites. The U.S. will supply observation and radio surveillance aircraft with radar-jamming capacities operating out of Turkey and Italy. The entire attack is scheduled to last no more than one hour with at least three waves of Israeli aircraft utilized. No warning will be given to the Iranians and no declaration of war. The possible deaths of foreign diplomats in the attacks has been discussed and accepted as part of the price. This attack has the full support of the President who wants it launched before the elections. He can then make a speech to the American people stating that the evil Iranian nuclear weaponry has been destroyed by the Israelis with the full cooperation of his government as part of his heroic war against terrorists. Believe me, that speech has already been written and I have seen a copy of it.

Suddenly, Donald Rumsfeld's unexpected visit Saturday to the USS Kennedy, "currently deployed to the Arabian Gulf in support of the global war on terrorism," looks like more than a courtesy call.

Then there's the recent revelation - it would have been news, if anyone had thought to report it - that FEMA's "Community Emergency Response Teams" are now receiving 35-days of training, scheduled to end on Election Day with a simulated terrorist attack. Since Election Day is the most high value target date on the US calendar, why would CERT not conduct its simulation well in advance? But as 9/11 demonstrated several times over, simulations provide excellent cover for genuine events.

It remains quite possible that Iran, or the suitcase, may not explode just yet. But that's not to say democracy will prevail. All the Cheney/Bush cabal may need is good ol' fashioned, and new fashioned, voter fraud.

Some headlines from just the past 24 hours:

Nevada Move to Purge Some Dem Voters Fails (Associated Press): "Elections officials have rebuffed an attempt by a former GOP operative to purge about 17,000 Democrats from the voter rolls in the battleground state of Nevada, where the two presidential candidates are in a dead heat."

Voter Registrations Trashed - RNC Funded Firm Destroys Dem Registrations (
KLAS-TV, Las Vegas): "Employees of a private voter registration company allege that hundreds, perhaps thousands of voters who may think they are registered will be rudely surprised on election day.... The I-Team has obtained information about an alleged widespread pattern of potential registration fraud aimed at Democrats.... Two former workers say they personally witnessed company supervisors rip up and trash registration forms signed by Democrats."

Pushing to Be Counted in Florida (
Washington Post): "Nearly a dozen African American ministers and civil rights leaders walked into the Duval County election office here, television cameras in tow, with a list of questions: How come there were not more early voting sites closer to black neighborhoods? How come so many blacks were not being allowed to redo incomplete voter registrations? Who was deciding all this? Standing across the office counter under a banner that read 'Partners in Democracy' was the man who made those decisions, election chief Dick Carlberg. Visibly angry, the Republican explained why he decided the way he had: 'We call it the law.'"

City, County Spar over Ballot Supply (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel): Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker, citing vote-fraud concerns, is publicly balking at a City of Milwaukee request for almost 260,000 additional ballots in anticipation of high turnout for the Nov. 2 presidential election. Mayor Tom Barrett blasted Walker's stance, and Common Council President Willie Hines Jr. immediately joined in, saying it was an attempt to suppress the central-city vote.... Walker, a Republican, is a state co-chair of President Bush's campaign....

Will Terror Alert Level Show its True Colors? (Washington Post): "A Cornell sociologist says he has found scientific evidence that, whenever the government issues a terrorism alert, President Bush's approval ratings go up.... on average, each warning prompted a 2.75 point increase in the president's approval rating the following week."

Since his four years in office have been an unmatched tragic farce, even should Bush win fairly it would have to be regarded a failure of democracy. But I think that must be the least likely of outcomes.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Michael Meiring: Blast from the Past

A name I wish more people knew is that of Michael Meiring. And I wish we knew more about him than next to nothing.

Meiring is an American national and self-described "fortune hunter," who was seriously injured May 16, 2002 in an explosion in his Davao City hotel room on the Phillippine island of Mindanao. Screaming in pain, his legs mangled, Meiring told police someone had lobbed a grenade through his window. Actually, the explosion had originated inside a metal box with which Meiring had checked in.

Just three days later, an FBI team arrived at his hospital room and spirited him stateside before the matter could be investigated, despite arrest warrants, an order that he not leave the country, and "without the knowledge of any police, military or government official in the city or region," in the words of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who called Meiring's FBI-aided flight an "affront to Philippine sovereignty."

From The Minda News excellent three-part series on the Meiring mystery:

The circumstances behind Meiring’s sudden departure from the hospital, inspite of his serious condition, raised questions about his real identity. A number of officials in ‘for background only’ interviews, speculated Meiring may have been an agent of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

Meiring himself, according to those who had spent some time with him, refered to himself as CIA although he would qualify that to mean “Christ In Action.”

Four months after the incident, Davao City Prosecutor Raul Bendico announced that findings from the investigation of the case indicated that the accident occurred when Meiring was attempting to set up explosives intended to blow up the Evergreen Hotel.

When Meiring checked in on December 14, 2001, he was carrying two heavy metal boxes. He repeatedly warned hotel employees not to touch them, and instructed that his room be cleaned without chemicals. Davao police determined that the explosion originated inside one of the boxes. Among the documents recovered from the box was an officer identification card of the Moro National Liberation Front’s Bangsamoro Armed Forces, bearing Meiring’s name, photograph and September 17, 1935 as date of birth.

The Manila Times reported May 29, 2002 that Meiring

...had close ties to well-placed government authorities in southern Mindanao, national government officials and Philippine National Police…former Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) chairman Nur Misuari, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chief Hashim Salamat and suspected New People's Army (NPA) leader Father Navarro. Meiring also has close ties with "shady people" like MNLF Commander Tony Nasa and others in Cotabato who acted as "front men" for his dealings with the Abu Sayyaf.

Again from The Minda News:

Meiring, according to a source who knew him up close but requested not to be named because "grabe ang connection nyan" (he is well-connected), had visitors from various sectors, rich and poor, congressmen, councilors, a governor, military and once, the source said, Meiring complained he was duped by a police general.

The source said Meiring's predictions "always came true" such as the peso-dollar rate reaching this and that level. But what the source cannot forget was when Meiring said in January last year that with the Americans coming for Balikatan, sporadic bombings were to be expected and there would be a "big one." When the source asked Meiring if the General Santos City bombing on April 21 last year was the "big one," Meiring reportedly said no. Fifteen persons were killed and 55 others were injured in that blast.

The Mindanao Times report a day after the blast quoted Mayor Rodrigo Duterte as saying the police investigated Meiring the Friday before (May 10), after the intelligence community found him "highly suspicious" for bringing in boxes in and out of the hotel.

The police had good reason for their heightened suspicion. Mindanao had been enduring a terror campaign of bombings, including an explosion less than a month earlier in General Santos City which killed 15 and injured 55 more. And for the two days before Meiring's accidental explosion, bomb threats had forced the early adjournment of the regular session of the Davao City legislature and sent employees of around nine government agencies in the Council building scampering for safety.

Do you remember the mutiny of junior officers of the Philippine Army in Manilla, in the summer of 2003? They accused their military brass and the Arroyo government of conspiring with the United States in "Operation Greenbase," which involved the staging of bombings on the island of Mindanao in order to justify an increased US presence in the country.

Some particulars of what they were alleging:
  • Senior military officials, in collusion with the Arroyo regime, carried out last March's bombing of the airport in the southern city of Davao, as well as several other attacks. Thirty-eight people were killed in the bombings. The leader of the mutiny, Lieutenant Antonio Trillanes, claims to have "hundreds" of witnesses who can testify to the plot.
  • The army has fuelled terrorism in Mindanao by selling weapons and ammunition to the very rebel forces the young soldiers were sent to fight.
  • Members of the military and police helped prisoners convicted of terrorist crimes escape from jail. The "final validation", according to Trillanes, was Fathur Rohman al-Ghozi's July 14 escape from a heavily guarded Manila prison. Al-Ghozi is a notorious bomb-maker with Jemaah Islamiah, which was linked to both the Bali and Marriott attacks.
  • The government was on the verge of staging a new string of bombings to justify declaring martial law.
At the time, Naomi Klein seemed the only Western observer paying informed attention, and was certainly the only one who was informed by the widely-unknown Meiring story:

...the soldiers were not the first to accuse the Philippine government of bombing its own people. Days before the mutiny, a coalition of church groups, lawyers and NGOs launched a "fact-finding mission" to investigate persistent rumours that the state was involved in the Davao explosions. It is also investigating the possible involvement of US intelligence agencies.

These suspicions stem from a bizarre incident on May 16 2002, in Davao. Michael Meiring, a US citizen, allegedly detonated explosives in his hotel room, injuring himself badly. While recovering in hospital, Meiring was whisked away by two men - who witnesses say identified themselves as FBI agents - and flown to the US. Local officials have demanded that Meiring return to face charges, to little effect. BusinessWorld, a leading Philippine newspaper, has published articles openly accusing Meiring of being a CIA agent involved in covert operations "to justify the stationing of American troops and bases in Mindanao".

Yet the Meiring affair has never been reported in the US press. And the mutinous soldiers' incredible allegations were no more than a one-day story. Maybe it just seemed too outlandish: an out-of-control government fanning the flames of terrorism to pump up its military budget, hold on to power and violate civil liberties. Why would Americans be interested in something like that?

Those who disbelieve on principle that governments, even "friendly" governments, might stage false-flag terrorist actions upon their own people, simply don't know the material. Likewise for those who cannot imagine the covert agencies of the United States having a hand in such duplicitous atrocity. But they're in luck: a report this weekend on corruption in senior ranks of the Philippine military suggests much more material could be forthcoming shortly from that particular front of the "War on Terror." Especially given the remarks of Army spokesperson Lt. Col. Daniel Lucero, who said "there are times when the marketplace of ideas has to be suspended to avoid the creation of another problem."

Thursday, October 07, 2004

The Ballad of "Eduardo"

Get your fix of morbid fascination by reading this Slate interview with E Howard Hunt. Lots of bases briefly touched, including the toppling of the Arbenz government of Guatamala ("What deaths?" Hunt asks, when prodded about some 200,000 lives), Batista ("I thought he ran a good government there"), the murder of Che ("What I thought was great foresight was that the Bolivian colonel had Che's hands cut off"), Felix Rodriguez ("can do no wrong in my book"), and the rumours surrounding the Watergate-era death of his first wife ("there was all this speculation from conspiracy buffs that the FBI blew the plane up or something" - you can read more about that here). Most interesting is this brief exchange as the interview ends:

Slate: I know there is a conspiracy theory saying that David Atlee Phillips—the Miami CIA station chief—was involved with the assassination of JFK.
Hunt: [Visibly uncomfortable] I have no comment.
Slate: I know you hired him early on, to work with you in Mexico, to help with Guatemala propaganda.
Hunt: He was one of the best briefers I ever saw.
Slate: And there were even conspiracy theories about you being in Dallas the day JFK was killed.
Hunt: No comment.

We mentioned Phillips briefly in an earlier post. The best source for Phillips' link to Oswald is Gaeton Fonzi's The Last Investigation. You can read more about the search for "Maurice Bishop" here and on the Real History Archives.

As for Hunt, post-Watergate, when it looked like some concession to the truth on the JFK assassination was unavoidable, the CIA floated the "problem" of his presence in Dallas as a possible limited hangout for the involvement of "rogue elements" of the Agency conspiring in Kennedy's murder. He lost a libel suit in 1978 - the jury was convinced he was lying; that he had indeed been in Dallas on November 22. The trial is the subject of Mark Lane's Plausible Denial.

From Watergate's "smoking gun" tape of June 23 1972, it's evident that Nixon feared what an investigation could reveal about Hunt:

Of course, this is a, this is a Hunt, you will- that will uncover a lot of things. You open that scab there's a hell of a lot of things and that we just feel that it would be very detrimental to have this thing go any further. This involves these Cubans, Hunt, and a lot of hanky-panky that we have nothing to do with ourselves.

But that's not the most interesting revelation on the tape.

HR Haldeman, in his book The Ends of Power, cites several conversations where Nixon expressed concern about the Watergate affair becoming public knowledge and where this exposure might lead. Haldeman writes that he was puzzled when Nixon said, "'Tell Ehrlichman this whole group of Cubans (involved in the break-in) is tied to the Bay of Pigs.' After a pause I said, 'The Bay of Pigs? What does that have to do with this ?' But Nixon merely said, 'Ehrlichman will know what I mean,' and dropped the subject."

Later in the book, he reveals that he discovered that Nixon spoke in code about Kennedy's murder. He writes that Nixon's code for the assassination was "the Bay of Pigs."

Now here's Nixon again on the tape:

When you get in these people when you...get these people in, say: 'Look, the problem is that this will open the whole, the whole Bay of Pigs thing, and the President just feels that" ah, without going into the details... don't, don't lie to them to the extent to say there is no involvement, but just say this is sort of a comedy of errors, bizarre, without getting into it, "the President believes that it is going to open the whole Bay of Pigs thing up again. And, ah because these people are plugging for, for keeps and that they should call the FBI in and say that we wish for the country, don't go any further into this case," period!

Over and over on the tapes, Nixon talks about Hunt, the Cubans, the Texans, and the "Bay of Pigs thing."

See what's going on here?

Nixon is directing Haldeman to warn the FBI off probing Watergate because it'll touch Hunt, and that could reopen the Kennedy assassination. He expects the FBI, since it has a vested interest in perpetuating the cover up, not to pry any further for the good of the country.

You'd think that men like Hunt, if they had any grace or good conscience, would have sickened themselves to death years ago. And undoubtedly, some of them did. Perhaps David Atlee Phillips was one. As Dick Russell tells in The Man Who Knew Too Much, when Phillips was dying of cancer in 1988, his brother James asked him at the end of a telephone conversation: "Were you in Dallas on that day?" David began to cry, and answered "Yes."

Sickened to death?

Not this man.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

The American Replacement of Natural Disaster

There's an interesting little book by philosopher William Irwin Thompson entitled The American Replacement of Nature, written in the aftermath of the first Gulf War ("I would have liked to be patriotic and respect my President, but it was difficult when he behaved more like the Director of the CIA than President of the Republic").

"America's esoteric destiny," Thomspon writes, "seems to be one of breaking down all the cultures of the world in preparation for a new global culture that will become humanity's second nature." He concedes that when America's asymmetrical opposition calls it "the Great Satan," it has a point: "for this second nature is so artificial, so opposite to anything that a traditional person would wish to call cultural or natural, that it appears on the horizon of the human as something inhuman, monstrous, and evil."

It's been ten years since I read the book, but I thought of it the other day when I remembered these remarks from April 28, 1997, by then-Secretary of Defense William Cohen. He had just delivered the keynote address of the "Conference on Terrorism, Weapons of Mass Destruction, and US Strategy" at the University of Georgia, and had opened up the floor to a Q & A (the context for the B'nai Brith reference is a spate of hoax anthrax letters the organization had received):

Q: Let me ask you specifically about last week's scare here in Washington, and what we might have learned from how prepared we are to deal with that (inaudible), at B'nai Brith.

A: Well, it points out the nature of the threat. It turned out to be a false threat under the circumstances. But as we've learned in the intelligence community, we had something called -- and we have James Woolsey here to perhaps even address this question about phantom moles. The mere fear that there is a mole within an agency can set off a chain reaction and a hunt for that particular mole which can paralyze the agency for weeks and months and years even, in a search. The same thing is true about just the false scare of a threat of using some kind of a chemical weapon or a biological one. There are some reports, for example, that some countries have been trying to construct something like an Ebola Virus, and that would be a very dangerous phenomenon, to say the least. Alvin Toeffler has written about this in terms of some scientists in their laboratories trying to devise certain types of pathogens that would be ethnic specific so that they could just eliminate certain ethnic groups and races; and others are designing some sort of engineering, some sort of insects that can destroy specific crops. Others are engaging even in an eco-type of terrorism whereby they can alter the climate, set off earthquakes, volcanoes remotely through the use of electromagnetic waves.

So there are plenty of ingenious minds out there that are at work finding ways in which they can wreak terror upon other nations. It's real, and that's the reason why we have to intensify our efforts, and that's why this is so important.

Did you get that? Seven years ago, the US Secretary of Defense warned that terrorists were pursuing the bioengineering of gene-specific superbugs (a step behind PNAC, which regards targetting genotypes as potentially "a politically useful tool"), the alteration of the climate, the triggering of earthquakes and even volcanoes. If we assume Cohen was serious, then we can safely presume the US is leading the world in the development and deployment of such technologies.

What reminded me of Cohen's words was the reawkening of Mount St Helen's, and the simple fact of the calender. It's October - where's our surprise?

I may be foolishly naive here, but I'm prepared to give Karl Rove the benefit of the doubt on this one. I don't believe he's sitting in a bunker beneath the West Wing pressing the "erupt" button. But it would be even more foolish if we ignored Cohen's words, and their implications. Because we are entering a period of human history - the final period, if we don't watch ourselves - in which our speaking of the natural world means little more than a nostalgic conceit. That which used to be expressly "Acts of God" are being folded into the mission of the US military.

Raising this subject invites the debunker's usual fistful of tinfoil. But in The Times for November 23, 2000, Dr. Rosalie Bertell confirms that "US military scientists are working on weather systems as a potential weapon. The methods include the enhancing of storms and the diverting of vapor rivers in the Earth's atmosphere to produce targeted droughts or floods."

Another example, this time from a 1996 Air Force research paper entitled Weather As a Force Multiplier, which called for an examination of "the concepts, capabilities, and technologies the United States will need to remain the dominant air and space force in the future":

US aerospace forces can "own the weather" by capitalizing on emerging technologies and focusing development of those technologies to war-fighting applications. Such a capability offers the war fighter tools to shape the battlespace in ways never before possible. It provides opportunities to impact operations across the full spectrum of conflict and is pertinent to all possible futures. The purpose of this paper is to outline a strategy for the use of a future weather-modification system to achieve military objectives rather than to provide a detailed technical road map.

A high-risk, high-reward endeavor, weather-modification offers a dilemma not unlike the splitting of the atom. While some segments of society will always be reluctant to examine controversial issues such as weather-modification, the tremendous military capabilities that could result from this field are ignored at our own peril. From enhancing friendly operations or disrupting those of the enemy via small-scale tailoring of natural weather patterns to complete dominance of global communications and counterspace control, weather-modification offers the war fighter a wide-range of possible options to defeat or coerce an adversary.

And weather is not only a force multiplier; it is a fear multiplier as well.

While HAARP and similar arrays diddle with the ionosphere, and our skies are increasingly streaked with man-made cirrus clouds, it's becoming difficult to find with certainty the intersection of natural and artificial phenomena. And so, a TV meteorologist's claim that he has begun to use the pattern recognition of "scalar weapons signatures" within cloud formations to better his forecasting record is not as crazy as it would have sounded even five years ago.

William Irwin Thompson:

In truth, America is extremely uncomfortable with nature; hence its culturally sophisticated preference for the fake and nonnatural, from Cheez Whiz sprayed ouf of an aerosol can onto a Styrofoam potatoed chip, to Cool Whip smoothing out the absence of taste in those attractively red, genetically engineered monster strawberries. Any peasant with a dumb cow can make whipped cream, but it takes a chemical factory to make Cool Whip. It is the technological process and not the natural product that is important, for what that point is aimed at, is the escape from nature.

Sure, Americans do like to hunt and fish, but not to commune with nature; rather to knock the old bitch around to show her who’s boss.

A hypothetical question: if the United States military is determined to "own the weather," what would the test of an environmental weapons system look like?

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Mary, Ferrie and Gerald Posner

A portrait in miniature of Gerald Posner, patron saint of coincidentalists, regarding the death of oncologist Mary Sherman.

Posner includes the New Orleans' cancer researcher on a "debunking" list of mysterious deaths associated with the JFK assassination, in his lone-nutter's Bible, Case Closed. He writes that Sherman died in 1967 and "had no connection to the case, though she was acquainted with David Ferrie. Marrs says she was 'possibly shot.' According to medical records, she was killed in an accidental fire, and there was no gunshot wound on her body."

Here's what Posner gets right: "there was no gunshot wound on her body."

Here's what Posner gets wrong: everything else.

Even the year of her death: Sherman was killed in 1964, not 1967. To be specific, early the morning of July 21, the day the Warren Commission began taking testimony in New Orleans.

Sherman's murder was the above-the-fold, front page headline of that afternoon's edition of the New Orleans States Item: "Orleans Woman Surgeon Slain By Intruder; Body Set Afire."

From the police Precinct Report on Sherman's death (quoted in Edward Haslam's Mary, Ferrie & the Monkey Virus):

1. Stab wound of the chest, penetrating the heart, hemopericardium and left hemithorax [sic]. 2. Multiple stab wounds of the abdomen, with incid wound of the liver. 3. Multiple stab wounds of the left upper extremity and the right leg. 4. Laceration of Labia Minora. 5. Extreme burns of right side of body with complete destruction of right upper extremity and right side of thorax and abdomen.

And from the Homicide Report:

The body was nude; however, there was clothing which had apparently been placed on top of the body, mostly covering the body from just above the pubic area to the neck. Some of the mentioned clothes had been burned completely, while others had been intact, but scorched.

The Coroner's office noted that "most of the clothes were still neatly folded when placed on top of the body." A pair of white gloves with blood stains were found in the laundry hamper. Sherman's security alarm had been turned off, and she'd told neighbors she was expecting an out-of-town visitor.

In 1993, journalist Don Lee Keith presented the case to four medical examiners. In his article "A Matter of Motives," all four say it was "obviously a case of overkill," and three suggest the fire was an attempt to draw attention to the crime scene. The killing remains unsolved to this day.

Okay, so Sherman was murdered. How does she figure in the Kennedy story? Here's New Orleans' DA Jim Garrison, in his 1967 Playboy interview:

David Ferrie had a rather curious hobby in addition to his study of cartridge trajectories: cancer research. He filled his apartment with white mice - at one point he had almost 2,000, and neighbors complained - wrote a medical treatise on the subject and worked with a number of New Orleans doctors on means of inducing cancer in mice. After the assassination, one of these physicians, Dr Mary Sherman, was found hacked to death with a kitchen knife in her New Orleans apartment. Her murder is listed as unsolved.

Haslam's Mary, Ferrie & the Monkey Virus argues that Sherman was recruited by Tulane University's Dr Alton Ochsner - a passionate anti-communist, known CIA asset and friend of Clay Shaw - to work with Ferrie on a biological weapon to use against Castro's Cuba. He speculates that this could be the covert origin of HIV. Haslam's case doesn't rise much above conjecture, but his question lingers: "Why was a prominent cancer researcher involved in an underground medical laboratory with a violent political extremist?"

Now, Sherman's association with Ferrie may have been innocent, and her murder may have been incidental, but a genuine skeptic would not shy from asking Haslam's question, nor try to silence critics of the official story by resorting to deceitful half-truths and outright lies.

The problem with the kind of skeptics who champion the likes of Posner is that they are not skeptics at all. They are debunkers, whose belief system prohibits allowance of anything but lone nuts, dumb luck and coincidence. Conspiracies do not exist, because conspiracies cannot exist. And if a mysterious death appears too mysterious, no problem: "According to medical records, she was killed in an accidental fire."

See? It's as easy as typing.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Che and Felix

Che's back in the news - well, entertainment news - thanks to the release of the adaptation of The Motorcycle Diaries. Without having seen it, I can say with confidence it won't touch The Bolivian Diary: a ten-year old documentary, often narrated with Che's own words, of the ill-fated guerilla campaign which led to his capture and execution in 1967.

Do you recognize the man to Che's right, wearing the Bolivian uniform, who's soon to participate in his murder?

That's a Bolivian uniform, but he's not Bolivian. He's Cuban-American. He's CIA. He's Felix Rodriguez, aka "Max Gomez" from the glory days of Iran/Contra's drugs and guns toot. Felix has been a trusted asset of the Bush family ever since he hooked up with Poppy in the early '60s to recruit anti-Castro Cubans. And from the Bay of Pigs to Vietnam to El Salvador and beyond his name, like Bush's, is written in blood, but to much of the press it may as well be invisible ink.

He took Che's wristwatch as a trophy of the kill.

Rodriguez is also a Bush elector for the state of Florida. On September 12 in Washington, he spoke at a rally of "Vietnam Veterans for Truth," saying "I never saw any atrocities that Senator Kerry claims we did in Vietnam. We helped the Vietnamese people."

From Webster Tarpley's interview with Celerino Castillo, former DEA special agent and author of the whistleblowing Powderburns:

TARPLEY: Now, you've mentioned Felix Rodriguez, Max Gomez... Certainly, Felix Rodriguez has been with George Bush for a very, very long time, and what you can see in that book is, he's got a signed photograph from George Bush telling him what a great patriot he is. Would you agree with that judgement on Felix Rodriguez/Max Gomez?

CASTILLO: No, sir. If you go back to the Vietnam War, we have intelligence where the CIA and those individuals were heavily involved in trafficking heroin into the U.S. in bodybags and so forth.

So, Felix Rodriguez was documented, in our DEA files, as a trafficker. He was a retired CIA agent, and they brought all these people who were heavily involved. If you go back, most of these Bay of Pigs operatives were all documented traffickers, who all served time for narcotics trafficking, for gun-running. They were all criminals; yet, they were being hired by the Oliver North Contra operation to run the illegal narcotics trafficking out of Ilopango.

Castillo's words were even harsher in this recent Miami New Times profile of Rodriguez: "He's always been a terrorist, just like Osama bin Laden and all the terrorists we've made in the past." He adds that in 1986 he met then-Vice President Bush at an ambassador's party in Guatemala, and "told him there was something funny going on.... And he just smiled and walked away."

Rodriguez still feigns ignorance about a drug component to the Contra war of the '80s, nevermind the National Security State's more persistent drug problem. ( In 1984 Rodriguez's business partner, international arms dealer Gerald Latchinian, was arrested smuggling $10 million in cocaine to finance a plot to assassinate Honduran President Roberto Suazo Cordova. His defense argued it was part of a CIA operation.) Rodriguez agrees with Dick Cheney, who as a congressman played a leading role in perpetuating the cover-up, that for pursuing such allegations Senator John Kerry was a "conspiracy theorist."

Anyone whom Dick Cheney calls a conspiracy theorist can't be all bad. But America has yet to raise up a leader it hasn't gunned down who could approach the stature of Che.