Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Waterboarding and 9/11: connecting the dots

Democratic senators are aggravated by Michael Mukasey's refusal to declare whether he considers waterboarding to be torture and hence unconstitutional and illegal.

And, as the Washington Post and others point out, waterboarding was used by the CIA to force Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to talk. The Post properly calls Mohammed the "alleged 9/11 mastermind."

Yes, and Mohammed's "confessions" seem highly reminiscent of the Spanish Inquisition or Stalin's show trial methods. Mohammed's "confessions," as recounted by the 9/11 commission, read like a long cover story for a U.S. covert operation that occurred on 9/11.

So shouldn't lawmakers be connecting the dots here: If waterboarding is reprehensible and can be used to elicit false confessions, doesn't that mean the congressional and "independent" probes of 9/11 are resting on very thin ice? If lawmakers know that waterboarding is wrong and liable to elicit bad "intelligence," shouldn't they be demanding a thorough re-examination of the events of 9/11?

And lest we forget, several of these Democratic senators are presidential candidates who keep trying to avoid the issue of 9/11 treason.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Kremlin weakens its neocon alliance

The attacks of 9/11 spurred Putin to make common cause with U.S. neocons taking aim at Islamic radicals (and others). Putin wanted a free hand to suppress the Chechnyan separatists without constant carping by the United States.

So the Kremlin was in no mood to play up the ludicrousness of U.S. claims about the attacks or to upbraid Washington for staging a deliberate deception on U.S. soil.

But things are different now. Putin administered a stinging rebuke to U.S. neocons by arranging a Caspian nation bloc opposed to a U.S. war against Iran. This means that the U.S. will find those nations balky about permitting their soil to be used for staging areas. Essentially, as one analyst points out, neocon war aims against Iran have been effectively blocked.

Does this mean that Putin and the cheka are now less supportive of 9/11 coverup? Politically, they have little choice but to distance themselves from the 9/11 coverup propaganda put out by the neocons. The political problem is so large that a broad brush technique is necessary. The Kremlin playing a nuanced game concerning 9/11 coverup by the neocons would send a mixed signal concerning its resolute opposition to the continuing "war on Islam," which is how much of the Muslim world sees the "war on terror."

The Russian press, if it continues to be too timid or neutral about Washington's complicity in 9/11, will tend to confuse the Muslim world and hence weaken Putin's Caspian diplomacy.

Such "left gatekeepers" (to borrow a phrase from John McMurtry) as Noam Chomsky will suddenly feel quite isolated concerning their attacks on 9/11 skepticism. However, useful as Chomsky may have been to the Kremlin on certain issues in the past, Russia's political needs will take precedence over a cheka desire not to humiliate those considered friends, or, if not friends, then useful persons.

George Soros, who has chastised AIPAC and the Israel lobby for suppression of dissent in America in its furtherance of a neocon agenda, may find that his adversaries are not quite as strong as previously and that their blunderbusses, such as the Murdoch press, are not quite so sure of themselves. Will the Holocaust survivor extend his criticisms to include the neocon suppression of valid dissent concerning the official tall tales about 9/11?

The billionaire whose philanthropy helped tilt the Warsaw pact into oblivion has thus far feared to tackle that issue, no doubt worrying that he will be marginalized. Yet, avoiding marginalization isn't always productive. Look at the 2004 election, which statisticians believe, with a high level of confidence, was won across the board by Kerry. Interestingly, despite all his donations and his best efforts to block Bush's "re-election" in 2004, Bush "won." Who was it who suppressed the many serious questions about that election's integrity before Bush's second inauguration? Had the questions had sufficient publicity, Congress might have been forced to examine the election and Bush's claim to the throne could have been forestalled. Was it not the Israel lobby, using its powerful influence in the media that blocked the proper exercise of democracy, no doubt because of a desire not to impede the Israel lobby/neocon agenda in the Mideast?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

NSA shocker fans 9/11 suspicion

Powerful Democratic lawmaker John Conyers is headed for a direct clash with Bush and his security chiefs over highly questionable secret activities that seem to have been authorized well in advance of 9/11.

Conyers sent a letter to National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell and the Justice Dept. demanding details of secret eavesdropping arrangements made seven months before 9/11 that were disclosed in court documents concerning the former CEO of Qwest. Conyers said details were needed in light of Bush's desire to apply retroactive protection from lawsuits to those telecoms that cooperated with the NSA and because of suspicion that Qwest and its CEO were targeted for payback for refusing to comply with the covert demands.

A respected Georgetown University professor of constitutional law told a television audience that 9/11 was amazingly "convenient" for Bush and his associates in that the secretive domestic spying operation showed an intention to seize excessive central power, according to David Edwards and Nick Juliano at Rawstory.

Jonathan Turley told Countdown Monday: "This administration was seeking a massive expansion of presidential power and national security powers before 9/11. 9/11 was highly convenient, in that case."

Turley denied necessarily implying that Bush and his aides welcomed 9/11, "but when it happened, it was a great opportunity to seize powers that they had long wanted at the FBI."

However, a number of professors, some with science degrees, have openly challenged the truthfulness of the official U.S. narrative of the events of 9/11. Additionally, a number of professional statisticians, some of them professors, have expressed strong skepticism concerning the outcome of the 2004 presidential election.

Polls have shown that doubts about 9/11 are widespread among Americans, though the presidential candidates avoid the topic, apparently in part because the Israel lobby doesn't welcome such debate, as is evidenced by the Murdoch press, which is considered one of the biggest cannons of that lobby.

Pre-9/11 machinations of the Bush administration will be taken by many as further evidence of a conspiracy to commit perfidious treason.

Richard French, an RNN television commentator, said that if the surveillance power grab charges are true, Bush is a liar who claimed he had been motivated to authorize warrantless wiretaps by the events of 9/11.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Secret wiretap grab 7 months before 9/11

Seven months before 9/11, shortly after Bush was inaugurated for his first term, the NSA was arranging for wiretap powers that went beyond lawful authority, according to court documents obtained by the Rocky Mountain News.

It appears that Bush may have secretly seized wartime surveillance power -- as soon as he got into office!

Joseph P. Nacchio, former chief of Qwest, a telecom company, tried to use this information in his fight with the U.S. attorney over purported insider trading. He was convicted after the judge agreed to a novel interpretation of insider trading law.

Nacchio said he had been invited to NSA headquarters in February 2001 to discuss a defense contract for improving internet security. During the discussion, the NSA official proposed an arrangement that Nacchio rejected, on advice of Qwest's counsel, as illegal. NSA has suppressed details, but it is apparent that a warrantless wiretap operation was the subject.

Qwest did not get the defense contract, but Nacchio did get prosecuted after he revealed that the feds had asked Qwest to do something illegal. The court papers are the first indication that this wiretap ower was obtained by the NSA long before 9/11 or any sign of war.

Other telecom firms, which obtained contracts, apparently did go along with the NSA program. Bush is demanding that they be retroactively protected by Act of Congress from lawsuits regarding breach of duty to protect privacy.

So I'd like to know: did Cheney go over to Capitol Hill and quietly brief eight members of Congress on this clandestine program in February 2001?

Aside from the Rocky, the New York Times carried a piece on the matter on Sunday.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Mukasey, Podhoretz and Pipes

Mukasey, Podhoretz and Pipes. What do they have in common? For one thing, they all are advisers to the Giuliani campaign.

Norman Podhoretz, who is still with Commentary, formerly published by the American Jewish Committee, is a neocon hawk who favors bombing Iran and who sees questions about 9/11 as obviously nothing but the work of an anti-Semitic conspiracy.

Daniel Pipes, an influential U.S. professor who promotes a Zionist view of Israel, strongly backed the Iraq war, even though he was well aware of the potential for a fratricidal mess. He sees Israel as besieged on all sides, charging that Syria is developing chemical weapons and that Iran is aiming to become a nuclear power. He is worried that too many Muslims in America may prove dangerous to American Jews.

Mukasey, as New York described him, is a graduate of an Upper East Side yeshiva who believes that national security courts should try terrorism cases in secret. Mukasey lived for some time under 24-hour guard stemming from his role as a judge in terrorism cases. He is known as a law-and-order judge.

The fact that Mukasey teams up with two of the most notable voices of the hard-right Israel lobby is quite revealing.

By supporting Giuliani, one must conclude that Mukasey is a hawk who believes that there is a war against terrorism that the United States must wage at full throttle. By joining with Podhoretz and Pipes, Mukasey indicates that he does not wish to face the overwhelming and irrefutable evidence of treason on 9/11 -- a standard position of the Israel lobby. Hence, we can expect that, as attorney general, Mukasey will find ways to rationalize all sorts of "war" measures that vitiate basic American freedoms.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Oh goodness! A veto threat...

Heaven forfend! Bush says he will veto a wiretap bill that doesn't give telecoms retroactive immunity from lawsuits filed on behalf of Americans whose privacy was compromised without benefit of warrants.

And, oh horrors, the Democrats might not be able to muster enough votes to override a veto!!!

Just one point: if Bush vetoes the bill, Congress doesn't have to do anything. OK, maybe the Dems don't have enough moxie to stand up to Bush after the veto, when he screams that the Democrats are jeopardizing national security by not passing a bill. But here's the answer: pass the same bill again. Then they can say Bush keeps vetoing a an important national security bill because he wants telecom firms to be above the law.

The great divide

Much of AIPAC backs the Netanyahu hawks. The Netanyahu-Cheney axis is reflected in the U.S. agreement to play the dummy up game on behalf of Israel's attack on Syria. It's OK to silence everybody, as long as the Israeli hawks are allowed to say what they will.

So we see that the majority of American Judaism is at odds with AIPAC, but, the gag orders everywhere may prevent many Jews from realizing how much they disagree with the Netanyahu crowd, AIPAC and the Israel lobby.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Top court cloud hangs over wiretap bill

The warrantless wiretap bill now in Congress is viewed by many as a cave-in to White House fear-mongering. At any rate, a strong possibility is that it will be so constitutionally botched-up that it will be DOA before it reaches the Supreme Court.

After all, the Constitution doesn't give Congress the power to void the Fourth Amendment protection against warrantless searches of a person's communications and effects. If the ACLU doesn't run that one up to the top court, another group will.

And we see Rockefeller trying slip in retroactive immunity for telecom companies who may have broken laws by improperly acceding to warrantless wiretaps.

There is only one reason for that provision: to block the lawsuits over illegal activity. The companies don't need financial protection. They'll come to terms with the plaintiffs if necessary. This is about Rockefeller and Bush trying to conceal criminal activity.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Israel lobby muzzles 9/11 truth

Let's face facts: the official falsehoods about 9/11 well serve the foreign policy of the hawkish Israel lobby and its counterparts in Israel. After 9/11, Ariel Sharon repeated, word for word, Bush's speech announcing a global war against terrorists. During the run-up to the Iraq war, the Israel lobby was publicly quiet while privately promoting the invasion.

Of course, treason on 9/11 doesn't necessarily point to Israeli involvement. However, it is clear that the government of Israel and its militant U.S. backers view the 9/11 attacks as a boon which they cannot turn away.

When you read Abe Foxman's reports on 9/11 conspiracy theories, you come away with the impression that anyone who suspects treason that day is out to get the Jews. The head of the Anti-Defamation League avoids the topic of serious criticism of the official claims but lets loose with both barrels at people supposedly trying to whip up anti-Semitism, including such easy targets as David Duke. Foxman also bluntly equates suspicion of Israeli intelligence with anti-Semitism. In other words, he's running interference for conspirators, whether he knows it or not.

Commentary magazine, long headed by Norman Podhoretz, has denounced the liberal Tikkun magazine for publishing an article by David Ray Griffin, who suspects radical neocon involvement in the 9/11 attacks. Podhoretz has recommended the U.S. launch an air war against Iran. Tikkun's editor, Michael Lerner, has expressed skepticism concerning the U.S. government's possible role in 9/11, but doesn't accept the idea of a Jewish conspiracy. However, he does denounce the hawkish Israel lobby for pushing America and Israel into Mideast bloodshed.

The Israel lobby's role in muting the media and terrorizing Congress has been well documented. Do you wonder why the media is so reticent about 9/11 truth? The Israel lobby doesn't see 9/11 truth as politically useful. Do you wonder why the Democratic Congress can't force a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq? The Israel lobby doesn't want it. Do you wonder why the Democrats are wishy-washy about proposed attacks on Iran and Syria? The Israel lobby has long had Mideast control on its agenda.

Yes, sure. The Israel lobby isn't operating in a vacuum. There are deals with the oil interests and with the Russians, who want a free hand against the Chechnyans and other Muslim groups.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

The Armageddon cults and the Israel lobby

I enjoyed watching Bill Moyers on PBS last night probing the role of so-called Christian Zionism in the Israel lobby. The show included a thoughtful interview with Tikkun editor Rabbi Michael Lerner, a liberal who denounces the Israel lobby as a pernicious influence, and Dr. Timothy P. Weber, an evangelical skeptical of the Armageddon cults.

Now, in a sense, I am a Christian Zionist and a dispensationalist, but that doesn't mean I claim a railroad-timetable comprehension of the mysteries of biblical prophecy. (For more on my point of view, see my piece Where is Zion? found at

Curiously, the most extreme of these "End Times" cults, led by Pastor John Hagee who favors an attack on Iran as doing a favor to the state of Israel, is endorsed as a good friend by the Israel lobby and politicians such as Sen. Joseph Lieberman and Sen. John McCain.

Yet, most Americans are not strict literalists concerning the Bible and most Americans who consider themselves born-again Christians are not closely aligned with these cults. Moyers and his guests were wondering why these cults have such influence and seem to penetrate the consciousness of so many people.

I think they overlooked the most obvious reason: These cults seem to have inordinate access to television broadcasts. There is big money in televangelism and those preachers who take the "Israel is always right" line may well find that their path is made easier. Worth checking, I'd say.

Lerner argued that these extremist religious views, which are in harness with Israeli's hard right, are bad for America, bad for Israel and bad for the Jews.

My estimate is that the American people have little inkling of the extent to which a very tiny group of Armageddon cultists is tilting policy in favor of the Israel lobby.

Granted extremist Islam is an evil force. But extremist solutions are likely to make matters worse, as we see now in Iraq.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Times confirms doubts about '9/11 mastermind'

Confessions sweated out of al Qaeda chieftain Khalid Sheikh Mohammed are exaggerated and contradictory, intelligence sources told the New York Times.

Though some operatives claimed to have obtained "good intelligence" from Mohhamed through use of torment tactics, others are doubtful, the Times reports today.

The report by Scott Shane, David Johnston and James Risen on a secret reauthorization of harsh interrogation methods, confirms a New Yorker claim that intelligence community professionals had serious reservations about the reliability of Mohammed's statements. The Aug. 13 New Yorker carried Jane Mayer's chilling report on the CIA's "black sites."

Though the Times report, in a clause, calls Mohammed the "chief planner" of the 9/11 attacks, the substance of the Times report raises doubts about such an unqualified assertion. The 9/11 commission relied on what Mohammed purportedly told the CIA about those attacks without being able to question him or listen to interrogation tapes.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Hillary's electability problem

The Whitewater scandal was a long time ago, and anyway, Hillary was cleared, wasn't she?

The Vietnam war was even longer ago, and yet Kerry in 2004 fell victim to a slashing attack on his war record.

Sure Hillary looks like a hip, strong Democrat right now. True, she's fairly popular in her "home" state and in California. But her problem is the rest of the country.

I'd say along about next summer, the Whitewater attack ads will hit: Hillary, the fast-talking lawyer mixed up in sleazy land dealings, bank fraud and a tax problem that ended with the violent death of a close associate. Michael Chertoff, Homeland Security chief and former counsel to the Senate Whitewater inquiry, might be an adviser to the script writers.

The GOP is being very, very quiet about Hillary's scandal-tainted past, hoping she gets the nomination. She's a real target, for sure -- despite the vaunted women's sympathy vote. Women's sympathy only goes so far. Much eager support will wane once Hillary gets the Swiftboat treatment. And her record is a lot more vulnerable to strong criticism than was Kerry's.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

One for Ripley's

Some bolide issues: the object was luminescent and observable just before impact. Usually meteors become invisible as they approach both because their hot exteriors burn off and because their near-earth velocity is so fast that they are not visible to the naked eye.

A local report indicates that the object streaked in at midday, at 15 minutes before noon, which accounts for an ability to see a smoky tail, but not for an ability to detect something arriving at typical meteor speed.

However, Carancas is in the Andes, so perhaps the altitude was high enough so that the burn process hadn't been completed. I couldn't find the elevation, but nearby Lake Titicaca has an altitude of 3827 meters.

It is certainly true that there was once serious concern about crashes of Soviet nuclear-powered satellites. A museum in New South Wales owns fragments of a Soviet satellite. In 2003, there was worldwide alarm as fragments of the 1400-kilogram BeppoSAX research satellite rained down over equatorial regions, with a 1/200 probability of striking a human victim.

Plugging in numbers to crater expert Jay Melosh's crater calculator gives energy results of between 200 million to 300 million joules for the 13-meter wide crater in Peru. Ronald Woodman, director of the Peru Geophysics Institute, was quoted as saying the impact had a 1.5 seismic scale reading. A 1.5 Richter reading is equivalent to 320 pounds of TNT -- a typical early WW2 bomb blast -- which translates to 669 million joules.

Collectively, 400 kilograms worth of debris reached earth after the 1400-kg BeppoSAX orbiter broke up. The object that landed in Peru had a mass in the vicinity of 11 kilograms (25 pounds), according to numbers I plugged into the crater calculator. An 11-kg satellite fragment is conceivable, but I am unsure what altitude to use to try to estimate terminal velocity. That is, the ratio of the object's mass to the crater diameter will vary according to kinetic energy, and the kinetic energy of satellite debris might be quite different from that of meteor fragments.

Another question is whether the outer shell's heat combined with the impact energy was enough to bring hundreds -- probably thousands -- of liters of groundwater to a boil, releasing noxious steam, possibly tainted by hydrogen sulfide, which is fairly often found mixed with groundwater.

It seems plausible that if an aerial bomb struck subsurface water, it might release a burst of steam. However, thousands of bombs fall without triggering underground steam vents. (And of course at high altitudes it takes less heat to boil water and release steam.)

Future reports by meteor experts should prove interesting. If down the road there is a peculiar lack of interest by experts, then we'll know it was no meteor.