Friday, September 26, 2008

'Red alert' story vanishes

The bailout talks have failed. Much of the GOP is in revolt. Wall Street biggies are horrified at not being able to stay in control.

So I go to the LA Times website about five minutes ago in order to see that paper's take on the crisis. The screen says that Pentagon security has been breached and that the nation is now on red alert. Then, the screen disappears and the bailout story shows up.

I can't retrieve the "red alert" story, so I don't know what's going on. Google turns up nothing relevant. I was just at the New York Times and Washington Post sites. They had nothing.

So is that weird or what? I can't help but suspect that the administration is about to force through its bailout program via martial law imposed following a major "terrorist" attack that is on the verge of being staged.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

A spook debacle?

Granted, Wall Street pandemonium is going to be the top story.

Yet I notice that the House's knockout blow to the Rockefeller-Bush no-safeguards warrantless wiretap bill is getting very muted coverage. What? The invisible government can't lose. Keep it out of the papers.

What Bush hates about the bill favored by the House is that not only does it nix immunity for telecom execs, but imposes judicial review and establishes a national commission to investigate the attacks upon liberty.

Don't bother to send me that bill, says Bush. I'll veto it.

But the House, including a group of conservative Blue Dog Democrats, stood firm. So that means the old FISA bill will just have to do.

This development may do to the underground system what the credit crisis is threatening to do to Wall Street: trigger a stampede for the doors.

The fear of such a domino effect is likely what caused the CIA to leak classified information about its secret detention of an al Qaeda suspect. McConnell-Hayden wanted to top the wiretap story. In fact, the New York Times noted the al Qaeda story on page one but buried the wiretap story inside. In many papers that receive the Times service, editors would have likely chosen the less important spook story over the gigantic loss for spookdom story.

But, spookdom lost. Lost. Again: spookdom lost.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Mr Clean?

Gee whiz. Google and other search engines appear to be blocking a number of web pages targeting yours truly as an anti-Semite. Now why would they do that?

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Shenon's 9/11 curveball

There are conspiracies, and then there are conspiracies. "Inside job" conspiracy to make 9/11 happen: Why that's been well-debunked. NORAD conspiracy to cover up military incompetence: now that's a conspiracy a journalist can sink his teeth into.

That's the impression I get after leafing through Philip Shenon's book, The Commission: the uncensored history of the 9/11 investigation (Hachette Book Group, 2008). Shenon is a veteran New York Times reporter whose beats have included the Justice Department, the Pentagon and the 9/11 commission.

The theme of the book is that the commission's executive director, Philip Zelikow, hindered the professional staff investigators -- including a former New Jersey attorney general -- in their attempts to get at the truth. But that reported obstructionism was done in order to run political interference for the White House and Pentagon, and not to help cover up evidence of an inside job, is what Shenon seems to be driving at.

Yet Shenon's reportorial acumen is open to challenge. Consider this passage:

"The conspiracy theories about 9/11 began long before the ashes had stopped smoldering. After an event as horrifying and -- to the public -- unexpected events of 9/11, the darkest theories about its cause did not seem beyond belief.

"But by the time the 9/11 commission opened its doors in 2003, many of the most outrageous, if well-circulated, of the theories -- that the attacks were an inside job by the Bush administration, that the Twin Towers were brought down by pre-planted explosives, that the Pentagon was hit by a missile and not a plane -- had been well debunked.

"The evidence was incontrovertible that al Qaeda was behind the Sept. 11 attacks; Osama bin Laden had been videotaped bragging to his colleagues about his role in the preparations. There was clear-cut documentation to show that bin Laden had dispatched 19 young Arab men to carry out the hijackings -- he had chosen these personally for the mission -- and that those men were aboard the four planes.

"Independent scientists and engineers had plausible explanations for the physical collapse of the Twin Towers and other buildings nearby."

It is quite surprising that a seasoned reporter of Shenon's stature would uncritically accept the credibility of a videotape passed to the Pentagon in time to give Bush a propaganda point that "debunked" 9/11 skepticism. The credibility of that video is rightly questioned. The speaker doesn't even look like other images of bin Laden.

Now the "clear-cut documentation" of which Shenon speaks was largely based on CIA interrogations of "9/11 mastermind" Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. (Even though it is unlikely that Shenon knew at the time of writing of his manuscript that the CIA had destroyed videotapes of Mohammed's interrogations, he would nevertheless have known that the 9/11 commission had inserted a disclaimer in its report saying that it hadn't been allowed to question Mohammed directly.)

A couple of engineers did indeed back the "no-explosives" scenario for the Twin Towers, but I don't recall any speaking up for the government about World Trade Center 7 in 2003. Anyway, FEMA's independent experts did not have a plausible explanation for the collapse of WTC7, noting that their best (non-explosives) scenario had only a "low probability" of occurrence. Importantly, Shenon only acknowledges experts who back the government. Other experts simply don't exist for Shenon.

By not even mentioning the NIST investigations, this Shenon passage nicely sidesteps all sorts of problems with the official line that he promotes. For example, the NIST debunks the previous pro-government collapse theories in an attempt to make its own theory hold up. That theory has been vigorously challenged by several experts. Shenon may be unaware that the NIST 9/11 reports leave out the kind of detail that scientists need in order to verify the government claims, such as a detailed timeline.

Maybe the reporter simply was unaware of the fact that the 9/11 commission did not even mention World Trade Center 7.

For a related article, see The worst of Hearst at

Krugman bars us

My stuff gets published on the right and the left. And I get put stuck in the round file by left and right.

A while ago George Will blocked the Znewz1 newsletter -- which he had received patiently for a long while -- after I wrote something unflattering about his deal with Conrad Black.

Latest big league writer to bar Znewz1 -- after receiving it for years -- is Paul Krugman. I am just guessing that he or his assistant might have been offended by the It's not polite to notice... post.

I admit that far more unsubscribes show up than subscribes.

Oh, that reminds me. I suppose a Justice Dept. watchdog will look into whether some of my emails are being improperly barred for political reasons by the federal entity with responsibility for screening and deep-sixing much of my email for supposed national security or federal investigative reasons. (If that last thought sounds off the wall, it may be that you're out of the loop; ask around.)

This just in... My email accounts are periodically weeded by someone other than myself. Someone seems to have done the Times a favor. The old email I saved from the Times giving a number of email addresses of cooperative Times staff writers has vanished. That vanishing act dovetails with the Times' changed policy of not publishing reporter email addresses and permitting contact from the public only via the Times web site.

Monday, March 3, 2008

A hole in the wiretap immunity gambit

Even if Congress OKs retroactive immunity for telecom execs aiding federal warrantless wiretaps, the fight ain't over.

The Senate bill immunizes telecom execs only back to Sept. 1, 2001. Hence, those execs who cooperated with NSA warrantless programs between Bush's first inaugural and 9/11 would not be immunized and lawsuits concerning privacy violations would not be vaporized by Bush and Rockefeller.

Now Mukasey and McConnell have claimed that the telecoms are balking at helping the NSA conduct warrantless wiretaps because the execs are demanding immunity. This sounds a bit like blackmail. So, if the execs can still be required to testify about shady pre-9/11 doings, does that mean they still won't cooperate anyway -- even if Congress passes the current bill?

Of course, extending immunity to the period prior to 9/11 would -- absent a Satanic media clampdown -- set off a political firestorm, and is unlikely to get far, Rockefeller notwithstanding.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

It's not polite to notice...

Who is shaping opinion?

White Anglo-Saxon old boys, you think?

Take another look. A check of the stables of columnists for the New York Times and the Washington Post Writers Group does indeed disclose that African Americans and women seem to be under-represented, though a proper statistical analysis would be necessary in order to verify such a claim.

The Times has one African American columnist, Bob Herbert, and the Washington Post group one African American columnist, Eugene Robinson. This represents 1 of 10 Times columnists and 1 of 17 Writers Group regulars, for 10 percent at the Times and 5.8 percent at the Writers Group. Yet, blacks constitute about 13.4 percent of the national population. A Google search left me unsure of black demographic figures for the New York metropolitan area.

Two of 10 Times columnists (20 percent) are women and four of 17 Writers Group columnists (23 percent) are women.

The Times lists five of 10 columnists whose Jewish heritage is plain. That is, 50 percent of Times columnists have a Jewish ethnicity. The U.S. population is 2 percent Jewish and the metropolitan New York population is about 10 percent Jewish.

The Writers Group's 17 includes six persons whose biographical data or names imply Jewish heritage. However, one case was uncertain enough that I will say that only five of 17 have a Jewish heritage. This represents 29 percent of Group writers versus a national Jewish population of 2 percent.

It should be noted that the Washington Post Writers Group contributors are drawn from the Post and from various newspapers across the country. The syndicate markets its columnists nationwide. The Times also markets its in-house columnists nationwide.

Does all this imply a "Jewish conspiracy"? No. But it does imply a strong degree of ethnic favoritism, of the kind often attributed to WASPs.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The 666 wing of the GOP

Well yesterday I set up two brand new Yahoo accounts in order to receive the daily Bible verse and Opednews. No Bible verse nor Opednews today.

I checked to make sure the Bible verse and Opednews accounts are up and running. They are.

I realize these sorts of oppressions aren't specifically Roger Stone's fault. But, I can't help but wonder whether under his American flag lapel pin there is a "666" in fine print.

Feb 25, 2008 So today no Opednews in either account. However, the Bible verse seems to have resumed in one account but not in the other. Huffington Post halted abruptly after I made a remark about it (below).

So what we have it appears is the need to demonstrate control over the Word of God, and First Amendment protected communications in general. True, I can now -- maybe -- read the daily Bible verse, but I am still getting the message that that is at the whim of persons who can get into my accounts -- which, as I've said -- I have strong reason to believe are under Justice Department supervision.

I would hope that Michael Mukasey would direct that these doings be checked on by the Office of the Inspector General, or other such watchdog. Considering that Mukasey defends an administration that sees torture as a useful weapon in the "war on terror," I don't think it's a stretch to think that federal operatives would consider non-lethal harassment, up to the level of torment, as a legitimate weapon against those persons who "aid the terrorist cause" by pointing out that 9/11 was an inside job. (In fact Bush himself has leveled that charge against 9/11 skeptics.)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Real ID tangles with Constitution

Is the guarantee of state autonomy enshrined in the states rights amendment to the Constitution anything more than a string of hollow words from a bygone era? Are states now mere administrative districts controlled by Washington bureaucrats?

Don't states have an obligation to protect the basic freedoms of citizens from being handed over to federal bureaucrats? Has Congress, by passing the Real ID act, destabilized the system of checks and balances that gives states large discretion within their own borders?

The problem with Real ID, as former lawmaker Bob Barr warns, is that freedoms taken for granted in America are now to hinge on a card controlled by federal bureaucrats. And, by the way, how hard do you think it will be to cause computer glitches that cause political "undesirables" to be improperly penalized without due process of law?

The drive to erode state authority, of course, has been under way for decades, but in the Bush years has reached new levels. An egregious example: various states had used their constitutionally guaranteed right to form interstate compacts in order to promote reductions in greenhouse emissions. But, after Congress passed a law concerning new emission standards, a federal bureaucrat simply announced that he was voiding the state compacts.

Yet, does a state compact necessarily die because Congress passes a law?

If federal bureaucrats can nix state compacts, what chance do you think a lonely dissident will have in the face of federal opposition, especially when the feds have this new citizen control tool?

Obviously the 9/11 attacks are used to justify this police state gimmick, which is likely to degenerate within a few years into an "internal passport" like those used in the old Soviet Union to keep people pinned down. And the Congress that OKd Real ID has also been on the whole highly supportive of playing dumb about the blatant treason that occurred on that fateful day.

So, there's a key. State officials who are really serious about resisting Real ID have got to make the point that Real ID will in fact be controlled by the secret federal agencies that carried out the 9/11 atrocities. This calls for real grit, especially because the major media in every state tend to be under tight control of those with a vested interest in promoting 9/11 coverup.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Random conspiracy theory

Gee I must have been doing something cool lately. Hacker harassment is back. My Yahoo accounts -- which have long been compromised no matter what steps I take -- are capriciously refusing to receive daily Bible verse mailings and the daily Opednews mailing.

I checked with Rob Kall of Opednews, who said he wasn't blocking me. I then tried changing an account setting, and thereupon received one mailing, after which, nada. Back when, the White House mailings wouldn't start up, then capriciously showed up for a couple of months before spontaneously self-destructing prior to arrival. Haven't seen one in months, though I never unsubscribed.

Wait! Maybe it's not government cut-outs "showing who's boss." Maybe that's just a convenient smokescreen for Google, which would love to make Yahoo look bad by sabotaging its would-be prey. Yeah, and Google has plenty to explain concerning the episodes of censorship of one of my Google/Blogger accounts -- actions which strongly suggested that a secret national security order was being imposed.

Or, maybe it has something to do with Microsoft's hostile takeover bid...

Feb. 20, 2008 Same deal. No Opednews. No Bible verse. I guess this exercise in raw power is to last an indeterminate length of time.

Alternative conspiracy theory
See post below and you connect some dots... and consider this: some months back I was receiving Google and Yahoo news and web page alerts on the subject of "9/11." Some of those URLs came from Opednews. I then signed up with Opednews so that I might submit an article, if I wished. After that, no more Opednews url's showed up in my Yahoo or Google alerts, though plenty of stuff was still being written on Opednews about 9/11.

Quite a coincidence. Sure seemed like someone was moving to limit my impact.

Feb. 21, 2008 Still at it. But, for some reason, the Huffington Post daily alert, which was also blocked for a couple of days, is arriving handily.

I realize that it is easy to attribute such hacking to phishers, who steal private data by setting up bogus email pages. Yet, I have numerous reasons to believe that my email and other internet accounts are tightly controlled by some federal agency, which limits what I can receive. So phishers are either hackers who are "useful idiots" for a clandestine agency or who are witting assets of such an agency.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Trade center engineer backs new collapse probe

An international panel of experts should re-examine the collapses of the World Trade Center towers, says a retired engineering executive whose firm was a major contractor for the World Trade Center.

"On Sept. 11, I watched a live TV broadcast of the progressive collapse of the World Trade towers with disbelief, as the mass and the strength of the structure should have survived," reads a statement by Richard F. Humenn, former vice president of Joseph R. Loring and Associates, a major trade center contractor. Humenn endorsed a petition, being circulated by Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, urging formation of such an investigative group.

Humenn, who specialized in electrical engineering, was listed as an alumnus of Brooklyn Polytechnic High School on one page I located, where his background with Loring as a 40-plus-year careerist was given.

(However, Google and other search engines were highly uncooperative prior to locating that page and when I tried to call it up again I got a replacement that said that Humenn was only listed in links. The search engine returned "no match" for Humenn even though a post about him appears. As I write this, a "security token" emblem shows up saying "your request could not be processed" -- almost as if to explain the computerized difficulties in verifying Humenn's background.

At any rate, Loring's web site shows that it was a major contractor for the World Trade Center complex, having been "selected for the original electrical design" of the trade center in 1964; having conducted HVAC, fire protection and telecommunications maintenance for the entire life of the buildings; and having been responsible for extensive upgrading of various building systems.

I could not verify an online claim that Humenn was the trade center's top electrical engineer with 60 people working under him before his retirement in 1998 (a date that I could not check again after pages started vanishing), but the claim doesn't seem to be exaggerated in light of his position at Loring and in light of the firm's motto encouraging ambitious young engineers to progress inside the firm.

Humenn's statement (I was unable to view it directly at but found it reproduced at and at asserts that after viewing the video presentation given by Richard Gage, a founder of Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, Humenn became convinced that "fuel and planes alone could not bring down the towers" and urged that an international group of professionals investigate all "plausible causes for the virtual free fall and almost total destruction of the WTC structures."

One blogger reported that Humenn was nevertheless wary of the idea that the U.S. government plotted the destruction of the two major trade towers and building 7 hours later.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Ship of ghouls

Schwarzenegger endorses McCain.

Don't we get it? The truth doesn't matter. (Check the essay Worst of Hearst at

McCain's enthusiastic backing of 9/11 cover-up of treason is mere politics to Arnold.

We're surrounded by fools and ghouls.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Justice Dept. concealing 9/11 reports

The Justice Dept. has spirited into a bureaucratic black hole hundreds of pages of reports and data concerning the movements of the purported hijackers before 9/11, according to FOI expert Michael Ravnitzky (you can google him).

Those parts of the media that are interested are getting the stone wall treatment.

The New York Times editorial board has endorsed as Democratic and GOP nominees Clinton, who turns a blind eye to 9/11 treason, and McCain, who has gone on the offensive against 9/11 skeptics. And people wonder why the newspaper business is dying.

Both candidates are safe to the militant wing of the Israel lobby, of course, indicating who really holds the reins at the Times, despite its liberal facade.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Dems huddle on impeachment

A campaign to impeach President Bush and Vice President Cheney crossed a major hurdle when a powerful group of Democrats wound up with a compromise now seriously under study: abuse-of-power hearings that could transform into impeachment hearings.

David Swanson, a Democratic Party activist, reported that on Wednesday House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers met with an aide to Jerold Nadler on abuse-of-power hearings. The aide, Perry Appelbaum, outlined a plan to hold a series of abuse-of-power hearings in the face of pressure for impeachment. Nadler, who heads the House constitution panel, opposes impeachment hearings.

Also involved in the off-the-record parley were Robert Wexler, a Judiciary Committee member who favors opening hearings on the impeachment of Cheney. Others mentioned by Swanson were Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson, who urged leaving the door open to transforming the abuse-of-power hearings into impeachment hearings, and Daniel Ellsberg, a severe skeptic of the official 9/11 narrative, who spoke out for impeachment.

Recently, George McGovern, a former Democratic presidential contender, urged the impeachment of Bush and Cheney, saying the Bush administration was far worse than the Nixon administration had been.

In September 2007, a Zogby poll disclosed that more than 30 percent of Americans favored immediate impeachment proceedings against Bush and Cheney and that 51 percent wanted Congress to investigate Bush and Cheney regarding the 9/11 attacks. The poll found that 67 percent of those polled were upset that the 9/11 commission didn't investigate the collapse of World Trade Center 7.

The abuse-of-power hearings, however, are likely to focus on the firings of U.S. attorneys and the pattern of distortions and falsehoods issued by Bush, Cheney and their aides between 9/11 and the launching of the Iraq war. Of course, one can't rule out that the focus on administration deception could point to 9/11 coverup.

Swanson, a co-founder of the activist group After Downing Street, is a member of the board of Progressive Democrats and of the executive council of the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild. He served as Dennis Kucinich's press spokesman during Kucinich's 2004 presidential bid. Kucinich backs Cheney impeachment hearings.

Swanson's article may be found at

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Modern network theory and 'improbable' conspiracies

Many who have a difficult time accepting that a major conspiracy could operate "undetected" in government might benefit from a course in social network theory. Or even, just consider how the internet operates. MySpace isn't the only social network possibility, of course.

Many people who are far afield in many respects join in with a group that shares a particular interest. Think of teams of internet gamers. They often coordinate actions over a wide area with little or no perception by people outside their clique.

The point is that modern electronic communications provide a means of multi-node (multi-person) communication that is fast and efficient. Though data-mining might detect a network's activity, that fact does not diminish the point that large-scale collective action can occur in our midst without our knowledge. In fact, we've become accustomed to this and tend to tune out awareness of such networks.

In a country with 300 million people, there is no way to avoid overlapping networks, whereby you may be part of a particular group that your friends or neighbors or even your relatives know nothing about. As long as the group's aim is not terribly anti-social, we don't call it a conspiracy. It's a network. But certainly malevolent social networks can and do exist -- as those who defend the government's 9/11 theory so often tell us! Wicked networks can exist outside the government but not inside, is what they are really saying.

Another point even some academics have trouble with is the potency of television in shaping mass opinion. People may say they are somewhat skeptical of TV news, but the reality is that TV is the most powerful propaganda weapon in human history. TV tends to affect emotional perception far more efficiently than print media. Additionally, people reading news reports may go back and read a previous paragraph to check points as they read at least somewhat analytically. How many people play back a news report (though that pattern is changing a bit with sites like YouTube)? But the impressionism of TV works on minds schooled to passively accept TV input. Even if one is trying to be analytical, the emotional impact and seductiveness of the message is often far greater than the script would imply.

People who desire control have studied this phenomenon to death and are well aware that, by control of TV news, information and entertainment, they have a strong upper hand on public awareness and opinion, no matter how damning the real facts are. That's how modern "hide in plain sight" conspiracies can continue.

Monday, January 14, 2008

A useful book on 9/11 treason

I recommend Ian Henshall's book 9/11 Revealed: the new evidence (Carroll and Graf, 2007). Henshall does an effective job of surveying the main problems with the official 9/11 story. The book is an updated version of a previous book, containing "startling new facts."

Henshall is a Brit with a very good knowledge of how things work in America. One Britishism that may perplex U.S. readers is the term "special forces," which he means in the British sense of para-military covert operatives, but which U.S. readers usually take to mean the U.S. Army's Green Berets.

Beyond that triviality, readers who don't have much awareness of what 9/11 skeptics are talking about will get a good introduction here. Henshall doesn't seek an exhaustive survey. He's hitting the high points, which he does rather well.

Clearly, there will always be disagreements among skeptics as to the value of certain points, and so he may face questions in that regard.

Anyway, I enjoyed the way he shot down the Popular Mechanics article "debunking" 9/11 myths and how he used one or two adroit examples to show the strong likelihood that dishonest people were masquerading as experts in order to foster the government case.

Worth the 16 bucks.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Ellsberg debunks media myth about secrecy

I am now reading Ian Henshall's book, 9/11 revealed: the new evidence (Carroll and Graf, 2007) and find it quite useful. The writer's acuity is especially good in the area of political chicanery. I will discuss this book more fully later on.

But for now, here is a useful quote that Henshall found. I verified that it's in Ellsberg's book Secrets: a memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon papers (Viking, 2002, page 43):

It is commonplace that "you can't keep secrets in Washington" or "in a democracy," that "no matter how sensitive the secret, you're likely to read it the next day in
The New York Times." These truisms are flatly false. They are in fact cover stories, ways of flattering and misleading journalists and their readers, part of the process of keeping secrets well. Of course, eventually many secrets do get out that wouldn't in a fully totalitarian society. Bureaucratic rivalries, especially over budget shares, lead to leaks. Moreover, to a certain extent the ability to keep a secret for a given amount of time diminishes with the number of people who know it. As secret keepers like to say, "Three people can keep a secret if two of them are
dead." But the fact is that the overwhelming majority of secrets do not leak to the American public. This is true even when the information withheld is well known to an enemy and when it is clearly essential to the functioning of the congressional war power and to any democratic control of foreign policy.
The reality unknown to the public and to most members of Congress and the press is that secrets that would be of the greatest import to many of them can be kept from them reliably for decades by the executive branch, even though they are known to thousands of insiders.

Henshall's point in quoting Ellsberg is that the machinery is in place for the "elaborate conspiracies" that some presume are impossible in America.

Another point is that an "elaborate conspiracy" can occur when the press is essentially silent on ugly facts "hiding in plain sight."

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Our primary purpose: 9/11 truth and justice

The American democratic process is being strangled by unholy alliances of the super-rich and super-powerful. They operate through the national security control system in such a way that anyone who is too threatening to their applecart is swindled out of participation.

This is well known, which is why our gabby and canny elected representatives are these days reduced to the status of glorified slaves of the super-elite. That is, politicians "know" they can't cross certain boundaries set by the control freaks.

This is why people like McCain and Thompson and a number of Republicans defend the government's fantastic lies about 9/11. This is why Democrats such as Clinton and Obama avoid the issue of TREASON and MASS MURDER by our government. The press has been brought to heel. Everybody's afraid. Powerful elements of the Israel lobby apply pressure to avoid the subject, and everyone knows that virtually all currently active U.S. politicians are scared stiff of the Israel lobby.

Recall that when Bush was defeated in 2004, the press kept quiet about the statistical impossibility of the result. A defeat for the war agenda was forbidden. Once the Democrats gained power in Congress, they kept funding the Iraq war and passing obnoxious soviet-style surveillance laws. Why? The Israel lobby, dominated by powerful pro-Israel militants who are at odds with most American Jews, is a big part of the answer to that question.

So should we be disappointed that 9/11 denier McCain and near-9/11 denier Clinton were said to have won? We should realize that we can't expect very much from an easily rigged system. On the other hand, remember that Obama was no great shakes on 9/11 truthfulness. The campaigners foresee a very rough, costly fight.

What we can hope for in such a situation is that the embroglio gets so rough that one campaign pushes 9/11 treason and then the others jump all over it. Obviously, there will be tremendous pressure to keep the intimidation level high so that no candidate will feel safe if he brings it up. He'll know to expect ridicule, dehumanization and, if that doesn't work, assassination in a plane crash or some such.

Yet, our young people face risks of that level every day in Iraq and Afghanistan. We must ourselves aspire to such courage and expect nothing less from those who would represent us.

Hillary's cry for help
How to explain the last-second switch from Obama to Clinton? Hillary cried, and women all over New Hampshire rushed to the polling stations in order to console her. Well, that's the story we're being given. Maybe... anything is possible, as they say.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

FBI wary of Osama 'confession'

Though Bush indignantly defended the authenticity of a videotape released in December 2001 in which someone who resembled bin Laden confessed to masterminding the 9/11 attacks, the FBI apparently doesn't think much of the tape. Neither does it give much credence to "confessions" made by al Qaeda operatives to CIA interrogators, it would seem, and hence gives the 9/11 commission narrative little support.

These points are the more disturbing in light of the recent disclosure by Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton that the White House had signed off on a decision to prevent the 9/11 commission from questioning al Qaeda captives. That disclosure came in a statement by the former commission co-chairmen, who assailed the CIA for obstructing the 9/11 probe by hiding and then destroying videotapes of al Qaeda captives being interrogated.

In 2006, the Muckraker Report stirred up a little tempest when it disclosed that the FBI's "Most Wanted" website failed to list bin Laden as a suspect in the 9/11 attacks and quoted FBI spokesman Rex Tomb as explaining there is no hard evidence linking bin Laden to the attacks.

The Washington Post's Dan Eggen responded with a story saying that the omission was "fodder for conspiracy theorists" and quoting Tomb as saying the FBI had "no need" to add the 9/11 attacks. A lawyer was then quoted to the effect that since bin Laden hadn't been indicted [the administration wanted "enemy combatants" kept away from U.S. juries] that perhaps the FBI was uncomfortable with listing him as a suspect.

If you'll go to the FBI "Most Wanted Terrorists" site today, you'll see that the situation hasn't changed. The FBI refuses to list bin Laden as a suspect in 9/11. He's a suspect in the bombing of two American embassies in Africa prior to 9/11 and generally in terrorist attacks around the world.

Not one word about 9/11.

Assuming Tomb was initially quoted accurately -- and the Post does not say otherwise -- one is left to the conclusion that the FBI does not consider the Pentagon's videotape as "hard evidence."

Bush played up this tape thus: "For those who see this tape, they'll realize that not only is he guilty of incredible murder, he has no conscience and no soul, that he represents the worst of civilization."

Questioned about the tape's authenticity, Bush responded, "It is preposterous for anybody to think that this tape is doctored. That's a weak excuse to provide a weak support for an incredibly evil man."

U.S. forces allegedly stumbled across the tape in the city of Jalalabad, Afghanistan.

Yet, the FBI seems not to regard this Pentagon intelligence find as "hard evidence" of bin Laden's connection to the 9/11 attacks.

Knowing how Bush and Cheney were eager to override objections of intelligence professionals and use rigged Pentagon intelligence linking Saddam to WMDs and 9/11, it seems quite likely that the White House and Pentagon steamrollered the FBI into playing along with a false 9/11 narrative but that the bureau is letting anyone with eyes to see know that it really doesn't buy that story.

The Muckraker links are and

A useful roundup of tape facts and observations can be found at

Similarly, if the FBI believes there is a lack of hard evidence linking Osama to 9/11, then the bureau does not accept CIA reports of the confessions of Osama lieutenant Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other al Qaeda operatives. It has been reported that the FBI pulled its agents from CIA interrogation sessions over concerns about the value of statements obtained under duress.

On the other hand, it should be noted that the FBI "played the game" by not throwing cold water on what was obviously planted evidence to identify the purported 9/11 hijackers.

Monday, January 7, 2008

I haven't read The Da Vinci Code but...

. . . I have scanned a book by the painter David Hockney, whose internet-driven survey of Renaissance and post-Renaissance art makes a strong case for a trade secret: use of a camera obscura technique for creating precision realism in paintings.

Hockney's book, Secret Knowledge: rediscovering the lost legacy of the old masters, 2001, uses numerous paintings to show that European art guilds possessed this technical ability, which was a closely guarded and prized secret. Eventually the technique, along with the related magic lantern projector, evolved into photography. It's possible the technique also included the use of lenses and mirrors, a topic familiar to Leonardo da Vinci.

Apparently the first European mention of a camera obscura is in Codex Atlanticus.

I didn't know about this when first mulling over the Shroud of Turin controversy and so was quite perplexed as to how such an image could have been formed in the 14th century, when the shroud's existence was first reported. I was mistrustful of the carbon dating, realizing that the Kremlin had a strong motive for deploying its agents to discredit the purported relic.
(See my old page Science, superstition and the Shroud of Turin

But Hockney's book helps to bolster a theory by fellow Brits Lynn Picknell and Clive Prince that the shroud was faked by none other than Leonardo, a scientist, "magician" and intriguer. Their book The Turin Shroud was a major source of inspiration for The Da Vinci Code, it has been reported.

The two are not professional scientists but, in the time-honored tradition of English amateurs, did an interesting sleuthing job.

As they point out, the frontal head image is way out of proportion with the image of the scourged and crucified body. They suggest the face is quite reminiscent of a self-portrait by Leonardo. Yet, two Catholic scientists at the Jet Propulsion Lab who used a computer method in the 1980s to analyze the image had supposedly demonstrated that it was "three-dimensional." But a much more recent analysis, commissioned by Picknell and Prince, found that the "three-dimensionalism" did not hold up. From what I can tell, the Jet Propulsion pair proved that the image was not made by conventional brushwork but that further analysis indicates some type of projection.

Picknell and Prince suggest that Leonardo used projected images of a face and of a body -- perhaps a cadaver that had been inflicted with various crucifixion wounds -- to create a death mask type of impression. But the image collation was imperfect, leaving the head size wrong and the body that of, by Mideast standards, a giant. This is interesting, in that Hockney discovered that the camera obscura art often failed at proportion and depth of field between spliced images, just as when a collage piece is pasted onto a background.

Still the shroud's official history begins in 1358, about a hundred years prior to the presumed Da Vinci hoax. It seems plausible that either some shroud-like relic had passed to a powerful family and that its condition was poor, either because of its age or because it wasn't that convincing upon close inspection. The family then secretly enlisted Leonardo, the theory goes, in order to obtain a really top-notch relic. Remember, relics were big business in those days, being used to generate revenues and political leverage.

For if Leonardo was the forger, we must account for the fact that the highly distinctive "Vignon marks" on the shroud face have been found in Byzantine art dating to the 7th century. I can't help but wonder whether Leonardo only had the Mandylion (the face) to work with, and added the body as a bonus (I've tried scanning the internet for reports of exact descriptions of the shroud prior to da Vinci's time but haven't succeeded).

The Mandylion refers to an image not made by hands. This "image of Edessa" must have been very impressive, considering the esteem in which it was held by Byzantium. Byzantium also was rife with relics and with secret arts -- which included what we'd call technology along with mumbo-jumbo. The Byzantine tradition of iconography may have stemmed from display of the Mandylion.

Ian Wilson, a credentialed historian who seems to favor shroud authenticity, made a good case for the Mandylion having been passed to the Knights Templar -- perhaps when the crusaders sacked Constantinople in 1204. The shroud then showed up in the hands of a descendant of one of the Templars after the order was ruthlessly suppressed. His idea was that the shroud and the Mandylion were the same, but that in the earlier centuries it had been kept folded in four, like a map, with the head on top and had always been displayed that way.

The other possibility is that a convincing relic of only the head was held by the Templars. A discovery at Templecombe, England, in 1951 showed that regional Templar centers kept paintings of a bearded Jesus face, which may well have been copies of a relic that Templar enemies tried to find but couldn't. The Templars had been accused of worshiping a bearded idol.

Well, what made the Mandylion so convincing? A possibility: when the Templars obtained the relic they also obtained a secret book of magical arts that told how to form such an image. This of course implies that Leonardo discovered the technique when examining this manuscript, which may have contained diagrams. Or, it implies that the image was not counterfeited by Leonardo but was a much, much older counterfeit.

Obviously all this is pure speculation. But one cannot deny that the shroud images have a photographic quality but are out of kilter with each other and that the secret of camera obscura projection in Western art seems to stem from Leonardo's studios.

The other point is that the 1988 carbon analysis dated the shroud to the century before Leonardo. If one discounts possible political control of the result, then one is left to wonder how such a relic could have been so skillfully wrought in that era. Leonardo was one of those once-in-a-thousand-year geniuses who had the requisite combination of skills, talents, knowledge and impiety to pull off such a stunt.

Of course, the radiocarbon dating might easily have been off by a hundred years (but, if fairly done, is not likely to have been off by 1300 years).

All in all, I can't be sure exactly what happened, but I am strongly inclined to agree that the shroud was counterfeited by Leonardo based on a previous relic. The previous relic must have been at least "pretty good" or why all the fuss in previous centuries? But, it is hard not to suspect Leonardo's masterful hand in the Shroud of Turin.

Of course, the thing about the shroud is that there is always more to it. More mystery. I know perfectly well that, no matter how good the scientific and historical analysis, trying to nail down a proof one way or the other is a wil o' the wisp.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Forefathers foresaw elaborate conspiracies

Why did the founding fathers warn against permitting a standing army in America?

Because they were keenly aware that such an army can become an army of occupation, rather than an army of defense, that such a concentration of military power could easily be used for elaborate conspiracies against free men.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

A caption

Cartoon showing the Trojan horse soon after being dragged into the city. A Trojan who has crept out of the horse but wears city garb is addressing a few skeptical inhabitants: "Surely you don't believe in some elaborate conspiracy do you? Are you another one of those foil-hat conspiracy theorists?"