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?"