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.