30 April, 2007

History Lesson - TERRORISM attacks USA

Terrorism -- fear mongering -- corporate welfare

... is an old trick by the right-wing Pro-Private / Anti-Public political parties (like the repugnicans in the USA)

Look how ridiculous! Nicaragua! Hah!

===== read this OFFICIAL USA Government document, and laugh! =====

Notice of the Continuation of the National Emergency With Respect to Nicaragua

April 22, 1986

On May 1, 1985, by Executive Order No. 12513, I declared a national emergency to deal with the threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States constituted by the actions and policies of the Government of Nicaragua. Because those actions and policies continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States, the national emergency declared on May 1, 1985, must continue in effect beyond May 1, 1986. Therefore, in accordance with Section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622(d)), I am continuing the national emergency with respect to Nicaragua. This notice shall be published in the Federal Register and transmitted to the Congress.

Ronald Reagan

The White House,

April 22, 1986.

[Filed with the Office of the Federal Register, 4:24 p.m., April 22, 1986]


Nicaragua, minuscule, impoverished and facing an invasion by the most powerful and richest nation, is indeed a threat. It is a threat to American foreign policy, not because its people and their leaders want to create 'another Cuba', isolated and with the Russians ensconced. It is a threat for the opposite reason: that Nicaragua offers an alternative model of development to anything the Soviet Union would want to impose. This is why American policy and propaganda are aimed at severing Nicaragua's ties with its neighbours and 'pushing' it towards the only available benefactor, Moscow. It is the same policy and propaganda employed against Cuba in 1960 and 1961 and against Vietnam since May 1975.


On Hegemony or Survival --Noam Chomsky
Delivered at Illinois State University, October 7, 2003

Let's start with a year ago, September, 2002, in the normal course of political life, academic life, September is usually an incipient month, a thing when important things begin to happen. September, 2002 was unusual in this respect. There were three very significant events closely related. One was the declaration of the National Securities Strategy, September 17. It announced very clearly and explicitly that the United States, at least this administration, intends to dominate the world permanently, if necessary, through the use of force. It's the one dimension in which the United States reigns completely supreme, probably now outspends the rest of the world combined or close to it in military expenditure, is far ahead in developing advanced and extremely dangerous technology. And it also announced that it will eliminate any potential challenge to that rule. So, it's to be permanent hegemony. That's the first event. That‚s not without precedent. There are interesting precedents. We don't have time to go into them unless you want to later, but this was unusual. It was correct for the reaction to be as extreme as it was, including the foreign policy elite here.

The second associated event was that in September, the war drums began to beat loudly about the planned invasion of Iraq. Early September, the National Security Adviser, Condoleezza Rice warned that the next evidence we were likely to have about Saddam Hussein will be a mushroom cloud, presumably over New York, no matter how much everyone else may have hated him outside the United States, no one feared him, including his neighbors who had been trying to reintegrate Iraq back into the region, who despised him, including the country he invaded but didn't fear him. That was unique to the United States, beginning last September. So, first there's going to be a mushroom cloud and then the propaganda campaign began very loud. The invasion of Iraq that was planned was understood to be what sometimes is called an exemplary action, that is, it's an action intended to demonstrate dramatically that the doctrine that had been announced is intended seriously. It's not enough to just promulgate a doctrine. If you want people to take you seriously, you have to do something to show that you mean it.

The invasion of Iraq was understood correctly to be a test case, a demonstration case of the doctrine that the U.S. government arrogates to itself the right to attack any country it wants without credible pretext or without any international authorization. In fact, the National Security Strategy is, as commentators quickly pointed out, doesn't even mention international law and the United Nations charter. In fact, the Bush administration proceeded to make it very clear to the Security Council of the United Nations that they had two choices. They could be irrelevant, that was the term that was used, by authorizing the United States to use force as it wished, or they could be a debating society, as Colin Powell, the administration moderate, pointed out.

He -- Powell was also delegated to address the World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland the following January. This was -- you know what that is. that's the group that -- the business press only semi-ironically calls the masters of the universe. The people who own the world, the corporate executives who are spending $30,000 for the privilege of attending and other great and important figures. The mood in Davos was completely different than any of the earlier meets. It was very angry. The top issue was Iraq. They were strongly opposed to it, just like the rest of the world. Powell faced a very hostile audience, and he -- they were not eager to accept his message, which was, as he put it, that the United States has the sovereign right to use military force when we feel strongly about something. We will lead, even if nobody else is following. We will do it because we have the power to do it, and if you don't like it, too bad. The further comments for the -- from the administration to the Security Council and others were we're not going to ask for any authorization from you. You can catch up, is the term that was used, and authorize us to do what we are going to do anyway, or you're irrelevant.

That was reiterated very brazenly at the Azores summit, the Bush-Blair summit a couple of days before the actual invasion. They met at a military base on the Azores so they wouldn't have to face mass popular opposition, which would have happened anywhere else. They declared -- they issued an ultimatum not to Iraq, but to the United Nations. The ultimatum was, give us your stamp of approval for what we're going to do anyway, or else just go off and be a debating society. They also made it clear that it didn't matter whether Saddam Hussein and his cohorts stayed in Iraq or not, as Bush announced, even if Saddam and his family and associates leave, we're going to invade anyway. because the goal is to -- for us to control Iraq. That's my words, not his. The rest is his words. It's all very clear and explicit. You cannot miss it. It wasn't missed. I'll come back to that.

The third event, before I come back to it, in September closely related is that the congressional election campaign opened, the mid-term election campaign. The main sort of campaign adviser for the Republican Party, Karl Rove, one of the most important people in Washington, he had already the preceding summer, the summer of 2002, he had instructed party activists that in going into the electoral campaign, they're going to have to emphasize national security issues. They cannot expect to enter a political confrontation with -- if economic and social policies are prominent on the agenda because their policies are extremely unpopular, which is not surprising since they are designed to be extremely harmful to the general population, and people know that, and also to future generations. and you cannot go into a political campaign with that kind of a platform.

So, therefore, it had to be national security issues. on the assumption that people would shift their priorities and vote for the -- those who were going to protect them from imminent destruction. Well, for the elections it barely worked. By a few tens of thousands of votes, in fact, but enough to allow them a bare hold on political power. The voters preferences at the polls remained, as exit pole polls revealed, remained the same, but priorities shifted, and enough people huddled under the umbrella of power and fear of the demonic enemy so that they could maintain control, barely.

Well, that illustrates one of the dilemmas of dominance that I had in mind. one problem is how do you control the domestic population. The great beast, as Alexander Hamilton called the people. They're always a problem. The beast is always getting out of control. One of the main problems of governance, I'm sure you study this in all of your political science courses, is how do you keep the great beast in a cage?

That's particularly difficult when you're dedicated passionately to carrying out policies that are in fact going to be very harmful to the mass of the population, and to future generations. Then it's difficult, and only one effective way has ever been discovered by the people in office now, or anyone else under those conditions, and that is inspire fear. If you can do that, maybe you can get away with it. And for the people in office now, it's second nature. It's important to remember this.

It's kind of striking that it hasn't been discussed extensively, but if you think for a minute, the people -- the present incumbents in Washington are almost entirely recycled from the Reagan and first Bush administration. In fact, from their more reactionary sectors, or else their immediate teams, especially that administration. They're following pretty much the same script as the first 12 years they had in political power. In both domestically and internationally. You can learn a lot about what they're doing by just paying attention to what happened in those 12 years. They were in fact pursuing policies that were highly unpopular. Reagan's policies were strongly opposed by the population, but they did keep voting for him. Mainly out of fear. They continually pressed the panic button every year or two. I'll come back to that. Reagan in fact ended up in 1992 being the most unpopular living U.S. president next to Nixon. Ranked slightly above Nixon, well below Carter and even below the almost forgotten Ford. But they did manage to hang on for 12 years, and they're following essentially the same script. Well, except with much more arrogance and commitment and optimism, feeling they can do things that they couldn't get away with then for various reasons.

Well, let's go back to the other two major events of September, the national security strategy and the invasion of Iraq. It was understood that this is to be -- as The New York Times put it, after the war, though it was obvious it was before, that this was to be the first test of the national security strategy, not the last. The invasion of Iraq, they pointed out, is the petri dish for an experiment in preemptive attack. The term -- and that was understood around the world. There was huge protest around the world, in the United States, too, completely without any historical precedent, and it wasn't just over the invasion of Iraq.

That was the same in Davos, it's the same in the foreign Policy elite here. It was partly that, but more because of the general strategy of which Iraq is to be an exemplary action. It's supposed to create a new norm in international relations, which only those with the guns can implement, of course. And it struck plenty of fear in the world. That's mainly what the protest was about. Well, the phrase that the Times used -- preemptive strike, preemptive attack -- is conventional, but completely wrong.

Preemptive war has a meaning in international law. It's kind of on the border of legality. If you think about the UN charter, it authorizes the use of force under one condition -- two conditions, either the Security Council calls for it, or in self-defense against armed attack until the Security Council has a chance to act. And that has a sort of fringe of judgment. So, for example, if, say, Russian bombers were flying across the Atlantic with the obvious intent of bombing the United States it would be legitimate under -- it would be interpreted as legitimate under Article 51 to shoot them down before they bomb. Maybe even to attack the base they were coming from. That's a preemptive strike. It's a military action taken against an imminent attack when no other possibility is open, and there's enough time to notify the Security Council. That's preemptive war. But that's not what's being proposed.

Sometimes it's called more accurately, preventive war, or anticipatory self-defense. Well, that's at least not completely wrong, but it's also mostly wrong. There's nothing that has to be prevented. And there's no self-defense involved. The prevention is against an imagined or invented threat. There was no threat of attack from Iraq. That was farcical. What's called for is not even preventive war, as the more cautious commentators point out, or anticipatory self-defense. In fact, it's just straight, outright aggression. What was called the supreme crime at Nuremberg, the most serious of all crimes. That's what the doctrine announces. We have the right to carry out the supreme crime of Nuremberg and we'll count on international lawyers and respectable intellectuals to pretty it up and make it look like something else. But, essentially, that's what it comes down to and that's the way it was understood. It was understood here, too, by people who care about the country. The most extreme condemnation of the war that I came across was right from the middle of the mainstream when the U.S. bombed -- when the bombing began, Arthur Schlesinger, a very respectable senior American historian, highly respected, one of Kennedy's advisers, had an article in which he said that the bombing of Iraq resembles the actions of imperial Japan at Pearl Harbor on a date, which the President at the time said, the date that will live in infamy. And he said President Roosevelt was correct. It's a date that will live in infamy, except that now it's Americans who live in infamy, and the world knows it. That's the reason why the sympathy and solidarity with the United States that was evident after 9-11 has turned into a wave of revulsion and fear, and often hatred, which is horrible in itself and also an extreme danger.

Well, he was not alone. The national security strategy aroused many shudders worldwide. That included the foreign policy elite at home. Right away, within weeks, the main establishment journal, Foreign Affairs -- the Council on Foreign Relations, ran an article by a well-known international relations scholar, in which he warned that the imperial grand strategy, as he called it, posed great dangers to the world, and to the population of the United States. The United States was declaring itself, he said, to be a revisionist state that is tearing to shreds the framework of international law and institutions. And the effect of that is -- and hoping, expecting to be able to permanently dominate the world by force, but he said, it's not going to work. Aside from being wrong, it's going to lead to efforts on the part of potential victims to counter it. They're not going to sit there and wait to be destroyed. They can't compete with the United States in military force -- nobody can -- but there are weapons of the weak. Two primarily. One is weapons of mass destruction, which by now are becoming weapons of the weak, and the other is terror.

So, he and many other foreign policy analysts and intelligence agencies pointed out that the strategy is essentially calling for proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and increase in terror. And hence, a great danger to the world altogether, but to the United States in particular. The war in Iraq was understood exactly the same way. The U.S. and British intelligence agencies -- the British ones have just been exposed in the Hutton inquiry in London, but there were enough leaks before. Both the British and the U.S. intelligence agencies, and other intelligence agencies, and plenty of independent analysts, and any one you pick, predicted that one likely consequence of the Iraq invasion would be proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and terror.

Many commentators have pointed out that it's pretty likely that the Iranian and North Korean actions, since our response to the threat of the national security strategy and its implementation, are turning to the weapons that are available to them -- weapons of mass destruction. The U.S., indeed, made that very clear. There was a very clear and ugly lesson taught to the world last winter. North Korea is a far more vicious and ugly and dangerous state then Iraq, bad as Saddam Hussein was. But the U.S. wasn't going to attack North Korea. It was going to attack Iraq as the exemplary action. In part, that's because Iraq's just a lot more important. It's right in the center of the oil-producing region, but in part it's because Iraq was understood to be completely defenseless. If you have any brains, you don't attack anybody who can defend themselves. That's stupid. You want to attack somebody that's completely defenseless, and Iraq was known to be completely defenseless. That's why nobody was afraid of it, much as they might have hated it.

North Korea, on the other hand, had a deterrent. The deterrent was not nuclear weapons. It was conventional weapons -- massed artillery on the DMZ, the border with South Korea. Extensive massed artillery aimed at the capital, Seoul, South Korea, and at the U.S. troops in the south. Unless the Pentagon can figure out a way to get rid of that with precision weapons, or something or other, that is a deterrent to a U.S. attack. In fact, U.S. troops have since been withdrawn from the DMZ. And that's caused plenty of concern in both South and North Korea and the region, suggesting a very cynical strategy. You can figure it out. But what the U.S. was telling the world is if you don't want us to attack you and destroy you, you better have some kind of deterrent. And for most of the world, that's going to mean weapons of mass destruction. And terror.

The result of the war, as far as we know, verified that near-universal prediction of intelligence agencies and analysts. It's been pointed out since, that, to quote a few, that the Iraq war was a huge setback for the war on terror, led to a sharp spike in recruitment for Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups, and in fact Iraq itself was turned into a haven for terrorists for the first time. It wasn't before, but now it is.

That was expected and that's another dilemma of dominance. You have to control the great beast at home, and while violence is an effective device and may intimidate many people and countries, it's likely to incite others -- to incite them to revenge or simply to find means of deterrence. And since no one can think of competing with the United States in military power, well, that leaves the weapons of the weak, weapons of mass destruction, and terror, and those may sooner or later be united. That's been predicted for years with contemporary technology. It's not that hard for terrorist groups with a low level of financing and sophistication to gain access to even nuclear weapons, small nuclear weapons. The chances of -- the possibilities of smuggling them into the United States are overwhelming. If you are interested in having a sleepless night, you can read some of the high-level studies that have been coming out for the past six or seven years, well before 9-11, but increasingly, which are virtually cookbooks for terrorists. I mean, they're the kind of things that I suspect we could do if we wanted to.

And maybe impossible to stop for all kind of reasons. The Hart-Rudman report, which came out about a year ago, Gary Hart and Warren Rudman, two former senators, a high-level study of threats -- on threats of terror that gives one of many such examples. So, yeah, sooner or later, weapons of mass destruction and terror will be united. And the consequences could be quite horrific. Well, all of that is the likely consequence predicted, and, so far, happening of the security strategy in the test case, the dramatic test case to illustrate it.

Well, administration planners know all of this as well as everyone else. I mean, they're intelligent, literate. They read the same intelligence reports everyone else does. So, they know, yes, the policies they're carrying out are increasing the threat to the security of the American people, and the world and, of course, future generations. And they don't want that. They don't want that outcome. It just doesn't matter very much. If you look at the ranking of priorities, it just doesn't rank very high. Likely that it could happen, but other things are just more important. The things that are more important are establishing global hegemony and carrying out the highly regressive domestic policies of trying to roll back the New Deal and the progressive legislation of the past century, in fact. And creating a very different kind of domestic society, one that most of the public passionately opposes, but may accept under the threat of destruction, manufactured and some increasingly real.

Well, this, again, gets back to the first dilemma, how do you control the domestic public, the great beast? In particular, the problem now is winning the 2004 election. Remember that they have a very narrow hold on political power. You all know that the 2000 election was disputed. The 2002 election was barely -- barely managed to sneak through, and now we're up to 2004, and what do we do with that? Well, go back to last May. On the first of May, you remember, there was a carefully staged extravaganza which elicited ridicule and fear throughout the world, but was played pretty seriously here when the President landed on the Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier wearing combat gear and posing and so on and so forth. It was pretty frightening for the world. Here it played pretty straight. He gave a victory speech. We won a victory over in Iraq. Now, the front page story in The New York Times used a phrase that I'll come back to, and it's important. They said, "it was a powerful Reaganesque finale to the war in Iraq." We'll come back to that.

More astute observers pointed out that the extravaganza was the opening of the 2004 election campaign, which must be built on national security themes. That's The Wall Street Journal. Karl Rove, same guy, announced right away that the 2004 Election is -- the main theme is going to have to be what he called the battle of Iraq, and he emphasized battle. The battle of Iraq, not the war. It's an episode in the war on terror, which must continue. And, in fact, if you look at the President's declaration on the Abraham Lincoln, he said that we have won a victory in the war on terror by removing an ally of Al Qaeda. Notice that it's immaterial that there is not the slightest evidence of any connection between Saddam Hussein and his bitter enemy, Osama bin Laden, and the idea of a connection is dismissed by every competent authority, including the intelligence agencies, but it doesn't matter. It's a higher truth. All you have to do is repeat it loudly enough and often enough. Facts are irrelevant. In particular, the specific facts -- again, they didn't invent this formula. It's not pleasant to think about the antecedents, but they're there. It's also irrelevant, specifically, that there is actually a Connection between the war on terror and the invasion of Iraq, and namely, the invasion increased threat of terror, exactly as predicted. But it just doesn't make any difference and it continues.

A week or so ago, in his weekly presidential radio address, President Bush, September 28 said, "the world is safer today because our coalition ended a regime that cultivated ties to terror while it built weapons of mass destruction."

Well, his speechwriters and his minders and trainers know very well that every word there was an outrageous lie. But why should it matter? If you repeat it loudly enough, it will become the truth.

Well, how can Karl Rove hope to get away with it? Just have a look back at what just happened in September 2002: the last election campaign.

That, as I said, was the beginning of an onslaught of government media propaganda, which had a very substantial effect. By the end of the month, by the end of September, about 60% of the population regarded Iraq as a serious threat to the security of the United States.

Remember, the United States is alone in this respect. In Kuwait and Iran, which Saddam invaded, they're not afraid of him. They're not afraid of him because they know exactly what U.S. intelligence and everyone else knows - Iraq was the weakest country in the region. It had been devastated by the U.S. sanctions, which are called U.N. sanctions, but if it wasn't for U.S. pressure, they wouldn't exist. They wiped out the population. They happened to strengthen the tyrant, but devastated the economy. The country was virtually disarmed. It was under total surveillance. Its military budget was about a third that of Kuwait, which has 10% of its population, and far below the other states in the region, including, of course, the regional superpower, which we're not allowed to talk about, because there's an offshore U.S. military base, but outside the United States everyone knows there is one country in the region that has extensive weapons of mass destruction, and has military forces which according to its own analysts are more technically advanced and more powerful than those of any NATO country outside the United States, unmentionable here, but known everywhere else.

That's the -- and Iraq isn't even in the league of Kuwaits, let alone anything like that.

So it, wasn't -- certainly not a threat, but by the end of September, as a result of a propaganda campaign of quite impressive character, government campaign transmitted uncritically by the media, about 60% of the population believed there was a threat. Then -- pretty soon after that, the proportion of the population that believed that Iraq was involved in 9-11, maybe responsible for it, went up to 50% or higher, depended how you asked the question.

Also the belief that Iraq was -- had interrelations with al Qaeda and other gross misperceptions which are rejected by every intelligence agency, including the U.S.. But it did become -- it did work domestically, not anywhere else.

That's the media -- the media behavior was kind of -- let me quote a non-controversial source, the very respectable "Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists". The editor wrote recently, "the charges dangled in front of the media failed the laugh test, but the more ridiculous they were, the more the media strove to make whole-hearted swallowing of them a test of patriotism."

It's pretty accurate and it sort of worked, only domestically and -- and only in part, because it was because of part of the population. The rest of the population was overwhelmingly opposed to the war at a level that literally has no precedent, but it worked enough to sneak by the election and to build up a base of support for the war. Not surprisingly, a belief in these fantasies was highly correlated with support for the war, as you would expect. If you believe those things, they're right. Well, that's significant.

Congress, in October, right after the propaganda campaign began, passed a resolution authorizing the government to resort to force to defend the United States against the continuing threat of Iraq.

Again, remember, the United States is the only country that was under that threat, but congress passed it. The media and commentators and in the intellectual world were silent about the fact, I presume they were aware of, that the congressional resolution was a copy. They're still following the script.

In 1985, president Reagan declared a national emergency in the United States because of -- I'm quoting, “the usual and extraordinary threat to the security of the United States posed by the government of Nicaragua.” Which was two days' driving time from Arlington, Texas.

We had the quake and fear before that. Notice, that's much more severe than Iraq. That was an unusual and extraordinary threat.

In fact, Reagan went on to a press conference where he said that I know the enormous odds against me, but I remember a man named Churchill and he stood up against terrific odds, fought Hitler, and I'm not going to give up, never, never, never, despite the hoards of Nicaraguans invading us and about to conquer us.

That passed the laugh test in the United States. If you check back, just report it. People were afraid. The rest of the world could not believe it, but it happened, and it's another reason why they expect that they can do it again. That helps explain the confidence.

It and wasn't the only case. Through the 1980's, year after year there was one or another threat of that nature. Libyan hit-men were wandering the streets of Washington about to assassinate our leader, who was holed up in the White House, surrounded by tanks. The Russians were going to build an airbase in the nutmeg capital of the world, Grenada, if they could find it on a map, and they were going to bomb us.

That brings us back to the New York Times phrase, "powerful Reagan-esque finale."

What are they referring to? Well, they know what they're referring to. They're referring to Reagan's speech after the United States - after the brave cowboy barely saved us from destruction from the Grenadians by sending thousands of forces who were able to overcome a couple of middle aged construction workers and one -- but then there was a speech saying, "we're standing tall.”

That's the powerful Reagan-esque finale that The New York Times is referring to. Maybe the reporter is being ironic, I don't know, but what gets to the public is the message, not what's in the person's mind. The message is, “we're in constant danger.”

After Grenada, it was Libya again, and after that, it was domestic threats.

George Bush Sr. won his election by straight pulling the race card. Willie Horton, the black rapist is going to come after you, notice you put me in. Crime in the United States is like other industrial countries, but fear of crime is off the spectrum.

Same with drugs. Drugs - yeah - problem. In other countries it is about the same as here, but fear of drugs is far higher here and it's constantly manipulated by unscrupulous politicians and obedient media, and you get continual hysteria about drugs and Nicaraguans on the march, and Grenadians and the rest.

There's confidence. They were able to hold power for years, over and over, despite the fact that the population was harmed by the domestic policies and opposed them, but they stayed in office.

Now, they are much more confident. Well, there's quite a lot at stake for them. It's not just a matter of narrow political gain. What's at stake is world domination by force, and also control of the major energy resources in the world, which is not a small thing. [the incomplete transcript end here]



The Americas

excerpted from the book


by John Pilger

South End Press, 2001 (and 1986), paper

Occupying two floors of the Sheraton were teams from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the American Institute for Free Labour Development (AIFLD). Both organisations were instruments of US foreign policy and had played important parts in the invasion of Vietnam. In El Salvador, as in Vietnam, USAID had provided the means of sustaining an economic structure on the American model. At the same time its Office of Public Safety trained local police in methods of 'combating subversion' i.e. torture. AIFLD, which had worked closely with the CIA in Vietnam, established the Salvadorean Communal Union in 1968. In the guise of promoting 'land reform' the American-led UCS infiltrated and sought to control (sometimes successfully) genuine peasant organisations and trade unions and to stifle 'social unrest'.

According to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, between January 1980 and April 1981 20,000 civilians were murdered by 'death squads' related to or part of the 'security forces' of El Salvador. The death of people 'in industrial quantities', as one American reporter wrote, was therefore well known, yet the Reagan administration in its first year increased its initial $25 million in military aid to the El Salvador regime to $523 million without congressional approval and after 'laundering' it through the international banks. To give one example of this 'back-door' aid: the Inter-American Development Bank in 1981 gave the El Salvador regime $45 million out of a 'special operations fund' in which Washington held 62 per cent of the capital. The West Germans, Canadians and Danes strongly objected to the loan on the grounds that it violated the Bank's charter, because it could not be implemented properly. The Americans said it was for 'land reform'. The Europeans suspected it was for 'counter insurgency equipment'. 'We are giving away blood money,' a European representative at the Bank told me.

'Under the constitution of the United States,' said the chief security officer at the American embassy, 'the Stars and Stripes must be lowered every day at sunset. Only one place on this earth is excluded: our embassy right here in El Salvador. And that's by the executive order of President Reagan himself.'

The embassy has electronically-controlled doors every few yards, as m a maximum security prison, and US marines bunkered on the roof, as well as troops of the El Salvador National Guard in the courtyard and at roadblocks within a mile radius, and groups of thugs in reflecting glasses and running shoes and 'Rolls-Royce' T-shirts circling it. The thugs are called Operation Shark.

Howard Lane, the press attaché, sat in a windowless paneled office, the Stars and Stripes behind him, Ronald Reagan on the wall and a magnum in an open drawer. A grey, rumpled man in his forties, he spoke at first the Official Optimism. 'The guys in the bush', he said, 'have no more than 5,000 human assets and a comparative support structure.' Translated, that meant that there were only 5,000 guerrillas and 5,000 civilian supporters. But, surely, the previous year there had been more than 300,000 people crowding the centre of San Salvador in support of the opposition groups? That left 295,000 'support structure' unaccounted for, minus the twenty-one who died when the forces of law and order opened fire on the crowd.

The press attaché described himself as a leftover from the Carter administration's diplomatic appointments and said that he had been proud to serve the previous American Ambassador to El Salvador, Robert White, who had taken the courageous step that January of going before a congressional hearing to say that 'the chief killers of Salvadoreans are the government security forces. They are the ones responsible for the deaths of thousands upon thousands of young people who have been executed merely on the suspicion that they are leftists'. For saying that, White paid with his career. .

When President Reagan assumed office in 1981 nationalists fighting United States-sponsored tyrannies throughout Central America were described variously as Marxist-Leninists, communists,- leftists and terrorists. In El Salvador, where the American assault had been concentrated, the Frente Democratico Revolucionario, formed in April 1981, sprang entirely from popular resistance organisations which date back to the nineteenth century. It unites peasants, trade unionists, priests, teachers, students, businessmen, Christian Democrats, social democrats, socialists, Jesuits and communists. It includes groups such as the Union of Slum Dwellers and the Christian Peasants' Association. Only the Union Democratica Nacionalista, one of the smallest coalitions, is of communist inspiration. As in Vietnam, the aim of American propaganda is to cast El Salvador into the wider arena of the cold war and so deny the true nature of the resistance movement.

The Legal Aid Service, the Socorro Juridico, was established in 1977 by a group of lawyers as a means of defending the poor in the courts. Carrying their files they move constantly; I found them in a shed at the end of a vegetable allotment between the American embassy and the morgue. On the wall was a photograph of Maria Henriquez, director of the Human Rights Commission, who was kidnapped on October 3,1980, and tortured to death with razor blades. The administrator, Ramon Valledares, was taken three weeks later and nothing has been heard of him since. 'We have noticed,' a young woman said, 'since Reagan's election and the increase in US aid, new methods of torture have been introduced; previously people were simply shot.'

From 1980 to 1986 the United States sent more than $2 billion to;;: Salvador as 'aid'. Eighty-five per cent of this has paid for arms, planes, helicopters, incendiary bombs, oxygen-reduction bombs, phosphorous bombs, Napalm bombs, cluster bombs, 'anti-personnel' weapons and munitions, electrified wire, surveillance equipment, more conscripted troops, more black helmets, more black boots and 'the continued involvement', wrote Amnesty International in 1984, 'of all branches of the security and military forces in a systematic and widespread program of torture, mutilation, "disappearance" and the individual and mass extrajudicial execution of men, women and children from all sectors of Salvadorean society . . .'

During his presidency, Ronald Reagan more than once 'certified' that the El Salvador regime had satisfied the 'human rights criteria' required by the Congress for American military shipments to continue. In 1985 a report by the Congressional Arms Control and Foreign Policy Caucus said that a four-month investigation had shown that the Reagan administration had misled and lied to Congress about the situation in El Salvador, even claiming that most of the US 'aid' money had gone to improve social conditions when, in fact, it had gone to the military. The United States, the report concluded, was becoming more deeply involved in El Salvador, in a manner what was 'reminiscent of Vietnam'.

In 1989 Arena, the 'party of the death squads', took power in El Salvador and the number of random murders rose sharply. A State Department spokeswoman expressed 'horror' at these developments but said that US policy remained unchanged and US arms shipments would continue.

Only when disaster strikes does attention focus on ordinary people invariably of a short-lived kind, from which they emerge as victims, accepting passively their predicament as a precondition for Western charity. The Western perspective on the Ethiopian famine, that of people denied fundamental control over their lives, complied with the stereotype, and the 'consensus' was to give surplus food and cash to them. Their need was deemed 'above politics'. That their predicament had political causes, many of which were rooted in the 'developed' world, was not widely considered a central issue. Since 1979, against historically impossible odds, the Nicaraguans have smashed the stereotype.

The depth of what has happened in Nicaragua and its wider implications, in particular the very real threat posed to the United States and its global system of 'development', struck me when I stayed in a frontier community, El Regadio, in the far north of the country. Like everywhere in Nicaragua, it is very poor, and its isolation has made change all the more difficult. However, since the Sandinistas threw out the dictator Anastasio Somoza in 1979 a 'well baby clinic' has been established, including a rehydration unit which prevents infants dying from diarrhoea, the most virulent third world killer. When I was there no baby had died for a year, which was unprecedented. More than 90 per cent of the children have been vaccinated against polio and measles, with the result that polio has been wiped out. The production and consumption of basic foods has risen by as much as 100 per cent, which means that serious malnutrition has disappeared ...

Nicaragua, minuscule, impoverished and facing an invasion by the \ most powerful and richest nation, is indeed a threat. It is a threat to American foreign policy, not because its people and their leaders want to create 'another Cuba', isolated and with the Russians ensconced. It is a threat for the opposite reason: that Nicaragua offers an alternative model of development to anything the Soviet Union would want to impose. This is why American policy and propaganda are aimed at severing Nicaragua's ties with its neighbours and 'pushing' it towards the only available benefactor, Moscow. It is the same policy and propaganda employed against Cuba in 1960 and 1961 and against Vietnam since May 1975.

Of course, the gravest threat posed by Nicaragua to the United States is that it offers to those nations suffering under American-sponsored tyrannies, such as El Salvador and Guatemala, a clear demonstration of regional nationalism at last succeeding in the struggle against hunger, sickness, illiteracy and pobreterria. And when the Reagan administration and its 'New Right' supporters say that the United States is in danger of 'losing' Central America, they are right. It is no coincidence that since the Sandinistas came to power the nationalist guerrillas in Guatemala have enjoyed a dramatic increase in support among people in at least nineteen of the country's twenty-two provinces. The same is true of the resistance in El Salvador, which has grown in strength not because of some imaginary Ho Chi Minh Trail of arms supply masterminded by Russians and Cubans, but because one 'good example' in the region has survived against all odds. As Noam Chomsky has pointed out, 'The weaker the country, the greater the threat [to US policy], because the greater the adversity under which success is reached, the more significant the result." Unlike Vietnam, Nicaragua is neither isolated from its neighbours, nor has it felt obliged to embrace the Eastern bloc; more than 75 per cent of its foreign trade is with Western and nonaligned countries and only 11 per cent with the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.

For five years Nicaragua has fought an invasion directed by United States military officers and government officials in Honduras, where the full panoply of American 'small war' technology has been installed. In addition, Nicaraguan airspace is invaded almost every night by United States AC-130 attack aircraft, based in Panama, and every week by AWACS surveillance aircraft based in Oklahoma. American Naval task forces are on permanent station off both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts of Nicaragua. In 1983 the CIA mined Nicaragua's harbours and blew up its main oil storage depot at Puerot Corinto.

In the same year the United States successfully brought pressure on the Inter-American Development Bank to stop a loan of $34 million to Nicaragua. The loan, already agreed, would have revitalised the Nicaraguan fishing industry and provided a substantial and cheap source of nutrition. In 1985, just as the same international bank seemed ready to approve $58 million in agricultural credits to Nicaragua, the United States Secretary of State, George Schultz, warned the Bank's president that the loan risked complete withdrawal of American contributions. Despite its non-political charter, the Bank set aside the loan. A total American embargo now operates against everything Nicaraguan, denying its raw materials their most important market. The old Aeronica Boeing is no longer allowed to land in Miami.

Against this is ranged what President Reagan has called the Nicaraguan 'war machine' which, at the last count, centred upon forty-five old T-54 and T-55 Soviet-built tanks, designed for use on the North German plain and not in dense tropical terrain. In addition there are a few anti-aircraft batteries and the Nicaraguan Air Force's 'strike command', which consists of three American Korean war vintage T-28s, two of them flown by the same dapper Chilean pilot with a honed sense of humour. 'I am ready', he informed me at a party in Managua, 'to take on the entire US Air Force. Let us say I am the pigeon attacking the buckshot!' (The Sandinista revolution has its own Woody Allens. Tomas Borge, the only original Sandinista to survive, told Playboy magazine that the leadership had been seriously trying to get copies of Bedtime for Bonzo. 'The movie deals with a monkey', said Borge, 'and the monkey's master is Reagan. So this is a wonderful allegory . . . almost a premonition!'

The lines of Bertholt Brecht slip into mind in Nicaragua: 'By chance I was spared. If my luck leaves me I am lost.' What has happened in Nicaragua all seems so tenuous. How did they slip the leash and 'triumph', as they say, on July 19,1979, when the Sandinistas swept into Managua after Somoza had fled to Miami? For a brief moment American foreign policy had paused; Jimmy Carter's consuming obsession was the American hostages in Iran. And for once Washington found it difficult to contrive an intervention on behalf of a dynasty of banana Napoleons so outrageous their sponsors knew they could be relied upon to surpass their monstrous reputation and 'embarrass' a president who had sought to build his reputation as the guardian of 'human rights'.

The Somozas were handed Nicaragua in 1933 by the US marines who had occupied the country for twenty-one straight years. In 1934 Cesar Augusto Sandino, whose guerrilla army had forced the marines out, was invited to Managua for 'peace talks' with Anastasio Somoza, whom the Americans had put in command of their creation, the National Guard. When Sandino arrived in Managua he was murdered on Somoza's orders. Two years later Somoza appointed himself president for life. The Somozas went on to run Nicaragua like a family business. During the 1940s a calypso popular in American nightclubs began:

A guy asked the dictator if he had any farms. The dictator said he had only one . . . It was Nicaragua.

The Somozas owned almost half the arable land. They controlled the coffee, sugar and beef industries. They owned the national airline outright. If you bought a Mercedes car you bought it from a Somoza company. If you imported or exported, you did so through Somoza 'kickback' agencies. The first Somoza had begun his career as a sewerage inspector and went on to own the sewers of Managua, right up to the manhole covers. Even the paving stones in the street were made by a Somoza cement factory which got the contract from a ministry run by a Somoza and of course the profits ended up with El Presidente.

Nothing was overlooked; most Nicaraguans recall the 'House of Dracula', which was the name they gave to a blood plasma factory in Managua called Plasmaferesia. The poor would go to this place to sell their blood for as little as a dollar a litre and the company would export it to the United States for ten times that amount. In January 1978 the editor of the newspaper La Prensa, Pedro Joaquin Chamorro, was murdered while he was conducting a campaign against the blood traffic. The company was registered in the name of a Miami-based Cuban exile, but evidence published by La Prensa suggested that this was merely a front for Somoza. Certainly, most Nicaraguans would have been surprised had El Presidente not been selling his people's blood. During the anti-Somoza demonstrations which followed Chamorro's death, the 'House of Dracula' was burned to the ground.

The National Guard was Somoza's private 'death squad'. Paid and armed as part of America's 'aid' programme, the dreaded Guardia was the instrument of American policy in Nicaragua for almost half a century. Senior officers were trained at the 'School of the Americas' in the US-run Canal Zone in Panama (known throughout the Americas as 'escuela de golpes', the school of coups), where they were taught to equate social unrest with communist subversion. They were above the law. They could murder at will. Somoza called them 'his boys' and, if repetitive reports by human rights organisations are an indication, they tortured almost as a sport. For example, one of the delights of Somoza's 'boys' was to drop his political opponents from helicopters into the Masaya volcano. Said President Roosevelt of the first Somoza, 'That guy may be a son of a bitch, but he's our son of a bitch.' Said President Nixon of the second Somoza: 'Now that's the kind of anti-communist we like to see down there.'

In 1972 an earthquake struck Nicaragua, destroying Managua and killing an estimated 10,000 people. Officers and troops of the National Guard went on a looting spree, and one senior officer tried to blow up the national bank. When relief supplies arrived from all over the world, a National Emergency Committee was set up under Somoza's control and run by the National Guard. This, wrote Dianna Melrose in her book on Nicaragua for Oxfam, 'institutionalised the misappropriation of emergency relief':

. . . Realising that relief supplies were being syphoned off and sold by the National Guard, Oxfam's Field Director talked Mrs. Somoza into giving permission to bypass the official distribution system. This meant waiting in the air traffic control tower for the right plane to be spotted, then careering onto the tarmac to get the trucks loaded before the National Guard arrived on the scene.

Following the earthquake, the United States gave $57 million in emergency aid to Nicaragua; but the Nicaraguan Treasury reported receiving only $16 million. By April 1979, with Somoza near the end of his reign and now bombing his own people, he received a loan of S40 million from the International Monetary Fund. There were no binding conditions. A few weeks later the IMF, urged on by the Carter administration, gave him a further $25 million. After Somoza had fled to Miami, the Sandinistas found less than $2 million in the national treasury.

In 1984 Nicaragua held the first democratic elections in its history, and international observers agreed that the voting process and count were scrupulously honest. The Sandinistas won 66.7 per cent of the vote and 61 seats in the 96 seat National Assembly. On the right, the Democratic Conservatives, the Independent Liberal Party and the Popular Social Christian Party took 29.3 per cent of the vote and 29 seats, while the three left-wing parties won 4 per cent and 6 seats.

The Reagan administration, having campaigned to ensure that a coalition of three right-wing parties did not participate in the election, denounced the election as a farce. (The 75 per cent turnout of registered voters contrasted with the 1980 United States presidential election in which more than 48 per cent of the voters abstained and fewer than 27 per cent voted for the winning candidate, Ronald Reagan.) The US Ambassador, Harry Berghold, personally visited two opposition party leaders, one of whom later accused an embassy official of offering his campaign manager a bribe. Two days after the election the US administration accused the Sandinistas of importing MiG fighter aircraft from the Soviet Union. This had the effect of diminishing news and discussion of the election in the media. As journalists in Nicaragua soon discovered, the story of the Soviet planes was false.

Indeed, not since the Vietnam war has disinformation, or black propaganda, been used as a principal weapon, and perhaps no modern president has assumed outright the role of propagandist as has Reagan.

President Reagan has described the Contras as 'our brothers' and 'the moral equal of our Founding Fathers'. Documentation shows that between 1982 and 1985 Contra death squads have murdered 3,346 children and teenagers and killed one or both the parents of 6,236 children. During one year, 1984, the Contras caused an average of more than four deaths every day. At President Reagan's tireless urging - Nicaragua is said to be 'his' issue - the US Congress in October 1986 approved 100 million dollars in military aid to the Contras. Allegations emerging from the 'Irangate' scandal estimate that a further 30 million dollars were illegally diverted to the Contras from the sale of arms to Iran. With this money, US officials hope to persuade the Contras, reported Time magazine,

. . . to switch from the pressure-triggered mines they have been using to explosives that have to be detonated by remote control, thereby giving the rebels control over specific targets. 'Pressure mines kill too indiscriminately', says one. 'Pictures of dead children don't go down well in the US'.

When Reagan commands headlines around the world by describing Nicaragua as 'the new version of Murder Incorporated', a country which gives a 'haven to the IRA' and whose 'acts of war against the United States' justify US military action to defend itself, some may feel an uncomfortable urge to laugh at such apparent disingenuousness. But that would be to miss the point. 'So obsessed is the Reagan administration', wrote Charles Maechling from Washington,

. . . that it has not hesitated to twist through redefinition the meaning of human rights in order to downgrade the most basic right of all, the right of life. Its acquiescence in patterns of torture, murder and other forms of state terrorism . . . comes close to condoning the kind of crimes against humanity condemned at the Nuremberg war crimes trials.

British film director Ken Loach

Working people are allowed on television so long as they fit the stereotype that producers have of them. Workers can appear pathetic in their ignorance and poverty, apathetic to parliamentary politics, or aggressive on the picket line. But let them make a serious political analysis based on their own experiences and in their own language, then keep them off the air. That's the job of professional pundits, MPs and General Secretaries. They understand the rules of the game.

Television in Britain may still enjoy more credibility among the public than television in other countries. This is probably because in other countries bias in broadcasting is understood, if not always acknowledged. In Eastern Europe many people regard the bias of the state as implicit in all its media and a conscious or unconscious adjustment is made by the viewing (and reading) public. This is not so in Britain where the bias of the state operates through a 'consensus view' that is broadly acceptable to the established order. Perhaps in no other country has broadcasting held such a privileged position as an opinion leader. Possessing highly professional talent and the illusion of impartiality, as well as occasionally dissenting programmes, 'public service broadcasting' has become a finely crafted instrument of state propaganda.

British film director Ken Loach wrote in the Guardian

Censorship is not achieved by an outright ban, but by bureaucratic manoeuvres. No one has formally banned any one of the films. Yet, they remain unseen. [The films] touched the most sensitive nerve in the current political arena. [The government's strategy] means allowing unemployment to rise, legislating against trades unions and relying on union leaders to prevent any serious challenge to the government...

Margaret Thatcher government's Home Office study of subscription television.

Economic analysis ... tends to view broadcasting as an economic commodity - a service from which consumers derive satisfaction much as they might from a kitchen appliance. and whose value tends to view broadcasting as an economic society should be assessed accordingly.


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posted by u2r2h at Monday, April 30, 2007 0 comments

26 April, 2007

911 truth 2007 Cinema Release


Jason Bermas says that Loose Change Final Cut will be 80% new material from the Loose Change 2nd Edition! Expensive computer-graphics will be employed and a world-wide cinema release is for certain!

It is easy to predict that this theatrical release will lead to a complete upheaval in the USA
The inside-job of 9/11 will then be plain to see for everyone, and the mistrust in unchecked and unelected institutions will make a democratic revolution inevitable.

LCFC will also focus on the MILITARY EXERCISES on that day, which bizarrly rehearsed hijacking and a plane crashing into a building -- Boston Globe story.

LCFC will keep it simple for the uninitiated. Jason Bermas used the words "dumbed down", so it will be unlikely that the reason for the NRO spy-satellite-agency evacuation will be mentioned, namely the use of space weapons.

We all know about the impossibility of phone calls from supposedly hijakced aircraft on 911:

Moments before Flight 93 went down, CeeCee (photo)dialed home twice on a cell phone to tell (husband) Lorne of the hijacking and of her love for him and their boys. Calmly, she prayed to see her husband's face again, then beseeched God to forgive and welcome her home -- along with everyone else on the plane. source

Elizabeth's stepmother in Baltimore reportedly received a call from Elizabeth on a phone lent to her by Lauren Grandcolas and told her, "I've got to go now, Mom, they're breaking into the cockpit." source

Mr. Burnett phoned his wife Deena four times. In the first call he told her about the situation on the plane and asked her to call authorities. The second time he phoned, he told her that he believed their captors were going to fly the plane into the ground. "The next time he called," Mrs. Burnett said, "I could tell they were formulating a plan." In the last call, he reportedly said, "I know we're going to die. There's three of us who are going to do something about it."

David Ray Griffin tells us about Rowland Morgans book revelations that the Olson Airfone (Seatback phones) call could not have happened because AA77 was not equipped with inflight-phones.

9/11 Revealed: The Unanswered Questions is a MUST READ book.
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posted by u2r2h at Thursday, April 26, 2007 0 comments

14 April, 2007

Amazing 911 story of Israeli Students

High-Fivers and Art Student Spies

What Did Israel Know in Advance of the 9/11 Attacks?


On the afternoon of September 11, 2001, an FBI bulletin known as a BOLO ­-
"be on lookout" — was issued with regard to three suspicious men who that
morning were seen leaving the New Jersey waterfront minutes after the
first plane hit World Trade Center 1. Law enforcement officers across the
New York-New Jersey area were warned in the radio dispatch to watch for a
"vehicle possibly related to New York terrorist attack":

A white, 2000 Chevrolet van with 'Urban Moving Systems' sign on back seen
at Liberty State Park, Jersey City, NJ, at the time of first impact of
jetliner into World Trade Center Three individuals with van were seen
celebrating after initial impact and subsequent explosion. FBI Newark
Field Office requests that, if the van is located, hold for prints and
detain individuals.

At 3:56 p.m., twenty-five minutes after the issuance of the FBI BOLO,
officers with the East Rutherford Police Department stopped the commercial
moving van through a trace on the plates. According to the police report,
Officer Scott DeCarlo and Sgt. Dennis Rivelli approached the stopped van,
demanding that the driver exit the vehicle. The driver, 23-year-old Sivan
Kurzberg, refused and "was asked several more times [but] appeared to be
fumbling with a black leather fanny pouch type of bag". With guns drawn,
the police then "physically removed" Kurzberg, while four other men ­- two
more men had apparently joined the group since the morning ­- were also
removed from the van, handcuffed, placed on the grass median and read
their Miranda rights.

They had not been told the reasons for their arrest. Yet, according to
DeCarlo's report, "this officer was told without question by the driver
[Sivan Kurzberg],'We are Israeli. We are not your problem.Your problems
are our problems. The Palestinians are the problem.'" Another of the five
Israelis, again without prompting, told Officer DeCarlo ­- falsely ­- that
"we were on the West Side Highway in New York City during the incident".
From inside the vehicle the officers, who were quickly joined by agents
from the FBI, retrieved multiple passports and $4,700 in cash stuffed in a
sock. According to New Jersey's Bergen Record, which on September 12
reported the arrest of the five Israelis, an investigator high up in the
Bergen County law enforcement hierarchy stated that officers had also
discovered in the vehicle "maps of the city with certain places
highlighted. It looked like they're hooked in with this", the source told
the Record, referring to the 9/11 attacks. "It looked like they knew what
was going to happen when they were at Liberty State Park."

The five men were indeed Israeli citizens. They claimed to be in the
country working as movers for Urban Moving Systems Inc., which maintained
a warehouse and office in Weehawken, New Jersey. They were held for 71
days in a federal detention center in Brooklyn, New York, during which
time they were repeatedly interrogated by FBI and CIA counterterrorism
teams, who referred to the men as the "high-fivers" for their celebratory
behavior on the New Jersey waterfront. Some were placed in solitary
confinement for at least forty days; some were given as many as seven
liedetector tests. One of the Israelis, Paul Kurzberg, brother of Sivan,
refused to take a lie-detector test for ten weeks. Then he failed it.

Meanwhile, two days after the men were picked up, the owner of Urban
Moving Systems, Dominik Suter, a 31- year-old Israeli national, abandoned
his business and fled the United States for Israel. Suter's departure was
abrupt, leaving behind coffee cups, sandwiches, cell phones and computers
strewn on office tables and thousands of dollars of goods in storage.
Suter was later placed on the same FBI suspect list as 9/11 lead hijacker
Mohammed Atta and other hijackers and suspected al-Qaeda sympathizers,
suggesting that U.S. authorities felt Suter may have known something about
the attacks. The suspicion, as the investigation unfolded, was that the
men working for Urban Moving Systems were spies. Who exactly was handling
them, and who or what they were targeting, was as yet uncertain.

It was New York's venerable Jewish weekly The Forward that broke this
story in the spring of 2002, after months of footwork. The Forward
reported that the FBI had finally concluded that at least two of the men
were agents working for the Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency, and
that Urban Moving Systems, the ostensible employer of the five Israelis,
was a front operation. Two former CIA officers confirmed this to me,
noting that movers' vans are a common intelligence cover. The Forward also
noted that the Israeli government itself admitted that the men were spies.
A "former high-ranking American intelligence official", who said he was
"regularly briefed on the investigation by two separate law enforcement
officials", told reporter Marc Perelman that after American authorities
confronted Jerusalem at the end of 2001, the Israeli government
"acknowledged the operation and apologized for not coordinating it with
Washington". Today, Perelman stands by his reporting. I asked him if his
sources in the Mossad denied the story. "Nobody stopped talking to me", he

In June 2002, ABC News' 20/20 followed up with its own investigation into
the matter, coming to the same conclusion as The Forward. Vincent
Cannistraro, former chief of operations for counterterrorism with the CIA,
told 20/20 that some of the names of the five men appeared as hits in
searches of an FBI national intelligence database. Cannistraro told me
that the question that most troubled FBI agents in the weeks and months
after 9/11 was whether the Israelis had arrived at the site of their
"celebration" with foreknowledge of the attack to come. From the
beginning, "the FBI investigation operated on the premise that the
Israelis had foreknowledge", according to Cannistraro. A second former CIA
counterterrorism officer who closely followed the case, but who spoke on
condition of anonymity, told me that investigators were pursuing two
theories. "One story was that [the Israelis] appeared at Liberty State
Park very quickly after the first plane hit. The other was that they were
at the park location already". Either way, investigators wanted to know
exactly what the men were expecting when they got there.

Before such issues had been fully explored, however, the investigation was
shut down. Following what ABC News reported were "high-level negotiations
between Israeli and U.S. government officials", a settlement was reached
in the case of the five Urban Moving Systems suspects. Intense political
pressure apparently had been brought to bear. The reputable Israeli daily
Ha'aretz reported that by the last week of October 2001, some six weeks
after the men had been detained, Deputy Secretary of State Richard
Armitage and two unidentified "prominent New York congressmen" were
lobbying heavily for their release. According to a source at ABC News
close to the 20/20 report, high-profile criminal lawyer Alan Dershowitz
also stepped in as a negotiator on behalf of the men to smooth out
differences with the U.S. government. (Dershowitz declined to comment for
this article.) And so, at the end of November 2001, for reasons that only
noted they had been working in the country illegally as movers, in
violation of their visas, the men were flown home to Israel.

Today, the crucial questions raised by this matter remain unanswered.
There is sufficient reason ­- from news reports, statements by former
intelligence officials, an array of circumstantial evidence, and the
reported acknowledgment by the Israeli government -­ to believe that in
the months before 9/11, Israel was running an active spy network inside
the United States, with Muslim extremists as the target. Given Israel's
concerns about Islamic terrorism as well as its long history of spying on
U.S. soil, this does not come entirely as a shock. What's incendiary is
the idea -­ supported, though not proven, by several pieces of evidence ­-
that the Israelis did learn something about 9/11 in advance but failed to
share all of what they knew with American officials. The questions are
disturbing enough to warrant a Congressional investigation.

Yet none of this information found its way into Congress's joint committee
report on the attacks, and it was not even tangentially referenced in the
nearly 600 pages of the 9/11 Commission's final report. Nor would a single
major media outlet track the revelations of The Forward and ABC News to
investigate further. "There weren't even stories saying it was bullshit",
says The Forward's Perelman. "Honestly, I was surprised". Instead, the
story disappeared into the welter of anti-Israel 9/11 conspiracy theories.

It's no small boon to the U.S. government that the story of 9/11-related
Israeli espionage has been thus relegated: the story doesn't fit in the
clean lines of the official narrative of the attacks. It brings up
concerns not only about Israel's obligation not to spy inside the borders
of the United States, its major benefactor, but about its possible failure
to have provided the U.S. adequate warning of an impending devastating
attack on American soil. Furthermore, the available evidence undermines
the carefully cultivated image of sanctity that defines the U.S.- Israel
relationship. These are all factors that help explain the story's
disappearance, and they are compelling reasons to revisit it now.

Torpedoing the FBI Probe

All five future hijackers of American Airlines Flight 77, which rammed the
Pentagon, maintained addresses or were active within a six-mile radius of
towns associated with the Israelis employed at Urban Moving Systems.
Hudson and Bergen counties, the areas where the Israelis were allegedly
conducting surveillance, were a central staging ground for the hijackers
of Flight 77 and their fellow al-Qaeda operatives. Mohammed Atta
maintained a mail-drop address and visited friends in northern New Jersey;
his contacts there included Hani Hanjour, the suicide pilot for Flight 77,
and Majed Moqed, one of the strongmen who backed Hanjour in the seizing of
the plane. Could the Israelis, with or without knowledge of the
terrorists' plans, have been tracking the men who were soon to hijack
Flight 77?

In public statements, both the Israeli government and the FBI have denied
that the Urban Moving Systems men were involved in an intelligence
operation in the United States. "No evidence recovered suggested any of
these Israelis had prior knowledge of the 9/11 attack, and these Israelis
are not suspected of working for Mossad", FBI spokesman Jim Margolin told
me. (The Israeli embassy did not respond to questions for this article.)
According to the source at ABC News, FBI investigators chafed at the
denials from their higher-ups. "There is a lot of frustration inside the
bureau about this case", the source told me. "They feel the higher
echelons torpedoed the investigation into the Israeli New Jersey cell.
Leads were not fully investigated". Among those lost leads was the figure
of Dominik Suter, whom the U.S. authorities apparently never attempted to
contact. Intelligence expert and author James Bamford told me there was
similar frustration within the CIA: "People I've talked to at the CIA were
outraged at what was going on. They thought it was outrageous that there
hadn't been a real investigation, that the facts were hanging out there
without any conclusion."

However, what was "absolutely certain", according to Vincent Cannistraro,
was that the five Israelis formed part of a surveillance network in the
New York- New Jersey area. The network's purpose was to track radical
Islamic extremists and/or supporters of militant Palestinian groups like
Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The former CIA counterterrorism officer who spoke
anonymously told me that FBI investigators determined that the suspect
Israelis were serving as Arabic-speaking linguists "running technical
operations" in northern New Jersey's extensive Muslim communities. The
former CIA officer said the operations included taps on telephones,
placement of microphones in rooms and mobile surveillance. The source at
ABC News agreed: "Our conclusion was that they were Arab linguists
involved in monitoring operations, i.e., electronic surveillance. People
at FBI concur with this". The ABC News source added, "What we heard was
that the Israelis may have picked up chatter that something was going to
happen on the morning of 9/11″.

The former CIA counterterrorism officer told me: "There was no question
but that [the order to close down the investigation] came from the White
House. It was immediately assumed at CIA headquarters that this basically
was going to be a cover-up so that the Israelis would not be implicated in
any way in 9/11. Bear in mind that this was a political issue, not a law
enforcement or intelligence issue. If somebody says we don't want the
Israelis implicated in this ­- we know that they've been spying the hell
out of us, we know that they possibly had information in advance of the
attacks, but this would be a political nightmare to deal with."

The Israeli "Art Student" Spies

There is a second piece of evidence that suggests Israeli operatives were
spying on al-Qaeda in the United States. It is writ in the peculiar tale
of the Israeli "art students", detailed by this reporter for Salon.com in
2002, following the leaking of an internal memo circulated by the Drug
Enforcement Administration's Office of Security Programs. The June 2001
memo, issued three months before the 9/11 attacks, reported that more than
120 young Israeli citizens, posing as art students and peddling cheap
paintings, had been repeatedly ­- and seemingly inexplicably -­ attempting
to penetrate DEA offices and other law enforcement and Defense Department
offices across the country. The DEA report stated that the Israelis may
have been engaged in "an organized intelligence gathering activity", but
to what end, U.S. investigators, in June 2001, could not determine. The
memo briefly floated the possibility that the Israelis were engaged in
trafficking the drug ecstasy. According to the memo, "the most activity
[was] reported in the state of Florida" during the first half of 2001,
where the town of Hollywood appeared to be "a central point for these
individuals with several having addresses in this area".

In retrospect, the fact that a large number of "art students" operated out
of Hollywood is intriguing, to say the least. During 2001, the city, just
north of Miami, was a hotbed of al-Qaeda activity and served as one of the
chief staging grounds for the hijacking of the World Trade Center planes
and the Pennsylvania plane; it was home to fifteen of the nineteen future
hijackers, nine in Hollywood and six in the surrounding area. Among the
120 suspected Israeli spies posing as art students, more than thirty lived
in the Hollywood area, ten in Hollywood proper. As noted in the DEA
report, many of these young men and women had training as intelligence and
electronic intercept officers in the Israeli military -­ training and
experience far beyond the compulsory service mandated by Israeli law.
Their "traveling in the U.S. selling art seem[ed] not to fit their
background", according to the DEA report.

One "art student" was a former Israeli military intelligence officer named
Hanan Serfaty, who rented two Hollywood apartments close to the mail drop
and apartment of Mohammed Atta and four other hijackers. Serfaty was
moving large amounts of cash: he carried bank slips showing more than
$100,000 deposited from December 2000 through the first quarter of 2001;
other bank slips showed withdrawals for about $80,000 during the same
period. Serfaty's apartments, serving as crash pads for at least two other
"art students", were located at 4220 Sheridan Street and 701 South 21st
Avenue. Lead hijacker Mohammed Atta's mail drop was at 3389 Sheridan
Street–approximately 2,700 feet from Serfaty's Sheridan Street apartment.
Both Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi, the suicide pilot on United Airlines
Flight 175, which smashed into World Trade Center 2, lived in a rented
apartment at 1818 Jackson Street, some 1,800 feet from Serfaty's South
21st Avenue apartment.

In fact, an improbable series of coincidences emerges from a close reading
of the 2001 DEA memo, the 9/11 Commission's staff statements and final
report, FBI and Justice Department watch lists, hijacker timelines
compiled by major media and statements by local, state and federal law
enforcement personnel. In at least six urban centers, suspected Israeli
spies and 9/11 hijackers and/or al-Qaeda­connected suspects lived and
operated near one another, in some cases less than half a mile apart, for
various periods during 2000­01 in the run-up to the attacks. In addition
to northern New Jersey and Hollywood, Florida, these centers included
Arlington and Fredericksburg, Virginia; Atlanta; Oklahoma City; Los
Angeles; and San Diego.

Israeli "art students" also lived close to terror suspects in and around
Dallas, Texas. A 25-year-old "art student" named Michael Calmanovic,
arrested and questioned by Texas-based DEA officers in April 2001,
maintained a mail drop at 3575 North Beltline Road, less than a thousand
feet from the 4045 North Beltline Road apartment of Ahmed Khalefa, an FBI
terror suspect. Dallas and its environs, especially the town of
Richardson, Texas, throbbed with "art student" activity. Richardson is
notable as the home of the Holy Land Foundation, an Islamic charity
designated as a terrorist funder by the European Union and U.S. government
in December 2001. Sources in 2002 told The Forward, in a report unrelated
to the question of the "art students", that "Israeli intelligence played a
key role in helping the Bush administration to crack down on Islamic
charities suspected of funneling money to terrorist groups, most notably
the Richardson, Texas-based Holy Land Foundation, last December [2001]".
It's plausible that the intelligence prompting the shutdown of the Holy
Land Foundation came from "art student" spies in the Richardson area.

Others among the "art students" had specific backgrounds in electronic
surveillance or military intelligence, or were associated with Israeli
wiretapping and surveillance firms, which prompted further concerns among
U.S. investigators. DEA agents described Michael Calmanovic, for example,
as "a recently discharged electronic intercept operator for the Israeli
military". Lior Baram, questioned near Hollywood, Fla., in January 2001,
said he had served two years in Israeli intelligence "working with
classified information". Hanan Serfaty, who maintained the Hollywood
apartments near Atta and his cohorts, served in the Israeli military
between the ages of 18 and 21. Serfaty refused to disclose his activities
between the ages of 21 and 24, including his activities since arriving in
the U.S.A. in 2000. The French daily Le Monde meanwhile reported that six
"art students" were apparently using cell phones that had been purchased
by a former Israeli vice consul in the U.S.A.

Suspected Israeli spy Tomer Ben Dor, questioned at Dallas-Fort Worth
Airport in May 2001, worked for the Israeli wiretapping and electronic
eavesdropping company NICE Systems Ltd. (NICE Systems' American
subsidiary, NICE Systems Inc., is located in Rutherford, New Jersey, not
far from the East Rutherford site where the five Israeli "movers" were
arrested on the afternoon of September 11.) Ben Dor carried in his luggage
a print-out of a computer file that referred to "DEA Groups". How he
acquired information about so-called "DEA Groups" ­- via, for example, his
own employment with an Israeli wiretapping company -­ was never
determined, according to DEA documents.

"Art student" Michal Gal, arrested by DEA investigators in Irving, Texas,
in the spring of 2001, was released on a $10,000 cash bond posted by Ophir
Baer, an employee of the Israeli telecommunications software company
Amdocs Inc., which provides phone-billing technology to clients that
include some of the largest phone companies in the United States as well
as U.S. government agencies. Amdocs, whose executive board has been
heavily stocked with retired and current members of the Israeli government
and military, has been investigated at least twice in the last decade by
U.S. authorities on charges of espionage-related leaks of data that the
company assured was secure. (The company strenuously denies any

According to the former CIA counterterrorism officer with knowledge of
investigations into 9/11-related Israeli espionage, when law enforcement
officials examined the "art students" phenomenon, they came to the
tentative conclusion that "the Israelis likely had a huge spy operation in
the U.S. and that they had succeeded in identifying a number of the
hijackers". The German daily Die Zeit reached the same conclusion in 2002,
reporting that "Mossad agents in the U.S. were in all probability
surveilling at least four of the 19 hijackers". The Fox News Channel also
reported that U.S. investigators suspected that Israelis were spying on
Muslim militants in the United States. "There is no indication that the
Israelis were involved in the 9/11 attacks, but investigators suspect that
the Israelis may have gathered intelligence about the attacks in advance,
and not shared it", Fox correspondent Carl Cameron reported in a December
2001 series that was the first major exposé of allegations of 9/11-related
Israeli espionage. "A highly placed investigator said there are 'tie-ins'.
But when asked for details, he flatly refused to describe them, saying,
'evidence linking these Israelis to 9/11 is classified. I cannot tell you
about evidence that has been gathered. It's classified information.'"

One element of the allegations has never been clearly understood: if the
"art students" were indeed spies targeting Muslim extremists that included
al-Qaeda, why would they also be surveilling DEA agents in such a
compromising manner? Why, in other words, would foreign spies bumble into
federal offices by the scores and risk exposing their operation? An
explanation is that a number of the art students were, in fact, young
Israelis engaged in a mere art scam and unknowingly provided cover for
real spies. Investigative journalist John Sugg, who as senior editor for
the Creative Loafing newspaper chain reported on the "art students" in
2002, told me that investigators he spoke to within FBI felt the "art
student" ring functioned as a wide-ranging cover that was counterintuitive
in its obviousness. DEA investigators, for example, uncovered evidence
connecting the Israeli "art students" to known ecstasy trafficking
operations in New York and Florida. This was, according to Sugg, planted
information. "The explanation was that when our FBI guys started getting
interested in these folks [the art students] ­- when they got too close to
what the real purpose was ­- the Israelis threw in an ecstasy angle", Sugg
told me. "The argument being that if our guys thought the Israelis were
involved in a smuggling ring, then they wouldn't see the real purpose of
the operation". Sugg, who is writing a book that explores the tale of the
"art students", told me that several sources within the FBI, and at least
one source formerly with Israeli intelligence, suggested that "the
bumbling aspect of the art student thing was intentional."

When I reported on the matter for Salon.com in 2002, a veteran U.S.
intelligence operative with experience subcontracting both for the CIA and
the NSA suggested a similar possibility. "It was a noisy operation", the
veteran intelligence operative said. The operative referred me to the film
Victor, Victoria. "It was about a woman playing a man playing a woman.
Perhaps you should think about this from that aspect and ask yourself if
you wanted to have something that was in your face, that didn't make
sense, that couldn't possibly be them". The intelligence operative added,
"Think of it this way: how could the experts think this could actually be
something of any value? Wouldn't they dismiss what they were seeing?" U.S.
and Israeli officials, dismissing charges of espionage as an "urban myth",
have publicly claimed that the Israeli "art students" were guilty only of
working on U.S. soil without proper credentials. The stern denials issued
by the Justice Department were widely publicized in the Washington Post
and elsewhere, and the endnote from officialdom and in establishment media
by the spring of 2002 was that the "art students" had been rounded up and
deported simply because of harmless visa violations. The FBI, for its
part, refused to confirm or deny the "art students" espionage story.
"Regarding FBI investigations into Israeli art students", spokesman Jim
Margolin told me, "the FBI cannot comment on any of those investigations."
As with the New Jersey Israelis, the investigation into the Israeli "art
students" appears to have been halted by orders from on high. The veteran
CIA/NSA intelligence operative told me in 2002 that there was "a great
press to discredit the story, discredit the connections, prevent
[investigators] from going any further. People were told to stand down.
You name the agency, they were told to stand down". The operative added,
"People who were perceived to be gumshoes on [this matter] suddenly found
themselves hammered from all different directions. The interest from the
middle bureaucracy was not that there had been a security breach but that
someone had bothered to investigate the breach. That was where the terror

Choking off the press coverage

There was similar pressure brought against the media venues that ventured
to report out the allegations of 9/11- related Israeli espionage. A former
ABC News employee high up in the network newsroom told me that when ABC
News ran its June 2002 exposé on the celebratory New Jersey Israelis,
"Enormous pressure was brought to bear by pro-Israeli organizations"–and
this pressure began months before the piece was even close to airing. The
source said that ABC News colleagues wondered, "how they [the pro-Israel
organizations] found out we were doing the story. Pro- Israeli people were
calling the president of ABC News. Barbara Walters was getting bombarded
by calls. The story was a hard sell but ABC News came through the
management insulated [reporters] from the pressure".

The experience of Carl Cameron, chief Washington correspondent at Fox News
Channel and the first mainstream U.S. reporter to present the allegations
of Israeli surveillance of the 9/11 hijackers, was perhaps more typical,
both in its particulars and aftermath. The attack against Cameron and Fox
News was spearheaded by a pro-Israel lobby group called the Committee for
Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), which operated in
tandem with the two most highly visible powerhouse Israel lobbyists, the
Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the American Israel Public Affairs
Committee (itself currently embroiled in a spy scandal connected to the
Defense Department and Israeli Embassy). "CAMERA pep- pered the shit out
of us", Carl Cameron told me in 2002, referring to an e-mail bombardment
that eventually crashed the Fox News.com servers. Cameron himself received
700 pages of almost identical e-mail messages from hundreds of citizens
(though he suspected these were spam identities). CAMERA spokesman Alex
Safian later told me that Cameron's upbringing in Iran, where his father
traveled as an archeologist, had rendered the reporter "very sympathetic
to the Arab side". Safian added, "I think Cameron, personally, has a thing
about Israel"–coded language implying that Cameron was an anti-Semite.
Cameron was outraged at the accusation.

According to a source at Fox News Channel, the president of the ADL,
Abraham Foxman, telephoned executives at Fox News' parent, News Corp., to
demand a sit-down in the wake of the Cameron reportage. The source said
that Foxman told the News Corp. executives, "Look, you guys have generally
been pretty fair to Israel. What are you doing putting this stuff out
there? You're killing us". The Fox News source continued, "As good old
boys will do over coffee in Manhattan, it was like, well, what can we do
about this? Finally, Fox News said, 'Stop the e-mailing. Stop slamming us.
Stop being in our face, and we'll stop being in your face–by way of taking
our story down off the web. We will not retract it; we will not disavow
it; we stand by it. But we will at least take it off the web.'" Following
this meeting, within four days of the posting of Cameron's series on Fox
News.com, the transcripts disappeared, replaced by the message, "This
story no longer exists".

What did Mossad know and tell the U.S.?

Whether or not Israeli spies had detailed foreknowledge of the 9/11
attacks, the Israeli authorities knew enough to warn the U.S. government
in the summer of 2001 that an attack was on the horizon. The British
Sunday Telegraph reported on September 16, 2001, that two senior agents
with the Mossad were dispatched to Washington in August 2001 "to alert the
CIA and FBI to the existence of a cell of as many as 200 terrorists said
to be preparing a big operation". The Telegraph quoted a "senior Israeli
security official" as saying the Mossad experts had "no specific
information about what was being planned". Still, the official told the
Telegraph, the Mossad contacts had "linked the plot to Osama bin Laden".
Likewise, Die Zeit correspondent Oliver Schröm reported that on August 23,
2001, the Mossad "handed its American counterpart a list of names of
terrorists who were staying in the U.S. and were presumably planning to
launch an attack in the foreseeable future". Fox News' Carl Cameron, in
May 2002, also reported warnings by Israel: "Based on its own
intelligence, the Israeli government provided 'general' information to the
United States in the second week of August that an al-Qaeda attack was
imminent". The U.S. government later claimed these warnings were not
specific enough to allow any mitigating action to be taken. Mossad expert
Gordon Thomas, author of Gideon's Spies, says German intelligence sources
told him that as late as August 2001 Israeli spies in the United States
had made surveillance contacts with "known supporters of bin Laden in the
U.S.A. It was those surveillance contacts that later raised the question:
how much prior knowledge did Mossad have and at what stage?"

According to Die Zeit, the Mossad did provide the U.S. government with the
names of suspected terrorists Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi, who
would eventually hijack the Pentagon plane. It is worth noting that
Mihdhar and Hazmi were among the hijackers who operated in close proximity
to Israeli "art students" in Hollywood, Florida, and to the Urban Moving
Systems Israelis in northern New Jersey. Moreover, Hazmi and at least
three "art students" visited Oklahoma City on almost the same dates, from
April 1 through April 4, 2001. On August 24, 2001, a day after the
Mossad's briefing, Mihdhar and Hazmi were placed by the CIA on a terrorist
watch list; additionally, it was only after the Mossad warning, as
reported by Die Zeit, that the CIA, on August 27, informed the FBI of the
presence of the two terrorists. But by then the cell was already in
hiding, preparing for attack.

The CIA, along with the 9/11 Commission in its adoption of the CIA story,
claims that Mihdhar and Hazmi were placed on the watch list solely due to
the agency's own efforts, with no help from Mossad. Their explanation of
how the pair came to be placed on the watch list, however, is far from
credible and may have served as a cover story to obscure the Mossad
briefing [See Ketcham's sidebar story — "The Kuala Lumpur Deceit"]. This
brings up the possibility that the CIA may have known about the existence
of the alleged Israeli agents and their mission, but sought, naturally, to
keep it quiet. A second, more troubling scenario, is that the CIA may have
subcontracted to Mossad, given that the agency was both prohibited by law
from conducting intelligence operations on U.S. soil, and lacked a pool of
competent Arabic-fluent field officers. In such a scenario, the CIA would
either have worked actively with the Israelis or quietly abetted an
independent operation on U.S. soil. In his 9/11 investigative book, The
Looming Tower, author Lawrence Wright notes that FBI counterterrorism
agents, infuriated at the CIA's failure to fully share information about
Mihdhar and Hazmi, speculated that "the agency was shielding Mihdhar and
Hazmi because it hoped to recruit them". The two al-Qaeda men, Wright
notes, "must have seemed like attractive opportunities; however, once they
entered the United States they were the province of the FBI…" Wright
further observes that the CIA's reticence to share its information was due
to a fear "that prosecutions resulting from specific intelligence might
compromise its relationship with foreign services". When in the spring of
2002 the scenario of CIA's domestic subcontracting to foreign intelligence
was posed to the veteran CIA/NSA intelligence operative, with whom I spoke
extensively, the operative didn't reject it out of hand. The operative
noted that in recent years the CIA's human intelligence assets, known as
"humint" ­- spooks on the ground who conduct surveillances, make contacts,
and infiltrate the enemy ­- had been "eviscerated" in favor of the NSA's
far less perilous "sigint", or signals intelligence program, the remote
interception of electronic communications. As a result, "U.S. intelligence
finds itself going back to sources that you may not necessarily like to go
back to, but are required to", the veteran intelligence operative said.
"We don't like the fact, but our humint structures are gone. Israeli
intel's humint is as strong as ever. If you have an intel gap, those gaps
are not closed overnight. It takes years and years of diligent work, a
high degree of security, talented and dedicated people, willing management
and a steady hand. It is not a fun business, and it's certainly not one
without its dangers. If you lose that capability, well organizations find
themselves having to make a pact with the devil. The problem [in U.S.
intel] is very great".

If such an understanding did exist between CIA and Mossad with regard to
al-Qaeda's U.S. operatives, the complicity would explain a number of
oddities: it would explain the CIA's nearly incoherent, and perhaps
purposely deceptive, reconstruction of events as to how Mihdhar and Hazmi
joined the watch list; it might even explain the apparent brazenness of
the Israeli New Jersey cell celebrating on the morning of 9/11 (protected
under the CIA wing, they were free to behave as they pleased). It would
also explain the assertion in one of the leading Israeli dailies, Yedioth
Ahronoth, that in the months prior to 9/11, when the Israeli "art
students" were being identified and rounded up, the CIA "actively promoted
their expulsion". The implication in the Yedioth Ahronoth article was that
the CIA was simply being careless, not trying to spirit the Israelis
safely out of the country. At this point we cannot be certain.

Israeli spying against the U.S. is of course hotly denied by both
governments. In 2002, responding to my own questions about the "art
students", Israeli embassy spokesman Mark Regev issued a blanket denial.
"Israel does not spy on the United States", Regev told me. The
pronouncements from officialdom are strictly pro forma, as it is no secret
that spying by Israel on the United States has been wide-ranging and
unabashed. A 1996 General Accounting Office report, for example, found
that Israel "conducts the most aggressive espionage operation against the
United States of any U.S. ally". More recently, a former intelligence
official told the Los Angeles Times in 2004 that "[t]here is a huge,
aggressive, ongoing set of Israeli activities directed against the United
States". It is also routine that Israeli spying is ignored or downplayed
by the U.S. government (the case of convicted spy Jonathan Pollard,
sentenced to life in prison in 1986, is a dramatic exception). According
to the American Prospect, over the last 20 years at least six sealed
indictments have been issued against individuals allegedly spying "on
Israel's behalf", but the cases were resolved "through diplomatic and
intelligence channels" rather than a public airing in the courts. Career
Justice Department and intelligence officials who track Israeli espionage
told the Prospect of "long-standing frustration among investigators and
prosecutors who feel that cases that could have been made successfully
against Israeli spies were never brought to trial, or that the
investigations were shut down prematurely".

The Questions That Await Answers

Remarkably, the Urban Moving Systems Israelis, when interrogated by the
FBI, explained their motives for "celebration" on the New Jersey
waterfront a celebration that consisted of cheering, smiling, shooting
film with still and video cameras and, according to the FBI, "high-fiving"
­- in the Machiavellian light of geopolitics. "Their explanation of why
they were happy", FBI spokesman Margolin told me, "was that the United
States would now have to commit itself to fighting [Middle East]
terrorism, that Americans would have an understanding and empathy for
Israel's circumstances, and that the attacks were ultimately a good thing
for Israel". When reporters on the morning of 9/11 asked former Israeli
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about the effect the attacks would have
on Israeli- American relations, he responded with a similar gut analysis:
"It's very good", he remarked. Then he amended the statement: "Well, not
very good, but it will generate immediate sympathy [for Israel from

What is perhaps most damning is that the Israelis' celebration on the New
Jersey waterfront occurred in the first sixteen minutes after the initial
crash, when no one was aware this was a terrorist attack. In other words,
from the time the first plane hit the north tower, at 8:46 a.m., to the
time the second plane hit the south tower, at 9:02 a.m., the overwhelming
assumption of news outlets and government officials was that the plane's
impact was simply a terrible accident. It was only after the second plane
hit that suspicions were aroused. Yet if the men were cheering for
political reasons, as they reportedly told the FBI, they obviously
believed they were witnessing a terrorist act, and not an accident.

After returning safely to Israel in the late autumn of 2001, three of the
five New Jersey Israelis spoke on a national talk show that winter. Oded
Ellner, who on the afternoon of September 11 had, like his compatriots,
protested to arresting officer Sgt. Dennis Rivelli that "we're Israeli",
admitted to the interviewer: "We are coming from a country that
experiences terror daily. Our purpose was to document the event". By his
own admission, then, Ellner stood on the New Jersey waterfront documenting
with film and video a terrorist act before anyone knew it was a terrorist

One obvious question among many comes to mind: If these men were trained
as professional spies, why did they exhibit such outright oafishness at
the moment of truth on the waterfront? The ABC network source close to the
20/20 report noted one of the more disturbing explanations proffered by
counterintelligence investigators at the FBI: "The Israelis felt that in
some way their intelligence had worked out ­- i.e., they were celebrating
their own acumen and ability as intelligence agents".

The questions abound: Did the Urban Moving Systems Israelis, ready to
"document the event", arrive at the waterfront before the first plane came
in from the north? And if they arrived right after, why did they believe
it was a terrorist attack? What about the strange tale of the "art
students"? Could they have been mere hustlers, as they claimed, who ended
up repeatedly crossing paths with federal agents and living next door to
most of the 9/11 hijackers by coincidence? Did the Israeli authorities
find out more about the impending attacks than they shared with their U.S.
counterparts? Or did the Israeli spies on the ground only intercept vague
chatter that, in their view, did not warrant breaking cover to share the
information? On the other hand, did the U.S. government receive more
advance information about the attacks from Israeli authorities than it is
willing to admit? What about the 9/11 Commission's eliding of reported
Israeli warnings that may have led to the watch- listing of Mihdhar and
Hazmi? Were the Israeli warnings purposely washed from the historical
record? Did the CIA know more about pre-9/11 Israeli spying than it has

The unfortunate fact is that the truth may never be uncovered, not by
officialdom, and certainly not by a passive press. James Bamford, who in a
coup of reporting during the 1980s revealed the inner workings of the NSA
in The Puzzle Palace, points to the "key problem": "The Israelis were all
sent out of the country", he says. "There's no nexus left. The FBI just
can't go knocking on doors in Israel. They need to work with the State
Department. They need letters rogatory, where you ask a government of a
foreign country to get answers from citizens in that country". The Israeli
government will not likely comply. So any investigation "is now that much
more complicated", says Bamford. He recalls a story he produced for ABC
News concerning two murder suspects — U.S. citizens ­- who fled to Israel
and fought extradition for ten years. "The Israelis did nothing about it
until I went to Israel, knocking on doors, and finally found the two
suspects. I think it'd be a great idea to go over and knock on their
doors", says Bamford.

The suspects are gone. The trail is cold. Yet many of the key facts and
promising leads sit freely on the web, in the archives, safe in the
news-morgues at 20/20 and The Forward and Die Zeit. An investigator close
to the matter says it reminds him of the Antonioni film "Blow-Up", a movie
about a photographer who discovers the evidence of a covered-up murder
hidden before his very eyes in the frame of an enlarged photograph. It's a
mystery that no one appears eager to solve.

See Also:

The Kuala Lumpur Deceit: a CIA Cover Up by Christopher Ketcham

Ketcham's Story: Coming in From the Cold by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey
St. Clair

Christopher Ketcham is a freelance journalist who has written for Harper's
and Salon. Many of his writings, including his groundbreaking story on the
Israeli art students, can be read on his website

www.christopherketcham.com. He can be reached at: cketcham99 ==at==

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posted by u2r2h at Saturday, April 14, 2007 1 comments

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