30 April, 2008

11 year jail for refusing testimony

Muslims dismayed by excessive sentence of Ashqar

By Abdus Sattar Ghazali

November 21, 2007 . Council on American-Muslim Relations, a leading civic rights group, today expressed dismay at the more than 11 year sentence given to Dr. Abdelhaleem Ashqar, a Palestinian-American and former professor at Washington's Howard University, for refusing to testify before a grand jury looking into possible terror financing in the Middle East.

In Chicago, U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve today sentenced Abdelhaleem Ashqar to more than 11 years in prison and fined $5,000 for refusing to testify before the federal grand jury.

Although a jury in February this year acquitted Dr. Ashqar of all terror-related charges, the federal prosecution sought a life term, a sentence that would not normally be imposed unless he had been convicted of the most serious charge against him.

Before being sentenced, Dr. Ashqar delivered a nearly two-hour passionate statement describing the suffering of Palestinian people under the Israeli occupation.

He said he would rather go to prison than betray his people as they strive to free themselves from Israeli occupation. "The only option was to become a traitor or collaborator and that is something that I can't do and will never do as long as I live," he told the court.

"We are dismayed that the judge's sentence apparently ignores Dr. Ashqar's acquittal on the most serious charges and instead reflects a prison term that could only have been imposed if he had actually been convicted of those charges," said CAIR-Chicago Executive Director Ahmed Rehab. "The excessive sentence is not in the spirit of the American justice system."

"This apparently politically-motivated sentence sends the unfortunate message that when American Muslims are involved, a jury's decision may be ignored," said CAIR-Chicago Civil Rights Coordinator Christina Abraham.

Ashqar was convicted earlier this year of criminal contempt and obstruction of justice for refusing to testify in 2003 before a grand jury investigating the Palestinian militant movement Hamas.

He and co-defendant Muhammad Salah were acquitted of taking part in a racketeering conspiracy aimed at bankrolling Hamas militants. But prosecutors presented telephone records showing that Ashqar was in contact with Hamas leaders.

Federal prosecutors said that Ashqar's refusal to testify made it harder to investigate violent crimes committed by Hamas. Some coded messages that if understood might help to prevent acts of terrorism remain incomprehensible to investigators, prosecutors said.

"A man who knows (the meaning) is sitting right across the room but he won't tell us," Assistant U.S. Attorney Reid J. Schar told U.S. District Judge Amy J. St. Eve.

St. Eve said that Ashqar's refusal to testify was motivated by a desire to "promote terrorism." That toughened the federal sentencing guidelines and guaranteed that he would get a stiff sentence.

Defense attorneys said St. Eve imposed an unusually stiff sentence on Ashqar given the complex political background. In addition to 135 months in prison he was given a $5,000 fine.

"This is an obscene sentence," said Michael E. Deutsch, an attorney for Salah, who was convicted of lying on a document and sentenced to 22 months in prison. Deutsch said five years was the most he had expected.

Deutsch noted that another man, Sharif Alwan, who refused to testify before a grand jury in the same investigation was sentenced to two years.

Ashqar attorney William Moffitt compared his client with Nelson Mandela who served 27 years in South Africa.

In a similar case, Dr. Sami Al-Arian, former Florida University Professor, is refusing to testify before the Alexandria, Va.-based grand jury. Though a Florida jury acquitted him or deadlocked on all counts in 2005, the Feds kept him in prison.

Faced with a retrial, Al-Arian agreed last year to plead guilty to the least serious charge in exchange for what was supposed to be a small addition sentence and his deportation. But Al-Arian's nightmare continues. First, federal Judge James Moody ignored prosecutors' recommendations and sentenced Al-Arian to the maximum possible.

Under the longer sentence, Al-Arian's release was set for April 13, 2007. But he is now facing an indefinite extension of his prison sentence.

Last year, Gordon Kromberg, the assistant U.S. attorney for the eastern district of Virginia, had Al-Arian transferred to Virginia to testify in an investigation into a Muslim charity there--despite an agreement with Florida prosecutors, recorded in court transcripts, that he would be exempt from future testimony.

When he refused to testify, Al-Arian was found guilty of civil contempt--adding an additional 18 months onto his sentence and opening up the possibility that the government can keep him in prison indefinitely by extending the contempt charge, which the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld.

The U.S. government has gone out of its way to make an example of outspoken advocates for Palestinian rights.

http://www.amperspective.com/html/ashqar_sentenced.html

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posted by u2r2h at Wednesday, April 30, 2008 0 comments links to this post

28 April, 2008

Baghdad Green Zone - BLOODBATH

4 US soldiers killed; militants shell Green Zone

By SLOBODAN LEKIC -- 1 hour ago


On Monday, 30 Iraqi lawmakers from various political parties urged Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to end the monthlong confrontation, saying innocent civilians and children were the main victims of the fighting.

Their appeal came after U.S. forces, backed by Abrams tanks and Bradley armored personnel carriers, fired on insurgents positions in Sadr City. The military said 38 militants were killed. Iraqi health officials said 58 people, including five children and eight women, were injured.

Bombardments by suspected militants killed four U.S. soldiers Monday as troops tried to push Shiite fighters farther from the U.S.-protected Green Zone and out of range of their rockets and mortars.

The near-daily shelling of the Green Zone has become acutely embarrassing for both Iraqi authorities and the U.S. military.

At least 44 American soldiers have been killed in Iraq in April, making it the deadliest month for U.S. forces since September.

The U.S. military said three soldiers were killed in eastern Baghdad by indirect fire, a reference to mortars or rockets. The statement did not give an exact location for the attack, but the Shiite stronghold of Sadr City has been the scene of intense fighting recently with Shiite militiamen.

A fourth U.S. soldier was killed by a shell in western Baghdad, the military said.

A showdown between the Iraqi government and the Mahdi Army . led by anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr . has increasingly drawn U.S. forces into the battles. American commanders are particularly focused on trying to curb a rise in mortar and rocket attacks on the Green Zone.

At least three more salvos hit the Green Zone in central Baghdad, but there were no reports of injuries. In Sadr City . the stronghold of the Mahdi Army militia . U.S. soldiers battled deeper into the district a day after fierce clashes that killed at least 38 suspected militants, the military said.

U.S. soldiers killed seven more extremists Monday after coming under small-arms fire in Sadr City, the military said. Four of the suspects were killed in an airstrike and three others by an Abrams tank crew, according to a statement.


The fighting erupted after militants took advantage of a sandstorm to unleash a barrage of 107 mm rockets and 82 mm mortar shells at the Green Zone, which includes the U.S. and British embassies and some key Iraqi government offices.


Rather than mount an all-out assault, U.S. commanders have tried to limit the shelling by walling off the southern third of Sadr City and trying to put the Green Zone out of range of light rockets and mortars.

107 mm Katyushas have a range of about five miles, while 82 mm mortars can exceed three miles. Much of the Green Zone is more than five miles from firing positions beyond the new wall.

"It's a tried and true strategy that we'll continue to prosecute here because it has worked well in other locations, and we think it'll work well here," said Brig. Gen. Will Grimsley, an assistant division commander.

Col. John Hort, who commands U.S. troops on the southern edge of Sadr City, said the heavy sandstorm sharply limits sensors and targeting lasers on helicopters and unmanned drones used to identify firing positions.

The Price Of An Iraqi Child.s Life - 3.5p

It is an awesome fact that the war has so far forced one out of every eight Iraqis, more than 3.7 million people, to flee their homes, according to the United Nations (http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/ meast/01/08/iraq.refugees/index.html). Of these, 2 million have left the country while another 1.7 million have been internally displaced. Some 40 per cent of the professional middle class has left the country since 2003. It was recently estimated that of the 34,000 doctors present in 2003, 12,000 have now emigrated and 2,000 have been murdered. (http://web.mit.edu/CIS/pdf/ Human_Cost_of_War.pdf.)

According to the Iraqi Ministry of Water Resources, just 32 per cent of the Iraqi population has access to clean drinking water, 19 per cent has access to a functional sewage system. (IRIN, .Water shortage leads people to drink from rivers,. February 18, 2007; http://www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=70243)

Dr Abdul-Rahman Adil Ali of the Baghdad Health Directorate warned of the dire consequences:

"As the sewage system has collapsed, all residents are threatened with gastroenteritis, typhoid fever, cholera, diarrhoea and hepatitis. In some of Baghdad's poor neighbourhoods, people drink water which is mixed with sewage." (IRIN, .Iraq: Disease alert after sewage system collapses,. http://newsite.irinnews.org/ Report.aspx?ReportId=64375)

A February 9 Financial Times editorial commented: .what we should all be scandalised by is how little the two countries most responsible for the Iraq misadventure - the US and the UK - are doing to alleviate this crisis.. (.Iraq.s refugee crisis is nearing catastrophe,. The Financial Times; http://www.ft.com/cms/s/ aa8d01c8-b7c3-11db-bfb3-0000779e2340.html)


19JAN2007

nearly 100 eminent doctors, backed by a group of international lawyers, sent a letter to Tony Blair describing conditions in Iraqi hospitals as a breach of the Geneva conventions requiring Britain and the US, as occupying forces, to protect human life. The signatories include Iraqi doctors, British doctors who have worked in Iraqi hospitals, and leading UK consultants and GPs. The doctors describe desperate shortages causing "hundreds" of children to die in hospitals. Babies are being ventilated using a plastic tube in their noses and dying for lack of an oxygen mask, while other babies are dying because of the lack of a phial of vitamin K or sterile needles, items all costing just 95p. Hospitals are unable to stop fatal infections spreading from baby to baby for want of surgical gloves, which cost 3.5p a pair. The doctors commented in the letter:

"Sick or injured children who could otherwise be treated by simple means are left to die in hundreds because they do not have access to basic medicines or other resources. Children who have lost hands, feet and limbs are left without prostheses. Children with grave psychological distress are left untreated." (http://news.independent.co.uk/ world/middle_east/article2165471.ece)

They added that the UK, as one of the occupying powers under UN resolution 1483, is obliged to comply with the Geneva and Hague conventions that require the UK and the US to "maintain order and to look after the medical needs of the population". But, the doctors noted: "This they failed to do and the knock-on effect of this failure is affecting Iraqi children's hospitals with increasing ferocity."

A delegation of these doctors asked to meet Hilary Benn, Britain.s Secretary of State for International Development. Stop The War reported the results:

.They [the doctors] have been told that Mr Benn cannot spare the time. He has refused their request for the UK to organise an immediate delivery of basic medical supplies for premature babies to just one of these hospitals, the Diwanyah Maternity Hospital located 80 kilometres south of Baghdad.. (Stop The War, press release, February 3, 2007)


April 10, 2006
IRAQ BODY COUNT - A SHAME BECOMING SHAMEFUL
John Pilger And A Leading Epidemiologist Challenge IBC


Noam Chomsky once observed:

"If you are not offending people who ought to be offended, you're doing something wrong."
(www.journalism.sfsu.edu/www/pubs/gater/spring95/apr27/chom.htm)

One indication that the Iraq Body Count (IBC) project is doing something wrong is that it is deemed, not merely inoffensive, but is eagerly embraced by people who really ought to be offended.

Consider Herald Sun journalist Adam Bolt, described by John Pilger as .the lowest of journalism's low, an extreme right wing and aggressively idiotic member of Murdoch's dominant press group in Australia.. (Email to Media Lens, April 4, 2006)

Bolt.s recent article, .Body of evidence,. provides a jaw-dropping display of propaganda. Bolt asserts, for example, that Saddam Hussein .claimed on average between 90 and 120 victims each day. Every day. For 24 years. That's three or four times higher than the daily deaths in fighting in Iraq today.. (Bolt, .Body of evidence,. Herald Sun, March 22, 2006; www.heraldsun.news.com.au/printpage/0,5481,18552865,00.html)

While this is sheer fantasy, Bolt +does+ accurately cite IBC.s maximum tally for reported civilian deaths by mid-March - 37,800 - to make his point:

.It is a shocking loss of life, but see how many more Saddam killed or ordered to their death each day..

Elsewhere, a Media Lens reader challenged one G. Jefferson Price III - an editor at the Baltimore Sun - on his reference to the claim that there have been .about 35,000 Iraqi dead. (www.commondreams.org/views06/0404-21.htm). Our reader suggested to Jefferson Price that, assuming IBC had been the source of his figure, he should be aware that IBC.s methodology and figures have been subject to challenge. Jefferson Price responded:

.Thank you for your note. I will definitely take that into account the next time. I've used the 35,000 figure because that is the lowest number but still, tragically, too high.. (Forwarded to Media Lens, April 6, 2006)

One hardly knows whether to laugh or cry! Instead, we asked Jefferson Price why he felt the need to choose .the lowest number. - we received no reply.

Sometimes the use of IBC.s figures borders on the surreal. The website of the Liberal Democrat party - which proudly proclaims its opposition to the war - currently features this comment:

.Well over 15,000 Iraqi civilians have died, and thousands more injured . in military operations and the ensuing insurgency. (Figures correct to February 16th 2006.). (www.libdems.org.uk/internationalaffairs/issues/iraq.html)

When challenged, a Lib Dem press person pleaded ignorance other than to say .the number comes from a site on the
internet.. (Email from Gabriele Zamparini, April 7, 2006)

It certainly does - it comes from IBC in early December 2004 - some 16 months ago!

These uses of IBC.s figures give the lie to the website.s sole substantive response to criticisms we have made in our Media Alerts. The comments appear on page 14 of a recent addition to their website:

"Somewhat more surprising are approaches to our work from some sectors of the political left, who take the difference between our total and that of the .Lancet study. to indicate that we are witting or unwitting lackeys of the Pentagon in helping them massage the figures downwards: (See, for instance, .Paved with Good Intentions: Iraq Body Count. (David Edwards, Medialens.org, January 25 2006). We are particularly surprised at this line of argument, because all but a handful of media commentaries use our figures - appropriately - as a means of highlighting the tragedy of the civilian death toll, rather than to engage in a comparison between different estimates." (www.iraqbodycount.net/onibc)

This is truly shocking. First, comparisons are extremely common. Consider recent comments made by Helen Boaden, the BBC.s director of news:

.The Lancet study is a snapshot taken more than 18 months ago and though the methodology has been widely acknowledged as standard, there has been argument about whether the sampling method is the most appropriate for this kind of survey... I have also consulted our specialist in our analysis and research department and we conclude that the best source is probably the Iraq Body Count website." (Email to Media Lens, March 31, 2006)

Second, as the Bolt and Lib Dem examples indicate, any number of politicians and journalists, particularly of the pro-war variety, have leapt on IBC.s figures precisely to +downplay+ the tragedy of the civilian death toll. They are using the lowest number they can find to suggest, for example, that the results of the invasion have been far less severe than the consequences of leaving Saddam Hussein in power.

As Stephen Soldz has commented: .That IBC misses this elementary point is quite disturbing. I would have to put on my psychoanalyst hat to speculate as to why this is the case.. (Soldz, .Iraq Body Count replies to critics but ignores criticism,. March 29, 2006; http://psychoanalystsopposewar.org/blog/
2006/03/29/iraq-body-count-replies-to-critics-but-
ignores-criticism/)
.Run By Amateurs. - A Professional Epidemiologist Speaks

IBC insist that they do not have the resources to challenge the use and abuse of their figures by incompetents and cynics in the media. Even accepting this argument at face value, questions remain.

Is the IBC project characterised by flaws and oversights that have helped make it serviceable to power? Is it in fact right for IBC to present itself as a rigorously scientific enterprise? Could it be much more scientific, much more professional, and as a result less open to cynical use and abuse? Could its propaganda value be, in part, the result of IBC personnel being scientifically out of their depth?

One of the world.s leading professional epidemiologists, who has chosen to speak anonymously, has this to say:

.IBC is run by amateurs. It is easy to calculate the sensitivity of their surveillance system. They would take another list or independent sample, and see the fraction of that sample that appeared in their data base. I have asked them to do this over a year ago, they have not.

.There are other databases out there (NCCI being the most complete), they could do a capture-recapture analysis (as lots of experts have been calling for) and see how many people have died but they have not.

.Attached is a graph [not included here] of deaths in Guatemala from 1960 to 1995 put together by Patrick Ball at UC Berkeley. Murders are with the black line, the % reported in the press with the dashed line. Note, when violence goes up, reporting in the press goes down. I have calibrated surveillance systems during times of war (always in Africa admittedly) and would be astonished if their system could capture 50% of deaths.

.In Saddam's time, morgues + hospital reports + death certificates reported to the central Gov. only accounted for about 1/3 of the deaths that must have been occurring in Iraq. There have now been 15,000 excess violent deaths just in the Baghdad Morgues! If Baghdad is about 1/5th of the country, and the morgues do not capture all deaths, what does this imply... the UNDP number (more than twice IBC at the time it was done) is known by the authors to be an underestimate and was based on a couple of questions out of a long (88 min.?) interview.. (Email to Media Lens, March 23, 2006)

What does it tell us that, according to this leading epidemiologist, the organisation providing the most commonly cited figures for civilian deaths in Iraq - one of the most important political issues of our time - is .run by amateurs.?

How many journalists are aware that IBC is not in fact run by professional epidemiologists? What would we say if, in discussing climate change, politicians and journalists consistently highlighted information supplied by a group deemed by professional climate scientists to be .amateurs.?

And why have the amateurs at IBC not responded to elementary suggestions made by professional experts in the field to test the accuracy of their surveillance system? Why were the two suggestions described above not pursued? Why is the graph of deaths in Guatemala not available on the IBC site and its implications for the project explored? What, again, would we say of amateur climate researchers who failed to respond to such obvious suggestions and points made by eminent, professional climate scientists?

We asked IBC co-founder John Sloboda (April 6) if it was true that IBC had not responded to the above suggestions. Sloboda responded:

Dear Davids,

Thanks for your letter.

Unfortunately the events of the last three months have convinced us that direct correspondence with you is unproductive. We've said it before, and we say it again, though we do so with regret.

Yours sincerely,

John Sloboda (April 7, 2006)

Isn.t it clear that none of the above questions have been investigated or deemed to matter by our media for the simple reason that powerful interests care so much about the dead of Iraq? That is, they care deeply that the true number of dead be +obscured+ as far as possible. Isn.t it clear that this is why the lowest suggested tally for Iraqi dead - however flawed, however amateurish - has sailed effortlessly through the propaganda filters and biases protecting the powerful?

One remarkable consequence is that IBC is able to pass judgement on the work of leading experts in the field. The November 2004 report estimating 100,000 excess civilian deaths was produced by some of the world.s premier research organisations - the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Columbia University, and Baghdad's Al-Mustansiriya University - and published in the prestigious science journal, The Lancet, following an intensive peer-review process. And yet it is of this report that the amateurs at IBC declared in March:

.We have little confidence in the estimates based on the Lancet study and recent extrapolations, for the reasons explained. We think that the UNDP study offers a more reliable estimate for the period covered by the Lancet, and one which is not inconsistent with the type of data we have gathered. (para 6.0 a of .On IBC.)..

This was written by John Sloboda, a professor of psychology at the University of Keele, described on his university website as .internationally known for his work on the psychology of music. (www.keele.ac.uk/depts/ps/jasbiog.htm). The second author is listed as Hamit Dardagan, described on the IBC site as .a freelance researcher currently working in London. He has made an in-depth study of the research methods of Professor Marc Herold, who pioneered a media-based methodology for estimating civilian deaths in the Afghan war of 2001-2.. (www.iraqbodycount.org/contacts.php)
A Shame Becoming Shameful - John Pilger Challenges John Sloboda

On March 15, in response to our earlier Media Alerts, John Pilger wrote to John Sloboda:

Dear John

I hope this finds you well. Congratulations on the good work IBC did in the early days when others shied away from the subject of civilian deaths in Iraq. How times have changed and, as one who has read most of the studies on civilian deaths, I am puzzled why you and your colleagues do not engage in the vital debate initiated by Media Lens, whose good faith and integrity I can personally vouch for. There is no doubt in my mind that the issue of the civilian slaughter is one of those that can end the suffering in Iraq. In my experience of war, silence will prolong it.

.I intend to write about this, and I urge you and your colleagues to engage the crucial questions raised by Media Lens.

All good wishes

John Pilger (March 15, 2006)

Sloboda responded:

Dear John,

Thanks for this. Your position is understood.

Before you write anything, I wonder if you would do us the courtesy of reading our most recent article, which went up on our web site today. the direct link is http://www.iraqbodycount.org/onibc/

If you want to print it out to read on paper, there is a pdf button near the bottom of the first page.

A number of people have written to us as a result of the Media Lens pieces. We are sending them the reply below [not included here], which you may also find of interest.

Sincerely,

John (March 16, 2006)

Pilger wrote again on March 16:

Dear John

I did you the courtesy, as you suggested, and read your "presentation" to a conference. It answers none of the questions raised about IBC's appropriation by defenders of the Iraq invasion, including George W. Bush.

Neither do the other pieces you recommend to people who write to the IBC. Why do you waste time and not answer valid criticisms? This surely suggests something concealed. And who is the "highly respected" member of the anti war movement [mentioned in Sloboda.s reply]? There are plenty of similar voices who support the Democrats' position in the US or hope Blair will see the light. This anonymous person also apparently disapproves of a public debate, preferring a quiet word between Media Lens and IBC, which the public would not know about. Such a shame becoming shameful.

best wishes

John


Sloboda responded the same day:

Dear John,

Your gratuitous slur on our anonymous correspondent is offensive, inaccurate and misplaced . We have, of course, passed it straight to him, and he must act as he sees fit.

With the greatest of respect, but I do believe that we have responded to the main thrust of the Media Lens attack against us through the materials now on our site as well as previous correspondence with Media Lens. Can I walk you through this? And then perhaps you could clarify what are these "pretty straightforward" questions asked by Media Lens which you claim not to be answered by what follows.

Sloboda then pasted a presentation from the website, including:

.100,000 OR MORE DEAD?

.1. We have little confidence in the estimates based on the Lancet study and recent extrapolations, for the reasons explained. We think that the UNDP study offers a more reliable estimate for the period covered by the Lancet, and one which is not inconsistent with the type of data we have gathered. (para 6.0 a of "On IBC")

.2. Thus, the Lancet is not strong evidence for a massive deficit in accounting for war deaths (although this does mean there is not any deficit - just that the Lancet doesn't show what that deficit is)..

The rest of the presentation can be read here: www.iraqbodycount.net/onibc/

Sloboda then concluded his email thus:

In the light of all this, only those who wish to deliberately misrepresent us can possibly doubt where we are coming from.

We believe that public attacks on one sector of the anti-war movement towards another are completely counterproductive. By attacking our work, you will be giving a gift to the war camp. We do sincerely hope you do not contribute further to Media Lens' campaign against us

Sincerely,

John Sloboda. (March 16, 2006)

Finally, Pilger wrote (March 17):

Dear John

Talk of a "gratuitous slur" on the anonymous person you quoted is silly. I wonder how many "respected" anti war figures speaking across the world tomorrow would be willing to put their names to supporting IBC's current confused position. Having tied yourself to the media coverage of Iraq -- useful at the start of the invasion -- you are now trapped within its discredited Green Zone, so to speak.

Instead of attacking The Lancet report, which, as you well know, was drawn from a rigorous, transparent and brave academic study (by the way, it's you who are doing the "attacking"; Media Lens seemed to me merely to be raising crucial and, I repeat, straightforward questions which you have declined to answer), you could have included IBC in an overdue public debate; but you have chosen not to.

What is beyond doubt is that IBC's "conservative" figures have provided an utterly false impression of the degree of suffering in Iraq and handed a propaganda tool back to your sources. No one suggests you and your colleagues intended this. As I said in an earlier message, I admired IBC's initiative; but you ought to be setting the record straight now; reflecting merely the media coverage makes no sense and is wrong.

It all reminds me of how the number of victims of the embargo in the 1990s was measured and distorted and conveniently minimised -- so that today this horrific episode has been largely written from recent history.

Yours, as ever

John


SUGGESTED ACTION

The goal of Media Lens is to promote rationality, compassion and respect for others. In writing letters to journalists, we strongly urge readers to maintain a polite, non-aggressive and non-abusive tone.

Write to IBC co-founder John Sloboda
Email: john@sloboda.fsnet.co.uk

Write to Iraq Body Count
Email: comment@iraqbodycount.org

Ask journalists to investigate these issues:

Write to Andrew Buncombe at the Independent
Email: a.buncombe@independent.co.uk

Rupert Cornwell, Washington editor of The Independent:
Email: r.cornwell@independent.co.uk

George Monbiot at the Guardian
Email: g.monbiot@zetnet.co.uk

Peter Barron, editor of BBC.s Newsnight
Email: peter.barron@bbc.co.uk

Paul Reynolds, the BBC's World Affairs correspondent
Email: Paul.Reynolds3@bbc.co.uk

John Kampfner, editor of the New Statesman
Email: john@newstatesman.co.uk

Please also send copies of all emails to Media Lens:
Email: editor@medialens.org

This is a free service but please consider donating to Media Lens: www.medialens.org/donate.html

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posted by u2r2h at Monday, April 28, 2008 0 comments links to this post

Do you have 2 minutes 46 seconds?

Just in case you want to see proof that the airplanes of 911 were
indeed hologrammes...

No other technology could make the NOSE-OUT happen in independent camera recordings.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-1Kmjh-cN8Q

just give it 3 minutes.

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posted by u2r2h at Monday, April 28, 2008 0 comments links to this post

26 April, 2008

Today 30th Anniversary of Afghanistan Revolution

If it wasn't for this missive, you wouldn't know it. Not a single newspaper has reported this anniversary. If it was in Zimbabwe we'd be plastered with articles. Here the gist of what happened:

The Saur Revolution
is the name given to the Communist People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan takeover of political power in Afghanistan on 27 April 1978.

In 1978 a prominent member of Parcham, Mir Akbar Khyber (or "Kaibar"), was killed by the government and his associates. Although the government issued a statement deploring the assassination, PDPA leaders apparently feared that Daoud was planning to exterminate them all. Shortly after a massive protest against the government during the funeral ceremonies of Mir Akbar Khaibar most of the leaders of PDPA were arrested by the government. Amin and a number of military wing officers of the PDPA Khalq wing stayed out of prison. This gave a chance to the group to organize an uprising. The government with the help of PDPA military members fell and the PDPA leadership was out of jail. Nur Mohammad Taraki, Babrak Karmal, and Hafizullah Amin overthrew the regime of Mohammad Daoud, and renaming the country the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (DRA). The word 'Saur' means 'April' in Pushto.

On the eve of the coup, the police did not send Hafizullah Amin to immediate imprisonment, as it did with Politburo members of the PDPA on April 25, 1978. His imprisonment was postponed for five hours, during which Amin, without having the authority, instructed the Khalqi army officers to overthrow the government

The regime of President Mohammad Daoud Khan came to a violent end in the early morning hours of April 28, 1978, when military units loyal to the Khalq faction of the PDPA stormed the Presidential Palace in the heart of Kabul. The coup was also strategically planned for this date because it was the day before Friday, the Muslim day of worship, and most military commanders and government workers were off duty. With the help of Afghanistan's military air force which were mainly Soviet made Migs 21 and SU-7's, the insurgent troops overcame the stubborn resistance of the Presidential Guard and killed Daoud and most members of his family.

The divided PDPA succeeded the Daoud regime with a new government under the leadership of Nur Muhammad Taraki of the Khalq faction. In Kabul, the initial cabinet appeared to be carefully constructed to alternate ranking positions between Khalqis and Parchamis. Taraki was Prime Minister, Karmal was senior Deputy Prime Minister, and Hafizullah Amin of Khalq was foreign minister.

Once in power, the party moved to permit freedom of religion and place agricultural resources under state control. They also made a number of ambitious statements on women.s rights and waived the farmers debts countrywide. The majority of people in the cities including Kabul either welcomed it or were ambivalent to these policies. However, the secular nature of the government made it unpopular with religiously conservative Afghans in the villages and the countryside, who favored traditional Islamic restrictions on women's rights and in daily life. Their opposition became particularly pronounced after the Soviet Union occupied the country in late December of 1979, fearing it was in danger of being toppled by mujahideen forces.

The U.S. saw the situation as a prime opportunity to weaken the Soviet Union, and the move essentially signaled the end of the detente era initiated by former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Funding for anti-Soviet Mujahideen forces began prior to the Soviet invasion, under the Carter administration, with the intention of provoking Soviet intervention (according to Zbigniew Brzezinski) and was significantly boosted under the Reagan administration, which was committed to actively rolling back Soviet influence in the Third World. The Mujahideen belonged to various different factions, but all shared a similarly conservative Islamic ideology.

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posted by u2r2h at Saturday, April 26, 2008 0 comments links to this post

23 April, 2008

Economist's common sense (for a change)

Tuscon & The Great Depression - This Is Not Your Normal Downturn

By Darryl Robert Schoon

Apr 22 2008 11:01AM

www.drschoon.com

.Goldman Sachs recently revised its forecast for the U.S. economy,
predicting a recession in 2008 (Reuters).Of course, not all recessions
are created equal. Goldman doesn.t predict a deep recession, but rather
a mild turndown, with modest recovery in 2009.

CFR.org, 1/18/08, Lee Hudson Teslik, Assistant Editor and economics
writer at CFR.org The Council on Foreign Relations. Mr. Teslik is 26
years old.

Both my parents were born in Tucson, so it was perhaps not that unusual
when Martha and I left San Francisco and moved to Tucson in 1999. In the
late 1940s as a young boy, I remember watching a woman with her pail of
still warm homemade tortillas slowly make her way up the alley in
Tucson.s summer heat towards my grandmother.s house in the Armory Park
area.

The smell, taste, and texture of those wonderful warm flour tortillas
wrapped around the beans my grandmother had cooked are still with me
today. But the Tucson we returned to in 1999 was far different than what
I remember as a young boy. What is the same, however, is also familial,
but in a far different sense.

My father and mother had grown up during the 1930s, the depression
years, in Tucson. They had both managed to graduate from college, no
small feat especially in those difficult times; but it was clear, even
to me as a young boy, that the Great Depression had left its indelible
mark on the way my parents viewed the world.

Today, Tucson is far different from the Tucson of the 1930s. But, soon,
not tomorrow, but perhaps in the not too distant future, the economic
suffering that characterized the Great Depression may again be returning
to the town and nation of my parents. youth.

THIS IS WHY

In the 1990s, I had become interested in the causes of the Great
Depression, that unique and catastrophic event that brought the world
economy to a halt. The depression had occurred after the 1920s stock
market bubble collapsed in 1929; and, when the dot.com bubble collapsed
in 2000, I found disturbing parallels between the two eras and the two
bubbles.

The 1990s upwards rise of the stock market was similar to the upward
rise of the Dow in the 1920s, driven then by the spread of radio much as
the spread of computers drove the NASDAQ to just as unrealistic highs in
2000.

Martha and I moved to Tucson just before the dot.com bubble collapsed.
The money pouring into Silicon Valley had affected the entire bay area.
Rents and housing were far beyond the range of those who previously
lived there, and for that and other reasons, it was yet another sign
that we should consider the warmth of Arizona and the hospitality of
Tucson before the rest of our generation found it.

But when we arrived in Tucson, we were to witness yet another
extraordinary bubble, what was to become the largest bubble in history -
the US real estate bubble of 2002-2006.

Because of my reading about the economic events of the 1930s, I was well
aware of what happens when large speculative bubbles collapse, that the
enormous levels of debt left behind as a result of leveraged speculation
could plunge the nation and the world into another recession at best and
another depression at worst. Those then in charge of the US economy,
Alan Greenspan and others at the Fed, knew it too.

To prevent it from happening, the Fed slashed interest rates from 5.25 %
to 1 % and unleashed a flood of cheap credit in the hopes of reversing
the 2001 economic downturn. But because of changes in financial
packaging and the repealing of the Glass-Steagall Act in 1999 which was
enacted in 1933 to prevent other depressions, the effect of cheap credit
in 2002 was to have an unexpected consequence - an enormous bubble far
larger than even the dot.com bubble.

Real estate mortgages, instead of being held on the books of local
banks, were now packaged and sold by Wall Street investment banks to
yield hungry buyers around the world, buyers who had no way of knowing
that the payments on a $500,000 mortgage were to be made by a $9.00 per
hour convenience store clerk who had been sold a don.t ask don.t tell
no-money down adjustable-rate mortgage by a broker whose incentive was
the considerable up-front fees collected at the time of sale made
possible by the Fed.s 1 % money.

WHERE WE ARE TODAY

In 2008, the convenience store clerk hasn.t made a payment in months,
the mortgage is in default, the house is in foreclosure, the yield
hungry buyers (banks, pension funds, and insurance companies) are now
aware their investments may never be repaid, mortgage brokers are
looking for jobs, and the Wall Street investment banks that bought,
packaged, and sold $1.5 trillion of subprime mortgages are themselves
caught holding billions of dollars of the highest tranches of subprime
debt once thought to be safe but are not.

The investment banks, however, those who created subprime mortgages and
profited from this bubble are now being bailed out by their colleagues
at the Federal Reserve. The US Federal Reserve Bank, the private bank in
charge of the public.s money, is now allowing global investment banks to
trade their suspect subprime investments for US Treasuries, gratis of US
taxpayers who also recently indemnified investment bank JP Morgan
Chase.s purchase of investment bank Bear Stearns against any loss, all
upside accruing to the shareholders of JP Morgan Chase.

WHAT TOMORROW WILL BRING

While many in Tucson are now aware that something is seriously wrong
with the economy; that their homes are going down in value while the
price of gas is going up, they, like most Americans, have no idea about
the real reasons for the downturn.

As I looked deeper into the causes of what is about to happen, gold and
silver, the role of the Federal Reserve in issuing debt as money, and
the complicit duplicity between public government and private bankers
have become more important in understanding the reasons for the economic
collapse that is about to happen.

The gold and silver on-line community has become the prized arena where
far from the corporate controlled media, the implications of central
bank gold manipulation, the distorted measures of inflation and
unemployment issued by the US government, and the disturbing denial of
the populace who will soon be affected by what they don.t know are
parsed and discussed.

I wonder what Americans would do if they truly understood the trouble
they are in. I wonder what they would do if they knew America.s gold had
been spent by the military-industrial complex in 1950-1970. I wonder
what they would do if they knew about the dangers posed by investment
bank credit default swaps, CDSs, a $62 trillion unregulated market that
could destroy the global economy as quickly and as easily as charged
explosives brought down three towers at the World Trade Center on 9/11
(regarding CDSs, I highly recommend Thomas Tan.s article Why Wall St.
Needed Credit Default Swaps
(http://news.goldseek.com/GoldSeek/1208412360.php)).

Today, the corporate controlled US media diverts America.s attention
away from the real reasons and instead fuels the fear that illegal
immigration, China or Iran are the reason for America.s increasing
problems. The truth, however, is much simpler and much less sinister.
The truth is that we have brought this on ourselves.

WHAT HAPPENED

A tale to tell that you might hear
The truth of all of that we fear
That and which we hope to be
That and which we'll never see
A tale so old that it might be
Greece or Rome or Brittany
A tale of power you would know
Except you still deny it so
For once again we've gone astray
And once again we'll rue the day
By standing not for what is true
By standing not for what we knew
But let us now this tale be told
A tale new yet a tale old
The traveler spoke to us that day
Of a kingdom far away
He said the kingdom although young
Was watched by all in Christendom
For it was hoped that it would be
A beacon for the world to see
A light of justice a torch for peace
Opportunity within reach
How might this be a voice did ask
When such has never come to pass
That ever since man ruled man
The rule has been by iron hand
The traveler said it was to be
Ruled in ways quite differently
There was to be no king or queen
Nor any manner where it would seem
That one was better than the rest
It was to be a noble quest
It was to be a kingdom fair
Where all would be an equal there
Where every one would have a voice
Where everyone would have a choice
Those who governed would the people serve
Not themselves but those deserved
Such a kingdom it was to be
A kingdom where all would see
That man could rule not selfishly
But for the good of all and could then be
An example fair just and wise
No longer then would man devise
Ways to enslave his fellow man
Because he could because he can
From Canterbury Tales Redux, The Traveler.s Tale, Darryl Robert Schoon
(http://www.drschoon.com/articles%5CTheTravelersTaleCanteburyTalesRedux.pdf)

The birth of the United States was a unique event in history. No nation
had ever declared so boldly and eloquently the rights of man in its
Declaration of Independence. Nor had any nation so specifically set out
to define the rights of its citizenry as safe, distinct and sacrosanct
from the overriding power of government.

Those who crafted the Declaration of Independence and the US
Constitution were unusual men in unusual times. The US was born in
revolution and its founding fathers were aware of the ever present
dangers that could threaten its fragile rights and freedoms, as history
was but the story of governmental tyranny in various guises.

Now, the words and warnings of the founding fathers such as Thomas
Jefferson have been lost and hidden; and would certainly be denied today
by those who rule the nation founded by greater men than they.
Caricatures and charlatans have replaced the great thinkers and brave
statesmen who set this extraordinary experiment in motion in 1776, an
experiment now in mortal danger of failure and extinction.

Written two hundred years ago, Thomas Jefferson.s words today are
irrefutable proof that our founding fathers deepest fears have come
true.

Thomas Jefferson on Money & Banking
(http://etext.virginia.edu/jefferson/quotations/) Section 36

Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Cooper, 1814. ME 14:61

Everything predicted by the enemies of banks, in the beginning, is now
coming to pass. We are to be ruined now by the deluge of bank paper. It
is cruel that such revolutions in private fortunes should be at the
mercy of avaricious adventurers, who, instead of employing their
capital, if any they have, in manufactures, commerce, and other useful
pursuits, make it an instrument to burden all the interchanges of
property with their swindling profits, profits which are the price of no
useful industry of theirs.

Thomas Jefferson to John W. Eppes, 1813. ME 13:423

If the debt which the banking companies owe be a blessing to anybody, it
is to themselves alone, who are realizing a solid interest of eight or
ten per cent on it. As to the public, these companies have banished all
our gold and silver medium, which, before their institution, we had
without interest, which never could have perished in our hands, and
would have been our salvation now in the hour of war; instead of which
they have given us two hundred million of froth and bubble, on which we
are to pay them heavy interest, until it shall vanish into air... We are
warranted, then, in affirming that this parody on the principle of 'a
public debt being a public blessing,' and its mutation into the blessing
of private instead of public debts, is as ridiculous as the original
principle itself. In both cases, the truth is, that capital may be
produced by industry, and accumulated by economy; but jugglers only will
propose to create it by legerdemain tricks with paper.

Thomas Jefferson on The Military & the Militia:
(http://etext.virginia.edu/jefferson/quotations/) Section 47

Thomas Jefferson to David Humphreys, 1789. ME 7:323

There are instruments so dangerous to the rights of the nation and which
place them so totally at the mercy of their governors that those
governors, whether legislative or executive, should be restrained from
keeping such instruments on foot but in well-defined cases. Such an
instrument is a standing army.

Thomas Jefferson: 6th Annual Message, 1806. ME 3:424

Were armies to be raised whenever a speck of war is visible in our
horizon, we never should have been without them. Our resources would
have been exhausted on dangers which have never happened instead of
being reserved for what is really to take place..

FROM FREEDEOM TO TYRANNY

I am persuaded that in all governments, whatever their nature may be,
servility will cower to force, and adulation will follow power. The only
means of preventing men from degrading themselves is to invest no one
with that unlimited authority which is the sure method of debasing them.

Alexis de Toqueville Democracy In America 1840

In 1840, Alexis de Toqueville published his classic work Democracy In
America. In that extraordinary thoughtful missive on America.s
experiment with democracy, de Toqueville made a startling observation,
that the American experiment contained the seeds of a new kind of
tyranny, a tyranny of the majority; and, that a tyranny of the majority
is no less a tyranny than if only by one.

De Toqueville wrote:

If ever the free institutions of America are destroyed, that event may
be attributed to the omnipotence of the majority, which may at some
future time urge the minorities to desperation and oblige them to have
recourse to physical force. Anarchy will then be the result, but it will
have been brought about by despotism.

Today, opinion in America is influenced primarily by its national media,
controlled by corporate and special interests intent on swaying public
opinion for their own gain and ends; and in America, where majority
opinion is accepted as the truth, dissent and differing opinion are
derided and dismissed - as if dissent and difference were themselves
unpatriotic and therefore de facto not true.

Questioning the opinion of the majority in America is today an
impossible task - and if dissent and differing opinions are, in fact,
true, then the truth will out, but only with extreme difficulty. If
America continues to disbelieve and deny the cause of its economic
problems, it will consequently have to learn the truth the hard way -
and a depression is the hardest way of all.

We have come a long way from 1776 when our forefathers first began
America.s experiment with democracy; but if we continue as we have,
there will only be a short distance to go.

The power of myth is extraordinary. Correctly applied, the ignorant will
believe themselves enlightened and slaves will believe themselves free.

WAITING IN TUCSON

My parents were born in Tucson almost 100 years ago. Tucson was then
nothing like it is today. In the intervening years, we as a nation have
come to expect that tomorrow will be better than today. Time is about to
prove that assumption wrong. It wasn.t so in the 1930s. Soon, it will
not be so again.

My study of the causes of the Great Depression have led me to believe
that America has now gone too far to go back, that Americans because of
their foolishness, the duplicity of their leaders, or a combination
thereof are today incapable or unwilling to understand what is now about
to occur. The lack of understanding, however, will not prevent its
occurrence.

The tortillas are still good in Tucson as are the green corn tamales and
cheese crisps; and, today, we wait for what summer will bring. This
year, however, I fear much more than Tucson.s summer heat is on the way.

Invest in gold and silver. Have faith.

Darryl Robert Schoon
www.survivethecrisis.com
www.drschoon.com

****

Note: I will be speaking at Professor Antal E. Fekete.s Session IV of
Gold Standard University Live (GSUL) July 3-6, 2008 in Szombathely,
Hungary. If you are interested in monetary matters and gold, the
opportunity to hear Professor Fekete should not be missed. A perusal of
Professor Fekete.s topics may induce you to attend (see

http://www.professorfekete.com/gsul.asp).Professor Fekete, in my
opinion, is a giant in a time of small men.

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posted by u2r2h at Wednesday, April 23, 2008 0 comments links to this post

22 April, 2008

IRAQ OIL - plan A plan B

For two years, the State Department (and Defense and the White House) denied there were secret plans for Iraq's oil. They told us so in writing. That was the first indication the plan existed. Proving that, and getting a copy, became the near-to-pathologic obsession of our team.

Our big break came when James Baker's factotum, Amy Jaffe, first reached on her cell in Amsterdam, then at Baker's operation in Houston, convinced herself that I had the right to know about the plan. I saw no reason to correct her impression. To get the plan's title I used a truly dumb trick, asking if her copy's headings matched mine. She read it to me and listed its true authors from the industry.

The plan carries the State Department logo on the cover, Washington DC. But it was crafted in Houston, under the tutelage of the oil industry -- including, we discovered, Donald Hertzmark, an advisor to the Indonesia state oil company, and Garfield Miller of Aegis Energy, advisors to Solomon Smith Barney, all hosted by the James A. Baker III Institute.

After a year of schmoozing, Jaffe invited me to the Baker lair in Houston.

The James A. Baker III Institute is constructed a bit like a church or mosque, with a large echoing rotunda under a dome at its center, encircled by memorabilia and photos of the Great Man himself with the world's leaders, about evenly split between dictators and democrats.

And there is the obligatory shot of a smiling Nelson Mandela shaking Baker III's hand. (Mandela is not so impolite as to remind Jim that he was Reagan's Chief of Staff when Reagan coddled the regime that kept Mandela imprisoned.)

For tax purposes, it's an educational institute, and looking through the alarm-protected display cases along the wall was unquestionably an education. You could virtually write the recommendations of the 'Options for Iraqi Oil' report by a careful inspection of the trinkets of Baker's travels among the powerful.

There is the golden royal robe given Baker by Kazakh strongman Nazerbaev, the one who shared in the $51 million payment from ExxonMobil -- a James A. Baker client -- and alongside it a jeweled sword with a note from Nazerbaev, "Jim, there will always be a slice for you." (I made that up.)

Who is this James A. Baker III that he rates a whole institute, and one that will tell Iraq its oil future? Once Secretary of State to Bush Sr., Baker was now promoted to consigliere to ExxonMobil, the Republican National Committee and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

In Houston, I found in Jaffe a preppy, talky Jewish girl with a Bronx accent like a dentist's drill who, stranded in a cowboy world, poignantly wanted to be one of The Boys. She thinks she can accomplish this through fashion accoutrements -- she showed me her alligator cowboy boots and rolled her eyes -- "for Rodeo Day!"

Lucky for me and my (hidden) recorder, she did not learn from Baker and the boys' Rule #1 for rulers: shut up.

So while Amy was in the mood to say too much, and before I got into the details of Big Oil's plan for Iraq, I needed Amy's help in finding the answer to the question that was just driving me crazy: why did Saddam have to go? Why did the oil industry promote an invasion of Iraq to get rid of Saddam?

The question is basic but the answer is not at all obvious.

We know the neo-cons' answer: Their ultimate target of the invasion was Saudi Arabia, which would be cut low by a Free Iraq's busting the OPEC oil cartel. But Big Oil wouldn't let that happen. The neo-cons' scheme ended up an unnoted smear under
Amy's alligator boot heels.

And we can rule out Big Oil's desire for Iraq's oil as the decisive motive to invade. The last thing the oil industry wanted from Iraq in 2001 was a lot more oil.

Neither Saddam's affection for euro currency nor panic over oil supply 'peaking' ruffled the international oil industry. What, then, made Saddam, so easy to hug in the 1980s, unbearable in the 1990s?

Saddam had to go, but why?

Amy told me they held meetings about it.

Beginning just after Bush's Florida 'victory' in December 2000, the shepherds of the planet's assets got together to plan our energy future under the weighty aegis of the "Joint Task Force on Petroleum of the James A. Baker III Institute and the Council on Foreign Relations." The master plan makers included Paul Bremer's and Kissinger's partner, Mack McLarty, CEO of Kissinger McLarty Associates; John Manzoni of British Petroleum; Luis Giusti, former CEO of the Venezuelan state oil company (until Hugo Chavez kicked him out); Ken Lay of Enron (pre-indictment); Philip Verleger of the National Petroleum Council, and other movers and shakers crucial to such bi-partisan multi-continental group gropes -- all chaired by Dr. Edward Morse, the insider's insider, from Hess Oil Trading.

Their final report detailed Saddam's crimes. Gassing Kurds and Iranians? No. James A. Baker was the Reagan Chief of Staff when the U.S. provided Saddam the intelligence to better target his chemical weapons. Weapons of Mass Destruction? Not since this crowd stopped selling him the components.

In the sanitary words of the Council on Foreign Relations' report (written up by Jaffe herself), Saddam's problem was that he was a "swinger":

Tight markets have increased U.S. and global vulnerability
to disruption and provided adversaries undue potential in-
fluence over the price of oil. Iraq has become a key
"swing" producer, posing a difficult situation for the U.S.
government.

Now hold on a minute: Why is our government in a "difficult" position if Iraq is a "swing producer" of oil?

The answer was that Saddam was jerking the oil market up and down. One week, without notice, the man in the moustache suddenly announces he's going to "support the Palestinian intifada" and cuts off all oil shipments. The result: Worldwide oil prices jump up. The next week, Saddam forgets about the Palestinians and pumps to the maximum allowed under the Oil-for-Food Program. The result: Oil prices suddenly dive-bomb. Up, down, up, down. Saddam was out of control.

"Control is what it's all about," one oilman told me. "It's not about getting the oil, it's about controlling oil's price."

So, within days of Bush's election in November 2000, the James Baker Institute issued this warning:

In a market with so little cushion to cover unexpected
events, oil prices become extremely sensitive to perceived


(i just bought the new 2008 edition of ARMED MADHOUSE that includes a new chapter THE SCHEME TO SWIPE ... the best book for a long time!)

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posted by u2r2h at Tuesday, April 22, 2008 0 comments links to this post

21 April, 2008

911 truth and OKC

Too long to read? LISTEN!

http://216.240.133.177/archives32/Barrett/2008/04/Barrett_041908_180000.mp3

http://216.240.133.177/archives32/Barrett/2008/04/Barrett_041908_190000.mp3


"Government complicity in the OKC Bombing and the 9/11 attacks has been proven not only by the obstruction of justice but by the use of terrorist dupes, be they willful dupes or not. And by all indications, these actions continue. Apparently some have failed, others will not..."

Key to the Truth in Oklahoma
4.19.95 and 9.11.01

by Holland Van den Nieuwenhof

I
Oklahoma seems to attract more attention in the news than seems due to your typical Great Plains State such as Kansas or Nebraska or North Dakota. I once asked a visitor from North Dakota if anything had ever happened in his state since being reasonably informed on current events and history, I was unaware of that state ever making it into a national headline.

Perhaps it is due to our curious mix of the offspring of renegade Indians, blacks and whites alike. Once known as Indian Territory, Oklahoma was the last state admitted into the continental United States and was once the home of various outlaws and escaped slaves seeking freedom in one of the last places in the land that was without established law or authority. That heritage carried over at least a couple of generations. During WWI a large group of farmers tried to organize an armed march onto Washington D.C. to stop the Nation’s entry into the war. Known as the Green Corn Rebellion, it was finally put down by the local authorities with the help of vigilante posses. During the desperate days of the Dustbowl and Great Depression, Oklahoma could boast of producing more bank robbers than any other state in the nation. Pretty Boy Floyd, the Ma Barker gang and others shot it out with the police and FBI from one end of the state to the other and legends of their hidden loot, in addition to the fabled treasures of the James Gang, will keep amateur treasure-hunters busy in this state for generations to come.

These days the offspring of these renegades seem intent on diluting this noble heritage. And whenever Oklahoma captures the national headlines, it is usually not good news. Thirteen years ago, 168 people were murdered when the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was bombed. Though largely overshadowed by the 9/11 attacks, the impact of the bombing is still felt in this state. Just about everyone in Oklahoma City knew someone or knew of someone who was killed or injured in the bombing. And although it attracted less attention, the suicide-bombing of Joel Henry Hinrichs III outside Gaylord Memorial Stadium during an Oklahoma and Nebraska college football game in October of 2005 gave many people here the shivers of times past.

In 2001, Tim McVeigh was executed as the lone bomber of the OKC Bombing. His hapless accomplice Terry Nichols is lingering on, serving a life sentence for his assistance in the crime. Justice was supposed to have been served with those sentences, the case closed, time to move on and get on with our lives. But the truth to that tragedy still eludes us.

Soon after the bombing, Oklahoma State Representative Charles Key formed the Oklahoma Bombing Investigation Committee and impaneled a grand jury, despite the best efforts of Oklahoma City District Attorney Bob Macy and the state media, to foll0w the loose threads of the official investigation. They collected evidence of Federal and State government lying and obstruction of justice from day one. Their thorough dismantling of the official myth was published in Final Report, issued in 2001.

For his efforts, Charles Key was run out of office by a lynch mob masquerading as the local media and the surreptitious efforts of state officials. But efforts to uncover the truth carry on, and despite the closing of the casket, the lid to the OKC Bombing keeps popping open to this day, whispering of things most people would choose to ignore.

Besides the annual memoriam to those lost in the bombing, loose threads from the OKC bombing still plague newsrooms from time to time. They are combed down, but sometimes cannot be ignored.

For example, there is the ongoing case of attorney Jesse Trentadue. His Brother Kenny Trentadue, a convicted bank robber, was found beaten, cut and hung to death in his cell at the Oklahoma City Federal Transfer Center on August 21 of 1995. His death was ruled a suicide despite obvious evidence of torture and homicide. The prisoner in a cell across from Trentadue’s, Alden Gillis Baker, reported that guards had entered the cell earlier that evening and that the sounds of fighting emerged. The guards later left with blood on their uniforms and the sounds of moaning escaping from the cell. Before he testified to this in court, however, Baker was found hanged to death in his own cell.

It is probable that Trentadue was fatally interrogated because he was mistaken for Johnny Lee Guthrie, another convicted bank robber, suspected accomplice of Tim McVeigh and one-time suspected John Doe #2 in the OKC Bombing. Jesse Trentadue reports that Tim McVeigh passed word to him before he was executed that his brother had been killed because it was thought that he was Guthrie. They greatly resembled one another and even shared the same tattoo. Johnny Lee Guthrie may have been able to clear some of this mess up himself, but he was also found hung to death in his cell the day before he was to give a television interview.

Jesse Trentadue’s suit against the Federal Government continues in court to this day as the Department of Justice refuses to release the report on the death of Kenny despite a court order to that effect. Trentadue’s lawsuit has become entertwined with the OKC bombing case and last year Federal Judge Louis Kimball ruled, on the basis of documents that only he was allowed to see, that the FBI had an informant close to McVeigh in the days leading up to the bombing. Recently Trentadue’s family was awarded close to a million dollars for the willful misconduct of the Department of Justice in refusing to release the report on the death. While the media dutifully reports some of the details of this case, it has yet to receive the attention and analysis due its implications.

In December of 2006, outgoing U.S. Representative Dana Rohrabacher, Chairman of the Oversight and Investigations Committee, issued a report on his investigation of the OKC bombing. He concluded that foreign ties to the bombing were not sufficiently investigated by the FBI in the course of the case and that the questions remaining about John Doe #2 have not been answered. (See also Rohrabacher's Speech on the House Floor, from February 26, 2008. -rep.)

Many survivors of the bombing still wonder why surveillance videotapes of the bombing have not been released even now, thirteen years later. It is significant that when investigators for the congressional inquiry came to Oklahoma to speak to Charles Key and the Oklahoma Bombing Investigation Committee, they told the OKBIC that even they were still not being allowed to view those tapes. These tapes could dispel all doubts as to the veracity of the government’s case, destroy the eyewitness reports of John Doe#2 in the Ryder truck with McVeigh, if the government would release them. To this day, they have not.

In early 2007, Terry Nichols, the convicted accomplice to Tim McVeigh, revealed a bombshell of information that confirmed what many had suspected all along and even went so far as to name names. In a written declaration from prison given to Jesse Trentadue, Nichols states that

"Crucial parts of this terrorist act remain hidden from the American people, especially the identities of the ‘Others Unknown’ who collaborated with McVeigh in the bombing."

Nichols named Arkansas gun dealer Roger Moore as a government provocateur in the bombing and that the robbery of Roger Moore’s collection of firearms and explosives was to provide him a cover as an innocent bystander in the tragedy. Nichols goes farther and names Larry Potts, Assistant Director the FBI and the man in charge of the bloody fiasco at Ruby Ridge, as having directly assisted McVeigh.

Nichols also states that McVeigh told him that he had been recruited for undercover work while in the U.S. Army. This explosive revelation could not escape the attention of the national media, who of course ridiculed these assertions. It should be noted that Nichols has absolutely nothing to gain by these statements, and everything to lose, as we have seen the fate of those in federal custody who try to reveal too much about the OKC bombing.

In their February 2007 issue, Hustler magazine, which despite their pornographic content retains an impressive investigative journalist team, broke the story of Bill Bean, an aspiring Hollywood movie producer who was scouting a film scene at a National Guard base at Camp Grafton, South Dakota on August 3, 1993. During the course of the day Mr. Bean happened upon a soldier backing an armored vehicle off of a trailer and began filming him. Used to the soldiers being courteous and open for the camera, this lone soldier brushed him off and described himself as just being a “parts clerk.” Thinking nothing of it, Bill Bean wrapped up for the day and continued on with his life, which was soon bombarded by sophisticated harassment of an unknown source and reason.

After suffering years of mental torture, Bill Bean began to piece things together when a friend viewed his tapes and casually mentioned that the rude soldier in the armored vehicle looked like Tim McVeigh, who was on trial at the time and whose picture was on the news every night. Mr. Bean took the tape to Dr. Michael Blomgren, a voice-analysis specialist at the University of Utah’s Department of Communication Services and Disorders, who ran the tape through a series of tests. Dr. Blomgren concluded that the soldier in the videotape was a “positive identification” of Tim McVeigh. Visual analysis has confirmed that the soldier in this vide tape is indeed Timothy McVeigh.

What is astounding about this identification is that Tim McVeigh officially left the U.S. Army in late 1991 after serving in Operation Desert Storm. Tim McVeigh is seen in this tape in Army uniform in August of 1993. What is also striking is that Camp Grafton was home to an explosives training school, which Mr. Bean also filmed that day. Having had no formal explosives training while in the U.S. Army, perhaps McVeigh was undergoing some schooling in relation to his undercover work? This tape was filmed after McVeigh had been seen selling anti-government bumper stickers and been interviewed by a local TV reporter outside the Waco siege in early 1993.

The identification of McVeigh in South Dakota also answers another lingering question about his life. When he was arrested on Interstate 35 the day of the bombing, among his other possessions at the time he was recorded as having a South Dakota driver’s license, although he was never known to reside for any period of time in that state. Also significant is the fact that August 3, 1993, the day the film was shot, fits into a “black hole” in the FBI timeline of McVeigh’s life and the time leading up to the bombing. No one until Bill Bean came forward with his tape knew what McVeigh was doing during that time.

These latest revelations only add to the conclusive evidence collected by reporters, researchers, survivors and witnesses who have long known that the government and mainstream media are lying about the tragedy of April 19,1995.

Even the common people of Oklahoma for the most part know that the full truth has yet to be revealed, although most are afraid to think too hard about the consequences of what that means. In 2004 Charles Key ran for his old seat in the State House of Representatives and won despite, or because of, a well-funded campaign to smear him as a crackpot conspiracy theorist. Hopefully this means that even a monstrous lie is still vulnerable to the uttering of truth.

II
Final Report was released three weeks before the attacks of 9/11 and a new age was born. Like all new ages, it cannot break away entirely from the past, and 9/11 and the OKC bombing are inexorably linked beyond even the now familiar images of death and destruction. Independent investigations of the OKC bombing and 9/11 have found themselves stumbling over one another as the same cast of characters and places crop up time and time again. It has become essential to recognize that a complete investigation of both attacks cannot be complete without a recognition of these links and the fact that both attacks, and others in the past and most certainly in the future, cannot be fully understood until they are viewed as a contiguous whole.

One of the roads to 9/11 starts in Oklahoma in 1993 when, according to the 9/11 Congressional report, Osama bin Laden’s personal pilot came to Norman to train at Airman Flight School. Five years later this had become a trend, as the local office of the FBI warned of the large number of Middle Eastern men training in Oklahoma Fight schools in a memo titled, “Weapons of Mass Destruction” issued on May 15, 1998. The next year 9/11 hijackers Mohammed Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi, or men using those names, visited Airman Flight School once again to inquire about lessons. [Boston Globe] In September of 1999, the FBI finally got around to visiting Airman to ask about bin Laden’s pilot training there six years previously. [9/11 Congressional Report]

9-11_jumper.jpg

In February of 2001 the supposed 20th hijacker, Zacharias Mossaoui, trained at Airman in Norman and lived in a University of Oklahoma Dormitory. [Oklahoma Gazette] He later moved off campus into a house he shared with Melvin Lattimore, a man with links to the World Trade Center bombing in 1993 and the OKC bombing. In April of that year, the FBI documents that hijacker Salem al-Hamzi was seen visiting this house. That same month another hijacker, Nawaf al-Hamzi, was issued a speeding ticket in Oklahoma so he very well may have visited this 0ff-campus terrorist party pad also. And although al-Hamzi was seen at an al-Qaeda conference in Malaysia the previous year and afterward followed to the United States by the CIA, his name did not trigger any red flags when he was pulled over. [Daily Oklahoman]

Mossaoui later went on in August to be arrested in Minnesota by the local FBI despite much interference from their superiors. His roommate Melvin Lattimore wrote letters to the editors of local papers defending Mossaoui, but neglected to mention that he himself abandoned his lease on September 10, 2001.

Lattimore himself had much to defend. According to the New American, Lattimore’s credit card had been used to purchase the bomb-making materials in the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993. And during the trial of Timothy McVeigh, a BATF agent testified on the stand that an FBI informant had named Lattimore as suspect. What was not revealed on the stand, because the FBI never filed the eyewitness reports, is that Lattimore and another associate of McVeigh who went by the name of Tim Rosencranz had been ejected from the Traveler’s Aid Society in OKC shortly before the bombing after becoming belligerent when asked to show identification. When Lattimore and Rosencranz drove away from the Traveler’s Aid Society, the employees noted their descriptions and the description of the car. It was a yellow Mercury Marquis without a license plate which, if you recall, matches exactly the description of the vehicle Tim McVeigh was driving when he was arrested following the bombing. [New American]

Melvin Lattimore is an African-American, a prison convert to radical Islam, and was going by the name of Majahid Abdulquaadir Menepta at the time. Following 9/11, he was arrested for being a felon in possession of a weapon and imprisoned for fifteen months. According to last reports, he has returned to his hometown of St. Louis a free man, despite being linked to three terrorist attacks since 1993.

Before leaving for Minnesota, Mossaoui is documented as having a meeting at the Sands Motel in Oklahoma City with lead hijacker Mohammed Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi. This motel has proven popular among terrorists, for this same motel had been used the night prior to the OKC bombing by Tim McVeigh six years previously and had been a hang-out for Lattimore. [LA Weekly] According to Jayna Davis’ The Third Terrorist, a motel employee says that McVeigh left the motel that morning with another man in the Ryder truck, the mysterious John Doe #2, which reeked of diesel fuel. Witnesses also report that McVeigh left with what appeared to be a convoy of vehicles, including another Ryder truck. [OKBIC Interviews]

The man in the truck with McVeigh has been identified as Hussain al-Hussaini and was seen at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in the truck by six witnesses to the scene. Al-Hussaini was named as John Doe#2 by local TV station KFOR and had to flee the state. He later returned to press a suit of defamation against Jayna Davis and KFOR, but his suit was dismissed and his alibi for that day has been proven a lie.

In The Third Terrorist, Jayna Davis documents that al-Hussaini later went on to work at Boston’s Logan Airport as a baggage handler, and was there the day of the 9/11 attacks. Lead Hijacker Mohammed Atta’s flight took off from Logan Airport that morning while his baggage later went on a different flight, to be captured by the FBI with its incriminating “last will and testament” inside. Al-Hussaini’s whereabouts these days are unknown.

What is known is that al-Hussaini and others have been allowed to operate at will without any interference from the FBI. If you recall, in the days and months following 9/11 thousands of Arabs in this country were detained under dubious legal reasons supposedly for questioning in relation to the attacks. Not one of these men was charged with terrorism yet al-Hussaini, who was linked to both 9/11 and OKC, is never arrested, never charged. Lattimore, linked to the 1993 WTC bombing, OKC and 9/11, was imprisoned for a short time on a weapons charge and then released. Local FBI agents in Minnesota arrested Mossaoui before 9/11 only after surmounting roadblocks thrown up by their superiors in FBI headquarters. And then a search of his laptop computer was denied because FBI headquarters changed the original application for a FISA warrant. A FISA warrant is an extra-constitutional tool authorized by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and the wording of the application submitted by the local FBI office was altered to leave out Mossaoui’s time fighting in Chechneya with Islamic guerrillas. In twenty years and 10,000 FISA warrants granted up until that time, Mossaoui’s was one of the first to be rejected. [The Terror Timeline, Paul Thompson]

Simple incompetence does not account for the fact the active resistance on the part of the FBI against arresting Mossaoui and searching for evidence of his communications and activities. Simple incompetence does not account for the willful apathy when it came to the documented and proven terrorist activities of Hussaini al-Hussain and Melvin Lattimore, among other “teflon terrorists” connected to the OKC bombing and 9/11. One begins to wonder if the government is truly our friend and protector.

And one may wonder about Department of Justice official Jamie Gorelick, who was sent by Attorney-General Janet Reno to Oklahoma City to steer the case to the government’s wishes. Jamie Gorelick was also the author of the infamous “wall memo” which was used as an excuse by federal officials as why they could not investigate the activities of known al-Qaeda members in this country. Gorelick later served on the “independent” 9/11 Commission and was one of only two members, along with commission chairman and Bush administration official Philip Zelikow, allowed to view top-secret documents in relation to 9/11. Many observers have opined that Gorelick should have been on the witness stand, not deliberating evidence. [Triple Cross, Peter Lance]

On the day of 9/11, CIA Director George Tenet was having a leisurely breakfast with his mentor, University of Oklahoma President David Boren. When aides rushed in to tell the Director of the attacks, Tenet was witnessed by reporters as turning to David Boren as saying, “I wonder if this has anything to do with the guy who trained for a pilot’s license.” [Washington Post]

Perhaps Tenet was trying to impress the reporters with his prescience, for they did not know that he was sitting across the table from the man whose campus had played host to Zacharias Mossouai for the better part of a year. Perhaps it was an inside joke.

George Tenet owed a lot to David Boren. Prior to his appointment as CIA Director, Tenet had absolutely no intelligence experience or training. In fact, his only qualification seems to have been that he was on David Boren’s congressional staff, back when he was Senator Boren. But David Boren was not your usual Senator,

David Boren is a political institution in Oklahoma. In the seventies he was in the House of Representatives, then he served as Governor. He later ran for Senate and served the longest tenure until that time as Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. During that time Boren propped up Robert Gates’ nomination for CIA Director, despite Gates’ controversial record as a CIA analyst of inflating the Soviet threat to the benefit of defense contractors. Robert Gates in now Secretary of Defense, in charge of the Global War on Terror. Give that room for thought. [Breakdown: How America’s Intelligence Failures led to September 1, Bill Gertz]

David Boren is also a member of the fabled Skull and Bones Society out of Yale, a brother-in-secrecy to two George Bushes, despite being a lifelong Democrat. David Boren has always nursed presidential ambitions but his homosexuality was outed by his former roommate at Oxford University, Professor W. Scott Thompson in his book, The Price of Achievement. The release of this book in 1994 precipitated Boren’s foregoing of another term in the Senate despite his potential and ambition. He flirted with a presidential nomination from the Reform Party but perhaps was unwilling to face his past as outlined in the book. Now he nurses hope for his son, also named David, who is now in the House of Representatives.

As President of the University of Oklahoma, in the Summer of 2001 he appointed to OU CIA officer David Edger, described as a CIA officer-in-residence on the OU website. Edger had a strange career, even for a CIA agent. Edger was serving in Chile on September 11, 1973, when the CIA overthrew the elected leader of that country, Salvador Allende. Following Allende’s death thousands of Chileans were tortured and murdered to secure the puppet government. Edger was later Aldrich Ames’ supervisor when that agent was arrested for spying for the Soviets. Edger went on to become Deputy Director for Intelligence for the Directorate of Operations, the covert action arm of the CIA. [namebase.org]

Then in an apparent demotion, David Edger went to Hamburg, Germany to be in charge of a CIA team monitoring the apartment of Mohammed Atta, soon to be named as the lead hijacker in the 9/11 attacks. During this time the apartment was visited by


ksm_today.jpg

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who had a 2 million-dollar bounty on his head by the U.S. Government for his role in African embassy bombings. Mohammed remained unmolested and was later named as the “mastermind” behind the 9/11 attacks and is supposedly in U.S. custody, somewhere. Atta, who had at this time already been named as an al-Qaeda cell leader by Defense Intelligence Agency Task Force ABLE DANGER, exchanged several phone calls and emails with other future 9/11 hijackers in this country, and Zacharias Mossaoui.

Then in the Summer of 2001, Edger was appointed to a teaching position at OU, just down the road from where Mohammed Atta and Zacharias Mossaoui had their meeting at the Sands Motel that August. Edger freely admits to monitoring Atta in Germany his class at OU, but says he heard nothing of interest. He neglects to mention that he was also in town for Atta’s meeting in Oklahoma City. Given Edger’s past role as a jackal for the Agency, one can only wonder if Edger was monitoring the meeting in OKC as he was monitoring Atta in Hamburg.

One should also take note that Edger also runs a consulting company that offers advice on the perils of agricultural terrorism to corporations. Seeing Edger’s past role in fighting terrorism, this prospect might make one want to stock up on food supplies.

The University of Oklahoma still has more drama to offer the War on Terror. In the Fall of 1999 Nicholas Berg, the man who would be later beheaded on videotape in Iraq, attended class at OU. He only studied for one semester but stayed on and worked on campus. What exactly he was doing during this time is still a mystery. [CNN]

THIS IS A FAKE VIDEO! SEE BELOW!

http://777denny.files.wordpress.com/2007/05/nick-berg-head-cut-off-terrorist-islam.jpg

http://www.dojgov.net/nick_berg-02.jpg


In the fateful Summer of 2001, Nick Berg’s laptop computer was used to email Zacharias Mossaoui. Berg was later questioned by the FBI and said that he had lent his computer and password to a stranger on the bus, and that stranger must have been the one who emailed Mossaoui. This story apparently flew with the FBI, despite the fact that OU busses at that time did not have wireless email capabilities, and still don’t, nor did many laptops. [Michael P. Wright]

In August of 2001, following Atta’s and Mossaoui’s meeting in OKC, a plane ticket that was used in the 9/11 attacks was purchased at an OU library computer. According to the research of Michael P. Wright, the library assistant who witnessed this transaction said a white American male purchased the ticket.

Nick Berg went to Iraq, supposedly seeking work as a “contractor.” He was detained by American forces there for a short time, and later met his appointment with destiny when he was beheaded on video on May 8, 2004, just as the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal was erupting. Nick Berg’s exact role in this farce is still unclear, and his story when told will undoubtedly shed some light on our government’s true role in the War on Terror.

And yet another mysterious story played itself out on OU campus on October 1, 2005, when Joel Henry Hinrichs III blew himself up with a homemade bomb outside the stadium to the cheers of thousands of college football fans. OU President David Boren immediately appointed himself the spokesman for what should have been a criminal investigation and laid down the script for this story: that this unfortunate incident had been the simple suicide of a lonely, confused, young man.

Like Nick Berg, the story of Joel Hinrichs is still clouded with missing time and machinations beyond our sight. What is known is that Hinrichs walked into a Norman feed store three days before his death and tried to purchase a large amount of ammonium nitrate. [Norman Transcript] Ammonium nitrate is of course the chemical that McVeigh is supposed to have used in the bomb that destroyed the Murrah Building in 1995. Independent analyses of the bomb damage has refuted this myth, but people in Oklahoma are still edgy about selling strangers ammonium nitrate.

In this case the feed store clerk noted Hinrichs’ ignorance of the uses for the fertilizer, and refused to sell to him. His strange appearance (according to Jayna Davis he wore a coat with wires sticking out of it) and behavior alarmed the clerk, who took solace when a Norman Police officer, who happened to be in the store off-duty, called his superiors to inform them of the incident. Despite this call, Hinrichs remained unchallenged by the police and went on to his appointment with death three days later.

dirkadirka.jpg


Later on the FBI claimed that Hinrichs had mixed his homemade bomb in his apartment to the ignorance of his Middle Eastern roommate, who soon after left the country. It is a little baffling that someone could mix noxious chemicals in a small college apartment without a roommate suspecting anything at all.

The FBI later denied eyewitness reports that Hinrichs had tried to enter the main gate of the stadium during the game and, in a familiar pattern, refuses to release surveillance videotape of the gate to prove their claim. Local media reports that Hinrichs attended the same Mosque as Mossaoui have disappeared from their websites. David Boren informed the students in an email that people should avoid the “conspiracy-mongering” that took place following the OKC bombing.

Rojan Gunarata, terrorism expert and author of Inside al-Qaeda, testified before the 9/11 Commission that Norman, Oklahoma had been home to an al-Qaeda cell before 9/11. So far no one in Norman has been arrested for complicity in 9/11, so what should one assume? The links between 9/11 and the OKC bombing are concrete to the point of strangeness, and strange things continue to happen in Oklahoma.

Government complicity in the OKC Bombing and the 9/11 attacks has been proven not only by the obstruction of justice but by the use of terrorist dupes, be they willful dupes or not. And by all indications, these actions continue. Apparently some have failed, others will not.

The facts are laid bare. Most people cannot accept these facts, but that is all right. Most people won’t do a damn thing one way or the other. But for those who do care for the truth the search continues, not only for justice for those wronged in the past, but for what we surely know is waiting is store for us in the future. And the key to the truth perhaps will not be found in some archived document or drastic new piece of evidence, but maybe in some dusty corner in the heartland.





TomT writes:

I followed up on just one little portion [10th paragraph from the bottom] with the mention of Michael P. Wright. Wright tracks how the media suddenly "did not do" a news story that they did do. He records the phone calls....

http://thewebfairy.com/911/wright.mp3

http://www.jerrypippin.com/Wright_OP.htm
http://members.aol.com/mpwright9/sting1.html



the purported Nick Berg beheading video is well known to be a fabrication:

http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2004/05/28/1085641717320.html
http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2004/5/15/22827/0477

The actual video is hosted here:

http://www.topplerummy.org/berg/

While we don't know for sure who killed Nick Berg, it seems likely he was murdered by US agents because he was last seen alive in US custody. What is obvious though, is that the Nick Berg video was fabricated by some coalition intelligence service and planted in the US media to distract attention from (and even justify in the eyes of the American public) the Abu Ghraib torture scandal.
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posted by u2r2h at Monday, April 21, 2008 0 comments links to this post

13 April, 2008

IRAQ not 1mio dead? -- Extra Zero - An Exchange with the Independent's John Rentoul

MEDIA LENS: Correcting for the distorted vision of the corporate media

April 9, 2008


MEDIA ALERT: EXTRA ZERO

An Exchange With The Independent?s John Rentoul


In the wake of the July 7, 2005 London bombings, the Independent?s John Rentoul commented:

?A Muslim friend of mine in the East End of London says that the sense of victimisation and injustice goes so deep among his fellow religionists that he sometimes despairs. 'This all goes back to the burning of The Satanic Verses,' he says. It was in 1988 that we should have realised that we were up against a culture - he doesn't like the term 'Muslim community' - that tended to irrationalism and self-pity. Salman Rushdie did not create that culture, but he provided a focus for it and fed its sense of grievance.

?The Iraq issue serves much the same purpose today.? (Rentoul, 'Islam, blood and grievance,' The Independent, July 24, 2005)

According to Rentoul, then, the invasion of Iraq and the mass slaughter that followed was feeding irrational self-pity in Muslims. He added:

?The worst succour that the anti-war left in Britain can give to the terrorists, however, is to entertain the idea that there is a moral equivalence between the deliberate killing of civilians and the casualties of military action in Iraq. Of course, people who think the war was unjustified feel passionately about civilian deaths. But let us get two things straight. First, even Iraq Body Count, an anti-war campaign, puts the total attributable to coalition forces at under 10,000, rather than the figure with an extra zero that is the common misconception of anti-war propaganda. And second, the purpose of the invasion of Iraq, whatever you think of George Bush's motives, was not to kill civilians.?

Noam Chomsky commented on the recurring theme of ?moral equivalence? in a rare BBC interview:

"The term moral equivalence is an interesting one. It was invented, I think, by Jeane Kirkpatrick [former US ambassador to the United Nations] as a method of trying to prevent criticism of foreign policy and state decisions. It is a meaningless notion, there is no moral equivalence whatsoever." (BBC Newsnight interview with Chomsky, May 21, 2004; http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/newsnight/3732345.stm)

Rentoul?s ?extra zero that is the common misconception of anti-war propaganda? had of course been provided by the 2004 Lancet study of mortality in Iraq, which estimated that 100,000 more Iraqis had died since the March 2003 invasion than would have been expected had the invasion not occurred. We were to believe that the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School, Columbia University, Baghdad's Al-Mustansiriya University, and The Lancet (and its peer-reviewers) - the organisations behind the 2004 study - were all anti-war propagandists.

It is easy to understand why Rentoul would be so perturbed, now, by the suggestion that an additional ?extra zero? should be added to the 100,000 figure - because it is now likely that one million Iraqis have died as a result of the war.

On April 4, we wrote to Rentoul in response to his piece, ?Truth and myth on the death toll in Iraq.? (Independent blog, April 2; http://blogs.independent.co.uk/openhouse/2008/04/truth-and-myth.html)

Hi John

Hope you're well. You wrote on April 2:

"It is surprising, to put it gently, that the question of whether or not the 1 million figure is right arouses such little interest."

You added:

"If a million people have died in violence in Iraq since the invasion, you might have thought this shocking enough for The Independent, or any other national newspaper, to report it when the survey was published in January. But there was nothing in the British press at all."

In fact it's not at all surprising. Typically, very little attention is paid in the Western media to the victims of Western violence. A study by the University of Maryland last year found that most Americans believed that less than 10,000 Iraqis had died because of the invasion. That's a reflection of media indifference. After all, a poll last year found that about half the American public were able to correctly identify the number of US soldiers killed. And how many people know that senior UN diplomats described US-UK sanctions on Iraq from 1990-2003 as "genocidal"? In 2006, Hans von Sponeck, the former UN humanitarian coordinator in Baghdad who ran the oil-for-food programme, wrote a book called A Different Kind Of War - The UN Sanctions Regime In Iraq (Bergahn Books, 2006). The book describes in meticulous detail the complete US-UK indifference to the mass death caused by sanctions. The book has never been reviewed in the UK press. Again, that's very standard.

You wrote

"One group that is certainly not interested is the absolutist opponents of the invasion, whose representatives will no doubt soon appear in the Comments below. For them, 1 million is a fact ? indeed, it is an under-estimate ? regardless of the evidence. Just as the invasion was a 'crime' based on 'lies', so the minimum death toll is the highest number that any remotely authoritative source has ever come up with. For some time that was The Lancet?s 655,000, and never mind that 54,000 of that was heart attacks, strokes and other illnesses, or that the survey methods had been challenged."

Most legal experts are clear on the criminality of the invasion, and you'd have to have been living on Mars not to have noticed the lies. But who has asserted the 1 million figure as "a fact"? Certainly we at Media Lens haven't. We have simply reported the most credible scientific advice on the most credible numbers. And as you know, science is not about offering certainty - it's about offering the most reasonable view in light of the currently available facts.

Your link to the 'challenge' is to ?Data Bomb,? by Neil Munro and Carl Cannon (http://news.nationaljournal.com/articles/databomb/index.htm). It's inappropriate to suggest that serious, peer-reviewed science by some of the world's leading epidemiologists and published in the world's premier science journal, has been "challenged" by a couple of hacks writing in a right-wing American magazine. The most serious charge involved Professor John Tirman, Executive Director and Principal Research Scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for International Studies (MIT). Munro and Cannon wrote:

?Tirman commissioned the Lancet II survey with $46,000 from George Soros's Open Society Institute and additional support from other funders.? (Munro and Cannon, ?Data Bomb,? National Journal, January 4, 2008; http://news.nationaljournal.com/ articles/databomb/index.htm)

Tirman told us:

"Open Society Institute funded a public education effort to promote discussion of the mortality issue. The grant was approved more than six months after I commissioned the survey, and the researchers never knew the sources of funds. As a result, OSI, much less George Soros himself, had absolutely no influence over the conduct or outcome of the survey. This was told to the authors of the National Journal article at least twice. One must conclude that their misrepresentation of this---among many other issues---was intended to sensationalize their version of the story and color the readers' opinion about 'political bias.' This is contemptible malpractice on their part. It is also a grotesque injustice to Mr. Soros, whose philanthropy has braced and enlivened whole regions of the world." (Email to Media Lens, January 15, 2008)

Tirman commented elsewhere:

"I told this to Munro on the telephone and in an email. He nonetheless implied that Soros money had funded the survey from the start, possibly at Soros' behest. That is a disgraceful lie, and Munro knows it.? (?John Tirman on Munro and Soros,? January 11, 2008; http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2008/01/john_tirman_on_munro_and_soros.php)

You can see Tirman's demolition of 'Data Bomb' (a truly awful article) here:

http://www.johntirman.com/Bombs%20Away%20-%20a%20dull%20hatchet%20job.pdf

We offered an analysis here:

http://www.medialens.org/alerts/08/080122_all_smoke_no.php

By the way, I wouldn't make too much of the fact that Les Roberts and co are "anti-war". Most sane people are "anti-war". Many scientists are also anti-malaria and anti-famine - it doesn't stop them doing good science.

Best wishes

David Edwards

Rentoul replied the same day:

Mr Edwards
Grateful for the confirmation that you are not interested in the methodological basis of the Opinion Business Research survey either.
Yours
John Rentoul

We also responded on the same day:

Hi John

Thanks, that's also an important subject. The Lancet authors seem to find corroboration in the ORB results. See here: http://www.medialens.org/downloads/pdfs/les_roberts_germany_briefing.pdf

My understanding is that ORB is a respected polling organisation used by the BBC and so on (of course we can argue about how respectable the BBC is).

I think we "generalists" need to be very careful before pronouncing on issues of epidemiological methodology - we have a habit of ending up in ditches in the way of Munro and Cannon. Curious that you would focus on finding confirmation of what I think on something I didn't discuss in a fairly long email about what I do think on a variety of important issues.

I recommend you have a careful read of Tirman's demolition of 'Data Bomb'. Settle in with some tea and biscuits and really give it some thought - it might change your view on this issue. It's vital that we examine the suffering we've brought to the Iraqi people as honestly and carefully as we can - it's that suffering that really matters.

Best wishes

David

We have received no further response from Rentoul. John Tirman had previously posted a comment on Rentoul?s blog on April 2:

?Rendel [sic - Rentoul] misses a point all journalists do: the five surveys of mortality in Iraq show significant congruence. The Iraq Ministry of Health survey he cites (as a WHO survey) did estimate 151,000 violent deaths, but their data also shows more than 400,000 ?excess? deaths overall. Many experts see in the data tables evidence of ambiguous categories where those fearful of the Sadrist MoH interviewers would attribute deaths to ?non-violent? causes. In any case, the 400,000+ as of June 2006 would translate into 600-700,000 today. The MoH also could not survey 11% of its sample, because those places were too dangerous. It demonstrates not inconsistencies between the surveys, but, more important, just how difficult it is to do such surveys in Iraq, precisely because it is so violent.

"As for plausibility of the high mortality figures, consider this: five murders per day in the 80 ?urban centers? of Iraq (pop.>20k) would equal 730,000. The high deaths also track with what we know from many other conflicts regarding the ratio of displaced to death---that ratio is rarely more than 6-1, and there are 4.5 million Iraqis displaced from their homes. See analysis at http://mit.edu/humancostiraq "


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Email: J.Rentoul@independent.co.uk

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posted by u2r2h at Sunday, April 13, 2008 0 comments links to this post

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