another reason why Bush's counter-terrorism policy after 9/11 is
Mark McDonald reports on Knight-Ridder
(bold text is my emphasis):
Heroin producers in Afghanistan,
some of the principal financiers of al-Qaida and other terrorists,
have never before been so brazen or so wealthy.
With a bumper crop of opium poppies under cultivation, Afghan narco-barons
have begun stamping their brand names on the 2.2-pound bags of
heroin they smuggle out of Central Asia to buyers in Moscow,
Amsterdam, London and New York.
Sacks of high-quality Afghan heroin seized last week in Tajikistan
carried the trademarks "Super Power" and "555."
Some of the sacks, which were hidden inside foil-lined containers of
instant cappuccino mix, even included the addresses of the labs in
Afghanistan where the heroin had been refined.
A Western-led campaign against opium-growing and heroin laboratories
has been a wholesale failure, and drug-control experts say the
number of processing facilities in Afghanistan has exploded over the
last year. The trade and huge sums of money involved threaten to
undermine vulnerable bordering states such as Tajikistan.
"There's absolutely no threat to the labs inside
Afghanistan," said Maj. Avaz Yuldashov of the Tajikistan Drug
Control Agency. "Our intelligence shows there are 400 labs
making heroin there, and 80 of them are situated right along our
border. Some of them even work outside, in the open air."
Some 200,000 acres of opium poppies have been planted in
Afghanistan - opium serves as the raw material of heroin - and the
country's late-summer harvest will produce three-fourths of the
world's heroin. That will mean further billions for growers,
smugglers, corrupt officials and Afghan warlords.
It's also likely to mean a windfall of tithes to al-Qaida and its
Islamist brethren said to be regrouping in the mountains of Central
"Drug trafficking from Afghanistan is the main source of
support for international terrorism now," Yuldashov said.
"That's quite clear."
But in recent congressional testimony about heroin flow out of
Afghanistan, Drug Enforcement Administration head Karen Tandy spoke
only of "potential links" and "possible
relationships" between Afghan traffickers and terrorists. Drug
agents in Central Asia say they're baffled by Tandy's hedging.
"The connection is absolutely obvious to us," said Col.
Alexander Kondratiyev, a senior Russian officer who has served with
border guards in Tajikistan for nearly a decade. "Drugs,
weapons, ammunition, terrorism, more drugs, more terrorism - it's a
That circle has profound and ominous implications for the U.S.-led
fight against international terrorism. Regional diplomats, aid
workers and law-enforcement officials fear that the expanding drug
trade will destabilize one of the "stans," the five former
Soviet republics that gained independence after the U.S.S.R.
After cooking up fake stories about
Saddam's WMDs, his supposed links to Al Qaeda and his being a
grave/immediate/imminent threat to the U.S. etc., the Bush
administration is trying to weaken the obvious links between the
riches from drug production in Afghanistan and terrorism (a link
that strongly enabled 9/11 in the first place)! Talk about
incompetence and willful blindness. These are the kind of blinders
that kept them asleep-at-the-wheel before 9/11.
It is clear they have not learnt their lesson AT ALL.
(cross-posted at Compassiongate)
Policy - Bush administration and National/Homeland Security before
This is an analysis of Condi Rice's testimony showing their
and lying compassionate policy on terrorism and national
security before 9/11. Check
Dunlop at The Road to Surfdom elegantly summarizes how Bush has
systematically tried to undermine the 9/11 Commission and ensure that
the truth about his administration does not come out in the open.
In short, this is what Bush's
relationship with the 9/11 Commission boils down to:
- He tried to block the
formation of the commission
- Failing, he then appointed a
patsy chairman, Henry Kissinger
- Then he refused to testify
- And he blocked them from
getting key documents
- Then he agreed to talk with
- But not under oath
- And only for an hour
- And only with the chair and
- And then he insisted on
having Cheney go with him
- And agreed to a single
- Then he refused to grant the
commission a time extension
- Then he tried to stop Rice
- And he blocked the release of
papers from the Clinton era
- Then tried to stop the August
6, 2001 PDB being released
- Then he flip-flopped on the
extension, Rice testifying, the Clinton papers and the PDB
- Then he ran ads saying Kerry
was a flip-flopper
- Then he changed his mind
about the notetaker
- And then he decided to have
his legal counsel along
And then, funniest all, his
spokesman can say this with a straight face:
McClellan said Bush
"appreciates the job the commission is doing. He strongly
supports the commission's important work."
He said the president "very much looks forward to sitting
down with the commission and answering whatever questions they may
(Article link via Corrente and there
is more over there.)
Rice reveals a little something about why Bush and his team slept
through until 9/11
And her fellow chicken-hawks not going to like this interview with
NBC's Lisa Myers (interestingly, a Clinton-hater herself).
Extracts shown, with bold
colored text being my emphasis...
Myers: Okay, you -- you came into office in
January of 2001. You're shown the Predator video. Having
seen the Predator's capabilities, why didn't you push to get the
Predator back up into Afghanistan as soon as it was tested in June
Dr. Condoleezza Rice, National Security Advisor: Well,
in fact, we did push very hard on getting the Predator back up.
I think all of us were impressed with the potential of Predator.
The problem was to get an armed Predator, a Predator that could both
provide reconnaissance so you could see a target and then shoot at
Because if you could only see the target, it took a good long time
to get strike assets into the air. And by that time the target
had moved and so forth. So, we were all very interested in the
There were tests done on the armed Predator. It was a
developmental system. The tests were -- not conclusive.
In fact, there were problems with the operational capability of the
warhead. And we wanted to be sure to marry the right
ordinance, the right warhead with the Predator. Because if
you've ever used it and, in fact, didn't fire, they would know from
then on what it was that you were doing.
The President — the President had said he was tired
of swatting flies. Did you ever say, "September isn't
soon enough? The threat is too serious. We have got to
get this back up there."
we did think about how fast we could accelerate the work on the
Predator. But you always have to be careful to make sure that
you're going to have something that works.
And the tests had not been conclusive.
In fact, the tests had — had shown some of the limitations in the
warhead. It was important to get it back up.
But can you see how to the American people, here the
Predator got us closer to Bin Laden then we've ever been. Yet
it stays parked for many, many months until it's too late.
Rice: Well, first of all, it's not at
all clear that the — the Predator was not a silver bullet.
Let's be very clear about that. Even if you'd been able to get
Predator up, even if you'd — you'd been able to kill Bin Laden, I
think the assessment of the — the analytical intelligence was that
it probably would not have prevented the attack on September 11th.
That by the time that we got to the summer of 2001, at least 16 of
19 hijackers were already in the United States for the — for the
final time. That's the FBI assessment. These people --
were ready to carry out the attack.
The -- the problem
was that we were, as a country, somewhat blind to what was happening
inside the country. Because
we had had a very big wall between domestic intelligence, domestic
collection and — information and what the CIA did.
It was only after September 11th that the country came to terms with
the fact that the FBI and the CIA needed to be able to coordinate on
collection and on sharing of intelligence in a way that would let us
know what was going on in the country.
But still with the broader issues
and to, one, give you a chance to answer some of the things that are
out there from the
critics, first that there was no sense of urgency in the Bush
Administration about terrorism. In retrospect, is it true,
that Russia, China, Iraq, missile defense, were all higher
priorities than fighting terrorism?
Rice: Terrorism was a high priority
for this administration [eRiposte
note: Ha ha ha ha! Yeah, right.].
As a matter of fact, yes, we were concerned about weapons of mass
destruction and their spread. We're still concerned about the
spread of weapons of mass destruction and, therefore, the need for
ballistic missile defense. Yes, it was important to build
relations with Russia and China.
You know Lisa, the first full policy document, signed by the
President on a major policy issue was not about Iraq. It was
not about Russia. It was not about China. It was a plan
to eliminate al-Qaida.
And that plan to eliminate
al-Qaeda was going to take three to five years prior to September
11th [eRiposte note:
Oops! But what about Bush's moral clarity?
That should have allowed you to exterminate Al Qaeda in a day
without waiting for years and approvals from other countries!].
Now, we — what we did
when we came into office was to keep in place the Clinton
Administration policy which had been a policy to try and roll back
al-Qaeda. We continued to pursue that policy.
We thought that we needed a more robust policy.
There were some things that we
had to take some time to look at. How
could you — how — how should you think about arming the Northern
Alliance against the Taliban when, in fact, the Northern Alliance
was in less than 10 percent of the country in Afghanistan.
They weren't going to sweep through Afghanistan prior to September
11th. But we did --
pursue the Clinton Administration policy and pursue it actively
until we could get in place a more comprehensive policy, not to roll
back al-Qaida but to eliminate al-Qaeda.
named in the spring of 2001 that Osama bin Laden was behind the
attacks on the U.S.S. Cole. Why didn't you retaliate?
[eRiposte note: Wow, she's
actually trying to be a journalist, isn't she!]
Rice: The U.S.S. Cole was a terrible,
terrible incident. And it demonstrated yet again that Osama
bin Laden was a threat to the United States. We really felt
that after 1998 when they had bombed the embassies and the response
had not been an overwhelming military response that, in fact, it had
a tendency to embolden the — the terrorists.
And we were worried, particularly since in the campaign we had said
we wouldn't have pinprick strikes using military force. We
were concerned that we didn't have good military options. That
really all we had were options like using cruise missiles to go
after training camps that had long since been abandoned and that it
might have just the opposite effect. It might, in fact,
embolden the terrorist not — not frighten them or not think that
they were being taken seriously. Our response to the U.S.S.
Cole was to get a strategy in place that could finally eliminate the
threat of al-Qaida to the United States. [eRiposte
note: Now you've sorely disappointed all
tremendously, including your
boss who said that the
attackers would pay a "serious price".]
Myers: Now, our sources say that in
the spring of 2000 that the camps in Afghanistan were thriving —
that you could have hit the camps and killed lots of terrorists.
Rice: The problem was to hit camps
with a few cruise missiles; even if you'd been fortunate to — to
get a few people really wasn't going to impress al-Qaida — al-Qaida
had to be eliminated. What
the country had to do was to come to terms with the fact that you
needed a major restructuring of American diplomatic policy.
You needed a new set of choices about Pakistan, about Pakistan's
role in — prior to 9-11, Pakistan was supporting the Taliban.
That made it very difficult to get at the Taliban and, therefore, to
eliminate al-Qaeda. [eRiposte
note: Whoa - who gave her truth serum?! Pakistan sure deserves that
special place in Bush's heart today doesn't it!?] We
needed a major look at new military options that would give the
President something more than just using cruise missiles against
these people. We
really thought that — as my counterterrorist experts said to me,
"If you respond when you respond to something like the Cole,
respond at a time or place of your choosing, not tit for tat, at a
time or place of your choosing."
And the time and place of our choosing was to be a broader, more
comprehensive, more robust, tougher strategy to eliminate al-Qaida.
September 11th intervened.
And then the United States was able, with its allies, to do things
that frankly, would have been unthinkable before September 11th like
using American ground forces and using bases in central Asia —
things that probably were not in the cards before September 11th. [eRiposte
note: Oops! But, but I thought it was all Clinton's fault!]
you think the administration can legitimately be faulted for
spending nine months hashing out a policy when the threats are
growing by the day? They — in retrospect, shouldn't you have
done something? [eRiposte
note: Wow, now she's even trying to get on Bush's "list"!]
Rice: Lisa, we were in office 230 plus
days. That's how long this administration was in office before
September 11th. Al-Qaida had been a problem for many years,
not just for 230 days. And what we were able to do is first of
all continue the Clinton administration policy so that there was no
gap in what we were doing to deal with the al-Qaida problem.
We were then able to — really on an accelerated basis over that
230 plus days, to put in place a policy that was more robust, that
really did envision a fairly dramatic restructuring of our
diplomatic initiatives; that put real funding behind the
intelligence — part of this. We tripled the funding for the
intelligence aspects of taking down al-Qaida. We were able to
look more seriously and put in place new people, more people who
could work on terrorist financing.
It was 233 days. And even if we had been able to do it in 190
or 160 days, it was a policy that our counterterrorism people told
us was going to — to eliminate al-Qaida over three to five years.
This was not something that was going to stop September 11th.
The Northern Alliance was
not going to sweep through Afghanistan, defeat the Taliban and
defeat Al-Qaeda in a period of six months. It simply wasn't
going to happen.
11th was a terrible event in the history of the United States.
I think that people dealt
with al-Qaida as they best knew how, the Clinton administration
before us and — and the Bush Administration.
note: Oops!] But the fact of
the matter is when we went to war against them, after September
11th, we went to war against them with all of the assets of the
United States fully deployed. And it's still going to take a
long time to defeat them.
Myers: Thank you very much.
Rice: Thank you very much.
on foreign terrorists removes the spotlight from dangerous domestic
terrorists, who are politically inconvenient to the Bush
The outstanding David Neiwert has been keeping the focus on domestic
terrorism. He has a must-read post here.
I reproduce significant portions here:
anyone wanted evidence that the "war on terror" is
primarily a political marketing campaign -- in which war itself is
mostly a device for garnering support -- they need look no farther
than the startling non-response to domestic terrorism by the Bush
This failure is particularly embodied by the
Texas cyanide bomb plot -- largely because the refusal by John
Ashcroft's Justice Department to give the story significant media
play is problematic at best. Considering that Ashcroft leaps to the
podium at nearly every turn in announcing the arrests of potential
Al Qaeda-oriented terror suspects -- not to mention the readiness of
the Department of Homeland Security to raise the "threat"
level to Code Orange -- the silence in the Texas case is disturbing.
At the very least, the DoJ owes the public -- for ethical reasons
alone -- an open assessment of the threat posed by the potential
presence of cyanide bombs in the hands of domestic terrorists on
American soil. If William Krar indeed manufactured and distributed
more of these bombs, then shouldn't the public be both thoroughly
alerted, informed and watchful?
As I've argued
domestic terrorists (especially the "lone
wolf" type) pose at least as great a real threat to public
safety as their international brethren -- if, for no other reason,
than that they fully intend to "piggyback" on attacks like
those of Sept. 11. (This is not to mention the facts that they can
operate with great impunity, since they are likelier to go
undetected, and they are equally motivated and inclined to act
violently.) The anthrax
terrorist, it should go without saying, was a clear-cut case of
this. More to the point, white supremacists' core agenda has
revolved directly around terrorism for more than a generation now,
precisely because they believe the public must be convinced that
democracy is a failure and will not keep them safe. The more chaos,
the more terror, the more they believe they can shake up the system
enough to seize power. That was, after all, the purpose of the
Oklahoma City bombing.
It must be noted that the failure is not particularly one of law
enforcement -- though even there, problems exist. But the FBI
notably has not backed down, philosophically speaking, in its
pursuit of domestic terrorists since Sept. 11, as the Tyler case
demonstrated. Once Krar's materiel cache was uncovered, the agency
committed the full phalanx of investigators and other resources to
the case. And the reality is that, as
the Washington Post reported earlier this year, agents
themselves thoroughly understand that domestic terrorism needs to be
a top priority in any "war on terrorism," and generally
have acted accordingly.
What's becoming clearer is that this priority is not shared by top
officials in the administration. Since Sept. 11, the FBI and other
security agencies have massively shifted their terrorism focus to
those components related to Al Qaeda and similar international
terror groups. The Tyler case (like others) only was broken because
of an accidental stroke of good fortune (namely, a traffic stop).
Any philosophical priority given to domestic terrorism has been
overwhelmed by the reality of funding and manpower devoted
Indeed, Frederick Clarkson reported in Salon last
month that the DoJ took unusual steps to keep the trial of
domestic terrorist Clayton Waagner -- who'd tried to
"piggyback" himself on the anthrax terrorist by mailing
death-threat letters stuffed with white powder to abortion clinics
-- a low-profile case. Likewise, there have been multiple
of domestic terrorism in the past year that have failed to receive
Chip is exactly right, incidentally, about the "fear to
offend." In fact, I couldn't begin to count the editors and
reporters I've known who fear even running stories about white
supremacists because they might offend various people and stir up
"bad feelings" in the communities. "Let sleeping dogs
lie" is a line I've heard all too often. The sad reality is
that the disinclination to report on domestic terrorism has a long
history that deepened in the 1990s.
Moreover, the post-2000 press corps has become slavishly corporate,
and the post-9/11 ethos mandates a close adherence to the White
House line. If the administration doesn't push the story, it's not
As Danny Levitas observes:
several Arab Americans with definitive links to known terrorist
organizations been found in the President's home state with a
sodium cyanide bomb, how long do you think it would have taken
Attorney General John Ashcroft to call a national news
conference and announce it? I'm not saying that I think anything
was done to bury or lower the profile of this story
intentionally. But I think it is quite reasonable to assume that
had Arab American terrorists been involved (as opposed to white
supremacists and militia activists) we would not have heard the
end of this, and that would have been way back in April when the
WMD and other massive explosives were first discovered.
Also, it is worth considering the nature of the materiel
uncovered. Land mine components, suitcase bombs, binary
explosives, more than 60 fully functional pipe bombs, and more.
This is the biggest stockpile of the most dangerous stuff that I
can EVER recall being found in connection with the
white-supremacist and neo-Nazi movement. [Ed. note: more on that
Jensen had the most
telling comment on the case:
Think, if you will, about the
different kinds of terror at work here. The war against
international terror plays out on a global stage, and as it's been
waged so far by this administration, in remote and exotic locales.
When Bush invokes the "war on terror," it revolves
around images of Arab fanatics and desert combat. It's far removed
from our daily realities -- except, of course, for the coffins
coming home on military transports, images of which are forbidden
to the press.
- I think the reason for that,
if I were to speculate -- not being in the brain of John
Ashcroft -- is that cases like this -- of domestic terrorism,
especially when they involve white supremacist and
conservative Christian groups, don't have any political value
for an administration, especially this particular
administration. Therefore, why -- if one were going to be
crass and cynical, why Would they highlight this?
On the other hand, foreign terrorism and things connected to
Arab, South Asian and Muslim groups, well those have value
because they can be used to whip up support for military
interventions, which this administration is very keen on.
The attacks of Sept. 11 are raised to remind us it can strike
here, but the source of the terror is something that seems distant
and disattached to us...This is a highly marketable kind of
terrorism, in the sense that its potential threat can be invoked
at any time to justify an entire panoply of political moves, as
well as to impugn the patriotism of your opponents...Domestic
terrorism, however, has none of these advantages. Its actors, as
we have come to understand, could in fact be the Gulf War vet next
door. We all have known or encountered intense ideological
believers, kooks if you will, who seem just half-steps removed
from William Krar or Tim McVeigh. Mostly we like to ignore them as
simple aberrations, unlikely to cause much harm.
Cases like Krar's are stark reminders that this is a dangerous
presumption. Domestic terrorists may not have mounted a body count
to match Al Qaeda's, but since 1995, the
drumbeat of right-wing extremist violence has been regular and
substantial -- much more so than anything committed by overseas
Making the public aware of the threat from domestic terrorists,
especially as part of a real war on terrorism, would require
getting the public to confront the reality that the "axis of
evil" comprises not merely brown-skinned people with turbans
and fanatical gleams but also that surly white guy next door with
the pipe-bomb arsenal in his basement.
Wright has astutely observed:
with confronting this reality is that it throws into stark relief
the ineffectiveness of the Bush Doctrine -- particularly as it has
played out in the invasion of Iraq. It makes all too clear that
the current conflict is not only a grotesquely ineffective
response to the challenge posed by terrorism, it is likely to
worsen the problem exponentially. [eRiposte
note: See my
the foreseeable future, smaller and smaller groups of
intensely motivated people will have the ability to kill
larger and larger numbers of people.
The number of intensely aggrieved groups will almost certainly
grow in the coming decades of rapid technological, and hence
Moreover, no one is going to be mistaking most domestic terrorists
(except, of course, the ELF/ALF contingent) with liberals. If
anyone's patriotism is likely to be impugned by association with the
right-wing extremists who have consistently been involved in
the considerable bulk of domestic American terrorism in the past
decade, it would be Republicans.
Arabia is all the rage in the context of 9/11. But let's not forget
All the focus on the role of Saudi Arabia is taking attention
away from Pakistan, which has been the incubator of major terrorist
groups (and still is) and one of the key supporters of the Taliban.
Here's what this Times of India report has to say about funding for
9/11 partly originating from Pakistan. I wonder how much of the 9/11
report focuses on this.
...A top FBI
counter-terrorism official told the US Senate governmental affairs
committee on Thursday that investigators have “traced the origin of
the funding of 9/11 back to financial accounts in Pakistan.’’
John S Pistole, deputy assistant director of
the FBI’s counter-terrorism division, however, did not specify how
those accounts in Pakistan were funded, or the role of Pakistani
elements. The Times of India first reported on October 10, 2001
that India told the US that some $100,000 had been wired to the leader
of the hijackers, Mahmud Atta, by British-born terrorist Ahmad Saeed
Indian authorities also told the US that the trail led back from
Sheikh to the then chief of ISI, Lt Gen Mahmud Ahmad who was
subsequently forced to retire by Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf.
The FBI had been provided with the details, including Sheikh’s
mobile numbers. But Pistole’s testimony is silent on these issues.
The FBI has estimated the September 11 attacks cost between $175,000
and $250,000. That money — which paid for flight training, travel
and other expenses — flowed to the hijackers through associates in
Germany and the United Arab Emirates.
Those associates reported to Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who managed much
of the planning for the attacks from Pakistan, US officials have said.
The Bush Administration is being cagey about declassifying 28 secret
pages in a recent report on the 9/11 incident which officials say
outline connections between Saudi charities, royal family members and
US authorities are silent about the role some Pakistanis may have
played in the conspiracy. The role of Sheikh and Lt Gen Ahmad has yet
to see the light of the day. Sheikh, wanted for kidnapping and
terrorist conspiracy in India, has since been sentenced to death in
Pakistan for the murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel
Administration failed to use Predator drones over Afghanistan prior to
9/11 despite Clinton team prodding
President Bush took office in January 2001, the White House was told
that Predator drones had recently spotted Osama bin Laden as many as
three times and officials were urged to arm the unmanned planes with
missiles to kill the al Qaeda leader.
But the administration failed to get drones back into the Afghan skies
until after the September 11 attacks later that year, current and
former U.S. officials say.
Top administration officials discussed the mission to kill bin Laden
as late as one week before the suicide attacks on New York and
Washington, but they had not yet resolved a debate over whether the
CIA or Pentagon should operate the armed Predators and whether the
missiles would be sufficiently lethal, officials told The Associated
Where's the blame-Clinton crowd?
When the time comes to accept responsibility,
suddenly the importance of getting things all lined up perfectly
becomes paramount. Touching.
The GOP and the Politics of Terror
J. Dionne's column in the Washington Post is worth reading. We
reproduce it here for your benefit.
The Politics Of Terror
Fear Has Become Part Of Washington's Power Struggle
By E.J. Dionne Jr.
Sunday, May 25, 2003; Page B01
"Mr. President, the only way you are ever
going to get this is to make a speech and scare the hell out of
So said Sen. Arthur Vandenberg to President
Harry Truman in 1947. Vandenberg, a Republican, was giving
Truman advice on how to get Congress to vote for aid to help
Turkey and Greece in their fight against communist insurgents.
But Vandenberg might as well have been laying out rule number
one in the Politics of the Cold War. From 1947 until the fall of
the Soviet Union in 1991, the country was scared as hell about
Soviet power and the threat of nuclear war. And these fears
dominated political life.
If Vandenberg's words have a familiar ring
these days, it's because the new Politics of Terrorism bear
remarkable similarities to the old Politics of the Cold War.
Fear has once again become a powerful tool and motivator.
Consider President Bush's speech to religious
broadcasters last February as he built the case for war against
Iraq. "Chemical agents, lethal viruses and shadowy
terrorist networks are not easily contained," he declared.
"Secretly, without fingerprints, Saddam Hussein could
provide one of his hidden weapons to terrorists or help them
develop their own. Saddam Hussein is a threat. He's a threat to
the United States of America."
Bush scared the hell out of the country, and
we followed him to Iraq. Vandenberg might have approved.
The new Politics of Terrorism have immensely
strengthened the political standing of George W. Bush. The basic
facts are well known. Immediately before 9/11, Bush's approval
ratings were falling. In his memoir, "The Right Man,"
former Bush speechwriter David Frum admitted that he was
planning to leave the White House before 9/11 because he did not
want to watch as the Bush presidency "unraveled."
After 9/11, Bush's approval soared. Frum would argue that this
was a tribute to Bush's handling of the attacks. It was also a
tribute to the nation's deep desire to unite behind its
president. The country, said Mark Penn, a Democratic pollster,
had declared: "This is America, we hold together in the
face of such a tragedy."
For months, criticism of Bush was put on hold
as Democrats scrambled to prove how cooperative and patriotic
they were. But if it was unpatriotic to criticize Bush in the
months after 9/11, when would criticism become patriotic again,
especially since the war on terrorism would be a long, twilight
struggle? Shrewdly -- if, in the eyes of their opponents,
manipulatively -- Republicans became experts at the political
version of Whack-a-Mole. Any time Democrats poked up their heads
to challenge the president, especially on terrorism, they were
beaten down for a lack of patriotism.
Leading Democrats -- particularly Sen. Tom
Daschle, Rep. Richard Gephardt, Sen. John Kerry -- all received
this treatment. Typical was House Speaker Dennis Hastert's
comment about Daschle's criticism of Bush's diplomacy before the
Iraq war. Daschle, he said, had "come mighty close" to
"giv[ing] comfort to our adversaries." That is Cold
War talk -- as is guilt by association, this time with the
The Cold War metaphor also applies to
intellectuals and activists on the left. Because the terrorism
threat is real, as the Soviet threat was, even Bush's staunchest
opponents have taken it seriously. Many on the left supported
the war in Afghanistan and defended Bush's use of words such as
"totalitarian" to define the terrorist enemy. Much of
the left also rallied to the American cause at the start of the
Cold War .
But the united front against terrorism has
been even stronger than the unity mustered back then. In the
Cold War years, some on the left -- a minority that shrank as
time went on -- still insisted that the Soviet Union was a
"progressive" force. There was no way to argue that
the Taliban or Osama bin Laden's marriage of medievalism and
fascism were in the least bit "progressive." A
"Liberals for the Taliban" organization is as
improbable as a group called "Conservatives for
Permissiveness and Socialism."
Obsession with secrecy is another trait the
war on terrorism and the Cold War share. Many of the great
controversies of the early Cold War era -- the spying
convictions of the Rosenbergs and Alger Hiss -- were about the
disclosure of secrets to the communist enemy. The new politics
of terrorism reinforces the Bush administration's penchant to
keep secret as much as possible -- witness Vice President
Cheney's refusal to disclose information from his energy task
force. For months, the administration postponed a serious
inquiry on the intelligence failures preceding 9/11 on the
grounds that it might inform terrorists of our weak points.
The new politics of terrorism also revive the
issues that have naturally favored Republicans. For three
consecutive presidential elections beginning in 1980, foreign
policy toughness was a central pillar of Republican strategy,
causing defections to the GOP among neoconservative
intellectuals and working class New Dealers alike.
The importance of the Cold War to Republicans
was underscored by the differences between the last election of
the Cold War, in 1988, and the first post-Cold War election in
1992. In both elections, George H.W. Bush was the GOP nominee.
In both elections, he won large majorities among voters who
listed foreign policy as a primary concern. The big difference?
By the time Bush was running for reelection, foreign policy had
receded as a central issue for most voters, despite the military
victory that Bush had orchestrated in Kuwait. In 1992, most of
the country voted on economics and other domestic issues. The
Republicans were routed. George Will, the conservative
columnist, captured the elder Bush's problem perfectly:
"George Bush prepared all his life to conduct the Cold War,
only to have it end, leaving him (almost literally)
This President Bush is not speechless when it
comes to the new dynamic created by terrorism, as he showed in
the 2002 midterm elections. Bush turned public anxiety into
Republican votes by arguing that the then-Democratic Senate was
"not interested in the security of the American
A national threat serves Bush in another way:
When voters look for security, especially from foreign enemies,
they look to the executive branch of government. Franklin D.
Roosevelt understood this in 1940 as war raged across Europe.
His slogan then was, "Don't change horses in
midstream." In 1940, the horse was a Democrat; now, the
horse is a Republican.
There is one important difference between
Roosevelt's approach and Bush's. FDR saw fear as something that
could paralyze a nation and prevent action. Bush (like Harry
Truman and Vandenberg before him) sees fear as moving the nation
to action. Each new terrorist alert reminds the nation of the
dangers it faces. Each terrorist action pushes other issues to
the background, which in a sluggish economy can only help Bush.
A cynic might say that the only thing Republicans have to fear
is the end of fear itself. Whatever doubts Americans have about
Bush's handling of the economy, polls show they see him as a
strong and steadfast leader when it comes to facing down foreign
And since the war on terrorism, like the Cold
War, will be long, shadowy and difficult, there is no telling
when it will be declared over. The toppling of those Saddam
statues was not like the fall of the Berlin Wall. After Saddam,
there are many enemies to slay, many terror cells to break up.
An open-ended, low-level campaign serves
Bush's political interests far better than a shorter but
all-consuming conflict. World War II, for example, demanded the
total mobilization of American resources and sacrifices from all
sectors of society. The sacrifices in the war on terrorism are
asked mostly of members of the military, police and
firefighters, and few others. Because this war is a sometime
thing, Bush can give patriotic speeches on even days and
tax-cutting speeches on odd ones. The fiscal package Congress
adopted last week suggests that the war on terrorism can,
indeed, coexist with tax cuts without end.
This could help Bush avoid the fate of Winston
Churchill. The British prime minister was bounced from office in
1945 -- despite his brilliant leadership -- by an electorate
whose wartime sacrifice and solidarity made them ready to
embrace the Labor Party's program of social reform. Sorry,
Democrats, 2004 doesn't look like 1945.
So when does this stop? One Democratic
pollster argues that the mystery for his party is whether there
is a "tipping point." If, God forbid, there are more
terrorist attacks -- especially if they happen in the United
States -- does Bush gain additional strength, or do Americans
begin to question his leadership?
For Democrats such as Sen. Joseph Lieberman,
the answer is straightforward: The party should be as tough as
Bush, neutralize the foreign policy and terrorism issues, and
win on domestic concerns. This certainly worked for the
Democrats before. In 1960, John F. Kennedy Jr. was at least as
much of a Cold Warrior as Richard M. Nixon was. Kennedy even
argued that the Eisenhower administration had let American
defenses go soft and allowed a "missile gap" to grow.
Putting aside that the missile gap was largely
invented, Democrats are now looking for its equivalent. Rep.
David Obey and Sens. John Edwards and Bob Graham have argued
that Bush's budget cuts and the fiscal crises in the states and
localities are forcing cutbacks in the very resources -- police,
firefighters, rescue workers -- that need to be strengthened to
Graham says that the war on Iraq undermined
the war on terrorism by shifting attention away from al Qaeda,
and he reiterated this point after the recent attacks in Saudi
Arabia. Kerry floated his own get-tougher message in a letter
last week urging Bush to subject Saudi Arabia to the
money-laundering provisions of the Patriot Act. Kerry also tried
to enlist public support for a new patriotism that insists on
both rights and responsibilities. Being responsible, the
Massachusetts senator said, included being tough on corporate
greed and tax cuts for the wealthy.
Will any of this work? David Winston, a
Republican pollster, argues that Democrats are in a box. In
2002, he says, they failed to speak strongly and clearly about
terrorism. But if they now attack Bush's handling of terrorism,
they risk looking "partisan," a charge from which
Bush, so far, seems immune. In Winston's analysis, the new
politics of terror may mean that Democrats are damned if they
do, and damned if they don't.
Salvation could come if a worsening economy
reduced terrorism's political salience. If Iraq becomes a nasty
quagmire, Bush will be held responsible. Already last week,
Democratic senators and even some Republicans blasted the
administration for lacking a plan to deal with postwar Iraq.
Democrats who were divided on the war itself are largely united
on the need to internationalize the rebuilding effort. People
may even ask where Iraq's weapons went. Politics were not static
during the Cold War and will not become static now.
But let there be no doubt: Terrorism has
transformed American politics and has given Bush advantages he
never anticipated. And he has shown that he'll make good use of
every single one of them.
A survey of President Bush's appointees/nominees to agencies
related to National Security
Dubious security alert and
The major security alert last week looks fishy now. As Newsday
reports (via Thinking
it Through) (bold text is our emphasis):
"...The Bush administration dramatically shifted its terrorism
message on Friday, downplaying the likelihood of an attack even though
it did not lower the official terrorist threat level. Homeland
Security Secretary Tom Ridge said a terrorist attack is
"unlikely,” a week after Attorney General John Ashcroft said
there was an "increased likelihood” of an attack on the United
States. Ridge also said that intelligence about a possible attack
"more often than not is very vague.” Ashcroft had said
"specific intelligence” that was "corroborated by multiple
intelligence sources” led he and Ridge to raised the threat status
to its second-highest level. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.)
reinforced the administration's message, saying on the Senate floor
that the risk of a terrorist attack with biological, chemical or
nuclear weapons is "tiny.”...In a news conference, Ridge
clarified the Homeland Security Department's suggestion on Monday that
citizens buy duct tape and plastic sheeting to seal windows in case of
an attack with biological, chemical or radioactive weapons. "I
want to make something very, very clear at this point. We do not want
individuals or families to start sealing their doors or windows,”
Ridge said. He noted that the department had only recommended that
people have those items as part of an emergency supply kit to be used
"in the unlikely but possible event something could occur in your
community.”...Meanwhile, a senior administration official
confirmed an ABC News report that some information that prompted the
terrorist-threat upgrade was probably fabricated. ABC News reported
that terrorist suspects questioned by the government had failed a
That ABC News Report may be found
here (bold text our emphasis):
"...The officials said that a claim made by a captured al
Qaeda member that Washington, New York or Florida would be hit by a
"dirty bomb" sometime this week had proven to be a product
of his imagination. The informant described a detailed plan that
an al Qaeda cell operating in either Virginia or Detroit had developed
a way to slip past airport scanners with dirty bombs encased in shoes,
suitcases, or laptops, sources told ABCNEWS. The informant reportedly
cited specific targets of government buildings and Christian or
clerical centers. "This piece of that puzzle turns out to be
fabricated and therefore the reason for a lot of the alarm,
particularly in Washington this week, has been dissipated after they
found out that this information was not true," said Vince
Cannistraro, former CIA counter-terrorism chief and ABCNEWS
consultant. It was only after the threat level was elevated to
orange — meaning high — last week, that the informant was
subjected to a polygraph test by the FBI, officials told ABCNEWS.
"This person did not pass," said Cannistraro..."
Hill Blue has a more disturbing note:
a week of warning Americans
to get ready for an imminent terrorist attack, a chagrined Bush
administration now admits a key source of information for that attack
was fabricated by a captured al Qaida operative.
"We've wondering just how much egg we have on our face,"
says one unhappy White House source. "Right now, the worst
thing that could occur for the administration's credibility is that
nothing happens this weekend. I know that sounds terrible but we've
got a lot riding on this."...CIA officials urged delaying
elevating the threat level until the story could be checked through
other sources but the administration decided to go ahead and alert the
Only after the threat was elevated did the FBI administer a lie
detector test to the operative and the test showed he was lying
repeatedly about the dirty bombs and threats. "He
did not pass," said Vince Callistrano, former terrorism chief for
points out that per the Chicago Tribune, Tom Ridge said that the duct tape
directive had been previous tested on a "focus group" (!)
"...Amid growing public hysteria spawned by
White House warnings about imminent terrorist attacks, and advice on
how to endure such attacks -- buy duct tape! -- Homeland Security
Director Tom Ridge has defended the warnings on the grounds that they
have been pre-tested with focus groups.
Incredible. Ridge and the White House tried out the duct-tape
stuff on a FOCUS GROUP!
And this is supposed to be a government? Making its judgments
about the war on terrorism and national security on the basis of focus
This from the Administration of George W. Bush who, lying through his
teeth, told the American people in 2000 that he doesn't rely on
polling and focus groups?..."
Boehlert in Salon focuses on criticisms that the media fanned hysteria
without adding a critical check to White House propaganda
U.S. no better prepared today than it was
before 9/11 to withstand major terrorist attack
Here are some sad facts, for which the Bush administration largely
owns responsibility (note that bold text and color is our
emphasis). The way things are going gives us little confidence that
this administration is really focusing on shoring up our security
sufficiently to avoid further terrorist attacks, not to mention that
on Iraq only risks inciting more terrorist violence without
addressing the real problem of Al Qaeda.
1. As stated before, funding for 9/11
investigation panel has been abysmal - so we still don't know all the
reasons why 9/11 happened. P.L.A.
has a great post showing the farcical nature of the $3 million
provided by the Bush administration for the 9/11 investigative panel.
Jane, we did not know how much investigations cost and
therefore had no basis on which to judge whether $3 million
was sufficient. We decided to find out the cost of other
investigations in order to have a basis for comparison. One
place we looked for such information was in the costs of
Independent Counsel Investigations. Because we did not wish to
start a partisan brawl, we ignored the costs of Whitewater
and Iran/Contra investigations. This is what we found:
the government $1.5 million to investigate whether or not
Michael Deaver had engaged in improper lobbying.
The investigation into HUD scandals under Samuel Pierce cost
The investigation into whether or not Bush I officials
improperly looked at Bill Clinton’s passport records
cost $2.8 million.
The failed investigation into whether Mike Espy took illegal
The investigation into whether or not Henry Cisneros’s
statement to the FBI in which he acknowledged paying money to
a former mistress misstated the amount of money he paid cost
We also looked into the investigation of other terrorist acts.
With regard to the Oklahoma City bombing, the FBI spent
in excess of $60 million in its investigation. The defense spent
$2 million on investigators. The government funded the total
defense in an amount in excess of $13 million up through
The investigation of Eric Rudolph, the alleged Olympic and
abortion clinic bomber has cost
over $20 million.
Other investigative costs:
source suggests that the cost of the investigation into
the crash of TWA flight 800 was about $35 million.
of recovery and investigation into the Challenger disaster was
at least $43 million.
The budget for John Danforth’s investigation into the Waco
matter was $11
Each of those investigations had particular facts and
circumstances that required different costs. None of them are
a perfect analogy for a 9/11 investigation. The Independent
Counsel investigations were pointed at criminal prosecutions.
The TWA and Challenger investigations had the costs of
recovering debris from the bottom of the ocean. The Eric
Rudolph investigation had the cost of searching a large area
of heavily wooded, mountainous terrain. John Danforth’s
investigation into Waco is perhaps the most similar to the
proposed 9/11 investigation. Danforth’s investigation was
limited to interviewing witnesses and reviewing documents.
That is likely to also be true of a 9/11 investigation. The
purpose of the Danforth investigation was to determine the
appropriateness of governmental actions. The same is likely to
be true of a 9/11 investigation. We think that an
investigation of 9/11 would be substantially more expensive
than the investigation of Waco. The witnesses are spread all
over the globe. There are many more governmental decisions to
investigate. The number of witnesses and documents is likely
to be far greater. We do not recall anyone suggesting
that the Danforth investigation was overly zealous or overly
expensive. It is difficult to see how 9/11 could be
adequately investigated for $3 million if it took almost four
times that amount to investigate Waco.
Now that we have a frame of reference for the costs of
investigations, do you think that $3 million is an adequate
budget for a September 11 investigation? We do not.
In the comment section Andy X reports that he has calculated
the cost in present day dollars of each of the investigations
For all investigations, I
took the annual average CPI value for the first year of each
investigation and turned them into December 2002 dollars (in
1986 Deaver 2.6
1990 Pierce 38.9
1992 Passport 3.7
1994 Espy 21.3
1995 Cisneros 8.7
1995 OKC 86.7
1996 Eric Rudolph 23.1
1996 Flight 800 40.4
1986 Challenger 71.0
2000 Waco 11.6
administration thinks that the 9/11 investigation will be of a
complexity to fall somewhere between the determination of
whether Michael Deaver improperly lobbied and whether the Bush
I administration looked at Clinton's passport file."
for emergency response divisions like police and firefighting units
has been well below what was promised:
"..."The bottom line for us is
that we are no better off than we were on Sept. 11, that we're not
ready for a terrorist strike," said Mayor John DeStefano Jr. of
New Haven, where only about 10 percent of the city's 380 firefighters
have received the protective equipment and specialized training needed
to deal with a chemical or biological attack...Senior
Bush administration officials, including Tom Ridge, the secretary of
homeland security, acknowledged that the situation for local
governments had become grave. "They still haven't seen dime
one," Mr. Ridge said after being sworn in last month, referring
to the federal aid the state and local governments were promised.
"They're frustrated, they're disappointed, they aren't
happy," he said, adding that local leaders around the country had
"`every reason" to be angry with Washington...they conceded
that the aid had come nowhere near the levels the administration
promised in January 2002, when it announced the $3.5 billion package
for "first responders" — state and local police,
firefighters and emergency medical teams. "We find ourselves
in a moment of history where we, as leaders, have to respond,"
President Bush said then. "We've got to remember first
responders. The first minutes or hours after an attack are the most
hopeful minutes for saving lives."...Harold Schaitberger, the
president of the International Association of Fire Fighters, a union
representing 250,000 firefighters and emergency-response workers, said
firefighters across the country had felt abandoned by the federal
government. "I find it ironic that my members are being asked
this week to respond to a heightened threat to terrorism, and yet we
haven't received a meaningful dollar in the last 16 months of
promises," Mr. Schaitberger said..."People
have a sense that they are being protected, that they are more
secure," he said. "But this government has yet to provide
our domestic defenders with the equipment and training they need to
fight the war on terrorism on the home front."..."
- Democrats attack Bush on counterterrorism budget
said the 2003 budget plan approved by Congressional negotiators this
week provided the government with only a fraction of the money needed
for domestic defense programs in such dangerous times. They said the
president's budget proposal for next year would leave police and fire
departments around the country dangerously unprepared. The
White House has insisted that its 2004 budget request, which calls for
a $41.3 billion budget for domestic security programs, a 10 percent
increase, reflected a strong commitment to defend the country from
terrorist attacks. That assertion was harshly challenged today by
Democrats, who said the public was willing to spend billions of
dollars more than was proposed by Republicans....Almost in unison, the
Democratic presidential contenders said today that Mr. Bush had not
done enough to protect the nation from harm, and several suggested
that White House recommendations that Americans husband duct tape to
protect themselves from a chemical attack was emblematic of its
bumbling response. They drew a contrast between what they called Mr.
Bush's stingy approach to domestic security and his new push for large
tax cuts, all at a time when he is trying to rally a clearly
ambivalent American public behind a war in Iraq...Senator Hillary
Clinton, a New York Democrat who has been outspoken on the issue, said
in an interview that the administration was involved in a "shell
game," adding that "it's unthinkable to raise the national
threat alert and decrease the funding for homeland security."..."
Big gaps in national security
"...THE CORE of the new Cabinet-level
department’s capability to predict and prepare for potential
terrorist attacks on U.S. soil will be its Information Analysis and
Infrastructure Protection division, scheduled to begin operations
March 1. The bulk of that division will come from an existing FBI unit
known as the National Infrastructure Protection Center (NIPC), which
will be transferring 307 positions to the new department. But NIPC has
suffered crippling defections and reassignments as FBI employees who
work for it have scrambled to find other positions to maintain their
career tracks within the FBI, MSNBC.com has learned.
The law creating Homeland Security does not mandate that FBI agents
working for NIPC voluntarily give up their jobs in the bureau. NIPC
is responsible for the Key Asset Initiative, a program staffed by 216
field agents that identifies potential physical and cyber threats to
“key assets” among the nation’s most vital infrastructure, such
as banks, nuclear power plants, oil pipelines, ports and reservoirs,
and develops protection plans for them.
But come March 1, the Key Asset Initiative will essentially grind to
halt — not one of the 216 agents in the program is transferring to
the Department of Homeland Security..."
5. Martin O'Malley in WP:
Taxing Homeland Security
"...If you're inclined to support
the president on taking military action against Iraq but your gut is
uneasy about this war, take heart: Your gut is right. The uneasiness
you feel is not about our strength abroad -- the might of the U.S.
military, once unleashed, will no doubt oust Saddam Hussein and
vanquish the Iraqi army. Unfortunately, that palpable apprehension is
based on the vague but nagging sense of a dangerous, undeniable truth:
Most of America's population centers, and most of its economic
infrastructure, are nearly as vulnerable to attack now as they were on
Sept. 11, 2001..."
The State of our Defense
we can do," Vice President Dick Cheney told a gathering of top
Administration officials to discuss bioterrorism, "is ask
ourselves, Have we done everything we can to prevent an attack? I want
to be able to look all of you in the eye and (have you) tell me that
we have done all that we can."
So have we? While the Administration demonstrated again last week
its determination to remind Americans of the dangers of terrorism, it
has done far less to prepare the country for actually defending
against it. While the White House's suggestion that Americans
defend themselves against chemical or biological attacks with duct
tape and plastic sheeting was dismissed by many for its naivete, it laid
bare a sobering truth: the U.S. still doesn't have a credible and
comprehensive system in place to cope with such attacks. "We're
not building the means to respond well," says Stephen Flynn, a
homeland-security expert at the Council on Foreign Relations.
"And when we have that next terrorist incident, there will be
hell to pay, because the American people will be in disbelief about
how little has been done."
Though President Bush pledged last January to send $3.5 billion to
the state and local authorities who will bear the burden of responding
to a terrorism emergency, the money was appropriated by Congress only
last week. Interviews with dozens of homeland-security officials, from
New York City to Long Beach, Calif., reveal that while local
authorities around the country are more aware of the potential for
terrorist strikes, they lack the resources to upgrade defenses against
them. Hospitals say they can't train enough employees to effectively
spot and treat victims of biological attacks; fire departments can't
afford to buy the haz-mat suits needed to guard against deadly germs;
sheriffs say they still learn about terrorist threats from cnn. The
bottom line is that in many respects, the homeland is no more secure
than it was on Sept. 10, 2001. "The biggest thing we've
done," says William Harper, head of homeland security for the
state of Arkansas, "is to avoid feeling comfortable."..."
7. E. J. Dionne in the WP:
GOP leader Tom DeLay attacks unions, including those of firefighters
majority leader known as "the Hammer" decided it was
impolitic to stand behind an outrageous letter he signed attacking the
American trade union movement as unpatriotic...DeLay didn't quite
apologize. One of his aides said over the weekend that DeLay never saw
the fundraising diatribe on which his name appeared and "doesn't
believe the words that were ascribed to him."..."It
is truly sickening that, at a time when we desperately need everyone
in America to pull together," said the disavowed letter,
"the big labor bosses are willing to harm freedom-loving workers,
the war effort and the economy to acquire more power." Unionized
firefighters and police officers were America's heroes after 9/11. But
the letter attacked "high-paid union lobbyists" for
"convincing Sens. Ted Kennedy and Hillary Rodham Clinton to try
ramming through legislation to force the nation's firefighters and
policemen to accept union bosses as their exclusive workplace
spokesmen." This didn't sit well with Harold A. Schaitberger,
president of the International Association of Fire Fighters. "How
dare you question the patriotism of the nation's firefighters and
their elected union leaders," he wrote DeLay, "all of whom
have crawled down a burning hallway, faced uncontrolled flames and
risked their lives countless time for the citizens of our great
nation." Now, DeLay's decision to disentangle himself from the
letter is lovely. But if he's serious, the Hammer has a lot more
disavowing to do. After all, DeLay and his party spent the 2002
election campaign suggesting that standing up for the rights of
unionized public employees was indeed contrary to the national
security interests of the United States. Remember the debate over the
bill creating the Department of Homeland Security? President Bush
insisted that it contain provisions curtailing the rights of unionized
public employees whose jobs would fall within the new department.
Senate Democrats, joined by Republican Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island,
White Supremacist terrorists/supporters
Thanks to Atrios for reporting on this. In the following we provide
some snippets and background from Atrios' slew of past articles (bold
text is our emphasis).
As reported by ABC
News, "...A former National Guard officer and his ex-wife
pleaded innocent to charges they attempted to sell illegally obtained
national security secrets that the FBI said are worth millions of
dollars....The stolen documents related to
U.S. chemical, nuclear and biological capabilities still have not been
recovered, said FBI agent Lee McEuen. "They
are worth, on the black market, millions of dollars, and would be of
huge interest to militias and terrorist organizations," he
testified. "Based on that, I believe they are a huge danger to
the United States...The indictment said Deborah Davila lied to
federal agents when she said she did not recognize the name of Kirk
Lyons, an attorney who has represented leaders of the Ku Klux Klan and
the anti-tax Posse Comitatus at trials, and had never met him..."
As reported by the Seattle
Post-Intelligencer, "...Rafael Davila, 51, a former major and
intelligence specialist with the Washington National Guard. He stands
accused of taking perhaps hundreds of documents, including at least
one on chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, and she of sending
those documents out. The ultimate recipients, federal agents fear,
were radical, anti-government groups within the United States. The
documents, which filled a dozen or more boxes, remain missing...The
idea of white supremacist and other right-wing groups studying these
top-secret papers worries law enforcement. "They (the militia)
are definitely still out there," said one federal criminal
justice source. "They cannot be discounted as a potential threat
as far as committing a terrorist act. The biggest concern is that you
get a Timothy McVeigh or Eric Rudolph."...And even though
Deborah Davila first went to the FBI more than three years ago, her
cooperation so quickly evaporated that she is now charged with
lying to the FBI about knowing Kirk Lyons, a North Carolina lawyer
whose client list reads like a Who's Who of Nazis, Klansmen and
militia members. The feds say they know she sent Lyons what they
believe were classified documents. Lyons denies it...."
Link 2: "...Kirk Lyons is also a major power in the Sons
of Confederate Veterans and the League of the South..."
We'll come back to this topic and the League of the South and Sons of
Confederate Veterans in the near future.
Link 3: "...A Ku Klux Klan
leader charged with firearms violations told an undercover informant
that he had converted his car into a suicide bomb, authorities said
yesterday. David Hull, 40, of
Amwell, Washington County, was arrested last week by federal agents
who said he built pipe bombs and had attempted to obtain hand grenades
for an abortion clinic bombing. Hull is self-declared Imperial
Wizard of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, a faction that grew
out of the defunct Invisible Empire Klan. Hull also has connections
with various members of both factions of the neo-Nazi Aryan Nations...."
Taliban/Al Qaeda on the rebound in
Afghanistan/Pakistan while we focus on Iraq
WP article sums up what is happening inside Pakistan, while this
NY Times piece highlights the regrouping of Taliban/Al Qaeda
militants in Afghanistan and the bordering areas near
problem for 9/11 commission is not the only one - Bush-appointed chief
of commission had indirect links to Al Qaeda.
Fortune magazine reports: "...In
December, President Bush named Thomas Kean, the former Republican
governor of New Jersey, chairman of an independent commission
examining the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. But FORTUNE has learned that
Kean appears to have a bizarre link to the very terror network he's
Here's how the
dots connect: Kean is a director of petroleum giant Amerada Hess,
which in 1998 formed a joint venture--known as Delta Hess--with Delta
Oil, a Saudi Arabian company, to develop oil fields in Azerbaijan. One
of Delta's backers is Khalid bin Mahfouz, a shadowy Saudi patriarch
married to one of Osama bin Laden's sisters. Mahfouz, who is suspected
of funding charities linked to al Qaeda, is even named as a defendant
in a lawsuit filed by families of Sept. 11 victims. True, Hess is
hardly the only company to cross paths with Mahfouz: He has shown up
in dealings with, among others, ultra-secretive investment firm
Carlyle Group and BCCI, the lender toppled by fraud in 1992.
Kean, who was unavailable for comment, may not have been aware of the
Mahfouz connection. But Hess spokesman Carl Tursi did reveal another
interesting coincidence: Three weeks before Kean's appointment, Hess
severed its ties with Delta..."
problem for 9/11 commission
Folks, if you really want to know why 9/11 happened, you are going to
have to wait until a Democratic administration is elected into
Atrios has the right note on this (we quote):
$70 million to investigate the activities of
million to investigate the attacks on September 11.
were tracking many 9/11 suicide-bomber terrorists for a year before
Another example of how information was present but not put to much use
Liberian dictator who harbored Al Qaeda terrorists months after 9/11
continues to survive
Guess who's buddy this fella is? Pat Robertson.
held at Guantanamo Bay have no link to terrorism
Los Angeles Times reporting that they are held because no one wants to
be accused later of having freed the "21st hijacker".
"...The United States is holding dozens of
prisoners at Guantanamo Bay who have no meaningful connection to Al
Qaeda or the Taliban, and were sent to the maximum-security facility
over the objections of intelligence officers in Afghanistan who had
recommended them for release, according to military sources with
direct knowledge of the matter.
At least 59 detainees -- nearly 10% of the prison population at the
U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba -- were deemed to be of no
intelligence value after repeated interrogations in Afghanistan. All
were placed on "recommended for repatriation" lists well
before they were transferred to Guantanamo Bay, a facility intended to
hold the most hardened terrorists and Taliban suspects..."
who's coming to...er, sit in the 9/11 "Independent
Trent Lott gets two gifts - (1) Thanks to Mr. Bush, he
will chair the Senate Rules Committee (hey what's so bad about a
racist on one of the more important Senate committees! Stop with the
liberal outrage!) and (2) His nominee - John Lehman - gets to be on
the 9/11 committee! Who's Lehman you ask? Well...
was Navy secretary from 1981 to 1987 and presided over Ronald Reagan's
buildup to a 600-ship Navy. But Lehman also presided over one of
the worst cover-ups in the Navy's entire 227-year history. Long
before the Roman Catholic Church pedophile scandal, the U.S. Navy
experienced one of its own. It involved at least one U.S. Naval
Academy graduate, P-3 Orion naval pilots with access to nuclear
weapons (the P-3 Orion is an anti-submarine warfare aircraft),
personnel with top-secret clearances, and officers in leadership
positions of trust akin to those of clergymen. The Navy's pedophilia
scandal broke in the quiet and serene Oregon coastal town of Coos Bay
on Sept. 11, 1982, when the commanding officer of the U.S. Naval
Facility, a classified submarine tracking station, was arrested by
local police for involvement in child pornography and lascivious acts
with minors, including sodomy. The arrest followed a 2-month-long
investigation involving the FBI and the Naval Investigative Service.
At a general courts-martial held later
that year, the commanding officer, a U.S. Naval Academy graduate and
P-3 Orion pilot having both Critical Nuclear Weapons Design
Information and top-secret communications security clearances was
found guilty of 16 counts of sodomy and lewd conduct. Immediately
after the Coos Bay arrest, Lehman's Navy Department bureaucracy went
into cover-up mode. Reporters from the local NBC television affiliate
in Coos Bay were barred from both the naval base and the dependents'
Coleen Rowley among Time's Persons of the Year
Enron and Worldcom whistleblowers included - showing that Time
sometimes does pick relevant people for Person of the Year. One would
think that Mr. Bush would agree, given his commitment to the War on
"surprise surprise". More on the "surprise" here.
resigns from 9/11 commission chairmanship
As expected, he wished to avoid having to reveal Kissinger Associates'
Qaeda training in Pakistan
Kenya terror attack and aftermath
takes a look at how "soft" targets could be the future of
terrorism. On the one hand these bombings will create more worldwide
revulsion for Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups - which should help
in gradually wiping out these mass criminals. But at the same time, it
is distressing that not much effort is being made to address some of
the root causes of terrorism to prevent future generations from taking
up the suicide bomber's lifestyle. This coupled with the
Israel-Palestine situation and the potential of a war with Iraq will
continue to unnecessarily inflame more of the masses. We have a choice
of acting strongly but benevolently - see
here for how we can do that. It is unclear though if that is going
to happen anytime soon.
More evidence of Saudi financing for 9/11 terrorists
expose was followed by other reports from CNN,
York Times and MSNBC. The
latest one from Newsweek
examines the link between charity and terror in more detail.
Commission to be headed by Kissinger
Hmmm. Not too many people are thrilled by this prospect. Christopher
Hitchens who has been trashing the left of late, pipes
in with his outrage. In the meantime, the Houston
Chronicle also reports that, "...Bush
called on members to report back more quickly than 18 months, saying
the nation needed to know quickly how it can avoid terror attacks in
the future [Our note: Let's not forget who trashed
the idea of a commission for > 1 year]...Bush
did not set as a primary goal for Kissinger to uncover mistakes or
lapses of the government that could have prevented the Sept. 11
attacks. Instead, he said the panel should try to help the
administration learn the tactics and motives of the enemy...."
President losing U.S. Special Forces protection - will get
The New Republic has broken this story and has a thorough review of
the (fairly shady) background of the private firm DynCorp. This is
disturbing. We are very concerned for Mr. Karzai's safety and we can
only imagine how difficult someone in his seat will be feeling now
(read the article to understand why we feel that way). It is hard to
understand how not securing Afghanistan and its President with
the full backing of the U.S. military cannot be the first priority
House finally agrees to support independent 9/11 commission
Let the work of unraveling all the hows and whys of 9/11
In the meantime, Jonathan Alter (of Newsweek/MSNBC) asks
if Homeland Security is really that important for this administration
(based on its deeds, not words).
More on how Pakistani cities are Al Qaeda havens
So much for our "ally" in the war on terrorism
Indonesian Muslim clerics speak out against Islamic terrorists
The two largest Muslim organizations in Indonesia (apparently
representing around a third of Indonesia's Muslim population) rally around calls
for strict laws against terrorists. This is a very positive
development that President Bush and others in the U.S. must welcome
and use to build more bridges to the Muslim community.
Post 9/11 job nowhere near done
Ghastly wanton murder of hundreds in Bali, Indonesia only goes to show
how much more work is left. As the blog-site P.L.A. (Politics, Law and
Autism) sarcastically notes,
the ultra-right-wing nutcase Michael Kelly's previous claims to the
contrary (purely to attack Al Gore), now stand unceremoniously
More seriously though, the fact remains that Al Qaeda and its active
supporters roam the earth and they need to be eradicated. At the same
time, we need to find the best way to reach out to the passive ~ 1+
billion Muslims across the world without making them take to arms -
over what is in reality a good cause (of removing a murderous dictator
Saddam Hussein). Timing and methods are everything - and unilateralism
should not be the default approach.
White House and House GOP lukewarm on Independent
Commission to investigate 9/11
We spoke too soon. Tens of millions of dollars and many years of effort was considered
worth it by the GOP - for Whitewater and investigations on an
ex-President's sex life - but the investigation of several thousand
people's deaths in the largest mainland attack on the United States is
not worth it?
Various news sources are reporting that John Walker Lindh and other Al
Qaeda prisoners apparently talked about 2 attacks much more severe
than 9/11 that may happen within the U.S. All we can say is this - if
that happens, certain parts of the Middle-East may end up being exterminated
by the U.S. and with some justification. It's one thing to push for
reason and evidence before moving on Saddam, and another thing
altogether to demand any of that against the known supporters of Al
Qaeda (especially Pakistan and Saudi Arabia). Enough is enough.
Security Bill stalemate continues
President Bush, for the longest time after 9/11, was against a comprehensive Homeland Security department proposed by
Democrats. Finally he bowed to pressure at a time when more and more
bad news kept getting leaked about how the FBI, CIA etc. goofed up
pre-9/11. Now he blames Democrats for holding up the Bill
THEY have been asking for, because the Bill does not allow him to fire the agency's
union workers at will, among other things. Mr.
Bush supports the House version of the Bill as stated in
this White House Policy bulletin. Why is this fact important?
Well, the House version does not really
support whistleblower protections and exempts the agency
from the Freedom of Information Act - as reported in these
articles from the conservative Washington Times: 1,
would the Homeland Security agency be worth
its salt in this case, as the events before and after 9/11 have shown? (Not to
mention that the true heroes on 9/11 - the firefighters who died - belong
agent, pre-9/11, tried to highlight possibility of planes being used
to crash into the WTC
builds for Independent Commission on 9/11
Congress finally passes a resolution asking for an independent
commission to investigate 9/11, after the Bush administration relented. However, we are not yet
over the hump. This is part of the Homeland Security Bill, which the
Senate has modified to ensure that the Government cannot fire civil
servants at whim (we understand they can be fired for not doing their
jobs as it stands today, although it is difficult to do that without
too much bureaucratic hassles), i.e., the Senate version lacks the (highly
euphemistic) "flexibility" that President Bush is seeking, without which he has said he will veto the Bill.
We don't support incompetence but our view is that if Mr. Bush was
really interested in "flexibility" he could first set an
example by firing the top brass in the Justice Department, FBI and CIA
who let 9/11 happen. (The Enron Secretary, er, Army Secretary, Mr.
White also continues to enjoy the benefits of a top Pentagon job even
of airplanes as missiles? The Government
more about this than they let on, according to the Washington Post.
Republicans and Democrats talk of unsatisfactory
WH cooperation with Congressional 9/11 committee.
appeal for US Muslims to reach out and educate non-Muslims
This is an interesting article given the Muslim community in the U.S.
must be living with nervousness and/or fear post 9/11
Multifarious commentary on why "Them" vs. "U.S.",
among other things
Berman (old article)
9-11 comments from all over the world
York Times, Washington
Mr. Friedman keeps
This is another op-ed worth reading, even though there is not much new
here other than the creativity of his expression.
continues to sparkle!
Qaeda, as it stands today - a USA Today review
Republicans for loose nukes?
late, an adrift and aimless foreign policy
Robert Kaiser's opines on how this administration
has wasted the enormous goodwill of the world post 9/11 and made
America drift needlessly into approaches inconsistent with its values.
Wright's essays on the "A Real War on Terrorism"
Mr. Friedman's 9/11 Lesson Plan
This op-ed is highly recommended reading.