Friday, September 30, 2005

Why was al Qaeda provocateur shielded by British intel?

There is something weird about al Qaeda. Osama used to work with us in Afghanistan, and al Qaeda worked with us as recently as the Balkan War. Now it turns out that a top al Qaeda figure in Britain was shielded from prosecution in other countries even though he met with and incited the shoe bomber and the Madrid bombers, supposedly because he was an informant.

The other possibility is he was an agent provocateur. We have used these extensively with domestic groups like neo-Nazis, the Klan, and most recently the militias during the Clinton years. Someone figured out that it saves time to have someone planted in an organization who not only watches but encourages groups to commit violence, so the feds can swoop in and catch them right before they act. The domestic version, COINTELPRO, was exposed by a Sen. Frank Church in the 70s.

This also happens today with peace groups, and even liberal discussion boards. Out of the blue, someone will start talking about blowing stuff up or killing people (they are always immediately barred from the board).

It is not a big leap of the imagination to incite people so you can catch them to inciting them and just letting them act if it serves your purpose. An Israeli paper reported that Mossad agents were caught recruiting an Al Qaeda cell in Gaza, not trying to infiltrate an existing one, but actually start one.

Our government has in fact commissioned terrorist acts in other countries. PBS' Frontline did a story on terrorism in the 80s and noted that after the Marine Corps barracks bombing, we contacted Saudi Prince Bandar to set up an "off the books" car bombing of a cleric outside his mosque. Money was funneled through Bandar's wife to the 9/11 hijackers.

Right now, Venezuela is trying to extradite a terrorist in the US who planted a bomb on a Cuban airliner that killed 73 civilians

You can see the supporting primary documents here:

Is it such a big step to go from doing this overseas to doing it here? Think about the Bush response to the hurricane in New Orleans. They didn't just fumble the response, they actively blocked help from coming in from other countries and even domestically.

I know this will sound nutty to a lot of people, but you have to think who has benefited from al Qaeda's attacks, and when else OUR government has known about these guys' activities and done nothing, like before 9/11. The FBI had an informant living with some of the hijackers.

Sibel Edmonds, an FBI translator, was going to testify in a lawsuit by 9/11 families about similar information when John Ashcroft retroactively classified her information. A judge has allowed Edmonds to speak, and this is part of what she had to say:

Over four years ago, more than four months prior to the September 11 terrorist attacks, in April 2001, a long-term FBI informant/asset who had been providing the bureau with information since 1990, provided two FBI agents and a translator with specific information regarding a terrorist attack being planned by Osama Bin Laden. This asset/informant was previously a high- level intelligence officer in Iran in charge of intelligence from Afghanistan. Through his contacts in Afghanistan he received information that:

1) Osama Bin Laden was planning a major terrorist attack in the United States targeting 4-5 major cities,

2) the attack was going to involve airplanes,

3) some of the individuals in charge of carrying out this attack were already in place in the United States,

4) the attack was going to be carried out soon, in a few months.

The agents who received this information reported it to their superior, Special Agent in Charge of Counterterrorism, Thomas Frields, at the FBI Washington Field Office, by filing “302” forms, and the translator, Mr. Behrooz Sarshar, translated and documented this information. No action was taken by the Special Agent in Charge, Thomas Frields, and after 9/11 the agents and the translators were told to ‘keep quiet’ regarding this issue.

Back in the 60s, the Joint Chiefs of Staff recommending staging a terrorist attack on the US and blaming Cuba. This isn't an urban legend--the documents have been declassified through a Freedom of Information Act request.

I don't know what we can do about this, but it's something to keep in mind when the next terrorist attack comes.


March 25, 2004

Al-Qaeda cleric exposed as an MI5 double agent

By Daniel McGrory and Richard Ford

Allies say warnings were ignored

ONE of al-Qaeda’s most dangerous figures has been revealed as a double agent working for MI5, raising criticism from European governments, which repeatedly called for his arrest.

Britain ignored warnings — which began before the September 11 attacks — from half a dozen friendly governments about Abu Qatada’s links with terrorist groups and refused to arrest him. Intelligence chiefs hid from European allies their intention to use the cleric as a key informer against Islamic militants in Britain.

Abu Qatada boasted to MI5 that he could prevent terrorist attacks and offered to expose dangerous extremists, while all along he was setting up a haven for his terror organisation in Britain.

Among the scores of young militants who came to visit him in London was the chief suspect in the Madrid train bombings. His followers also included people who wanted to be suicide bombers for al-Qaeda, such as Richard Reid, the shoe bomber.

His continued liberty for years after international demands for his arrest was an embarrassment for Britain. When David Blunkett introduced his controversial Anti-terrorism Crime and Security Act, 2001, which allowed him to detain foreign suspects without trial, Abu Qatada claimed that the law “was enacted with him particularly in mind”.

He disappeared from his family home in West London just before the law came into force.

FULL TEXT:,,1-3-1050175,00.html

, ,, , , , public relations, ,

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Bush PR flak slammed by Turks for Iraq War

Bush has appointed Karen Hughes, one of his handlers like Karl Rove, to improve our image in the Muslim world. Gratifyingly, when she visited our ally Turkey, the only Muslim nation in NATO, they told her the obvious truths that no amount of PR can spin away.


ABC News
Hughes Gets Earful About Iraq From Turks
Karen Hughes Wraps Up First Mideast Visit by Hearing Criticism From Turks About U.S. Iraq Policy
The Associated Press

Sep. 28, 2005 - Sent to improve America's image in the Muslim world, President Bush's public relations chief stressed the need for better dialogue in her brief address Wednesday to Turkish women activists. What Karen Hughes got back was a barrage of criticism about the U.S. war in Iraq.

There is "no chance for America to make its image better ... while the war in Iraq is still going on (and) people are dying every day," Turkish activist Hidayet Sefkatli Tuksal told journalists after meeting with Hughes at a museum in a medieval citadel looming over the modern city of Ankara.

Handed the task earlier this month of countering America's negative image in the Middle East, Hughes traveled to Egypt and Saudi Arabia as well as Turkey key Muslim nations.

In all three countries, the war in Iraq and the plight of Palestinians have been critical issues that have eroded support for the United States. A June poll by the Pew Global Attitudes Project showed that only 17 percent of Turks supported the U.S. war on terror and many considered the United States a threat to world peace.

, , ,
, , , , , public relations, ,

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Letter to EJ Dionne on "Democrats in Disarray" column

The OpEd:

Democrats In Disarray

By E. J. Dionne Jr.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005; Page A23

The critiques come from the left ("Why can't Democrats stand up and be counted?") and from the center ("We'll never win if we look like liberal ideologues"). And almost every day Democrats seem to give their critics evidence of division. The party splintered over the nomination of John Roberts as chief justice. The newspaper Roll Call reported yesterday that some House Democrats were opposing the decision by their leader, Nancy Pelosi, to boycott a Republican-led investigation of the Katrina disaster. Pelosi favors an independent commission. You know the party has a problem when even the politics of Katrina divides its members. A spokesman for Pelosi confirmed some differences yesterday but said that "the vast majority of members support her decision to boycott."

Criticisms of the Democrats are usually personalized: This or that leader is said to be inadequate, or the party as a whole is said to lack "guts," "gumption" and "clarity." Defenses of the party are also personalized: No party can expect to be led by figures from its congressional minority, and the 2008 presidential election is too far away to produce clear alternative leaders....

the rest of the article

My letter to Dionne:

Mr. Dionne,

What are the "far" left positions that "centrists" are so worried about?

That we want an end to a war, that was sold to us on lies, was actually about controlling that nations oil and being in a position to control the oil of neighboring nations, and that is earning us more hatred in that part of the world by the hour? John Zogby polled Arab countries last year and over 90% of them disapprove of our actions.

I have taught college for eight years, but because of conservative budget priorities, my students tuition has doubled, nearly all of them work full time instead of going to school full time, and my employers, like other community colleges, use the Walmart-like tactic of having over half of their classes taught by part time employees so they don't have to give us health insurance.

I don't like trade agreements that not only take jobs away from Americans, but usually make life worse for people on the other end.

What the current struggle in the Democratic Party is about in not a struggle between center and left, but between the Chamber of Commerce and the rest of America. Business interests aren't content to have a voice in the Democratic Party, they want to OWN it, just like they do the Republicans.

I disagree with people like Senator Joe Biden on the the War in Iraq, but his support of the recent bankruptcy bill is a pretty good example of completely ignoring the needs of average Americans to increase the profits of credit card companies who were already making a healthy profit before the bill. His vote was morally indefensible, and it doesn't make me a far leftist to say that.

The same is true with the war in Iraq. No one with half a brain old enough to remember the Cold War was worried that if Saddam got his hands on some nukes that he would use them against the US when that would invite overwhelming retaliation that incinerate his entire country. Our oil companies want to be in control of that oil as the world's supply begins to decline before the war, so columnists like your own paper's Thomas Friedman said this could dramatically reduce the cost of gasoline, but given the price-gouging after Katrina, even if we had been able to ramp up Iraqi production, the only economic benefits would have gone to the oil companies themselves.

Many of us suspect that Democrats who have been silent in the face of the Bush administration's criminality, cruelty, and incompetence are not cowards, but have divided loyalties at best or are bought and paid for by the same business interests that own the Republicans, and those interests demand absolute loyalty and get it.

This is not about who "looks" tough and who "looks" weak, or fuzzy notions of ideology, it's about who profits and who pays, and in Iraq, and as we have seen most recently in Katrina, who lives and who dies. I don't want a Republican Brownie replaced with a Democratic one.

Many have noted that Howard Dean's record as governor of Vermont was centrist in many ways, but he is called a "far leftist" simply because he wants to reduce the control of these business interests on the party.

Money talks in Washington, so those of us who work for a living and make less than $100K a year have less and less of a voice. If you want to do a public service, talk about how we can balance the public good and average Americans against those of corporations with vast sums of money, PR firms, and lawyers at their disposal.
After I posted that on Democratic Underground, a DLC shill felt compelled to give a lengthy rebuttal, apparently saying that anyone who opposes the DLC wing of the Democratic party is a bomb-throwing Trotskyite. His post is in italics below, my reply in regular text:

I don't speak for Mr. Dionne, but here are a few, typical, examples of counter-productivity on the left:

- The "Free Palestine" (i.e. the Destroy Israel) Movement addressing crowds at the anti-War demonstrations. There hasn't been a worse messaging screw-up since Trotskyists led chants cheering US soldiers' deaths in anti-Vietnam protests.

This sounds a hell of a lot like a PR firm talking point. Few people, even Palestinians in the US, call for the destruction of Israel, but as soon as anyone criticizes anything Israel does, from building more settlements to bulldozing Palestinian houses to air strikes on urban areas, they are called anti-semitic. Polls have shown that most Palestinians like most Israelis, would be happy with a two state solution, is it anti-semitic to urge our ally that we give more money to than any other country to move more quickly in that direction? If the right really wanted to protect Israelis, they might ask for UN or NATO peacekeepers to patrol the border and keep the two sides separated as worked so well for decades in Cyprus. That would save lives on both sides, but would also make adding settlements impossible. So why do you suppose it doesn't happen? That's not leftist, that's trying to find a workable solution to a problem that hasn't fixed itself by giving Israel a free hand.
Who was cheering American soldiers deaths during the Vietnam War? The vets who were maimed and dismembered who joined the peace movement?

- The attack on "Business interests" as if they're a single monolithic block all controlled by the one-seeing eye of the Illuminati. They're not. Many brilliant, successful, people are not only Democratic, but far more liberal than you.

So you don't think various corporate interests hire lobbying groups on K Street, donate money to candidates, and where their interests overlap, cooperate to some degree? Or if they do, that it has no effect? I've got a good
Pulitzer winning conspiracy theory book for you then, THE PRIZE by Daniel Yergin on the history of oil, including the political machinations. While it is not the main point of his book, there are several places where oil execs call up senators and presidents and don't ask for favors, they give orders. The "conspiracy theorist" who wrote this now works with Papa Bush at the Carlyle Group, so you could hardly call him a liberal Trotskyite.

- Asinine talking points that could come right out of a GOP hack: "Liberals are for taking care of poor people. Conservatives are for people getting rich." Here's a clue: Americans like to be rich. And we can't win until we convince them that Democratic policies enable that better than GOP crony-corruption. (Which they do.)

Few here would say there is anything wrong with being rich. The debate is about what their fair share of taxes is. What we need to make clear is the safety net and basic social services like education make it possible for more people to succeed, and stripping those things away is essentially the same as putting up a wall with an armed guard around it so that no one else can get in.

- "Democrats who voted for giving the President a strong negotiating position with regards to Saddam and weapons inspectors were really signing off on him invading because he just wanted to". That's what the GOP wants people to believe, ex post-facto. The far-left too.

I sincerely wish that you were right about this, but their behavior after the fact puts the lie to it. A lot of elected Dems want to stay, even though it is increasing hostility to US (which doesn't exactly help the alleged war on terror) and this crap about WMD was a red herring anyone old enough to remember the Cold War should have been able to see through. What would happen if Saddam had a couple of nuclear weapons and used them on us or even Israel? Wouldn't we respond with overwhelming nuclear force? Do you think a guy like Saddam, as evil as he may be, is stupid or suicidal? Do many people kill themselves when they are sitting on trillions of dollars worth of oil?

I don't think stupid and gullible people get elected to Congress. Many Dems probably bought into the economic reasons for the war, and just didn't bother to share them with the rest of us. That's not democracy. If Democrats thought there would be some benefit in controlling Saddam's oil, they should have told us, even as Bush was trying to scare us with crazed boogeymen with nukes stories.

- Attacking Democratic politicians (often extremely liberal ones) who don't toe the line on your particular view of every single issue. The instant you have some slight difference with them, you trash them.

No, we ask them to stand for the things we thought we voted them into office to stand for.

They are not our leaders, heroes, or priests, but our representatives. That's the way business sees their relationship with pols, and citizens should too.

- Disassociation with reality. It's not just the hallmark of the modern GOP, the far left has a bad case of it too. "Impeach Bush"? With both houses having Republican majorities? Forget Intelligent Design, I want Intelligent Politicking.

Bush has committed impeachable offenses, and saying it now until it soaks into the public consciousness will remind people that the Republican Congress is NOT holding the president of their party accountable, which shows one of the reasons why the majority needs to change. It hardly shows any moral authority to wait until you are in the majority to point out the obvious sins of this administration, in fact, it shows a great degree of opportunism and cowardice.

Additionally, in case you haven't noticed, this administration has seriously hurt our reputation overseas, and if we had a vocal, critical elected minority opposition, they would see the problem as Bush, not all Americans. The Democrats silence adds to the impression that we are all on war wagon with him.

- The view that you win elections by driving people OUT of the party. That's the constant refrain from the far-left. "Get rid of the DLC! Get rid of them!!" Lucky for us, you can't actually "get rid" of someone who agrees with you more than 90% of the time.

I don't know if I would say 90% of the time. I've read through their website, particularly on issues like health care, and it's hard not to notice that they avoid offending the biggest cause of the problem: insurance companies. You wouldn't even have to socialize medicine if you just called a spade a spade and said someone needs to sit on these guys and dictate what percentage of their premiums must be paid out in benefits, and add serious criminal penalties for denying reasonable service that they promised in their contract. But the DLC won't do that because they are probably hoping for donations from the insurance lobby at some point.

The DLC also seems to be anti-labor, though not the degree of the GOP.

- Whining about what others have done rather than doing anything yourself. I'd bet dollars to donuts you've never gone down to your local county party and ever signed up to do anything positive.

Well, you are full of shit there.

I helped organize a part time faculty union at one of the schools where I teach and they just got their first contract. The faculty there had no job security or health insurance because administrators need the money to throw at the local equivalent of Halliburton in building contracts.

What have you done? Did you work on the PR campaign that rehabilitated Kathie Lee after people found out about her sweatshops? Or the one that sold us on the first Gulf War with the fake stolen incubator story? Probably not since posting on boards like this in an entry level or even intern duty.

Obviously, the tide is turning against the GOP, and the corporate interests are throwing their money at the DLC, hoping they can regain the reins of the party and shut the rest of us up.

I am not opposed to the Democratic party being business friendly, I just don't want it to be business owned.

When an elected Democrat ignores the plain truth in front of their face, I have to conculde it's because they are paid to do so.

Your post was very eloquent and the Trotsky stuff was a nice touch. Are you paid by the post or the hour?

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Bush asks Condi if he can go potty--may need wipies

When I saw this on a news site, I thought it was a joke until I went to the article. You can make out most of the note. It says, "I think I may need a bathroom break? Is this possible (illegible after that)."

I like the question mark, like he isn't sure whether he has to go or not.

This should put an end to any nasty rumors that he is illiterate.

Five minutes after this he was probably bellowing from the bathroom, "Condi, get in here!!! Your president needs wipies. And not so rough this time."

Saturday, September 10, 2005

what the GOP leadership fears

The woman in the wheelchair is old enough to have been around in Jim Crow times.

Now she and the little girl seem to be holding hands without a second thought.

In the wake of the hurricane, most black and white Americans saw themselves as on the same side, despite the GOP and their PR flaks attempts to create a racial divide and portray the survivors as savage looters and snipers.

I have often wonder if Martin Luther King was killed not for his civil rights work for blacks, or his opposition to Vietnam, but because the last cause he was involved in, that garbage workers strike, was showing that working class blacks and whites had more to gain as allies than enemies.

When divide and conquer doesn't work, the folks in the big house start to get worried.

We should do everything we can to keep this going.

Also posted at

Friday, September 09, 2005

Core GOP belief

GOP strategist Grover Norquist has often spoken of "starving the beast" slashing taxes to force the slashing of government so that it is too weak to effectively regulate big business. His most infamous formulation of this is the quote in the motivational poster below, as is its natural consequence.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

"Starve the Beast" in New Orleans

I posted this on Yahoo's Ann Coulter discussion board, so conservatives could see it.


For those of you unfamiliar with the phrase, "starve the beast," this explains it.

From Daily Kos:

Tragedy has a way of revealing character. The constant drumbeat of death from the war in Iraq, and now the cascading nightmare that is the Gulf Coast flood has peeled away the veneer and we can see the GOP leadership and the larger conservative movement for what it is: a sham. They have nothing. They offer nothing. They come to destroy, not to build. They have no vision for a greater public good because, for them, the very notion of a public good is anathema.

Make no mistake: as we watch our fellow citizens drown, starve, and die in the street in New Orleans, its not incompetence or lack of planning that is killing them. It is willful neglect. It is the direct result of reducing the government "down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub." This is what "starving the beast" looks like.

For some 30 years the Republican party has packaged humanity's darkest and most craven weaknesses and pawned them off as its greatest virtues. Well, the reckoning is here and the conservatives are found wanting. When the chips are down we are a nation that cares for our citizens and we expect our government to be strong enough, capable enough, and compassionate enough to do the same.


Rest in peace, Grand Old Party. America can no longer afford the drag that your self-delusions and cheap justifications put on our spirit. For those who are willing to turn back from pandering to the lowest common denominator and who choose to join us lifting up the better angels of our nature, we offer the hand of friendship. For the the rest: may the God whose name you have scandalized and used as cover for your lack of humanity have mercy on your degenerate souls.


The American people (and everybody else for that matter) aren't saints, which is why systems like communism don't work.

But neither are we the greedy, prejudiced, cruel, ignorant trolls the right is trying to convince us to be--and if you think that's extreme just listen to the excrement coming out of Rush Limbaugh's mouth about the hurricane survivors.

We have an obligation to our fellow citizens and it is not the same as saying we should make the rich live in cardboard boxes to say that they need to give back in taxes their fair share. At the very time we are struggling to respond to this hurricane, the Bush people are pushing to make repeal of the estate tax permanent--a tax that still let you keep most of the estate.

We have been a better country, and we can be again.

I wish I had made this one: