Friday, May 26, 2006

White House knew enough about 9/11 to warn NY Times reporter

A senior White House official leaked intel about the impending 9/11 attack to New York Times reporter Judy Miller (one of the players in the outing of undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame) with enough specifics that on 9/11 she was able to think, "Crap, we should have run that story!"

While there is a legitimate question of whether running this story could have at least limited the damage by giving the people in New York a heads up so they would figure out exactly what was going on when the FIRST plane hit, the bigger question is why someone in the White House had enough information to pass on this warning to a reporter who took it seriously, but the highest levels of the Bush administration ignored the same information.

This story indicates that part of why this story may have been leaked was a desperate effort on the part of the leaker to force the administration to act, which of course they did not do in any meaningful way until the attack was nearly over.

There is a chance there may be another terrorist attack before Bush attacks Iran.

It's worth remembering that at the very least, the Bush people sat on their hands and let Americans die when it was convenient for their agenda.


The Burial of the 9/11 Story that Got Away
By Rory O'Connor, AlterNet
Posted on May 25, 2006

Last week, William Scott Malone and I broke the story of how a still anonymous, senior White House official leaked top-secret NSA intelligence in 2001 to then-New York Times reporter Judith Miller. The intelligence indicated that Al Qaeda was planning a major attack on the United States. But the "The 9/11 Story That Got Away" never made it into the paper.

It never made it to the attention of top Times executive Bill Keller either. Keller, now executive editor of the paper, was managing editor in July 2001. But he was kept in the dark when Miller's "impeccable" source first revealed details of highly classified signals intelligence (SIGINT) concerning an impending Al Qaeda attack, perhaps to be visited on the continental United States. The NSA had been listening in on a conversation between two members of Osama bin Laden's terror network. One was overheard saying to the other, "Don't worry, we're planning something so big now that the U.S. will have to respond."


Then there's the issue of leaks, when 'papers of record' like the Times are used as ammunition in Washington's endless bureaucratic "turf wars" that seem endemic to its peculiar nexus of media, politics and power. Miller's interview reveals much about how the game is played at the highest levels: "I got the sense that part of the reason that I was being told of what was going on was that the people in counter-terrorism were trying to get the word to the president or the senior officials through the press, because they were not able to get listened to themselves," she explained. "Sometimes, you wonder about why people tell you things and why people … we always wonder why people leak things, but that's a very common motivation in Washington."


Ultimately one can't help but wonder - if only… If only the Times had put something, anything, in the paper about the threat of an impending Al Qaeda attack "so big now that the U.S. will have to respond," perhaps the attack might have been averted. Or perhaps the people in the second World Trade Center tower would have known that the first plane to hit was a terrorist attack, and evacuated the building, saving hundreds of lives. Passengers on the hijacked planes that hit the WTC and the Pentagon might have reacted like those on United Flight 93.


Thursday, May 25, 2006

Stephen Colbert video used to defend GOP crook Delay

This is surreal. Tom Delay sent out an email using a Stephen Colbert interview to discredit a critic, even though Colbert is obviously doing a caricature of a right wing talk show host. Apparently, these guys didn't make it to the White House correspondents dinner to see Colbert rip Bush a new asshole as the same conservative toady character.

Delay's email:

Here's the video on Tom Delay's defense website:

The trailer for the movie Tom Delay is so worried about:

This is a very short article, so I just bold-faced the gist.


Desperate for Supporters, DeLay Turns to Stephen Colbert

A good sign that Tom DeLay doesn’t have the facts on his side: the top source for his latest defense against his critics is Stephen Colbert.

This morning, DeLay’s legal defense fund sent out a mass email criticizing the movie “The Big Buy: Tom DeLay’s Stolen Congress,” by “Outfoxed” creator Robert Greenwald.

The email features a “one-pager on the truth behind Liberal Hollywood’s the Big Buy,” and the lead item is Colbert’s interview with Greenwald on Comedy Central (where Colbert plays a faux-conservative, O’Reilly-esque character). The headline of the “fact sheet”:

DeLay thinks Colbert is so persuasive, he’s now featuring the full video of the interview at the top of the legal fund’s website. And why not? According to the email, Greenwald “crashed and burned” under the pressure of Colbert’s hard-hitting questions, like “Who hates America more, you or Michael Moore?”
Apparently the people at DeLay’s legal fund think that Colbert is actually a conservative. Or maybe they’re just that desperate for supporters.

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Monday, May 22, 2006

Tolstoy on the good works of the rich

I have often thought that if the rich (or anyone) did their business ethically, looked after the welfare of their employees, bought from vendors who did the same and didn't pollute the environment, it would have a greater positive impact on society than all their public acts of charity. Tolstoy takes that idea a bit further.

I sit on a man's back, choking him, and making him carry me, and yet assure myself and others that I am very sorry for him and wish to ease his lot by any means possible, except getting off his back.

Leo Tolstoy,
Writings on Civil Disobedience and Nonviolence

Monday, May 08, 2006

For opposing NUKING IRAN,
Bush forced out BRITISH foreign secretary

To their credit, CBS News is covering this story, though it includes hedges that reduce to rumor what were more certain statements in the original Guardian piece.

For an action that the Bush administration claims is barely a remote possibility, nuking Iran, the Bushies are treating insider critics exactly like they did those in the run up to Iran War, just as they are doing the same diplomatic dance at the UN even though in the case of IraQ, the Downing Street Minutes of meetings with Bush before the war proved that was just a charade.

It seems likely that the Bush regime is coming to an end, and the prospect of a Bush clone succeeding him in the White House is at least as dim.

And yet Bush is not acting like a neutered lame duck. He continues to retaliate against political enemies, and threatened and browbeat friends and allies around the world, including asking Turkey to launch an invasion against Iran from there, just as they did before the Iraq War. War was a winner for both Bush and GOP in 2002 & 2004, Pentagon insiders have said the Bushies has a list of countries they would like to invade, and Iran has been on the neoconservative hit list since before Bush came into power.

How will the Bushies justify invading IraN when their 9/11 & WMD scare tactics are growing thin? Someone at the Pentagon leaked an order they got from Cheney to the American Conservative magazine last summer that had these elements:

1) terrorist attack here

2) air strikes on Iran with conventional and tactical nukes

3) air strikes will be done REGARDLESS of whether Iran is involved in the terrorist act.

At the time, no one paid attention to the story because it would be insane to start a war with a bigger country when we are loser with a smaller one. It would still be insane, but the Bushies are moving toward it anyway.

It is possible that the CIA or Pentagon will throw a wrench in this scam that Pentagon wargaming indicated would spin out of control and escalate to a world war, or an even more distant possibility that used to happen back in the mists of history, Congress would exercise it's power to investigate, control the purse strings, and decide whether to declare war or NOT declare war.

Right now, it's more likely that the CIA or Pentagon will rebel, or even that the flying monkeys from the Wizard of Oz will take their kinsman Bush back to the Organ Grinder for retraining.


Did Bush Force British Minister Out?

May 7, 2006

(CBS/AP) The Independent suggests that a phone call from the U.S. president to British Prime Minister Tony Blair led to the removal of Foreign Secretary Jack Straw Friday. [ A UK Guardian story is a little stronger than "suggests",,1768840,00.html ]

The newspaper reports that friends of Straw believe Mr. Bush was extremely upset when Straw pronounced any use of nuclear weapons against Iran "nuts." [the parallel case of the previous foreign secretary has more evidence than a "belief," neocons complained about Robin Cook even before the election because of his criticism of US foreign policy,,1769722,00.html]


The foreign secretary's reservations about invading Iraq featured prominently in the Downing Street memos, written in 2002 and leaked last year.

Straw wrote in a memo to Blair that he would have a tough time convincing the Labour Party that a pre-emptive strike against Iraq was legal under international law.

"We have also to answer the big question: what will this action achieve?" he wrote. "There seems to be a larger hole in this than on anything."


Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Gen. Odom on why we should pull out of Iraq fast

Lately, only retired generals are willing to speak honestly about Iraq in stark contrast to the blind cheerleading of most republicans and the evasion, equivocation, and me-tooism of most Democrats.

He also offers a more realistic and fact-based assessment of Iran compared to drumbeat for war of the administration.

I would only add a couple of things where he didn't go quite far enough:

Our presence in Iraq incites terrorism and gives recruiters for terrorists a recruiting tool. Israel and Saudi studied debriefings of captured foreign fighters in Iraq and found that most were motivated not by radical Islam but outrage at seeing what has been done to the Iraqi people. LINK

His point on the Iraqi troops likewise doesn't go quite far enough. We pretend they aren't standing up because of them being too dense or cowardly to absorb our training, as if Iraqis are apes who just descended from the trees. But the reality is they are hesitant because they are fighting for us against their own people. Many if not most showed up for the paycheck so they can feed their families, but there are limits to what people will do for money.

The biggest element he left out though is that the Iraqis do not believe we are there to look out for their interests or spread democracy however much Americans think or wish that's what we are doing. The Bush administration went in with a plan to privatize and sell off everything possible, and even pumped oil unmetered after we first invaded. Most Americans don't know that, but it's harder to miss when it's right in front of your face.

This war has nothing to do with preventing terrorism--it is creating it by pursuing private gain for oil, defense, and rebuilding corporations on our tax dime (or rather 10 trillion dimes) and with our troops and Iraqis lives.


Cut and Run? You Bet.

By Lt. Gen. William E. Odom

Withdrawal will encourage the terrorists. True, but that is the price we are doomed to pay. Our continued occupation of Iraq also encourages the killers—precisely because our invasion made Iraq safe for them. Our occupation also left the surviving Baathists with one choice: Surrender, or ally with al Qaeda. They chose the latter. Staying the course will not change this fact. Pulling out will most likely result in Sunni groups’ turning against al Qaeda and its sympathizers, driving them out of Iraq entirely.

Before U.S. forces stand down, Iraqi security forces must stand up. The problem in Iraq is not military competency; it is political consolidation. Iraq has a large officer corps with plenty of combat experience from the Iran-Iraq war. Moktada al-Sadr’s Shiite militia fights well today without U.S. advisors, as do Kurdish pesh merga units. The problem is loyalty. To whom can officers and troops afford to give their loyalty? The political camps in Iraq are still shifting. So every Iraqi soldier and officer today risks choosing the wrong side. As a result, most choose to retain as much latitude as possible to switch allegiances. All the U.S. military trainers in the world cannot remove that reality. But political consolidation will. It should by now be clear that political power can only be established via Iraqi guns and civil war, not through elections or U.S. colonialism by ventriloquism.

Setting a withdrawal deadline will damage the morale of U.S. troops.
Hiding behind the argument of troop morale shows no willingness to accept the responsibilities of command. The truth is, most wars would stop early if soldiers had the choice of whether or not to continue. This is certainly true in Iraq, where a withdrawal is likely to raise morale among U.S. forces. A recent Zogby poll suggests that most U.S. troops would welcome an early withdrawal deadline But the strategic question of how to extract the United States from the Iraq disaster is not a matter to be decided by soldiers. Carl von Clausewitz spoke of two kinds of courage: first, bravery in the face of mortal danger; second, the willingness to accept personal responsibility for command decisions. The former is expected of the troops. The latter must be demanded of high-level commanders, including the president.

Two facts, however painful, must be recognized, or we will remain perilously confused in Iraq. First, invading Iraq was not in the interests of the United States. It was in the interests of Iran and al Qaeda. For Iran, it avenged a grudge against Saddam for his invasion of the country in 1980. For al Qaeda, it made it easier to kill Americans. Second, the war has paralyzed the United States in the world diplomatically and strategically. Although relations with Europe show signs of marginal improvement, the trans-Atlantic alliance still may not survive the war. Only with a rapid withdrawal from Iraq will Washington regain diplomatic and military mobility. Tied down like Gulliver in the sands of Mesopotamia, we simply cannot attract the diplomatic and military cooperation necessary to win the real battle against terror. Getting out of Iraq is the precondition for any improvement.

In fact, getting out now may be our only chance to set things right in Iraq. For starters, if we withdraw, European politicians would be more likely to cooperate with us in a strategy for stabilizing the greater Middle East. Following a withdrawal, all the countries bordering Iraq would likely respond favorably to an offer to help stabilize the situation. The most important of these would be Iran. It dislikes al Qaeda as much as we do. It wants regional stability as much as we do. It wants to produce more oil and gas and sell it. If its leaders really want nuclear weapons, we cannot stop them. But we can engage them.

Lt. Gen. William E. Odom (Ret.) is senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and professor at Yale University. He was director of the National Security Agency from 1985 to 1988.


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Save California while you can...

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Monday, May 01, 2006

The Key to Iraq and future oil wars:
The Prize by Daniel Yergin

I often refer to this book in conversation when I try to explain how pivotal oil is to our foreign policy and wars.

It got a Pulitzer Prize and the author is such a lefty that he went to work with Papa Bush at the Carlyle Group, and went on to right a book on the success of unrestricted free markets after World War II.

I just found an excellent summary at Wikipedia.

The section that are most useful are on World War II, FDR & the Saudis, and the coup in Iran in the 1950s. That last one set off the chain of events that lead to theocracy in power there today.



Ch. 16: Japan’s Road to War

Japan occupies Manchuria, 1931 (305). Ultranationalist militarists in power (306). Japan dependent on foreign oil, especially Rising Sun (Japanese affiliate of Royal Dutch/Shell) and Standard-Vacuum (Stanvac, an amalgam of Jersey and Standard of New York’s Far East operations) (307). 1934 Petroleum Industry Law squeezed companies (308). Japan attacks China, 1937; placates companies as U.S. public opinion sides with China (308-10). Stanvac resolved on embargo of Japan if U.S. so decides (310-11). U.S. moves fleet to Pearl Harbor and restricts (but does not stop) oil shipments to Japan, 1940 (311-13). Cordell Hull & Admiral Nomura converse repeatedly (313-14). Admiral Yamamoto sensitive to Japan’s oil predicament (314-16). Japan invades Indochina; U.S. effectively embargoes oil, July 1941 (316-19). P.M. Konoye-Roosevelt summit doesn’t come off (319-20). Japanese resolve on war (320-23). Operation Hawaii’s primary target is East Indian oilfields (325-26). Japanese err in failing to destroy 4,500,000 barrels (720,000 m³) of vulnerable U.S. oil supplies at Pearl Harbor (326-27).

Ch. 17: Germany’s Formula for War

IG Farben’s research on synthetic fuels (1913 Bergius process of hydrogenation) leads to an alliance with Standard of Jersey (328-31). Nazified IG Farben’s synthetic fuels produce 46% of Germany’s oil in 1940 (332-33). Blitzkrieg and oil scarcity (333-34). Oil and Hitler’s invasion of Russia (334-36). Operation Blau, to seize oil of the Caucasus: ironically, “the Germans ran short of oil in their quest for oil”; “the blitzkrieg phase was over” (336-39). Rommel’s contempt for “the quartermaster’s advice" controverted by failure in North Africa (339-43). Speer’s reorganized German economy depends on synthetic fuels made by slave labor, e.g. at Auschwitz (343-46; 817). Beginning in May 1944, Allied air attacks on synthetic fuel plants and other oil facilities are a “fatal blow” (Gen. Adolph Galland) (346-48). Battle of the Bulge: Col. Jochem Peiper’s panzer unit almost seizes Stavelot fuel supply’s 2.5m gallons of fuel (348-49). No fuel left in war’s last months (349-50).

Ch. 18: Japan’s Achilles’ Heel

Jan. 20, 1942: Shell manager H.C. Jansen destroys Balikpapan (Borneo) oil-refining center (351-54). MacArthur & Nimitz (355). Strategy: safeguard supply lines and block “Japan’s indispensable ‘oil line’” (355). U.S. victories at Midway and Guadalcanal, but Japanese succeed in gaining oil supply (355-57). Submarine warfare decisive against Japanese shipping; synthetic fuel effort fails (357-58). Fuel shortages impact Japanese conduct of war (359-62). Yamato sinking on April 7, 1945 is “the end of the Imperial Navy” (362-63). Final desperate moves: pine root campaign; overtures to Soviets; national suicide (363-66). MacArthur’s motorcade and Tojo’s ambulance (366-67).


Ch. 20: The New Center of Gravity

Everette Lee DeGolyer’s late 1943 mission to Saudi Arabia concludes: “The oil in this region is the greatest single prize in all history” (words of someone named Leavall) (391-93). U.S. policymakers focus on Mideast oil (395-96). 1943-1944: U.S. contemplates owning Mideast oil and pipeline businesses (396-99). Anglo-American tensions in 1943-1944 over Mideast oil (399-402). Anglo-American Petroleum Agreement (1944) fails due to Senate opposition (402-03). February 13, 1945: Roosevelt talks with Ibn Saud for five hours aboard the USS Quincy on the Great Bitter Lake of the Suez Canal (403-05). After FDR’s death, attempts to revive the Anglo-American Petroleum Agreement come to naught (405-08).


Ch. 23: “Old Mossy” and the Struggle for Iran

Mohammed Reza Pahlavi takes deposed father’s throne in Iran, 1941 (450-51). Iranian hatred of British (451-52). Under pressure, Sir William Fraser’s Anglo-Iranian tries to renegotiate agreement, but Iran under Mossadegh nationalizes oil industry (452-56). Portrait of Mossadegh as sly lunatic (456-58). Plan Y, for British military intervention (458). Dean Acheson sends Averill Harriman to negotiate; British send Richard Stokes; Mossadegh intractable (459-62). British abandon Abadan refinery, October 4, 1951 (462-63). Attempts at settlement unavailing; Mossadegh grows demagogic (463-67). Operation Ajax overthrows Mossadegh, described as a “countercoup,” August 1953 (467-70). U.S. govt. prods American companies to come to the rescue in Iran (470-71). Justice Dept. pursues criminal case with 1949 analysis entitled The International Petroleum Cartel, but Truman and Eisenhower reduced case to civil matter (472-75). Iranian consortium established: “The United States was now the major player in the oil, and the volatile politics, of the Middle East” (475-78)


Wikipedia on The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and Power

Yergin does a good job of referring to primary documents, and this used to be more openly discussed until at least the first Gulf War when Papa Bush discovered people didn't care enough about oil to send our troops to die for it--so we get all the nonsense about Saddam being worse than Hitler as if they didn't know what a bastard he was when we were selling him weapons and encouraging him to fight Iran.