Jun 012013
 

Global Research
David Ray Griffin

Osama bin Laden Responsible for the 9/11 Attacks?  Where is the Evidence?

The idea that Osama bin Laden was responsible for the 9/11 attacks has been an article of faith for public officials and the mainstream media. Calling it an “article of faith” points to two features of this idea. On the one hand, no one in these circles publicly challenges this idea.

On the other hand, as I pointed out at length in two of my books – 9/11 Contradictions1 and The New Pearl Harbor Revisited,2 no good evidence has ever been publicly presented to support it.

Colin Powell’s Withdrawn Promise Two weeks after 9/11, Secretary of State Colin Powell, speaking to Tim Russert on Meet the Press, said that he expected “in the near future . . . to put out . . . a document that will describe quite clearly the evidence that we have linking [bin Laden] to this attack.”3

Powell reversed himself, however, at a press conference with President Bush in the White House Rose Garden the next morning, saying that, although the government had information that left no question of bin Laden’s responsibility, “most of it is classified.”4 According to Seymour Hersh, citing officials from both the CIA and the Department of Justice, the real reason for the reversal was a “lack of solid information.”5

This was the week that Bush, after demanding that the Taliban turn over bin Laden, refused their request for evidence that bin Laden had been behind the attacks.6 A senior Taliban official, after the US attack on Afghanistan had begun, said: “We have asked for proof of Osama’s involvement, but they have refused. Why?”7 Hersh’s answer was that they had no proof.

Tony Blair’s Weak Document

The task of providing such proof was taken up by Bush’s chief ally in the “war on terror,” British Prime Minister Tony Blair. On October 4, 2001, Blair made public a document entitled: “Responsibility for the Terrorist Atrocities in the United States.” Listing “clear conclusions reached by the government,” it stated: “Osama Bin Laden and al-Qaeda, the terrorist network which he heads, planned and carried out the atrocities on 11 September 2001.” Blair’s report, however, began by saying: “This document does not purport to provide a prosecutable case against Osama Bin Laden in a court of law.”8 Although the case was not good enough to go to court, Blair seemed to be saying, it was good enough to go to war.

The weakness in Blair’s report, in any event, was noted the next day by the BBC, which said: “There is no direct evidence in the public domain linking Osama Bin Laden to the 11 September attacks. At best the evidence is circumstantial.”9

The FBI’s Surprising Statement

What does our own FBI say? Here is a surprising but little-known fact, because it has scarcely been reported in the mainstream media: The FBI’s “Most Wanted Terrorist” webpage on “Usama bin Laden” does not list the 9/11 attacks as one of the crimes for which he is wanted. It does list bombings in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi as terrorist acts for which he is wanted. But it makes no mention of 9/11.10 In 2006, Rex Tomb, then the FBI’s chief of investigative publicity, was asked why not. He replied: “The reason why 9/11 is not mentioned on Usama Bin Laden’s Most Wanted page is because the FBI has no hard evidence connecting Bin Laden to 9/11.”11

After this story started flying around the Internet and was even covered by a TV station in Louisiana,12 Dan Eggen tried to downplay its significance in an August 2006 Washington Post article entitled “Bin Laden, Most Wanted For Embassy Bombings?”13 Complaining about “conspiracy theorists” who claimed that “the lack of a Sept. 11 reference [on the FBI’s “Most Wanted” webpage for bin Laden] suggests that the connection to al-Qaeda is uncertain,” Eggen quoted the explanation offered by a former US attorney, who said that the FBI could not appropriately “put up a wanted picture where no formal charges had been filed.”

But that explanation, while true, simply pushes the issue back a step to this question: Why have such charges not been filed? Rex Tomb’s fuller statement, which Eggen failed to mention, had answered this question the previous June, saying:

The FBI gathers evidence. Once evidence is gathered, it is turned over to the Department of Justice. The Department of Justice then decides whether it has enough evidence to present to a federal grand jury. In the case of the 1998 United States Embassies being bombed, Bin Laden has been formally indicted and charged by a grand jury. He has not been formally indicted and charged in connection with 9/11 because the FBI has no hard evidence connecting Bin Laden to 9/11.14

The 9/11 Commission

What about the 9/11 Commission? Its report gave the impression that it was in possession of solid evidence of bin Laden’s guilt. But the Commission’s co-chairs, Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton, undermined this impression in their follow-up book, which they subtitled: “The Inside Story of the 9/11 Commission.”15 (I discussed this book at length in Chapter 2 of my 2007 book, Debunking 9/11 Debunking.16)

As the endnotes for The 9/11 Commission Report reveal, whenever the Commission referred to evidence of bin Ladin’s responsibility for the 9/11 attacks, the Commission was always referring to CIA-provided information, which had (presumably) been elicited during interrogations of al-Qaeda operatives. By far the most important of these operatives was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, generally called simply “KSM,” who has been called the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. The Commission, for example, wrote:

Bin Ladin . . . finally decided to give the green light for the 9/11 operation sometime in late 1998 or early 1999. . . . Bin Ladin also soon selected four individuals to serve as suicide operatives. . . . Atta – whom Bin Ladin chose to lead the group – met with Bin Ladin several times to receive additional instructions, including a preliminary list of approved targets: the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the U.S. Capitol.17

The note for each of these statements says: “interrogation of KSM.”18

Kean and Hamilton, however, reported that they had no success in “obtaining access to star witnesses in custody . . . , most notably Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.”19 Besides not being allowed to interview these witnesses, Commission members were not even permitted to observe the interrogations through one-way glass or to talk to the interrogators.20 Therefore, Kean and Hamilton complained: “We . . . had no way of evaluating the credibility of detainee information. How could we tell if someone such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed . . . was telling us the truth?”21

An NBC “deep background” report in 2008 pointed out an additional problem: KSM and the other al-Qaeda leaders had been subjected to “enhanced interrogation techniques,” i.e., torture, and it is now widely acknowledged that statements elicited by torture lack credibility. “At least four of the operatives whose interrogation figured in the 9/11 Commission Report,” NBC pointed out, “have claimed that they told interrogators critical information as a way to stop being ‘tortured.’” NBC then quoted Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, as saying: “Most people look at the 9/11 Commission Report as a trusted historical document. If their conclusions were supported by information gained from torture, . . . their conclusions are suspect.”22

The “Bin Laden Confession Tapes”

As we have seen, neither the 9/11 Commission, the Bush-Cheney White House, the FBI, the British government, nor the 9/11 Commission provided good evidence that Osama bin Laden was responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Many people, however, have assumed that the question of his responsibility was settled by the existence of videotapes and audiotapes in which he himself confessed to the attacks. There are, however, good reasons to believe that these so-called confession tapes are fakes. I will illustrate this point in terms of the two best-known videotapes of this nature.

The “Jalalabad Video” Released December 13, 2001: The first and most famous of the “Osama bin Laden confession video tapes” was released by the Pentagon on December 13, 2001. It had purportedly been made on November 9, 2001, after which it was allegedly found by US forces in a private home in Jalalabad, Afghanistan. In this video, an Osama bin Laden figure is seen talking about the 9/11 attacks with a visiting sheikh. During the course of the conversation, the bin Laden figure boasts about the success of the attacks, saying that he had planned them.23 Both US and British officials claimed that this tape left no doubt about bin Laden’s guilt.24

Stories in both the Canadian and British media, however, raised questions about the tape’s authenticity. These stories, besides pointing out the existence of the technical ability to create fake video tapes, also mentioned the suspicion of some people that the bin Laden figure was not Osama bin Laden himself.

A BBC News report said: “Washington calls it the ‘smoking gun’ that puts Bin Laden’s guilt beyond doubt, but many in the Arab world believe the home video of the al-Qaeda chief is a fake.”25 This report was, in fact, entitled, “Could the Bin Laden Video Be a Fake?”

This question was also raised in Canada by CBC News, which pointed out that some people had “suggested the Americans hired someone to pretend to be the exiled Saudi.”26

This question was raised even more insistently in a Guardian story with the title, “US Urged to Detail Origin of Tape.” Reporting “growing doubt in the Muslim world about the authenticity of the film,” writer Steven Morris said:

The White House yesterday came under pressure to give more details of the video which purports to show Osama bin Laden admitting his part in the September 11 attacks.27

Morris, pointing out that the White House had provided no details about how the Pentagon came to be in possession of the tape, added:

According to US officials the tape was found in a house in Jalalabad, eastern Afghanistan, and handed to the Pentagon by an unnamed person or group. . . . But for many the explanation is too convenient. Some opponents of the war theorise that the Bin Laden in the film was a look-alike.

Morris then quoted one such opponent in Pakistan, who said: “This videotape is not authentic. The Americans made it up after failing to get any evidence against Osama.”

Morris also cited Bob Crabtree, the editor of Computer Video magazine, who explained that it was impossible to determine whether the video was authentic without more details of its source, adding: “The US seems simply to have asked the world to trust them that it is genuine.”28

This skepticism about the authenticity of this “Jalalabad video” was based on sound reasons. For one thing, this video’s bin Laden figure appeared too heavy and healthy, compared with the bin Laden who made the last of the undoubtedly authentic bin Laden videos, which was made sometime in 2001 between November 16 (on which occurred an event mentioned on the tape) and December 27 (the date on which the tape was released). In this post-November 16 video, bin Laden’s beard was white, he had a “gaunt, frail appearance,” and his “left arm hung limply by his side while he gesticulated with his right.”29 This immobile left arm, Dr. Sanjay Gupta observed on CNN, suggested that bin Laden had suffered a stroke, adding that this plus a “frosting of the appearance” suggested that bin Laden was in the final stages of kidney failure.30

But in the “Jalalabad video,” which was reportedly made at about the same time (being dated November 9 and released December 13), the bin Laden figure was heavier and also darker, in both skin and beard color; his nose had a different shape;31 and his hands were shorter and heavier than those of Osama bin Laden as seen in undoubtedly authentic videos.32

Still another problem is that, whereas bin Laden was left-handed, the man in the “Jalalabad video” wrote with his right hand. Although it might be thought that this was because his left arm was immobile, the bin Laden figure in this video was easily able to lift his left arm above his head.33

If this video was made on November 9, as claimed, then it would have been made at most only a few weeks before the post-November 16 video. It is very hard to believe that the heavy, dark-skinned, healthy-looking man with a dark beard could have, within two or three weeks, turned into the pale, gaunt, white-bearded, man seen in the post-November 16 video.

If one accepts the Jalalabad video as authentic, one not only has to accept these radical changes in bin Laden’s physical appearance; one must also accept a complete change in his statements about 9/11. In the previous weeks, he had repeatedly – on September 12, 16, 17, and 28 – stated that he had had nothing to do with the attacks.34 In the September 28 statement, he had even declared:

I have already said that I am not involved in the 11 September attacks in the United States. As a Muslim, I try my best to avoid telling a lie. I had no knowledge of these attacks, nor do I consider the killing of innocent women, children and other humans as an appreciable act. Islam strictly forbids causing harm to innocent women, children and other people. Such a practice is forbidden even in the course of a battle. . . . [W]e are against the American system, not against its people, whereas in these attacks, the common American people have been killed.35

Is it likely that he would have made such statements if he himself had authorized the attacks and thereby the killing of innocents?

Whatever be one’s opinion about that, the bin Laden figure in the “Jalalabad video” made other statements that Osama bin Laden himself would surely not have made. For example, he said:

[W]e calculated in advance the number of casualties from the enemy who would be killed based on the position of the tower. . . . [D]ue to my experience in this field, I was thinking that the fire from the gas in the plane would melt the iron structure of the building and collapse the area where the plane hit and all the floors above it only. This is all that we had hoped for.36

But in light of the real bin Laden’s “experience in the field” as a building contractor, he would have known that high-rise buildings are framed with steel, not iron. Even more important, he would have known that the buildings’ support columns – whether made of steel or iron – would not have been melted by the “fire from the gas in the plane.” Why? Because he would have known, on the one hand, that a building fire, even if fed by jet-fuel (which is essentially kerosene), could not, even under the most ideal conditions, have risen above 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit (1,000 degrees Celsius). And he would have known, on the other hand, that iron and steel do not begin to melt until they are heated to a temperature far higher than that: to almost 2,800 degrees Fahrenheit (1,540 degrees Celsius). The real bin Laden, therefore, would not have expected any iron or steel to melt.

A final reason to consider the “Jalalabad video” a fake is that bin Laden experts have declared it to such. When Dr. Bruce Lawrence, a Duke University history professor widely considered the country’s leading academic bin Laden expert,37 was asked what he thought about this video, he said, bluntly: “It’s bogus.” Some friends of his in the US Department of Homeland Security assigned to work “on the 24/7 bin Laden clock,” he added, “also know it’s bogus.”38

General Hamid Gul, former head of Pakistan’s ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence), suggested that the man in the video was an “Osama bin Laden lookalike.”39

Former Foreign Service officer Angelo Codevilla, after saying “[t]he guy just does not look like Osama,” added: “The fact that the video had been made for no self-evident purpose except perhaps to be found by the Americans should have raised suspicion.”40

A fourth expert opinion has been issued implicitly, it would seem, by the Department of Justice and its FBI. If they considered this “confession video” authentic, would they not consider it “hard evidence” of bin Laden’s responsibility for 9/11? They say, however, that they have no such evidence, so they must not consider this video authentic.

The “October Surprise Video of 2004: The other most famous of the “bin Laden confession tapes” is the video tape that was released on October 29, 2004, just before the presidential election between George W. Bush and John Kerry, leading to its being called “the October Surprise video.” In this one, for the first time, a bin Laden figure directly addressed the American people. The Associated Press, focusing on the most important aspect of the speaker’s message, entitled its story: “Bin Laden, in Statement to U.S. People, Says He Ordered Sept. 11 Attacks.”41 However, although the AP accepted the authenticity of the tape, there are serious reasons to doubt it.

A reason to be at least suspicious is the very fact that it appeared just four days before the presidential election and seemed designed to help Bush’s reelection – an assessment that was made even by CIA analysts.42 The video, moreover, evidently did help: Bush’s lead over Kerry in national polls increased right after it appeared,43 and both Bush and Kerry said that this tape was significantly responsible for Bush’s victory.44 Given the fact that this video would quite predictably help Bush win reelection, it would seem to have been issued by his friends, not his enemies.

There are also substantive reasons to doubt this tape’s authenticity, one of which is the speaker’s language. The clearly authentic bin Laden messages were filled with religious language. A bin Laden video released October 7, 2001, for example, began thus:

Praise be to God and we beseech Him for help and forgiveness. We seek refuge with the Lord of our bad and evildoing. He whom God guides is rightly guided . . . . I witness that there is no God but God and Mohammed is His slave and Prophet.45

Even though this talk as a whole had only 725 words, bin Laden referred to God (Allah) 20 times and to the prophet Mohammed 3 times. Likewise, his message of November 3, 2001, which contained 2,333 words, referred to God 35 times and to the prophet Mohammed 8 times.46 By contrast, the 2004 October Surprise video, which had almost the same number of words as the November 3 video, referred to God only 12 times. The only “Mohammad” mentioned, moreover, was Mohamed Atta.

Another substantive difference involved the type of causal analysis provided. Bin Laden’s clearly authentic messages had portrayed historical events as occurring only because they were caused, or at least allowed, by God. In his message of October 7, 2001, for example, he said: “God Almighty hit the United States. . . . He destroyed its greatest buildings.” Human agents were involved, to be sure, but they were successful only because “Almighty God . . . allowed them to destroy the United States.”47 In his message of November 3, likewise, bin Laden said that, if people are helped or harmed, it is always by “something that God has already preordained for [them].”48

The message on the 2004 confession video, however, reflected a worldview in which events can be understood through a causal analysis based on secular rationalism. “One of the most important things rational people do when calamities occur,” the lecturer asserted, “is to look for their causes so as to avoid them.” He himself, in analyzing “the [Iraq] war, its causes and consequences,” provided a causal analysis involving purely human actors: Bush, al-Qaeda, and the American people. Far from suggesting that everything is finally in the hands of God, he said to the American people: “Your security is in your own hands” – a statement that a devout Wahabi Muslim such as Osama bin Laden would surely have considered blasphemous.

Still another reason to doubt the authenticity of this 2004 video is that, although the speaker was addressing the American public, he spoke Arabic rather than English. This is strange, because Osama bin Laden was reportedly fluent in English, which he had started studying when he was 11 years old.49 A British journalist reported that, when he and bin Laden met in 1989, they conversed in English for 45 minutes.50 General Hamid Gul, speaking to United Press International in 2001, said: “I know bin Laden and his associates. They are graduates of the best universities and . . . speak impeccable English.51 If bin Laden spoke impeccable English, would he not have used it when speaking directly to the American people?52

Accordingly, this video does not, any more than the “Jalalabad video,” provide evidence that Osama bin Laden himself confessed to planning the 9/11 attacks.

Conclusion

I showed in a previous essay that, according to the best evidence presently available, Osama bin Laden has been dead for many years.53 In the present essay, I have shown that there is not even any good evidence for the claim that bin Laden was responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Accordingly, insofar as the justification for the continuation of the AfPak war is based on the fact that bin Laden in the region both before and after the 9/11 attacks, that justification would seem to be doubly baseless.

David Ray Griffin is the author of 36 books, nine of which are about 9/11. His most recent book is The Mysterious Collapse of World Trade Center 7: Why the Final Official Report about 9/11 Is Unscientific and False (Olive Branch, 2009). In 2008, he put out two books: The New Pearl Harbor: 9/11, the Cover-Up, and the Exposé (which was named a “Pick of the Week” by Publishers Weekly) and Osama bin Laden: Dead Or Alive? (which has generated considerable media coverage in England).

David Ray Griffin is professor emeritus at Claremont School of Theology and Claremont Graduate University. He is the author of The New Pearl Harbor – Disturbing Questions about the Bush Administration and 9/11 ,  The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions — A Critique of the Kean-Zelikow Report as well as Osama Bin Laden: Dead or Alive?

Notes

  1. 9/11 Contradictions: An Open Letter to Congress and the Press (Northampton: Olive Branch, 2008), Chap. 18, “Does the Government Have Hard Evidence of Bin Laden’s Responsibility?”
  2. The New Pearl Harbor Revisited: 9/11, the Cover-Up, and the Exposé (Northampton: Olive Branch, 2008). This book was named Publishers Weekly’s “Pick of the Week” on November 24, 2008 (http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6617001.html?industryid=47159).
  3. “Meet the Press,” NBC, September 23, 2001 (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/nation/specials/attacked/transcripts/nbctext092301.html).
  4. “Remarks by the President, Secretary of the Treasury O’Neill and Secretary of State Powell on Executive Order,” White House, September 24, 2001 (http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2001/09/20010924-4.html).
  5. Seymour M. Hersh, “What Went Wrong: The C.I.A. and the Failure of American Intelligence,” New Yorker, October 1, 2001 (http://cicentre.com/Documents/DOC_Hersch_OCT_01.htm).
  6. “White House Warns Taliban: ‘We Will Defeat You,’” CNN, September 21, 2001 (http://archives.cnn.com/2001/WORLD/asiapcf/central/09/21/ret.afghan.taliban).
  7. Kathy Gannon, “Taliban Willing to Talk, But Wants U.S. Respect,” Associated Press, November 1, 2001 (http://nucnews.net/nucnews/2001nn/0111nn/011101nn.htm#300).
  8. Office of the Prime Minister, “Responsibility for the Terrorist Atrocities in the United States,” BBC News, October 4, 2001 (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/1579043.stm).
  9. “The Investigation and the Evidence,” BBC News, October 5, 2001 (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/1581063.stm).
  10. Federal Bureau of Investigation, “Most Wanted Terrorists: Usama bin Laden” (http://www.fbi.gov/wanted/terrorists/terbinladen.htm).
  11. Ed Haas, “FBI says, ‘No Hard Evidence Connecting Bin Laden to 9/11′” Muckraker Report, June 6, 2006 (http://www.teamliberty.net/id267.html).
  12. “Bin Laden’s FBI Poster Omits Any 9/11 Connection,” KSLA 12 in Shreveport, Louisiana
    (http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-6443576002087829136).
  13. “Bin Laden, Most Wanted For Embassy Bombings?” Washington Post, August 28, 2006 (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/08/27/AR2006082700687.html)
  14. Haas, “FBI says, ‘No Hard Evidence Connecting Bin Laden to 9/11.’”
  15. Thomas H. Kean and Lee H. Hamilton, with Benjamin Rhodes, Without Precedent: The Inside Story of the 9/11 Commission (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2006).
  16. David Ray Griffin, Debunking 9/11 Debunking: An Answer to Popular Mechanics and Other Defenders of the Official Conspiracy Theory, revised and updated edition (Northampton: Olive Branch, 2007). This book won a bronze medal in the 2008 Independent Publishers Book Awards.
  17. The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, authorized edition (New York: W. W. Norton, 2004), 149, 155, 166; henceforth 9/11CR.
  18. See 9/11CR Ch. 5, notes 16, 41, and 92.
  19. Kean and Hamilton, Without Precedent, 118.
  20. Ibid., 122-24.
  21. Ibid., 119. I have discussed this issue at greater length in Ch. 8, “9/11 Commission Falsehoods about Bin Laden, al-Qaeda, Pakistanis, and Saudis,” of The New Pearl Harbor Revisited.
  22. Robert Windrem and Victor Limjoco, “The 9/11 Commission Controversy,” Deep Background: NBC News Investigations, January 30, 2008 http://deepbackground.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2008/01/30/624314.aspx).
  23. “U.S. Releases Videotape of Osama bin Laden,” Department of Defense, December 13, 2001 (http://www.defenselink.mil/releases/release.aspx?releaseid=3184); “Pentagon Releases Bin Laden Videotape: U.S. Officials Say Tape Links Him to Sept. 11 Attacks,” National Public Radio, December 13, 2001 http://www.npr.org/news/specials/response/investigation/011213.binladen.tape.html). The entire video can be viewed at this NPR Web page.
  24. See my book Osama bin Laden: Dead or Alive? (Northampton: Olive Branch [Interlink Books], 2009), 23-26.
  25. “Could the Bin Laden Video Be a Fake?” BBC News, December 14, 2001 (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/1711288.stm).
  26. “‘Feeble’ to Claim Bin Laden Tape Fake: Bush,” CBC, December 14, 2001 (http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2001/12/14/bush_osama011214.html).
  27. Steven Morris, “US Urged to Detail Origin of Tape,” Guardian, December 15, 2001 (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2001/dec/15/september11.afghanistan).
  28. Ibid.
  29. Toby Harnden, “US Casts Doubt on Bin Laden’s Latest Message,” Telegraph, December 27, 2001
  30. “Dr. Sanjay Gupta: Bin Laden Would Need Help if on Dialysis,” CNN, January 21, 2002
    (http://www.cnn.com/2002/HEALTH/01/21/gupta.otsc/index.html). For the tape, see “”Osama Bin Laden Tape Dezember [sic] 2001″ (http://www.myvideo.de/watch/3760193/Osama_Bin_Laden_Tape_Dezember_2001).
  31. For a nose comparison, see “Osama bin Laden Gets a Nose Job” (http://www.awitness.org/news/december_2001/osama_nose_job.html),
    or “Bruce Lawrence,” Radio Du Jour (http://www.radiodujour.com/people/lawrence_bruce).
  32. Compare his hands with bin Laden’s hand as shown in the post-November 16 video (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/1729882.stm).
  33. This can be seen in a portion of the Jalalabad video placed on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x0FVeqCX6z8).
  34. For documentation and discussion, see Osama bin Laden: Dead or Alive? 27-29.
  35. “Interview with Usama bin Laden,” Ummat (Karachi), September 28, 2001
    http://www.robert-fisk.com/usama_interview_ummat.htm).
    Bin Laden’s statement about innocents repeated what he had said in an interview with John Miller of ABC News in 1998: “Our religion forbids us from killing innocent people such as women and children”
  36. “Transcript of Usama bin Laden Video Tape,” Department of Defense, December 13, 2001 (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Dec2001/d20011213ubl.pdf).
  37. Bruce Lawrence is the editor of Messages to the World: The Statements of Osama Bin Laden (London and New York: Verso, 2005).
  38. Lawrence made these statements on February 16, 2007, during a radio interview conducted by Kevin Barrett of the University of Wisconsin at Madison. It can be heard at Radio Du Jour (http://www.radiodujour.com/people/lawrence_bruce).
  39. BBC News, “Tape ‘Proves Bin Laden’s Guilt,’” December 14, 2001 (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/1708091.stm).
  40. Angelo M. Codevilla, “Osama bin Elvis,” American Spectator, March 2009 (http://spectator.org/archives/2009/03/13/osama-bin-elvis/print).
  41. Maggie Michael, “Bin Laden, in Statement to U.S. People, Says He Ordered Sept. 11 Attacks,” Associated Press, October 29, 2004 (http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/nation/terror/20041029-1423-binladentape.html).
  42. Ron Suskind, The One Percent Doctrine: Deep Inside America’s Pursuit of Its Enemies Since 9/11 (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2006), 336.
  43. Philip Sherwell, “Bush Takes a Six-Point Lead After New Bin Laden Tape,” Telegraph, November 1, 2004 (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/1475515/Bush-takes-a-six-point-lead-after-new-bin-Laden-tape.html).
  44. “Kerry Blames Defeat on Bin Laden,” BBC News, January 31, 2005 http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4222647.stm); “Bush Says Bin Laden Tape Aided Re-Election: Report,” Reuters, February 28, 2006 http://www.redorbit.com/news/politics/408991/bush_says_bin_laden_tape_aided_reelection_report/).
  45. “Bin Laden’s Warning: Full Text,” BBC News, October 7, 2001 (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/1585636.stm).
  46. “BBC Transcript Of Osama Bin Laden Statement,” November 7, 2001 (http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/WO0111/S00049.htm).
  47. “Bin Laden’s Warning: Full Text.”
  48. “BBC Transcript Of Osama Bin Laden Statement.”
  49. See “In the Footsteps of Bin Laden,” CNN, August 23, 2006 http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0608/23/cp.01.html), and Steve Coll, “Young Osama,” New Yorker, December 12, 2005 http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2005/12/12/051212fa_fact).
  50. “In the Footsteps of Bin Laden.”
  51. “Arnaud de Borchgrave Interviews Hameed Gul, Former Chief of Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence,” UPI, September 26, 2001 (http://www.strategypage.com/militaryforums/594-499.aspx; also available at(http://www.robert-fisk.com/hamid_gul_interview_sept26_2001.htm).
  52. I have given a more thorough analysis of the problems in these two “confession videos” in my book Osama bin Laden: Dead or Alive? (Northampton: Olive Branch [Interlink Books, 2009).
  53. “Osama Bin Laden: Dead or Alive?” Veterans Today, October 22, 2009 (http://www.veteranstoday.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=9079

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May 082013
 

New documents prove what was once dismissed as paranoid fantasy: totally integrated corporate-state repression of dissent

The Guardian
Naomi Wolf

Occupy Oakland clashes

Police used teargas to drive back protesters following an attempt by the Occupy supporters to shut down the city of Oakland. Photograph: Noah Berger/AP

It was more sophisticated than we had imagined: new documents show that the violent crackdown on Occupy last fall – so mystifying at the time – was not just coordinated at the level of the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and local police. The crackdown, which involved, as you may recall, violent arrests, group disruption, canister missiles to the skulls of protesters, people held in handcuffs so tight they were injured, people held in bondage till they were forced to wet or soil themselves –was coordinated with the big banks themselves.

The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, in a groundbreaking scoop that should once more shame major US media outlets (why are nonprofits now some of the only entities in America left breaking major civil liberties news?), filed this request. The document – reproduced here in an easily searchable format – shows a terrifying network of coordinated DHS, FBI, police, regional fusion center, and private-sector activity so completely merged into one another that the monstrous whole is, in fact, one entity: in some cases, bearing a single name, the Domestic Security Alliance Council. And it reveals this merged entity to have one centrally planned, locally executed mission. The documents, in short, show the cops and DHS working for and with banks to target, arrest, and politically disable peaceful American citizens.

The documents, released after long delay in the week between Christmas and New Year, show a nationwide meta-plot unfolding in city after city in an Orwellian world: six American universities are sites where campus police funneled information about students involved with OWS to the FBI, with the administrations’ knowledge (p51); banks sat down with FBI officials to pool information about OWS protesters harvested by private security; plans to crush Occupy events, planned for a month down the road, were made by the FBI – and offered to the representatives of the same organizations that the protests would target; and even threats of the assassination of OWS leaders by sniper fire – by whom? Where? – now remain redacted and undisclosed to those American citizens in danger, contrary to standard FBI practice to inform the person concerned when there is a threat against a political leader (p61).

As Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, executive director of the PCJF, put it, the documents show that from the start, the FBI – though it acknowledges Occupy movement as being, in fact, a peaceful organization – nonetheless designated OWS repeatedly as a “terrorist threat”:

“FBI documents just obtained by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) … reveal that from its inception, the FBI treated the Occupy movement as a potential criminal and terrorist threat … The PCJF has obtained heavily redacted documents showing that FBI offices and agents around the country were in high gear conducting surveillance against the movement even as early as August 2011, a month prior to the establishment of the OWS encampment in Zuccotti Park and other Occupy actions around the country.”

Verheyden-Hilliard points out the close partnering of banks, the New York Stock Exchange and at least one local Federal Reserve with the FBI and DHS, and calls it “police-statism”:

“This production [of documents], which we believe is just the tip of the iceberg, is a window into the nationwide scope of the FBI’s surveillance, monitoring, and reporting on peaceful protestors organizing with the Occupy movement … These documents also show these federal agencies functioning as a de facto intelligence arm of Wall Street and Corporate America.”

The documents show stunning range: in Denver, Colorado, that branch of the FBI and a “Bank Fraud Working Group” met in November 2011 – during the Occupy protests – to surveil the group. The Federal Reserve of Richmond, Virginia had its own private security surveilling Occupy Tampa and Tampa Veterans for Peace and passing privately-collected information on activists back to the Richmond FBI, which, in turn, categorized OWS activities under its “domestic terrorism” unit. The Anchorage, Alaska “terrorism task force” was watching Occupy Anchorage. The Jackson, Mississippi “joint terrorism task force” was issuing a “counterterrorism preparedness alert” about the ill-organized grandmas and college sophomores in Occupy there. Also in Jackson, Mississippi, the FBI and the “Bank Security Group” – multiple private banks – met to discuss the reaction to “National Bad Bank Sit-in Day” (the response was violent, as you may recall). The Virginia FBI sent that state’s Occupy members’ details to the Virginia terrorism fusion center. The Memphis FBI tracked OWS under its “joint terrorism task force” aegis, too. And so on, for over 100 pages.

Jason Leopold, at Truthout.org, who has sought similar documents for more than a year, reported that the FBI falsely asserted in response to his own FOIA requests that no documents related to its infiltration of Occupy Wall Street existed at all. But the release may be strategic: if you are an Occupy activist and see how your information is being sent to terrorism task forces and fusion centers, not to mention the “longterm plans” of some redacted group to shoot you, this document is quite the deterrent.

There is a new twist: the merger of the private sector, DHS and the FBI means that any of us can become WikiLeaks, a point that Julian Assange was trying to make in explaining the argument behind his recent book. The fusion of the tracking of money and the suppression of dissent means that a huge area of vulnerability in civil society – people’s income streams and financial records – is now firmly in the hands of the banks, which are, in turn, now in the business of tracking your dissent.

Remember that only 10% of the money donated to WikiLeaks can be processed – because of financial sector and DHS-sponsored targeting of PayPal data. With this merger, that crushing of one’s personal or business financial freedom can happen to any of us. How messy, criminalizing and prosecuting dissent. How simple, by contrast, just to label an entity a “terrorist organization” and choke off, disrupt or indict its sources of financing.

Why the huge push for counterterrorism “fusion centers”, the DHS militarizing of police departments, and so on? It was never really about “the terrorists”. It was not even about civil unrest. It was always about this moment, when vast crimes might be uncovered by citizens – it was always, that is to say, meant to be about you.

• This article originally referred to a joint terrorism task force in Jackson, Michigan. This was amended to Jackson, Mississippi at 4pm ET on 2 January 2012 Continue reading »

May 072013
 

Global Research
Alex Lantier

UN

In a series of interviews, UN investigator Carla del Ponte said that sarin gas used in Syria was fired by the US-backed opposition, not the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

Her account explodes the lies on which Washington and its European allies have based their campaign for war with Syria, according to which the US and its allies are preparing to attack Syria to protect its people from Assad’s chemical weapons. In fact, available evidence of sarin use implicates the Islamist-dominated “rebels” who are armed by US-allied Middle Eastern countries, under CIA supervision.

Del Ponte’s statements coincide with the flagrantly illegal Israeli air strikes on Syria, which have been endorsed by President Obama. These acts of war mark a major escalation of the US-instigated and supported sectarian war for regime-change in Syria, itself a preparation for attacks on the Syrian regime’s main ally in the region, Iran.

Del Ponte is a former Swiss attorney general who served on Western-backed international courts on Yugoslavia and Rwanda. She currently sits on a UN commission of inquiry on Syria. In an interview with Italian-Swiss broadcaster RSI on Sunday, she said, “According to the testimonies we have gathered, the rebels have used chemical weapons, making use of sarin gas.”

She explained, “Our investigators have been in neighboring countries interviewing victims, doctors, and field hospitals, and, according to their report of last week which I have seen, there are strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof of the use of sarin gas, from the way the victims were treated. This was on the part of the opposition, the rebels, not by the government authorities.”

She added, “This is not surprising, since the opponents [i.e., the anti-Assad opposition] have been infiltrated by foreign fighters.”

In a video interview on the BBC yesterday, del Ponte said, “We collected some witness testimony that made it appear that some chemical weapons were used, in particular, nerve gas. What appeared to our investigation was that was used by the opponents, by the rebels. We have no, no indication at all that the government, the authorities of the Syrian government, had used chemical weapons.”

These statements expose the US campaign over chemical weapons in Syria as a series of lies, concocted to justify another war of aggression in the Middle East. The campaign began in late March, as the US military was announcing plans for stepped-up intervention in Syria, when the Assad regime charged that the opposition had fired a rocket with a chemical warhead at Khan al-Asal, near Aleppo. It killed 26 people, including 16 Syrian soldiers, according to opposition sources.

The opposition responded by alleging that it was the Assad regime that had fired the chemical rockets. This was highly implausible, as the rocket was aimed at pro-Assad forces.

Nonetheless, the US political and media establishment took opposition allegations as good coin, demanding stepped-up intervention in Syria based on Obama’s remarks in August of 2012 that use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government would be a “red line” prompting a US attack.

On April 26, the White House endorsed this campaign in a letter to Congress, declaring: “The US intelligence community assesses with some degree of varying confidence that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons on a small scale in Syria.”

This statement had no basis in fact and was evidently fabricated by ignoring witness testimony gathered by the UN. Even after Del Ponte’s interviews, US officials continued to make inflammatory statements implying that Assad is using chemical weapons. An Obama administration advisor told the New York Times yesterday, “It’s become pretty clear to everyone that Assad is calculating whether those weapons might save him.”

The use of sarin by the US-backed Sunni Islamist opposition, which is tied to Al Qaeda and routinely carries out terror attacks inside Syria, also raises the question of how it obtained the poison gas. The US Council on Foreign Relations describes sarin as “very complex and dangerous to make,” though it can be made “by a trained chemist with publicly available chemicals.”

Whether the Islamists received sarin from their foreign backers, synthesized it themselves possibly under outside supervision, or stole it from Syrian stockpiles, its use makes clear the reckless and criminal character of US backing for the Islamist opposition.

Throughout the Syrian war, the American state and media have operated on the assumption that the public could be manipulated and fed the most outrageous lies. Whether these lies were even vaguely plausible did not matter, because the media could be relied upon to spin them to justify deepening the attack on Syria.

Time and again—in the Houla massacre of May 2012 and the murder of journalist Gilles Jacquier in January 2012—the media blamed atrocities perpetrated by the opposition on the Assad regime, then dropped the issue when it emerged that the opposition was responsible. Even the US government’s announcement last December that Al Qaeda-linked opposition forces had carried out hundreds of terror bombings in Syria did not dim media support for the war.

Now the US media are burying news of del Ponte’s interview, as Washington moves towards direct intervention in Syria. Her interview was not mentioned in any of the three major network evening news programs yesterday.

Instead, after the Israeli air strikes against Syrian targets on Thursday and Sunday, US officials and media pundits boasted that US forces could attack Syrian air defenses with few casualties. (See: “The Israeli strikes on Syria”).

Reprising the lies about weapons of mass destruction (WMD) used to justify the war against Iraq, the US ruling elite is placing chemical weapons at the center of its war propaganda on Syria. Yesterday, the Washington Post wrote: “Israeli strikes—following reports in recent weeks that Assad’s forces probably deployed chemical weapons in unknown quantities—appeared to bolster the case of those who have long favored direct US support for the rebels.”

The New York Times noted that Obama might use chemical weapons as pretext for war if he attacked without UN Security Council authorization. It wrote: “Russia would almost certainly veto any effort to obtain UN Security Council authorization to take military action. So far, Mr. Obama has avoided seeking such authorization, and that is one reason that past or future use of chemical weapons could serve as a legal argument for conducting strikes.”

The newspaper did not remark that, in such a case, Obama’s war against Syria would be just as illegal from the standpoint of international law as Bush’s invasion of Iraq ten years ago. That war, which cost over a million Iraqi lives and tens of thousands of US casualties, as well as trillions of dollars, is deeply hated in the American and international working class.

The American ruling elite’s need to downplay the war in Iraq as it prepares to launch a similar bloodbath in Syria underlay the New York Times column penned yesterday by the Times ’ former executive editor, Bill Keller, entitled “Syria Is Not Iraq.” Lamenting that the experience of the Iraq war—which he and the Times had promoted with false reports of Iraqi WMD—had left him “gun-shy,” Keller bluntly asserted, “getting Syria right starts with getting over Iraq.”

By “getting over Iraq,” Keller meant overcoming concerns about using military action and mass killing to crush opposition to US policy. He wrote that “in Syria, I fear prudence has become fatalism… our reluctance to arm the rebels or defend the civilians being slaughtered in their homes has convinced the Assad regime (and the world) that we are not serious.”

Claiming that Washington is preparing military plans “in the event that Assad’s use of chemical weapons forces our hand,” he pushed for rapid intervention, writing, “Why wait for the next atrocity?”

Keller’s warmongering column is a particularly clear example of how the media’s promotion of US imperialist policy is divorced from reality. The fact that there is no evidence that Assad has used chemical weapons, or that the next atrocity in Syria will likely be carried out by US-backed forces, is irrelevant to the Times. Its concern is to package the next US war, the facts be damned.

The collective intellectual and moral bankruptcy of the media and the ruling elite accounts for the fact that del Ponte’s explosive revelations can be buried without comment. Drunk on its own lying propaganda, desperate to erase the conclusions the population has drawn from Washington’s last bloody debacle, the American ruling class is tobogganing towards a new catastrophe. Continue reading »

Apr 112013
 

New York Times
C.J. Chivers
Eric Schmitt

With help from the C.I.A., Arab governments and Turkey have sharply increased their military aid to Syria’s opposition fighters in recent months, expanding a secret airlift of arms and equipment for the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, according to air traffic data, interviews with officials in several countries and the accounts of rebel commanders

The airlift, which began on a small scale in early 2012 and continued intermittently through last fall, expanded into a steady and much heavier flow late last year, the data shows. It has grown to include more than 160 military cargo flights by Jordanian, Saudi and Qatari military-style cargo planes landing at Esenboga Airport near Ankara, and, to a lesser degree, at other Turkish and Jordanian airports.

As it evolved, the airlift correlated with shifts in the war within Syria, as rebels drove Syria’s army from territory by the middle of last year. And even as the Obama administration has publicly refused to give more than “nonlethal” aid to the rebels, the involvement of the C.I.A. in the arms shipments — albeit mostly in a consultative role, American officials say — has shown that the United States is more willing to help its Arab allies support the lethal side of the civil war.

From offices at secret locations, American intelligence officers have helped the Arab governments shop for weapons, including a large procurement from Croatia, and have vetted rebel commanders and groups to determine who should receive the weapons as they arrive, according to American officials speaking on the condition of anonymity. The C.I.A. declined to comment on the shipments or its role in them.

The shipments also highlight the competition for Syria’s future between Sunni Muslim states and Iran, the Shiite theocracy that remains Mr. Assad’s main ally. Secretary of State John Kerry pressed Iraq on Sunday to do more to halt Iranian arms shipments through its airspace; he did so even as the most recent military cargo flight from Qatar for the rebels landed at Esenboga early Sunday night.

Syrian opposition figures and some American lawmakers and officials have argued that Russian and Iranian arms shipments to support Mr. Assad’s government have made arming the rebels more necessary.

Most of the cargo flights have occurred since November, after the presidential election in the United States and as the Turkish and Arab governments grew more frustrated by the rebels’ slow progress against Mr. Assad’s well-equipped military. The flights also became more frequent as the humanitarian crisis inside Syria deepened in the winter and cascades of refugees crossed into neighboring countries.

The Turkish government has had oversight over much of the program, down to affixing transponders to trucks ferrying the military goods through Turkey so it might monitor shipments as they move by land into Syria, officials said. The scale of shipments was very large, according to officials familiar with the pipeline and to an arms-trafficking investigator who assembled data on the cargo planes involved.

“A conservative estimate of the payload of these flights would be 3,500 tons of military equipment,” said Hugh Griffiths, of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, who monitors illicit arms transfers.

“The intensity and frequency of these flights,” he added, are “suggestive of a well-planned and coordinated clandestine military logistics operation.”

Although rebel commanders and the data indicate that Qatar and Saudi Arabia had been shipping military materials via Turkey to the opposition since early and late 2012, respectively, a major hurdle was removed late last fall after the Turkish government agreed to allow the pace of air shipments to accelerate, officials said.

Simultaneously, arms and equipment were being purchased by Saudi Arabia in Croatia and flown to Jordan on Jordanian cargo planes for rebels working in southern Syria and for retransfer to Turkey for rebels groups operating from there, several officials said.

These multiple logistics streams throughout the winter formed what one former American official who was briefed on the program called “a cataract of weaponry.”

American officials, rebel commanders and a Turkish opposition politician have described the Arab roles as an open secret, but have also said the program is freighted with risk, including the possibility of drawing Turkey or Jordan actively into the war and of provoking military action by Iran.

Still, rebel commanders have criticized the shipments as insufficient, saying the quantities of weapons they receive are too small and the types too light to fight Mr. Assad’s military effectively. They also accused those distributing the weapons of being parsimonious or corrupt.

“The outside countries give us weapons and bullets little by little,” said Abdel Rahman Ayachi, a commander in Soquor al-Sham, an Islamist fighting group in northern Syria.

He made a gesture as if switching on and off a tap. “They open and they close the way to the bullets like water,” he said.

Two other commanders, Hassan Aboud of Soquor al-Sham and Abu Ayman of Ahrar al-Sham, another Islamist group, said that whoever was vetting which groups receive the weapons was doing an inadequate job.

“There are fake Free Syrian Army brigades claiming to be revolutionaries, and when they get the weapons they sell them in trade,” Mr. Aboud said.

The former American official noted that the size of the shipments and the degree of distributions are voluminous.

“People hear the amounts flowing in, and it is huge,” he said. “But they burn through a million rounds of ammo in two weeks.”

A Tentative Start

The airlift to Syrian rebels began slowly. On Jan. 3, 2012, months after the crackdown by the Alawite-led government against antigovernment demonstrators had morphed into a military campaign, a pair of Qatar Emiri Air Force C-130 transport aircraft touched down in Istanbul, according to air traffic data.

They were a vanguard.

Weeks later, the Syrian Army besieged Homs, Syria’s third largest city. Artillery and tanks pounded neighborhoods. Ground forces moved in.

Across the country, the army and loyalist militias were trying to stamp out the rebellion with force — further infuriating Syria’s Sunni Arab majority, which was severely outgunned. The rebels called for international help, and more weapons.

By late midspring the first stream of cargo flights from an Arab state began, according to air traffic data and information from plane spotters.

On a string of nights from April 26 through May 4, a Qatari Air Force C-17 — a huge American-made cargo plane — made six landings in Turkey, at Esenboga Airport. By Aug. 8 the Qataris had made 14 more cargo flights. All came from Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, a hub for American military logistics in the Middle East.

Qatar has denied providing any arms to the rebels. A Qatari official, who requested anonymity, said Qatar has shipped in only what he called nonlethal aid. He declined to answer further questions. It is not clear whether Qatar has purchased and supplied the arms alone or is also providing air transportation service for other donors. But American and other Western officials, and rebel commanders, have said Qatar has been an active arms supplier — so much so that the United States became concerned about some of the Islamist groups that Qatar has armed.

The Qatari flights aligned with the tide-turning military campaign by rebel forces in the northern province of Idlib, as their campaign of ambushes, roadside bombs and attacks on isolated outposts began driving Mr. Assad’s military and supporting militias from parts of the countryside.

As flights continued into the summer, the rebels also opened an offensive in that city — a battle that soon bogged down.

The former American official said David H. Petraeus, the C.I.A. director until November, had been instrumental in helping to get this aviation network moving and had prodded various countries to work together on it. Mr. Petraeus did not return multiple e-mails asking for comment.

The American government became involved, the former American official said, in part because there was a sense that other states would arm the rebels anyhow. The C.I.A. role in facilitating the shipments, he said, gave the United States a degree of influence over the process, including trying to steer weapons away from Islamist groups and persuading donors to withhold portable antiaircraft missiles that might be used in future terrorist attacks on civilian aircraft.

American officials have confirmed that senior White House officials were regularly briefed on the shipments. “These countries were going to do it one way or another,” the former official said. “They weren’t asking for a ‘Mother, may I?’ from us. But if we could help them in certain ways, they’d appreciate that.”

Through the fall, the Qatari Air Force cargo fleet became even more busy, running flights almost every other day in October. But the rebels were clamoring for even more weapons, continuing to assert that they lacked the firepower to fight a military armed with tanks, artillery, multiple rocket launchers and aircraft.

Many were also complaining, saying they were hearing from arms donors that the Obama administration was limiting their supplies and blocking the distribution of the antiaircraft and anti-armor weapons they most sought. These complaints continue.

“Arming or not arming, lethal or nonlethal — it all depends on what America says,” said Mohammed Abu Ahmed, who leads a band of anti-Assad fighters in Idlib Province.

The Breakout

Soon, other players joined the airlift: In November, three Royal Jordanian Air Force C-130s landed in Esenboga, in a hint at what would become a stepped-up Jordanian and Saudi role.

Within three weeks, two other Jordanian cargo planes began making a round-trip run between Amman, the capital of Jordan, and Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, where, officials from several countries said, the aircraft were picking up a large Saudi purchase of infantry arms from a Croatian-controlled stockpile. Continue reading »

Feb 122013
 

The Daily Bell

The Man Who Killed Osama bin Laden… Is Screwed. For the first time, the Navy SEAL who killed Osama bin Laden tells his story — speaking not just about the raid and the three shots that changed history, but about the personal aftermath for himself and his family. And the startling failure of the United States government to help its most experienced and skilled warriors carry on with their lives. – Esquire

Dominant Social Theme: Bin Laden is dead.

Free-Market Analysis: This article attempts to provide us with a blow-by-blow description of Osama bin Laden’s death by putting the killing within the context of the “shooter’s” life.

The article is purportedly about the injustices being heaped upon the killer of the world’s most famous terrorist. He has injuries, can’t move his neck much and is facing a good deal of difficulty in paying his bills, as he can’t find a job to replace his regular service salary of about US$60,000 a year.

The article is by Phil Bronstein, who works out of a non-profit called the Center for Investigative Journalism in Berkeley, California. Bronstein and his colleagues are all eminent journalists who appear to have run major newspapers and are now keeping the tradition of independent journalism alive as best they can.

But one thing that struck us about the article was that it used a photo of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and others in the White House’s “situation room.” In the famous photo, Hillary has her hand over her mouth as if watching something grave or terrible on the screen in front of them (which cannot be seen from the photographer’s vantage.) Her colleagues, including the President of the United States, look terribly grave.

But as we learn from Wikipedia and elsewhere, these notables were NOT in the White House situation room but in a side room nearby. And Hillary had her hand over her mouth because she had allergies and was trying to suppress a cough.

This photo has been published numerous times and usually with the implication that Hillary, Obama and the others were gathered there watching the death of bin Laden. But as has been stated numerous times, there were no interior shots of the “compound” and therefore, none of the people pictured saw bin Laden’s actual death.

There are other problems. Osama bin Laden had perhaps been dead for ten years of Marfan syndrome that elongated his body, made him sickly and ruined his kidneys. He was reportedly on dialysis in 2000. It is highly doubtful that a man in such a condition could have survived another decade before being shot by a Navy SEAL.

Additionally, as we have reported, there are various eyewitness accounts that cast doubts on how the operation was conducted and whether the SEALS even landed as described.

One point that sticks out is that the SEALS came down on top of the compound supposedly but such an approach makes no sense. Ordinarily in such occurrences, the landing is done well away from the target. For our extensive reporting on the subject just conduct a ‘Net search for “bin Laden’s death” and “Daily Bell.”

It is the photo in the Esquire article that we are fixated on because it has much resonance and has been thoroughly debunked on the Internet. In a pre-Internet era, we would have no way to fully understand the falsity of what is presented to us. And even the Wikipedia article about the photo reads like something out of a schizophrenic’s description. While virtually admitting the photo is false, the article continues on and on – explaining the importance of the photo as if it were real. Here’s some of the description.

Some historians have commented on the historical significance of the photograph, particularly its depiction of the crossing of gender and racial boundaries. Lehigh University political science professor Saladin Ambar said that the picture suggests “a new American landscape that we’re still crossing into.” He continued “When Obama was elected, there were some people who thought that we had crossed a racial threshold. What his presidency is revealing is that there are many crossings.”

The photograph has also been noted to depict a change in presidential leadership style. Historian Clarence Lusane said that past presidents have felt a need to project “machismo” and “swagger.” Meredith College sociology professor Lori Brown said it is significant however, that Obama is neither in the center of the room nor in the tallest chair. Political analyst Cheryl Contee said “Obama’s willingness to be photographed without the typical Oval Office swagger gives birth to a new type of swagger.” She said that the image shows Obama’s leadership style as a collaborator.

The New York Times commented on Clinton’s expression in the photograph, writing, “She is what the French critic Roland Barthes called the ‘punctum,’ the not necessarily conspicuous detail that gives a photograph its emotional resonance.” They also stated the mystery of the photograph—what are they looking at?—was analogous to the uncertainty of Western democracy‘s relationship with Islamic militant terrorism.

Ambar stated that the photograph also shows how entrenched women have become in U.S. politics; Hillary Clinton and Audrey Tomason are in the photograph, while the similar photograph of John F. Kennedy and his staff during the Cuban Missile Crisis does not show any women. Lori Brown said in a CNN article that the photograph also shows how women have made progress in U.S. political life, although Brown said that Clinton’s visible reaction dulled the impact somewhat, because women “are often more physical in their emotional responses and in a ‘power situation’ it may not seem as acceptable.”

But it is not “history” – or not at least the history that has been described. Again, the facts are seemingly not in dispute. The photo did not take place in the actual “situation room.” The people in the room were not watching the death of bin Laden, as the live feed – or whatever it was – did not extend inside of bin Laden’s compound. Finally, the photo’s so-called punctum, Hillary Clinton, was putting her hand up to her mouth to shield a sneeze, not because she’d just seen something awful.

If great evil is also great banality, then this banal photograph of a number of people crammed into a small room watching a phony feed – while one suppresses a sneeze – shall go down in history not as a great gathering of leaders but as a gathering of political actors playing out their assigned roles.

Because that’s what is more likely going on. The power elite that wants to build world government and controls governance in many countries already, has created a phony war on terror to justify its depredations regarding civil liberties. People must lose their freedoms so that global institutions can be built.

The killing of bin Laden was doubtless part of this phony show. These people were just following orders like everyone else, and all the fulsome articles in big US magazines cannot alleviate the narrative’s phoniness.

More likely, if someone was shot it was a blameless, aged victim – perhaps the man who actually owned the house. Or perhaps no one was shot at all. The article ends by pointing out that the shooter may be in danger from other al Qaeda types that know his name. But he is probably more in danger from the US government that concocted this phony bin Laden death – in part to re-elect Obama – and is desperate to ensure that the truth does not leak out.

But the truth already HAS leaked out, just like the truth about the photo that Esquire uses to punctuate the gravity of the moment when shooting occurred.

It seems to be a phony photo, a phony moment, a phony shooting and a phony narrative. If it tells us anything at all, it is how what we call the Internet Reformation has changed the context of 21st century information.

Twenty-five years ago, this would have been a significant article. Today, knowing what we do about the US government and its serial lying at the behest of a tiny and impossibly wealthy power elite, we can only shake our collective heads in wonder that those orchestrating these promotions still don’t understand how things have changed.

It is this as much as anything else that makes us confident that plans to gather up the world are not going well. The photo discussed above is an apt metaphor for how little they have learned and how unable they are to respond with legitimate anti-Internet strategies.

They have no idea how to contain the knowledge that the Internet has dispersed about the Way the World Really Works short of shutting down the Internet, which they cannot do.

Instead, they run long articles in magazines that are way past their prime telling people what they ought to think about this or that promotion. Don’t they understand that thinking people can go on the ‘Net and debunk these strategies with a single click of the keyboard?

Conclusion: It’s not that they don’t know anything better. It’s that they cannot think of anything else. And what does that tell us? Think about it … Continue reading »

Feb 112013
 

Some attention has been directed to Evergreen Airbase because they include “Weather Modification” as a potential market for it’s Supertanker jets. At this point, the very act of acknowledging such a market exists at all is a rare phenomenon worth reporting. Basic observations from the ground by those who have lived long enough include recollections of what the sky looked like before spraying commenced. There has been no public debate or consent for filling the atmosphere with aerosols that increase the PPM of toxic metal compounds. Instead, the public is told that it must end the debate over anthropogenic global warming. This functions as a form of ‘back-door’ consent for a practice (innocuously labeled ‘Geo-Engineering’) that has already commenced. The actual reason for spraying the skies is probably more sinister as it closely correlates to the adulteration of our food supply. This is an excellent example of the dangers of a passive electorate with minimal critical thinking skills.  Below is a snapshot of Evergreen’s page:

http://evergreenair.com/supertanker/mkts.html

Picture 17

Continue reading »

Feb 072013
 

Embarrassment for Obama administration after revelations that CIA is secretly using Saudi air base to conduct drone strikes

The Guardian

Chris McGreal
Ian Black

A car destroyed by a US drone strike in Yemen

Senators are pressing Obama to release the legal documents justifying the targeting of al-Qaida suspects in Yemen. Photograph: Khaled Abdullah/Reuters

The pressure on John Brennan, Barack Obama‘s nominee for CIA director and the architect of the White House strategy on drones, intensified on Wednesday amid revelations of a secret CIA drone base in Saudi Arabia and anger in Congress at the administration’s refusal to reveal the legal basis for killing US citizens.

The Obama administration and Saudi Arabia were silent over reports on Wednesday that the CIA is secretly using an air base in Saudi Arabia to conduct its controversial drone assassination campaign in neighbouring Yemen. The reports revealed that the drones that killed the US-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and his son in September 2011, and Said al-Shehri, a senior al-Qaida commander who died from his injuries last month, were launched from the unnamed base.

The revelation is an embarrassment to the White House, which pressured the Washington Post and some other news organisations to suppress the information for 12 months on national security grounds. The timing is also unfortunate for Obama because the killings of Awlaki and his son have contributed to demands in Congress for greater transparency by the White House over the legal basis for drone attacks on US citizens.

Senators who are expected to quiz Brennan at his confirmation hearing on Thursday about the drones policy are pressing the White House to release the detailed legal opinion justifying the targeting of Americans, as well as the broader policy that permits Obama and some other officials to sign off on a “kill list” of named targets.

On Tuesday, NBC made public an administration document dating from 2011 justifying the killing of US citizens who hold senior positions in al-Qaida and who pose an “imminent threat of violent attack” against America. But some members of Congress said the document left many questions unanswered, and are requesting to see a more detailed 50-page memorandum from the White House Office of Legal Counsel.

“The committee continues to seek the actual legal opinions by the Department of Justice that provide details not outlined in this particular white paper,” said Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee.

Eleven Senators have written to the White House hinting at a prolonged fight over the appointment of Brennan, pictured, if the administration does not co-operate with its request.

CIA director nominee John Brennan“The executive branch’s co-operation on this matter will help avoid an unnecessary confrontation that could affect the Senate’s consideration of nominees for national security positions,” the letter said.

Some Senators have also raised questions about civilian casualties and whether the drone attacks are a recruiting tool for the US’s enemies.

The confirmation hearing is also expected to throw some light on the future use of drones, which Obama has rapidly expanded in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia. Brennan had helped forge the policy from his White House basement office, and persuaded the president of its value.

Senators are likely to want to know where Brennan will take the strategy as head of the CIA, which carries out drone attacks in parallel with the US military. The CIA’s use of drones has come under challenge as a breach of international law because the agency is not a recognised military force.
Continue reading »

Feb 062013
 

Gawker

We the Targets: Obama's Combat Lawyers and a Fairy Tale of Law

Last night, NBC news broke the story of an Obama Justice Department memo on extrajudicial assassination of American citizens that screams off the page with the self-delusion and pity of an abused child writing a fairytale. It is a story of calmly supervised adult violence buried under the story-time adventure of so many princes, swords nominally at their sides, who keep hitting and hitting, because they have to.

This compensatory fantasy is the only way a Constitutional Law professor like Barack Obama can face his reflection in the camera lens. It’s a story of hunches and God-given visions verbally tortured and parsed into “science,” like a square hammered into a circle. It’s a tale of an American hero spraying Terror Windex on the smudged screen of a threat matrix, mumbling to himself in the ObamaSpeak of Terror Tuesdays and disposition matrices.

The part of the fairy tale where one says, “And then a wizard fixed everything,” has been replaced with its legal equivalent, the blackwhite Orwellian cant of calibrated pseudoscience, the probity of the imperium and an infinity of reason. The story of how Barack Obama kills Americans ventures both high and low for its rationalizations of untruth, even as its secret—that man is matter—spills across the floor at potentially any point on earth.

As Gawker’s Taylor Berman noted last night, the memo expands on comments made by Attorney General Eric Holder and by Obama’s Counterterorrism Adviser John Brennan. As of yesterday, Brennan was expected to sail through Senate confirmation as the next Director of the CIA, home of American assassination and, now, its own drone force.

Brennan originally spoke of an “inherent right to self-defense,” while Holder stated that kill orders would be limited to deterrence of the “imminent threat of violent attack.” This new memo makes those terms vague to the point of uselessness as law, and to the point of great utility if you merely desire the thinnest veneer of it. The memo’s definition of an imminent threat revises the meaning of those words sharply downward, stating,

The condition that an operational  leader present an ‘imminent’ threat of violent attack against the United States does not require the United States to have clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons and interests will take place in the immediate future.

Now, a terrorist is someone who “recently” participated in threatening “activities”—the parameters of those words are undefined—then failed to noticeably renounce them. The establishment of what is recent, an activity and a threat will be determined by an “informed, high-level” official, with the definitions of that also left blank. Further, the determination of whether to abandon the obligation to capture and try said American citizen—i.e. the clumsy trappings of constitutionally guaranteed due process—hinges on whether it poses “undue risk” to U.S. personnel and “unfeasability.”

This is a stupid idea that tries very hard not to sound stupid by being translated into the creole dialect of Concerned Legalese and Passive Voice. Even before these recent expanded definitions, listening to Eric Holder try to describe the administration’s criteria is simultaneously terrifying and hilarious—a man tiptoeing around the pitfalls of signifying nouns and emphatic verbs as if conscious of what future questions he might be asked in a War Crimes deposition. In language so boldly obfuscatory, you could describe going to the toilet in such a way as to remove all bodily functions. You can instantly imagine Holder going through this process:

Periodically, in the course of normative operations, it becomes not only a necessity but an inevitability that, via one of many apertures within a collection of cells, effluvia or energy-production byproducts’ expulsion must be effectuated.

And that’s how befouling the basic laws of a nation is something people can come to tolerate, even from someone so thoroughly full of shit.

This is the kind of language people like Holder and Brennan must employ, because writing the same policy in plain English reveals a patent and fundamental hideousness. For instance:

We’ve decided that we will have the right to take your life after a secret and legally unaccountable conclave of vaguely defined experts has decided that you are a member of al-Qaida or a vaguely defined associate group and that you are vaguely senior enough in said organization to be responsible for vaguely defined activities and threats that may be posed at a vaguely defined time, and that attempting to capture and try you is too much of a fucking hassle.

Policies like that are inimical to simple language not just because they are morally repugnant but because four fine examples of simple language can be found in the Fourth Amendment’s enumeration of one’s protection from unreasonable seizure; the Fifth’ Amendment’s guarantees to due process; the Sixth Amendment’s guarantee of the rights of the accused to public trial; and Article III’s enumeration of how we are meant to deal with treason:

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

Obama tries so hard to couch himself in reason. He and his advisors know that an ugly policy will be more likely tolerated if it seems like everybody put their thinking caps on extra hard when they came up with it. It works even better when the New York Times makes it sound like the people in charge of implementing it will burn their five-o’clock shadow off by rubbing their chins really thoughtfully and going, “Hmmm,” after running your name through the reasonably titled Disposition Matrix.

Obama and crew are all making that kind of technocrat wunderkinder mistake that if the person who writes the rules is just smart and thoughtful enough, the rules will become ironclad and binding upon all. And the great ugly irony is that they employ this process to pervert and circumvent a Constitution held up reverently in the American consciousness as the most perspicacious binding document ever crafted by—a room full of technocrats.

They think they can come up with a fairly calibrated set of rules, then pass them on to the next administration and be sure that whomever occupies the Oval Office will play by them with more faith than they paid to the Bill of Rights. This isn’t just an Obama problem: it’s a bipartisan problem, and a problem that threatens to become permanent now that Democrats have pardoned this policy to support “their” guy. It’s a problem that merits a serious discussion on both sides of the aisle, from leftists worried about overreach in war and the same sort of conservative elements who even now see national assault weapons registries as an existential threat to both liberty and life.

But God only knows if we can have that sober discussion. As U.S. Judge Colleen McMahon wrote in response to the ACLU and Times‘ filing of Freedom of Information Act requests for Justice Department memos on drone strikes on Americans,

I can find no way around the thicket of laws and precedents that effectively allow the executive branch of our government to proclaim as perfectly lawful certain actions that seem on their face incompatible with our Constitution and laws while keeping the reasons for their conclusion a secret […] The Alice-in-Wonderland nature of this pronouncement is not lost on me.

McMahon was referring to a set of documents whose details have been carefully leaked by the Obama administration, while that same administration officially denied their existence. They have a strategy for defending and selling something that they have tried to claim isn’t even there. And, for a thing that isn’t even there, its contents provide the fullest argument for not revealing it.

McMahon went on to describe herself as caught in “a veritable Catch-22.” The second analogy was much better. In the book from which that expression is taken, the protagonist Yossarian revisits a familiar brothel and finds the old man resident there has been taken away, dead. The place has been destroyed by the boots of the Military Police, and an old woman rocks in a chair in terror, explaining why it happened:

“Catch-22. Catch-22 says they have a right to do anything we can’t stop them from doing.”

“What the hell are you talking about?” Yossarian shouted at her in bewildered, furious protest. “How did you know it was Catch-22? Who the hell told you it was Catch-22? […] Didn’t they show it to you?” Yossarian demanded, stamping about in anger and distress.

“They don’t have to show us Catch-22,” the old woman answered. “The law says they don’t have to.”

“What law says they don’t have to?”

“Catch-22.” Continue reading »

Feb 052013
 

Fars News Agency

TEHRAN (FNA)- Commander of the anti-narcotics squad of Iran’s Law Enforcement Police General Ali Moayyedi blamed the NATO forces for increased drug plantation, production and trafficking in Afghanistan.

“NATO’s presence in Afghanistan has not only contributed zilch to campaign on drugs, but also multiplied production of narcotics, exactly to the opposite,” Moayyedi said in a meeting with Head of Tajikistan’s Anti-Drug Agency here in Tehran today.

He added that Iran’s anti-drug measures along borders with Afghanistan have forced drug-traffickers to use other routes including Tajikistan, which, like Iran, shares lengthy borders with Afghanistan, to smuggle narcotics.

Moayyedi said that Iran and Tajikistan are trying to boost their cooperation and interactions against the harms that they sustain and the threats which are posed to them from their borders with Afghanistan.

Eastern Iran borders Afghanistan, which is the world’s number one opium and drug producer. Iran’s geographical position has made the country a favorite transit corridor for drug traffickers who intend to smuggle their cargoes from Afghanistan to drug dealers in Europe.

Iran spends billions of dollars and has lost thousands of its police troops in the war against traffickers. Owing to its rigid efforts, Iran makes 89 percent of the world’s total opium seizures and has turned into the leading country in drug campaign.

The Iranian police officials maintain that drug production in Afghanistan has undergone a 40-fold increase since the US-led invasion of the country in 2001.

While Afghanistan produced only 185 tons of opium per year under the Taliban, according to the UN statistics, since the US-led invasion, drug production has surged to 3,400 tons annually. In 2007, the opium trade reached an estimated all-time production high of 8,200 tons.

Afghan and western officials blame Washington and NATO for the change, saying that allies have “overlooked” the drug problem since invading the country 10 years ago.

In relevant remarks in November, Head of Russia’s Federal Drug Control Service Viktor Ivanov also blamed the US for a major part of the narcotics smuggled from Afghanistan to his country, saying that the volume of the drug cargos destined for Russia will decrease after the withdrawal of the US forces from the war-stricken country.

“I am convinced that the flow of (Afghan) drugs to Russia will decrease as soon as Americans withdraw from Afghanistan,” Ivanov told the Ekho Moskvy radio station.

Ivanov, who had also previously criticized the anti-drug measures taken by the US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, strongly hailed the US withdrawal scheduled for the end of 2014.

He also said that more than 100,000 people aged 15-34 died of drug abuse in Russia in 2011.

Ivanov said earlier that 30 tons of drugs, mostly from Afghanistan in the form of heroin, are trafficked into Russia annually. Continue reading »