Blog Archives

It looks like last night’s debate was Obama’s triumph…

Although I don’t think Mittens made any huge gaffes, he did tell a pile of obvious lies and Obama seemed to catch him on them.  I was reading Andrew Sullivan’s online live commentary as the debate went on, and his summations in the last few minutes pretty much made the event understood:

10.35 pm. After the first truly epic implosion in the first debate, Obama has clawed his way back in the following two, in my view. He has marshalled his arguments as potently as possible; he brought the themes of his candidacy together compellingly. His advantage on foreign policy will not, I think, diminish; it may well strengthen. And that is only just. After eight years of the most disastrous, misguided, immoral and a catastrophic foreign policy, Obama has brought the US back from the brink, presided over the decimation of al Qaeda, the liberation of Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, and restored America’s moral standing in the world.
For Romney, he made no massive mistakes. No Gerald Ford moments. And since the momentum of this race is now his, if now faltering a little, a defeat on points on foreign policy will be an acceptable result. But this was Obama’s debate; and he reminded me again of how extraordinarily lucky this country has been to have had him at the helm in this new millennium.
He’s flawed; he’s made mistakes; but who hasn’t? If this man, in these times, with this record, against this opposition, does not deserve re-election, then I am simply at a loss for words. I have to believe the American people will see that in time.
10.34 pm. Obama’s closing statement was his best few minutes in all three debates. Romney’s seems a little desperate and now he – the man whose running-mate is Paul Ryan – is saying he is more bipartisan than Obama.
10.30 pm. So Romney just blames the entire economy on Obama alone. This litany of “the economy sucks throw him out” is the crude but effective big lie.
10.27 pm. “Governor, the people in Detroit don’t forget.” The lies this man has said tonight have been more numerous than I can ever remember in any debate. The man does not have the moral character to be president, in my opinion.

I think Obama, aside from appearing presidential and in control of his information (and correct in presenting his record, as well.) Romney, as Obama said, tried to “Airbrush History.”  The best turnover Obama brought around was when Romney claimed Obama had made an “Apology Tour” of the middle east, and the president cleared up his trips and and made it clear that the charge Romney has made was his “biggest whopper.”

Romney has seemed to abandon neoconservatism by endorsing Obama’s withdrawal from Afghanistan and agreeing on many other of the president’s foreign policy actions.  Obama made sure to point this out. It seemed like Romney was congratulating the President of the United States.

Obama really came out as one who deserves a second term.He was clearly the Commander in Chief and Romney didn’t look like he would fill that role in the same way.

 

A day I have not looked forward to… have you?

 

It’s the eleventh anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy and it will be the subject of all of today’s talk shows. The very thought of everything involved in the event… from the destruction of the World Trade Center, the crash into the Pentagon and the plane that went down in a Pennsylvania field. I remember the father of one of Buddy’s friends when we lived in Marlborough,CT, who had made his monthly business trip to NYC and died in the attack… which means not only did it happen, but I knew someone killed in the tragedy.

We are at war in the Middle East… still going after Al Qaeda. It is the longest war in our history and seems to go on forever. After the loss of citizens on 9/11, we continue to lose even more Americans because of the attack. I ask my self: what have we become?

I will try to put the day out of my mind. I have thought about it so much over the past eleven years. I am just crestfallen to find it on my mind again.

 

Looks like the CIA foiled a potential Al Qaeda plane bomber in Yemen…

From the LA Times:

WASHINGTON — The CIA thwarted an ambitious plot by Al Qaeda‘s affiliate in Yemen to destroy a U.S.-bound airliner using a bomb with a sophisticated new design around the one-year anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden, U.S. officials said.

The plot involved an upgrade of the underwear bomb that failed to detonate aboard a jetliner over Detroit on Dec., 25, 2009. This new bomb was also designed to be used in a passenger’s underwear, but this time Al Qaeda developed a more refined detonation system, U.S. officials said.

The FBI is examining the latest bomb to see whether it could have passed through airport security and brought down an airplane, officials said. They said the device did not contain metal, meaning it probably could have passed through an airport metal detector. But it was not clear whether new body scanners used in many airports would have detected it.

The would-be suicide bomber, based in Yemen, had not yet picked a target or bought his plane tickets when the CIA stepped in and seized the bomb, officials said. It is not immediately clear what happened to the alleged bomber.

The operation unfolded even as the White House and Department of Homeland Security assured the American public that they knew of no Al Qaeda plots against the U.S. around the anniversary of Bin Laden’s death. The AP learned about the thwarted plot last week but agreed to White House and CIA requests not to publish it immediately because the sensitive intelligence operation was still under way. Once those concerns were allayed, the AP decided to disclose the plot Monday despite requests from the Obama administration to wait for an official announcement Tuesday.

U.S. officials, who were briefed on the operation, insisted on anonymity to discuss the case.

It is thought that senior Al Qaeda leader in Yemen, Fahd al-Quso, was behind the potential bombing… he had been involved in the bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen’s Aden harbor. However, al-Quso was hit by a missile as he stepped out of his vehicle along with another operative in the southern Shabwa province of Yemen.

 

An article that caused me to question…again…our position in the Middle East.

A question I would like an answer to:

Why Are We Fighting On the Same Side with Al Qaeda?

The U.S. Is On the Same Side as Al Qaeda In Syria

Reuters notes that the leader of Al Qaeda – Ayman al-Zawahri – is backing the Syrian rebels, and asking his followers to fight the Syrian government.

Some of the main Al Qaeda fighters who overthrew Gadaffi – and now appear to be in control of Libya – are already helping the Syrian rebels.

This is curious, given that the U.S. is considering military options for ousting the Syrian government, American allies Britain and Qatar allegedly already have foreign troops inside Syria, and the U.S. has been planning regime change in Syria for over 50 years.

Mainstream reports also state that the U.S. and its allies are backing Iranian terrorists.

I thought Al Qaeda was America’s mortal enemy. Why are we backing terrorists?

I was asked by a radio caller last week if I thought we should charge back full force into the Middle East a la Rick Santorum and the right wingers. My answer was a simple “No.” Frankly, after the past 15 years or so of wondering what the hell we were doing there anyway, killing off our young soldiers and an immense quantity of Middle Easterners to keep our access to oil, the value of maintaining war there is invisible.

No matter that we have built a huge military industrial economy spread over many states in order to keep Senators and Congress folks voting to spend what’s left of the national wealth on tanks, planes, aircraft carriers and guns,guns,guns… no matter that we have been building a population consumed by fear of attack by Iranian nukes (caught that on the news this morning)… wanting to get out of all of this gets harder and harder.

Like the tri-national divided world in the novel 1984, the enemies of the country change constantly and become social buddies while previous friends become the enemies. It is an international trick to keep people under control. It is not far fetched to see Al Qaeda become our fighting allies.

I will say once again: Get out, get out, get out… oh, why bother repeating it? No one in authority listens and no one under that authority seems to be able to do anything about it.

Saturday night thoughts as I watch Doc Martin reruns…

Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society.”

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

I’m getting so tired of listening to the conservative candidates, congressmen and capitalists complain about paying taxes at the level they should be… say, at the rate they were taxed at before George W. Bush lowered them.

As you recall, he lowered the taxes while, at the same time, getting us involved in an Iraq war for dishonest reasons without actually putting the expenses in the reported budget. It is as if bookkeeping and government spending had no relationship.

If a candidate cannot say “Yes, I will have to raise taxes, especially on the rich,” then he (or she) is being completely dishonest. As citizens, we should demand tax increases… and demand military cuts (and demand that we get out of Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and just about everywhere else in the Middle East.

So how do we make it happen?

What does Pakistan use Lobbyists for?

Asif Ali Zardari.

Asif Al Zardari opens his wallet.

According to Reuters, they use them to deny that anyone in the Pakistani government knew that bin Laden was hiding near the Capital for close to six years in the biggest house in the neighborhood:

WASHINGTON (Reuters/Tim Reid) – Pakistan‘s Washington lobbyists have launched an intense campaign on Capitol Hill to counter accusations that Islamabad was complicit in giving refuge to Osama bin Laden.

Alarmed by lawmakers’ demands to cut off billions of dollars of U.S. aid after bin Laden was found living in a Pakistani safe house for six years, President Asif Ali Zardari has ordered a full-court press to quell mounting accusations that it helped the al Qaeda leader avoid capture.

Mark Siegel, a partner in the Washington lobbying firm of Locke Lord Strategies — which is paid $75,000 a month by the Pakistani government — told Reuters on Thursday he had spoken twice to Zardari since U.S. special forces killed bin Laden on Sunday, and “countless” times to the Pakistani ambassador in Washington.

“They are certainly concerned,” Siegel said, adding that suggestions the Pakistani government knew about bin Laden’s whereabouts was nothing more than speculation.

Wow. $75,000 a month to put out press releases.

Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy isn’t buying it, however. He told Vermont Public Radio:

“It’s impossible for them not to have some idea he was there.

Mark Siegel, referring to claims by the Afghan government that Pakistan must have known bin Laden’s whereabouts, said:

“Must have known doesn’t mean knew.”

Sure.

On the appropriateness of celebration…

There has now been a day to ponder the responses of the killing of bin Laden which, let me assure you, I think was an important and rightful act.

I am bothered, however, by the New Year’s Eve-style celebrations which went on for hours after the announcement: delerious street dancing, people wrapping themselves in flags, yelling and screaming… I would have expected something much more somber. I would have expected candles, thoughtful silence, remembrance of so many lost in the name of getting this one man.

I’ve been reading blogs, watching television, flipping through the newspapers and listening to radio for 24 hours or so (about half of which I was disconnected from the internet thanks to my friends at Frontier… boy, these guys are driving me to the Hughes Network) and finding there were a lot of people who also thought the party-like atmosphere made us seem as bad as Al Qaida, who did the same kind of thing after the twin towers went down. I had hoped we would be better than that, but I should know from experience that we, as a people, are easily tipped into emotional release.

Having had the day to think about everything I hope folks will be a little more reflective today. This, of course, means different things to different people. I spent five minutes switching from CSPAN‘s Morning Edition, Morning Joe, Fox News and CNN and each had their own perspective. CSPAN was taking calls from the public… at least two who were pushing the idea that 1.) bin Laden was not dead, but we really had scooted him off for secret interrogation without the rest of the world knowing about it, and  2.) that he has been dead for a couple of years and we have been keeping him on ice so Obama could stage this event in order to get reelected. In their usual reluctance to comment or get in the way of the craziest responses, CSPAN just let it go by with a “Thank You.”

Fox seemed to be devoting the morning to making sure there was plenty of focus on George W. Bush whose plans were in place to be carried out by Obama… plus repeated videos of Bush with megaphone at the 9/11 site, Bush doing the “Dead or Alive” speech, etc. Damned little focus on Obama.

My favorite was public radio which found part of the Seth Myers’ speech at the Correspondent’s Dinner the night before the attack and the one bin Laden joke he made… which the President did a deep laugh at… we know now that he knew what was about to go on in Pakistan and he kept it in unleaked control.

Morning Joe had the usual mix of conservatives and liberals and CNN was more concerned with a troop of missing boy scouts and massive flooding in Cairo, IL. Their Obama thoughts ran as a tickertape stream at the bottom of the screen.

Frankly, I’m going to start reviewing the “what do we do next” scenarios… with a certain amount of hope that we MAY no longer need to be in Afghanistan – that it becomes the new Iraq, the war that we have no reason to be in. I don’t really believe it will happen… after all we still have thousands of folks still in Iraq. If we could only get away from the need to be an empire!

I’ll comment on what I find later. Have a nice day.

A few non-bin Laden related updates…

“Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you criticize them, you are a mile away from them and you have their shoes.”

Jack Handey, Saturday Night Live

The news this morning and into the afternoon has been fairly single focused and I haven’t had a chance to get back to some things I’ve been discussing in  the last week or so. I’m sitting over at Mellow Moods having a cup of coffee  and a vegan sandwich (black bean burger with fruit and salsa roll-up) and their wifi is working… so here goes:

4 Days into my SuperFocus glasses…

Focusing... a snap!

I know I bored everyone over the last few weeks with my enthusiasm and expectations for the SuperFocus glasses I ordered and have bee. waiting for. Well, they arrived late on the 28th and I’ve been wearing them for a hair over four days now.

And they are spectacular!

It took a little over a day to get used to changing the focus manually depending on what distances I was looking at. And I found out that, unlike my old bifocals, there were at least five regular viewing ranges I use regularly: reading, short distance, average distance, driving and very long distance. I’m amazed at how minimal a concern as my daily crossword puzzle now doesn’t require squinting and tilting my head to make sure I was at the close bifocal distance. And I can actually read road signs quite a way down the highway now.

I really like them. My wife got so interested that she just made an appointment with her optometrist and will be ordering her own soon (right now she wears trifocals and has great trouble with computer-use distances.)

—–
Getting Excused From Jury Duty

I got called up for a month of Jury Duty in June and I had to call my Doctor and get a note about my ischemic seizures which can happen at any time (the meds I take have them pretty much under control, but I’ve had at least one in the last few weeks.) It would be awfully embarrassing to go into a seizure while watching testimony… not to mention the fact that there’s a lot of driving back and forth and my wife is convinced I’ll have an attack at 60 miles per hour.

Anyway, my Neurologist’s office is giving me the note to attach to the form I had to fill out. Apparently they do this kind of thing all the time.

—–

I’m working this afternoon on the basis of my podcast. I’m still very unsure of how everything is done, but I’m doing it live at 10 AM tomorrow. If you listen to it then, or get it later, please excuse my early user mistakes. I’ll get better.

Quote of the Day – This sums it up

Official presidential portrait of Barack Obama...

“Osama wasn’t a Muslim leader, he was a mass murderer of Muslims

President Barack Obama

Indeed, Al Qaeda killed many more Muslims than Americans. Although Americans in the Middle East have been warned against immediate reprisals, The general response from local governments has been to congratulate Obama for the action and to breathe a sigh of relief.

“Justice has Been Done” – Obama / Osama Bin laden has been killed.

Osama Bin Laden

I woke up this morning to the news I should have heard last night (I went to bed early) – Osama Bin Laden has been killed in a U.S. strike ordered by Barack Obama and based on US Intelligence. This was actually done on April  29th in an action that was kept in tight secrecy. It is notable that not even the Pakistanis were informed that this was going to happen (in the past, every time they were informed of such an action, Bin Laden curiously escaped just in time to save himself.)

Bin Laden Death Photo

From early reports, Bin Laden was shot in the head by a Navy Seal and, reportedly, he was hiding behind a woman at the time. The attack was made by four helicopters and a small team. No Americans were harmed. The US took custody of Bin Laden’s body after the attack and then followed Islamic law by having him buried at sea so that no tomb could be made on land… since Bin Laden was not a sailor, but the burial at sea was a traditional burial of an enemy.

Pakistan was informed after the action began. Al Qaeda, btw, has now declared war on Pakistan.

This attack plan began in June of 2009 when Obama ordered CIA director Leon Panetta to have as his primary goal locating Bin Laden. The plan was kept in complete secrecy – even from members of Congress – and no information was leaked before its occurence.

My wife’s comment this morning was “This will get Obama reelected.”

More later.

Quote of the Day – on getting out of Afghanistan

America cannot afford an endless war in Afghanistan. After nearly a decade at war, with still no equal commitment from the Karzai government, and after all the lives we’ve sacrificed and the billions we’ve spent on this war, it’s time to start bringing our troops home. It’s time to put the future and security of Afghanistan in the hands of its own leaders, and focus America’s national security on the emerging and more imminent threats from al Qaeda in other regions.”

– Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) on calling for passage of the Safe and Responsible Redeployment of United States Combat Forces from Afghanistan Act

I think we should add some kind of statement that, Al Qaeda or not, we don’t get into another national civil war of any kind.

Another 30,000 troops going into Afghanistan…

Obama made an unannounced visit to Afghanistan today where he spoke with troops and announced that another 30,000 troops will be coming into the war zone. Add this to the 100,000 troops that are there already and the corrupt Afghan government (made even clearer by the Wikileaks revelations) and we see additions being made to a war that is not going well.

Obama didn’t visit with President Karzai… the claim was bad weather which, according to reporters on Dylan Ratigan this afternoon, is not true… it was a lovely weather day in Kabul. After the Wikileaks came out last week we discovered that Karzai was most likely crazy as well as being corrupt… and we know he stole the last election. He is just as likely to make a deal with the Taliban as he is to help the President.

Al Qaeda must be thrilled by all of this, since their intention is to make Afghanistan cost us more and more while making us weaker in the Middle East (they call this strategy “Death by a Thousand Cuts” and we are certainly bleeding.) Aren’t we going to face facts and get out? Doesn’t look like it.

It’s been a day of controversy over the Transportation Safety Administration

Isn’t it remarkable that people don’t want full-body scans showing them as stark naked or, as an alternative, having their crotches groped in search of terrorist bombs when getting ready to get on an airplane? It’s even more remarkable that it would apply to a six-year-old child or an 80-year old grandfather.

Jonathan Mann, who has been writing a song a day for the last couple of years, tackles the TSA’s body search in today’s song:

By the way, I support the boycott of flights ntil this is called off (although I’m sure there are a number of sexual perverts who think the experience is neat.)

Looks like Al Qaida is at it again…

This is not news we needed… however, it is good that we are on top of it now. If Congress has to push more changes for our protection, will Mitch McConnell and John Boehner keep things political and use their “NO!” routines?
clipped from www.herald-mail.com

Explosive found in Dubai, part of U.S. terror probe
Authorities in Dubai intercepted an explosive device bound for a Chicago-area Jewish institution aboard a cargo jet, officials disclosed Friday, triggering a worldwide alert and fears that al-Qaida was attempting to carry out fresh terror attacks.

A second package — like the first, shipped from Yemen — was discovered aboard a plane in England. It, too, was addressed to a Jewish organization in the Chicago area, although there was no immediate confirmation about its contents.

Several other cargo planes at airports along the Eastern Seaboard of the United States also were searched, and officials said no explosives were found.

“The president directed U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies and the Department of Homeland Security to take steps to ensure the safety and security of the American people, and to determine whether these threats are a part of any additional terrorist plotting,” the White House said in a statement.
blog it

Maureen has a remarkable 9/11 piece over at Whatever Works.

Here’s the start of it, but go to her blog to read the rest:
clipped from maureenholland.wordpress.com

Nine Eleven, Nine Years

Nine years since Al Quada took down the Twin Towers. Not a day any of us is likely to forget ever, especially if we were able to watch it happen in real time on teevee. I was in my office at the theatre that morning – no online live streaming then, at least not at my company – and at the first word, we all raced to a break room where there was a television. And we watched – about a dozen of us. And we didn’t speak. We just watched. Our building had by then  become a no-smoking building. But we smoked – for hours. No one said a word. About an hour after the second tower fell, we began going home. And didn’t come back for a few days except to staff the evening performances – the show always goes on. But during the day, no one came in. The phones had stopped ringing. The box office was silent. No one answered email. So we stayed home and watched New York and called friends and family.

Less than a month later, U.S. forces were in Afghanistan. And we have been there for eight years and 338 days. blog it

Read the rest HERE.

Note: I’d like to express a memory of Jim Hobin who died in the WTC on 9/11. Jim was my son Buddy’s Basketball Coach and he only went to the WTC on business every couple of months from our town of Marlborough, CT. It was the wrong day.

Peace.

There is a good Forbes article on how the Mosque issue effects worldwide Muslim view of US…

Here are some clips, but I suggest you read the whole thing as this point of view is not being discussed on television:
clipped from www.forbes.com
The furor over the proposed Islamic cultural center and mosque near Ground Zero makes me think back to one of the most important lessons I learned from al Qaeda terrorists I interrogated–that they have a warped view of America. To them–and this they get from Osama Bin Laden‘s rhetoric–the U.S. is a country at war with Islam and Muslims, and so they had a duty to fight us.
While I was serving on the frontlines I found that this distorted view of America was common among ordinary Muslims too, and it was only by correcting this image did we encourage locals to help our investigations and turn against al Qaeda. Our efforts were helped by public statements, like from President Bush in the days after 9/11, declaring that America was at war with al Qaeda and not with Islam.
We should have been highlighting that al Qaeda has killed thousands of Muslims and blown up dozens of mosques around the world.
When we eventually did this, we had great successes.
blog it

War Fatigue

Obama and Company are gearing up for an explanation tour of our goals in the Middle East… that we are there to keep Al Qaeda out, to stop the Taliban from returning to Afghanistan, and to WIN (whatever that means).

Trying to build a Democratic state in a Medieval mess is just not working out. Keeping the corrupt Karzai government afloat is a form of creeping suicide for our troops, which we have expanded in Afghanistan as we have cut them in Iraq.

In the last funding bill for the troops and additional 70 Congressfolk added their names to the non-funders. Next time, the funds just may be voted down. What then?

The people…us… the voting folks… are just getting tired of it all. It is costing us and killing us for no apparent reward. It is making us continuously less popular around the world. And, although we are warned that the terrorists will come back to get us if we don’t fight them over there, they are getting arrested over here for potential terrorist attacks anyway. The war does not effectively end terrorism.

Can we get over the concept that if we don’t win we lose? Somehow, we have to.

A Quote for Today: Tom Friedman said it on TV this weekend…

Re: terrorism and our response to it…

“This double game goes back to 9/11. That terrorist attack was basically planned, executed and funded by radical Pakistanis and Saudis. And we responded by invading Iraq and Afghanistan. Why? The short answer is because Pakistan has nukes that we fear and Saudi Arabia has oil that we crave.”

– Thomas Friedman to Fareed Zakaria on CNN

Why I love Helen Thomas…

…she just doesn’t give up at a Press Conference (and the fact that she doesn’t get her answer is very revealing. Take a look:

To quote Glenn Greenwald:

She asks the prohibited question about the motives of Terrorists, and keeps asking as she receives complete non-responses, until they all just decide to ignore her.

Brennan’s answer — they do this because they’re Evil and murderous — is on the same condescending cartoon level as the “They-Hate-us-For-Our-Freedom” tripe we endured for the last eight years. Apparently, if Brennan is to be believed, Islamic radicals, in their motive-free quest to slaughter, write down the names of all the countries in the world and put them in a hat and then stick their hand in and select the one they will attack, and the U.S. just keeps getting unlucky and having its name randomly chosen. Countries like China, Brazil, Japan, Chile, Greece, South Africa, France and a whole slew of others must have really good luck. That Al Qaeda is evil and murderous and perverts Islam is a judgment about what they do, not an answer as to what motivates them.

So has anyone actually decided to look at what WE HAVE DONE?

Fear Itself…

When FDR said “We have nothing to fear but fear itself” he could have been summing up what faces Americans today. The TV news networks are all pushing interviews with Senators and Congressmen (mostly Republicans) who tell us that the Christmas Eve flight bombing attempt, the shutting down of our Yemen Embassy (apparently not abandoned by cut off from any visitors), the killing of CIA people in Pakistan and other events and rumors of events are reasons not to close Gitmo and to increase military presence in…gosh, how many countries?…Yemen and other spots.

After watching all of the Adam Curtis documentary I put up yesterday it is clear that we are being sold nightmares to get us all riled up over uncountable numbers of Al Q’aeda operatives (of which there are probably very few.)

If we can avoid succumbing to fear and realize that these are political moves to keep us in our middle-class constraints, perhaps we can focus back on curing what’s wrong with our economy, our health care system, and so many other things.

We need to GET OUT OF THE MIDDLE EAST. Period. We cannot afford to be the world’s bodyguard and we must realize that not everyone wants to be like us. If the do, they will pull it off themselves in an overwhelming manner (it’s about to happen in Iran without any of our help… just watch.)

The Power of Nightmares — Part 6

The Conclusion.

Wherever one looks for this al-Qaeda organisation, from the mountains of Afghanistan to the “sleeper cells” in America, the British and Americans are chasing a phantom enemy.

But the reason that no-one questions the illusion is because this nightmare enemy gives so many groups new power and influence in a cynical age – and not just politicians.

Those with the darkest imaginations have now become the most powerful.

Juan Cole comments on the failed plane bomber…

This is a clip from a longer article… but I agree with Juan. Abd al-Mutallib was not a sophisticated bomber and was probably trying to get attention from Al Qaida.

A piece of the article here:

clipped from www.juancole.com

The details of the attempted attack on the Amsterdam/ Detroit flight Friday are still murky and I don’t trust the only official from whom we are hearing details, Rep. Peter King of New York. The LAT says Homeland Security is now downplaying the purported al-Qaeda or Yemen connection around which rumors swirled earlier Friday, saying that the al-Qaeda thing may have been “aspirational”.

Umar Farouk Abd al-Mutallib, 23, a Nigerian engineering student at the University College of London, took the flight from Lagos Nigeria to Amsterdam and thence to Detroit. Someone set him up with a leg pouch filled with an incendiary chemical that was supposed to set a big fire on board when he injected it with chemicals from a syringe.

It was a replay of the shoe bomber episode, in other words, and suspiciously enough occured on the anniversary of the Richard Reid attempt.
No cause for complaisance here, but contrary to what rightwing politicians are saying, no cause for panic, either.
blog it

Feingold: Why Surge Where Al Qaeda Isn’t?

Russ Feingold was on ABC’s This Week this morning and asked he question we all want to know.
clipped from www.huffingtonpost.com
Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.) demanded that one question be answered when considering the implementation of the president’s surge policy: Why send troops where al Qaeda isn’t?
“Pakistan, in the border region near Afghanistan, is perhaps the epicenter [of global terrorism], although al Qaida is operating all over the world, in Yemen, in Somalia, in northern Africa, affiliates in Southeast Asia. Why would we build up 100,000 or more troops in parts of Afghanistan included that are not even near the border? You know, this buildup is in Helmand Province. That’s not next door to Waziristan. So I’m wondering, what exactly is this strategy, given the fact that we have seen that there is a minimal presence of Al Qaida in Afghanistan, but a significant presence in Pakistan? It just defies common sense that a huge boots on the ground presence in a place where these people are not is the right strategy. It doesn’t make any sense to me.”
  blog it

TALIBAN = 9/11?? Afghanistan by Hypnosis

By Greg Palast (for ZEEK.net)

______________________

Note from Bill: I received this article by Greg Palast in today’s e-mail… It came not from ZEEK, which is a progressive Jewish Magazine of Thought and Culture), but directly from Greg, so I am more than certain that republishing the whole thing here is well within Greg’s wishes to get this read.

As we are now getting ready to pull the kind of crap in Afghanistan that we spent the last eight years doing in Iraq, I think this SHOULD be read. It may convince you that we are about to do the wrong thing again.

______________________

On September 11, 2001, my office building, the World Trade Center, was attacked by al Qaeda, a murder cult of Saudi Arabians, funded by Saudi Arabians. And so, in response to the Saudis’ attack, America invaded … Afghanistan.

talibanAnd here we go again. The New York Times (print edition) headline last Friday was: “Pakistani Army, In Its Campaign In Taliban Stronghold, Finds A Hint Of 9/11.”

Google it and you’ll find the Times report repeated and amplified 5,785 times more.

Taliban = 9/11. Taliban = 9/11. Taliban = 9/11.

Your eyelids are getting heavy. Taliban = 9/11. Taliban = 9/11.

It’s the latest hit from the same crew that brought you Saddam = 9/11 and its twin chant, Saddam = WMD, Dick Cheney’s chimerical tropes which the New York Times’ Judith Miller happily channeled to the paper’s front page.

And they’re at it again.

Every war begins with a lie. In addition to Saddam = WMD, I’m old enough to remember the Gulf of Tonkin resolution authorizing the war in Vietnam, based on a fictional Vietnamese gunboat attack on our Navy. (White House recordings have Lyndon Johnson gloating privately, “Hell, those damn stupid [US] sailors were just shooting at flying fish.”)

In the Glorious War against the Taliban in Afghanistan, the lie is thus: al Qaeda is “based” in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. If we don’t fight the wily Taliban, as the British once fought the wily Pathan, al Qaeda will attack America again from Talibanistan.

The latest Taliban=9/11 fantasy is a yarn spun wildly outward from the finding of a passport of an al Qaeda flunky who worked with suicide pilot Mohammed Atta in the same mountain area where, years later, a Taliban group operated. It’s a stretch, but when you want to sell a war, it will do.

But selling the re-invasion of Afghanistan requires a repetition of Lie #1: that the original attack on the World Trade towers and the Pentagon were planned from Afghanistan’s and Pakistan’s mountains with the connivance of the Taliban.

It’s not true, of course. The September 11 attack was neither organized nor directed from Afghanistan by the Taliban. In fact, as our BBC Report found, it was clear that the attack on my friends and co-workers was planned and carried out from Falls Church, Virginia; Paris, France; Sarasota, Florida; Hamburg, Germany;— and, I repeat, funded and manned from Saudi Arabia. Neither the Sunshine State nor the Aryan namesake of the original beef patty sandwich were, nor are they now, convenient targets for a revenge attack by the 101st Airborne.

And revenge was what it was and remains: on September 11 the skunks hit us and we, goddamnit, were going to HIT BACK. ANYONE. SOMEONE. So we hit the odious, and conveniently weak, Taliban, who’d, undeniably, given refuge to killer Osama bin Laden. Though let us not forget that Osama’s safe passage from the Sudan to Afghanistan was initially encouraged by the US government.

Today, we continue to throw our soldiers’ bodies into Afghanistan, and our drones’ rockets into Pakistan, to deny al Qaeda the supposed base from which to strike us again.

The media is eating it up and swallowing it whole. For example, CNN quotes a Pakistani from the Afghan border area, “Probably your next 9/11 is going to be from Swat.”

That’s not true either, of course: In the extraordinarily unlikely event Osama remains in the “caves of Tora Bora” (not where multi-millionaires with kidney disease tend to linger), any conceivable attack will be planned, funded and organized from comfy hotel rooms in Paris, Germany and Dubai as is the habit of these well-heeled hellions.

The truth is, we’re not in Afghanistan to stop al Qaeda’s US attackers, because they weren’t “based” there in the first place, and their leaders are not there now.

So, why are we now re-invading Afghanistan? Beats me. I just hope our President will give us a hint that doesn’t involve some cockamamie fairytale about 9/11 and al Qaeda.

Now, please don’t get me wrong: the Taliban are monsters. If you have any doubt, I suggest you read progressive journalist Michael Griffin’s masterful history of the Taliban, Reaping the Whirlwind. (Published in early 2001, Griffin presciently warned against the US policy of placating the Taliban.)

Undeniably, the Taliban gave sanctuary to the killer Osama, but that does not make the Taliban guilty of planning and participating in the 9/11 attack. However, the Taliban’s innocence in the 9/11 massacre does not wash their hands of the blood of Afghans, particularly Shia and Sufi Muslims, whom the Taliban have tortured, raped and murdered.

I can’t say I shed tears for the Taliban when, after my office towers fell, US troops ended their sharia dictatorship. And, honestly, there’s a case to be made that rocketing more Taliban, really nasty cutthroats that they are, is a laudable exercise. But let’s not pretend it has anything to do with preventing another 9/11.

And that’s the danger. As the poet T.S. Eliot warned,

"The last temptation is the greatest treason
    To do the right thing for the wrong reason."

Taliban = 9/11? Innocents, by the thousands and thousands, will pay in blood for this treasonous falsehood.

For BBC Television, Greg Palast reported on the US intelligence failures leading to the 9/11attack. Watch the BBC Newsnight episode. For the full story obtain a copy of the now classic BBC documentary, Bush Family Fortunes available on DVD or the now newly available download version. The author is donating all proceeds of the sale of the film, *Bush Family Fortunes, expanded from the BBC broadcast, to the Palast Investigative Fund, a not-for-profit foundation supporting investigative reporting. 100% of your donations for the film disc or download go to the fund and are tax-deductible.*

//

Quote of the Day (a Doozy!)

“I think the interrogations were in violation of the Geneva Convention against torture that we ratified under President Reagan. I think that these interrogations, once publicized, helped al Qaeda recruit.”

– Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), in an interview on Face the Nation, on the Bush administration’s interrogation methods.

Looks like McCain and Cheney are not in the same Party.

(Thanks to Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire)