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Posts Tagged ‘9-11

It’s October, and I’m surprised. Should I also be scared?

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Let’s see….  

1. Our economy — that venerable house of cards — is collapsing, and the architects show no signs that they intend to do anything but stack more cards into the rafters (to hell with the foundation, to hell with the people below).

2. The news media essentially serve as a 24-7 infomercial for McCain-Palin, and yet Obama is still ahead — by double digits, according to some polls —  which means that people aren’t lining up anymore to buy the Bush-Cheney line of bullshit.

3. And, lastly, according to a Sept. 30 article in Army Times, George Bush has officially done the utterly unprecedented: He ordered a brigade of troops to to begin patrolling U.S soil, beginning on Oct. 1st, as part of the new NorthCom force. Bush dispatched the brigade in case our country needs help with “civil unrest and crowd control or to deal with potentially horrific scenarios such as massive poisoning and chaos in response to a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive, or CBRNE attack.”

Should I be scared? I am.

But it’s a safe bet that — since this post isn’t about Sarah Palin — no one will read it, which means that, on the topic of fearful things, I can plant my tin foil hat firmly on my head and talk without fear of reprimand.

According to the Army Times article, the 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team goes by the incredibly adorable name, “Sea Smurf” — which is the phonetically-correct moniker for it’s official name: CCMRF (the CBRNE Consequence Management Response Force). Their mission is slated to last for a year, during which time we can all take comfort in the words of Sea Smurf commander, Col Roger Clouter: “We’re going in to help American citizens on American soil, to save lives, provide critical life support, help clear debris, restore normalcy and support whatever local agencies need us to do, so it’s kind of a different role.”

Different, indeed. The brigade is equipped to use “the first ever nonlethal package that the Army has fielded,” which includes, “equipment to stand up a hasty road block; spike strips for slowing, stopping or controlling traffic; shields and batons; and, beanbag bullets.”

If the idea of soldiers patrolling your neighborhood with shields, batons and rubber bullets makes you nervous, take comfort in this: The Army Times article did issue a correction in early October, regarding the use of their non-lethal package. Accordingly, “A non-lethal crowd control package fielded to 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, described in the original version of this story, is intended for use on deployments to the war zone, not in the U.S., as previously stated.”

Rubber bullets aside, one strategic problem with the Sea Smurf’s NorthCom mission is that, according to an April 2008 GAO report, Northcom has not bothered to involve local and state officials and governments — much less the National Guard — in their emergency preparedness planning and coordination efforts. In other words, NorthCom appears set to go it alone, leaving legislators, governors, mayors, the National Guard and the media,  to — I don’t know — step in line? 

The unprecedented pre-emptive deployment of NorthCom military troops onto U.S. soil was paved in October 2006 when Bush signed the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007.  A few lawmakers, such as Sen. Patrick Leahy, protested — as did governors across the country, who saw blazing red flags in the bills provisions. The governors banded together and repeatedly petitioned leaders on Capitol Hill with letters of protest, which were met, one by one, with silence. One such letter, signed by every member of the National Governors Association, read, in part:

This provision was drafted without consultation or input from governors, and represents an unprecedented shift in authority from governors . . .to the federal government….. We urge you to drop provisions that would usurp governors’ authority over the National Guard during emergencies from the conference agreement on the National Defense Authorization Act

So much for democracy. The bill passed like a hot knife through butter.

The roles of traditional emergency preparedness team workers seem to have been usurped by Air Force engineer and medical units, the Marine Corps Chemical, Biological Initial Reaction Force, a Navy weather team and members of the Defense Logistics Agency and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. Whatever that means.

On this topic, the bi-partisan group of legislators that released the aforementioned April 2008 GAO report had a few things to say:   

I remain convinced that almost seven years after 9/11, the U.S. Northern Command, as presently structured, serves no real purpose and is a waste of taxpayers’ money. The only hope to transform this sham command into a viable asset for the American people would require major changes.  — Gene Taylor, D-Mississippi 

The United States Northern Command is supposed to be out in front in the Pentagon’s efforts to support civil authorities in emergencies. It should be planning and identifying possible equipment shortfalls. Above all, it should be working closely with state and local communities. Instead, the command is doing very little of this core activity. — Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont

Clearly, a bias against playing a supporting role to civilian authorities has resulted in large gaps in NORTHCOM’s ability to fulfill its stated mission. The fact is, governors and their National Guard are and will continue to be our nation’s first domestic military responders. And until they and NORTHCOM can work together more seamlessly, NORTHCOM’s ability to be of assistance in homeland response will continue to face significant challenges. — Chris Shays, R-Connecticut

NORTHCOM’s duty is to provide military support to States and the Department of Homeland Security, but it hasn’t fully figured out this emergency support mission. Any crack in our emergency preparedness capability today will become a gaping hole in our catastrophic response tomorrow. — Bennie Thompson, D-Mississippi

Instead of working with the governors, the National Guard Bureau and the State Adjutants General, Northern Command has held the country’s historic first military responders at arm’s length. Northern Command needs to accept its supporting role or get out of the way. — Tom Davis, R-Virginia
 

It is a curiosity. I mean, For more than 100 years – since the end of the Civil War – deployment of the U.S. military inside the U.S. has been prohibited under The Posse Comitatus Act (the only exceptions being that the National Guard and Coast Guard are exempted, and use of the military on an emergency ad hoc basis is permitted, such as what happened after Hurricane Katrina). Unless I missed something, a major hurricane has not hit the mainland in recent days, nor has a spate of riots broken out  in our major cities. And there’s no imminent threat of an impending chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high explosive. Is there?  

Not that there’s a damned thing we can do about it. But I’m just saying….

Of course, it’s my prerogative to speculate on such things. After all, I am part of the tin-foil hat brigade, and have been since falling prey to tertiary Lyme Disease in 2002. Ever since, I’ve been on the vanguard with those who have long-believed in such unspeakable things as a Wall Street catastrophe, not to mention bizarre theories about bio-warfare pandemics, a second (and maybe a third) stolen election, 9-11 as a false flag operation, the Patriot Act, Dick Cheney’s oil imperialism agenda, the ascent of mercenary armies, martial law, internment camps, government-controlled media, geophysical warfare and so on — complete with all the legislative frills and scary, terrorist-bullying jargon necessary to making these newworldorder-ish things alternately possible, invisible, overt, covert and, ultimately, unstoppable.

 

Granted, a single brigade of Sea Smurfs dispatched to the blood red soils of Georgia, USA hardly seems like an overwhelming threat. But it is unprecedented, and it is also, um, un-American. So it’s only natural that I’d jump on board, in full-tin regalia, fully unsurprised — yet as surprised as the next person — by the house of cards, the McCain-Palin infomercials and the Sea Smurf Brigade. Only, unlike the steadfast tin soldier, I don’t feel so brave. And my heart’s not doing so well, either.    

 

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by Mantis Katz for the canarypapers

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Army Times: (Sept. 30, 2008)  Brigade Homeland Tour Starts October 1st

Salon.com: (Sept. 24, 2008) Why is a U.S. Army Brigade Being Assigned to the “Homeland”?

Patrick Leahy: (April 16, 2008) GAO: NORTHCOM Failing in Civil Support Mission

CQ.com: (Dec. 1, 2006)  Fine Print in Defense Bill Opens Door to Martial Law

Global Research: (October 9, 2008) FEMA Sources Confirm Coming Martial Law

The Progressive: (October 7, 2008)  Leahy Concerned About NorthCom’s New Army Unit

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Having created the conditions that produced history’s biggest bubble, America’s political leaders appear unable to grasp the magnitude of the dangers the country now faces. Mired in their rancorous culture wars and squabbling among themselves, they seem oblivious to the fact that American global leadership is fast ebbing away. A new world is coming into being almost unnoticed, where America is only one of several great powers, facing an uncertain future it can no longer shape. — From Asia Times  (October 10, 2008)  Wall Street: A New Iraq War

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On the Occasion of the 7th Anniversary of 9-11….

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On the occasion of the 7th anniversary of September 11th, a call for mourning: A call for mourning for the lives lost, a call for remembrance of all that was lost that day; a call for questions to be asked, and for questions to be answered; A call for 9-11 to no longer be exploited by any political party or person for political gain.

On the occasion of the 7th anniversary of September 11th, a wake up call: a call for mourning, a call for remembrance, a call for truth.

 

The Elephant in the Room – Part 1 of 10

Winner: Best Documentary – London Independent Film Festival. 2008

 The Elephant in the Room is a documentary following British filmmaker Dean Puckett through his journey into the 9/11 Truth Movement: a global movement of ‘conspiracy theorists’ who believe that the official explanation about what happened on 9/11 is totally or partially inaccurate. The filmmakers travel from middle England, across Europe and to New York for the six year anniversary of the attacks, where the film takes one final twist as we are introduced to the 9/11 first responders who are suffering from various grave health difficulties due to the toxic dust that they breathed in trying to help their country during the weeks after this tragic event. Told with a personal hands on approach that avoids advancing any one position, the film asks the question: are these crazy conspiracy theorists? Or is 9/11 Truth a credible political movement?

The Elephant in the Room – Part 2

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The Elephant in the Room – Part 3

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The Elephant in the Room – Part 4

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The Elephant in the Room – Part 5

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The Elephant in the Room – Part 6

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The Elephant in the Room – Part 7

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The Elephant in the Room – Part 8

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The Elephant in the Room – Part 9

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The Elephant in the Room – Part10 of 10

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Other films related to 9-11 and truth 

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An upcoming film: Zeitgeist will premiere on October 2nd, 2008 at the 5th Annual Artivist’s Flim Festival in Los Angeles Film Festival. See trailer and high-definition, 2-hour film (available online thru Oct 3rd) here

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Loose Change 9-11   See full-length film here.

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Check out this website: The FeelGood Foundation works to assist and improve the lives of the 9-11 first reponders and their families. Learn more about them here, where you can also browse their shop and/or make a tax-deductible donation. Below is their mission statement: 

The primary mission of the FealGood Foundation, a non-profit organization, is to spread awareness and educate the public about the catastrophic health effects on 9/11 first responders, as well as to provide assistance to relieve these great heroes of the financial burdens placed on them over the last five years. A secondary goal of our Foundation is to create a network of advocacy on 9/11 healthcare issues. We not only advocate for Ground Zero workers, but show others how they can advocate for themselves and help others through grassroots activism.

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A Tragic Death: American Justice is Laid to Rest with Dr. Bruce Ivins

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For colleagues, a ‘quiet, giving kind of guy’

Our condolences on the tragic death of Dr. Bruce Ivins, the lastest casualty in the war of terror. We are particularly saddened by the smear campaign and scapegoating that led to his death, as Dr. Ivins fell prey to a legalized form of witchhunting — known as the Dick Cheney One-Percent Doctrine — which, beginning in 2001, replaced over 200 years of justice. A strategy for determining criminal guilt, the One-Percent Doctrine disregards the need for factual evidence, so long as there is a probability that such evidence exists — and a small probability, at that. According to the Cheney’s One-Percent Doctrine, if a perceived threat seems 1% true, you should act as if it’s 100% true. According to Cheney’s One-Percent Doctrine, I may be a terrorist, and you may be, too.

This was the doctrine used to take our country to war in Iraq. This was the doctrine used to accuse Dr. Ivins of heinous crimes against humanity. This was the doctrine used to smear Dr. Ivins’ good name, to subject him to a relentlessly invasive investigation for evidence that appears to be non-existent, and to then try him posthumously in the court of the media: guilty, case closed.

The problem with shoehorning an investigation toward pre-conceived evidence — and, ultimately, a pre-conceived verdict — is that, well, this only works in dictatorships, and only because the people are powerless to protest the injustice. America is not quite there. Not yet. Which means that I can still use my voice to protest this injustice — to correct the story of Bruce Ivins — because the official version is riddled with discrepancies. In re-telling his story, we can only aspire to a closer truth. In this, we hope to restore some of the justice robbed from Bruce Ivins in the course of the shoddily-constructed allegations and the investigation that have been waged against him.

The FBI and Department of Justice have announced that they may decide, as early as today, to pronounce Ivins guilty, case closed. We would like to assure the FBI and the Department of Justice that this in no way kills the truth. There are still many in this country who believe in the basic tenets of justice in a democratic society. It is in this shared spirit of justice and human kindness that we begin his story by offering the following truths about Dr. Ivins, as spoken by those who, perhaps, knew him best:

  • Ivans’ attorney, Paul F. Kemp, asserted Ivins’ innocence and stated that Ivans had been cooperating with the anthrax probe for more than six years, using his expertise as a scientist to help the government, and had also been cooperating for over a year, after the investigation was turned toward Ivins. In a statement made after Ivins’ death, Kemp said, “We are saddened by his death, and disappointed that we will not have the opportunity to defend his good name and reputation in a court of law.” In another statement, Kemp said, “We assert his innocence in these killings, and would have established that at trial. The relentless pressure of accusation and innuendo takes its toll in different ways on different people, as has already been seen in this investigation. In Dr. Ivins’ case, it led to his untimely death.”
  • Dr. Russell Byrne — Bruce Ivins’ friend and colleague for 15 years — believes that federal investigators were going after the wrong person, and that it was their pressure on Ivins that led to his suicide. In an interview with MSNBC, Dr. Byrne describes the effect the investigation had on Ivins, starting a year ago, as it incapicatated him to working. Dr. Byrnes scoffed at the “ridiculous motives” offered by federal investigators, and cited examples to disprove their claims against Ivins.
  • Arthur O. Anderson, a medical doctor and scientist at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Disease at Fort Detrick, and a co-worker for many years, said of Dr. Ivins, “He was concerned with how the Institute was perceived and how he was perceived. That manifested itself in the care he took in conducting his research.” Dr. Anderson futher described Ivins as “a hard-working individual with a high level of integrity and pride in both his workplace and his individual work.” Dr. Anderson believe in Ivins’ innocence and believes that Ivins has been used as a scapegoat in the anthrax case.
  • Retired Army Lt. Col. Jeffrey Adamovicz — former director of the bacteriology division at USAMRIID — told The News that the FBI’s probe into the 2001 anthrax killings had upended the work of the lab by turning scientists into suspects – and pushed his pal over the edge. “I just cannot see that Bruce would in any way, shape or form be responsible for something like that,” he said. “I’d like to see these charges substantiated, because just like [with] Dr. Hatfill, there could be nothing to these allegations.” He said the FBI has created a psychologically toxic atmosphere for scientists at Fort Detrick. “We were there processing information for agents and then one day they turned around and treated us all like suspects,” he said. The agents’ criteria for additional suspicion was “who’s working the most overtime,” said Adamovicz, who also was questioned by the feds. “The Bruce I knew,” Adamovicz said, “would not have anything to do with this.” In statement to the Washington Post, Adamovicz said, “I really don’t think he’s the guy. I say to the FBI, ‘Show me your evidence’.” He added, referring to the intense investigative pressure on Ivins, “A lot of the tactics they used were designed to isolate him from his support. The FBI just continued to push his buttons.”
  • Friends and neighbors said he was an avid gardener, an active walker and a volunteer with the Red Cross. Ivins and his wife of 33 years, Diane, had 24-year-old twins, whom they raised in a modest white house with red shutters across the street from Fort Detrick in Frederick, where Ivins worked at the U.S. Army’s institute for infectious diseases.
  • “Anybody that knew Bruce through his church affiliation is just dumbfounded,” said Bill McCormick, who attended St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church in Frederick with Ivins for 25 years. He said Ivins was a “quiet, giving kind of guy,” and the news that he was about to be charged in the attacks did not fit with the Ivins he knew.
  • David Danley, who worked with Ivins at Fort Detrick to develop a new anthrax vaccine for almost 10 years until 2003, says he has a hard time believing Ivins could be the anthrax killer. He remembers a cute gesture he would make to his daughter when they would see Ivins at their church. “My daughter was involved in a little theater in Frederick,” Danley said. “And whenever she was in a musical, she would walk into church, and [Ivins] would be at the piano. And he would start playing a tune from the musical she was in … just as a quiet sort of hello.”
  • Two military scientists who had worked closely with Ivins on projects for years, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said yesterday they were stunned and angry that he was being depicted as a suspect in the attacks without hard evidence being released by the FBI.
  • “Nobody thinks Bruce did it,” said one scientist. He described Ivins as “socially awkward” but he “certainly wasn’t a recluse or a hermit.” He added, “He was kind of a geeky scientist.”
  • Dr. Kenneth Hedlund, who worked with Bruce Ivins at Fort Detrick, says he thinks the government needed a scapegoat. He says the FBI was under a lot of pressure after paying nearly $6 million to Steven Hatfill — another researcher who had been under suspicion in the anthrax attacks. “Unfortunately, Bruce Ivins was a good guy — he was probably more vulnerable, and with the pressure they applied to him, they forced him to this position,” Hedlund remembers the scientist as an outgoing, friendly man who juggled at parties.
    Hedlund says he feels sorry for Ivins’ wife and children, and he is bothered by what he calls the government’s rush to say the problem is solved. “It’s a damn shame that they’ve chosen him as a fall guy, and I think they’ve chosen him as a fall guy because he was too human,” Hedlund says.
  • Another colleague said, “I’ve talked to several friends, and we’re all just really sad and shocked. I hate to see him painted as a person who could’ve done this.”
  • The official statement issued by USAMRIID said “The agency mourns the loss of Dr. Bruce Ivins, who served the institute for more than 35 years as a civilian microbiologist.” Time magazine commented: “That seems like an unusual thing to say if you believe one of your employees had something to do with an anthrax attack. It now remains incumbent on the FBI to reveal what information it had linking Ivins to the attacks. Given the federal government’s record on the anthrax investigation, and the national security interests involved, Ivins’ death should not be used as an excuse for the case to be closed without a full, public airing.”
  • Several of Ivins’ neighbors said they believe the government had the wrong man — and suggest that perhaps the real killer is still out there.
  • “I feel so badly for his family,” said Duggan, an adult-education worker who has lived next to the Ivinses since they bought the 1,500-square-foot house in 1990. It was just the opposite, she said. Whenever she saw him on the street, he would wave heartily and they would chat. She said he walked regularly, perhaps to help his bad back. When she needed a chain saw for some yard work, Ivins showed up and did the job. “Bruce was the kind of neighbor that anyone would want to have,” Duggan said.
  • Ivins was the son of a Princeton-educated pharmacist, and one of his ancestors had opened a pharmacy in town in 1893, in Lebanon, Ohio. His family had deep roots in the small town near Cincinnati.

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It is apparent to many who truly knew Dr. Ivins — as well as many who didn’t — that the official story, as painted by the FBI and the Department of Justice, has so far failed to accomplish more than weaving a case built on innuendo and unsubtantitated allegations. Below, we offer a corrected and more comprehenisive version of the story than has been offered in the official version. The version you will read below begins with some background, then details a total of 11 counterpoints to the case against Dr. Ivins, following a somewhat surreptitious, but relevent, sequence of events that began after September 11, 2001, when all the world was reeling in a shell-shock of horror. All the world, that is, except for the henchmen in the Bush Administration. There was work to be done….

A Constitution to Dismantle

…beginning with the September 13th passage of Senate Amendment #1562, — the “Combatting Terrorism Act of 2001,” which, in effect, gave our government license to brand me a terrorist and to wiretap my phone and computer, based solely on the above paragraph I just wrote. And it gave them license to do so, based solely on the say-so of, say, the local Barney Fife.

In the wake of 9-11, the pressure was understandably immense on Capitol Hill to create strong anti-terrorism legislation. But a different sort of pressure was felt by at least one lawmaker on the Hill — to not trample the Constitution in the panic over 9-11. While Attorney General Ashcroft was urging speedy passage of wire-tapping legislation, Senator Patrick Leahy urged calm deliberation. “I worry that we may run into the situation,” Leahy said, “where all of us have joined together in our horror at these despicable, murderous acts in New York and at the Pentagon–we do not want to change our laws so that it comes back to bite us later on.”

Tensions flared between Ashcroft and Leahy, as Leahy argued against rushing the amendment through, in the absence of the customary hearings and discussion that would normally accompany such legislation. Equally concerning to Sen. Leahy, as seen in his statements, was the balancing act between civil liberties and constitutional law, against the vagueness and ambiguity of the bill’s language on wiretapping and terrorism.

“We are going to amend our wiretap laws so we can look into anybody’s computers,” Leahy said during the Amendment 1562 deliberations.

“Maybe the senate wants to just go ahead and adopt new abilities to wiretap our citizens. Maybe they want to adopt new abilities to go into people’s computers. Maybe that will make us feel safer. Maybe. And maybe what the terrorists have done made us a little bit less safe. Maybe they have increased big brother in this country.

“If that is what the Senate wants, we can vote for it. But do we really show respect to the American people by slapping something together, something that nobody on the floor can explain, and say we are changing the duties of the Attorney General, the Director of the CIA, the U.S. Attorneys, we are going to change your rights as Americans, your rights to privacy? We are going to do it with no hearings, no debate. We are going to do it with numbers on a page that nobody can understand….

If we are going to change habeas corpus, change our rights as Americans, if we are going to change search and seizure provisions, if we are going to give new rights for state investigators to come into federal court to seek remedies in the already overcrowded federal courts, fine, the Senate can do that. But what have we done to stop terrorism, and to help the people in New York and the survivors at the Pentagon?

“We do it to fight terrorism on computers…. but how is a terrorist defined? We know what terrorism was at the trade towers…. We do not (in this amendment) define terrorism…. I guess some kid who is scaring you with his computer could be a terrorist and you could go through the kid’s house, his parents’ business or anything else under this language. It (the language in the amendment) is that broad.

Amendment 1562 nonetheless passed within hours of Leahy’s statements. Within one month, Amendment 1562 and others were combined into the first version of the US PATRIOT ACT — introduced on Oct. 2 and passed on October 12. Eleven days later, on October 23 *(and in the wake of the September 18th and October 9th anthrax mailings) the ‘new and improved,’ 300+ page version of the US PATRIOT ACT was introduced. And in the minds of civil libratarians, constitutional scholars and citizens across the country — this new version of the US PATRIOT ACT also introduced a full-scale assault on the U.S. Constitution. But the mood was urgent. After all, the terrorists were mailing anthrax all over the country. What next? Who next? Where next? The rest is history.

Tracking Terrorists. Or Not.

The pertinence of these events to the alleged suicide of Bruce E. Ivins is threefold. (1) These events reveal the fervor of our government to staunch terrorism — even to the extent that U.S. laws were perplexingly changed, in the interest of tracking terrorists, to allow our government to surveil our cable television viewing habits. (2) Two of the most powerful voices on the Hill — Senators Leahy and Daschle, the head of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate Majority Leader, respectively — waged strong dissent to passing the US PATRIOT ACT and were also the only two lawmakers targeted in the anthrax mailings. (3) Senate Amendment #1562 — passed only two days after 9-11 — issued a congressional directive to President Bush to ensure, within 60 days, proper safety standards for government labs that handle biological pathogens, as follows:

“Commencing not later than 60 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the President shall undertake appropriate actions to enhance the standards for
the physical protection and security of the biological pathogens described in subsection (a) at the research laboratories and other government and private facilities in the United States that create, possess, handle, store, or transport such pathogens in order to protect against the theft or other wrongful diversion of such pathogens.”

That this congressional directive was specifically applicable to Fort Detrick, and to the manufacturing and handling of anthrax, and to an Army scientist named Bruce E. Ivins, makes all the more curious the events that then transpired, from September 13, 2001 to Dr. Ivin’s death on July 29, 2008. It is in the spirit of due process that we offer the following counterpoints to the ‘trial by media’ now being conducted against a man who is still, under the existing laws of this country, innocent.

In the Spirit of Due Process

(ONE)

Its ludicrous to think that our government would allow — either before or after the Amendment 1562 legislation — a lifelong homicidal sociopath (as Dr. Ivins has been painted since his death) to work for 18 years at Fort Detrick, a high-security Department of Defense laboratory, as a scientist entrusted with biological warfare agents, such as anthrax. Ask any one who has been through a background check for a Q-Level security clearance with the Department of Defense. It’s ludicrous.

(TWO)

Equally ludicrous are the recent media reports suggesting that the administration’s “bungling” of the investigation was responsible for the fact that — for the past 1-1/2 years since the FBI began investigating him — Ivins continued to work at Fort Detrick until just a few weeks ago, when he was removed “because of fears he had become a danger to himself or others.” Just ask any person in this country, who has flown, post-9-11 (ask Maher Arar, who can attest) — this administration spares no stealth or effort to scrutinize potential terrorists, and will pursue the faintest molecule of a lead with the intensity of a corpse-sniffing dog. Were Dr. Ivins truly seen as a threat — a “terrorist” by definition, if he were 1% guilty of the anthrax mailings — he would not have been allowed to board a plane in this country, much less work with biological warfare agents in a DOD laboratory.

(THREE)

The media’s cherry-picking of quotes and their lack of factual context is reprehensible, unethical, and unbalanced. In some instances, the reports smack of propaganda. One such is example , is the reporting on the allegations of guilt, waged by Bruce Ivans’ brother, Tom, who had not even spoken to Bruce since 1985 — the reasons for this 23-year distance unknown to us. Lacking this context, the media nonetheless sees fit to repeat ad nauseam that Ivins’ brother, Tom, believes Bruce to be guilty of the anthrax mailings. “He considered himself like a god,” said Tom, and the media glommed onto this statement, as if to somehow bolster the FBI’s case against Bruce Ivins.

This armchair verdict, delivered by Dr. Ivins’ brother, would perhaps carry some weight, if not for the fact that brother Tom presents as a petty, embittered, puffed-up old man, jealous of Bruce’s intellect and success. Tom paints both of his brothers (Bruce and Charles) as wooses, for their lack of athletic prowess in high school, a million years ago. Were the media responsible, rather than acting as complicitious flesh-eaters with the FBI, they would disregard entirely this guilty verdict, delivered by a brother whose heart is so filled with bile, that he can only speak ill of his dead brother and of his other brother, Charles, currently recovering from heart open-heart surgery. In the interest of balance, here is the report of an exchange between the media (NPR) and brother Tom:

Tom Ivins, who lives in Middletown, Ohio, admits he hasn’t spoken to his younger brother Bruce since 1985. He won’t say why, except that there’s no law that requires him to maintain contact.
“I don’t owe him anything,” Tom Ivins says.

Tom says he used to give his little brother rides in his bicycle basket when they were kids, but “we didn’t play together because I was very athletic myself.”

Their father was a pharmacist and their mother was a homemaker in Lebanon, Ohio. Tom played football in high school, while Bruce ran cross-country. But Tom says his brothers, Bruce and Charles, shared a disturbing family trait. “They grew up with that attitude — I didn’t — that they were omnipotent,” Tom Ivins says.

He says there were no signs that something was wrong with his brother when they were younger, but he thinks pressure from law enforcement probably led to Bruce’s suicide.

Tom says he is a much stronger man than Bruce was — proven by the way Tom says he handled questioning about the case by the FBI. “They asked me a few questions, like ‘What were you like growing up,’ like family history questions, and I didn’t buckle like the walls of Jericho coming tumbling down under their questioning, but it seems my two brothers did,” he says. “Charles was not as strong as I am, nor was Bruce.”

When asked if there’s anything he liked about his brother, Tom replies, “No, I didn’t.”

He says he isn’t sorry his brother is dead.

(FOUR)

Ivans allegedly mailed the anthrax letters as part of a “warped plan to test his vaccine for the deadly poison.” For one thing (and we don’t claim to be experts on anthrax vaccines) aren’t vaccines given before, rather than after exposure to a pathogen? The antidote of choice for anthrax exposure is the antibiotic Cipro, which Bush, Cheney and other White House staff began taking on September 11th, one week before the first anthrax letters were mailed out.

Another thing, regarding Ivins’ alleged diabolical plot to test his vaccine — how did this plan interface with mailing anthrax to Leahy and Daschle, two of the most outspoken voices against the PATRIOT ACT? Were these targets mere coincidence? And was it mere coincidence that these letters were mailed 3 days before the first version of the US PATRIOT ACT was voted into law? Also, in the interest of “testing his vaccine,” why would Ivins have chosen to scatter the other letters across the county? The impracticality of this plan defies common logic. And why were these letters sent to media outlets? What possible purpose would these targets serve, to a mad scientist, bent on testing his latest invention? You do not have to be a conspiracy theorist to notice who stood to gain the most from scaring the hell out of the media and our lawmakers — and, by extension all of America — at a time when our Constitution was being systematically dimantled.

In this light, a little-known truth is that the most logical culprit — the CIA — was being investigated as early as December 2001, as reported in Washington Post. The CIA was found to be involved in anthrax research and testing, and was named as possible suspects in the anthrax mailings. The CIA and their contractor, Battelle Memorial Institute were under fire before 9-11, as reported in a September 4, 2001 New York Times article, which described some of the CIA’s work throughout 2001, conducting secret tests with biological weapons, specifically anthrax. According to teh article, the CIA’s goal was to first “engineer genetically a potentially more potent variant of the bacterium that causes anthrax,” and then to “assess whether the vaccine now being given to millions of American soldiers is effective against such a superbug.” Accused of testing “the limits of the global treaty banning such weapons,” the CIA claimed their experiments were for ‘defense’ purposes only and, therefore, allowed under the treaty.

Regardless of their purposes, the fact is that the CIA experiments with myriad strains of anthrax and, in September 2001, the CIA actually held in their possession the identical strain (Ames) sent to Senators Leahy and Daschle. This fact, in itself, constitutes nothing. But the fact that the CIA initailly concealed this information from the FBI during their early investigation constitutes something.

(FIVE)

Ivins’ alleged diagnosis of ‘sociopath, homicidal killer’ was delivered secondhand, in the form of hearsay, by his therapist of 6-months — a social worker, named Jean Duley — who said: “He has been forensically diagnosed by several top psychiatrists as a sociopath, homicidal killer.” Diagnosed by several top psychiatrists? Who? Who are these ‘top psychiatrists’ that diagnosed Ivins? And why were their names not given? Did Dr. Ivins, in death, lose the right to at least have the names of his accusers posted along with the accusations that have now been so freely and publicly waged in the media? Or are we to accept the hearsay of Jean Duley as fact? Does her position as a mental health counselor give her license to broadcast hearsay, as if it were sanctified fact?

Of course, the records clearly indicate that Dr. Ivins was increasingly distressed and depressed, possibly to the point of a breakdown, as evidenced by his recent behaviors and psychiatric hospitalization. Most people, it is safe to say, would experience at least some of this, were they subjected to an intense FBI investigation for 1-1/2 years — particularly if being investigated for a crime that wasn’t committed, as may have been the case with Dr. Ivins. We don’t know.

We have not been made privy to Dr. Ivins’ mental state before the FBI investigation began, nor to what medications he may have been on for depression, nor for the time frame of this prescription and how this may have factored into his recent behavior. There is ample medical precedence for anti-depressants causing uncharacteristic anger, rage and violent tendencies — the very behaviors allegedly exhibited by Dr. Ivins in the weeks before his death, which prompted Jean Duley to place a restraining order against him.

What was his behavior before medications? How did this compare to his behavior after he started taking meds? Was he given additional medications while in the psychiatric hospital? Was he given the benefit of proper oversight for possible adverse effects from his prescription(s)? The questions are myriad, and are important enough that they should have been asked and properly answered by qualified, unbiased, caring professionals, before the media broadcast the Jean Duley allegations, as if they were fact.

Regarding ‘facts,’ we, in America, have been conditioned over the past 7 years to believe, without question, what we read and hear in the media, even as the sources for the news are rarely given. In recent, important news stories (e.g. as happened in the lead- up to, and the ongoing war in Iraq) the presented ‘facts’ are all-too-often quoted to us by ‘anonymous’ sources (e.g. “military officials said,” or “White House sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity” or government sources said”) The same has now happened with Dr. Ivins. In reporting Dr. Ivins death, the AP story reads, “Several U.S. officials, all of whom discussed the ongoing investigation on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media…”

These anonymous officials who were ‘unauthorized to speak to the media’ nonetheless spoke to the media, to annouce that “prosecutors were closing in on the 62-year-old Ivins for the 2001 anthrax attacks.” That our own government has been implicated in the anthrax letters of 2001 makes highly innappropriate their role in this posthumous trial-by-media, sans an independent investigation into both the anthrax allegations and the mental health allegations made against Dr. Ivins. The media abrogated their professional responsibility to substantiate the facts as delivered by Jean Duley and the agents of our government. The media abrogated the ethics of their profession –choosing, instead, complicity in the campaign to paint Dr. Ivins as a homicidal monster, a terrorist who — but for the grace of suicide — would have gone on ‘another’ murdurous, terrorist rampage.

To put this in a historical context, it bears mentioning that in both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, “psychiatric” records of dissidents were kept and used to document the “illnesses” prior to sending the “patients” for “rehabilitation” in the concentration camps of Germany and the gulags of Siberia. Under the circumstances of Dr. Ivins’ case, our government cannot be considered as either a valid or unbiased source for the accusations and diagnoses made against Dr. Ivins. Particularly so long as these quoted sources of these allegations remain anonymous in the media. The fact that these sources belong to the government body accused of the very crimes for which they were building a case against Dr. Ivins reeks of corruption.

(SIX)

Bruce Ivins had no prior criminal record before the restraining order placed against him by Jean Duley — a social worker/counselor, whose behavior can only be called outrageous — as she is now waging more unsubstantiate allegations in the media, accusing Dr. Ivins of additional heinous crimes, such as plotting to poison and murder people as far back as 2000. “He attempted to murder several other people,” she alleges. “He is a revenge killer.” Unlike Bruce Ivins, whose criminal record was squeaky clean before his mental breakdown last month, Jean Duley is alleged to have a long criminal record dating back to the 1992, with charges ranging from criminal battery, to DUI, to reckless to driving, to possession of drug paraphenalia. The ethics of her professional betrayal of Ivins over the past month — beginning with the hearsay she used to obtain the restraining order, and leading, now, to her current allegations being broadcast to the media — have been called to task by at least one health care professional. Arthur O. Anderson, a medical doctor and scientist at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Disease at Fort Detrick, said Duley’s description of Ivins doesn’t match his impressions of a man with whom he worked for many years. Dr. Anderson believes Ivins is being used as a scapegoat in the anthrax case. Of Jean Duley, Dr. Anderson said:

The remaining allegations about murderous ideas and plans sound so foreign to me that in the absence of contemporaneously documented evidence I would have to consider them items of Ms. Duley’s vivid imagination or information fed to her by the people she communicated with outside the therapeutic environment. It is not at all surprising to me that a patient whose therapist is serving as a double agent ‘therapist’ and ‘accuser’ would become very angry with the therapist and might make some rather dramatic expressions of that anger.

On this note, we do not know the nature of the information exchanged between the FBI investigators and Jean Duley, nor do we know how this information might have influenced Jean Duley’s assessment and treatment of Dr. Ivins. What we do know is that the FBI investigators travelled to Dr. Ivans’ hometown of Lebanon, Ohio and searched through Ivin’s high school yearbooks. They investigated Ivins’ family home to determine who built it, and who designed it. They spent 45 minutes to an hour in the basement of the family pharmacy. They scoured the background of Ivins’ family. It stands to reason that they had at least one conversation with Jean Duley.

(SEVEN)

Not all of the anthrax letters contained the Ames strain sent to the two senators — an impracticality for a mad scientist bent on testing his new Ames strain vaccine. On a related note, not all of the anthrax letters even contained anthrax. Or did they? A mystery yet-to-be explained is the existence of the Nevada-Malaysia anthrax letter. This letter tested postive, then negative, then postive, then negative for anthrax. It was postmarked Reno, Nevada (not from Ivans’ home state of Maryland) and addressed to Malaysia, where it travelled, then received a Malaysian postmark, before returning back to Nevada. The letter was discovered, upon opening, to be filled with pornographic pictures and anthrax. How did Ivans get that letter all the way to a Nevada mailbox, then arrange for someone in Malaysia to fill it with pornography & anthrax and return it back to Nevada? Of course, the presence of anthrax in this letter was later dismissed as false. True or false, who can say? And what difference would it make? The fear had already done its duty and was permanenly fixed in our minds. All that most Americans can recall from those days is the general horror of terrorists mailing anthrax all over the country, and of the overwhelming fears: Who next? What next?

The media and this administration never bothered to set the facts straight on the Nevada-Malaysia letter, although, at this point, whose ‘facts’ could we even trust to believe? This type disinformation was to become a pattern, which still exists — in which false news is reported to great fanfare, often generating much fear, but is never corrected once the true story emerges. The laws of probability negate the possibility that the level of disinformation disseminated by our government is anything but intentional. (And it bears mention, in relation to the Nevada-Malaysia anthrax letter, that Malaysia was a key player in the events leading up to 9-11, as the CIA had monitored a January 2000 meeting of the alleged 9-11 al Qaeda terrorists in Malaysia at the “Kuala Lumpur summit of 2000,” where the CIA is accused of having “literally watched as the 9-11 scheme was hatched–and had photographs of the attack’s mastermind” and of then not using this intelligence to prevent the events of 9-11).

EDITOR’S NOTE: WE WILL BE REFINING OUR RESEARCH ON THE NEVADA-MALAYSIA LETTER, AS WE BELIEVE THIS TO BE A SMOKING GUN IN THE CASE, WITH PARTICULAR REGARD TO THE CIA’S INVOLVEMENT.

This convoluted mish-mash of details no doubt factored into the repeated requests made by Congress for the Bush Administration to divulge their investigation into the anthrax letters, a request that was first stonewalled with silence then, finally, a flat denial. The Bush administration has refused all congressional requests for information on the investigation for nearly seven years. Even the two Democratic officials whose offices were targets of the anthrax mailings, Daschle and Leahy, have been denied any significant briefing on the progress of the case. In this light, it seems interesting that the FBI has now annonced plans to brief the families of the anthrax victims — in the wake of Ivins’ death, and in the absence of a full and complete intestigation into the facts of the case.

(EIGHT)

According to recent media reports, the governments case against Ivans was based, in part, on “Unusual behavior by Ivins was noted at Fort Detrick in the six months following the anthrax mailings, when he conducted unauthorized testing for anthrax spores outside containment areas at the infectious disease research unit where he worked, according to an internal report.” Dating his alleged “unusual behavior” and “unauthorized testing” to the anthrax mailings is foul play — an intentional ploy to weave guilt-by-association. Moreover, the allegations of “unauthorized testing” by Dr. Ivins are a lie. Dr. Ivins has never accused of this. The media’s false allegation apparently stems from a December 2001 anthrax contamination incident at Fort Detrick. According to the report from the internal investigation, the contamination was caused by “inadequate decontamination to the outside of shipping containers” during transport inside the facility. Ivans is reported to have cleaned the contamination, but to have delayed reporting it until April 2002. There is zero mention in the 2002 investigation of “unauthorized testing” by Ivans.

Ivans’ statement to Army investigators during the investigation echoes this truth: “In retrospect, although my concern for biosafety was honest and my desire to refrain from crying ‘Wolf!’ was sincere, I should have notified my supervisor ahead of time of my worries about a possible breach in biocontainment. I thought that quietly and diligently cleaning the dirty desk area would both eliminate any possible [anthrax] contamination as well as prevent unintended anxiety at the institute.” There were no charges, nor accusations waged against Ivans. In fact, the Army’s high esteem for Ivans, and for the integrity of his work, was publicly lauded the following year, in 2003, when Ivans awarded the Pentagon’s highest civilian award for resolving technical problems afflicting the Army’s anthrax vaccine.

(NINE)

Particularly odd, is that Congress has been virtually blocked from information on the anthrax investigation, despite repeated requests. On October 23, 2006 Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa sent a six-page letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales requesting a briefing on the anthrax investigation. By December 2006, a total of 33 members of Congress demanded that the Attorney General update them on the investigation. By mutual agreement between the FBI and the Department of Justice, the request was denied. One year later, in a September 2007 interview, Sen. Patrick Leahy commented, midway throughthe interview, on the anthrax case:

***

Interviewer: Yeah, I don’t think there’s any other way to look at it. And when you call it what it is, it was biological warfare conducted against the highest levels of the US government.
Leahy: What I want to know — I have a theory. But what I want to know is why me, why Tom Daschle, why Tom Brokaw?
Interviewer: Right. That all fits into the profile of a kind of hard-core and obviously insane ideologue on the far Right, somebody who would fixate on especially Tom Daschle, who at that point was the target of daily, vitriolic attacks on Right-wing talk radio.
Leahy: [Slowly, with a little shake of the head] I don’t think it’s somebody insane. I’d accept everything else you said. But I don’t think it’s somebody insane. And I think there are people within our government — certainly from the source of it — who know where it came from. [Taps the table to let that settle in] And these people may not have had anything to do with it, but they certainly know where it came from.

***

Tom Daschle (the other senator who, along with Leahy received an anthrax letter) has said about the case: I think the FBI owes us a complete accounting of their investigation and ought to be able to tell us at some point, how we’re going to bring this to closure. I think the American people deserve to know more than they do today.

(TEN)

There is so much disinformation, innuendo and unsubstantiated allegation being peddled in the media right now, that it’s impossible to dismantle it all, short of 500,000 more words, plus a week’s worth of hours to research to document the facts vs. lies. The fact is, we do not know the circumstances surrounding these allegations, not do we know the integrity or conflicts of interests that may exist in the sources who make these allegations. To the extent the media have allowed this “trial by media” in the absence of honest, journalistic reporting makes them complicitious in what can only be called a reprehensible smear campaign against Dr. Ivins. Perhaps he is, indeed, guilty of all the accusations. Or of only some of the accusations. Or of none at all. We may never know. But one thing is certain: Dr. Ivins deserves better than the trial by media he is now receiving. This travesty is but one example of how corrupt our democracy has become.

(ELEVEN)

On that note, it’s important to remember that Dr. Ivins was not the first bioweapons researcher to be named as “a person of interest” by the Department of Justice in the anthrax investigation. He was not the first to be surreptitiously accused of terrorism — of murdering 5 people — and to then be subjected to an intense investigation and a trial by media, with unsubstantiated allegations and innuendo waged against him and leaked to the media by anonymous government sources. Dr. Ivins was not the first to shed tears, as his life became destroyed by the harrassment of the investigation. Dr. Ivins’ predecessor in this travesty of justice was Steven Hatfield, who sued the U.S. government for leaking his name to the media http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=12838368 and ruining his reputation — and he won his case. On June 27th of this year, Hatfield was awarded $5.85 million in his settlement with the U.S. government. In the wake of his settlement, Hatfield’s lawyers offered these statements to the press:

“We can only hope that the individuals and institutions involved are sufficiently chastened by this episode to deter similar destruction of private citizens in the future – and that we will all read anonymously sourced news reports with a great deal more skepticism…. The good news is that we still live in a country where a guy who’s been horribly abused can go to a judge and say, ‘I need your help,’ and maybe it takes a while, but he gets justice,”

The tragedy today is that Dr. Ivins will never realize this promise of justice. It is up to the rest of us to demand that his good name be cleared and his memory be given the justice that was robbed from him in life.

***************************

Inscription at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out –
because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out –
because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out –
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.

***************

For more reading, see:
These are the court documents on the “Amerithrax” case (a stupid name obviously intented to evoke a discordant mix of warm fuzzy patriotic feelings of horror over the anthrax letters ). Released by the Department of Justice on August 6, 2008, this dossier of weak, circumstantial evidence — much of it based on suppositions, made by unnamed sources, with no tangible evidence to back them up — documents the valiant efforts by the FBI and DOJ to substantiate the case that Bruce Ivins carries “sole responsibility” for the anthrax letters. http://www.usdoj.gov/amerithrax/

This site contains an interesting chronology on the events surrounding the anthrax letters and other biowarfare-related topics surrounding 9-11, including the off number of deaths of many microbiologists connected to the U.S. government’s biowarfare programs. Most of the links on this site are dead, but we’ve researched and found credible sources to verify the validity of many claims: http://911review.org/Wget/www.cooperativeresearch.org/timeline/main/AAanthrax.html

A compilation fo Ivins’ letters to the editor at the Frederick Newspost from 1997-forward: http://www.fredericknewspost.com/sections/news/display.htm?StoryID=78274

The Surge in Iraq: Ethnic Cleansing, with Perks

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To hear the mainstream media, the most pressing issue in Iraq right now is the surge. Not U.S. war crimes in Iraq; not ethnic cleansing; not torture; not the U.S. no-bid contracts for Iraqi oil. Not the fact that this is an illegal war to begin with (see video, below). Just the surge: Did it work? Did it reduce U.S. deaths? Was it a success? Did it help? Did it curb violence? Did it improve security in Iraq?

There are as many ways of asking the question as there are ways of answering it, and the sheer volume of questions exaggerates the urgency of the topic, much like the flag-pin flak that dominated headlines for several months this spring. This would be good news — the media’s current obsession with the surge — were it seeking to correct history, or even to correctly record history. Instead, the media seems to be working in concert with the Bush Administration to re-write history.

As is the case with most aspects of the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq, it will likely be 30 years or more before the history books catch up with the truth. For now, the best the truthsayers can hope for is that, against formidable odds, the issues of true urgency in Iraq and the rest of the world will sooner be given the attention — and ultimately the justice — that they deserve.

Enter Democracy, American Style

On July 14th, the New York Times published Obama’s forward-looking op-ed, titled, My Plan for Iraq, which focused on ending the war in Iraq. The next day, Obama purged his website of criticism toward the surge. This was likely in response to the growing media circus over Obama’s criticism of the surge, as the media doggedly ignores the dull nuances of actually ending the war in Iraq, in favor of muckraking new controversy over last year’s news. To this end, the media has been barraging both candidates with the same bald-faced question: Was the surge a success?

Here again, we’re seeing the fruit of the U.S. media, which operates under a perverse field-of-dreamsesque tactic to the delivering the news: if you can’t build a media circus with substance or facts, just start throwing shit — elephants, tent posts, camel dung, flag pins, rumors, rotton apples, innuendo and lies — and keep pitching it. The viewers will throng to see your discordant pile of bullshit and will be every bit as outraged as you want them to be.

Just yesterday, CBS aired a Katie Couric interview with Obama, in which Couric (who could have asked the likely next-president anything under the sun) instead pitched him a rotten apple: Was the surge a success? Did the surge — the addition of 30,000 additional troops — help the situation in Iraq? To this, Obama offered a detailed answer, with many nuances, which included his perspective that the surge in Iraq has spent resources that could have been spent in Afghanistan, where bin Laden is supposedly located. Couric — apparently not satisfied with the lack of fodder in Obama’s answer — re-phrased her question: Do you think the level of security in Iraq would exist today without the surge? (Read that: Are you patriotic? Do you love America as much as John McCain?)

Instantaneously, on the heels of this interview, the network broadcast Couric’s interview with John McCain — not to get his perspective on the surge, but to get his perspective on Obama’s perspective of the surge. To this end — while McCain’s name was utterly absent in Couric’s interview with Obama — 100% of the questions she posed to McCain were specifically about Obama — including her one comment in the interview, when she observed, “You sound very frustrated with Senator Obama’s perspective.”

If the grin on McCain’s face was any indication, he was more than happy to partake in Katie’s interview style. He began by parading his latest talking point: Obama would “rather lose the war than lose the campaign.” From here, he found a dozen different ways to chide Obama’s naivetee and to accuse him of denying “the sacrifice of brave young Americans.” At the end of the interview, Katie asked McCain about Barack Obama’s assertion that the war on terror is centered in Afghanistan, where 9-11 was planned. McCain argued that Iraq is the center in the war on terror. And to back this up, he recited a quote, which he attibuted to bin Laden: Go to the country of the two rivers.

If those words sound like lofty, Big Chief-to-Kimosabe dialogue, straight out of a B-grade western, you’ll have to consider their true source: a convoluted trail of sources, actually, that winds through Washington, intersecting with a cowboy from Crawford, Texas and another from Wyoming, before resuming its torturous route through the Middle East, into Iraq, then back again.

The Land of the Two Rivers.

Even tho it’s faster to just say Iraq, there are some people — and McCain’s apparently one of them — who find it faster to say the land of the two rivers. This is because the phrase has become code, in military circles — an efficient form of verbal shorthand for drawing a political-geographical-historical connection between Al Qaeda terrorists, Iraq, 9-11 and Osama bin Laden.

For the uninitiated, ‘the land of the two rivers’ refers not to Iraq, per se, but to al Qaeda in Iraq, which goes by the name, Tandhim Qa’idat Al-Jihad fi bilad Al-Rafidain, which translates roughly to The Al Qeada Jihad Organization in the Land of the Two Rivers. This was the official name assigned to Al Qaeda in Iraq when it formed in 2004. (NOTE: Pause here to reflect on the fact that Al Qaeda did not exist in Iraq until one year after the U.S. invasion). Since then, this phrase has been oft repeated in the many purported Al Qaeda missives and messages purportedly sent by Osama bin Laden and Al-Zarqawi, and purportedly posted on various jihadist websites. The ‘two rivers’ phrase has also become a staple item on some U.S. websites — from McCain’s campaign website, to the White House website, to various right-wing havens. While I’ve yet to discover any of the purported jihadist websites, nor even the names of these purported jihadist websites that purportedly, originally posted these purported terrorist messages, I’m sure they must exist, because the White House tells us so.

There are some who believe that most, if not all, of these terrorist messages are counterfeit — sourced out of thin air, or from “intelligence” gathered from torture sessions, then manufactured and released by the propaganda machines of our own government and AIPAC . Regardless, this has nothing and everything to do with Barack Obama.

The Circus Comes to Town

As Obama and his predecessor John Kerry well know — when it comes to matters of flag, country and war — it takes only the slightest perversion of the facts to twist public perception. And the Republicans are masters of the smear, which is why McCain repeatedly seeds the media with statements such as, “Obama was wrong about the surge and refuses to acknowledge that fact.” McCain’s hope, here, is that one of these seeds will take root and grow into a full-fledged smear: Obama is a terrorist appeaser; he’s weak on war; he’s unpatriotic; he’s unAmerican. And the U.S. media scans every inflection of every word — ever-ready to pitch the next circus.

Fact is, Obama was right: the surge was wrong. Fact is, McCain was also right: the surge was a success. But not for the reasons you’ve heard. The surge was a success because, in 2007, we began paying our enemy to stop killing us. The surge was a success because we hired and armed tens of thousands of these enemies — Sunni insurgents — to work side-by-side with U.S. soldiers, despite that only weeks earlier, these same Sunnis had been ambushing and killing Americans. The surge was a success because, at the moment we began paying and arming these Sunnis, we officially began funding and arming both sides in the civil war.

The surge was a success because the 30,000+ U.S. troops sent to Iraq provided the necessary manpower to implement the concurrent surge of 90,000 Sunni insurgent troops we were hiring. The surge is working because these 90,000 Sunnis — along with the 450,000 Shiites security forces already in the U.S. employ — are doing just as the U.S. directs: carrying out the ongoing campaign of ethnic cleansing — Sunnis against Shiites, and Shiites against Sunnis — called “the worst human displacement in Iraq’s modern history” . By intensifying the divisions (and, in some cases, creating division where none existed before) the U.S. undermines the goal of reconciliation and compromise between Shiites and Sunnis .

The media, working under the auspices of our government, reports this dynamic as a “refusal” of the Iraqi government to take control. This myth (which seems to suggest that Iraqis are too lazy or corrupt to take control of their own country) will continue to be reported and will continue to be swallowed by the American public, so long as the U.S. can fuel rage between the Sunnis and Shiites. But only so long as the U.S. keeps funding this civil war — paying Sunnis to brutalize Shiites, and paying Shiites to brutalize Sunnis.

Lest we forget, this is a war for gas and oil. A unified Iraq serves no good purpose in this war. The surge is working because the U.S. has made great strides in dividing Iraq into a more conquerable state.

If this sounds foreign to you, it’s not because I’m a raving conspiracy theorist, but because most of what we’ve been told about the surge is a lie. Fact is, however, most Americans — whether by naivetee or choice — prefer to believe the propaganda, to the extent that, when they do hear a morsel of truth, they turn away in disbelief, either because it is too horrible to contemplate, or because it seems too incredible to be true.

Our administration and our media have conditioned us to do this — to relegate all anti-Bush news into the realm of the tin-foil hat conspiracy theorists. And this would be just fine with me, if not for the fact that these disbelieving Americans, who enjoy such a complacent ignorance of the facts, are the same Americans who will be electing our next president, not to mention our representatives on Capitol Hill.

The fact is, were the voting American public more informed about the facts, our politicians wouldn’t be compelled to campaign from both sides of the fence: addressing the real truth, while also pandering to the Bush Administration’s version of the truth, as perpetuated by the media and swallowed — hook, line and sinker — by the American public. If Americans were truly paying attention — which would require considering the validity of uncomfortable and often outrageous truths — our elected officials could not *get away* with doing this — with capitulating on their party’s policies, based not on facts, but on the public’s perception of the facts, as woven by a propaganda-driven media that is bereft of the facts. This is part and parcel of how we got into this war in the first place.

Pleasant Truths vs. Dry Statistics

When was the last time the evening news mentioned the 100,000 Iraqis who have been killed during this war? Or ethnic cleansing? Or the millions of Iraqis violently displaced from their homes? When you hear on the evening news that the surge is a success, you can believe it, so long as you understand, “For whom?”

The death toll of 4000, reached by American soldiers over a period of 5 years has been reached more than 25 times by Iraqi citizens. During the first 7 months of the surge, alone (February-August 2007), a total of 4000 Iraqi men, women and children were killed every 7 weeks. Using the most conservative of estimates, a total of 17,117 Iraqi men, women and children were killed during the first 7 months of the surge. That’s an average of 81 people killed each day. That’s 2445 people killed each month — more deaths, even, than before the surge, when the average daily death was a staggering 79 per day. In May 2007, alone, the Iraqi death toll was only 20 fewer people than were killed on September 11th on U.S. soil.

Before your eyes completely glaze over from math fatigue, consider this: The monthly death toll was instantly cut in half after August 2007. And the trend continued, so that — to date — Iraqi deaths averaged 36 per day, instead of 81.

What happened? What happened during August 2007 to cause such a sudden, dramatic decline in Iraqi deaths?

Bush-Cheney-Petraeus would like us to believe it was the success of the surge — despite that the level of violence only grew during the first 7 months of the surge. A more logical explanation would be the ceasefire declared in August 2007 by one of our ‘enemies — Muqtada al-Sadr, leader of the Shiite Mahdi Army, who opposes the U.S. occupation as strongly as he opposed the Saddam Hussein regime. Many of the Mahdi Army leaders are, in fact, former political prisoners who suffered torture under Saddam Hussein. Maqtada al-Sadr’s unilateral ceasefire in August 2007 was said to be in response — not to the surge — but in effort to weaken the rogue elements that had infiltrated his army and committed violence in their name, which ran contrary to their cause. Whatever the reasons for the ceasefire, it instantly cut the Iraqi death toll in half. Just like that.

Well, sort of….

There’s the Surge, and then there’s the Surge

When Bush announced the surge in his January 2007 address to Americans, most of us heard the part about sending 20,000 additional American troops to Iraq. What we missed was the *other* surge he annonced: “We will accelerate the training of Iraqi forces, which remains the essential U.S. security mission in Iraq. We will give our commanders and civilians greater flexibility to spend funds for economic assistance,” In plainspeak, Bush was announcing the addition of 90,000 Sunni insurgents to the U.S. military, being armed and paid — on the U.S. taxpayers’ dime — to work as security forces. Bush failed to mention, however, that our new “Iraqi forces” were actually Saddam Hussein’s former henchmen, who had been working side-by-side with al Qaeda for the previous several years — ambushing and killing American soldiers.

On the heels of Bush’s speech, it became necessary to re-define the enemy, to un-demonize the Sunni insurgents: No longer were Sunnis the enemy; only ‘extremist’ Sunnis were enemies. This was necessary, if for no other reason than to gain Congressional approval for the $150 million budget (received) to hire, train, arm and sometimes bribe these Sunni insurgents. And, because this plan looked as bad on the surface as it truly was, military commanders in charge of recruiting these Sunni security forces were officially, for the record, ordered to “not deal with those who have American blood on their hands.” As if this blood could literally be seen on their hands, or as if the “bad” insurgents would have, tattooed on their foreheads, “I killed Americans.”

Equally important to un-demonizing our Sunni enemies, was the need to un-demonize our own history with these Sunnis, so that the U.S. military could make the transition from hunting down, torturing and executing Sunnis, to hiring them to work side-by-side with our own military. This strategy must surely have seemed odd to those 450,000 Shiites — still in the employ of the U.S. military — who had spent the past several years torturing and killing innocent Sunni citizens and insurgents alike, while displacing them from their homes in a massive campaign of ethnic cleansing.

Yes, the U.S. strategy of hiring Sunnis to work with our security forces must have seemed awfully odd to the thousands of Shiites in U.S. employ, working with the U.S.-backed Badr Brigade (not to be confused with the Sadr Army) in Iraqi interior ministry, who’d spent the past 3 years working in the infamous U.S.-backed Wolf Brigade Death Squads (see video, below), terrorizing, torturing and ultimately executing Sunnis — many of whom were forced to make public confessions before being executed, with their confessions broadcast on the show titled, “Terrorism in the Grip of Justice,” (a joint effort between MEMRI and the U.S.) which aired six nights per week during the spring of 2005 on the U.S.-funded Al-Iraqiya television network.

To engineer a fragile peace, the U.S. military created and backed dozens of new Sunni militias, which now operate beyond the control of Iraq’s central government.

To make this transition more palatable, our government began calling these former Sunni insurgents, “volunteers.” To date, the U.S. military employs approx. 90,000 of these volunteers at the rate of $360 per month, plus weapons and ammunition. The Sunni sheiks who oversee these ‘volunteers’ receive an average of $8000 per month. These salaries are but a tiny fraction of that $150 million total allocation in the 2008 U.S. budget to pay off these Sunni insurgents and their sheiks. These soldiers go by various euphemisms, such as Iraqi Security Volunteers, or ISVs; neighborhood watch groups; Concerned Local Citizens; Critical Infrastructure Security; Sahwa; or, most famously, the Sunni Awakening. The U.S. military’s use of the term “volunteer” with these soldiers is particularly misleading, as is implies these Sunnis are somehow volunteering their time in the name of Iraqi security. Or, perhaps our government merely views these Sunnis as being like our own military — serving in a volunteer, rather than a compulsory capacity.

What’s Next?

In his prepared testimony before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in April 2008, Nir Rosen commented on the U.S. military’s stance in arming both sides in a civil war:

“David Kilcullen, the influential Australian counter insurgency advisor (to Petreaus), defined it as ‘balancing competing armed interest groups.’ Though supporters of the war touted the surge as a success, they forgot that tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of Iraqis who have been killed, the millions displaced, and the thousands of dead and wounded Americans just so that violence could go back to the still horrifying levels of just a couple of years ago.”

Recognized at its inception as a tricky ploy (paying off and arming America’s enemies to act like America’s friends) this strategy at least — along with Sadr’s ceasefire –worked to lower the death toll of both Iraqis and Americans. Hence, the success of the surge. Problem is, while arming both sides in a civil war to work as “security forces,” the U.S. has not undermined the supposed goal of forging Iraqi unity, but we have created a deadly house of cards.

As Nir Rosen earlier observed in his March 2008 Rolling Stone article, titled, The Myth of the Surge, “Loyalty that can be purchased is, by its very nature, fickle.”

With only the slightest provacation, either side in this civil war — both now armed to the teeth with U.S. weaponry — could turn their weapons against U.S. soldiers. It’s no wonder, then, that Petraeus has repeatedly urged caution over the current lull in violence, terming it a “fragile and reversible” peace, while simultaneously pushing for a “pause” in any planned troop withdrawals after July 2008.

One of many tent cities spanning the horizons throughout Iraq. Here, the people lack food, water, electricity and other basic needs of human existence. They are also prey to marauding killers. Human displacement is but facet of the U.S. strategy in Iraq (divide & conquer the citizenry for easier plundering of their oil resources). This tactic has resulted in what’s been called “the worst human displacement in Iraq’s modern history.” One could infer from this that the U.S. even topped Saddam, in terms of inhumanity and ethnic cleansing.
Our Fragile Peace in Iraq: A multi-trillion-dollar death contraption made of spit, baling wire and duct tape, held together with a pack of lies
Our fragile peace in Iraq has been accomplished by the U.S. strategy of funding two sides in a civil war and empowering both to kill and displace one another, resulting in what’s been called, “the worst human displacement in Iraq’s modern history” . By intensifying the divisions between the Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis — and making impossible any sort of unity in Iraq — the U.S. can continue to tout the myth of the Iraqi government’s “refusal” to take control of their government. That is, so long as we continue to fund their civil war and to back ethnic cleansing — paying Sunnis to displace Shiites and paying Shiites to displace Sunnis.
Former Sen. Mike Gravel, not one to mince words, hit the nail on the head when he observed:

“Obviously the tactic of bribing the Sunni warlords will fail the minute we stop bribing them. And then of course the cowardly act of blaming Iraqi President Nuri al-Maliki for the failure in Basra, of saying it was all his initiative, when we were totally complicit.”

In a perfect world, every politician of good conscience would be railing against 7 years of lies, and would be unafraid to stand side-by-side with Wexler, Kucinich, Baldwin, Hinchey , Holtzman & Barr and others who are daring to speak the truth on Capitol Hill. Instead, we live in a world where those rare truthsayers on Capitol Hill — such as Mike Gravel, Dennis Kucinich and Cynthia McKinney — are belittled, ridiculed, ignored, painted as nuts, hacks, conspiracy theorists and terrorist appeasers, and ultimately driven out of town on a rail.

For this reason, and this reason alone, I am willing to temporarily suspend my disgust at Obama for deleting his criticism of the surge, not to mention his equally reprehensible backslide on the FISA bill. I do this in the hope that his eye is ultimately on the bigger picture, that he is merely being pragmatic, trying to avoid the sort of dog and pony show that could potentially — and against all that is sane and rational in this world — swiftboat his candidacy. My hope is that Obama hasn’t truly lost his bearings, but that he indeed *gets it* as I’ve clearly heard him articulate in many of his speeches and statements. My hope is that he indeed intends to do the right thing by this country and this planet — not the least of which is to purge from our national dialogue the lies we’ve been conditioned to believing for the past 7 years. This is a war for oil. And no amount of spin can change the fact that it is just plain wrong.

NOTE: THIS POST WAS TRANFERRED FROM A PREVIOUS CANARYPAPERS BLOG (SAME NAME, DIFFERENT SERVER). FOR SOME REASON, THE FORMATTING DIDN’T MAKE A SMOOTH TRANSFER. OUR APOLOGIES FOR THE DISCORDANT APPEARANCE/LAYOUT OF THE TEXT.