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by Nafeez Mossadeq Ahmed
Monday, August 21, 2006
I am disappointed to say that so far there has been very little serious critical discussion, grounded in factual analysis, of the alleged “Terror Plot” foiled on the morning of Wednesday, 10th August 2006. Except for a few noteworthy comment pieces, such as Craig Murray’s critical speculations published by the Guardian last Friday, the mainstream media has largely subserviently parroted the official claims of the British and American governments. This is a shame, because inspection of the facts raises serious problems for the 10/8 official narrative.
No Imminent Plot
On the basis of the “Terror Plot”, Prime Minister Tony Blair is planning “to push through 90-day detention without charge for terror suspects.” Home Secretary Dr. John Reid has ordered the draft of new anti-terror legislation that would suspend key parts of the Human Rights Act 1998, to facilitate the indefinite detention of terrorism suspects in the UK without charge or trial. The law is planned to apply also to British citizens. And since 10th August, Britain was on its highest “critical” state of alert, which indicates the threat of an imminent terrorist attack on UK interests. Only in the last few days was it lowered back down to “severe”.
The stark truth is that the “Terror Plot” narrative has been thoroughly, hopelessly, politicized. There was never any evidence of an imminent plot. A senior British official involved in the investigation told NBC News on 14th August that:
“In contrast to previous reports… an attack was not imminent, [and] the suspects had not yet purchased any airline tickets. In fact, some did not even have passports.”
If British security officials knew that an attack was not imminent, the decision to raise the alert level to critical, indicating an imminent threat, was unjustified by the available intelligence -- this was, in other words, a political decision.
Other British officials told NBC News that many of the suspects had been under surveillance for more than a year, since before the 7th July 2005 terrorist attacks. “British police were planning to continue to run surveillance for at least another week to try to obtain more evidence” -- as it was clearly lacking. But: “American officials pressured them to arrest the suspects sooner.” An American official also confirmed the disagreement over timing.
Brits Opposed Arrest and Torture of Key Informant
The NBC News report further reveals, citing British security sources, that British police did not want to yet arrest Rashid Rauf, the alleged mastermind, al-Qaeda facilitator and key informant on the details of the plot: “British security was concerned that Rauf be taken into custody ‘in circumstances where there was due process,’ according to the official, so that he could be tried in British courts. Ultimately, this official says, Rauf was arrested over the objections of the British.”
However, the arrest of Rashid Rauf is at the crux of the case, as it purportedly triggered the ensuing wave of arrests, with Rauf providing in-depth details of the plot to his interrogators in Pakistan. Among the details attributed to Rauf is the idea that the plotters intended to mix a “sports drink” with a gel-like “peroxide-based paste” to create a chemical explosive that “could be ignited with an MP3 player or cell phone.”
The problem is that several Pakistani newspapers reported on 13th August that “Rauf had ‘broken’ under interrogation.” The reports were described by a Pakistani human rights group “as confirmation that he had been tortured.” According to the Guardian, “Asma Jehangir, of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, said that it was obvious how the information had been obtained. ‘I don’t deduce, I know -- torture,’ she said. ‘There is simply no doubt about that, no doubt at all.’”
That most of the details about the plot came from Rauf, who has been tortured and “broken” while under interrogation in Pakistan, raises serious questions about the credibility of the story being promoted by the British and American governments.
Torture Precedents: the “Ricin Plot”
The revelation bears hallmarks of a familiar pattern. It is now well-known that the interrogation of terror suspects using torture was responsible for the production of the false “Ricin Plot” narrative. In much the same way as Pakistan has done now, Algerian security services alerted the British in January 2003 to the alleged plot after interrogating and torturing a former British resident Mohammed Meguerba. We now know there was no plot. Police officials repeatedly claimed they had found plastic tubs of ricin -- but these claims were false. Four of the defendants were acquitted of terrorism and four others had the cases against them abandoned. Only Kamal Bourgass was convicted, but not in connection with the “Ricin Plot”, rather for murdering Special Branch Detective Constable Stephen Oake during a raid. Indeed, the “rendition” of terror suspects orchestrated by Britain, the United States, and other western states, attempts to institutionalize and legitimize torture as a means for the production of fundamentally compromised information used by western states to manipulate domestic public opinion.
It is perhaps not all that surprising then to learn that, according to a Daily Mail headline, the Pakistanis have found “no evidence against ‘terror mastermind’”, despite two weeks of interrogation under torture and forensic combing of Rauf’s home and computer. The plot “may not have been as serious, or as far advanced, as the authorities initially claimed”, observes the Mail somewhat sheepishly, and belatedly. “Analysts suspect Pakistani authorities exaggerated Rauf’s role to appear ‘tough on terrorism’ and impress Britain and America.” I wonder if the paucity of evidence has something to do with why, as the Independent on Sunday reported: “Both Britain and Pakistan say the question of Mr Rauf’s possible extradition [to the UK] is some way off.” Indeed. A spokesman for Pakistani’s Interior Ministry gave some helpful elaboration, telling the Mail that extradition “is not under consideration.”
The extradition to Britain of the alleged chief mastermind of a plot to kill thousands of Americans and British citizens by simultaneously blowing up multiple civilian airliners has, in other words, been ruled out indefinitely...
by Michel Chossudovsky
August 20, 2006
"It would be easy for terrorists to cook up radioactive ‘dirty’ bombs to explode inside the U.S. … How likely it is, I can't say..." (Secretary of State Colin Powell, 10 February 2003)
"The near-term attacks ... will either rival or exceed the 9/11 attacks... And it's pretty clear that the nation's capital and New York city would be on any list..." (DHS Secretary Tom Ridge, December 2003)
"You ask, 'Is it serious?' Yes, you bet your life. People don't do that unless it's a serious situation." (Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, December 2003)
"... Credible reporting indicates that Al Qaeda is moving forward with its plans to carry out a large-scale attack in the United States in an effort to disrupt our democratic process... (Secretary Tom Ridge, 8 July 2004)
"The enemy that struck on 9/11 is weakened and fractured yet it is still lethal and planning to hit us again." (Vice President Dick Cheney, 7 January 2006)
''Had this plot been carried out, the loss of life to innocent civilians would have been on an unprecedented scale,'' ( Home Secretary John Reid, 10 August 2006)
Monday, 21 August 2006, 11:00 pm
Article: Michael Collins
A recent Zogby poll documents ground breaking information on the attitudes of American voters toward electronic voting. They are quite clear in the belief that the outcome of an entire election can be changed due to flaws in computerized voting machines. At a stunning rate of 92%, Americans insist on the right to watch their votes being counted. And, at an overwhelming 80%, they strongly object to the use of secret computer software to tabulate votes without citizen access to that software.
The American public is clear in its desire for free, fair, and transparent elections. An 80%-90% consensus on the right to view vote counting and opposition to secrecy by voting machine vendor is both rare and remarkable in American politics. If only the public knew that these options are virtually non existent in today’s election system.
Viewing vote counting will soon become a process of watching computers, somewhat akin to watching the radio, but without sound. Secret vote counting with computer software that citizens cannot review is now a fait accompli. Most contracts between boards of elections and voting equipment manufacturers bar both elections officials and members of the public from any access to the most important computer software; the source code that directs all the functions of the voting machines, including vote counting.
Lured by huge checks handed out by the country's top lobbyists, members of Congress could soon strike a blow against Internet freedom as they seek to resolve the hot-button controversy over preserving "network neutrality." The telecommunications reform bill now moving through Congress threatens to be a major setback for those who hope that digital media can foster a more democratic society. The bill not only precludes net neutrality safeguards but also eliminates local community oversight of digital communications provided by cable and phone giants. It sets the stage for the privatized, consolidated and unregulated communications system that is at the core of the phone and cable lobbies' political agenda.
In both the House and Senate versions of the bill, Americans are described as "consumers" and "subscribers," not citizens deserving substantial rights when it comes to the creation and distribution of digital media. A handful of companies stand to gain incredible monopoly power from such legislation, especially AT&T, Comcast, Time Warner and Verizon. They have already used their political clout in Washington to secure for the phone and cable industries a stunning 98 percent control of the US residential market for high-speed Internet.
"...On Aug. 10, British authorities announced that they had made 24 arrests in a plot to use liquid explosives to down airliners en route to the United States from London. Stepping off Air Force One in Wisconsin that morning, the news from Britain still fresh, President Bush called the arrests "a stark reminder that this nation is at war with Islamic fascists." He warned Americans to be on the alert. "We're still not completely safe, because there are people that still plot and people who want to harm us for what we believe in."
Less than 24 hours later, police in Caro, population 4,000, stopped the three men outside a local Wal-Mart with roughly 1,000 cheap cellphones in their van. It was 2 a.m., and they had just purchased 80 cellphones from the store, raising the suspicion of an employee. Less than a year before, federal law enforcement officials had warned their state and local counterparts to be on the lookout for people buying large numbers of prepaid cellphones, since the phones could be used as detonators. The Caro police arrested the Othmans and Muhareb.
As Britain's outspoken Ambassador to the Central Asian Republic of Uzbekistan, Craig Murray helped expose vicious human rights abuses by the US-funded regime of Islam Karimov. He is now a prominent critic of Western policy in the region.
Murray is doing an excellent job critically analysing the "Liquid Terror Plot". Right now he's verbally jousting with the President of the UK's Association of Chief Police Officers, but check out his posts over the last couple of weeks, good stuff;
Ken Jones, president of the Association of Chief Police Officers, appears appalled (Letters, August 19) that I had the temerity to suggest that the police and security services are becoming politicised. Yet in this same letter, he specifically states that the police last year requested longer periods of detention without charge, and he argues that "our core criminal-justice processes ... must continue to evolve to adapt to the very real threat we now face". Mr Jones is a policeman with a deeply political agenda. His "evolution" is a continual increase of police powers and diminution of the rights of the individual. There could be no clearer example than his letter of what it is that makes me uneasy about the politicisation of the police. It used to be their job to enforce the laws, not tell us what they "must" be.
(FFN Editors note: Here we again see a private company, ESS, setting up and managing the crisis drill. They are joined by other firms like Google, Microsoft and the infamous "charity" Save the Children. We must remember that while the military and government often take the bulk of the blame for terror drills, private firms like are usually providing logistical support or more...)
RED ALERT: "Strong Angel III" pandemic/cyberterror/continuity drills in San Diego, CA Aug 21-26
ESS to Participate in Strong Angel III Integrated Disaster Response Demonstration
ESS to Test the Company's New On-Demand Crisis Management Software During the Event
ESS to Participate in Strong Angel III Integrated Disaster Response Demonstration
TEMPE, Ariz., Aug. 14 /PRNewswire/ -- ESS today announced its participation in Strong Angel III, a collaborative demonstration of civil and military cooperation and communication capabilities put together by a partnership of private companies, government agencies, humanitarian and relief agencies and universities. Hosted by San Diego State University and taking place in San Diego August 21-26, Strong Angel III will field test effective means of delivering life-saving humanitarian relief and rapidly deployable communications systems in the wake of major disasters.
The core site for Strong Angel III will be the operations center at the San Diego Fire Department Fire Rescue Training Facility site, located at the former Naval Training Center near downtown San Diego. San Diego State University's Visualization Center will be a secondary location.
The Strong Angel III demonstration simulates the impact on information sharing in a real-world disaster. The demonstration will assume the context of a worldwide pandemic caused by a highly contagious virus, which is further complicated by a wave of cyber-attacks inflicted by terrorists that cripple critical local infrastructure and systems. Strong Angel III team members will conduct field trials and demonstrations of solutions that address 49 specific humanitarian relief challenges -- both technical and social -- that have not yet been adequately overcome in real disaster relief efforts.
"In the wake of major incidents like the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Hurricane Katrina and the tsunami in Southeast Asia, it is more important than ever to have an integrated response when disaster strikes," said Eric Rasmussen, MD, director of Strong Angel III and professor at San Diego State University. "The level of public-and private-sector engagement in Strong Angel III is at a remarkable level, underscoring the significance of the task at hand and the commitment of everyone involved to work together to maximize preparedness and coordination efforts."
Some of the demonstrations will include developing solutions for redundant power, adaptive communications, austere network communications, mobile workers, cross-organizational collaboration, mesh networking, satellite services, ephemeral workgroups, geospatial information systems, rapid assessment techniques, shared situational awareness, cyber-security, alerting tools, community informatics, machine-based translation for multi-lingual communication, and social network development.
Strong Angel III sponsors include Google, Cisco Systems, CommsFirst, Microsoft, Save the Children, Sprint Nextel, the Naval Postgraduate School, and the U.S. Department of Defense.
ESS will participate as part of a team from the National Institute for Urban Search and Rescue (NIUSR) and will also test its new Crisis Management application during the exercise. John Gargett, Product Manager for Crisis Management at ESS and a member of the NIUSR Executive Board, will serve as Team NIUSR Command. Other ESS staff members on Team NIUSR include Chuck Mancini, National Solutions Manager -- Crisis Management for ESS, as IT Unit Specialist; Tony Bellomo, ESS Senior Technical Consultant, as IT Director; John Ketcham, Crisis Management Practice Manager at ESS, as Situation Unit Leader; and Curtis Moreland, Director of Information Technology at ESS, as Server Manager.
"ESS is committed to the Crisis Management community and to helping with the successful execution of this valuable event," said Robert Johnson, CEO of ESS. "Being able to test our new product during an exercise of this magnitude is a great opportunity."
Louis Clark McCoy, President of NIUSR, said, "We are excited about the participation of ESS in this important activity. Using the ESS application to manage certain aspects of Strong Angel III will provide us with a number of benefits, both during the event and for post-event metrics that will help us measure the success of the exercise."
The new application, on-demand emergency response product by ESS, will be used for a variety of activities during Strong Angel, including monitoring unit logs, incident logs, resource deployments, personnel deployments and Incident Command System (ICS) position checklists. The software is designed to help organizations respond to any kind of incident -- big or small, short- or long-term -- by making it easy to perform a range of essential tasks.
"We are looking forward to this exercise," said Gargett. "You can never do too much to prepare for real-world disasters and our interest in this is two-fold, in terms of helping to mitigate the impact of a disaster through practice as well as enhanced technology."
About Strong Angel III
Strong Angel III is the third in a series of demonstrations that have taken place since 2000. The first two Strong Angel demonstrations were held in 2000 and 2004 in Hawaii associated with the joint Naval exercises called RIMPAC. Strong Angel III will issue a lessons-learned document on its website as soon as possible after conclusion of the demonstration. For more information on Strong Angel III and a listing of participating public- and private-sector organizations, please visit http://www.strongangel3.net/.
ESS is a leading provider of Operational Risk Management software and services for Environmental, Health & Safety (EH&S) and Crisis Management. The company has provided Essential Suite(TM) and Compliance Suite(TM) solutions to more than 17,000 businesses, government agencies and other organizations worldwide. For information, visit http://www.ess-home.com/.
Media Contact: Dawn Kehr
Website: r information, visit http://www.ess-home.com/
My personal blog will stray off the 9/11 path as I see fit.
IMO, a matter which is equally important to empowering politically active citizens of the United States is to ensure that the votes count. I'll be dropping links about Election Fraud and other political issues over time.
Welcome to the Monkey House.
Aviel Rubin, 09.04.06, 12:00 AM ET
You don't like hanging chads? Get ready for cheating chips and doctored drives.
I am a computer scientist. I own seven Macintosh computers, one Windows machine and a Palm Treo 700p with a GPS unit, and I chose my car (Infiniti M35x) because it had the most gadgets of any vehicle in its class. My 7-year-old daughter uses e-mail. So why am I advocating the use of 17th-century technology for voting in the 21st century--as one of my critics puts it?
The 2000 debacle in Florida spurred a rush to computerize voting. In 2002 Congress passed the Help America Vote Act, which handed out $2.6 billion to spend on voting machines. Most of that cash was used to acquire Direct Recording Electronic voting machines.
Consider one simple mode of attack that has already proved effective on a widely used DRE, the Accuvote made by Diebold (nyse: DBD - news - people ). It's called overwriting the boot loader, the software that runs first when the machine is booted up. The boot loader controls which operating system loads, so it is the most security-critical piece of the machine. In overwriting it an attacker can, for example, make the machine count every fifth Republican vote as a Democratic vote, swap the vote outcome at the end of the election or produce a completely fabricated result. To stage this attack, a night janitor at the polling place would need only a few seconds' worth of access to the computer's memory card slot.
Further, an attacker can modify what's known as the ballot definition file on the memory card. The outcome: Votes for two candidates for a particular office are swapped. This attack works by programming the software to recognize the precinct number where the machine is situated. If the attack code limits its execution to precincts that are statistically close but still favor a particular party, it goes unnoticed.
One might argue that one way to prevent this attack is to randomize the precinct numbers inside the software. But that's an argument made in hindsight. If the defense against the attack is not built into the voting system, the attack will work, and there are virtually limitless ways to attack a system. And let's not count on hiring 24-hour security guards to protect voting machines.
DREs have a transparency problem: You can't easily discover if they've been tinkered with. It's one thing to suspect that officials have miscounted hanging chads but something else entirely for people to wonder whether a corrupt programmer working behind the scenes has rigged a computer to help his side.
My ideal system isn't entirely Luddite. It physically separates the candidate selection process from vote casting. Voters make their selections on a touchscreen machine, but the machine does not tabulate votes. It simply prints out paper ballots with the voters' choices marked. The voters review the paper ballots to make sure the votes have been properly recorded. Then the votes are counted; one way is by running them through an optical scanner. After the polls close, some number of precincts are chosen at random, and the ballots are hand counted and compared with the optical scan totals to make sure they are accurate. The beauty of this system is that it leaves a tangible audit trail. Even the designer of the system cannot cheat if the voters check the printed ballots and if the optical scanners are audited.
Aviel Rubin, professor of computer science at Johns Hopkins University and author of Brave New Ballot: The Battle To Safeguard Democracy In The Age Of Electronic Voting.