911blogger.com seeks to cover a broad spectrum of news, posts in the blogs section are the responsibility of the poster, readers are encouraged to check the facts and form their own conclusions.
CBS News consultant on terrorism Jere Van Dyk files an update on Osama bin Laden, conditions in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Taliban and al Qaeda.
Osama bin Laden
I believe he is alive. I know Benazir Bhutto told David Frost on al-Jazeera (11/2/07) that he is dead. The most recent outside news suggesting bin Laden is still alive comes from Pakistan's The News where on 7/21 Rahimullah Yousafzai, the only reporter to interview OBL, Mullah Omar and al-Zawahiri, more than once, writes of OBL in the present tense. He has excellent jihadi and intel contacts.
On 6/3/09, on the eve of Obama's trip to Saudi Arabia, al Qaeda issued an OBL audio tape, which experts like Richard Clarke claim is valid.
His most recent video was 9/7/07. If you recall, in this one his beard was jet black. I didn't think at the time that he, a Wahhabi, most interested in jihad, would dye his beard to look younger. I have since been around Wahhabi fighters and have seen their vanity, their dyed beards; some men with young wives, like OBL, don't want to look old. He was 52 on March 10.
By CAROL ROSENBERG
GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, Cuba -- In seeking to examine whether accused 9/11 lieutenant Ramzi bin al Shibh is sane, Pentagon defense attorneys are turning to an Israeli-American and Cuban American exile as mental health experts.
The Pentagon's supervisor of the war court, Susan J. Crawford, has so far refused to fund one of the consultants, Ruben C. Gur. The other, Xavier Amador, has so far been banned from talking to bin al Shibh in the high-profile case that seeks the death penalty for five men accused as co-conspirators in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
So defense lawyers were seeking a court order for both in motions being argued at the military commissions on Thursday. No immediate ruling was expected.
Amador, a Cuban American clinical psychologist, has testified as an expert in the Unabomber and Zacarias Moussaoui cases. He immigrated to the United States in the early 1960s.
Gur, a psychologist, is a former Israeli soldier and leading expert in neuroimaging, the study of CT scans for signs of mental illness.
By HARRY R. WEBER (AP) – 14 hours ago
ATLANTA — A federal judge ruled Thursday that airlines and other companies in the industry that are being sued by families of terrorism victims can't question FBI agents about the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
The defendants wanted to depose the agents and sought access to other evidence related to the investigation of the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people in order to show at trial that the government's failure to catch the terrorists and prevent the attacks mitigates and excuses any alleged fault on the aviation companies' part.
The government objected.
The ruling by U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein in New York said the defendants have also argued that the terrorists likely would have succeeded even if the defendants had exercised due care.
Scenes of chaos have gripped a US military court in Guantanamo Bay where five alleged 9/11 plotters were due to appear together before a judge.
All five, including alleged mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, initially refused to attend the hearing.
The judge rejected prosecution calls for them to be compelled to attend but three did appear after a recess.
The hearing focuses on whether two of the accused are mentally competent to represent themselves.
The 11 September 2001 attacks, in which hijacked airliners were flown into buildings in New York and Washington, killed nearly 3,000 people.
Microphone cut off
Walid Bin Attash, Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali and Mustafa Ahmad al-Hawsawi appeared in the courtroom after the recess.
But Mr Hawsawi asked to leave again after he was refused the opportunity to speak. He was escorted out by US military guards.
Mr Bin Attash asked the judge whether he could question a witness.
When told he could not, he asked: "Even if he told lies?"
From the point of view of an al Qaida military leader, Western intelligence agents are now ubiquitous in the lands of Islam, and their operations have been extraordinarily effective. The Western spies are unfailingly lethal, leaving a trail of dead Islamist fighters behind them. Worst of all, they have managed to recruit innumerable Muslims to assist their war efforts.
“The spies… were sent to penetrate the ranks of the Muslims generally, and the mujahidin specifically, and [they] spread all over the lands like locusts,” wrote Abu Yahya al-Libi, an al Qaida field commander in Afghanistan, in a new book called “Guidance on the Ruling of the Muslim Spy” (pdf).
“The spies are busy day and night carrying out their duties in an organized and secret manner… How many heroic leaders have been kidnapped at their hands? How many major mujahidin were surprised to be imprisoned or traced? Even the military and financial supply roads of the mujahidin, which are far from the enemy’s surveillance, were found by the spies.”
I have no interest in defending bankers; however, in the interest of considering as many facts as possible, here is an opinion contrary to the dominant one that the banks and bankers gamed the system.
The case against The Crash conspiracy theory
Last updated on Wednesday, Jul. 08, 2009 10:15AM EDT
In a column earlier this week, New York Times op-ed writer Frank Rich perfectly articulates the dominant mythology of the 2008 market meltdown. Wall Street caused The Crash, he says, by manipulating the U.S. mortgage market in so vast and so venal a fashion that Bernard Madoff's criminal Ponzi scheme was insignificant in comparison - "merely a one-off next to the esoteric (and often legal) heists by banks and bankers." These bankers, Mr. Rich says, "gamed the entire system, then took the money and ran before the bubble burst, sticking the rest of us with fear, panic and loss."
Might this be considered circumstantial evidence in response to the claim that bombs could not have been planted unnoticed in the WTC?
The police agency in charge of protecting thousands of federal buildings nationwide has failed to keep bomb-making materials out of several high-security facilities in the past year, according to Congressional testimony provided by Senate aides. In the past year, investigators successfully smuggled bomb-making materials into ten high-security federal buildings, constructed bombs and walked around the buildings undetected, exposing weaknesses in security provided by the Federal Protective Service.
More than one million government employees work in 9,000 facilities guarded by FPS around the country, including at least 350,000 in the Washington region. The revelations come as the Obama administration prepares to reorganize the agency in the coming weeks.
The Great American Bubble Machine
Matt Taibbi on how Goldman Sachs has engineered every major market manipulation since the Great Depression
Posted Jul 02, 2009 8:38 AM
In Rolling Stone Issue 1082-83, Matt Taibbi takes on "the Wall Street Bubble Mafia" — investment bank Goldman Sachs. The piece has generated controversy, with Goldman Sachs firing back that Taibbi's piece is "an hysterical compilation of conspiracy theories" and a spokesman adding, "We reject the assertion that we are inflators of bubbles and profiteers in busts, and we are painfully conscious of the importance in being a force for good." Taibbi shot back: "Goldman has its alumni pushing its views from the pulpit of the U.S. Treasury, the NYSE, the World Bank, and numerous other important posts; it also has former players fronting major TV shows. They have the ear of the president if they want it." Here, now, are excerpts from Matt Taibbi's piece and video of Taibbi exploring the key issues [please note the videos are available at the source].
June 30, 2009
Osama in America: The Final Answer
The question of whether Osama bin Laden has ever visited the United States, a subject on which I have expended an unhealthy amount of energy in the course of various journalistic and biographical research, has now seemingly been settled. Osama was here for two weeks in 1979, it seems, and he visited Indiana and Los Angeles, among other places. He had a favorable encounter with an American medical doctor; he also reportedly met in Los Angeles with his spiritual mentor of the time, the Palestinian radical Abdullah Azzam. All this is according to a forthcoming book by Osama’s first wife, Najwa Bin Laden, and his son Omar Bin Laden, to be published in the autumn by St. Martin’s Press.
First, some context for the book’s disclosures:
The most disturbing quality of this story, IMO, is the surveillance grid made possible by GPS devices in every car.
By-the-mile road tax could replace by-the-gallon federal fuel tax
By STEVE EVERLY
The Kansas City Star
The year is 2020 and the gasoline tax is history. In its place you get a monthly tax bill based on each mile you drove — tracked by a Global Positioning System device in your car and uploaded to a billing center.
What once was science fiction is being field-tested by the University of Iowa to iron out the wrinkles should a by-the-mile road tax ever be enacted.
Besides the technological advances making such a tax possible, the idea is getting a hard push from a growing number of transportation experts and officials. That is because the traditional by-the-gallon fuel tax, struggling to keep up with road building and maintenance demands, could fall even farther behind as vehicles’ gas mileage rises and more alternative-fuel vehicles come on line.
Osama bin Laden is believed to be in mountains on the Afghanistan/Pakistan border. But is he any nearer to being captured?
Julian Borger and Declan Walsh
The Guardian, Thursday 25 June 2009
He is still alive. That is the one thing that can be said about Osama bin Laden these days with any degree of certainty. At least, he was still alive at the beginning of the month, when an audio tape was delivered to al-Jazeera bearing words in a familiar voice.
The tape, aired by al-Jazeera on 3 June, is genuine, according to British and US intelligence, and his references to recent events are proof that it is contemporary. It is a muttered sermon, mainly devoted to decrying Barack Obama on the day the new US president arrived in Saudi Arabia on the start of a Middle East tour - to sow "seeds of hatred", Bin Laden claimed.
Former Canadian political candidate and journalist suing Jewish groups for defamation over 9/11 comments
Jun 24, 2009 04:30 AM
THE CANADIAN PRESS
WINNIPEG – A former Liberal candidate who was dumped before last fall's federal election is suing cabinet minister Peter Kent, the Canadian Jewish Congress, B'nai Brith of Canada and four senior members of the two organizations.
Lesley Hughes claims the defendants made untrue and defamatory accusations that she was anti-Semitic. She says that, as a result, former federal Liberal leader Stéphane Dion revoked her candidacy in the Manitoba riding of Kildonan-St. Paul last September.
The allegations made by Hughes in her statement of claim have not been heard or proven in court.
Hughes acknowledges in her lawsuit that she wrote a column in a Winnipeg newspaper in 2002 that suggested Israeli businesses in the World Trade Center had advance knowledge of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Hughes claims senior members of the Canadian Jewish Congress and B'nai Brith persuaded Dion to revoke her candidacy on the grounds she was anti-Semitic.
June 22, 2009
By Michael Green
While everyone who writes about the recent Iranian election has very strong opinions, very few have very many, if any, firm facts. Even such a seemingly solid article by Mr. ZMag, Stephen Zunes, i.e., "Has the Election Been Stolen in Iran?" Posted on June 13, 2009, Printed on June 14, 2009, http://www.alternet.org/story/140626/
makes broad claims and assertions of patent theft without citing a single source or providing a satisfactory example of any of his claims. I have emailed Professor Zunes for solid examples and have asked him how he obtained so much information so quickly, but have not had a reply (his sites advises that he typically cannot answer all inquiries). For example, Zunes writes from the omniscient perspective:
US Official: The CIA bribed Iranian government officials, businessmen, and reporters, and paid Iranians to demonstrate
Sunday, 21 June 2009
Iran Faces Greater Risks Than It Knows
by Paul Craig Roberts
Stephen Kinzer’s book, All the Shah’s Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror, tells the story of the overthrow of Iran’s democratically-elected leader, Mohammed Mosaddeq, by the CIA and the British MI6 in 1953. The CIA bribed Iranian government officials, businessmen, and reporters, and paid Iranians to demonstrate in the streets.
The 1953 street demonstrations, together with the Cold War claim that the US had to grab Iran before the Soviets did, served as the US government’s justification for overthrowing Iranian democracy. What the Iranian people wanted was not important.
Today, the street demonstrations in Tehran show signs of orchestration. The protesters, primarily young people, especially young women opposed to the dress codes, carry signs written in English: "Where is My Vote?" The signs are intended for the western media—not for the Iranian government.
June 18, 2009
HAGERSTOWN, Md. - An inventory of deadly germs and toxins at an Army biodefense lab in Frederick found more than 9,200 vials of material that was unaccounted for in laboratory records, Fort Detrick officials said Wednesday.
The 13 percent overage mainly reflects stocks left behind in freezers by researchers who retired or left Fort Detrick since the biological warfare defense program was established there in 1943, said Col. Mark Kortepeter, deputy commander of the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases.
He said the found material included Korean War-era serum samples from patients with Korean hemorrhagic fever, a disease still of interest to researchers pursuing a vaccine. Other vials contained viruses and microbes responsible for Ebola, plague, anthrax, botulism and host of other ailments, Kortepeter said in a teleconference with reporters.
See the original post for links.
The rise of “the wall” between intelligence and law enforcement personnel that impeded the sharing of information within the U.S. government prior to September 11, 2001 was critically examined in a detailed monograph (pdf) that was prepared in 2004 for the 9/11 Commission. It is the only one of four staff monographs that had not previously been released. It was finally declassified and disclosed earlier this month.
By Larry Johnson
(bumped up from last night)
I am sure I am opening a can of worms here, but what the hell. The U.S. Government did not plan or execute the attacks on 9-11. Here’s the simple truth–the Bush Administration entered office dismissing terrorism as a significant threat and devoted most of its energies to promoting a ballistic missile defense. They ignored warnings from Richard Clarke and the CIA, Condi Rice demoted Richard Clarke, who had been in charge of coordinating interagency counter terrorism policy, and President Bush waited until September to convene a meeting to sketch the outlines of his Administration’s counter terrorism policy.
Law and Order SVU season finale features Nick Stahl as deranged artist who believes 9/11 "conspiracies"
I'm sure this episode has no connection to the recent Holocaust museum shootings and trail of yellow journalism that followed, but the season+finale+of+Law+and+Order+SVU featured actor Nick Stahl as Peter Harrison, a deranged artist whose life is transformed by 9/11. I don't have an exact transcript, but at one point in the episode it is noted that Harrison became obsessed with 9/11 conspiracy theories and anti-government ideas.
The relevant dialogue begins around 7:09 of this video.
By Frank Morales
It’s spring 2009 in New York City and an unannounced U.S. government plane streaks across town. Recollecting the horrors of 9/11, the incident scares the heebie-jeebies out of the citizenry. Meanwhile, U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, while attending an April 18 “Tour of the Battenkill” annual bicycle race in Cambridge, N.Y., responds to a question regarding efforts here to establish a new 9/11 investigation. Lending his qualified support to such an inquiry, he says that he’s positively disposed toward a new investigation into the events of 9/11, though his support for such a probe would depend on the form it would take. “I think it’s not a bad idea,” he said. “You know, you’ve got to do it in a good way, but, yes, I’d be for it.”
Presented by the University of Waterloo 9/11 Research Group
Hagey Hall Humanities Theatre
May 31st, 2009
WASHINGTON — CIA Director Leon Panetta says he believes Osama bin Laden is still in Pakistan. The spy agency hopes to close in on the al-Qaida leader as Pakistan's military cracks down on the tribal area where he is thought to be hiding.
Panetta told reporters after a speech on Capitol Hill that finding bin Laden remains one of the CIA's top priorities. He said he hopes that the combination of increased CIA activity and the Pakistani military offensive will give the United States a better chance of nabbing him.
Panetta said in his speech that the CIA has increased the number of officers and agents in Pakistan who are providing targeting and other information to attack the al-Qaida network there.
Aide to Czech President: "There exists a real possibility that September 11 was really organised by U.S. secret services"
Klaus aide: 9/11 attacks likely not by Islamists
11 June 2009
Prague, June 10 (CTK) - Petr Hajek, a close aide to Czech President Vaclav Klaus and Klaus's former spokesman, views as realistic the possibility that the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the USA were organised by U.S. secret services, not Islamist radicals, daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) writes Wednesday.
"There exists a real possibility that September 11 was really organised by U.S. secret services," MfD quotes Hajek as saying in his new book of essays.
Hajek does not give any evidence to support his assertion.
On September 11, 2001, Islamist radicals hijacked four planes with passengers. They crashed with two into the WTO center towers in New York and with one into the Pentagon building in Washington.
The fourth plane crashed before reaching the target, after several passengers put up resistance to the hijackers.
The attacks claimed several thousands of lives.
Citing Hajek's book, MfD writes that he believes that Al-Qaeda leader Usama bin Laden is nothing but a media fiction.
President Obama's speech in Egypt echoes Bush's speech to the UN, in its warning not to challenge the 9/11 story.
"But let us be clear: Al Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 people on that day. The victims were innocent men, women and children from America and many other nations who had done nothing to harm anybody. And yet al Qaeda chose to ruthlessly murder these people, claimed credit for the attack and even now states their determination to kill on a massive scale. They have affiliates in many countries and are trying to expand their reach. These are not opinions to be debated; these are facts to be dealt with," he said.
"We must speak the truth about terror. Let us never tolerate outrageous conspiracy theories concerning the attacks of September the 11th, malicious lies that attempt to shift the blame away from the terrorists themselves, away from the guilty. To inflame ethnic hatred is to advance the cause of terror."
I must confess I haven't seen the 'blame Western self-hatred AND lousy teaching' argument before. Bravo, Ed West, for your creative use of bastardized logic and random conjunction of unrelated concepts. This editorial has it all: cock-up theory, someone would have talked, 9/11 would have involved thousands of conspirators, the government is incompetent, anti-semitism, paranoia -- wow! Enjoy!
Conspiracy theories? Blame Western self-hatred and lousy teaching
Posted By: Ed West at Jun 1, 2009 at 21:20:10
I'm something of a fundamentalist non-believer of conspiracy theories, a follower of the cock-up theory of history (at least in free societies - conspiracies are easier in totalitarian countries where fellow conspirators can just be bumped off).
"Consider a conspiracy theory like the claim that the Apollo moon landing was a hoax or that 9/11 was secretly planned by President Bush or that the Holocaust never happened. There are such conspiracy theories and they are believed by a reasonable number of people, but all of them require a large number of unproved and individually extremely unlikely assertions to be true simultaneously."
The preceding passage appears on page 105 of a book called, incredibly, Critical+Thinking,+Logic,+and+Argument+by+Eric+Dayton. He's a professor of philosophy.
Making 9/11 skepticism the equivalent of Holocaust denial is a tactic usually reserved for the most pernicious forms of misinformation. This philosophy professor lets the above sentence stand without any explanation.
By Adam Walters
May 26, 2009 12:00am
IT had all the appearances of a towering inferno, chillingly reminiscent of September 11 as a column of thick black smoke shrouded Sydney's tallest building yesterday.
But there were no evacuations from Centrepoint Tower, no injuries - and apparently the only chaos came in conflicting official versions of events.
A statement from Westfield shopping centre management said the fire, sparked during demolition work on the 12 floor "was extinguished by staff with no disruption to work in other areas of the project". But the fire brigade's media unit was telling a different story in a press release headlined: "Firefighters control high rise fire at Centrepoint."
"More than 40 firefighters were on scene within minutes and their quick action in rapidly accessing and extinguishing the fire averted chaos in the inner city," NSW Fire Brigades Commissioner Greg Mullins said in the release.
Many shocked city workers were sure they were seeing a disaster.
Cheney's Bunker Mentality
By James Ridgeway | Sun May 24, 2009 9:43 PM PST
Say what you will about Dick Cheney, at least he's consistent. While he was in office, the Vice President made a practice of exploiting the fear and loss wrought by the 9/11 attacks to advance his own political agenda—and he's still doing it now. During his speech at the American Enterprise Institute on Thursday, according to Dana Milbank's calculations in the Washington Post, "Cheney used the word 'attack' 19 times, 'danger' and 'threat' six times apiece, and 9/11 an impressive 27 times."
In this putative rebuttal to Obama speech on national security, Cheney described how he spent the morning of 9/11 "in a fortified White House command post," receiving "the reports and images that so many Americans remember from that day," and then declared:
In the years since, I've heard occasional speculation that I'm a different man after 9/11. I wouldn't say that. But I'll freely admit that watching a coordinated, devastating attack on our country from an underground bunker at the White House can affect how you view your responsibilities.
May 19, 2009
Ex-U.S. Envoy Considers Key Role in Afghan Government
By HELENE COOPER
WASHINGTON — Zalmay Khalilzad, who was President George W. Bush’s ambassador to Afghanistan, could assume a powerful, unelected position inside the Afghan government under a plan he is discussing with Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, according to senior American and Afghan officials.
Mr. Khalilzad, an American citizen who was born in Afghanistan, had considered challenging Mr. Karzai for the presidency in elections scheduled for this summer.
But Mr. Khalilzad missed the May 8 filing deadline, and the American and Afghan officials say that he has been talking with Mr. Karzai for several weeks about taking on a job that the two have described as the chief executive officer of Afghanistan.
Such an alliance would benefit Mr. Karzai by co-opting a potential rival. For its part, the White House has made no secret of its growing disenchantment with Mr. Karzai, and some Afghanistan experts said that enlisting Mr. Khalilzad would have the virtue of bringing a strong, competent leader into an increasingly dysfunctional Afghan government.
The US Supreme Court says FBI Director Robert Mueller and ex-Attorney General John Aschcroft cannot be sued by a former 9/11 detainee for alleged abuse.
The justices on Monday reversed a lower court ruling that had allowed a lawsuit brought by Javaid Iqbal to go forward.
Mr Iqbal, from Pakistan, argued the two officials were responsible for a policy that saw him singled out for abuse on the basis of his religion and race.
The court ruled that his complaint failed to back up this claim.
Mr Iqbal spent some six months in solitary confinement in a federal prison in Brooklyn in 2002.
In his lawsuit, he said he had suffered physical and verbal abuse and had been singled out for mistreatment because of ethnic and religious discrimination.
The government argued that there was nothing to link Mr Mueller and Mr Ashcroft to the alleged abuse of Mr Iqbal.
In a ruling by five votes to four, the Supreme Court justices overturned a ruling by a New York appeals court that had allowed Mr Iqbal's lawsuit to proceed.
Antonio Amadeo, Kim Morgan Dean, Bill McNulty and Mark Zeisler are featured in the world premiere of Yankee Tavern, a new post-9/11 thriller by the prolific Steven Dietz, opening May 15 after previews from May 13 at Florida Stage.
From the playwright of More Fun Than Bowling, Ten November, The Last of the Boys, Honus and Me and Sherlock Holmes comes this new play, set in a crumbling New York bar, in which a young man grapples with questions "about his father's best friend, his mysterious past, and a stranger who knows much more than he should," according to Florida Stage. "Suddenly, he finds himself caught in a web of conspiracy theories surrounding the 9/11 attacks and outlandish hypotheses become dangerous realities."