All in the family


In a previous post I alluded to how people in media with a certain interest are neglectful of trends that are staring them in the face when those trends don’t suit their agendas, such as advancing the notion that one group of people has invested in it all the anti-social behavior and negative traits are the worse while ignoring the very same inclinations in other groups.   Here is an article written by Alison Weir that states that case far better than I could.

Recent exposés revealing that Ethan Bronner, the New York Times’ Israel-Palestine bureau chief, has a son in the Israeli military have caused a storm of controversy that continues to swirl and generate further revelations.

Many people find such a sign of family partisanship in an editor covering a foreign conflict troubling – especially given the Times’ record of Israel-centric journalism.

Times management at first refused to confirm Bronner’s situation, then refused to comment on it. Finally, public outcry forced Times Public Editor Clark Hoyt to confront the problem in a February 7th column.

After bending over backwards to praise the institution that employs him, Hoyt ultimately opined that Bronner should be re-assigned to a different sphere of reporting to avoid the “appearance” of bias. Times Editor Bill Keller declined to do so, however, instead writing a column calling Bronner’s connections to Israel valuable because they “supply a measure of sophistication about Israel and its adversaries that someone with no connections would lack.”

If such “sophistication” is valuable, the Times’ espoused commitment to the “impartiality and neutrality of the company’s newsrooms” would seem to require it to have a balancing editor equally sophisticated about Palestine and its adversary, but Keller did not address that.

Bronner is far from alone

As it turns out, Bronner’s ties to the Israeli military are not the rarity one might expect.

• A previous Times bureau chief, Joel Greenberg, before he was bureau chief but after he was already publishing in the Times from Israel, actually served in the Israeli army.

• Media pundit and Atlantic staffer Jeffrey Goldberg also served in the Israeli military; it’s unclear when, how, or even if his military service ended.

• Richard Chesnoff, who has been covering Mideast events for more than 40 years, had a son serving in the Israeli military while Chesnoff covered Israel as US News & World Report’s senior foreign correspondent.

• NPR’s Linda Gradstein’s husband was an Israeli sniper and may still be in the Israeli reserves. NPR refuses to disclose whether Gradstein herself is also an Israeli citizen, as are her children and husband.

• Mitch Weinstock, national editor for the San Diego Union-Tribune, served in the Israeli military.

• The New York Times’ other correspondent from the region, Isabel Kershner, is an Israeli citizen. Israel has universal compulsory military service, which suggests that Kershner herself and/or family members may have military connections. The Times refuses to answer questions about whether she and/or family members have served or are currently serving in the Israeli military. Is it possible that Times Foreign Editor Susan Chira herself has such connections? The Times refuses to answer.

• Many Associated Press writers and editors are Israeli citizens or have Israeli families. AP will not reveal how many of the journalists in its control bureau for the region currently serve in the Israeli military, how many have served in the past, and how many have family members with this connection.

• Similarly, many TV correspondents such as Martin Fletcher have been Israeli citizens and/or have Israeli families. Do they have family connections to the Israeli military?

• Time Magazine’s bureau chief several years ago became an Israeli citizen after he had assumed his post. Does he have relatives in the military?

• CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, while not an Israeli citizen, was based in Israel for many years, wrote a book whitewashing Israeli spying on the US, and used to work for the Israel lobby in the US. None of this is divulged to CNN viewers.

Tikkun’s editor Michael Lerner has a son who served in the Israeli military. While Lerner has been a strong critic of many Israeli policies, in an interview with Jewish Week, Lerner explains:

“Having a son in the Israeli army was a manifestation of my love for Israel, and I assume that having a son in the Israeli army is a manifestation of Bronner’s love of Israel.”

Lerner goes on to make a fundamental point:

“…there is a difference in my emotional and spiritual connection to these two sides [Israelis and Palestinians]. On the one side is my family; on the other side are decent human beings. I want to support human beings all over the planet but I have a special connection to my family. I don’t deny it.”

For a great many of the reporters and editors determining what Americans learn about Israel-Palestine, Israel is family.

Jonathan Cook, a British journalist based in Nazareth, writes of a recent meeting with a Jerusalem based bureau chief, who explained: “… Bronner’s situation is ‘the rule, not the exception. I can think of a dozen foreign bureau chiefs, responsible for covering both Israel and the Palestinians, who have served in the Israeli army, and another dozen who like Bronner have kids in the Israeli army.”

Cooks writes that the bureau chief explained: “It is common to hear Western reporters boasting to one another about their Zionist credentials, their service in the Israeli army or the loyal service of their children.”

Apparently, intimate ties to Israel are among the many open secrets in the region that are hidden from the American public. If, as the news media insist, these ties present no problem or even, as the Times’ Keller insists, enhance the journalists’ work, why do the news agencies consistently refuse to admit them?

The reason is not complicated.

While Israel may be family for these journalists and editors, for the vast majority of Americans, Israel is a foreign country. In survey after survey, Americans say they don’t wish to “take sides” on this conflict. In other words, the American public wants full, unfiltered, unslanted coverage.

Quite likely the news media refuse to answer questions about their journalists’ affiliations because they suspect, accurately, that the public would be displeased to learn that the reporters and editors charged with supplying news on a foreign nation and conflict are, in fact, partisans.

While Keller claims that the New York Times is covering this conflict “even-handedly,” studies indicate otherwise:

* The Times covers international reports documenting Israeli human rights abuses at a rate 19 times lower than it reports on the far smaller number of international reports documenting Palestinian human rights abuses.

* The Times covers Israeli children’s deaths at rates seven times greater than they cover Palestinian children’s deaths, even though there are vastly more of the latter and they occurred first.

* The Times fails to inform its readers that Israel’s Jewish-only colonies on confiscated Palestinian Christian and Muslim land are illegal; that its collective punishment of 1.5 million men, women, and children in Gaza is not only cruel and ruthless, it is also illegal; and that its use of American weaponry is routinely in violation of American laws.

* The Times covers the one Israeli (a soldier) held by Palestinians at a rate incalculably higher than it reports on the Palestinian men, women, and children – the vast majority civilians – imprisoned by Israel (currently over 7,000).

• The Times neglects to report that hundreds of Israel’s captives have never even been charged with a crime and that those who have were tried in Israeli military courts under an array of bizarre military statutes that make even the planting of onions without a permit a criminal offense – a legal system, if one can call it that, that changes at the whim of the current military governor ruling over a subject population; a system in which parents are without power to protect their children.

* The Times fails to inform its readers that 40 percent of Palestinian males have been imprisoned by Israel, a statistic that normally would be considered highly newsworthy, but that Bronner, Kershner, and Chira apparently feel is unimportant to report.

Americans, whose elected representatives give Israel uniquely gargantuan sums of our tax money (a situation also not covered by the media), want and need all the facts, not just those that Israel’s family members decree reportable.

We’re not getting them.

Another Face of Terrorism


There’s no doubt about it in this observer’s mind Joe Stack was a terrorist, and his act of flying an airplane into a building which contained the offices of a government agency (and I don’t care which acronym like agency it was) was straight out of the book of terror that this Nation went through a decade ago, yet very few people in corporate media or in government want to label him as such. Wonder why?

There’s been a certain amount of self-righteous discussion among media types why this is the case but in the end those who are self-indulgent simply say Stack doesn’t meet the criteria of a terrorist. There are even some who claim, such as Stack’s daughter that he was a hero of sorts, protesting against government. Wonder why?

Stack’s singular act of protest doesn’t even begin to meet the definition of the legally acceptable form of dissent, but it fits perfectly into the definition of terrorism. Yet there are people who are determined to not call it that and the simple reason why is because the West has been gripped by a virulent form of racism that is ethnocentric in nature towards people of color.  This indignation attempts to dress itself in a cloak of preserving a Judeo-Christian ethic, but when the results of such preservation have included diminishing the progress of that ethic, subversion of the rights of those who enjoy that ethic, such as privacy rights, free speech, et.al that excuse too falls by the wayside and is as hypocritical as media’s refusal to be inclusive in the terrorism appellation.

The refusal of corporate media to label Stack the terrorist he was has allowed all the other fringe groups to come out in support of his action in their opposition to the Nation’s first black president.    The Tea Party movement is nothing more than the 21st century Ku Klux Klan dressed up with the likes of Sarah Palin, Michele Bachman, et.al who are used to give such a movement legitimacy.  There is this symbiotic relationship, therefore, between corporate media and these racists.  They give rationale  to one another; the racist relish the media attention to their cause of opposing the first black, “foreign born”, “Muslim” president and the media loves the sound bites such idiots the likes of Stack, and Scott Roeder (the murderer/terrorist who stalked legally licensed American physicians) give them ignoring  their, media’s,  own responsibility to this collective hypocrisy and morass.   At the same time corporate media plunges headlong into their racist diatribe against Muslims, Arabs and especially Palestinians justifying any and all forms of state sponsored oppression against them because to media types the designation “terrorist” is appropriate and they have no hesitation at all using that term to describe them.

This way of doing business means the  Joseph Stack story is merely a mention in the headlines of the day, social titillation at best not worthy of any real consideration or reflection about the role of government, the impact of violence in society, the responsibility of citizens to social cohesion, the role of media if any in all of this, nothing to see just move along.  We should now expect this social irresponsibility from a upper middle class mostly white media with a strong affection for power and those who wield it in defense of their, corporate media’s interest.  However, the public, infinitely smarter than given credit by that same media, has to realize the impact media’s dereliction has on the over all society, in the form of their, corporate media’s, justification for wars of occupation and the sublimation of the rights of citizens, legal residents, and yes, even foreigners living in America to the wishes of government and corporate entities.

A Nation that is immersed in healthy not stifled debate is much more informed and enlightened.  Corporate media mimics its forefathers of old who sought to keep people in the dark by allowing only those deemed worthy the right or ability to read and get an education.  That dispensation of rights and responsibilities by the wealthy and often oppressor class became a rejected standard of living, and societies were better off for doing away with such notions.   Joseph Stack was a terrorist, no more and no less, who committed the same heinous act as those on 911, in his rejection of government policy and it resulted in the loss of human life, his and other(s) and that’s that.  Corporate media’s refusal to simply say that says more about them than Stack.  Perhaps its time we did away with them.

Afghan Civilians Are Likely Targets


Glen Greenwald in one of his articles asks who is this Lara Dadkhah whose editorial appears in a recent edition of the New York Times in which she says

American and NATO military leaders — worried by Taliban propaganda claiming that air strikes have killed an inordinate number of civilians, and persuaded by “hearts and minds” enthusiasts that the key to winning the war is the Afghan population’s goodwill — have largely relinquished the strategic advantage of American air dominance.

So in a modern refashioning of the obvious — that war is harmful to civilian populations — the United States military has begun basing doctrine on the premise that dead civilians are harmful to the conduct of war. The trouble is, no past war has ever supplied compelling proof of that claim.

In Marja, American and Afghan troops have shown great skill in routing the Taliban occupiers. But news reports indicate that our troops under heavy attack have had to wait an hour or more for air support, so that insurgents could be positively identified. “We didn’t come to Marja to destroy it, or to hurt civilians,” a Marine officer told reporters after waiting 90 minutes before the Cobra helicopters he had requested showed up with their Hellfire missiles. He’s right that the goal is not to kill bystanders or destroy towns, but an overemphasis on civilian protection is now putting American troops on the defensive in what is intended to be a major offensive.

There is also little to indicate that the “hearts and minds” campaign has resulted in the population’s cooperation, especially in the all-important area of human intelligence. Afghans can be expected to cooperate with American forces only if they feel safe to do so — when we take permanent control of an area. Obviously, this involves defeating the enemy. With NATO intelligence services recently noting that the Taliban still have a “shadow government” in 33 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces, it’s hard to say we’re close to accomplishing that feat. Just last month, the Taliban set off a series of bombs in the heart of Kabul; the insurgents, it appears, no longer need to winter in Pakistan.

It is that realization that the Taliban controls a majority of Afghani territory that has forced Hamid Karzai, the US installed president to reach out to them and attempt to bring them into his government; it was this fact on the ground that had the US Defense Secretary say in a visit to Afghanistan that the Taliban are a part of the fabric of that country, it is that reality that until recently had the US attempting to negotiate with the Taliban as well.  In a Miscellany101 article earlier this week, we linked to a story that said the US sought to ally itself with the number 2 man in the Taliban hierarchy but had their move countered by Pakistani intelligence which it seems is now able to insert itself in the best interest of the United States…..go figure.  Dadkhah still has it wrong however when she/he(?) somehow implies the US is more concerned with civilian casualties than its own forces.  America has had unrestricted access over the skies of Pakistan and Afghanistan with drone aircraft and missiles of all types and descriptions, intermingled with the grisly deaths of civilians that occur at the hands of soldiers on the ground, and if Dadkhah has any illusions NATO/US forces are concerned with civilian casualties, then this article should put those rumors to rest.

…..NATO took the exact opposite approach with Sunday’s Marjah killings, revising their story to insist the killings were not an equipment error, but were part of a deliberate US targeting of a house full of civilians.

The initial story on Sunday was that the US troops tried to fire the rockets at suspected militants resisting the US-led invasion of the town. NATO claimed the rocket malfunctioned and veered 300 meters off course, destroying a house full of women and children…….NATO announced today that the HiMARS did not malfunction, and the missile hit the house deliberately. Officials are now suggesting that there may have been militants in or near the house, though there appears to be no evidence of that and only civilians were killed in the house’s destruction.

So it would appear people are heeding Ms. Dhadkha’s advice after all and prosecuting this war full speed ahead, civilian casualties be damned.  The other issue however is how does someone so well unknown get to put such a provocative op-ed in such a prestigious newspaper as the New York Times?  Working for a defense contractor helps, no doubt.

Killing Peace


By capturing a Taliban military official who expressed interest in negotiating with the President of Afghanistan AND the Americans, the US pretty much guaranteed their continued presence in the region for years to come. It couldn’t come at a worse time, what with NATO forces engaged in very vicious fighting in some areas of Afghanistan and racking up heavy civilian casualties, capturing Abdul Ghani Baradar and in essence making him a martyr, although he was captured alive, will underscore how allied forces can’t be trusted and by extension, the Karazai government as well. Pretty dumb move.  What’s worse is the excuse given for the capture of a man who wanted to cooperate with his perceived enemies.

Pakistan it seems felt left out of the negotiation process going on between the Taliban, Karzai and the US so they interjected themselves, read that sabotaged, into the peace process.  To add insult to injury, it appears the US doesn’t mind that they were shot in the back by an “ally”.  It’s clear Afghanistan is going to be Obama’s war no matter how many terms he serves.  It is another example of how America has ineptly handled opportunities to end  so many times in this euphemistically called ‘war on terror’.  They seem neither interested in ending the war or the terror it brings.

No Comment


Dissecting an Assassination


Dubai has given the international community a lesson in how the rule of law is supposed to be upheld when the sovereignty of a country is violated.  Reacting to the murder of a Palestinian figure last month, the chief of police for the Emirate of Dubai put on a text-book show of how you gather and present evidence to make your case to the world in calling for justice.  Without calling names but merely showing the facts, forged or fake passports and incontrovertible CCTV evidence from all over Dubai, Khalfan Tamim laid out all of the details surrounding the assassination/murder of Mahmoud al Mabhouh and in so doing gave the international community a methodical lesson in the rule of law.  It remains to be seen whether the international community will respond in the same measured and civilized manner that the UAE did  in making the case for the arrest of the 11 individuals.   Releasing the names, photographs and nationalities of all they say are responsible for Mabhouh’s death has forced the hands of those countries named, Ireland, Germany and the UK  to admit their  passport bearers were using phony passports, while France admitted it was “not able to confirm the nationality” of the one suspect said to have used a French passport.  Those admissions alone are enough to lead to the conclusion as Tamim correctly  has that the UAE is on the right track of the killers.  While Tamim did not accuse Israel of the murder others even some in Israeli media have certainly come to that conclusion and it’s a reasonable conclusion to make.  Israel has said repeatedly it will violate any and all international law and state sovereignty to kill its opponents, political or military, and it has been able to act on  that threat with impunity. Below are three parts of the case made by Dubai/UAE authorities.  It’s fascinating to watch and reveals the underbelly of an assassination that was this time ‘caught on tape.’

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Evil Personified


In an interview on ABC’s This Week, Dick Cheney loudly proclaimed, ‘I was a big supporter of waterboarding. I was a big supporter of the enhanced interrogation techniques’ and forever cast himself as an indictable war criminal who will never be indicted.   He has been assailed by the progressive side of the political spectrum for not only putting his foot in his own mouth but also for so clearly incriminating himself.  Cheney however knows he won’t be indicted and the simple reason is his logic is far more pervasive in the American body politic than any of us would care to admit.  It would appear the only opposition coming to his remarks is from people outside of government and politics who might possess the last vestiges of decency still have left in America; those people who believe in the American system and ideals and not those who merely spout them as a means to assuming a really nice paying job in government at taxpayer expense.

On all the websites that feature articles about Cheney so prominently one can always find letters or comments from people who ask why isn’t Cheney in jail, or why hasn’t he been indicted.  I myself have asked that question a time or two, but when reading another reporter’s take on Cheney’s remarks ran across this snippet

The “torture memo” and related legal opinions were considered so unprofessional that Bybee’s replacement to head the OLC, Jack Goldsmith, himself a conservative Republican, took the extraordinary step of withdrawing them after he was appointed in October 2003.

However, Goldsmith was pushed out of his job after a confrontation with Cheney’s counsel Addington, and the later appointment of Bradbury enabled the Bush White House to reinstate many of the Yoo-Bybee opinions.

Last month, Newsweek reported that Yoo and Bybee had avoided any disciplinary recommendations because a draft report by the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility had been rewritten to remove harsh criticism that the two lawyers had violated professional standards, softening the language to simple criticism of their judgment.

The weaker language meant that the Justice Department would not refer the cases to state bar associations for possible disbarment proceedings.

Despite the really sophomoric job that Yoo and Bybee did in supporting the Bush administration’s desire to torture, a job done so poorly that it was immediately tossed out by someone who replaced them, someone who was also a lawyer,  who knew the law and knew that the legal brief written didn’t have a leg to stand on and would not hold up to judicial review, members of the Department of Justice’s Office of Professional Responsibility would not phrase their criticism of such low standards in such a way as to punish Yoo and Bybee.  Instead those two gentlemen have gone on to lucrative careers, Bybee as a federal judge who might very well adjudicate terrorist cases he was responsible for jeopardizing with his justification for torture, and Yoo as law professor at UC-Berkeley without any consequence for advising a US administration to break the law!  That eventuality was made possible by career government officials who are not accountable to all the voices of disgust and anger at obvious Bush-Cheney illegality who have made it possible for all concerned to evade and escape punishment.  But there’s also this admission by Cheney himself

The reason I’ve been outspoken is because there were some things being said, especially after we left office, about prosecuting CIA personnel that had carried out our counterterrorism policy or disbarring lawyers in the Justice Department who had — had helped us put those policies together, and I was deeply offended by that, and I thought it was important that some senior person in the administration stand up and defend those people who’d done what we asked them to do.And that’s why I got started on it. I’m the vice president now — ex-vice president. I have the great freedom and luxury of speaking out, saying what I — what I want to say, what I believe. And I have not been discouraged from doing so.

The obvious implication is that Cheney’s reach inside the bowels of government is long; anyone not willing to accommodate those who have signed on to his belief in the validity of torture as a tool of foreign policy risks losing his or her job.  Similarly, if you are willing to cover for those who have broken the law there is some temporal reward for you.  Bybee was appointed to his seat as a circuit court judge  by Bush.  While he may be at the end of his political career Cheney still has  access to  many others who depend on politics, political good fortune, appointments and corruptible politicians and he seems quite intent on keeping those who agree with his torturous politics from any harm, professionally or legally, and they in turn are intent on protecting him.  So the fix is in and despite our protestations to the contrary, Cheney will not face prosecution because career diplomats, lawyers, intelligence agents and agencies have too much at stake and will do everything possible to protect themselves and their titular heads, i.e. the Cheneys and the Bushes,  Obama’s pledges of change and transparency nothwithstanding.  It’s sad that a constitutional lawyer now president like Obama has had his hands tied up by criminal politicians like Cheney who have no regard for the Constitution but such is the situation he finds himself.  Realistically, there is no way out; Obama’s position is intractable and for us progressives, the sooner we realize that the better.  Such is the cost of doing business with evil.

The Dance of Denial


It has been very revealing watching members of the Right deny the responsibility of their ideology for two tragic murders that have recently occured which captured the attention of the Nation.  First came the cold blooded slaughter of an abortionist, Dr. George Tiller in Wichita, Kansas followed up shortly by the brutal killing of a security guard at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC of all places.

Dr. Tiller’s death is troubling because he had been the target of anti-abortionists’ rage before and even the person charged with his murder had been known to stalk and even vandalize  the clinic where Tiller worked in the days preceeding his death.  Several people in the clinic have gone on record saying they knew about Scott Roeder’s attempts at disrupting the operation of the clinic and notified the proper authorities yet nothing was done to apprehend Roeder and possibly prevent Dr. Tiller’s death.  Such ineptness on the park of the federal beaucracy does not mean that even more layers of government are necessary to protect the citizens but rather irresponsible civil servants need to be replaced with more diligent and efficient ones.

The death of Stephen Jones at the National Holocaust Museum at the hands of a white supremacist is a tragedy underscored by the fact this murderer had a long history, easily documented that could possibly point to such a heinious crime being committed by his hand, age notwithstanding, yet he very easily walked down a metropolitan city street with a .22 caliber rifle and shot and killed an armed federal agent.  The reason why I mention again both of these crimes is because of the contortions those on the right are taking to distance their ideology from these two men who claimed to hold that ideology near and dear to them.   Political pundits are taking great lengths to say that these murderes aren’t from the right at all but rather from the left of the political spectrum, despite the fact they, the perpetrators clearly identify with the Right.  Punditry has managed to make actions a mark of political persuasion and not words and have told their admirers that death and killing are marks of the political left, terrorism marks of Muslims,  while the opposition the Right makes to anything is noble and necessary to save America from its enemies.

This was the kind of meme advanced by Dick Cheney, more recently, and the entire Bush administration before which reduced all argument to ‘with us or against us’ sloganeering.  In that small universe built by the likes of the triumphant Right there was nothing that we did to  those ‘against us’ that could be considered illegal or immoral behavior.   The concept of “exceptionalism” had been developed to the point that meant even the boundaries of legality didn’t apply to us or we made every attempt to legalize illegal behavior in order to legitimize our unlawful actions.  It was a vicious circle we continue to traverse by denying the rational of these latest criminals for their criminal behavior.

News accounts and political pundits have taken great pains to classify these murderers as lone gunmen who are completely separate and detached from the environment which they have enveloped themselves.  By doing so they hope to further distance themselves from the effect their rhetoric has on the people who listen to and subscribe to it.

In our system of law as it pertains to capital crimes unless there is a conspiracy there is no guilt by association. Conversely there is also no innocence by association. Christian leaders and conservative citizens in general have jumped at the chance to label Mr. Roeder a vigilante, a monster and things far worse.

Regrettably this tactic is only applied to members of the right who spent an entire two terms of a right leaning Republican administration to paint with the broadest of brushes entire groups of people based on the actions of individual(s).  This has been a common practice of demagoguery; the politics of the many condensed into the actions of the lone individual.  Cries of bombing the institutions that are symbolic of political ideology have given way to the absolute negation of ideology and their import on an individual’s actions.   Murderers on the right have suddenly appeared on our political landscape and killed their perceived foes because they were inherently defective and acting completely on their own, while the last eights years of a Republican administration were spent literally trying to root out whole communities of conspirators who lurked in every corner of our country waiting for a chance to reap their collective death and destruction at the earliest possible moment on an unsuspecting public that need the invasive protection of a government bureaucracy.

Finally the absence in many cases of condemnation from the progenitors of rightist motivation for such murderous tendencies is another characteristic of the sudden revisionism going on in Obama’s America.  During the Bush years people were always challenged to condemn the acts of coreligionist or fellow ideologues, today’s America sees there is no need for condemnation because such acts rarely accomplish anything and not worth the time spent doing so.

Condemning Roeder doesn’t add anything to the pro-life cause. Pro-abortionists are always quick to remind the Christians of Christ’s rule of not judging or condemning. Why add fuel to the fire by condemning Mr. Roeder, isn’t it just a matter of six of one and a half dozen of the other? Both Tiller and Roeder have One that will be their final judge and he is neither hot under the collar, biased or partial. Why don’t we leave all that to Him?

In many ways such ideas mirror the current glossing over done by the Obama administration vis-a-vis Bush Administration crimes of torture and violations of the US constitution and are entirely motivated by groups’ needs to absolve themselves of responsibilty for actions of the past or the future.

Award Winning Photograph


Taken by Mohammed Jadallah, 25, Reuters photographer in the Gaza Strip, below.

The Face of a Terrorist


I am intrigued by the failure of media to call this woman who attended a meeting that decided her fate as a professor and ended with her shooting and killing three people anything less than a terrorist.  It doesn’t help to read that she had killed before, her own brother in fact, and was a suspect in the attempted bombing of a Harvard University professor.

This is not some academic who snapped under the pressure of her job, going postal is what it’s usually called today.  This terrorist was a cold, calculated killer who managed to hide from her spouse the fact that she owned a gun, sat in a meeting with the victims of her rage and then tried to hide the evidence later.

Am I over the top?  Well yes and no.  The problem with this “terrorist” label is it was always meant to be pejorative in nature.

….terrorism is a  pejorative term. It is a word with intrinsically negative connotations that is generally applied to one’s enemies and opponents, or to those with whom one disagrees and would otherwise prefer to ignore. (…) Hence the decision to call someone or label some organization ‘terrorist’ becomes almost unavoidably subjective,  depending largely on whether one sympathizes with or opposes the person/group/cause concerned. If one identifies with the victim of the violence, for example, then the act is terrorism. If, however, one identifies with the perpetrator, the violent act is regarded in a more sympathetic, if not positive (or, at the worst, an ambivalent) light; and it is not terrorism.

The last sentence almost always defines the reaction of the media to acts of violence by people who resemble, think, act, behave like other members who write the stories about terrorism, so that Bishop’s descent into destructive behavior that began with the shooting death of her brother and ended in Huntsville, Alabama almost always gets written up, portrayed as the act of a desperate person who somehow lost it, and not like the act of a conniving, ruthless person intent on seeking revenge for a wrong that happened to them.  That sounds alot like the bin ladins of the world, doesn’t it?  We have no compunction calling them terrorists despite the baggage inherent in the term.  We shouldn’t let Amy Bishop off the hook either.

Taliban Regime Pressed bin Laden on anti-U.S. Terror


By Gareth Porter

Evidence now available from various sources, including recently declassified U.S. State Department documents, shows that the Taliban regime led by Mullah Mohammad Omar imposed strict isolation on Osama bin Laden after 1998 to prevent him from carrying out any plots against the United States.

The evidence contradicts the claims by top officials of the Barack Obama administration that Mullah Omar was complicit in Osama bin Laden’s involvement in the al Qaeda plot to carry out the terrorist attacks in the United States on Sep. 11, 2001. It also bolsters the credibility of Taliban statements in recent months asserting that it has no interest in al Qaeda’s global jihadist aims.

A primary source on the relationship between bin Laden and Mullah Omar before 9/11 is a detailed personal account provided by Egyptian jihadist Abu’l Walid al-Masri published on Arabic-language jihadist websites in 1997.

Al-Masri had a unique knowledge of the subject, because he worked closely with both bin Laden and the Taliban during the period. He was a member of bin Laden’s Arab entourage in Afghanistan, but became much more sympathetic to the Afghan cause than bin Laden and other al Qaeda officials from 1998 through 2001.

The first published English-language report on al-Masri’s account, however, was an article in the January issue of the CTC Sentinal, the journal of the Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) at West Point, by Vahid Brown, a fellow at the CTC.

Mullah Omar’s willingness to allow bin Laden to remain in Afghanistan was conditioned from the beginning, according to al-Masri’s account, on two prohibitions on his activities: bin Laden was forbidden to talk to the media without the consent of the Taliban regime or to make plans to attack U.S. targets.

Former Taliban Foreign Minister Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil told IPS in an interview that the regime “put bin Laden in Kandahar to control him better.” Kandahar remained the Taliban political headquarters after the organisation’s seizure of power in 1996.

The August 1998 U.S. cruise missile strikes against training camps in Afghanistan run by bin Laden in retaliation for the bombings of two U.S. Embassies in East Africa on Aug. 7, 1998 appears to have had a dramatic impact on Mullah Omar and the Taliban regime’s policy toward bin Laden.

Two days after the strike, Omar unexpectedly entered a phone conversation between a State Department official and one of his aides, and told the U.S. official he was unaware of any evidence that bin Laden “had engaged in or planned terrorist acts while on Afghan soil”. The Taliban leader said he was “open to dialogue” with the United States and asked for evidence of bin Laden’s involvement, according to the State Department cable reporting the conversation.

Only three weeks after Omar asked for evidence against bin Laden, the al Qaeda leader sought to allay Taliban suspicions by appearing to accept the prohibition by Omar against planning any actions against the United States.

“There is an opinion among the Taliban that we should not move from within Afghanistan against any other state,” bin Laden said in an interview with al Jazeera. “This was the decision of the Commander of the Faithful, as is known.”

Mullah Omar had taken the title “Commander of the Faithful”, the term used by some Muslim Caliphs in the past to claim to be “leader of the Muslims”, in April 1996, five months before Kabul fell to the Taliban forces.

During September and October 1998, the Taliban regime apparently sought to position itself to turn bin Laden over to the Saudi government as part of a deal by getting a ruling by the Afghan Supreme Court that he was guilty of the Embassy bombings.

In a conversation with the U.S. chargé in Islamabad on Nov. 28, 1998, Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil, Omar’s spokesman and chief adviser on foreign affairs, referred to a previous Taliban request to the United States for evidence of bin Laden’s guilt to be examined by the Afghan Supreme Court, according to the U.S. diplomat’s report to the State Department.

Muttawakil said the United States had provided “some papers and a videocassette,” but complained that the videocassette had contained nothing new and had therefore not been submitted to the Supreme Court. He told the chargé that the court had ruled that no evidence that had been presented warranted the conviction of bin Laden.

Muttawakil said the court trial approach had “not worked” but suggested that the Taliban regime was now carrying out a strategy to “restrict [bin Laden’s] activities in such a way that he would decide to leave of his own volition.”

On Feb. 10, 1999, the Taliban sent a group of 10 officers to replace bin Laden’s own bodyguards, touching off an exchange of gunfire, according to a New York Times story of Mar. 4, 1999. Three days later, bodyguards working for Taliban intelligence and the Foreign Affairs Ministry personnel took control of bin Laden’s compound near Kandahar and took away his satellite telephone, according to the U.S. and Taliban sources cited by the Times.

Taliban official Abdul Hakeem Mujahid, who was then in the Taliban Embassy in Pakistan, confirmed that the 10 Taliban bodyguards had been provided to bin Laden to “supervise him and observe that he will not contact any foreigner or use any communication system in Afghanistan,” according to the Times story.

The pressure on bin Laden in 1999 also extended to threats to eliminate al Qaeda’s training camps in Afghanistan. An e-mail from two leading Arab jihadists in Afghanistan to bin Laden in July 1999, later found on a laptop previously belonging to al Qaeda in and purchased by the Wall Street Journal , referred to “problems between you and the Leader of the Faithful” as a “crisis”.

The e-mail, published in article by Alan Cullison in the September 2004 issue of The Atlantic, said, “Talk about closing down the camps has spread.”

The message even suggested that the jihadists feared the Taliban regime could go so far as to “kick them out” of Afghanistan.

In the face of a new Taliban hostility, bin Laden sought to convince Mullah Omar that he had given his personal allegiance to Omar as a Muslim. In April 2001 bin Laden referred publicly to having sworn allegiance to Mullah Omar as the “Commander of the Faithful”.

But al-Masri recalls that bin Laden had refused to personally swear such an oath of allegiance to Omar in 1998-99, and had instead asked al-Masri himself to give the oath to Omar in his stead. Al-Masri suggests that bin Laden deliberately avoided giving the oath of allegiance to Omar personally, so that he would be able to argue within the Arab jihadi community that he was not bound by Omar’s strictures on his activities.

Even in summer 2001, as the Taliban regime became increasingly dependent on foreign jihadi troop contingents, including Arabs trained in bin Laden’s camps, for its defence against the military advances of the Northern Alliance, Mullah Omar found yet another way to express his unhappiness with bin Laden’s presence.

After a series of clashes between al Qaeda forces and those of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), the Taliban leader intervened to give overall control of foreign volunteer forces to the Tahir Yuldash of the IMU, according to a blog post last October by Leah Farrall, an Australian specialist on jihadi politics in Afghanistan.

In Late January, Geoff Morrell, the spokesman for Defence Secretary Robert Gates, suggested that the United States could not negotiate with Mullah Omar, because he has “the blood of thousands of Americans on his hands,” implying that he had knowingly allowed bin Laden’s planning of the 9/11 attacks.

emphasis are mine and suggest the Taliban was quite willing to give bin ladin over to any authority that would take him.

The Feminist Hypocrisy


While faux pas French feminist criticize the candidacy of one of their own because of an article of clothing, America’s other allies, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates have figured out how to make the best use of all of their human resources, men and women, those who wear a scarf and those who don’t but still want to serve their country.  Why a country would want to deny participation of one half of its citizens because of a scarf or a religious belief, even while the very same people want to serve, participate, protect is a study in racism and a mindset that takes people backwards in time we decided was counterproductive or worse.  No forward thinking country should countenance such a philosophy neither should a country support one that does.  A new America would do well to cast its lot with the likes of  Pakistan and the UAE and shun the homophobia that is overtaking Europe, and countries like France and Denmark and clearly and emphatically make a statement that the religious rights of a citizen of a country and that’s citizen’s desire to serve his or her country are the basis of solid, long lasting relationships America will honor.   Anything less than that is contributing more to the problem than to the solution.

France’s Fascism Rears it’s Ugly Head Again!


Twenty-first century France  has  replaced 20th century  Nazi Germany as  the European hotbed of political fascism, climbing on the backs of its Muslim population to claim this distinction much like German socialism climbed on the graves and skeletons of the European Jewish minority in the 30s and 40s.  Nationalism and secularism are the reasons given for this decision on the part of French government  to curtail the rights of a vibrant Muslim minority,  making a mockery of the French motto of ‘liberty, equality, fraternity’ while inciting its citizens to turn against one another based on the clothes they wear and the religion they profess.  While the tombstones of French Muslims are desecrated,  French feminists, who claim advocacy of  a woman’s right to choose, bemoan and denounce the candidacy of a French women who supports contraception and abortion rights because she chooses to wear a scarf on her hair!  The hypocrisy of the French position, so steeped in bigotry and irrational hatred have led Ilham Moussaid to point out

It is with great sadness that I watch … my life reduced to my headscarf. It is with great sadness that I hear that my personal beliefs are a danger to others while I advocate friendship, respect, tolerance, solidarity and equality for all human beings.

It would appear based on what she says above, Moussaid is more French than any of her detractors.  Touche!

Could the Government be Complicit in the 12/25 Terror Attack?


Even this early after the event there are attributed news stories to say certain officials in government wanted Umar AdulMuttalib  to enter the US, even though they knew of his terrorist ties.  The rational was his presence would lead actionable intelligence, bigger fish during his visit in America.   If  intelligence knew of his connection to Awlaki who it’s said is in Yemen, who could be bigger than that on the shores of America?  Frankly, the answer is no one, but what AbdulMuttalib’s failed attempt did do for the government was to allow intelligence officers to go on record saying, under certain circumstances, they could  and would target  American citizens for assassination no matter where they were in the world and continuing the previous administration’s assault on the US Constitution .  Building on the Bush administration’s precedent of proclaiming a war on terror, something the neocons have claimed Obama is no longer prosecuting,  the present administration has taken the step of reinterpreting the 5th amendment’s proscription of violating one’s life, liberty or property without due process, and in the process established future  precedent which could allow for extra judicial killing of any American, any where in the world.  For a government that finds its purpose in massive military expenditures and the perpetuity of conflict, the risks to the general public  of allowing Muttalib into the country  were dwarfed by the benefits to the government of a citizenry motivated by fear to allow constitutional and fiscal excesses .

Opposition in Today’s America


From the people who brought you this

and this………

bring you this:

One of the opening speakers for the convention was former House Republican Representative Tom Tancredo.  Not surprisingly Tancredo bemoaned the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States.  What was a surprise was the explanation Tancredo gave for President Obama’s election.  Tancredo claimed that President Obama was elected became we “do not have a civics, literacy test before people can vote in this country.”

Thus another attempt to de-legitimize Obama’s election as president is being carried out by the opposition party.

New Threat Source Identified at American Muslim Mosques


This alert dropped in my email box today and it’s worth getting out to the public in order to protect themselves from the next terror attack.
Latest news reports are that five terrorist cell groups have been operating in many of our masajid.  They have been identified as:  Bin Gossipin’, Bin Arguin’, Bin Fightin’, Bin Complainin’, and Bin Missin’.
Their leader, Shaitan Bin Iblis, trained these groups to destroy the muslim community. The plan is to enter the masjid disguised as Muslims and to work from within to discourage, disrupt, and destroy.
However, there have been reports of a sixth group. A tiny cell known by the name Bin Prayin’ is actually the only effective counter terrorism force in the masjid. Unlike other terrorist cells, the Bin Prayin’ team does not blend in with whoever and whatever comes along.

Bin Prayin’ does whatever is needed to uplift and encourage the muslim community.  We have noticed that the Bin Prayin’ cell group has different characteristics than the others. They have Bin Workin’, Bin Studyin’, Bin Fastin’, Bin Givin’ and Bin Patiently Perseverin’ in the cause of Allah!

NO MASJID IS EXEMPT!