Friday, May 22, 2015

Osama's book club

A few of you have asked for my thoughts about the recent reports concerning Osama Bin Laden's pdf library. His collection included offerings by Noam Chomsky, Bob Woodward, Greg Palast, Michael Ruppert, William Blum, David Ray Griffin (one of the few 9/11 CD cranks who can write coherently) and Eustace Mullens.

(Ah, Mullens! I could write a long, weird post about that creep. He fancied himself to be the Gore Vidal of the post-war Nazi set.)

The list also includes Manly Palmer Hall's mystical magnum opus, The Secret Teachings of All Ages. The original version of this book, published in 1928, was a physically huge and copiously illustrated volume which attempted to discover the core ideas uniting all religious systems. The version sold in bookstores nowadays gives you little idea as to what the author intended.

Interestingly, the first edition included a full-color painting of the prophet Mohammed, who is treated with great respect by the text. The painting shows Mohammed destroying the idols in Mecca -- which is very strange, since Muslims would consider this very painting to be a form of idolatry. Nevertheless, I have not heard of any complaints from Muslims about Hall's book. Could that illustration be the reason why Bin Laden took an interest in this work?

One of these days, I really must tell you about my visit to the library at Hall's Philosophical Research Center. A strange place. It had not changed one whit since the days when Sirhan Sirhan studied there.

Forgive me: I have digressed, as is my habit.

The question before us is a simple one: Is this list real, or is it a fiction cobbled together to associate certain authors with the hated Bin Laden? I'm not sure. Frankly, I would have expected Bin Laden's library to consist almost entirely of religious works with Arabic titles -- books that most Americans would consider unfamiliar and uninteresting. True, the library includes In Pursuit of Allah's Pleasure -- but Bin Laden's copy is an English translation. How likely is that?

There's something unpersuasive about this list. And there is something awfully strange about the timing of its release, so soon after the Hersh article.

Naturally, Fox News is going to town with this list: "Bin Laden's bookshelf stuffed with anti-American, conspiracy works by lefty US authors." One can only laugh at the spectacle of Fox making derisive use of the term "conspiracy," since Fox rarely goes more than 45 minutes without whipping up a conspiracy theory involving Democrats.

FrontPage offers up an even more striking exercise in hypocrisy: Bin Laden Liked the Same Books as the Leftist Nutjobs Who Defended Him.

(In the alternative universe of the right-wing nutcases, writers on the left defended Bin Laden. I don't know of any progressive who has done that. I do know that George Bush let Bin Laden scurry off to safety; for more details, scroll down a couple of posts.)

FrontPage also features a piece titled "The Problem with Jade Helm." In wingnutland, it's perfectly acceptable to dismiss Blum and Chomsky as conspiracy theorists, while simultaneously embracing one of the stupidest conspiracy theories ever concocted.

You may be interested in Phil Giraldi's take on the death of Bin Laden:
So what do I think is true? I believe that a walk-in Pakistani intelligence officer provided the information on bin Laden and that the Pakistanis were indeed holding him under house arrest, possibly with the connivance of the Saudis. I am not completely convinced that senior Pakistani generals colluded with the U.S. in the attack, though Hersh makes a carefully nuanced case and Obama’s indiscreet comment is suggestive. I do not believe any material of serious intelligence value was collected from the site and I think accounts of the shootout were exaggerated. The burial at sea does indeed appear to be a quickly contrived cover story. And yes, I do think Osama bin Laden is dead.
This sounds reasonable. But what happened to the body? Like Giraldi, I believe that Bin Laden is dead, but my belief is based on little more than a gut reaction. The unnerving truth is that we have no hard evidence.
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Comments:
No Qu'ran. I do remember, though, stories from the time about a Bible and some cannabis plants being found in his compound.
 
Everything we're told about Osama bin Laden is designed to shape his image. He's a concept as much as he is a man, and what our controlled media and corrupt intelligence agencies tell us is what they want us to believe, and that's anything that serves to justify their actions or advance their agenda.

Osama bin Laden is as real as the War on Terror, and both are brought to you by the same thugs.
 
Legislation introduced a few years ago allows the Pentagon to run psychological warfare operations domestically.
 
When it comes to foreign policy or war, fifty years of experience teaches me that there is absolutely no reason to believe any story put forth by intelligence agencies, the military or the State Department. The truth is of strategic value, therefore they feed us bullshit.
 
I imagine they thought about adding "Dreams from my Father" and then said, "Naah, that'd be just a bit too obvious."

Phil K
 
I don't know what official bin Laden photo the government has released in its latest propaganda offerings but if it's the same as the one showing on my local tv then it's from the 2007 fake bin Laden video first received by SITE and Rita Katz. The one photo that appears to show bin Laden in his Pakistan home is also a back shot showing only part of his face and doesn't look like him. But perhaps I've missed out on some of the Abbottabad photos.

One criticism of the 2007 fake video has intrigued me -- that the CIA (whoever...) had to wait until after bin Laden was dead before releasing that fake video because otherwise the real bin Laden could simply post a real video and the repercussions would be enormous. The force of the argument is that bin Laden was dead before 2007. I don't know when he died.
 
Manly P. Hall? Was Osama a freemason like Trotsky, Ben Franklin, and Harry Truman?
 
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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

In the news...

Let's take a quick look around...

Inconvenient democracy. Charles Murray, author of the racist "classic" The Bell Curve, has come out with a new diatribe outlining the problem with democracy: It provides an instrument by which poor people might benefit themselves at the expense of rich people. This is pretty much the same critique inherent in Mitt Romney's infamous "47 percent" remark and in some of Sharron Angle's pronouncements.

Murray suggests using the court system to subvert democracy. This trick will work, but only to an extent. The one-percenters are coming to understand that nothing short of revolution will get rid of the hated D-word once and for all.

Filibuster?
Rand Paul has threatened to semi-filibuster the reauthorization of parts of the Patriot Act. I hate to admit it (because I am hardly a Paul fan) but this is precisely the right move.

Privacy is not a simplistic right-v-left issue. On national security, the two parties have coalesced, despite much snarling rhetorical pretense to the contrary. Most people on the left support privacy rights. Unfortunately, the Democratic party is stuck with Obama -- and with Hillary Clinton, who will probably do no better on that topic. If, to placate critics within his own party, Obama makes some feints toward NSA reform, the neocon right will slam him as soft on terrorism -- because, y'know, he's a Muslim socialist Marxist Satanic atheist jihadi who hates baby Jesus and wants to eat your puppy.

Privacy has enemies and defenders within both parties. Like it or not, if we are going to defeat the NSA, we will need a left/right coalition of radical liberals and radical libertarians. (Of course, the libertarians will become our enemies again when the talk turns to reining in the power of the large corporations. This must be understood and accepted from the outset.)

The bulk telephone collection system will start to shut down this Friday if these Patriot Act provisions are not re-upped. Normally, I can't stand Rand. But in this case, I stand with Rand.

Terrifying: ISIS has taken the historic Syrian town of Palymra, where precious archeological sites are located.

If anything happens to those irreplaceable historical artifacts, blame Barack Obama and blame the neocons. Never forget that the neocons created ISIS as a proxy army to unseat Assad -- although perhaps it would be more accurate to say that Saudi Arabia and other Sunni powers were allowed to create ISIS and to fund the Nusra front. If Obama and Hillary Clinton had not signed onto this psychotic scheme for regime change in Syria, Palmyra would now be safe.

ISIS could be destroyed within weeks if Obama would simply work with Assad. Keep that last sentence in mind every single time this administration -- or its right-wing critics -- makes any sort of reference to ISIS.

Consider this metaphor: Suppose someone were to bring an untethered tiger into a schoolyard. If the beast begins to eat children, should you blame the tiger? Or do you blame the idiot who brought the tiger to that place?

If ISIS wreaks destruction upon Palmyra, blame Obama. More importantly, blame his neocon masters. They are the ones who brought an army of tigers into the Levant.

Chris gets it. To my surprise, Chris Matthews -- normally one of our most befuddled teevee pundits -- has finally started to figure things out. The other night, he weighed in on the current "Why Iraq" debate...
...the people who wanted that war in the worst ways, neocons so called, Wolfowitz, certainly Cheney.. it’s the same crowd of people that want us to overthrow Bashar Assad, .. it’s the same group of people that don’t want to negotiate at all with the Iranians, don’t want any kind of rapprochement with the Iranians, they want to fight that war. They’re willing to go in there and bomb. They have a consistent impulsive desire to make war on Arab and Islamic states in a neverending campaign, almost like an Orwellian campaign they will never outlive, that’s why I have a problem with that thinking. … we’ve got to get to the bottom of it. Why did they take us to Iraq, because that’s the same reason they want to take us into Damascus and why they want to have permanent war with Iran.
Bravo! He's asking the right question.

I'll add this: It is far too simplistic to define the term neoconservative as a synonym for "pro-Israel." The neocons are also pro-Saudi and anti-Russia. Indeed, the Saudis may be the driving force.

Eric Draitser refers to the war in Syria as the new Nakba.

Another day, another false flag: The Australian news show 60 Minutes argued that Vladimir Putin was responsible for the downing of Malaysian Airliner Flight 17. Unfortunately, the evidence adduced in that program seems to have been pure fake, as Robert Parry points out here and here.

The whole argument comes down to BUK missiles, which were supposedly fired from territory held by Russian-speaking Ukrainians fighting against the American-supported neo-Nazi government in Kiev. In fact, the fighting lines were very fluid at that time. At first, our mainstream media propagandists told us that only the Russians possessed such missiles -- but as noted in a previous Cannonfire post, the Ukrainians had such weapons, and had even used them in a previous incident.

As always, our first and best question is cui bono. How could Putin possibly benefit from the downing of a cvilian jet?
What I was told by a source briefed by U.S. intelligence analysts was that at least some of them – after reviewing electronic intercepts, overhead satellite images and other intelligence – had reached the conclusion that the shoot-down was a provocation, or a false-flag operation, carried out by a rogue element of the Ukrainian military operating under one of the hard-line oligarchs.
I'm reminded of the debate over the sarin attack in Syria, which the media tried to pin on Assad, even though he could not have benefited in any way from gassing civilians. We now know that, behind the scenes, there were those within the American intelligence community who understood the truth.

Of course, other people within the intelligence community have a phobic reaction to anything that reeks of honesty. Case in point...

Michael Morell's a real piece of work. Remember Mike? He's the former CIA guy we talked about in an earlier post. I suspect that he hopes to be running the Agency in a coming Republican administration. Here he is again, trying to rewrite history in all sorts of neoconnish ways...
SAM HUSSEINI: You’re not acknowledging that the Bush administration falsified information on Iraqi WMDs and other aspects in the build up to the Iraq war.

MICHAEL MORELL: I’m not acknowledging it because it’s not true. It is a great myth. It is a great myth that the Bush White House or hard-liners in the Bush administration pushed the Central Intelligence Agency, pushed the U.S. intelligence community and every other intelligence service in the world that looked at this issue to believe that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.
Oh, and that Downing Street memo? Another myth. No such memo ever existed. And all of that stuff you heard about Joe and Valerie Wilson? Again, pure myth. Those two individuals are figments of your imagination. Everything you've heard about Curveball is wrong. He was completely reliable. If you doubt his word, what's next? Are you going to doubt ANATOLY GOLITSYN? And Colin Powell didn't tell as single lie when he spoke at the U.N...

As he walked away from the interview, Morell was heard to mutter: And I'll be happy to see those nice young men in their clean white suits as they're coming to take me awaaaaayyy! Hee hee ha ha ho ho...
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Comments:
I'm not sure how you haven't figured this out yet, but the Bush family and the Clinton family serve the same masters, and like it or not, so does Obama.

As for MH17, it was a provocation not unlike, as you so deftly pointed out, the sarin gas attack in Syria which was supposed to trigger the "red line" response from the United States military.

Your assertion that Saudi Arabia is the driving force behind the chaos unfolding around the globe makes me wonder if it's still Joe Cannon writing this blog or if you've been replaced by some low-lever functionary sitting in an AIPAC cubicle farm vomiting up misinformation.

A cancer has taken hold within Western society, and that cancer thrives on deception, subterfuge, misdirection, and division. It's the same here as it is in the UK as it is in France, and as it is now in the Ukraine.

If enough people become aware of that reality then maybe something can be done to counter its nefarious agenda, otherwise said cancer may finally consume its hosts.
 
I find your coomment on the Saudis rather puzzling. Joe has considered them as partners of the west.
 
Britain is a country where for many decades any media organisation that said anything critical about the Saudi regime would get a hard rap over its knuckles.

This appears to be changing. Articles are appearing in particular about head-chopping.

Is the peninsula next in line for the destablisation that has been meted out to Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Libya and Syria?

On the other hand, maybe the real message is pro, given how cruelty and sadism are increasingly widely promoted in US and Far Eastern culture (lulz, Game of Thrones, etc.)

But when the Daily Mail (big columnist: Zionazi Melanie Phillips) talks about executions in Saudi, something is changing.

 
On Charles Murray:
It sure sounds like the echo of Samuel Huntington writing in "The Crisis of Democracy". I reviewed Holly Sklar's "Trilateralism" a couple of weeks ago. Huntington said there was "too much democracy". They seem to be pulling their heist off quite well; voter suppression, Citizen's United, gerrymandering voting districts...

http://www.covertbookreport.com/the-crisis-of-democracy/
 
Why is the list of ObL's library only being released now? Why is it full of works by Chomsky, Palast, Chossudowsky, Blum and so on. David Ray Griffin, FFS.

"A Brief Guide to Understanding Islam"! I suppose they thought they ought to put a couple of works by Arab authors on there.

A Congressional investigation into MK-ULTRA. Fritz Springmeier. Manly Hall?

What, no "Behold a Pale Horse"?

 
"It is far too simplistic to define the term neoconservative as a synonym for "pro-Israel." The neocons are also pro-Saudi and anti-Russia."

The kind of views that Jewish billionaires have of Russia are of major geopolitical importance.

Generally the Russians are seen as dogs...but some dogs are good dogs. Vladimir Putin, a top dog in a sense that Cameron and Obama have never been anywhere near experiencing, wanted to go and pay homage at Rothschild HQ in the City of London when he came to Britain. Good dog, Vladimir!

That was event number 17,462,108 that conspiratards don't mention because the sources they get their opinions from didn't draw it to their attention.

Solzhenitsyn's Two Hundred Years Together still hasn't been translated into English and is unlikely to be.

Some of the said billionaires have a lot tied up in Russia and therefore...remain tied to that country. Others, e.g. Leonid Nevzlin, couldn't give much of a shit.

The Saudi regime remains backed pro tem only. It is backed because Israel is backed.

We may well live to see many of the princes hanging onto helicopter skids within the next 5 years.

Meanwhile, Barack Obama: "I criticize Israel because I care about it and the Jewish people".

This kind of talk is so revolting. Why not "I criticise the Nazis because I care about the Nazi regime and the German people"?

It is racist talk. An Israeli Jew who drops white phosphorus on Gaza doesn't lower himself as a Jew; he lowers himself as a human being. I recall that when Zionazis forced a Palestinian Arab to play his violin at a checkpoint in the West Bank, one Zionist commentator said he opposed that sort of action because it demeaned him as a Jew...and the sufferings of the Jewish people and the holocaust and blah blah hypocritical self-obsessed 'I always put my ethnoreligious community first' shitty blah...there's something wrong in the head with people who 'comment' in such a way. He just couldn't be a human being for 2 minutes and listen to himself. He couldn't de-master-race himself and start thinking about another human being having his face rubbed in the shit by fascists. Those terms - terms which are fucking obvious to anyone who doesn't speak with forked tongue when he says he's opposed to racism - wouldn't mean anything to him.

Meanwhile...the US authorities tell us Obama bin Laden had a copy of Secrets of the Federal Reserve by that nutcase Eustace Mullins!
 
That crazy assed Osama probably didn't even believe in fractional reserve banking, the terrist. And apparently he never heard of Sinclair Lewis: It Can't Happen Here, John Dos Passos: the U.S.A. trilogy, or John Steinbeck: Grapes of Wrath. That's some real radical stuff.
 
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Letting Bin Laden go

You would think that this would be bigger news in the U.S., but it isn't.
Donald Rumsfeld had the chance when he was US defence secretary in December 2001 to make sure Osama bin Laden was killed or captured, but let him slip through his hands, a Senate report has found.

The report by the Senate foreign relations committee is damning of the way George Bush's administration conducted the aftermath of its bombing campaign in Afghanistan, saying it amounted to a "lost opportunity".
But even this may be a cover story. The important documentary 9/11: Press for Truth (included below) offers good evidence that many Al Qaeda fighters were allowed to escape to Pakistan -- or were actually flown to Pakistan.

This film should have changed this country's perceptions of political reality. That's why covert operatives, following the usual CIA playbook, made sure that enormous publicity was given to all of the more nonsensical theories of 9/11, such as that "bombs in the building" crap, or the "missile hit the Pentagon" bullshit, or the assertion that Bush knew in advance. (God, if I have to hear one more word about Building Fucking Seven...!)

Important note: I know that some of you "sealions" out there are dying to debate me. You won't be published, or even read, so don't bother writing. I know how you fuckers are: If I allow even one of you to get a foot in the door, dozens of you will charge right in and try to take the place over. That's what happened back in 2006. It was infuriating to wake up each day afraid to look at my own damned website.

All of that "controlled demolition" crap was an obvious disinformation campaign intended to distract the public and to destroy the credibility of anyone addressing the real issues. (And if you want to know what I consider "the real issues," watch the film embedded below). Just because you were dumb enough to fall for The World's Stupidest Conspiracy Theory doesn't mean that I owe you a platform. It's a big internet, and you have many other places to go.

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The Tora Bora situation is even worse than it was portrayed in Press for Truth.

The Christian Science Monitor had some good reporting that may still be available on the net.

The US assigned only 36 soldiers to guarding Tora Bora. There were more journalists than American soldiers up there.

Most of the guard duty was assigned to two local warlords. A CSM reporter overheard al Qaeda representatives buying letters of transit from the warlords in the lobby of a Jalalabad hotel. At one point the warlords' men held US soldiers at gunpoint while al Qaeda personnel moved their position.

There were two trails out to Pakistan, but only one of them was bombed. The trail crossed a highway, so troops could have been brought up to that point from J'bad, but it wasn't done.

A Delta Force guy writing as "Dalton Fury" claimed that he had proposed that his team be permitted to assault Tora Bora from the back side, but his plan was rejected by higher-ups.

A team of British soldiers claimed that they were half an hour behind Osama when he was on the move. They said they stepped aside to let the Americans have the honor of capturing him, and the Americans did nothing.

A Fox news military analyst. Col. David Hunt, claimed in October of 2007 that the military had spotted Osama a few months earlier moving south from Tora Bora--and had done nothing.



 
The best research resource on 9/11 is the historycommons.org website's Complete 9/11 Timeline, all of it sourced in mainstream news.
 
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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Max, about your dad...

You've probably already seen or heard about Hillary's correspondence with Sidney Blumenthal (whom I've admired since before you heard of him). (You know, because of his work on the JFK assassination.) (Which he won't talk about now.)

When we first learned about these messages, we were led to believe that Blumenthal had developed something akin to an off-the-books intelligence network for Hillary. Well, that's not really true. 

The topic was Libya...
Much of the Libya intelligence that Mr. Blumenthal passed on to Mrs. Clinton appears to have come from a group of business associates he was advising as they sought to win contracts from the Libyan transitional government. The venture, which was ultimately unsuccessful, involved other Clinton friends, a private military contractor and one former C.I.A. spy seeking to get in on the ground floor of the new Libyan economy.
This is the sort of thing conservatives find INCREDIBLY SHOCKING when Dems do it but INCREDIBLY NOT-SHOCKING when Republicans do it.

Basically, a retired Army major general named David Grange joined forces with a fundraiser named Bill White to do business in Libya, a country about which they knew little beyond the fact that the recent overthrow of Khaddafy had hit the reset button. Blumenthal was an adviser to White's company, as was the CIA guy, Tyler Drumheller, whom the NYT describes as "colorful."

The NYT does not tell you that Drumheller is best-known for trying to warn the Bush administration about the now-notorious Iraqi defector known as Curveball. As you know, Curveball's yarn about Iraqi WMDs turned out to be shit; unfortunately, the Bushies wanted shit, which means that they ignored Drumheller -- who also debunked the Niger yellowcake claims.

I like this guy. And I do not often say those words about CIA alums. I've written about him previously; see here.

(Do you think that he and Blumenthal ever talked about the Great Unpleasantness in 1963?) (Nah, probably not.)

When Blumenthal was writing about the Bush administration's WMD lies for Salon, he relied on Drumheller as a source. I presume that somewhere along the line, the two men decided to do some business together.

Libya had just gone through a massive upheaval, and the Americans hoped to provide humanitarian work. Those plans fell apart because the Libyans were too paranoid and too factionalized.

Nevertheless, the affair put Blumenthal in a position to learn what was what and who was who in Libya. And he passed some of this information on to Hillary, who was then the Secretary of State.

I guess that the Republicans will argue that the Hillary should have relied entirely on assessments from the CIA, but the CIA gets a lot of its info from American businessmen operating in foreign countries, so I don't see what the big damned deal is. If Hillary placed some value on insights offered by a friend who happened to be on the scene, what's the problem? That sort of thing has gone on for many years. Many centuries

Here's the only part that bugs me:
In an August 2012 memo, Mr. Blumenthal described the new president of Libya, Mohamed Magariaf, as someone who would “seek a discrete relationship with Israel” and had “many common friends and associates with the leaders of Israel.”

“If true, this is encouraging,” Mrs. Clinton wrote to Mr. Sullivan. “Should consider passing to Israelis.”
Wow.

The NYT neglects to mention that Sidney Blumenthal is the father of Max Blumenthal, the author of Goliath and one of the people I most admire. The younger Blumenthal is the single most effective and hard-hitting critic of Israel in today's world. Of course, he has been denounced as a dangerous anti-Semite -- but those denunciations have become so routine, formulaic and silly that they have lost their former sting.

Yet if the NYT is to be believed here, Sidney Blumenthal, father of Max, functioned as a kind of go-between linking the freshly-installed Libyan leader to Israel.

Maybe Magariaf was Israel's guy all along? It should be noted that Israel played a behind-the-scenes role in the overthrow of Khaddafy.

When the western-educated Magariaf (who would be in charge of Libya for only about a year, resigning in May of 2013) spoke at the United Nations in September of 2012, he did offer some fairly harsh criticisms of Israel:
We condemn Israel's measures in attempting the judaize the occupied land and its violations of human rights, international humanitarian law. This calls on the international community to take its responsibility to taking strong measures to put an end to Israeli aggression and assure a full protection to Palestinians as well as a radical solution to the question of Palestine...
His idea of a "radical" settlement is the two-state solution, which isn't really that radical. (It isn't ever going to happen, but it isn't radical.)

Interestingly, he went on to condemn Assad's regime in Syria in no uncertain terms...
The regime in power is repressing its citizens violently, shedding their blood and honor. This has caused the regime to lose its legitimacy...
First: The main rebels in Syria were the Nusra Front, the Syrian branch of Al Qaeda. Second, it has been widely reported (by Sy Hersh and by others) that, during the chaos of the Libyan revolution, CIA agents in that country transfered Libyan armaments to the Syrian rebels. Most of that weaponry ended up in the hands of Nusra and a hardy group of fun-seekers now called ISIL.

So why was Magariaf sticking his nose into the Syrian situation, anyways? He had his own fractured country to worry about.

At this point, I should note that Max Blumenthal is surprisingly terrible on Syria.

A historical note: In his book, former Mossad spy Victor Ostrovsky revealed that Israel -- using a propaganda transmitter called a "trojan" -- framed Libya for the 1986 bombing of the La Belle nightclub in Germany. This frame-up led to a massive American airstrike against Libya, resulting in much loss of life.

Magariaf and his successors know about this. I find it strange that everyone in Libya is now willing to let bygones be bygones.

Here's where things get really weird.

Just last month, there was a rather vague and strikingly under-reported story, in which Israeli jet fighters took out a warehouse in Libya. Get this: The warehouse supposedly stockpiled arms from Iran -- arms meant for those awful, awful Palestinians in Gaza.

(Because, as everyone knows, Libya is such a convenient stopping-off point for shipments going from Iran to Gaza. Hey, it's right on the way!)

This story is quite difficult to accept at face value. Frankly, Iran hasn't been doing very much to aid the Palestinians. They don't need weaponry right now, although they do need pretty much everything else.

This report reminds me of that recent yarn about Iranian arms going to the Houthis in Yemen. Remember that one? It turned out to be bullshit. (Everyone in Yemen is already armed to the teeth. They have no food, but they do have AK-47s.)

As you know, Libya has become a mess, and civil war looms. The elected general assembly was overturned by Islamist parties led by Nouri Abusahmain, a Berber in a business suit who claims to be unaffiliated with any political party. Whatever else you may say about him, his man has enough problems just trying to hold his nation together. The idea that he would countenance the stockpiling of Iranian arms in his country strikes me as ludicrous. Syria and Iran are allies, and we've already seen the Libyan view of Syria.

So what really happened? What did the Israelis bomb, and why did they bomb it? And why are the reports about this incident so iffy and amorphous?

We may return to that conundrum at another time. This post is supposed to be about Hillary Clinton and Sidney Blumenthal.

To sum up: I simply don't see how she did anything wrong here. Two old friends shared news with other. Simple as that. It's no biggee.

The real story here would be Sidney Blumenthal's possible links to the Israelis. I'd like to learn more about that.

So what's the real point of this latest Republican pseudoscandal? Maybe they intend to link Max Blumenthal to Hillary Clinton. Months ago, I predicted that the Republicans would try to do just that.
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Comments:
I am extremely confused about the criticism of Clinton foundation foreign donations. I don't see what the problem is . The foundation is a global organization which benefits covered countries from all over the planet. It's main source of income is coming from donations. Why is it for the US money to shoulder the cost of the work the organization does. Shouldn't we encourage anyone with money from everywhere be that a person, country or corporation to give?.
As for the Libya thing in the end no one seemed to have benefited directly from it, nor anything decisions were made to that end. I guess the strategy is to keep throwing things at her hoping something might stick
 
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Monday, May 18, 2015

He's in!

Oh joy! Bobby Jindal is running for president. At least, he formed an exploratory committee. And here is the Facebook page, which is a true watering hole for Republican intellectuals. Sample comment: "The constitution is the law of OUR land not sharia law" -- Cindy Yount.

I wonder how many Republicans will demand to see his birth certificate? His parents had come to this country less than six months before Bobby's birth. In other words, he was conceived outside of this country by non-citizens. And his real first name is Piyush.

Did you know that "Piyush Jindal" is an anagram for "PLY JIHAD IN U.S."? It's also an anagram for "Hindu jail spy" and "Puny jail dish."

Hm. If you ask me, this story sounds fishier than Finding Nemo. Was Bobby Jindal's suspiciously timed birth part of an Illuminati plot? Or a Jesuit plot? Or a Jesuminati plot?

More-or-less seriously, I'd like to know how the birthers will justify being paranoid about Obama but not about Jindal. You can't say that Republicans don't have standards. Hell, they have double standards.

Do you recall the brouhaha over Steve Emerson's claim that there are no-go zones in Britain where Muslims aren't allowed to enter? Even after Emerson backed down, Jindal continued to repeat that assertion. Then he went to the UK and a gave the Brits a chance to laugh in his face. Which I hope they did.

From the New Orleans Times-Picayune, April 26, 2012:
Louisiana ranks dead last on a new composite index comparing how the fifty states fare on measures of economic vitality, education, health, crime and governance. The "Camelot Index" is issued annually by Federal Funds Information for States, a non-partisan subscription service created by the National Governors Association and the National Conference of State Legislatures, which tracks and reports on the fiscal impact of federal budget and policy decisions on state budgets and programs.
The "healthy people" ranking was based on age-adjusted death rates, infant mortality rates and the percentage of people without health insurance. Massachusetts ranked first on this measure, while the report noted that,"Mississippi and Louisiana again rank #50 and #49 respectively, both performing poorly on all three measures.
The "crime-free state" ranking is a simple combination of the violent crime and property crime rates. Here, Louisiana ranked 48th, ahead of only Tennessee and South Carolina. The most crime-free states are North Dakota, New Hampshire, Idaho, Vermont and Maine.
Louisiana ranks #49 in births to unwed mothers and #50 in single-parent families...
The FFIS rating on "prudent state government" notes that, "a Camelot-like state has low taxes, low government debt, large state budget balances and the ability to maintain services without tax increases." Here North Carolina ranked first, Illinois last, and Louisiana finished toward the bottom at 43.
Last year, Jindal was pegged as the least-popular governor in the United States.
Jindal has a 35/53 approval/disapproval number, putting him 18 points under water, a figure only better than Illinois’ Pat Quinn and Rhode Island’s Lincoln Chafee, who are not seeking re-election.
His harshest critic may be the demon Pazuzu, who vomited pea soup on Jindal's sportscoat during an exorcism.

In short and in sum: Bobby Jindal exemplifies the modern GOP. My Republican friends, please choose him as your nominee. The power of Christ compels you!
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Bobby Jindal was an anchor baby?!
 
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Sunday, May 17, 2015

How to write a national anthem



In 1943, the USSR held a competition in which composers were invited to come up with a new national anthem. The video above will introduce you to Shostakovich's entry, which he turned into an orchestral showpiece in 1960. This is GREAT. I can't believe it didn't win!

The winner of that contest was Alexander Alexandrov, and I'm sure that you are now wondering what his anthem sounds like. Go here or check out the video embedded below. This work isn't bad, as national anthems go, and the performance is as stirring as you could wish for -- but if you're inclined to dismiss the whole thing as bombastic, I can't really disagree. Arguably, bombast is what you want in a national anthem.

Good try, Alex, but my vote goes to the Shostakovich. Way better. If Stalin had chosen this one, the Soviet Union would have lasted longer.

My all time favorite national anthem remains "La Marseillaise," especially the over-the-top version composed by Hector Berlioz, also embedded below. (Remember what I said about bombast? That applies here.) Berlioz wrote this work in 1830. I've read that he wanted to put on a charity concert to benefit the song's original composer, Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle, who was then living in poverty.

The Cannon translation of "La Marseillaise" may be found here. It is, of course, superior to all previous translations. (Compare it to the one by Percy Bysshe Shelley, which sucks.)

As an adopted son of Baltimore, I probably should not confess that I have mixed feelings about "The Star-Spangled Banner" -- although I do recommend a tour of Fort McHenry, if you happen to be in town. I am told that in 1981, Philip Glass attempted to write a new anthem, and the result had two sopranos chanting RED WHITE BLUE RED WHITE BLUE RED WHITE BLUE for 45 minutes. I'm not sure if that story is true.

At any rate, here is the official (but inferior) anthem of the late USSR:



And here is Hector Berlioz demonstrating what a full-body orgasm of hypernationalism should sound like:



This performance features soprano Sylvia McNair. She's a great singer, but her French is...er...questionable.
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Some background: 1943 was the year that the Soviet bosses shut down the Communist International (Comintern) and cosied up to the US bosses, announcing that the law of value operated in the USSR (which made the front page of the New York Times) and starting to help the US set up the United Nations. Bye bye Comintern in Moscow; hello UN in New York. The following year Soviet representatives were at Bretton Woods. These developments are closely related.

Before 1943 the Soviet bosses didn't have a national anthem. The song sung at state occasions was the International, which is close to the exact opposite of a national anthem.

(Already by the early 1940s the Comintern had been an organ of the Soviet rulers for a very long time. Those with an interest in the Leninist left may be interested to know that Amadeo Bordiga, the Italian nutter, suggested that the USSR should be ruled not by the local CP but by the Comintern - in which he held a leading position. His followers in Italy, although they had their own regroupment, made absolutely sure they didn't call it a party, or even something on its way to becoming a party, until after the Comintern was officially dissolved in 1943. Don't tell me that's not religious. It's textbook sedevacantism.)

The Soviet national anthem had one set of words from 1944 to 1956 and another, sung in your video, from 1977 until 1991. Between 1956 and 1977 it was played without words.

You call the piece shown in the second video the "anthem of the late USSR". I'm not sure whether you know that the music was readopted - with new words of course - in Putin's Russian Federation in 2000.

Personally I think it's a great and stirring piece of music and I prefer it to the Shostakovich. Mind you, the Horst Wessel song is also quite stirring, so please don't get me wrong :-)

BTW I am reading Simon Sebag Montefiore's two-part biography of Stalin. I didn't think it would be very good, because he's a posh boy with royal connections who could obviously get any book contract he wanted and has never had a rejection slip from a publisher in his life. But in fact both books are superb and Montefiore writes very intelligently about both Stalin and the rest of the ruling clique in the USSR. He could say more about the 'Doctors' Plot' (did the Zionists kill Stalin? but he's a Zionist) and about Beria's connections (was he a British agent? but Montefiore lives in Britain). I'm not trying to detract. The books are head and shoulders above anything else on Stalin.
 
The Montefiore book is even better than Yaraslovksy's "Landmarks in the Life of Stalin"? WOW!

(I once received a very old copy of that book as a gag gift. I kept it on the coffee table next to a copy of "Psychopathia Sexualis.")

My ladyfriend preferred the official anthem to the Shostakovich. You and she are both crazy. Dmitri rules.

I'm surprised that the right-wing conspiracy buffs didn't do more with the presence of Soviets at Bretton Woods. And now Putin and the coming BRICS alliance are hammering nails into the coffin of the Bretton Woods world. How's that for irony?

Your absolutely right about the Internationale. I always loved that tune. Very bouncy. Sounds good on a kazoo. (Try it.)

The guy who wrote the music died in the 1930s, and his family was scooping up royalty money until 2007. Every time someone whistled a few seconds of the thing in a movie, the lawyers sprang into action: "PAY UP."

How's THAT for irony?
 
By the way, I should add that the "doctor's plot" was paranoid horseshit. Until just now, I never heard the the theory that Beria was a British agent. That, too, seems like paranoid horseshit.
 
I wouldn't be so fast with either the 'Doctors' Plot' or the Beria allegation.

The 'Doctors' Plot' connects with the Slansky Trial in Czechoslovakia, a country through which an awful lot of weapons had just been shipped to the Zionists.

And after being one of the first leaders to 'recognise' Israel, Stalin may well have been about to reverse policy towards that regime and also order a large-scale internal deportation of Jews.

There are Zionists today who boast that their fellows killed Stalin - and not just the Chabadniks who boast that they did it using black magic at Purim.

I'd say most of the Soviet leadership from the 1920s through to the 1950s were right to be 'paranoid'.

Being a British agent was the official reason that Beria was executed.

A highly respected MI5 Soviet Studies academic I once knew said that he thought the allegation against Beria may well have been true.

Beria pushed for unifying Germany and his position was welcomed by the Brits.

He is also said to have pushed for a very large-scale economic liberalisation in the USSR.

It was the rejection by the GDR elite of the liberalisation that he tried to bring about in East Germany that sparked off the 1953 uprising. He was arrested a week later. Army leaders brought dozens of tanks into Moscow as backup.

British intelligence made contact with Beria back in 1918 in the Caucasus. Not that that proves anything, as he could have been a double (or a higher number) - there were a lot of them about - but still...

I haven't read Beria's son's book, but this review by a leading Brit Sovietologist points up how the western academic view of Beria is curiously changing, towards framing him not as Stalin's Himmler (which is in many ways accurate) but as a kind of de-Staliniser manqué.
 
She really does have an awful accent!

I LOVE the words used now for the Russian National Anthem -- just loaded with love for their Motherland from all these different people. Here is the most stirring version I've ever seen/heard: sung by 1000 kids from all over Russia as a finale to a choral concert that was itself just incredible.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=La-ife1GT4s
 
b: Still sounds like paranoid silliness to me. But I do tend toward the idea that Beria killed Stalin. So if Mister B WAS a British agent, score 1 for MI6.

prairie: Thank you so much for that link!
 
That video wrongly translates Отечество as 'Мotherland' rather than 'Fatherland'.

It's interesting that the 1992-2000 song has the word Родина ('rodina', where a person is from, where they were born, their homeland, the closest Russian word to 'motherland') whereas the current one has Отечествo (otechestvo), which means 'fatherland' and tends to glorify the state.

Putin's a real man, so they tell me. Been playing hockey recently. Scored 8 goals. Imagine Yeltsin skating from one end of the pitch to the other!

Paul Robeson sang a terrible English-language version of the Stalin lyrics, glorifying Stalin.

I come from England, a country which isn't independent and hasn't got an official national anthem.

If it did have one, THE HELL WITH the thuggish 'Land of Hope and Glory' ("God, who made thee mighty, make thee mightier yet"...

...AND ALL HAIL William Blake's 'Jerusalem'! When the score was written for this, shortly after the British Christian-monarchist conquest of Jerusalem from the Ottoman Muslims in 1917, the monarchist Tory scum dared to change Blake's "these Satanic mills" to "those Satanic mills"!

Blake's 'Jerusalem' is the only cultural item I'm aware of that's highly respected both by Tory scum and by utopian socialists such as me.

'Jerusalem' may be the only anthem in the world that talks about the past and future but not the present, which it refers to only negatively - once you've corrected the dirty Tory word fiddle, that is.

Word is still out on what Blake meant by "Satanic mills". He didn't mean industrial factories, and the idea that he was thinking principally of a flour mill near where he lived is highly contrived. My favoured interpretation is that he meant Oxford and Cambridge universities.

Meanwhile, here's the unofficial Cornish national anthem. Scary stuff - all about a 20,000 strong Cornish army invading London. Nothing about how nice Cornwall is!
 
The best anthem is Hatikvah, which is about what has been recognized as the greatest gift since Pandora opened her box, hope.
 
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It's a mysterious world...

The Abu Sayyaf assassination has turned into a genuine mystery. We will return to that topic soon enough. In the meantime, let's look at a few other noteworthy items...

GOP candidates embrace Obama's foreign policy while pretending to attack it.  Yes, they do assail Obama's policies, but their criticisms are ridiculous. They don't disagree with Obama's overall goals; they say that Obama has been insufficiently monstrous in his pursuit of neoconservativism. Example:
Former Sen. Rick Santorum's answer for handling Iran, one of four countries on the U.S. list of nations accused of repeatedly supporting global terrorism, was to "load up our bombers and bomb them back to the seventh century."

Earlier in the day, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush praised U.S. commandos who had reportedly killed the IS leader, described as the head of oil operations for IS. Bush gave no credit to Obama, whom Bush accused of allowing the rise of IS by pulling back U.S. forces from Iraq.

"It's a great day, but it's not a strategy," Bush told reporters in eastern Iowa.
Santorum is simply a subhuman brute, and there is no reason to counter his ape-like howlings. But Bush's bizarre statement must not go unchallenged.

ISIS rose up not because Obama withdrew from Iraq, but because the jihadis received funding and aid from our buddies in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey. I cannot believe that those countries created ISIS against our wishes. ISIS functions as our proxy army, fighting the kind of fight desired by thugs like Rick Santorum.

For the same reason, we have been quietly aiding Al Qaeda (now called the Nusra front) in Syria.

It is true that the US did not expect ISIS to veer into Iraq. The jihadis went into that country because a power vacuum created an opportunity. The person who made that country so unstable was not Obama but Jeb Bush's idiot brother. The invasion, not the belated pull-out, is what set the stage for the rise of religious extremism.

If there were any kind of true democracy in this country, one would expect the Republicans to scream: "Obama is helping Al Qaeda and ISIS come to power in Syria!" That would be a powerful line of attack. That strategy would insure a GOP win in 2016.

But no. The Republicans won't say that. They would rather lose the election than tell the truth about what's going on in Syria. What does that fact tell you about modern America?

And that brings us to...

The right attacks Hillary from the left. I'm glad that the NYT wrote about this. It is not surprising to see right-wing front groups use social media to foment distrust of Hillary Clinton. But it is surprising to see Republicans do so while pretending to be Elizabeth Warren supporters.

Hillary is a legitimate target for progressive criticism. But an inauthentic critique is pure deviousness, and always to be condemned.

Even when they play the wolf-in-sheep's-clothing game, the Republicans won't slam Hillary for her neoconservative foreign policies. The GOP wants to maintain the bipartisan consensus on neoconservativism -- and they will do nothing to endanger that consensus, even when doing so might give them a tactical advantage.

And that brings us to...

Hersh and Osama.  Several substantive new pieces look at the Hersh version of Osama Bin Laden's death. Jon Schwarz in The Intercept notes that Politico published a critique by CIA spokesman Bill Harlow without bothering to mention Harlow's record of deception.
In 2003, Harlow himself participated in a massive conspiracy to lie to you about Iraq’s purported WMD. Indeed, he personally engaged in some of most egregious government dishonesty on the issue when he blatantly lied about a Newsweek story published just before the war that strongly suggested Iraq had no remaining banned weapons. Since leaving the CIA, Harlow has co-written three books with former top CIA officials, all of which defend the agency’s use of torture, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein recently accused Harlow of making “false charges” about the Senate’s torture investigation.
Harlow exemplifies the reasons why so many Americans feel that they cannot trust their government.

Neither can we trust our media. Both Pando and the Columbia Journalism Review have offered excellent overviews of mainstream journalism's deceptive attacks on Hersh.

You will also want to check out John Gardner's piece on "The Bin Laden Murder Mystery," published a few days ago in The Consortium. Gardner doesn't believe in the Hersh scenario, but he also doesn't believe in the official story.

To his credit, Gardner does not feel obligated to concoct a theory as to what really happened. He simply does not buy any of the stories we have heard so far.

Gardner correctly feels that Pakistan must have known about where Bin Laden was staying, and he believes that the Pakistani military must have colluded in the raid itself. Moreover, nothing about the "burial at sea" story adds up. Why no video? Why no photos? Why no first-hand testimony?

Here's why Gardner thinks that the Hersh version is as problematical as the White House version...
Why would senior Pakistani ISI officials possibly permit their obvious collaboration be exposed by having U.S. Navy Seals pull off such an improbable stunt that would render their purported lack of involvement implausible?

And, more: Why would they possibly concoct, as Hersh says they and the U.S. government did, a cover story that Bin Ladin was killed by an American drone strike somewhere in Waziristan? Why not simply take him to Waziristan, leave his dead body, let Americans know the coordinates, and have the real smash-and-grab take place there?
I don't know what actually occurred, but it seems clear that there was a lot of last-minute improvisation. The US and the Pakistanis simply did not have their shit together.

To be honest, I've seen no proof that Bin Laden was killed at all.

There were other people in that household; they were whisked away by the ISI. I understand that they were sent off to Saudi Arabia. Why have none of the witnesses been interviewed?

Have you read any "I saw what really happened" accounts?
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You must except Rand Paul who correctly pointed out Killary was to Libya what Bush was to Iraq.
But since Rand made clear he wants to continue the NSA, just rein it in a little, he's still closer to Hillary than to his dad who wants to abolish it.
So I wouldn't walk around the block to vote for either of them.
 
I wish I could prove it, but there's little doubt in my mind that the reason we didn't see bin laden death photos is because he was killed with 7.62 mm rounds not .227.

The other reason is that the corpse had freezer burn.

The last is in jest but I spoke to someone who claimed that a confidante had seen the photos and that indeed it did not look like a SEAL round. Now, it's also possible they let those guys use what they are comfortable with and the AK47 is a very reliable weapon ...but at the end of the day, anYone who believes the official story is a fool.

Joe I WONt vote for Hillary because she went along with the the charade. I also believe her husband is ultimately responsible for the atrocity at Mount Carmel.

Joe why do you never mention Jim Webb?
 
I know I sound like a broken record when I come here and say this all the time, but if the shoe fits...

The current global power structure is such that candidates who honestly espouse and pursue policies designed to improve the quality of life for the masses at the expense of the ruling elite need not apply.

The ruling elite control finance, industry, government, media, and the military by placing agents sympathetic to the elite agenda in key positions of power and authority. Not only are they able to control and compromise potentially damaging investigations, they also control the media which insures that no muckraking journalist are informing the proletariat of their machinations. Those quasi-mainstream outlets which ostensibly represent the opposition point of view are more often than not just limited hangouts wherein left gatekeepers insure that the goalposts of acceptable discourse never stray into "conspiracy" territory.

From time to time a politician or media personality will manage to infiltrate the first line defenses the syndicate maintains and will threaten to draw attention to the myriad falsehoods and lies the ruling elite depend upon to maintain their status, and those individuals quickly learn exactly how expendable they truly are and how ruthless those in power had to be not only to gain their power, but also the lengths to which they'll go in order to maintain said power.

I could repeat the laundry list of influential individuals who have conveniently met untimely demises to the benefit of the deep state, but we all know who they are.

This is why we don't get the candidates we'd like to see. This is why Elizabeth Warren refuses to run for office. This is why the worst of the worst succeed in politics and media: because anyone with a conscience or empathy is DOA because the crime syndicate has gone all in in terms of seizing power and control, and they cannot afford any legitimate scrutiny of their actions.

Anyone with enough information or influence to legitimately threaten to expose our criminal overlords should make sure their affairs are in order.
 
James, you raise some good points. My sense of it is that society is becoming increasingly tribalized, all the while living off the fiction that the broader democratic mechanisms -- including an independent media -- are still functioning. They're not. People now belong to multiple tribes and clans that form alliances: the political insider tribe, intelligence services tribe, police and military tribes, financial and media tribes. Their success -- financial and political -- is dependent on others in their local alliances. The overarching idea of democracy as the will of the people, a Congress that truly represents them, a healthy regulatory oversight of financial markets, an independent judiciary and media, have all been hollowed out. We are dealing with public theater.

I still believe that the most signal domestic US event in recent times was the nation-wide shut down of the Occupy movement in just one week in Nov 2011. Everything was on show: the collusion of the intelligence services, major corporations and government agencies; the spurious excuses of 'public health and safety'; the complete lack of protest or alarm by the media. It's over with. The will of the people is done. All we are left with is case management by tribal elites. There is a deep moral emptiness at the core of US and allied nations that sees the only way forward as militarism and police state. This is all they have left to offer.
 
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Saturday, May 16, 2015

The hidden truth about Abu Sayyaf

Days after Seymour Hersh offered his alternative version of Bin Laden death, we are told that a strikingly similar raid took out an hitherto little-known ISIS figure named Abu Sayyaf.
Abu Sayyaf is not a name familiar to many ISIS watchers and may well be a pseudonym. Sources familiar with the operation said he also was known by the names Abu Muhammad al Iraqi and Abd al Ghani.
(Until now, the name Abu Sayyaf ("Father of the Sword-bearer") was primarily associated with a group based in the Philippines. Intriguingly, a leader of the group -- Isnilon Totoni Hapilon -- has pledged loyalty to ISIS. A long time ago, we heard reports that Terry Nichols, an associate of Tim McVeigh, traveled to the Philippines and met with members of Abu Sayyaf.)

My first thought: Why did Obama send in the special forces to take out this guy? Why not use drones? It's hard to escape the suspicion that this operation is pure theater: Take that, Sy.

My second thought was even more outlandish. What if "Abu Sayyaf" is a fictional character? What if his death is pure Wag the Dog?

Although that kind of speculation can be a lot of fun, this story indicates that "Abu Sayyaf" is the war name for a Jordanian cleric named Mohammed al-Shalabi. You don't have to do much Googling to pick up this guy's trail. Here's an interview with the man published in 2014. If you mentally substitute a few terms, he sounds very much like one of our Dominionist Christians.

In this report, al-Shalabi responds testily to the claim that Salafist jihadis are loyal to Israel. Al-Shalabi is mentioned briefly in this interesting article, which discusses the growing jihadist movement against the government of Jordan -- a development rarely discussed by the American media.

So the man is real enough. I've found no independent evidence that he helped to direct "oil, gas, and financial operations," but I see no pressing reason to doubt that claim.

(Of course, the Islamic State could not profit from oil and gas unless it had buyers, which means that ISIS must be the friend of our friends in Turkey. Funny how our news media never talks about that...)

Here's a rather revealing report from 2011, before ISIS congealed into tangibility. As you might expect, Al Shalabi is portrayed as the leader of the jihad movement in Jordan.

But there are some genuinely surprising aspects of this man's backstory...
Abu Sayyaf was sentenced to death in 2006 because of riots he was accused of leading in 2002 against Jordanian authorities. After being pursued by security forces for months, he was ultimately arrested. In 2007 a special pardon commuted his death sentence. He was instead meant to serve 15 years of hard labor in prison. However, in June 2011 a new special pardon permitted his release just four years into his new sentence (Filmirsad.com August 29).
Remind you of anyone? My thoughts immediately went to the suspicious way Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, currently the leader of ISIS, was allowed to walk away from American custody.

I'm no expert on Jordan, but what I have read indicates that the place isn't run by sissies. The security services there can be downright paranoid. If they perceive you as a genuine threat to the kingdom, you may very well spend the rest of your life in the kind of cell that Ben-Hur's mom called home.

So why was this guy -- the leader of a full-stop insurrection -- singled out for special treatment? First his death sentence goes away, then he just walks out of the prison gates. Buh-bye.

Obviously, this man had an angel on his side. The Powers Above had a job for him to do.

"Abu Sayyaf" took that fateful stroll in 2011, at the very time when the neocons instigated their plans to overthrow the government of Syria. I've already cited this story from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, which opens with these words:
Yesterday, we had a look at the southern front in Syria and noted its intimate connections to Jordan—both through tribal and cultural ties—and through the involvement of King Abdullah's General Intelligence Directorate, because of Jordan's role in channeling U.S. and Saudi support to the rebels.

Another factor linking Jordan to the war in Syria is the presence of Jordanians, and Palestinians from Jordan, as foreign fighters in the Syrian jihadi factions. The Jordanian preacher Mohammed al-Shalabi, better known as Abu Sayyaf, recently claimed that there are a thousand Jordanians fighting in Syria.
In recent times, we've seen a flurry of articles about Jordan's recent anti-ISIS actions, particularly after ISIS militants burned alive a captured Jordanian pilot named Muath al-Kaseasbeh. (See, for example, this hilarious piece of right-wing agit-prop, which is countered here.)

Yes, the Jordanian government is clearly pissed off at ISIS -- now. And for good reason: The jihadis have been stirring up trouble throughout the country. The Islamic State knows how to work social networks like Facebook, and their messages tend to get a lot of "likes" from the Jordanian populace.

But the situation was quite different just a few years ago. Do you recall this Reuters story from 2013, which derived from an investigative piece in Der Spiegel?
Americans are training Syrian anti-government fighters in Jordan, the German weekly Der Spiegel said on Sunday, quoting what it said were participants and organizers.
Here's a telling bit:
"The Jordanian intelligence services want to prevent Salafists (radical Islamists) crossing from their own country into Syria and then returning later to stir up trouble in Jordan itself," one of the organizers told the paper.
That's why the Jordanians told the Americans that only members of the Free Syrian Army could receive training in their country. Surprise: Quite a few of these FSA fighters later joined ISIS.

As we have seen in previous posts, the FSA is a bad joke. The boundaries separating the FSA from ISIS and the Nusra front (a.k.a. al Qaeda) are much more amorphous than our mainstream media would have you believe. FSA warriors fight alongside the jihadis, and have given arms to the jihadis. The FSA captured David Haines and handed him over to ISIS for execution. The FSA, ISIS and Nusra are three interwoven threads in the same garment.

Think about it: If Assad falls, who will take power in Damascus? Not anyone who favors democracy and liberty and religious tolerance. The jihadis will assume full control. That is an incontestable fact. We've even seen a smattering of propaganda pieces written to prepare us for the day when ISIS rules all of Syria.

So who is kidding whom? When Jordan helped us train those fighters, they did so as part of a larger plan to make the Islamic State a reality.

I believe that the Jordanians released Mohammed al-Shalabi in 2011 as part of the neocon plan to oust Assad. I doubt that anyone foresaw that the maniac battalions might turn on Iraq and Jordan itself.

The Jordanians did not understand what they were getting into when they signed onto little scheme -- a scheme which was no doubt concocted in (or at least approved by) Washington. Given the spread of insurrectionist sentiment throughout his country, King Abdullah II must be feeling rather miffed right now.

The people who came up with this plan were very foolish. If you play with fire, expect to get burned. If you whip up an army of religious fanatics, don't be surprised when the maniacs slip out of their tethers.

The neocons gave us "Abu Sayyaf" and now the neocons taketh away. Blessed be the name of the neocons.
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Comments:
Sloppy translation. "Abu" means "Father (of)" in Arabic. It's a cognate of the Hebrew "Av" (as in "Avraham"). The name doesn't mean "swordbearer", it means "father of the swordbearer".
 
You're right, Prop. I've updated the story to reflect this.
 
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Friday, May 15, 2015

World's funniest headline

Judith Miller And James O'Keefe Discuss Ethics In Journalism

Coming up next: Ultron and the Joker discuss ways to reform the criminal justice system.
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Let's play the blame game

Paul Waldman, writing in The American Prospect, makes the same point that Ray McGovern has made in a recent interview. Now that the Iraq war is entering the "historical revisionism" stage, we must not allow the Republicans to get away with saying that the debacle was based on "faulty intelligence."

Although the polite political class wants us to pretend that the Downing Street memo never existed, I refuse to go along with any exercise in self-deception. Remember these words?
Bush wanted to remove Saddam Hussein, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.
Waldman:
You can't understand the decisions that led to the Iraq War without grasping just how incredibly politicized the intelligence process had become in the months before the war. Every piece of intelligence that passed through the American government was subject to different interpretations depending on who was looking at it, and throughout there was intense pressure on people within the intelligence community to deliver to the senior people in the Bush administration—the president, the vice president, the secretary of defense, and others—exactly what everybody knew they wanted.

And what they wanted was war. Today, Republicans act as though the intelligence community burst into the Oval Office and said, "Mr. President, Mr. President, Iraq is a terrible threat, and if we don't invade we're doomed!" and then Bush said, "Gee, if you say so, I guess we'd better." But it worked the other way around.
Fixing the intelligence is the reason why the White House went after Joe Wilson and his wife Valerie.

Fixing the intelligence was the primary reason why torture became standard practice.

It's also the reason why the government accepted the claims of an outrageously dubious defector who was given the all-too-appropriate code-name "Curveball." As the CIA's Jim Angleton discovered a long time ago, you can rewrite reality itself if you can induce (or force) people from the enemy camp to say what you want them to say.

(Desperate to "prove" his bizarre theory that the Sino-Soviet split was a commie ruse, Angleton developed his own Curveball-esque defector named Anatoly Golitsyn; Angleton also engineered the torture of a more honest defector named Yuri Nosenko. It's almost as though W and Cheney worked from that playbook.)

The current attempts at Iraq war revisionism stem from Jeb Bush's changing stances. At first, he said that the war was a good thing, then he hilariously sputtered Let's not play the blame game. At the same time, he tried to hide behind the soldiers, pretending that any critique of his brother's war was a critique of those who had fought on America's behalf. (The Republicans used that tactic shamelessly throughout the early years of the war.)

Jeb finally admitted that the decision to invade was a mistake. I don't think he'll ever admit that it was a crime -- yet so it was.

Another point: We need a lot more honest discussion about news management throughout the pre-invasion period. Such a discussion could shed light on the media manipulation going on right now.

As I've mentioned in a couple of posts, CBS News conducted an early poll -- published (if memory serves) on September 17, 2001 -- which revealed that only three percent of the American public believed that Saddam Hussein was responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Two years later, some 70 percent considered Saddam Hussein responsible. As late as 2007, 50 percent of the population was saying the same thing, even though Bush had, by that point, admitted on camera that Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with the attack.

This sort of thing does not happen by accident.

It should be noted that at no time during the 2001-2003 period did Bush ever say explicitly that Saddam bore responsibility. Our compliant news media can be manipulated into telling a lie that the government itself does not officially endorse.
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On the one year anniversary of the 9-11 attacks, Bush dropped the name Osama Bin Laden from his vocabulary and began repeating the name of Saddam Hussein. It was a clever manipulative psychological ploy that substituted Saddam for Bin Laden in the minds of the American public.
 
Of Jeb Bush's 21 foreign policy advisers, 17 of them are from the Bush administration. A key figure is Paul Wolfowitz. David Corn gives some more details of this, along with a fascinating account of Wolfowitz's adoption of the conspiracy theories of academic Laurie Mylroie which were fixed around the figure of Saddam Hussein. It's an interesting read.
 
W must have put Iraq and 9/11 in the same sentence a hundred times. He didn't say they did it, but a lot of people "learned" to associate the two...
 
W would say things along the lines of "The road to our war on terror in Iraq began on 9/11," allowing the intellectually lazy to connect the dots for themselves.
 
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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Want to pay more for water? PRIVATIZE!

Bigwigs involved in the water industry -- yes, it's now an industry -- met in South Carolina recently, where they hobnobbed with public officials. Their big goal was to privatize water in this country.
While less than a quarter of Americans get their water from privately managed systems today, businesses specializing in water, wastewater and sewage system maintenance are using the momentum of the crisis to acquire parts or all of municipalities' water systems, and business-friendly politicians are greasing the grab. Last year was one of the busiest yet for the private sector: Highlights include legislators in Pennsylvania and New Jersey making it easier for municipalities to hand off water systems to the private sector (in the latter case, without a public referendum), and in San Antonio, the seventh most populous city in the country, city leaders inked a deal to allow Abengoa Water USA3 and Bluewater Systems to operate the second-largest water main system in the city.
Unfortunately, privatized water will cost more.
John Hoy, president of Utilities Inc. of Florida, was more blunt.

What it comes down to is, how do we educate, and prep customers for understanding what the value of water is?" Hoy said. "There is the belief that water should be cheap. We are fighting the perception that anything over $30 a month is a lot. [Water] continues to be the lowest utility bill. We have to go up for that. We have to do more to change belief that we can keep water rates down for all the needs coming."
Haven't the libertarians told us a zillion times that privatization is always cheaper? During one of the 2012 debates, Mitt Romney insisted that government is always less efficient.

Then why should we pay more for privatized water?

I'm reminded of the health care debate, when we were told that offering a government funded public option would have constituted unfair competition. Really? If Libertarian theology is correct, then competition between private and public options would be perfectly fair, and the private health plan would win every time. Why were the libertarians afraid to put their belief system to the test?

One of these days, I wish a Libertarian would just fess up and tell the truth:

"Look, you know all that stuff we said about privatization making everything cheaper? It was all bullshit. Privatization means profit, and profit is a big chunk of the price you pay. Take out the profit and the price goes lower. The truth is, we just want your fucking money."

Added note: Yes, I am aware the competition is supposed to result in lower prices. Competition isn't a factor when it comes to utilities. To an increasing extent, competition isn't a factor period, due to the growth of monopolies in so many areas of life.
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Check out the Water Wars in Bolivia [circa 2000] to see where this leads. Large corporations have been buying up water resources for over a decade. Climate Change [which the GOP insists is a delusion] is a marketing dream--drought, agricultural collapse, less clean drinking water = mega profits for the "Free' vampire market that we all know and love. Check out the water shortages in the ME and think about the endless conflicts, how water shortages have exacerbated the struggles.

Water is the new oil. Oh happy days!

Peggysue
 
Laissez faire free market economies have never produced the results their proponents claim. Never.
The best days of the US economy featured high taxation rates, strong unions, and plenty of government intervention. To ridiculous schemes to privatize basic utilities I say: remember Enron.
 
While there may be competition for the contract - once awarded it immediately becomes a monopoly. That usually needs government 'help' ($$$)to continue to make huge profits. I live where the ferry system was privatized in a public / private situation, and guess what? Lower wages for employees (whose earned money was then spent here), and you guessed it, large increases in fares and LESS service. Oh, and yes, those regular government handouts to keep the profits rolling in...It's a great way to milk the greatest tap of wealth there is left - the taxpayer.
 
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Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence

I probably should save this post for the weekend, when we deal with non-political subjects -- but if I wait another couple of days, I may forget. So...what the hell.

Many of you have heard scientific-minded blokes invoke Carl Sagan's famous dictum: Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Am I the only person to notice that this axiom is utterly non-scientific?

Problem 1: Since we have no universally agreed-upon definition of the extraordinary, we must admit that extraordinariness is a purely subjective criterion. In essence, Sagan is admonishing you to render judgment arbitrarily and capriciously.

Problem 2: Why, exactly, would extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence? All we have is Carl Sagan's say-so. I admired Sagan, but I never saw any reason to grant him the final word on all matters touching on philosophy.

Why knows? Maybe we can get through life just fine if we regard ordinarily-persuasive evidence as good enough for an extraordinary claim. Conversely, maybe ordinary claims deserve extraordinary evidence. Take my ex, for example. She was the controlling type. If I told her that I left the house to buy some groceries, she would presume that I was lying unless she saw the store's surveillance footage. Although most people would say that she was being a total pain in the neck, one could argue that her attitude was based on sound epistemological reasoning.

At any rate, we need something more than one man's word.
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I think it is incompletely stated. How about "Extraordinary claims refuting the conventional wisdom require detailed evidence to overwhelm the historical bias".

shirt

 
Agree with Shirt. The more outlandish the claim, the more evidence you need to counter conventional wisdom/knowledge. Seems intuitive to me.

Peggysue
 
There is no metric to measure terms like "outlandish" or "conventional." Therefore, you are applying subjective assessments to a supposedly scientific endeavor.

And there is nothing measurable or provable about your intuition, Peggysue. So once again, you are being anti-scientific. You are asking me to accept your individual intuition as an absolute truth.

See? I can keep this sort of thing up all day. It's fun!
 
Epistemology is a fascinating discipline and a real rabbit hole. Most of us live in a world of social epistemology where we simply conform to the conventional wisdom of our group and smugly demand impossible proofs to any challenges to our "common sense". Sense, of course, is not rational. It can be distorted through an array of forces--most importantly, confirmation bias.

Dr. Sagan's aphorism is indeed puzzling coming from someone normally so profoundly rational. Perhaps it was a stoned expression of exasperation with persistent stupidity.




 
What is this? A circular word argument??? No, you cannot measure my intuitive sense, anymore than you can measure or prove my love for my family, my children.

If you strip Sagan's statement down, we get: claims require evidence. The word 'extraordinary'-- which seems to bug you--speaks to the degree of proportion between the said claim and evidence required to support/prove that claim.

I picked up a You Tube discussion here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I5AadTj7ixc

Frankly, I didn't realize there were that many Sagan doubters/refuters out there. Do I think Sagan's statement undermines his life, his work? Not even close!

In fact, I don't understand what the damn argument is about.

Peggysue
 
Peggysue, I was being a bit whimsical here.

Read the comment by Anonymous above. He seems to have been on the same wavelength.
 
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A candidate who tells the truth



Say what you will about Bernie Sanders, but he's the only presidential candidate you're likely to hear who can speak for over 45 minutes without telling one lie. Don't believe me? Listen to this one. I dare you to find one falsehood. (You may want to use a free app like Freemake to convert this video to mp3, if you want to listen to it while walking or driving.)

I'm still under the gun, work-wise, so Bernie will have to do the talking today.
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Thanks for this, Joseph.
Now...isn't he the best possible choice as the Dem. nominee!? Please help to make sure he gets a fair run at it by countering, where you can, any damning negativity about his chances.
 
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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Sy, Osama, Obama, the CIA...and a personal apology.



Sorry, folks. I had hoped to write a long piece about the controversy over the death of Osama Bin Laden. But work is pressing and deadlines approacheth. To make matters infinitely worse, two people in my household developed computer problems which required attention. One was a laptop issue -- I hate working on laptops -- and the other was the networking problem from The Hell Beneath Eight Other Hells.

(It can be satisfying to bring an old desktop system back to life. After a guy reaches a certain age, the idea of tossing out aged equipment carries a kind of symbolic terror. But desktops are big and roomy and easy to tinker with, while laptops are compact and fussy and no fun at all.)

I will have more on the Hersh/Obama/Osama controversy soon. In the meantime, enjoy Hersh's appearance on Democracy Now (embedded above), in which he responds to his critics.

Morell. I've been noting the prominence of this guy in the anti-Hersh backlash coverage. Former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell says that Hersh got it all laughably wrong.

When I fist read that story, my immediate response was: Could Morell have been Hersh's source? Morell certainly was in the right position, and his current harsh denunciations of Hersh may be a way of deflecting suspicion. If this whodunnit were an Agatha Christie story, Poirot would take a very close look at a certain former Deputy Director who doth protest too much.

Morell's sympathies are clearly with the GOP, which means that his current attacks on Hersh don't stem from any concerns about protecting the Obama administration. But the former CIA officer probably does care about protecting the US-Saudi relationship. Hersh, in a little-noted (but extremely important) passage, says that the Saudis directly funded Osama Bin Laden during his Pakistan sojourn. The Powers-That-Be can't let that claim congeal into accepted wisdom, even though the claim is probably quite true.

I also happened to glimpse Morrell on the local Fox News affiliate, spewing the usual Foxshit about -- you guessed it! -- Benghazi. Yes. That again.

And the guy has nothing new to say. He's still repeating the usual Fox drivel about the post-attack "talking points" given to Susan Rice before she appeared on teevee, as if anyone cares.

Did Morell happen to mention that the person who gave Rice those talking points was neocon favorite Victoria Nuland? No, he did not. Nuland is part of the Kagan clan, a.k.a. The Untouchables, and Morell's refusal to mention her name says much.

For a long time, I have believed that the Romney campaign was coordinating with an intelligence insider who helped to concoct the whole Benghazi/"Innocence of Muslims" imbroglio. (In previous posts, we traced the dissemination of that video to a small troop of deniable intelligence assets seeking to undermine the current administration.) You may recall that, back in 2012, this humble blog offered some speculative commentary about Romney's links to the intelligence community. I don't know if Morell was the one who acted as Romney's mole, but if you share my belief that such a mole existed, then you may want to place Morell on the list of suspects.

Watch this guy. Maybe he hopes to become CIA Director (or DNI) after a Republican victory in 2016. He's definitely a "playah."
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I watched an NSC spokesman on MSNBC, poo-pooing the Hersh article. He was all non-denial denials, and made strawman arguments misconstruing what Hersh actually said.

For example, he asked why would the Paks set themselves up to be embarrassed like that, i.e. by how easily we got past their air defenses? But they didn't. We embarrassed them against their wishes with our hastily made-up cover story.

Scenario (per Hersh):

1. Paks had been hiding and protecting bin Laden all along, with Saudi funding.

2. We found out (via the walk-in). We were pissed.

3. They said, Okay, sorry, well, you guys can come and get him, but take him far away and then announce you had droned him in the mountains of Afghanistan. Don't mention he was ever here.

4. The extraction went awry - copter crash and all - and impossible to hide. So we came up with another cover story on the fly, with Obama embellishments. THAT story embarrassed the Paks.

5. As embarrassing as the story was, it was better than allowing the Saudis to find out the Paks had cooperated with us. So the Paks had to just fuss and bear it.
 
All quite true, Michael. The anti-Herhians are responding not to anything that Sy actually wrote, but to a fictional story that they want us to THINK that Sy wrote.

That said, do keep in mind that there were initial reports in the Pakistani press that the ISI helped with the raid.

Also keep in mind the fact that Goss said that he knew where Bin Laden was in 2005. Osama was almost certainly on Pakistani soil at that time. Hersh was told that the Pakistanis captured Bin Laden in 2006. I'm thinking that they captured him, and placed him close to their main military training academy, in order to protect him -- and to prevent an American attack.
 
I wonder if the so-called "snub" by the Saudis this week has anything to do with their finding out via Hersh's article that they had been bamboozled by the US and Pak.
 
I wonder if the Pakistanis had bid Laden since 2005-6, and THOUGHT they were hiding it from us, but in fact we knew all along and we hid from them that we knew.

Why? Because it was convenient for US for bin Laden to stay missing for a long time. Remember how Bush gleefully said he didn't give an F about bin Laden's whereabouts? And the time before that, when we had him in our gunsights but the Pentagon refused to give the kill order until some impossible hurdles were cleared?

Double-cross, triple-cross. That's the nature of the business it seems.

And we still don't know the role the Saudis played in 9-11. But Bush and Cheney knew, eh?
 
Eh...no. W would not have looked like an idiot on that day.

And with that, the subject is CLOSED. No matter what you write, there will be no further 9/11 discussion here. I am sorry, but hard experience so dictates.
 
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