By Chris Mondics
Inquirer Staff Writer
Jul. 17, 2009
Sen. Arlen Specter suggested during Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation hearing
yesterday that the Obama administration sought to block Supreme Court review
of lawsuits blaming Saudi Arabia for the Sept. 11 attacks for fear of offending
an important ally.
The remark came as the Pennsylvania Democrat questioned Sotomayor on whether
the Supreme Court, by deciding ever fewer cases, had effectively ducked important
constitutional questions left unresolved by lower courts.
In a July 7 letter to Sotomayor, Specter also raised the issue of Saudi involvement
in the attacks, asserting that “plaintiffs’ counsel had developed considerable
evidence showing Saudi complicity.”
Law firms representing thousands of victims of the 9/11 attacks and their families,
along with insurers and other interests that suffered economic losses, sued
the government of Saudi Arabia and senior members of its royal family, alleging
that they financed Islamic charities that, in turn, bankrolled al-Qaeda.
On June 29, the Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of lower-court rulings
that the Saudi government and members of its royal family cannot be sued under
U.S. law for allegedly supporting terrorism. Shortly before that ruling, the
Obama administration filed a friend-of-the-court brief urging the court to reject
the case, in part because the administration had not given its sign-off.
The Center City law firm Cozen O’Connor represents most of the insurers in
the case and led the Supreme Court appeal. The South Carolina-based firm Motley
Rice represents thousands of 9/11 victims and their… Continue reading
The Corbett Report
17 July, 2009
Government sources immediately began blaming North Korea for the recent cyberterror attacks on South Korea and the U.S., despite having no evidence to back up those claims. Now, an examination of the evidence by independent computer experts show that the attack seems to have been coordinated from the UK. The hysterical media coverage in the attack’s wake, however, echoing the government line that it was likely the work of North Korea, served to cement in the minds of many that this was an act of cyberwarfare.
The idea that this surprisingly unsophisticated attack could have come from a well-organized, hostile state or terrorist group comes as a blessing in disguise to those groups, agencies and advisors who have been calling for greater and greater federal snooping powers in the name of stopping a “cyber 9/11″ from happening.
The “cyber 9/11″ meme stretches back almost to 9/11 itself. Back in 2003, Mike McConnell, the ex-director of the National Security Agency (NSA), was fearmongering over the possibility of a cyber attack “equivalent to the attack on the World Trade Center” if a new institution were not created to oversee cyber security. Since then, report after report has continued to use the horror of 9/11 as a way of raising public hysteria over “cyber terrorism,” a subject more often associated with juvenile hackers and lone misfits than radical terrorist organizations.
The real reason behind the invocation of 9/11 in the context of “cyber terror”… Continue reading
by Jon Gold
July 11, 2009
A long time ago, I spent some time looking into the flights that took members of the Saudi Royals, as well as members of the Bin Laden family out of the country in the days, and weeks after 9/11. Here is what I found.
According to Richard Clarke during his testimony (yea, yea, call me lazy for linking to Michael Moore’s site) at both the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the 9/11 Commission Hearings, he stated the following:
“Now, what I recall is that I asked for flight manifests of everyone on board and all of those names need to be directly and individually vetted by the FBI before they were allowed to leave the country. And I also wanted the FBI to sign off even on the concept of Saudis being allowed to leave the country. And as I recall, all of that was done. It is true that members of the Bin Laden family were among those who left. We knew that at the time. I can’t say much more in open session, but it was a conscious decision with complete review at the highest levels of the State Department and the FBI and the White House.” Testimony of Richard Clarke, Former Counterterrorism Chief, National Security Council, before The Senate Judiciary Committee, September 3, 2003.
“I was making or coordinating a lot of decisions on 9/11 and the days immediately after. And I would love to be able to… Continue reading
June 28, 2009 (updated July 7, 2009)
by Mark H. Gaffney, Author of The 9/11 Mystery Plane and the Vanishing of America
The evidence was crucial because it undermined the official explanation that Hani Hanjour crashed American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon at high speed after executing an extremely difficult top gun maneuver. But to understand how all of this played out, let us review the case in bite-size pieces…
In August 2004 when the 9/11 Commission completed its official investigation of the September 11, 2001 attack, the commission transfered custody of its voluminous records to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). There, the records remained under lock and key for four and a half years, until last January when NARA released a fraction of the total for public viewing. Each day, more of the released files are scanned and posted on the Internet, making them readily accessible. Although most of the newly-released documents are of little interest, the files I will discuss in this article contain important new information.
As we know, the 9/11 Commission did not begin its work until 2003——more than a year after the fact. By this time a number of journalists had already done independent research and published articles about various facets of 9/11. Some of this work was of excellent quality. T he Washington Post, for example, interviewed aviation experts who stated that the plane allegedly piloted by Hani Hanjour [AA Flight 77] had been flown “with extraordinary skill, making it highly… Continue reading
Court won’t hear Sept. 11 claims vs. Saudi Arabia
June 29, 2009
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court has refused to allow victims of the Sept.
11 attacks to pursue lawsuits against Saudi Arabia and four of its princes over
charitable donations that were allegedly funneled to al-Qaida.
The court, in an order Monday, is leaving in place the ruling of a federal
appeals court that the country and the princes are protected by sovereign immunity,
which generally means that foreign countries can’t be sued in American courts.
The Obama administration had angered some victims and families by urging the
justices to pass up the case.
In their appeal, the more than 6,000 plaintiffs said the government’s court
brief filed in early June was an “apparent effort to appease a sometime
ally” just before President Barack Obama’s visit to Saudi Arabia.
At issue were obstacles in American law to suing foreign governments and their
officials as well as the extent to which people can be held financially responsible
for acts of terrorism committed by others.
The appeal was filed by relatives of victims killed in the attacks and thousands
of people who were injured, as well as businesses and governments that sustained
property damage and other losses.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York previously upheld a federal
judge’s ruling throwing out the lawsuits. The appeals court said the defendants
were protected by sovereign immunity and the plaintiffs would need to prove
that the princes engaged in intentional actions aimed at U.S.…
by Jon Gold
On 1/8/2008, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that “a huge lawsuit against the government of Saudi Arabia and key members of its royal family was put to a crucial test today as lawyers for victims of the 9/11 attacks urged a federal appeals court to reinstate the government of Saudi Arabia as a defendant.” The Cozen O’Connor law firm in Philadelphia “was the first to file suit against the government of Saudi Arabia in 2003, charging that the desert kingdom bears responsibility for the attacks because it permitted Islamic charities under its control to bankroll Osama bin Laden and his global terror movement.” The lawsuit “suffered a setback in 2005 when New York federal district court judge Richard Conway Casey ruled that the federal foreign sovereign immunity act barred lawsuits against Saudi Arabia and members of the royal family.”
On… Continue reading
Perhaps the most interesting thing this week is that an HC contributor found a document in the National Archives showing that, two days before 9/11, the military practiced responding to a simulated hijacking by suicide terrorists targeting New York. The document also mentioned a number of other previously-unknown hijacking-response exercises, and has been written up at the contributors’ blog.
There are also several additional entries in the 9/11 Timeline, about the 9/11 Commission and the day of the attacks.
The Domestic Propaganda Timeline focuses on the back-and-forth of Sonia Sotomayer’s nomination to the US Supreme Court, and Karl Rove instructs readers that the word “empathy” is actually code for “liberal activism.”
The Economic Crisis Timeline marks the 30th bank failure in the US this year, which was Silverton Bank in Atlanta.
Lastly, a contributor to the A. Q. Khan Timeline highlights possible Saudi funding for Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program.
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June 9, 2009
By Chris Mondics
Inquirer Staff Writer
The Philadelphia Inquirer
At the moment the north tower of the World Trade Center collapsed at 10:28
a.m. on Sept. 11, 2001, Sharon Premoli was scrambling up an escalator from the
below-ground concourse toward the street with dozens of other office workers
in a desperate bid to escape.
She looked behind her and saw two things that are burned forever in her memory:
A human chain of evacuees riding the escalator and a boiling cloud of dust and
debris racing toward them.
The force of that swirling storm picked her up and threw her into nearby storefront.
After she awoke, she said, she soon realized she was lying on the lifeless body
of a man and that she was covered with his blood.
"I remember taking my nails and scraping my tongue to remove the debris
from my mouth," said Premoli, at the time a vice president for development
with a financial services software company based in the North Tower. "I
tried to get up and I realized I was lying on the body, and I am profoundly
haunted by that."
Strip away all the arcana and legal angels dancing on heads of pins, and Premoli
is the human face of litigation alleging Saudi Arabia financed the 9/11 hijackers.
She is one of 6,000 World Trade Center victims and their families who have
charged in lawsuits that the government of Saudi Arabia or its officials funded
Islamic charities that in turn… Continue reading
May 29, 2009
Statement On Behalf of the 9/11 Families United to Bankrupt Terrorism
In Response to the Solicitor General’s Refusal to Support The 9/11 Families’
Petition for Writ of Certiorari with the Supreme Court
(In Re: Thomas E. Burnett, Sr., et al. v. Al Baraka Investment & Development
Corp., et al., Case No. 03-CV-9849 (RCC) In Re: Terrorist Attacks on September
11, 2001, MDL 1570)
WASHINGTON, May 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The following is a statement
of 9/11 Family Members: Mike Low, Father of Sara Elizabeth Low, AA Flight 11;
Bill Doyle, Father of Joseph M. Doyle, WTC North Tower; Tom & Beverly Burnett,
Sr., Parents of Thomas E. Burnett, Jr., UA Flight 93; and Terry Strada, Wife
of Thomas Strada, WTC North Tower on Behalf of the 9/11 Families United to Bankrupt
Terrorism in Response to the Solicitor General’s Refusal to Support The 9/11
Families’ Petition for Writ of Certiorari with the Supreme Court:
Today the Obama Administration filed in the Supreme Court a document that expressed
the Administration’s decision to stand with a group of Saudi princes and against
the right of American citizens — 9/11 family members — to have our day in
court. Let there be no doubt: The filing was political in nature and stands
as a betrayal of everyone who lost a loved one or was injured on September 11,
We are deeply dismayed by this decision, filed by the solicitor general of
the United States in response to the Supreme Court’s February 23, 2009 invitation
for the government to express its views in the 9/11 families’ request to appeal
a portion of the case to the Court.…
Should the members of the 9/11 Presidential Commission not have been informed
that two of the “key witnesses” upon whom their report was based
had provided the information critical to the report’s conclusions only
after being waterboarded a total of 266 times? … In short, the basic narrative
of the origins and conduct of the 9/11 attack that so fundamentally perverted
American politics relied on cherry-picked information that the White House and
its operative in the field chose to release to the commission.
May 12, 2009
By Robert Scheer
Nancy Pelosi is no Dick Cheney, nor a George W. Bush. She was neither the author
of a systematic policy of torture nor has she been, like Cheney and most top
Republicans in Congress, an enduring apologist for its practice. It is a nonsensical
distraction to place her failure to speak out courageously as a critic of the
Bush policies on the same level as those who engineered one of the most shameful
debacles in U.S. history.
But what she, and anyone else who went along with this evil, as lackadaisically
as she now claims, should be confronted with are the serious implications of
their passive acquiescence. Why did she not speak up, or if it were a matter
of a lack of reliable information, demand an accounting from the executive branch,
as befits a leader of the loyal opposition in Congress?
If the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, and later House
Democratic leader, lacked the authority to… Continue reading
by Prof. Peter Dale Scott
May 8, 2009
One of the most frustrating features of observing American foreign policy is to see the gap between the encapsulated thinking of the national security bureaucracy and the sensible unfettered observations of the experts outside. In the case of Afghanistan, outside commentators have called for terminating current specific American policies and tactics — many reminiscent of the US in Vietnam.
Observers decry the use of air strikes to decapitate the Taliban and al Qaeda, usually resulting in the death of other civilians. They counsel against is the insertion of more and more US and other foreign troops, in an effort to secure the safety and allegiance of the population. And they regret the on-going interference in the fragile Afghan political process, in order to secure outcomes desired in Washington.1
One root source for this gap between official and outside opinion will not be addressed soon — the conduct of crucial decision-making in secrecy, not by those who know the area, but by those skilled enough in bureaucratic politics to have earned the highest security clearances. However it may be more productive to criticize the mindset shared by the decision-makers, and to point out elements of the false consciousness which frames it, and which should be corrigible by common sense.
Why One Should Think of So-Called “Failed States” as “Ravaged States”
I have in mind the bureaucratically convenient concept of Afghanistan as a failed or failing state. This epithet has been… Continue reading
by Kenneth J. Theisen
28 March 2009
President Barack Obama continued with his latest escalation of the war in Afghanistan
by announcing his plans to send an additional 4,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan
to train Afghan government puppet forces. He also announced plans to send hundreds
of diplomats and civilian officials to the country, in what Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton called an “integrated military-civilian strategy”.
Like his predecessor George W. Bush, Obama raised the specter of “terrorism”
to justify his actions.
Obama stated that, “If the Afghanistan government falls to the Taliban
or allows al-Qaida to go unchallenged, that country will again be a base for
terrorists.” Obama warned that the al-Qaida “terrorists” were
actively planning further attacks on the U.S. from havens in Pakistan. He stated,
“So I want the American people to understand that we have a clear and
focused goal: to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al-Qaida in Pakistan and Afghanistan,
and to prevent their return to either country in the future.” He went on
to claim, “That is the goal that must be achieved. That is a cause that
could not be more just. And to the terrorists who oppose us, my message is the
same: we will defeat you.” Does this sound a little too much like Bush’s
excuse for the initial invasion in 2001? I was waiting to hear Obama say, “bring
This latest escalation builds on Obama’s previously announced plan to
send 17,000 troops to that war-torn country. President George… Continue reading
Waterboarding, Rough Interrogation of Abu Zubaida Produced False Leads, Officials
By Peter Finn and Joby Warrick
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, March 29, 2009; A01
When CIA officials subjected their first high-value captive, Abu Zubaida, to
waterboarding and other harsh interrogation methods, they were convinced that
they had in their custody an al-Qaeda leader who knew details of operations
yet to be unleashed, and they were facing increasing pressure from the White
House to get those secrets out of him.
The methods succeeded in breaking him, and the stories he told of al-Qaeda
terrorism plots sent CIA officers around the globe chasing leads.
In the end, though, not a single significant plot was foiled as a result of
Abu Zubaida’s tortured confessions, according to former senior government officials
who closely followed the interrogations. Nearly all of the leads attained through
the harsh measures quickly evaporated, while most of the useful information
from Abu Zubaida — chiefly names of al-Qaeda members and associates — was
obtained before waterboarding was introduced, they said.
Moreover, within weeks of his capture, U.S. officials had gained evidence that
made clear they had misjudged Abu Zubaida. President George W. Bush had publicly
described him as “al-Qaeda’s chief of operations,” and other top officials
called him a “trusted associate” of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden
and a major figure in the planning of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
None of that was accurate, the new evidence showed.
Abu Zubaida was not even an official member… Continue reading
Originally published at 911blogger.com by Reprehensor on March 12, 2009
“There is a special irony in having been accused of improper regard for the opinions of foreign governments and societies by a group so clearly intent on enforcing adherence to the policies of a foreign government — in this case, the government of Israel. I believe that the inability of the American public to discuss, or the government to consider, any option for US policies in the Middle East opposed by the ruling faction in Israeli politics has allowed that faction to adopt and sustain policies that ultimately threaten the existence of the state of Israel. It is not permitted for anyone in the United States to say so. This is not just a tragedy for Israelis and their neighbors in the Middle East; it is doing widening damage to the national security of the United States.” – Charles Freeman.
For a one-hour introduction to the Israel Lobby; please check out this excellent Dutch documentary on the controversy that erupted following the publication of Mearsheimer and Walt’s academic paper, “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy”, in its condensed form at the London Review of Books (The book which then followed is highly recommended.);
Charles Freeman’s statement as published by the Wall Street Journal (!);
Charles Freeman, a veteran diplomat slated to become the top U.S. intelligence analyst, withdrew from consideration Tuesday. He released a statement denouncing the “Israel Lobby” for “character assassination.” Here is the… Continue reading
VIDEO: “An Unholy Alliance” – Documentary examines CIA and other intelligence agency links to the global drug trade.
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In 1996, directors Chris Hilton and David Roberts released “An Unholy Alliance” as the second part of a trilogy of documentaries dealing with the global drug trade; with a focus on heroin and opium. The documentary offers a valuable history of the drug trade, with much rare footage, including footage of CIA favorite, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. Since Hekmatyar is back in the news, now is an important time to remind people of Hekmatyar’s dubious past, and his links to the heroin industry in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The CIA and the Afghan Arabs
An Unholy Alliance starts off in Peshawar, which was a major hub of activity for the CIA and the ISI, as they deployed the Afghan Mujahadin in a proxy war against the Soviet Union, beginning in 1979. Since the 1980s, CIA apologists like Peter Bergen, and former CIA station chief Milton Bearden have claimed that the CIA never directly trained the Mujahidin and the associated Arabic recruits;
Peter Bergen: “While the charges that the CIA was responsible for the rise of the Afghan Arabs might make good copy, they don’t make good history. The truth is more complicated, tinged with varying shades of gray. The… Continue reading
by Eve Conant NEWSWEEK
From the magazine issue dated Jan 12, 2009
In the grim, sleepless months of excavation after the September 11 attacks, forensic pathologists in New York City worked day and night to identify the dead. They didn’t have much to go on. The collapsed World Trade Center towers had burned at temperatures reaching 2,000 degrees, incinerating those trapped inside. Many of the bodies of the passengers aboard the two airplanes that struck the buildings were consumed by burning jet fuel, leaving only traces of DNA, much of it so damaged that it was impossible to read. Few bodies were found intact. Most of the human remains culled from the vast wreckage at Ground Zero were little more than tiny fragments of charred tissue and bone. The volume was overwhelming. Robert Shaler, who headed the city’s Department of Forensic Biology and was a leader of the identification effort, worried his lab would be paralyzed if it tried to identify every piece. At first, they decided they would only attempt to test samples that were “the size of a thumb or larger,” he says. But when they saw how small many of the fragments were, they changed their minds. “If we were really going to make an honest effort,” Shaler says, “we had to do everything that came along.”
Shaler and his colleagues at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner gave weekly updates to family members of the victims, reporting how many of the dead had been identified and reassuring them that the city was doing everything to identify their loved ones.…Continue reading
by Richard Falk, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories
For eighteen months the entire 1.5 million people of Gaza experienced a punishing blockade imposed by Israel, and a variety of traumatizing challenges to the normalcy of daily life. A flicker of hope emerged some six months ago when an Egyptian arranged truce produced an effective ceasefire that cut Israeli casualties to zero despite the cross-border periodic firing of homemade rockets that fell harmlessly on nearby Israeli territory, and undoubtedly caused anxiety in the border town of Sderot. During the ceasefire the Hamas leadership in Gaza repeatedly offered to extend the truce, even proposing a ten-year period and claimed a receptivity to a political solution based on acceptance of Israel’s 1967 borders. Israel ignored these diplomatic initiatives, and failed to carry out its side of the ceasefire agreement that involved some easing of the blockade that had been restricting the entry to Gaza of food, medicine, and fuel to a trickle.
Israel also refused exit permits to students with foreign fellowship awards and to Gazan journalists and respected NGO representatives. At the same time, it made it increasingly difficult for journalists to enter, and I was myself expelled from Israel a couple of weeks ago when I tried to enter to carry out my UN job of monitoring respect for human rights in occupied Palestine, that is, in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, as well as Gaza. Clearly, prior to the current crisis, Israel… Continue reading