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History Commons Projects, Update on June 4, 2008

The History Commons has started two new timelines this week, both of which
cover overlaps between the site’s main projects. One of them deals with
the military analysts story. It has been garnering more attention since the
recent New York Times expose, but articles about it have dripped out over the
years and there is a wealth of material, which was previously split between
the Iran, Iraq Invasion, Iraq Occupation, and Detainee Abuse Timelines.
Read more

The second new timeline is called Neoconservative Think Tank Influence on
US Policies, and groups together entries that were previously split up between
the various Iran, Iraq, Detainee Abuse, and 9/11 projects.
Read more

Otherwise, the main additions to the History Commons this week were in the
9/11 Timeline and dealt with the 2002 Bali bombings, including some pretty specific
warnings, and al-Qaeda in Southeast Asia. In addition, there is more about the
time spent by two 9/11 hijackers in Thailand and the CIA’s seeming inability
to find them there, as well as extra material about British intelligence asset
and al-Qaeda recruiter Abu Hamza al-Masri.
Read more

The Invasion of Iraq Timeline has cross-posted entries from the military analysts
timeline that relate to Iraq. One thing about the press coverage that is interesting
is that while the major networks and the Washington Post got it wrong, and the
New York Times boasted the supreme talents of Judy Miller, Knight Ridder (now
McClatchy) actually got the story right, proving that it could be done.
Read… Continue reading

Legislating Tyranny

by Paul Craig Roberts and Lawrence M. Stratton
Posted at Lewrockwell.com
June 7, 2008

The George W. Bush administration responded to the 9/11 attack on the World
Trade Center and Pentagon with an assault on U.S. civil liberty that Bush justified
in the name of the “war on terror.” The government assured us that
the draconian measures apply only to “terrorists.” The word terrorist,
however, was not defined. The government claimed the discretionary power to
decide who is a terrorist without having to present evidence or charges in a
court of law.

Frankly, the Bush administration’s policy evades any notion of procedural
due process of law. Administration assurances that harsh treatment is reserved
only for terrorists is meaningless when the threshold process for determining
who is and who is not a terrorist depends on executive discretion that is not
subject to review. Substantive rights are useless without the procedural rights
to enforce them.

Terrorist legislation and executive assertions created a basis upon which federal
authorities claimed they were free to suspend suspects’ civil liberties
in order to defend Americans from terrorism. Only after civil liberties groups
and federal courts challenged some of the unconstitutional laws and procedures
did realization spread that the Bush administration’s assault on the Bill
of Rights is a greater threat to Americans than are terrorists.

The alacrity with which Congress accepted the initial assault from the administration
is frightening. In 2001, the USA PATRIOT Act passed by a vote of 98 to 1 in
the… Continue reading

Senator Mike Gravel Speaks about NYC 9/11 Initiative on Democracy Now

Democray Now

Watch the video here; written transcript follows:

AMY GOODMAN: Former Alaska senator and 2008 presidential candidate Mike Gravel is holding a news conference in New York City today to call for a new independent investigation into 9/11. Gravel will be speaking on behalf of the NYC 9/11 Ballot Initiative Campaign, a grassroots group seeking to place an initiative on the ballot of the November 6th general election allowing registered New York City voters to create a new commission to investigate 9/11.

The group is looking to appoint between nine and fifteen commissioners on the panel to conduct the investigation. Some of the people who have reportedly already agreed to serve as commissioners include Lori Van Auken, a 9/11 widow, one of the so-called “Jersey Girls”; Lincoln Chafee, the former Republican senator from Rhode Island; Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, a pastor in Detroit, Michigan; as well as former Democratic Senator Mike Gravel, who joins us here today.

He has published three books this year: Citizen Power: A Mandate for Change, The Kingmakers: How the Media Threatens Our Security and Our Democracy and A Political Odyssey. His book Citizen Power: A Mandate for Change has a forward by Ralph Nader. He’ll be joining us on the show later in the week.

Welcome to Democracy Now!, Senator Gravel.

MIKE GRAVEL: Amy, thank you for having me. But before we launch into the mission of my appearance, I want to comment on this young man you just had on. I’ve got… Continue reading

Bomb Iran? What’s to Stop Us?

By Ray McGovern
June 19, 2008

It’s crazy, but it’s coming soon — from the same folks who brought us Iraq.

Unlike the attack on Iraq five years ago, to deal with Iran there need be no massing of troops. And, with the propaganda buildup already well under way, there need be little, if any, forewarning before shock and awe and pox — in the form of air and missile attacks — begin.

This time it will be largely the Air Force’s show, punctuated by missile and
air strikes by the Navy. Israeli-American agreement has now been reached at
the highest level; the armed forces planners, plotters and pilots are working
out the details.

Emerging from a 90-minute White House meeting with President George W. Bush on June 4, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said the two leaders were of one mind:

“We reached agreement on the need to take care of the Iranian threat. I left with a lot less question marks [than] I had entered with regarding the means, the timetable restrictions, and American resoluteness to deal with the problem. George Bush understands the severity of the Iranian threat and the need to vanquish it, and intends to act on that matter before the end of his term in the White House.”

Does that sound like a man concerned that Bush is just bluff and bluster?

A member of Olmert’s delegation noted that same day that the two countries
had agreed to cooperate in case of an attack… Continue reading

Sibel Edmonds vs. the Nuclear Terrorists

Intro, continued: Scott Horton, of AntiwarRadio.com, interviewed Sibel Edmonds and the blogger who’s long covered her important case (which the corporate media still refuses to touch), Luke Ryland, to shine some light on what might be happening here. Again, Congress refuses to hold hearings, and hold anyone to account. This interview reviews some of the information that’s come to light in Sibel’s 6-year case, as well as the utter lack of action by Congress with regard to the entire network of whistleblowers with whom she’s associated.

Sibel on Congress: “What happened to all those promises you made? All the promises they made, none of them were fulfilled! They may look like champions, but all we have gotten with people like Chairman Waxman and Chairman Conyers is all barking … as soon as the issue dies down in the media, they just go away. They don’t do anything. They haven’t brought about any type of accountability, any type of meaningful hearings … nothing that in any way would bring with it type of accountability or further action, and they do have the power. … (Before, the blamed the Republicans) now we see that with the Democrats across the House, like Pelosi. … If the mainstream media were to do their job that would create the necessary pressure on Congress so that Congress would do what it’s supposed to do; it’s not doing favors, it’s basically fulfilling their obligation to the American public. This is why we are in this sorry… Continue reading

Preparing the Battlefield

The Bush Administration steps up its secret moves against Iran.
by Seymour M. Hersh
July 7, 2008

Late last year, Congress agreed to a request from President Bush to fund a major escalation of covert operations against Iran, according to current and former military, intelligence, and congressional sources. These operations, for which the President sought up to four hundred million dollars, were described in a Presidential Finding signed by Bush, and are designed to destabilize the country’s religious leadership. The covert activities involve support of the minority Ahwazi Arab and Baluchi groups and other dissident organizations. They also include gathering intelligence about Iran’s suspected nuclear-weapons program.

Clandestine operations against Iran are not new. United States Special Operations Forces have been conducting cross-border operations from southern Iraq, with Presidential authorization, since last year. These have included seizing members of Al Quds, the commando arm of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, and taking them to Iraq for interrogation, and the pursuit of “high-value targets” in the President’s war on terror, who may be captured or killed. But the scale and the scope of the operations in Iran, which involve the Central Intelligence Agency and the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), have now been significantly expanded, according to the current and former officials. Many of these activities are not specified in the new Finding, and some congressional leaders have had serious questions about their nature.

Under federal law, a Presidential Finding, which is highly classified, must be issued when a covert intelligence operation gets… Continue reading

Want some torture with your peanuts?

By Jeffrey Denning
July 2, 1008
Washington Post, Aviation Security

Just when you thought you’ve heard it all…

A senior government official with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security
(DHS) has expressed great interest in a so-called safety bracelet that would
serve as a stun device, similar to that of a police Taser®. According to
this promotional video found at the Lamperd Less Lethal, Inc. website, the bracelet
would be worn by all airline passengers (video also shown below).

This bracelet would:

- take the place of an airline boarding pass

- contain personal information about the traveler

- be able to monitor the whereabouts of each passenger and his/her luggage

- shock the wearer on command, completely immobilizing him/her for several
minutes

The Electronic ID Bracelet, as it’s referred to, would be worn by every
traveler “until they disembark the flight at their destination.”
Yes, you read that correctly. Every airline passenger would be tracked by a
government-funded GPS, containing personal, private and confidential information,
and would shock the customer worse than an electronic dog collar if the passenger
got out of line.

Clearly the Electronic ID Bracelet is a euphuism for the EMD Safety Bracelet,
or at least it has a nefarious hidden ability (thus the term ID Bracelet is
ambiguous at best). EMD stands for Electro-Musclar Disruption. Again, according
to the promotional video, the bracelet can completely immobilize the wearer
for several minutes.

So is the government really that interested in this bracelet?

Apparently so.

According… Continue reading

The Real-Life

July 13, 2008
Op-Ed Columnist
By FRANK RICH

We know what a criminal White House looks like from “The Final Days”
Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein’s classic account of Richard Nixon’s
unraveling. The cauldron of lies, paranoia and illegal surveillance boiled over,
until it was finally every man for himself as desperate courtiers scrambled
to save their reputations and, in a few patriotic instances, their country.

“The Final Days” was published in 1976, two years after Nixon abdicated in disgrace. With the Bush presidency, no journalist (or turncoat White House memoirist) is waiting for the corpse to be carted away. The latest and perhaps most chilling example arrives this week from Jane Mayer of The New Yorker, long a relentless journalist on the war-on-terror torture beat. Her book “The Dark Side” connects the dots of her own past reporting and that of her top-tier colleagues (including James Risen and Scott Shane of The New York Times) to portray a White House that, like its prototype, savaged its enemies within almost as ferociously as it did the Constitution.

Some of “The Dark Side” seems right out of “The Final Days” minus Nixon’s operatic boozing and weeping. We learn, for instance, that in 2004 two conservative Republican Justice Department officials had become “so paranoid” that “they actually thought they might be in physical danger.” The fear of being wiretapped by their own peers drove them to speak in code.

The men were John Ashcroft’s deputy attorney general, James Comey, and an assistant… Continue reading

Is the Fourth Estate a Fifth Column?

Corporate media colludes with democracy’s demise
By Bill Moyers

Without a free and independent press, this 250-year-old experiment in self-government will not make it. As journalism goes, so goes democracy.

 

I heard this story a long time ago, growing up in Choctaw County in Oklahoma before my family moved to Texas. A tribal elder was telling his grandson about the battle the old man was waging within himself. He said, “It is between two wolves, my son. One is an evil wolf: anger, envy, sorrow, greed, self-pity, guilt, resentment, lies, false pride, superiority and ego. The other is the good wolf: joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”

The boy took this in for a few minutes and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf won?”

The old Cherokee replied simply, “The one I feed.”

Democracy is that way. The wolf that wins is the one we feed. And in our society, media provides the fodder.

Our media institutions, deeply embedded in the power structures of society, are not providing the information that we need to make our democracy work. To put it another way, corporate media consolidation is a corrosive social force. It robs people of their voice in public affairs and pollutes the political culture. And it turns the debates about profound issues into a shouting match of polarized views promulgated by partisan apologists who trivialize democracy while refusing to speak the truth about how our country is being plundered.

Our dominant media… Continue reading

History Commons, Update on July 23, 2008

9/11 Timeline

* 7/7 London bombings mastermind Haroon Rashid Aswat was alleged to be an informer by a counterterrorism expert in 2005, and the British authorities certainly showed a surprising lack of interest in him during his career

* Lead 7/7 London bomber Mohammad Sidique Khan was monitored by the British security services

* Details of calls by Flight 93 passenger Tom Burnett

* Vice President Cheney’s demands for alterations to 9/11 Commission report

The Commons needs your donations and your participation. Please consider making a donation here, and becoming a member here.

Watergate Timeline

* Progress of the Washington’s Post investigation

* Dick Cheney’s first hiring to work in the executive branch

* Nixon’s mental health, according to Barry Goldwater

US International Relations Timeline

* The Reagan Doctrine, its originator’s visit to a Nazi cemetery and jokes about bombing the Soviet Union

The History Commons has a new blog up. Here’s where you can find the latest about the Commons, including news on the move towards “History Commons 2.0,” fundraising,  community outreach, and more. Please share your opinions with us.

A second contributors’ blog is also up and running. Here’s where you can talk about the material published at the Commons. We keep the two blogs separate because the content is separate from the History Commons itself. Please join the discussion.

9/11 Misinformation: Flight ‘Passenger Lists’ Show ‘No Hijacker Names’

By Arabesque
August 31, 2008

 

Misinformation: Passenger “Manifests” Contain “No Arab or Alleged Hijacker Names”

The assertion that 9/11 passengers lists “contained no Arab names” is frequently seen in the 9/11 truth movement. [1]  For example, this article by Enver Masud is headlined, “Why are there no Arab names on the passenger list for the planes used in the September 11, 2001 attack…?” [2] The 9/11 website 9/11 Hard Facts claims, “[On] officially released passenger lists provided by the airlines to the media, no Arab names appear on any of the four passenger lists.” [3] In David Ray Griffin’s 9/11: The Myth and the Reality , he repeats the claim that, “[Their] names should be on the flight manifests. But the flight manifests that have been released contain neither the names of the alleged hijackers nor any other Arab names.” [4] John Leonard, Webster Tarpley and Kevin Barrett’s publisher, repeats the claim that “Scholars [for 9/11 Truth]… report things like ‘there were no Arabs on the passenger lists’” [5] As well, Michael C. Ruppert, citing Gary North wrote, “Another easy and non-debatable hole is with the passenger lists and the hijackers. Gary North, Ph.D. – a history professor… relied on lists published by CNN… Official reports state that there were only 19 hijackers.…

Continue reading

The Anthrax Case Reopens: Why Did the FBI Let the Fort Detrick Scientists Investigate Themselves?

by Bill Simpich tr u t h o u t | Report

The Congressional anthrax hearings of September 16-17 revealed that public pressure is keeping the doors open in the anthrax case. FBI Director Robert Mueller promised that the FBI will provide their evidence to a panel of experts for scientific evaluation. The battle will now turn to the independence of this panel, and whether “all evidence” or merely “scientific evidence” will be under review.

During the hearings, Mueller found himself under fire by Senator Patrick Leahy and Congressman John Conyers for not having answers to their questions. Republican Arlen Specter was furious at Mueller for his unwillingness to assure them that Congress would have a role in determining the panel’s composition.

Meanwhile, new evidence shows just how deeply wrong ABC and Washington Post reporters have been over the years on their coverage of the anthrax attacks. They can’t have it both ways: Either they made repeated “mistakes” by relying on their sources, or several people deliberately lied in order to advance war on Iraq.

In his recent book Taking Heat, former White House secretary Ari Fleischer wrote that Bush was more shook up by the anthrax attacks than by any other event. White House officials repeatedly pressed Mueller to prove it was a second-wave assault by al-Qaeda or Iraq. After days of provocative statements designed to scare the American people, Cheney himself believed that he had been exposed to anthrax. Although the test results were negative, October 18, 2001… Continue reading

This is Change? 20 Hawks, Clintonites and Neocons to Watch for in Obama’s White House

By Jeremy Scahill
November 20, 2008
http://www.alternet.org/story/107666/

Click here to view this guide as a single page.

U.S. policy is not about one individual, and no matter how much faith people place in President-elect Barack Obama, the policies he enacts will be fruit of a tree with many roots. Among them: his personal politics and views, the disastrous realities his administration will inherit, and, of course, unpredictable future crises. But the best immediate indicator of what an Obama administration might look like can be found in the people he surrounds himself with and who he appoints to his Cabinet. And, frankly, when it comes to foreign policy, it is not looking good.

Obama has a momentous opportunity to do what he repeatedly promised over the course of his campaign: bring actual change. But the more we learn about who Obama is considering for top positions in his administration, the more his inner circle resembles a staff reunion of President Bill Clinton’s White House. Although Obama brought some progressives on board early in his campaign, his foreign policy team is now dominated by the hawkish, old-guard Democrats of the 1990s. This has been particularly true since Hillary Clinton conceded defeat in the Democratic primary, freeing many of her top advisors to join Obama’s team.

"What happened to all this talk about change?" a member of the Clinton foreign policy team recently asked the Washington Post. "This isn’t lightly flavored with Clintons. This is all Clintons, all the time."

Amid the… Continue reading

The Government’s Argument for Deploying Troops in the U.S. is Ridiculous – Even On Its Own Terms

December 2, 2008
GeorgeWashington’s Blog

Everyone knows that deploying 20,000 troops on U.S. soil violates Posse Comitatus and the Constitution.

And everyone understands that staging troops within the U.S. to “help out with civil unrest and crowd control” increases the danger of overt martial law.

But no one is asking an obvious question: Does the government’s own excuse for deploying the troops make any sense?

As the Washington Post writes:

Before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, dedicating 20,000
troops to domestic response — a nearly sevenfold increase in five years —
“would have been extraordinary to the point of unbelievable,” Paul McHale, assistant
defense secretary for homeland defense, said in remarks last month at the Center
for Strategic and International Studies. But the realization that civilian authorities
may be overwhelmed in a catastrophe prompted “a fundamental change in military
culture,” he said.

But homeland defense is doing nothing to
stop the creation of new terrorists or to prevent bad guys from attacking.

If They Wanted to Stop Terrorism . . .

Remember, the war on terror is a hoax which is actually weakening national security (see this, this, this and this).

And the Department of Homeland Security, instead of protecting vulnerable targets, has instead randomly made up lists which include kangaroo centers, petting zoos and ice cream parlors as high-priority terrorist threats. And the administration is refusing to fill important positions at DHS so that our security can be protected.

The government is… Continue reading

Bush Regime Declares Itself Above the Law

By Paul Craig Roberts
December 05, 2008
Information Clearinghouse

The US government
does not have a monopoly on hypocrisy, but no other government can match the
hypocrisy of the US government.

It is now well documented and known all over the world that the US government
tortured detainees at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo and that the US government has
had people kidnaped and “rendentioned,” that is, transported to
third world countries, such as Egypt, to be tortured.

Also documented and well known is the fact that the US Department of Justice
provided written memos justifying the torture of detainees. One torture advocate
who wrote the DOJ memos that gave the green light to the Bush regime’s
use of torture is John Yoo, a Vietnamese immigrant who somehow secured a US
Justice Department appointment and a tenured professorship at the University
of California, Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law. John Yoo is the best case
against immigration that I know.

Members of Berkeley’s city council believe that Yoo should be charged
with war crimes. The US government has charged lesser offenders than Yoo with
war crimes. Yoo helped the DOJ achieve the Bush regime’s goal of finding
a way around the torture prohibitions of both US statutory law and the Geneva
Conventions.

The way around the law that Yoo provided for the sadistic Bush regime was closed
down by the US Supreme Court, which voided Yoo’s arguments, and Yoo’s
torture memo was rescinded by the Department of Justice. Nevertheless, Yoo’s
obvious… Continue reading

Obama, the military and the threat of dictatorship

by Bill Van Auken
World Socialist Web Site

With his choice of Admiral Dennis Blair as director of national intelligence, President-elect Barack Obama has now named three recently retired four-star military officers to serve in his cabinet. This unprecedented representation of the senior officer corps within the incoming Democratic administration is indicative of a growth in the political power of the US military that poses a serious threat to basic democratic rights.

As head of the US military’s Pacific command in 1999-2000, Blair was distinguished by his efforts to solidarize the Pentagon with the military of Indonesia as it carried out butchery in East Timor, effectively vetoing the half-hearted human rights concerns voiced by the Clinton administration.

Before tapping Blair, Obama named former Marine Gen. James Jones as his national security adviser and former Army chief of staff Gen. Erik Shinseki as secretary of veterans affairs. It is also reported that the incoming administration may ask retired Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden to stay on as director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

The Washington Post last Saturday described this concentration of former senior officers in the administration as “an unusual trend for a Democratic administration and one that has surprised both political camps.”

The appointments follow the announcement that Robert Gates, Bush’s defense secretary, will stay on at the Pentagon, where multiple “transition teams” are at work to assure that continuity is maintained in America’s ongoing wars of aggression and that the immense power of the military remains unchecked.

Earlier… Continue reading

Family of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty, the Powerful Forces That Put It in the White House,
and What Their Influence Means for America

Cover photo of Family of Secrets BLOOMSBURY PRESS

FAMILY OF SECRETS: The Bush Dynasty, the Powerful Forces That Put It in the White House, and What Their Influence Means for America

By award-winning investigative journalist Russ Baker

ISBN: 1-59691-557-9; $30.00; Pub January 2009, familyofsecrets.com

Contact: Gene Taft, GeneTaftPR@aol.com, m: 917/701-4072, p: 301/593-0766 Peter Miller, Peter.Miller@bloomsburyusa.com, 646-307-5579

Revelatory new book on Bush family

publishing January 2009

How did Bush happen? How did George W. Bush, of all people, rise to the most powerful position in the world? This simple question sparked a five-year investigative odyssey by Russ Baker. What he found will force us to rethink virtually everything we thought we knew about the Bush family and its role in shaping recent American history.

In FAMILY OF SECRETS, Baker reveals that Bush, the people around him, and his policies are but an extreme, very public manifestation of what his family and its circle have always been about: an interlocking web of covert and overt machinations on behalf of a small cluster of elites-social, financial, industrial, military, intelligence-that enabled the Bush dynasty and propelled George W. Bush to the top.

Russ Baker’s deep background profile of the Bushes reveals a family with ongoing connections to the shadow world of intelligence, utilizing the dark arts of the trade to achieve their positions at the pinnacle of America’s political elite. Baker lays bare the stealth substructure that created the Bush dynasty, powered its rise, and brought America to its current state of crisis. Given the disastrous results of the last… Continue reading

Martial Law, the Financial Bailout, and War

by Peter Dale Scott
January 7, 2009

Paulson’s Financial Bailout

It is becoming clear that the bailout measures of late 2008 may have consequences at least as grave for an open society as the response to 9/11 in 2001. Many members of Congress felt coerced into voting against their inclinations, and the normal procedures for orderly consideration of a bill were dispensed with.

The excuse for bypassing normal legislative procedures was the existence of an emergency. But one of the most reprehensible features of the legislation, that it allowed Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson to permit bailed-out institutions to use public money for exorbitant salaries and bonuses, was inserted by Paulson after the immediate crisis had passed.

According to Congressman Peter Welch (D-Vermont) the bailout bill originally called for a cap on executive salaries, but Paulson changed the requirement at the last minute. Welch and other members of Congress were enraged by “news that banks getting taxpayer-funded bailouts are still paying exorbitant salaries, bonuses, and other benefits.”1 In addition, as AP reported in October, “Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. questioned allowing banks that accept bailout bucks to continue paying dividends on their common stock. `There are far better uses of taxpayer dollars than continuing dividend payments to shareholders,” he said.”2

Even more reprehensible is the fact that since the bailouts, Paulson and the Treasury Department have refused to provide details of the Troubled Assets Relief Program spending of hundreds of billions of dollars, while the New York Federal Reserve has… Continue reading

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