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:: Thursday, January 01, 2004 ::

The Myths Live On

It never ceases to amaze me how fables and outright lies can live on in public discourse, long after they have been thoroughly definitively debunked.

Today's fractured media environment, as "empowering" as it may be (let's be frank, shall we? Some people simply shouldn't be empowered), has taken the "Lexis Nexis effect" to absurd new heights. Call it cybercascading, or, as Lileks put it, "non-contiguous information streams." What ever you want to call it, it appears that there are still scores of people -- legitimate journalists among them -- who to this day Didn't Get That Memo.

Alan Cabal has written another one of those Unanswered (to the Satisfaction of the Most Paranoid Among Us) Questions essays, regurgitating nearly every internet canard that's been written about the September 11 attacks, and attempts to marry them to the legitimate pursuit of answers to the depths of our intelligence/national security failures, and how such attacks can be prevented in the future.

Cabal's screed is so jam-packed with lies, I hardly know where to begin. First, I should emphasize that, in his attempt to hitch his bullshit assertions to more warranted criticisms, Cabal does make some (well, maybe only one) valid points. Yes, Condoleeze Rice shouldn't have made that ridiculous assertion about not being able to "imagine" that such an attack could occur. But, as I've written before, a little perspective is in order while conducting any recounting of the missed warnings.

But Cabal's piece takes the missed warnings argument just a bit too far:
Breitweiser is resolute in her assertions. Airport security officials, she believes, could have done much more to prevent the hijackings. Beyond that, however, she wonders what September 11 would have been like had the government made the public aware of the threats. How many people, she asks, would have chosen to board planes that morning? And how many of those in World Trade Center 2 would have remained in their offices, watching the inferno of Tower 1, had they known of the possibility of an air attack?

Those warnings, as Cabal himself notes, were received in June and July. Hence, to suggest that making them public would have made a difference nearly three months after the fact is a bit ridiculous.

After this, Cabal just repeats the most idiotic arguments you may have already read, many of which have been debunked here, but all of which have been debunked somewhere ...
So many, many questions. Why did World Trade Center 7 collapse? No airplane hit that building, and before September 11, no steel skyscraper had ever collapsed because of a fire. Yet three fell–very neatly and virtually into their own footprints.

(Even if one allows the engineers their claims that WTC1 and WTC2 were designed to collapse in on themselves, what of the perfect collapse of WTC7?)

The firefighters who were in the two towers were not in the least concerned about a collapse, as demonstrated in the fire department’s transcript of their radio traffic. In fact, they stated that the fires were dying out and could be extinguished with just a couple of lines of hose. Jet fuel burns like kerosene or charcoal fluid–quickly and completely–yet Ground Zero burned for 100 days.

The idea of rigging the buildings for a controlled demolition was dismissed as unrealistic by even the most suspicious types. How to gain access? Well, President Bush’s other brother, Marvin, had a security company covering the World Trade Center, Dulles International Airport and United Airlines.

Well, there you have it. Michael Meacher and Gore Vidal have nothing on this asshole, who is actually suggesting that the WTC towers were destroyed by a controlled demolition.

People have asked me why I've never addressed this particular conspiracy angle on my What DIDN't Really Happen page. Quite honestly, I thought they were too absurd even for my time. Think about this kind of scenario: the evil PNAC cabal wanted a war and needed a massive terrorist attack as a pretext. They think, we could fly some "hijacked" planes into the WTC towers. Just one problem with that idea -- burning jet fuel isn't sufficient to bring the towers down [No, I don't believe that nonsense. I'm humoring these morons, focusing on the scenario itself. -- Ed.] and the public might not support our Pertpetual War if the towers don't collapse. Oh yeah, and don't forget about WTC 7. The plan won't work unless we rig explosives to bring down that building, too. And don't worry about getting caught. It's easy to rig three office buildings in downtown Manhattan with enough explosives to bring them down without anyone noticing.

Now, a "controlled demolition" that succeeds where the 1993 WTC bombing failed should be sufficient, but for some reason, the neocon cabal thought it necessary to go through with the hijacked planes plot, even though they were deemed insufficient to do the job. And they managed to coordinate them in such a way so that they crashed into the buildings at the exact locations of the rigged explosives -- can't have anyone seeing explosions in another part of the buildings -- and manage to do that without setting off the explosives prematurely ...

What fucking planet are these people from?

Cabal continues:
Some doubt altogether that a plane hit the Pentagon. On Sept. 12, Arlington County Fire Chief Ed Plaugher made some revealing statements. When asked about aircraft wreckage, he responded that "there are some small pieces of aircraft visible from the interior during this fire-fighting operation…but not large sections. In other words, there’s no fuselage sections and that sort of thing." When asked about jet fuel, he referred to a "puddle."

Look at pictures, however, and it’s hard to believe that a Boeing 757 flew into the Pentagon. The damage is not in proportion to the claim, especially when one considers that two Boeing 757s are said to have taken down three skyscrapers. The Pentagon was dented, the plane evaporated.

Good lord, are there still people who believe this garbage? Oh yeah, I forgot. Roughly 20 percent of the German public, and perhaps a similar number in France. But just in case you've spent the last two and a half years in either place -- or under the same rock Cabal just crawled out from under -- read this.

It get's worse:
"Mohammed Atta" appears to have been a stolen identity, as per the real Atta’s father and his passport, which went missing in 1999, and on Sept. 23, 2001, the BBC reported that at least four other of the 19 men identified as the hijackers were alive and well–and considerably unsettled.

Oh, shut the fuck up.

And, should you have any remaining doubts that Cabal's piece is nothing more than a rehash of stale crap he read on the internet, he repeats yet another ridiculous claim:
Condoleezza Rice’s preposterous May 16, 2002, statement that no one could have foreseen this scenario was particularly ironic given that Pacifica Radio identified her that day as the source of San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown’s "airport security" call warning him not to fly on Black Tuesday.

This one has also been around a while, and has appeared on dozens of Web sites -- but none of them credible news sources. I'm not sure if it's even true that Pacifica Radio ever made such an allegation, as none of the Web sites that make the claim actually cite Pacifica directly -- they all lead eventually to a sidebar on this piece by notorious anti-Semite and holocaust denier David Irving.

Not that it matters too much whether Pacifica ever did "report" such a thing. It frankly doesn't even pass the smell test (none of the hijacked planes flew out of San Francisco, and, as Zach Cohen once asked, why would Rice give such a warning to Willie Brown, who wasn't in any danger, but not to administration official Ted Olson, whose wife died on Flight 77?

Nonetheless, it would be interesting to learn whether Cabal ever bothered to check the claim with Pacifica, or if he simply ran with what he read on Indymedia, Rense.com, or wherever he read it. I'm willing to bet on the latter.

Like any good conspiracy monger, Cabal tries to cloak his ridiculous claims by coyly claiming he's just asking questions, and searching for the truth. But whether his essay is an exercise in willful deception, or just plain sloppy reporting (I'm trying not to assume malice where there is room for ignorance, but he's not leaving me much room), it is clear that the truth is the last thing Cabal is seeking.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 8:25 PM [+] ::
:: Monday, September 22, 2003 ::

9/11 Stock Options Update

The FBI has closed its investigation into the "put" options that sold UAL and AMR short just before the attacks, saying there is no evidence of foreknowledge in the trading:
On Sept. 10, 2001, put options on AMR were 17 times their average volume of 269 contracts. On Sept. 6, 2001, UAL put options were traded at more than four times their average volume of 711 contracts.

At the same time, some experts cautioned that because of the light volume in most option contracts, an increase can seem eye-popping.

London regulators thought they had something in the short-selling of big airline stocks before Sept. 11, but traced the activity to one of their small competitors.

Hmm. Finally, someone adds some context to the "17 times their average volume" claim. I doubt this will satisfy the moonbats, though.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 10:28 AM [+] ::
:: Thursday, September 18, 2003 ::

Der Spiegel on Conspiracy Theories

I finally got around to reading this piece, which was criticized for giving attention -- thus credence" to charlatans like Thierry Meyssan and Matthias Bruckers.

As I commented on this at Jarvis' blog, I think this criticism is unwarranted, by virtue of the fact that there was already an alarming level of "credence" in this delusional propaganda without Der Speigel's attempt to debunk them.

Conspiracy theorists have long offered the fact that they are largely ignored in mainstream media as further proof that they're on to something big. If the theories are so absurd, they argue, why don't they debunk them? What are they hiding from? This obviously puts reasonable people in a quandary. No one likes to give undue attention to this kind of nonsense, but what else are they supposed to do? Ignoring them obviously hasn't worked out for them, but when they attempt to unload on them, they're accused of giving them "credence." Last year's aborted attempt by NASA to publish a book debunking the moon landing conspiracy theories is instructive on this point.

Apart from the editorial judgement of running such a story at all, I also have to say that the Der Spiegel cover story is an excellent piece of journalism, not only because it slams a lot of the internet disinformation so definitively. It also offers a great deal of insight into how these ideas gain traction:
Charles Ward, a former assistant of the leading Kennedy murder conspiracy theorist, Jim Garrison, described the way this method works as follows: "Garrison drew a conclusion and then organized the facts. And when the facts didn't fit, he liked to say that they'd been changed by the CIA."

This method of finding conspiracies where there are none has also been helpful to the September 11th conspiracy theorists. Otherwise, one could simply include that the reason many a controversial report never resurfaced is that it was resolved, as the story of the "living assassins" demonstrates. It is no secret, but rather an important lesson about a highly competitive news market, one in which journalists copied from one another so as not to miss a single story, and were ultimately all wrong and had all dispensed with any principles.

At this point, the story only seems to live on where Br?ckers, Bülow and the like seem to prefer looking for their information: in the "global memory of the internet, which, in its archives, registers, collects and provides access to all these discarded crumbs" (Br?ckers/Hau?).

And it is only there, where the old and the new, the incorrect and the correct are placed on equivalent footing, that these kinds of reports still appear to possess the currentness from which these authors fashion their suspicions and accusations.

The authors explain in great detail the anatomy of one of the more popular internet memes associated with 9/11 -- that many of the hijackers are still alive:
Take the BBC, for example, which did in fact report, on September 23, 2001, that some of the alleged terrorists were alive and healthy and had protested their being named as assassins.

But there is one wrinkle. The BBC journalist responsible for the story only recalls this supposed sensation after having been told the date on which the story aired. "No, we did not have any videotape or photographs of the individuals in question at that time," he says, and tells us that the report was based on articles in Arab newspapers, such as the Arab News, an English-language Saudi newspaper.

The operator at the call center has the number for the Arab News on speed dial. We make a call to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. A few seconds later, Managing Editor John Bradley is on the line. When we tell Bradley our story, he snorts and says: "That's ridiculous! People here stopped talking about that a long time ago."

Bradley tells us that at the time his reporters did not speak directly with the so-called "survivors," but instead combined reports from other Arab papers. These reports, says Bradley, appeared at a time when the only public information about the attackers was a list of names that had been published by the FBI on September 14th. The FBI did not release photographs until four days after the cited reports, on September 27th.

The photographs quickly resolved the nonsense about surviving terrorists. According to Bradley, "all of this is attributable to the chaos that prevailed during the first few days following the attack. What we're dealing with are coincidentally identical names." In Saudi Arabia, says Bradley, the names of two of the allegedly surviving attackers, Said al-Ghamdi and Walid al-Shari, are "as common as John Smith in the United States or Great Britain."

The final explanation is provided by the newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat, one of the sources of Arab News, which in turn serves as a source to the BBC. Mohammed Samman is the name of the reporter who interviewed a man named Said al-Ghamdi in Tunis, only to find that al-Ghamdi was quite horrified to discover his name on the FBI list of assassins.

Samman remembers his big story well. "That was a wonderful story," he says. And that's all it was. It had nothing to do with the version made up of Br?ckers' and Bülow's combined fantasies.

"The problem," says Samman, "was that after the first FBI list had been published, CNN released a photo of the pilot Said al-Ghamdi that had been obtained from the files of those Saudi pilots who had at some point received official flight training in the United States."

After Samman's story was reported by the news agencies, he was contacted by CNN. "I gave them Ghamdi's telephone number. The CNN people talked to the pilot and apologized profusely. The whole thing was quite obviously a mix-up. The Ghamdi family is one of the largest families in Saudi Arabia, and there are thousands of men named Said al-Ghamdi."

When we ask Samman to take another look at the FBI's list of photographs, he is more than happy to oblige, and tells us: "The Ghamdi on the photo is not the pilot with whom I spoke."

The investigative journalists should have been able to figure out just how obvious the solution to this puzzle was. They all write that a man named Abd al-Asis al-Umari had been named as a perpetrator by the FBI, and that there are apparently many individuals with this name. Br?ckers and Hau? even noticed that the FBI had initially released an incorrect first name to the press. All of this certainly suggests that there was a mix-up, but it's also something that the conspiracy theorists apparently did not consider plausible.

In the case of the supposedly surviving terrorist Walid al-Shari, the truth is even more obvious. At least Bülow had the opportunity to avoid making this mistake. In his book, he writes that the alleged assassin Shari "lives in Casablanca and works as a pilot, according to information provided by the airline Royal Air Maroc."

If Bülow had inquired with the airline, he would have discovered that the name of the pilot who lives in Casablanca is Walid al-Shri and not, like that of the assassin, Walid al-Shari. This minor detail makes a big difference, namely the difference between a dead terrorist and a living innocent man. But to conspiracy theorists, discovering the truth is like solving a crossword puzzle for children: What's a four-letter word for a domesticated animal? Hrse.

While doing research for my conspiracy page last year, I had e-mailed several different desks at the BBC to inform them that their story was being used all over the internet as grist for these conspiracy theories, and asked if they had ever followed up on their apparent bombshell story. How, I asked, could they just do one story on such an accusation, and never make an attempt at closure one way or the other.

I never got an answer. I'm afraid that's all too common in journalism today. Headlines like "Initial Reports Proven Untrue" just don't sell newspapers, and I guess there just isn't a commensurate sense of accountability among reporters and their editors to clear up speculative nonsense for which they were responsible in the first place.

Later, the Philly Daily News ran an "unanswered questions" piece that included the same "hijackers still living" canard. I e-mailed the columnist, Will Bunch, primarily to inform him that one of those still-living hijackers was recently featured on an al-qaeda recruiting video -- reading his will, no less. I also asked him why he didn't try to solve any of these mysteries himself, rather than whining, "So why did this story line vanish into thin air?" A rather odd question for a reporter to be asking his readers, I thought.

Bunch's response: "I'm a good reporter, but if I tried to solve all 20 questions myself I'd be 96 years old by the time I was done!" With this level of laziness among professional journalists, it's no wonder the conspiracy loons are able to point to so many "inconsistencies" and "unanswered questions."
:: COINTELPRO Tool 11:41 AM [+] ::
:: Friday, September 12, 2003 ::

Is This Even Necessary?

Al-Jazeera has aired a recruiting video on which 9/11 hijacker Said al-Ghamdi reads his will.

This may be of interest to some of the loonier conspiracy theorists, who have been wailing that al-Ghamdi is still alive, as are six other of the hijackers.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 8:41 PM [+] ::
:: Wednesday, September 10, 2003 ::

9/11 Conspiracy Theories and Anti-Semitism

The ADL has released an exhaustive report on the various Jews-Were-Behind-9/11 theories, tracking their origins and prevalence in both the Western "conspiracy theory industry" and mainstream Arab media.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 9:29 AM [+] ::

Another Salingeresque Meltdown

What causes mildly annoying "intellectuals" and statesmen to become barking moonbats, infatuated with the first jerk-off theory or meme they see on the internet? Is it simply a function their having run out of ideas? If that's the case, then I guess we should welcome ex-environment minister Michael Meacher's screed in the Guardian as a step toward catharsis.

Everyone and their dog have already given Meacher's grab bag of conspiracy theories the what-for, so my two cents might be overkill. In fact, I've already addressed just about every inane assertion the man makes, and some well over a year ago -- that by itself should give you some indication of just how intellectually lazy and unoriginal his arguments are.

Nonetheless, and because I think there's no such thing as overkill when dealing with this garbage, here's a brief recap of what I've written on the subject:
"We now know that a blueprint for the creation of a global Pax Americana was drawn up for Dick Cheney (now vice-president), Donald Rumsfeld (defence secretary), Paul Wolfowitz (Rumsfeld's deputy), Jeb Bush (George Bush's younger brother) and Lewis Libby (Cheney's chief of staff). The document, entitled Rebuilding America's Defences, was written in September 2000 by the neoconservative think tank, Project for the New American Century (PNAC)."

"It also hints that the US may consider developing biological weapons 'that can target specific genotypes [and] may transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool.'"

"It had been known as early as 1996 that there were plans to hit Washington targets with aeroplanes. Then in 1999 a US national intelligence council report noted that 'al-Qaida suicide bombers could crash-land an aircraft packed with high explosives into the Pentagon, the headquarters of the CIA, or the White House.'"

"The first hijacking was suspected at not later than 8.20am, and the last hijacked aircraft crashed in Pennsylvania at 10.06am. Not a single fighter plane was scrambled to investigate from the US Andrews airforce base, just 10 miles from Washington DC, until after the third plane had hit the Pentagon at 9.38 am. Why not?" [See also Bruce Rolston's post on who was in command of NORAD that day. Hint: it wasn't an American.]

"The BBC reported (September 18 2001) that Niaz Niak, a former Pakistan foreign secretary, was told by senior American officials at a meeting in Berlin in mid-July 2001 that 'military action against Afghanistan would go ahead by the middle of October.' Until July 2001 the US government saw the Taliban regime as a source of stability in Central Asia that would enable the construction of hydrocarbon pipelines from the oil and gas fields in Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, through Afghanistan and Pakistan, to the Indian Ocean. But, confronted with the Taliban's refusal to accept US conditions, the US representatives told them 'either you accept our offer of a carpet of gold, or we bury you under a carpet of bombs' (Inter Press Service, November 15 2001)."

"To diversify supply routes from the Caspian, one pipeline would run westward via Azerbaijan and Georgia to the Turkish port of Ceyhan. Another would extend eastwards through Afghanistan and Pakistan and terminate near the Indian border. This would rescue Enron's beleaguered power plant at Dabhol on India's west coast, in which Enron had sunk $3bn investment and whose economic survival was dependent on access to cheap gas."

And here's a howler I hadn't addressed before ...
"The US chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, General Myers, went so far as to say that "the goal has never been to get Bin Laden" (AP, April 5 2002)."

... but will now. Here is a bit of context to GEN Myers' quote:
Hunt: The Big Question for General Myers: One embarrassment for the U.S. has been that, in almost seven months after 9/11, we still haven't captured Osama bin Laden. With the apprehension this week of one of his top lieutenants, have we gotten enough information to be any closer to maybe finally getting bin Laden?

Myers: Well, if you remember, if we go back to the beginning of this segment, the goal has never been to get bin Laden. Obviously, that's desirable.

Interesting, I just read a piece by some analysts that said you may not want to go after the top people in these organizations. You may have more effect by going after the middlemen, because they're harder to replace. I don't know if that's true, or not, and clearly we would like to eventually get bin Laden.

But I think the fact that we've been able to disrupt operations, get a lot of the people just under him and maybe just a little bit further down, has had some impact on their operations. We know have disrupted, you know, four, five, six, seven active operations that they had planned and probably more that we don't know about.

So we're going to keep the hunt on. Finding one person, as we've talked about before, is a very difficult prospect, but we will keep trying.

Fact checking is not that difficult. These twits should try it some time.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 9:24 AM [+] ::
:: Sunday, July 27, 2003 ::

It Should Be Settled

According to A. Jay Cristol, the Miami judge and Navy veteran whose FOIA lawsuit for USS Liberty documents finally forced the NSA to release its recordings of Israeli Air Force radio transmissions during the attack, the Liberty incident should now be settled "for all but that 2 percent of die-hard conspiracy theorists."

But despite the fact that the released recordings and transcripts affirm Cristol's conclusions about the attack, much of the reporting has portrayed it as a still-open case. Scott Shane's story in today's Baltimore Sun is typical in its generosity, providing an uncritical platform for the comm points peddled by James Bamford, spokesman for the 2 percent. I can understand the desire to write a "balanced" story, but that does not excuse the Sun (or CNN, or UPI) for publishing Bamford's statements, which could easily have been verified as dishonest.

It should be noted that Bamford was exposed and proven a liar long before the NSA released these SIGINT intercepts. He continued to repeat the claim that Marvin Nowicki, the only person with firsthand knowledge of the intercepts who had discussed them in any detail before they were released, believed that they "proved" the attack was deliberate, but quite the opposite is true. Bamford also claimed that the NSA leadership was "virtually unanimous in their belief that the attack was deliberate" -- another bald-faced lie.

Despite his record (Scott Shane, for one, certainly knows of his dishonesty, as he had reported on it in the past), Bamford continues to get top billing in mainstream media reporting on the incident. In any event, Bamford now claims:
The Israeli ground controller who called the ship "Arab" and "Egyptian" may be just repeating a bogus cover story, Bamford says. At one point, he notes, the controller directs the helicopter crews to check whether the survivors speak Arabic or English.

"If they knew it was an Egyptian ship, why did they think the crew might speak English?" Bamford asks.

In addition, the recordings show that one of the helicopter pilots spotted an American flag and read the ship's identification number. If the helicopter pilot saw those identifiers, Bamford asks, why didn't the fighter pilots and torpedo boat crews?

I dunno, Jim. Think it might have something to do with hovering capabilities?

Actually, the torpedo boat crews were able to see Liberty's ensign, after they had already damaged the ship and broken off their attack. According to the Isrealis, the MTB crews caught their first glimpse of Liberty's limp ensign at around 1451L that day, roughly 30 minutes before the Super Frelon helicopter identified the ship as American (seeing only the red portion of the flag, the MTB's first reported that it was a Soviet ship, which scared the shit out of IDF headquarters). A few minutes later, they finally identified the ship as American and offered assistance (they were declined).

The MTB's were not able to identify the ship sooner because Liberty, having just been strafed by Israeli Mirage jets, fired on the MTB's first. Also, the Israeli boats approached Liberty from the Southeast -- moving into the sun, which would have made identifying the colors of a flag on the ship virtually impossible.

Also, Shane's story fails to mention that the flag Bamford refers to was actually the second flag flown by Liberty that day. The first one had been shot to ribbons by the Mirages, and the crew hoisted its holiday ensign -- a 7-by-13-foot flag, in place of its 5-by-8-foot standard.

Bamford, true to his M.O., takes specific passages of the transcripts out of context, then holds them up against the strawman he's constructed for the Israeli side. The Israelis have maintained that Liberty's flag was not visible before or during the attack. These transcripts support that contention. Bamford takes evidence that the Israelis saw the flag after the attack -- which is consistent with their version of events -- and offers it as proof that they lied.

Bamford points to evidence of the possible Israeli massacre of 800 Egyptian prisoners at the time and suggests that Israeli officers wanted to cover up the war crime.

What evidence? No one -- least of all Bamford -- has ever put forth any evidence to support this claim. But like all conspiracy theory motives, there doesn't need to be any evidence. All that is needed is the possibility that it could have happened. That the Sun would portray this as anything more than an unsupported allegation is shameful.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 9:51 PM [+] ::
:: Friday, May 16, 2003 ::

This Bears Repeating

In the first part of my dissection of Mike Ruppert's 9/11 conspiracy timeline, I addressed a favorite argument among the conspiracy loons -- the allegation that the U.S. had planned to invade Afghanistan before the terrorist attacks, as evidenced by threats passed to the Taliban via a Pakistani intermediary in July 2001. David Corn also addresses this argument here. Because Michael Rivero was allowed to repeat the charge on C-SPAN yesterday, as evidence that Afghanistan was a "war of conquest" that had more to do with natural resources than terrorism, the issue deserves a recap.

The story of these "track two" back-channel diplomatic meetings was reported immediately after September 11, in a couple of reports in the British press. Rivero's site includes the BBC story as an article "from before 9/11," which of course is a lie. Former diplomats from the U.S., Russia, Iran, and Pakistan met in a Berlin hotel to discuss what to do with the Taliban regime. The Pakistani representative, former foreign minister Niaz Naik, alleges that the Americans relayed a threat of military action to him, to be passed along to the Afghan government (which Naik also claims was done). Rivero and Ruppert -- as well as French authors Jean-Charles Brisard and Guillaume Dasquie -- offer this as proof that the war in Afghanistan was over a natural gas pipeline the U.S. government wanted built in Afghanistan. The problems with this theory are numerous.

First, it should be noted that contrary to Ruppert's claim that Naik's account was "confirmed" by the Guardian and BBC stories, they remain to this day nothing more than an allegation. The three American participants in the talks, former diplomats Karl Inderfurth, Tom Simon, and Lee Coldren, flatly deny that any such threat was made. The Russian participant Nikolai Kozyrev, does not remember hearing the threat, but does not discount the possibility that it was brought up in "discussions in the corridor" -- though Naik claim's that it was brought up in the full session of the meetings.

As much as the conspiracymongers may want to believe it, Naik's claim doesn't make much sense. We all remember the very public reaction of the Taliban after September 11 -- when it became evident that we were going to attack them, and would be coming in heavy this time. But we are to believe that a threat of military action was passed to the Taliban in July, and they never uttered a word of protest? No denunciations of American imperialism, or attempts to portray the conflict as a "war on Islam" -- in order to rally Muslim countries to the defense of Afghanistan and turn international public opinion against the U.S., which frankly would have been their only chance of survival (and without a September 11-type event, would probably have worked)? Right.

And even though the U.S. may have had an interest in passing such a threat to the Taliban, why would they give specific details as to how the attack would be launched -- such as where the attack would come from, and how many troops the Russians were ponying up for the effort -- to an unofficial representative of a government that had at the time supported the Taliban?

But even if we are to accept Naik's version of what was said in the July meetings, this in no way proves the "war for oil" theory. Naik makes it clear that the threats had nothing to do with any pipeline deal, and had the singular aim of getting the Taliban to stop providing safe haven for al-qaeda. Salon's Damien Cave asked Naik directly whether the pipeline was discussed at all in the July meetings. His response: "No, absolutely not."

There are also problems in the differing accounts about the nature of the military threat. The Guardian version suggests a surgical strike aimed at bin Laden -- on a larger scale than the 1998 strikes, but by no means in keeping with a "war of conquest":
In the break afterwards, Mr Naik told the Guardian yesterday, he asked Mr Simons why the attack should be more successful than Bill Clinton's missile strikes on Afghanistan in 1998, which caused 20 deaths but missed Bin Laden.

"He said this time they were very sure. They had all the intelligence and would not miss him this time. It would be aerial action, maybe helicopter gunships, and not only overt, but from very close proximity to Afghanistan. The Russians were listening to the conversation but not participating."

The BBC version does suggest that the "plan" called for "action to kill or capture both Bin Laden and the Taleban leader, Mullah Omar." And this:
Mr Naik was told that Washington would launch its operation from bases in Tajikistan, where American advisers were already in place.

He was told that Uzbekistan would also participate in the operation and that 17,000 Russian troops were on standby.

I certainly don't consider it out of the realm of the possible that the U.S. would pass such a threat in order to scare the bejeezus out of the Taliban, but if this level of detail -- even though many of the details turned out to be wrong in the actual military action we took -- doesn't add to the plausibility.

But in any event, this episode doesn't support the "wars of conquest" rantings of people like Rivero at all. If anything, it demonstrates further that the conspiracy theorists have serious problems with the truth.

:: COINTELPRO Tool 10:00 PM [+] ::

A Legend in His Own Mind

This has got to be one of the most egregious cases of delusions of grandeur -- to say nothing of complete ignorance of current events -- in the history of mankind: Mike Ruppert taking credit for the firing of Army Secretary Thomas White.

Of course, he's had such fits of imaginary relevance before, once claiming that his public confrontation with Director of Central Intelligence John Deutsch in 1996 cost him an appointment as Secretary of Defense -- seriously! Quite an ego for a guy who can't even get a manuscript past a publisher that specializes in porn and Satanism.

:: COINTELPRO Tool 8:32 PM [+] ::