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:: Friday, November 22, 2002 ::


Yesterday, addressing the Global Howler's 9/11 conspiracy timeline, I incorrectly noted that Enron had pulled out of its liquid natural gas (LNG) venture in Qatar in 2001, not 1999. Bruce Rolston correctly points out that these were two different ventures. My mistake.

But my central point -- that Global Howler, among others, have falsely claimed that Enron's Dabhol electrical plant in India was "jeopardized" when the company "lost access" to Qatari LNG. First, I'm not sure you can say that Enron "lost" access -- they walked away from it because it wasn't profitable. And the Business World story Bruce cites for the impacts on Dabhol sounds remarkably upbeat.

Bruce also quotes this report:
The 1995 letter of intent was for the construction of an LNG plant in Qatar with an annual capacity of 5 mm tpy, supplying LNG to Dabhol, Israel and Jordan.
The project suffered its first set back when Israel in 1996 refused to purchase Qatari gas. Enron failed to find new clients for the spare capacity.
In December, Enron signed a sales and purchase agreement with Oman LNG for 1.6 mm tpy of LNG for the Dabhol plant. It said it would also sign a deal with Abu Dhabi Gas Liquefication for 500,000 tpy.

Essentially, Enron decided that it did not have enough demand for LNG to support an entirely new project, so it opted for "expanding existing facilities." This also belies Bruce's claim that the shutdown forced Enron to "look for alternate sources" to fuel the Dabhol project. They already had alternate sources, but that's a relatively minor point.

I suppose you could argue that technically one could be said to "lose" something when you decide it is no longer in your interest and walk away from it. And to be fair, Global Howler does not go as far as Mike Ruppert, who proclaimed that with the loss of "access" to Qatari LNG, Enron's "only remaining option to make the investment profitable is a trans-Afghani gas pipeline to be built by Unocal from Turkmenistan that would terminate near the Indian border at the city of Multan."

So, I'm willing concede that Global Howler's argument -- and it is an argument, and not merely a "question," as the site's publisher has repeatedly claimed in his lame impersonation of Eric Idle in Flit's comments -- is flagrantly deceptive, while Ruppert's is just a lie.

And an outrageous one at that.

:: COINTELPRO Tool 2:14 PM [+] ::

Who Said Anything About Being Objective?

Bruce Rolston has replied to my earlier post on the conspiracy theory web site, Global Howler. Curiously, he uses the headline, "Who's Really Still Objective." I've certainly never claimed to be objective, and my criticisms of Global Howler and the rest of the collection of conspiracy nuts have had nothing to do with objectivity, either. It's about honesty.

More to the point, Bruce puts in a great deal of effort into trying to reconcile Global Howler's rhetoric with the truth, or at least, within the realm of "reasonable questions." His general argument is that Global Howler is one of his "level one" conspiracy sites, in that it merely raises unanswered questions, and doesn't try to "link stuff in improbable chains." He also uses the term "dispassionate" to describe their presentation of the facts, which is quite a howler in itself. I'm not sure how dispassionate it is to post a story about the 9/11 hijackers working out at various gyms "presumably, to get in shape for a hijacking," under the headline, "Preparing to Die."

Global Howler does far more than merely raise questions. Although they do not go as far as Mike Ruppert and whatreallyhappened.com (which are not, as he notes, one and the same), but they still present information in a highly distorted manner, which is clearly intended to lean the reader toward the same idiotic conclusions. And yes, Bruce, the also lie.

In many places in his post, Bruce selectively edits passages both from the global howler website and my e-mails, leaving out relevant information. First, he quotes me on Larry SIlverstein's attempt to double his insurance policy on the WTC towers by claiming the attacks were two separate events:
'The howlers suggest WTC owner Larry Silverstein may profit from the attacks... And take a gander at the first source cited for this item: the rabidly anti-Semitic aztlan.net..."

What global howler actually said:

"July 24, 2001: The US Government sells the World Trade Center to Manhattan real estate mogul Larry Silverstein. This is the only time the WTC has ever been sold. Silverstein is now pursuing a $7.1 billion insurance claim, after paying $3.2 billion for a 99 year lease on the doomed property."

This is, simply a fact. The source, anti-Semitic or not, does not matter if it's true.

And here is what I actually wrote in the e-mail he butchered:
The howlers suggest WTC owner Larry Silverstein may profit from the attacks ("For Sale: Large Insurance Claim"), for pursuing a $7.1 billion
insurance settlement for property he paid $3.2 billion for.

To the innumerate (or actuarially illiterate, to be more precise) the $7.1B payout looks like a sweet deal for property that only cost you $3.2B, but the estimated liability is around $40B. Most business papers have derided Silverstein as an idiot for grossly underinsuring the WTC, but these guys make him sound like a profiteer.

And take a gander at the first source cited for this item: the rabidly anti-Semitic aztlan.net (they even have a Spanish version of the Protocols on their site).

As you can see, I did not suggest that the information in that specific item was factually incorrect -- just incredibly misleading, and quite obviously intentionally so. But he completely evaded this point in his response. And I maintain that my criticism of their use of the aztlan hate site was valid. The "facts" as they cited them, were available in the respectable sources the quoted after aztlan.net, so why include it?

Then, Bruce claims that I unfairly accused global howler of lying when they wrote that an Enron electrical plant in India was "is jeopardized when the company loses access to fuel for the plant from the State of Qatar." He grants me my point that Enron had two other sources of LNG to power the plant, and that the real reason the plant failed was over disagreement over a fair fee to operate the plant. But he maintains that the blurb is still factually correct, because Enron did, in fact, lose access to those particular sources.

Even if I were to grant him this point, the post still goes far beyond his "level one"standard, and is highly deceptive. But as it happens, the item is not true, despite his protests:
The move by the Dabhol Power Company, 65 percent owned by Enron, starts the clock ticking on a six-month notice period before the contract is voided, during which negotiations to settle the dispute are expected. The $2.9 billion Dabhol project represents the largest single foreign investment in India. Separately, Enron said today that it was withdrawing from a pipeline project in Qatar, which would have supplied some gas to Dabhol. The company said that the two steps were unrelated.[LA Times, May 22, 2001]

Please note that the "event" in global howler's timeline is dated April 1999, and yet Enron pulled out (and not the other way around) of its deal with Qatar two years later. I suppose it's possible that Enron had both lost it's deal with Qatar and gained it back within that two-year period, and only the Albion Monitor caught this amazing story (there is no reference to it on Lexis-Nexis), but I think I'm going to have to call this a lie.

On another howler item, Bruce says:
And they rely too much on the UK Mirror's description of the October, 2000 emergency drills at the Pentagon, which dealt with a airliner crashing into the building, but not necessarily a hijacked airliner, as they claim. But all that just suggests to me that they haven't seen all the evidence Herbert and I have yet, not that they're building air castles out of nothing.

Excuse me? They added details that were not included in the story they quoted. It's not that they missed some important detail, which could be attributed to not having access to all the relevant information. They made it up. You can't chalk that up to ignorance. It's a flagrant lie.

Finally, Bruce says that I was wrong on global howler's item about bin Laden family members being flown out of the U.S. during the grounding of all other commercial flights.
"The young members of the bin Laden clan... left the country on a private charter plane when airports reopened three days after the attacks."

Again, that's exactly true. Herbert's the one with his facts wrong this time.

He is certainly right about the "out of the U.S." part, as I did, in fact, miss the fact that they accurately quoted the infamous NYT story, which has been distorted by many others. But the headline of that particular item says "Flying when no one else can" -- another example of that "dispassionate" portrayal of the facts, and, in this case, quite deceptive.

And yet again, Bruce selectively edits the relevant passage, this time from the global howler's post. The complete item reads, "The young members of the bin Laden clan were driven or flown under FBI supervision to a secret assembly point in Texas and then to Washington from where they left the country on a private charter plane when airports reopened three days after the attacks."

Notice the Times writes "driven or flown," suggesting quite clearly that they had no confirmation at all that the bin Ladens were able to "fly when no one else can," as their headline suggests. I suppose that you can argue that their post was technically not a lie, but again, it was clearly intended to deceive.

Bruce says he believes that global howler "to be using their website to search for truth in a state of imperfect knowledge, I hold out hopes that that dialogue might be possible, and profitable." As for me, I wasn't suggesting that global howler was as bad as the blatantly racist sites like Rivero's. But they actively engage in deceipt to arrive at conclusions that are idiotic. In addition to their timeline, the web site features a flash video with the concise title, "Bush Knew." Tell me again how they are just asking reasonable questions, and provide a "flatter, more dispassionate telling of the same facts" as the other bastions of hebephrenia?

If Bruce really thinkshas he can engage in a reasoned discussion with the howlers, I wish him the best of luck.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 12:56 AM [+] ::
:: Wednesday, November 20, 2002 ::

A Lie Is a Lie

Bruce Rolston says that I shouldn't paint all conspiracy theory Web sites with such a broad brush, and takes issue with my letter to Toronto Star columnist Antonia Verbisias. He categorizes such Web sites into three different levels of looniness, and argues that one of the three sites Zerbisias shamelessly -- and uncritically -- plugged in her original column actually has some merit:
But for the moment I'd rate globalhowler.com, despite the silly name, as a Level 1 site. People should read it. There are a lot of questions it raises (such as the airline stock profiteering, or why John Ashcroft was warned to stop using commercial air) that, due to any official U.S. inquiry, have never been explained, at least to my satisfaction. It's certainly worth a look, and if Zerbisias had shown any ability to discriminate between the sane conspiracy theorists and the insane ones, I'd have a lot more respect for her.

As for Bill Herbert, I don't think he's read globalhowler.com. Because there are some questions there that I don't think he could "cut to pieces quite easily."

As it happens, I have read global howler, though I admit that I hadn't seen it until Zerbisias' column alerted me to it's existence. Its "9/11 timeline" is nearly identical to Mike Ruppert's own timeline, which of course is riddled with flagrant distortions and outright lies. Global Howler even cites Ruppert's idiotic Delmart Vreeland spy case. If Bruce had read my own five-part series on Ruppert's timeline -- and I don't think he has -- he would know that I have already cut the vast majority of the same arguments to pieces, quite easily.

I'll grant Bruce his contention that things such as the pre-9/11 put options have not been satisfactorily explained. But the suggestion that the CIA knew of the transactions beforehand -- and should have concluded that a series of coordinated hijackings to fly commercial airliners into the WTC and the pentagon was in the works -- is complete garbage. As for Ashcroft's flight plans, you don't even need Occam's razor to conclude that this was an example of the sense of entitlement political appointees often think they are entitled to. Remember John Sununu?

The main point of my letter to Zerbisias was that these kinds of questions are raised in the evil corporate-controlled media here in the states. And in a more responsible manner, I might add. The argument that reading outright lies on the internet, just to get at the nugget of truth that they sometimes surround, is nonsense.

So no, Bruce, people don't "need" to look at these conspiracy web sites -- any of them -- to maintain a healthy level of skepticism. There are plenty of respectable sources of news and opinion that are willing to take on sacred cows, and they do so without injecting silliness about Navy spies in Canadian jails, or urban legends about bin Laden relatives being flown out of the U.S. by the FBI while during a commercial flight grounding.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 11:50 PM [+] ::
:: Thursday, November 14, 2002 ::

Ruppert Issues Apology for Slanderous Accusation

If you check this post on the Mike Ruppert timeline, you will notice that item 51 -- which is now item 56 on his latest revision has been removed.

Ruppert had alleged that a "a colleague of Iran-Contra figure Adnan Khashoggi and a notorious inside trader on the financial markets" had liquidated his childrens' trust fund account on September 10, 2001. In addition to removing this item from his bogus timeline, Ruppert has apologized to the individual named, as he is neither an associate of Khashoggi nor has he ever been convicted of any crime, including insider trading.

Though charged with insider trading, the initial claims of foreknowledge of the September 11 attacks were immediately dropped. In fact, the individual "spent Sept. 11 tracking suspicious stock trades and passing the information on to the local office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which thanked him for his help."

Ruppert's claims of a connection to Adnan Khashoggi were not corroborated by any independent account of this story, and he has since yanked the blurb from his bullshit-riddled timeline and personally apologized to the individual. He also promised to publish "something" to set the record straight, but has not done so at the time of this publishing.

UPDATE: Ruppert has finally issued a public retraction. He has also withdrawn his $1,000 offer to anyone who can identify lies and distortions in his accusations. The man is completely bereft of shame.

Readers of this Web site, however, know the true story.

:: COINTELPRO Tool 11:43 PM [+] ::
:: Tuesday, November 12, 2002 ::

Moonbat Conspiracy Theory of the Week Day Hour Minute

Just when you thought the LaRouche Left couldn't get any more freakish.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 3:00 PM [+] ::
:: Saturday, November 09, 2002 ::

Fisking Gore Vidal, the Extended Remix

To supplement Ron Rosenbaum's slamdunk on Vidal's tripe in the Observer, I offer a more extensive examination than my earlier post.

As Rosenbaum notes, LaRoucheVidal moves quickly from "we still don't know by whom we were struck that infamous Tuesday" to ...
Even so, we have been getting some answers to the question: why weren't we warned in advance of 9/11? Apparently, we were, repeatedly; for the better part of a year, we were told there would be unfriendly visitors to our skies some time in September 2001, but the government neither informed nor protected us despite Mayday warnings from Presidents Putin and Mubarak, from Mossad and even from elements of our own FBI.

Vidal cites the joint Congressional intelligence panel's report from September of this year, which, as I wrote back then, uncovered far more warnings of terrorist attacks abroad -- and not involving hijacked airplanes -- than the 12 warnings, over a seven year period. That Vidal would cite a 1994 warning of a plot to hijack American Airliners and blow them up over the Pacific ocean as evidence of "unfriendly visitors to our skies some time in September 2001" is a strong indication that he has never read the report, prefering the brief synopses provided by various conspiracy theory Web sites.

Similarly, his incredibly deluded interpretation of Brzezinski's The Grand Chessboard bears such strong resemblance to the "Afghan invasion blueprint" arguments, that it is doubtful he ever cracked open the book himself. Rather than quoting religiously from the book itself, he prefers the conclusions of others:
Ahmed sums up: 'Brzezinski clearly envisaged that the establishment, consolidation and expansion of US military hegemony over Eurasia through Central Asia would require the unprecedented, open-ended militarisation of foreign policy, coupled with an unprecedented manufacture of domestic support and consensus on this militarisation campaign.'

As I've written earlier, there is no mention of military designs whatsoever in Brzezinski's book. He merely states the obvious: that we are the last remaining superpower, and Eurasia is the most strategically-vital area on the globe. His criticisms of the isolationist mentality that has historically prevented U.S. engagement in far away lands unless we are attacked first, is twisted by the likes of Mike Ruppert into a brazen call for such an attack.

What Brzezinski really calls for is "maneuver and manipulation in order to prevent the emergence of a hostile coalition that could eventually seek to challenge America's primacy" and "gradually yield to a greater emphasis on the emergence of increasingly important but strategically compatible parters who, prompted by American leadership, might help to shape a more cooperative trans-Eurasian security system." Real scary shit.

Then on to the tired war-for-oil theory:
Currently, the pipeline is a go-project thanks to the junta's installation of a Unocal employee (John J Maresca) as US envoy to the newly born democracy whose president, Hamid Karzai, is also, according to Le Monde, a former employee of a Unocal subsidiary. Conspiracy? Coincidence!

The fact that Unocal no longer has an interest in the pipeline project doesn't enter Vidal's ossified brain. Nor does he entertain the possibility that maybe, just maybe, Unocal hired the likes of Maresca (who was, as Vidal doesn't bother to mention, a career diplomat before joining the oil firm) and Karzai because of their expertise and influence in both the region's political culture and international relations in general -- instead of the other way around.
On 21 January 2002, the Canadian media analyst Barry Zwicker summed up on CBC-TV: 'That morning no interceptors responded in a timely fashion to the highest alert situation. This includes the Andrews squadrons which ... are 12 miles from the White House ... Whatever the explanation for the huge failure, there have been no reports, to my knowledge, of reprimands. This further weakens the "Incompetence Theory". Incompetence usually earns reprimands. This causes me to ask whether there were "stand down" orders.'?? On 29 August 2002, the BBC reports that on 9/11 there were 'only four fighters on ready status in the north-eastern US'. Conspiracy? Coincidence? Error?

How about outright lie, from start to finish? In addition to restating the baseless nonsense that no fighters were sortied until after the pentagon was hit, Vidal suggests that somehow, the D.C Air National Guard -- the fucking D.C Air National Guard -- should have been able to respond earlier. Yes, you brainless twit, the fighters stationed at Andrews AFB are weekend warriors.

Vidal also quotes Stan Goff, a Marxist activist from Chapel Hill who served as an Army Ranger, in his tirade about "stand down orders." Though he touts himself as an expert in special operations, most of Goff's drivel has to do with NORAD procedures, and aviation, about which he is woefully ignorant.
Now the real kicker: a pilot they want us to believe was trained at a Florida puddle-jumper school for Piper Cubs and Cessnas, conducts a well-controlled downward spiral descending the last 7,000 feet in two-and-a-half minutes, brings the plane in so low and flat that it clips the electrical wires across the street from the Pentagon, and flies it with pinpoint accuracy into the side of the building at 460 knots.

I'm not sure how much "pinpoint accuracy is required to hit a 6.6 million square-foot building, and in any event, the plane actually skidded across the ground before slamming into the pentagon. Goff also wrote:
The so-called evidence is a farce. The US presented Tony Blair's puppet government with the evidence, and of the 70 so-called points of evidence, only nine even referred to the attacks on the World Trade Center, and those points were conjectural. This is a bullshit story from beginning to end. Presented with the available facts, any 16-year old with a liking for courtroom dramas could tear this story apart like a two-dollar shirt.

In his defense, Goff did not have access to what we now know of the attacks when he wrote this diatribe back in October of last year, but Vidal cannot claim that as an excuse.

Goff has a rich history of promoting conspiracy theories, writing once that:
Slobodan Milosevic is no war criminal. Nor was he a dictator. Until the US started a massive campaign of extortion, bribery and election-rigging in Serbia, he won his elections fair and square--unlike the current de facto President of the United States. Nor did Milsoevic ever lead the non-existent movement for Greater Serbia. Nor do Serbs collectively "share" any blame for whatever flavor-of-the-day atrocity is being invented by the IMF, the State Department, NATO Headquarters in Brussels, or that fake Tribunal.

Getting back to Vidal, he goes on to parrot one of Michael Moore's stale canards:
According to BBC TV's Newsnight (6 Nov 2001), '... just days after the hijackers took off from Boston aiming for the Twin Towers, a special charter flight out of the same airport whisked 11 members of Osama's family off to Saudi Arabia. That did not concern the White House, whose official line is that the bin Ladens are above suspicion.'

Unbelievable. This guy really doesn't get out much anymore, does he?
:: COINTELPRO Tool 8:03 PM [+] ::

The Smoking Gun Video

Milosevic apologist and all-around lunatic Jared Israel has uncovered a video he says "proves" the September 11 attacks were no surprise to Bush. The video covers the president's entire trip to the Booker School in Florida, including the infamous whisper into his ear by WHCOS Andrew Card:
If his Chief of Staff tells the President the country is under attack, the President would discuss it. He would ask questions. Demand more information. Leave the room. Meet with advisers. Do *something*. But Bush just sat there.

The Chief of Staff is the President's *employee*. If he tells the President, "America is under attack" the President would *give him orders.* But Bush said nothing - not one word. And Andy Card didn't wait for instructions; he rushed away.

What does this mean?

It means Andy Card did not expect a response.

It means he cannot have been informing Bush that an *unexpected* national attack was underway.

It means he was giving Bush an update on the progress of a plan of which Bush was already aware, and he had to get back to work.

Yeah, Jared, we get it. Because the president didn't jump up immediately, shrieking "my God, where are my aircraft carriers? Launch all available fighter jets! shut down the borders and all commercial air traffic immediately!" in the presence of small children, he had to have been expecting the news.

:: COINTELPRO Tool 6:36 PM [+] ::
:: Friday, November 01, 2002 ::

Kim Jong-Il Pacifists

This is why the Tin Foil Hat wing of the Left view David Corn as a CIA plant. But considering the damage they've done to their own cause, he could reasonably make the same charge against them.
[Via Damian Penny]

:: COINTELPRO Tool 4:46 PM [+] ::