T'S A LIVING… BUT IT'S NOT A LIFE #9.9
Part 6 - more additions 4

Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

 

Before I get into this one, I'd like to make a huge correction from the last e-mail I sent out. I made a huge error in what Charles had told me. I should have said that he was leaving Hoboken and saw a red truck with "Kill All Arabs" written on the side. I wrote that a bit off the cuff and that was a huge mistake especially considering all the fear in the air these days. I'm sorry about that fuck up. All the other quotes are directly from what I was sent directly.

Well, it's a strange old world. Who would have thought anything in the world could get me singing the praises of Giuliani? If you asked me that a month ago I would have laughed in your face. Shit, but he's is surprisingly the voice of reason and compassion within the insanity that is the media coverage and / or smokescreen. I find myself strangely encouraged whenever I see him speaking. Okay, I know some of you now think I'm an asshole. But he has graciously left his usual agenda off the table to get the real important work of New York City going. I was starting to feel like a real chump for feeling this way. Have I lost my mind in finding inspiration in Giuliani? But if Michael Moore, Alexander Cockburn and even Edward Said are singing his praises in his handling of this situation, who am I to feel otherwise? I'm not the kind of person who ever feels pride for my country or city or whatever. But New York City is pretty lucky to have Giuliani at this point in time. There, I said it…

Speaking of smokescreen, I guess by now everyone knows that China was officially admitted into the WTO yesterday. I often find myself defending China from people attacking them because of their human rights violation. But it's only because I think people doing the criticizing are ignoring this countries human rights violations. If you're not prepared to challenge what's happening where you live, you shouldn't go looking for fights elsewhere to divert attention. It's easy to attack China. But attacking a country miles away that has be dehumanized by anti-communist propaganda can also be a subtle form of racism when done out of convenience. By convenience, I mean that it's easier than criticizing your own country and way of life not to mention people of your own "culture". Having said that, the human rights violations are there and undeniable. But thinking about the whole process now, what better place for a country with incredible human rights violations than the WTO, the group trying to organize and officiate further human rights violations? Globalism is just a pretty way of saying imperialism.

I wonder what else is gonna happen while we're all diverted with the still awesome tragedy of last Tuesday? The CIA are getting another billion dollars. Bush will get his war, his second term (something already in jeopardy so early in his Presidential career) and possibly his legacy. Israel may finally complete their genocide of the Palestinians. China is in the WTO. Who will be next to use this horrible situation to their advantage?

Here are a couple more statements well worth checking out. Again, I apologize if you've already got these. One is new from Michael Moore and the other is from Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair. Michael Moore is always great and can get right to the heart of any matter without overcomplicating it and Cockburn is the main reason that I keep reading the Nation. Incidentally, along with Z magazine, it's worth keeping track of events through the Nation's website.

 

WAR ON WHOM?
By Michael Moore, AlterNet
September 14, 2001

I am on the road tonight, the only way to get out of L.A. and back home to our daughter and our friends in New York City. Oddly enough, I have never driven across this vast country. My wife and I have now stopped in Flagstaff for a few hours sleep before moving on.

The sorrow and anger builds across America. Talk radio tonight was filled with calls for carpet-bombing every Arab country. Many want revenge, blood. But a surprising number of people have called for us to not add to the killing of more innocent humans. The rest stops and the convenience stores along the way were filled with quiet, solemn people, many of whom, like us, can get home no other way than by this four-day trip.

Our daughter is fine, mostly frightened by my desire to fly home to her rather than drive. Once again, I was outvoted 2 to 1. This is nothing new.

We have learned of more people we know who have lost their lives. Bill Weems, who worked as a line producer for us this year, was on the flight from Boston that crashed into the World Trade Center. He was such a sweet and decent soul. Such senseless madness.

The children of New York who are orphaned tonight ... what do we say or do? I will do my part -- anything, something -- as soon as I get to New York. But it will never be enough.

The firefighters of New York: they are on every other block, every day, and they are your best neighbors. Sitting out on the sidewalks in front of the fire stations, a good word and a kind smile to all who pass ... now, 350+ of them gone, having risked their lives to save the victims of a carnage they soon became part of.

A good friend from Flint is a clerical worker at the Pentagon. I have heard no word about her condition. I have tried contacting her family to no avail. Her son, Malcolm, worked on our show. I cannot find him. I keep getting tears in my eyes. Once she gave me a tour of the Pentagon, took me everywhere, and got such a kick out of taking me around this building I used to march on. Will our mutual friends who know Barbara, and know how she is, please write me? Please.

The man who occupies the White House cried today. Good. Keep crying, Mr. Bush. The more you cry, the less you will go to that dark side in all humans where anger rages to a point where we want to blindly kill. Your dad's and Reagan's old cronies -- Eagleberger, Baker, Schultz -- are all calling for you to bomb first and ask questions later. You must NOT do this. If only because you do not want to stoop to these mass murderers' level. Yes, find out who did it. Yes, see that they NEVER do it again.

But GET A GRIP, man. "Declare war?" War against whom? One guy in the desert whom we can never seem to find? Are our leaders telling us that the most powerful country on earth cannot dispose of one sick evil f---wad of a guy? Because if that is what you are telling us, then we are truly screwed. If you are unable to take out this lone ZZ Top wannabe, what on earth would you do for us if we were attacked by a nation of millions? For chrissakes, call the Israelis and have them do that thing they do when they want to get their man! We pay them enough billions each year, I am SURE they would be happy to accommodate your request.

But I beg you, Mr. Bush, stay with the tears. Go today to comfort the wounded of New York. Tell the mayor, a guy most of us have not liked, that he is doing an incredible job, keeping the spirits of everyone up as high as they can be at this moment. Being there for a city I believe he loves, his own cancer still with him, he goes beyond the call of duty.

But do not declare war and massacre more innocents. After bin Laden's previous act of terror, our last elected president went and bombed what he said was "bin Laden's camp" in Afghanistan -- but instead just killed civilians. Then he bombed a factory in the Sudan, saying it was "making chemical weapons." It turned out to be making aspirin. Innocent people murdered by our Air Force.

Back in May, you gave the Taliban in Afghanistan $48 million dollars of our tax money. No free nation on earth would give them a cent, but you gave them a gift of $48 million because they said they had "banned all drugs."

Because your drug war was more important than the actual war the Taliban had inflicted on its own people, you helped to fund the regime who had given refuge to the very man you now say is responsible for killing my friend on that plane and for killing the friends of families of thousands and thousands of people. How dare you talk about more killing now! Shame! Shame! Shame! Explain your actions in support of the Taliban! Tell us why your father and his partner Mr. Reagan trained Mr. bin Laden in how to be a terrorist!

Am I angry? You bet I am. I am an American citizen, and my leaders have taken my money to fund mass murder. And now my friends have paid the price with their lives.

Keep crying, Mr. Bush. Keep running to Omaha or wherever it is you go while others die, just as you ran during Vietnam while claiming to be "on duty" in the Air National Guard. Nine boys from my high school died in that miserable war. And now you are asking for "unity" so you can start another one? Do not insult me or my country like this!

Yes, I, too, will be in church at noon today, on this national day of mourning. I will pray for you, and us, and the children of New York, and the children of this sad and ugly world.

 

SENSE AND NONSENSE ABOUT SEPTEMBER 11
September 12, 2001
By Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St Clair

Did Osama bin-Laden outwit US intelligence agencies in a deadly game of decoy or double bluff? CounterPunch has learned from two sources that a) three weeks before the attack of September 11 security at the World Trade Center was abruptly heightened and that b) six weeks before the attack a US army base in New Jersey was placed on top security alert.

As regards the heightened security at the Trade Center, we are told that according to a businessman working in World Trade Building number 7 (the 41-story structure that collapsed after having been evacuated) "security was heightened three weeks ago, including the introduction for the first time of sniffer dogs and the physical search of all trucks prior to their being waved into the entrance from the street.

The US army base in New Jersey is the Arsenal at Picatinny. Our informant says that at the start of July the Arsenal was placed at a very state of alert, with some staff locked in their offices for a period. Set this information against the fact that Osama bin Laden, now prime suspect, said in an interview three weeks ago with Abdel-Bari Atwan, the editor of the London-based al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper, that he planned "very, very big attacks against American interests."

On the night of September 11 Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts told CNN that CIA director George Tenet informed him before the attack that the Agency had recently thwarted an attack by bin Laden's organization.

So, was there an attempted attack some time in August, or was it merely a feint by the bin Laden units, to prompt an alert, then a relaxation of US security procedures?

US intelligence agencies, stung with charges that they are responsible for a failure of catastrophic proportions, are successfully pressing for bigger funding, with the likelihood that the present $30 billion outlay will soar upward.

The September 11th onslaughts on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon are being likened to Pearl Harbor and the comparison is just. From the point of view of the assailants the attacks were near miracles of logistical calculation, timing, courage in execution and devastation inflicted upon the targets. The Pearl Harbor base containing America's naval might was thought to be invulnerable, yet in half an hour 2000 were dead, and the cream of the fleet destroyed. This week, within an hour on the morning of September 11, security at three different airports was successfully breached, the crews of four large passenger jets efficiently overpowered, the cockpits commandeered, navigation coordinates reset.

In three of the four missions the assailants attained successes probably far beyond the expectations of the planners. As a feat of suicidal aviation the Pentagon kamikaze assault was particularly audacious, with eyewitness accounts describing the Boeing 767 skimming the Potomac before driving right through the low lying Pentagon perimeter, in a sector housing Planning and Logistics.

The two Trade Center buildings were struck at what structural engineers say were the points of maximum vulnerability. The strength of the buildings derived entirely from the steel perimeter frame, designed - so its lead architect said only last week - to withstand the impact of a Boeing 707. These buildings were struck full force on the morning of September 11 by Boeings 767s, with fuel tanks fully loaded for the long flights to the West Coast. Within an hour of the impacts both buildings collapsed.

By evening, a third 46-story Trade Center building had also crumbled. Not in terms of destructive extent, but in terms of symbolic obliteration the attack is virtually without historic parallel, a trauma at least as great as the San Francisco earthquake or the Chicago fire.

Here is bin-Laden, probably the most notorious Islamic foe of America on the planet, originally trained by the CIA, planner of other successful attacks on US installations such as the embassies in East Africa, carrying a $5 million FBI bounty on his head proclaiming the imminence of another assault, and US intelligence was impotent, even though the attacks must have taken months, if not years to plan, and even though CNN has reported that bin-Laden and his coordinating group al-Qa'ida had been using an airstrip in Afghanistan to train pilots to fly 767s.

Back in the 1960s and 1970s, when hijacking was a preoccupation, the possibility of air assaults on buildings such as the Trade Center were a major concern of US security and intelligence agencies. But since the 1980s and particularly during the Clinton-Gore years the focus shifted to more modish fears, such as bio-chemical assault and nuclear weapons launched by so-called rogue states. This latter threat had the allure of justifying the $60 billion investment in Missile Defense aka Star Wars. The national security budget is grotesquely tilted towards high tech, costly items, and this is reflected in the procurement policies of the intelligence agencies which have poured money into satellites, spy planes and snooping technologies, (which are so incompetent they even failed to detect India's nuclear detonations in June of 1998), all at the expense of human intelligence.

One of the biggest proponents of the bio-chemical threat was Al Gore's security advisor, Leon Fuerth, who wailed plaintively amid the rubble of the Pentagon that "In effect the country's at war but we don't have the coordinates of the enemy."

In the aftermath of the attack, calls for retribution mounted rapidly, few with more venom that the oration in Congress from the junior senator from New York, who was positively blood curdling in contrast to Mayor Rudy Giuliani's commendable performance as a leader and as a public voice counseling against over-hasty identification of the attackers.

The phrases "faceless coward" and "faceless enemy" have been bandied about. This phrase has a savage resonance to those who recall its use in America's war in Vietnam. In 1965 CIA officer George Carver wrote an infamous article in Foreign Affairs titled "The Faceless Vietcong", which rationalized the US campaign of assassination and torture of civilians in South Vietnam that came to be known as the Phoenix Program.

The lust for retaliation traditionally outstrips precision in identifying the actual assailant. By early evening, September 11, America's national security establishment was calling for a removal of all impediments on the assassination of foreign leaders. Led by President Bush, they were endorsing the prospect of attacks not just on the perpetrators but on those who might have harbored them. From the nuclear priesthood is coming the demand that mini-nukes be deployed on a preemptive basis against the enemies of America.

The targets abroad will be all the usual suspects: rogue states, (most of which, like the Taleban or Saddam Hussein, started off as creatures of US intelligence). The target at home will be the Bill of Rights. Less than a week ago the FBI raided Infocom, the Texas-based web host for Muslim groups such as the Council on Islamic Relations, the Islamic Society of North America, the Islamic Association for Palestine, and the Holy Land Foundation.

Declan McCullagh, political reporter for Wired, has described how within hours of the blast FBI agents began showing up at internet service providers demanding that they place "Carnivore system" traces to track e-mail traffic on their systems. In some cases the FBI offered to underwrite the costs of installing "Carnivore". McCullagh quotes one Microsoft engineer as saying that Microsoft "officials have been receiving calls from the San Francisco FBI office since mid-Tuesday morning and are cooperating with their expedited request for information about a few specific accounts.

Most of the account names start with the word 'Allah' and contain messages in Arabic."

Palestinians have been denied visas, and those in this country can, under the terms of the Counter-Terrorism Act of the Clinton years, be held and expelled without due process. The explosions were not an hour old before terror pundits like Anthony Cordesman, Wesley Clark, Robert Gates and Lawrence Eagleburger were saying that these attacks had been possible "because America is a democracy", adding that now some democratic perquisites might have to be abandoned. What might this mean? Increased domestic snooping by US law enforcement and intelligence agencies; ethnic profiling; another drive for a national ID card system.

The aftermath of the attacks did not offer a flattering exhibition of America's leaders. For most of the day the only Bush who looked composed and in control was Laura, who happened to waiting to testify on Capitol Hill. Her husband gave a timid and stilted initial reaction in Sarasota, Florida, then disappeared for an hour before resurfacing Barksdale airbase in Shreveport, Louisiana, where he gave another flaccid address with every appearance of bring on tranquilizers. He was then flown to a bunker in Nebraska, before someone finally had the wit to suggest that the best place for an American president at time of national emergency is the Oval Office.

Other members of the cabinet were equally elusive. Secretary of State Colin Powell, who has managed to avoid almost every site of crisis or debate was once again absent from the scene, in Latin America. Defense Secretary Donald Runsfeld remained invisible most of the day, even though it would have taken him only a few short steps to get to the Pentagon pressroom and make some encouraging remarks. When he did finally appear the substance of his remarks and his demeanor were even more banal and unprepossessing than those of his commander in chief. At no point did Vice President Cheney appear in public.

Some presidential contenders make haste to present themselves to the press. John McCain curdled the air with threats against America's foes, as did John Kerry, who immediately blamed bin-Laden and who stuck the knife firmly into CIA director George Tenet, citing Tenet as having told him not long ago that the CIA had neutralized an impending attack by bin-Laden. Orrin Hatch told CNN, "This looks like the signature of Osama bin-Laden. We're going to find out who did this and we're going after the bastards. Yes, this is the same Hatch who was a senior Republican on the senate intelligence committee when the CIA was arming bin-Laden and the Afghan rebels. In 1998 Hatch told MSNBC that he would support the fundamentalist Afghan rebels again even if he knew that it would create another bin Laden. "It was worth it", Hatch said.

Absent national political leadership, the burden of rallying the nation fell as usual upon the TV anchors, all of whom seem to have resolved early on to lower the emotional temper, though Tom Brokaw did lisp a declaration of War against Terror. One of the more ironic sights was Dan Rather talking about retaliation against bin Laden. It was of course Rather, wrapped in a turban, who voyaged to the Hindu Kush in the early 1980s to send back paeans to the Mujahiddeen (trained and supplied by the CIA in its largest ever operation), which ushered onto the world stage such well trained cadres as those now deployed against America.

The eyewitness reports of the collapse of the two Trade Center buildings were not inspired, at least for those who have heard the famous eyewitness radio reportage of the crash of the Hindenberg zeppelin in Lakehurst, New Jersey in 1937 with the anguished cry of the reporter, "Oh the humanity, the humanity". Radio and TV reporters these days seem incapable of narrating an ongoing event with any sense of vivid language or dramatic emotive power.

The commentators were similarly incapable of explaining with any depth the likely context of the attacks. It was possible to watch the cream of the nation's political analysts and commentating classes, hour after hour, without ever hearing the word "Israel", unless in the context of a salutary teacher in how to deal with Muslims. One could watch hour after hour without hearing any intimation that these attacks might be the consequence of the recent Israeli rampages in the Occupied Territories that have included assassinations of Palestinian leaders and the slaughter of Palestinian civilians with the use of American aircraft; that these attacks might also stem from the sanctions against Iraq that have seen upward of a million children die; that these attacks might in part be a response to US cruise missile attacks on the Sudanese factories that had been loosely fingered by US intelligence as connected to bin-Laden.

In fact September 11 was the anniversary of George W. Bush's speech to Congress in 1990, heralding war against Iraq. It was also the anniversary of the Camp David accords, which signaled the US buy-out of Egypt as any countervailing force for Palestinian rights in the Middle East. One certain beneficiary of the attacks is Israel. Polls had been showing popular dislike here for Israel's recent tactics, which may have been the motivation for Colin Powell's few bleats of reproof to Israel. We will be hearing no such bleats in the weeks to come. The attackers probably bet on that too, as a way of making the US's support for Israeli intransigence even more explicit, finishing off Arafat in the process.

"Freedom," said George Bush in Sarasota in the first sentence of his first reaction, "was attacked this morning by a faceless coward."

That properly represents the stupidity and blindness of almost all of the mainstream political commentary. By contrast, the commentary on economic consequences was more informative, even though the possibility of a deep plunge in the world economy was barely dealt with. Yet before the attacks the situation was extremely precarious, with the possibility of catastrophic deflation as the 1990s bubble bursts, and the stresses of world over-capacity and lack of purchasing power take an ever-greater toll.

Worst hit, and therefore most likely precipitate of a wider crash, is the insurance industry, whose predicament is now desperate, with an exposure that is, in the words of a spokesman for Swiss Re, the world's second largest reinsurer, "completely inestimable" . Likely outfall in the short-term: hiked energy prices, a further drop in global stock markets.

George Bush will have no trouble in raiding the famous lock-box, using Social Security Trust Funds to give more money to the Defense Department.

That about sums it up. Three planes are successfully steered into three of America's most conspicuous buildings and America's response will be to put more money in missile defense as a way of bolstering the economy.

 

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