Friday, November 30, 2001

Afghanistan uber alles
Tariq Ali in The Guardian introduces the once and future king:

And if the 87-year-old King Zahir Shah is wheeled over from Rome, what then?

Nothing much, thinks the west, except to convince the Pashtuns that their interests are being safeguarded. But judging from past form, Zahir Shah might not be satisfied with the status quo.

A document from the German Foreign Office, dated October 3 1940, makes fascinating reading. It is from State Secretary Weizsacker to the German legation in Kabul and is worth quoting in some detail: "The Afghan minister called on me on September 30 and conveyed greetings from his minister president, as well as their good wishes for a favourable outcome of the war. He inquired whether German aims in Asia coincided with Afghan hopes; he alluded to the oppression of Arab countries and referred to the 15m Afghans [Pashtuns, mainly in the North West Frontier province] who were forced to suffer on Indian territory.

"My statement that Germany's goal was the liberation of the peoples of the region referred to, who were under the British yoke... was received with satisfaction by the Afghan minister. He stated that justice for Afghanistan would be created only when the country's frontier had been extended to the Indus; this would also apply if India should secede from Britain... The Afghan remarked that Afghanistan had given proof of her loyal attitude by vigorously resisting English pressure to break off relations with Germany."

The king who had dispatched the minister to Berlin was the 26-year-old Zahir Shah. The minister-president was his uncle Sardar Muhammad Hashim Khan.

What is interesting in the German dispatch is not so much the evidence of the Afghan king's sympathy for the Nazi regime. It is the desire for a Greater Afghanistan via the incorporation of what is now Pakistan's North West Frontier province and its capital Peshawar. Zahir Shah's return is being strongly resisted by Pakistan. They know that the king never accepted the Durand Line, dividing Afghanistan and Pakistan, not even as a temporary border. They are concerned that he might encourage Pashtun nationalism.
Erratum corrected by world's best newsmagazine (right wing division), The Economist

In the issues of December 16th 2000 to November 10th 2001, we may have given the impression that George Bush had been legally and duly elected president of the United States. We now understand that this may have been incorrect, and that the election result is still too close to call. The Economist apologises for any inconvenience.
Robert Mokhiber wants a piece of Ari,
on US sponsored terrorism in Lebanon

Q Ari, over the weekend there were reports in the British press that a catastrophic error by U.S. Air Force bombers killed 150 Afghan civilians. Do you have -- does the administration have any numbers on how many civilians have been killed by U.S. bombs since the bombing started?

MR. FLEISCHER: Let me make two points on that. One is I don't think you'll ever witness a nation that has worked so hard to avoid civilian casualties as the United States has. It is part of the training, part of the mission, part of the professionalism of the men and women who serve in the Armed Forces that they work so hard to conduct a war that -- works so hard to protect innocent lives on the ground. If you're asking any more specific operational questions, including numbers, you need to talk to DOD.

Q The second question, in his book, "Veil," Bob Woodward reported a couple of years ago that a CIA-sponsored car bomb killed 80 innocent civilians in Beirut. You talk about terror and the war on evil -- is the war on terror and evil, does that include U.S.-sponsored terror and U.S.-sponsored deaths, civilian deaths?

MR. FLEISCHER: Well, I'm not going to accept the premise of that question. If you're talking about the United States acting in self-defense -- and I'm not referring this to the question of anything that was written in Mr. Woodward's book -- but if you're suggesting that an equivalence between the United States protecting itself in the war on Afghanistan and terrorism practiced against the United States, I don't accept the premise of that question and the moral equivalence that you're suggesting.
Eighty-something Helen Thomas gives young punk Ari Fleischer the what for,
on Spain's refusal to extradite al-Qaeda terrorists to backward land with medieval justice system

Q Does the President feel the United States has the right to bomb or invade any country harboring terrorists? Is he going to invade Spain?

MR. FLEISCHER: Helen, the President, as I mentioned, is focused on phase one --

Q Eight suspected terrorists --

MR. FLEISCHER: The President is focused on phase one of the war against terrorism. But the President has made it plain to the American people that this a long-term war.

Q Answer the question. What right do we have to invade any country?

MR. FLEISCHER: I'm not aware that we are invading Spain.
Revolt spreads through Oregon

CORVALLIS, Ore (Reuters) - Police chiefs in three Oregon cities Thursday joined Portland's chief in balking at a request by federal officials to question foreigners who may have information regarding terrorist attacks.

The police department in Eugene, the state's second largest city, joined Corvallis, a college town in the central portion of the state, and Hillsboro, a suburb of Portland, in refusing to conduct interviews sought by the federal government.

Corvallis Police Chief Pam Roskowski said she felt her officers were "best used in doing interviews where we have reason to believe there may be some criminal information to investigate."

Eugene Police Chief Jim Hill said he was concerned with "burning bridges we have built with the community."

Hillsboro Chief Ron Louie said that because "this is an intelligence gathering operation and those to be interviewed are not suspected of criminal activity it would not be appropriate for the Hillsboro police department..."
Problem: religious fundamentalism, solution: globalization (surprise), Thomas Friedman
nyt login:westerbyreport password:westerby

World War II and the cold war were fought to defeat secular totalitarianism — Nazism and Communism — and World War III is a battle against religious totalitarianism, a view of the world that my faith must reign supreme and can be affirmed and held passionately only if all others are negated. That's bin Ladenism. But unlike Nazism, religious totalitarianism can't be fought by armies alone. It has to be fought in schools, mosques, churches and synagogues, and can be defeated only with the help of imams, rabbis and priests...

One hopes that now that the world spotlight has been put on this issue, mainstream Muslims too will realize that their future in this integrated, globalized world depends on their ability to reinterpret their past.

I am an atheist. I find religion often dangerous, often laughable. I also have been moved to tears by the passion of faithful and the poignancy of religiously inspired art. I especially have a deep and abiding respect for those religious workers who sacrifice their entire lives toiling in the service of their less fortunate brethren. So, I am as offended by Friedman's prescriptions for religion, as any turban-wearing, tongue-speaking, kosher-keeping fanatic would be. What he is proposing is a perfumed version of Ann Coulter's, "kill their leaders and covert them to Christianity" insanity. Kill the mullahs, send the people to re-education camps and turn them into the Islamic equivalents of tepid, bland Episcopalians; the better to work in our global sweat shop. How does "religious totalitarianism" differ from Friedman's globalist totalitarianism? Friedman believes his corporatist ideology "must reign supreme" and all others must be "negated." He says so in his columns at least once a week. I'll take the the snake handlers any day.
Give me your snitches, your rat finks, your huddled masses yearning to turn in their neighbors
nyt login:westerbyreport password:westerby

Attorney General John Ashcroft today offered a deal to foreigners — if they provide useful evidence against terrorists, the administration will help them remain in the United States and may even offer a fast track to American citizenship.

If Americans don't want a police state, Ashcroft will recruit some subjects who do.

Thursday, November 29, 2001

Fisk on Mazar-i-Sharif massacre:

We are becoming war criminals in Afghanistan. The US Air Force bombs Mazar-i-Sharif for the Northern Alliance, and our heroic Afghan allies – who slaughtered 50,000 people in Kabul between 1992 and 1996 – move into the city and execute up to 300 Taliban fighters. The report is a footnote on the television satellite channels, a "nib" in journalistic parlance. Perfectly normal, it seems. The Afghans have a "tradition" of revenge. So, with the strategic assistance of the USAF, a war crime is committed.

Now we have the Mazar-i-Sharif prison "revolt", in which Taliban inmates opened fire on their Alliance jailers. US Special Forces – and, it has emerged, British troops – helped the Alliance to overcome the uprising and, sure enough, CNN tells us some prisoners were "executed" trying to escape. It is an atrocity. British troops are now stained with war crimes. Within days, The Independent's Justin Huggler has found more executed Taliban members in Kunduz...

Wednesday, November 28, 2001

Et tu, Nort?

Eric Chien, chief researcher at Symantec's antivirus research lab, said that provided a hypothetical keystroke logging tool was used only by the FBI, then Symantec would avoid updating its antivirus tools to detect such a Trojan. The security firm is yet to hear back from the FBI on its enquiries about Magic Lantern but it already has a policy on the matter.
If it was under the control of the FBI, with appropriate technical safeguards in place to prevent possible misuse, and nobody else used it - we wouldn't detect it," said Chien. "However we would detect modified versions that might be used by hackers."
Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos, disagrees. He says it it wrong to deliberately refrain from detecting the virus, because its customers outside the US would expect protection against the Trojan. Such a move also creates an awkward precedent.
Cluley adds: "What if the French intelligence service, or even the Greeks, created a Trojan horse program for this purpose? Should we ignore those too?"
Another fine reason to treat yourself to an early x-mas by shopping your nearest kazaa or gnutella, featuring all your favorite Symantec products.

[via Declan]
Robert Fisk is without doubt the foreign correspondent of the century, maybe the last century inclusive. While dispatching the most comprehensive, knowledgeable, balanced, relevant, informative, and current reports from amidst the smoke and blood of the Afghanistan other journalists fear (and are forbidden) to tread, he still finds time to cover the proceedings in Belgium concerning the 1982 Lebanon massacres with not one, but two stories. Make that two excellent stories.

Here's Fisk on the U.S. press from a 1998 Progressive interview:

Q: Why is it biased?

Fisk: One is because U.S. journalists I don’t think are very courageous. They tend to go along with the government’s policy domestically and internationally. To question is seen as being unpatriotic, or potentially subversive. America’s great ally is Israel. When you’re given ten seconds to try and explain why you might be critical of an American ally, whoever it might be, it becomes a very odd and weird experience.

American journalists go for safe stories. They don’t like controversy. They don’t like to say, “I was a witness. I saw this. This is true. This is what happened.” You have this constant business where journalists can never be the source; there has to be this anonymous diplomat.

The conformity of American journalism is going to be one of the nails in its coffin. All American journalists write in the same style, and there is a kind of sickness among a lot of Western correspondents in that they have this dreadful reliance on their own governments, their own embassies. I can remember many, many times when an American journalist arrives in town and they go to the U.S. embassy, the French embassy, the British embassy. They get their accreditation from the ministry of information and maybe ask for a couple of interviews. And then you get the report like the one reprinted in the International Herald Tribune Paris edition I was reading the other day. It was, in all, twelve paragraphs, and unnamed diplomatic sources were quoted ten times.

I don’t go near embassies. I won’t do it. I can go where I want and don’t have to worry about what other people think. Why would I want to go to an embassy? I don’t think I have much to learn from embassies. If I want to go to an embassy, I could live in Washington or London--I don’t need to live in Beirut...

Q: Is there a problem with U.S. journalism posting people for two or three years, and then shipping them out?

Fisk: Oh, yes, absolutely.

Q: There’s a saying among U.S. editors that they don’t want people to “go native.”

Fisk: Yeah, well, I’ve heard this comment. This is usually used about journalists when they start to understand the story and tell the truth. The real problem is that it takes at least three years to even start to understand a complex story like Russia, the Pacific Rim, or the Middle East. And the moment when the reporter is beginning to get a grasp, “bingo,” he’s off to Moscow or Latin America.

Tuesday, November 27, 2001

McAfee AV will stay on my computer for now.
Slippery Network Associates flacks deny deal with FBI. That company's always been filled with NSA types though, and Phil Zimmerman leaving early this year doesn't exactly inspire confidence.

NAI Labs
is the world leader in research and development of advanced network and information systems security technology. Its international reputation for excellence in the field of network and information systems security research is supported by formal and ongoing projects funded through DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), Air Force, Navy, Army, NSA, and other Department of Defense and government agencies.

Nah, they wouldn't do a deal with the FBI.

[via Declan]
I read this article about Magic Lantern, the keystroke reporting virus the FBI is using to steal PGP passphrases, a few days ago. But I missed this nugget in my original scan:

At least one antivirus software company, McAfee Corp., contacted the FBI on Wednesday to ensure its software wouldn't inadvertently detect the bureau's snooping software and alert a criminal suspect.

McAfee contacted the FBI. They couldn't wait until the FBI contacted them. I have one computer in my home running McAfee, the rest Norton. I am removing McAfee tonight. I have no illusions that Symantec or any other av producer will refuse to cooperate with the FBI if asked, but maybe they won't gleefully volunteer to surrender my privacy.

[via slashdot]
So you want to be an Intelligence Specialist,
or what to say when someone asks you, "what do we bomb next sir?"
Online study guide for Naval Intelligence Specialist Rating Exam

From the section entitled Targeting and Weaponeering:

A target is a geographic area, complex, installation, or its contents that has military action planned or directed against it.

Military Targets
Military targets are integral components of the enemy's warmaking capability.

1.Fixed Bases of Operation: air bases, supply depots
2.Troop Concentrations
3.Lines of Communication: force movement, troop re-supply
4.Command, Control & Communications Centers

Economic Targets
Economic targets are civilian resources which contribute to the enemy's warmaking capability.

1.Financial Centers: stock exchanges, financial clearinghouses, electronic fund transfer capabilities
2.Production Sites: factories, electricity plants, petroleum, oil and lubricant (POL) plants
3.Lines of Communication: raw materials movement, civilian workforce movement
4.Trained/Skilled Workforce

Political Targets
Political targets are government sites which are critical to the enemy's infrastruture.

1.Government Centers: capitols
2.Government Officials: excludes the head of state, unless he also serves in a military capacity
3.Government Institutions
4.Political Offices
5.Government Control & Communications Centers
6.Television and Telephone Centers

Psychological / Social Targets
The goal is to target the will of the people to fight by attacking centers of gravity and weak points. It is one of the most important aspect of war, for it appears in all conflicts, yet the most difficult to predict or plan.

Well, I believe that's a fairly comprehensive list and satisfactorily explains the destruction of al-Jazeera, the BBC, the Red Cross, and the pre-schoolers mentioned in Robert Fisk's moving dispatch from Kandahar yesterday. Al-Jazeera and BBC are obviously covered by "television and telephone centers" and the Red Cross and children certainly can be shoved into the broadly interpretable categoriy of "psychological/social targets."

Here are a couple of tips for those of you living outside Europe and North America, are of dark hair and complexion, and do not wish to have fire rained upon you from above:
1. Quit your job, lest you be mistaken for the nefarious "trained/skilled workforce."
2. If you must work avoid at all costs joining the "civilian workforce movement" (not being a certified "Intelligence Specialist," I cannot say for certain whether this means trains or trade unions, although I suspect it covers both).
A new New Statesman means new John Pilger:
keywords=afghanistan, iraq, somalia, revenge, greed, caspian oil, dulles brothers, empire

Behind the jargon about failed states and humanitarian interventions lie thousands of dead. John Pilger on how liberals tolerate the sufferings of Innocents.

Polite society's bombers may not have to wait long for round two. The US vice-president, Dick Cheney, warned last week that America could take action against "40 to 50 countries". Somalia, allegedly a "haven" for al-Qaeda, joins Iraq at the top of a list of potential targets. Cheered by having replaced Afghanistan's bad terrorists with America's good terrorists, the US defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, has asked the Pentagon to "think the unthinkable", having rejected its "post-Afghanistan options" as "not radical enough".

An American attack on Somalia, wrote the Guardian's man at the Foreign Office, "would offer an opportunity to settle an old score: 18 US soldiers were brutally killed there in 1993 . . ."

He neglected to mention that the US Marines left between 7,000 and 10,000 Somali dead, according to the CIA. Eighteen American lives are worthy of score-settling; thousands of Somali lives are not...

The present Washington gang are authentic American fundamentalists. They are the heirs of John Foster Dulles and Alan Dulles, the Baptist fanatics who, in the 1950s, ran the State Department and the CIA respectively, smashing reforming governments in country after country - Iran, Iraq, Guatemala - tearing up international agreements, such as the 1954 Geneva accords on Indochina, whose sabotage by John Foster Dulles led directly to the Vietnam war and five million dead. Declassified files now tell us the United States twice came within an ace of using nuclear weapons.

The parallels are there in Cheney's threat to "40 to 50" countries, and of war "that may not end in our lifetimes". The vocabulary of justification for this militarism has long been provided on both sides of the Atlantic by those factory "scholars" who have taken the humanity out of the study of nations and congealed it with a jargon that serves the dominant power. Poor countries are "failed states"; those that oppose America are "rogue states"; an attack by the west is a "humanitarian intervention". (One of the most enthusiastic bombers, Michael Ignatieff, is now "professor of human rights" at Harvard). And as in Dulles's time, the United Nations is reduced to a role of clearing up the debris of bombing and providing colonial "protectorates".

The twin towers attacks provided Bush's Washington with both a trigger and a remarkable coincidence. Pakistan's former foreign minister Niaz Naik has revealed that he was told by senior American officials in mid-July that military action against Afghanistan would go ahead by the middle of October. The US secretary of state, Colin Powell, was then travelling in central Asia, already gathering support for an anti-Afghanistan war "coalition". For Washington, the real problem with the Taliban was not human rights; these were irrelevant. The Taliban regime simply did not have total control of Afghanistan: a fact that deterred investors from financing oil and gas pipelines from the Caspian Sea, whose strategic position in relation to Russia and China and whose largely untapped fossil fuels are of crucial interest to the Americans. In 1998, Dick Cheney told oil industry executives: "I cannot think of a time when we have had a region emerge as suddenly to become as strategically significant as the Caspian."

Indeed, when the Taliban came to power in 1996, not only were they welcomed by Washington, their leaders were flown to Texas, then governed by George W Bush, and entertained by executives of the Unocal oil company. They were offered a cut of the profits from the pipelines; 15 per cent was mentioned. A US official observed that, with the Caspian's oil and gas flowing, Afghanistan would become "like Saudi Arabia", an oil colony with no democracy and the legal persecution of women. "We can live with that," he said. The deal fell through when two American embassies in east Africa were bombed and al-Qaeda was blamed...

For several weeks, the Observer, a liberal newspaper, has published unsubstantiated reports that have sought to link Iraq with 11 September and the anthrax scare. "Whitehall sources" and "intelligence sources" are the main tellers of this story. "the evidence is mounting . . ." said one of the pieces. The sum of the "evidence" is zero, merely grist for the likes of Wolfowitz and Perle and probably Blair, who can be expected to go along with the attack. In his essay "The Banality of Evil", the great American dissident Edward Herman described the division of labour among those who design and produce weapons like cluster bombs and daisy cutters and those who take the political decisions to use them and those who create the illusions that justify their use. "It is the function of the experts, and the mainstream media," he wrote, "to normalise the unthinkable for the general public." It is time journalists reflected upon this, and took the risk of telling the truth about an unconscionable threat to much of humanity that comes not from faraway places, but close to home.
Defense lawyers completely hobbled by Ashcroft monitoring rule

Randall Hamud sat across from Mohdar Abdoulah in a basement room of the San Diego federal courthouse Nov. 20. Abdoulah, a Yemeni student detained in connection with the September terrorist attacks, was scheduled for a bail hearing that morning.

"Be careful about what you say," Hamud cautioned his 23-year-old client, "because we're not in a secure environment..."

Defense lawyers say the rule is already hobbling their ability to represent clients connected to the terrorism investigation. And legal experts say a secrecy provision within the new rule may make all attorney-client contact in any law enforcement setting not only unsecure but unethical as well.

"The effect of this rule is achieved by the simple threat of monitoring," says Jonathan Turley, a professor at the George Washington University Law School in Washington, D.C. "The mere chance that the communication may be monitored is enough to silence the most cooperative defendant. The government has created a Damocles sword, and the defendant never knows when it may fall..."

Hamud still meets with jailed clients but says he is very guarded in what he says. He scans rooms for cameras, keeping his back to where they might be hidden. To communicate, he whispers and passes notes. "The problem is they can pick up whispers and they have cameras that can pick up the notes," he says...
Birth of the Security-Industrial Complex. Why should government have all the fun? Especially when their are profits to be made for the well-connected swells and the fast-talking grifters. (NYT login:westerbyreport password:westerby)

Tom Ridge, the director of homeland security, likes to say the home-front battle against terrorism is not just the business of government but of business. Business agrees.

Ever since Mr. Ridge stepped into the West Wing of the White House early last month, corporate executives, start-up companies and industry trade groups have been clamoring for his attention. Already he and his aides have huddled with dozens of corporate representatives.

And after the Pentagon asked entrepreneurs last month to come forward with proposals to combat terrorism and counter weapons of mass destruction, thousands of ideas were submitted...

The Wackenhut Corporation: a new Krupp for a new Reich.

Monday, November 26, 2001

CNN continues the slide from mediocrity to complete uselessness. Craven coward Walter Isaacson hires talentless Bush cousin. This story broke on Hotlinescoop last week. However a search of CNN's site yields nothing, which is really neither here nor there considering a search of the site on almost any event of importance yields little to nothing. I'll wait for confirmation or refutation from the foreign press

When Walter Isaacson took over CNN earlier this year, he immediately signaled that he was aware of his network's life-long problem with conservative viewers when sought advice from GOP lawmakers on how to patch things up. Then there were talks of Rush Limbaugh joining his team. He recently sent an in-house memo to CNN staff, ordering them not to focus "excessively" on casualties inflicted in Afghanistan by U.S. forces.

Now Isaacson has brought on board Billy Bush, first cousin of the president, to join Paula Zahn in the morning. Bush was previously a disc jockey on the Z-104 morning show in Arlington, Va., where he was fired.

There's no way of knowing whether Isaacson's hiring of the president's kin was another attempt by CNN to woo Republican viewers, but it's certainly worth asking.

A brief portfolio of Billy Bush's journalism:

Hardhitting interview with a Backstreet Boy
Billy Bush:Hey Howie!!!!!

Howie:Hey wuz up buddy?


Howie:Hey how is it goin?

Billy:Wuz it like to be Howie D, I don't know I'm just, are you having a good Howie Day?

Howie:This is Howie Do-It ya know!!

Billy: This is Howie Do-It!!!! Hahahaha!!!!

...It just gets worse.

Endorsement of FUNotes
“I would like to think [sic]you for the nice stationery. I’m always looking around for some scratch pad to jot my brain diarreah [sic]on and there you were. Thanks for thinking of us and for listening to the show.”

Yep he's a Bush. I can tell by the erudition.

[via Democratic Underground]
More incredible reporting from the The Independent's indefatigable, indispensible Robert Fisk, the only Western journalist in Taliban-held Kandahar province, Blood, tears, terror and tragedy behind the lines:

[T]hen a refugee with a cracked face and white hair matting the brow below his brown turban ­ he looked 70 but said he was only 36 ­ stumbled up to us. "The Americans just destroyed our homes,'' he cried. "I saw my house disappear. It was a big plane that spat smoke and soaked the ground with fire...''

So this is what it's like to be on the losing side in the American-Afghan bloodbath. Everywhere it was the same story of desperation and terror and courage...

Out of a dust-storm came a woman in a grey shawl. "I lost my daughter two days ago,'' she wailed. "The Americans bombed our home in Kandahar and the roof fell on her.'' Amid the chaos and shouting, I did what reporters do. Out came my notebook and pen. Name? "Muzlifa.'' Age? "She was two.'' I turn away. "Then there was my other daughter.'' She nods when I ask if this girl died too. "At the same moment. Her name was Farigha. She was three.'' I turn away. "There wasn't much left of my son.'' Notebook out for the third time. "When the roof hit him, he was turned to meat and all I could see were bones. His name was Sherif. He was a year and a half old...''
One of the few remaining reputable offices of our government, the Library of Congress, has just made available online its collection of Frederick Douglass papers.

Find out just what the people will submit to and you will have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.
FD, 1857

[via research buzz]
Blowback on "NY Times resident globo-gasbag, Thomas 'give war a chance' Friedman:"

Hello? Hello? I've got a message here on your writing, Tom. Are you ready? ARE YOU READY? It's your hyperbole, stupid! Even when you present a vaguely reasonable position, your rhetoric bom-blasts all traces of sentience, leaving only trite corporatist platitudes scattered amongst the wreckage of your prose.
This is the actual headline of a Jonathon Alter Newsweek column, Secret Military Tribunals? When Did the United States Become Peru? When? Probably about the time the same Jonathon Alter began blathering hysterically in favor of state- sanctioned torture. And anyway, let's not wax superior about Peru. The most recent election-stealing, rights- repressing, dissent-squelching Peruvian president is now living in exile. Our corrupt, illegitimate dictator is still living in the White House.
The Westerby Report's 2001 Baltasar Garzon award for the judicial harassment of butchers goes to...Belgium:

Belgian court summons Ariel Sharon to answer for 1982 massacres at Sabra and Shatila.

The runner-up for the Baltasar Garzon award was...Baltasar Garzon:

Spain refuses to extradite terror suspects to U.S. because of barbaric American judicial system.

Spain cannot extradite suspected Islamic extremists to the United States while the death penalty is in force there, judicial sources said on Thursday...
The Westerby Report's 2001 Le Chambon award for community resistance to tyranny goes to... Portland, Oregon:

Portland PD refuses to cooperate with FBI's Arab internment plan
NYT login:westerbyreport password:westerby

The Portland, Ore., police will not cooperate with the
Federal Bureau of Investigation in its efforts to interview
5,000 young Middle Eastern men nationwide because such
questioning violates state law, the department's acting
police chief, Andrew Kirkland, said yesterday...
Apologies for the hiatus, but the provincial harvest festival was even better than expected.

Thursday, November 22, 2001


One Day is there of the Series
Termed Thanksgiving Day.
Celebrated part at Table
Part in Memory.

Neither Patriarch nor Pussy
I dissect the Play
Seems it to my Hooded thinking
Reflex Holiday.

Had there been no sharp Subtraction
From the early Sum --
Not an Acre or a Caption
Where was once a Room --

Not a Mention, whose small Pebble
Wrinkled any Sea,
Unto Such, were such Assembly
'Twere Thanksgiving Day.

Emily Dickinson

Tuesday, November 20, 2001

CIA-backed SafeWeb shuts down anonymous web service; cypherpunk-backed Anonymizer prospers.
Mondo 2001

R.U. Sirius' new project, The Thresher, looks very appetizing:

America's War on You
An excert from the forthcoming book Snitch Culture by Jim Redden

Mercenaries Again
Who's Been Hiring the Dogs of War? by Hank Hyena

The Indiscreet Charm of the Bush Nazi Web Conspiranoids
by Phil Leggiere

Romanticizing the De-Evolution of the State
by Jason Lubyk

[via Menlo]
From tenure to censure: Howard Zinn at high school

School officials are being asked to justify a recent speech given by peace activist Howard Zinn at Newton North High School in which he equated the U.S. military strikes in Afghanistan with the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The controversial historian and former Boston University professor stressed that the U.S. bombing raids aimed at toppling the Taliban and hunting down fugitive terror boss Osama bin Laden were killing children and innocent civilians.

``The terrorists of Sept. 11 did a horrible thing to us, so we do terrible things to the people of Afghanistan. That is immoral and puts us on the same level as a terrorist,'' Zinn was quoted as saying in a report in the school newspaper.

Parents questioned exposing young teens to Zinn's opinions.

``It's unbelievable what this guy did,'' said Tom Mountain, a parent of three Newton students who are not yet in high school. ``It's horrifying. He told these things to an entire school audience of kids 13 to 17 who don't know any better.''

Unbelievable what this guy did! He told innocent kids 13-17 that it may be wrong to kill innocent kids 13-17. Zinn's a monster.
From A-list to Blacklist: Danny Glover at Princeton

"When I say the death penalty is inhumane. I mean [it's inhumane] whether that person is in a bird cage [jail] or it's bin Laden."

Glover spent the first 30 minutes of his presentation at McCosh 50 auditorium deriding the death penalty, which he called "homicide as the official tool of the state."

He went on to chide the U.S. government for incarceration of nearly 1,000 illegal immigrants in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, and derided John Ashcroft for asking permission to listen to conversations between terrorist suspects and their lawyers.

"It gets even worse," he added. "This week President Bush implemented a military tribunal ... which will make it easier for us to execute (people)."

"This clearly is a slippery slope. We must stand vigilant against Bush in these times and work with the abolitionists.

"One of the main purveyors of violence in this world has been this country, whether it's been against Nicaragua, Vietnam or wherever," Glover added.

the reaction of Jerseyite cognoscenti:

"If that's the way he feels about America, then he should get the hell out and stop taking money for his movies"

"Who does Mr. Glover think he is?"

"This man (Glover) is feeding into the hatred of America, and by saying these things, he is simply giving aid to our enemies and possibly causing even more terrorist acts"

"His criticism of our nation in world affairs is hypocritical and factually wrong"

I am very disappointed. Mr. Glover should stop defending murderous nations and the life of Osama bin Laden, who viciously killed 6,000 Americans, and educate himself on world history...Maybe then he would understand the enormous privilege of free speech he now abuses"

"America is and always has been a beacon of peace, hope and freedom for the world. Our country has fought and Americans have died for the cause of freedom when the forces of Nazism and communism have forced us to."
Abbey's Web
Enter at your own risk. Carry water. Avoid the noonday sun.
Try to ignore the vultures. Pray frequently.

A couple of apropos quotes from the late, great Cactus Ed:

Terrorism: deadly violence against humans and other living things, usually conducted by government against its own people.

A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.

[via wood s lot]
As my privacy shrinks, theirs grows:

Since Sept. 11, it has become much harder to get such information from the federal government, a growing number of states and public libraries as heightened concern about national security has often trumped the public's "right to know:"

* At least 15 federal agencies have yanked potentially sensitive information off the Internet, or removed Web sites altogether, for fear that terrorists could exploit the government data. The excised material ranges from information on chemical reactors and risk-management programs to airport data and mapping of oil pipelines.

* Several states have followed the federal government's lead. California, for example, has removed information on dams and aqueducts, state officials said.

* Members of the public who want to use reading rooms at federal agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service must now make an appointment and be escorted by an employee to ensure that information is not misused.

* The Government Printing Office has begun ordering about 1,300 libraries nationwide that serve as federal depositories to destroy government records that federal agencies say could be too sensitive for public consumption.

* Federal agencies are imposing a stricter standard in reviewing hundreds of thousands of Freedom of Information Act requests from the public each year; officials no longer have to show that disclosure would cause "substantial harm" before rejecting a request. Watchdog groups say they have already started to see rejections of requests that likely would have been granted before.

[via phil]
Sec. 241.Title 18 U.S. Code: Conspiracy against rights

If two or more persons conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or
intimidate any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession,
or District in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege
secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or
because of his having so exercised the same; or If two or more persons go
in disguise on the highway, or on the premises of another, with intent to
prevent or hinder his free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege
so secured - They shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more
than ten years, or both . . .

Sec. 242, Title 18 U.S. Code: Deprivation of rights under color of law

Whoever, under color of any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or
custom, willfully subjects any person in any State, Territory,
Commonwealth, Possession, or District to the deprivation of any rights,
privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws
of the United States, or to different punishments, pains, or penalties, on
account of such person being an alien, or by reason of his color, or race,
than are prescribed for the punishment of citizens, shall be fined under
this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

enough said

[via sam]
Jesuits brag on their brightest child: James Joyce.

Sculpture by Ronan Gillespie dedicated at
Denver's Regis University this summer.

[via j-joyce list]

Monday, November 19, 2001

Department of recovered commentary
(or why I rely on the foreign press):

The average newspaper, especially of the better sort, has the
intelligence of a hillbilly evangelist, the courage of a rat, the fairness of
a prohibitionist boob-jumper, the information of a high school janitor,
the taste of a designer of celluloid valentines, and the honor of a
police-station lawyer
(HL Mencken).

Apologies for the unwarranted slur on high school janitors.
Lament for lost America
by Bill Kauffman

Those whose knowledge comes from the idiot box will believe America to be the sum of Friends and Madeleine Albright and the preppies of the Family Bush, and they will hate us – understandably. But there is an untelevised America, a land of Iowa poets and rural volunteer fire departments and villages of faith and neighbourliness and the continuity of generations. This is the America I love, one that the keyboard bombardiers of DC would destroy in a New York minute.
Laughter during wartime

Tom Tomorrow wishes you Happy Thanksgiving,
and questions the legitimacy of the current regime.
Patriotic Porn
Warning: this site contains scenes of explicit irony.

American flag, the symbol of American patriotism, has an almost magical effect on all possible negativities, including immoral, criminal or inhuman behavior. A clear example was its impact on the tragic scenes of recent huge destruction in New York and Washington on September 11. Exposing of American flag in days and months after the disaster has shown not only endless patriotism of American people, but also almost supernatural ability of the flag to purify all bad things on the spot it occurs.

Click on thumbnails and then be sure to move your mouse over the flag in the enlarged image.

Friday, November 16, 2001

Bottom 10 journalists in the United States
from Mokhiber and Weismann

in order of repulsiveness:

Michael Kelly (Washington Post): "American pacifists … are on the side of future mass murders of Americans," they are "objectively pro-terrorist," "evil" and "liars."

Jonathan Alter (Newsweek): Wondered whether torture would "jump-start the stalled investigation into the greatest crime in American history." Urges pacifists to shut up because "it's kill or be killed."

Bill O'Reilly (Fox TV): "The US should bomb the Afghan infrastructure to rubble -- the airport, the power plants, their water facilities, the roads. … The Afghans are responsible for the Taliban. We should not target civilians, but if they don't rise up against this criminal government, they starve, period."

A.M. Rosenthal (Washington Times): In addition to Afghanistan, wants to bomb Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Iran, and Syria.

Ann Coulter (ex-National Review): Her response to terrorism is to "invade their countries, kill their leaders, and convert them to Christianity."

Steve Dunleavy (New York Post) " "The response to this unimaginable 21st-century Pearl Harbor should be as simple as it is swift -- kill the bastards. … A gunshot between the eyes, blow them to smithereens, poison them if you have … As for cities or countries that host these worms, bomb them into basketball courts."

Rich Lowry (National Review): "If we flatten part of Damascus or Tehran or whatever it takes, that is part of the solution."

Charles Krauthammer (Washington Post): "We are fighting because the bastards killed 5,000 of our people, and if we do not kill them, they are going to kill us again."

Thomas Friedman (New York Times): "We have to fight the terrorists as if there were no rules." And the perverted "give war a chance."

George Will (Washington Post): "The Bush administration is telling the country that there is some dying to be done. ... The goal is not to 'bring terrorists to justice,' which suggests bringing them into sedate judicial settings -- lawyers, courtrooms, due process, all preceded by punctilious readings of Miranda rights. Rather, the goal is destruction of enemies."

[via counterpunch]
Top 6 unconstitutional provisions of the Patriot Act
from John Kaminski

Violates the First Amendment freedom of speech guarantee, right to peaceably assemble provision, and petition the government for redress of grievances provision; it violates the First Amendment to the Constitution three times.

Violates the Fourth Amendment guarantee of probable cause in astonishingly major and repeated ways. The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution reads: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons of things to be seized." The Patriot Act, now passed and the law of the land, has revoked the necessity for probable cause, and now allows the police, at any time and for any reason, to enter and search your house — and not even tell you about it.

Violates the Fifth Amendment by allowing for indefinite incarceration without trial for those deemed by the Attorney General to be threats to national security. The Fifth Amendment guarantees that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law, and the Patriot Act does away with due process. It even allows people to be kept in prison for life without even a trial.

Violates the Sixth Amendment guarantee of the right to a speedy and public trial. Now you may get no trial at all, ever.

Violates the Eighth Amendment (cruel and unusual punishment).

Violates the 13th Amendment (punishment without conviction).

[via sam]
Deputy fuhrer Cheney: Some humans don't deserve human rights

The terrorists who launched the Sept. 11 attacks, and the people who helped them, are war criminals who do not deserve the protections of the U.S. Constitution, Attorney General John Ashcroft and Vice President Dick Cheney argue in defense of a plan to prosecute foreign terrorism suspects in American military tribunals.

"They don't deserve the same guarantees and safeguards that would be used for an American citizen going through the normal judicial process," Mr. Cheney said Wednesday. Mr. Ashcroft told a separate audience that "it's important to understand that we are at war now."

In the last decade, I actually stated out loud that "the Clinton-Reno Justice Department has launched the most serious attack on civil liberties since the Adams administration." But this Bush-Cheney-Ashcroft axis is utterly incomparable. Their presumption that the Constitution is some menu of perks to be extended to the deserving, like preferential interest rates to those with high credit scores, is offensive in the extreme. These "defenders of freedom" daily infer by word and deed that non-citizens of the Republic are not only not citizens, they are not human. They are in fact sub-human primates and the ones lucky enough to escape our bombs and guns can be dealt with expediently and efficiently by some certain to be fatal administrative solution dealt by an as yet to be named bureaucracy of death. I have never been promiscuous in hurling the term fascist, but it is fast becoming the most accurate adjective available to describe this administration.
Get to know the new protectorate

Comprehensive, and I mean comprehensive, collection of online Afghanistan maps from the University of Texas Library
Happy belated birthday to the finest daily read on the internet, Follow Me Here
Department of recovered history

From the fine folks at the Phoenix FBI in conjuction with insane celebrity sheriff Joe Arpaio, this handy flyer to help our police on the beat identify terrorists.

If you encounter any of the following, Call the Joint Terrorism Task Force:

"defenders" of the US Constitution against federal governement, individuals who refuse to identify themselves, request authority to stop, make numerous references to US constitution, attempt to "police the police" and those always sinister lone individuals

I will turn myself in, tout de suite.

Thursday, November 15, 2001

Conyers calls for civil liberties hearings

House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, D-Mich., said Wednesday a decision by President George W. Bush that terrorist suspects might face a military tribunal adds to questions about civil liberties.

In a Nov. 14 letter to Committee Chairman Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., Conyers called for hearings on civil liberties, including an administration plan to monitor some defendants' communication with their lawyers, and the status of suspects detained in the government's investigations of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Investigate yourself, Conyers

"The Patriot Bill" aka "The Surrender to the Dictatorship Bill"

Sponsor: Rep Sensenbrenner, F. James, Jr.(introduced 10/2/2001)
Title: To combat terrorism, and for other purposes.

(Rep Bachus, Spencer - 10/2/2001
Rep Berman, Howard L. - 10/2/2001
Rep Cannon, Chris - 10/2/2001
Rep Coble, Howard - 10/2/2001
*****Rep Conyers, John, Jr. - 10/2/2001*****
Rep Delahunt, William D. - 10/4/2001
Rep Flake, Jeff - 10/2/2001
Rep Frank, Barney - 10/9/2001
Rep Goodlatte, Bob - 10/2/2001
Rep Goss, Porter J. - 10/2/2001
Rep Graham, Lindsey O. - 10/2/2001
Rep Hart, Melissa A. - 10/2/2001
Rep Hostettler, John N. - 10/2/2001
Rep Hyde, Henry J. - 10/2/2001
Rep Issa, Darrell E. - 10/2/2001
Rep Jackson-Lee, Sheila - 10/2/2001
Rep Jenkins, William L. - 10/2/2001
Rep Keller, Ric - 10/2/2001
Rep Lofgren, Zoe - 10/2/2001
Rep Meehan, Martin T. - 10/2/2001
Rep Rangel, Charles B. - 10/2/2001
Rep Schiff, Adam B. - 10/2/2001
Rep Smith, Lamar - 10/11/2001
Rep Thomas, William M. (Bill) - 10/2/2001
Rep Weiner, Anthony D. - 10/4/2001
Rep Wexler, Robert - 10/2/2001
Windows XP proves existence of god

No need for Pascal's sloppy Wager anymore. According to Republican criminal cum Republican Christian Chuck Colson:

Can you imagine anyone reverse engineering the new Microsoft software, and concluding that natural processes put it together? Does Windows XP somehow prove that Bill Gates or his engineers don’t exist? I don’t think so.

Yet some materialists explain the complexities of nature by ingenious intellectual headstands to avoid recognizing an Intelligent Designer.

Well, one can reverse engineer Windows XP and conclude that Bill Gates and his engineers are a) greedy, power drunk maniacs and b) dangerously incompetent buffoons. Is that blasphemy?
Is there even going to be an America left worth defending?

Our lawgivers debate the merits of the Posse Comitatus Act in the age of terror.

"We've got to figure out a new Posse Comitatus that allows the Department of Defense to step forward and defend America," insists Georgia Democrat Max Cleland.

From the 10-4 Washington Post
Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz said yesterday that to enhance the nation's ability to counter terrorism, he strongly favors reviewing a legal doctrine that has kept the U.S. military from engaging in domestic law enforcement activities since 1878.

If Paul Wolfowitz supports an idea, it is invariably bad. Posse comitatus means literally the "force of the county" and refers to a sheriff's traditional power to draft citizens to keep the peace.

The Posse Comitatus Act was passed to force federal troops out of the occupied South after Civil War and Reconstruction. The act states:

Whoever, except in cases and under circumstances expressly
authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress, willfully uses any
part of the Army or the Air Force as a posse comitatus or otherwise
were subject to Posse Comitatus restrictions when they were not.
to execute the laws shall be fined not more than $10,000 or impris-
oned not more than two years, or both.
(the term "Air Force" was added in the 1950's)

Although the act appears relatively late in U.S. history, it enunciates an idea prevalent from the founding (the 3rd amendment is tangetially related): the armed forces of the United States are not to be used against its own citizens. Of course the act has been oft ignored and continually degraded since its passage. Federal troops and the federalized National Guard were instrumental in violently suppressing and ultimately destroying any hope of a robust and useful labor movement in this country. The act was seriously wounded in the 1980's when the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines were enlisted for the War on Drugs and the war on immigrants. However, in confronting the principles of the act, authoritarians have traditionally had to resort to attack by slow erosion of minor legislation or secret sabotage through trick and cheat, but now the War on Terror has brought a direct frontal assault to Posse Comitatus as it has to virtually all other civil liberties, traditional and constitutional. I cannot name a single enumerated liberty that following September 11 has not been brutally interrogated and tortured either in that sham of democracy known as Congress or by the jibbering appartchiks of the op-ed pages. There has always been a huge gulf between the promise of America and its reality, but since September 11, the already rickety bridge between the two, is being burned. If the attack on freedom continues, America will come to exist simply as a morally empty, morally indefensible land mass between two oceans. I cannot send my children to die for that.

Wednesday, November 14, 2001

Kabul occupied, evildoers at al-Jazeera silenced

THE Kabul office of al-Jazeera, the Arab satellite station that has broadcast two videotapes of Osama bin Laden denouncing America, was obliterated in US bombing early yesterday morning, according to the network’s managing director.

Al-Jazeera reaches more than 35 million Arabs. The station’s one reporter in Kabul, Tayseer Allouni, fled yesterday. Mr Allouni, a Syrian, had been told by the Northern Alliance that if they captured him he would be killed.

The Northern Alliance is such an improvement over theTaliban.
[via cursor]
Diversions for the Masses:

Princess Diana: The Hidden Evidence, How MI6 and the CIA were involved in the death of Princess Diana by John King and John Beveridge.

The staggering new evidence contained in this book offers the most compelling argument yet that British and US Intelligence acted jointly to assassinate Princess Diana. Endorsed by HRH Prince Michael of Albany, plus many highly placed intelligence and government sources, this book reveals the frightening truth behind the death of the world's most adored princess.

If you're really paranoid like me, you think the CIA and MI6 commissioned not the assassination, but this book. See proverbs for paranoids #3: If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about answers. (Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow)
BBC liberates Kabul in hard fought battle, no final count on hairs mussed

We know these scenes from a hundred televised conflicts: the forces of freedom sweeping into the occupied city, high-fiving with overjoyed residents as local children scamper excitedly at their liberators' feet. It happened again yesterday, in the early hours of a bright morning in Kabul, an event so dramatic that it seemed barely to matter that the liberator in question looked remarkably unmilitary - and remarkably similar to the broad and towering person of the BBC's world affairs editor, John Simpson.

"It's an exhilarating feeling to be liberating a city," Simpson declared, the camera following behind as he strode, arms outstretched, cutting a swathe through the welcoming throng. "It was BBC people who liberated the city - we got in ahead of the Northern Alliance," he told Radio 4's Today programme. "We passed through and walked in, and the scenes of rejoicing and delight were extraordinary. We had to fight our way through crowds of cheering people." If the people of Kabul behaved as if they were greeting a well-loved hero, this is because they were: those who had access to televisions in pre- Taliban Afghanistan may struggle to recognise a Rumsfeld or a Powell, but they know a celebrity presenter from BBC World when they see one. The joke inside Broadcasting House yesterday was that Simpson's next move would be to form an interim government.
Full text of authorization for the use of military tribunals

Whew, that was close. After reading the exective fiat, it appears not to be intended to undermine U.S. law, only international law. Bush's "extraordinary emergency" is that or our virtuous friends from the north country have now inadvertently taken Kabul and the executive order is designed so the United States may try any captured al Qaedans and Talibaners in a unilateral, ultra-secret Nuremberg, instead of those unreliable international legal institutions that are always declaring us "terrorists".
Bush creates military Star Chambers

The regular top-secret civilian Star Chamber, FISA court, not being enough, Bush granted himself a a new tool to use against terrorism, and approved the use of extra-ordinary military tribunals to try suspected terrorists. The advantage: no more messy evidence and no more pesky appeals.

From the perspective of the U.S. commander in chief, ``the easy way to go is a military commission'' because ``you have unfettered discretion'' and ``the most significant aspects of judicial review are curtailed,'' said former military prosecutor A. Jeff Ifrah.

The problem with federal district courts or courts-martial from the point of view of the chief executive is that there is appellate review plus stringent federal rules of evidence, said Ifrah.
Our neutered watchdogs

The Project On Government Oversight, the aptly acronymed POGO, requested that the Department of Energy remove information on nuclear power plants from government websites. This organization of addled liberals that purportedly believes strongly that sunshine is the best disinfectant -- and that we must empower citizens with information and the tools to use this information, sent Secretary of Energy, Spencer Abrahahm a letter, a sort of reverse FOIA (a suppression of information request if you will), claiming DOE was irresponsibly supplying target information for terrorists.. The POGO site displays a copy of the letter heavily censored with giant black marker just like the big boys at the NSA use.

Memo to POGO: Cease and desist from representing the interests of the people immediately.
[via secrecy news]

Tuesday, November 13, 2001

The American Council of Trustees and Alumni, a Lynne Cheney founded outfit representing the putative owners of academe's physical plant, has issued a report (pdf) excorciating the professoriate's lack of proper enthusiasm for our war. The document catalogs over 100 statements of non- and too tepid support by faculty for the United States government's post 9-11 actions. But, the wicked Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn (who apparently dominate our nation's universities) are not only engaged in treason, they are stifling the rights of their all-American, god-fearing students to express their love for the nation's leaders and the war:

Students have reported more and more that
they are intimidated by professors and fellow students if they
question “politically correct” ideas or fail to conform to a
particular ideology. In some cases, students have even been subject
to official sanctions for speaking their minds in class. So
pervasive is the climate of intimidation that Chancellor
Matthew Goldstein of the City University of New York publicly
deplored comments by his faculty—after the terrorist attacks—
while recounting the piteous tale of a student who feared
retribution. “‘My grade depends on a lot of the professors who
spoke,’ the student explained. ‘If you voice an opinion of
dissent, professors look down on you.’”

At present the Second Lady is only issuing an alarm. However, the call to arms, ostensibly to defend the vulnerable minds of the young, is sure to follow.
American Interpellations
Tim Wise notes in AlterNet,
Perhaps it was like this even before 9/11, but lately it seems as though every guy in every plane I' ve been on is reading either a Tom Clancy novel, or one or another book by flag-waving historian, Stephen Ambrose.

Yes Tim, it was like that before 9-11. The American reading habit has changed little since the day everything changed. The great suburban bookshelf (or cassette case) invariably contains spook groupie Tom Clancy and official historian Stephen Ambrose and messianic self-actualized capitalists Peter Drucker and Tom Peters. The bad news is that's the haute bourgeois shelf. The bad, bad news is the lumpens are engrossed in Tim Lahaye's Christian apocalyptic, Left Behind series. Of course none of this bodes well for post-9-11 America, but post 9-11 America was entirely predictable from, is indeed a creature of, its own shabby culture.

Now would be an appropriate time to revisit Curtis White's excellent "reading" of Saving Private Ryan in the first issue of Context:

...our simple movie-going experience had become a crisis of both political and literary scope. What does it mean when the most sinister ideological notions pass virtually without comment in mass culture narratives because the audience is unable to decipher what is in the film?

For a literate culture which wishes to understand that our narratives do serve to construct what we are, what our "content" is, and which trusts that the citizens to this culture know in some ultimate way what it means to "read" so that we may have some basis for moving among narrative options, this all implies a crisis of proverbially nightmarish proportion (oh, a quiet crisis, to be sure, in between the simulated explosions of mortar shells and other forms of synthetic, orgasmic, cinematic bliss). But without the self-consciousness that Reading provides, we are merely (as Louis Althusser would have it) dumbly "interpellated" into subject positions in a very mechanical State Apparatus. In short, being able to read is a large part of what it means to be human as opposed to being a mere social function.

So, I'm going to "read" Saving Private Ryan. I think a reading can expose this film for what it is, a crypto-fascist work of historical revision. It's not even revision. It's: "Remember what we used to think? About patriotism? The glory of war? Let's think that again, and really mean it, so that it will be harder than hell to dislodge next time." Which is to say, this is a very dangerous movie...
The bizzare Alberto Fujimoro dictator-in-exile homepage. The former Peruvian strongman finds his inner teen and communicates his feelings about the stupid people and their stupid "democratic tendency":

Some months ago, the Internet and I became great partners.  I would see myself spending many hours of the day surfing web sites from Peru, coming across cliché headlines, which are very fashionable in the political section. The most remarkable ones are headlines such as “Extradition to Fujimori”, “The Chinese must fall”, “Japan has betrayed us”, and the like. 

Then, I would go to the local news and see, for instance, if the government is taking quick and effective actions against the terrible earthquake that happened in the southern part of the country and, surprisingly enough, the headlines do not say much about that.  Perhaps, this is because the affected people have already been assisted with something more than bed sheets and something to eat. Probably, everyone was assisted with a reconstruction plan to rebuild the affected cities. I am not positive about that, by the way, but I do hope so. I really do.

Sometimes, I go into the forum section and read comments written not by politicians, but normal people instead, who, I suppose, are neither political analysts nor reporters who believe they know and own the truth. In those lines, I can perceive that there is another feeling, a very different one.  A feeling that affirms Fujimori is not what some people claim!  And with that in mind, I do not need to surf any longer through those headlines filled with a taste of revenge - and defeat? - to realize that  some media groups in Peru are being blackmailed by some shadows of the past. Though I’d rather think that, for some reason, they have chosen the new so called “democratic tendency”, which is nothing but the old way of thinking, which they rejected at the end of the 80’s.

Therefore, for all those reasons, I thought about making my own web page, where I could communicate my feelings, point of views as well as my ideas on a regular basis.  When entering this page, still in construction, with a “click” on the mouse, the images of 10 years of changes will be seen on your screen. Ten years in office that changed the history of Peru. Big changes, whose profits are being hidden at all costs and even erased from some government Websites...

[via guardian]

Monday, November 12, 2001

Laughter during wartime:

a new my new fighting technique is unfuckingstoppable

9-11 WTC Damage Assessment: Quantifying Human Life in Dollars
(login:westerbyreport password:westerby)

Or, What's Wrong with America:

The salesman was a star at work. At 28, he had been made United States sales director for one company and then had been hired away by another. Early this year, the new company gave him an ownership stake, the title of executive vice president and a salary of about $500,000.

In court, a lifetime of lost support is typically estimated through the testimony of economists. By analyzing age, salary and other benefits, they project how much a person might be expected to earn over a lifetime.

From that sum is subtracted the amount the person might have spent on things like subway fare or country club dues.

An economist might persuade a jury, Mr. Kreindler argued, that a hard-driving person like the salesman might work well past 70. It was plausible, he said, to assert that the salesman would have had 40 years ahead of him and that he would have earned more than $500,000 in each of those years. In all, the lawyers concluded, the economic losses might be as much as $25 million...


...another lawyer, Alan L. Fuchsberg, was estimating the value of a case involving another man who died on Sept. 11.

He was 42 and earned $54,000 as a clerk in a financial firm in the World Trade Center.

Mr. Fuchsberg said the clerk's case might bring a substantial award for pain and suffering. The office he worked for was on the 90th floor of the second tower to be hit, where there were announcements encouraging people to return to their desks while the first tower burned.

The clerk, Mr. Fuchsberg said, would have had plenty of time to understand his circumstances. "Obviously," the lawyer said, "it got very smoky and hot and unbearable."

But Mr. Fuchsberg said he told the clerk's father to expect a comparatively small award for economic damages, especially if it was difficult to prove that the clerk, who was single, provided substantial support to his aging parents. Mr. Fuchsberg said some claims for single people with no dependents could be worth as little as $100,000.

The clerk's father, who asked not to be named, said he was stunned to learn the role a person's income played in lawyers' math. "The value of a life is certainly not determined based on earnings," he said, his voice breaking. "We're talking about my son."

By this logic, a 30 year old Afghan male life can be had for the low, low price of $2848.00 per Afghan unit assuming a $178.00 per capita GDP (United Nations)) and given the "normal" male life expectancy of 46 years. (CIA Factook). However, I'm sure average unit cost will be considerably reduced by inclusion of the near $0.00 appraisals of women and children, making this war a bargain indeed.
Microsoft says, "Stop publishing details of our incompetence!"

If we can’t eliminate all security vulnerabilities, then it becomes all the more critical that we handle them carefully and responsibly when they’re found. Yet much of the security community handles them in a way that fairly guarantees their use, by following a practice that’s best described as information anarchy. This is the practice of deliberately publishing explicit, step-by-step instructions for exploiting security vulnerabilities, without regard for how the information may be used.

It’s high time the security community stopped providing blueprints for building these weapons. And it’s high time computer users insisted that the security community live up to its obligation to protect them. We can and should discuss security vulnerabilities, but we should be smart, prudent, and responsible in the way we do it.
Ashcroft to eavesdrop on detainees' calls to lawyers
Add attorney/client privilege to the rights about which you may now wax nostalgic.
Chelsea heckles anti-war protesters at Oxford
Bloodlust inherited from war-mongering father, boorish manners from cold-blooded mother.

Friday, November 09, 2001

Nicaraguan Election
Lovely catalog of U.S. interference in Sunday's Nicaraguan election. Texas border secure from Sandinista threat, for now.
What should be done?

Bill Lee, the ex-big league pitcher for the Boston Red Sox and Montreal Expos known for his lefty ideals, recently provided his analysis of the current “War on Terrorism.” Instead of bombing Afghanistan further into oblivion, Lee told Stacy Chase of the Montpelier Times-Argus that “We should catch [bin Laden] and make him watch shitty TV. Learn to play golf or something – that’ll piss him off enough. Death is not a deterrent to fanaticism.”
mail call

Date: November 9, 2001
To: Jerry Westerby
From: Clifford Hanger

With some age and experience you will come to see that citing CounterPunch
too often is a mark of a poor mind, wandering in far out Left field, and
often taking on nonsense as gospel truth till it is otherwise revealed but
seldom (nevber?) retracted by the gang...

You poor lads must be in a pickle. You and your country get attacked--6
thousand killed, and all you can come up with is Stop the Bombing of
innocents, as though countries have never killed civies after WWI (wheren
they fought in trenches) and had syuch things as fire bombing Dresden,
Hiroshim and Nag. a-bombed, buzz bombs lobed into London.

Weakly, then, you smite the warrior mentality by saying: it is a law
matter not a military matter. Then, sayeth the preacher: go issue a summons
in Afghanistan to Mr Laden and put him on trial. Or, summon the UN, with
Syrian now on Security seat to bring things to a vote with some 21 Muslim
states in on the voting...No?

Then just drop the enite matter and pretend nothing happened and that the
terror guys scatter in some 30 countries are merely minor annoyances that
will go away if we ignore them.

Well. of course we brought this on ourselves! those nasties in
Indonesia, Pakistan, the Gulf States etc should get their vengeance upon
the US for having developed something that resembles a democracy though not
entirely one at this point and likely to be less of a one because of your
pals the loonies whom you see fit to support by not embracing them but by
suggesting your country is all wet behind the ears.

Soldier on, pal

Lecture much appreciated, Clifford Hanger
More excellent analysis from the most knowledgeable anglophone journalist in the Middle East. Robert Fisk, of course.

Air campaign"? "Coalition forces"? "War on terror"? How much longer must we go on enduring these lies? There is no "campaign" – merely an air bombardment of the poorest and most broken country in the world by the world's richest and most sophisticated nation. No MiGs have taken to the skies to do battle with the American B-52s or F-18s. The only ammunition soaring into the air over Kabul comes from Russian anti-aircraft guns manufactured around 1943.

Coalition? Hands up who's seen the Luftwaffe in the skies over Kandahar, or the Italian air force or the French air force over Herat. Or even the Pakistani air force. The Americans are bombing Afghanistan with a few British missiles thrown in. "Coalition" indeed.

Then there's the "war on terror". When are we moving on to bomb the Jaffna peninsula? Or Chechnya – which we have already left in Vladimir Putin's bloody hands? I even seem to recall a massive terrorist car bomb that exploded in Beirut in 1985 – targeting Sayed Hassan Nasrallah, the spiritual inspiration to the Hezbollah, who now appears to be back on Washington's hit list – and which missed Nasrallah but slaughtered 85 innocent Lebanese civilians. Years later, Carl Bernstein revealed in his book, Veil, that the CIA was behind the bomb after the Saudis agreed to fund the operation. So will the US President George Bush be hunting down the CIA murderers involved? The hell he will.

So why on earth are all my chums on CNN and Sky and the BBC rabbiting on about the "air campaign", "coalition forces" and the "war on terror"? Do they think their viewers believe this twaddle?...
Update on anarchist shoolgirls in trouble:

Katie Sierra, the 15 year old suspended from a Charleston, WV High School for trying to start an antiwar club and wearing a t-shirt with the message, ""When I saw the dead and dying Afghani children on TV, I felt a newly recovered sense of national security. God Bless America," is being harassed by the local mandarins and local media (I'm sure she would fare no better with the national mandarins and national media) . Her appeals have been immediately slapped down by the courts and the school board. One board member, John Luoni accused Sierra of "committing treason" by espousing her anti-war views.

The local newspaper on this 15 year old:

On November 5, Sierra's hometown newspaper, the Charleston Daily Mail, ran a stinging editorial with this headline: "The School Day is for Education, Not Disruptive Political Expression."

The Daily Mail's editorial began with this head-scratching gem: "Americans cherish the freedoms guaranteed them under the Constitution, but the thoroughly egocentric exercise of those rights becomes tiresome." And it ended with this similarly frightening bit of reasoning: "Americans have the right to express themselves, and that is sacred. But there is not, and never has been, a constitutional right to force everybody else in society to listen during school hours."

Yes, you read that correctly:thoroughly egocentric exercise of those rights becomes tiresome.

[via Food and Water Journal]

Thursday, November 08, 2001

Deathbed confession of legendary ghoul, James Jesus Angleton:
from Joseph Trento's, The Secret History of the CIA

I asked the dying old man how it all went so wrong.

With no emotion in his voice, but with his hand trembling, Angleton
replied: "Fundamentally, the founding fathers of the U.S. Intelligence
were liars. The better you lied and the more you betrayed, the more likely
you would be promoted. These people attracted and promoted each other.
Outside of their duplicity, the only thing they had in common was a desire
for absolute power. I did things that, in looking back on my life, I
regret. But I was part of it and loved being in it. . . . Allen Dulles,
Richard Helms, Carmel Offie, and Frank Wisner were the grand masters. If
you were in a room with them you were in a room full of people that you
had to believe would deservedly end up in hell." Angleton slowly sipped
his tea and then said, "I guess I will see them there soon.

[via Sam]

Wednesday, November 07, 2001

Bush demands members of his gang kill to prove loyalty:
"A coalition-builder must do more than just express sympathy. A coalition-builder must perform," the president said. "All nations, if they want to fight terrorism, must do something. It's time for action."

Tuesday, November 06, 2001

Man will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.

--Denis Diderot, Dithyrambe sur la fête des Rois

extremism for the rest of us

Preparing Adolescents for Life in the New World Order: Illinois high school uses polygraph on students.

One by one, the subjects were led into a room and hooked up to a polygraph machine.
The purpose: to determine whether the teen-agers violated Dunlap High School's code of conduct by attending a party where alcohol was consumed.

If the polygraph doesn't yield the right answers, they should be tortured.
Jonathon Alter of Newsweek thinks its time to talk about torture:
But even as we continue to speak out against human-rights abuses around the world, we need to keep an open mind about certain measures to fight terrorism

From the NYT article below:
Mr. Alter said he was surprised that his column did not
provoke a big flood of e-mail messages or letters. And
perhaps even more surprising, he said, was that he had been
approached by "people who might be described as being on the
left whispering, 'I agree with you.'

I need to see the credentials of these "people on the left." I supect it's the same crowd of none-too-bright Democrats who spent the year 2000 harassing Nader supporters instead of George Bush. But of course Alter's point is that there shall be no dissent on this issue.

In a St. Louis Post-Dispatch interview dated 11-4 (now in their must-pay archive), Alan Dershowitz proposes the idea of torture warrants, whereby judges issue warrants to law enforcement officers to torture suspects, presumably warrants similar to the ones judges now routinely issue to terrorize innocent taxpayers wrongly fingered by confidential informants. Dershowitz magnanimously allows the torture victim to retain his Fifth amendendment right against self-incrimination by disallowing the information gained to be used against the tortured himself.

And how many search and seizure warrant requests are denied police by the current slate of reactionary judges? I doubt any of them would deny a torture warrant to any official with a sufficiently scary story, like the "ticking time bomb scenario" which has only ever happened in Hollywood. Of course there is this lovely anecdote from the NYT article:

The historian Jay Winik, in an opinion article on Oct. 23 in
The Wall Street Journal, detailed the reported torture in
1995 of the convicted terrorist plotter Abdul Hakim Murad by
the Philippine authorities that led to the foiling of a plot
to crash nearly a dozen U.S. commercial aircraft into the
Pacific and another into CIA headquarters in Virginia.

Mr. Winik went on to write: "One wonders, of course, what
would have happened if Murad had been in American custody?"
He did not, however, endorse the use of torture but
suggested that the United States might have to significantly
curtail civil liberties, as it had done in past wars

I'm sure the scrupulous Phillipine authorities have only ever tortured terroists plotting the deaths of hundreds of civilians. Anyway the efficacy of torture should not even be an issue. Either we keep all of our rights (already under relentless and vicious attack before 9-11) intact in these times, or they have never really existed except as convenient privileges for overfed consumers.

The purpose of this entire "media discussion," as the New York Times calls it, is to lend a paper legitimacy to the extra-legal procedures now and historically employed by U.S. law enforcement.

The slide into the post-Constitutiona era continues.
Torture Seeps Into Discussion by News Media This is yesterday's NYT headline, which infers the concept of "torture" has inexplicably sneaked into the national discussion. Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, far too optimistically for someone in the human abuse monitoring business, avers: To the government's credit it's not the government proposing this. It's various commentators.

That's not exactly true. Alex Cockburn mentions in a Counterpunch article appearing 11-1 (and linked here then) the FBI slipping the torture meme to Walter Pincus, the Washington Post's intelligence beat columnist who dutifully spread it via his paper beginning Sunday, October 28 .An unnamed agent told the national security establishment flack, it could get to that spot where we could go to pressure...where we won't have a choice, and we are probably getting there.The FBI anonymously proposed torture in the Washington Post a week prior to the New York Times notice of the obsequious yammering among the stale pundits of the major media.

Monday, November 05, 2001

Welcome to Blarney World
Terry Eagleton reviews R.F. Foster's The Irish Story: Telling Tales and Making It Up In Ireland:

The Anglo-Irish liberal tradition has been a roll-call of free spirits: nonconformist, bracingly agnostic and keenly suspicious of tribal loyalties. In its free-thinking individualism, it has played an honourable role in Ireland in resisting a brutal Gaelic triumphalism. It gave the country some of its most imaginative political leaders, along with some of the finest blooms of its artistic culture. One such piece of artistry is the fiction of Elizabeth Bowen, "freighted with sensuous language, baroque humour, oblique psychological insights, penetrating moral issues and overall strangeness", as Foster remarks of it here in an essay of exceptional insight and delicacy.

Throughout this Anglo-Irish lineage runs a vein of coolly sardonic wit thinly concealing a covert irascibility, part of both the class's assurance and its insecurity, which Foster mines to the full. He is enjoyably devastating about the fact that Ireland these days is basically one enormous historical theme park, and mordantly satirical about the prolier-than-thou sentimentalism of Frank McCourt's Angela's Ashes. He is refreshingly brisk about those Irish who fall off their bar stools unable to stay sober because of the English victory at Kinsale in 1601. He has the superciliousness of his class, along with its suggestively off-centre vision. As a blend of tough-minded historian and superb literary stylist, he also combines its worldly wisdom with its creative brio.
Terrorist camp discovered in Wales. Let's bomb Cardiff and demand New Labour relinquish Osama Bin Laden.
The White House strategy in turning down legislative authorization for the Office of Homeland Security becomes clear: to avoid the regular scrutiny of Congress. The Office is now a White House police apparatus, unaccountable to the people's representatives. Of course it's nigh impossible to find a representative of the people who cares.

More Office of Fatherland, er Motherland, I mean Homeland Security links: (Isn't "Homeland" the jargon of white supremacists?)

Ridge's questionable service in Vietnam
[via counterpunch]

Homeland Insecurity
[via counterpunch]

Ridge's reign of terror in Pennsylvania
[via tompaine]

Ridge as jackbooted thug, from paranoid(?), Al Martin.
[via unknownnews]
Until October 25 of this year when Terry Mincey was killed by lethal injection, Georgia enjoyed a little over three years free of executions. Now state officials are furiously revving the state-murder machinery, racing to make up lost time and catch the deathmill outputs of Texas and Florida.

Jose High; Scheduled Execution Date and Time: 11/6/01 7:00pm EDT

Jose Martinez High was convicted of murder, armed robbery, and
kidnaping with bodily injury in the state courts of Georgia and
sentenced to death for a crime he committed in 1976, the very year
that the death penalty was reinstated in the United States. After
spending more than 23 years on death row, Jose High will be
executed this November.

In July 1976, 14-year old Jose, along with accomplices Judson
Ruffin and Nathan Brown, robbed an Amoco gas station off the highway
in Crawfordsville, GA. According to the station attendant that night,
Henry Lee Phillips, the 3 men pulled up and got out of their car, and one
of the men pointed a pistol at Mr. Phillips. Judson Ruffin emptied the
cash register, and when there was no money left, he grabbed Phillips'
11-year old stepson, Bonnie Bullock, and directed Phillips into the trunk
of the car. The men drove Bullock and Phillips to a secluded wooded area
and directed them to lie on the ground. When Henry Lee Phillips awoke with
bullet-wounds to the head and wrist, Bonnie was dead. Following his
arrest, Judson Ruffin confessed to the shooting of Bonnie Bullock.

Jose High, Judson Ruffin, and Nathan Brown were tried
separately, and all men were convicted of capital murder with a
sentence of death. Since then, Georgia appellate courts have reversed
Ruffin and Brown's sentences. Jose High, now 39-years old, has been denied
his appeals, and will be executed by lethal injection on November 6, 2001.

Fred Gilreath; Scheduled Execution Date and Time: 11/13/01 7:00pm EDT

The pace of executions is on the increase in Georgia, in the
wake of a Georgia Supreme Court ruling that, in effect, replaced the
electric chair with death by lethal injection. In spite of an
apparent victory at derailing electrocutions, Fred Gilreath is still
set to die on November 13th.

Over 20 years ago, Fred Gilreath murdered 2 individuals, Linda Gilreath
and Gerritt Van Leeuwen. Under the influence of alcohol and numerous
mental health problems, Fred acted out in violence. However, a sentence of
death, reserved for the most heinous and premeditated of murders, is
questionable in Fred Gilreath's case. Furthermore, at his trial Gilreath
demanded that no mitigating evidence be presented in his defense during
the sentencing phase. Such circumstances exist that, had they been
presented at court, could have been used to spare Gilreath's life. Stories
of an abusive childhood, lifelong problems with alcohol, and a recurring
incidence of mental health problems would have shed more light on the
circumstances of this crime and Gilreath's state of mind. A crime
committed in the haze of alcoholism and mental illness is certainly
different than premeditated murder.

Even for those who support the death penalty, this case should be a
questionable application of capital punishment. Please let the State of
Georgia know that you oppose the circumvention of the law in Fred
Gilreath's case and capital punishment in general.

Please Contact

Governor Roy Barnes
State Capitol Building
Constituent Services
Room 111
Atlanta, GA 30334
Phone: 404-656-1776
Fax: 404-657-7332

Board of Pardons and Paroles
Contact: Walter Ray
MLK, Jr. Drive
Floyd Veterans Memorial Building #2
East Tower, 4th Floor
Atlanta, GA 30334
Phone: 404-656-5651
Fax: 404-651-6723
pardon and paroles

Write Op-Ed:
Atlanta Constitution-Journal
PO Box 4689
Atlanta, GA 30302
Phone: 404-526-5151
Fax: 404-526-5746
e-mail: ajc

For More Information

Southern Center for Human Rights
83 Poplar Street
Atlanta, GA 30303
Contact: Stephen Bright
Phone: 404-688-1202
Fax: 404-688-9440
e-mail: schr

Southern Region of Amnesty International
131 Ponce de Leon Ave.
Suite 220
Atlanta, GA 30308
Contact: Laura Moye
Phone: 404-876-5661
Fax: 404-876-2276
e-mail: ai, south
[via Abolish]