Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Missing in Action as Thousands are found Dead

It's 1:45 p.m. West Coast time, and still, amazingly, not a word from our President. Not a call for prayer. No "I feel your pain." Not even a plea to Americans for donations of money and time. Nada. Just a big empty void where our leadership should be. I mean, I treasure vacations. I do. They're worth protecting at most costs - but not at all costs, and not when you're supposedly the leader of the free world.


Meanwhile, while the US media is silent on the actual death toll, foreign sources are surfacing the grim news: thousands are likely dead. There is no power. Food is running out. No one in the Superdome has had a bath since this started, and the toilets are breaking.

The mayor of New Orleans says a total evacuation is needed - that the city will not be functional for two to three months. Dead bodies are floating past homes. If they remain in the water they pose a serious risk for the spreading of diseases. So bodies are being pulled out when found, but no one is counting the bodies because they are (rightfully) focusing on rescuing the still living.

The stories are breaking my heart. So many homeless. Hospitals without power or working sewage facilities. It really is like being in a war zone.

The ripple effects will be devastating. How will this city, which depends a great deal on tourism and conventioneers, rebuild? Already conventions scheduled for New Orleans are being rebooked in Atlanta and other places.

The best that can come from this is a national discussion on true emergency preparedness planning. Clearly any city can be hit by devastation from nature, be it an earthquake, a tornado, a hurricane, or goodness forbid, an act of war. Who among us is truly safe? I lived through the Northridge quake in Los Angeles. I saw the main east-west artery of the 10 Freeway collapse, cutting off the major beach-to-downtown commute route. I saw hundreds buried in their own homes, and others whose homes slid off a cliff. In my own building, a penthouse unit literally fell off the top of the building. A newscast that night showed a reporter in front of my door, yellow-taped (meaning, don't enter unless you absolutely have to because it's not safe). I know the disorienting feeling I felt then, and that was NOTHING compared to what these people are going through. And most of LA was relatively untouched. Only a few areas were especially hard hit. New Orleans, however, was hit with disaster on a scale beyond imagination.

As I'm writing this, the news just broke in with the President speaking to the nation. It's long overdue.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

President Nero

I'm thinking of another leader, who sat and fiddled while Rome burned. Bush finally decided it might be a good idea to cut short his vacation, a day into this terrible tragedy. I happened to catch the amazing exchange between Jack Cafferty and Wolf Blitzer today on CNN:
Cafferty: You have to wonder, watching these pictures, and listening to these accounts, if we'll ever see the city of New Orleans as we all remember the Big Easy. Where's President Bush? Is he still on vacation?

Blitzer: He's cut short his vacation. He's coming back to Washington tomorrow.

Cafferty: Well, that would be a good idea. He was out in San Diego, I think, at a Naval air station giving a speech on Japan and the war in Iraq today. Based on his approval rating in the latest polls, my guess is getting back to work might not be a terrible idea....

You don't usually hear frustration and outrage on news shows, and I must say it came as welcome relief. With Cafferty ranting, I didn't feel so alone.

President Nero. That's what we should call him from now on. He could hardly care less, although I'm sure his handlers are prepping him for some teary-eyed show to come. But history books will record that, once again, when America was under attack - this time from nature - our president proved he's one of the world's worst leaders. Even the mayor of New Orleans at least called upon the nation for prayers. You'd think Christianity-waving Bush might have at least thought of that one. But no. Golf was more important than assuring a worried nation.

It's not like the damage is isolated, either. Gas prices are soaring. The fragile economy is hanging by a thread. And National Guard members from Louisiana are far away, battling in Iraq. Just where they're needed most, right?

There's a horrific irony in nature reminding us what we are doing in Iraq. We are the natural disaster there, displacing people from their homes, demolishing places of work, creating medical havoc. I hope the right wingers wake up and smell the karma brewing.

What Bush Saw vs. What People in New Orleans Saw

I'm feeling chatty tonight! It just incenses me that the "leader of the free world" (heavy on the quotes) continued his precious vacation rather than dealing with the horrific tragedy happening to his fellow countrymen one state away. The Think Progress blog juxtaposes images of what Bush saw, vs. what the people of New Orleans saw. While Bush golfed, hundreds (if not thousands) found themselves newly homeless.

Where is his Christianity now?

Where is his compassion?

Don't get me wrong - I never saw signs of either before so I shouldn't be surprised. But the arrogance - the blatant disregard for serving the people who so blindly and dutifully elected him (IF they elected him, the subject of previous posts here) - is still astonishing.

I know there are many big hearts across America, and indeed, across the planet. I know people will be reaching out. And it's too much to ask of GWB that he live up to the office for which he is clearly unfit. But is it too much to ask to George W. Bush to show just an ounce of humanity? If you were president, what would you have done? I'm sure all of you would have done something far more compassionate than playing golf.

Aid for New Orleans

So far, I haven't yet asked for money for my sites. (That may have to change, at some point.) But I'm begging you now to please support any of these organizations that will be tasked with providing aid to the families of New Orleans.

I'm awed by the power nature has over us, and reminded how vulnerable we all are. I hope you can find it in your pocketbook, despite the rising oil prices, to remember how much worse off so many others are.

The list is posted by RenaRF at Kos:

Thanks for your concern for your fellow planetary dwellers. Bless you.

Someone is stealing my identity

For the past several years, someone has been going in and out of Internet newsgroups posting as "Lisa Pease" - sometimes on the Kennedy assassination, but sometimes on completely related issues. This person writes rambling, incoherent posts and claims they are from me. While most recognize immediately that the person is not me and others pipe up from time to time to say that's not "the" Lisa Pease, there are the few that have been taken in, who have even corresponded with that poster, thinking he is me.

Now - "Gregory Douglas" - name in quotes because he has used several names, including Walter Storch, and Peter Stahl - has posted some more disinformation on his site. He has posted a letter ostensibly from me. Of course it is not. I wrote to him and asked him to take it down, and he refused. So truth is not part of his agenda.

And if you had any doubts re that - look at what he sent me:
From reading your website and also from the many ribald comments TBR received from readers, this denial of yours, if indeed it came from you and not the back wards of St. Elizabeth's Home for the Dim of Wit, is not a certainty.

I have found that many of the so-called "Kennedy Assassination Conspiracy" people are eccentric (to be very kind) to a remarkable degree and are the foreunners of the lunatic "bloggers" that have proliferated like fungus after a good rain.

I understand from a number of people, that you do not like me because my book, "Regicide," trashed a pamphlet you produced on the Kennedy business so I suggest that you take some Midol, let your hair down and have a good cry. [Huh? I don't like Regicide because it's based on documents no one can authenticate.]

BTW, I would recommend you take your picture down from your website lest you excite the misplaced sympathy of PETA.. [There's no picture of me on any of MY websites.]

Why not suffer your petty humiliarions in silence? I personally do not suffer fools gladly and a reading of your mindless babblings on the internet puts you squarely into the same category as Tom Flocco, "Sorcha Faal" and Wayne Madsen.

Not only will this stay in the TBR Archives, I personally willl include it, and your gorgeous picture, in a book I am writing on the 'Conspiracy Fringe' madness which is slated to appear just before the Christmas rush and which contains a lengthy dissection of the prolific and weird Kennedy Assassination writings.

Blaies Pascal once said that to destroy some one, make a fool of them but in these cases, I cannot improve on what God Almighty has already done.

If you don't like it, sue me.

I am sure that Sid Flores, Shopping Mall Lawyer would be more than happy to take your money.

Yours in Christ!

Gregory Douglas
This diary on Daily Kos talks about Douglas/Stahl/Storch's history, which includes apparently forging documents. Under the name Gregory Douglas, he wrote a book on the Kennedy assassination called Regicide that is based on a document only he has ever seen, one that is simply not credible (the CIA is putting on paper that they are killing Kennedy and why. Yeah right.) I told people I believed since the truth about Angleton's involvement in the JFK case was surfacing, Douglas put forth something provably false but pointing in the same direction. That way, if people said Angleton was involved, someone else could say - oh, those papers have been discredited, even though there are hundreds of other genuine documents available to anyone at the National Archives which show Angleton's involvement with Oswald prior to the assassination and Angleton's direct involvement in the cover-up after the fact. That's essentially what was done to Dan Rather - they sunk a true story by bringing out (possibly) false documents.

At any rate - Douglas has decided to make me a target, which begs the question of whom he really serves. Is he a nut who is trying anything to make money, and throwing stones at any who seek to expose him as a phoney? Or is he an agent of the government, out to discredit stories and people who get too close to the truth?

In the end, of course, it doesn't matter. This episode has backfired on Douglas. It detracts further from any credibility he had left, and adds to mine, as it shows I'm close enough to the truth to be a target now.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Katrina causing Oil Shockwave

Wow - this is just like what I saw at the Oil Shockwave exercise a couple of weeks ago in Torrance, California. A single event can affect oil prices in dramatic ways. Katrina has just sent oil to $70/barrel, up from $65 just a few days ago. This Reuters report from Sydney describes "Monday's" trading prices:
The U.S. Gulf of Mexico normally pumps about 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude, a quarter of domestic output and equivalent to nearly 2 percent of global oil production.

"This is certainly reminiscent of Ivan last year," said David Thurtell, commodity strategist at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

"We can expect two months of lost production, and coming in the peak demand period this is the worst possible news. The only way we can avoid yet higher prices is if President Bush releases supply from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve."
Whoa there, just a minute. The Strategic Petroleum Reserve, called the "SPRO," should really be saved for true emergencies that are provably short term. We won't know until the storm has passed whether there has been long term damage. The SPRO holds 700 million barrels of oil. That may sound like a lot. But consider that Americans consume a little over 20 million barrels of oil a day, and you'll see that he SPRO is indeed a very limited resource. I think the use of the word "strategic" in its title is misleading. It's really just a stop-gap measure for short term issues - hardly a strategic supply.

More disturbing to me, however, is how the SPRO has been misunderstood. I met a right-winger recently who told me we shouldn't worry about oil because we had these huge reserves. I didn't have the facts at hand to tell him just how limited those reserves are.

Right now, 97% of all tranportation in America relies on oil. So isn't it time to revisit the issue of electric cars? Non-polluting vehicles that could conceivably draw power from non-polluting sources (solar and wind, thermal and tidal, among others)?

In the 1990s, California threatened to require zero-emission vehicles, and Ford and GM started producing small quantities of highly efficient and zero-emission electric cars. Ford even had an electric pickup truck.

But people worried that plugging in a car to recharge it each night might be tedious and something readily forgotten. Many had visions of being stalled on the road with no recharging station in site. But we've all made mistakes that we learned from, mistakes we never repeated. One day without your car and you'd learn a new habit in a hurry.

So what happened to these electric vehicles? Ford and GM tried to recall the leased cars, saying they could not support them. Ford electric pickup owners staged a successful revolt and Ford agreed to sell the owners their cars. GM, however, worried about liability of a vehicle they were not planning to support, insisted owners return the cars and hauled them off to be crushed.

Over a 100 years ago, in 1900, for Century Magazine, Serbian-American Nikola Tesla warned of the need to harness renewable sources of energy, and the two he pointed to as the easiest to harness are the ones that to this day show the most promise: solar power and wind power. The future demands we give up our oil addiction and invest in alternative energy sources, and especially, as Tesla so presciently admonished us, not to look for a new depletable resource but to develop energy from inexhaustible resources. His other ideas included generating energy from the heat differentiation in water in the ocean, using the warmer and cooler temperatures to generate electricity. He also talked of solving the issue of gravity once and for all, building a horizontal disk, and shielding half of it from gravity, causing the still-affected half to rotate the disk.

Tesla's most interesting idea, to me, was the notion of not just generating electricity from natural sources, but distributing it without wires. Many computer users are familiar with the wireless transmission of data. But Tesla succeeded, on a limited basis, of deploying not just information but energy itself wirelessly. He transmitted energy from one point in NewYork City to another, and during his Colorado period, he transmitted energy through the earth to a point several miles away. If J. P. Morgan had not pulled funding on Telsa's electrical transmission tower at Wardenclyffe , people today might not have to fear recharging their cars. The energy needed could have been made continuously available through the ground, through the atmosphere, through the air. Tesla envisioned airplanes powered from electricity generated on the ground and transmitted wirelessly to the sky.

Clearly, Tesla's plans were dangerous to the growing oil barons who were getting fat on a very measurable (but very depletable) energy source. What might the world be like if vision and the sense of the common good held more sway in our culture than greed and wealth?

When you look at the fact that 67% of the world's known oil reserves are in the Middle East, you know all you need to know about why we really waged war in Iraq. And that's tragic. Because we're fighting a losing battle. We're making fresh new enemies over a resource that won't be around much longer anyway. Why not spend that money instead developing new, renewable forms of energy? Think of the money the military would save if they had a fleet of vehicles not tied to the rising price of oil.

We need fewer dinosaur minds and more minds like Tesla's to help us forge a reliable energy future. It's already very late in that game, and we need to get cracking. Hurricanes will be with us forever. We shouldn't have an energy economy so fragile as to be affected by them.

P.S. Good luck, New Orleanians. I feel for the poor, the elderly, the feeble who are unable to escape the coming onslaught. You are in my thoughts and prayers tonight.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Robertson asks US to assassinate Chavez

As usual, Jeff over at Rigorous Intuition, one of my favorite blogs, is all over this. On TV yesterday, self-proclaimed evangelist Pat Robertson called for the US to assassinate Hugo Chavez. (The CIA already tried and failed to overthrow Chavez in a coup attempt.) According to Robertson, Venezuela under Chavez is becoming "a launching pad for Communist infiltration and Muslim extremism all over the continent." Evidently, no one told Robertson the cold war was over, and communism is no threat anywhere.

As for charges of Muslim extremism, it's odd to hear such an accusation from one who can only be called a Christian fundamentalist extremist. Jesus exhorted his followers NOT to take up violence, admonishing that those who live by the sword die by the sword, and that such is not the way of the Christ, who laid down his weapons, turned his other cheek, and brought only love to his fellow men.

That said, the power play for Venezuela has never been about communism per se, nor terrorism, anymore than our presence in Columbia has to do with the so-called war on drugs. It's the oil, stupid. It's always about oil. Even Somalia, our "humanitarian" mission under Bush Sr., was nothing but a naked grab for oil in that region. The mission itself was run out of oil company headquarters.

I spent a day last week at a frightening symposium called Oil Shockwave. Participants included James Woolsey, the former head of the CIA; Congresswoman Jane Harman, one of the events sponsors, and several others. The event included a mock cabinet meeting, with Woolsey in the role of the National Security Advisor. Mock footage from GNN - the fictious Global News Network - showed events on three different days, and how fairly small events caused tremendous shocks in the oil supply system. One person not on the panel talked later in the day how a thirty minute fire in a refinery in the Los Angeles area sent diesel prices up. The supply is so necessary and the demand so constant that small events can precipitate steep price raises.

The bottom line is, we're at the point where our demand for oil is rapidly exceeding our capacity to supply it. The world's three biggest oil producing regions are, in order from the top, the middle east (65% of the world's oil), Africa (around 10%) and Latin America (around 7%). The US's oil supply is only about 2% of the world's, so we are dependent on oil from other countries. The figures explain why we are at war in Iraq and why we care so much about Venezuela. How lucky are countries without major oil reserves, as they have not been targets of our imperialistic grabs for power. In the Middle East, the Saudi's control the greatest amount of the oil, which explains the close relationship the White House has to the Saudi's and our inability to do anything to bring about the democritization of their society. Women are treated as second class citizens, not even allowed to be seen in some areas. The ruling class is a dictatorship. But America can't complain, because by holding so much oil,the Saudi's hold the cards.

I have too little time to talk in depth about all I wish I could discuss here. But when you hear talk of us going to Iran - know that they are also a major oil and natural gas producer, two commodities in increasingly short supply. It isn't about Muslim extremism, although that's a handy excuse since the areas with large muslim populations in many case are also areas with huge oil reserves. Communism was such a threat to us not because it was a 'godless' or 'undemocratic' way of life, but because it meant the nationalizing of oil supplies, and it's harder to get oil that is under state control than to get oil that is bought and sold by global corporations.

I am reminded of the scene in Three Days of the Condor where the CIA operative known as "Condor" (Robert Redford) realizes that the plot he has been following is all about a preemptive move to control the Middle East because of oil. (See the film again, if you haven't. Very prescient.) Condor's point is that the people should be given the facts about the real reasons we're moving in the Middle East, and let them choose. His handler's point, however, is that if we wait too long, people won't want to be asked. They'll just want the oil gotten for them. It's a chillingly accurate portrayal of the moral quandries of the CIA and worse, the lack of education in the general populace. If we could convince the people of this country that oil is a finite world resource, and that our strategic reserves wouldn't last us but a few months in a crisis, I think we'd see a quicker move to renewable energy sources. But so long as science is minimized, global warming denied, and the belief that oil is limited is a myth, we're in for a long, dirty road to hell. It's already very late in the game for us to just now be waking up to these facts. I don't believe it's too late, yet, but there's no time to be lost.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Killing the Peacemakers

Why is it that people who stand for peace seem to be the ones most likely to be assassinated? In Sri Lanka, Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar was trying to come up with a peace plan to end the ethnic divisions between the ethnic Tamil minority and the Sinhalese majority. A conflict in 1983 killed nearly 65,000 people, and Norway had stepped in to broker a cease-fire at that time.

I don't know this country. I don't know what the grievances are. I've read that the Tamil minority claims the government is secretly funding the anti-Tamil forces, in violation of the brokered agreement. So I don't know which side is "right" or if any side is right. I only know that violence and assassination are not the way to go about bringing people to your side. Non-violent protest has been the only effective way for permanent change in the history of our planet. Shame on those who would resort to assassination.

I'm reminded of Martin Luther King, who was killed not when he asked for civil rights for all Americans of all ethnicities, but when he called for an end to the Vietnam war. Robert Kennedy wasn't assassinated until he was in a position to possibly end the war as well. I hope I'm not falling for international propaganda - how would I know if Kadirgamar was a good man? I'm trusting that the press is telling us the truth, and if that is the truth, then he was doing a brave thing and I'm very sorry he was killed for trying to bring peace to his war-torn island. Sri Lanka is about the size of West Virginia. It's sad to see such bloodshed over such a little piece of land. I fear there will be many more such incidents over time as the world's population grows and resources continue to shrink.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Text of my talk on 9/11 Environmental Disaster

Here's the text of the talk I gave in Europe re the 9/11 environmental disaster in New York City. I'm sorry it's taken me so long to post it.

- - - - - - - - - -

America has had its share of problems in my lifetime. Growing up with the Vietnam War, I used to hear about the “credibility gap” between what the government told us and was really going on.

The more I studied, the more I realized that it’s not an issue of credibility. It’s an issue of reality. The government has been trying to sell the American people and indeed, the world, a pack of lies ever since I was born.

They told us that President Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and Robert Kennedy were all killed by demented lone assassins. But how was it that these unaffiliated lone nuts managed, in a five-year span, to entirely behead the Left in American politics?

They told us the break-in at the Democratic Headquarters at the Watergate complex was just a “third-rate” burglary. Some burglary. It brought down a president.

They told us that Iraq had Weapons of Mass Destruction. But the only weapons of mass destruction in Iraq are our troops.

Mark Twain once said, a lie gets halfway around the world while the truth is still putting its shoes on. Today, at least, the truth gets to catch up.

The central issue is this:

In the wake of the attacks, with numerous horrific chemicals in the air, is it possible our agencies were so inept that appropriate warnings could not be issued? Or, did agencies of our government flat out lie to the citizens about health hazards? And if they lied, why? Who benefits?

Contrast the following two statements, both from the EPA – the Environmental Protection Agency.

One week after the towers were struck, with cleanup efforts hardly even begun, EPA Administrator Christina Todd Whitman said in a press release:

“I am glad to reassure the people of New York and Washington, D.C. that their air is safe to breathe”

This statement could hardly have been further from the truth. And the EPA even admitted as much, nearly two years later, after its own internal investigation.

The EPA said of itself,

“When EPA made a September 18 announcement that the air was ‘safe’ to breathe, it did not have sufficient data and analyses to make such a blanket statement.”

So what should they have warned New Yorkers about? A horrific combination of toxic materials.

- hundreds of tons of asbestos
- lead from personal computers
- mercury from computers and thousands of fluorescent light bulbs
- dioxins from burning nylon carpets and insulation
- fiberglass and dust from 600,000 square feet of glass
- PCBs, and PAHs.

PAH stands for Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons – a group of over 100 chemicals commonly formed by the incomplete combustion of oil, gas, garbage, and more.

PAHs can cause cancer, impair fertility, and cause birth defects.

Let’s look at how the EPA handled the PAHs as an example.

- Between 2 hundred thousand to 2 million pounds of PAHs were released in the first few days after the attack within half a kilometer of Ground Zero
- EPA claims it detected no PAHs in the air initially – inconceivable given what was burning
- Later tests of EPA-captured particles showed significant amounts of PAHs

So either they didn’t test what they captured, or they tested inaccurately, or they lied to us. Any of these is a bad scenario.

Let’s look at another example – the caustic dust.

pH levels have a scale of 0 to 14, with both extremes representing something harsh. Lower numbers represent acidity, higher numbers represent alkalinity. Neutral materials are in the 7-9 range.

The pH scale is logarithmic. Meaning, a pH level of 10 is 10 times more alkaline than something with a pH level of 9, and a pH level of 11 is 100 times more alkaline than pH 9.

- Ordinary soil has pH level of 6.7 to 7.3
- USGS found WTC dust had pH ranging from 9 to 11, comparable to ammonia or a common pipe cleaner called DRAINO.
- High pH causes burning of moist tissue in eyes, throat, and nasal passage.

Is it possible the EPA just really didn’t know the truth? Can we even entertain that as a possibility? The evidence amassed answers this resoundingly, NO. They had the information. They knew what to expect. And other agencies had information they shared.

For example, the US Geological Survey, a federal agency charged with studying the earth and making recommendations about the environment, studied the dust at the World Trade Center and found very high pH levels.

They reported these to the EPA.

The EPA mentioned the USGS’s data in a conference call, but never told the public. It eventually leaked out to the press, months later.

In addition, the EPA wrote that their own analysis agreed with the USGS. They knew of the caustic pH levels and didn’t tell the public.

There are many such examples.

And when, on occasion, the EPA did try to make warnings heard, the White House Council on Environmental Quality stepped in and altered their statements.

Look at this before and after example. A draft EPA statement included this phrase:

“The concern raised by these samples would be for the workers at the cleanup site and for those workers who might be returning to their offices….”

But the White House Council on Environmental Quality took that out and put in instead:

“Our tests show that it is safe for New Yorkers to go back to work in New York’s financial district.”

This procedure happened so often that the EPA’s Inspector General made special mention of White House pressure in its report.

So what should the government have done? Rather than hearing my answer, let’s hear from one of the people closer to the scene, Health and Safety officer Micki Siegel de Hernandez:

“They should have said, ‘We may never have all the answers but we know that people are sick, so let’s stop the exposures.’ But they didn’t do that. And they still have their heads in the sand.”

Please note that this quote was dated just about a year ago. In other words, many years after the event, the government has not properly addressed the health issues.

Why did the government misrepresent their own data? Why did they downplay health concerns? Can it really all be about money?

Consider that just prior to 9/11, the US economy’s bubble had burst. Stocks were on the decline. The Federal government was rightly concerned that failing to reopen Wall Street could have serious consequences for the economic health of the country.

But did that give them the right to sacrifice the health and safety of the people who happened to live and work near Ground Zero?

Even the EPA couldn’t justify this. In their IG report, we find this compelling statement:

“[W]e fully recognize the extraordinary circumstances that existed at the time the statement was made about the air being safe to breathe. It continues to be our opinion that there was insufficient information to support that statement.”

So what can do?

We can start by recognizing when we’ve been lied to.

George Seldes, one of the best journalists of the previous century, gave us the key to closing the Reality Gap.

He said:

“If you take nothing for granted, and try to find the facts, you will soon be safe from false propaganda... If you look for the social-economic motive you will not have to wait for history to tell you what was propaganda and what was truth.”

In time of their greatest need, the government utterly failed to protect the health of its citizens.

Cui Bono? Who benefits?

The same people who put President Bush in office.

The same people who received billions of dollars in tax breaks while ordinary citizens are struggling to find jobs and feed their families.

The same people who are profiting from the war in Iraq.

And who’s losing? The people of New York, whose health is being recklessly endangered.
But all of us around the world stand to lose a great deal more if we don’t press for the truth about all the events surrounding the September 11th attacks.

Thank you very much.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Cynthia McKinney re the AJC's treatment of the 9/11 Panel

I'm responding to a request from Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney to disseminate the Op-Ed her own Georgia paper, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, would not run. McKinney is upset over their "coverage of our historic Capitol Hill 9-11 briefing, laden with commentary and innuendo, bore no resemblance to the content of the actual event. They refuse to retract that story--as I have requested them to do--or to even print this op ed signed by many of the panelists and me."

Here is the piece the AJC wouldn't run.

August 2, 2005

Atlanta Journal Constitution
55 Marietta Street, Ste. 1500
Atlanta, GA 30303


Your recent article ("McKinney reopens 9/11" July 23, 2005,by Bob Kemper) covering a day-long Congressional briefing on July 22 was totally misleading in claiming that it consisted of "conspiracy theories implicating president [Bush]." The actual title was " "The 9/11 Commission Report One Year Later: A Citizens' Response - Did They Get it Right?" and not a single panelist at the event, which included 9/11 family members, former intelligence and government workers, whistleblowers and academic experts, raised any allegations that the Bush administration arranged the 9/11 attacks.

The eight hours of testimony included a powerful statement from New Jersey 9/11 widow Lorie van Auken speaking for other family members about their questions that remain unanswered to date, and their frustration that no one has been held accountable at any level for what was not an "institutional failure" nor a "failure of imagination" in relation to the 9/11 attacks, but personal failures to heed multiple and explicit advance warnings of just such an event in the United States.

Your reporter has done the concerned family members and scholars present a disservice by his defamatory remarks which continue to hide from the American public the many unexplored facts and unanswered questions that mark our understanding of and response to 9/11. I hope the public and the citizens in my district in Georgia will take the opportunity to hear this new evidence through C-SPAN, Pacifica Radio, and my own website.

Certainly the dozens of panelists who spoke about post-9/11 violations of civil rights and liberties, the rise of secrecy and the hidden costs of covert operations and consolidation of intelligence, and the rise of the neoconservative view in foreign policy and a new "Pax Americana" and permanent warfare that ignore international law or the alternatives of restoring justice and peace cannot be called "conspiracy theorists" because they question the immediate response and flawed recommendations that now guide legislation and a new security paradigm.

Historians and researchers who discover glaring errors or omissions in the Commission's report, or the lack of historical framework to their comprehension of the sources of terrorism can't be called "contrarians" for unearthing facts that contradict faulty conclusions or assumptions in the official version of events.

This calls for another look at the government's account of 9/11, which guides so much of what has happened since. Mistakes of fact, intentional or not, have changed and guided America into costly wars and increased insecurity at home. They need to be addressed and scrutinized, not dismissed and used to attack those who discover or raise them.

Your writer further implies that the issues I raised in 2002 regarding 9/11 and its aftermath "helped to spur my ouster from Congress" and that this event merely revisited the questions I raised then. To the contrary, my legitimate questions of 2002 have been taken up since by many others in Congress and the public. Many 9/11 victims' families share these concerns as well. My re-election calls the question to such claims, since my credibility with the electorate in my district is intact.

In the end, public consideration of important new facts regarding all aspects of the 9/11 tragedy is my responsibility to my constituents, the victims of 9/11, and the oath I took to defend our Constitution.

The presenters listed below, who were at the July 22 briefing, join me in this response.

Rep. Cynthia McKinney
4th District, Georgia

Peter Dale Scott, Ph.D.
Ray McGovern
David MacMichael
Paul Thompson
Nafeez Ahmed
Elaine Cassell
C. William Michaels, Esq.
Dr. John Nutter
Anne Norton
Dr. William F. Pepper

NASA brings the Shuttle home safely

Credit where credit is due. NASA's team successfully, safely brought the shuttle home today. It landed at Edwards Airforce Base in the predawn hours this morning. I'm so glad. I feel like I've been holding my breath since they launched.

I went to Edwards once to see a shuttle land. It was an amazing experience. It was, like this one, the first shuttle to land after a disaster, in that case, the Challenger. The viewing area was filled with trailers and campers. People from all walks of life had driven to that remote area in the desert the night before or early (3 AM) in the morning to see the Shuttle land. Just after dawn, we heard a boom and someone pointed to something in the sky so small it appeared to be a star, or a little white fly. It looked like it was heading like a comet straight down to the earth. I had watched on TV the swooping S curves and can assure you it looks nothing like that from the ground. It just looked like a star falling, and suddenly it was on the ground, racing across the desert.

The public is kept far from the landing strip, but I wondered if the astronauts could hear our collective whoop of relief. As with this landing, no one knew for sure if they would make it, or if something terrible might happen. It was a wonderful moment to share with others. If you've never witnessed a shuttle landing, I can tell you, it's worth a cold dark trip into the desert (or to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the preferred site).

There's something really inspiring to me about the fact that man can leave the planet and return to it. I also think there's a perspective one must form looking at the planet as a single unit, without dividing lines, sharing the same resources, that must profoundly remind the viewers how interdependent we are, and how all we really have is each other. There's a lot of empty space beyond Earth. It really behooves all of us to learn how to get along with people with whom we don't seem to have much in common.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Peter Jennings and American Broadcasting

I feel sorry for the children of Peter Jennings today, and his wife (wives) who loved him. I have nothing but sympathy for them and their loss.

As to the country's loss, my own feelings are mixed. Peter Jennings had great style, solid contacts, and he was very serious about his profession. He wrote his own stories - he was not, as they are called in Europe, a "newsreader."

But for all the stories he reported well, there is one which he reported absolutely horribly. He produced one of the worst specials ever on the JFK assassination on the 40th anniversary of that tragic event. He used Gerald Posner, whose book is, according to respected historian David Wrone, one of the most "irresponsible" (I would have called it "dishonest") books on the case. The special also featured a computer "re-enactment" (read: fictional display) of how the shots went down. Funny how CBS and others have tried to line up the shots in such as a way as to make the ridiculous "magic bullet" scenario work. There were seven wounds from three bullets, one of which, at least, entered Kennedy from the front. But the government in general and Arlen Specter in particular told us that one bullet made all the wounds in Kennedy and Governor Connally, despite the bullet having to bob and weave and turn in mid-air to make that scenario true. Enter computers. With computers, you can just move the bodies around, line up the Texas School Book Depository any way you want, and claim victory. But how someone as intelligent as Peter Jennings fell for that is utterly beyond me.

If I could have asked him one question before he died, I would have asked, why did you do that? No honest, intelligent person who reviews the case can conclude anything BUT conspiracy. Look into it for yourself - and I mean look at some of the actual witness statements, not filtered through some author's book. Just look at the actual data and you will have no choice but to agree because it's that obvious.

When I first started looking into this, I was shocked at how simple and unencumbered the evidence of conspiracy was. I mean, even a kid in high school could have figured out that a lone nut could not have done this. Witnesses heard shots on the grassy knoll. People ran in the direction of the knoll because they felt the assassin there, escaping into the trainyard. Several witnesses and a few papers reported six to eight shots, but only three bullets were allowed because a home movie, more commonly known as the "Zapruder film" after its maker, Abraham Zapruder, set the time for the kill shots in too small a window to allow for six shots. Six shots means multiple shooters, which means conspiracy. So that evidence was ignored, ridiculed, and buried. But it was public, and the "conspiracy theorists" dug it up and put it on display. In my book, truthtellers are the true patriots. The country is not served when reporters cover for the government.

I think that above all, Peter Jennings considered himself a patriot. I think it's possible, and perhaps even likely that he believed Oswald acted alone because to believe anything else would have forced him to question not only his country, but his entire career as a journalist. I mean, if he admitted to himself that he had missed the truth about one of the most important events of the twentieth century, what would that have made him? A hack repeating the lies of the government like most of the other journalists of his time, rather than a star reporter. But the truth is the truth, and I cannot color it because a good man died. I believe he was a good man. But he was utterly, irrefutably wrong on that case, and it will forever mar his record.