Undernews Jul 8 - D.C.'s Most Unofficial Source
(EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a slightly edited version of the exquisite email news bulletin from Sam Smith in Washington D.C. which comes out daily. For the full version see Undernews Website where you can subscribe.)
July 8, 2002
From the Progressive
Inside the Beltway, Out of the Loop, Ahead of the Curve
Edited by Sam Smith
Since 1964, Washington's most unofficial source
It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had any interviews with the Gods, or were in any degree under the inspiration of Heaven . . . Thirteen governments thus founded on the natural authority of the people alone, without a pretense of miracle or mystery . . . are a great point gained in favor of the rights of mankind. - John Adams on the framing of the Constitution
NOW THAT WE are finally dealing with the excesses of the 1990s, an investigation into the words used to justify them would be as useful as more traditional criminal inquiries. We would particularly like to know on what basis the media decided that the most manipulated markets of our history were "free," when a hustle became a "venture," greedy schemes became "mission statements," third-rate scam artists became "entrepreneurs," criminal conspiracies became "strategic visions," and, perhaps most of all, how the hell lawyers got included in something called "the creative class."
POST CONSTITUTIONAL AMERICA
||| BRIGID O'MALLEY, NAPLES DAILY NEWS, FL - Collier County sheriff's deputies seized several computer hard drives from the Lely campus of Edison Community College on Wednesday to examine them for possible terrorist activity. Deputies were called to the campus at 7007 Lely Cultural Parkway in East Naples around 8:20 p.m., according to sheriff's spokeswoman Tina Osceola. Someone had reported that three men who appeared to be of Middle Eastern descent had been whispering in the library while using the computer terminals to access Islamic materials, she said . . . It appeared that the men had been reading Islamic newspapers and other materials online while at the library, according to the person who called in the report, Osceola said . . . "The basis for the complaint was that they were believed to be reading Islamic newspapers," she said . . .
STORY NEXT DAY - No suspicious or terrorism-linked information was discovered on the Edison Community College computer hard drives seized by Collier County sheriff's deputies earlier this week. Sheriff's investigators say they found some research on the Muslim religion, but nothing that appeared to be related to terrorist activity or of a criminal nature . . . The person who called in said it appeared the men were using an instant messaging service and having online conversations in what appeared to be a foreign language, sheriff's officials say.
||| SUSAN SMALLHEER, TIMES ARGUS, VT - A newspaper photographer on assignment to get a picture of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant was threatened with arrest for treason by the Vernon Police Department. Under a little-known Vermont law, it is illegal to take pictures of a nuclear power station — or any power station under the jurisdiction of the Public Service Board for that matter — during times of war or threat of war, according to Vermont Title 13, subsection 3481. The entire section is entitled “treason.” The photographer, Jason Henske of the Brattleboro Reformer, was questioned by the Vernon police, after Vermont Yankee officials reported him, according to Robert Williams, spokesman for Vermont Yankee . . . Vernon Police Chief Randy Wheelock didn’t return telephone messages Wednesday. Brattleboro Reformer Night Managing Editor James Pentland initially said he had no information about the incident. Pentland later said, after consulting with the managing editor and publisher, that the paper was declining any comment about the incident.
||| BEN BARBER, WASHINGTON TIMES - A U.S. law authorizing the State Department to designate groups as "terrorist" and which allows those who support them to be prosecuted has been declared unconstitutional by a federal judge, throwing U.S. anti-terrorism strategies into disarray. A U.S. official who has been dealing with the issue said there will be "serious problems" if the decision stands on appeal . . . U.S. District Judge Robert M. Takasugi in Los Angeles ruled against the Justice Department in the little-noticed decision last week, declaring the 1996 law "unconstitutional on its face" since it does not allow the suspect groups to challenge the terrorist designation.
||| ASSOCIATED PRESS - A panel of three former judges is recommending that people included in the Denver Police Department's "spy files" should have 60 days to see what those reports say about them, The Denver Post reported this week. Police have confirmed that the department's intelligence bureau has more than 3,400 surveillance files, including some on protesters who were not known to have been involved in illegal activity.
||| ASSOCIATED PRESS, CHATHAM, NY - Frank Serpico, the whistle-blowing ex-New York City cop, criticized the government's anti-terrorism measures at a July Fourth reading of the Declaration of Independence. "It is my opinion that never before have we, as a nation, stood in greater danger of losing our individual liberties as we are today," he said. "We, the people of this great nation, are being punished for the transgressions of our leaders and their consorts." Despite catcalls from the audience, he continued with his statement before moving on to the text of the historic document.
NEWS FROM THE COLONIES
||| AMIR SHAH, ASSOCIATED PRESS Two gunmen firing assault rifles assassinated Afghan Vice President Abdul Qadir as he was being driven from a government ministry Saturday. His driver was also killed but the gunmen escaped . . . Qadir was the brother of legendary rebel commander Abdul Haq, who was captured and hanged by the Taliban last year after slipping into the country to organize resistance to the Islamic militia.
||| WASHINGTON TIMES - Mr. Karzai made Mr. Qadir one of his vice presidents last month in an attempt to appease the country's majority Pashtuns. Last year, Mr. Qadir walked out of U.N.-sponsored talks near Bonn, which set up the first interim government after the Taliban, because of what he considered a lack of Pashtun representation at the deliberations. Mr. Qadir's personal history was colorful and often controversial, making it difficult to speculate on who might have decided to kill him. A guerrilla commander during the 1980s war against the Soviets, Mr. Qadir belonged to the conservative Hezb-i-Islami party, led by Islamic cleric Yunus Khalis, whose farm in Nangarhar's Farmada region housed hundreds of al Qaeda fighters during the Taliban regime. As governor of eastern Nangarhar province in 1996, before the Taliban took power, Mr. Qadir welcomed bin Laden when he arrived in Jalalabad with 180 Arab followers on a chartered jet from Sudan. Bin Laden remained in the area as the Taliban marched through Jalalabad, taking control and pushing on to Kabul in September 1996. Mr. Qadir, whose son spent more than one year in a Taliban jail, fled to Germany where he had business interests. He later returned and maintained soldiers in the Panjshir Valley with the Northern Alliance to battle the Taliban.
RECOVERED HISTORY Abdul Haq
||| LARRY CHIN, ONLINE JOURNAL, November 7, 2001 - According to the official version carried by every major mainstream American media outlet, opposition leader Abdul Haq's death at the hands of the Taliban was a tragedy that dealt a severe blow to America's campaign to liberate Afghanistan and install a new democratic regime. Haq was portrayed in these initial accounts as a courageous and popular anti-Taliban freedom fighter, and one of "America's best hopes" to rally moderate Afghans behind the former king Mohammed Zahir Shah. The reporting of Haq's death in the Oct. 27 Washington Post was typical. In an article titled "Taliban Ambush, Capture, Hang Opposition Leader," the "execution" by "radical Islamic militia" was a "blow to the US" and a "devastating setback to an effort considered crucial to US attempts to oust and replace the Taliban." A New York Times piece from the same day ("Desperate Final Moments of Executed Opposition Leader") bathed Haq's demise in a heroic glow, with drama worthy of a spy novel. This version, which was picked up by most networks, went something like this: Haq, the courageous American ally and legendary freedom fighter makes a dangerous foray into Taliban territory. He is surrounded. He makes two desperate phone calls. One to a nephew in Pakistan. Another to an American supporter in Pakistan (James Ritchie, a wealthy supporter of an anti-Taliban coalition). An American warplane is dispatched to the area to assist Haq, but it is too late. Haq is tortured and hanged. But in the same New York Times piece, other details were revealed. Ritchie had placed a phone call to Robert McFarlane. "Bud" McFarlane— national security adviser to president Ronald Reagan, Oliver North's Iran-Contra supervisor, and the man indicted on criminal charges of withholding information from Congress about secret aid to the Nicaraguan contras—is best known for his secret diplomatic mission to Iran in which he delivered a Bible and a cake, and offered US weapons in exchange for the release of US hostages. Allegedly, it was McFarlane who contacted the CIA, which in turn dispatched the US "warplane" to Haq's "coordinates."
In the Oct. 29 Washington Post ("How CIA Tried to Save Afghan Guerilla"), it was reported that Haq had, in fact, "clashed with the CIA," and that the CIA and the US military had been "doubtful about Haq's real capabilities as an Afghan opposition leader"—reversing the media reporting of Haq's importance to the US effort. The article further stated that the CIA was "irked" by Haq's independence, and that the agency felt that he was "not always on message." Both the CIA and the Bush administration disowned the operation, suggesting that Haq's mission into Taliban territory was "of his own accord."
||| GUARDIAN, November 2, 2001 - [From final interview with Abdul Haq] - Military action by itself in the present circumstances is only making things more difficult — especially if the war goes on a long time and many civilians are killed. The best thing would be for the US to work for a united political solution involving all Afghan groups . . . We have been trying to create a revolt within the Taliban, but the US hasn't given us the chance. They seem to have been determined to attack, even if someone came up with the best proposal in the world to avoid this . . . But the US is trying to show its muscle, score a victory and scare everyone in the world. They don't care about the suffering of the Afghans or how many people we will lose. And we don't like that. Because Afghans are now being made to suffer for these Arab fanatics, but all know who brought these Arabs to Afghanistan in the 1980s, armed them, and gave them a base. It was the Americans and the CIA. And the Americans who did this got medals and good careers, while all these years Afghans suffered from these Arabs and their allies. Now when America is attacked, instead of punishing the Americans who did this, it punishes the Afghans.
AARON HICKLIN AND ROB CRILLY, HERALD, SCOTLAND - United Nations weapons inspectors colluded with British secret service agents to spread disinformation about Saddam Hussein's nuclear, biological and chemical weapons programs as part of a campaign to justify military strikes, according to the head of the UN inspection team in Iraq. In an interview with The Herald, Scott Ritter, who led the United Nations Special Commission team in Iraq for seven years in the 90s, claims he helped to leak propaganda to journalists. He resigned from the post in 1998 but said his experience then suggested that recent claims that Iraq was developing weapons of mass destruction should be treated skeptically . . . He says claims that Iraq is re-arming come from unreliable witnesses and that factories bombed in 1998 during Operation Desert Fox had not breached UN resolutions. "Every single one of those facilities was subjected to repeated inspections and never did we detect anything to remotely suggest that these were involved in producing anything prohibited. There's nothing there. Nothing."
THE WAR AGAINST WHATEVER
||| WORLD NET DAILY - The head of Israel's intelligence agency has stated in a speech to NATO that he believes World War III began on Sept. 11 when terrorists attacked the United States. Efraim Halevy, chief of the Mossad, spoke at a meeting of the NATO Alliance Council in Brussels, Belgium, according to a translation of his speech posted on Gamla: News and Views from Israel. Halevy began his talk by highlighting the continuing terrorist attacks in Israel . . . He then presented his characterization of Sept. 11. "The 11th of September was, if you will, an official and biting declaration of World War III . . . This is a war in which the sides are not only countries but also terrorist groups that operate almost with impunity. It is a war which does not have clear fighting lines; it is a war that is being waged against free societies, with weapons and strategies we have not known until now. It is a war which does not adhere to the rules of war, or the international legal norms."
||| GEORGE CARLIN WAS asked why was nobody fired over 911 the answer. He replied that it was because nobody screwed up, everybody in government did their job perfectly.
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BEHIND THE BUSHES
DAVID WASTELL, TELEGRAPH, LONDON - Colin Powell, the beleaguered Secretary of State, has delivered an angry riposte to the Pentagon hardliners responsible for his recent string of policy defeats - insisting to allies that he "won't let those bastards drive me out." Despite his frustration at President Bush's tendency to side with Donald Rumsfeld, the Defense Secretary, on issues ranging from the Middle East to the International Criminal Court, Gen Powell is making it clear that he does not intend to quit before the next presidential election. "He won't resign because to do so would be tantamount to admitting defeat," said a senior Washington official. "He would only go earlier if he thought he had lost the president's confidence and there is no sign of that. He thinks it is better to carry on and have some influence from inside the administration than to leave and have none." Gen Powell's blunt observations, which are being discreetly and deliberately circulated in Washington by senior State Department officials, are the first clear sign that he acknowledges the damaging criticisms he has taken from a combination of Mr Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy defense secretary, and Dick Cheney, the vice-president . . . One former State Department official said: "I can't see why Powell is putting up with it. He is losing every argument that matters. He'd do more good now if he did resign - it might just give the White House the jolt it needs."
FURTHERMORE. . .
||| NY POST PAGE SIX - Enron employees who haven't been fired or laid off have been warned not to bring Playboy's latest issue, featuring "The Women of Enron," into the office.
||| THE WAR ON FREEDOM: How and Why America was Attacked, September 11, 2001. 400-page book dissects the official narrative of 9/11 and suggests that the administration at the very least allowed the attacks to go ahead in order to justify its current domestic and foreign policies. Included is a chapter on warning signs and intelligence failures.
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