Monday, August 28, 2006

*J. Petras: Liquid Bomb Hoax: The Larger Implications + E.J. Steele: Is a TATP Bomb on a plane possible?

Petras's article is the latest and among the best I've seen exposing the alleged UK airline terror plot. Other excellent ones are several by former British ambassador Craig Murray and one by British 9/11 researcher Nafez Ahmed. There are any number of others: from one I'll excerpt below a description of the practical impossibility creating a TATP bomb on board a plane. If readers would like links to some of these articles, simply write to me. Also check out Xymphora's blog where a list of relevant articles was provided about a week ago.

To those who like to see things in terms of a hidden elite responsible for such policies such as the Illuminati, or other groups favored by Webster Tarpley, Petras reminds us that these government hoaxes are profoundly anti capitalistic, they get in the way of the everyday business of making money.

As Petras writes below:

The bomb plot hoax has caused enormous losses (in the hundreds of millions of dollars) to the airlines, business people, oil companies, duty free shops, tourist agencies, resorts and hotels, not to speak of the tremendous inconvenience and health related problems of millions of stranded and stressed travelers. The restrictions on laptop computers, travel bags, accessories, special foods and liquid medicines have added to the ‘costs’ of traveling.

It might be added that these tremendous costs are a deliberate part of the hoaxes since without them, these *terror plots* would not have their desired political impact (see below).

The Liquid Bomb Hoax: The Larger Implications

by James Petras
August 25, 2006

The charges leveled by the British, US and Pakistani regimes that they uncovered a major bomb plot directed against nine US airlines is based on the flimsiest of evidence, which would be thrown out of any court, worthy of its name.

An analysis of the current state of the investigation raises a series of questions regarding the governments’ claims of a bomb plot concocted by 24 Brits of Pakistani origin.

The arrests were followed by the search for evidence, as the August 12, 2006 Financial Times states: “The police set about the mammoth task of gathering evidence of the alleged terrorist bomb plot yesterday.” (FT, August 12/, 2006) In other words, the arrests and charges took place without sufficient evidence -- a peculiar method of operation -- which reverses normal investigatory procedures in which arrests follow the “monumental task of gathering evidence.” If the arrests were made without prior accumulation of evidence, what were the bases of the arrests?

The government search of financial records and transfers turned up no money trail despite the freezing of accounts. The police search revealed limited amounts of savings, as one would expect from young workers, students and employees from low-income immigrant families.

The British government, backed by Washington, claimed that the Pakistani government’s arrest of two British-Pakistanis provided “critical evidence” in uncovering the plot and identifying the alleged terrorist. No Western judicial hearing would accept evidence procured by the Pakistani intelligence services that are notorious for their use of torture in extracting ‘confessions’. The Pakistani dictatorship’s evidence is based on a supposed encounter between a relative of one of the suspects and an Al Qaeda operative on the Afghan border. According to the Pakistani police, the Al Qaeda agent provided the relative and thus the accused with the bomb-making information and operative instructions. The transmission of bomb-making information does not require a trip half-way around the world, least of all to a frontier under military siege by US led forces on one side and the Pakistani military on the other. Moreover it is extremely dubious that Al Qaeda agents in the mountains of Afghanistan have any detailed knowledge of specific British airline security, procedures or conditions of operations in London. Lacking substantive evidence, Pakistani intelligence and their British counterparts touched all the propaganda buttons: A clandestine meeting with Al Qaeda, bomb-making information exchanges on the Pakistani-Afghan border, Pakistani-Brits with Islamic friends, family and terrorist connections in England . . .

US intelligence claimed, and London repeated, that sums of money had been wired from Pakistan to allow the plotters to buy airline tickets. Yet air tickets were found in only one residence (and the airline and itinerary were not stated by the police). None of the other suspects possessed plane tickets and some did not even have passports. In other words, the most preliminary moves in the so-called bomb plot had not been taken by the accused. No terrorist plot to bomb airplanes exists when the alleged conspirators are lacking travel funds, documents and tickets. It is not credible to argue that the alleged conspirators depended on instructions from distant handlers ignorant of the basic ground level conditions.

Initially the British and US authorities claimed that the explosive device was a “liquid bomb,” yet no liquid or non-liquid bomb was discovered on the premises or persons of any of the accused. Nor has any evidence been produced as to the capability of any of the suspects in making, moving or detonating the “liquid bomb” -- a very volatile solution if handled by unskilled operatives. No evidence has been presented on the nature of the specific liquid bomb question, or any spoken discussion or written documents about the liquid bomb, which would implicate any of the suspects. No bottle, liquid or chemical formula has been found among any of the suspects. Nor have any of the ingredients that go into making the “liquid bomb” been uncovered. Nor has any evidence been presented as to where the liquid was supposed to come from (the source) or whether it was purchased locally or overseas.

When the liquid bomb story was ridiculed into obscurity, British Deputy Assistant Commissioner Peter Clark claimed that, “bomb making equipment including chemicals and electric components had been found,” (BBC News, 8/21/2006)

Once again there is no mention of what “electronic components” and “chemicals” were found, in whose home or office and if they might be related to non-bomb making activities. Were these so-called new bomb-making items owned by a specific person or group of persons, and if so were they known by the parties implicated to be part of a bombing plot. Moreover, when and why have the authorities switched from the liquid bombs to identifying old fashion electronic detonators? Is there any evidence -- documents or taped discussions -- that link these electronic detonators and chemicals with the specific plot to “blow up 9 US bound airliners”?

Instead of providing relevant facts clearing up basic questions of names, dates, weapons, and travel dates, Commissioner Clark gives the press a laundry list of items that could be found in millions of homes and the large number of buildings searched (69 so far). If stair climbing earns promotions, Clark should be nominated for a knighthood. According to Clark the police discovered more than 400 computers, 200 mobile telephones, 8,000 computer media items (items as catastrophic as memory sticks, CDs and DVDs); police removed 6,000 gigabytes of data from the seized computers (150 from each computer) and a few video recordings. One presumes, in the absence of any qualitative data demonstrating that the suspects were in fact preparing bombs in order to destroy nine US airliners, that Commissioner Clark is seeking public sympathy for his minions’ enormous capacity to lift and remove electronic equipment from one site to another in up to 69 buildings. This is a notable achievement if we are talking about a moving company and not a high-powered police investigation of an event of “catastrophic consequences.”

Some of the suspects were arrested because they have traveled to Pakistan at the beginning of the school year holidays. British and US authorities forget to mention that tens of thousands of Pakistani ex-pats return to visit family at precisely that time of year.

The wise guys on Wall Street and The City of London never took the liquid bomb plot seriously: At no point did the Market respond, nose-dive, crash or panic. The announced plot to bomb airlines was ignored by all Big Players on the US and London stock markets. In fact, petrol prices dropped slightly. In contrast to 9/11 and the Madrid and London bombings (to which this plot is compared) the stock market ‘makers’ were not impressed by the governments’ claims of a ‘major catastrophe.’ George Bush or Tony Blair, who were informed and discussed the “liquid bomb plot” several days beforehand, didn’t even skip a day of their vacations, in response to the catastrophic threat.

And each and every claim and piece of ‘evidence’ put forth by the police and the Blair and Bush security authorities runs a cropper. Some of the alleged suspects are released, and new equally paltry ‘evidence’ is breathlessly presented: two tape recordings of “martyr messages” were found in the computer of one suspect, which, we are told, foretold a planned terrorist attack. The Clark team claimed with great aplomb that they found one or a few martyr videotapes, without clarifying the fact that the videos were not made by the suspects but viewed by them. Many people the world over pay homage to suicide martyrs to a great variety of political causes. Prime Minister Koizumi of Japan visits a shrine dedicated to World War II military dead -- including kamikaze suicide pilots, defying Chinese and Korean protests. Millions of US citizens and politicians pay homage to the war heroes in Arlington cemetery each year, some of whom deliberately sacrificed their lives in order to defend their comrades, their flag and the justice of their cause. It should be of no surprise that Asians, Muslims and others should collect videos of anti-Israeli or anti-occupation martyrs. In none of the above cases where people honor martyrs is there any police attempt to link the reverent observer with future suicide bomb plots -- except if they are Muslims. Hero worship of fallen fighters is a normal everyday phenomenon -- and is certainly no evidence that the idolaters are engaged in murderous activity.

A “martyr message” is neither a plot, conspiracy nor action, it is only an expression of free speech -- one might add, ‘internal speech’ (between the speaker and his computer) which might at some future time become public speech. Are we to make private dialogue a terrorist offense?

As the legal time limit expires on the holding of suspects without charges, the British authorities released two suspects, charged eleven, and eleven others continue to be held without charges, probably because there is no basis for proceeding further. As the number of accused plotters thin out in England, Clark and company have deflected attention to a world-wide plot with links to Spain, Italy, the Middle East and elsewhere. Apparently the logic here is that a wider net compensates for the large holes. In the case at hand, of the eleven who have been remanded to trial, only eight have been charged with conspiracy to prepare acts of terrorism; the other three are accused of “not disclosing information” (or being informers . . . of what?) and “possessing articles useful to a person preparing acts of terrorism.” (BBC News, 8/21/06) Since no bombs have been found and no plans of action have been revealed, we are left with the vague charge of ‘conspiracy’, which can mean a hostile private discussion directed against US and British subjects by several like-thinking individuals. The reason that it appears that ideas and not actions are in question is because the police have not turned up any weapons or specific measures to enter into the locus of attack (air tickets to board planes, passports and so on). How can suspects be charged with failing to disclose information, when the police lack any concrete information pertaining to the alleged bomb plot. The fact that the police are further diluting their charges against three more plotters is indicative of the flimsy basis of their original arrests and public claims. To charge a 17 year-old-boy with “possessing articles useful to a person preparing acts of terrorism” is so open-ended as to be laughable: Did the article have other uses for the boy or for his family (like a box cutter). Did he ‘possess’ written articles because they were informative or fascinating to a young person? Since he still possessed the article, he had not passed these articles to any person making bombs. Did he know of any specific plans to make bombs or any bomb-makers? The charges could implicate anyone possessing and reading a good spy novel or science fiction thriller in which bomb making is discussed. The eleven have already pleaded innocent; the trial will begin in due time. The government and mass media have already convicted the accused in the electronic and print media. Panic has been sown. Fear and hysterical anger is present in the long security lines at airports and train stations . . . Asian men quietly saying prayers are being pulled off of airplanes and planes diverted or airports evacuated.

The bomb plot hoax has caused enormous losses (in the hundreds of millions of dollars) to the airlines, business people, oil companies, duty free shops, tourist agencies, resorts and hotels, not to speak of the tremendous inconvenience and health related problems of millions of stranded and stressed travelers. The restrictions on laptop computers, travel bags, accessories, special foods and liquid medicines have added to the ‘costs’ of traveling.

Clearly the decision to cook up the phony bomb plot was not motivated by economic interests, but domestic political reasons. The Blair administration, already highly unpopular for supporting Bush’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, was under attack for his unconditional support for Israel’s invasion of Lebanon, his refusal to call for an immediate ceasefire and his unstinting support for Bush’s servility to US Zionist lobbies. Even within the Labor party over a hundred backbenchers were speaking out against his policies, while even junior cabinet ministers such as Prescott stated that Boss Bush’s foreign policy smelled of the barnyard. Bush was not yet cornered by his colleagues in the same way as Blair, but unpopularity was threatening to lead his Republican party to congressional defeat and possible loss of a majority of seats.

According to top security officials in England, Bush and Blair were “knowledgeable” about the investigation into a possible “liquid bomb” plot. We know that Blair gave the go-ahead for the arrests, even as the authorities must have told him they lacked the evidence and at best it was premature. Some reports from British police insiders claim that the Bush Administration pushed Blair for early arrests and the announcement of the ‘liquid bomb’ plot. Security officials then launched a massive, all-out ‘terror propaganda’ campaign designed to capture the attention and support of the public with the total support of the mass media. The security-mass media campaign served its objective -- Bush’s popularity increased, Blair avoided censure and both continued on their vacations.

The bomb plot political ploy fits the previous political pattern of sacrificing capitalist economic interests to serve domestic political and ideological positions. Foreign policy failures lead to domestic political crimes, just as domestic policy crises lead to aggressive military expansion.

The criminal frame-up of young Muslim-South Asian British citizens by the British security officials was specifically designed to cover up for the failed Anglo-American invasion of Iraq and the Anglo-American backing for Israel’s destructive but failed invasion of Lebanon. Blair’s “liquid bombers” plot sacrificed a multiplicity of British capitalist interests in order to retain political offices and stave off an unceremonious early exit from power. The costs of failed militarism are borne by citizens and businesses.

In an analogous fashion Bush and his Zioncon and other militarists exploited the events of 9/11 to pursue a militarist multi-war strategy in Southwest Asia and the Middle East. With time and scientific research, the official version of the events of 9/11 have come under serious questioning -- both regarding the collapse of one of the towers in New York, as well as the explosions in the Pentagon. The events of 9/11 and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq sacrificed major US economic interests: Losses in New York, tourism, airline industry and massive physical destruction; losses in terms of a major increase in oil prices and instability, increasing the costs to US, European and Asian consumers and industries.

Likewise the Israeli military invasion of Gaza and Lebanon, backed by the US and Great Britain, were economically costly destroying property, investments and markets, while raising the level of mass anti-imperial opposition.

In other words, the politics of US, British and Israeli (and by extension World Zionist) militarism has been at the expense of strategic sectors of the civilian economy. These losses to key economic sectors require the civilian-militarists to resort to domestic political crimes (phony bomb plots and frame-up trials) to distract the public from their costly and failed policies and to tighten political control. On both counts, the civilian militarists and the Zioncons are losing ground. The “liquid bomb” plot is unraveling, Israel is in turmoil, the Zioncons are preaching to the converted, and the US is, as always, the United States: The Democratic civilian militarists are capitalizing on the failures of their incumbent colleagues.

James Petras, a former Professor of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York, owns a 50-year membership in the class struggle, is an adviser to the landless and jobless in Brazil and Argentina, and is co-author of Globalization Unmasked (Zed Books). His latest book is, The Power of Israel in the United States (Clarity Press, 2006). He can be reached at:

Other Articles by James Petras

* International Immigration and Imperial-Centered Accumulation
* Crisis of US Capitalism or the Crisis of the US Wage and Salaried Worker?
* Latin America, the EU and the US: The New Polarities
* ALBA: Proposals for the New Social, Economic and Cultural Order
* AIPAC: Lobbies and Whistleblowers Yes!, Spies No!



Liquid Bombers Prove: "They Hate Our Freedoms!"

by Edgar J. Steele

TATP or Not TATP? - That is the Question

A friend with a doctorate in chemistry sent me the following:

"According to the official government story, TATP (triacetone triperoxide) was the explosive these conspirators were planning to manufacture aboard the airliners.

"This story is not plausible for a number of reasons, but let's take a quick look at just enough of the science so as not to provide anybody with a guide to making an actual bomb: TATP is made from hydrogen peroxide solution, acetone and sulfuric acid. The reaction can be carried out with just about any concentration, but is best done with concentrated solutions of both peroxide and acetone.

"The peroxide and acetone can be pre-mixed, but the acid must be added, a drop at a time, to the solution, all the while continuously stirring it and keeping it continuously chilled. This step of the process will take several hours, during which the fumes given off will be substantial and quite overpowering, thus a lab-quality air evacuation system is required. (ES: right here, the whole idea of a TATP bomb becomes ludicrous. Difficult in a lab, but impossible in an airplane due to the environment - the toilet - and the time requirement.)

"One then must let the resulting solution stand for an extended period at temperatures above the freezing point, but definitely below 10 Celsius (50 Fahrenheit). Above 10 Celsius, the TATP does not form; instead, diperoxide forms, which is so unstable it cannot be worked with. The time required for the reaction to go to completion is at least 24 hours and often several days.

"Once the TATP forms, it crystallizes as snowflakes from the solution and must be harvested by filtration and the liquid discarded. The TATP then is dried and carefully stored until needed. It must be stored below 10 Celsius or it converts spontaneously to the unstable diperoxide.

"There is neither the time, the workspace nor the other materials required to make TATP on an airliner. The time required, the temperatures required, the workspace required and the need to dry the chemical prior to use preclude this story being reasonable. This chemical process is much more sensitive than making, for example, nitroglycerin."

The technically proficient reading this will recognize that a necessary step has been omitted and some others have been altered in critical ways. None of these purposeful camouflages alter the ingredients or the time, care and equipment required. Nor will I describe how TATP can be fabricated beforehand and then detonated aboard an airliner in flight. After all, though we want to demonstrate the impossibility of what has been claimed, we don't want anybody actually trying this at home - and there really are some genuine whack jobs out there. After all, we elect some of them to public office.

An excellent (and humorous) on-line discussion by British writer Thomas Greene, also as to why TATP simply cannot be made aboard a plane: "Mass murder in the skies: was the plot feasible?" Mr. Greene agrees with my friend, the PhD in chemistry, and concludes his description of the process of creating TATP with: "So the fabled binary liquid explosive - that is, the sudden mixing of hydrogen peroxide and acetone with sulfuric acid to create a plane-killing explosion, is out of the question."

So it's impossible to make TATP as claimed, yet still they confiscate liquids from us, including sodas and baby formula, not to mention toothpaste and, even, lipsticks? Even if possible to make TATP as claimed, the individual smells of peroxide, acetone and sulfuric acid are obvious enough to preclude people having to be shaken down and terrorized by the airport Gestapo in this fashion. You have to wonder: Just exactly what is going on. ...


Note: In the course of his article, Steele argues that it is the governments of the US and the UK who are the ones who hate our freedoms. It would seem that his argument is irrefutable.

Monday, August 07, 2006

*S.Blumenthal: The necons' next war +link, Parry: Bush want wider war + exchnage

Perhaps the best part of the Blumenthal article is that it presents a picture of what should have passed for normal had we had a normal U.S. administration. The Israeli attack on Lebanon wouldn’t have gone on for more than a week – plenty of time to do terrible damage – before a stiff UN resolution ordering Israel out, another week for Israel to delay, and finally a reluctant pull out.

I’m beginning to wonder if this “normal” scenario isn’t what Israel expected and counted on: a routine rescue from the corner it has painted itself into by its big brother in America.

The Blumenthal article, the Forward article and the Parry article – so far among the best I’ve seen on the direction of current policy – (“Bush Wants Wider War” ( – are slowly painting a picture of a reluctant and mystified and scared Israel resisting U.S. attempts to widen the war to Syria and Iran. This is their – the neocons’ – big chance.

Regarding the Blumenthal article, I’m wondering why he seems to favor the distinction common everywhere between Bush and the neocons, as if Bush himself and his Rove, Cheney, Rumsfeld clique were not themselves the chief neocons. This is odd considering Blumenthal provides evidence in his article that Bush is chief neocon #1.

At his first National Security Council meeting, President George W. Bush stunned his first secretary of state, Colin Powell, by rejecting any effort to revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. When Powell warned that "the consequences of that could be dire, especially for the Palestinians," Bush snapped, "Sometimes a show for force by one side can really clarify things." He was making a "clean break" not only with his immediate predecessor but also with the policies of his father.

Earlier in his article, Blumenthal makes reference to the neocons on Cheney’s national security staff as if there were some distance between Cheney and his staff when it comes to policy issues.

More and more people are beginning to recognize as we approach a month of the current Lebanon horror, that we are dealing with an exceptional U.S. president, one who has again and again gone beyond the normal bounds into recklessness and destruction everywhere.

And how is Bush and his team -- Rove, Cheney and Rumsfeld (one might add Bolton as the exemplary spokesman) – exceptional? They are exceptional in that they advocate a permanent war agenda. Before this latest outbreak of hostilities they were faced with the conundrum of how to proceed in their attacks on Syria and Iran. It was clear that with the fiasco in Iraq on everyone’s mind, it was not going to be easy to get the necessary legitimacy for widening the war to Syria, much less Iran.

The important thing to note is the current clique’s exceptionalism. Would a Democrat in power like Kerry or Gore be following the same Bush policy of resisting a cease fire? The Blumenthal article, detailing broadly the kind of advice that a normal president with the interest of the U.S. uppermost would be getting suggests otherwise.

One important distinction to be made is between the wall to wall solid bipartisan support for Israel in Congress as a measure of AIPAC’s control – we’ve noticed that this hasn’t changed one iota despite the hoopla surrounding the Mearshimer-Walt paper – and how Congress would react if a normal administration were in power.

The current situation is so obviously not in the interests of the United States that it is bleeding onto strange places like NPR, CNN and perhaps even sporadically the New York Times. So it wouldn’t be difficult for Congressional sheep to follow a call for a cease fire since that is what always happens.

Another odd thing is that many on the left have long understood the depth of Bush’s radical departure from civilized norms when they say correctly that Bush is the worst president this country has ever seen. But there seems to be a wall between this clear understanding in the abstract and when they analyze a particular crisis like the current war in the Middle East. When it comes to current events, it seems much more difficult to say flatly that this president is taking us on a dangerous, reckless and irresponsible path to more and more war.

One can also quibble with Blumenthal's portrayal of a marginalized Condi Rice. Both she and Powell knew from the outset what their role was: i.e., to present a normal face to an abnormal and exceptional clique of radical crazies and monsters. (If _monsters_ seems too strong, just take a look at some of the pictures from Lebanon and if the evildoers have their way, the ones to come from Syria – and I don’t even want to say, Iran.)

As bad as Bush’s first term was, this one is clearly another order of magnitude for sheer misery and destruction, and Condi is thus having a harder time putting on that normal face for the butchers who hired her. Calls by the radical press for Condi’s ouster merely help Bush pretend he’s just like other U.S. presidents.

--Ronald Bleier

(Thanks to JG for finding the Parry article and to SF for the Blumenthal.)

Exchange with Harry:

Harry begins by quoting from my comments above:

a reluctant and mystified and scared Israel resisting U.S. attempts to widen the war to Syria and Iran.

Harry writes:

Ron, no one is compelling a "mystified and scared Israel" to bomb the Syrian border in the process of pulverizing Lebanon and enrage the
Shia in Iraq and Saudi Arabia with obvious risk of widening the war. Israel knows with perfect clarity the risks it is running. --HFC.

Ronald responded.

Thanks Harry. Your comment is on target and is also helpful in getting more into the heart of the matter. It’s universally acknowledged that the U.S. is blocking a cease fire. Why does the Bush clique – totally isolated internationally – want to continue the war indefinitely?

I’ve noted several reports that Israel is resisting U.S. calls for Israel to widen the war to Syria (including one in the Jerusalem Post that I haven’t yet seen.) If these reports are accurate, that means that decisions will be more and more taken away from the political echelon in Israel – newcomers Olmert and Peretz and their war cabinet -- and placed more and more in the hands of the Israeli military.

The reason for this transfer of power is that as weak politicians, Olmert and Peretz can’t back down from their repeated commitments to win this war, whatever that means. They can’t themselves call a halt to the fighting.

And as if the Israeli military weren’t bad enough on their own, even with exemplary leaders, the simple momentum of ongoing war will be sufficient to drive matters in the direction of a wider conflict.

It appears that Olmert and Peretz recognize on some level that since the U.S. isn’t behaving normally and putting an end to the slaughter, that Israel is being driven into a wider war that they understand cannot be good for the Zionists.

Sadly, tragically, genocidally, as of now, there appears no force capable of stopping the U.S. and the Israeli generals.

We keep saying, stick a fork in us, we're done. But with each day and month that passes, the fork finds a way to go deeper and deeper. -- Ronald

August3, 2006
Sidney Blumnenthal

The neocons' next war

By secretly providing NSA intelligence to Israel and
undermining the hapless Condi Rice, hardliners in the
Bush administration are trying to widen the Middle East
conflict to Iran and Syria, not stop it.

By Sidney Blumenthal

The National Security Agency is providing signal
intelligence to Israel to monitor whether Syria and Iran
are supplying new armaments to Hezbollah as it fires
hundreds of missiles into northern Israel, according to
a national security official with direct knowledge of
the operation. President Bush has approved the secret

Inside the administration, neoconservatives on Vice
President Dick Cheney's national security staff and
Elliott Abrams, the neoconservative senior director for
the Near East on the National Security Council, are
prime movers behind sharing NSA intelligence with
Israel, and they have discussed Syrian and Iranian
supply activities as a potential pretext for Israeli
bombing of both countries, the source privy to
conversations about the program says. (Intelligence,
including that gathered by the NSA, has been provided to
Israel in the past for various purposes.) The
neoconservatives are described as enthusiastic about the
possibility of using NSA intelligence as a lever to
widen the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah and
Israel and Hamas into a four-front war.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is said to have been
"briefed" and to be "on board," but she is not a central
actor in pushing the covert neoconservative scenario.
Her "briefing" appears to be an aspect of an internal
struggle to intimidate and marginalize her. Recently she
has come under fire from prominent neoconservatives who
oppose her support for diplomatic negotiations with Iran
to prevent its development of nuclear weaponry.

[snip] for a continuation, go to:

Friday, August 04, 2006

*Forward: US ripped by Israel for inaction on Syria

I almost fell out of my seat reading the first paragraph. From the headline I expected another one of those articles slamming the Bush administration for not supporting Israeli aims to widen the war (excuse me, defend its security) to Syria.

Here it is, out in the open -- in the Jewish press at least-- Israel looking to the US to make sure the war doesn't spill into Syria, and the US, saying, no, we think a war with Syria to devastate the country (excuse me, for regime change in the interests of democracy no doubt) is opportune right now. After all, Syria borders on Lebanon. It shouldn't take much to involve such a close neighbor. That should make China and Russia wake up and move a little closer toward the causus belli we hope will take place in good time before we lose power.

I can almost hear the ridiculous Webster Tarpley opining that some mysterious cabal is forcing Bush to fight the clash of civilizations, not to mention the next world war. But the cabal is out in the open and clearly expressed, as the Forward quotes, by Daniel Pipes, a newspaper columnist and director of the Middle East Forum. We have learned that these crazies, like Michael Ledeen and William Kristol and suchlike others are the voice of the administration, expressing policy options that more and more and sooner rather than later are translated into action.

"Rather than travel down the road of predictable failure, something quite different needs to be tried," Pipes wrote Tuesday in The New York Sun. "My suggestion? Shift attention to Syria from Lebanon, and put Damascus on notice that it is responsible for Hezbollah violence."

Pipes proposed warning Damascus that Syrian targets would be bombed each time Israel was hit by Hezbollah. "Such targets," he wrote, "could include the terrorist, military, and governmental infrastructures."

I'm wondering what Tarpley and others arguing for Illuminati control of the USG make of the NYT report, headlined: "Bush's Embrace of Israel Shows Gap With Father," (8.2.06) quoting Bush proclaiming to Sharon at their first White House meeting, saying out of nowhere: "I'll use force to protect Israel." A WH aide later remarked to a reporter, "I was like, whoa, where did this come from?"

Here's a chilling paragraph from the Forward story:

In recent internal discussions, according to one well-placed source who spoke on condition of anonymity, some administration officials went so far as to advocate that America encourage Israel to attack Syria in order to induce the fall of Assad's regime. It was impossible to corroborate that information with other independent sources, but some Israeli media reports suggested that officials in the Bush administration have encouraged Jerusalem to consider strikes against Syria. Several hawkish pro-Israel scholars and pundits, including Michael Oren and Daniel Pipes, have written columns in favor of such an approach. ---Ronald


U.S. Ripped For Inaction On Israeli, Syrian Front

August 4, 2006

WASHINGTON — As Jerusalem mobilizes reserves and Damascus puts its troops on the highest state of alert, the Bush administration is not taking overt steps to prevent Israel's war with Hezbollah from spilling over into Syria.

Even as Israeli officials repeatedly accuse Damascus of supporting Hezbollah and Hamas, Jerusalem insists it has no intentions of attacking Syria. In turn, spokesmen for the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad are sending similar messages back in the other direction.

But both sides are suspicious of the other's intentions and are concerned about an armed conflict being sparked unintentionally.

In the past, when tensions between Jerusalem and Damascus approached a boiling point, the United States intervened, typically by sending an envoy with chilling messages for leaders in both countries. This time, however, despite Israeli requests for American intervention, the Bush administration has not sent a senior official to Syria and shows no signs of upgrading its low-level contact with Damascus.

Assad has declared a willingness to hold comprehensive talks with Israel, and Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz reportedly has pressed his government to explore the Syrian option. But elements in the Bush administration are said to oppose any steps to relieve the pressure on Syria.

In recent internal discussions, according to one well-placed source who spoke on condition of anonymity, some administration officials went so far as to advocate that America encourage Israel to attack Syria in order to induce the fall of Assad's regime. It was impossible to corroborate that information with other independent sources, but some Israeli media reports suggested that officials in the Bush administration have encouraged Jerusalem to consider strikes against Syria. Several hawkish pro-Israel scholars and pundits, including Michael Oren and Daniel Pipes, have written columns in favor of such an approach.

Top Israeli and American officials have disagreed repeatedly over the appropriate policy toward Syria. Upset over Syria's alleged support for anti-Israel terrorist groups and anti-American forces in Iraq, the Bush administration in the past several years has considered pushing for regime change in Damascus. Israel, on the other hand, continues to seek stability in Syria, viewing Assad as "the devil it knows" and objecting to the creation of a political void that could be filled by Islamists or by sheer chaos.

Some Israeli diplomats have been saying — both before the current crisis and in recent days — that the administration is making a mistake by not having a more nuanced policy toward Syria. Engagement with Syria, one Israeli diplomat said, does not necessarily have to lead to major rewards. America can pursue a modest, gradual process in which small carrots — or simply the holding back of sanctions — would be offered for small Syrian steps, the Israeli official said.

According to diplomatic sources in Israel and in Washington, in the past three weeks Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's government has turned to the Bush administration to intervene with Syria, only to end up relying on other third parties because of the White House's policy of isolating Damascus.

"We have had incidents before, when Israel and Syria, unintentionally, stumbled into confrontation," said William Brown, former ambassador to Israel. Brown is now president of Hebrew University's Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace.

"People in such situations can do screwball things," Brown said. He noted that in the past small-scale attacks ended up ballooning into broader confrontations.

Last Tuesday night, Israel reportedly airlifted hundreds of soldiers by helicopters to attack Hezbollah bases in the Bekaa area, in northeast Lebanon, not far from the Syrian border. One poorly aimed bomb, Brown said, could spark an unintended confrontation that could be very difficult to contain.

The Israeli maneuvers came a day after Assad called on his army to maintain the highest level of alert. Speaking to troops while marking the annual "army day," Assad vowed to "assist the brothers" who are fighting Israel's occupation. "This is the time of the national patriotic resistance," he said, adding that "the resistance continues as long as our land is occupied and our rights are denied." On the day of the attacks, Israel's vice premier, Shimon Peres, speaking in Washington, said that he "is not impressed by the Syrian threat." Peres said that the Syrian military is weak and that its equipment is old. "I don't think that Syria will go for war," he flatly told reporters. He also taunted Assad by calling him "the son of a wise man," a reference to a late Syrian leader, Hafez Assad.

Syria is hearing the reassuring messages from Israel but is paying more attention to the belligerent bravado of the past three weeks, said Moshe Maoz, a leading Israeli expert on Syria.

"The Syrian government is very suspicious. It does not believe Israel's reassuring statements. The Syrians often suspect 'Zionist conspiracies,'" he said.

According to Maoz, America's insistence to isolate Syria and avoid any contact with Assad's regime is not in Israel's interest. "Israel needs an effective channel to Syria," he said. "But in recent years, America has become more of a spoiler than an arbitrator in trying to improve relations between Israel and Syria."

Like many other foreign policy experts, Maoz advocates harnessing the resolution of the current crisis to a broader resolution to Israel's conflict with Syria and the Palestinians. "The Syrians are ready for peace negotiations with Israel. Maybe it's time to try it," Maoz said.

But sources close to the White House say that the Bush administration rejects the idea of "rewarding" Damascus by facilitating negotiations with Jerusalem over the return of the Golan Heights, which Israel captured from Syria in 1967.

Barak Ben-Zur, a former senior officer in Israeli military intelligence and in Israel's Shin Bet internal security service, said that the Bush administration might be missing an opportunity by not taking advantage of Syria's current sense of vulnerability to extract Syrian concessions. "America has various issues to settle with the Syrians. It can apply pressure or offer enticements to get the Syrians to cooperate both on issues such as Iraq and on the current crisis," he said. "Why not try to manipulate them? Why not use this golden opportunity, when the Syrians feel threatened?"

According to Ben-Zur, "there certainly is a potential to work with now. Unfortunately, the Americans insist on having no direct dealing with Syria."

Some pro-Israel commentators, however, are arguing for a military response to Syrian support for Hezbollah.

"Rather than travel down the road of predictable failure, something quite different needs to be tried," Pipes wrote Tuesday in The New York Sun. "My suggestion? Shift attention to Syria from Lebanon, and put Damascus on notice that it is responsible for Hezbollah violence."

Pipes proposed warning Damascus that Syrian targets would be bombed each time Israel was hit by Hezbollah. "Such targets," he wrote, "could include the terrorist, military, and governmental infrastructures."

Copyright 2006 © The Forward

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

*J.Frank & Xymphora: Israel's Lebanon Pretext Challenged

Two colleagues harshly critical of Israel's actions have written to me to say they are skeptical of the charge that the Israeli soldiers were captured INSIDE Lebanon as part of an Israeli operation. As Frank has it:

These sources contend that Israel sent a commando force into southern Lebanon and was subsequently attacked by Hezbollah near the village of Aitaa al-Chaab, well inside Lebanon's southern territory. It was at this point that an Israel tank was struck by Hezbollah fighters, which resulted in the capture of two Israeli soldiers and the death of six.

(Some of the documentation in the Frank article is repeated in the following url which provides a handy map)

According to Frank this version of Israel perhaps seeking a provocation _has become general knowledge_. So why aren't we hearing this in public statements from Hezbollah? Well, according to some of the sources cited, Hezbollah did make these statements at the time. However, when the official story was changed by Israel, and before the savage attacks on Lebanon began, Hezbolloh apprarently went along with the change. We can only specualte why. Perhaps at first it seemed like a good PR move on their part. Afterwards, it may be that they felt that they couldn't back down, or that it was too late for a challenge to the official story.

Nevertheless, I would think it possible for a reporter to follow up by interviewing Hezbollah officials.

Israeli and US ambitions. I've speculated elsewhere that by encouraging an indefinite Israeli continuation of the destruction of Lebanon, the US can more or less effortlessly achieve what might have seemed unlikely without the ongoing Israeli butchery and destruction of Lebanon. namely a widening of the war to Syria and Iraq.

Note: After I wrote the intro above, I found Xymphora's blog on the same subject. He suggests that not only was the capture made in Lebanon -- as is the Occam's razor view of how it happened -- but Xymphora, a Canadian blogger, opines that the incident was planned in cahoots with chief neocon (= fanatic warmonger) Cheney et al in Colorado in June.


July 26, 2006

Kidnapped in Israel or Captured in Lebanon?

Israel’s Invasion Pretext Under Fire


As Lebanon continues to be pounded by Israeli bombs and munitions, the justification for Israel's invasion is treading on very thin ice. It has become general knowledge that it was Hezbollah guerillas that first kidnapped two IDF soldiers inside Israel on July 12, prompting an immediate and violent response from the Israeli government, which insists it is acting in the interest of national defense. Israeli forces have gone on to kill over 370 innocent Lebanese civilians (compared to 34 killed on Israel's side) while displacing hundreds of thousands more. But numerous reports from international and independent media, as well as the Associated Press, raise questions about Israel's official version of the events that sparked the conflict two weeks ago.

The original story, as most media tell it, goes something like this: Hezbollah attacked an Israeli border patrol station, killing six and taking two soldiers hostage. The incident happened on the Lebanese/Israel border in Israeli territory. The alternate version, as explained by several news outlets, tells a bit of a different tale: These sources contend that Israel sent a commando force into southern Lebanon and was subsequently attacked by Hezbollah near the village of Aitaa al-Chaab, well inside Lebanon's southern territory. It was at this point that an Israel tank was struck by Hezbollah fighters, which resulted in the capture of two Israeli soldiers and the death of six.

As the AFP reported, "According to the Lebanese police force, the two Israeli soldiers were captured in Lebanese territory, in the area of Aitaa al-Chaab, near to the border with Israel, where an Israeli unit had penetrated in middle of morning." And the French news site reiterated the same account on June 18, "In a deliberated way, [Israel] sent a commando in the Lebanese back-country to Aitaa al-Chaab. It was attacked by Hezbollah, taking two prisoners."

The Associated Press departed from the official version as well. "The militant group Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers during clashes Wednesday across the border in southern Lebanon, prompting a swift reaction from Israel, which sent ground forces into its neighbor to look for them," reported Joseph Panossian for AP on July 12. "The forces were trying to keep the soldiers' captors from moving them deeper into Lebanon, Israeli government officials said on condition of anonymity."

And the Hindustan Times on July 12 conveyed a similar account:

"The Lebanese Shi'ite Hezbollah movement announced on Wednesday that its guerrillas have captured two Israeli soldiers in southern Lebanon. 'Implementing our promise to free Arab prisoners in Israeli jails, our strugglers have captured two Israeli soldiers in southern Lebanon,' a statement by Hezbollah said. 'The two soldiers have already been moved to a safe place,' it added. The Lebanese police said that the two soldiers were captured as they 'infiltrated' into the town of Aitaa al-Chaab inside the Lebanese border."

Whether factual or not, these alternative accounts should at the very least raise serious questions as to Israel's motives and rationale for bombarding Lebanon.

MSNBC online first reported that Hezbollah had captured Israeli soldiers "inside" Lebanon, only to change their story hours later after the Israeli government gave an official statement to the contrary.

A report from The National Council of Arab Americans, based in Lebanon, also raised suspicion that Israel's official story did not hold water and noted that Israel had yet to recover the tank that was demolished during the initial attack in question.

"The Israelis so far have not been able to enter Aitaa al-Chaab to recover the tank that was exploded by Hezbollah and the bodies of the soldiers that were killed in the original operation (this is a main indication that the operation did take place on Lebanese soil, not that in my opinion it would ever be an illegitimate operation, but still the media has been saying that it was inside 'Israel' thus an aggression first started by Hezbollah)."

Before independent observers could organize an investigation of the incident, Israel had already mounted a grisly offensive against Lebanese infrastructure and civilians, bombing Beirut's international airport, along with numerous highways and communication portals. Israel didn't need the truth of the matter to play out before it invaded Lebanon. As with the United States' illegitimate invasion of Iraq, Israel just needed the proper media cover to wage a war with no genuine moral impetus.

Joshua Frank is the author of Left Out! How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush and edits

Xymphora wrote:
Sunday, July 30, 2006
Offence dressed as defense
The idea that the Israeli soldiers were captured by Hezbollah in Lebanon is starting to make people very nervous. After all, the whole military history of Israel – a history we’re not supposed to know about – is based on various tricks to make Israeli offensive land-grabbing acts look like defensive acts. If this ‘defensive’ act with its appalling consequences is shown to be a trick, Israel will have trouble pulling these tricks in the future. Even a ‘Zionist lite’ like Ran HaCohen now feels the need to ‘refute’ the idea that the attack on Lebanon is based on another such trick. Of course, critics of Israel don’t need to take a position on where the soldiers were captured in order to maintain that it is not acceptable to destroy a whole country in retaliation for the capture of two soldiers. Nevertheless, you can see where the Zionist rhetoricians are going with this:

a.. critics of Israel rely on where the capture was made as being important
b.. capture is ‘proved’ as being in Israel
c.. therefore, what Israel is doing is justified.
This is an old debating trick, and the fact that it does not follow doesn’t mean they won’t try to use it.

If you read HaCohen’s arguments, you will see that he in no way disproves the common assertion that the capture was made in Lebanon. He has a quibble for each separate source, but no more than a quibble, and the fact that all the sources consistently and independently point to a capture on Lebanese territory seems to conclude the issue.

Representative Press (found via Cannonfire) argues that one of the sources for the idea that the capture was in Lebanon, AP, is based on a faulty translation of a Hezbollah statement. Even if that is so – and the fact that the theory is given support from closet Zionist Noam makes me suspicious of it – it only leaves us with the ambiguous statement that the capture occurred near the border (I note that Hezbollah has an interest in being vague, as a cross-border attack makes it look more heroic), and doesn’t do anything to deal with the other independent sources which all claim the capture was in Lebanon. What Representative Press does show us is a textbook example of the original pre-spin reporting being gradually modified to fit the official, pro-Israeli, story.

Noam has apparently come out against the attack on Lebanon, which is humorous when you consider that his rejection of the Israel Lobby thesis provided cover which helped the neocons plot the attack with the Israeli generals as recently as June. Noam can now give a completely useless condemnation of the attack, an attack which his protection for the Lobby helped bring about. Here’s Wayne Masden on July 28:

“Countering the spin. Hezbollah sources have an entirely different story about the incident that triggered the Israeli attack on Lebanon. The counter-story lends credence to the pre-meditated nature of a plan that was hatched in a three-way meeting between Dick Cheney, Binyamin Netanyahu, and Natan Sharansky at an American Enterprise Institute conference in Colorado last month.

Hezbollah reports that on July 12, two Israeli Defense Force (IDF) troops were captured by Hezbollah after they entered Lebanese territory. Hezbollah put out feelers that they would entertain a prisoner swap, something that had occurred many times in the past. However, already looking for an incident on the Israeli-Lebanese border, the Israeli government dispatched a Merkava-2 tank into Lebanon to retrieve its two captured troops. The tank hit a land mine, killing four Israeli soldiers. Haaretz confirmed that the tank was destroyed by a mine and not in a Hezbollah attack.

The neo-con spin machine, including George W. Bush, claims that Hezbollah entered Israel in an unprovoked attack and kidnapped the two Israelis.”

I return to my original argument. If Israel had been planning the attack for months, had been plotting it with the neocons as recently as June, and had given its Lebanese spotters a warning to be ready for an attack within four days, how could it possibly have predicted, within a very short time span, a cross-border successful Hezbollah capture of Israeli soldiers? The only way the Israeli generals could know this was going to happen, and serve as the excuse for the Israeli attack on Lebanon, was to make it happen by sending Israelis into Lebanon on a suicide mission.