Away with the Fairys by Lo + Away with the Fairys: Shout!!!! (music video; 9/11)

I first wrote this 12.06.05 (edited 07.08.07).

On Myspace:

Away with the fairys

This is the first time, I think, that I’ve written about a new band in a blog post. I LOVE this band’s music and lyrics.

Here’s some more info on this band from their website.

Their website:


From their music page: Continue reading

US Middle East Wars: Social Opposition and Political Impotence By James Petras

Everywhere I visit from Copenhagen to Istanbul, Patagonia to Mexico City, journalists and academics, trade unionists and businesspeople, as well as ordinary citizens, inevitably ask me why the US public tolerates the killing of over a million Iraqis over the last two decades, and thousands of Afghans since 2001?

By James Petras

“You cannot win the peace unless you know the enemy at home and abroad.”

US Marine Colonel from Tennessee.

07/08/07 “ICH

Why, they ask, is a public, which opinion polls reveal as over sixty percent in favor of withdrawing US troops from Iraq, so politically impotent? A journalist from a leading business journal in India asked me what is preventing the US government from ending its aggression against Iran, if almost all of the world’s major oil companies, including US multinationals are eager to strike oil deals with Teheran? Anti-war advocates in Europe, Asia and Latin America ask me at large public forums what has happened to the US peace movement in the face of the consensus between the Republican White House and the Democratic Party-dominated Congress to continue funding the slaughter of Iraqis, supporting Israeli starvation, killing and occupation of Palestine and destruction of Lebanon?

Absence of a Peace Movement?

Just prior to the US invasion of Iraq in March 2003 over one million US citizens demonstrated against the war. Since then there have been few and smaller protests even as the slaughter of Iraqis escalates, US casualties mount and a new war with Iran looms on the horizon. The demise of the peace movement is largely the result of the major peace organizations’ decision to shift from independent social mobilizations to electoral politics, namely channeling activists into working for the election of Democratic candidates – most of whom have supported the war. The rationale offered by these ‘peace leaders’ was that once elected the Democrats would respond to the anti-war voters who put them in office. Of course practical experience and history should have taught the peace movement otherwise: The Democrats in Congress voted every military budget since the US invaded Iraq and Afghanistan. The total capitulation of the newly elected Democratic majority has had a major demoralizing effect on the disoriented peace activists and has discredited many of its leaders.

Absence of a National Movement

As David Brooks (La Jornada July 2, 2007) correctly reported at the US Social forum there is no coherent national social movement in the US. Instead we have a collection of fragmented ‘identity groups’ each embedded in narrow sets of (identity) interests, and totally incapable of building a national movement against the war. The proliferation of these sectarian ‘non-governmental’ ‘identity’ ‘groups’ is based on their structure, financing and leadership. Many depend on private foundations and public agencies for their financing, which precludes them from taking political positions. At best they operate as ‘lobbies’ simply pressuring the elite politicians of both parties. Their leaders depend on maintaining a separate existence in order to justify their salaries and secure future advances in government agencies.

The US trade unions are virtually non-existent in more than half of the United States: They represent less than 9% of the private sector and 12% of the total labor force. Most national, regional and city-wide trade union officials receive salaries comparable to senior business executives: between $300,000 to $500,000 dollars a year. Almost 90% of the top trade union bureaucrats finance and support pro-war Democrats and have supported Bush and the Congressional war budgets, bought Israel Bonds ($25 billion dollars) and the slaughter of Palestinians and the Israeli bombing of Lebanon.

The Unopposed War Lobby

The US is the only country in the world where the peace movement is unwilling to recognize, publically condemn or oppose the major influential political and social institutions consistently supporting and promoting the US wars in the Middle East. The political power of the pro-Israel power configuration, led by the American Israel Political Affairs Committee (AIPAC), supported within the government by highly placed pro-Israel Congressional leaders and White House and Pentagon officials has been well documented in books and articles by leading journalists, scholars and former President Jimmy Carter. The Zionist Power Configuration (ZPC) has over two thousand full-time functionaries, more than 250,000 activists, over a thousand billionaire and multi-millionaire political donors who contribute funds both political parties. The ZPC secures 20% of the US foreign military aid budget for Israel, over 95% congressional support for Israel’s boycott and armed incursions in Gaza, invasion of Lebanon and preemptive military option against Iran.

The US invasion and occupation policy in Iraq, including the fabricated evidence justifying the invasion, was deeply influenced by top officials with long-standing loyalties and ties to Israel. Wolfowitz and Feith, numbers 2 and 3 in the Pentagon, are life-long Zionists, who lost security clearance early in their careers for handing over documents to Israel. Vice President Cheney’s chief foreign policy adviser in the planning of the Iraq invasion is Irving Lewis Liebowitz (‘Scooter Libby’). He is a protégé and long-time collaborator of Wolfowitz and a convicted felon.

Libby-Liebowitz committed perjury, defending the White House’s complicity in punishing officials critical of its Iraq war propaganda. Libby-Liebowitz received powerful political and financial support from the pro-Israel lobby during his trial. No sooner did he lose his appeal on his conviction on five counts of perjury, obstructing justice and lying, than the ZPC convinced President Bush to ‘commute’ his prison sentence, in effect freeing him from a 30 month prison sentence before he had served a day. While Democratic politicians and some peace leaders criticized President Bush, none dared hold responsible the pro-Israel lobby which pressured the White House.

The Presidents of the Major American Jewish Organizations (PMAJO) – numbering 52 – and their regional and local affiliates are the leading force transmitting Israel’s war agenda against Iran. The PMAJO, working closely with US-Israeli Congressman Rahm Emmanuel and leading Zionist Senators Charles Schumer and Joseph Lieberman, succeeded in eliminating a clause in the budget appropriation setting a date for the withdrawal for US troops from Iraq.

In contrast to the successful vast propaganda, congressional and media campaigns, organized and funded by the pro-Israel lobbies for the war policies, there is no public record of the big oil companies supporting the Iraq war, the Israeli invasion of Lebanon or the military threats of preemptive attacks on Iran. Interviews with investment bankers, oil company executives and a thorough review of the major Petroleum Institute publications over the past seven years provide conclusive evidence that ‘Big Oil’ was deeply interested in negotiating oil agreements with Saddam Hussein and the Iranian Islamic government. ‘Big Oil’ perceives US Middle East wars as a threat to their long-standing profitable relations with all the conservative Arab oil states in the Gulf. Despite the strategic position in the US economy and their great wealth ‘‘Big Oil’ was totally incapable of countering their political power and organized influence of the pro-Israel lobby. In fact Big Oil was totally marginalized by the White House National Security Advisor for the Middle East, Elliot Abrams, a fanatical Zionist and militarist.

Despite the massive and sustained pro-war activity of the leading Zionist organizations inside and outside of the government and despite the absence of any overt or covert pro-war campaign by ‘Big Oil’, the leaders of the US peace movement have refused to attack the pro-Israel war lobby and continue to mouth unfounded clichés about the role of ‘Big Oil’ in the Middle East conflicts.

The apparently ‘radical’ slogans against the oil industry by some leading intellectual critics of the war has served as a ‘cover’ to avoid the much more challenging task of taking on the powerful, Zionist lobby. There are several reasons for the failure of the leaders of the peace movement to confront the militant Zionist lobby. One is fear of the powerful propaganda and smear campaign which the pro-Israel lobby is expert at mounting, with its aggressive accusations of ‘anti-Semitism’ and its capacity to blacklist critics, leading to job loss, career destruction, public abuse and death threats.

The second reason that peace leaders fail to criticize the leading pro-war lobby is because of the influence of pro-Israel ‘progressives’ in the movement. These progressives condition their support of ‘peace in Iraq’ only if the movement does not criticize the pro-war Israel lobby in and outside the US government, the role of Israel as a belligerent partner to the US in Lebanon, Palestine and Kurdish Northern Iraq. A movement claiming to be in favor of peace, which refuses to attack the main proponents of war, is pursuing irrelevance: it deflects attention from the pro-Israel high officials in the government and the lobbyists in Congress who back the war and set the White House’s Middle East agenda. By focusing attention exclusively on President Bush, the peace leaders failed to confront the majority pro-Israel Democratic congress people who fund Bush’s war, back his escalation of troops and give unconditional support to Israel’s military option for Iran.

The collapse of the US peace movement, the lack of credibility of most of its leaders and the demoralization of many activists can be traced to strategic political failures: the unwillingness to identify and confront the real pro-war movements and the inability to create a political alternative to the bellicose Democratic Party. The political failure of the leaders of the peace movement is all the more dramatic in the face of the large majority of passive Americans who oppose the war, most of whom did not display their flags this Fourth of July and are not led in tow by either the pro-Israel lobby or their intellectual apologists within progressive circles.

The word to anti-war critics of the world is that over sixty percent of the US public opposes the war but our streets are empty because our peace movement leaders are spineless and politically impotent.

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). Visit his website

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

Is The Patriot Act On Steroids? by Keith Simerson

July 6, 2007
by Keith Simerson

On 27 June 1988, Newsweek ran an article that contained a chilling account about Joseph Stalin and retold by Soviet novelist Chingiz Aitmatov in the following story:

“On one occasion, so it was narrated, Stalin called for a live chicken and proceeded to use it to make an unforgettable point before some of his henchmen. Forcefully clutching the chicken in one hand, with the other he began to systematically pluck out its feathers. As the chicken struggled in vain to escape, he continued with the painful denuding until the bird was completely stripped. ‘Now you watch,’ Stalin said as he placed the chicken on the floor and walked away with some bread crumbs in his hand. Incredibly the fear-crazed chicken hobbled toward him and clung to the legs of his trousers. Stalin threw a handful of grain to the bird and it began to follow him around the room. He turned to his dumbfounded colleagues and said quietly, ‘This is the way to rule people. Did you see how that chicken followed me for food, even though I had caused it such torture? People are like that chicken. If you inflict inordinate pain on them they will follow you for food the rest of their lives.'”
Joyce Barnathan and Steven Strasser, “Exorcising a Soviet Ghost”

Sort of leaves you with a nice, warm, fuzzy feeling don’t it? That’s quite possibly the most sadistically brutal view that one can have about their fellow man. Stalin then took that mentality on a diabolical journey that culminated with the extermination of around 15 million of his own countrymen. His rule was so ironclad and terror driven that several members of his own family committed suicide.

Yes, indeed … debase your fellow man and cause them to struggle mightily and you have the necessary ingredients for a tyrannical rule.

Is there anything that could have saved the Russian people from Stalin’s actions?

If only they had had a Constitution and a Bill of Rights like America. Then the Russian people would have been safe. Then they would have been protected because of the inner checks and balances that detect and thwart the potential of dictatorial rule.

Instead, millions were hauled off to government work camps where they could work under direct government supervision. After all, it was in their best interest.

Remember Pierre Boulle’s book, “The Bridge on the River Kwai?” While the book is fictional, Boulle, a World War II French Resistance fighter and POW himself, was also drawing references from actual experiences by French officers and the real life construction of two railroad bridges by allied forces prisoners of war that were to allow the Japanese Imperial Army increased mobility to further their aims.

The book involves a British POW commander who must deal with the dilemma of keeping his men safe while keeping their integrity intact. But the colonel becomes so focused on building the best bridge possible to prove the superiority of British engineering, he seems to forget that it is aiding his country’s enemy in becoming stronger. His own men begin thinking that he has gone insane.

In the end, the British colonel is inspecting his engineering marvel to see if it is train worthy when he realizes that the bridge has been rigged by a Special Forces unit for demolition. The colonel engages in hand to hand fighting with the “subversives” in the ranks and falls on the detonation lever just as a train passes over the bridge.

Appropriately, his last words were, “What have I done?”

War and the drive for absolute power sometimes can cause seemingly law abiding people and leaders to betray their higher ideals that they once held so dear for lesser achievements and rewards.

When the executive orders were signed by President Bush that gave him sole authority to impose martial law and suspend habeas corpus, thus giving him dictatorial power over the people, I have to ask why? Why does he need it? Why would Congress allow anyone to operate without the proper checks and balances that a democracy requires if it is to remain a democracy?

Why are our “elected” leaders so focused on issues that violate Constitutional laws?

Are they trying to convince us that our national security is so endangered by foreign threats that our Constitutional laws that made us the dominant world power that we are today needs to be ignored and overlooked so that we can remain dominant?

If you believe that, maybe I can convince you to build a bridge for me.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

What Would Jesus Say Now?…LIVE! Tonight’s show: Sexuality + God (links)


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“Freedom of the Press”: Middle East Cameraman Kidnapped by US Forces Lingers in a Guantanamo Prison Cell by Felicity Arbuthnot (Sami Al Haj)

“Sami Al Haj: ‘In the vale between life and death.’

by Felicity Arbuthnot
Global Research, July 8, 2007

‘Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.’ Romans, 12-21.

It is seldom that good news comes out of the Middle East, but the release of BBC journalist Alan Johnston was just that. Hamas, designated a terrorist organization by the US, in spite of having been elected in elections declared free and fair by international observers, acted in the face of an injustice, unlike leaders in Britain and the US., who have studiously ignored the protests and demands of the world and their electorate over illegal invasions and illegal detentions.

However, apart from the two hundred thousand people who also signed a petition for Alan Johnston’s release, there was one additional lone, poignant voice who called for his freedom. Sami Al Haj is a cameraman for Al Jazeera who was working in Afghanistan (on contract, with a valid visa) was kidnapped by the US forces, and has been held in Guantanamo for five years – charged with nothing, of course. Sami sent a letter calling for Johnston’s freedom, via his attorney, Clive Stafford Smith. * Further, as new UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, rightly, welcomed Alan Johnston’s return, he was silent about the remaining British residents, kidnapped, also in Guantanamo Bay, charged with nothing. These, the British government is refusing to allow home and prepared to have the US return them back to countries they have fled in fear of their lives. Brown was also silent, of course, on all the others incarcerated in what Amnesty International has called ‘the gulag of our times.’

Sami Al Haj was detained on December 15th 2001, at Pakistan’s Chaman crossing in to Afghanistan, although over the previous two months, he had crossed in and out a number of times, with an Al Jazeera crew. This time he was with journalist Abdelhaq Sadaar. The Taliban had just fallen and the Al Jazeera assignment was to report the aftermath. In October 2001, working often gruelingly long days, Sami Al Haj had documented ‘the civilian fallout from US bombs … his shots were some of the only images coming from Afghanistan at the time’, showing the true human carnage of Afghanistan’s ‘liberation’. Al Haj could be moved to tears by the bombing’s human cost, said his colleague who headed the crew at the time, Youssef al-Shouly. Al Jazeera has become renowned for its depiction of the reality of wars – and invasions – unlike its sanitized western counterparts. There appears to be some validity to the allegations that George Bush suggested to Tony Blair, that its headquarters, in the downtown of US ally Qatar, should be bombed. Recently and parliamentary researcher and journalist were jailed in the UK for six months for handling documents and seemingly trying to draw attention to them, which allegedly throe some light on these allegations. In December 2001, Sami was detained at Chaman, on charges of passport irregularity – the border guard had the number of a passport Sami had lost two years earlier. The following day, he was driven off by a Pakistani intelligence officer, named Major Nadeem – who the previous day had told the two journalists there was nothing to worry about – spent twenty three days in custody in Pakistan, was transferred to the notorious US detention center at Bagram Airport in Afghanistan and finally – bound and gagged – flown to Guantanamo Bay.

At Bagram, he told Stafford Smith – who did not have access to him until 2005 – he was severely beaten by US troops, who accused him of recording videos of Osama Bin Laden for Al Jazeera. Stafford Smith believes that the US military (who have an exceptional talent for muddling foreign names) had confused him with someone else with a similar name. Sami has since been in a cell eight by seven foot. Journalists, of course, are there to guard the guards. They interview the good, bad and indifferent. The Independent’s veteran foreign correspondent, Robert Fisk, has interviewed Bin Laden twice. So far, he is not in Guantanamo (thought Whitehall and Washington may wish for the disappearance of his scalpel analysis.) Maybe it is just for the darker skinned. The Bush family, of course were in business with the Bin Laden family in the giant Carlisle Group, which scoops no bid contracts across the globe, every where America attacks. Sorry, an aside, reminder etc., less we forget.

Ironically, as with British journalist Yvonne Ridley, they had been previously captured by the Taliban, for reporting without authorization and released. Ridley, held hostage and eventually released, saying: ‘Thank God I was held by the Taliban and not the Americans.’ Virtually all the over one hundred and thirty interrogations Sami Al Haj has undergone in Guantanamo, says Clive Staffford Smith, have been related to Al Jazeera and have ‘appeared intent on establishing a relationship between Al Jazeera and Al Qaeda.’ This in spite of numerous untried accusations against Al Haj. The Committee to Protect Journalists wrote to Donald Rumsfeld as early as September 2002, calling on the Pentagon for detailed reason Sami’s detention. They received no reply. Neither did they from Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman. Stafford Smith is adamant : ‘ .. the main focus of US interrogation (has been ) obtaining intelligence on Al Jazeera and its staff.’ Further:

‘There is absolutely zero evidence that he has any history in terrorism at all.’ Sami, one of many of those lost in the wicked, illegal hole of Guantanamo, may be dying. The man Stafford Smith described as ‘one of the most cheerful and upbeat people – always smiling, that I have ever met’, write in a plea for Alan Johnson’s release, on 24th May 2007: “Salaam aleikum. May 27th is my 140th day on hunger strike. It is also the day my son Mohammed is seven years old. I have not seen him since he was a small baby, so I have not been able to guide him as a father should, to teach him the difference between right and wrong. I have been held illegally by the United States in Guantanamo Bay and now, as I refuse to eat and peacefully press my demand for a fair trial, I find myself in the vale between life and death. “As a journalist and a father, on the anniversary of my only child’s birth, I have a request of the group that holds BBC journalist Alan Johnston: No matter how I suffer here, there is nothing more important to me than that Mohammed grows up to live his Muslim faith. What the Americans are doing to me is very, very wrong. I can only imagine how my wife suffers, and how Mohammed struggles to understand how cruel the world can be. Yet this can never mean that a Muslim should similarly hold a British journalist, and put him and his family through similar suffering. “Please, then, as brothers in one faith, consider this gift that I request of you: That you release Alan Johnson as soon as possible, without conditions. While the United States has kidnapped me and held me for years on end, this is not a lesson that Muslims should copy. While I am not there to guide my child, your actions will help to teach Mohammed the true path, or to lead him astray.”

It is essential, incumbent upon us all and timely to bring pressure to bear for Sami and all those in the limbo of their solitary cells in Guantanamo and shameful secret prisons around the globe, at a time when one man, Alan Johnston, has expressed so eloquently what being held alone, hostage, means – and how precious freedom is. Their lives are no less precious, those who love them no less agonized. If we do not truly yell, write, march for justice, the rule of law, humanity, decency, has finally died and there is nothing left but shame for us all, unless we determine: ‘to overcome evil with good.’ If Sami and Guantanamo’s condemned die on our watch, we too are lost.



Felicity Arbuthnot is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Felicity Arbuthnot


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An Army of None – The Strategy of Non-Cooperation By PAUL ROCKWELL

Weekend Edition
July 7 / 8, 2007


O.K. I admit it. Sometimes I watch Dr. Phil, the pop psychologist on TV. There is one episode, if I remember, where Dr. Phil is consoling a battered woman, whose husband beats on her from time to time. The family gets along for a few weeks at a time, but sooner or later, big boss breaks his promise and continues the violence. All her complaints and pleas for change, her efforts to curry favor and appease him, have failed. And after years of disappointment, she wants Dr. Phil to help her. Dr. Phil listens. He takes her hand and asks a simple question:

“You tried to change his mind. How’s that workin’ for you?”

“It isn’t working, Dr. Phil,” she says. “He makes promises, but nothing I say really changes his behavior.”

Dr. Phil looks at her. He pauses and then says: “If you want different you gotta do different.”

Electoral politics are not working in America. We keep going back to Congress. Congress makes promises, yet the violence continues. If the peace movement wants different, it has to do different.

Legislators do not end wars. People do. That’s the theme of a practical new book on counter-recruitment and people power — Army Of None: Strategies to Counter Military Recruitment, End War and Build a Better World. “The anti-war movement needs a new strategy to stop the war and end the occupation,” write Aimee Allison and David Solnit.

I first met the writer-activists at a vibrant rally in Oakland, California. After songs and raps, 300 Black and Latino students shut down the Armed Forces Career Center. Graffiti over the front door read: “A better world is possible.” I remember one of the raps: “Ain’t no power like the power of the people, ’cause the power of the people can’t stop — say what?” As one speaker put it: “We don’t need to rely on intermediaries to make change. We ourselves are agents of peace and democracy.”

Allison and Solnit helped organized the rally. Allison is a popular Green Party activist in Oakland. Solnit was a key organizer of “the battle of Seattle” in 1999. Their hopes, their new concepts of strategy, and their experiences in the counter-recruitment movement are explained in this timely book published by Seven Stories Press, 2007. Army Of None is a direct challenge to the militarization of American youth. It’s not a treatise on non-violence or strategy. It’s a toolkit, a practical how-to manual, for the emerging politics of non-cooperation and direct action. It is addressed to students, newcomers in the movement, practitioners of change, ordinary people who are prepared to end militarism through their own direct efforts.

The Jeff Paterson and David Hanks photos — a Latino march for immigration rights and peace; recruitment centers plastered with anti-war graffiti; war resisters denouncing the military lies of state; Lt. Ehren Watada delivering his historic address to Veterans for Peace; the feisty Harlem Grandmothers Against the War — all convey the humor, the joy, spontaneity, the defiance and sense of empowerment of an emerging force for change.

The Core of People Power Strategy

A short chapter on people power strategy deserves special attention. Strategy is determined by core assumptions about the nature of political power in society. Electoral strategists tend to assume that social change depends primarily on the mindset and good will of power holders. Politics is about changing their minds. Through petitions, letters, on-line fundraising and phone calls, big demonstrations, even creative tactics for which Code Pink is famous, the electoral peace movement seeks to influence the minds of legislators in Washington, D.C.

People power strategy rests on different assumptions about power. For Solnit and Allison, the power of rule is not intrinsic. It comes from outside, from below. Rulers depend on daily, almost unconscious compliance of the people. The rich cannot accumulate their profits without the compliance of the poor. And no military can function without obedient troops.

Allison and Solnit show us that the war in Iraq rests on three pillars — the troops themselves, corporate power, and media propaganda. In conjunction with a growing number of GI resisters, the counter-recruitment movement is directed at the first pillar of war. Counter-recruitment has already reduced the number of soldiers available to the military. And GI resistance is causing a crisis of conscience inside the military itself.

Pillars are the sources of power without which the occupation could not continue. As these pillars come down, the war ends. In and of itself, public opinion does not stop war. Only when public opinion is transformed into a material force does real change take place.

The people power section is all too short. But it is a beginning. Army Of None includes a list of contacts and resources for counter-recruitment; a list of key facts to answer military disinformation campaigns; a short history of psy-war techniques directed at youth; worksheets for preparing local campaigns; and a unit on the power of stories, narratives of struggle, and peace.

Army Of None is published at a pivotal moment in the peace movement. Many hard-working peace activists were stunned when Congress betrayed its mandate, voting to continue house raids, bombing of villages, mass roundups of Iraqi males, collective reprisals, ongoing torture, and all the known brutalities inherent in imperial occupations. Now peace activists, angry and disillusioned throughout the U.S., are rethinking strategy, questioning the view that electoral lobbying is the primary path to peace.

Allison and Solnit are training a new generation of anti-war activists, helping them to “take ownership over the process of change.”

“Nonviolent direct action has been an essential part of every successful social change movement in the United States. The slavery abolition movement, women’s suffrage, campaigns for worker rights, the black civil rights movement, anti-war, environmental justice, human rights, AIDS justice and housing and human needs campaigns all owe much of their success to this kind of activism.”

“When the established channels for change fail, people everywhere assert their democratic right to be involved in the decisions that impact their lives by engaging in direct action.”

After all, if you want different, you gotta do different.

Paul Rockwell is a columnist for In Motion Magazine. He can be reached at:

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

US Aborted Raid on Qaeda Chiefs in Pakistan in ’05 by Mazzetti + FBI’s 9/11 Saudi Flight Documents Released By Matt Renner

Go to Original

By Mark Mazzetti
The New York Times

Sunday 08 July 2007

Washington – A secret military operation in early 2005 to capture senior members of Al Qaeda in Pakistan’s tribal areas was aborted at the last minute after top Bush administration officials decided it was too risky and could jeopardize relations with Pakistan, according to intelligence and military officials.

The target was a meeting of Qaeda leaders that intelligence officials thought included Ayman al-Zawahri, Osama bin Laden’s top deputy and the man believed to run the terrorist group’s operations.

But the mission was called off after Donald H. Rumsfeld, then the defense secretary, rejected an 11th-hour appeal by Porter J. Goss, then the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, officials said. Members of a Navy Seals unit in parachute gear had already boarded C-130 cargo planes in Afghanistan when the mission was canceled, said a former senior intelligence official involved in the planning.

Mr. Rumsfeld decided that the operation, which had ballooned from a small number of military personnel and C.I.A. operatives to several hundred, was cumbersome and put too many American lives at risk, the current and former officials said. He was also concerned that it could cause a rift with Pakistan, an often reluctant ally that has barred the American military from operating in its tribal areas, the officials said.

The decision to halt the planned “snatch and grab” operation frustrated some top intelligence officials and members of the military’s secret Special Operations units, who say the United States missed a significant opportunity to try to capture senior members of Al Qaeda.

Their frustration has only grown over the past two years, they said, as Al Qaeda has improved its abilities to plan global attacks and build new training compounds in Pakistan’s tribal areas, which have become virtual havens for the terrorist network.

In recent months, the White House has become increasingly irritated with Pakistan’s president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, for his inaction on the growing threat of the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

About a dozen current and former military and intelligence officials were interviewed for this article, all of whom requested anonymity because the planned 2005 mission remained classified.

Spokesmen for the Pentagon, the C.I.A. and the White House declined to comment. It is unclear whether President Bush was informed about the planned operation. The officials acknowledge that they are not certain that Mr. Zawahri attended the 2005 meeting in North Waziristan, a mountainous province just miles from the Afghan border. But they said that the United States had communications intercepts that tipped them off to the meeting, and that intelligence officials had unusually high confidence that Mr. Zawahri was there.

Months later, in early May 2005, the C.I.A. launched a missile from a remotely piloted Predator drone, killing Haitham al-Yemeni, a senior Qaeda figure whom the C.I.A. had tracked since the meeting.

It has long been known that C.I.A. operatives conduct counterterrorism missions in Pakistan’s tribal areas. Details of the aborted 2005 operation provide a glimpse into the Bush administration’s internal negotiations over whether to take unilateral military action in Pakistan, where General Musharraf’s fragile government is under pressure from dissidents who object to any cooperation with the United States.

Pentagon officials familiar with covert operations said that planners had to consider the political and human risks of undertaking a military campaign in a sovereign country, even in an area like Pakistan’s tribal lands, where the government has only tenuous control. Even with its shortcomings, Pakistan has been a vital American ally since the Sept. 11 attacks, and the militaries of the two countries have close ties.

The Pentagon officials said tension was inherent in any decision to approve such a mission: a smaller military footprint allows a better chance of a mission going undetected, but it also exposes the units to greater risk of being killed or captured.

Officials said one reason Mr. Rumsfeld called off the 2005 operation was that the number of troops involved in the mission had grown to several hundred, including Army Rangers, members of the Navy Seals and C.I.A. operatives, and he determined that the United States could no longer carry out the mission without General Musharraf’s permission. It is unlikely that the Pakistani president would have approved an operation of that size, officials said.

Some outside experts said American counterterrorism operations had been hamstrung because of concerns about General Musharraf’s shaky government.

“The reluctance to take risk or jeopardize our political relationship with Musharraf may well account for the fact that five and half years after 9/11 we are still trying to run bin Laden and Zawahri to ground,” said Bruce Hoffman, a terrorism expert at Georgetown University.

Those political considerations have created resentment among some members of the military’s Special Operations forces.

“The Special Operations guys are tearing their hair out at the highest levels,” said a former Bush administration official with close ties to those troops. While they have not received good intelligence on the whereabouts of top Qaeda members recently, he said, they say they believe they have sometimes had useful information on lower-level figures.

“There is a degree of frustration that is off the charts, because they are looking at targets on a daily basis and can’t move against them,” he said.

In early 2005, after learning about the Qaeda meeting, the military developed a plan for a small Navy Seals unit to parachute into Pakistan to carry out a quick operation, former officials said.

But as the operation moved up the military chain of command, officials said, various planners bulked up the force’s size to provide security for the Special Operations forces.

“The whole thing turned into the invasion of Pakistan,” said the former senior intelligence official involved in the planning. Still, he said he thought the mission was worth the risk. “We were frustrated because we wanted to take a shot,” he said.

Several former officials interviewed said the operation was not the only occasion since the Sept. 11 attacks that plans were developed to use a large American military force in Pakistan. It is unclear whether any of those missions have been executed.

Some of the military and intelligence officials familiar with the 2005 events say it showed a rift between operators in the field and a military bureaucracy that has still not effectively adapted to hunt for global terrorists, moving too cautiously to use Special Operations troops against terrorist targets.

That criticism has echoes of the risk aversion that the officials said pervaded efforts against Al Qaeda during the Clinton administration, when missions to use American troops to capture or kill Mr. bin Laden in Afghanistan were never executed because they were considered too perilous, risked killing civilians or were based on inadequate intelligence. Rather than sending in ground troops, the Clinton White House instead chose to fire cruise missiles in what became failed attempts to kill Mr. bin Laden and his deputies – a tactic Mr. Bush criticized shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Since then, the C.I.A. has launched missiles from Predator aircraft in the tribal areas several times, with varying degrees of success. Intelligence officials say they believe that in January 2006, an airstrike narrowly missed killing Mr. Zawahri, who hours earlier had attended a dinner in Damadola, a Pakistani village.

General Musharraf cast his lot with the Bush administration in the hunt for Al Qaeda after the 2001 attacks, and he has periodically ordered Pakistan’s military to conduct counterterrorism missions in the tribal areas, provoking fierce resistance there. But in recent months he has pulled back, prompting Mr. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney to issue stern warnings in private that he risked losing American aid if he did not step up efforts against Al Qaeda, senior administration officials have said.

Officials said that mid-2005 was a period when they were gathering good intelligence about Al Qaeda’s leaders in Pakistan’s tribal areas. By the next year, however, the White House had become frustrated by the lack of progress in the hunt for Mr. bin Laden and Mr. Zawahri.

In early 2006, President Bush ordered a “surge” of dozens of C.I.A. agents to Pakistan, hoping that an influx of intelligence operatives would lead to better information, officials said. But that has brought the United States no closer to locating Al Qaeda’s top two leaders. The latest message from them came this week, in a new tape in which Mr. Zawahri urged Iraqis and Muslims around the world to show more support for Islamist insurgents in Iraq.

In his recently published memoir, George J. Tenet, the former C.I.A. director, said the intelligence about Mr. bin Laden’s whereabouts during the Clinton years was similarly sparse. The information was usually only at the “50-60% confidence level,” he wrote, not sufficient to justify American military action.

“As much as we all wanted Bin Ladin dead, the use of force by a superpower requires information, discipline, and time,” Mr. Tenet wrote. “We rarely had the information in sufficient quantities or the time to evaluate and act on it.”

Editor’s Comment: CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asserted the FBI documents released to Judicial Watch were generating conspiracy theories; an FBI spokesman appearing on the show agreed. Our editors have reviewed the documents carefully and feel that they are newsworthy. It’s also worth noting that while the FBI now maintains that there is “nothing new and nothing significant in these documents,” the FBI fought a protracted legal battle with Judicial Watch to keep them from bringing the documents to public view. TO/ma

FBI’s 9/11 Saudi Flight Documents Released
By Matt Renner
t r u t h o u t | Report

Friday 22 June 2007

Newly released documents reveal the FBI suspected that a plane hired to transport members of the bin Laden family from the United States back to Saudi Arabia might have been chartered by Osama bin Laden himself. The documents raise new questions about the FBI investigation into the 9/11 attacks.

Truthout reviewed the 224 pages of newly released documents over the past two days.

A heavily redacted FBI report on the incident begins by describing a private jet that was hired to pick up members of the bin Laden family that were in the US eight days after the 9/11 attacks. “The plane was chartered either by the Saudi Arabian Royal Family or Osama bin Laden,” according to the declassified pages of the FBI investigation titled PENTTBOMB (page 3).

Subsequent references to the chartered flight in the released documents state that it was “chartered by the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Washington, DC” (page 106). The possibility that the flight was arranged or paid for by Osama bin Laden was not addressed again in the subsequent 221 pages released by the FBI.

The FBI report was prepared in response to an October 2003 Vanity Fair magazine article by Craig Unger which raised questions about the FBI procedures after 9/11 that allowed six planes of Middle Eastern nationals to fly out of the United States. Most of the people on these planes were members of the Saudi Royal family, the wealthy rulers of Saudi Arabia, who have high-level contacts with the Bush administration. One plane, Ryan International Flight 441, made four stops around the country on September 19, 2001 to pick up members of the bin Laden family. According to the FBI, these individuals were half-siblings or the children of half-siblings of Osama bin Laden with no connections to the international terrorist. Critics accuse the FBI and possibly the White House of being complicit in allowing individuals with direct connections to Osama bin Laden to flee the country after the attacks. The FBI maintains that their interviews, conducted primarily at airports right before the nationals were to board planes, were sufficient and did not garner any actionable intelligence or warrant the detention of any of the nationals.

A set of documents compiled by the FBI in 2003 sheds some light on the procedures the FBI followed prior to allowing the bin Laden family members and other Saudi nationals to leave the country in the weeks following 9/11. The documents also raise new questions.

An internal FBI email described the effort to collect and compile all of the information about the Saudi nationals. “The point of this mess is a sort of damage assessment of those people leaving the US” (page 136).

The documents were obtained by the conservative government watchdog group Judicial Watch under the Freedom of Information Act. These documents had previously been released but all mention of Osama bin Laden and the bin Laden family were blacked-out by the FBI. After a protracted legal fight, these FBI redactions and their accompanying explanations were ruled unacceptable by a Washington, DC District Court judge, who ordered the FBI to reassess the redactions and re-release the report.

Judicial Watch made the re-released report public on Wednesday, with many of the blacked-out sections restored. All mention of Osama bin Laden or the bin Laden family were made readable, revealing the sentence stating that Osama bin Laden may have chartered the flight that collected members of the bin Laden family in the days following the attacks.

FBI Special Agent Richard Kolko responded to the renewed questions regarding the bin Laden family flight by saying, “There is no new information here. Osama bin Laden did not charter a flight out of the US.” Kolko continued, “This is just an inflammatory headline by Judicial Watch to catch people’s attention. This was thoroughly investigated by the FBI.”

In a statement, Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton was highly critical of the FBI handling of the Saudi nationals after 9/11: “Eight days after the worst terrorist attack in US history, Osama bin Laden possibly charters a flight to whisk his family out of the country, and it’s not worth more than a luggage search and a few brief interviews?” Fitton was referring to the screening procedures and short interviews of members of the bin Laden family conducted by the FBI prior to their flight back to Saudi Arabia.

According to the executive summary of the FBI report, the FBI “conducted interviews, database checks and security sweeps prior to allowing any of the flights to depart the US. Before departure, all passengers’ identities were confirmed and compared against watch lists. Investigators verified that there were no unauthorized passengers aboard any flights, and swept the aircraft and luggage for prohibited items. Further investigation was conducted following departure where it was determined to be necessary. No information of investigative value was learned from the interviews or following the departure of these individuals” (page 28).

Fitton claims that an examination of the report calls these conclusions into question. According to Fitton, “These documents prove the FBI conducted a slapdash investigation of these Saudi flights. We’ll never know how many investigative leads were lost due to the FBI’s lack of diligence.”

An examination of the previously blacked-out names and sentences revealed new information. According to FBI agents who interviewed a member of the bin Laden family, when the family “disowned” Osama in 1994, they did not take away his share of the massive construction company owned and controlled by the bin Laden family. A female member of the bin Laden family indicated to investigators that “when [Osama bin Laden] was disowned by the family, he was given a percentage of the family business” (page 110). Previously blacked-out, this sentence is not further addressed in the FBI report.

The report points out that the FBI did not have records for at least one Saudi national who was listed on the flight manifests. A passenger, whose name was redacted in the report, was listed on the official flight documentation but she was never interviewed by the FBI. “If [redacted] was interviewed, it is unknown as to why no record of that interview can be found … It is possible that [redacted] did not board the aircraft at all” (page 170).

Another reference to a missing passenger raised questions for an FBI agent who was tasked with reviewing the draft of the report. On page 171, the draft report states: “We assess that [redacted] did not travel on 09/19/2001 despite being listed on the passenger manifest. Her name does not appear in any FBI records regarding this flight.” This sentence appeared inaccurate to a reviewer who identified this as a typo. On page 174 the reviewer questioned the assertion that this missing passenger was a woman. The reviewer wrote “Page 16 2nd paragraph, ‘… passenger manifest. Her[??] name does not appear …” (emphasis original).

The FBI admitted that individuals who might have been useful for their investigation could easily have left the US in the weeks following the 9/11 attacks. The report concluded that “although the FBI took all possible steps to prevent any individuals who were involved in or had knowledge of the 09/11/2001 attacks from leaving the US before they could be interviewed, it is not possible to state conclusively that no such individuals left the US without FBI knowledge. Upon lifting of flight restrictions on 9/14/2001, any individual with a valid passport and sufficient funds to purchase flight tickets or charter an aircraft could leave the US” (page 156).

Click here to view the pdf file.

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A Profile in Cowardice By Frank Rich

Go to Original

By Frank Rich
The New York Times

Sunday 08 July 2007

There was never any question that President Bush would grant amnesty to Scooter Libby, the man who knows too much about the lies told to sell the war in Iraq. The only questions were when, and how, Mr. Bush would buy Mr. Libby’s silence. Now we have the answers, and they’re at least as incriminating as the act itself. They reveal the continued ferocity of a White House cover-up and expose the true character of a commander in chief whose tough-guy shtick can no longer camouflage his fundamental cowardice.

The timing of the president’s Libby intervention was a surprise. Many assumed he would mimic the sleazy 11th-hour examples of most recent vintage: his father’s pardon of six Iran-contra defendants who might have dragged him into that scandal, and Bill Clinton’s pardon of the tax fugitive Marc Rich, the former husband of a major campaign contributor and the former client of none other than the ubiquitous Mr. Libby.

But the ever-impetuous current President Bush acted 18 months before his scheduled eviction from the White House. Even more surprising, he did so when the Titanic that is his presidency had just hit two fresh icebergs, the demise of the immigration bill and the growing revolt of Republican senators against his strategy in Iraq.

That Mr. Bush, already suffering historically low approval ratings, would invite another hit has been attributed in Washington to his desire to placate what remains of his base. By this logic, he had nothing left to lose. He didn’t care if he looked like an utter hypocrite, giving his crony a freer ride than Paris Hilton and violating the white-collar sentencing guidelines set by his own administration. He had to throw a bone to the last grumpy old white guys watching Bill O’Reilly in a bunker.

But if those die-hards haven’t deserted him by now, why would Mr. Libby’s incarceration be the final straw? They certainly weren’t whipped into a frenzy by coverage on Fox News, which tended to minimize the leak case as a non-event. Mr. Libby, faceless and voiceless to most Americans, is no Ollie North, and he provoked no right-wing firestorm akin to the uproars over Terri Schiavo, Harriet Miers or “amnesty” for illegal immigrants.

The only people clamoring for Mr. Libby’s freedom were the pundits who still believe that Saddam secured uranium in Africa and who still hope that any exoneration of Mr. Libby might make them look less like dupes for aiding and abetting the hyped case for war. That select group is not the Republican base so much as a roster of the past, present and future holders of quasi-academic titles at neocon think tanks like the American Enterprise Institute.

What this crowd never understood is that Mr. Bush’s highest priority is always to protect himself. So he stiffed them too. Had the president wanted to placate the Weekly Standard crowd, he would have given Mr. Libby a full pardon. That he served up a commutation instead is revealing of just how worried the president is about the beans Mr. Libby could spill about his and Dick Cheney’s use of prewar intelligence.

Valerie Wilson still has a civil suit pending. The Democratic inquisitor in the House, Henry Waxman, still has the uranium hoax underlying this case at the top of his agenda as an active investigation. A commutation puts up more roadblocks by keeping Mr. Libby’s appeal of his conviction alive and his Fifth Amendment rights intact. He can’t testify without risking self-incrimination. Meanwhile, we are asked to believe that he has paid his remaining $250,000 debt to society independently of his private $5 million “legal defense fund.”

The president’s presentation of the commutation is more revealing still. Had Mr. Bush really believed he was doing the right and honorable thing, he would not have commuted Mr. Libby’s jail sentence by press release just before the July Fourth holiday without consulting Justice Department lawyers. That’s the behavior of an accountant cooking the books in the dead of night, not the proud act of a patriot standing on principle.

When the furor followed Mr. Bush from Kennebunkport to Washington despite his efforts to duck it, he further underlined his embarrassment by taking his only few questions on the subject during a photo op at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. You know this president is up to no good whenever he hides behind the troops. This instance was particularly shameful, since Mr. Bush also used the occasion to trivialize the scandalous maltreatment of Walter Reed patients on his watch as merely “some bureaucratic red-tape issues.”

Asked last week to explain the president’s poll numbers, Andrew Kohut of the Pew Research Center told NBC News that “when we ask people to summon up one word that comes to mind” to describe Mr. Bush, it’s “incompetence.” But cowardice, the character trait so evident in his furtive handling of the Libby commutation, is as important to understanding Mr. Bush’s cratered presidency as incompetence, cronyism and hubris.

Even The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page, a consistent Bush and Libby defender, had to take notice. Furious that the president had not given Mr. Libby a full pardon (at least not yet), The Journal called the Bush commutation statement a “profile in non-courage.”

What it did not recognize, or chose not to recognize, is that this non-courage, to use The Journal’s euphemism, has been this president’s stock in trade, far exceeding the “wimp factor” that Newsweek once attributed to his father. The younger Mr. Bush’s cowardice is arguably more responsible for the calamities of his leadership than anything else.

People don’t change. Mr. Bush’s failure to have the courage of his own convictions was apparent early in his history, when he professed support for the Vietnam War yet kept himself out of harm’s way when he had the chance to serve in it. In the White House, he has often repeated the feckless pattern that he set back then and reaffirmed last week in his hide-and-seek bestowing of the Libby commutation.

The first fight he conspicuously ran away from as president was in August 2001. Aspiring to halt federal underwriting of embryonic stem-cell research, he didn’t stand up and say so but instead unveiled a bogus “compromise” that promised continued federal research on 60 existing stem-cell lines. Only later would we learn that all but 11 of them did not exist. When Mr. Bush wanted to endorse a constitutional amendment to “protect” marriage, he again cowered. A planned 2006 Rose Garden announcement to a crowd of religious-right supporters was abruptly moved from the sunlight into a shadowy auditorium away from the White House.

Nowhere is this president’s non-courage more evident than in the “signing statements” The Boston Globe exposed last year. As Charlie Savage reported, Mr. Bush “quietly claimed the authority to disobey more than 750 laws enacted since he took office.” Rather than veto them in public view, he signed them, waited until after the press and lawmakers left the White House, and then filed statements in the Federal Register asserting that he would ignore laws he (not the courts) judged unconstitutional. This was the extralegal trick Mr. Bush used to bypass the ban on torture. It allowed him to make a coward’s escape from the moral (and legal) responsibility of arguing for so radical a break with American practice.

In the end, it was also this president’s profile in non-courage that greased the skids for the Iraq fiasco. If Mr. Bush had had the guts to put America on a true wartime footing by appealing to his fellow citizens for sacrifice, possibly even a draft if required, then he might have had at least a chance of amassing the resources needed to secure Iraq after we invaded it.

But he never backed up the rhetoric of war with the stand-up action needed to prosecute the war. Instead he relied on fomenting fear, as typified by the false uranium claims whose genesis has been covered up by Mr. Libby’s obstructions of justice. Mr. Bush’s cowardly abdication of the tough responsibilities of wartime leadership ratified Donald Rumsfeld’s decision to go into Iraq with the army he had, ensuring our defeat.

Never underestimate the power of the unconscious. Not the least of the revelatory aspects of Mr. Bush’s commutation is that he picked the fourth anniversary of “Bring ’em on” to hand it down. It was on July 2, 2003, that the president responded to the continued violence in Iraq, two months after “Mission Accomplished,” by taunting those who want “to harm American troops.” Mr. Bush assured the world that “we’ve got the force necessary to deal with the security situation.” The “surge” notwithstanding, we still don’t have the force necessary four years later, because the president never did summon the courage, even as disaster loomed, to back up his own convictions by going to the mat to secure that force.

No one can stop Mr. Bush from freeing a pathetic little fall guy like Scooter Libby. But only those who paid the ultimate price for the avoidable bungling of Iraq have the moral authority to pardon Mr. Bush.


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The Devil and Daniel Berrigan by Mike Palecek

“Sometime in your life, hope that you might see one starved man, the look on his face when the bread finally arrives. Hope that you might have baked it or bought or even kneaded it yourself. For that look on his face, for your meeting his eyes across a piece of bread, you might be willing to lose a lot, or suffer a lot, or die a little, even.”

— Daniel Berrigan

“Daniel Berrigan was born in Virginia, Minnesota, a Midwestern working class town. His father, Thomas Berrigan, was a second-generation Irish-Catholic and proud union man. Tom left the Catholic Church, but Berrigan remained attracted to the Church throughout his youth. He joined the Jesuits directly out of high school in 1939 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1952….

“Berrigan, his brother Philip, and the famed Trappist monk Thomas Merton founded an interfaith coalition against the Vietnam War, and wrote letters to major newspapers arguing for an end to the war….

“In 1968, he was interviewed in the anti-Vietnam War documentary film In the Year of the Pig, and later that year became involved in radical violent protest. He manufactured home-made napalm and, with eight other Catholic protesters, used it to destroy 378 draft files from the Catonsville, Maryland draft board. This group, later known as the Catonsville Nine, blamed American Christians and Jews for showing “[…] cowardice in the face of […]” the U.S. government, and for their racism “[…] and hostil[ity] to the poor.”….

“Berrigan was promptly arrested and sentenced to three years in prison, but went into hiding with the help of fellow radicals prior to imprisonment. While on the run, Berrigan was interviewed for Lee Lockwood’s documentary “The Holy Outlaw.” Soon thereafter, the FBI apprehended him, sent him to prison, and released him in 1972….

“Berrigan later spent time in France meeting with Thich Nhat Hanh, the exiled Buddhist monk peace activist from Vietnam….

“On September 9, 1980, Berrigan, his brother Philip, and six others (the “Plowshares Eight”) began the Plowshares Movement. They illegally trespassed onto the General Electric Nuclear Missile facility in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, where they damaged nuclear warhead nose cones and poured blood onto documents and files. They were arrested and charged with over ten different felony and misdemeanor counts. On April 10, 1990, after ten years of appeals, Barrigan’s group was re-sentenced and paroled for up to 23 and 1/2 months in consideration of time already served in prison. Their legal battle was re-created in Emile de Antonio’s 1982 film In The King of Prussia, which starred Martin Sheen and featured appearances by the Plowshares Eight as themselves.”

[Excerpted from

Essay by Mike Palecek


I owe my life to Dan Berrigan.

For good or for bad.

I think for good.

I drove from a smallish, conservative town in northeast Nebraska in January 1979 to begin seminary at the College of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota.

In February or March, Berrigan was speaking at Macalaster College, up Summit Avenue a few blocks at a Vietnam Symposium, whatever that means, along with Eugene McCarthy and a journalist named Gloria Emerson.

Anyway, I went, and I heard, and I walked up to him afterward to introduce myself and ask a stupid question.

A couple of us ended up driving Dan around town that night, to a church to hear John Trudell speak about the FBI burning his family in their home, then over to a TV station where Daniel Schorr was hosting a discussion between Berrigan and some guy from the Kennedy administration. I think it was Ted Sorenson.

All’s I know is they let me into this one room and pointed at a table full of food. I could graze as long as we were there. Have at it church boy.

Berrigan also came over to the seminary and spoke to us, about Vietnam, prison, the United States, the Catholic Church.

I was enthralled. I had never heard this stuff before, and likely would not have ever heard it in my seminary instruction.

Well, on a home visit I asked the parish priest who had hooked me up with the seminary, Fr. Walter Nabity.

I asked him about Berrigan and protesting and nuclear weapons and war and all that.

Fr. Nabity told me to forget about the protests, stick to my studies, stay away from the likes of Berrigan.

Well, I was confused.

I told Berrigan what Nabity had said. Dan wrote back to me. [Below]

Over Easter vacation, on Berrigan’s invitation, two of us took a train to Washington, D.C. for a Holy Week retreat and protest. We stayed at the Church of St. Stephen in northwest D.C.

There were lots of “famous” folks from the peace movement there that week, that I only found out were famous, within the peace movement, over the following years: Richard McSorley, Sr. Elizabeth Montgomery, Art Laffin, Elizabeth McAlister, Fr. Carl Kabat.

And of course, Phil Berrigan. I remember going up to Phil and asking him a stupid question. He was wearing this army coat. He took me to the middle of the church and sat with me. He listened to my questions.

“What’s a nuke?”

And we talked about the Catholic Church, celibacy, marriage, prison, the United States, the military, Thou Shall Not Kill. Lots of stuff. And he took the time to talk to me.

I don’t think I’ll ever forget that, unless I eat way too many Ho-Ho’s … again.

It was pretty cool. We planned these protests at the White House — Jimmy Carter’s administration — and the Pentagon, and some people went to the Department of Energy, too, I think.

We boarded the bus in small groups so that it would not appear to be a big group, I guess.

We went through the White House visitor tour line in those small groups and inside we looked at tables and tablecloths and silverware, and I tried to not look like someone who needed to be apprehended and sent back to Nebraska — or even worse.

The tour exited out onto a porch, a portico? And then those who were doing the protest took out banners from their purses or coats and held them out.

Fr. Carl Kabat poured blood on the pillars and was put into a headlock and hauled away. I got a good picture of that.

And then we went over to the Pentagon and held signs, slept on the floor of the church, ate vegetarian vegetables, then got on the train and went back to Minnesota, never to be the same again.

I think for the better.

I ended up leaving the seminary. On my way out the door I posted a manifesto on the bulletin board by the front door and the elevators, something about how I couldn’t stay at a rich Catholic school, that I had to go be with the poor, now.

A friend who went on to be ordained for the Omaha archdiocese later told me my bulletin board manifesto was weird. It probably was.

I know for one thing, that I really liked the idea of hanging out with these famous guys who had been on the front pages of all the big newspapers in the 1960s. It made me feel important.

But I don’t think the Berrigans and others felt that way. Not at all. I think they did it because they feel it in their guts.

And I think I take away the best part of all that today, the part about the importance of standing with the poor and against war.

In the end, there is no glitter that sticks to that. It’s your lonely self in a prison cell and it’s a family on a hot hillside outside of Pine Ridge trying to live.

That is what you feel in your heart when you hear this message and you want to be a part of it. And you walk that way. Sometimes you run. Sometimes you try to run too fast and maybe you fall. But that doesn’t matter. You get up and try to keep going.

I ended up going to New York City to work at the Catholic Worker on the Bowery for a while, and then Ruth and I got married.

I went to prison myself. I remember being in the hole in Chicago MCC, the federal prison downtown. I was having a rough, rough time.

The guard comes up to my window with this quizzical look on his face. He has this letter asking for my release, signed by Fr. Daniel Berrigan and one million other Jesuits. The guard looked at me like, who are you?

Well, I am nobody, but I know somebody. How about another slice of that shitty bread?

Well, for me, I went to prison, went crazy, went home.

I thank Dan Berrigan for taking the time to talk to me, for one thing, when so many people were clamoring for his attention, and for having the heart and soul and wisdom to know what the truth is, and passing it along.

Back in Norfolk I only had “Choice A” as to how to look at life.

After going to St. Paul, I had “Choice B” as well, and that really makes all the difference.


Letter from Daniel Berrigan

from “Prophets Without Honor,” by William Strabala, Algora Publishing, New York, 2002.

Sept. 21, 1979


I was happy to hear from you. I’m sorry, though, that things have become so unclear in your thoughts since we met and you came East for the protests.

I think your parish priest is full of baloney. Please don’t hesitate to tell him so, if you want to.

He reminds me of all the cutout-clerics I’ve met over the years who went on to get their degrees while innocent children died in Vietnam and many of us went to prison.

I don’t envy him his degrees from Harvard and Columbia. I’ve lectured on both places and find them rich centers of moral retardation.

As for people getting paid to protest, it’s here that the baloney goes rancid. Our payment was years in prison to protest the killing; his payment was something else again.

I hope someday he picks up the New Testament and gets some light on the life, imprisonment and death of Jesus. Also on some texts like, “love one another, as I have loved you.”

Well, enough of that. If I am angry, it’s at his defamation of those I love. He sounds as though any outrage in the world would find him indifferent among his books and degrees. I just wonder what sort of advice someone like him is capable of giving someone like you.

As far as the cult talk goes, I think your seminary is closer to the cult reality than Jonah House. There, you and other young people seem to be being brainwashed — cleansed of all traces of the gospel and of Christ, in order to prepare for a safe and pallid clerical future, in which you can go on to advise other young folks against becoming Christians and witnesses. How’s that for turning things around?

Any place (like Harvard, Columbia, or St. Thomas) that is neglecting to give young people a vision of life, faith, a human future, doesn’t deserve to go on. I hope you leave there. I hope you find a community that is not lost in fantasy and immaturity with its mutterings of Communism and cults.

That’s all so much useless bullshit. It has absolutely nothing to do with Christ or our Church. In fact, it’s like a so-called religious branch of the State Department or the Pentagon, peddling the kind of religion that will allow murder to be legitimized, nukes to be created, the innocent and poor to be wiped out.

I thought, when I came to your seminary, Mike, something better might be in the air. (Usually I avoid such places.) Evidently I was wrong. But for Christ’s sake, don’t condemn yourself to such a future.

Come back and see us when you want. You’ll always be welcome. Meantime, we go on with the work of non-violence, responsibility, hope.

— Daniel

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

British “Terror Plot”: Dumb “Al-Qaeda” Doctors by Kurt Nimmo

by Kurt Nimmo

Global Research, July 7, 2007

Another Day in the Empire

Neurologist Mohammed Asha, and his lab technician wife Marwah, threw away their baby, Anas, in order to join “al-Qaeda,” the CIA-ISI database. Sure they did. And I have a bridge for sale.

If we believe the corporate media, the dark undercurrent of Islamic extremism, and that of the “al-Qaeda” database, is so strong it was able to sweep up promising neurologist Mohammed Asha, who became a would-be terrorist apparently more adept at brain surgery than cooking up bombs.

According to the cheesy British tabloid the Mirror, however, Asha and his wife, Marwah, are your garden variety Palestinian terrorists, the sort who throw away their lives, including an infant son, Anas, due to a self-destructive “hate against the West over Palestine…. The couple, from Palestinian families, blamed Britain and the US for backing Israel’s ‘occupation’, relatives said.” According to Asha’s father Yunis Dana, the couple “aren’t the type to be interested in political Islam,” so it remains a mystery why they would team up with so-called Muslim radicals. As well, Marwah was radicalized because people made fun or her veil.

For some reason, though, Mohammed Asha assisted people he supposedly hates. “Dan Robinson, 61, a retired museum keeper, said Dr Asha visited his home in Newcastle-under-Lyme when his 83-year-old mother suffered leg problems,” reports the Daily Express. “Dr Asha was a good neighbor. My mother thought he was great. We can’t get our heads round it,” Robinson told the newspaper. Asha senior “said his son arrived in London in 2004 with his lab technician wife Marwah, 27. They settled in well in Britain and were happy with their lives,” but apparently not happy enough, as they supposedly conspired to kill Brits, never mind they did not know the first thing about bomb-making.

In Canada, the story of the failed British and Scottish terrorist plot gets an extra added dimension. “Just three weeks after ABC’s Brian Ross broke an exclusive story including video evidence that some 300 recruits had been sent off on suicide missions to the west following an enmasse ‘graduation ceremony’, came the failed London and Glasgow bombings,” reports the Canada Free Press, citing the UK Daily Mail. Of course, the Canada Free Press has absolutely no evidence of this so-called “connection,” and in fact headlines its “story” (as in speculative fiction) as a question—”Al Qaeda, Suicide Bombers: Failed terrorist attacks overseas linked to June’s graduating suicide bomber class in Pakistan?”—but then, naturally, when it comes to “al-Qaeda,” no evidence is required. Here in the United States, large numbers of Americans will believe almost anything, as the fact millions of Americans believe to this day Saddam had something to do with the attacks of September 11, 2001, thanks to incessant corporate media repetition of this lie.

Another medical student, Bilal Abdullah, on the other hand, threw away his life because he “was radicalized by the influence of Iraq’s al-Qaeda chief Abu Musab al-Zarqawi,” the phantom one-legged terrorist, alternately described as retarded and a terrorism mastermind. “He actively cheered the death of British and American troops. One of his best friends had been killed by Shias,” Shiraz Maher, supposedly a friend, told the Mirror. Abdullah subscribed to “an al-Qaeda ideology. He had a number of videos by al-Zarqawi. The aims were something he closely identified with,” that it to say Bilal Abdullah identified with a CIA-ISI contrived ideology.

According to Medical News Today, citing the BBC, no less than eight would-be terrorists involved in the London and Glasgow incidents “have links with the British National Health Service,” in other words the average Brit should be afraid, very afraid, as the medical system in Britain is rife with “al-Qaeda” and Palestinian terrorists. Of course, this is nonsense, but it sure plays well in the UK Mirror, a market check-out tabloid unable to admit the obvious—Israel does indeed “occupy” the West Bank and Gaza, in violation of international law.

As it turns out, however, the London and Glasgow bomb fumblers were “watched” by Britain’s master terror organization, MI5. “Several doctors arrested over the London and Glasgow car bomb plot were on the files of MI5,” reports the UK Telegraph. “At least one was on a Home Office watch list after being identified by security services—meaning their travel in and out of Britain was monitored by immigration officers…. Others were found to be on the MI5 database, which contains an estimated 2,000 suspected jihadists or supporters of terrorism.”

Recall that Mohammed Siddique Khan, the alleged ringleader of the 7/7 London bombings, was working for British intelligence agency MI5 as an informant at the time of the attacks, according to Charles Shoebridge, a 12-year veteran detective of the London Metropolitan Police.

Moreover, as Paul Joseph Watson notes, “the British security services were intimately involved in numerous terror attacks in Britain over the past few decades, namely car bombings, that were blamed on the IRA or its offshoots.”

And then there is the strange case of Abu Qatada, “a Muslim cleric believed by several European countries to be a pivotal figure in international terrorism,” according to the Guardian, who “disappeared from his west London home … before a round up of alleged terrorist suspects. It was rumored that he had fled abroad.” However, according to “senior members of European intelligence services,” Abu Qatada was

“fed and clothed by British intelligence,” that is to say he was protected as an asset.

“Relatives of two brothers suspected of plotting a terrorist bombing outrage in Britain today made extraordinary claims that they were visited by an MI5 agent in the weeks before they were arrested,” the Scotsman reported on April 1, 2004. “The eight suspects, all British citizens and Muslims, were held under the Terrorism Act as police found half a ton of ammonium nitrate fertilizer which they believe could have been used in a devastating blast.”

Finally, it appears Bisher al-Rawi, sweating it out in Camp Gitmo, claims “he acted as a go-between for British intelligence and an alleged leading member of al-Qa’ida in London,” according to London Independent. “Mr. Rawi claimed he had acted as an intermediary between Abu Qatada, a Palestinian refugee, and MI5. He named three MI5 agents, ‘Alex’, ‘Matthew’ and ‘Martin’, and asked for them to be called as defense witnesses. Although the tribunal agreed, the British Government refused to allow them to give evidence.”

None of this, however, means diddly, as the corporate media rarely if ever mentions such suspicious connections and, as in the case of the previous example, these stories often find their way to the memory hole, or rather the “500 Internal Server Error” hole. Of course, the story of the “al-Qaeda” patsies, neurologists and well-educated medical students, clueless when it comes to making bombs—while no shortage of bored teenagers are able to do so using household chemicals—is not intended to be believable but rather is designed to augment the incessant corporate media campaign to demonize Muslims, part and parcel of the “clash of civilizations,” that it to say the plan to attack Muslim and Arab countries, kill their grandmothers and toddlers, and balkanize the region, as long ago planned.

Kurt Nimmo is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Kurt Nimmo


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