MSNBC Takes Incendiary Hosts From Anchor Seat

Dandelion Salad

September 7, 2008

MSNBC tried a bold experiment this year by putting two politically incendiary hosts, Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews, in the anchor chair to lead the cable news channel’s coverage of the election.

That experiment appears to be over.

After months of accusations of political bias and simmering animosity between MSNBC and its parent network NBC, the channel decided over the weekend that the NBC News correspondent and MSNBC host David Gregory would anchor news coverage of the coming debates and election night. Mr. Olbermann and Mr. Matthews will remain as analysts during the coverage.

The change — which comes in the home stretch of the long election cycle — is a direct result of tensions associated with the channel’s perceived shift to the political left.

“The most disappointing shift is to see the partisan attitude move from prime time into what’s supposed to be straight news programming,” said Davidson Goldin, formerly the editorial director of MSNBC and a co-founder of the reputation management firm DolceGoldin.

Executives at the channel’s parent company, NBC Universal, had high hopes for MSNBC’s coverage of the political conventions. Instead, the coverage frequently descended into on-air squabbles between the anchors, embarrassing some workers at NBC’s news division, and quite possibly alienating viewers. Although MSNBC nearly doubled its total audience compared with the 2004 conventions, its competitive position did not improve, as it remained in last place among the broadcast and cable news networks. In prime time, the channel averaged 2.2 million viewers during the Democratic convention and 1.7 million viewers during the Republican convention.


MSNBC Takes Incendiary Hosts From Anchor Seat –

h/t: CLG

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Media Observer: Olbermann: Retire the “Special Comment”

US to establish naval base in Georgia

Dandelion Salad

Ahhh!  Another foreign military base in the works, don’t we have enough already?  Fingers into too many pies, imo.  ~ Lo

Press TV

Sun, 07 Sep 2008 11:26:05 GMT

The US is negotiating with Georgia and Turkey to establish a naval base at one of the two key Georgian ports of Batumi or Poti, reports say.

Turkey, in an attempt to avoid political tension with Russia, has not officially revealed its position regarding the plan, said Gruzya Online, a Russian-language internet site.

Russia had previously announced its intention to station its own special forces at the Georgian ports.

One of the responsibilities of US Special Forces in the region is to ensure the security of an oil pipeline passing through Georgia.

Press TV – US to establish naval base in Georgia.

h/t: CLG

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. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


Nader: Russia/Georgia Conflict + Impeachment/Prosecution

The U.S. 2008 Presidential Election: An Evaluation by Rodrigue Tremblay

10 Reasons Why We Need a New (Cold?) War (satire)

Is it the 1930s all over again? By William Bowles

Turning Away From American State Terrorism By Peter Chamberlin

Obama-Biden – Osama bin Laden: A coincidence? + National Pentagon Radio


9/11’s Accomplices vie for US Presidency by Larry Chin

Dandelion Salad

by Larry Chin
Global Research, September 7, 2008

Obama and McCain campaigns fan “war on terrorism” hysteria

In his much-ballyhooed acceptance speech, Barack Obama declared that he would “finish the fight against the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11”. If Obama wishes to be true to his promise, he could begin with his own running mate, Senator Joe Biden.

Continue reading

Reported Cell Phone Calls from the 9/11 Planes – Further Reflections Evoked by a Critique

Dandelion Salad

by Prof. David Ray Griffin
Global Research, September 7, 2008

Earlier this year, Andrew Kornkven posted a comment and a blog critical of my discussion, in Chapter 17 of my book 9/11 Contradictions, of reported cell phone calls from the 9/11 airliners. In this reply, I respond to both of these criticisms, referring to former as his “Comment,” to the latter as his “Blog.” (All quotations are from the Blog unless otherwise indicated.) Although Kornkven’s criticisms are based on confusions and other errors, my response to them has led me to report some information about this issue that I had not previously published, although much of it is in my most recent book, The New Pearl Harbor Revisited. This distinction means that, although many of my comments, especially in the first parts of this essay, consist of responses to confused criticisms (which the reader will probably want to move through quickly), this essay does, especially in its later parts, contain several points of great importance.

Kornkven begins his Comment by saying: “David Ray Griffin continues to put forth a misleading line of argument regarding the ‘cell phone’ calls.” With the term “continues,” he alludes to the fact that he had written an earlier critique, to which I wrote a reply. In that reply, I gave some reasons for being dubious of Kornkven’s theory as to what really happened, which lies behind his criticism of my position. According to his theory, there really were hijackers on the planes, but they were not Arab Muslims, or even Muslims of any sort. He also holds that relatives of victims did not actually report receiving cell phones calls. Instead, this claim was invented by the corporate media to trick the foreseen 9/11 truth movement into denying that the calls occurred, because the calls had revealed real truths that the government did not want to be known.

Why, I wondered, if the hijackers were not really devout Muslims, expecting to receive a heavenly reward for their martyrdom, would they have volunteered to commit suicide simply to provide a pretext for a war against Muslims; Kornkven’s only escape from this conclusion would seem to be to speculate, implausibly, that they bailed out of the planes at the last minute. I also wondered why, if the corporate media had falsely claimed that some of the families had reported receiving cell phone calls, the Internet carries no stories about complaints from these relatives published in local papers.

In the present essay, in any case, I do not argue against Kornkven’s own thesis. I simply reply to his charge (in his Comment) that my discussion is “misleading” and to his charge (in his Blog) that it contains “serious logical errors.”

The “Cell Phone Myth” The central target of Kornkven’s critique is what he calls the Cell Phone Myth, which he defines in his Comment as “the idea, advocated by Griffin, that the majority of calls were made on cell phones.” However, I do not believe that there were any cell phone calls from the planes.

Kornkven evidently stated his meaning more accurately in the first paragraph of his Comment, in which he said: “Despite Griffin’s claims to the contrary in Chapter 17 of 9/11 Contradictions, neither the FBI nor the 9/11 [Commission] ever claimed that all, or even most, of the calls were made on cell phones.” But I never said anything remotely similar to this.

With regard to the 9/11 Commission, I pointed out that its report mentioned cell phone calls, but without specifying how many such calls were allegedly made, only in relation to United Flight 93.

With regard to the FBI, almost all of my discussion is about its 2006 report to the Moussaoui trial, at which it said that there had been only two cell phone calls from all four flights combined. With regard to the FBI’s position prior to then, I made only two comments. My first comment was a complaint that “the FBI had not discouraged the press or the 9/11 Commission from claiming that passengers had used cell phones to report the existence of hijackers on the planes.” Although that statement said nothing about what the FBI claimed, something was at least implied by my second comment: Using the word “authorities” to refer primarily to the FBI, I spoke of “one of the chief elements in the story about 9/11 told by authorities and the press from the outset—that the presence of hijackers on the flights had been reported by means of cell phone calls from those flights.” I clearly suggested that the FBI immediately after 9/11 was stating that hijackers were reported on cell phone calls. To say that, however, is not to say that the FBI claimed that “all, or even most, of the calls were made on cell phones.” I said so little about the 9/11 Commission and pre-2006 FBI assertions because virtually all of my discussion in the chapter was about what was reported by the press and consequently widely believed. This feature of the chapter led to one of the strangest criticisms in Kornkven’s Blog:

Griffin next presents a lengthy jumble of media reports claiming cell phone calls. It’s hard to believe that a major figure in the truth movement would base his argument on stories appearing in The Washington Post, Newsweek, The National Review, and other pillars of the controlled media.

Kornkven’s criticism would make sense only if I had been suggesting that these media reports were true. But I was not. I was simply documenting the point made in my opening sentence, namely:

A central element in the story of the hijackings of the four airliners, as it unfolded in the press . . . , was that passengers had reported the presence of Middle-Eastern hijackers on the planes by means of cell phone calls to family members and authorities.

Documenting this point required, of course, quoting the Washington Post, Newsweek, and other mainstream (corporately controlled) publications.

With that confused criticism dismissed, I turn now to the question of whether my discussion of the press exemplified the Cell Phone Myth: Did I claim that the press portrayed a majority of the calls as having been made on cell phones? Hardly.

What I stated was that, according to press reports, “there were at least eleven cell phone calls from United Flight 93” plus “two each from UA 175 and AA 77.” As a result, “it has been widely believed that there were at least fifteen . . . cell phone calls.”

According to the 2006 FBI report, there were a total of 64 calls (counting those from both onboard and cell phones) from the four flights. Prior to that report, it was widely believed that there were 40 or more calls. By portraying 15 of those (40 to 64) calls as coming from cell phones, the press did not come close to claiming that “most” or “the majority” of the calls from the flights were cell phone calls.

However, it is also true, as I pointed out, that many of the press stories gave special attention to the reported cell phone calls in providing evidence of hijackers on the flights. An early Washington Post story, for example, said: “Glick’s cell phone call from Flight 93 and others like it provide the most dramatic accounts so far of events aboard the four hijacked aircraft.” Another Post story about this flight said: “The plane was at once a lonesome vessel, the people aboard facing their singular fate, and yet somehow already attached to the larger drama, connected again by cell phones.” Referring to such stories, I wrote: “cell phone calls were portrayed as a central—even the principal—means by which we had learned what happened on the planes.” But I did not—as the figures in the previous paragraph show—portray the press as stating that the majority of the calls were made on cell phones.

Besides invalidly turning my statement that some cell phone calls were reportedly made into the claim that “most of the calls were cell phone calls,” Kornkven sometimes even changes the most to all. He did this in one of the charges quoted above, namely: “Despite Griffin’s claims to the contrary . . . , neither the FBI nor the 9/11 [Commission] ever claimed that all . . . of the calls were made on cell phones.” Kornkven also did this in asking: “Why does Griffin want to turn away from this evidence by imagining that the calls were cell phone calls?”

In logic, even more basic than the distinction between some and most is the threefold distinction between none, some, and all. In an article in which he is accusing someone else of logical errors, Kornkven should have been careful not to commit such a basic one.

This error, incidentally, led to a bizarre charge against Dylan Avery. Discussing Loose Change 2, Kornkven wrote:

“At the 1:07 mark of that film, Dylan Avery asks,

“‘next, what about the cell phone calls…?’

“Avery didn’t seem to have even considered the possibility that some or most of the calls were made on airphones, which is peculiar since, a few minutes later in the film, while describing Mark Bingham’s call to his mother from UAL93, he specifically mentions that Bingham twice told his mom that he was calling from an airphone. The damage to the truth movement by this oversight is incalculable. Was it truly an oversight, or something worse?”

Kornkven took the very fact that Avery mentioned (some) cell phone calls to mean that he was alleging that all of reported calls were made on cell phones. This inference was especially strange given Kornkven’s recognition that, shortly thereafter, Avery pointed out that Mark Bingham reportedly “told his mom that he was calling from an airphone.” Kornkven then, on the basis of his own theory—according to which the media conspired with the government to create the impression that all or most of the calls were made from cell phones in order to cause the sure-to-rise 9/11 truth movement, knowing that high-altitude cell phone calls were impossible, to reject the calls as faked, thereby missing the valuable information in some of them that contradicts the official story—compounded his crime by hinting that Avery might be part of this conspiracy. (“Was it truly an oversight, or something worse?”) Such suggestions could give “conspiracy theorists” a bad name!

Not content with this, Kornkven proceeded to compound his error still further, saying:

“Avery seems to have tacitly admitted his assumption was wrong: Loose Change Final Cut contains no references to phone calls whatsoever. Why has Griffin decided to carry on such a dubious notion?”

In the first place, given the fact that the credits at the end of Loose Change Final Cut reveal that I was the Script Consultant, why would Kornkven assume that Dylan Avery and I had some difference on this issue? In the second place, my chapter points out that the 2006 FBI report said that only two of the calls from all of the flights combined were made from cell phones, and this is what Kornkven believes. So what “dubious notion” does he think I am carrying on?

Having dealt with Kornkven’s myth of the Cell Phone Myth, I turn now to his charge that my chapter is misleading.

Misleading? Kornkven suggested that there are two ways in which my discussion is misleading. First, pointing out that I discuss “the difficulty of cell phone calls at higher altitudes,” Kornkven wrote: “This is completely irrelevant because most of the calls were made on airphones.” A more objective statement would be: “According to the 2006 FBI report given to the Moussaoui trial, most—all but two—of the calls were made from onboard phones.” (Kornkven does not add the qualification because he accepts that FBI report as a statement of what really happened.) One might suspect that, given the fact that two of the calls were reportedly made from cell phones, the difficulty of calling from higher altitudes has not become completely irrelevant. However, the FBI report said that those two calls were made from United 93 at 9:58, when it was down to 5,000 feet (at which level cell phone calls might at least arguably have gone through). Kornkven would be right to call my discussion misleading, therefore, if I had mentioned the difficulty of high-altitude cell phone calls in order to argue against the position taken by the FBI in 2006. But I did not. Here is my statement:

“In saying that only the two 9:58 calls from United 93 were cell phone calls, the FBI avoided a problem briefly mentioned in Chapter 8 [of 9/11 Contradictions], namely, skepticism about whether high-altitude cell phone calls from airliners are possible, especially calls that stay connected long enough for a conversation to occur. The FBI, when it had to present its evidence in a court of law, avoided this problem, because at 9:58, when the calls from Lyles and Felt were reportedly made, the plane, according to official reports, had descended to about 5,000 feet.”

As the reader can see, my reference to skepticism about the possibility of high-altitude cell phone calls was solely for the purpose of suggesting why the FBI in 2006 had changed its public claim. That is, after having at first described about 15 calls as cell phone calls (as I will argue below), the FBI in 2006 characterized only two calls, both said to have been made from 5,000 feet, as cell phone calls. I suggested that it did this to avoid claiming the occurrence of calls that would widely be regarded as impossible.

I turn now to Kornkven’s second charge that my discussion is misleading: “Griffin is being misleading when he says the FBI say ‘it didn’t happen’ regarding the phone calls.” Actually, however, it is Kornkven who, by thus characterizing what I had said, was being misleading. He was referring to a letter in which I wrote: “It [the FBI] has said that there were no cell phone calls from passengers to relatives from any of the planes.” Kornkven admits that this statement is “perhaps technically true.” Although he does not explain why my statement is, in fact, true (or at least “perhaps” so), here is why: According to the FBI report, one cell phone call was made by passenger Edward Felt, who called 911, not a relative, and the other was made by CeeCee Lyles, who was a crew member, not a passenger. The FBI report did indicate, therefore, that “there were no cell phone calls from passengers to relatives.” (The distinction between passengers and crew members is made in all official reports and at least most media stories.)

If this statement is true, why does Kornkven consider it misleading? He says in his Comment:

“The FBI exhibit does not label the cell phone calls from CeeCee Lyles (UAL93) and Renee May (AAL77) as cell phone calls; but neither are they labeled airphone calls. Griffin seems to be suggesting none of the calls took place whatsoever, a position which the FBI does not hold.”

I am puzzled as to why Kornkven brought Renee May into the discussion. In his Blog, he quoted me as pointing out that it was only the call from Edward Felt and one of the calls from CeeCee Lyles that were said in the FBI’s 2006 report to have been cell phone calls. His claims about the calls by Lyles and May are, in any case, false.

The FBI’s graphic presentation on CeeCee Lyles does, contrary to Kornkven’s statement, label one of her calls a cell phone call. It can, to be sure, be difficult to get to this and the other graphics on the US government website containing the information about phone calls from the flights, because one’s computer must be able to open the zip file. Jim Hoffman, however, has helpfully made these graphics available on his website. The graphic for Lyles, in any case, clearly indicates that she made a “cell phone call” to a residential number at 9:58 AM.

The FBI report also explicitly labeled a 9:58 call from Edward Felt a cell phone call, although it is even more difficult to see this on the US government website. There is an easily accessible graphic about this call, which says, “call placed from bathroom,” from which one can infer that it must have been made from a cell phone. One need not, however, rely on inference. There is also an expanded graphic, which says: “9:58 AM: Passenger Edward Felt, using his cell phone, (732) 241-XXXX, contacts John Shaw, a 911 Operator from Westmoreland County, PA.” Although getting to this graphic (through a Flash expansion) can be difficult, it can easily be seen on Hoffman’s website.

Given the fact that these two calls, and only these two calls, are said by the FBI’s report to be cell phone calls, we can infer that the FBI intended the remainder of the calls to be understood to have been made from onboard phones. We can make this inference because of what was said in the FBI’s oral report about phone calls from Flight 93 at the Moussaoui trial. A reporter wrote: “In the back of the plane, 13 of the terrified passengers and crew members made 35 air phone calls and two cell phone calls to family members and airline dispatchers, a member of an FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force testified Tuesday.” As this statement shows, all of the calls from this flight, except the two that were explicitly indicated on the graphics to be cell phone calls, were said at the trial to have been made from onboard phones.

From this discovery about Flight 93, we can infer that, although Renee May’s parents evidently believed that she had called from her cell phone, the FBI report implied, without specifically saying so, that she had used an onboard phone.

Accordingly, although Kornkven claims that “[c]alls made from Renee May on AAL77 and CeeCee Lyles on UAL93 were portrayed as being cell phone calls,” the truth is that only the reported call from Edward Felt and one of the two reported calls from CeeCee Lyles were portrayed as cell phone calls.

In any case, in explaining why he calls my “perhaps technically true” statement—that the FBI report said that “there were no cell phone calls from passengers to relatives”—misleading, Kornkven wrote: “Griffin seems to be suggesting none of the calls took place whatsoever, a position which the FBI does not hold.” Kornkven, in other words, thinks that I used my technically true statement to claim that the FBI said that there were no calls whatsoever. However, although I myself believe that none of the reported calls occurred, I made no such claim about the FBI. Rather, I pointed out that, according to the 2006 FBI report, most of the calls previously thought to have been cell phone calls were really made from onboard phones.

The Central Role Played by the Reported Cell Phone Calls Kornkven began his Blog, in which he claimed to be exposing “logical errors” in my chapter, by quoting my statement that “the reported cell phone calls . . . played a central role in establishing that the planes were hijacked by al-Qaeda operatives.”

Kornkven said, in rebuttal, that “none of the evidence reported in the calls implicates al-Qaeda.” The fact that this was true of most of the calls—although not quite all, as I will show below—is unsurprising. At that time, few Americans had heard of al-Qaeda. Those who fabricated the calls would not have been so obvious as to describe the terrorists as, say, wearing al-Qaeda T-shirts or otherwise indicating that they were members of al-Qaeda. Alternatively, if one believes, with Kornkven, that there were real callers on the planes speaking about real hijackers, the same point would hold: There would probably have been no basis for the passengers and crew members to describe the hijackers as members of al-Qaeda, whether they were or not.

In any case, the main point of my statement—as shown by my chapter title, “Were Hijackers Reported on Cell Phone Calls?”—was that “the reported cell phone calls . . . played a central role in establishing that the planes were hijacked.” The point of my sentence would have been clearer if I had ended it there, without adding “by al-Qaeda operatives.”

It is also true, however, that the reported calls played a central role in creating the myth that the planes were hijacked by members of al-Qaeda. To say that they played a central role is not, of course, to claim that they provided a sufficient basis for this myth. An essential role was also played by the claim that authorities found Mohamed Atta’s luggage filled with his will and other incriminating evidence, which “proved” that the hijackers were members of al-Qaeda. Contributions to this myth were also made by the photos of some of the alleged hijackers at airports and the “discoveries” of the amazingly durable passports of some of these men at the various crash sites. And there were still other elements of the official story that contributed to this myth.

But the contribution of the reported calls—from both cell phones and onboard phones—should not be underestimated. Besides providing the only evidence that the planes had been hijacked, some of the callers, as Kornkven recognizes, described the hijackers as “Middle Eastern-looking men.” Moreover, according to the husband of flight attendant Sandy Bradshaw, she, having gotten a close look at one of them, said: “He had an Islamic look.” Given those descriptions, the ground was laid for the authorities to identify these Islamic-looking, Middle Eastern-looking men as al-Qaeda operatives.

A central role in creating the twofold myth—that the planes had been hijacked and that the hijackers were al-Qaeda operatives—was played by some of the reported cell phone calls in particular. For example, the conversation in which Sandy Bradshaw reportedly told her husband that one of the hijackers had “an Islamic look” was described by the local paper as a “cellular phone conversation.” According to this story, which was surely based on her husband’s account, she had also told him that “many passengers were making cell phone calls.”

The most important reported cell phone call for creating this myth, however, was one that I did not discuss in 9/11 Contradictions (although it is discussed in The New Pearl Harbor Revisited). I refer to the reported call from American Flight 11 by flight attendant Amy Sweeney, in which she told Michael Woodward, the manager of the American Flight Services Office in Boston, that her flight had been hijacked. Besides telling him that hijackers were of “Middle Eastern descent,” she reportedly gave their seat numbers, from which Woodward was able to learn the identities of three of them: Mohamed Atta, Abdul al-Omari, and Satam al-Suqami. Amy Sweeney’s call was critical, ABC News explained, because without it, “the plane might have crashed with no one certain the man in charge was tied to al Qaeda.”

Kornkven was wrong, therefore, when he claimed that “none of the evidence reported in the calls implicates al-Qaeda”—although he cannot be blamed for not having learned about this call from 9/11 Contradictions.

Did Family Members Describe Some Calls as Cell Phone Calls? Kornkven seems to state his central claim when he says: “the idea that most of the calls were cell phone calls was disseminated solely by our controlled media, and by Hollywood films.” As we have already seen, his charge that I ever endorsed this idea—that most of the calls were cell phone calls—is groundless. As far as I know, moreover, no one else has advocated this idea.

However, if we remove the exaggeration from Kornkven’s claim by changing “most” to “several,” we would have a claim worthy of examination, namely, that the idea that several of the calls were cell phone calls was disseminated solely by the controlled media and Hollywood films. Put negatively, Kornkven claims that neither family members nor the authorities stated that some of the calls were made on cell phones. I will deal only with family members here, saving the authorities for the next section.

Arguing that the evidence I have given about family members is weak, Kornkven’s first illustration involves the story about the reported calls from Peter Hanson on United 175. Having quoted my statement that “an Associated Press story . . . said ‘a minister confirmed the cell phone call to [Peter Hanson’s father], Lee Hanson,'” Kornkven wrote: “Can we really conclude the minister is verifying that the call was made on a cell phone, and not on an airphone? Isn’t it more likely he is simply confirming that the call was made?”

For some reason, Kornkven eliminated from my statement the name of the minister—the Rev. Bonnie Bardot—an elimination that allowed him to refer to her as “he.”

In any case, the important problem is that Kornkven has again misconstrued the nature of my argument. He assumes that I was using the story to prove that the family members and the minister really described the call(s) as made from a cell phone. What I was illustrating, however, was simply that the press had thus portrayed the calls—in this case by saying that both Peter Hanson’s sister and a local minister referred to them as cell phone calls.

Nevertheless, the question pressed by Kornkven—whether the family members had themselves specifically said that they received calls from relatives using cell phones—is worth asking. And the answer, it would seem, is “Yes.”

Bradshaw, Wainio, Britton, and Hanson: With regard to the story about Sandy Bradshaw, are we to suppose that Kerry Hall, the reporter for the Greensboro News & Record, simply made up the claim that Sandy and several passengers were using cell phones, rather than having gotten this information from her husband, pilot Phil Bradshaw, even though Phil lived there in Greensboro?

A Newsweek story about United 93 said: “Elizabeth [Honor] Wainio, 27, was speaking to her stepmother in Maryland. Another passenger, she explains, had loaned her a cell phone and told her to call her family.” Can we believe that Newsweek, rather than getting this information from the stepmother, simply made it up?

A story about passenger Marion Britton began: “She called longtime friend Fred Fiumano, from whom she had borrowed a cell phone.” The story, which quoted Fiumano, was surely based on an interview with him. Does Kornkven believe that the reporter—Jim McKinnon of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette—simply added the part about the cell phone?

Moreover, besides the fact that it would be implausible to claim that the people who received these calls did not describe them as cell phone calls, we have evidence that I did not mention in 9/11 Contradictions: the FBI’s report about its interview with Lee Hanson, the father of Peter Hanson. This report says: “He [Lee Hanson] “believed his son was calling from his cellular telephone.”

Deena Burnett’s Testimony: Let us, however, focus primarily on the reported calls that Kornkven rightly described as the most important: those from Flight 93 by Tom Burnett to his wife, Deena Burnett. Kornkven began his argument by quoting this statement from me:

“Deena Burnett explicitly and repeatedly stated that these calls were made from Tom Burnett’s cell phone. She knew this, she said, because the caller ID identified his cell phone as the source.”

Kornkven then wrote:

“But did she? I have examined numerous media reports in the immediate years after the attacks, and have heard her state no such thing, explicitly or otherwise.”

As evidence that she did, I had cited an article entitled “Widow Tells of Poignant Last Calls,” published on the first anniversary of 9/11 by Greg Gordon of the McClatchy Newspapers. Gordon had written: “[A]nother call [came]. Deena’s ID told her it was Tom.” Kornkven wrote: “The article does mention Tom’s cell phone, but not that Deena said it was such. . . . Perhaps she saw the same information as from earlier calls on an airphone, and therefore knew it was Tom.” Is that plausible? Gordon’s article began: “Deena Burnett clutched the phone. . . . She was at once terrified, yet strangely calmed by her husband’s steady voice over his cell phone.” Would Kornkven have us believe that Gordon might have written that line even though Deena had not told him Tom was using a cell phone?

In any case, I had cited not only Gordon’s article but also Deena Burnett’s 2006 book, in which she explicitly said that her phone’s caller ID showed Tom’s cell phone number. Kornkven, trying to cast doubt on this, quoted one sentence from the page I had cited—“I didn’t understand how he could be calling me on his cell phone from the air” —and then said, dismissively:

“This is the only example I could find of her ‘repeatedly and explicitly’ claiming the call was [sic; Deena had reported several calls] from a cell phone. . . . Did she actually write it? . . . [T]his single statement, coming in a ghostwritten book [sic; the book is by “Deena L. Burnett (with Anthony F. Giombetti”)] published five years after the event, is meager evidence that the call was indeed from a cell phone.”

One problem here is that Kornkven, as the final sentence shows, again confused two distinct issues. The question he had been discussing was whether Deena explicitly described the calls as cell phone calls. But in the final sentence, he shifted to a different question: Were the calls received by her really cell phone calls?

That distinction is, of course, not trivial: My whole argument is based on it. I had earlier argued that, although Deena Burnett was convinced that the call had been made from Tom’s cell phone, it could not have been (because of the high-altitude problem). More recently (in the revised edition of Debunking 9/11 Debunking and then in 9/11 Contradictions), I have pointed out that, although Deena was convinced that the calls were from Tom’s cell phone, the FBI report said that he had used an onboard phone.

In any case, the most important problem in Kornkven’s argument here is that, in denying that Deena had explicitly described the calls as cell phone calls, he failed to quote the crucial sentence from the page I had cited. In the sentence I had in mind, Deena said: “I looked at the caller ID and indeed it was Tom’s cell phone number.”

So, unless the man who helped her write the book inserted this statement without her noticing it, then, yes, she did explicitly make it.

What about my statement that she said this repeatedly? Kornkven denied the appropriateness of this adverb on the basis of his (weak) argument that she perhaps did not really tell this to reporter Greg Gordon.

However, she also evidently said the same thing to the FBI. An FBI report of an interview with her on 9/11 itself, which began by stating that she “provided the following information,” included these statements:

“Burnett was able to determine that her husband was using his own cellular telephone because the caller identification showed his number, [XXXXXXXXXX]. Only one of the calls did not show on the caller identification as she was on the line with another call.”

Presumably, therefore, we can lay to rest the question of whether Deena Burnett reported that she saw her husband’s cell phone on her caller ID.

This fact is of great importance for the thesis that the cell phone calls were faked. Although several other relatives reported that their loved ones had used cell phones to call them, anyone determined to reject the truth of these reports could claim that they were all based on faulty memory (even though the claim that several people had the same false memory would be rather implausible). But given Deena’s explicit and repeated report—stated on 9/11 itself to the FBI, again (evidently) on the first anniversary of 9/11 to reporter Greg Gordon, and again five years later in her book—the only way to dismiss her claim would be to call her a liar.

Assuming that Kornkven would not resort to that tactic, and assuming that he accepts the 2006 FBI report, according to which the calls were not made from Tom’s cell phone, I cannot see what option he has but to accept the idea that someone faked the calls to Deena, using a system that would fake Tom’s cell phone number as well as his voice.

Moreover, if the call to Deena Burnett was faked, what should we assume about all the calls that were believed at the time to have been cell phone calls, because that is what the recipients of the calls were told, but are now said by the FBI to have been made from onboard phones? We should assume that these, too, were faked. If some of the calls had been genuine, reporting real hijackings, why would several people have been all set up with the equipment and information to fake some calls? This same reasoning applies to the reported calls from onboard phones, which were similar in nature. If some of the calls were faked, the presumption should be that they all were.

This is why Deena Burnett’s story is so important. Unless people are willing to call her a liar or to reject the FBI’s 2006 report, the calls she received cannot be explained except on the assumption that someone was prepared to fake several calls to her, pretending to be her husband calling on his cell phone. If even just one person was prepared to make such calls, this proves that the whole official story—that the airliners, to everyone’s surprise, were taken over by hijackers—is false. The faked calls to Deena Burnett have thus turned out to be the Achilles Heel of the whole idea that real hijackers were reported by real phone calls from the airliners.

Were Cell Phone Calls Originally Reported by the FBI? To recall where I am in the argument: I am examining a modified form of Kornkven’s claim about Hollywood and the controlled media, namely, that they invented the whole idea that some of the passengers and crew made cell phone calls (with the possible exception of the two calls from United 93 said by the FBI in 2006 to have occurred at 9:58). Having examined one implication of that claim—that no relatives of passengers or crew members ever claimed cell phone calls were made from any of the airliners—I now turn to the other implication: “The FBI,” Kornkven states, “never made such claims.”

In a longer statement, Kornkven wrote: “[N]o ‘authorities’ ever stated that airphone calls were made by cell phones. That was done strictly by our controlled media.” This formulation is problematic, because it reflects Kornkven’s presupposition that the calls really happened but that they were, as the FBI finally said in 2006, “airphone calls” (except for the 9:58 calls from Felt and Lyles). A more neutral formulation would be: No authorities (meaning FBI and other law enforcement officials) ever stated that any of the reported calls from the airliners were cell phone calls (except for the 9:58 calls from Felt and Lyles).

One problem with this claim is that, even if it were true, Kornkven would have no way of knowing this. It is simply a hypothesis on his part. But the more serious problem is that there are good reasons to consider it false, and to assume instead that the press, in reporting that several of the calls were made on cell phones, was in part reporting what it had been told by the FBI.

The FBI Reports on Hanson and Burnett: One reason to believe this is that, as we have seen, some of the FBI reports of its interviews with family members reported, without contradiction, their belief that they had been called on cell phones. The FBI report of its interview with Lee Hanson said: “He believed his son was calling form his cellular telephone.” The report of the FBI’s interview with Deena Burnett said, prior to the previously quoted statement:

“Starting at approximately 6:39 a.m. (PST), Burnett received a series of three to five cellular phone calls from her husband. . . . Approximately ten minutes later Deena Burnett received another call from her husband. . . . Approximately five minutes later she received another cell phone call from her husband.”

These FBI reports would have been accepted by reporters as statements of the truth. By virtue of writing these reports, therefore, the FBI’s behavior cannot be characterized as merely, in Kornkven’s words, “passive acquiescence” in the idea that cell phones were used.

The Reported Call from Amy Sweeney: The strongest evidence that the FBI originally endorsed the occurrence of high-altitude cell phone calls involves the reported call of flight attendant Amy Sweeney from American Flight 11. Although no phone calls from passengers were reported from this flight, two flight attendants, Sweeney and Betty Ong, were said to have made calls. The importance of these calls for the official story is shown by the 9/11 Commission’s comment that they “tell us most of what we know about how the hijacking happened.” The importance of Sweeney’s call in particular for our present topic is that it was originally said to have been a cell phone call.

According to the official account, Sweeney called Michael Woodward, the manager of the American Flight Services Office in Boston and talked to him for twelve minutes (8:32 to 8:44 AM). Stating that her plane had been hijacked, she also reportedly said, as mentioned earlier, that the hijackers were of “Middle Eastern descent” and gave their seat numbers, from which the identities of three of them were discovered.

The public information about this reported call—its content along with its very occurrence—was based entirely on FBI documents. For example, Eric Lichtblau, in recounting this story in a Los Angeles Times article a week after 9/11, cited “an investigative document compiled by the FBI.” Since no one other than Woodward talked with Sweeney, this FBI document had to be drawn entirely from his statements. In 2002, for example, American Airlines spokesman John Hotard, referring to “Woodward’s original notes of his conversation with Sweeney,” said, “the FBI got a hold of them very quickly, and wrote a summary.”

Lichtblau had to rely entirely on this FBI summary because, he learned from an American Airlines spokesperson, their employees were under orders from the FBI not to discuss Sweeney’s call with the press.

The only other publicly available document testifying to the occurrence of the call was an affidavit by FBI agent James Lechner, dated September 12, 2001, which was also based on an interview with Michael Woodward.

It is this affidavit that shows that the FBI first described the call as a cell phone call. According to this affidavit, Woodward said that Sweeney had been “using a cellular telephone.”

However, when The 9/11 Commission Report appeared in 2004, it said that Sweeney had used an onboard phone (which the Commission called an “airphone”). On what basis was this claim justified?

In June 2004, Amy Sweeney’s husband was told that a previously unreported tape recording had been discovered. How had it been made? This is the story: Michael Woodward did not record Sweeney’s call, because his office had no tape recorder. But he repeated what he was hearing from Sweeney to Nancy Wyatt, an American Airlines colleague who was in his office at the time, and she then repeated the account by telephone to Ray Howland at American headquarters in Fort Worth, who recorded Wyatt’s third-hand account.

Amy Sweeney’s husband, expressing some scepticism, asked: “Suddenly it miraculously appears and falls into the hands of FBI? . . . Why did it surface now?”

The answer to this question can be reasonably inferred from the fact that the original story, according to which Sweeney had called from a cell phone, was doubly problematic: Besides being made from too far up to be believable, the call also allegedly stayed connected for twelve minutes, which would be impossible in a plane traveling several hundred miles per hour. This twofold problem was solved by a piece of information on the newly discovered recording: that Sweeney, thanks to “an AirFone card, given to her by another flight attendant,” had used a passenger-seat phone.

This new account, however, raised the question of why Lechner’s FBI affidavit had stated that, according to Woodward, Sweeney had used a cell phone. Although people sometimes misremember events after a passage of time, it would be difficult to explain this particular change in these terms. According to the new story, Woodward must have told Nancy Wyatt that Sweeney had borrowed a calling card in order to use an onboard phone. But if so, how could Woodward a few hours later have told Lechner that Sweeney had been using a cell phone?

That being completely implausible, it seems likely that the Wyatt recording was created, rather than discovered, in 2004.

The supposition that there was no recording made on 9/11 of a call from Nancy Wyatt to Dallas would be in line with Eric Lichtblau’s account on September 20, 2001, which said:

“FBI officials in Dallas, where American Airlines is based, were able, on the day of the terrorist attacks, to piece together a partial transcript and an account of the phone call. American Airlines officials said such calls are not typically recorded, suggesting that the FBI may have reconstructed the conversation from interviews.”

Why would FBI officials have need to “piece together a partial transcript” if they had received a recording of Wyatt’s verbatim account of Woodward’s word-for-word account of what he was told by Sweeney?

Is it conceivable that American Airlines would have withheld the recording from the FBI? Hardly. Nor is it conceivable that American Airline officials could have quickly forgotten such a dramatic event.

Likewise, the dramatic scenario, in which Woodward relayed Sweeney’s words to Wyatt, who in turn relayed them to Dallas, where they were recorded, would have been fresh in Woodward’s mind when he talked with Lechner. He would surely have mentioned this recording to Lechner, who surely would have mentioned it in his affidavit.

For many reasons, therefore, we can safely conclude that the recording was not made on 9/11. It was most likely created just shortly before its “discovery,” which was evidently first announced in June 2004.

My hypothesis is that it was created as part of a more general transformation of most of the reported cell phone calls—all except the reported 9:58 calls from Felt and Lyles—into calls from onboard phones, a transformation that was completed in time to prevent the 9/11 Commission from endorsing the occurrence of any high-altitude cell phone calls. As I pointed out in 9/11 Contradictions, the Commission, while not taking issue with the press’s portrayal of certain calls from Flights 77 and 175 as cell phone calls, also did not positively endorse this portrayal. Likewise, the Commission did not endorse the view that any of the high-altitude calls from United Flight 93 were cell phone calls.

On this point, I had previously been in error. In 9/11 Contradictions, I wrote:

“It was passengers on United Flight 93 who were most explicitly said to have made cell phone calls. Even the 9/11 Commission, which had not specifically referred to any of the calls from other flights as cell phone calls, said, in discussing United 93: ‘Shortly [after 9:32], the passengers and flight crew began a series of calls from GTE airphones and cellular phones.'”

At 9:32, the plane would have been at a very high altitude, and I took that statement to mean that some of the calls that began shortly after 9:32 were cell phone calls, even though the statement did not explicitly say this. It appears, however, that this ambiguous—even misleading—statement allowed the Commission to avoid either challenging or endorsing the idea that many of the passengers, such as Tom Burnett, had used cell phones to call their relatives. The evidence that the Commission was not endorsing high-altitude cell phone calls from Flight 93 is contained in a document entitled “Staff Report, August 26, 2004,” which I learned about only after the publication of 9/11 Contradictions. This document refers solely to the 9:58 AM calls by Lyles and Felt as cell phone calls. It agrees, therefore, with the report the FBI would submit to the Moussaoui trial in 2006. It would appear, accordingly, that although the 9/11 Commission did not inform the public of this fact, it knew in 2004 that the FBI had withdrawn support for the idea of high-altitude cell phone calls.

In any case, the FBI clearly changed its stance on the reported call from Amy Sweeney. Whereas the FBI affidavit in 2001 had said, on the basis of a reported interview with Michael Woodward, that Sweeney had used a cell phone, the FBI in 2004, on the basis of a “discovered” recording of Nancy Wyatt’s verbatim report of Woodward’s repetition of Sweeney’s statements, said that Sweeney had used an “airphone.”

Summary Kornkven’s charges—that my discussion of reported cell phone calls has been misleading and characterized by logical errors—cannot withstand an examination of the evidence. The “Cell Phone Myth” of which he spoke is itself a myth. His critique proved useful, nevertheless, in providing the occasion for me to bring out several points:

(1) Reported cell phone calls were central to the creation of the claim that the airliners had been hijacked.

(2) The FBI had actively participated in the creation of this claim.

(3) The FBI, a few years later, renounced its endorsement of high-altitude cell phone calls and thereby had to make changes in its reports about several of the alleged calls—changes that are most obvious with respect to the alleged calls from Tom Burnett and Amy Sweeney.

(4) These changes constitute an implicit admission by the FBI that its original claims about cell phone calls from the planes were false.

(5) This admission should lead us to conclude that the whole story about phone calls was an elaborate fabrication.

© Copyright David Ray Griffin, Global Research, 2008

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Ted Olson’s Report of Phone Calls from Barbara Olson on 9/11: Three Official Denials by David Ray Griffin

Freefall Acceleration of WTC7 (Revised)

The Elephant In The Room: Full Movie

Fabled Enemies

The Truth & Lies of 9/11


Detainee alleges torture in Ramsey County jail + Protester arrested for “falling” off his bike

Dandelion Salad

The Uptake

Elliot Hughes recounts allegations of torture while being detained in Ramsey County Jail. Hughes was detained during an RNC08 protest after reportedly colliding with a police bicycle on accident. He was sent to Regions Hospital for treatment and later released without charges. We are actively investigating these claims. Stay tuned for more.

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The Implanted Radio-Frequency Identification Chip: “Smart Cards” in a Surveillance Society

Dandelion Salad

by Tom Burghardt
Global Research, September 6, 2008
Antifascist Calling…

RFID tags implanted in physical objects or human beings

If incorporating personal details into an RFID (radio-frequency identification) chip implanted into a passport or driver’s license may sound like a “smart” alternative to endless lines at the airport and intrusive questioning by securocrats, think again.

Since the late 1990s, corporate grifters have touted the “benefits” of the devilish transmitters as a “convenient” and “cheap” way to tag individual commodities, one that would “revolutionize” inventory management and theft prevention. Indeed, everything from paper towels to shoes, pets to underwear have been “tagged” with the chips. “Savings” would be “passed on” to the consumer. Call it the Wal-Martization of everyday life.

RFID tags are small computer chips connected to miniature antennae that can be fixed to or implanted within physical objects, including human beings. The RFID chip itself contains an Electronic Product Code that can be “read” when a RFID reader emits a radio signal. The chips are divided into two categories, passive or active. A “passive” tag doesn’t contain a battery and its “read” range is variable, from less than an inch to twenty or thirty feet. An “active” tag on the other hand, is self-powered and has a much longer range. The data from an “active” tag can be sent directly to a computer system involved in inventory control–or surveillance.

But as Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering (CASPIAN), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) state in a joint position paper, “RFID has the potential to jeopardize consumer privacy, reduce or eliminate purchasing anonymity, and threaten civil liberties.” As these organizations noted:

While there are beneficial uses of RFID, some attributes of the technology could be deployed in ways that threaten privacy and civil liberties:

* Hidden placement of tags. RFID tags can be embedded into/onto objects and documents without the knowledge of the individual who obtains those items. As radio waves travel easily and silently through fabric, plastic, and other materials, it is possible to read RFID tags sewn into clothing or affixed to objects contained in purses, shopping bags, suitcases, and more.

* Unique identifiers for all objects worldwide. The Electronic Product Code potentially enables every object on earth to have its own unique ID. The use of unique ID numbers could lead to the creation of a global item registration system in which every physical object is identified and linked to its purchaser or owner at the point of sale or transfer.

* Massive data aggregation. RFID deployment requires the creation of massive databases containing unique tag data. These records could be linked with personal identifying data, especially as computer memory and processing capacities expand.

* Hidden readers. Tags can be read from a distance, not restricted to line of sight, by readers that can be incorporated invisibly into nearly any environment where human beings or items congregate. RFID readers have already been experimentally embedded into floor tiles, woven into carpeting and floor mats, hidden in doorways, and seamlessly incorporated into retail shelving and counters, making it virtually impossible for a consumer to know when or if he or she was being “scanned.”

* Individual tracking and profiling. If personal identity were linked with unique RFID tag numbers, individuals could be profiled and tracked without their knowledge or consent. For example, a tag embedded in a shoe could serve as a de facto identifier for the person wearing it. Even if item-level information remains generic, identifying items people wear or carry could associate them with, for example, particular events like political rallies. (“Position Statement on the Use of RFID on Consumer Products,” Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, November 14, 2003)

As the corporatist police state unfurls its murderous tentacles here in the United States, it should come as no surprise that securocrats breathlessly tout the “benefits” of RFID in the area of “homeland security.” When linked to massive commercial databases as well as those compiled by the 16 separate agencies of the “intelligence community,” such as the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE) that feeds the federal government’s surveillance Leviathan with the names of suspected “terrorists,” it doesn’t take a genius to conclude that the architecture for a vast totalitarian enterprise is off the drawing board and onto the streets.

As last week’s mass repression of peaceful protest at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul amply demonstrated, the Bush regime’s “preemptive war” strategy has been rolled out in the heimat. As the World Socialist Web Site reports,

On Wednesday eight members of the anarchist protest group the Republican National Convention Welcoming Committee (RNCWC) were charged under provisions of the Minnesota state version of the Patriot Act with “Conspiracy to Riot in Furtherance of Terrorism.”

The eight charged are all young, and could face up to seven-and-a-half years in prison under a provision that allows the enhancement of charges related to terrorism by 50 percent. …

Among other things, the youth, who were arrested last weekend even prior to the start of the convention, are charged with plotting to kidnap delegates to the RNC, assault police officers and attack airports. Almost all of the charges listed are based upon the testimony of police infiltrators, one an officer, the other a paid informant. (Tom Eley, “RNC in Twin Cities: Eight protesters charged with terrorism under Patriot Act,” World Socialist Web Site, 6 September 2008)

As the ACLU pointed out, “These charges are an effort to equate publicly stated plans to blockade traffic and disrupt the RNC as being the same as acts of terrorism. This both trivializes real violence and attempts to place the stated political views of the defendants on trial,” said Bruce Nestor, president of the Minnesota Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild. “The charges represent an abuse of the criminal justice system and seek to intimidate any person organizing large scale public demonstrations potentially involving civil disobedience,” he said.

An affidavit filed by the cops in order to allow the preemptive police raid and subsequent arrests declared that the RNCWC is a “criminal enterprise” strongly implying that the group of anarchist youth were members of a “terrorist organization.”

Which, as we have learned over these last seven and a half years of darkness, is precisely the point: keep ’em scared and passive. And when they’re neither scared nor passive, resort to police state tactics of mass repression. While the cops beat and arrested demonstrators and journalists outside the Xcel Energy Center, neanderthal-like Republican mobs chanted “USA! USA!” while the execrable theocratic fascist, Sarah Palin, basked in the limelight. But I digress…

Likened to barcodes that scan items at the grocery store check-out line, what industry flacks such as the Association for Automatic Identification and Mobility (AIM) fail to mention in their propaganda about RFID is that the information stored on a passport or driver’s license is readily stolen by anyone with a reader device–marketers, security agents, criminals or stalkers–without the card holder even being remotely aware that they are being tracked and their allegedly “secure” information plundered. According to a blurb on the AIM website,

Automatic Identification and Mobility (AIM) technologies are a diverse family of technologies that share the common purpose of identifying, tracking, recording, storing and communicating essential business, personal, or product data. In most cases, AIM technologies serve as the front end of enterprise software systems, providing fast and accurate collection and entry of data. (“Technologies,” Association for Automatic Identification and Mobility, no date)

Among the “diverse family of technologies” touted by AIM, many are rife with “dual-use” potential, that is, the same technology that can keep track of a pallet of soft drinks can also keep track of human beings.

Indeed, the Association touts biometric identification as “an automated method of recognizing a person based on a physiological or behavioral characteristic.” This is especially important since “the need” for biometrics “can be found in federal, state and local governments, in the military, and in commercial applications.” When used as a stand-alone or in conjunction with RFID-chipped “smart cards” biometrics, according to the industry “are set to pervade nearly all aspects of the economy and our daily lives.”

Some “revolution.”

The industry received a powerful incentive from the state when the Government Services Administration (GSA), a Bushist satrapy, issued a 2004 memo that urged the heads of all federal agencies “to consider action that can be taken to advance the [RFID] industry.”

An example of capitalist “ingenuity” or another insidious invasion of our right to privacy? In 2006, IBM obtained a patent that will be used for tracking and profiling consumers as they move around a store, even if access to commercial databases are strictly limited.

And when it comes tracking and profiling human beings, say for mass extermination at the behest of crazed Nazi ideologues, IBM stands alone. In his groundbreaking 2001 exploration of the enabling technologies for the mass murder of Jews, communists, Roma and gays and lesbians, investigative journalist Edwin Black described in IBM and the Holocaust how, beginning in 1933, IBM and their subsidiaries created technological “solutions” that streamlined the identification of “undesirables” for quick and efficient asset confiscation, deportation, slave labor and eventual annihilation.

In an eerie echo of polices being enacted today against Muslims and left-wing “extremists” by the corrupt Bush regime in their quixotic quest to “keep America safe” in furtherance of capitalist and imperialist goals of global domination, Black writes:

In the upside-down world of the Holocaust, dignified professionals were Hitler’s advance troops. Police officials disregarded their duty in favor of protecting villains and persecuting victims. Lawyers perverted concepts of justice to create anti-Jewish laws. Doctors defiled the art of medicine to perpetrate ghastly experiments and even choose who was healthy enough to be worked to death–and who could be cost-effectively sent to the gas chamber. Scientists and engineers debased their higher calling to devise the instruments and rationales of destruction. And statisticians used their little known but powerful discipline to identify the victims, project and rationalize the benefits of their destruction, organize their persecution, and even audit the efficiency of genocide. Enter IBM and its overseas subsidiaries. (IBM and the Holocaust: The Strategic Alliance Between Nazi Germany and America’s Most Powerful Corporation, New York: Crown Publishers, 2001, pp. 7-8)

As security and privacy analyst Katherine Albrecht writes describing IBM’s patented “Identification and Tracking of Persons Using RFID-Tagged Items in Store Environments,”

…chillingly details RFID’s potential for surveillance in a world where networked RFID readers called “person tracking units” would be incorporated virtually everywhere people go–in “shopping malls, airports, train stations, bus stations, elevators, trains, airplanes, restrooms, sports arenas, libraries, theaters, [and] museums”–to closely monitor people’s movements. (“How RFID Tags Could Be Used to Track Unsuspecting People,” Scientific American, August 21, 2008)

According to the patent cited by Albrecht, as an individual moves around a store, or a city center, an “RFID tag scanner located [in the desired tracking location]… scans the RFID tags on [a] person…. As that person moves around the store, different RFID tag scanners located throughout the store can pick up radio signals from the RFID tags carried on that person and the movement of that person is tracked based on these detections…. The person tracking unit may keep records of different locations where the person has visited, as well as the visitation times.”

Even if no personal data are stored in the RFID tag, this doesn’t present a problem IBM explains, because “the personal information will be obtained when the person uses his or her credit card, bank card, shopper card or the like.” As Albrecht avers, the link between the unique RFID number and a person’s identity “needs to be made only once for the card to serve as a proxy for the person thereafter.” With the wholesale introduction of RFID chipped passports and driver’s licenses, the capitalist panoptic state is quickly–and quietly–falling into place.

If America’s main trading partner and sometime geopolitical rival in the looting of world resources, China, is any indication of the direction near future surveillance technologies are being driven by the “miracle of the market,” the curtain on privacy and individual rights is rapidly drawing to a close. Albrecht writes,

China’s national ID cards, for instance, are encoded with what most people would consider a shocking amount of personal information, including health and reproductive history, employment status, religion, ethnicity and even the name and phone number of each cardholder’s landlord. More ominous still, the cards are part of a larger project to blanket Chinese cities with state-of-the-art surveillance technologies. Michael Lin, a vice president for China Public Security Technology, a private company providing the RFID cards for the program, unflinchingly described them to the New York Times as “a way for the government to control the population in the future.” And even if other governments do not take advantage of the surveillance potential inherent in the new ID cards, ample evidence suggests that data-hungry corporations will.

I would disagree with Albrecht on one salient point: governments, particularly the crazed, corporate-controlled grifters holding down the fort in Washington, most certainly will take advantage of RFID’s surveillance potential.

In 2005 for example, the Senate Republican High Tech Task force praised RFID applications as “exciting new technologies” with “tremendous promise for our economy.” In this spirit, they vowed to “protect” RFID from regulation and legislation. Needless to say, the track record of timid Democrats is hardly any better when it comes to defending privacy rights or something as “quaint” as the Constitution.

Under conditions of a looming economic meltdown, rising unemployment, staggering debt, the collapse of financial markets and continuing wars and occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. imperialism, in order to shore up its crumbling empire, will continue to import totalitarian methods of rule employed in its “global war on terror” onto the home front.

The introduction of RFID-chipped passports and driver’s licenses for the mass surveillance and political repression of the American people arises within this context.

© Copyright Tom Burghardt, Antifascist Calling…, 2008

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RNC in Twin Cities: Eight protesters charged with terrorism under Patriot Act

RNC 8 Charged with “Conspiracy to Riot in Furtherance of Terrorism”

8 Members of RNC Activist Group Lodged with Terrorism Charges


No Wolf Whistles for Sarah Palin’s Compassion by Walter Brasch

Excerpt posted on Current

by Walter Brasch
featured writer
Dandelion Salad
Sept 7, 2008

Defibrillator usage increased last week after John McCain announced Sarah Palin as his vice-presidential running mate and only a heartbeat from the presidency. But, shortly after most Republicans were shocked back to life they circled the wagons to declare she was the perfect choice. Apparently, the cure also included a dose of psychotropic drugs as well.

The pundits and commentators rallied beside Palin, even lying about how great her ghost-written acceptance speech was, apparently in the mistaken belief that they are being fair and balanced. Since Palin is the topic of everyone’s greatest love or deepest enmity, I won’t be writing about her life and most of her positions.

I won’t write about her lack of experience–or her outrageous statements that she has more experience than Barack Obama, and her delusion that she deserves any of Hillary Clinton’s 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling.

Although I would like to say something about her vicious attacks on community organizers, persons who sacrifice so much to help those with so little, I won’t. That’s for others to talk about.

The fact she’s running on a ticket headed by a man who opposes lobbyist influence, yet had her inauguration as governor sponsored by an oil company–well, I won’t even bring that up. And, of course, I won’t say anything about her excessive use of pork barrel funds that McCain also opposes. And, I see no reason to point out that McCain’s first two choices of Joe Lieberman and Tom Ridge were somehow vetoed by the Republican leadership.

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From “Dominion” to Domination: The Duplicity and Complicity of Matthew Scully

Dandelion Salad

Sent to me by Jason Miller from Thomas Paine’s Corner. Thanks, Jason.

By Dr. Steve Best, Ph.D.
(lots of photos at original source)

In 2002, arch-conservative Matthew Scully wrote a book called, Dominion: The Power of Man, The Suffering of Animals, and The Call to Mercy, that was universally and uncritically acclaimed by the animal advocacy movement. Because this movement is overwhelmingly single-issue in its focus, and in most cases doesn’t care about a person’s views or politics except how they relate to animals, no one had a problem with the fact that Scully was a senior speechwriter for President George W. Bush. He wrote some of the key fear-peddling diatribes that got Bush elected and he was recently re-enlisted to help Bush sell the Iraq war “surge” to the American people.

As someone who is concerned about a person’s overall political standpoint, and who would not embrace a Leftist who is a speciesist anymore than an animal rights person or vegan who is a racist, I had some serious problems with Scully and the fawning adulation of his book by virtually the entire animal advocacy movement. Many people, such as Karen Dawn (the founder of, saw it as a key sign of progress that the conservatives were embracing the animal cause (in welfarist form), and thus concluded that animal advocacy could be introduced to an entire new audience of people–some very rich, powerful, and influential ones at that.

No one mentioned that Scully had blood all over his hands by sycophantically serving Bush-Cheney (providing the “eloquence” they lacked) and the neo-con invasion and occupation of Iraq – all at the cost of more than 100,000 innocent Iraqi lives, over 4,000 US troop deaths, countless US troop casualties and destroyed lives, and over three trillion dollars.[i] And all based on lies and blatant deceit by Bush and his henchmen, all of whom – were there any justice in this country or backbone in the Democrats – would have been impeached and jailed for crimes of the highest order.

Nor could I understand the praise over Scully’s book. Really, Dominion is two books: the first sections are indeed well-crafted and hard-hitting critiques of factory farming and hunting. But the bulk of the book was just nauseating, amateurish, antiquated medieval/early modern natural law theory which tried to justify the critique of animal cruelty in cosmic laws, rational imperatives–as if the issue of animal welfare or rights were not controversial and could not be seen in endless ways by diverse groups of people. It had a very uncomfortable authoritarian tone to it: here are the moral laws of the universe; here is moral truth. And he urged the same naïve Socratic belief that contaminates the thinking of the pacifists who dominate the animal advocacy movement – the idea that if we can only reason with people, show them this “Truth,” they will no longer abuse animals. As if there were no violence and cruelty in the human heart, no desire to dominate the weak, no lust for profit off slavery of any group.

And consider the subtitle: notice that he is calling for MERCY (to the slaves) not LIBERATION (of the slaves). And we needed a burdensome arsenal of arcane metaphysics, philosophical, and legal theory to reach this conclusion? A few rights/abolitionist voices tried to expose the severe limitations of this overwrought speciesist and welfarist tome, but they were drowned out by the roar of the multitudes celebrating the movement’s “revolutionary” breakthrough into new social sectors — so “new,” in fact, that there were now more white, elite, and “privileged” people in the animal advocacy/vegan movements than before.

To whatever degree he cares about animals, Scully’s real constituency are rich, white, Republicans and — having written speeches for Bush in the aftermath of 9/11 — he had already become a shining star in the firmament of right-wing ideologues and corporate fat cats, each of whom need the best PR and BS teams they could assemble. And thanks to the fawning adulation of the likes of Karen Dawn, Scully overnight became the new darling of the animal movement. When not making the rounds of Congress or aerial warfare conventions, Scully continued to write speeches for Bush and anyone on the Right with the right fee. And, as it turned out, as so many of us were bracing ourselves for the nauseating Republican National Convention in early September 08, not wanting to hear another disingenuous word from “straight-talking” McCain but curious to hear about unknown Alaskan female governor whom he shrewdly chose to win Hillary’s armies of disaffected, we learned — at this crisis moment and critical juncture for the Far Right — that Matthew Scully stepped in to write the kind of speech the McCain team thought necessary to disguise their malignant and predatory policies in terms of populism and family values. Right-wing soldier that he is, Scully stayed up the entire night before the speech and gave the magic words to which Sara Palin only had to give life in order to sell this sordid spectacle and sham to the US public and bring us another 4 more years of Bush—or probably much, much worse.

The moment was tense. The stakes were high. An unknown — a woman! — was walking onto the stage to accept her party’s nomination for Vice President. But could she prove herself at the podium? Thanks to Scully’s adroit words and Palin’s androgynous mix of feminine soft talk and macho militarism, the chronically anxious Right erupted into a roar of elation as they felt they had, with the addition of Palin, finally found the ticket they wanted — one entirely devoted to militarism and privatization, increasing their already obscene levels of wealth and waging a full-blown culture war against abortion, sex education in the schools, the ban on prayers in pubic places, and so on.

Well, as the right-wing pundits droned on all next day, Palin/Scully “blew it out of the water.” Even Democratic Vice Presidential candidate Joseph Biden said she was going to be “a tough debater” and had “a very skillfully written …speech.” And one awestruck fan gushed, “Palin sounded at times like she was speaking a foreign language as she gave voice to the beautifully crafted words that had been prepared for her on Wednesday night.”

Congratulations, Scully, you did it! You galvanized and unified the most reactionary forces of the country that want to finish the job — on the Constitution, liberties, privacy, human rights at home and abroad, the United Nations, international justice, restrictions on trade, unions, animal protections and the environment — that Bush brought to such a high level in eight years. There is nothing innocent about what Scully does: he is a hack, a propagandist, a demagogue, a mouthpiece for nihilistic ideologies that are anything but “pro-life.” To the degree that Bush, Cheney, McCain, and Palin are truly menacing forces — who threaten not only neighboring nation states but the entire planet itself, Scully is their Paul Joseph Goebbels: a total ideologue, a skilled orator (on paper), and a devotee to the party line.

Whereas Obama is known to have fairly progressive views on animals, Palin is an aggressive supporter of hunting and herself an avid hunter. She goes so far as to champion aerial hunting of wolves and threatened to sue the EPA if they listed the polar bear as an endangered species.[ii] Beyond her regressive views on animals, she has helped mobilize the base of the far Right in a way McCain could not do himself because she is such an extreme conservative.  According to MoveOn.Org:

**Palin recently said that the war in Iraq is “God’s task.” She’s even admitted she hasn’t thought about the war much—just last year she was quoted saying, “I’ve been so focused on state government, I haven’t really focused much on the war in Iraq.”

**Palin has actively sought the support of the fringe Alaska Independence Party. Six months ago, Palin told members of the group—who advocate for a vote on secession from the union—to “keep up the good work” and “wished the party luck on what she called its ‘inspiring convention.’”

**Palin wants to teach creationism in public schools. She hasn’t made clear whether she thinks evolution is a fact.

**Palin doesn’t believe that humans contribute to global warming. Speaking about climate change, she said, “I’m not one though who would attribute it to being manmade.”

**Palin has close ties to Big Oil. Her inauguration was even sponsored by BP.

**Palin is extremely anti-choice. She doesn’t even support abortion in the case of rape or incest.

**Palin opposes comprehensive sex-ed in public schools. She’s said she will only support abstinence-only approaches.

**As mayor, Palin tried to ban books from the library. Palin asked the library how she might go about banning books because some had inappropriate language in them—shocking the librarian, Mary Ellen Baker. According to Time, “news reports from the time show that Palin had threatened to fire Baker for not giving “full support” to the mayor.” [iii]

Unfortunately, thanks to Scully, Palin’s “homespun” speech (professionally crafted by a DC-insider), was a smash at the RNC, and she “hit it out of the ballpark” as nearly every conservative pundit said the following day. And so we have Scully — who wrote a book critical of hunting – to thank not only for supporting a psychopath whose lust for killing animals perhaps rivals that of Ted Nugent, but for reinvigorating a fascist movement that has excellent chances at winning the next election, and taking the US even deeper into the innermost circles of hell, as somehow I suspect that McCain-Palin will be even worse for the US, the world, animals, and the planet than Bush-Cheney.

And yet, still we hear hardly a word from the animal community about what a thug and criminal Scully is and what a traitor he is to the animals, to fellow humans, and to the entire planet. The most pathetic comment I have heard so far is from Karen Dawn, a well-known animal activist and social butterfly who runs the newsletter, Dawnwatch, which comments on media representations of animal issues. Given her social and economic status – the fact that she lives in the affluent area along the California coastline, that she is a regular in the LA party and cocktail scene, that she loves to see and be seen with celebrities – it is not surprising she takes an apolitical view of animal issues, and in fact believes that this movement ought to strive to be a powerful single-issue, DC-based powerhouse like the NRA.

Here is Dawn’s self-serving, cowardly, and deplorable commentary the day after Palin’s speech:

“The news this week is the Republican Convention, and the animal news is the choice of Sarah Palin as McCain’s running mate. Before I write any further on that issue, I need to stress that DawnWatch is entirely non partisan. If you’ve read [her new MTV-style book] Thanking the Monkey you know of my commitment to non-partisan animal activism. It would be unfair to the animals for their advocates to alienate half of the human population. And in Thanking the Monkey, I explain that the somewhat common assumption [which I personally have argued for in detail] that animal advocacy is a left wing issue is false. Democrat voting records are better on animal issues overall, but the exceptions are shining. Republicans John Ensign of Nevada, and Christopher Shays of Connecticut are just two of those current outstanding exceptions. And former Senator Robert Smith of New Hampshire, an ultra right wing conservative, is the only person to date to speak passionately against vivisection on the Senate Floor.

Perhaps most notably, one of the finest books ever written [!] on animal protection is “Dominion: The Power of Man, The Suffering of Animals, and The Call to Mercy.” It is by Matthew Scully, who worked as a senior speechwriter for George W Bush, penning the book on his off hours. Scully sees his compassion, or mercy, for animals, and his vegan lifestyle, as perfectly in line with his Catholic conservative values …

In an extraordinary twist of fate, Scully was selected to write Sarah Palin’s speech, which aired last night. Let us hope that in the time Scully and Palin spent together working on the speech, he began to influence her thinking. I hope every Republican on this list will urge her to read his book!”[iv]

“Let us hope that in the time Scully and Palin spent together working on the speech, he began to influence her thinking.” How naïve and deep in denial can this woman be?! Does Dawn think that Scully and Sarah had a reasonable and open chat about the evils of hunting?! That he gently reminded her that animals are not meat machines to shoot down in cold blood, just as he appreciatively received his lucrative paycheck for selling out the planet by helping some of the most dangerous forces in our history in their bid to win an election? I suspect Scully talked far more with Palin about his fee than her bloody proclivities to kill animals.

Dawn is indeed critical of Palin’s zeal for hunting and her abysmal environmental record, but she would rather be an enabler to this carnage than offend her powerful, rich, and influential friends. I do not exaggerate when I draw a line connecting McCain/Palin to Scully and to opportunists like Dawn.

In contrast to Dawn’s vapid view that we can bring all people and parties into the animal cause, another animal advocate (infinitely more authentic and profound than Dawn), Norm Phelps, penned (in a personal email to me) some extremely critical remarks on Scully and the far Right:

“I think the fact that Matthew Scully wrote her convention speech (which was a masterpiece of viciousness) should give us all pause about the notion that conservatives will ever be serious animal advocates. I used to think that AR [animal rights] was a non-political issue and that we should keep it that way in the interests of converting as many people as possible and having the greatest impact on society. I no longer think that. I now believe that the mindset that leads conservatives to pursue policies that are hostile to the well-being of most of humanity (everyone except themselves and those to whom they are close) almost invariably leads them to policies that are hostile to the well-being of most animals (everyone except those to whom they are personally close, such as their companion animals).

“There is nothing that I find more perplexing and discouraging than the blatant speciesism that is rampant in most progressive circles. But in spite of this, I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that the liberal to progressive end of the political spectrum is where we have to concentrate our efforts and where we will ultimately find our victory. Conservatives can, in many cases, be persuaded to welfarism (properly so called, not as redefined by the so-called “abolitionists”), but not to AR. Scully’s vehement denunciations of AR in Dominion are, I think, an important indicator of this, as is the fact that this man who wrote so eloquently of the suffering of animals could put his gifts in the service of a woman who practices and celebrates all manner of barbaric cruelty to animals. Scully obviously considers the lives and suffering of animals less important than politics as usual.”

Phelps is right to argue that the Left is just as abysmal in its views on animals, and yet draws this distinction:

The speciesism of liberals/progressives contradicts their fundamental values, which creates an opportunity for animal advocates. The speciesism of conservatives reinforces their fundamental values, which creates a solid wall. But I still think it is dangerous for the AR movement, as a movement, to align with other social justice movements until we have succeeded in raising their consciousness about animals to the point that the alliance can be formed on a basis of at least approximate equality. And I think a lot of groundwork needs to be done before we reach that point. I guess where I’m headed is that we need to be taking that groundwork seriously and getting busy at it—which, of course, is what you’ve been doing for some time now.”[v]

While I agree with Phelps that Leftists are Paleolithic in their views on animals and we should not be too ready to tie ourselves to a human rights/social justice platform as it is, and that we do need indeed to educate the Left, I have also disagreed with him (in quite friendly terms) that animal liberation is winnable without human and Earth liberation and a progressive alliance politics that fights against the main threat to the planet today, which is the capitalist grow-or-die economy.[vi]

But while we examine the problems with both the Right and the Left, let us not lose focus on the idiocy, cowardice, and opportunism in our own movement, for there are far too many “animal advocates” who are in fact advocates for something far less noble: money, power, glory, fame, and self—advancement. If it was not obvious with the writing of Dominion six years ago, Scully in particular has since revealed himself to be a sham, fraud, charlatan, prevaricator, hypocrite, and (neo-)con man, an enemy not only to animals, but also a de facto opponent of women, science, secularism, freedom of speech, and the environment.

Like the politicians he serves, Scully talks out of both sides of his mouth at once and serves each and every contradictory cause that advances his own good. No principled or consistent person writes a book against hunting, and then writes a speech for a vicious defender of hunting and avid killer herself. Can any animal advocate among us ever imagine doing this?! This is the moral and logical contradiction that would haunt a Kantian, someone with a conscience, anyone with principles or moral consistency. But it never troubles a utilitarian-opportunist.

In a nation rife with political and historical idiocy, layer upon layer of confusion, and pernicious myths linking capitalism with democracy and justice, the masses are so easily manipulated by the power elite that they can be convinced that the Clintons (who are at best center left on the political spectrum) are communists!

And nor is his work done. The Far Right loved his Palin speech so much that they will surely contract him again. Without hyperbole, I say that Scully is less a “progressive vegan and animal welfarist” than he is a reactionary and a dangerous man. He has been the words, phrases, metaphors, rhetoric, narratives, jokes, and overall a key voice and mouthpiece of the Extreme Right who want to take this country back to pre-Enlightenment, pre-secular medieval serfdom where rights mean only property rights, liberty falls to security and hierarchy, and democracy is a forgotten dream.

To end by reiterating a crucial point: Mathew (Straight-Laced, Compassionate Conservative, Corporate and Family Values Man,) Scully is not just a hypocrite or opportunist. He is a menace to all life, beings, species, and nature. This is not an ad hominem attack, it is simply a fact. Look who he works for and examine what they do. Because of the gigantic powers he brings to life, puffs up, drives forward, and legitimates with the rhetoric of his folksy, small-town populism, he represents gigantic global corporations that destroy families and communities. Because Scully casts the spell and brings out the smoke and mirrors that cover up lies and package a hideous program of destruction as “progress,” and because he gets the job done, time after time, Scully is a significant danger — and I do not exaggerate — to this entire planet.

Scully’s real project is not “dominion.” It is domination–corporate hegemony of the planet and the advancement of the US Empire. To the extent his discursive artistry helps to disarm Congress and to lull Americans back into their complacent and jingoistic sleep, Scully shares responsibility with Bush, Cheney, Ashcroft, Rumsfeld, Gonzalez, Rice, Halliburton, ExxonMobil, Monsanto, and ConAgra for turning this beautiful planet into a living hell for most of its inhabitants and for leaving behind a wasteland and battlefield that will prove even more difficult (if not impossible) for future generations to survive, as ever more species vanish forever.


[i] For data on the ever-mounting numbers of Iraqi civilians and US soldiers killed and injured, see the Iraq Body Count website at: On the soaring costs of the war, see Linda J. Bilmes and Joseph E. Stiglitz, “The Iraq War Will Cost Us $3 Trillion, and Much More,” Sunday March 9, 2008, The Washington Post, at:

[ii] On Palin’s regressive record on animals and the environment, see John Dolan, “Party whores: Sarah Palin’s Big, Sleazy Safari,” September 2, 2008, AlterNet, at:; “Environmentalists can’t corral Palin: GOP vice presidential candidate nicknamed the ‘killa from Wasilla’, Associated Press, posted September 4, at, at:; and ““SARAH PALIN SUPPORTS SHOOTING WOLVES AND BEARS FROM AIRPLANES,” Defenders of Wildlife, at: This page includes a disturbing video link to what this barbaric practice that Palin ardently supports looks like in reality.

[iii] “Who is Sarah Palin,” MoveOn.Org., at:

[iv] Karen Dawn, “Palin provides vital opportunities for animal friendly letters,” September 4, 2008, at:

[v] Phelps cited with permission in a personal email to me on September 4, 2008.

[vi] Steven Best, “Rethinking Revolution: Animal Liberation, Human Liberation, and the Future of the Left,” The International Journal of Inclusive Democracy, Volume 2, Issue #3, June 2006; at:

Steven Best, Ph.D. is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Texas, El Paso. He has published numerous books and articles on philosophy, cultural criticism, social theory and animal rights. He has appeared on TV shows like Extra! and is frequently interviewed by national print and radio media including the New York Times and National Public Radio. Best is Cyrano’s Journal Special Editor for Animal Rights, Speciesisim and Human Tyranny over Nature.


h/t: Andrew via email

Subject: Comment from a NYTimes reader

Given how mean-spirited Palin’s speech was, particularly her community organizer digs, I thought that this was quite snappy:-)

“Mrs. Palin needs to be reminded that Jesus Christ was a community organizer and Pontius Pilate was a governor.”


Party whores: Sarah Palin’s Big, Sleazy Safari

AIPAC and the Dobson mob

The Daily Show: Sarah Palin Gender Card

Palin, a bold move or reckless choice? + Palin blackens Russia’s name

Sarah Palin’s Speech at the RNC

Our Killing Culture by Dabra Grant

Going on an Imperial Bender – How the U.S. Garrisons the Planet and Doesn’t Even Notice

Yes, we’re matricidal: Murdering Mother Earth one forest, one species and one atom at a time

Nader: Russia/Georgia Conflict + Impeachment/Prosecution

Dandelion Salad


U.S. Presidential Candidate Ralph Nader responds to a question from the audience about the Russia/Georgia conflict. Excerpted from the Open the Debates super rally in Minneapolis on September 4, 2008. – Let Ralph Debate!

Continue reading

Bill Moyers Journal: RNC Recap + NJ National Guard + A.R.M.S.

Dandelion Salad

Bill Moyers Journal
Sept 5, 2008

RNC Recap

Contributor Kathleen Hall Jamieson returns with a recap of the key moments and messages of the Republican National Convention.

Bill Moyers Journal . Watch & Listen | PBS.

New Jersey National Guard

BILL MOYERS JOURNAL gives viewers an intimate look at how deployments of National Guard troops to Iraq affect the state Governors’ ability to swiftly respond to domestic disaster at home and impact the families left behind. Traveling to New Jersey, the Journal follows families preparing for the deployment of nearly half of New Jersey’s National Guard to Iraq.

Bill Moyers Journal . Watch & Listen | PBS

Web Exclusive: A.R.M.S.

This BILL MOYERS JOURNAL Web exclusive video reports the challenges facing A.R.M.S., a New Jersey charity that supports National Guard members and their families.

Bill Moyers Journal . Watch & Listen | PBS


The U.S. 2008 Presidential Election: An Evaluation by Rodrigue Tremblay

God Does Love the Republicans By Steven Jonas + Bible Thumper

John McCain Speaking at the RNC

The Daily Show: Sarah Palin Gender Card

Palin, a bold move or reckless choice? + Palin blackens Russia’s name

Sarah Palin’s Speech at the RNC

RNC – St Paul-Minneapolis MN