Daily Archive: 09/11/2012

Sep 11 2012

“They Let It Happen”

Many of us who doubted the 9/11 Commission Report was really the whole truth. Just the fact that they had President George W. Bush and his Vice President, Dick Cheney, interviewed together, in secrecy and not under oath, diminished the commissions credibility for those of us who were expressing our doubts about the attack. In some places, any question or discussion was too controversial about 9/11, was labeled “conspiracy theory” and further discussion was banned. Even linking to sites or articles as forbidden. But like all skeletons that get locked in the closet, someone gets curious and the door gets opened. Yesterday, on its Op-Ed page, The New York Times took a giant leap toward revealing some of the truth many had called “conspiracy theory.”

We already know about the August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing (PDB) but what was in earlier PDB’s. Surely this wasn’t the first one. Apparently it was not but it was the last and final warning that the Bush administration dismissed.

On the eve of the eleventh anniversary of September 11, Kurt Eichenwald, author of the new book 500 Days: Secrets and Lies in the Terror Wars and contributing editor of Vanity Fair, wrote this article:

   The direct warnings to Mr. Bush about the possibility of a Qaeda attack began in the spring of 2001. By May 1, the Central Intelligence Agency told the White House of a report that “a group presently in the United States” was planning a terrorist operation. Weeks later, on June 22, the daily brief reported that Qaeda strikes could be “imminent,” although intelligence suggested the time frame was flexible.

   But some in the administration considered the warning to be just bluster. An intelligence official and a member of the Bush administration both told me in interviews that the neoconservative leaders who had recently assumed power at the Pentagon were warning the White House that the C.I.A. had been fooled; according to this theory, Bin Laden was merely pretending to be planning an attack to distract the administration from Saddam Hussein, whom the neoconservatives saw as a greater threat. Intelligence officials, these sources said, protested that the idea of Bin Laden, an Islamic fundamentalist, conspiring with Mr. Hussein, an Iraqi secularist, was ridiculous, but the neoconservatives’ suspicions were nevertheless carrying the day.

   In response, the C.I.A. prepared an analysis that all but pleaded with the White House to accept that the danger from Bin Laden was real. [..]

In the aftermath of 9/11, Bush officials attempted to deflect criticism that they had ignored C.I.A. warnings by saying they had not been told when and where the attack would occur. That is true, as far as it goes, but it misses the point. Throughout that summer, there were events that might have exposed the plans, had the government been on high alert. Indeed, even as the Aug. 6 brief was being prepared, Mohamed al-Kahtani, a Saudi believed to have been assigned a role in the 9/11 attacks, was stopped at an airport in Orlando, Fla., by a suspicious customs agent and sent back overseas on Aug. 4. Two weeks later, another co-conspirator, Zacarias Moussaoui, was arrested on immigration charges in Minnesota after arousing suspicions at a flight school. But the dots were not connected, and Washington did not react.

Could the 9/11 attack have been stopped, had the Bush team reacted with urgency to the warnings contained in all of those daily briefs? We can’t ever know. And that may be the most agonizing reality of all.

We have known since the Clinton administration that the neoconservatives had wanted Sadaam Hussein overthrown. In 1998, the now defunct Project for the New American Century audaciously sent an open letter to President Clinton urging him to attack Iraq. The signers of that letter were the same men and women that were embraced by the Bush regime, some of whom (highlighted) are advising the Romney campaign:

Elliott Abrams    Richard L. Armitage    William J. Bennett  Jeffrey Bergner  John Bolton    Paula Dobriansky   Francis Fukuyama    Robert Kagan    Zalmay Khalilzad   William Kristol    Richard Perle    Peter W. Rodman   Donald Rumsfeld    William Schneider, Jr.  Vin Weber   Paul Wolfowitz    R. James Woolsey    Robert B. Zoellick

And these lying war hawks haven’t gone away. They have once again reemerged emboldened by the prospect of a malleable Republican president to ramp up the possibility of attacking Iran on the false premise that they are trying to build a nuclear weapon. In fact, Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney has surrounded himself with many of the same people to advise his campaign on military and foreign affairs.

It is clearer now that the Bush administration, surrounded by the neoconservative hawks who were urging attacking Iraq, knew and ignored the warnings about Al Qaeda. It is obvious from what we know now about the run up to the war in Iraq, that the neocons got what they wanted then and are now determined to push the world into another war, this time with Iran.

The facts remain, whether or not the Bush regime disregard of the warnings and intelligence from the CIA was intentional or just out of pure willful ignorance, they let the attack happen.  

Sep 11 2012

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Dean Baker: Farewell to Bill

Bill Clinton is clearly the most talented politician of our era. It is difficult to imagine Clinton losing an election to any of the people who have run for office in the last two decades. But his skills as a politician should not prevent us from understanding the track record of his economic policies. In fact, until we get a clear understanding of these policies, it is unlikely that we will be able to restore the economy to a path of sound economic growth. [..]

However, the reality is quite different from the mythology. The reduction in the deficit was supposed to lead to an increase in investment and a fall in the trade deficit. These are the two components of GDP that increase our wealth for the long-term, the former by increasing our productive capacity and the latter by giving us ownership of more foreign assets. [..]

In short, the Clinton-era policies sent the U.S. economy on a seriously wrong path. They created an absurd obsession with budget deficits, a pattern of bubble-driven growth, an incredibly bloated financial sector and an unsustainable trade deficit.

The next time he has occasion to address the country it would be great if President Clinton could explain these facts to the American people. Now that would be a speech worth watching.

New York Times: The Shallow End of the Campaign

If the first weekend of Mitt Romney’s general election campaign is any indication, the country is in for eight weeks of wild, often random answers to some of the most important policy questions. Voters trying to understand the positions of Mr. Romney and Representative Paul Ryan are going to have a harder time than ever.

On issue after issue raised in the first weekend of interviews after the conventions, Romney and Ryan actively tried to obscure their positions, as if a clear understanding of their beliefs about taxes, health care or spending would scare away anyone who was listening. Aware that President Obama’s policies in these areas are quite popular once people learn about them, the Republicans are simply sowing confusion. [..]

Mr. Romney thought the weak economy would give him a pass on specifics. But voters expect answers, and the Republicans are demonstrating only shallowness.

Robert Kuttner: Europe’s Latest Gimmick

The President of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi, sent stock markets soaring on Thursday with his announcement that the ECB was prepared to buy unlimited quantities of government bonds of member nations if necessary to halt the crisis. [..]

But what Draghi gave with one hand, he took away with the other. To qualify for ECB purchases of their bonds, nations like Spain and Italy, whose securities are under speculative attack, must submit to the austerity police. [..]

Europe’s economies are prisoners of Merkel’s austerity demands on one side, and the speculative attacks of the bond market on the other. In principle, the ECB could extend unlimited support to government bonds, and take the profit out of speculation. Draghi’s latest announcement seems to offer just that, but the austerity conditions render it next to useless.

Richard (RJ) Eskow: Deficit Rorschach Test: The Presidents, the Editors, and the Truth

Both political parties have “an aversion to telling the truth,” says The Washington Post. The truth? That newspaper’s editors are part of a small but powerful billionaire-funded circle that seems to believe that any facts that don’t support their distorted and unpopular ideas are deviations from the “truth.”

With a few selected phrases, President Obama and former President Clinton appeared to endorse this tiny faction’s recovery-crushing austerity approach last week in Charlotte. But the rest of their speeches, along with others given at the convention, were a strong rejection of the privately authored set of policy proposals known as Simpson-Bowles. That’s good, since Simpson-Bowles so closely resembles the Republican Party Platform that the Democrats could wind up running against themselves.

Voters should embrace the Democrats’ stirring anti-austerity rhetoric. They should also encourage Democratic leaders to embrace their own rhetoric, to stop “triangulating” themselves into invisibility, and speak plainly and directly to the American people. In other words, Democrats should say they oppose any cuts to Medicare or Social Security benefits. They should say they’ll use government resources to create and protect the jobs we need — for teachers, firefighters, and police officers, among others. And that they’ll face facts and address the real cause of the government’s long-term budget deficit.

Robert Sheer: The Great Deregulator

Bill Clinton bears as much responsibility as any politician for the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, and the wild applause for his disingenuous speech at the Democratic National Convention last week is a sure sign of the poverty of what passes for progressive politics.

Do those convention delegates, and the fawning media that were wowed by the former president’s rhetorical seductions, not recall that just before he left office Clinton signed off on the game-changing legislation that ended the sensible rules imposed on Wall Street during the Great Depression? It was Clinton who cooperated with the Republicans in reversing the legacy of FDR’s New Deal, opening the floodgates of unfettered avarice that almost drowned the world’s economy during the reign of George W. Bush.

Sep 11 2012

On This Day In History September 11

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

September 11 is the 254th day of the year (255th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 111 days remaining until the end of the year. It is usually the first day of the Coptic calendar and Ethiopian calendar (in the period AD 1900 to AD 2099).

On this day in 1941, ground is broken for the construction of The Pentagon.

The Pentagon is the headquarters of the United States Department of Defense, located in Arlington County, Virginia. As a symbol of the U.S. military, “the Pentagon” is often used metonymically to refer to the Department of Defense rather than the building itself.

Designed by the American architect George Bergstrom (1876-1955), and built by Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, general contractor John McShain, the building was dedicated on January 15, 1943, after ground was broken for construction on September 11, 1941. General Brehon Somervell provided the major motive power behind the project; Colonel Leslie Groves was responsible for overseeing the project for the Army.

The Pentagon is the world’s largest office building by floor area, with about 6,500,000 sq ft (604,000 m2), of which 3,700,000 sq ft (344,000 m2) are used as offices. Approximately 23,000 military and civilian employees and about 3,000 non-defense support personnel work in the Pentagon. It has five sides, five floors above ground, two basement levels, and five ring corridors per floor with a total of 17.5 mi (28.2 km) of corridors. The Pentagon includes a five-acre (20,000 m2) central plaza, which is shaped like a pentagon and informally known as “ground zero”, a nickname originating during the Cold War and based on the presumption that the Soviet Union would target one or more nuclear missiles at this central location in the outbreak of a nuclear war.

On September 11, 2001, exactly 60 years after the building’s groundbreaking, hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 was crashed into the western side of the Pentagon, killing 189 people, including five hijackers, 59 others aboard the plane, and 125 working in the building.

Sep 11 2012

We Don’t Need No Education

Chicago Teachers Union On Strike For First Time in 25 Years

By Susie Madrak, Crooks & Liars

September 10, 2012 06:00 AM

All of a sudden, teachers are the enemy of the state. All of a sudden, our public schools are worthless and need to be overhauled by CEOs and people who have never taught a day in their lives (except the shock troops of Teach for America, which is to teaching what McDonald’s is to food). But many, many so-called liberals have been sucked into this argument, enabling what is little more than an elite union-busting, money-making operation.



There are a lot of straw men set up in this argument, and desperate parents will grab at any of them if they think it will help their kids. But study after study finds the same thing: For-profit charter schools do not perform better, and in many instances, they perform worse. Yes, well, adding a profit motive to something will do that.

So when the media tries to paint this teacher strike as greedy unions vs. "reform," don’t buy what they’re selling. Read this or this or this instead.



Oh, and Rahm? Good luck counting on the teachers unions to get out the vote this year.

How Michelle Rhee Is Taking Over the Democratic Party

By Molly Ball, The Atlantic

Sep 8 2012, 12:31 PM ET

Yet there are signs that Rhee’s persona non grata status in her party is beginning to wane -- starting with the fact that the chairman of the Democratic convention, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, spoke at the movie screening Rhee hosted at the convention earlier this week. Another Democratic star, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, spoke at the cocktails-and-canapes reception afterward. Across the country, Democratic officials from governors like Colorado’s John Hickenlooper to former President Clinton -- buoyed by the well-funded encouragement of the hedge-fund bigwigs behind much of the charter-school movement -- are shifting the party’s consensus away from the union-dictated terms to which it has long been loyal. Instead, they’re moving the party toward a full-fledged embrace of the twin pillars of the reform movement: performance-based incentives for teachers, and increased options, including charter schools, for parents.

The inroads made by the education reformers go all the way to the top -- to President Obama, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and the “Race to the Top” initiative that required states to make reforms to get federal education funds -- and they amount to a major shift for the Democratic Party on one of its signature issues. “These are some of the most high-profile Democrats out there,” Rhee says, also mentioning Chicago’s Rahm Emanuel, Philadelphia’s Michael Nutter, and her husband, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson. “They are taking on the unions. They are fighting for what they believe in. It definitely signals a new day.”

Sep 11 2012

Extradition… extradition

Extradition!

You see, Julian Assange is an evil evil man.

America’s refusal to extradite Bolivia’s ex-president to face genocide charges

Glenn Greenwald, The Guardian

Sunday 9 September 2012 14.22 EDT

Obama justice officials have all but granted asylum to Sánchez de Lozada – a puppet who payrolled key Democratic advisers

In October 2003, the intensely pro-US president of Bolivia, Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, sent his security forces to suppress growing popular protests against the government’s energy and globalization policies. Using high-powered rifles and machine guns, his military forces killed 67 men, women and children, and injured 400 more, almost all of whom were poor and from the nation’s indigenous Aymara communities. Dozens of protesters had been killed by government forces in the prior months when troops were sent to suppress them.



But there’s another important aspect of this case that distinguishes it from the standard immunity Washington gifts to itself and its friends. When he ran for president in 2002, Sánchez de Lozada was deeply unpopular among the vast majority of Bolivians as a result of his prior four-year term as president in the 1990s. To find a way to win despite this, he hired the consulting firm owned and operated by three of Washington’s most well-connected Democratic party operatives: James Carville, Stan Greenberg and Bob Shrum. He asked them to import the tactics of American politics into Bolivia to ensure his election victory.

As detailed by a 2006 New York Times review of a film about the Democratic operatives’ involvement in Bolivia’s election, their strategy was two-fold: first, destroy the reputations of his two opponents so as to depress the enthusiasm of Bolivia’s poor for either of them; and then mobilize Sánchez de Lozada’s base of elites to ensure he wins by a tiny margin. That strategy worked, as he was elected with a paltry 22.5% of the popular vote.



Then, there are the very revealing parallels between this case and the recent decision by Ecuador to grant asylum to Julian Assange, until his fears of political persecution from being extradited to Sweden are resolved. Remember all those voices who were so deeply outraged at Ecuador’s decision? Given that he faces criminal charges in Sweden, they proclaimed, protecting Assange with asylum constitutes a violent assault on the rule of law.

Do you think any of the people who attacked Ecuador on that ground will raise a peep of protest at what the US did here in shielding this former leader from facing charges of genocide and crimes against humanity back in his own country? In contrast to Ecuador – which is fervently seeking an agreement to allow Assange to go to Sweden to face those allegations while simultaneously protecting his political rights – the US has done nothing, and is doing nothing, to ensure that Sánchez de Lozada will ever have to face trial. To the contrary, until Thursday, the US has steadfastly refused even to acknowledge Bolivia’s extradition request, even though the crimes for which they want to try him are plainly within the scope of the two nations’ extradition treaty.

Then there’s the amazing fact that Democrats, who understandably scorn Mitt Romney for piling up massive personal wealth while he advocates policies harmful to the poor, continue in general to revere these types of Clintonites who, arguably to a lesser extent, have done the same. Indeed, Democrats spent all last week wildly praising Bill Clinton, who has made close to $100m in speaking fees alone by traveling the globe, speaking to hedge funds, and advocating globalization and free trade.

In this case, one finds both the prevailing rules and the prevailing orthodoxies of American justice. High-level leaders in the US government and those who serve their interests are exempt from the rule of law (even when accused of heinous acts of terrorism); only leaders who run afoul of US dictates should be held accountable.

Argentine judge orders arrest of Credit Suisse executive

Reuters

Tue Sep 4, 2012

BUENOS AIRES, Sept 3 (Reuters) – A judge in Argentina has ordered the arrest of Credit Suisse executive and former U.S. Treasury Undersecretary David Mulford because he failed to testify over a 2001 Argentine debt swap, the state news agency reported on Monday.

Federal Judge Marcelo Martinez de Giorgi will ask Interpol to issue an international arrest warrant seeking Mulford’s extradition for questioning over the bond exchange carried out by the government in an unsuccessful bid to avoid default.



Argentine officials have “made numerous attempts by all possible legal means to achieve David Mulford’s compliance, in this country’s territory as well as through U.S. authorities, and all of these have invariably failed,” the documents stated.



Mulford worked at the U.S. Treasury from 1984 to 1992 and was at the center of international economic negotiations under former U.S. Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

He later served as the U.S. ambassador to India.