Sunday, June 27, 2010

Dishonest Attacks on Medical Care Reform

Letters to the editor pages are still getting submissions that denounce the health care reform law as socialistic and making it possible to pay for abortions with federal money. The first false claim can be easily answered. The second involves an exploration of some rather extraordinary reasoning to even understand how that false argument was developed.

Only Those Are Not Open to Reason or Evidence Can Think it is Socialistic

It is neither ultra-liberal nor socialistic. If it provided for a single-payer plan, there would be reason to consider these charges. Not only is there no single payer plan, its advocates were not permitted to testify and were carted off in cuffs. There is not even a public option. The individual mandate in the PPACA legislation comes from Mitt Romney’s plan. The national plan is only socialistic if the Republican governor’s plan in Massachusetts is also socialistic. Much of the rest of the current law was borrowed from Republican proposals, offered when the GOP successfully killed HillaryCare.

No doubt there are many Americans who will simply ignore this clear evidence.

Hyperbole, exaggerations, and distortions are to be expected in politics. We have come to tolerate this, but the problem is that outright misinformation and worse is becoming common. An example is the false claim that the health care legislation opens the floodgates to publicly financed abortions. No one has been able to point to any language in the law that permits federally funded abortions because it does not exist. There are many prohibitions, which critics conveniently overlook.

Rules Governing the Exchanges

The health care law permits state insurance exchanges to offer health care plans that include elective abortion coverage, but no federal tax dollars or credits can be used purchase the additional abortion coverage. People who want nothing to do with abortion will also have the option of buying a plan for which no abortion add-on is available. Each state exchange must, in the language of the law, have “at least one” such plan. Some have falsely claimed that the states are limited to one no-abortion plan. The fact is that the states are also authorized to exclude all health plans that have abortion add-ons.

Separate billing for the additional abortion coverage is required. The private premiums must be segregated into separate accounts which must be audited by the states. The administrative costs of offering separate abortion options are likely to be significant enough to discourage insurers from bothering with them.

The Stupak amendment to the House bill, which was supported by pro-life people, did something similar. It permitted enrollees to use their own funds to buy supplemental policies to cover abortions. The Senate Bill provided for a separate premium for additional abortion coverage in the form of add-ons.

It is possible hat there could be situations in which people who oppose abortions might find it necessary to purchase a plan that includes abortion and has no provision for eliminating that coverage. That is theoretically possible, and in that case some people might be in the undesirable position of funding other people’s abortions. In that odd case, the insurance company would be giving coverage of abortions for which it receives no compensation from the government or customers. How likely is that an insurance company, in business to generate profits, would offer this free coverage? There were so many strained arguments and distortions that one cannot help but wonder how much political partisanship was involved. In the event that this situation should occur, the law forbids insurers to advertise that such a policy might exist, thus making it hard for someone looking for that coverage without paying for it.

The Community Health Centers Theory

More important is the shaky theory that community health centers (CHCs) could offer abortions with money from PPACA . Abortions are not performed in CHCs, No one has shown that an abortion has ever taken place in one of the community health centers.

Health and Human Services (HHS) regulations forbid CHCs to carry out abortions except in the case of incest of saving the health of the mother.

Those who insist that the CHCs might find a way to provide abortions say that the CHCs could claim they are not bound by HHS regulations or the prohibitions in the PPACA, because they are using PPACA money that comes through HSS.

One would think that PPACA prohibitions would apply to PPACA money and that HSS rules would apply if HSS distributes the funds.

Funding abortions still would be forbidden by other parts of the health care reform legislation, except in cases of incest and saving the life of a mother. Section 1303(b)(2) has unmistakable language prohibiting the use of federal funds, tax credits, or cost-sharing reductions under the act to pay for abortions.

Nevertheless, the fear remained that a court might claim that abortions can be provided by these agencies because (PPACA) money did not come to them directly through an HHS appropriation act. So far, no one has produced a single case in which a judge ordered abortions funded when they were prohibited by a regulation or law.

The Executive Order

A handful of courageous pro-life Democrats addressed this concern by prevailing upon President Barack Obama to write an executive order prohibiting the use of funds under this law from being used for abortions in CHCs and elsewhere. . Critics quickly responded that executive orders have no legal force, which is simply wrong. Others said, Obama could later change his mind. He could, but he would be making a terrible political mistake.

A final concern was that conscience protection provisions in PPACA were inadequate. However, the act explicitly references existing federal law on this subject. As late as 2005, the pro-life people were saying there was no conflict between existing conscience protection and the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act because elective abortion is not an emergency procedure.

Was the Misinformation Deliberate?

The pro-life groups and other institutions who raised these concerns have an important role to play in our democracy, where all positions should be argued with civility, honesty, and factual information.

By presenting misinformation, they have made themselves less believable and have injured their causes. One wonders how they acquired so much misinformation. There were so many strained arguments and distortions that one cannot help but wonder why people in pro-life groups and other institutions did not exercise caution in raising their concerns and in making sweeping condemnations of the health care reform legislation.

It seems that over time, some pro-life organizations have lost their political independence and have become appendages of a political party. The vitriol heaped on Bart Stupak by the Susan B. Anthony List appeared to be rooted in partisan passion.

The Catholic bishops had long supported public health care, but their recent position on PPACA was puzzling. The case for claiming that the legislation opened the door to publicly funded abortions was thin and not based on clearly demonstrable factual information. Some of the bishops’ talking points were wrong, and their web site for a time linked to someone else’s false claim that the measure would fund abortions in clinics run by Planned Parenthood.

Possibly the bishops relied too much upon their Republican allies for information on the law and were thus misled and used. As much as one might try, it is hard to avoid political partisanship when one has been allied with the same people in the abortion struggle for so long.

Two bishops, Joseph F. Naumann and Robert W. Finn issued an attack on the health care measure that was couched in the language of Catholic discourse but seemed to be a political rather than religious argument, and it left the reader wondering if they were uncomfortable with the Catholic belief that health care is a right, not a privilege. Another bishop, in Sioux City, felt it necessary to address the question of a public option.

The bishops have the right and duty to speak for Catholics on moral matters. The intra-Catholic debate about the health care bill was not about the morality of abortion, it was over what the law stated and how it was likely to be interpreted. The episcopal criticisms of Catholic hospital administrators and the sisters seems to be a way of claiming that the bishops also have primacy when it comes to interpreting what legislation means and should say. How else can we see the ban on a congregation of sisters advertising for new vocations because they had “taken a stand against the United States bishops….”

Some of the recent letters that have appeared here also indicate that some laymen believe that to be a good Catholic one has to be a good Republican. There is even the odd belief that a Catholic bishop should insist that gays do not have the right to earn their livings as members of the Armed Forces. What seems to be occurring is that more than a few people have decided that little separates religion and politics, and some add their personal prejudices to this unholy and toxic mix.

People who subscribe to this confusion see politicians being denied communion because they have an inappropriate answer for the highly theoretical question, would use the power of the state to force non-Catholics to obey catholic teachings on abortion. Roe v. Wade is not going to be repealed anytime soon, yet this theoretical question is given precedence over matters that deal with all sorts of injustices, all sorts of everyday suffering, and warfare that is hard to justify using the just war test or the teachings of the Vatican.

Why did they Spread Misniformation?

In the end, we do not know why the bishops and pro-life groups spread misinformation. Maybe they were duped by Republican operatives. Some people were probably carried away with partisanship. Another possibility is that many of these people shared a sort of bunker complex in which they imagined that their opponents were very clever and somehow framed legislation so that, without explicit enabling language, opened the door to abortions funded by federal money.

Any action that promotes the idea that religion and policies are the same or justifies spreading misinformation damages out political process. This is especially true in times of crisis like today, where there is altogether too many appeals to hot button, emotional issues, and far too few appeals to reason. Perhaps some will remember that these groups spread misinformation about health care and be less inclined to listen to them in the future.


Friday, June 18, 2010

PTECH: 911 Software?

PTECH: 911 Software?
We know less about Ptech software than we do about PROMIS. But the new software is much more powerful and important, because our defense against terror depends upon its effectiveness. Unlike PROMIS, it appears to be owned by private interests. However, we should not be surprised if the US government somehow had some ownership rights.

Ptech is a high tech command and control system is probably the most advanced command and control and data mining software in the world. Experts call this “data blueprinting software”. This software combines artificia.l intelligence and interoperability, the capacity to read, modify source codes, and operate other programs --all without being detected thereafter. It is commonly called "Ptech" after the name of the firm that builds it. . It is a very advanced version of PROMIS and its progeny. It is used in a variety of areas including finance, medicine, intelligence, warfare, and aviation. The military uses it in a number of ways and looks to the day when it can be used from space to provide a "God's-eye view" of the battlefield. Some might think that reliance on this Saudi-owned computer software company might be more dangerous to the US than having most ports operated by a UAE company.

A version of Ptech is headquartered in the basement of the FAA. It is intended for use when planes were hijacked and it is intended link and coordinate the activities of the FAA, NORAD, and the Secret Service. As a firm, Ptech works with DARPA, the Department of Defense's research group and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency uses Ptech software.

This software was built in Quincy, Mass. Ptech ( now GoAgile), which emerged in 1994 with ample funding, is an outfit financed by Yassin Al-Qadi, a Saudi businessman with ties to Al Qaeda, who invested $5 in 1994 and $18 million in 1998. Ptech is currently harvesting significant profits with its Playstation products. Apparently it produces toys for all ages.

Al-Qadi appeared on the Bush administration's first terrorist list, and his US assets were frozen. He was also head of Saudi Arabia's Blessed Relief Foundation ( Muwafaq). Qadi claims that he met Dick Cheney in Jeddah and that they remain on good terms. He also has a stake in Ptech through BMI, a real estate investment firm in New Jersey, that had links to BCCI. Governor Thomas Kean, chairman of the 9/11 Commission , used BMI to sell a property. Qadi's lawyer said his client had no direct storck in the firm by 2000. Yaqub Mirza, a director of Ptech, is also on the terrorist list.Suheil Laher and Muhammed Mubayyid, two people the F.B.I. sought after 9/11, turned out to be Ptech employees. Directors and investors also had ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.

For two years, consultants Ptech were working in the basement of the FAA. They had access to the FAA's computer systems and would have been in a position to find holes in the nation's domestic air defenses Others who use the software are the F.B.I. and Air Force.

Whistleblower Indira Singh is a computer software who started with JP Morgan in the mid-1990’s and stayed with the firm when it became Morgan/Chase. She was trying to develop interceptive software for the bank that would prevent PROMIS progeny software from stealing data. She first became familiar with Ptech six months after 9/11, when she was asked to permit Ptech to give a demonstration at JP Morgan/Chase. That bank was considering the use of the software to detect terrorist money transfers. A team from Ptech appeared that was lead by Dr. Hussein Ibrahim, co-founder of BMI. After the Ptech people were on the premises half an hour, their behavior alarmed her. Ibrahim wanted to demonstrate the program on his laptop by using proprietary Morgan Chase data. Singh learned through her calls that Yasin al- Qadi had a major interest in the firm. Yasin was a Saudi financier, previously involved in BCCI, who would have his assets in the US frozen after 911 because the government believed he was financing terrorists. Treasuryofficials said his charity was an Al Qaeda front. Indira Sngh eventually concluded that Ptech was a C.I.A. cut-out.

She took her security concerns to the MorganChase’s General Auditor who advised her to forget about it and keep quiet or she was out. She continued to pursued the matter and was fired. She then became a senior consultant for Interoperability Clearing House. Why Morgan Chase covered for a firm that seemed to have terrorist ties remains unexplained.

Ms. Singh had an apartment near Ground Zero and was a volunteer EMT there on September 11. She claims that her apartment is contaminated and that her lungs were damaged by working as an emergency EMT that day. She developed strong feelings about what happened that day and took her concerns about Ptech to the Boston F.B.I., where someone finally told her there was nothing they could do as " Saudis have been given a free pass for 9/11." Then she contacted Joe Bergantino a reporter the local CBS station, WBZ who was also investigating Ptech.

At one point, people Singh thought the Secret Service debriefed her. She wanted to tell them about the people behind Ptech, but they told her “:We can't investigate the people behind Ptech. Just trust me, lets focus on the software.” She later decided her questioners were from military intelligence.
A former Ptech employee and several current employees called the Boston office soon after 9/11 and that there was no follow up. Two F.B.I. agents in Chicago in Chicago encountered many problems when they reported that al- Qadi was funding terrorist organizations. They were told they could keep writing reports but not to make arrests. Their supervisor apparently shouted at them, “You will not open criminal investigations against any of these intelligence subjects.” Al Qadi was working with the C.I.A. in the U.S., Albania, Kosovo, and Bosnia. He helped get funds to the Kosovo Liberation Army. Subsequently, the US, Albania, and Turkey froze his assets. He was a C.I.A. operative at time, but who knows what else he was doing. It is clear now that Ali Mohammed, once a C.I.A. employee, appears to have been a skilled double agent for Al Qaeda, who took advantage of both the C.I.A. and F.B.I., making both appear inept.

They had also been probing BMI, and concluded that it had financed the bombings to two embassies in East Africa. In 2002, one of them Robert Wright, stood weeping on the US Capitol steps, apologizing that he did not do more to save lives on September 11, 2002. He was then muzzled. On the other hand, an agent born in Egypt was twice promoted after refusing to wear a wire while talking to one terrorist suspect and refusing to tape a telephone conversation with another.

Some of the owners of Ptech, she found had funded the Afghan mujahadeen in the eighties, and she joined others in suggesting that they pumped some money into the Brooklyn cell that attacked the World Trade Center in 1993. That organization morphed into a firm known as Mitre, and with Booz & Hamilton, now operates Ptech. James Woolsey is a director of Booz and Hamilton. Joe Bergantino hired an investigator to keep track of the Ptech people and found that they had a warehouse in a area from whence drugs were shipped. Governmentofficials persuaded WBZ not to air his story, and ABC's Brian Ross and NBC's Lisa Myers= stories on Ptech met the same fate.

In Octobeer, 2001, some former Ptech employees told the F.B.I. that the firm had ties to terrorists. For some reason, the F.B.I. appears to have done nothing about these claims. In the Spring of 2002, Ptech people were at Morgan Chase drumming up business—the event that made Singh get involved. Singh became so upset by the F.B.I.'s bungling of the case that she went to Senator Charles Grassley, who promised to look into it. He also found someone to be her bodyguard. Nothing ever came of his investigation. This writer has found several other touchy cases where he has tried to do the right thing and also protect the whistleblower. In most of these instances, the senator seemed to find it necessary to back off.

Bergantino found that Ptech's software was used by many federal agencies, but federal investigators told him not to air his findings at they would damage an on-going investigation. However the government delayed even looking into Ptech and the firm had almost a year to destroy records. As a result of Singh and Bergantino's work, Ptech was finally raided by Operation Greenquest ( a program to find those who finance terrorism) on December 6, 2002. Bergantino was not alerted, and someone else got the exclusive coverage of the story. After the raid, White House press secretary Ari Fleischer almost immediately said Ptech was clean. Green Quest was a Customs-led operation, and Michael Chertoff at Justice had unsuccessfully tried to seize control of it. Powerful Republican strategist Grover Norquist denounced the raid.

A few take her surmise that Cheney was operating a Ptech program in the White House bunker to mean that he was interfering with FAA-NORAD efforts to respond. Her information on Ptech and its ownership is not disputed. She clams that intelligence sources told her that the people who financed the firm had drug business ties to the C.I.A. that extended back to BCCI days, but she has remained deliberately vague on that subject.

One reason there is so much interest in Ptech software is that air traffic controllers saw more than the usual number of unidentified flights that day. But most interesting was the "phantom flight 11" mentioned in the 911 Commission report. It was still on screens at 9:24 AM , after the NORAD war games had ceased and after the Pentagon had been struck. Was the FAA getting mistaken information provided by manipulation of its Ptech software by other Ptech software? Singh thinks the reports on what Cheney was doing in the White House bunker suggest he was using Ptech software. Perhaps he was trying to track what was going on. There was also the possibility that someone else was using it to confuse the FAA and NORAD. We're not likely to know if this occurred.

The anti-Israeli writer Christopher Bollyn found that a Jew , Michael S. Goff , was running Ptech and concluded that Mossad was really running the firm through an Arab cut-out because the US government would never permit someone with possible terrorist ties to run such a sensitive firm.
In 2006, Neil Entwistle, an English computer techni C.I.A.n who worked on Ptech, was accused of shooting his wife and 9 month old daughter while they were asleep in bed in their Hopkinton, Massachusetts home. He then fled to England, where authorities first said the Americans just wanted to question him. He was subsequently extradited and returned to the US on a Gulfstream jet the C.I.A. had used for renditions. He was flown from Gatwick to Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts. On June 26, 2008, he was convicted of first degree murder, which means incarceration for life without parole.

He worked for Embedded New Technologies (ENT) in Boston, which is connected to InQtel in Braintree, a firm believed to be a C.I.A. proprietary. He was working on Internet surveillance software. Before 9/11 he allegedly helped wire backdoors into the P-Tech systems used by the White House, FAA , NORAD, and Pentagon. His wife told her mother he had large amounts of money if off-shore accounts.
Entwistle plead innocent and said his wife was depressed and shot herself and the daughter. He claimed to removed the .22 semi automatic from the crime scene to protect her reputation. His parents questioned the jury selection process, and his lawyer called not one witness.

Singh later appeared at a Canadian conference on 911 and said, “I was told that if I mentioned the money to the drugs around 9/11 that would be the end of me.” She has not expanded on that theme. Later, her friend Michael Corbin, a radio host, was found dead in his car at the side of a road.
There was a little discussed Treasury raid of Ptech. Immediately after that, Secretary of the Treasury Paul O Neill wasw fired. However, his firing may have been because he had just been to Saudi Arabia where he angered members of the House of Saaud by asking to see the financial records of some Islamic charities.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

How Much Damage Will The Teabag Movement Do to America?

Maybe the great body of Tea Baggers cannot be reached, but we must answer their charges in hopes of contributing to an eventual paradigm shift for some of them. Only disconcerting facts or personal experiences lead people to change mindsets.
Many of us are tired about reading and writing about the Tea Baggers, but a few facts will help us to understand why we need to keep studying them.

Half of the unaffiliated voters in the United States say they are closer to the Tea Bag movement than to anyone else. This movement has the potential to recreate the situation after 9/11, when the political middle shrank dramatically. This time, there is the possibility that the near disappearance of the middle will greatly benefit the Right. Thirdly, Noam Chomsky, one of our brightest progressive scholars, warns that the present level of anger in politics arouses legitimate fear that fascism could emerge here.

When the Tea Baggers appeared, they very briefly seemed a little like real economic populists as they were raising hell about what the Wall Street speculators did to our economy and financial system. But they soon forgot about the bankers and focused on punishing those who voted for the TARP and upon “taking back our country.”

A Republican pundit tried to paint the Tea Baggers as playing a role similar to that of the hippie counterculture radicals of the 1960s. But the young rebels of that time read some good journalism and often had a serious theoretical critique of the system. The Tea Baggers might be like Wall Mart hippies in that they do not see through the establishment’s propaganda machine; rather they soaked up much of what it had to say.

“Pitchfork Populism ”

Time used the term “pitchfork populism” to describe the Tea Party movement. That is a reference to the Southern Populists of the late 19th Century, one of whose leaders was called “Pitchfork Ben.” That movement, starting out as the Farmers or Southern Alliance and it had genuine economic grievances against the banks and railroads. There was a brief moment when some of those deeply frustrated white farmers allied with African American share-croppers. After all they were all in the same boat. The Southern establishment eventually co-opted the white farmers by getting them excited about preventing blacks from voting and enacting Jim Crow legislation.

Some of these people were not nice, God-fearing farmers who were somehow misled. More than a few spent years in paramilitary anti-black movements and were deeply hostile to Catholics and Jews. There is a parallel here with some of the extreme right militia groups that constitute one of the two nuclei of the Tea Baggers. ( The other nucleus is libertarianism, which is far less important in TeaBaggism than some suppose.)

What the Southern Bourbons accomplished over some time in the 1890s occurred among the Tea Baggers in as matter of months. People who started out as some sort of populist soon became spear carriers for the Southern Establishment, and some of them fought strenuously to uphold every aspect of the southern conservative cannot. They became political fundamentalists.

Similarly, the Tea Baggers briefly showed a flash of economic populism when they complained about Wall Street, the insurance companies, and the pharmaceutical companies. In less than a few months, they were denouncing efforts to regulate business or the banks, and were running cover for people like Mitch McConnell, who on behalf of the banks and speculators, watered down financial reform. Like the Southern Populists, these people became preoccupied with race.

Their talk about “taking back government” seems to be about race and resenting the poor. They oppose big government but cannot define what that means other than being against taxes and programs that assist “people who don’t want to work.”
Extreme Right-Wing Populism Ratcheted Up to a Dangerous Level ??
These are hard times, and people whose incomes and security are threatened sometimes grasp at straws. Most Tea Baggers seem to have jobs and some savings, but they seem to be worried about their 401ks, mortgages under water, whether their pensions will be cut, and whether their Medicaid benefits will be cut to provide medical coverage for over 30 million more people.

For more than three decades the income of the middle class has been shrinking. Few reasonable people can deny this or argue that this will change soon. Even the slightest knowledge of what happened in 2007 and 2008 would prompt the expectation that things are likely to get a lot worse for the middle class. Some people—perhaps even a majority-- just cannot live with that kind of knowledge. Their solution is to resort to the hysterics,
anger, threatening behavior, and simplistic thinking.


This writer and others have worked within the framework that classifies Teabaggism as the most extreme form of right-wing populism. Some, following Daniel J. Goldhagen, call it “ Eliminationism” because these extremists react so harshly against pluralism and people who are culturally and racially different than then. Granted, what we observe here is what might be a relatively mild form of eliminationism. None of them are talking about camps or Nuremberg laws.
Tea Baggism= “Political Fundamentalism”

On the other hand, this model may be flawed. For one thing, the Republicans have had over three decades to ramp up right-wing populism. One can doubt that there were that many more conservative religious and rural folk out there to enlist in these ranks. What is happening now is that large numbers who were formerly not affiliated have flooede into Tea Bagger ranks. They are not , for the most part, people who think mainly about such hot button issues as abortion and stem cell research. Perhaps something else is going on.
It is very difficult to draw a clear line between the two phenomena, and they sometimes merge. Many of the Tea Baggers clearly have roots in right-wing populism and the Christian Right. Today, the Tea Baggers share characteristics with right-wing populists, and there are elements of overlap. Sometimes we find in the Tea Baggers an admixture of conventional religious thought. The political fundamentalist tends toward dogmatic attitudes, violence—at least verbally, and a refusal to accept challenges to the conservative elements of the conventional wisdom. The dinclination toward dogmatic attitudes does not include carefully stated policies.

When one studies the European right-wing authoritarian movements of the 1930s, right-wing populism was there , but over time it diminished and became political fundamentalism with an inclination toward accepting authoritarianism. Political fundamentalism was at the core of those movements. It was larger and more fanatical and dangerous.. Tea Baggism is essentially a version of “ political fundamental. ” There is a strong urge to shut down one’s critical processes and hang on desperately to some elements of conservative conventional wisdom. They offer ready-made answers and are embedded in our culture and sold to us daily by mainstream media and culture. What is happening is that frightened people are simply reverting to “default” positions and clinging to them for dear life. They try very hard to convince others perhaps because they want to be convinced themselves.

A blinkered view of reality is reassuring and comforting. Political fundamentalism thrives on simplicities and simplifications. There is such a thing as “protective stupidity” which more than a few need in order to be comfortable with their lives and it is likely that conservative strategists know how to feed it. The only antidote is continual reality therapy, and it may not work quickly.

Right-wing populists are mainly concerned with cultural and values questions. Aside from the matter of race, these hot button values matters are often of secondary to political fundamentalists. People in both movements seem to have problems with race, but it is a much more central to the American political fundamentalist.
Most American populists – right or left--believe in the democratic process. No matter what the Tea Baggers say, their actions show that they are perfectly willing to do permanent harm to that process by disrupting rallies, displaying weapons to intimidate people, threatening opponents, and demanding that their elected officials do all they can to shut down the legislative process. Some even spat on Congressmen and called them vile names.

Populists differ from political fundamentalists in another important way. Back in the 1930s, the followers of Huey Long and Father Charles Caughlin embraced some very unorthodox monetary theories. It is difficult to imagine the political fundamentalists flirting with fiscal heterodoxy for very long. We have already seen how they have taken up arms to defend big business and the Wall Street bankers sand speculators from government regulation.

Political Fundamentalism is a Barometer of Crisis

The more people who are in turmoil and crisis, the more political fundamentalism there will be.

Even before 2001, there were conditions present that promoted political fundamentalism. Many people could not deal with a diverse, urban society and the anomie that went with it. Truth seemed harder to establish, and many simply could not deal with the relativity of truth. They hankered for absolute certainties, and were unable to compartmentalize things in their own minds. People were less connected to others than before, and people were so absorbed multitasking and busy with many things, that they had little opportunity to develop rich inner lives, without which there can be nothing but selfishness, fear of others, and a lack of empathy.

Then came the terrible events of 9/11 created a siege atmosphere that began to move many Americans toward political fundamentalism, and the George W. Bush administration did all it could to produce this result—recklessly insinuating that anyone who disagreed with it was an ally of Al Qaeda. Thus, Max Cleland, a US. Senator from Georgia who lost three limbs in service to his country, was turned out of office because he was said to be insufficiently patriotic. He was replaced by someone who had not worn the uniform. The onset of a near depression and the near destruction of our financial system in 2008 greatly exacerbated the crisis atmosphere.

Why Some are More Prone to Political Fundamentalism than Others

Recently, Marc Hetherington and Jonathan Weller noted that many Americans have a great need for order and certainty and cannot deal with ambiguities. People who find reality difficult to tolerate have a deep need to find simple and certain explanations. They develop an aversion to unbiased information. They also need scapegoats, such as blacks, Hispanics, Moslems, liberals and homosexuals. These are authoritarian tendencies, so using the imagery of the Boston Tea Party and griping about government in general terms does not make one anti-authoritarian.

Sixty years ago, Konrad Lorenz, a brilliant scientist whose politics we rightly deplore, knew that there were many people who were naturally fearful and given to simple solutions. These people had problems facing unpleasant realities and reverted to the sunny promises offered by conventional wisdom. In a crisis, these people become political activated and embrace political fundamentalism. This is why people in Europe moved to the right when struck with inflation and the great depression. To go the other way would require ability to accept reality, question accepted wisdom, eschew simple answers, and abandon core beliefs of a lifetime.

When confronted with a crisis, it is so much easier to accept an explanatory framework that explains “everything” quickly, it is much like a religious conversion. Tea Bag ideas transform some of these people from feeling helpless and victimized to feeling empowered. Attending Tea Bagger meetings for them can be cathartic and deeply therapeutic. Many of their converts are political neophytes for whom this is not so much a political rebirth as a political birth.

Political fundamentalism is a somewhat new ideology and a metaphor for dogmatic solutions that are like panaceas. It offers black-and-white , simple answers and simple answers that do not require careful thought, weighing of evidence, or compartmentalizing things.

Teabagging became a sort of hysteria that seems to be easily moved from target to target by those who subtly directed it. At first these people thought they were victims of the banks and Big Pharms. In no time flat, they were fierce defenders of those in Congress who do the most for the banks and Big Pharms. Tea Baggers even denounced Senator Scott Brown when he did not back Republican efforts to defend Wall Street by blocking financial reform. This transformation would be amusing if it were not such a tragedy. But in all these cases, they moved naturally from brief complaints about banks, speculators, or Big Pharm to dogmatic adherence to what they think are American “givens”—opposing meddling government and regulations that could harm banks and business. They are back to the old idea that so-called free markets solve all problems. It was this outlook that nearly brought on a depression and the destruction of the financial system.

It is astonishing to watch the growing number of Americans who share this sentiment as hostility to regulation and the health care legislation continue to grow. Apparently, Americans are so stressed now that many naturally revert to some degree or other to the verities that we have long been fed by our culture, the mass media, and the Republican information machine.

Certainty Resides to the Right

Tea Bag sentiment, of necessity, tends to the right and to authoritarian positions. Perhaps they are first aroused by the misbehavior of the banks, but in the long run their quest for certainty and simple answers leads them to what they think are American fundamentals. In 2004, some of these people were deeply offended that anyone could suggest that Americans were actually torturing detainees. Once it became clear that this was the case, political fundamentalists quickly moved toward approving the torture. It was a matter of Americans versus “Others.” Some mistakenly think the Tea Baggers are essentially libertarians. A few are, like Rand Paul, but most are not libertarians. Most of them do not complain about the surveillance state and agree with Senator John Cornyn, who ridicules people who worry about civil liberties: “None of your civil liberties matter after you are dead.”

Probably not one Tea Bagger in a thousand will see the inconsistency in Governor Bobby Jindal’s and Sarah Palin’s conduct. For a long time, he said the federal government should stay out of our lives, but now it must build sand barriers and compensate fishermen. Sarah Palin sang the same song about less government and is now all over President Barack Obama because he has not figured out how to shut down the well in the Gulf or found a way to scoop up millions of gallons heading toward marshes and beaches.

Paul has talked about a planned ten-lane highway –coupled with a pipeline and rail line—that will soon link Mexico-the US and Canada—as part of NAFTA. He says there might also be a common currency. Wild stuff!
Now Rand Paul, perhaps the nation’s leading Tea Bagger, denounced Obama for criticizing BP; Paul says criticizing business is “un-American.” Maybe he forgot that the original Tea Baggers—those angry folks in Boston back in 1773—were reacting against a monopoly given to a business, the East India Company. In Colorado, Dan Maes, a Tea Bagger backed candidate for Governor, is saying Coloradans should “beg forgiveness from the energy industry that Bill Ritter chased out of this state.”

Sharon Angle, the Tea Bagger nominated to oppose Harry Reid, calls for abolition of Social Security, and the 16th Amendment. Will senior citizen Tea Baggers in Nevada become rational enough to realize she wants to stop their monthly checks? Time will tell.

One truly zany Tea Bagger, Tim D’ Annunzio, was not nominated for an North Carolina congressional seat. According to his estranged wife, he thinks he is the Messiah and tried to raise his father-in-law from the dead. He wants to abolish eleven cabinet departments.

We may be certain that the folks at FAUX News and the big conservative think tanks, as well as Richard Armey, Mrs. Clarence Thomas, and the small army of cable and radio shock jocks are pleased with their work and laughing about how these little people are so easily manipulated. Hysteria is one of the characteristics of such movements, and it is easy for skilled propagandists use it to political advantage.
Interviews with ordinary Tea Baggers have been published in several places. One of the most interesting phenomena that recur is that so many of these people say that the economy went bad after Barack Obama took office. They have the chronology of events completely wrong and they refuse to acknowledge that Obama had a role in preventing another depression. Some—though a smaller number—insist that Obama and the Democrats initiated TARP.

Chip Berlet, an expert on right-wing populism, says this movement has the force of a tornado, but he adds that “Its unpredictable. It can blow away in ten seconds, or it can blow society up.” This applies even more to political fundamentalism. Right-wing populism these days has greater staying power because it has been so well cultivated and has deep roots in culture and religion. Political populism will develop staying power if progressives delay taking it on with civility and reason. It is dangerous to let these ideas take root in fester because the false historical memory the movement promotes will become part of memory and be reinforced by intense emotion.

The Response to Hysteria and Paranoia

Now and then, someone in the mainstream media does a little fact checking on Tea Bag movement claims, but for the most part the MSM approach is to simply report what these people claim and then report whatever the Democrats said in response, if anything. Recently David Broder, dean of the pundits, wrote on the intense partisanship of the Capitol Hill Republicans. He said that they had been mistaken and had painted themselves into a box. What box? The public is rewarding not punishing them for around the clock obstructionism, and it fuels the Tea Baggers and is admired by them.

Representative Bob Inglis, a conservative South Carolina Republican has recently had a major epiphany. He fears for the future of our political system and calls for an end of “the stinking rot of self-righteousness” and a turn toward civility and willingness to dialogue.

The question is: Are we Republicans going to be people who can put people together and say “Come on, be with us?…Or are we going to be people who snarl and make mad noises at people and just constantly carp?

His opponents in the primary say he has gone soft, and his prospect of getting re-nominated are not great.
American politics changed by the 1980s, with the Republicans using all the tools of cognitive science and the entertainment industry and have made politics a matter of daily hand to hand combat. On the other hand, as Democrat Anthony Weiner noted, Democrats still “come into knife fights carrying library books.” Just recently, President Barack Obama invited Republicans to a White House luncheon in one last effort to salvage bipartisanship. The eighty minutes were spent fielding angry charges about bow Obama had not done in a bipartisan spirit to satisfy them. Well- scripted as ever, Republicans left the White House saying he was thin skinned, needed Valium, and could not take correction well. By their account, he had been dishonest in negotiating with them time after time. The leader of this chorus was Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee. Some might recall how he played a double game in negotiations on the rescue of GM and Chrysler, all the while trying to shut down auto manufacturing in the Motor City. More recently, Corker led the effort to get more and more concessions for big banks in the finance reform debate. Corker used a racist political advertisement to defeat Harold Ford in his race for the Senate.

The Democrats need to start answering the lies, calling them what they are. Voters do not want to hear about the past, but every Democratic commentary should include the fact that under Bush, the rich got $2.5 trillion in tax cuts, and $700 billion was spent in Iraq. Reality therapy begins with those salient facts.
The Democrats may not be good at answering the GOP attack machine, but until the recent Hawaiian special election, they had won ten consecutive special Congressional elections. Obviously the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is doing something right. They need to share that knowledge with Senate colleagues and others.
Democrats desperately need message control and to learn communications skills. However, there is no need for counter-productive hyperbole or class warfare talk. While answering the lies, they must be very careful not to insult or demonize the Tea Baggers. Writing about political fundamentalism in Islam, the Iraniam Seyyed Hosseen Nasar wrote that secular fundamentalism made political fundamentalism grow exponentially.

A fundamental problem is that the progressives lack a narrative that is persuasive to most Americans. The Republicans have tried narratives that are convincing even if they are not true. Anything that is repeated often and effectively enough can convince a majority. Now we see that a growing body of Americans seem to return to tax cuts for the rich and a deregulated economy, even though those policies brought us to the brink of destruction.

The progressive coalition has many elements but no common message. These elements need to agree upon a common consensus narrative that explained how we have landed in economic crisis and charts a way to a better future without bankrupting the country in the process. It would be helpful if work on this narrative began now. After November, Democrats will have plenty of time to figure out what went wrong and how to readdress the American people. If they do not develop a more effective message, the rightward drift will probably continue until unemployment sharply declines.

The Danger of Fascism

Scholars are not sure if we face the danger of fascism. We need to know that history does not exactly repeat itself; rather it recapitulates itself sometimes to one degree or another through different morphologies. Certainly the aggressive and anti-democratic outlook of the Tea Baggers is a threat to our political system. Justice Louis Brandeis said that “The greatest danger to liberty lurks in the insidious encroachments by men of zeal, well meaning but without understanding.” His overall view is on target, but it is hard to believe that everyone now exploiting the panic of the Tea Baggers are well meaning. We are probably facing something far less threatening than fascism but very damaging to the health of our democracy.

Fascism in the past always combined extreme nationalism, racism, xenophobia, authoritarianism, paramilitary violence, and intense anti-leftism. Those who insist we have little to fear note that the Tea Baggers are anti-government while fascists looked to big, powerful government to fix problems. Those who question this argument suggest that the Tea Baggers simply oppose liberal government that helps the poor, blacks, and Hispanics. They suggest that few Tea Baggers have problems with the Patriot Act.

Scholars who say fascism is not a possibility add that in the past fascists believe in dictatorship and have grandiose notions about the use of the military and limitless goals in foreign policy. There does not seem to be a tendency of the Tea Baggers to yearn for dictatorship but most of them seem to have approved of George W. Bush’s wars. Almost 60% of them have a favorable opinion of him.

It is too early to rule out the possibility of paramilitary activities. Right wing hysteria has been so great that some Sarah Palin gatherings resembled Klan rallies, with people threatening the press and shouting violent slogans. Armed men attended Obama rallies to intimidate their enemies. More recently, there were threats against Democratic Congressmen and physical attacks on their offices.

Historians and political scientists are correct in noting that right-wing populism can evolve into fascism. What exists now are some manifestations of crypto fascism that probably will not fade. There can be little doubt that Tea Baggism is just the latest phase in a long term effort to build a Rightist majority in America. It is a phenomenon that can and probably will be controlled. Dick Armey, Rupert Murdock, and their friends have nothing to gain if the Tea Bag wing of the Republican Party goes too far and shocks a majority of Americans. What is more likely, as Professor Robert O. Paxton writes, is that a crypto fascist element will come to play an important part in our politics for a long time.

There are a few Tea Baggers out there who oppose our warlike ways and even worry about recent assaults on civil liberties. But they are a small element and unlikely to grow in influence in that movement or the parent Republican Party. Perhaps in a few years, when people tire of endless warfare, Democrats can use Alan Grayson’s “The War is Making You Poor Act” to split the anti-war element from the Tea Bag wing of the Republican Party.

Most Tea Baggers are not given to making fine distinctions, and their presence in large numbers reduces our political discourse to a level that encourages the worst kinds of demagoguery. Despite all their talk about the constitution, they are not civil libertarians. Since the rise of Religious Right, their predecessors, the Republican party seems to have put aside its historic interest in civil liberties. Republican judges have become flaming judicial activists while complaining about this tendency on the other side. There was a time when Republicans like Everett Dirksen had great respect for our political processes, more recently they have shown a disposition to play the role of wrecker if it garners votes. The Tea Bagger wing of their party seems to have a very strange notion of what democracy is and both demands and applauds conduct that could do permanent damage to our political system. What is at stake is far more important than who controls Congress in January 2011.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

What Might Israel Have Known About 9/11?

There is strong evidence that the Israelis knew about the coming 9/11 attack and gathered information on it in advance. There is no evidence they were involved in in any way whatsoever.
F.B.I. special agent Michael Dick, who worked closely with John O’Neill, was concerned about a ring of Israeli movers who were following Al Qaeda people in New York and New Jersey. These Israeli agents communicated by prepaid Verizon cell phones, so their communic tions could not be monitored. Thes agents did not communicate with American authorities. Dick encountered all sorts of bureaucratic problems in pursing this investigation. Eventually, Michael Chertoff, then head of the Justice Department’s criminal division, ordered Dick off the case. One C.I.A. source with solid Republican credentials, told Wayne Madsen, that the movers were somehow arranging a cover for the future hihackers.

Before 9/11, the DEA discovered that Israeli “artists” were in the United States using efforts to sell art as a cover for other activities. At first, it was believed they were here in connection with an Israeli network that was marketing the mind-altering drug, Ecestacy. Then it was discovered that they were casing DEA personnel and facilities, mther kinds of federal facilities, and some F.B.I. agents. They were also following people who later turned out to be involved in the 9/11 attack on the United States. The DEA found that several of the so-called Israeli stuedents had links to Columbia and Columbians, and this supported the case that they were somehow tied to the drug trade.

Carl Cameron of FOX news did a series in 2002 on these Israeli artists. Cameron thought there were as many as 140 passing themselves off as art students. Brit Hume found that of the sixty were were eventually detained, twelve worked for one private Israeli communications firm. The artists had special cell phones that US investigative personnel could not intercept. What is interesting is that two of them came to Miami directly from Hamburg, a city where Mohammed Atta had been and where he retained many ties. Several were working for three Israeli corporations in the U.S. Some were active military and others had the skills one would expect spies to have. They knew how to run polygraph machines and were good with communications. One had been the bodyguard of the head of the Israeli army and the other was the son of a two star general. Another was a former military intelligence agent. Their cover story was that they were here to establish art studios. Some of them failed polygraph tests after 9/11. It is likely they were tracking would-be Arab terrorists. Cameron thought this was the case, but added that his sources told him they were not sharing what they knew. FOX is an odd place to find this kind of information, but the lead is worth pursuing.

There is clear evidence that high Mossadofficials came to Washington before 9/11 --some time between August 8 and 15-- to deliver a grave warning to the F.B.I. and C.I.A.. This was reported in a number of mainstream outlets after 9/11, but government sources either denied the Mossad visitors delivered a warning or said the warning was only of a very general sort. Eventually, some media outlets retracted the story. FOX News was told that pursuing it would be “career suicide.” The network dropped the matter but never offered a retraction.

Dr. Alan Aabrosky, a Jew and former director of studies at the Army War College, has hypothesized that 9/11 could not have been pulled off without the combined efforts of the C.I.A. and Mossad. He noted that the physics of the official story for the collapse of the World Trade Center towers was all wrong.

A November 23, 2001 New York Times story told about 60 Israelis being detained here after 9/11. However most were expelled months before 9/11, and those still detained had been picked up at that time. Le Monde reported on March 6, 2002 that they actually numbered more than a hundred. It added that about 120 were expelled. In June, 1999, Insight magazine reported that Division Five of the F.B.I. had found Israelis tapping White House lines. Apparently, the F.B.I. was also aware of this large spy ring before 9/11. In time, the story of the Israeli art student spy ring dropped in the American press. Jane’s Intelligence Digest noted this in March , 2003: “It is rather strange that the U.S. media seems to be ignoring what may well be the most explosive story since the 11 September attacks—the alleged breakup of a major Israeli espionage operation in the USA.”

The art student spy ring went from house to house selling art. They seemed to show an interest in visiting DEA offices and the homes of DEA personnel. There is no doubt that they targeted DEA in these ways, and one wonders if this confirms the many reports that the Mossad supports itself by moving drugs, especially Ecstasy, from Columbia into the United States.

The Israeli agents seemed to cluster where the terrorists were and in places where drug money was being laundered. The Israelis seemed to be organized into teams of 8 to 10 agents. Often the agents were found in federal buildings and top secret military bases.. The terrorists were probably using drug money as well as the funds that were wired in to them. It is interesting that it was the DEA that first became aware of the activities of the Israeli artists and began to track them. The report showed that the Israelis often were addresses very close to where the terrorists were staying. Coincidence?

The DEA report on their activities, what art they bought, etc. is incredibly detailed. It suggests that the Israeli artist spy ring was somehow involved in scouting out DEA investigations of the Ecstasy drug trade. The British and European press assumed the DEA started watching the Israelis, thinking they were peddling Ecstasy, as some claim that US authorities have farmed out this franchise in the US to Mossad. This cannot be proven, but it can be shown that Mossad has shared the drug trade in southern California with US agencies. Forward suggested the Israelis were here to spy on our common enemy, Al Qaeda. The interest in the DEA and certain military bases was probably a smoke screen. Those observing military facilities and the DEA were rounded up while others were left to complete surveillance of Al Qaeda.

The DEA and Justice Department actually started deporting the Israelis in April, 2001—before the 9/11 attack. The Israelis had a good handle on at lest four of the terrorists. When the Israelis caught up with two in Hollywood, Florida, the DEA nabbed them and they were deported. At one point the Justice Department threatened to hold “dozens” indefinitely, but in the end they were all released.

Those who deny that the Israelis were spies rely on the fact that the DEA report does not say they were spies. They also note that other Israelis were deported after 9/11 because they lacked proper papers. Finally, it is noted that the intelligence people who usually feed information to the mainstream press are denying there is any significance to the Israeli art students story.

Less than an hour after the first blast at the Trade Center, East Rutherford New Jersey police arrested five Israelis who had been in a white Chevrolet van described in an F.B.I. alert (BOLO) twenty-five minutes before. The Bergen Record offered a different time frame but the same essential information. The F.B.I. spotted them at Liberty State Park. Money, marked maps of the and multiple passports were found in the van. They were videotaping the collapse of the World Trade Center. They were seen giving themselves high fives when the first plane hit. One of them refused to take a lie detector test and subsequently failed when he did submit to one. The van belonged to Urban Moving Systems , whose owner fled to Israel two days later. In the company’s warehouse, investigators found traces of anthrax, fertilizer, and pipes. A number of computers were removed. Dominick Suter, owner of the firm, closed the business a few days after the attack and fled to Israel.

Much later, The Forward confirmed that two them were spies and that the moving company was a front. An ABC investigation revealed in 2002 that the F.B.I. assumed the agents were in the US to track terrorists. The F.B.I. quickly shut down its investigation, allegedly on orders from the White House.

There is good evidence that another Israeli surveillance team was attached to the World Trade Center plot. That might help explain why the movers were pleased with themselves. They had gotten the event on tape and may have beaten the other team. One of the movers assumed the Palestinians had done it. He told the police “We are Israelis” and that the police should be worrying about Palestinians. Maybe the observation and documentation force was separated from the agents who were tracking Al Qaeda.

In November, three of the five agents appeared on Israeli television and admitted they were there to film the attack. This makes clear that they Israelis knew the attack wass coming, and can be taken to confirm the report that Israel warn3ed the US.

Anti-Semites are quick to conclude that the Israel is behind the bombing or somehow in league with Al Qaeda. A New Jersey police official suggested the latter as did one DEA officer. A variant of this theme is that Mossad was somehow helping US intelligence stage the hit. After all, Mossad has been partner to many US black Ops in the past. But there is no evidence that Mossad took any steps to help the hijackers.

An F.B.I. special agent who suspected that the Israel art students were using and helping Al Qaeda was quickly transferred tyo the operation trying to rescue reporter Danny Pearle. When film surfaced showing one of the students using his lighter in a celebratory gesture, the F.B.I. said the person was a Palestinian. A year after the attack, DEA agents still wrote that the students may have had a connection to the terrorists. Some of the Israelis were dressed as Palestinians. The DEA investigation of the art students was tgerminated on the orders of Attorney General John Ashcroft and F.B.I. Director Robert Mueller

F.B.I. agent Michael Dick, who worked closely with John O Neill, was keeping track of employees of an Israeli moving company who were active in New York and New Jersey. These people had intelligence ties and were keeping track of Arabs. They used internet cafes and prepaid telephones, which made it difficult to monitor their communications. Cole also investigated the so-called Israeli art students before Michael Chernoff , head of the Criminal Division of the Justice Department, had him transferred to Pakitan.

On September 11, authorities picked up two white vans that were tied to the moving company. One appeared to be a car bomb because it was backed with explosives. It was stopped at the entrance to the George Washington Bridge. Another white van was stopped several miles north of the tunnel. It is likely that the people in the first van were to abandon it and be picked up by the people in the second while recrossing into New Jersey.

Another van with Israelis was stopped on a ramp near Route 3, which led to the Lincoln tunnel. A mystery caller had warned police about a van approaching the Holland Tunnel. There were no white vans there.

It has been confirmed that two employees of the Odigo Company , an Israeli firm near the WTC, received text messages hours before the attack warning of an “imminent attack on New York City.” The story appeared in Ha'aretz, an Israeli paper and was later confirmed by that source. This does not mean the hit was an Israeli plot; it probably means an Israeli agent was worried about some friends.

On September 4, 2001, Zim-American Israeli Shipping Co. moved from the WTC to Norfolk. But they had announced the move before and they had ten employees in the building on September 11. Fortunately they escaped. Daniel Lewin, a former Mosad agent and passenger on Flight 11, was reportedly killed on the plane but reports differ on how he was killed.

Similarly, it is difficult to believe that after all this surveillance of Al Qaeda suspects that Mossad confined itself to very general warnings. That probably could have been done by relying on a few agents in Hamburg, Greater New York, and Florida. Another possibility, though very remote, is that the Mossad agents were simply inept and turned up very little.

One could not be blamed for concluding that Mossad gave the US good leads on what Al Qaeda was up to and that for some reason or other, the US did not pursue the leads. Many times in the past, Mossad has possessed very damaging information about US operations, and it is likely that the existence of such information has given Israel great influence over some US administrations. Perhaps there was not enough time to debate whether the renewed “hold” on investigating suspicious Saudis should be lifted. Perhaps there was simply more ineptitude on the part of the F.B.I.. One cannot remove the possibility that some in government saw that a terrorist attack would have political benefits, including fueling a new and aggressive program to create a new American century. The trouble with accepting the last possibility is that it makes one a conspiracy theorist. It is far better to remain a respectable journalist or academi C.I.A.n and believe Condi Rice’s pronouncements.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Pakistan and 9/11

Pakistan’s intelligence agency is called the ISI. It became a virtual state within a state when the US C.I.A. gave it billions to fund the mujaheddin’s fight against the Soviets in Afghanistan. Estimates of the cost of that war run between $6 and 40 billion, and it was covered by the Afghan opium trade, the Saudis, and the USA. Opium production there ballooned from 250 tons in 1982 to 2,000 tons in 1990.

The ISI remained in the drug trade after the war and worked out an arrangement with Osama bin Laden in which Al Qaeda got 15% of the profits. The Afghan Taliban was a creation of the ISI and worked with Bin Laden.

The career of a bright and accomplished young man, Ahmed Omar Sayed (Saeed Sheikh), illustrates the ISI-Qaeda connection. The son of a Pakistani clothing manufacturer, he grew up in London, received the best possible education, and developed skills in the martial arts, as a stock analyst/broker, and as a chess player. After doing charity work in Bosnia, he returned to England an Islamic radical. Pervez Musharraf has written that Sayed was recruited by MI 6 while at the London School of Economics and later became a rogue double agent. Some claim MI6 tried again to recruit him while in an Indian prison in 1999.

In 1993, he was in Pakistan working to liberate Kashmir, and soon became so involved in Al Qaeda that he was known as “Osama bin Laden’s son.” Later, there was speculation he could succeed Bin Laden. In 1994 he was incarcerated by the Indians after a trial at which he was represented by an ISI lawyer. He became the leader of his Muslim prison community. He also developed ties with India’s criminal underground which the ISI subsequently used to its advantage.

He was released in December, 1999 in return for a hijacked airliner that was taken to Kandahar, Afghanistan. He went to Kandahar to confer with Taliban leader Mullah Oman and with Al Qaeda leaders. An ISI colonel then escorted him to Pakistan. He emerged as a powerful man in Pakistan. Some think this was due to his ties to the ISI, and others claim his power flowed partly from C.I.A. ties. However, most ISI agents were Islamic fundamentalists who identified with the Taliban. A minority of agents were tied to the C.I.A. and were considered a problem. He has been able to visit Britain freely in 2000 and 2001 even though there were Britains aboard the hijacked airliner. The UK declined to prosecute him and some think he accepted a 1999 UK offer to work for them.

He has helped train terrorists in Afghanistan and has developed a secure web-based communications system for Al Qaeda. On July 2, 2002, an Indian newspaper reported“ Bin Laden, who suffers from renal deficiency, has been periodically undergoing dialysis in a Peshawar[ Pakistan] military hospital with the knowledge and approval of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), if not of [Pakistani President] Musharraf himself.”

Fayyaz Ahmed, another hijkacker received $50,000 in 1995. He cashed a check in Pasadena, which came from an Italian bank but can be traced back to $10,000,000 the Saudi royal family moved from Hamilton Bank of Miami, which has been used in a number of covert activities and was also used by Latin American rightist politicians to park their cash. The F.B.I. claims this was a different Fayyaz Ahmed, a mere student, and has refused to pursue the matter. Hamilton ws closed in 2002 by the FDIC .
Ahmed Omar Sayed, a British citizen and terrorist, was also active carrying out projects for ISI. Using the alias Mustafa Muhammad Ahmad, he wired $100,000 to Mohammed Atta. The US has made no effort to apprehend him. The foreign press claimed to have information that Lt. General Mahmood Ahmed, head of ISI, ordered the money transfer. Other sums were sent to Atta’s account at the Sun Trust Bank in Florida as well as to other banks. According to the Times of India, Indian intelligence provided the C.I.A. with information that proved that the general called Sayed and ordered him to send the money to Mohammed Atta. President Musharaf eventually announced that the general decided to retire on his own volition. General Ahmad was in Washington meeting with Bushofficials and Porter Goss and Senator Bob Grahm at the time of the 9/11 attack. Bin Laden’s brother was meeting with former President George H.W. Bush at the Ritz Carlton in Washington at the same time.

Ahmed Omar Sayed arrived in Washington on September 10 and attended meetings at the Pentagon and National Security Council. He also met with Marc Grossman, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs. On September 12, the general discussed an alliance with the US in a war on terrorism. On October 7, 2001, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf fired . Gen. Ahmed for allegedly supplying the cash that was wired to Atta. Most of the western press simply reported that he was fired for being too close to the Taliban. In fact, his firing occurred immediately after the Indian press revealed that he sent money to Atta through Omar Saeed Sheikh. The general has disappeared from view, but other ISI officers known to have been close to the Taliban remain in their posts.

It is puzzling that Pakistan would have sent $100,000 to Atta in such an open manner, and that the terrorists would then return surplus funds to an UAE account clearly linked to Pakistan. This is a question that will never be answered.

Prior to 9/11, a large portion of the Taliban army was made up of Pakistani soldiers. By the time of the US attack, most of these Pakistans had been withdrawn and the Pakistani government was official ly a US ally.

CNN verified that Sayeed sent the money, and the New York Times suggested he sent about $325,000. The Wall Street Journal and Vanity Fair explored his ties to the ISI. Otherwise, there has been much confusion in the US press about who wired the money to Atta. The F.B.I. has raised many possibilities as to who wired money to Atta and has even suggested that Mustafa Muhammad Ahmad was not an alias at all. Perhaps the raising of these other possible funders of terrorism are part of an effort to obscure Pakistan’s ties to Al Qaeda. The 911 commission reported that it had not been able to establish who funded the hijackers.

Senator Bob Graham, who had been chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee said “foreign governments” funded Al Qaeda. Later, on May 16, 2002, Condoleeza Rice was asked by the press if the ISI chief was involved. The reference to the ISI chief disappeared from the official and CNN transcript of the encounter with the press.
Saeed continued to openly in his Lahore, Pakistan home. In August, 2001, the British finally got around to seeking the extradiction of Saeed for his possible role in the hijacking of the Indian plane, but they received little assistance in the matter. Saeed subsequently masterminded the kidnapping and murder of journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002. The Pakistani government forced Saeed to surrender by threatening his entire family. He surrendered to his ISI handler, Ijaz Shah , and he was secretly held by that agency for several weeks. Musharraf, who visited Washington during this period, claimed he did not know where Saeed was. Saeed then surrendered to Pakistani police and confessed to the murder of Pearl and his ties with Indian criminals. He appeared cocky and certain he would not be extradited or serve more than several years.

Pakistan refused to turn him over to the US, and Pakistani prosecutors asked for a death sentence. Saeed withdrew his confession, and many waited to hear what he would say about ISI in court. He was convicted of masterminding Pearl’s death and given the death sentence. Perhaps still worried about his family’s future, he said little about his ties to the Pakistani government.