Friday, July 29, 2011
Family Members Of Doomed 911 Flights 'Strangely Silent' About Irregularities and Inconsistencies Of Official Government Story
Hijackers fly into Pentagon? No chance, said top brass
'Unrealistic' war game pooh-poohed before 9/11
Julian Borger in Washington
Thursday April 15, 2004
Five months before the September 11 attacks, US military planners suggested a war game to practise a response to a terrorist attack using a commercial airliner flown into the Pentagon, but senior officers rejected the scenario as "too unrealistic".
Details emerged yesterday in an email leaked to a public policy watchdog group. In the email, written a week after the attacks, a special operations officer discussed the exercise with his colleagues.
Details of the exercise, codenamed Positive Force, and the rejected hijacking scenario were confirmed by Norad, the North American aerospace defence command.
The disclosure of the proposal came in the thick of a season of finger-pointing in Washington over responsibility for the failure to prevent the attacks. A national commission is holding hearings on the issue this week.
In a press conference on Tuesday night, George Bush claimed that his administration could not have foreseen the use of aeroplanes as mis siles by terrorists. "We knew he [Osama bin Laden] had designs on us, we knew he hated us. But there was nobody in our government, and I don't think [in] the prior government, that could envision flying airplanes into buildings on such a massive scale," he said.
That claim was questioned in a report published yesterday by the September 11 commission, which pointed to a string of intelligence reports in the 1990s suggesting that al-Qaida was contemplating such ideas, including, in 1998, "a possible plot to fly an explosives-laden aircraft into a US city".
The email leaked to the Project on Government Oversight (Pogo) was written by Terry Ropes, identified as a special operations officer who had been temporarily assigned to Norad in the spring of 2001.
According to Pogo's director, Peter Stockton, special operations officers had the job of testing Norad's air defences by thinking like terrorists and plotting unexpected attacks.
"In defence of my last unit, Norad," Mr Ropes began his email, dated September 18 2001, "the Norad exercise developers wanted an event having a terrorist group hijack a commercial airline and fly it into the Pentagon. Pacom [Pacific command] didn't want it because it would take attention away from their exercise objectives, and joint staff action officers rejected it as too unrealistic."
In response to the leaked email, Norad said in a written statement yesterday: "Before September 11, Norad regularly exercised its response to possible hijacks, but never with the intent of lethal engagement, because planes were normally landed safely by their pilots and the hijackers would begin negotiations.
"Before September 11, Norad conducted four exercises a year, normally to include hijacks."
As for the April exercise and the Pentagon attack scenario mentioned in the email, Norad said: "The exercise was a continuity of operations exercise, with several fictitious scenarios posed during the planning process. This scenario was rejected, as were many others."
"Continuity of operations" refers to government contingency plans to keep working in the event of an attack on the US. American defence officials described the hijack scenario as "thinking outside the box", not a response to a specific threat.
The 1998 plot mentioned by the September 11 commission, involving an explosives-packed aircraft aimed at a city, was reported by an unnamed source "who walked into an American consulate in east Asia".
"Neither the source's reliability, nor the information, could be corroborated," the commission report said. The report also mentioned a 1994 attempt by an Algerian group to fly an airliner into the Eiffel tower, which failed because the group was unable to fly the plane. In early 1995, an accomplice of the convicted terrorist Ramzi Yousef told interrogators in the Philippines that they had discussed flying a plane into the CIA headquarters in Virginia.
Despite such clues, the report said, the CIA's counter-terrorism centre did not analyse how a hijacked aircraft might be used as a weapon. It added: "Neither the intelligence community nor the NSC [national security council] policy process analysed systemic defences against suicide aircraft."
The Libyan National Transitional Council has formed a committee to probe the assassination of the head of the rebels' armed forces and two of his aides, after a rebel special forces member accused fellow rebels of killing them.
Abdel Fattah Younes and his aides were killed by gunmen on Thursday, creating a power vacuum at the top of the opposition military hierarchy and raising questions about who was responsible.
Ali Tarhouni, a rebel minister, said that a militia leader, who had asked to fetch Younes from the frontline near the oil town of Brega, had been arrested and had confessed that his subordinates had carried out the killing.
Mustafa Abdul Jalil, the opposition leader, had called Younes "one of the heroes of the 17th of February revolution", a name marking the date of early protests against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's regime.
He did not say Gaddafi's forces were directly responsible for Younes' killing but said Gaddafi was seeking to break the unity of rebel forces. He also issued a stiff warning about unaffiliated "armed groups" in rebel-held cities, saying they needed to join the fight against Gaddafi or risk being arrested by security forces.
July 29, 20113:29 p.m.
The bill passed on a 218-210 vote, winning no Democratic support while losing 22 Republicans. It now moves to the Senate, where Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid has said it will go nowhere.
With just four days left before the government can no longer pay all of its bills, Reid is working on a separate proposal aimed at winning support for Republican moderates in that chamber.
There once was a time that elected leaders wanted to be seen as powerful to gain the confidence of their constituents. But many House Republicans, who now have in their hands total power to end runaway government once and for all, are feigning powerlessness.
These House Republicans claim to be just one-third of the legislative process, unable to achieve anything useful without compromise and a bipartisan consensus. They grouse that the Democrats in the Senate and President Obama are forcing them to settle for what they can get in exchange for an inevitable and necessary increase in limit. They claim to need even greater electoral victories in 2012 before they can stop the spending.
The truth is that House Republicans already hold all the cards. The debt ceiling is already fixed in law, and will remain fixed unless they capitulate. Rather than just saying no to an increase in the debtlimit which would end deficit spending, the GOP has developed "Cut, Cap, and Balance" which it sells as a principled proposal. Yet, with CC&B, the House Republicans propose to end the deficit spending by the curious method of increasing the national debt by $2.4 trillion (almost 17 percent) to $16.7 trillion.
In increasing the debt ceiling, the House Republicans leaders are doing what comes naturally. The House leadership historically has not wanted to stop spending -- with entitlements like Medicare Part D they have used our own money to buy our votes just like the Democrats. The motivation behind CC&B is not about cutting current spending, capping future spending, or balancing the budget -- it's about what it's always been about -- the politics of reelection.
It could be that the House Republicans are acting out of fear that in holding fast to principle they would not be seen as being "responsible" in the eyes of the media and Wall Street. They could be afraid that Wall Street and the administration could use their refusal to increase the debt ceiling to provoke an international financial crisis that would be blamed on them. They could fear that the American people will turn them out for doing what they said they would do. The common denominator of these motivations is fear, which always leads to bad decisions. If we grant to the establishment the role of arbiter of what is right and responsible, we have given up the fight. House Republicans forget the truism that "we are always more free to do that which is right than we think we are."
When the vote was taken in the House on Tuesday night, only nine Republicans saw through what the leadership was doing. The rest of the House Republicans followed what they thought talk radio, a large swath of the conservative movement, and some misguided Tea Partiers wanted. What makes "Cut, Cap, and Balance" into true political art is that the House Republican leadership is using it to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory while selling this effort to their constituents as an act of courage. Thus far, only www.DownsizeDC.org is leading the charge against it, and onlywww.WorldNetDaily.org is reporting on its flaws.
Let's examine the alternative. What would happen if the House Republicans avoided the temptation to rush in to solve this problem, and just followed the Hippocratic Oath's admonition to first do no harm?
In February 2010, Congress capped the national debt at $14.294 trillion. The level of this debt is a publically reported number, not easily subject to manipulation. When this limit is hit, our nation's spending is necessarily limited by our revenue -- and deficit spending automatically stops.
The federal government would stop inflicting more fiscal damage on successive generations. The nation's sovereignty would be enhanced as we are weaned from reliance on foreign lenders. We just might be forced to end unconstitutional military operations, such as that in Libya. We might finally increase the eligibility age for to adjust to increased life expectancy. The Department of Education, the Legal Services Corporation, ATF, and the FTC could top the list for abolition or at least a huge haircut.
If our goal is to stop the cancer of debt and to have a country that lives within its means -- we could declare victory. After 78 years, the New Deal/Great Society spending spree finally would be over. Further, that hard cap on the nation's debt could never be changed unless the president, the Senate, and the House Republicans all agree.
The website of the CC&B charade states the goal is for "[s]ubstantial cuts in spending that will reduce the deficit next year and thereafter." But with a hard debt ceiling in place, we don't need the "cut" component of CC&B. Since cuts are generally based on projected, not current, spending levels, "cuts" are usually an illusion anyway.
With a hard debt ceiling in place, we don't need a "cap." The same CC&B website demands "[e]nforceable spending caps that will put federal spending on a path to a balanced budget." But when Congress writes -- who is going to do the enforcing? Why just seek to get "on the path" toward a balanced budget, when we have already achieved it?
Lastly, we don't need to go through the lengthy and risky process of passing a balanced budget amendment. In fact, the debt ceiling is much more effective than such an amendment. A balanced budget amendment unreasonably assumes the Commerce Department would never politicize the GDP calculation, and the Congressional Budget Office will be immune from congressional influence.
All we now need is for House Republicans to do nothing, but inaction carries with it political risk. House Republicans could be accused of forcing deep spending cuts and tough choices, but isn't that what House Republicans said they were willing to do during the last election?
House Republicans are certainly afraid that they could be accused of causing a default on the debt. But with almost $200 billion in monthly revenue, there is no shortage of money to pay the necessary $39 billion monthly tab to the creditors of the United States. Any accusation of precipitating a "default" on the national debt is absurd -- unless President Obama and his friends at Goldman Sachs want such a crisis for their own purposes.
It is a certainty that deep spending cuts would alienate the recipients of government largess, but if that price is too high to pay, we are all doomed anyway. Must we always wait until after the next election? Let's eat the peas now, defund great swaths of the federal bureaucracy for an entire fiscal year -- before the spenders could regain power. Who knows -- the fired bureaucrats might even get honest jobs, and learn to like it.
The House Republicans need to assume the political risk for the sake of the country. Inaction would require political courage, but would it be easier if we wait until the burden of nation's debt is allowed to shoot up by another $2.4 trillion? If not now, when?
Bill Olson held three positions during the Reagan administration and his law firm focuses on constitutional law and defending against government excess. Email email@example.com, visit www.lawandfreedom.com, orwww.Twitter.com/OlsonLaw.
Voter approval of the job Congress is doing has fallen to a new low - for the second month in a row.
Just six percent (6%) of Likely U.S. Voters now rate Congress' performance as good or excellent, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Last month, Congressional approval ratings fell to what was then a record low with eight percent (8%) who rated its performance good or excellent.
Most voters don't care much for the way either party is performing in the federal debt ceiling debate. The majority of voters are worried the final deal will raise taxes too much and won't cut spending enough.
Only 11% of voters believe this Congress has passed any legislation that will significantly improve life in America. That ties the lowest ever finding in nearly five years of surveys, last reached in January 2009. Sixty-nine percent (69%) think Congress has not passed any legislation of this caliber, a six-point increase from June and the most negative assessment ever. Nineteen percent (19%) are not sure.
There are fewer undocumented immigrants in California – and the Sacramento region – because many are now finding the American dream south of the border.
"It's now easier to buy homes on credit, find a job and access higher education in Mexico," Sacramento's Mexican consul general, Carlos González Gutiérrez, said Wednesday. "We have become a middle-class country."
Mexico's unemployment rate is now 4.9 percent, compared with 9.4 percent joblessness in the United States.
An estimated 300,000 undocumented immigrants have left California since 2008, though the remaining 2.6 million still make up 7 percent of the population and 9 percent of the labor force, according to the Public Policy Institute of California.
Among metropolitan areas with more than 1 million residents, Sacramento County ranks among the lowest, with an unauthorized population of 4.6 percent of its 1.4 million residents in 2008, according to Laura Hill, a demographer with the PPIC.
Read more: http://www.sacbee.com/2011/07/28/3799513/improving-mexican-economy-draws.html#ixzz1TX9QVBXr
ARLINGTON, Va., July 27 (UPI) -- The killing of Osama bin Laden and seven years of CIA drone strikes have pushed al-Qaida to the brink of collapse, U.S. counterterrorism officials say.
Terrorism against the United States and Americans will likely continue, but the organization, based in Pakistan, that carried out the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks could soon be extinguished, officials told The Washington Post.
The officials cited classified intelligence reports and closed-door Capitol Hill briefings from the CIA, the National Counterterrorism Center and other agencies, the Post said.
"There is a swagger within the community right now for good reason," Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, the ranking Republican on the Senate intelligence committee, told the newspaper.
Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, the jihadist organization's Yemeni and Saudi Arabian offshoot, remains strong and is viewed as a greater counterterrorism challenge than al-Qaida's traditional base, Chambliss said.
Read more: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2011/07/27/US-intelligence-Al-Qaida-near-collapse/UPI-62691311755400/#ixzz1TWA0iuCQ
|The US mainstream media has tended to shy away from showing images that accurately depict the reality of war [EPA]|
Why is it so easy for political leaders in the US to convince ordinary citizens to support war? How is it that, after that initial enthusiasm has given away to fatigue and disgust, the reaction is mere disinterest rather than righteous rage? Even when the reasons given for taking the US to war were proven to have been not only wrong, but brazenly fraudulent - as in Iraq, which hadn't possessed chemical weapons since 1991 - no one is called to account.
The United States claims to be a shining beacon of democracy to the world. And many of the citizens of the world believe it. But democracy is about responsiveness and accountability - the responsiveness of political leaders to an engaged and informed electorate, which holds that leadership class accountable for its mistakes and misdeeds. How to explain Americans' acquiescence in the face of political leaders who repeatedly lead it into illegal, geopolitically disastrous and economically devastating wars of choice?
The dynamics of US public opinion have changed dramatically since the 1960s, when popular opposition to the Vietnam War coalesced into an antiestablishmentarian political and cultural movement that nearly toppled the government - and led to a series of sweeping social reforms whose contemporary ripples include the recent move to legalise marriage between members of the same sex.
Former President George W. Bush says his apparent lack of reaction to the first news of the September 11 2001 attacks was a conscious decision to project an aura of calm in a crisis.
In a rare interview with the National Geographic Channel, Bush reflects on what was going through his mind at the most dramatic moment of his presidency when he was informed that a second passenger jet had hit New York's World Trade Center.
Bush was visiting a Florida classroom and the incident, which was caught on TV film, and has often been used by critics to ridicule his apparently blank face.
"My first reaction was anger. Who the hell would do that to America? Then I immediately focused on the children, and the contrast between the attack and the innocence of children," Bush says in an excerpt of the interview shown to television writers on Thursday.
Bush said he could see the news media at the back of the classroom getting the news on their own cellphones "and it was like watching a silent movie."
Bush said he quickly realized that a lot of people beyond the classroom would be watching for his reaction.
TSA to continue using radiation-firing devices despite availability of safe alternative
Paul Joseph Watson
Friday, July 29, 2011
Even as the US economy teeters on the brink of default, the federal government has handed a $72 million dollar contract to defense contractor Lockheed Martin to install radiation-firing body scanners at 300 more airports across the east and central United States, despite the availability of devices that do not rely on radiation to function.
“Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) has been awarded two regional task orders totalling $72 million to help TSA integrate and deploy new passenger screening and security equipment at airports across the east and central United States,” states the press release.
The defense contractor is virtually tied at the hip with the U.S. government, receiving tens of billions of dollars in contracts every year, and has a substantial lobbying budget which is used to support Congress members and Senators who “advocate national defense and relevant business issues.”
Despite the TSA’s recent announcement that it plans to install a “privacy friendly” software update that will dispense with images that show intricate details of a person’s naked body, the devices will continue to use radiation in order to function.
This is a completely unnecessary health risk given the fact that Sony Corporation is already using scanners that don’t rely on any form of energy being fired into the body to work, instead using “passive energy” to produce an image that also shows a generic outline of a person’s body.
In addition, Australian airports have begun trialing body scanning technology that neither emits any form of radiation, nor produces a naked image of the person passing through it.
The U.S. economy grew less than expected in the second quarter as consumer spending barely rose, and growth braked sharply in the prior quarter, a government report showed on Friday.
Growth in gross domestic product—a measure of all goods and services produced within U.S. borders—rose at a 1.3 percent annual rate, the Commerce Department said.
First-quarter output was sharply revised down to a 0.4 percent pace from 1.9 percent.
Economists had expected the economy to expand at a 1.8 percent rate in the second quarter.
The stare-down over the debt limit debate had become so fierce that a trio of South Carolina Republicans, pressured by their leaders to agree to a bill they didn't like, sought answers from a higher power.
"I'm going to pray on it," Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., said late Thursday.
He ducked into a locked, little-known room tucked between the Rotunda walls and House Speaker John Boehner's office. Soon, fellow South Carolina Republicans Mick Mulvaney and Tim Scott punched the door combination and joined him.
Scott seemed the least burdened of the three. For him, "divine inspiration already happened."
"I was a lean no. Now I'm a no," he said with a grin.
The trio settled into chairs in the small, high-ceilinged room, which is dominated by a stained glass window that does not face the outside and fills the entire wall. A light behind it reveals George Washington at its center, on bended knee.
Their retreat lasted about 10 minutes. House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, deep into the difficult task of rounding up enough votes to pass Boehner's debt ceiling plan, had summoned the lawmakers to his office for pizza and a chat. They ambled downstairs and joined a parade of Republican colleagues filing into McCarthy's office who had not committed to voting for Boehner's bill.
Read more: http://www.heraldonline.com/2011/07/29/3255917/members-pressured-on-debt-seek.html#ixzz1TUtoN0te