Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Ken O'Keefe Joins London Symposium

The honor of announcing that Ken O'Keefe will be joining our London symposium gives me a great sense of pride. For those who do not know, Ken stood tall during the Israeli commando raid on the Freedom Flotilla bringing aid to the prisoners of Gaza, the largest concentration camp in the world. Ken, who is a Marine veteran, captured two Israelis suspected of the murder of Turkish photojournalist during the battle on the Mavi Marmara. As the article we are featuring here explains, he was taken to Israel and beaten, tortured for two days before being released. This was a shameless example of the brutality of Israeli operations against peaceful citizens who are doing what they can to relive the suffering being endured by some 1.5 million Palestinians, who are being deprived of their human rights because of an illegal Israeli blockade.

Ken will be serving as our Master of Ceremonies and will introduce each of the speakers while relating some of his experiences aboard the Mavi Marmara along the way. The event will be held at Friends House opposite Euston Station, one of the premier venues for public meetings, where the discussion of the absence of any justification--historical, religious, moral or political--for wars of aggression in Iraq and Afghanistan will become apparent to everyone who attends. This location appears to be especially appropriate, given the dedication of the Quakers to discouraging war and to preserving a just and peaceful world. While the presentation of the symposium does not imply an endorsement by Friends House, I could not be more delighted that it will be held there, where an audience of 500 is expected to attend.



The "war on terror" has been justified by 9/11, by religious and moral arguments, and by political persuasion. The speakers will address the crucial arguments for war: Have we been told the truth about 9/11? Do religion and morality support these wars? Does analysis of the political language employed to justify them reveal a hidden agenda? They will demonstrate that the "war on terror" is a complete and unjustifiable fraud.


  • Ken O’Keefe (Ireland/Palestine), Master of Ceremonies
  • James Fetzer (US), Founder, Scholars for 9/11 Truth
    "Are wars in Iraq and Afghanistan justified by 9/11?"
  • Kevin Barrett (US), Co-Founder, Muslims for 9/11 Truth
    "Islam, Neoconservatism, and the Unwarranted 'War on Terror'"
  • Gilad Atzmon (UK), Jazz Musician and Political Commentator
    "From Promised Land to Promised Planet: Zionism and Neoconservatism"

For more, visit

6:30-9:30 PM, 14 JULY 2010 FRIENDS HOUSE

It is also a pleasure to present an interview with Ken on Kevin Barrett's Tuesday radio program, which is broadcast over "No Lies Radio", which is the theme of his and my research in relation to JFK, 9/11, and other issues of public concern. This interview took place on 29 June 2010, offering a first-hand report on the atrocities committed against the Mavi Marmara.

Hero Of Gaza Flotilla Goes Head To Head With Biased BBC “Israeli Firster”
Gordon Duff / 29 June 2010

For those Americans that don’t know, Ken O’Keefe is the United States Marine combat veteran who captured two Israeli’s suspected of the murder of Turkish photojournalist during the battle on the Mavi Marmara. Veterans Today staff writer, O’Keefe was captured, taken to Israel and beaten, tortured for two days before being released. Israeli’s claimed O’Keefe was planning to set up a training school for terrorists inside Gaza while on the ill fated relief mission attacked in international waters by 24 Israeli ships and dozens of American built Blackhawk and Apache helicopters. As many as 6,500 Israelis are believed to have taken part in the operation, deemed a “war crime” by maritime law experts with the British government.

Nine are known to have died, with autopsies showing “execution style ” killings and many more are still missing, fate unknown. Verified witness reports indicate that Israeli soldiers threw four wounded humanitarian workers overboard to their deaths, victims not listed on the official tally. Other victims are unaccounted for, either killed in Israeli custody, dead from lack of medical care for wounds or being held in secret detention facilities. It is believed these names were withheld because the victims had no affiliations with any Islamic organization and one or more may have been American citizens.

Over the weeks since the dramatic Mediterranean confrontation between the Freedom Flotilla and Israeli “sort of” commandos, Ken O’Keefe and I have developed a friendship. Veterans Today is always glad to bring another Marine onboard as a writer as we are overloaded with retired spies, Army people or even worse. I talked extensively with Ken prior to his famous televised interview on BBC. Ken has become representative of a large group of, what is to us younger veterans who are sick of the American policy, now increasingly discredited, of believing anything Israel says and supporting everything they do. Our contention is that Israel has suffered a coup, a military take-over which has left their democratic government as little more than a debating society while extremists are running amok, as Israeli Ambassador Oren calls them, “rogue groups.”

Increasingly, our Israeli based writers, such as former Irgun and IDF fighter, Uri Avnery, have come under physical attack, some inside Israel, some out. Ken O’Keefe was attacked in London this week. Others, many, have received death threats and more, such as Noam Chomsky, have been refused travel restrictions. Israeli nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu was arrested in Tel Aviv and put in solitary confinement and more have been subjected to cars stolen, laptops seized and homes broken into by “black bag” crews in areas as remote as Sudan and even in the US and Western Europe.

The surprise announcement by Israel through Ambassador Michael Oren that they have lost control of violent groups of right wing Likudists responsible for acts, as Oren admits, including spying on the United States, caught Mid-East observers off balance. Attempts to get information on other operations, such as the Dubai assassination or the London Bombings of 7/7, which could possibly be attributed to this ultra-nationalist cabal referred to by Ambassador Oren have been stonewalled.

This O’Keefe interview, an unsuccessful attempt at an “ambush” by a BBC “Rush Limbaugh clone” fails at its task. Continual interruptions, misstatements and eventually outright propagandizing by the BBC pundit with an embarrassing pro-Israeli agenda isn’t enough to get O’Keefe to walk away. Veterans Today thanks the BBC for allowing Ken O’Keefe an opportunity to show, not only how transparent their bias is but why underestimating United States Marines has been a foolish endeavor since November 10, 1775.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Conspiracies and conspiracism

Jim Fetzer
Online Journal
28 June 2010

MADISON, Wisc. -- A new study from Political Research Associates entitled Toxic To Democracy: Conspiracy Theories, Demonization, & Scapegoating, by Chip Berlet now proclaims that conspiracy theories are “toxic to democracy” because they share some portion of moral responsibility for irresponsible acts, such as the shooting of the abortion provider, Dr. George Tiller, which some have associated with Rush Limbaugh and other pro-life zealots. By adopting a sweeping stance that does not discriminate between different cases on the basis of logic and evidence, Berlet discredits himself. Since conspiracies only require collaboration between two or more individuals in illegal acts, they are as American as apple pie.

Perhaps Berlet didn’t get the memo, but according to the government, the US was attacked on 9/11 by 19 Islamic fundamentalists who used box cutters to hijack four airplanes, outfox the most sophisticated air defense system in the world, and commit multiple atrocities under the control of a guy in a cave in Afghanistan. When I published a critique of the “official account,” which suggests the facts contradict it, I used the title, THE 9/11 CONSPIRACY, in the knowledge that either way a conspiracy was involved -- either one told by the government using THE 9/11 COMMISSION REPORT, or something far more sinister, which involved key members of the Bush administration with a little help from their friends. (See, e.g., “9/11 and the Neo-Con Agenda” and the PowerPoint presentation, “Was 9/11 an ‘inside job’?,” which is archived at

According to Berlet, belief in a conspiracy turns out to be the manifestation of a “belief system” that violates the principles of logic. Having taught logic, critical thinking, and scientific reasoning for 35 years, however, the violations of logic seem to be committed by the author. Berlet commits many fallacies in the course of his study, including some stunning, easily disprovable generalizations about reasoning:

“Conspiracism is neither a healthy expression of skepticism nor a valid form of criticism; rather it is a belief system that refuses to obey the rules of logic. These theories operate from a pre-existing premise of a conspiracy based upon careless collection of facts and flawed assumptions. What constitutes ‘proof’ for a conspiracist is often more accurately described as circumstance, rumor, and hearsay; and the allegations often use the tools of fear -- dualism, demonization, scapegoating, and aggressively apocalyptic stories -- which all too often are commandeered by demagogues.” (Toxic to Democracy)

No one would deny that a certain proportion of the American public may be vulnerable to “conspiracism” in this sense, which represents the modus operandi of Rush Limbaugh and other right-wing zealots, who find conspiracies to be a ubiquitous part of public life, from left-wing efforts to spend the country into oblivion to encouraging illegal immigrants to flow into the country unabated to questioning whether Barack Obama has the qualification for office of being “native born.”

These are the kinds of “conspiracy theories” that are dime a dozen, which find gullible followers across the country by the bushel basket.

But so what? If conspiracy theories like these are supposed to be “toxic to democracy,” then democracy needs to be made of sterner stuff. Circumstance, rumor, and hearsay, after all, tend to be the starting point for more serious studies of specific events. The BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico is a case in point. Who has not heard swirling rumors about Halliburton having cut corners, the BP practice of putting profits before safety, and the further catastrophes that await those who reside along the coast of the states that are most directly affected? Puzzlement over phenomena that do not readily fit into our background knowledge and preliminary understanding is the point of departure for scientific investigations that may better reveal the truth.

Suppose we were prohibited from speculation and rumor in relation to the events that have made the most difference to American history in recent time? The most important aspect of reasoning is comparisons between different theories to measure which best explains the data. Indeed, Jesse Ventura’s AMERICAN CONSPIRACES advances no less that 14 illustrations of the collaboration between two or more individuals to bring about illegal ends, from the assassination of Abraham Lincoln (where four co-conspirators were hanged from the same gallows at the very same time), to the big-money conspiracy to overthrow the government in 1934 on to Watergate, the Jonestown Massacre, the Iran-scam that gave the presidency to Ronald Reagan, drug-dealing by the CIA, and many more -- a list that can be readily expanded by the assassinations of JFK, RFK, MLK, and Malcolm X (see, for example, JFK and RFK: The Plots that Killed Them, The Patsies that Didn’t).

Berlet claims (what he calls) conspiracism “must be confronted as a flawed analytical model, rather than a legitimate mode of criticism of inequitable systems, structures, and institutions of power.” He claims it suffers from four debilitating features as “metaframes” of the model:

  • dualism, according to which the world is -- presumably simplistically -- divided into the forces of good and the forces of evil;

  • scapegoating, according to which an individual or group of people is wrongly stereotyped with negative characteristics;

  • demonization, according to which an individual or a group is taken to be the personification of evil; and,

  • apocalyptic aggression, which occurs when scapegoats are targeted as enemies of the “common good” and may be subjected to violence.
What is fascinating about these categories is how well they fit many of the government’s own campaigns to convince the American people to support an unpopular course of action. After 9/11, for example, the world was divided into the forces of good (the Americans) and those of evil (the Mulsims). Members of the Muslim community were said to be fanatical and violent, contrary to the principles of the Koran. Nineteen alleged hijackers and al Qaeda were scapegoated as responsible for those atrocities. And wars of aggression would be launched against Iraq and Afghanistan, which continue to this day.

Berlet tells us that what “conspiracy theorists lack is the desire or ability to follow the basic rules of logic and investigative research.” We can all remember being told Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11, but eventually even George W. Bush acknowledged that Saddam had nothing to do with 9/11. We were told that Iraq was in cahoots with al Qaeda, but investigations by the Senate and the Pentagon showed that that was not the case. And when Ed Haas of “The Muckraker Report” questioned Tex Tomb of the FBI about why 9/11 received no mention on a “wanted poster” for Osama bid Laden, he was told the reason was the FBI had “no hard evidence” connecting Osama bin Laden to the events of 9/11. But if Saddam was not responsible and if Osama was not responsible, then who was responsible for 9/11?

Indeed, according to THE 9/11 COMMISSION, 15 of the 19 alleged hijackers were from Saudi Arabia. The number from Iraq was zero. So why did we attack Iraq instead of Saudi Arabia? That looks like a stunning illustration of the failure to follow basic rules of logic or investigative research. As Ron Suskind, THE PRICE OF LOYALTY, reported, George W. Bush’s first secretary of the Treasury, Paul O’Neil, was astonished that war with Iraq was discussed at the first meeting of the cabinet, nearly nine months before the events of 9/11. Which means 9/11 was used as a fabricated rationale to support a predetermined conclusion, which appears to have been a policy that was adopted by Bush and Cheney before their formal inauguration.

While Berlet insists that “conspiracism” fails to follow the basic rules of logic and investigative journalism, he should have explained that rumor and conjecture represent the second stage of scientific modes of reasoning, where it is crucial to elaborate all possible alternative explanations to insure that the true hypothesis is not excluded from scratch. Thus, the first stages of puzzlement and of speculation are followed by those of adaptation (of hypothesis to evidence, using likelihood measures of evidential support) and of explanation (when the evidence has “settled down” and the best supported hypothesis is entitled to acceptance in the tentative and fallible fashion distinctive of science (see “Thinking about ‘Conspiracy Theories: 9/11 and JFK”).

The essence of Berlet’s book, however, is that he believes conspiracy theories come out of psychological needs of prejudiced people, which makes them INTERNAL FANTASIES. He is thereby throwing the crime baby out with the conspiracy bath water. Conspiracies really do happen in the EXTERNAL WORLD. They are not merely internal figments of the imagination. It is true that some people embrace conspiracy theories and reveal themselves by the inability to improve or adjust their views in light of new evidence or new hypotheses. If they are scapegoating, then the internal origin of their conspiracy need is manifest. However, conspiracy crimes are commonplace and external to us. When they are the subjects of objective investigations, those who study them are governed by logic and evidence, which are basic to rationality.

Ultimately, Berlet has defined a belief system called “conspiracism” that has only tenuous connections with conspiracies. While some gullible persons may satisfy its constraints, there are vastly more conspiracies than there are examples of conspiracism. Ask what Shakespeare would have had to write about if not for plots against the kings and queens of England. How many victims of conspiracies have died in the 20th century alone? In his brilliant study, “The Silence of the Historians,” for example, David W. Mantik, M.D., Ph.D., lists the names of more than two dozen prominent political figures -- from Franz Ferdinand and Czar Nicholas II to Salvadore Allende and Fidel Castro -- who were targeted for assassination by multiple conspirators on a single page of MURDER IN DEALEY PLAZA (page 402).

The ultimate failure of Berlet’s study is that it succumbs to the kind of simplistic thinking that he condemns. The world is divided into forces of good (the rational thinkers) and evil (the conspiracy theorists). The evil conspiracy theorists are stereotyped as trading in circumstance, rumor, and hearsay, while the rational thinkers follow the rules of logic and investigative journalism. Their careless collections of facts and flawed assumptions are often commandeered by demagogues. And of course they can be used to incite unjustified violence against innocent parties. But this presumes knowledge of which claims are true and which assumptions are flawed. Simplistic thinking of Berlet’s kind does not advance understanding. As Michael Moore said, when asked if he was into conspiracy theories, ”Only those that are true.” Each case must be evaluated on its merits using logic and evidence.

Thanks to Mike Sparks for inviting my attention to Berlet’s study and more.

James H. Fetzer is the editor of and co-editor of He has a blog at His academic web site is found at

Monday, June 21, 2010

Gulf oil spill: A hole in the world

The Deepwater Horizon disaster is not just an industrial accident – it is a violent wound inflicted on the Earth itself. In this special report from the Gulf coast, a leading author and activist shows how it lays bare the hubris at the heart of capitalism.

Naomi Klein
The Guardian
19 June 2010

‘Obama cannot order pelicans not to die (no matter whose ass he kicks). And no amount of money – not BP’s $20bn, not $100bn – can replace a culture that’s lost its roots.’ Photograph: Lee Celano/Reuters

Everyone gathered for the town hall meeting had been repeatedly instructed to show civility to the gentlemen from BP and the federal government. These fine folks had made time in their busy schedules to come to a high school gymnasium on a Tuesday night in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, one of many coastal communities where brown poison was slithering through the marshes, part of what has come to be described as the largest environmental disaster in US history.

"Speak to others the way you would want to be spoken to," the chair of the meeting pleaded one last time before opening the floor for questions.

And for a while the crowd, mostly made up of fishing families, showed remarkable restraint. They listened patiently to Larry Thomas, a genial BP public relations flack, as he told them that he was committed to "doing better" to process their claims for lost revenue – then passed all the details off to a markedly less friendly subcontractor. They heard out the suit from the Environmental Protection Agency as he informed them that, contrary to what they have read about the lack of testing and the product being banned in Britain, the chemical dispersant being sprayed on the oil in massive quantities was really perfectly safe.

But patience started running out by the third time Ed Stanton, a coast guard captain, took to the podium to reassure them that "the coast guard intends to make sure that BP cleans it up".

"Put it in writing!" someone shouted out. By now the air conditioning had shut itself off and the coolers of Budweiser were running low. A shrimper named Matt O'Brien approached the mic. "We don't need to hear this anymore," he declared, hands on hips. It didn't matter what assurances they were offered because, he explained, "we just don't trust you guys!" And with that, such a loud cheer rose up from the floor you'd have thought the Oilers (the unfortunately named school football team) had scored a touchdown.

The showdown was cathartic, if nothing else. For weeks residents had been subjected to a barrage of pep talks and extravagant promises coming from Washington, Houston and London. Every time they turned on their TVs, there was the BP boss, Tony Hayward, offering his solemn word that he would "make it right". Or else it was President Barack Obama expressing his absolute confidence that his administration would "leave the Gulf coast in better shape than it was before", that he was "making sure" it "comes back even stronger than it was before this crisis".

It all sounded great. But for people whose livelihoods put them in intimate contact with the delicate chemistry of the wetlands, it also sounded completely ridiculous, painfully so. Once the oil coats the base of the marsh grass, as it had already done just a few miles from here, no miracle machine or chemical concoction could safely get it out. You can skim oil off the surface of open water, and you can rake it off a sandy beach, but an oiled marsh just sits there, slowly dying. The larvae of countless species for which the marsh is a spawning ground – shrimp, crab, oysters and fin fish – will be poisoned.

It was already happening. Earlier that day, I travelled through nearby marshes in a shallow water boat. Fish were jumping in waters encircled by white boom, the strips of thick cotton and mesh BP is using to soak up the oil. The circle of fouled material seemed to be tightening around the fish like a noose. Nearby, a red-winged blackbird perched atop a 2 metre (7ft) blade of oil-contaminated marsh grass. Death was creeping up the cane; the small bird may as well have been standing on a lit stick of dynamite.

Internal BP document ‘raises troubling questions about what BP knew, and when’, said congressman Ed Markey. Photograph: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

And then there is the grass itself, or the Roseau cane, as the tall sharp blades are called. If oil seeps deeply enough into the marsh, it will not only kill the grass above ground but also the roots. Those roots are what hold the marsh together, keeping bright green land from collapsing into the Mississippi River delta and the Gulf of Mexico. So not only do places like Plaquemines Parish stand to lose their fisheries, but also much of the physical barrier that lessens the intensity of fierce storms like hurricane Katrina. Which could mean losing everything.

How long will it take for an ecosystem this ravaged to be "restored and made whole" as Obama's interior secretary has pledged to do? It's not at all clear that such a thing is remotely possible, at least not in a time frame we can easily wrap our heads around. The Alaskan fisheries have yet to fully recover from the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill and some species of fish never returned. Government scientists now estimate that as much as a Valdez-worth of oil may be entering the Gulf coastal waters every four days. An even worse prognosis emerges from the 1991 Gulf war spill, when an estimated 11m barrels of oil were dumped into the Persian Gulf – the largest spill ever. That oil entered the marshland and stayed there, burrowing deeper and deeper thanks to holes dug by crabs. It's not a perfect comparison, since so little clean-up was done, but according to a study conducted 12 years after the disaster, nearly 90% of the impacted muddy salt marshes and mangroves were still profoundly damaged.

Tension boils over ... Ms Wilson near Mr Hayward in Congress and, left, Ms Wilson, who is from the Gulf of Mexico, is arrested.

We do know this. Far from being "made whole," the Gulf coast, more than likely, will be diminished. Its rich waters and crowded skies will be less alive than they are today. The physical space many communities occupy on the map will also shrink, thanks to erosion. And the coast's legendary culture will contract and wither. The fishing families up and down the coast do not just gather food, after all. They hold up an intricate network that includes family tradition, cuisine, music, art and endangered languages – much like the roots of grass holding up the land in the marsh. Without fishing, these unique cultures lose their root system, the very ground on which they stand. (BP, for its part, is well aware of the limits of recovery. The company's Gulf of Mexico regional oil spill response plan specifically instructs officials not to make "promises that property, ecology, or anything else will be restored to normal". Which is no doubt why its officials consistently favour folksy terms like "make it right".)

If Katrina pulled back the curtain on the reality of racism in America, the BP disaster pulls back the curtain on something far more hidden: how little control even the most ingenious among us have over the awesome, intricately interconnected natural forces with which we so casually meddle. BP cannot plug the hole in the Earth that it made. Obama cannot order fish species to survive, or brown pelicans not to go extinct (no matter whose ass he kicks). No amount of money – not BP's recently pledged $20bn (£13.5bn), not $100bn – can replace a culture that has lost its roots. And while our politicians and corporate leaders have yet to come to terms with these humbling truths, the people whose air, water and livelihoods have been contaminated are losing their illusions fast.

"Everything is dying," a woman said as the town hall meeting was finally coming to a close. "How can you honestly tell us that our Gulf is resilient and will bounce back? Because not one of you up here has a hint as to what is going to happen to our Gulf. You sit up here with a straight face and act like you know when you don't know."

This Gulf coast crisis is about many things – corruption, deregulation, the addiction to fossil fuels. But underneath it all, it's about this: our culture's excruciatingly dangerous claim to have such complete understanding and command over nature that we can radically manipulate and re-engineer it with minimal risk to the natural systems that sustain us. But as the BP disaster has revealed, nature is always more unpredictable than the most sophisticated mathematical and geological models imagine. During Thursday's congressional testimony, Hayward said: "The best minds and the deepest expertise are being brought to bear" on the crisis, and that, "with the possible exception of the space programme in the 1960s, it is difficult to imagine the gathering of a larger, more technically proficient team in one place in peacetime." And yet, in the face of what the geologist Jill Schneiderman has described as "Pandora's well", they are like the men at the front of that gymnasium: they act like they know, but they don't know.

BP's mission statement

In the arc of human history, the notion that nature is a machine for us to re-engineer at will is a relatively recent conceit. In her ground-breaking 1980 book The Death of Nature, the environmental historian Carolyn Merchant reminded readers that up until the 1600s, the Earth was alive, usually taking the form of a mother. Europeans – like indigenous people the world over – believed the planet to be a living organism, full of life-giving powers but also wrathful tempers. There were, for this reason, strong taboos against actions that would deform and desecrate "the mother", including mining.

The metaphor changed with the unlocking of some (but by no means all) of nature's mysteries during the scientific revolution of the 1600s. With nature now cast as a machine, devoid of mystery or divinity, its component parts could be dammed, extracted and remade with impunity. Nature still sometimes appeared as a woman, but one easily dominated and subdued. Sir Francis Bacon best encapsulated the new ethos when he wrote in the 1623 De dignitate et augmentis scientiarum that nature is to be "put in constraint, moulded, and made as it were new by art and the hand of man".

Those words may as well have been BP's corporate mission statement. Boldly inhabiting what the company called "the energy frontier", it dabbled in synthesising methane-producing microbes and announced that "a new area of investigation" would be geoengineering. And of course it bragged that, at its Tiber prospect in the Gulf of Mexico, it now had "the deepest well ever drilled by the oil and gas industry" – as deep under the ocean floor as jets fly overhead.

Imagining and preparing for what would happen if these experiments in altering the building blocks of life and geology went wrong occupied precious little space in the corporate imagination. As we have all discovered, after the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded on 20 April, the company had no systems in place to effectively respond to this scenario. Explaining why it did not have even the ultimately unsuccessful containment dome waiting to be activated on shore, a BP spokesman, Steve Rinehart, said: "I don't think anybody foresaw the circumstance that we're faced with now." Apparently, it "seemed inconceivable" that the blowout preventer would ever fail – so why prepare?

This refusal to contemplate failure clearly came straight from the top. A year ago, Hayward told a group of graduate students at Stanford University that he has a plaque on his desk that reads: "If you knew you could not fail, what would you try?" Far from being a benign inspirational slogan, this was actually an accurate description of how BP and its competitors behaved in the real world. In recent hearings on Capitol Hill, congressman Ed Markey of Massachusetts grilled representatives from the top oil and gas companies on the revealing ways in which they had allocated resources. Over three years, they had spent "$39bn to explore for new oil and gas. Yet, the average investment in research and development for safety, accident prevention and spill response was a paltry $20m a year."

An oil-covered pelican is lifted out of the Gulf of Mexico. For oil operators in the region, forecasted hurricanes could be a disaster

These priorities go a long way towards explaining why the initial exploration plan that BP submitted to the federal government for the ill-fated Deepwater Horizon well reads like a Greek tragedy about human hubris. The phrase "little risk" appears five times. Even if there is a spill, BP confidently predicts that, thanks to "proven equipment and technology", adverse affects will be minimal. Presenting nature as a predictable and agreeable junior partner (or perhaps subcontractor), the report cheerfully explains that should a spill occur, "Currents and microbial degradation would remove the oil from the water column or dilute the constituents to background levels". The effects on fish, meanwhile, "would likely be sublethal" because of "the capability of adult fish and shellfish to avoid a spill [and] to metabolise hydrocarbons". (In BP's telling, rather than a dire threat, a spill emerges as an all-you-can-eat buffet for aquatic life.)

Best of all, should a major spill occur, there is, apparently, "little risk of contact or impact to the coastline" because of the company's projected speedy response (!) and "due to the distance [of the rig] to shore" – about 48 miles (77km). This is the most astonishing claim of all. In a gulf that often sees winds of more than 70km an hour, not to mention hurricanes, BP had so little respect for the ocean's capacity to ebb and flow, surge and heave, that it did not think oil could make a paltry 77km trip. (Last week, a shard of the exploded Deepwater Horizon showed up on a beach in Florida, 306km away.)

None of this sloppiness would have been possible, however, had BP not been making its predictions to a political class eager to believe that nature had indeed been mastered. Some, like Republican Lisa Murkowski, were more eager than others. The Alaskan senator was so awe-struck by the industry's four-dimensional seismic imaging that she proclaimed deep-sea drilling to have reached the very height of controlled artificiality. "It's better than Disneyland in terms of how you can take technologies and go after a resource that is thousands of years old and do so in an environmentally sound way," she told the Senate energy committee just seven months ago.

Drilling without thinking has of course been Republican party policy since May 2008. With gas prices soaring to unprecedented heights, that's when the conservative leader Newt Gingrich unveiled the slogan "Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less" – with an emphasis on the now. The wildly popular campaign was a cry against caution, against study, against measured action. In Gingrich's telling, drilling at home wherever the oil and gas might be – locked in Rocky Mountain shale, in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and deep offshore – was a surefire way to lower the price at the pump, create jobs, and kick Arab ass all at once. In the face of this triple win, caring about the environment was for sissies: as senator Mitch McConnell put it, "in Alabama and Mississippi and Louisiana and Texas, they think oil rigs are pretty". By the time the infamous "Drill Baby Drill" Republican national convention rolled around, the party base was in such a frenzy for US-made fossil fuels, they would have bored under the convention floor if someone had brought a big enough drill.

Hurricane Katrina devastated the US coast in 2005

Obama, eventually, gave in, as he invariably does. With cosmic bad timing, just three weeks before the Deepwater Horizon blew up, the president announced he would open up previously protected parts of the country to offshore drilling. The practice was not as risky as he had thought, he explained. "Oil rigs today generally don't cause spills. They are technologically very advanced." That wasn't enough for Sarah Palin, however, who sneered at the Obama administration's plans to conduct more studies before drilling in some areas. "My goodness, folks, these areas have been studied to death," she told the Southern Republican leadership conference in New Orleans, now just 11 days before the blowout. "Let's drill, baby, drill, not stall, baby, stall!" And there was much rejoicing.

In his congressional testimony, Hayward said: "We and the entire industry will learn from this terrible event." And one might well imagine that a catastrophe of this magnitude would indeed instil BP executives and the "Drill Now" crowd with a new sense of humility. There are, however, no signs that this is the case. The response to the disaster – at the corporate and governmental levels – has been rife with the precise brand of arrogance and overly sunny predictions that created the disaster in the first place.

The ocean is big, she can take it, we heard from Hayward in the early days. While spokesman John Curry insisted that hungry microbes would consume whatever oil was in the water system, because "nature has a way of helping the situation". But nature has not been playing along. The deep-sea gusher has bust out of all BP's top hats, containment domes, and junk shots. The ocean's winds and currents have made a mockery of the lightweight booms BP has laid out to absorb the oil. "We told them," said Byron Encalade, the president of the Louisiana Oysters Association. "The oil's gonna go over the booms or underneath the bottom." Indeed it did. The marine biologist Rick Steiner, who has been following the clean up closely, estimates that "70% or 80% of the booms are doing absolutely nothing at all".

And then there are the controversial chemical dispersants: more than 1.3m gallons dumped with the company's trademark "what could go wrong?" attitude. As the angry residents at the Plaquemines Parish town hall rightly point out, few tests had been conducted, and there is scant research about what this unprecedented amount of dispersed oil will do to marine life. Nor is there a way to clean up the toxic mixture of oil and chemicals below the surface. Yes, fast multiplying microbes do devour underwater oil – but in the process they also absorb the water's oxygen, creating a whole new threat to marine life.

BP had even dared to imagine that it could prevent unflattering images of oil-covered beaches and birds from escaping the disaster zone. When I was on the water with a TV crew, for instance, we were approached by another boat whose captain asked, ""Y'all work for BP?" When we said no, the response – in the open ocean – was "You can't be here then". But of course these heavy-handed tactics, like all the others, have failed. There is simply too much oil in too many places. "You cannot tell God's air where to flow and go, and you can't tell water where to flow and go," I was told by Debra Ramirez. It was a lesson she had learned from living in Mossville, Louisiana, surrounded by 14 emission-spewing petrochemical plants, and watching illness spread from neighbour to neighbour.

Human limitation has been the one constant of this catastrophe. After two months, we still have no idea how much oil is flowing, nor when it will stop. The company's claim that it will complete relief wells by the end of August – repeated by Obama in his Oval Office address – is seen by many scientists as a bluff. The procedure is risky and could fail, and there is a real possibility that the oil could continue to leak for years.

Unidentified Bird, East Grand Terre Island, LA

The flow of denial shows no sign of abating either. Louisiana politicians indignantly oppose Obama's temporary freeze on deepwater drilling, accusing him of killing the one big industry left standing now that fishing and tourism are in crisis. Palin mused on Facebook that "no human endeavour is ever without risk", while Texas Republican congressman John Culberson described the disaster as a "statistical anomaly". By far the most sociopathic reaction, however, comes from veteran Washington commentator Llewellyn King: rather than turning away from big engineering risks, we should pause in "wonder that we can build machines so remarkable that they can lift the lid off the underworld".

Make the bleeding stop

Thankfully, many are taking a very different lesson from the disaster, standing not in wonder at humanity's power to reshape nature, but at our powerlessness to cope with the fierce natural forces we unleash. There is something else too. It is the feeling that the hole at the bottom of the ocean is more than an engineering accident or a broken machine. It is a violent wound in a living organism; that it is part of us. And thanks to BP's live camera feed, we can all watch the Earth's guts gush forth, in real time, 24 hours a day.

John Wathen, a conservationist with the Waterkeeper Alliance, was one of the few independent observers to fly over the spill in the early days of the disaster. After filming the thick red streaks of oil that the coast guard politely refers to as "rainbow sheen", he observed what many had felt: "The Gulf seems to be bleeding." This imagery comes up again and again in conversations and interviews. Monique Harden, an environmental rights lawyer in New Orleans, refuses to call the disaster an "oil spill" and instead says, "we are haemorrhaging". Others speak of the need to "make the bleeding stop". And I was personally struck, flying over the stretch of ocean where the Deepwater Horizon sank with the US Coast Guard, that the swirling shapes the oil made in the ocean waves looked remarkably like cave drawings: a feathery lung gasping for air, eyes staring upwards, a prehistoric bird. Messages from the deep.

And this is surely the strangest twist in the Gulf coast saga: it seems to be waking us up to the reality that the Earth never was a machine. After 400 years of being declared dead, and in the middle of so much death, the Earth is coming alive.

Northern Gannet, Grand Isle, LA

The experience of following the oil's progress through the ecosystem is a kind of crash course in deep ecology. Every day we learn more about how what seems to be a terrible problem in one isolated part of the world actually radiates out in ways most of us could never have imagined. One day we learn that the oil could reach Cuba – then Europe. Next we hear that fishermen all the way up the Atlantic in Prince Edward Island, Canada, are worried because the Bluefin tuna they catch off their shores are born thousands of miles away in those oil-stained Gulf waters. And we learn, too, that for birds, the Gulf coast wetlands are the equivalent of a busy airport hub – everyone seems to have a stopover: 110 species of migratory songbirds and 75% of all migratory US waterfowl.

It's one thing to be told by an incomprehensible chaos theorist that a butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil can set off a tornado in Texas. It's another to watch chaos theory unfold before your eyes. Carolyn Merchant puts the lesson like this: "The problem as BP has tragically and belatedly discovered is that nature as an active force cannot be so confined." Predictable outcomes are unusual within ecological systems, while "unpredictable, chaotic events [are] usual". And just in case we still didn't get it, a few days ago, a bolt of lightning struck a BP ship like an exclamation mark, forcing it to suspend its containment efforts. And don't even mention what a hurricane would do to BP's toxic soup.

There is, it must be stressed, something uniquely twisted about this particular path to enlightenment. They say that Americans learn where foreign countries are by bombing them. Now it seems we are all learning about nature's circulatory systems by poisoning them.

In the late 90s, an isolated indigenous group in Colombia captured world headlines with an almost Avatar-esque conflict. From their remote home in the Andean cloud forests, the U'wa let it be known that if Occidental Petroleum carried out plans to drill for oil on their territory, they would commit mass ritual suicide by jumping off a cliff. Their elders explained that oil is part of ruiria, "the blood of Mother Earth". They believe that all life, including their own, flows from ruiria, so pulling out the oil would bring on their destruction. (Oxy eventually withdrew from the region, saying there wasn't as much oil as it had previously thought.)

Virtually all indigenous cultures have myths about gods and spirits living in the natural world – in rocks, mountains, glaciers, forests – as did European culture before the scientific revolution. Katja Neves, an anthropologist at Concordia University, points out that the practice serves a practical purpose. Calling the Earth "sacred" is another way of expressing humility in the face of forces we do not fully comprehend. When something is sacred, it demands that we proceed with caution. Even awe.

If we are absorbing this lesson at long last, the implications could be profound. Public support for increased offshore drilling is dropping precipitously, down 22% from the peak of the "Drill Now" frenzy. The issue is not dead, however. It is only a matter of time before the Obama administration announces that, thanks to ingenious new technology and tough new regulations, it is now perfectly safe to drill in the deep sea, even in the Arctic, where an under-ice clean up would be infinitely more complex than the one underway in the Gulf. But perhaps this time we won't be so easily reassured, so quick to gamble with the few remaining protected havens.

Same goes for geoengineering. As climate change negotiations wear on, we should be ready to hear more from Dr Steven Koonin, Obama's undersecretary of energy for science. He is one of the leading proponents of the idea that climate change can be combated with techno tricks like releasing sulphate and aluminium particles into the atmosphere – and of course it's all perfectly safe, just like Disneyland! He also happens to be BP's former chief scientist, the man who just 15 months ago was still overseeing the technology behind BP's supposedly safe charge into deepwater drilling. Maybe this time we will opt not to let the good doctor experiment with the physics and chemistry of the Earth, and choose instead to reduce our consumption and shift to renewable energies that have the virtue that, when they fail, they fail small. As US comedian Bill Maher put it, "You know what happens when windmills collapse into the sea? A splash."

The most positive possible outcome of this disaster would be not only an acceleration of renewable energy sources like wind, but a full embrace of the precautionary principle in science. The mirror opposite of Hayward's "If you knew you could not fail" credo, the precautionary principle holds that "when an activity raises threats of harm to the environment or human health" we tread carefully, as if failure were possible, even likely. Perhaps we can even get Hayward a new desk plaque to contemplate as he signs compensation cheques. "You act like you know, but you don't know."

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Jerry Mazza on the Afghanistan "Miracle" Coincidence

JamesFetzerNews — 19 June 2010 — Jerry Mazza, an independent journalist from New York, has observed that The New York Times is reporting a "new discovery" of precious metals in Afghanistan at the very time of a contentious vote in the Senate over $33 billion more in spending on the war. In this piece, he explains how the US was negotiating with the Taliban for permission to run a pipeline through the northern part of the nation and advised the Taliban, which refused, that if they allowed the pipeline to be built, we would bathe them in gold, and if they did not, we would bathe them in bombs. This was as early as 1996, long before the events of 9/11.

While President Obama has justified an increase in troops of some 30,000 on the basis that "this is the region from which we were attacked on 9/11" and that we are there "hunting for Osama bin Laden", he appears to be oblivious that Obama died around mid-December of 2001 and that the events of 9/11 were a "false flag" op with a little help from our friends in Israel. It is ironic, therefore, that even if there were $1 trillion in precious metals in Afghanistan, it is costing the US more than $1 trillion to wage the war there.

Moreover, we should instead be celebrating on behalf of the Afghan people that their impoverished nation may now have mineral resources that can enrichen the nation to better serve its people--unless the World Bank or the IMF has already stripped those mineral rights from Afghanistan under one of the "agreements" it has reached with the Afgan government. Stay tuned! And check Webster Tarpley on the mineral find in Afghanistan where he explains that it is actually old news being recycled for political purposes. More: Brasscheck TV

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Afghanistan coincidence

Jerry Mazza
June 16, 2010

A bleak Ghazni Province seems to offer little, but a Pentagon study says it may have among the world’s largest deposits of lithium

Is it really a coincidence that as the Congress debates another $33 billion war supplemental bill for 2010 and Democrats ask us to oppose it, the New York Times breaks a story that the U.S. Identifies Vast Riches of Minerals in Afghanistan.

Yes the Times opening reads, “The United States has discovered nearly $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan, far beyond any previously known reserves and enough to fundamentally alter the Afghan economy and perhaps the Afghan war itself, according to senior American government officials.

“The previously unknown deposits — including huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical industrial metals like lithium — are so big and include so many minerals that are essential to modern industry that Afghanistan could eventually be transformed into one of the most important mining centers in the world, the United States officials believe. “

You might ask are we being suckered into something here by the Pentagon study that discovered this purported bonanza. This, especially as the Democrats for once tell you the truth: to write to your representatives and tell them, “The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost Americans over $1 trillion in direct costs, and over $3 trillion altogether.

“At a time when our national debt exceeds $13 trillion, we can no longer afford these wars.

“It’s time for Congress to reject any funding except to bring all our troops safely home.

Flowers and a brick-drying furnace by a road in a rural district south of Kandahar, Afghanistan.

“As my Representative, I urge you to oppose the $33 billion war supplemental for 2010.” Amen.

Of course, I filled out the response and wrote that the US should shore up its funds and stop killing people, and provide for Social Security and Medicare, not to mention job creation, strong rules for the financial market, increased funding for education, healthcare, and infrastructure. Yet, our 2011 budget already weighs in at $3 trillion with 53 cents of every dollar going for defense. And this year’s deficit weights in at $1.5 trillion.

But then, “an internal Pentagon memo, for example, states that Afghanistan could become the ‘Saudi Arabia of lithium,’ a key raw material in the manufacture of batteries for laptops and BlackBerrys.”

As the lightest of all metals, lithium is a major component in batteries used for personal accessories.

Yet this vast find of mineral wealth in Afghanistan was discovered by “a small team of Pentagon officials and American geologists…” And yes, even though “it could take many years to develop a mining industry, the potential is so great that officials and executives in the industry believe it could attract heavy investment even before mines are profitable, providing the possibility of jobs that could distract from generations of war.” Oh my god, all our problems solved in Afghanistan in no time. Introducing fast food politics.

It seems to me that we are just shifting the object of desire here. We were in Afghanistan nominally to catch Osama bin Laden, which we haven’t done in nearly nine years. The army gave him a pass when they had him cornered in Tora Bora. He was more valuable as a poster boy obviously than a corpse. But his death was reported by 911 Scholar David Ray Griffin in his book: Osama bin Laden – Dead or Alive. According to Griffin’s copious research, bin Laden died in late December 2001. That jibes with the fact that in August of 2001 he entered the American Hospital in Dubai to undergo serious kidney dialysis and to meet with his CIA handler.

A delegation from the state-owned Chinese company, China Metallurgical Group Corporation, visited the site of a copper mine in Aynak, a former al-Qaeda stronghold southeast of Kabul, in 2007.

Also, it galls me to hear Obama claim that the Afghans were the people who came to our country to kill us on 9/11. First of all, even the resumes of the 19 purported terrorists whipped out of a FBI file only days after 9/11, presented us with 15 Saudis. If that’s true, we should have hit Saudi Arabia. Of course, that was impossible given our addiction to their oil. Concerning the entire 19 photo terrorists, FBI Director Mueller said later that we couldn’t be sure these were the people. Are these certifiable reasons to go to war with a country like Afghanistan with the intent of bombing it into the Stone Age? This is saw-tooth hegemony cutting through muscle and bone.

And the real reason we went to Afghanistan was to grab the real estate for a route to and from the Caspian Sea Basin and the Stan countries loaded with natural gas and oil. This so we could build pipelines from that region and run them to Afghanistan to Pakistan and the Indian Ocean for export to India and China. It gets tedious repeating the original claims we made in contrast to our real motives in these articles. But memory vanishes quickly thanks to the collective US entertainment media which refuses to report real news.

So now that the war in Afghanistan is not going swimmingly, we need still another reason to sucker us in for another couple of trillion. Minerals, ah minerals! Good for the money system, zip up the economy, zing away the debt, put a chicken in every pot, and some heroin in every junky’s arm at home and abroad. Fools’ gold, my darlings, fools’ gold. Even if you think the find is true, it belongs to the Afghans. It isn’t a matter of finders/keepers, losers/weepers. Or we’ll be weeping, too.

What you could do, if this happened on the one in a million shot that it’s true, would be to develop a kind of Marshal Plan for Afghanistan to put it back on its feet, build up its infrastructure, create jobs, schools, rebuild homes, villages, roads and cities, not to mention creating mining operations, in the name of the people, though not in name only, in for real contractual agreements, on the level, Merle.

Or we could do what Roosevelt did with the Saudis at the end of WW II. Since it had been our gas station in the Mid East during the war (and what killed Hitler in the end was running out of gas), Roosevelt made a deal with the Saudis. We would build a huge facility for them, using our extensive technology, and they in turn would make us the primary if not sole recipient of all the oil they pumped at the best available prices. The company was called ARAMCO. An Arab/American Company, as in one hand washes the other.

Of course, this helped form a tremendous dependency on the cheap sweet crude bubbling up so easily from the Saudi sand, a dependency that has lasted for some 65 years. It also has developed into a co-dependency of Saudi elites for our arms, protection and cash, including payola, and feeding our unquenchable thirst for oil, taking a piece of the action ourselves as do their princes. This culminates in an incestuous and corrupt squandering of the non-royals’ national assets and squandered monies paid. This in fact helped to exponentially expand the Wahhabi movement.

In other words, this was a deadly quid pro quo for the Saudis, in that the Wahhabi movement rejected the decadent influence of the West, the cash-peddling Americans corrupting the already overfed Saudi Royal elite. The Wahhabis’ anger at the Western presence had great appeal to the Saudi man on the street, mostly unemployed, or living at a significantly, lower standard than their princes, or our diplomats, politicians and soldiers. So Wahhabism became a kind of religious terrorism, a mafia the princes had to learn to pay off so bad things wouldn’t happen, even though they did. But then somebody had to keep the Royals clean, the hard way.

Is Afghanistan really the next El Dorado?

We have a similar situation in Afghanistan with the Taliban, again a fundamentalist Islamic sect, which curiously reduced the opium business when it was in power after the Russian/Afghan war to some 2 percent of what it was during the war, a multi-billion dollar income stream for the Agency drug-dealers, and the money-launderers, pumping illicit cash profits into the world economic system like a transfusion of blood for a vampire.

If economic reconstruction were a real possibility in Afghanistan, if you didn’t have a puppet president, former consultant to the American oil company, Unocal during the pre-planning and awarding of contracts for the building of the pipelines… if the whole thing didn’t turn to camel dung and corruption… possibly you could rebuild an Afghan economy with the help of the Chiefs and Mullahs directly, to utilize “their mineral resources.” But the odds of that are longer than the deserts of the Afghan plains. And the odds that these minerals are really there, not the latest invention of the DOD to con the US public to throw away $33 billion more in the war, are even longer.

The Times says, “The value of the newly discovered mineral deposits dwarfs the size of the Afghanistan’s existing war-bedraggled economy, which is based largely on opium production and narcotics trafficking as well as aid from the United States and other industrialized countries. Afghanistan’s gross domestic product is only about $12 billion dollars,” lunch money for Goldman Sachs. The thing is this bedraggled country has been fighting for thirty years, the English, the Soviets, and the Americans—the Mongols and Genghis Khan before that, and kicked all their asses, and is still standing, in part because no one has ever respected the inner strength, fierce love of country and survival instinct the Afghans possess.

Love of anything but money is a novel thing for us these days, though I can remember as a kid my uncles signing up for WW II because they believed in it. And millions more did the same. It’s no accident that after Vietnam the US had to buy its armies one way or the country, with sign-on deals or straight-out mercenaries like Blackwater, now XE.

Afghanistan's mineral wealth could be worth up to three trillion dollars said Mining Minister Waheedullah Shahrani (C)

The military is promising us and the Afghans at this crucial point, when they need $33 billion more to keep losing the war, that this miraculous mineral find “will become the backbone of the Afghan economy,” as preached by one an adviser to the minister of mines. I wonder who put what in his pocket.

Of course, we are going to discuss all this with Afghan officials, that is, while we’re killing them and they’re killing us, and we are achieving “only limited gains.” Meanwhile, “charges of corruption and favoritism continue to plague the Karzai government and Mr. Karzai seems increasingly embittered towards the White House.”

Gee, I wonder why. Maybe because he’s between a rock and a hard place: his people who think he’s a turncoat and crook, and us who know he’s a turncoat and crook. But like your standard US/CIA puppet president he’s all we got. As Roosevelt said of the Nicaraguan Dictator Anastasio Somoza Debayle, “he’s a son of a bitch but our son of a bitch.”

His Wiki rap-sheet reads, “Anastasio (“Tachito”) Somoza Debayle [his mother’s last name] (5 December 1925 – 17 September 1980) was a Nicaraguan dictator and officially the 73rd and 76th President of Nicaragua from 1 May 1967 to 1 May 1972 and from 1 December 1974 to 17 July 1979. As head of the National Guard, he was ruler of the country from 1967 to 1979. He was the last member of the Somoza family to be President, ending a dynasty that had held power since 1936.” Bye, bye, Tachito, here come the Sandinistas, and then the Contras.

You can be sure that when the US starts talking about how corrupt one of its puppet presidents is, he isn’t long for this world. As the Times says, “The corruption that is already rampant in the Karzai government could also be amplified by the new wealth, particularly if a handful of well-connected oligarchs [financial power brokers], some with personal ties to the president, gain control of the resources. Just last year, Afghanistan’s minister of mines was accused by American officials of accepting a $30 million bribe to award China the rights to develop its copper mine. The minister had since been replaced.”

Sounds like a mine field to me, not the kind you get minerals from but the kind that takes lives, arms, limbs and blood, lots of blood, and blood-money year after year, the gift that keeps taking. Also, there is no real law here about who owns what, so continual squabbles could explode between the central government in Kabul and provincial and tribal leaders in the mineral-rich districts. The National mining law that Afghanistan has, the Times tells us, was written “with the help of advisers from the World Bank, but it has never faced a serious challenge.” Good luck.

These mountain ranges are situated outside the Afghan capital of Kabul near the country's border with Pakistan. Afganistan's mountain ranges have been found to contain many valuable minerals.

Bottom line, the law is untested. And Americans fear “resource-hungry China will try to dominate the development of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth…” As opposed to resource-hungry US, with our “heavy investment in the region” who will try to dominate the mineral wealth as we tried to dominate the pipelines and drove the Taliban out of the negotiations, which turned a love/hate relationship to hate. But then, if we don’t fight for the minerals, China could scoop it up, like it did the Aynak copper mine in Logar Province. Hey, didn’t we do a great job, Mr. Nixon, in teaching China all about “the free market economy?” But it’s not for free?

Also, since China is at least as bad if not worse an industrial polluter than the US it could turn Afghanistan into a trash heap faster than we did Appalachia or West Virginia. The question, according to the high-toned Times, is “can this be developed in a responsible way, in a way that is environmentally and socially responsible?” What like BP in the Gulf of Mexico or Exxon in Prudhoe Bay?

The Times writes, “The minerals are positioned throughout the country, including the southern and eastern regions along the border with Pakistan that have had some of the most intense combat in the American-led war against the Taliban insurgency.” Well, that’s intense and just what we need, a war per mine. Look, guys, nothing comes without a price tag, one way or the other.

So for sure the Democrats got it right this time. Let’s pick up our boots and head home like Obama promised. You could go back to that link and use it to give your Democratic Representatives a boot to vote against throwing another $33 billion into this rock pile, excuse me, rock and mineral pile, and stop playing Empire. It’s expensive business, especially when you’re broke.

Of course, the investment market must be salivating along with the DOD to get their hands on the magic minerals, like they’re still waiting for the oil and natural gas from the Caspian Sea Basin. But then, as the great architect, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe once said, sometimes “less is more.” And less war would be more appropriations for a domestic agenda. And less death would mean more life for more people, certainly a modest proposal.

Jerry Mazza / 18 June 2010

That photographic history
of World War II, four volumes bound
in leatherette, dark blue, a night sky
published by Vets of Foreign Wars
my father bought and I paged through
over and over, reading the captions,
battles, sinking ships, Pearl Harbor,
planes on fire, jungles, Japs,
the Nazi regalia, tanks, trucks, camps
of skeletons, white bodies piled
in lime pits burning a hole at seven
eight into my memory, trying
to figure the wild-dogs of holocaust,
the empathy it generated,
lighting up the child, and now,
the man scanning the photos, murdered
Palestinians, men, women,
children, infants, riddling out
this mystery of murder heaped
on innocents, repeated once more,
nothing learned and all forgotten,
neighbor on neighbor, Semite on Semite,
shades of darkness deep as desert
skies, starless, moonless, on fire
with the fight that leaves no winners,
prisoners of conscience only,
calculus of the dead, eyes emptied
of their love and anger, mute,
the covers closed and filed in time,
the bell tolling in my wounded heart
sweeping across the desert of memory.
Father, wither goest thy wisdom,
Kingdom come and paradise lost,
the dawning sun that tastes like frost.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

JFK and RFK: The Plots that Killed Them, The Patsies that Didn’t

James Fetzer
13 June 2010

Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated 42 years ago in the midst of his campaign for the U.S. presidency. Largely overshadowed by the death of his brother, President John F. Kennedy, the official account of RFK’s tragic end, allegedly shot down by a lone gunman, like his brother, has received vastly less attention. In both instances, we are looking at staged events that fit into a recurrent pattern in U.S. and world history where innocent individuals (or “patsies”) are baited and framed for cover-up purposes. Professor James H. Fetzer, an expert in the scientific study of assassinations, provides a sketch of how we know what happened to them and why, where RFK’s assassination was in part intended to prevent a reinvestigation into his brother’s death.

A persistent myth of American history is that lone assassins were responsible for the deaths of Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Robert Francis Kennedy. But four of the Lincoln conspirators were hanged from the same gallows at the same time [1]. On June 5, 1968, after RFK won the Democratic primary in California, he was shot down as he passed through the pantry of the Ambassador Hotel. The official account maintains that he was taken out by a lone, demented gunman, Sirhan Sirhan, a Palestinian who had written, “RFK must die!”, over and over in a notebook. Like the lone, demented gunman accused of assassinating his brother, John, both murders were products of conspiracies, where Sirhan Sirhan, like Lee Harvey Oswald, was designated as the patsy.

In spite of their history, most Americans continue to believe that their nation is “an exception” and that, while conspiracies occur elsewhere, including Europe and the Middle East, especially, they do not occur at home. The truth, of course, is that conspiracies are as American as apple pie. All that they require is collaboration between two or more individuals to bring about an illegal end. Most American conspiracies are economic, but many are political, too. Franklin Delano Roosevelt observed long ago that, if something important happened in politics, you could bet it was not by accident. And that is certainly the case regarding the brothers.

The assassinations of RFK and JFK were both conspiracies. Both involved the destruction of evidence. Both involved the fabrication of evidence. Both involved framing their patsies. Both involved complicity by local officials. Both involved planning by the CIA. Both were used to deny the American people of the right to be governed by leaders of their own choosing. My purpose here is to outline how these things are done, because the agencies responsible for these events continue to employ the same techniques, not only of killing their targets but of covering them up. The more we understand how these things are done, the less likely we are to be deceived again.

Some basic facts


- More bullets were fired in the pantry of the Ambassador Hotel than could have come from Sirhan Sirhan’s gun.
- RFK was shot behind the right ear from about 1.5 inches, but Sirhan was never that close and always in front of him.
- The coroner’s report did not support the Los Angeles’ Police Department’s assassination scenario.

- The Los Angeles Police Department engaged in massive destruction of evidence from the pantry of the hotel because "it would not fit into a card file".


- The weapon Oswald is alleged to have used cannot have fired the bullets that killed JFK.
- The “magic bullet” theory is provably untrue and was not even anatomically possible.
- JFK was hit four times - in the throat from in front, in the back from behind and in the head from in front and behind
- X—rays were altered, a brain was substituted, and photos and films were faked to conceal the true causes of his death.

The assassination of RFK completed the decapitation of the left wing in the United States, which had begun with the termination of JFK’s presidency but continued with the gunning down of Malcolm X, who was the most progressive voice on the far left. With the deaths of Martin Luther King (April 4, 1968) and Robert F. Kennedy, the country shifted strongly to the right, in part from the despair induced by the loss of inspiring leaders.

The conditions required for movements capable of historic changes include intelligent, charismatic, and inspirational leaders, of whom there are very few like these. While the execution of Czar Nicholas II and his family in Russia and of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette in France meant there was “no turning back”, removing liberal leaders cements the status quo with its distribution of wealth and power.

RFK: The Ambassador Hotel

The weapon removed from Sirhan Sirhan was a .22 caliber, eight-round revolver, with serial number H-53725 [2]. Sirhan emptied his weapon from a location in front of Bobby Kennedy. The autopsy performed by Dr. Thomas Noguchi, however, showed RFK was hit by four bullets, all of which were fired from behind at upward angles. And five others were wounded by separate shots [3].

Bullets were removed from holes in the walls and ceiling of the pantry. Since there were as many as thirteen shots—some of which even hit the ceiling behind his location—Sirhan could not have fired them all. And with more than one shooter, a conspiracy had to have been involved [4]. Autopsy reports are usually “the best evidence” about a crime of this kind. Dr. Noguchi’s medical report, however, did not agree with the Los Angeles Police report. The evidence did not point to Sirhan as the killer [5]. In particular, the fatal shot entered behind his right ear from about an inch and a half away, but Sirhan had not been closer than several feet in front of RFK.

Although Sirhan cannot have fired the bullets that killed Kennedy, his defense attorney, Grant Cooper, did not defend him on the ground that he wasn’t guilty but argued instead for “diminished capacity” [6]. Another witness, DeWayne Wofler, even testified that the bullets fired at RFK had come from an entirely different gun [7].

As it happened, a security guard named Thane Eugene Cesar had a weapon with the same caliber and was right behind RFK when the shooting began. Remarkably, even though he admitted having drawn his gun and many witnesses reporting hearing shots from more than one weapon, no one ever asked to examine his gun [8].

Acoustics expert Van Praag tested an H&R 922 of the kind Cesar had and determined that an H&R 922 had been fired at the same time as Sirhan’s [9]. Further indications of conspiracy extended to a couple, including a woman in a polka dot dress, who rushed away from the scene shouting, “We shot him! We shot him! We shot Kennedy!” [10].

RFK: Evidence of Conspiracy

William Turner and Jonn Christian [11] have produced a powerful case indicting Cesar for the crime. They concluded that Sirhan may have been firing blanks, which they support on the basis of witness testimony that his shots created long, visible flames, which are commonly produced by blanks, to insure that those in his field of fire — who actually killed Kennedy — would not be hit by a stray bullet.

That would mean that none of the bullet holes were made by shots from Sirhan’s gun and, indeed, at least one witness reported seeing yet a third shooter in the pantry, perhaps as a back-up if Cesar failed. And the LAPD was very accommodating in destroying evidence that might have exposed those who shot him.

In fact, there are multiple indications that the CIA was involved. A hypnotist named William Joseph Bryan, was on the radio suggesting the assassin was probably “mind controlled” before Sirhan had been identified as a suspect. Bryan later boasted to several hookers that he worked for the CIA and had hypnotized Sirhan [12].

Sirhan’s defense attorney, moreover, had just finished representing the CIA’s contact with organized crime, Johnny Roselli, which may have been why he was so accommodating with respect to his client’s guilt [13]. One way to insure a patsy will be convicted is to have your own man represent him.

Cesar himself had worked at Lockheed and Hughes Aircraft, both of which have extensive connections with the agency [14]. And even more strikingly, three prominent CIA officials—George Joannides, David Sanchez Morales, and Gordon Campbell—have been identified as present at the Ambassador.

Bradley Ayers, an Army captain assigned to the CIA at JM/Wave in Miami from May 1962 to December 1964, had met all three and identified them in film footage from the Ambassador [15]. Gordon Campbell had even been Ayer’s case officer while he was working for the agency.

Wayne Smith, who served as an ambassador with the Department of of State from 1957-1982 with JFK’s Latin American Task Force, also knew Morales [16]. When he viewed the same footage as Ayers, he immediately recognized Morales. As he later told Shane O’Sullivan, “Bobby Kennedy is assassinated [and] David Morales is there? The two things have to be related” [17].

RFK: The Cover-Up

Ayers and Smith both confirmed the person in the film as Morales [18]. They were both emphatic. Ayers noticed his body language (his way of moving). James Richards, an expert on the CIA, provided me with a photo of Morales, who looks exactly like the Morales-look-alike at the Ambassador. I don’t even think it’s a difficult call [19] [20].

The George Joannides figure seems to be wearing a wig. Richards also sent me a photo of Joannides, which makes it obvious why he would have been wearing one: the man was virtually bald! While it has been claimed that Cambell died on September 19, 1962, he was Ayers’ case officer from 1963-1964. Faking a death certificate would be far easier for the CIA than having an impostor working with Ayers.

The LAPD was not subtle in the destruction of evidence related to the crime. It destroyed the ceiling panels and door frames from the pantry on the ground they were “too large to fit into a card file” and burned some 2,400 photographs, including those taken by 15-year old Scott Enyart, who was standing on a table and took three roles of film [21].

When the department created a Special Unit Senator (SUS) to look into the case, it chose two officers who had ties to the CIA. They badgered witnesses who did not support the official line. One, Manuel Pena, had worked in Special Ops for the CIA. He was responsible for approving SUS interviews [22].

The Shadow of Dallas

David Sanchez Morales also appears to have been involved in the assassination of his brother, John, on November 22, 1963. He said to friends while drinking heavily that he had been in Dallas (“We took care of that son-of-a-bitch!”) and in Los Angeles (where “We got the little bastard!”) [23].

His involvement was confirmed by E. Howard Hunt, who told his son, St. John, that those who were responsible for the assassination of the 35th president included LBJ and CIA officials Cord Meyer, David Atlee Philips, William Harvey, and Morales [24]. Others who knew Lyndon well have also implicated him [25] [26]. And high-level involvement by the government has been confirmed by multiple lines of investigation.

There are more than 15 indications of Secret Service complicity in setting JFK up for the hit [27]. Two agents assigned to the limousine were left behind at Love Field. The flat-bed truck for reporters to that should have preceded the limo was cancelled. The motorcycle escort was cut down to four and was instructed not to ride ahead of the rear wheels. Open windows were not covered, the manhole covers not welded, and the crowd was allowed to spill into the street.

Most strikingly, the vehicles were in the wrong order, with the Lincoln first, when it should have been in the middle. This was such a blatant violation of protocol that any security expert could have detected it, which is undoubtedly why, when the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) asked for the Presidential Protection Records for other JFK motor-cades, the agency, instead of providing them, destroyed them [28].

The route was changed just days before the event and included a turn of more than 90°, in violation of Secret Service protocol. After bullets began to be fired, the driver, William Greer, pulled the limo to the left and to a halt [29]. At Parkland Hospital, agents got a bucket of water and a sponge and washed brains and blood from the crime scene [30].

The limousine was taken back to Ford and on Monday, November 25, the day of the formal state funeral, it was stripped to bare metal and rebuilt, including replacing the windshield, which had a through-and-through bullet hole, which spectators had noticed at Parkland and the Ford official responsible for its replacement confirmed, where the Secret Service would later produce yet a third windshield which had only interior cracks [31].

JFK: The “Magic Bullet”

Two wounds were widely reported on radio and television that day, a wound to the throat and a massive wound at the back of the cranium, which was caused by a shot that entered his right temple [32]. Both wounds were observed by many experienced physicians at Parkland Hospital. Charles Crenshaw, M.D., who closed JFK’s eyes before he was placed into the bronze ceremonial casket, sent me drawings of the wound to the throat and of the exit wound to the head [33].

Malcolm Perry, M.D., who had made the incision, described the throat wound as a “wound of entry” three times during the Parkland press conference, which began at 2:16 PM [34]. The Warren Commission would cope with these problems by simply reversing the trajectories, turning the throat wound into a wound of exit where the damage to the cranium was altered to make it look more like the effect of a bullet fired from above and behind [35].

The greatest problem arose from the discovery that, of the three shots it claimed to have been fired, one had missed and injured a bystander named James Tague. The FBI and Secret Service had concluded that each of the alleged shots had hit: that JFK had been hit in the back, that Texas Governor John Connally had been hit in the back, and that JFK had been hit in the head, which killed him.

Since one shot had missed, the commission now had to create an alternative explanation, claiming the bullet that hit JFK in the back had passed through his neck and exited from his throat, then entered the back of Connally, shattering a rib, existing his chest, damaging his right wrist and finally embedding itself in his left thigh, a most unlikely scenario that is known as the “magic bullet” theory [36].

To make the “magic bullet” theory remotely plausible, Gerald Ford (R-MI), a member of the commission, had the description of the wound to the back changed from “his uppermost back”, which was already an exaggeration, to “the back of his neck”, which would not become known to the public until the first releases from the ARRB [37].

Even The Warren Report (1964) located the hole in the jacket 5 3/8” below the collar and 1 1/8” to the right of its center seam and the hole in the shirt was 5 ¾” below the collar and 1 1/8” right of its center seam [38] — a location that corresponds to an autopsy sketch, an FBI sketch, the death certificate by the president’s personal physician and even reenactment photographs by the commission’s own staff.

JFK: The Cover-Up

A downward bullet at this location means that the throat wound and
Connally’s had been caused by other shots and other shooters [39]. Michael Baden, M.D., who chaired the medical panel for the the House Select
Committee on Assassinations (HSCA), when it reinvestigated the crime in 1977-78, said, on the 40th observance of the assassination, that if the “magic bullet” theory were false, then there had to have been at least six shots from three directions [40].

It is not only false and provably false but turns out to be anatomically impossible, since cervical vertebrae intervene [41]. David W. Mantik, M.D., Ph.D., has shown JFK was hit four times—in the throat from in front, in the back from behind, and twice in the head both from in front and behind [42]. Connally was hit at least once from the side — as he was turning to the left — and at least one shot had missed. So Baden was right for the wrong reasons.

Mantik, moreover, studied the autopsy X-rays using the method of optical densitometry to determine the relative density of the objects whose exposure to X-rays had created the images [43]. He found an area at the back of the head that had been “patched” using material that was too dense to be human bone and that a 6.5mm metallic slice had been added to other X-rays in an apparent effort to connect the shooting with an obscure Italian weapon Lee Oswald was alleged to have used.

Ironically, while the death certificates and the autopsy report state that JFK was killed by high-velocity bullets, the Mannlicher-Carcano only has a muzzle velocity of 2,000 fps [44]. Since high velocities are above 2,600 fps, the Mannlicher-Carcano does not qualify [45]. So the weapon that Oswald is alleged to have used cannot have fired the bullets that killed JFK.

JFK: The Controversy Endures

Even if the weapon had been far better, such as the M-1 on which he had been trained, the shots themselves were highly improbable. The interactive internet game, “JFK: Reloaded”, which used a superior weapon with a properly aligned sight, a smooth trigger action, and no recoil and allowed endless practice sessions before attempting to hit the target, was won by a shooter who scored only a .782 out of 1.000, so he only scored a "C+" in attempting to replicate the shots [46].

That the simple expedient of locating where the bullet hit JFK’s back is enough to establish the existence of a conspiracy has not inhibited those who want to obfuscate the facts. A controversy over neutron activation analysis persisted for years, as if discovering that bullet fragments found in the car had come from the same lot as those used by the alleged “assassination weapon” would show either the location from which they were fired or the identity of who had fired them [47].

One pseudo-documentary after another continues to be broadcast over the major networks based upon a film whose revision makes it impossible to reconstruct what actually happened in a determined effort to persuade the public that JFK was killed by a lone, demented gunman, even though the authentic evidence, once separated from the fabricated, refutes it [48], [49], [50] and [51]. The demise of the “magic bullet” alone establishes conspiracy.

What it means

Creating a false photographic record of the assassination was crucial to the cover-up. Had JFK been killed in a non-public setting, no one would have believed he had not been taken out by a conspiracy. As much thought was given to concealing the truth from the public as was given to executing the assassination itself. By removing some events and adding others, the home movie known as the Zapruder film became the backbone of the cover-up [52]. As long as it was taken to be authentic, it would be impossible to reconstruct the crime.

Among the most important reasons for recreating the film—which was done using original footage and sophisticated techniques of optical printing and of special effects—was removing the limo stop, which was such an obvious indication of Secret Service complicity. There were conflicts with the film from the beginning [53]. Today, evidence of fabrication is simply overwhelming [54], [55] and [56].

These discoveries have considerable impact on alternative theories of the assassination. The Mafia, which no doubt put up some of the shooters, could not have extended its reach into the Bethesda Naval Hospital to alter X-rays under the control of medical officers of the US Navy, Secret Service agents, and the president’s personal physician.

Neither pro- nor anti-Castro Cubans could have substituted the brain of someone else for that of JFK. And even if the KGB had an ability to alter films equal to that of the CIA and Hollywood, it had no way to gain access to the Zapruder film. Nor could these things have been done by Lee Harvey Oswald, who was incarcerated or already dead.

Political implications

As Martin Shotz has observed, the purpose of the disinformation operation in the death of JFK is not really to convince the public of the official account but to create enough uncertainty that everything is believable and nothing is knowable [57]. The reasons are not difficult to discern for those who understand why he was taken out. He had evolved in office from a traditional cold warrior into a statesman for peace, which threatened the status quo.

JFK was threatening to cut the oil depletion allowance, which the Texas men regarded as their divine right. He had not invaded Cuba against the unanimous recommendation of the Joint Chiefs. He had signed an above ground test ban treaty with the Soviets against their unanimous opposition. And he was initiating the removal of American forces from Vietnam, where the chiefs believed that a stand had to be taken against the expansion of communism.

Bobby, JFK’s Attorney General, was aggressively cracking down on organized crime. Jack was going to reform or abolish the FED and, perhaps most of all, he was going to shatter the CIA into a thousand pieces. Lyndon wanted to be president of all the people and J. Edgar Hoover wanted to stay on as Director of the FBI. No one could have explained all of this as well as has James Douglass [58].

The policies he represented would have brought about significant change in the distribution of wealth and power, which they were unwilling to accept [59]. Once committed to the crime, they were intent that no one should ever pay for it, lest the public learn the truth about the institutions of their own government. When Bobby allowed that he was going to use the powers of the presidency to uncover the truth about his brother [60], it sealed his fate. And the lies continue.

[1] Jesse Ventura (with Dick Russell), American Conspiracies, Skyhorse Publishing, 2010.

[2] Shane O’Sullivan, Who Killed Bobby?, Sterling Publishing, 2008.

[3] Jim DiEugenio and Lisa Pease, eds., The Assassinations, Feral House, 2003.

[4] Jesse Ventura (with Dick Russell), Op. cit.

[5] Robert Geringer, The Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy.

[6] Jim DiEugenio and Lisa Pease, eds., Op.cit.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Jesse Ventura (with Dick Russell), Op. cit.

[10] Jim DiEugenio and Lisa Pease, eds., Op. cit.

[11] Jonn Christian and William Turner, The Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, Thunder’s Mouth Press, 1978.

[12] Jim DiEugenio and Lisa Pease, eds. Op. cit.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Robert F. Kennedy, Spartacus Educational.

[15] Bradley Earl Ayers, The Zenith Secret, Vox Pop, 2006.

[16] Shane O’Sullivan, Op. cit.

[17] Ibid.

[18] Shane O’Sullivan, RFK Must Die: The Assassination of Bobby Kennedy, DVD (2007).

[19] David Sánchez Morales, Spartacus Educational.

[20] Bradley Ayers, Spartacus Educational.

[21] Jesse Ventura (with Dick Russell), Op. cit.

[22] Ibid.

[23] Noel Twyman, Bloody Treason, Laurel Publishing, 1997.

[24] Erik Hedegaard, The Last Confessions of E. Howard Hunt,, April 5, 2007.

[25] Madeleine Duncan Brown, Texas in the Morning, Conservatory Press, 1997.

[26] Billie Sol Estes, A Texas Legend, BSE Productions, 2005.

[27] James H. Fetzer, ed., Murder in Dealey Plaza, Open Court, 2000, “Prologue”.

[28] Final Report of the Assassination Records Review Board, 1998.

[29] Vince Palamara et al. in Murder in Dealey Plaza, A Book Review, 2000.

[30] Richard Trask, Pictures of the Pain, Yeoman Press,1994.

[31] Douglas Weldon et al. in Murder in Dealey Plaza, 2000; and James H. Fetzer, ed., Assassination Science, Open Court, 1998.

[32] "NOVEMBER 22, 1963: The Kennedy Assassination", NBC News DVD, Parts 1 and 2.

[33] Charles Crenshaw, M.D., in Murder in Dealey Plaza, 2000, Appendix A.

[34] Malcolm Perry, M.D., Ibid, Appendix C.

[35] The Warren Report, Government Printing Office, 1964; and Douglas Horne, Inside the ARRB, 2009.

[36] The “magic bullet” is lampooned in Oliver Stone’s film, “JFK”.

[37] Ford Made Key Change in Kennedy Death Report, The New York Times (3 July 1997), p. A8.

[38] The Warren Report, Op. cit., page 92.

[39] James H. Fetzer, Reasoning about Assassinations, International Journal of the Humanities 3, (2005/2006).

[40] Beyond Conspiracy, ABC documentary, 2003 (YouTube).

[41] David W. Mantik, M.D., Ph.D., in Stewart Galanor, Cover-Up, Kestrel Book, 1998.

[42] David W. Mantik, M.D., Ph.D., et al. in Murder in Dealey Plaza, 2000.

[43] David W. Matiik, M.D., Ph.D., in Assassination Science, 2000.

[44] As even Gerald Posner, Case Closed, Random House, 1993, Appendix A, has acknowledged.

[45] See, for example, Bullet Trajectory: Fact and Myth, by Mike Nelson.

[46] JFK: Reloaded, Wikipedia.

[47] Single Bullet Story, Wikipedia.

[48] James H. Fetzer, Distorting the Photographic Record: Death in Dealey Plaza, in The Great Zapruder Film Hoax (2003).

[49] David W. Mantik, M.D., Ph.D., and James H. Fetzer, Another Attempted Reenactment of the Death of JFK, November 21, 2008.

[50] David S. Lifton, in Moorman in the Street Revisited, Appendix, January 2009.

[51] James H. Fetzer, Dealey Plaza Revisited: What Happened to JFK?

[52] James H. Fetzer, ed., The Great Zapruder Film Hoax, Op. cit., “Prologue”.

[53] See, for example, Jim Marrs, Surveyor: More than 1 man shot Kennedy, Fort Worth Star-Telegram (14 April 1978).

[54] John P. Costella, The JFK Assassination Film Hoax: A Tutorial.

[55] James H. Fetzer, Zapruder JFK Film impeached by Moorman JFK Polaroid, March 28, 2009.

[56] James H. Fetzer, US Government Official: JFK Cover-Up, Film Fabrication, April 7, 2010.

[57] E. Martin Schotz, History will Not Absolve Us, Kurtz, Ulmer, and DeLuca Book Publishers, 1996.

[58] James Douglass, JFK and the Unspeakable: Why he Died and Why it Matters, Abis Books, 2008.

[59] Peter Dale Scott, Deep Politics and the Death of JFK, University of California Press, 1996.

[60] David Talbot, Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years, The Free Press, 2007.