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If you’re on Twitter (which I just joined a couple days ago in light of the Iran situation – @janedoe_tcm), I recommend following @persiankiwi for English-language “tweets” from someone on the ground in Tehran.

Intense and disturbing.

jane doe


Unless you’ve been living under a rock (or with my family), you know that there is some serious badness happening in Iran at the moment, as the public reacts to highly questionable election results.

The best English-language coverage I’ve seen so far is courtesy of Nico Pitney, who’s been liveblogging since the election results came out at Huffington Post. Definitely worth checking out.

He’s posted a music video put together by one of his readers. The music is Rage Against the Machine, but the images are all recent photos and videos coming out of Iran:

jane doe


NB: I start this post off with a fairly long and rambling recollection of my memories of 9/11/2001. If you don’t want to read this (and I won’t fault you if you don’t), please consider scrolling down to the asterisks, where I actually start talking about political stuff that may interest my regular readers. -jd

It was an awful day, a day I and many – most – others wandered through in a sort of state of shock.

I was living in California at the time, still working as a lawyer. The first plane hit one of the towers just before my alarm clock went off that morning, The drive-time DJs chattered on as usual about nonsensical matters I can mercifully no longer remember, unaware of the unfolding tragedy until the woman who gave the traffic reports joined them on the air a few minutes later and told them to turn on a TV if they had one in the studio.

I turned my own TV on immediately, and thus had the dubious honor of watching the second plane hit the other tower as it was happening.

I stumbled around my apartment that morning, somehow getting ready for work, largely on autopilot, in shock. My brother called from Colorado. Was I planning on going to the office? Yes, I said. I had a meeting scheduled about a contract I was working on, I had to at least go in to see if it was still happening.

I was a lawyer, and lawyers aren’t supposed to react to emotional events the way other humans do, because lawyers aren’t supposed to be human, to suffer human weaknesses. I never got my emotional circuits disconnected (nor do most lawyers), but I often felt like I was obligated by my status to act as if I had – like many other lawyers did that day.

My brother was worried, because I worked in a tall building. Not the tallest in the city I was living in at the time, not by a long shot, but it was a crazy day, and no one was thinking logically. I certainly wasn’t. The biggest mass murder in our country’s history and I was putting on a suit and acting like I could ride out a day at the office.

It was a ridiculous notion, of course, but the truth is, I didn’t know what else to do. I lived alone, and had only recently moved to this city, so I didn’t have any close friends close by. My family was half a continent away. Practically the only people I knew locally were my co-workers. I think that’s the real reason why I went to work – I didn’t want to be alone on that horrible day, watching the news coverage by myself.

Probably only about a third of our staff showed up for work that day, mostly people with urgent meetings or people who like me didn’t think they were allowed (by whatever entity it is that allows these things) to take the day off. No work actually happened, at least as far as I saw. We congregated in a conference room where the head of our department had set up a television. Someone brought in a tray of bagels and a thermos full of coffee, which were largely ignored by everyone present. As if we could have eaten on that day.

We were all mentally or literally going through our rolodexes, trying to figure out if anyone we knew was likely to have been in one of the towers. I was one of the lucky ones – no one I knew, at least that I could think of at the moment, was likely to have been in either of the towers that day, though I did know several people who worked in one of the buildings across the street from the towers.

A co-worker – one of the ones who did not show up at the office that day – was not so lucky. Her mentor from a firm she had worked for earlier in her legal career was at a breakfast meeting in the restaurant that was on the top floor of one of the towers. He was among the missing.

We sat in the conference room, speaking in low voices, watching the scraps of news as they came in. Praying silently for the safety of people that we knew. Praying for all the people we didn’t know – the missing, and the people who would be missing them.

Every now and then, someone’s cell phone would ring, and the phone’s owner would walk quickly out into the hallway outside the conference room to take the call away from the rest of us. Sometimes, the news was good – someone they knew had received confirmation that someone else they knew was okay, was safe at home, was out of town, had taken a later flight, was not among the missing. Sometimes the news was less good – there were lots of reports of unanswered calls to mobile phones, or reaching answering machines at the homes of friends, or of not being able to get through to New York numbers at all.

By noon, I had had enough of pretending to work. I walked home from my office, got out of my lawyer costume and into comfy sweats, and started calling every single friend and family member I could, all over the country, trying to make sure that people were okay, trying to reassure myself that the world was not ending. And by and large, the news from my circle of friends and acquaintances was good.

There were some near-misses, though. A family friend who works in investment management and retirement planning was supposed to be flying from the west coast to New York to meet with some people from Cantor Fitzgerald that evening. His flight was canceled before it had a chance to board. The people he was scheduled to meet with were all among the missing. Another friend was a regular on one of the flights from Boston to LA that was hijacked. In other weeks he might have been on the plane, but something had caused his schedule to change that week.

The day passed slowly, with information trickling out in small bits between the endless replaying of the videos of the second crash and of each tower collapsing. Wild rumors circulated, and were duly reported by the media, albeit with strong caveats that they were unconfirmed rumors, because actual information was scarce.

It quickly became too painful to listen to the reporters, so I muted the television and started going through my CD collection, looking for music that might bring some comfort. John Lennon’s Imagine destroyed me – I listened to it twice, and cried for the lives lost. Louis Armstrong’s What a Wonderful World was very cathartic, as well. I tried listening to Beethoven’s third symphony, Eroica – my favorite of the nine – but quickly abandoned it as inappropriate to the mood of the day. Ditto a Mozart concerto. I finally settled on the Cowboy Junkies’ Trinity Sessions with the volume turned down low. The entire album has a very mournful sound to it, sad and soothing, something that could be listened to without fear of offending the souls of those who lost their lives that day.

As night fell, I lit candles in my apartment, in the spirit of hope that more who were currently listed as “missing” would turn up alive and well. I brewed chamomile tea, which I sweetened with too much honey and sat on my bed staring at the TV, half-listening to the Cowboy Junkies, and wondering vaguely what could possibly drive people to fly airplanes into buildings.

At some point, I fell asleep, lights still on, music still playing, TV still flashing endless loops of planes crashing and towers falling.

A new day dawned, and the entire world had changed.

* * *

You may wonder why I’m writing about all this. My story of that day seven years ago is not dramatic, and it’s not as if anyone who was alive and aware of the world around them at the time of the attacks couldn’t tell a similar tale.

In truth, it is not what I had intended to write about when I sat down at my computer. But these were the words that came out, and I let them, because I feel it is appropriate to honor the memory of that day, as horrible as it was, and to honor the lives lost there – particularly the sacrifice by those who were trying to rescue others caught in the inferno of the towers before they fell, and the lives of the people on flight 93, who, having heard what happened with the other hijacked planes, fought back against their hijackers and prevented their plane from being used as a fourth weapon of horror at the cost of their own lives. Likewise, it is appropriate to honor the suffering of all those who lost friends and loved ones on September 11th.

Moments of silence, flags flown at half mast, prayers and religious services are all appropriate tributes to the losses suffered on that horrible day. Likewise the haunting sounds of Amazing Grace played on the bagpipes or a stirring rendition of America the Beautiful.

These are the things that civilized people do when faced with such a tragedy.

What civilized people do not do, is to use the memory of that horrible day and the lives lost on it to score political points.

Yet today, we are seeing exactly that from the Republican party.

Last week, they showed that appalling 9/11 “tribute” video as part of the run-up to John McCain’s acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention. The video was apparently sprung on the cable news networks covering the convention without warning, and without the opportunity to screen it prior to its airing.

It was graphic and jingoistic, and it was clearly designed not to honor the memory of the lives lost or the heroic efforts of those who worked feverishly to rescue people from the rubble of the collapsed towers, but rather to inflame the worst aspects of the American public’s memory of that horrible day.

Worse still, it attempted to tie the attacks to Iran – a nation that had no part in planning the attacks – and to reinforce the idea that Iraq and Saddam Hussein were also somehow involved in their orchestration, despite no evidence to support this notion and massive evidence to the contrary. But tying Iran and Iraq to 9/11 serves the political agenda of certain people in the upper echelons of the Republican party (and, let us not forget, the agenda of the corporate interests and radical religious groups supporting certain GOP candidates).

Minutes after it aired, Keith Olbermann was apologizing to MSNBC viewers for the inappropriate nature of that video. And last night, he rightly castigated the Republican party leadership for the showing of the video in one of his excellent special comments.

Unfortunately, it seems we can expect many more actions of this nature from certain groups backing McCain and the Moose Killer over the next few months.

According to Denise Dennis, writing at the Huffington Post:

This past Sunday, in presidential-election swing states across the country, the New York Times came bundled with a dvd of the documentary “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West,” a controversial film on the threat Islamic terrorism. The documentary is set for release to retail outlets this week — the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks — but has been shown at college campuses for nearly a year now, presented largely by Jewish student organizations and as part of Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week, the national “conservative campus protest” organized and sponsored last fall by conservative author David Horowitz’s Freedom Center.

As it happens, I find myself in possession of a copy of this DVD. I did not buy it, though it lists a manufacturer’s recommended price on the front cover. Apparently, someone thinks it is worth $19.95, though I would disagree with that appraisal.

The copy I have was pressed into my hands by an earnest-looking young woman on a Denver street corner two weeks ago during the Democratic convention. She said something about it being about the distinction between peace-seeking Muslims and terrorists. I thanked her for it and shoved it in my bookbag without much thought or attention at the time. It remained in a stack with all the other political literature and similar offerings that I picked up as I wandered around the convention venue until last night, when I saw Ms. Dennis’s story on Huffington Post and the movie’s title rang a bell in my memory.

I have now watched the first forty minutes of the one hour video. That was enough.

More than enough, actually.

It is a piece of propaganda, plain and simple. Like the 9/11 “tribute” video from the RNC, it is designed to reawaken the public’s fear off terrorism. It displays graphic images of people injured in terrorist attacks. It shows maps with ominous x’s at the locations of various events. And it shows clips of various men in Muslim attire, with subtitles full of scary threats against the west, and particularly against America.

The video purports to distinguish between most followers of Islam, who are as horrified by the terrorist tactics used by al-Qaeda as the rest of us, and the radical Islamists who actually support or engage in terrorist acts. In reality, what it does is paint the Muslim religion as a threatening “other”, both opposed and a threat to “our way of life.” It blatantly states that Muslim people will say one thing when non-Muslims are present, and another thing when only believers are present – thus, by implication, no Muslim person can be trusted, because you can’t tell the radicals from the non-violent majority.

Someone has obviously spent a lot of money to make sure this DVD is widely circulated in swing states. The copy I have was presented in the standard DVD case, with a cover that looks like it was designed professionally like any other commercial DVD. I would assume the same can be said of the copies that were sent to the New York Times subscribers. According to the above-cited Dennis piece, the DVD “was bundled into newspapers in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Colorado, Iowa, Florida, Wisconsin, Nevada, New Hampshire and Virginia.” Make no mistake. The distribution of this piece of political propaganda cost a fair chunk of change.

Why would someone go to this incredible expense?

It all comes back to fear, and to terror management theory.

As I have noted previously in this space, reminders of 9/11 and the threat of terrorism have been shown to influence opinions expressed by voters on a variety of political issues, and on average to sway those opinions in the conservative direction.

The stronger the reminder about the threat, the greater the number of voters likely to be swayed by such tactics.

Certain Republicans want to set up Muslim citizens as the “other” in society, to be hated and feared, because it will give mainstream voters a visible threat to fear.

They are using graphic reminders of the attacks that occurred on this day seven years ago and the lives that were lost on that day as a means to accomplish this end.

They are doing it shamelessly and without apology.

There is a word for this sort of political tactic.

It is obscene.

According to Black’s Law Dictionary, obscene means “objectionable or offensive to accepted standards of decency.” It then goes on to further define the term in primarily sexual contexts, which is how that term is usually interpreted in the legal arena. But the first sentence of the definition certainly applies to this tactic, so I will use the term obscene to describe it.

The people who lost their lives seven years ago today deserve better treatment than to have their deaths turned into a political tool. The people who lost friends and loved ones seven years ago deserve better. The American public deserves better.

And yet, as appalling as it is, there are politicians, corporations, and religious groups who are foisting this obscenity onto the American public, and who will continue to do so between now and November, all for the sake of winning a presidential election – an election which they in no way deserve to win after the horrible catastrofuck resulting from the past eight years of Republican “leadership.”

I cannot begin to describe how angry this makes me.

Mere words cannot suffice. I could paint you a picture, but I don’t think I have enough cadmium red or alizarin crimson – indeed, there may not be enough of either pigment in the world to convey my anger about the cynical use of our memories of 9/11 as a means to a political end by people who want to see John McCain elected in November.

Instead, I will leave you with this. It’s another Roy Zimmerman song, about someone else who tried to use 9/11 in a semi-political, semi-religious context:

Peace.

jane doe


Mr. Emanuel –

Today, you posted an article at the Huffington Post lamenting the fact that the cable news networks are covering the Democratic National Convention as if it were a sporting event. “This is Real News,” moans your headline, “Don’t Cover it Like a Sport.”

I’m sorry, but where did you get the idea that either of the party conventions are real news?

Did anything unpredictable happen? Will the convention settle anything that wasn’t settled back when the Obama camp announced that it had enough votes to secure the nomination?

No, to both.

Frankly, watching the conventions is a bit like watching a televised awards show, but with longer speeches.

Meanwhile, the Denver police are pepper spraying and using their batons on peaceful protesters. Wars rage on in Iraq and Afghanistan. Bush and Cheney want to start another war with Iran. The economy is in the toilet. Gas prices are so high they’ve finally done what all the screaming and yelling about global warming hasn’t been able to do so far – get Americans to drive less. High energy costs are driving up the cost of everything else, further harming the people at the bottom of the economic ladder. Political corruption is rampant. Companies like Blackwater and Halliburton are getting risk rich on our task dollars, at the cost of countless Iraqi lives, due to a war we never should have started in the first place. Our health care system is a mess. No Child Left Behind is wrecking our public schools. Our constitutional rights and any semblance of the personal privacy that was once considered our birthright as Americans are now in tatters. We seem on the verge of becoming that which we all profess to loathe – a fascist state. And nobody in the Bush administration has been impeached yet, despite numerous high crimes and misdemeanors.

To be perfectly honest, I think the cable news shows are giving the conventions about the level of respect they deserve. The only actual newsworthy event inside the Pepsi Center so far (that I’m aware of) has been Hillary’s speech, and that’s only because some of her fangirls just can’t let go and accept that she isn’t going to be the president come January 1, 2009.

Don’t get me wrong. I realize that the ultimate outcome of the elections come November is vitally important.

I’m just saying that most of what’s been happening inside the Pepsi Center for the past two days isn’t.

Best wishes,

jane doe


A storm’s moving in here in Redstatesville. The wind doesn’t seem to know quite which direction it wants to be blowing, and there will be lighting and thunder for certain before I go to bed tonight.

I look at the news – the war in Iraq, the reviving war in Afghanistan, the potential war in Iran (if Dick Cheney gets his way), elections, White House scandals, the economic mess, the cost of oil (both in dollars and in human terms), the insanity of our Middle East policy, religious extremism (Christian as well as Islamic), the environment and global warming, our eroding civil liberties and loss of privacy, and the constant, deafening efforts of right-wing politicians and pundits and priests trying to paint scientists, liberals, artists, academics, and anyone else who objects to all this insanity as anti-American and in league with the terrorists – and it’s hard not to think something similar is going on on a national scale, building toward some serious thunder and lighting, and maybe a bit of destruction before the year is through.

It’s all got me feeling a bit twitchy.

It’s not any one thing in particular that has me so nervous. Rather, it is an aggregation of things. Stories glimpsed briefly, often in the non-mainstream news and the blogosphere, that individually would qualify one for a lifetime membership in the Tinfoil Hat Brigade if one were to make a big deal out of them, but when looked at together, begin to seem more than a little ominous, like storm clouds building.

Like this story in the Denver Post about how “hundreds of police, firefighters, paramedics and even utility workers have been trained and recently dispatched as ‘Terrorism Liaison Officers’ in Colorado and a handful of other states to hunt for ‘suspicious activity’ — and are reporting their findings into secret government databases.”

Or this one, from May 2007, about the Bush administration contracting with Halliburton to build “detention camps” within the continental United States for use in the event of a “national emergency.”

Or this presidential directive, also from May 2007, granting the president extensive, extra-constitutional authority over the operations of the government in the event of a “catastrophic emergency.”

Or this story about a plan prepared by the Pentagon for “massive airstrikes against 1,200 targets in Iran, designed to annihilate the Iranians’ military capability in three days.”

Twitch, twitch.

It’s like we’re building toward some big, possibly transformational event, and I can’t help feeling that it all comes down to who wins the presidential race in November. The candidate who promises change, or the one who promises only more of the same.

And I’m very much afraid of what may happen if we end up with the latter option.

jane doe


I have a bad headache this evening, of the sort one gets after a prolonged period of pounding one’s head against a brick wall.

I’ve been reading Seymour Hersch’s article from the July 7th edition of The New Yorker, in which he describes certain ongoing covert operations currently taking place in Iran, where our alleged president and his buddies are apparently trying to start World War III.

I guess they’re just not satisfied with wrecking our economy, our civil rights, our public schools, our health care system, our military, our infrastructure, our court system, our Department of Justice, most of the other departments in the executive branch, and our reputation in the world community, or with causing the deaths of thousands of American soldiers and tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of Iraqis, along with life-altering injuries and loss for countless thousands (more likely millions) more.

No, apparently their new motto is, “Armageddon or bust!”

Will someone please impeach these bastards?

jane doe


…if they really are out to get us?

It’s a question I’ve been pondering today, as I contemplate the current state of things in American politics.

There is a phenomenon in psychology known as habituation, in which an organism – human or animal – begins to ignore some stimulus in its environment that has been repeated over and over. After a certain point, the brain just tunes it out, and stops reacting even at the neurological level. Our nervous systems are set up to notice changes in the environment. Changes represent potential threats, or risks, or food sources, and they draw our attention quickly, while unchanging things are quickly filed and forgotten.

Say you bring home a new clock and put it on your mantle. When you first start it up, you notice the ticking sound made by the second hand as it moves in its circular route. But very quickly you become unaware of the noise unless you are deliberately attending to it.

Here’s another example: I live in the flight path of the Redstatesville airport. There are relatively few flights in and out of the airport each day, and once I had been living here for a while, I rarely noticed the planes anymore unless one passed by particularly low directly overhead. In the last few days, however, a helicopter has been flying around my neighborhood frequently, presumably because of its proximity to the airport. That, I notice. But if it becomes routine over the next few weeks, I’ll probably stop noticing it, as well.

People who live along train tracks experience a similar phenomenon, and wonder why their house guests never seem to get a good night’s sleep.

It kind of works the same way with warnings. Call it Boy Who Cried Wolf Syndrome: when a warning is repeated endlessly, and the event warned of never happens, the warning itself becomes meaningless chatter that gets filtered out as we go about our business.

When’s the last time you really listened to a flight attendant give the pre-flight safety speech? Do you actually look around the cabin to find the nearest exit before takeoff? I’m betting that for frequent travelers, the answer to those questions are, “Um, jeez, I don’t know,” and “No,” respectively.

Where am I going with this?

Well, as I’ve said elsewhere in this blog, I believe that the current administration has been using terror management theory to manipulate public opinion. Keith Olbermann has ably chronicled this in the series of reports he has done about the nexus of politics and terror, in which he recalls for us all the times that bad news affecting the Bush administration was followed, usually within a day or so, by press releases from the White House or the Department of Homeland Security about the terrorist threat. Increases in the threat level, the sudden reporting of uncovered and averted plots, that sort of thing.

And of course, the Republican Party’s beating of the 9/11 drum in the run-up to the 2004 presidential election was plain for all to see.

In the 2006 elections, they tried this strategy again, but it didn’t work for them so well that time. Partly because people were fed up with the ongoing Iraq war, and likely partly because of habituation.

People have simply heard the politicians talk about 9/11 so much that most people (though of course not all) now sort of tune them out and focus on other issues. Like the war, or the economy, or the huge laundry list of scandals perpetrated by this administration.

What does all this mean?

It means, quite frankly, that if the Republicans (and those interests that support them or benefit from their policies) want to continue to use fear successfully as a tool of political manipulation, they probably actually need another terrorist attack, preferably one on US soil. Something that makes a big boom, figuratively or literally.

This thought has been keeping me awake at night lately.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t believe that this is a Republican party campaign strategy. I am not accusing anyone of treason. There has been no attack yet, and I have know knowledge of actual facts about any plot.

What I’m saying is, that it would only take a few people with knowledge of terror management theory’s implications to see what “needed” to be done and to arrange for it to happen.

You may, at this point, be thinking, “Wait a minute. This is all well and good, but so far I haven’t heard anything that would suggest that people high up in the current administration or the Republican party are even aware of terror management theory. Isn’t this just something a bunch of ivory-tower social psychologists like to jawjack about? Where’s your evidence that any of the people you are talking about know anything at all about this?”

Here’s the thing:

Since 9/11, there has been a major increase in government funding for terror management research. Much if not all of that funding comes through the Department of Homeland Security, and various military officers and DHS officials have been briefed on the findings by the very university professors who are conducting the research.

How do I know this? Ah, that would be telling. But some of it, at least, can probably be confirmed through public sources – particularly information about research grants that have been made to fund the research. As for the briefings claim, well…let’s just say I have my sources, and leave it at that for now.

You can see why I am losing sleep at night: I don’t think the terrorists are the only ones we have to fear.

Hell, I don’t even think the terrorists are the most dangerous threat at the moment.

What might motivate otherwise loyal Americans to orchestrate a “terrorist” attack on their own country?

Money. Power.

Both of these are at stake, in huge amounts, at the moment.

My original mental doomsday scenario called for the attack to be a few weeks before the November election. Say, late September or early October.

But last night I got to thinking, what if manipulating the election results to ensure a favorable outcome weren’t your only goal?

What if you were trying to force measures further eroding our privacy and civil liberties through Congress?

What if you wanted an excuse to start bombing Iran?

Am I being paranoid?

We’re heading into a three-day weekend, a time when people will be pumped up with patriotic fervor. The day when we celebrate our country’s founding and the battle for our independence.

There will be all sorts of big events drawing thousands of people, all across the country. Baseball games, outdoor concerts, fireworks displays.

And large gatherings of people make really good targets for a terrorist attack.

Am I being paranoid?

I really, really hope so. Believe me when I say that nothing would make me happier than to be wrong on this.

I just hope that, if the worst does happen, if another attack does occur, that things will be a little different than they were after 9/11. That Congress won’t rush to sell out our remaining civil liberties, or allow us to be bulldozed into a war with Iran before the investigation into the attack is even finished. That the media will question the information being fed to them by those in power, instead of just mindlessly reporting it as truth. That whoever conducts the investigation looks not just at the Middle East, but also closer to home, when trying to establish the list of suspects and their motivations.

I think I’ll end on that cheerful note. Again, I really hope to be proven wrong in all of this. I’ll be really happy if on January 21, 2009, I’m writing a post about how I got all worked up over nothing.

As for this weekend, well, I don’t think I’ll be going to any baseball games, or large concerts, or fireworks shows. Maybe I’ll go for a drive out into the farmland surrounding us here in Redstatesville. See how the corn’s coming up. Get away from the city lights and lie on the hood of my car staring up at the sky, counting stars and dreaming of a world where I don’t feel the need to engage in the kind of paranoid speculation I’ve been doing here today.

jane doe

Addendum: A new CNN poll out today (July 2) reports that “Americans’ concerns about terrorism have hit an all-time low for the post-September 11 era,” and goes on to say:

According to a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey released Wednesday, 35 percent of Americans believe a terrorist attack somewhere in the United States is likely over the next several weeks.

The figure is the lowest in a CNN poll since the September 11, 2001, al Qaeda attacks, which killed nearly 3,000 people.

All of which ties in with my comment above about Boy Who Cried Wolf Syndrome. If Americans have become less concerned with the threat of another attack, then repeated comments about 9/11 and the threat of future attacks are less likely to have the kind of impact at the polls that they did in 2004.

I’m just saying…


Okay, listening to the MSNBC coverage of the speech. And Olbermann starts out with calling Bush on distortions and outright lies about terrorist plots the government has allegedly stopped. Also compares Bush’s words about Iran with the stuff he was saying in the run-up to the war with Iraq — which, as we know, turned out to be almost entirely false or inaccurate. Thank you, Keith!

– jane doe


…and entertaining if untrue: At least three web sites are reporting (in identical language) that:

Former US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld fled France [Saturday] fearing arrest over charges of “ordering and authorizing” torture of detainees at both the American-run Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and the US military’s detainment facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, unconfirmed reports coming from Paris suggest.

US embassy officials whisked Rumsfeld away yesterday from a breakfast meeting in Paris organized by the Foreign Policy magazine after human rights groups filed a criminal complaint againsgt the man who spearheaded President George W. Bush’s “war on terror” for six years.

Under international law, authorities in France are obliged to open an investigation when a complaint is made while the alleged torturer is on French soil.

Major disclaimer: I have absolutely no way of knowing whether any of this is true.

Of the three places I found this story, the only one I have any prior experience with is AlterNet. They seem to be attributing the story to IPS News (Inter Press Service News Agency), which I have never even heard of before. I cannot find the story on the IPS web site, and therefore am uncertain whether AlterNet’s attribution is correct.

One of the three sites reporting the story seems to be based in Iran, although it is an English-language site. Given the current state of relations between Iran and the US, I am likely to be skeptical about anything one of those country’s media report about government officials (or ex-officials) from the other country. (And yes, that works in both directions, given all the untrue things the US mainstream media reported about Iraq back in 2002 and early 2003.)

The third site is something called world news, which looks like a blog and seems to include stories from a variety of reputable sources, including the New York Times, Reuters, and BBC News. However, it does not list any source for this story, either.

None of the stories include an author’s name, though the Iranian site does have some initials at the end of the story (“RZS/BGH”), which might signify a staff author or authors — other stories on the site include similar strings of initials at the ends of the stories. The end result is that we have zero accountability on this story. (Yes, I realize that sounds ironic coming from someone who blogs under the moniker jane doe. But I’m all about irony. Plus, I usually cite sources for any factual assertions I make, unless they are being widely reported already by multiple mainstream sources.)

On the assumption that this might have actually happened but been ignored by our beloved corporate mainstream media here in the US, I did a little searching on some European news sites. Guardian (UK) and the BBC are both silent on this story, and the former of those, at least, would probably mention it if they had heard about it.

All-in-all, I have a lot of doubts about the truth of the story, but I thought it deserved a mention, if only in the hopes that someone who has the ability to investigate whether any of it is true picks up on it.

So my question to you, my dear non-existent readers, is this: has anyone else heard anything about this? Is this story true? A distortion of a true story? An outright hoax?

I don’t know. If you do, please post a reply in the comments.

And by the way, whether this story is true or not, it does not change my position that Bush and Cheney really ought to be impeached.

jane doe

 


Okay, someone needs to take Bush aside and explain to him that he can’t start a new war until he’s finished the one he’s already got going. According to the Times in London (h/t to QuakerDave), the Pentagon has plans for “massive airstrikes against 1,200 targets in Iran, designed to annihilate the Iranians’ military capability in three days.” The article further notes:

Alexis Debat, director of terrorism and national security at the Nixon Center, said last week that US military planners were not preparing for “pinprick strikes” against Iran’s nuclear facilities. “They’re about taking out the entire Iranian military,” he said.

Now, I realize that the Pentagon has all sorts of plans, for all sorts of possible scenarios. That is what they do. They try to develop plans for every plausible “what if” scenario so that if the worst happens and we need to mount some sort of military operation somewhere in the world, we’re not just doing it by the seat of our pants.

But this is really disturbing (as if Bush’s saber rattling with respect to Iran weren’t bad enough in itself). If the Pentagon has these plans to basically wipe out Iran’s entire military with airstrikes in a three day timeframe, and if people who are in a position to know about it are actually talking to the press about it, it suggests to me that this might well be our brilliant president’s plan — just have a massive bombing attack to wipe out their military and nuclear capabilities, and say, “Okay, that was fun. Have fun rebuilding your military and infrastructure for the next decade, Iran. We’ve got to get back to Iraq now. See ya!”

And hey, by the way, exactly how do they think they can accomplish all this in three days, with our military already stretched too thin? I know our Air Force can do some pretty amazing things, but Iran is several times the size of Iraq, with almost three times the population, a bigger military, and more resources. I really don’t see us taking out their entire military, along with their nuclear program, in three days using conventional weapons.

That suggests that the Pentagon plans — assuming they really do exist, of course — involve the use of nuclear weapons.

I really don’t want to contemplate the possibility of using nuclear weapons in a preemptive attack, particularly since the last preemptive war initiated by our president was sold to the American public (and the rest of the world) using manipulated intelligence of dubious provenance. Frankly, at this point, the president has no real credibility left. There is quite simply no way for me or anyone else not actually working in the intelligence field to know whether the magnitude of the threat posed by Iran is as great as the president claims. Therefore, the idea of using nuclear weapons in an attack against Iran, based upon any statement by this president about the threat that country poses, does not bear serious consideration by any thinking person.

Unfortunately, we don’t have a thinking person making the final decision on this matter. We just have Dubya.

Neither do I like to contemplate the likely reaction of other nations of the world if Bush were to launch such an attack. Bush has already done more to alienate our allies than any president in recent history, destroying international goodwill built up over decades by preceding administrations. Any first strike against an enemy that is not literally threatening to overrun us in the immediate near future using nuclear weapons would likely be viewed by other nations of the world as sufficient justification to launch a war – possibly a nuclear war – against us, here, on our own soil.

And I really, really don’t want to contemplate that.

Thus I will simply close by saying once again that I really think that Bush and Cheney ought to be impeached.

jane doe


Do you suppose that it pisses off the Iranians that we still call the Persian Gulf that?

jane doe


So apparently our alleged president, in his infinite wisdom, has decided to begin a covert campaign to destabilize Iran. Obviously the fiasco in Iraq, the re-emerging war in Afghanistan, the Justice department scandal, the World Bank mess, and his battles with Congress aren’t enough to occupy his time, and he has decided to go looking for additional trouble on another front.

And how do I know about this covert campaign, you may ask? Because it was very helpfully reported by ABC News.

This, of course, has prompted howls of ungrammatical outrage from the steadily dwindling number of Americans who still support George Bush – witness the comments to the above-referenced story, where commenters called ABC News “traders” (one assumes the person meant traitors) and speak of their “tresonous [sic] actions”.

While I can understand the poorly articulated concerns of those who commented on the story, I disagree with their conclusions. There are actions that our government takes that clearly should be kept secret. Broadcasting details of troop movements during combat operations, for example, would put our troops and our entire strategy at grave risk. Barring some notorious exceptions, I think our press has generally been sensitive to this need for vagueness in reporting on ongoing operations.

On the other hand, when our leaders decide to take unauthorized action against a country with which we are not at war, hoping to destabilize its government in the face of very vocal protests by many Americans that we should not go looking for trouble with that country given our current commitments in the world arena, and a news organization finds out about it, I believe that circumstances justify a decision to report on that story.

Clearly, someone within the administration was concerned enough about Bush’s decision to feel that public disclosure was necessary to prevent a huge catastrophe. Just a few weeks ago, George Tenet came under strong criticism from many quarters for his decision not to quit as head of the CIA and go to the press in protest of Bush’s actions in the run-up to the Iraq war. Someone watching all that apparently concluded that they didn’t want a similar catastrofuck on their conscience with respect to Iran – and bless them for it.So am I angered by ABC News’ decision to run this story? No. I view them as the whistleblower in this instance, alerting us to yet another questionable action by this administration that is running amok at our expense. We cannot afford a war with Iran at this time, due in large part to Bush’s bungling of the Iraq situation. And frankly, I don’t trust the motives of anyone in the Bush administration anymore.

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