Category Archives: Bill Blum’s Diverse Writings

Taking the World Down With Them, Bombing Iran

http://www.counterpunch.org/blum08062010.html

Weekend Edition
August 6 – 8, 2010

Taking the World Down With Them

Bombing Iran

By WILLIAM BLUM

If and when the United States and Israel bomb Iran (marking the sixth country so blessed by Barack Obama) and this sad old world has a new daily horror show to look at on their TV sets, and we then discover that Iran was not actually building nuclear weapons after all, the American mainstream media and the benighted American mind will ask: “Why didn’t they tell us that? Did they want us to bomb them?”

The same questions were asked about Iraq following the discovery that Saddam Hussein didn’t in fact have any weapons of mass destruction. However, in actuality, before the US invasion Iraqi officials had stated clearly on repeated occasions that they had no such weapons. I’m reminded of this by the recent news report about Hans Blix, former chief United Nations weapons inspector, who led a doomed hunt for WMD in Iraq. Last week he told the British inquiry into the March 2003 invasion that those who were “100 percent certain there were weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq turned out to have “less than zero percent knowledge” of where the purported hidden caches might be. He testified that he had warned British Prime Minister Tony Blair in a February 2003 meeting — as well as US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in separate talks — that Hussein might have no weapons of mass destruction.1

In August 2002, Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz told American newscaster Dan Rather on CBS: “We do not possess any nuclear or biological or chemical weapons.” 2

In December, Aziz stated to Ted Koppel on ABC: “The fact is that we don’t have weapons of mass destruction. We don’t have chemical, biological, or nuclear weaponry.” 3

Hussein himself told Rather in February 2003: “These missiles have been destroyed. There are no missiles that are contrary to the prescription of the United Nations [as to range] in Iraq. They are no longer there.” 4

Moreover, Gen. Hussein Kamel, former head of Iraq’s secret weapons program, and a son-in-law of Saddam Hussein, told the UN in 1995 that Iraq had destroyed its banned missiles and chemical and biological weapons soon after the Persian Gulf War. 5

There are yet other examples of Iraqi officials telling the world that the WMD were non-existent.

If you don’t already have serious doubts about the mainstream media’s devotion to questioning the premises and rationales underlying American foreign policy, consider this: Despite the two revelations on Dan Rather’s CBS programs, and the other revelations noted above, in January 2008 we find CBS reporter Scott Pelley interviewing FBI agent George Piro, who had interviewed Saddam Hussein before he was executed:

PELLEY: And what did he tell you about how his weapons of mass destruction had been destroyed?

PIRO: He told me that most of the WMD had been destroyed by the U.N. inspectors in the ’90s, and those that hadn’t been destroyed by the inspectors were unilaterally destroyed by Iraq.

PELLEY: He had ordered them destroyed?

PIRO: Yes.

PELLEY: So why keep the secret? Why put your nation at risk? Why put your own life at risk to maintain this charade? 6

Would it have mattered if the Bush administration had fully believed Iraq when it said it had no WMD? Probably not. There is ample evidence that Bush knew this to be the case, as did Tony Blair. Saddam Hussein did not sufficiently appreciate just how psychopathic his two adversaries were. Bush was determined to vanquish Iraq, for the sake of Israel, for control of oil, and for expanding the empire, though it hasn’t all worked out as the empire expected; for some odd reason, it seems that the Iraqi people resented being bombed, invaded, occupied, and tortured.

The result of Bush’s Iraqi policy can be summed up by saying that it would be difficult to cite many other historical examples of one nation destroying another so completely, crushing and perverting virtually every aspect of their society and humanity.

Now Israel presses Washington relentlessly to do the same to Iran — not that the US necessarily needs much prodding — primarily because Israel is determined to remain the only nuclear power in the Middle East; this despite Iran telling the United States and the world many times that it is not building nuclear weapons. But if Iran is in fact building nuclear weapons, we have to ask: Is there some international law that says that the US, the UK, Russia, China, Israel, France, Pakistan, and India are entitled to nuclear weapons, but Iran is not? If the United States had known that the Japanese had deliverable atomic bombs, would Hiroshima and Nagasaki have been destroyed? Does USrael believe that there is not already enough horror and suffering in the news?

In what could be part of the preparation for an attack on Iran, 47 members of the House of Representatives recently put forth a non-binding resolution declaring Iran to be “an immediate and existential threat to the State of Israel”. To illustrate this threat, the resolution quoted Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on several occasions avowing sentiments like: “God willing, with the force of God behind it, we shall soon experience a world without the United States and Zionism” … calling for “this occupying regime [Israel] to be wiped off the map” … “Like it or not, the Zionist regime is heading toward annihilation” … “I must announce that the Zionist regime, with a 60-year record of genocide, plunder, invasion, and betrayal is about to die and will soon be erased from the geographical scene” … “Today, the time for the fall of the satanic power of the United States has come, and the countdown to the annihilation of the emperor of power and wealth has started”.

Pretty damning stuff, isn’t it? N’est-ce pas? Nicht wahr? But there’s a lot less here than meets the eye. Notice that it doesn’t quote Ahmadinejad in a single specific, explicit threat of an Iranian attack upon Israel or the United States. No mention or indication that “I” or “We” or “Iran” is going to do any of this, carry out any act of violence. And I would say that that’s because it’s not what he meant. In another quote, which the resolution fails to cite, the Iranian president in December 2006 said: “The Zionist regime will be wiped out soon, the same way the Soviet Union was, and humanity will achieve freedom.” 12 Obviously, the man is not calling for any kind of violent attack upon Israel, for the dissolution of the Soviet Union took place very peacefully. Furthermore, in June 2006, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, stated: “We have no problem with the world. We are not a threat whatsoever to the world, and the world knows it. We will never start a war. We have no intention of going to war with any state.7 Why didn’t the authors of the congressional resolution quote that one?

I think that one can derive a better understanding of the Iranian president’s statements by seeing them as metaphor, as bragging, as wishful thinking, as well as poor translation (for example: “wiped off the map” 8), coming from a man foolish enough to publicly claim that there are no gays in Iran.

But more significantly, the resolution offers no reason why Iran actually would attack Israel or the United States. What reason would Iran have to use nuclear weapons against either country other than an irresistible desire for mass national suicide? Indeed, the very same question could have — and should have — been asked before the invasion of Iraq. Of the many lies surrounding that invasion, the biggest one of all was that if, in fact, Saddam Hussein had had those weapons of mass destruction the invasion would have been justified.

With all the lies exposed about the American Iraqi misadventure, I and many others had allowed ourselves the luxury, the hidden pleasure, of believing that the United States government and media had learned a lesson which would last for some time. They’d been caught and exposed. But it’s the same all over again with the lies about Iran and Ahmadinejad. (No, he’s not even a Holocaust denier.)

In any event, Israel probably doesn’t believe its own propaganda. In March of last year, the Washington Post reported: “A senior Israeli official in Washington” has asserted that “Iran would be unlikely to use its missiles in an attack [against Israel] because of the certainty of retaliation.” 9 This was the very last sentence in the article and, according to an extensive Nexis search, did not appear in any other English-language media in the world.

And earlier this year we could read in the Sunday Times of London: “Brigadier-General Uzi Eilam, 75, a war hero and pillar of the [Israeli] defence establishment, believes it will probably take Iran seven years to make nuclear weapons. The views expressed by the former director-general of Israel’s Atomic Energy Commission contradict the assessment of Israel’s defence establishment and put him at odds with political leaders.” 10

If any country in this world is a threat to use nuclear weapons with remarkably little regard for the consequences it’s Israel. Martin van Creveld, an Israeli professor of military history, and loyal Israeli citizen, remarked in 2002: “We have the capability to take the world down with us. And I can assure you that this will happen before Israel goes under.” 11 Think of the closing scene of “Dr. Strangelove”. That’s Israel sitting astride the speeding nuclear missile waving the cowboy hat.

William Blum is the author of Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War IIRogue State: a guide to the World’s Only Super Power. and West-Bloc Dissident: a Cold War Political Memoir.

The Bombing of PanAm Flight 103 – Case Not Closed

The Bombing of PanAm Flight 103
Case Not Closed

by William Blum
(written 2001)

 
The newspapers were filled with pictures of happy relatives
of the victims of the December 21, 1988 bombing of PanAm 103 over
Lockerbie, Scotland. A Libyan, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi,
had been found guilty of the crime the day before, January 31,
2001, by a Scottish court in the Hague, though his co-defendant,
Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, was acquitted. At long last there was
going to be some kind of closure for the families.
But what was wrong with this picture?
What was wrong was that the evidence against Megrahi was
thin to the point of transparency. Coming the month after the
(s)election of George W. Bush, the Hague verdict could have been
dubbed Supreme Court II, another instance of non-judicial factors
fatally clouding judicial reasoning. The three Scottish judges
could not have relished returning to the United Kingdom after
finding both defendants innocent of the murder of 270 people,
largely from the U.K. and the United States. Not to mention
having to face dozens of hysterical victims' family members in
the courtroom. The three judges also well knew the fervent
desires of the White House and Downing Street as to the outcome.
If both men had been acquitted, the United States and Great
Britain would have had to answer for a decade of sanctions and
ill will directed toward Libya.
One has to read the entire 26,000-word "Opinion of the
Court", as well as being very familiar with the history of the
case going back to 1988, to appreciate how questionable was the
judges' verdict.
The key charge against Megrahi -- the sine qua non -- was
that he placed explosives in a suitcase and tagged it so it would
lead the following charmed life: 1)loaded aboard an Air Malta
flight to Frankfurt without an accompanying passenger;
2)transferred in Frankfurt to the PanAm 103A flight to London
without an accompanying passenger; 3)transferred in London to the
PanAm 103 flight to New York without an accompanying passenger.
To the magic bullet of the JFK assassination, can we now add
the magic suitcase?
This scenario by itself would have been a major feat and so
unlikely to succeed that any terrorist with any common sense
would have found a better way. But aside from anything else, we
have this -- as to the first step, loading the suitcase at Malta:
there was no witness, no video, no document, no fingerprints,
nothing to tie Megrahi to the particular brown Samsonite
suitcase, no past history of terrorism, no forensic evidence of
any kind linking him or Fhimah to such an act.
And the court admitted it: "The absence of any explanation
of the method by which the primary suitcase might have been
placed on board KM180 [Air Malta] is a major difficulty for the
Crown case."{1}
Moreover, under security requirements in 1988, unaccompanied
baggage was subjected to special X-ray examinations, plus --
because of recent arrests in Germany -- the security personnel in
Frankfurt were on the lookout specifically for a bomb secreted in
a radio, which turned out to indeed be the method used with the
PanAm 103 bomb.
Requiring some sort of direct and credible testimony linking
Megrahi to the bombing, the Hague court placed great -- nay,
paramount -- weight upon the supposed identification of the
Libyan by a shopkeeper in Malta, as the purchaser of the clothing
found in the bomb suitcase. But this shopkeeper had earlier
identified several other people as the culprit, including one who
was a CIA agent.{1a} When he finally identified Megrahi from a
photo, it was after Megrahi's photo had been in the world news
for years. The court acknowledged the possible danger inherent
in such a verification: "These identifications were criticised
inter alia on the ground that photographs of the accused have
featured many times over the years in the media and accordingly
purported identifications more than 10 years after the event are
of little if any value."{2}
There were also major discrepancies between the shopkeeper's
original description of the clothes-buyer and Megrahi's actual
appearance. The shopkeeper told police that the customer was
"six feet or more in height" and "was about 50 years of age."
Megrahi was 5'8" tall and was 36 in 1988. The judges again
acknowledged the weakness of their argument by conceding that the
initial description "would not in a number of respects fit the
first accused [Megrahi]" and that "it has to be accepted that
there was a substantial discrepancy."{3}
Nevertheless, the judges went ahead and accepted the
identification as accurate. Before the indictment of the two
Libyans in Washington in November 1991, the press had reported
police findings that the clothing had been purchased on
November 23, 1988.{4} But the indictment of Megrahi states
that he made the purchase on December 7. Can this be because
the investigators were able to document Megrahi being in Malta
(where he worked for Libya Airlines) on that date but cannot
do so for November 23?{5}

There is also this to be considered -- If the bomber needed
some clothing to wrap up an ultra-secret bomb in a suitcase,
would he go to a clothing store in the city where he planned to
carry out his dastardly deed, where he knew he'd likely be
remembered as an obvious foreigner, and buy brand new, easily
traceable items? Would an intelligence officer -- which Megrahi
was alleged to be -- do this? Or even a common boob? Wouldn't
it make more sense to use any old clothing, from anywhere?
Furthermore, after the world was repeatedly assured that
these items of clothing were sold only on Malta, it was learned
that at least one of the items was actually "sold at dozens of
outlets throughout Europe, and it was impossible to trace the
purchaser."{6}
The "Opinion of the Court" placed considerable weight on the
suspicious behavior of Megrahi prior to the fatal day, making
much of his comings and goings abroad, phone calls to unknown
parties for unknown reasons, the use of a pseudonym, etc.
The three judges tried to squeeze as much mileage out of these
events as they could, as if they had no better case to make.
But if Megrahi was indeed a member of Libyan intelligence, we
must consider that intelligence agents have been known to act in
mysterious ways, for whatever assignment they're on. The court,
however, had no idea what assignment, if any, Megrahi was working
on.
There is much more that is known about the case that makes
the court verdict and written opinion questionable, although
credit must be given the court for its frankness about what it
was doing, even while it was doing it. "We are aware that in
relation to certain aspects of the case there are a number of
uncertainties and qualifications," the judges wrote. "We are
also aware that there is a danger that by selecting parts of the
evidence which seem to fit together and ignoring parts which
might not fit, it is possible to read into a mass of conflicting
evidence a pattern or conclusion which is not really justified."{7}
It is remarkable, given all that the judges conceded was
questionable or uncertain in the trial -- not to mention all that
was questionable or uncertain that they didn't concede -- that at
the end of the day they could still declare to the world that
"There is nothing in the evidence which leaves us with any
reasonable doubt as to the guilt of [Megrahi]".{8}
The Guardian of London later wrote that two days before the
verdict, "senior Foreign Office officials briefed a group of
journalists in London. They painted a picture of a bright new
chapter in Britain's relations with Colonel Gadafy's regime.
They made it quite clear they assumed both the Libyans in the
dock would be acquitted. The Foreign Office officials were not
alone. Most independent observers believed it was impossible for
the court to find the prosecution had proved its case against
Megrahi beyond reasonable doubt."{9}

Alternative scenario
There is, moreover, an alternative scenario, laying the
blame on Palestinians, Iran and Syria, which is much better
documented and makes a lot more sense, logistically and
otherwise.
Indeed, this was the Original Official Version, delivered
with Olympian rectitude by the U.S. government -- guaranteed,
sworn to, scout's honor, case closed -- until the buildup to the
Gulf War came along in 1990 and the support of Iran and Syria was
needed.
Washington was anxious as well to achieve the release of
American hostages held in Lebanon by groups close to Iran. Thus
it was that the scurrying sound of backtracking became audible in
the corridors of the White House.
Suddenly -- or so it seemed -- in October 1990, there was a
New Official Version: It was Libya -- the Arab state least
supportive of the U.S. build-up to the Gulf War and the sanctions
imposed against Iraq -- that was behind the bombing after all,
declared Washington.
The two Libyans were formally indicted in the U.S. and
Scotland on Nov. 14, 1991.
"This was a Libyan government operation from start to
finish," declared the State Department spokesman.{10}
"The Syrians took a bum rap on this," said President George
H.W. Bush.{11}
Within the next 20 days, the remaining four American
hostages were released along with the most prominent British
hostage, Terry Waite.
The Original Official Version accused the PFLP-GC, a 1968
breakaway from a component of the Palestine Liberation
Organization, of making the bomb and somehow placing it
aboard the flight in Frankfurt.
The PFLP-GC was led by Ahmed Jabril, one of the world's
leading terrorists, and was headquartered in, financed by, and
closely supported by, Syria. The bombing was allegedly done at
the behest of Iran as revenge for the U.S. shooting down of an
Iranian passenger plane over the Persian Gulf on July 3, 1988,
which claimed 290 lives.
The support for this scenario was, and remains, impressive,
as the following sample indicates:
In April 1989, the FBI -- in response to criticism that it
was bungling the investigation -- leaked to CBS the news that it
had tentatively identified the person who unwittingly carried the
bomb aboard. His name was Khalid Jaafar, a 21-year-old Lebanese-
American. The report said that the bomb had been planted in
Jaafar's suitcase by a member of the PFLP-GC, whose name was not
revealed.{12}
In May, the State Department stated that the CIA was
"confident" of the Iran-Syria-PFLP-GC account of events.{13}
On Sept. 20, The Times of London reported that "security
officials from Britain, the United States and West Germany are
'totally satisfied' that it was the PFLP-GC" behind the crime.
In December 1989, Scottish investigators announced that they
had "hard evidence" of the involvement of the PFLP-GC in the
bombing.{14}
A National Security Agency electronic intercept disclosed
that Ali Akbar Mohtashemi, Iranian interior minister, had paid
Palestinian terrorists $10 million dollars to gain revenge for
the downed Iranian airplane.(15) The intercept appears to have
occurred in July 1988, shortly after the downing of the Iranian
plane.
Israeli intelligence also intercepted a communication
between Mohtashemi and the Iranian embassy in Beirut "indicating
that Iran paid for the Lockerbie bombing."{16}
Even after the Libyans had been indicted, Israeli officials
declared that their intelligence analysts remained convinced that
the PFLP-GC bore primary responsibility for the bombing.{17}
In 1992, Abu Sharif, a political adviser to PLO chairman
Yasser Arafat, stated that the PLO had compiled a secret report
which concluded that the bombing of 103 was the work of a "Middle
Eastern country" other than Libya.{18}
In February 1995, former Scottish Office minister, Alan
Stewart, wrote to the British Foreign Secretary and the Lord
Advocate, questioning the reliability of evidence which had led
to the accusations against the two Libyans. This move, wrote The
Guardian, reflected the concern of the Scottish legal profession,
reaching into the Crown Office (Scotland's equivalent of the
Attorney General's Office), that the bombing may not have been
the work of Libya, but of Syrians, Palestinians and Iranians.{19}
We must also ask why Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher,
writing in her 1993 memoirs about the US bombing of Libya in
1986, with which Britain had cooperated, stated: "But the much
vaunted Libyan counter-attack did not and could not take place.
Gaddafy had not been destroyed but he had been humbled. There
was a marked decline in Libyan-sponsored terrorism in succeeding
years."{20}

Key Question
A key question in the PFLP-GC version has always been: How did
the bomb get aboard the plane in Frankfurt, or at some other
point? One widely disseminated explanation was in a report,
completed during the summer of 1989 and leaked in the fall, which
had been prepared by a New York investigating firm called
Interfor. Headed by a former Israeli intelligence agent, Juval
Aviv, Interfor -- whose other clients included Fortune 500
companies, the FBI, IRS and Secret Service{21} -- was hired by
the law firm representing PanAm's insurance carrier.
The Interfor Report said that in the mid-1980s, a drug and
arms smuggling operation was set up in various European cities,
with Frankfurt airport as the site of one of the drug routes.
The Frankfurt operation was run by Manzer Al-Kassar, a Syrian,
the same man from whom Oliver North's shadowy network purchased
large quantities of arms for the contras. At the airport,
according to the report, a courier would board a flight with
checked luggage containing innocent items; after the luggage had
passed all security checks, one or another accomplice Turkish
baggage handler for PanAm would substitute an identical suitcase
containing contraband; the passenger then picked up this suitcase
upon arrival at the destination.
The only courier named by Interfor was Khalid Jaafar, who,
as noted above, had been named by the FBI a few months earlier as
the person who unwittingly carried the bomb aboard.
The Interfor report spins a web much too lengthy and complex
to go into here. The short version is that the CIA in Germany
discovered the airport drug operation and learned also that
Kassar had the contacts to gain the release of American hostages
in Lebanon. He had already done the same for French hostages.
Thus it was, that the CIA and the German Bundeskriminalamt (BKA,
Federal Criminal Office) allowed the drug operation to continue
in hopes of effecting the release of American hostages.
According to the report, this same smuggling ring and its
method of switching suitcases at the Frankfurt airport were used
to smuggle the fatal bomb aboard flight 103, under the eyes of
the CIA and BKA.
In January 1990, Interfor gave three of the baggage handlers
polygraphs and two of them were judged as being deceitful when
denying any involvement in baggage switching. However, neither
the U.S., UK or German investigators showed any interest in the
results, or in questioning the baggage handlers. Instead, the
polygrapher, James Keefe, was hauled before a Washington grand
jury, and, as he puts it, "They were bent on destroying my
credibility -- not theirs" [the baggage handlers]. To Interfor,
the lack of interest in the polygraph results and the attempt at
intimidation of Keefe was the strongest evidence of a cover-up by
the various government authorities who did not want their
permissive role in the baggage switching to be revealed.{22}
Critics claimed that the Interfor report had been inspired
by PanAm's interest in proving that it was impossible for normal
airline security to have prevented the loading of the bomb, thus
removing the basis for accusing the airline of negligence.
The report was the principal reason PanAm's attorneys
subpoenaed the FBI, CIA, DEA, State Department, National Security
Council, and NSA, as well as, reportedly, the Defense
Intelligence Agency and FAA, to turn over all documents relating
to the crash of 103 or to a drug operation preceding the crash.
The government moved to quash the subpoenas on grounds of
"national security", and refused to turn over a single document
in open court, although it gave some to a judge to view
privately.
The judge later commented that he was "troubled about
certain parts" of what he'd read, adding "I don't know quite
what
to do because I think some of the material may be
significant."{23}


Drugs Revelation
On October 30, 1990, NBC-TV News reported that "PanAm flights
from Frankfurt, including 103, had been used a number of times by
the DEA as part of its undercover operation to fly informants and
suitcases of heroin into Detroit as part of a sting operation to
catch dealers in Detroit."
The TV network reported that the DEA was looking into the
possibility that a young man who lived in Michigan and regularly
visited the Middle East may have unwittingly carried the bomb
aboard flight 103. His name was Khalid Jaafar. "Unidentified
law enforcement sources" were cited as saying that Jaafar had
been a DEA informant and was involved in a drug-sting operation
based out of Cyprus. The DEA was investigating whether the
PFLP-GC had tricked Jaafar into carrying a suitcase containing
the bomb instead of the drugs he usually carried.
The NBC report quoted an airline source as saying:
"Informants would put [suit]cases of heroin on the PanAm flights
apparently without the usual security checks, through an
arrangement between the DEA and German authorities."{24}
These revelations were enough to inspire a congressional
hearing, held in December, entitled, "Drug Enforcement
Administration's Alleged Connection to the PanAm Flight 103
Disaster".
The chairman of the committee, Cong. Robert Wise (Dem., W.
VA.), began the hearing by lamenting the fact that the DEA and
the Department of Justice had not made any of their field agents
who were most knowledgeable about flight 103 available to
testify; that they had not provided requested written
information, including the results of the DEA's investigation
into the air disaster; and that "the FBI to this date has been
totally uncooperative".
The two DEA officials who did testify admitted that the
agency had, in fact, run "controlled drug deliveries" through
Frankfurt airport with the cooperation of German authorities,
using U.S. airlines, but insisted that no such operation had been
conducted in December 1988. (The drug agency had said nothing of
its sting operation to the President's Commission on Aviation
Security and Terrorism which had held hearings in the first
months of 1990 in response to the 103 bombing.)
The officials denied that the DEA had had any "association
with Mr. Jaafar in any way, shape, or form." However, to
questions concerning Jaafar's background, family, and his
frequent trips to Lebanon, they asked to respond only in closed
session. They made the same request in response to several other
questions.{25}
NBC News had reported on October 30 that the DEA had told
law enforcement officers in Detroit not to talk to the media
about Jaafar.
The hearing ended after but one day, even though Wise had
promised a "full-scale" investigation and indicated during the
hearing that there would be more to come. What was said in the
closed sessions remains closed.{26}
One of the DEA officials who testified, Stephen Greene, had
himself had a reservation on flight 103, but he canceled because
of one or more of the several international warnings that had
preceded the fateful day. He has described standing on the
Heathrow tarmac, watching the doomed plane take off.{27}
There have been many reports of heroin being found in the
field around the crash, from "traces" to "a substantial quantity"
found in a suitcase.{28} Two days after the NBC report, however,
the New York Times quoted a "federal official" saying that "no
hard drugs were aboard the aircraft."

The film
In 1994, American filmmaker Allan Francovich completed a
documentary, "The Maltese Double Cross", which presents Jaafar as
an unwitting bomb carrier with ties to the DEA and the CIA.
Showings of the film in Britain were canceled under threat of law
suits, venues burglarized or attacked by arsonists. When Channel
4 agreed to show the film, the Scottish Crown Office and the U.S.
Embassy in London sent press packs to the media, labeling the
film "blatant propaganda" and attacking some of the film's
interviewees, including Juval Aviv the head of Interfor.{29}
Aviv paid a price for his report and his outspokenness.
Over a period of time, his New York office suffered a series of
break-ins, the FBI visited his clients, his polygrapher was
harassed, as mentioned above, and a contrived commercial fraud
charge was brought against him. Even though Aviv eventually was
cleared in court, it was a long, expensive, and painful
ordeal.{30}
Francovich also stated that he had learned that five CIA
operatives had been sent to London and Cyprus to discredit the
film while it was being made, that his office phones were tapped,
that staff cars were sabotaged, and that one of his researchers
narrowly escaped an attempt to force his vehicle into the path of
an oncoming truck.{31}
Government officials examining the Lockerbie bombing went so
far as to ask the FBI to investigate the film. The Bureau later
issued a highly derogatory opinion of it.{32}
The film's detractors made much of the fact that the film
was initially funded jointly by a UK company (two-thirds) and a
Libyan government investment arm (one-third). Francovich said
that he was fully aware of this and had taken pains to negotiate
a guarantee of independence from any interference.
On April 17, 1997, Allan Francovich suddenly died of a heart
attack at age 56, upon arrival at Houston Airport.{33} His film
has had virtually no showings in the United States.

Abu Talb
The DEA sting operation and Interfor's baggage-handler hypothesis
both predicate the bomb suitcase being placed aboard the plane in
Frankfurt without going through the normal security checks. In
either case, it eliminates the need for the questionable
triple-unaccompanied baggage scenario. With either scenario the
clothing could still have been purchased in Malta, but in any
event we don't need the Libyans for that.
Mohammed Abu Talb fits that and perhaps other pieces of the
puzzle. The Palestinian had close ties to PFLP-GC cells in
Germany which were making Toshiba radio-cassette bombs, similar,
if not identical, to what was used to bring down 103. In October
1988, two months before Lockerbie, the German police raided these
cells, finding several such bombs. In May 1989, Talb was
arrested in Sweden, where he lived, and was later convicted of
taking part in several bombings of the offices of American
airline companies in Scandinavia. In his Swedish flat, police
found large quantities of clothing made in Malta.
Police investigation of Talb disclosed that during October
1988 he had been to Cyprus and Malta, at least once in the
company of Hafez Dalkamoni, the leader of the German PFLP-GC, who
was arrested in the raid. The men met with PFLP-GC members who
lived in Malta. Talb was also in Malta on November 23, which was
originally reported as the date of the clothing purchase before
the indictment of the Libyans, as mentioned earlier.
After his arrest, Talb told investigators that between
October and December 1988 he had retrieved and passed to another
person a bomb that had been hidden in a building used by the
PFLP-GC in Germany. Officials declined to identify the person to
whom Talb said he had passed the bomb. A month later, however,
he recanted his confession.
Talb was reported to possess a brown Samsonite suitcase and
to have circled December 21 in a diary seized in his Swedish flat.
After the raid upon his flat, his wife was heard to telephone
Palestinian friends and say: "Get rid of the clothes."
In December 1989, Scottish police, in papers filed with
Swedish legal officials, made Talb the only publicly identified
suspect "in the murder or participation in the murder of 270
people"; the Palestinian subsequently became another of the
several individuals to be identified by the Maltese shopkeeper
from a photo as the clothing purchaser.{34} Since that time, the
world has scarcely heard of Abu Talb, who was sentenced to life
in prison in Sweden, but never charged with anything to do with
Lockerbie.
In Allan Francovich's film, members of Khalid Jaafar's family
-- which long had ties to the drug trade in Lebanon's notorious
Bekaa Valley -- are interviewed. In either halting English or
translated Arabic, or paraphrased by the film's narrator, they
drop many bits of information, but which are difficult to put
together into a coherent whole. Amongst the bits ... Khalid had
told his parents that he'd met Talb in Sweden and had been given
Maltese clothing ... someone had given Khalid a tape recorder, or
put one into his bag ... he was told to go to Germany to friends
of PFLP-GC leader Ahmed Jabril who would help him earn some money
... he arrived in Germany with two kilos of heroin ... "He didn't
know it was a bomb. They gave him the drugs to take to Germany.
He didn't know. Who wants to die?" ...
It can not be stated with certainty what happened at
Frankfurt airport on that fateful day, if, as seems most likely,
that is the place where the bomb was placed into the system.
Either Jaafar, the DEA courier, arrived with his suitcase of
heroin and bomb and was escorted through security by the proper
authorities, or this was a day he was a courier for Manzer
al-Kassar, and the baggage handlers did their usual switch.
Or perhaps we'll never know for sure what happened.
On February 16, 1990, a group of British relatives of Lockerbie
victims went to the American Embassy in London for a meeting with
members of the President's Commission on Aviation Security and
Terrorism. After the meeting, Britisher Martin Cadman was
chatting with two of the commission members. He later reported
what one of them had said to him: "Your government and our
government know exactly what happened at Lockerbie. But they are
not going to tell you."{35}

Comments about the Hague Court verdict
"The judges nearly agreed with the defense. In their
verdict, they tossed out much of the prosecution witnesses'
evidence as false or questionable and said the prosecution had
failed to prove crucial elements, including the route that the
bomb suitcase took." -- New York Times analysis.{36}
"It sure does look like they bent over backwards to find a
way to convict, and you have to assume the political context of
the case influenced them." -- Michael Scharf, professor, New
England School of Law.{37}
"I thought this was a very, very weak circumstantial
case. I am absolutely astounded, astonished. I was extremely
reluctant to believe that any Scottish judge would convict
anyone, even a Libyan, on the basis of such evidence." -- Robert
Black, Scottish law professor who was the architect of the Hague
trial.{38}
"A general pattern of the trial consisted in the fact that
virtually all people presented by the prosecution as key
witnesses were proven to lack credibility to a very high extent,
in certain cases even having openly lied to the court."
"While the first accused was found 'guilty', the second
accused was found 'not guilty'. ... This is totally
incomprehensible for any rational observer when one considers
that the indictment in its very essence was based on the joint
action of the two accused in Malta."
"As to the undersigned's knowledge, there is not a single
piece of material evidence linking the two accused to the crime.
In such a context, the guilty verdict in regard to the first
accused appears to be arbitrary, even irrational. ... This leads
the undersigned to the suspicion that political considerations
may have been overriding a strictly judicial evaluation of the
case ... Regrettably, through the conduct of the Court,
disservice has been done to the important cause of international
criminal justice." -- Hans Koechler, appointed as an international
observer of the Lockerbie Trial by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.{39}



So, let's hope that Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi is really
guilty. It would be a terrible shame if he spends the rest of
his life in prison because back in 1990 Washington's hegemonic
plans for the Middle East needed a convenient enemy, which just
happened to be his country.


NOTES

1. "Opinion of the Court", Par. 39
1a. Mark Perry, Eclipse: The Last Days of the CIA
(Wm. Morrow, New York, 1992), pp.342-7.

2. "Opinion of the Court", Par. 55
3. "Opinion of the Court", Par. 68
4. See, e.g., Sunday Times (London), Nov. 12, 1989, p.3.
5. For a detailed discussion of this issue see, "A Special Report
from Private Eye: Lockerbie the Flight from Justice", May/June
2001, pp.20-22; Private Eye is a magazine published in London.
6. Sunday Times (London), December 17, 1989, p. 14. Malta is, in
fact, a major manufacturer of clothing sold throughout the world.
7. "Opinion of the Court", Par. 89
8. Ibid.
9. The Guardian (London), June 19, 2001
10. New York Times, Nov. 15, 1991
11. Los Angeles Times, Nov. 15, 1991
12. New York Times, April 13, 1989, p.9; David Johnston,
Lockerbie: The Tragedy of Flight 103 (New York, 1989), pp.157,
161-2.
13. Washington Post, May 11, 1989, p. 1
14. New York Times, December 16, 1989, p.3.
15. Department of the Air Force -- Air Intelligence Agency
intelligence summary report, March 4, 1991, released under a FOIA
request made by lawyers for PanAm. Reports of the intercept
appeared in the press long before the above document was
released; see, e.g., New York Times, Sept. 27, 1989, p.11;
October 31, 1989, p.8; Sunday Times, October 29, 1989, p.4. But
it wasn't until Jan. 1995 that the exact text became widely
publicized and caused a storm in the UK, although ignored in the
U.S.
16. The Times (London), September 20, 1989, p.1
17. New York Times, November 21, 1991, p. 14. It should be borne
in mind, however, that Israel may have been influenced because of
its hostility toward the PFLP-GC.
18. Reuters dispatch, datelined Tunis, Feb. 26, 1992
19. The Guardian, Feb. 24, 1995, p.7
20. Margaret Thatcher, The Downing Street Years (New York, 1993),
pp.448-9.
21. National Law Journal, Sept. 25, 1995, p.A11, from papers
filed in a New York court case.
22. Barron's (New York), December 17, 1990, pp.19, 22. A copy of
the Interfor Report is in the author's possession, but he has
been unable to locate a complete copy of it on the Internet.
23. Barron's, op. cit., p. 18.
24. The Times (London), November 1, 1990, p.3; Washington Times,
October 31, 1990, p.3
25. Government Information, Justice, and Agriculture Subcommittee
of the Committee on Government Operations, House of
Representatives, December 18, 1990, passim.
26. Ibid,
27. The film, "The Maltese Double Cross" (see below).
28. Sunday Times (London), April 16, 1989 (traces); Johnston, op.
cit., p.79 (substantial). "The Maltese Double Cross" film
mentions other reports of drugs found, by a Scottish policeman
and a mountain rescue man.
29. Financial Times (London), May 12, 1995, p.8 and article by
John Ashton, leading 103 investigator, in The Mail on Sunday
(London), June 9, 1996.
30. Ashton, op. cit.; Wall Street Journal, December 18, 1995,
p.1, and December 18, 1996, p.B2
31. The Guardian (London), April 23, 1994, p.5
32. Sunday Times (London), May 7, 1995.
33. Francovich's former wife told the author that he had not had
any symptoms of a heart problem before. However, the author also
spoke to Dr. Cyril Wecht, of JFK "conspiracy" fame, who performed
an autopsy on Francovich. Wecht stated that he found no reason
to suspect foul play.
34. Re: Abu Talb, all 1989: New York Times, Oct. 31, p.1, Dec. 1,
p.12, Dec. 24, p.1; Sunday Times (London), Nov. 12, p.3, December
5; The Times (London), Dec. 21, p.5. Also The Associated Press,
July 11, 2000
35. Cadman in "The Maltese Double Cross". Also see The Guardian,
July 29, 1995, p.27
36. New York Times, Feb. 2, 2001
37. Ibid.
38. Electronic Telegraph UK News, February 4, 2001
39. All quotations are from Koechler's report of February 3,
2001, easily found on the Internet


Written by William Blum <bblum6@aol.com>, author of:
Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since
World War II
and

Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower


This essay is a chapter in the book, Everything You Know Is Wrong,
a sequel to the book You Are Being Lied To.
Both books are published by Disinformation Books



The United States vs. Iraq — A Study in Hypocrisy

 


The United States vs. Iraq —
A Study in Hypocrisy

By William Blum

Written February 1998


"We have heard that a half million children have died,"
said "60 Minutes" reporter Lesley Stahl, speaking of US sanctions
against Iraq. "I mean, that's more children than died in
Hiroshima. And -- and you know, is the price worth it?"
Her guest, in May 1996, U.N. Ambassador Madeleine
Albright, responded: "I think this is a very hard choice, but
the price -- we think the price is worth it."
Today, Secretary of State Albright travels around the
world to gather support for yet more bombing of Iraq. The price,
apparently, is still worth it. The price is of course being
paid solely by the Iraqi people -- a million or so men, women and
children, dead and a previously well-off nation plunged into
poverty, disease, and malnutrition from the previous bombings and
seven years of sanctions.
Their crime? They have a leader who refuses to cede
all sovereignty to the United States (acting under its usual
United Nations cover) which demands that every structure in Iraq,
including the presidential palaces, be available for
inspection for "weapons of mass destruction". After more
than six years of these inspections, and significant destruction
of stocks of forbidden chemical, biological, and nuclear weapon
material, as well as weapons research and development programs,
the UN team still refuses to certify that Iraq is clean enough.
Inasmuch as the country is larger than California, it's
understandable that the inspectors can not be certain that
all prohibited weapons have been uncovered. It's equally
understandable that Iraq claims that the United States can,
and will, continue to find some excuse not to give Iraq the
certification needed to end the sanctions. Indeed, President
Clinton has said more than once that the U.S. will not allow
sanctions to be lifted as long as Saddam Hussein remains in power.
It can be said that the United States has inflicted more vindictive
punishment and ostracism upon Iraq than upon Germany or Japan
after World War 2.
The Saddam Hussein regime must wonder at the high (double)
standard set by Washington. Less than a year ago, the U.S.
Senate passed an act to implement the "Convention on the
Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and
Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction" (Short title:
Chemical Weapons Convention), an international treaty which
has been ratified by more than 100 nations in its five-year
life.
The Senate act, Section 307, stipulates that "the
President may deny a request to inspect any facility in the
United States in cases where the President determines that
the inspection may pose a threat to the national security
interests of the United States." Saddam has asked for no more
than that for Iraq. Presumably, under the Senate act, the White
House, Pentagon, etc. would be off limits, as Saddam insists his
presidential palaces should be, as well as the military unit
responsible for his personal security, which an American colonel
demanded to visit.
Section 303 further states that "Any objection by the
President to an individual serving as an inspector ... shall
not be reviewable in any court." Again, this echoes a repeated
complaint from the Iraqis -- a recent team of 16 inspectors
included 14 from the US and Britain, Saddam's two principal
adversaries, who are, at this very moment, busily planning
new bombing raids on Iraq. The team was led by a U.S.
Marine Corps captain, a veteran of the Gulf War, who has been
accused of spying by Iraq. But the Iraqis do not have a
corresponding right of exclusion. The same section of the
Senate act provides, moreover, that an FBI agent "accompanies
each inspection team visit".
The wishes of the Iraqi government to place certain
sites off limits and to have less partisan inspectors have been
dismissed out of hand by U.S. government spokespersons and
the American media. "What do they have to hide?" has been the
prevailing attitude.
The hypocrisy runs deeper yet. In his recent State of
the Union address, President Clinton, in the context of Iraq,
spoke of how we must "confront the new hazards of chemical and
biological weapons, and the outlaw states, terrorists and
organized criminals seeking to acquire them." He castigated
Saddam Hussein for "developing nuclear, chemical and
biological weapons" and called for strengthening the Biological
Weapons Convention. Who among his listeners knew, who among the
media reported, that the United States had been the supplier to
Iraq of much of the source biological materials Saddam's scientists
would require to create a biological warfare program?
According to a Senate Report of 1994 {1}: From 1985, if not
earlier, through 1989, a veritable witch's brew of biological
materials were exported to Iraq by private American suppliers
pursuant to application and licensing by the U.S. Department
of Commerce. Amongst these materials, which often produce slow
and agonizing deaths, were:
Bacillus Anthracis, cause of anthrax.
Clostridium Botulinum, a source of botulinum toxin.
Histoplasma Capsulatam, cause of a disease attacking lungs,
brain, spinal cord and heart.
Brucella Melitensis, a bacteria that can damage major
organs.
Clotsridium Perfringens, a highly toxic bacteria
causing systemic illness.
Clostridium tetani, highly toxigenic.
Also, Escherichia Coli (E.Coli); genetic materials; human
and bacterial DNA.
Dozens of other pathogenic biological agents were shipped
to Iraq during the 1980s. The Senate Report pointed out:
"These biological materials were not attenuated or weakened and
were capable of reproduction."
"It was later learned," the committee revealed, "that these
microorganisms exported by the United States were identical to
those the United Nations inspectors found and removed from the
Iraqi biological warfare program."
These exports continued to at least November 28, 1989 despite
the fact that Iraq had been reported to be engaging in chemical
warfare and possibly biological warfare against Iranians, Kurds,
and Shiites since the early 80s.
During the Iraq-Iran war of 1980-88, the United States gave
military aid and intelligence information to both sides, hoping
that each would inflict severe damage on the other, in line
perhaps with what Noam Chomsky has postulated:

It's been a leading, driving doctrine of U.S. foreign policy
since the 1940s that the vast and unparalleled energy
resources of the Gulf region will be effectively dominated by
the United States and its clients, and, crucially, that no
independent, indigenous force will be permitted to have a
substantial influence on the administration of oil production
and price.

Indeed, there is evidence that Washington encouraged Iraq
to attack Iran and ignite the war in the first place. This policy,
as well as financial considerations, were likely the motivating
forces behind providing Iraq with the biological materials.
(Iran was at that time regarded as the greater threat to the
seemingly always threatened U.S. national security.)
As the American public and media are being prepared to
accept and cheerlead the next bombing of the people of Iraq,
the stated rationale, the official party line, is that Iraq is
an "outlaw" state (or "rogue" state, or "pariah" state -- the
media obediently repeats all the White House and State Department
buzz words), which is ignoring a United Nations Security Council
resolution. Israel, however, has ignored many such resolutions
without the U.S. bombing Tel Aviv, imposing sanctions, or even
cutting back military aid. But by some arcane ideological
alchemy, Israel is not deemed an "outlaw" state by Washington.
Neither does the United States regard itself as such for turning
its back on a ruling of the U.N.'s World Court in 1984 to cease
its hostile military actions against Nicaragua, or for the
numerous times the U.S. has totally ignored overwhelming General
Assembly resolutions, nor for its repeated use of chemical and
biological agents against Cuba since the 1960s.
In any event, the weapons monitoring disagreement is between
Iraq and the United Nations, not Iraq and the United States. And
the UN has not authorized any of its members to use force. "What
gives Britain and the United States the right to go it alone on
this?" asked an unusually brave reporter at a Feb.6 Clinton/Blair
press conference.
Neither President Clinton nor Prime Minister Blair responded.
The bombing looks to be inevitable. The boys are busy moving
all their toys into position; they can already see the battle
decorations hanging from their chests. Of course, no one knows what
it will accomplish besides more death and destruction. Saddam will
remain in power. He'll be more stubborn than ever about the
inspections. There may be one consolation for the Iraqi people. The
Washington Post has reported that Secretary of Defense William Cohen
has indicated that "U.S. officials remain wary of doing so much
military damage to Iraq as to weaken its regional role as a counterweight
to Iran." In the not too distant future, when Iran begins to flex its
muscles a bit more, in ways not to Washington's pleasure, it may then be
their turn for some good ol' American "diplomacy".

{1} U.S. Chemical and Biological Warfare-Related Dual Use Exports
to Iraq and Their Possible Impact on the Health Consequences of
the Persian Gulf War (May 25, 1994)

Written by William Blum
Author: Killing Hope: U.S. Military
and CIA Interventions Since World War II
http://members.aol.com/bblum6/American_holocaust.htm
(Note capital "A" and underline _)
email: bblum6@aol.com


Hiroshima: Needless slaughter, useful terror

 HIROSHIMA: NEEDLESS SLAUGHTER, USEFUL TERROR
 
By William Blum

 

[written spring 1995]

 Does winning World War II and the Cold War mean never having
to say you're sorry? The Germans have apologized to the Jews and
to the Poles. The Japanese have apologized to the Chinese and
the Koreans, and to the United States for failing to break off
diplomatic relations before attacking Pearl Harbor. The Russians
have apologized to the Poles for atrocities committed against
civilians, and to the Japanese for abuse of prisoners. The
Soviet Communist Party even apologized for foreign policy errors
that "heightened tension with the West".{1}
Is there any reason for the U.S. to apologize to Japan for
atomizing Hiroshima and Nagasaki?
Those on opposing sides of this question are lining up in
battle formation for the 50th anniversary of the dropping of the
atom bombs on August 6 and 9. During last year's raw-meat
controversy surrounding the Smithsonian Institution's Enola Gay
exhibit, U.S. veterans went ballistic. They condemned the
emphasis on the ghastly deaths caused by the bomb and the
lingering aftereffects of radiation, and took offense at the
portrayal of Japanese civilians as blameless victims. An Air
Force group said vets were "feeling nuked".{2}
In Japan, too, the anniversary has rekindled controversy.
The mayors of the two Japanese cities in question spoke out about
a wide "perception gap" between the two countries.{3} Nagasaki
Mayor Hitoshi Motoshima, surmounting a cultural distaste for
offending, called the bombings "one of the two great crimes
against humanity in the 20th Century, along with the
Holocaust".{4}
Defenders of the U.S. action counter that the bomb actually
saved lives: It ended the war sooner and obviated the need for a
land invasion. Estimates of the hypothetical saved-body count,
however, which range from 20,000 to 1.2 million, owe more to
political agendas than to objective projections.{5}
But in any event, defining the issue as a choice between the
A-bomb and a land invasion is an irrelevant and wholly false
dichotomy. By 1945, Japan's entire military and industrial
machine was grinding to a halt as the resources needed to wage
war were all but eradicated. The navy and air force had been
destroyed ship by ship, plane by plane, with no possibility of
replacement. When, in the spring of 1945, the island nation's
lifeline to oil was severed, the war was over except for the
fighting. By June, Gen. Curtis LeMay, in charge of the air
attacks, was complaining that after months of terrible
firebombing, there was nothing left of Japanese cities for his
bombers but "garbage can targets". By July, U.S. planes could
fly over Japan without resistance and bomb as much and as long as
they pleased. Japan could no longer defend itself.{6}
After the war, the world learned what U.S. leaders had known
by early 1945: Japan was militarily defeated long before
Hiroshima. It had been trying for months, if not for years, to
surrender; and the U.S. had consistently rebuffed these
overtures. A May 5 cable, intercepted and decoded by the U.S.,
dispelled any possible doubt that the Japanese were eager to sue
for peace. Sent to Berlin by the German ambassador in Tokyo,
after he talked to a ranking Japanese naval officer, it read:

Since the situation is clearly recognized to be hopeless,
large sections of the Japanese armed forces would not
regard with disfavor an American request for capitulation
even if the terms were hard.{7}

As far as is known, Washington did nothing to pursue this
opening. Later that month, Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson
almost capriciously dismissed three separate high-level
recommendations from within the Roosevelt administration to
activate peace negotiations. The proposals advocated signaling
Japan that the U.S. was willing to consider the all-important
retention of the emperor system; i.e., the U.S. would not insist
upon "unconditional surrender".{8}
Stimson, like other high U.S. officials, did not really care
in principle whether or not the emperor was retained. The term
"unconditional surrender" was always a propaganda measure; wars
are always ended with some kind of conditions. To some extent
the insistence was a domestic consideration -- not wanting to
appear to "appease" the Japanese. More important, however, it
reflected a desire that the Japanese not surrender before the
bomb could be used. One of the few people who had been aware of
the Manhattan Project from the beginning, Stimson had come to
think of it as his bomb, "my secret", as he called it in his
diary.{9} On June 6, he told President Truman he was "fearful"
that before the A-bombs were ready to be delivered, the Air Force
would have Japan so "bombed out" that the new weapon "would not
have a fair background to show its strength".{10} In his later
memoirs, Stimson admitted that "no effort was made, and none was
seriously considered, to achieve surrender merely in order not to
have to use the bomb".{11}
And that effort could have been minimal. In July, before
the leaders of the U.S., Great Britain, and the Soviet Union met
at Potsdam, the Japanese government sent several radio messages
to its ambassador, Naotake Sato, in Moscow, asking him to request
Soviet help in mediating a peace settlement. "His Majesty is
extremely anxious to terminate the war as soon as possible", said
one communication. "Should, however, the United States and Great
Britain insist on unconditional surrender, Japan would be forced
to fight to the bitter end."{12}
On July 25, while the Potsdam meeting was taking place,
Japan instructed Sato to keep meeting with Russian Foreign Minister
Molotov to impress the Russians "with the sincerity of our desire to
end the war [and] have them understand that we are trying to end
hostilities by asking for very reasonable terms in order to secure
and maintain our national existence and honor" (a reference to
retention of Emperor Hirohito).{13}

Having broken the Japanese code years earlier, Washington
did not have to wait to be informed by the Soviets of these peace
overtures; it knew immediately, and did nothing. Indeed, the
National Archives in Washington contains U.S. government documents
reporting similarly ill-fated Japanese peace overtures as far back
as 1943.{14}

Thus, it was with full knowledge that Japan was frantically
trying to end the war, that President Truman and his hardline
secretary of state, James Byrnes, included the term "unconditional
surrender" in the July 26 Potsdam Declaration. This "final warning"
and expression of surrender terms to Japan was in any case a charade.
The day before it was issued, Harry Truman had approved the order to
release a 15 kiloton atomic bomb over the city of Hiroshima.{15}

Many U.S. military officials were less than enthusiastic
about the demand for unconditional surrender or use of the atomic
bomb. At the time of Potsdam, Gen. Hap Arnold asserted that
conventional bombing could end the war. Adm. Ernest King believed a
naval blockade alone would starve the Japanese into submission.
Gen. Douglas MacArthur, convinced that retaining the emperor was
vital to an orderly transition to peace, was appalled at the demand
for unconditional surrender. Adm. William Leahy concurred. Refusal
to keep the emperor "would result only in making the Japanese desperate
and thereby increase our casualty lists," he argued, adding that a
nearly defeated Japan might stop fighting if unconditional surrender
were dropped as a demand. At a loss for a military explanation for use
of the bomb, Leahy believed that the decision "was clearly a political
one", reached perhaps "because of the vast sums that had been spent on

the project".{16} Finally, we have Gen. Dwight Eisenhower's account of
a conversation with Stimson in which he told the secretary of war that:


Japan was already defeated and that dropping the bomb
was completely unnecessary. ... I thought our country
should avoid shocking world opinion by the use of a
weapon whose employment was, I thought, no longer
mandatory as a measure to save American lives. It was
my belief that Japan was, at that very moment, seeking
some way to surrender with a minimum loss of "face".
The secretary was deeply perturbed by my attitude,
almost angrily refuting the reasons I gave for my quick
conclusions.{17}


If, as appears to be the case, U.S. policy in 1945 was based
on neither the pursuit of the earliest possible peace nor the desire
to avoid a land invasion, we must look elsewhere to explain the
dropping of the A-bombs.
It has been asserted that dropping of the atomic bombs was
not so much the last military act of the Second World War as the
first act of the Cold War. Although Japan was targeted, the
weapons were aimed straight to the red heart of the USSR. For
three-quarters of a century, the determining element of U.S.
foreign policy, virtually its sine qua non, has been "the
communist factor" World War II and a battlefield alliance with
the Soviet Union did not bring about an ideological change in the
anti-communists who owned and ran America. It merely provided a
partial breather in a struggle that had begun with the U.S.
invasion of the Soviet Union in 1918.{18} It is hardly
surprising then, that 25 years later, as the Soviets were
sustaining the highest casualties of any nation in WW2, the U.S.
systematically kept them in the dark about the A-bomb project --
while sharing information with the British.
According to Manhattan Project scientist Leo Szilard,
Secretary of State Byrnes had said that the bomb's biggest
benefit was not its effect on Japan but its power to "make Russia
more manageable in Europe".{19}
The United States was thinking post-war. A Venezuelan
diplomat reported to his government after a May 1945 meeting that

Assistant Secretary of State Nelson Rockefeller "communicated to
us the anxiety of the United States Government about the Russian
attitude". U.S. officials, he said, were "beginning to speak of
Communism as they once spoke of Nazism and are invoking
continental solidarity and hemispheric defense against it".{20}
Churchill, who had known about the weapon before Truman,
applauded and understood its use: "Here then was a speedy end to
the Second World War," he said about the bomb, and added,
thinking of Russian advances into Europe, "and perhaps to much
else besides. ... We now had something in our hands which would
redress the balance with the Russians."{21}
Referring to the immediate aftermath of Nagasaki, Stimson
wrote:

In the State Department there developed a tendency to
think of the bomb as a diplomatic weapon. Outraged by
constant evidence of Russian perfidy, some of the men in
charge of foreign policy were eager to carry the bomb for
a while as their ace-in-the-hole. ... American statesmen
were eager for their country to browbeat the Russians with
the bomb held rather ostentatiously on our hip.{22}

This policy, which came to be known as "atomic diplomacy", did
not, of course, spring forth full-grown on the day after Nagasaki.
"The psychological effect on Stalin [of the bombs] was
twofold," noted historian Charles L. Mee, Jr. "The Americans
had not only used a doomsday machine; they had used it when, as
Stalin knew, it was not militarily necessary. It was this last
chilling fact that doubtless made the greatest impression on the
Russians."{23}
After the Enola Gay released its cargo on Hiroshima, common
sense -- common decency wouldn't apply here -- would have
dictated a pause long enough to allow Japanese officials to
travel to the city, confirm the extent of the destruction, and
respond before the U.S. dropped a second bomb.
At 11 o'clock in the morning of August 9, Prime Minister
Kintaro Suzuki addressed the Japanese Cabinet: "Under the
present circumstances I have concluded that our only alternative
is to accept the Potsdam Proclamation and terminate the war."
Moments later, the second bomb fell on Nagasaki.{24} Some
hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians died in the two
attacks; many more suffered terrible injury and permanent genetic
damage.
After the war, His Majesty the Emperor still sat on his
throne, and the gentlemen who ran the United States had
absolutely no problem with this. They never had.
_____________________

It has been argued, to the present day, that it wouldn't have
mattered if the United States had accepted the Japanese peace
overtures because the emperor was merely a puppet of the
military, and the military would never have surrendered without
the use of the A-bombs. This is an argument that not even the
American policymakers of the time placed weight upon because
they knew it was false. In any event, this doesn't excuse the US
government for not at least trying what was, from humanity's
point of view, the clearly preferable option. Moreover, the fact
is that "the emperor as puppet" thesis was a creation out of
whole cloth by General MacArthur, the military governor of Japan,
to justify his personal wish that the emperor not be tried as a
war criminal along with many other Japanese officials.
Exonerating Hirohito was also in line with the strategic needs of
the Truman administration.{25}


NOTES

1. Los Angeles Times , June 26, 1988, p.8

2. Ibid., Aug. 3, 1994

3. Ibid., Mar. 16, 1995, p.1

4. Ibid.

5. In June and July 1945, Joint Chiefs of Staff committees
predicted that between 20,000 and 46,000 Americans would die in

the one or two invasions for which they had drawn contingency
plans. While still in office, President Truman usually placed
the number at about a quarter of a million, but by 1955 had
doubled it to half a million. Winston Churchill said the attacks
had spared well over 1.2 million Allies. (Barton Bernstein, "The
Myth of Lives Saved by A-bombs," Los Angeles Times, July 28,
1985, IV, p.1; Barton Bernstein, "Stimson, Conant, and Their
Allies Explain the Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb," Diplomatic
History, Winter 1993, p.48.)

6. Stewart Udall, The Myths of August (Pantheon Books, NY, 1994),
pp.73, 75; Martin S. Quigley, Peace Without Hiroshima (Madison
Books, Lanham, MD, 1991), pp.105-6; Charles L. Mee, Jr.,
Meeting
at Potsdam (M. Evans, NY, 1975), p.76

7. Tim Weiner, "U.S. Spied on its World War II Allies," New York
Times, Aug. 11, 1993, p.9

8. Udall, pp.73-79

9. Ibid., p.73. Vice President Truman was never informed about
the bomb. After Roosevelt's death, when he assumed office, it
was Secretary of State James Byrnes who briefed him on the project.
(Henry L. Stimson and McGeorge Bundy,
On Active Service
in Peace and War (Harper, NY, 1947). Bundy is recognized as the
principal author of these Stimson memoirs.

10. Udall, p.76

11. Stimson, p.629

12. Mee, p.23

13. Ibid., pp.235-6; See also: Hearings Before the Committee on
Armed Services and the Committee on Foreign Relations (US Senate),
June 25, 1951, p.3113, for reference to another peace overture.

14. Los Angeles Times, Jan. 9, 1995, p.5

15. Mee, p. 239

16. Ibid., pp.75, 78-9; and William Manchester, American Caesar:
Douglas MacArthur 1880-1964 (Little Brown, Boston, 1978), p. 437

17. Dwight Eisenhower, The White House Years: Mandate for Change,
1953-1956 (Doubleday, NY, 1963), pp.312-3

18. In an attempt, as Churchill said, to "strangle at its birth" the
infant Bolshevik state, the US launched tens of thousands of troops
and sustained 5,000 casualties.


19. Mee, p.22

20. Weiner, op. cit.

21. Mee, pp.89, 206; the first item is from Churchill's diary; in
the second, Churchill's aide is paraphrasing him.

22. Bernstein, Diplomatic History, pp.66-8. This passage, actually
written by Bundy for On Active Service, was deleted from that book
because of pressure from State Department official George F. Kennan.


23. Mee, p. 239

24. Ibid., pp. 288-9

25. Edward Behr, Hirohito: Beyond the Myth (Random House:
Villard Books, NY, 1989), chapter 24; The Guardian (London),
June 18, 1983


Written by William Blum, author of Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II; email:bblum6@aol.com
 

Madeleine Albright, ethically challenged

Madeleine Albright, ethically challenged

By William Blum

 

1)"Asked if it is not hypocritical to punish Burma for human rights
violations while refraining from sanctions on China for similar
actions, Albright replied, 'We have consistent principles and
flexible tactics'."{1)
The same "flexible tactics" (English translation: hypocrisy) are
evident in the policies embraced by Albright toward Cuba, Libya,
Iraq, et al, as opposed to the policies toward Turkey, Indonesia,
Mexico, Peru, and Colombia.

2) Television interview, "60 Minutes", May 12, 1996:
 
Lesley Stahl, speaking of US sanctions against Iraq:
"We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean,
that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And -- and you know, is
the price worth it?"
 
Madeleine Albright: "I think this is a very hard choice,
but the price -- we think the price is worth it."{2}
At the Town Hall in Columbus, Ohio, Feb. 18, 1998, Ms. Albright
was moved to declare: "I am willing to make a bet to anyone here that
we care more about the Iraqi people than Saddam Hussein does."
Though her logic may escape us, she may yet have some DNA
molecules for compassion. On May 21 she signed an agreement between
the U.S. and six Latin American countries to protect dolphins,
declaring: "This is one of the strongest agreements ever negotiated
to conserve marine life."

3) Albright in Guatemala, talking to a group of impoverished
children: "Why would [I] and the United States care about what is
happening here? The reason is we are all one family and when one
part of our family is not happy or suffers, we all suffer."{3}
Thus speaketh the leading foreign policy officer of the country
directly responsible for bringing more than 40 years of poverty,
torture, death squads, massacres and disappeared people to Guatemala,
without even a hint of apology or restitution, ever.

4) "To a student who asked [Albright] whether the United States was
not spending too much of its resources on being the world's policeman
and too little on more pressing domestic concerns, Albright asked him
in return to estimate what share of the federal budget goes to
foreign policy. When he guessed 15 or 20 percent, Albright pounced.
'It's 1 percent, 1 percent of the entire budget,' Albright said."{4}
Her reply was conspicuously disingenuous. At best, she was
referring to the budget of only the State Department, concealing what
everyone knows, even the teenage student she browbeat -- US foreign
policy expenditures must include the Defense Department, the CIA, the
National Security Agency, and a host of other government agencies.
Together they consume more than 50 percent of the budget.

5) In February 1996, as UN ambassador, Albright reacted with
righteous indignation against the Cuban pilots who expressed
satisfaction after shooting down two planes of Cubans from Florida
which were headed toward Cuba. "This one won't mess around any
more," one of the pilots is reported to have exclaimed.
"I was struck by the joy of these pilots in committing
cold-blooded murder," Albright said, accusing the Cuban pilots of
"cowardice".{5}
What, one may ask, does she think of the American pilots who,
while bombing and strafing helpless retreating Iraqis in 1991,
exclaimed: "we toasted him" ... "we hit the jackpot" ... "a turkey
shoot" ... "shooting fish in a barrel" ... "basically just sitting
ducks" ... "There's just nothing like it. It's the biggest Fourth of
July show you've ever seen, and to see those tanks just `boom', and
more stuff just keeps spewing out of them ... they just become white
hot. It's wonderful."{6}

6) On October 8, 1997, in announcing the designation of 18 additional
foreign political organizations as terrorist-supporting groups,
Secretary of State Albright declared that she wanted to help make the
United States a "no support for terrorism zone". It could be
suggested that if the Secretary were truly committed to this goal,
instead of offering her usual lip service, she should begin at home
-- the anti-Castro community in Miami, collectively, is one of the
longest-lasting and most prolific terrorist organizations in the
world. Over the years they've carried out hundreds of bombings,
shootings, and murders, blown up an airplane, killing 73 people,
fired a bazooka at the United Nations, and much, much more. But
Madame Albright will not lift a finger against them.
The State Department designates Cuba as one of the states which
harbors terrorists. The United States can well be added to that
list.

7) At the fabricated "Town Hall" meeting (in which the officials came
not to listen, but to tell) held in Columbus, Ohio, February 18,
1998, concerning Iraq, Albright was heckled and asked critical, and
perhaps uncomfortable, questions. At one point, her mind and her
integrity could come up with no better response than to make
something up: "I am really surprised," she declared, "that people
feel that it is necessary to defend the rights of Saddam Hussein."
At another point, a besieged Albright was moved to yell: "We are
the greatest country in the world!" Patriotism is indeed the last
refuge of a scoundrel, though her words didn't quite have the ring of
"Deutschland über alles" or "Rule Britannia".

Finally, unable to provide answers that satisfied or quieted the
questioners, she stated that she would meet with them after the
meeting to answer their questions. But as soon as the meeting ended,
the Secretary of State was out of their, posthaste. Her offer, it
would seem, had just been a tactic to try and pacify the hostile
crowd.

8) And here is Madame Albright at her jingoist best, on TV the day
after the Town Hall meeting, again in the context of Iraq:

"If we have to use force, it is because we are
America! We are the indispensable nation. We
stand tall, and we see further into the future."{7}

9) Madeleine Albright, then UN Ambassador, informed the UN Security
Council during a 1994 discussion about Iraq: "We recognize this area
as vital to US national interests and we will behave, with others,
multilaterally when we can and unilaterally when we must."{8}
Ms. Albright is thus stating that the United States recognizes no
external constraints on its behavior, when it decides that a
particular area of the world is "vital to US national interests". It
would of course be difficult to locate a spot on the globe that
Albright and the United States do not regard as "vital to US national
interests.

10) On more than one occasion while U.N. ambassador, Albright yelled
at U.N. Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali that he must not publish the
report about Israel's bombing of the U.N.-run refugee camp in Qana,
Lebanon, in April 1996, which killed more than 100 refugees. The
U.N. report said that the attack was not a mistake, as Israel
claimed. Albright -- who has surrounded herself with alumni of
Israeli and Jewish lobbies -- warned the Secretary-General that if
the report came out, the U.S. would veto him for his second term.
The report came out, and so did Boutros Boutros-Ghali.{9}

11) Madeleine the humanitarian: It is "not a good idea" to link
human rights and trade issues.{10} A philosophy that could have
been used to justify trade with Nazi Germany ... or anyone else
... or anything.



12) To Colin Powell, who felt that the U.S. should not commit
military forces to Bosnia until there was a clear political
objective: "What's the point of having this superb military
that you're always talking about if we can't use it?"
"I thought I would have an aneurysm," Powell later wrote.
"American GIs were not toy soldiers to be moved around on some
sort of global game board."{11}


 
Notes
{1) Washington Post, April 23, 1997, p.4

{2} "60 Minutes", May 12, 1996

{3} Washington Post, May 5, 1997, p.20

{4} Washington Post, May 14, 1997

{5} Washington Post Feb. 28, 1996

{6} Los Angeles Times and Washington Post, both Feb. 27, 1991, page 1

{7} NBC "Today" show, February 19, 1998

{8} Middle East International (London), Oct. 21, 1994, p. 4

{9} New York Times, Jan. 1, 1997

{10}   Washington Post, March 1, 1999, p. 13

{11}   Colin Powell with Joseph Persico, My American Journey (NY, 1995), p. 576

Written by William Blum, author of Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II
email: bblum6@aol.com


 

Myth and Denial in the War Against Terrorism

Myth and Denial in the War Against Terrorism
By William Blum


It dies hard.  It dies very hard.  The notion that terrorist acts against the United States can be explained by envy and irrational hatred, and not by what the United States does in and to the world — i.e., US foreign policy — is alive and well.
The fires were still burning intensely at Ground Zero when Colin Powell declared: “Once again, we see terrorism, we see terrorists, people who don’t believe in democracy …”{1}
George W. picked up on that theme and ran with it.  He’s been its leading proponent ever since September 11 with his repeated insistence, in one wording or another, that “those people hate America, they hate all that it stands for, they hate our democracy, our freedom, our wealth, our secular government.” (Ironically, the president and John Ashcroft probably hate our secular government as much as anyone.)
One of Bush’s many subsequent versions of this incantation, delivered more than a year after 9-11, was: “The threats we face are global terrorist attacks.  That’s the threat.  And the more you love freedom, the more likely it is you’ll be attacked.”{2}
In September 2002, the White House released the “National Security Strategy”, purported to be chiefly the handiwork of Condoleezza Rice, which speaks of the “rogue states” which “sponsor terrorism around the globe; and reject basic human values and hate the United States and everything for which it stands.”
As recently as July of this year the spokesman for Homeland Security, Brian Roehrkasse, declared: “Terrorists hate our freedoms.  They want to change our ways.”{3}
Thomas Friedman the renowned foreign policy analyst of the New York Times would say amen.  Terrorists, he wrote in 1998 after terrorists attacked two US embassies in Africa, “have no specific ideological program or demands.  Rather, they are driven by a generalized hatred of the US, Israel and other supposed enemies of Islam.”{4}
This idée fixe — that the rise of anti-American terrorism owes nothing to American policies — in effect postulates an America that is always the aggrieved innocent in a treacherous world, a benign United States government peacefully going about its business but being “provoked” into taking extreme measures to defend its people, its freedom and democracy.  There consequently is no good reason to modify US foreign policy, and many people who might otherwise know better are scared into supporting the empire’s wars out of the belief that there’s no choice but to crush without mercy — or even without evidence — this irrational international force out there that hates the United States with an abiding passion.
Thus it was that Afghanistan and Iraq were bombed and invaded with seemingly little concern in Washington that this could well create many new anti-American terrorists.  And indeed, since the first strike on Afghanistan there have been literally scores of terrorist attacks against American institutions in the Middle East, South Asia and the Pacific, about a dozen in Pakistan alone: military, civilian, Christian, and other targets associated with the United States, the latest being the heavy bombing of the US-managed Marriott Hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia, the site of diplomatic receptions and 4th of July celebrations held by the American Embassy.

The word “terrorism” has been so overused in recent years that it’s now commonly used simply to stigmatize any individual or group one doesn’t like, for almost any kind of behavior involving force.  But the word’s raison d’être has traditionally been to convey a political meaning, something along the lines of: the deliberate use of violence against civilians and property to intimidate or coerce a government or the population in furtherance of a political objective.
Terrorism is fundamentally propaganda, a very bloody form of propaganda.
It follows that if the perpetrators of a terrorist act declare what their objective was, their statement should carry credibility, no matter what one thinks of the objective or the method used to achieve it.  Let us look at some actual cases.
The terrorists responsible for the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993 sent a letter to the New York Times which stated, in part: “We declare our responsibility for the explosion on the mentioned building.  This action was done in response for the American political, economical, and military support to Israel the state of terrorism and to the rest of the dictator countries in the region.”{5}
Richard Reid, who tried to ignite a bomb in his shoe while aboard an American Airline flight to Miami in December 2001, told police that his planned suicide attack was an attempt to strike a blow against the US campaign in Afghanistan and the Western economy.  In an e-mail sent to his mother, which he intended her to read after his death, Reid wrote that it was his duty “to help remove the oppressive American forces from the Muslims land.”{6}
After the October 2002 bombings in Bali, Indonesia, which destroyed two nightclubs and killed more than 200 people, one of the leading suspects told police that the bombings were “revenge” for “what Americans have done to Muslims.”  He said that he wanted to “kill as many Americans as possible” because “America oppresses the Muslims”.{7}
In November 2002, a taped message from Osama bin Laden began: “The road to safety begins by ending the aggression.  Reciprocal treatment is part of justice.  The [terrorist] incidents that have taken place … are only reactions and reciprocal actions.”{8}
That same month, when Mir Aimal Kasi, who killed several people outside of CIA headquarters in 1993, was on death row, he declared: “What I did was a retaliation against the US government” for American policy in the Middle East and its support of Israel.{9}
It should be noted that the State Department warned at the time that the execution of Kasi could result in attacks against Americans around the world.{10}  It did not warn that the attacks would result from foreigners hating or envying American democracy, freedom, wealth, or secular government.
Similarly, in the days following the start of US bombing of Afghanistan there were numerous warnings from US government officials about being prepared for retaliatory acts, and during the war in Iraq, the State Department announced: “Tensions remaining from the recent events in Iraq may increase the potential threat to US citizens and interests abroad, including by terrorist groups.”{11}
Another example of the difficulty the Bush administration has in consistently maintaining its simplistic idée fixe: In June 2002, after a car bomb exploded outside the US Consulate in Karachi, killing or injuring more than 60 people, the Washington Post reported that “US officials said the attack was likely the work of extremists angry at both the United States and Pakistan’s president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, for siding with the United States after September 11 and abandoning support for Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban.”{12}
George W. and high officials of his administration may or may not believe what they tell the world about the motivations behind anti-American terrorism, but, as in the recent examples just given, other officials have questioned the party line for years.  A Department of Defense study in 1997 concluded: “Historical data show a strong correlation between US involvement in international situations and an increase in terrorist attacks against the United States.”{13}
Jimmy Carter told the New York Times in a 1989 interview: “We sent Marines into Lebanon and you only have to go to Lebanon, to Syria or to Jordan to witness first-hand the intense hatred among many people for the United States because we bombed and shelled and unmercifully killed totally innocent villagers — women and children and farmers and housewives — in those villages around Beirut. … As a result of that … we became kind of a Satan in the minds of those who are deeply resentful. That is what precipitated the taking of our hostages and that is what has precipitated some of the terrorist attacks.”{14}
Colin Powell has also revealed that he knows better.  Writing of this same Lebanon debacle in his 1995 memoir, he forgoes clichés about terrorists not believing in democracy:

The USS New Jersey started hurling 16-inch shells into the mountains above Beirut, in World War II style, as if we were softening up the beaches on some Pacific atoll prior to an invasion.  What we tend to overlook in such situations is that other people will react much as we would.{15}

The ensuing terrorist attacks against US Marine barracks in Lebanon took the lives of 241 American military personnel.
The assault upon Beirut in 1983 and 1984 is but one of many examples of American violence against the Middle East and/or Muslims since the 1980s.  The record includes: the shooting down of two Libyan planes in 1981; the furnishing of military aid and intelligence to both sides of the Iran-Iraq War of 1980-88, including materials for chemical and biological warfare to Iraq, so as to maximize the damage each side would inflict upon the other; the bombing of Libya in 1986; the bombing and sinking of an Iranian ship in 1987; the shooting down of an Iranian passenger plane in 1988; the shooting down of two more Libyan planes in 1989; the massive bombing of the Iraqi people in 1991; the continuing bombings and sanctions against Iraq for the next 12 years; the bombing of Afghanistan and Sudan in 1998, the latter destroying a pharmaceutical plant which provided half the impoverished nation’s medicines; the habitual support of Israel despite the routine devastation and torture it inflicts upon the Palestinian people; the habitual condemnation of Palestinian resistance to this; the abduction of “suspected terrorists” from Muslim countries, such as Malaysia, Pakistan, Lebanon and Albania, who are then taken to places like Egypt and Saudi Arabia, where they are tortured; the large military and hi-tech presence in Islam’s holiest land, Saudi Arabia, and elsewhere in the Persian Gulf region; the support of anti-democratic Middle East governments from the Shah to the Saudis.
“How do I respond when I see that in some Islamic countries there is vitriolic hatred for America?” asked George W.  “I’ll tell you how I respond: I’m amazed.  I’m amazed that there’s such misunderstanding of what our country is about that people would hate us.  I am — like most Americans, I just can’t believe it because I know how good we are.”{16}
To what extent do Americans really believe the official disconnect between what the US does in the world and anti-American terrorism?  One indication that the public is somewhat skeptical came in the days immediately following the commencement of the bombing of Iraq on March 20 of this year.  The airlines later announced that there had been a sharp increase in cancellations of flights and a sharp decrease in future flight reservations in those few days.{17}
In June, the Pew Research Center released the results of polling in 20 Muslim countries and the Palestinian territories that brought the official disconnect into question even more dramatically.  The polling revealed that people interviewed had much more “confidence” in Osama bin Laden than in George W. Bush.  However, “the survey suggested little correlation between support for bin Laden and hostility to American ideas and cultural products.  People who expressed a favorable opinion of bin Laden were just as likely to appreciate American technology and cultural products as people opposed to bin Laden.  Pro- and anti-bin Laden respondents also differed little in their views on the workability of Western-style democracy in the Arab world.”{18}

The Washington mentality about alleged terrorist motivations also manifests itself in current US occupation policy in Iraq.  Secretary of War Donald Rumsfeld has declared that there are five groups opposing US forces — looters, criminals, remnants of Saddam Hussein’s government, foreign terrorists and those influenced by Iran.{19}  An American official in Iraq maintains that many of the people shooting at US troops are “poor young Iraqis” who have been paid between $20 and $100 to stage hit-and-run attacks on US soldiers. “They’re not dedicated fighters,” he said. “They’re people who wanted to take a few potshots.”{20}
With such language do American officials avoid dealing with the idea that any part of the resistance is composed of Iraqi citizens who simply do not like being bombed, invaded, occupied, and subjected to daily humiliations, and are demonstrating their resentment.  Some officials convinced themselves that it was largely the most loyal followers of Saddam Hussein and his two sons who were behind the daily attacks on Americans, and that with the capture or killing of the evil family, resistance would die out; tens of millions of dollars were offered as reward for information leading to this joyful prospect.  Thus it was that the killing of the sons elated military personnel.  US Army trucks with loudspeakers drove through small towns and villages to broadcast a message about the death of Hussein’s sons.  “Coalition forces have won a great victory over the Baath Party and the Saddam Hussein regime by killing Uday and Qusay Hussein in Mosul,” said the message broadcast in Arabic.  “The Baath Party has no power in Iraq.  Renounce the Baath Party or you are in great danger.”  It called on all officials of Hussein’s government to turn themselves in.{21}
What followed was several days of some of the deadliest attacks against American personnel since the guerrilla war began.  Unfazed, American officials in Washington and Iraq continue to suggest that the elimination of Saddam will write finis to anti-American actions.

Another way in which the political origins of terrorism are obscured is by the common practice of blaming poverty or repression by Middle Eastern governments (as opposed to US support for such governments) for the creation of terrorists.  Defenders of US foreign policy cite this also as a way of showing how enlightened they are.  Here’s Condoleezza Rice:

{The Middle East] is a region where hopelessness provides a fertile ground for ideologies that convince promising youths to aspire not to a university education, a career or family, but to blowing themselves up, taking as many innocent lives with them as possible. … We must address the source of the problem.{22}

Many on the left speak in a similar fashion, apparently unconscious of what they’re obfuscating.  This analysis confuses terrorism with revolution.

In light of the several instances mentioned above — and others can be given — of US officials giving the game away, in effect admitting that terrorists and guerrillas may be, or in fact are, reacting to perceived hurts and injustices, it may be that George W. is the only true believer among them, if in fact he is one.  The leaders of the American Empire may well know — at least occasionally when they’re sitting alone at midnight — that all their expressed justifications for invading Iraq and Afghanistan and for their “War on Terrorism” are no more than fairy tales for young children and grown-up innocents.  Officialdom doesn’t make statements to represent reality.  It constructs stories to pursue interests.  And the interests here are irresistibly compelling: creating the most powerful empire in all history, enriching their class comrades, remaking the world in their own ideological image.

As I’ve written elsewhere: If I were the president, I could stop terrorist attacks against the United States in a few days.  Permanently.  I would first apologize — very publicly and very sincerely — to all the widows and orphans, the impoverished and the tortured, and all the many millions of other victims of American imperialism.  Then I would announce that America’s global military interventions have come to an end.  I would then inform Israel that it is no longer the 51st state of the union but –

The Lockerbie Case is Not Closed

The Bombing of PanAm Flight 103
(Lockerbie)

Case Not Closed

                                by William Blum                                       

The newspapers were filled with pictures of happy relatives of the victims of the December 21, 1988 bombing of PanAm 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.  A Libyan, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi, had been found guilty of the crime the day before, January 31, 2001, by a Scottish court in the Hague, though his co-defendant, Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, was acquitted.  At long last there was going to be some kind of closure for the families.

But what was wrong with this picture?

What was wrong was that the evidence against Megrahi was thin to the point of transparency.  Coming the month after the (s)election of George W. Bush, the Hague verdict could have been dubbed Supreme Court II, another instance of non-judicial factors fatally clouding judicial reasoning.  The three Scottish judges could not have relished returning to the United Kingdom after finding both defendants innocent of the murder of 270 people, largely from the U.K. and the United States.  Not to mention having to face dozens of hysterical victims’ family members in the courtroom.  The three judges also well knew the fervent desires of the White House and Downing Street as to the outcome.  If both men had been acquitted, the United States and Great Britain would have had to answer for a decade of sanctions and ill will directed toward Libya.

One has to read the entire 26,000-word "Opinion of the Court", as well as being very familiar with the history of the case going back to 1988, to appreciate how questionable was the judges’ verdict.

The key charge against Megrahi — the sine qua non — was that he placed explosives in a suitcase and tagged it so it would lead the following charmed life:

 1) loaded aboard an Air Malta flight to Frankfurt without an accompanying passenger;

 2) transferred in Frankfurt to the PanAm 103A flight to London without an accompanying passenger;

 3) transferred in London to the PanAm 103 flight to New York without an accompanying passenger.

 To the magic bullet of the JFK assassination, can we now add the magic suitcase?

 This scenario by itself would have been a major feat and so unlikely to succeed that any terrorist with any common sense would have found a better way.  But aside from anything else, we have this — as to the first step, loading the suitcase at Malta: there was no witness, no video, no document, no fingerprints, nothing to tie Megrahi to the particular brown Samsonite suitcase, no past history of terrorism, no forensic evidence of any kind linking him or Fhimah to such an act.

 And the court admitted it: "The absence of any explanation of the method by which the primary suitcase might have been placed on board KM180 [Air Malta] is a major difficulty for the Crown case."{1}

 Moreover, under security requirements in 1988, unaccompanied baggage was subjected to special X-ray examinations, plus — because of recent arrests in Germany — the security personnel in Frankfurt were on the lookout specifically for a bomb secreted in a radio, which turned out to indeed be the method used with the PanAm 103 bomb.

 Requiring some sort of direct and credible testimony linking Megrahi to the bombing, the Hague court placed great — nay, paramount — weight upon the supposed identification of the Libyan by a shopkeeper in Malta, as the purchaser of the clothing found in the bomb suitcase.  But this shopkeeper had earlier identified several other people as the culprit, including one who was a CIA agent.{1a}  When he finally identified Megrahi from a photo, it was after Megrahi’s photo had been in the world news for years.  The court acknowledged the possible danger inherent in such a verification: "These identifications were criticised inter alia on the ground that photographs of the accused have featured many times over the years in the media and accordingly purported identifications more than 10 years after the event are of little if any value."{2}

 There were also major discrepancies between the shopkeeper’s original description of the clothes-buyer and Megrahi’s actual appearance.  The shopkeeper told police that the customer was "six feet or more in height" and "was about 50 years of age." Megrahi was 5’8" tall and was 36 in 1988.  The judges again acknowledged the weakness of their argument by conceding that the initial description "would not in a number of respects fit the first accused [Megrahi]" and that "it has to be accepted that there was a substantial discrepancy."{3}  

 Nevertheless, the judges went ahead and accepted the  identification as accurate. Before the indictment of the two  Libyans in Washington in November 1991, the press had reported  police findings that the clothing had been purchased on  November 23, 1988.{4}  But the indictment of Megrahi states  that he made the purchase on December 7.  Can this be because  the investigators were able to document Megrahi being in Malta  (where he worked for Libya Airlines) on that date but cannot  do so for November 23?{5}

 There is also this to be considered — If the bomber needed some clothing to wrap up an ultra-secret bomb in a suitcase, would he go to a clothing store in the city where he planned to carry out his dastardly deed, where he knew he’d likely be remembered as an obvious foreigner, and buy brand new, easily traceable items?   Would an intelligence officer — which Megrahi was alleged to be — do this?  Or even a common boob?  Wouldn’t it make more sense to use any old clothing, from anywhere?

 Furthermore, after the world was repeatedly assured that these items of clothing were sold only on Malta, it was learned that at least one of the items was actually "sold at dozens of outlets throughout Europe, and it was impossible to trace the purchaser."{6}

 The "Opinion of the Court" placed considerable weight on the suspicious behavior of Megrahi prior to the fatal day, making much of his comings and goings abroad, phone calls to unknown parties for unknown reasons, the use of a pseudonym, etc. The three judges tried to squeeze as much mileage out of these events as they could, as if they had no better case to make. But if Megrahi was indeed a member of Libyan intelligence, we must consider that intelligence agents have been known to act in mysterious ways, for whatever assignment they’re on.  The court, however, had no idea what assignment, if any, Megrahi was working on.

 There is much more that is known about the case that makes the court verdict and written opinion questionable, although credit must be given the court for its frankness about what it was doing, even while it was doing it.  "We are aware that in relation to certain aspects of the case there are a number of uncertainties and qualifications," the judges wrote.  "We are also aware that there is a danger that by selecting parts of the evidence which seem to fit together and ignoring parts which might not fit, it is possible to read into a mass of conflicting evidence a pattern or conclusion which is not really justified."{7}

 It is remarkable, given all that the judges conceded was questionable or uncertain in the trial — not to mention all that was questionable or uncertain that they didn’t concede — that at the end of the day they could still declare to the world that "There is nothing in the evidence which leaves us with any reasonable doubt as to the guilt of [Megrahi]".{8}

 The Guardian of London later wrote that two days before the verdict, "senior Foreign Office officials briefed a group of journalists in London.  They painted a picture of a bright new chapter in Britain’s relations with Colonel Gadafy’s regime.  They made it quite clear they assumed both the Libyans in the dock would be acquitted.  The Foreign Office officials were not alone.  Most independent observers believed it was impossible for the court to find the prosecution had proved its case against Megrahi beyond reasonable doubt."{9}

 Alternative scenario

 There is, moreover, an alternative scenario, laying the blame on Palestinians, Iran and Syria, which is much better documented and makes a lot more sense, logistically and otherwise.

 Indeed, this was the Original Official Version, delivered with Olympian rectitude by the U.S. government — guaranteed, sworn to, scout’s honor, case closed — until the buildup to the Gulf War came along in 1990 and the support of Iran and Syria was needed.

 Washington was anxious as well to achieve the release of American hostages held in Lebanon by groups close to Iran.  Thus it was that the scurrying sound of backtracking became audible in the corridors of the White House.

 Suddenly — or so it seemed — in October 1990, there was a New Official Version: It was Libya — the Arab state least supportive of the U.S. build-up to the Gulf War and the sanctions imposed against Iraq — that was behind the bombing after all, declared Washington.           The two Libyans were formally indicted in the U.S. and Scotland on Nov. 14, 1991.

 "This was a Libyan government operation from start to finish," declared the State Department spokesman.{10}

 "The Syrians took a bum rap on this," said President George H.W. Bush.{11}

 Within the next 20 days, the remaining four American hostages were released along with the most prominent British hostage, Terry Waite.         The Original Official Version accused the PFLP-GC, a 1968 breakaway from a component of the Palestine Liberation Organization, of making the bomb and somehow placing it aboard the flight in Frankfurt.         The PFLP-GC was led by Ahmed Jabril, one of the world’s leading terrorists, and was headquartered in, financed by, and closely supported by, Syria.  The bombing was allegedly done at the behest of Iran as revenge for the U.S. shooting down of an Iranian passenger plane over the Persian Gulf on July 3, 1988, which claimed 290 lives.        The support for this scenario was, and remains, impressive, as the following sample indicates:       In April 1989, the FBI — in response to criticism that it was bungling the investigation — leaked to CBS the news that it had tentatively identified the person who unwittingly carried the bomb aboard.  His name was Khalid Jaafar, a 21-year-old Lebanese- American.  The report said that the bomb had been planted in Jaafar’s suitcase by a member of the PFLP-GC, whose name was not revealed.{12}       In May, the State Department stated that the CIA was "confident" of the Iran-Syria-PFLP-GC account of events.{13}       On Sept. 20, The Times of London reported that "security officials from Britain, the United States and West Germany are ‘totally satisfied’ that it was the PFLP-GC" behind the crime.       In December 1989, Scottish investigators announced that they had "hard evidence" of the involvement of the PFLP-GC in the bombing.{14}       A National Security Agency electronic intercept disclosed that Ali Akbar Mohtashemi, Iranian interior minister, had paid Palestinian terrorists $10 million dollars to gain revenge for the downed Iranian airplane.(15)  The intercept appears to have occurred in July 1988, shortly after the downing of the Iranian plane.       Israeli intelligence also intercepted a communication between Mohtashemi and the Iranian embassy in Beirut "indicating that Iran paid for the Lockerbie bombing."{16}       Even after the Libyans had been indicted, Israeli officials declared that their intelligence analysts remained convinced that the PFLP-GC bore primary responsibility for the bombing.{17}       In 1992, Abu Sharif, a political adviser to PLO chairman Yasser Arafat, stated that the PLO had compiled a secret report which concluded that the bombing of 103 was the work of a "Middle Eastern country" other than Libya.{18}      In February 1995, former Scottish Office minister, Alan Stewart, wrote to the British Foreign Secretary and the Lord Advocate, questioning the reliability of evidence which had led to the accusations against the two Libyans.  This move, wrote The Guardian, reflected the concern of the Scottish legal profession, reaching into the Crown Office (Scotland’s equivalent of the Attorney General’s Office), that the bombing may not have been the work of Libya, but of Syrians, Palestinians and Iranians.{19}       We must also ask why Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, writing in her 1993 memoirs about the US bombing of Libya in 1986, with which Britain had cooperated, stated: "But the much vaunted Libyan counter-attack did not and could not take place.  Gaddafy had not been destroyed but he had been humbled.  There was a marked decline in Libyan-sponsored terrorism in succeeding years."{20}

 Key Question

 A key question in the PFLP-GC version has always been: How did the bomb get aboard the plane in Frankfurt, or at some other point?  One widely disseminated explanation was in a report, completed during the summer of 1989 and leaked in the fall, which had been prepared by a New York investigating firm called Interfor.  Headed by a former Israeli intelligence agent, Juval Aviv, Interfor — whose other clients included Fortune 500 companies, the FBI, IRS and Secret Service{21} — was hired by the law firm representing PanAm’s insurance carrier. The Interfor Report said that in the mid-1980s, a drug and arms smuggling operation was set up in various European cities, with Frankfurt airport as the site of one of the drug routes.  The Frankfurt operation was run by Manzer Al-Kassar, a Syrian, the same man from whom Oliver North’s shadowy network purchased large quantities of arms for the contras.  At the airport, according to the report, a courier would board a flight with checked luggage containing innocent items; after the luggage had passed all security checks, one or another accomplice Turkish baggage handler for PanAm would substitute an identical suitcase containing contraband; the passenger then picked up this suitcase upon arrival at the destination.       The only courier named by Interfor was Khalid Jaafar, who, as noted above, had been named by the FBI a few months earlier as the person who unwittingly carried the bomb aboard.       The Interfor report spins a web much too lengthy and complex to go into here.  The short version is that the CIA in Germany discovered the airport drug operation and learned also that Kassar had the contacts to gain the release of American hostages in Lebanon.  He had already done the same for French hostages.  Thus it was, that the CIA and the German Bundeskriminalamt (BKA, Federal Criminal Office) allowed the drug operation to continue in hopes of effecting the release of American hostages.   According to the report, this same smuggling ring and its method of switching suitcases at the Frankfurt airport were used to smuggle the fatal bomb aboard flight 103, under the eyes of the CIA and BKA.        In January 1990, Interfor gave three of the baggage handlers polygraphs and two of them were judged as being deceitful when denying any involvement in baggage switching.  However, neither the U.S., UK or German investigators showed any interest in the results, or in questioning the baggage handlers.  Instead, the polygrapher, James Keefe, was hauled before a Washington grand jury, and, as he puts it, "They were bent on destroying my credibility — not theirs" [the baggage handlers].  To Interfor, the lack of interest in the polygraph results and the attempt at intimidation of Keefe was the strongest evidence of a cover-up by the various government authorities who did not want their permissive role in the baggage switching to be revealed.{22}

 Critics claimed that the Interfor report had been inspired by PanAm’s interest in proving that it was impossible for normal airline security to have prevented the loading of the bomb, thus removing the basis for accusing the airline of negligence.

 The report was the principal reason PanAm’s attorneys subpoenaed the FBI, CIA, DEA, State Department, National Security Council, and NSA, as well as, reportedly, the Defense Intelligence Agency and FAA, to turn over all documents relating to the crash of 103 or to a drug operation preceding the crash.  The government moved to quash the subpoenas on grounds of "national security", and refused to turn over a single document in open court, although it gave some to a judge to view privately.

 The judge later commented that he was "troubled about  certain parts" of what he’d read, adding "I don’t know quite  what to do because I think some of the material may be  significant."{23}

 Drugs Revelation

 On October 30, 1990, NBC-TV News reported that "PanAm flights from Frankfurt, including 103, had been used a number of times by the DEA as part of its undercover operation to fly informants and suitcases of heroin into Detroit as part of a sting operation to catch dealers in Detroit."

 The TV network reported that the DEA was looking into the possibility that a young man who lived in Michigan and regularly visited the Middle East may have unwittingly carried the bomb aboard flight 103.  His name was Khalid Jaafar.  "Unidentified law enforcement sources" were cited as saying that Jaafar had been a DEA informant and was involved in a drug-sting operation based out of Cyprus.  The DEA was investigating whether the PFLP-GC had tricked Jaafar into carrying a suitcase containing the bomb instead of the drugs he usually carried.

 The NBC report quoted an airline source as saying: "Informants would put [suit]cases of heroin on the PanAm flights apparently without the usual security checks, through an arrangement between the DEA and German authorities."{24}

 These revelations were enough to inspire a congressional hearing, held in December, entitled, "Drug Enforcement Administration’s Alleged Connection to the PanAm Flight 103 Disaster".

 The chairman of the committee, Cong. Robert Wise (Dem., W. VA.), began the hearing by lamenting the fact that the DEA and the Department of Justice had not made any of their field agents who were most knowledgeable about flight 103 available to testify; that they had not provided requested written information, including the results of the DEA’s investigation into the air disaster; and that "the FBI to this date has been totally uncooperative".

 The two DEA officials who did testify admitted that the agency had, in fact, run "controlled drug deliveries" through Frankfurt airport with the cooperation of German authorities, using U.S. airlines, but insisted that no such operation had been conducted in December 1988.  (The drug agency had said nothing of its sting operation to the President’s Commission on Aviation Security and Terrorism which had held hearings in the first months of 1990 in response to the 103 bombing.)

 The officials denied that the DEA had had any "association with Mr. Jaafar in any way, shape, or form."  However, to questions concerning Jaafar’s background, family, and his frequent trips to Lebanon, they asked to respond only in closed session.  They made the same request in response to several other questions.{25}  

 NBC News had reported on October 30 that the DEA had told law enforcement officers in Detroit not to talk to the media about Jaafar.

 The hearing ended after but one day, even though Wise had promised a "full-scale" investigation and indicated during the hearing that there would be more to come.  What was said in the closed sessions remains closed.{26}

 One of the DEA officials who testified, Stephen Greene, had himself had a reservation on flight 103, but he canceled because of one or more of the several international warnings that had preceded the fateful day.  He has described standing on the Heathrow tarmac, watching the doomed plane take off.{27}

 There have been many reports of heroin being found in the field around the crash, from "traces" to "a substantial quantity" found in a suitcase.{28}  Two days after the NBC report, however, the New York Times quoted a "federal official" saying that "no hard drugs were aboard the aircraft."

 The film

 In 1994, American filmmaker Allan Francovich completed a documentary, "The Maltese Double Cross", which presents Jaafar as an unwitting bomb carrier with ties to the DEA and the CIA.  Showings of the film in Britain were canceled under threat of law suits, venues burglarized or attacked by arsonists.  When Channel 4 agreed to show the film, the Scottish Crown Office and the U.S. Embassy in London sent press packs to the media, labeling the film "blatant propaganda" and attacking some of the film’s interviewees, including Juval Aviv the head of Interfor.{29}   Aviv paid a price for his report and his outspokenness.  Over a period of time, his New York office suffered a series of break-ins, the FBI visited his clients, his polygrapher was harassed, as mentioned above, and a contrived commercial fraud charge was brought against him.  Even though Aviv eventually was cleared in court, it was a long, expensive, and painful ordeal.{30}    

 Francovich also stated that he had learned that five CIA operatives had been sent to London and Cyprus to discredit the film while it was being made, that his office phones were tapped, that staff cars were sabotaged, and that one of his researchers narrowly escaped an attempt to force his vehicle into the path of an oncoming truck.{31}

 Government officials examining the Lockerbie bombing went so far as to ask the FBI to investigate the film.  The Bureau later issued a highly derogatory opinion of it.{32}

 The film’s detractors made much of the fact that the film was initially funded jointly by a UK company (two-thirds) and a Libyan government investment arm (one-third).  Francovich said that he was fully aware of this and had taken pains to negotiate a guarantee of independence from any interference.

 On April 17, 1997, Allan Francovich suddenly died of a heart attack at age 56, upon arrival at Houston Airport.{33}  His film has had virtually no showings in the United States.

 Abu Talb

 The DEA sting operation and Interfor’s baggage-handler hypothesis both predicate the bomb suitcase being placed aboard the plane in Frankfurt without going through the normal security checks.  In either case, it eliminates the need for the questionable triple-unaccompanied baggage scenario.  With either scenario the clothing could still have been purchased in Malta, but in any event we don’t need the Libyans for that.

 Mohammed Abu Talb fits that and perhaps other pieces of the puzzle.  The Palestinian had close ties to PFLP-GC cells in Germany which were making Toshiba radio-cassette bombs, similar, if not identical, to what was used to bring down 103.  In October 1988, two months before Lockerbie, the German police raided these cells, finding several such bombs.  In May 1989, Talb was arrested in Sweden, where he lived, and was later convicted of taking part in several bombings of the offices of American airline companies in Scandinavia.  In his Swedish flat, police found large quantities of clothing made in Malta.  

 Police investigation of Talb disclosed that during October 1988 he had been to Cyprus and Malta, at least once in the company of Hafez Dalkamoni, the leader of the German PFLP-GC, who was arrested in the raid.  The men met with PFLP-GC members who lived in Malta.  Talb was also in Malta on November 23, which was originally reported as the date of the clothing purchase before the indictment of the Libyans, as mentioned earlier.

 After his arrest, Talb told investigators that between October and December 1988 he had retrieved and passed to another person a bomb that had been hidden in a building used by the PFLP-GC in Germany.  Officials declined to identify the person to whom Talb said he had passed the bomb.  A month later, however, he recanted his confession.

 Talb was reported to possess a brown Samsonite suitcase and to have circled December 21 in a diary seized in his Swedish flat.  After the raid upon his flat, his wife was heard to telephone Palestinian friends and say: "Get rid of the clothes."

 In December 1989, Scottish police, in papers filed with Swedish legal officials, made Talb the only publicly identified suspect "in the murder or participation in the murder of 270 people"; the Palestinian subsequently became another of the several individuals to be identified by the Maltese shopkeeper from a photo as the clothing purchaser.{34}  Since that time, the world has scarcely heard of Abu Talb, who was sentenced to life in prison in Sweden, but never charged with anything to do with Lockerbie.

 In Allan Francovich’s film, members of Khalid Jaafar’s family — which long had ties to the drug trade in Lebanon’s notorious Bekaa Valley — are interviewed.  In either halting English or translated Arabic, or paraphrased by the film’s narrator, they drop many bits of information, but which are difficult to put together into a coherent whole.  Amongst the bits … Khalid had told his parents that he’d met Talb in Sweden and had been given Maltese clothing … someone had given Khalid a tape recorder, or put one into his bag … he was told to go to Germany to friends of PFLP-GC leader Ahmed Jabril who would help him earn some money … he arrived in Germany with two kilos of heroin … "He didn’t know it was a bomb.  They gave him the drugs to take to Germany.  He didn’t know.  Who wants to die?" …

 It can not be stated with certainty what happened at Frankfurt airport on that fateful day, if, as seems most likely, that is the place where the bomb was placed into the system.  Either Jaafar, the DEA courier, arrived with his suitcase of heroin and bomb and was escorted through security by the proper authorities, or this was a day he was a courier for Manzer al-Kassar, and the baggage handlers did their usual switch.  Or perhaps we’ll never know for sure what happened.  

 On February 16, 1990, a group of British relatives of Lockerbie victims went to the American Embassy in London for a meeting with members of the President’s Commission on Aviation Security and Terrorism.  After the meeting, Britisher Martin Cadman was chatting with two of the commission members.  He later reported what one of them had said to him: "Your government and our government know exactly what happened at Lockerbie.  But they are not going to tell you."{35}

 Comments about the Hague Court verdict

 "The judges nearly agreed with the defense.  In their verdict, they tossed out much of the prosecution witnesses’ evidence as false or questionable and said the prosecution had failed to prove crucial elements, including the route that the bomb suitcase took." — New York Times analysis.{36}

 "It sure does look like they bent over backwards to find a way to convict, and you have to assume the political context of the case influenced them." — Michael Scharf, professor, New England School of Law.{37}

 "I thought this was a very, very weak circumstantial case.  I am absolutely astounded, astonished.  I was extremely reluctant to believe that any Scottish judge would convict anyone, even a Libyan, on the basis of such evidence." — Robert Black, Scottish law professor who was the architect of the Hague trial.{38}

 "A general pattern of the trial consisted in the fact that virtually all people presented by the prosecution as key witnesses were proven to lack credibility to a very high extent, in certain cases even having openly lied to the court."    "While the first accused was found ‘guilty’, the second accused was found ‘not guilty’. … This is totally incomprehensible for any rational observer when one considers that the indictment in its very essence was based on the joint action of the two accused in Malta."    "As to the undersigned’s knowledge, there is not a single piece of material evidence linking the two accused to the crime.  In such a context, the guilty verdict in regard to the first accused appears to be arbitrary, even irrational. … This leads the undersigned to the suspicion that political considerations may have been overriding a strictly judicial evaluation of the case … Regrettably, through the conduct of the Court, disservice has been done to the important cause of international criminal justice." — Hans Koechler, appointed as an international  observer of the Lockerbie Trial by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.{39}

 So, let’s hope that Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi is really guilty.  It would be a terrible shame if he spends the rest of his life in prison because back in 1990 Washington’s hegemonic plans for the Middle East needed a convenient enemy, which just happened to be his country.

NOTES

1. "Opinion of the Court", Par. 39
1a. Mark Perry, Eclipse: The Last Days of the CIA  (Wm. Morrow, New York, 1992), pp.342-7.
2. "Opinion of the Court", Par. 55
3. "Opinion of the Court", Par. 68
4. See, e.g., Sunday Times (London), Nov. 12, 1989, p.3.
5. For a detailed discussion of this issue see, "A Special Report from Private Eye: Lockerbie the Flight from Justice", May/June 2001, pp.20-22; Private Eye is a magazine published in London.
6. Sunday Times (London), December 17, 1989, p. 14.  Malta is, in fact, a major manufacturer of clothing sold throughout the world.
7. "Opinion of the Court", Par. 89
8. Ibid.
9. The Guardian (London), June 19, 2001
10. New York Times, Nov. 15, 1991
11. Los Angeles Times, Nov. 15, 1991
12. New York Times, April 13, 1989, p.9; David Johnston, Lockerbie: The Tragedy of Flight 103 (New York, 1989), pp.157, 161-2.
13. Washington Post, May 11, 1989, p. 1
14. New York Times, December 16, 1989, p.3.
15. Department of the Air Force — Air Intelligence Agency intelligence summary report, March 4, 1991, released under a FOIA request made by lawyers for PanAm.  Reports of the intercept appeared in the press long before the above document was released; see, e.g., New York Times, Sept. 27, 1989, p.11; October 31, 1989, p.8; Sunday Times, October 29, 1989, p.4.  But it wasn’t until Jan. 1995 that the exact text became widely publicized and caused a storm in the UK, although ignored in the U.S.
16. The Times (London), September 20, 1989, p.1
17. New York Times, November 21, 1991, p. 14.  It should be borne
in mind, however, that Israel may have been influenced because of
its hostility toward the PFLP-GC.
18. Reuters dispatch, datelined Tunis, Feb. 26, 1992
19. The Guardian, Feb. 24, 1995, p.7
20. Margaret Thatcher, The Downing Street Years (New York, 1993),
pp.448-9.
21. National Law Journal, Sept. 25, 1995, p.A11, from papers filed in a New York court case.
22. Barron’s (New York), December 17, 1990, pp.19, 22.  A copy of
the Interfor Report is in the author’s possession, but he has been unable to locate a complete copy of it on the Internet.
23. Barron’s, op. cit., p. 18.
24. The Times (London), November 1, 1990, p.3; Washington Times, October 31, 1990, p.3
25. Government Information, Justice, and Agriculture Subcommittee
of the Committee on Government Operations, House of Representatives, December 18, 1990, passim.
26. Ibid,
27. The film, "The Maltese Double Cross" (see below).
28. Sunday Times (London), April 16, 1989 (traces); Johnston, op. cit., p.79 (substantial).  "The Maltese Double Cross" film mentions other reports of drugs found, by a Scottish policeman and a mountain rescue man.
29. Financial Times (London), May 12, 1995, p.8 and article by John Ashton, leading 103 investigator, in The Mail on Sunday (London), June 9, 1996.
30. Ashton, op. cit.; Wall Street Journal, December 18, 1995, p.1, and December 18, 1996, p.B2
31. The Guardian (London), April 23, 1994, p.5
32. Sunday Times (London), May 7, 1995.
33. Francovich’s former wife told the author that he had not had any symptoms of a heart problem before.  However, the author also spoke to Dr. Cyril Wecht, of JFK "conspiracy" fame, who performed an autopsy on Francovich.  Wecht stated that he found no reason to suspect foul play.
34. Re: Abu Talb, all 1989: New York Times, Oct. 31, p.1, Dec. 1, p.12, Dec. 24, p.1; Sunday Times (London), Nov. 12, p.3, December
5; The Times (London), Dec. 21, p.5.  Also The Associated Press, July 11, 2000
35. Cadman in "The Maltese Double Cross".  Also see The Guardian, July 29, 1995, p.27
36. New York Times, Feb. 2, 2001
37. Ibid.
38. Electronic Telegraph UK News, February 4, 2001
39. All quotations are from Koechler’s report of February 3, 2001, easily found on the Internet

Written by William Blum <bblum6@aol.com>, author of:
Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II  and Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower

This essay is a chapter in the book, Everything You Know Is Wrong,
a sequel to the book You Are Being Lied To.  
Both books are published by Disinformation Books

How the US provoked the Soviet invastion of Afghanistan

Interview with Zbigniew Brzezinski about how  the US provoked the Soviet Union into invading Afghanistan and starting the whole mess


Le Nouvel Observateur (France), Jan 15-21, 1998, p. 76*

Question: The former director of the CIA, Robert Gates, stated in his memoirs [From the Shadows], that American intelligence services began to aid the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan six months before the Soviet intervention.  In this period you were the national security adviser to President Carter.  You therefore played a role in this affair.  Is that correct?

Brzezinski:  Yes.  According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahadeen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 Dec 1979.  But the reality, closely guarded until now, is completely otherwise: Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul.  And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention.

Question: Despite this risk, you were an advocate of this covert action.  But perhaps you yourself desired this Soviet entry into war and looked to provoke it?

Brzezinski: It isn’t quite that.  We didn’t push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would.

Question: When the Soviets justified their intervention by asserting that they intended to fight against secret involvement of the United States in Afghanistan, people didn’t believe them.  However, there was a basis of truth.  You don’t regret anything today?

Brzezinski: Regret what?  That secret operation was an excellent idea.   It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it?  The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter, in substance: We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war.  Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war unsupportable by the government, a conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire.

Question: And neither do you regret having supported the Islamic fundamentalists, having given arms and advice to future terrorists?

Brzezinski: What is most important to the history of the world?  The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire?  Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?**

Question: Some stirred-up Moslems?  But it has been said and repeated: Islamic fundamentalism represents a world menace today.

Brzezinski: Nonsense!  It is said that the West had a global policy in regard to Islam.  That is stupid.  There isn’t a global Islam.  Look at Islam in a rational manner and without demagoguery or emotion.  It is the leading religion of the world with 1.5 billion followers.  But what is there in common among Saudi Arabian fundamentalism, moderate Morocco, Pakistan militarism, Egyptian pro-Western or Central Asian secularism?  Nothing more than what unites the Christian countries.

* There are at least two editions of this magazine; with the perhaps sole exception of the Library of Congress, the version sent to the United States is shorter than the French version, and the Brzezinski interview was not included in the shorter version.

** It should be noted that there is no demonstrable connection  between the Afghanistan war and the breakup of the Soviet Union and its satellites.

This interview was translated from the French by William Blum, Author of "Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II" and "Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower".  Portions of the books can be read at: http://members.aol.com/superogue/homepage.htm (with a link to Killing Hope)   

Irreverent Observations

William Blum is an American author living in New York.  His books include:

Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II; and
Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower

Irreverent Observations

by Willian Blum


Gore Vidal has observed that America is not, contrary to popular mythology, a country founded by the religiously persecuted.  It  was started by Puritan zealots who left England because they were not allowed to persecute others.  The Puritans (Pilgrims) went to Holland seeking a more compatible atmosphere, but then migrated to America because in Holland they saw themselves being absorbed into a society that had, by their lights, altogether too much freedom of all kinds, including real religious freedom.

The Marxist analysis has nothing to do with what happened in Stalin’s Russia; it’s like blaming Jesus Christ for the Inquisition in Spain.

"When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." Dom Helder Camara, Brazilian Archbishop

President Truman’s loyalty Oath: instead of asking whether the government was loyal to the people, the people had to swear their  loyalty to the government.

Contrary to the image of Bill Clinton as a draft-dodging anti-war  protester in the 60s, it seems, instead, that he was actually  informing on his "fellow" protesters and Fulbright scholars in  Europe for the CIA.  Roger Morris, former National Security  Council official, reports on this in his book Partners in Power.   Almost as surprising is his revelation that wife Hilary — the great  champion of children — was a strong supporter of the contras in  Nicaragua in the 1980s, the same band that just loved to go around  murdering women and children, raping, burning down villages, and  singling out schools and medical clinics for destruction.  The book  further makes it clear that the Mena, Arkansas drug-trafficking charges  against Clinton are not simply a conspiracy freak’s wet dream.

Culture

The artist, i.e., the painter of pictures, does not necessarily have anything more to say to the world of intellectual interest or social importance than the plumber, the accountant, or the cab driver, although he spends his time doing something which our culture has assigned a high status to.      We are all taught early on and well that to be regarded as sophisticated, cultured, worldly, refined, educated, etc., one must learn to highly esteem pictures hanging in an art gallery or  art museum, or at least learn how to pretend to esteem such things highly, dropping seemingly appropriate comments about color,  form, art history, or "meaning".

"A painting in a museum hears more ridiculous opinions than anything else in the world."   Edmond de Goncourt (1822-1896)

"Abstract art?  A product of the untalented, sold by the unprincipled to the utterly bewildered."  Al Capp

… but the painting gave off the sanctified odor of serious art, so he hesitated to be candid …

The art-collecting spirit can be a variety of greed.

Art, like history, belongs to the winners.

Painting vases and flowers and other "still life" is comparable to writing a poem beginning "Roses are red, violets are blue".

Any institutionalized maniac is able to create chaos out of order, but is that art?

Critics of certain "obscene" art have objected to the NEA giving grants to the artists on the grounds that taxpayers who object to such work should not have their tax dollars supporting work they find obscene.  "This is a novel theory," author Lawrence Weschler has observed.  "I notice, for example, that such logic was never applied to funding for the Stealth bomber or aid to the regimes of El Salvador and Guatemala."

John Cage theorized that music does not have to have sound but can be anything that fills a space in time.  He scored a piece that included the noise from 12 radios, and wrote scores that left choices of sounds to the performers.  In "O’O" – he sliced vegetables, put them in a blender and drank the juice.  In  "4’33" he presented four minutes and 33 seconds of silence in which a pianist simply steps onstage, sits at a piano in silence and then walks off.        In an interview, Cage said he had once listened to several mundane sounds and tried to figure out why he didn’t like them.  He was forced to conclude that there was no reason why he didn’t like them.       What, I wonder, if he ate some excrement and didn’t like it. Would he conclude that there was no reason why?        Consider a patient in a mental hospital being examined by the psychiatrist to determine if he’s well enough to be released.  The patient says he’s composed something.  The psychiatrist is  very interested and says he’d like to hear it.  The patient sits down at a piano and sits there in silence for 4 minutes and 33  seconds.  Would he be released?      "I have nothing to say and I am saying it."  John Cage, response to questions about his music and his musical philosophy.

Coming soon: minimal film — two hours of a completely white  screen, with a long list of credits at the end.

"America is form opposed to content.  Not just form instead of content.  Form opposed.  Often violently.  There are few things resented so much among us as the suggestion that what we do means.  Other cultures have argued over their meanings.  We tend to deny that there is any such thing, insisting instead that what you see is what you get and that’s it.  All we’re doing is having a good time, all we’re doing is making a buck, all we’re doing is enjoying the spectacle … Media is the American war on content with all the stops out, with meaning in utter rout, frightened nuances dropping their weapons as they run."  Michael Ventura, journalist and author

The aesthetics of a revolutionary: being turned on or off by the nature or rationality of his society; he looks for beauty in the  social arrangement as others may look for it in art.

Freud resisted music because he hated being moved by a thing without knowing how and why he was affected.  Lenin avoided Beethoven because the music made him want to pat people on the head.

Anti-war

World War 1 — hundreds of thousands of previously rational animals lined up facing one another and doggedly shot one another to pieces, day after day, year after year.  And no one could confidently or clearly say why it was happening or what it was all about.      And it might still be going on if not for the Russian Revolution.  Unlike World War 2, the First World War did not end because of any kind of invasion of Germany.  It came to an end because the Bolsheviks brought the capitalist leaders who were fighting each other to their senses.  They realized that if they didn’t stop fighting each other and work together against the new Bolshevik menace, their own people might rise up against them.

Remark made to a pacifist: "If only everyone else would live in the way you recommend, I would gladly live that way as well — but not until everyone else does."        The pacifist replied: "Why then, sir, you would be the last man on earth to do good.  I would rather be one of the first."

The question is not what pacifism has achieved throughout history, but what has war achieved?

Leading Nazi leader, Hermann Goering, at the Nuremberg Trials before he was sentenced to death: "Why of course the people don’t want war.  Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece?  Naturally, the common people don’t want war: neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany.  That is understood. But after all it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship … Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders.  That is easy.  All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger." 

The Veterans of Future Wars — those intent upon preventing future wars

Conspiracies

"Anti-conspiracists insist that, unlike the rest of us, the rich and powerful do not act with deliberate intent."  Michael Parenti

In a roomful of smoking guns, they demand a smoking cannon.

The well-known term "conspiracy" may not actually serve us very well, since it suggests an arcane aberration rather than the normal workings of our ruling class.

The trivialization of conspiracism may itself be a conspiracy.

Humpty-Dumpty was pushed.

With the JFK assassination we gave up part of our democracy and we’re not going to get it back unless we find out who did it. Prof. Peter Dale Scott sees the JFK assassination as an "internal adjustment".

A common argument against a JFK assassination conspiracy is that by now someone would have talked.  But at least two men have come forward with plausible stories of how they were directly involved with the assassination (one is the father of actor Woody Harrelson), and others have claimed other important connections.  And what happened?  They have all been completely ignored by the mainstream media.  Only the tabloids have reported their stories.

Capitalism  (or government of the Eons, by the Duponts, for the Chryslers)

Capitalism is the theory that the worst people, acting from their worst motives, will somehow produce the most good.

"The twentieth century has been characterized by three developments of great political importance: the growth of democracy; the growth of corporate power; and the growth of corporate propaganda as a means of protecting corporate power against democracy."  Alex Carey, Australian social scientist

Shooting your boss is guaranteed in the Declaration of Independence, under the provision for "the pursuit of happiness".

"Politics is the shadow cast on society by big business."  John Dewey

"The drive for profit that determines capitalism at the end of this century fits like an iron mask on our cultural output."  Andr