Saturday, January 02, 2010

Of coca, cola, and "collas"


Aymara women with a pile of dried coca leaves. If these women are farmers, odds are that they chew them while they work, to stave off hunger, thirst and altitude sickness.

Who knew coca was so versatile? The indigenous, or "collas", that's who. And now they're going to give Coke a run for its money--with, among other things, a new soda-pop:

In an obvious play on words, the Bolivian cocaleros have declared war on the the most popular fizzy drink in the world. Yesterday the vice-minister for coca, Jerónimo Meneses, presented Coca-Colla, a new carbonated energy drink made from the "sacred leaf" of the Andes cultivated in the Chapare region.

There, where Evo Morales launched his career as a union leader and later politician more than two decades ago, you will find the majority of the coca declared illegal under Law 1008, in place since the 1980s.

The initiative was proposed by the campesinos. In case there isn't enough in common with the syrup created in 1885 by John Pemberton, the Coca-Colla bottle will have a red label and contain a dark, almost black liquid.

Even though the Coca-Cola Company says it removed coca from the formula in 1929, the Internet is rife with denuciations that "Coca-Cola is still buying coca in Peru."

Even though minister Meneses has already shown the bottle to the press, the authorities admit that the name of the product could be changed.

"It started as a private initiative to produce a coca-based energy drink, but as a state we are interested in the industrialization of the coca," said vice-minister of rural development Víctor Hugo Vázquez. He emphasized various private initiatives already existing in Bolivia, producing teas, syrups, toothpastes, liquors, candies and even cakes made from coca. In fact, one Italian restaurant in La Paz serves coca spaghetti, made from a mixture of wheat flour and "millennial" coca-leaf flour.

The quantity of coca used legally is part of the controversy, which may be resolved by the results of the Integral Study of the Coca Leaf and the national inquiry into the legal use and consumption of the herb, launched in 2009 with the support of the European Union. Not all the cocaleros support an increased level of cultivation; the "legals" do not want the price to drop with increased availability of the herb.

With the newly-elected Congress in favor, the government proposes to increase legal coca-growing to 20,000 hectares, in order to include the campesinos of the Chapare, social base of Evo Morales, in legal cultivation.

Before the Spanish conquest, the coca was part of Andean rituals. After colonization, it became part of the mining economy; chewing permitted workers to stay on their feet in the dangerous shafts, hundreds of metres below ground, and not even the protestations of the Catholic church against the "devil's leaf" were successful in gaining prohibition of it.

Translation mine.

My compañeros have already beaten me to the story, but I thought I'd translate this piece to show a bit more context. And also to add some facts you might not have known about coca.

For one thing, it's true that there is still coca in Coca-Cola. The leaf is still used to provide an extract for flavoring the drink. There is no cocaine, however, since anti-drug legislation prohibited it. But there used to be--in varying amounts, according to The soda was prepared as a fountain beverage in the early days, meaning that variable quantities of flavoring syrup went into a glass of seltzer water. You might have gotten a very slight cocaine kick from your glass of Coke, or nearly none, at that rate. It would have been indistinguishable in any case from the caffeine buzz you get from the kola nut, which is also still an ingredient to this day. It is very unlikely that anyone would have become a drug addict that way, unless they guzzled the syrup undiluted. And even then, chances are that they'd have gotten a sugary stomach-ache rather than much of a buzz.

Addicts typically injected their cocaine when Coca-Cola was new on the market; later, they rubbed it on their gums or snorted it; later still, with the advent of the CIA's coke importation and crack sales, they began smoking a particularly cheap, nasty form of it as well. There are no recorded cases of addicts ever becoming hooked through simple consumption of a Coke, however; the concentration of the drug would have been much too low.

Cocaine abuse has also taken place in classic crime literature. Back in his day, using cocaine recreationally was not yet illegal, and known cases of cocaine dependence were few, but Sir Arthur Conan Doyle apparently foresaw the dangers of addiction (probably as a result of reading Sigmund Freud, if not from using it himself, as Freud also did). There is even a passage in which Dr. Watson warns his friend against the dangers of using drugs to "improve" his mental acuity.

And yes, cocaine is legal for medical use to this day. There are international conventions in place to prevent cocaine produced for medical usage from being diverted onto the streets. Obviously, thanks to stringent quality controls, it's not produced with as much pollution or toxic crap as the illegal kind, which really befouls the jungles where it's made. It is a good topical anesthetic, and as it is a vasoconstrictor, it also impedes excess bleeding. If you've ever had stitches and the nurse swabbed you with a clear liquid to numb the skin before the doctor took needle and thread to you, you may have been dosed with a small amount of cocaine. It would not be enough to give a buzz or "hook" you, but it's definitely enough to make the procedure quite painless. Cocaine solution is also used to soak cotton pads and swabs for nose, mouth and throat surgeries, again to prevent excess bleeding (which can cause choking) and to ease pain.

Novocaine, a chemical relative, is still widely used by dentists for "freezing". And cocaine's other chemical cousins are found in over-the-counter topical creams and sprays, usually to calm itchy bug bites and nasty rashes. If the active ingredient ends in -caine, you've been exposed to one of coke's relatives. The difference, though, is that benzocaine and lidocaine sold in those strengths are not "buzzy". They are felt merely as "soothing". So don't bother trying to get high inhaling the contents of an aerosol can of benzocaine spray, 'kay?

Coca in its natural state is not enough to give a mosquito a buzz, either. There is so little alkaloid in fresh or dried unprocessed coca that tonnes of it are needed to make just a kilo of cocaine. And believe me, you don't want to know just how much, and how many, polluting nasty chemicals go into the making of that stuff. (How about a snootful of chlorine, acid and kerosene--sounds appealing, eh?)

The sacred leaf is, however, an effective suppressant of hunger, thirst and exhaustion. And whether chewed plain, or with a small pinch of powdered lime made from burnt, crushed seashells, or brewed as tea, it's the only remedy that really works for high-altitude sickness. You can see why the indigenous peoples of the Andes, from Colombia right down to Chile, have used it for as far back as any of their histories go. It makes farming at higher altitudes possible--something it would not have been if not for coca. Use of lime makes coca work better, which may be one reason why the indigenous peoples of Bolivia remain hopeful that one day, their country will again have access to the sea--a ready source of that helpful coca-boosting mineral.

But again, this is not about being stoned all the time. At altitude, coca leaf enables people to live and work normally. Without it, they'd all have whanging headaches and be in a constant state of exhaustion. Is that much human suffering really worth the approval of the ignorant moralists of the northern global elite?

Medical studies have found coca-chewing to be harmless and even nutritionally beneficial, as coca is a good source of many vitamins and minerals--a boon, in other words, to impoverished natives, who are at risk of malnutrition if deprived of access to it. Some studies even suggest, ironically, that coca tea can help wean addicts off not only cocaine, but many other drugs!

I would really like to see more medical studies done to determine if coca also elevates oxygenation of the blood at altitude; I wouldn't be a bit surprised if it did, as this study suggests. What I do know is that it makes symptoms of altitude sickness go away. And seeing as even Pope John Paul II was not averse to drinking several cups of coca tea for that purpose on his trips to Bolivia, the question of whether this medicinal use is moral should now be considered settled, once and for all, in favor of coca.

I have yet to find a picture of the bottle for Coca-Colla (the Bolivian drink) on the ABI site, and I suspect it will undergo a name/packaging change before it hits store shelves, so as to avoid lawsuits from the Coca-Cola Co. I suspect that the main risk associated with it will be the same that troubles Coca-Cola, however--too much sugar and caffeine.

But I wouldn't worry about cocaine in the bottles--and in fact, I'd be relieved that this industrial use, like the coca-flour pastries and spaghetti, puts the leaf to safe and healthy use, preventing its being processed by the tonne into that nasty white gringo nose-powder or those ghetto-wrecking crack rocks that we all know only too well.

Or, as the "collas" like to say, Coca no es cocaina.

Nuclear Hero’s 'Crime' Was Making Us Safer by Daniel Ellsberg

Mordechai Vanunumy friend, my hero, my brotherhas again been arrested in Israel on "suspicion" of the "crime" of "meeting with foreigners." I myself have been complicit in this offense, traveling twice to Israel for the express purpose of meeting with him, openly, and expressing support for the actions for which he was imprisoned for over eighteen years. His offense has been to defy openly and repeatedly ,conditions put on his freedom of movement and associations and speech after he had served his full sentence, restrictions on his human rights which were a direct carry-over from the British Mandate, colonial regulations in clear violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Such restrictions have no place in a nation evincing respect for a rule of law and fundamental human rights. His arrest and confinement are outrages and should be ended immediately.

My perspective on Mordechai and his behavior was expressed as well as I could do it today in the following op-ed published in 2004 on the day of his release from prison. I can only say that I would be proud to be known as the American Vanunu: though my own possible sentence of 115 years for revealing state secrets was averted by disclosure of government misconduct against me which pales next to the Israeli misconduct in assaulting, drugging and kidnapping Vanunu in the process of bringing him to trial, let alone the eleven years of solitary confinement he was forced to endure.


[Published 4/21/04 in the Los Angeles Times]

Mordechai Vanunu is the preeminent hero of the nuclear era. He consciously risked all he had in life to warn his own country and the world of the true extent of the nuclear danger facing us. And he paid the full price, a burden in many ways worse than death, for his heroic act — for doing exactly what he should have done and what others should be doing.

Vanunu's "crime" was committed in 1986, when he gave the London Sunday Times a series of photos he had taken within the Israeli nuclear weapons facility at Dimona, where he had worked as a technician.

For that act — revealing that his country's program and stockpile were much larger than the CIA or others had estimated — Vanunu was kidnapped from the Rome airport by agents of the Israeli Mossad and secretly transported back for a closed trial in which he was sentenced to 18 years in prison.

He spent the first 11 1/2 years in solitary confinement in a 6-by-9-foot cell, an unprecedented term of solitary under conditions that Amnesty International called "cruel, inhuman and degrading."

Now, after serving his full term, he is due to be released today. But his "unfreedom" is to be continued by restrictions on his movements and his contacts: He cannot leave Israel, he will be confined to a single town, he cannot communicate with foreigners face to face or by phone, fax or e-mail (purely punitive conditions because any classified information that he may have possessed is by now nearly two decades old).

The irony of all this is that no country in the world has a stronger stake than Israel in preventing nuclear proliferation, above all in the Middle East. Yet Israel's secret nuclear policies — to this day it does not acknowledge that it possesses such weapons — are shortsighted and self-destructive. They promote rather than block proliferation by encouraging the country's neighbors to develop their own, comparable weapons.

This will not change without public mobilization and democratic pressure, which in turn demand public awareness and discussion. It was precisely this that Vanunu sought to stimulate.

Not in Israel or in any other case — not that of the U.S., Russia, England, France, China, India or Pakistan — has the decision to become a nuclear weapons state ever been made democratically or even with the knowledge of the full Cabinet. It is likely that in an open discussion not one of these states could convince its own people or the rest of the world that it had a legitimate reason for possessing as many warheads as the several hundred that Israel allegedly has (far beyond any plausible requirement for deterrence).

More Vanunus are urgently needed. That is true not only in Israel but in every nuclear weapons state, declared and undeclared. Can anyone fail to recognize the value to world security of a heroic Pakistani, Indian, Iraqi, Iranian or North Korean Vanunu making comparable revelations?

And the world's need for such secret-telling is not limited to citizens of what nuclear weapons states presumptuously call rogue nations. Every nuclear weapons state has secret policies, aims, programs and plans that contradict its obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and the 1995 Declaration of Principles agreed to at the NPT Renewal Conference. Every official with knowledge of these violations could and should consider doing what Vanunu did.

That is what I should have done in the early '60s based on what I knew about the secret nuclear planning and practices of the United States when I consulted at the Defense Department, on loan from the Rand Corp., on problems of nuclear command and control. I drafted the Secretary of Defense Guidance to the Joint Chiefs of Staff for the general nuclear war plans, and the extreme dangers of our practices and plan were apparent to me.

I now feel derelict for wrongfully keeping secret the documents in my safe revealing this catastrophically reckless posture. But I did not then have Vanunu's example to guide me.

When I finally did have an example in front of me — that of young Americans who were choosing to go to prison rather than participate in what I too knew was a hopeless, immoral war — I was inspired in 1971 to turn over a top-secret history of presidential lies about the war in Vietnam to 19 newspapers. I regret only that I didn't do it earlier, before the bombs started falling.

Vanunu should long since have been released from solitary and from prison, not because he has "suffered enough" but because what he did was the correct and courageous thing to do in the face of the foreseeable efforts to silence and punish him.

The outrageous and illegal restrictions proposed to be inflicted on him when he finally steps out of prison after 18 years should be widely protested and rejected, not only because they violate his fundamental human rights but because the world needs to hear this man's voice.

The cult and culture of secrecy in every nuclear weapons state have endangered humanity and continues to threaten its survival. Vanunu's challenge to that wrongful and dangerous secrecy must be joined worldwide.

Daniel Ellsberg, a former State Department and Defense Department official, released the 'Pentagon Papers' to the press in 1971.

The Real "no bullshit" Top Ten Stories of the Past Decade

by Robert Freeman

The media are awash with talking heads bloviating about the top stories of the last decade. The wired-in society. The growth of organic food. The new frugality. This is the ritual that reveals their true function in the culture: pacification. It's their way of signaling the masses that Bigger Thinkers are looking after things, so go back to your Wii or Survivor or Facebook reveries.

The amazing thing is how little is ever mentioned about the stories that really mattered, those that affected the very nature of our society, its institutions, and the relation of the people to their state and society.

Those stories paint a picture of danger, of a people who have lost control of their government and the corporations that own it. But you'll hear nary a word about such difficult truths from any storyteller in the conventional media.

So here, in no particular order, are my Top Ten Stories of the Naughties, the ones that really matter.

  1. The Supreme Court hijacking the 2000 presidential election. This isn't even a historical controversy anymore. Al Gore won the national popular vote by 570,000. And we now know he would have won the Florida vote as well if the vote counting had not been stopped by the Supreme Court. This was literally a right wing judicial coup d' etat, so it's understandable that it's never mentioned in the "right" kind of circles.
  1. Bush knew of 9/11 long before it actually happened. Three years before Bush took office, the neo-cons' Project For a New American Century called for a "new Pearl Harbor" to galvanize the nation into a war to seize Middle East oil. And even before the event itself, Bush-as-president was warned dozens of times of the imminent attack, the most notorious being the August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing titled, "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S". Amazingly nothing was done to prevent the attack. But even less is it advertised that Bush knew.
  1. Iraq was all premised on lies, yet we're still there. Saddam Hussein wasn't pursuing Weapons of Mass Destruction. He wasn't involved in 9/11. He wasn't engaged with Al Qaeda. As with the 2000 election hijacking, we know all these things. And we know they were false at the time they were proffered. Yet, there we are, with no intent to leave, our very presence spitting in the face of International Law and the international community we so unctuously pretend to respect.
  1. The Global War on Terror. Or more specifically, the ease with which the "GWOT" has replaced the Cold War as the justification for the ever-increasing militarization of society. What happened to the post-Cold War "Peace Dividend"? The U.S continues to spend more on the military than all the rest of the world combined. It continues to maintain over 700 military bases around the world. And it continues to manufacture excuses for foreign interventions whenever weapons makers and military logistics companies need more profits — which is forever.
  1. The fact that 2/3 of all economic growth went to top 1%. John Kennedy's social contract had a rising tide lifting all boats. But over the last decade 2/3 of all economic growth has gone to the top 1% of income earners. Meanwhile the middle class has suffered a $13 trillion writedown in wealth as a result of the housing collapse. The banking bailout and the health care "reform" debate showed as never before the extent to which corporations have captured government and use it to redirect national wealth to themselves and their owners.
  1. The Neo-Feudalization of the American economy. The top 1% of wealth holders own 41% of all the assets in the country while the bottom 40% own absolutely nothing. Meanwhile, workers are saddled with $12 trillion of national debt, an effective indentured servitude that will bind them to their corporate masters for the rest of their lives. This is the working definition of feudalism, where the rich own everything and everybody else has nothing but their proffered labor and their obligations to their masters. The Hapsburgs, the Tudors, and the Bourbons would be jealous.
  1. The surrender of civil liberties. Despite the Fourth Amendment supposedly protecting us against unreasonable searches and seizures, the government can now read your email and listen to your phone calls without any probable cause. The Obama administration has gone to court to prevent the re-institution of Habeas Corpus, suspended during the Bush administration. We are much less free, much less protected from brutalization by our own government than we were just ten years ago.
  1. The failure of "the free market" to sustain prosperity. The "free market" has long been an ideological dodge used to resist real government regulation of the economy. Still, the ideal was supposed to deliver prosperity in a stable, sustainable matter. Now we have the greatest global economic collapse since the Great Depression, with the government transferring $11 trillion to the banks to cover their sociopathically greedy bets that went bust. All in the name of deregulation, with future regulation vigorously resisted. Is this a deranged country or what?
  1. The collapse of the media. We once imagined it would guard the hen house. Yet that was an anomaly, a freak event around Vietnam and Watergate when it slipped its leash. Since then, sixty independent media outlets have consolidated into five, all retailing the ideology of the powerful, the perpetrators, laundering their lies, covering up the truth, and harassing the truth tellers. In every story mentioned above, the mainstream media have worked to ensure that the people didn't know the truth about the forfeiture of their government, their wealth, their security, and their rights.
  1. The meaninglessness of elections. This is the most embittering revelation of all. Despite the greatest electoral majority since Johnson crushed Goldwater in '64, Barrack Obama has betrayed everything he ran on. In every case where he had the opportunity to confront power — in financial bailouts, financial regulation, health care, wars and military spending, utilities and global warming, national surveillance — Obama has sided with the rich and powerful against the interests of the American people. He has probably engendered more cynicism, more disaffection with government than any president since Richard Nixon. It will deal a staggering blow to the hopes of mobilizing masses of people again for a real takeback of government. And he's not even one year into it.

History paints decades with broad brushes-the Roaring Twenties, The Depression, World War II. Historians will look back on the Naughts as the time when Americans Lost Their Country. It was the decade when all the institutions that they believed would protect them — the media, the courts, Congress, the market, a messianic new president — in fact betrayed them. It will forever more be a different country.

But not just yet. Did I tell you about the big move to locally-grown produce?

Underwear bomber a classic false flag attack

Flashback to last year:

False flags attacks common but rarely reported in the corporate media
By Wayne Madsen
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Dec 12, 2008

(WMR) -- Revelations about a shadowy right-wing group called Ergenekon participating with Turkish military and intelligence elements in “false flag” terrorist attacks in order to bring down the Turkish government are nothing new and are, in fact, a normal tactic used by intelligence services. However, the term “false flag” has been irresponsibly relegated to the arena of “conspiracy theories” by a corporate media answering to their own hidden agendas.

In 1996, then-South African Deputy President Thabo Mbeki told the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission that the apartheid government carried out “false flag” terrorist attacks that were then attributed to the African National Congress (ANC), which had a policy of not targeting civilians in its battle with the apartheid regime. The horrible execution method of “necklacing,” putting a burning tire over the necks of victims that would burn them to death, was carried out by apartheid agents provocateurs to damage the reputation of the ANC, Mbeki told the commission.

Some of the gruesome videotaped beheadings carried out on Westerners in Iraq may also have been carried out by agents provocateurs on the payroll of U.S. and other intelligence services to generate sympathy for the U.S.-led occupation of the country and pin blame on the Iraqi insurgents.

Many observers point out that Mehmet Ali Agca, the Turkish national who tried to assassinate Pope John Paul II in 1981, may have been unwittingly used by Western intelligence in order to foment a Polish insurrection against the Soviet Union. Agca thought at various times he was working for the Soviets, Bulgaria, or Iran through the CIA. Turkish Interior Minister Hussan Gunes, who investigated Agca, said he thought Agca was involved in an attempt to provoke an uprising in Poland and cut it off from the Warsaw Pact.

The most infamous and documented U.S. false flag operation was the proposed Operation Northwoods, a plan hatched by the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Kennedy administration in 1962 that included terrorist attacks against ships and passenger planes, claiming Cuba was behind them and providing a pretext for a U.S. invasion of Cuba.

In 1967, Israel attacked the National Security Agency intelligence ship, the U.S.S. Liberty, hoping the Americans would believe Egypt carried out the attack, prompting a U.S. military strike on Egypt, with which Israel was fighting the Six Day War. The Israeli operation was reportedly code-named Operation Cyanide.

More recently, Ikram Yabukov, a former Uzbek National Security Service (SNB) major, said the government of President Islam Karimov carrid out a number of false flag terrorist attacks and then blamed them on Islamist extremists to win support at home and abroad. Former British ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray validated Yabukov’s claims. Uzbekistan was an early U.S. coalition partner in the so-called “Global War on Terrorism” following the 9/11 attacks.

Yakobov also claimed that many Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) leaders, designated terrorists by the U.S. State Department, were nurtured by the Uzbek government, which supported their bombings in Tashkent and the 2005 Andijon uprising, which killed more than 1,500 people. In another false flag, Yakubov said the SNB engineered a 2004 passenger plane crash in Tashkent that killed senior UN official in Uzbekistan Richard Conroy. Conroy apparently had information linking Karimov to trafficking of drugs and women forced abroad into prostitution.

Last month, three German BND intelligence agents were arrested by Kosovo authorities after they were accused of throwing a bomb at the European Union office in Pristina, the Kosovo capital. The previously unheard of Army of the Republic of Kosovo claimed responsibility for the attack. The BND believes that their agents were fingered by corrupt Kosovo politicians who were the actual perpetrators of the attack on the EU building. The Germans are aware that the Kosovo government, which is riddled with criminals of every strike, takes its orders from the United States.

What is certain is that “false flag” operations run throughout history. There is new evidence that Ergenekon key players are supported by certain elements in Utah. Ironically, one of the most dastardly uses of the false flag attack was by Mormon settlers in Utah who preyed upon California-bound wagon trains. One such attack, the Mountain Meadows Massacre of 1857, saw 120 California-bound men, women, and children massacred by Mormon militiamen who left Indian artifacts at the crime scene to make authorities believe the wagon train had been beset upon by Indians.

Intelligence sources: Plane incident a false flag involving trinity of CIA, Mossad, and RAW.

The Christmas Day attempt by the Nigerian son of a prominent Nigerian banker and business tycoon connected closely to top Nigerian leaders to detonate a chemical improvised explosive device aboard Delta Airlines flight 253 from Amsterdam Schiphol to Detroit was a false flag operation carried out by the intelligence tripartite grouping of the CIA, Mossad, and India's Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), according to WMR's Asian intelligence sources who closely monitor the activities of the three agencies in India and Southeast Asia.

The tripartite alliance of the CIA, Mossad, and RAW were behind the terrorist attacks on Mumbai earlier this year and on December 28, Rupee News reported the three agencies worked together, along with former Afghan KHAD intelligence agents, to assassinated former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto: "The Benazir assassination was pre-planned and executed via triangulation by Khad, RAW, CIA and Mossad using the most modern radio active weapons available in the market. The Israeli PM publicly admitted helping India in Kargil recently. The purpose of the covert Khad, RAW, CIA, Mossad operations is to destabilize Pakistan. The IMF plan to de-fang Pakistan in 2000 did not work, but provincial autonomy will make the center bankrupt triggering an implosion."

The outcome of the failed terrorist attempt by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab on the Detroit-bound plane has resulted in major Christmas gifts for the neocons and militarists who still call the shots on U.S. policy: the deployment of privacy-invasive millimeter wave (MMW) full body scanning equipment at airports in North America and Europe [ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee, Representative Peter King (R-NY), who is an ardent defender of the Catholic Church and its prelates in Ireland, has defended the scanning system which can image the naked bodies of passengers, including children and babies], an increase in the U.S. military and intelligence presence in Yemen, retention of US PATRIOT Act surveillance provisions, an increase in racial profiling of Arabs and Muslims -- and because Mutallab is African -- blacks in the United States, and more cumbersome travel restrictions for airline passengers.

The neocon propagandists are already spinning counter-claims to reports that indicate that Mutallab was a witting accomplice of a larger plot cooked up by American, Israeli, ajd Indian intelligence agents to carry out yet another false flag terror operation on American soil. The eyewitness testimonies of Michigan attorney Kurt Haskell and his attorney wife Lori Haskell are being pilloried by the corporate media after the two were featured on major U.S. television networks. Haskell and his wife witnessed a "well-dressed Indian man" arrange for Mutallab to board Delta 253 without a passport at the check-in desk at Schiphol. Haskell told CBS News: "Only the Indian man spoke, and what he said was, this man needs to board the plane, and he doesn't have a passport. And the ticket agent then responded saying you need a passport to board the plane, and the Indian man then said he's from Sudan. We do this all the time." WMR has learned that the Indian man is suspected by Asian intelligence services of being an RAW agent who used his influence to convince airline and airport security personnel that Mutallab was a bona fide Sudanese refugee. Mutallab reportedly spent several hours in a Schiphol airport lounge before boarding the Delta flight. Dutch agents are reportedly scanning Schiphol CCTV footage and have reason to believe that Mutallab had accomplices at the airport, which bolsters the witness accounts of the Haskells. The FBI has interviewed the Haskells and the bureau, as is its modus operandi, appears to be intimidating witnesses and pressuring them to support the government's party line.

The neocon spin machine is also refuting reports that Mutallab traveled to the United States without a passport and that his ticket was only one-way. The facts emerging are that Mutallab was not traveling on a Nigerian passport but on an Italian passport. Mutallab's father, Alhaji Umaru Mutallab, happens to hold the Italian Order of Merit. In addition, Mutallab's ticket was purchased in Accra, Ghana with $2,831 in cash and was later re-issued, on December 16, with a different itinerary at the KLM office in Lagos. The original itinerary was Lagos-Amsterdam-Detroit-Amsterdam-Accra but the return leg on January 8, 2010, was changed from Amsterdam to Lagos instead of Accra.

Previously, WMR reported that the security company that cleared Mutallab in Schiphol is ICTS, a firm that is headquartered in Israel and Amstelveen, Netherlands. The firm also cleared attempted shoe bomber Richard Reid for a Miami-bound American Airlines flight from Paris in December 2001. Reid, who was bound for Antigua, was profiled after he purchased his ticket at a travel agency in the 18th arrondisement in Paris. Reid had previously traveled to Turkey, Pakistan, Israel, Egypt, the Netherlands, Belgium and France and he obtained pentaerythritol tetranitrate (PETN), a component of the explosive Semtex, and his specially-designed shoes in Amsterdam. Reid was linked by French authorities to French convert to Islam Jerome Courtailler, who, in 2004, was sentenced in absentia by a Dutch court to six years for plotting to attack U.S. targets in Belgium and France. Mutallab's undershorts also contained PETN.

There is a possibility that Mutallab was recruited to carry out a false flag attack after another one failed on November 13. A Somali man was arrested at Mogadishu airport with the same chemicals, powder, and syringe combination that Mutallab used to ignite his clothing. The Somali man was attempting to board a Daallo Airlines flight from Mogadishu to Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland, Djibouti, and Dubai. Daallo is the national flag carrier of Djibouti and is owned by Dubai World's Istithmar World Aviation (IWA) Holdings. Dubai World's recent financial woes sent shock waves through the global financial community. It is also noteworthy that Delta 253 passenger Jasper Schuringa, the young man who wrestled Mutallab to the ground and prevented him from carrying out his terrorist mission, was driven to Schiphol on Christmas morning by his friend Chris Van Amersfoort. Van Amersfoort's Facebook page lists himself as a "fan of" Dubai World's owner "His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum," the Emir of Dubai.

Daallo Airlines has an interline agreement with a single U.S. airline, which happens to be Delta Airlines, the same airline that saw Mutallab successfully board its flight 253 in Schiphol. The ahas similar agreements with other airlines that fly to the United States, including Qatar Airways, Saudia, Ethiopian Airlines, and Alitalia.

Schuringa's father works for Shell and in 1993 they were evacuated by the French foreign Legion from Gabon during riots by demonstrators opposed to the tainted re-election of Gabon's presidential dictator Omar Bongo. The Curacao-born Jasper Schuringa attended film school in Miami and he also lived in Oman. After accusations in the media that he was publicizing himself over the Muttalab incident, Schuringa largely receded from public view. Schuringa was en route to Costa Rica via Detroit to visit his sister. The National Counter-terrorism office in The Hague is being mum about any connections it had with Schuringa, according to the Dutch paper Parool.

On October 18, a little less than a month prior to the attempt by the syringe- and chemical-armed Somali to board the Daallo Airlines flight from Mogadishu, Shaykh Muqtaar Abu Zubeyr, the leader of Somalia's radical Al Shahab Islamic Movement, warned Somalis in leaflets distributed in Mogadoshu's Bakaraha market and other points in the city not to fly on Daallo Airlines, Somalia's largest carrier, because he said the airline had "close ties" with the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia, the United States and the "Jewish government" of Israel.

Before moving from Egypt, Mutallab was in an MBA course in Dubai at the time of the Daallo warning. Mutallab later dropped out of school in Dubai.

Mutallab's father Umaru, the retired Chairman of First Bank of Nigeria (FBN), is among the top elite of Nigeria, counting among his friends the top royalty of northern Nigeria, including the Emir of Gombe, the Emir of Zazzau, and the Sultan of Sokoto, as well as Nigerian President Umaru Musa Yar' Adua, who has been recovering from a mysterious illness in Saudi Arabia. Mutallab's empire included FBN (UK), which its president described as "the very first UK bank owned by a Nigerian bank and could be counted as an equal to other UK banks." Mutalan was also a contender to be President of the National Council of the Nigeria Stock Exchange. In 2003, Mutallab formed Nigeria's first Islamic bank, Jaiz International Bank.

The same bureaucratic stove-piping issues used by the U.S. intelligence and law enforcement communities to explain away the lack of intelligence on the 9/11 attacks are at play with the Delta 253 incident. Of course, all these problems were to have been solved by the creation of the Department of Homeland Security and the Directorate of National Intelligence. Mutallab was entered as a terrorist suspect in the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE) database of 500,000 names maintained by the Director of National Intelligence's National Counter-terrorism Center (NCTC) but not on the "no fly" list maintained by the Transportation Security Administration(TSA).

On November 19, just six days after the Somali attempted to board the plane in Mogadishu with a syringe and chemicals, the elder Mutallab met with the CIA Station Chief at the U.S. embassy in Abuja, the Nigerian capital. Mutallab told the CIA official that he was concerned about the radicalization of his son, who was called "Alfa" -- a term for Islamic scholar -- while attending the British International School in Lome, Togo. The elder Mutallab was quite emphatic that his son posed a significant security risk.

After dropping out of the MBA program in Dubai, the younger Mutallab turned off his cell phone and destroyed the phone's SIM card before leaving Dubai for Yemen where it is said he wished to imrove his Arabic. It is not known who bought Mutallab's ticket to Detroit in Accra and why the return destination was changed from Accra to Lagos. Mutallab's multiple entry visa for the United States was issued on June 16, 2008 with an expiration date of June 16, 2010.

In response to the elder Mutallab's warning, the U.S. embassy in Abuja, the embassy sent a Visa Viper cable to the State Department and NCTC on November 20. However, Mutallab's name was not added to the no-fly list. The State Department is refusing to disclose the classification of Mutallab's visa and State Department spokesman Ian Kelly is refusing to reveal information on Mutallab's visa application.

The Daily Trust of Abuja penned the following editorial in the aftermath of the flight 253 incident: "The story caused anxiety among regular air travellers, not only for the safety of planes, but also for the kind of reception that Nigerian travellers to Europe and the US, especially Muslim ones, are likely to get in the next months and years. The story also excited Northern Nigeria's many conspiracy theorists, who think another grand Western plot is in the offing to tarnish the image of Muslims, possibly as a prelude to another invasion." The editorial added, "Among officials of Nigeria's embattled Federal Government, though, the story caused a mix of anxiety and relief. Anxiety, because it threatens to throw this country's fitful Rebranding Campaign into further chaos. But it provided welcome relief from endless newspaper commentaries on President Yar'adua's health."

The Nigerians are obviously suspicious also about those behind the attempt on the aircraft. The Abuja editorial continues: "Bringing down a plane is not a thought that comes easily to people in Northern Nigeria. Most people here, with me as a typical example, cannot breathe easily in a plane until it hits the tarmac. A man who holds fast to a plane's aluminium frame for support during a turbulent take-off hardly can think of bombing it. This explosive substance that Faruk allegedly used in the Delta Airlines plane, pentaerythritol or PETN, may be known to British school kids, but I have never heard of it. To think that I once taught in a university's Faculty of Science. If indeed Faruk told the Americans that he was an Al-Qaeda operative, then he was a very poor one, to be frank. His bomb, which he said he got in Yemen, was weak [exploding like a fire cracker] and technically deficient [failed to go off properly]. He was easily subdued by a film producer, did not struggle when he was grabbed, did not say anything when they held him, and almost as soon as he reached the FBI station, he began to sing like a canary. Sounds very much like the gentle British lad that he is."

CIA Black Sites: As if there’s ever been any other color associated with the CIA!

BlackSiteTowards late December the Lithuanian Parliament finally released its findings into a probe of CIA dark activities in Lithuania, and confirmed that the agency operated two ‘Black Sites’ inside the Lithuanian Capital City Vilnius.

The probe also confirmed that at least five CIA planes landed in the city and that Lithuania’s spy agencies didn’t let their border guards inspect those planes. Lithuania’s government is still denying that they were informed of these activities in advance, and Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius called it a “matter of great concern.” Of course, so far the US government has declined to provide any confirmation or comments.

Last August a little bit of description of these sites and the treatment given to these detainees were published in an article:

Their transformations took place in a sensory cocoon: aboard a CIA aircraft, shackled in place, deprived of sight and sound by blindfolds, headsets and hoods.

The prisoners’ arrival — almost always in diapers — was engineered to achieve that end

They were stripped, shaved and shoved against walls the moment they arrived. What came next was an escalating menu of interrogation options, culminating in a method used in the Inquisition — waterboarding — to make them think they would drown.

Follow-up sessions would start with the prisoner standing with his back against a wall and a towel or collar to prevent whiplash wrapped around his neck. He could be thrown against the wall just once “to make a point, or 20 to 30 times consecutively.”

Prisoners so abhorred the repeated slamming that they would remain in so-called stress positions, such as painful kneeling postures, for hours to avoid a return to the wall, according to one Dec. 30, 2004, memo that amounts to a CIA blueprint for breaking a detainee’s will.

The purpose, of course, was to make them talk. The Bush administration said the United States was in danger of additional assaults after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. CIA interrogators were under orders to get a lot of information, fast. Whether the harsh interrogation methods were necessary to gather the intelligence is still a matter of dispute.

The only glimpse?

The secret overseas “black sites” where the CIA conducted the interrogations are empty now, if not already dismantled. They were never examined by a congressional committee, nor inspected by the international Red Cross.

The black sites not only imprisoned men but reduced them to a near helpless state. The aim, as outlined in one document, was to teach every detainee “to perceive and value his personal welfare, comfort and immediate needs more than the information he is protecting.”

I don’t have to go any further on the human rights abuses and shameful conduct in not only the ‘black’ facilities in Lithuania, but many others we’ve known about, such as those in Thailand, Poland, and Romania, and others that haven’t been publicized – yet.

Based on Wikipedia, Black Sites are defined as: In military terminology, a black site is a location at which a black project is conducted. Recently, the term has gained notoriety in describing secret prisons operated by the CIA, generally outside of U.S. territory and legal jurisdiction. It can refer to the facilities that are controlled by the CIA used by the US government in its war on terror to detain alleged unlawful enemy combatants.

In August 2007, the New Yorker reported that the CIA has operated black site secret prisons by the direct Presidential order of Bush right after 9/11, and that extreme psychological interrogation measures based at least partially on the Vietnam-Era Phoenix Program were used on detainees. These included sensory deprivation, sleep deprivation, keeping prisoners naked indefinitely and photographing them naked to degrade and humiliate them, and forcibly administering drugs by suppositories to further break down their dignity. According to Mayer’s report, CIA officers have taken out professional liability insurance, fearing that they could be criminally prosecuted if what they have already done became public knowledge.

Okay, there you have the CIA and its Black Projects, Black Operations, Black Sites, Black Budget…Has there ever been any shade other than dark, any color other than black associated with this filthy hornets’ nest thriving in the swamps of our foreign policies? Really, has there ever?

Northwest Bomb Plot 'Oddities'

By Lori Price

Bogosity reaches critical mass!

In 2008, the ACLU estimated the US 'No Fly List' to have grown to over 1,000,000 names -- heck, even Cat Stevens and the late Senator Ted Kennedy were on it -- and it continues to expand. But, suspected terrorist Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab, who was curiously able to obtain military-grade high explosives --80 grams of PETN (Gee, where'd he get that?) -- managed to escape airport security and detonate his underwear bomb!

In April 2009, American authorities reportedly refused an Air France flight from Paris to Mexico entry into US airspace because a left-wing journalist writing a book on the CIA was on board. Hernando Calvo Ospina, who works for Le Monde Diplomatique and has written on revolutionary movements in Cuba and Colombia, figured on the US authorities' 'no-fly list.' Air France said the April 18 flight was forced to divert to the French Caribbean island of Martinique before continuing its journey (

Got it? Write a book critical of the CIA -- you cannot fly. Carry explosives (allegedly from Yemen) on board when the US is trolling for an excuse to invade and occupy Yemen for its oil -- yes you can! The US needs false flags to provide cover for illegal invasions and occupations. The 9/11 terrorist attacks (aka inside job, six ways to Sunday) worked well for the US government; the security-industrial complex made billions and US corporaterrorists were able to negotiate the wholesale theft of Iraq's oil.

According to CNN, the terror suspect's father tried to warn authorities. CNN reported: The father of a man suspected in a botched terror attack aboard a Northwest Airlines flight contacted the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria recently with concerns his son was planning something, a senior U.S. administration official said Saturday. The father -- identified by a family source as Umaru Abdul Mutallab -- contacted the U.S. Embassy "a few weeks ago" saying his son, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, had "become radicalized," the senior administration official, who is familiar with the case, told CNN.

And yet, Abdulmutallab was not obliged to undergo any additional airport screening layers, prior to boarding for the last leg of his journey to Detroit.

Also, lest we forget: Three key provisions of the Patriot Act are scheduled to expire 31 December 2009. Hmm. I wonder if post-Abdulmutallab they will get renewed?

Abdulmutallab was thwarted by a quote, unquote vacationing movie producer, Jasper Schuringa, who, within seconds, asserted that he not only tackled the suspect and put him in a headlock but also tried 'to search his body for any explosives' (CNN). Unless one was a bona-fide law enforcement professional or a military agent, who on earth would think of searching a man who had just set himself on fire, in a matter of seconds, for more explosives?

The goal is Yemeni oil. Hence the reason for the destabilization and the purported need for the US to stop al-Qaeda (literally, 'the database'). The Yemeni national security chief has declared that the country is receiving assistance from the US in the crackdown on what he called 'al-Qaeda operatives' in southern Yemen (Press TV). Translation: US corporaterrorists want Yemen's oil and they want it NOW.

Flight 253 passenger Kurt Haskell: 'I was visited by the FBI' 31 Dec 2009 Following up on a visit from FBI officials about an eyewitness account first described to, Michigan attorney Kurt Haskell described the visit in comment sections across MLive on Wednesday. Haskell and his wife, Lori, were aboard Flight 253 when Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab allegedly tried to destroy the plane. They say another man tried to help Abdulmutallab board the plane in Amsterdam.

Airline bomber suspect studied in Houston 31 Dec 2009 The Nigerian man accused of trying to bomb an airliner on Christmas Day over Detroit attended an intensive, Islamic education seminar in Houston last year designed for top student scholars, an organization confirmed Wednesday. Shaykh Waleed Basyouni, vice president for the AlMaghrib Institute in Houston, said 23-year-old Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was living in London in the summer of 2008 when he attended the nonprofit institute's annual “IlmSummit” with about 150 other students. Basyouni said other participants in the seminar, which was held in Houston during the first two weeks of August 2008, remembered Abdulmutallab as being very quiet and keeping to himself.

US aware 'Nigerian' prepared for terror attack 30 Dec 2009 The US was aware that "a Nigerian" in Yemen was being prepared for a terrorist attack - weeks before an attempted bombing on a US plane. ABC News and the New York Times say there was intelligence to this effect, but its source is unclear. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab flew from Lagos to Amsterdam before changing planes for a flight to Detroit on which he allegedly tried to detonate a bomb.

Second person was detained by U.S. Customs after alleged attack on Flight 253 29 Dec 2009 A person was detained by customs at Detroit Metro Airport on Friday following Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's alleged attack on Northwest Airlines Flight 253, according to a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection. It is unknown why the person was detained or whether the person will face any charges, spokesman Ron Smith told Bill Carter, a spokesman with the FBI in Washington, D.C., said in an interview Tuesday that Abdulmutallab was the only person arrested or charged in relation to Friday's foiled attack.

Report: Dutch police investigating report of accomplice in Northwest Flight 253 terror plot 28 Dec 2009 Reuters reports Dutch military police are investigating claims that an accomplice may have helped Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab board Northwest Flight 253 in Amsterdam on Christmas day without a passport, a story first told here on Abdulmutallab allegedly tried to blow up the Detroit-bound plane with an explosive chemical he smuggled through security.

Man videotaped entire false flag, including detonation: Oconomowoc Family Survives Terrorist Attempt 28 Dec 2009 (WI) Patricia "Scotty" Keepman still has a sense of humor after the harrowing experience she, her husband, daughter and two new adopted children from Ethiopia had as a man tried to detonate an explosive device while their plane was getting ready to land in Detroit on Christmas Day. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab of Nigeria was charged Saturday in the Christmas Day attempt that only sparked a fire on the flight from Amsterdam. They were sitting about 20 rows behind Abdulmutallab, in a center aisle... Her daughter said that ahead of them was a man who videotaped the entire flight, including the attempted detonation. "He sat up and videotaped the entire thing, very calmly," said Patricia. "We do know that the FBI is looking for him intensely. Since then, we've heard nothing about it."

Detroit bomber linked to MI5 suspect 30 Dec 2009 The Detroit bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was linked to a Muslim extremist under surveillance by MI5 while he was living in Britain, it has emerged. The Security Service have found that the 23-year-old was connected to a suspect it was investigating while he was studying at university in London. The connection was discovered after record checks by MI5 following the attempted suicide bombing on Christmas Day by Abdulmutallab on a US-bound plane. Until now, it was thought that the first time MI5 had any evidence of Abdulmutallab was when he was put on a "watch list" earlier this year after being refused a student visa because he had given details of a bogus college. But MI5 has now discovered he was on the "periphery of a past incident" sources said, although he was not said to have been under surveillance himself.

U.S. Had Information Before Christmas of a Terror Plot --The government also had more information about where Mr. Abdulmutallab had been and what some of his plans were. 30 Dec 2009 President Obama was told during a private briefing on Tuesday morning while vacationing here in Hawaii that the government had a variety of information in its possession before the thwarted bombing that would have been a clear warning sign had it been shared among agencies, a senior official said. Two officials said the government had intelligence from Yemen before Friday that leaders of a branch of Al Qaeda there were talking about "a Nigerian" being prepared [by his CIA handlers] for a terrorist attack.

'The information on AbdulMutallab had been sent to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia.' Source: CIA failed to circulate report about bombing suspect 29 Dec 2009 The father of terrorism suspect Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab talked about his son's extremist views with someone from the CIA and a report was prepared, but the report was not circulated outside the agency, a reliable source told CNN on Tuesday. Had that information been shared, the 23-year-old Nigerian who is alleged to have bungled an attempt to blow up a jetliner as it was landing in Detroit, Michigan, on Christmas Day might have been denied passage on the Northwest Airlines flight, the source said. U.S. officials said the father, a former Nigerian banker, expressed his concerns about his son's radicalization during at least one meeting and several calls with officials at the embassy in Nigeria. The information on AbdulMutallab had been sent to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, but it sat there for five weeks and was not disseminated, the source said.

Two al Qaeda Leaders Behind Northwest Flight 253 Terror Plot Were Released by U.S. [by Bush] --Former Guantanamo Prisoners Believed Behind Northwest Airlines Bomb Plot; Sent to Saudi Arabia in 2007 28 Dec 2009 Two of the four leaders allegedly behind the al Qaeda [al-CIAduh] plot to blow up a Northwest Airlines passenger jet over Detroit were released by the U.S. from the Guantanamo prison in November, 2007, according to American officials and Department of Defense documents. American officials agreed to send the two terrorists from Guantanamo to Saudi Arabia where they entered into an "art therapy rehabilitation program" and were set free, according to U.S. and Saudi officials. Guantanamo prisoner #333, Muhamad Attik al-Harbi, and prisoner #372, Said Ali Shari, were sent to Saudi Arabia on Nov. 9, 2007, according to the Defense Department log of detainees who were released from American custody. Al-Harbi has since changed his name to Muhamad al-Awfi.

US jet plot suspect 'was in Yemen in December' 29 Dec 2009 The Nigerian man accused of trying to blow up a jet over the US on Christmas Day was living in Yemen until earlier this month, Yemeni officials have said. The foreign ministry said Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was in Yemen from August until the beginning of December, the official Saba news agency reported. He had a visa to study Arabic at an institute in the capital Sanaa.

Anti-terror officials let terror suspect keep visa 28 Dec 2009 The State Department says counterterrorism agencies were warned that the Nigerian man who allegedly tried to blow up an airliner Christmas Day may be under extremists' influence. State Department spokesman Ian Kelly says it was up to the National Counterterrorism Center to block Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab from entering the U.S. He says U.S. counterterror agencies received the information on Nov. 20, a day after it was provided by the father, but it was not enough to revoke the visa.

Father of terror suspect reported Mutallab to US Embassy 6 months ago 27 Dec 2009 The father of the al Qaeda terrorist behind Friday’s attempted explosion aboard a Northwest flight bound for Detroit reported his son’s fanatical religious views to the U.S. Embassy six months ago, according to a Nigerian news outlet. The young man, Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, is the son of Alhaji Umaru Mutallab, a former Nigerian minister and bank chairman. He became wary of his son’s religious beliefs and reported his activities to the U.S. Embassy as well as Nigerian security services half a year ago, according to the Nigerian newspaper This Day.

Source: Terror suspect's father tried to warn authorities 27 Dec 2009 The father of a man suspected in a botched terror attack aboard a Northwest Airlines flight contacted the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria recently with concerns his son was planning something, a senior U.S. administration official said Saturday. The father -- identified by a family source as Umaru Abdul Mutallab -- contacted the U.S. Embassy "a few weeks ago" saying his son, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, had "become radicalized," the senior administration official, who is familiar with the case, told CNN. Abdulmutallab, 23, was charged in a federal criminal complaint Saturday with attempting to destroy the plane Friday on its final approach to Michigan's Detroit Metropolitan Airport, and placing a destructive device on the aircraft, the Department of Justice said.

Father alerted US about Nigerian plane bomb suspect 27 Dec 2009 The father of a Nigerian man charged with trying to blow up a transatlantic jet on Christmas Day had voiced concerns to US officials about his son. The father, a top Nigerian banker, warned US authorities last month about Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's extreme views, say officials. US sources confirm a file was opened, but say the information did not warrant placing the accused on a "no-fly" list.

Airline bomber was barred from Britain --Man who allegedly attempted to blow up US jet had UK visa request refused in May 27 Dec 2009 The son of a prominent Nigerian banker, who allegedly attempted to blow up a transatlantic flight over America, was barred from returning to Britain earlier this year. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, graduated from a university in London last year but his visa request was refused in May when he attempted to apply for a new course at a bogus college. Abdulmutallab, described as a devout Muslim, attempted to ignite an explosive device on a plane from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day after shouting about Afghanistan.

Flight 253 passenger: Sharp-dressed man aided terror suspect Abdul Mutallab onto plane without passport 27 Dec 2009 A Michigan man who was aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253 says he witnessed Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab trying to board the plane in Amsterdam without a passport. Kurt Haskell and his wife, Lori, of Newport, Mich., were returning from a safari in Uganda when they boarded the NWA flight on Friday. Haskell said he and his wife [attorneys with Haskell Law Firm in Taylor] were sitting on the ground near their boarding gate in Amsterdam, which is when they saw Mutallab approach the gate with an unidentified man. While Mutallab was poorly dressed, his friend was dressed in an expensive suit, Haskell said. He says the suited man asked ticket agents whether Mutallab could board without a passport. "The guy said, 'He's from Sudan and we do this all the time.'" Mutallab is Nigerian. Haskell believes the man may have been trying to garner sympathy for Mutallab's lack of documents by portraying him as a Sudanese refugee.

Unclear If Suspect's Name Was On Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment List --The list, maintained by United States National Counterterrorism Center, includes about 550,000 names 27 Dec 2009 The Nigerian man accused of trying to ignite an incendiary device aboard a trans-Atlantic jetliner on Friday came to the attention of American officials at least "several weeks ago," but the initial information was not specific enough to raise alarms that he could potentially carry out a terrorist attack, a senior Obama administration official said on Saturday... It was unclear whether Mr. Abdulmutallab’s name was entered into the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment list, which includes people with known or suspected contact or ties to a terrorist or terrorist organization. Those people, however, are not necessarily placed on the federal government’s so-called no-fly list, which prohibits persons entering the United States because of known or suspected [or imagined] terrorists links. Mr. Abdulmutallab was not on that list, federal officials say.

US authorites divert Air France flight carrying 'no-fly' journalist to Mexico --American authorities reportedly refused an Air France flight from Paris to Mexico entry into US airspace because a left-wing journalist writing a book on the CIA was on board. 29 Apr 2009 Hernando Calvo Ospina, who works for Le Monde Diplomatique and has written on revolutionary movements in Cuba and Colombia , figured on the US authorities' "no-fly list". Air France said the April 18 flight was forced to divert to the French Caribbean island of Martinique before continuing its journey and that it might ask the US Transportation Security Administration for compensation. A spokesman for Mr Ospina's French publisher, Le Temps des Cerises, said: "Hernando, who was heading to Nicaragua to research a report, thus found out that he is on a 'no-fly list' that bans a number of people from flying to or even over the United States." Some 50,000 people are said to be on the list set up under George W. Bush, the former US president [sic]. The publisher accused the Central Intelligence Agency of being behind Mr Ospina's blacklisting, pointing out that the journalist was currently researching a book about the spy agency. "It shows to what degree its paranoia (has reached)," it said.

'I was trying to search his body for any explosives.' Passenger says he helped thwart terror attack 27 Dec 2009 Passenger Jasper Schuringa told CNN that with the aid of the cabin crew, he helped subdue and isolate Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who was charged Saturday with trying to destroy a plane. Schuringa of Amsterdam, Netherlands, said he was traveling to Florida to visit friends. The journey aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253 had been mundane, he said. But as the plane neared its destination of Detroit, Michigan, he heard a pop that sounded like a firecracker going off, and someone started yelling: "Fire! Fire!" Then, there was smoke. "Around 30 seconds later the smoke started to fill up on the left side beneath this person," he said. That's when Schuringa said he knew something was wrong. "I basically reacted directly. I didn't think. When you hear a pop on the plane you're awake, trust me," Schuringa said. When he noticed that Abdulmutallab was not moving, he grew suspicious. "I was on the right side of the plane and the suspect was on the left side, there were quite some seats in between." He jumped over the passenger next to him and lunged over Abdulmutallab's seat, "Because I was thinking he's trying to blow up the plane, and I was trying to search his body for any explosives."

Airports intensify security measures worldwide in wake of failed bomb attack aboard U.S.-bound jetliner --Terror suspect charged in jetliner bomb plot 26 Dec 2009 Federal authorities have charged Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab, of Nigeria, with attempting to destroy Northwest flight 253 with a "destructive device" as it descended into Detroit on Christmas Day. In a case of attempted terrorism that has sparked a worldwide intensification of security at airports, U.S. officials said Saturday afternoon that a preliminary FBI analysis found a bomb-making chemical called PETN in the device Abdulmutallab tried to detonate. The affidavit, filed in the Eastern District of Michigan, also said FBI agents discovered the remnant of a syringe near the suspect's seat, part of what the agents believe was part of the explosive device.

Investigators: Northwest Bomb Plot Planned by al-Qaeda in Yemen --Officials Say Bomb Materials Sewn Into Suspect's Underwear by Top Terror Bomb Maker 26 Dec 2009 The plot to blow up an American passenger jet over Detroit was organized and launched by al-Qaeda [al-CIAduh] leaders in Yemen who apparently sewed bomb materials into the suspect's underwear before sending him on his mission, federal authorities tell ABC News. Investigators say the suspect had more than 80 grams of PETN, a compound related to nitro-glycerin used by the military. The so-called shoe bomber, Richard Reid, had only about 50 grams kin his failed attempt in 2001 to blow up a U.S.-bound jet.

Yemen is focus of new US front against al Qaeda --The Pentagon is to spend more than $70 million over the next 18 months, and use teams of Special Forces to train and equip Yemeni military, Interior Ministry and coast guard forces. 28 Dec 2009 The United States has quietly opened a third, largely covert front against the Al-Qaeda terror network in Yemen, accoding to The New York Times newspaper. A year ago, the Central Intelligence Agency sent a number of its top field operatives with counter-terrorism experience to the country, the newspaper said. At the same time, some of the most secretive special operations commandos have begun training Yemeni security forces in counter-terrorism tactics, the report said.

Officials Point to Suspect’s Claim of Qaeda Ties in Yemen 27 Dec 2009 Federal authorities on Saturday charged a 23-year-old Nigerian man with trying to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day, and officials said the suspect told them he had obtained explosive chemicals and a syringe that were sewn into his underwear from a bomb expert in Yemen associated with Al Qaeda [al-CIAduh]. The authorities have not independently corroborated the Yemen connection claimed by the man, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who was burned in his failed attempt to bring down the airliner and is in a hospital in Michigan. But a law enforcement official briefed on the investigation said on Saturday that the suspect’s account was “plausible,” and that he saw “no reason to discount it.”

US bombs Sa'ada governor's house, Houthis say 27 Dec 2009 A US fighter jet has carried out multiple airstrikes on the home of a senior official in Yemen's northern rugged province of Sa'ada, Houthi fighters say. The Yemen-based Houthi fighters say the warplane struck the home owned by the governor of Sa'ada province, Hassan Mohammad Manna in five blitzes. There were no reports on possible casualties in the attacks.

Yemen confirms receiving US military support 27 Dec 2009 The Yemeni national security chief has declared that the country is receiving assistance from the US in the crackdown on what he called 'al-Qaeda operatives' in southern Yemen. Mohamed al-Anisi has told the Saudi Arabian newspaper Okaz that Yemeni forces were cooperating with the US military on attacks against al-Qaeda camps, DPA reported on Saturday. Yemen's confirmation comes as an ABC report revealed that US President Barack Obama had signed the order for a recent military strike on Yemen in which scores of civilians, including children, were killed.

Yemen oil min- oil majors mull investments-paper 21 Feb 2009 Yemen has received investment offers from oil majors including Exxon Mobil Corp and Total, Oil Minister Amir al-Aidarous said in remarks published on Saturday. Yemen's Ministry for Oil and Mineral Resources has received eight oil investment bids from international companies, pan-Arab daily al-Hayat quoted Aidarous as saying, four of which were from oil majors seeking direct negotiations with Yemen. The companies include Exxon Mobil, Total, and BP, the minister said, but did not elaborate on the nature of the investments. Other companies that made bids included Austrian oil and gas group OMV, Nexen, and Occidental, he said.

House Delays Patriot Act Spy Vote By David Kravets 16 Dec 2009 The House of Representatives tabled on Wednesday legislation to reform U.S. surveillance law. The two-month delay puts off a collision with a competing Senate version. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declined to include a vote on the Patriot Act in a Pentagon funding bill. The move automatically extends provisions of the Patriot Act that would otherwise expire at year’s end. The Senate is likewise expected to delay the matter. The act, hastily adopted six weeks after the 2001 terror attacks, greatly expanded the government’s ability to spy on Americans in the name of national security. A key difference between the House and Senate packages concerns the standard by which the FBI may issue so-called National Security Letters -- although Wednesday’s vote prolongs the time for more backroom negotiations. Reforming NSL powers is a key bone of contention in the Patriot Act debate, even though it is not one of the three Patriot Act provisions that was scheduled to expire Dec. 31.

Police lose battle over evidence of 'British 9/11' plot --Scotland Yard must reveal whether it had CIA intelligence 26 Dec 2009 Scotland Yard has been ordered to reveal whether it has any evidence to support America’s claim that Britain was saved from a 9/11-style disaster by the CIA’s secret foreign interrogation centres. The Times has won a case under the Freedom of Information Act forcing British police to say whether the US stopped a plot to fly planes into Canary Wharf and Heathrow. The claim was made by President [sic] Bush when he first acknowledged the existence of a clandestine CIA prison network created to fight his War on of Terror. Scotland Yard has been given 35 days to comply or appeal. If it admits that there is no such intelligence, it would undermine any political defence for America’s strong-arm tactics in fighting terrorism.

BTW, I hope the FAA enjoyed this page as much as the DHS and the Navy Network Information Center did, etc. - - [28/Dec/2009:21:45:49 -0500] "GET /northwest_bomb_plot_oddities.html HTTP/1.1" 200 32177 "http://www.[redacted].com/" "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; SV1; GTB5; .NET CLR 1.1.4322; .NET CLR 2.0.50727; .NET CLR 3.0.4506.2152; .NET CLR 3.5.30729)" - - [28/Dec/2009:14:20:06 -0500] "GET /northwest_bomb_plot_oddities.html HTTP/1.1" 200 10170 "http://www.[redacted].com/" "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 7.0; Windows NT 5.1; DHSI60SP1001; .NET CLR 2.0.50727; InfoPath.1; .NET CLR 3.0.04506.30; DHSI70; DHSI70)" - - [28/Dec/2009:07:24:51 -0500] "GET /northwest_bomb_plot_oddities.html HTTP/1.1" 200 31220 "http://www.[redacted].com/" "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; SV1; .NET CLR 1.1.4322; .NET CLR 2.0.50727; InfoPath.1; .NET CLR 3.0.04506.648; .NET CLR 3.5.21022)"
Oh yeah. And, the DoD Network Information Center and tons of other .govs and .mils. - - [30/Dec/2009:16:48:32 -0500] "GET /graphics/logosmalr.gif HTTP/1.1" 200 5526 "" "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 7.0; Windows NT 5.1; GTB6.3; .NET CLR 1.1.4322; .NET CLR 2.0.50727; .NET CLR 3.0.4506.2152; .NET CLR 3.5.30729)" - - [28/Dec/2009:10:51:19 -0500] "GET /northwest_bomb_plot_oddities.html HTTP/1.1" 200 31220 "http://www.[redacted]com/" "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; SV1; .NET CLR 2.0.50727; InfoPath.1)" ...etc.
Happy New Year to all!

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Friday, January 01, 2010

The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine

An Interview with Ilan Pappe


Israeli historian Ilan Pappe’s groundbreaking book, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (Engl. orig. 2006), on the events in 1947-49 that led to the formation of the state of Israel, had just been published in German translation, and he was in Austria to promote it. A few weeks prior to the outbreak of the Gaza war (2008-2009), Pappe answered our questions in such a way that all his points are still as relevant today as they were a year ago. Gaza is still suffocating under a heavy Israeli blockade, East Jerusalem and the West Bank still being invaded by illegal Jewish settlers. It is clearer than ever before that Israel is not defending itself; it is extending itself. The remaining Palestinian pockets of land look like 20th-century South African Bantustans, and worse, like the shrinking and disappearing American Indian reservations of the 19th century.

The ethnic cleansing of Palestine is still ongoing today, according to Pappe, and it is an intentional policy by the state of Israel. The international community, unfortunately, is doing next to nothing to stop Israel’s illegal expansion. But Pappe lit up the evening for the roughly hundred-strong audience. He illustrated with concrete examples and vivid testimony how everybody and anybody can do something to contribute to justice and peace in the Middle East. His research and findings, as well as his ideals, have been viewed in a negative light by Israelis, and their reactions have led to his exile from his home in Haifa. The distinguished researcher and dedicated activist is currently Chair of the History Department at Exeter University in the UK, and he continues to research events and issues that many Israelis would rather leave buried and forgotten. He also spreads awareness of the injustices suffered by the Palestinian people through giving lectures around the world and publishing journalistic work.

What are the responses to your book from the scientific community?

The Israeli scientific community would say the facts are right but my interpretation is wrong. That I don’t understand that Israel had the right to do what it did. But I think, around the world, most of the scientific community accepts the findings of my book, and accepts that this is now an integral part of history, to be taught in schools and universities and so forth.

How has your book been treated by the mass media?

I think unfortunately in the West, mainstream media tended to ignore the book, though not in England, where the book was well received. I think the book was more received by the alternative media, the ones on the Internet and so on. It was difficult to get the book reviewed and discussed, especially on the main television channels. The newspapers were a bit better. So I don’t think the mainstream media are ready, yet, to hear this version of events, especially in the US. Even Germany is better. Die Zeit reviewed the book and I did two interviews on major German TV channels. But in America it is very difficult.

What are you researching now?

I’m working on 1967. There is some new material. And I would like to show how the Israeli policies in the occupied territories were actually shaped in 1967. And they haven’t really changed since then. The Israelis made up their minds about the territories back in 1967. And nothing that happened after that has changed those policies. I want to go back to the core of the Israeli vision: that most of Palestine belongs to them and they don’t see any place for Palestinians in Palestine.

How can Palestinians be rehabilitated and restored to their rightful place within the human community?

I think there are three things that they have to go through before things will get better again. I think Israel and the West have to acknowledge the ethnic cleansing of 1948, and the ethnic cleansing since then. I think Israel should also be held accountable. This would open the way for Palestinian normal life. And I think only then can you ask the Palestinians to accept the Israelis. I think there are similar events in history where people have gone through this process: First acknowledge something happened, and then take responsibility. This is the Israeli part of the deal. And then the other side forgives and accepts the new life.

Ultimately, how do you see the future of the Palestinian people? Do you really think a solution can be reached or the Palestinian refugees may one day return to their country?

Yes, I’m optimistic. I think there is a chance that eventually these rights will be granted to the Palestinians. I’m afraid it’s a long-term prospect. My great worry is the near future. There is a great danger that it will become worse before it becomes better.

What would you advise young people do to raise consciousness about the gross human rights violations taking place in Israel and Palestine, and what steps can they take to help stop them from occurring?

I think people like you should become VIPs. You should Visit, Inform, and Protest. It’s not easy, I know, but you should try to see with your own eyes, and not just rely on others. And when you know what’s happening: to tell other people. And then protest in a non-violent way, to change things. But it’s also important not to forget Israeli society, to engage, to understand its fears and problems, to have a comprehensive picture. I think this will help push the peace process forwards.

Could you please add any comments on the more general context, more specifically on the international community including the EU and Austria?

There is an international context to this question. And without addressing this context you will never have a solution. So many people who are now oppressed, or who feel oppressed, are Muslims. And they feel there is a connection between the way Muslims are mistreated in Palestine and they way they are mistreated elsewhere. And there is this connection. There is a feeling that America and Britain and the West are treating Israel in a very extraordinary way. This raises the question why this attitude was never granted to anyone who is not Israeli, in the Middle East, in Asia, in Africa, in Latin America. So that is one international context.

There is also a specific German and Austrian context. It has to do with the fact that so much that Israel does is justified by what was done to Jews in these countries. And I think it is up to the Germans and the Austrians to face courageously what they have done so they can tell Israelis to face courageously what they have done. All these things are part of the solution.

(The interview took place on December 6, 2008 at Amtshaus Währing in Vienna, Austria)