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Flying Snail - News & Views for Remnants of Paradise

Freedom of expression and freedom of speech aren't really important unless they're heard...It's hard for me to stay silent when I keep hearing that peace is only attainable through war. And there's nothing more scary than watching ignorance in action. So I dedicated this Emmy to all the people who feel compelled to speak out and not afraid to speak to power and won't shut up and refuse to be silenced. - Tommy Smothers

Mike Wilhelm and Neon Knepalm
Mike Wilhelm & Neon Knepalm
Hidden Valley Lake Farmer's Market
Thursday - October 01, 2009 - 4-8 PM
Coyote Valley Road OFF OF Hartman Road

Kelseyville Certified Farmers Market
Saturday - October 03, 2009 - 8:30 AM - 12:00 PM
Steele Wines - Highway 29 & Thomas Drive, Kelseyville, CA

Open Mic hosted by Jim WilliamsOpen Mic hosted by Neon Knepalm
Open Mic hosted by Jim Williams or Neon Knepalm
Saturdays 6-9 PM
Kelsey Creek Coffee Co., 930 N. Main St., Lakeport, CA

Earthquakes 200909.30 and 200910.01

On 200909.30 I wrote about some large earthquakes on the West end of the 'Ring of Fire' and ...

Even more interesting are what appear to be (my terminology) "Floating Swarms, NOT Indicative of Volcanic Activity." Swarms happen in groups with the most recent activity occurring near Mammoth Lakes, California. A glance at the USGS list will, possibly, give support for the 'floating swarm' concept [Complete text located in the 200909 archive].

200910.01: Click again on the above "USGS list" link and observe the 'swarm float' from Mammoth Lakes to Keeler, California, starting with the magnitude 5; at a little after three (3) AM this morning.

Click below for Great heliplots via Larry Cochrane's Public Seismic Network

Nope, Nothing Odd Happening Here

Mag 2.8 2009/10/03 09:25:53 36.412 -117.850 3.9 CENTRAL CALIFORNIA
Mag 2.5 2009/10/03 09:02:24 36.460 -121.035 1.7 CENTRAL CALIFORNIA
Mag 2.9 2009/10/03 06:30:46 36.388 -117.871 2.7 CENTRAL CALIFORNIA
Mag 3.0 2009/10/03 06:15:39 36.383 -117.881 2.1 CENTRAL CALIFORNIA
Mag 2.9 2009/10/03 05:38:41 36.385 -117.860 0.5 CENTRAL CALIFORNIA
Mag 4.7 2009/10/03 05:31:57 36.395 -117.869 1.6 CENTRAL CALIFORNIA
Mag 2.6 2009/10/03 05:05:33 36.401 -117.868 5.0 CENTRAL CALIFORNIA
Mag 2.6 2009/10/03 04:23:41 36.406 -117.853 2.3 CENTRAL CALIFORNIA
Mag 2.5 2009/10/03 03:54:48 36.398 -117.874 5.8 CENTRAL CALIFORNIA
Mag 2.7 2009/10/03 03:37:41 36.389 -117.867 3.5 CENTRAL CALIFORNIA
Mag 2.5 2009/10/03 03:17:29 36.090 -120.215 8.7 CENTRAL CALIFORNIA
Mag 3.1 2009/10/03 03:11:17 36.410 -117.854 1.8 CENTRAL CALIFORNIA
Mag 3.3 2009/10/03 02:27:06 36.383 -117.853 3.8 CENTRAL CALIFORNIA
Mag 2.6 2009/10/03 02:19:56 36.656 -121.270 11.0 CENTRAL CALIFORNIA
Mag 2.5 2009/10/03 01:59:35 36.400 -117.874 6.4 CENTRAL CALIFORNIA
Mag 3.0 2009/10/03 01:56:00 36.387 -117.847 4.1 CENTRAL CALIFORNIA
Mag 2.8 2009/10/03 01:52:17 36.406 -117.842 0.6 CENTRAL CALIFORNIA
Mag 2.6 2009/10/03 01:50:21 36.386 -117.874 4.8 CENTRAL CALIFORNIA
Mag 4.2 2009/10/03 01:47:54 36.395 -117.855 0.2 CENTRAL CALIFORNIA
Mag 2.8 2009/10/03 01:42:17 36.402 -117.864 2.7 CENTRAL CALIFORNIA
Mag 3.3 2009/10/03 01:38:08 36.409 -117.862 5.7 CENTRAL CALIFORNIA
Mag 2.5 2009/10/03 01:34:47 36.382 -117.878 6.3 CENTRAL CALIFORNIA
Mag 3.4 2009/10/03 01:33:35 36.404 -117.849 2.3 CENTRAL CALIFORNIA
Mag 4.0 2009/10/03 01:31:43 36.397 -117.858 0.0 CENTRAL CALIFORNIA
Mag 4.1 2009/10/03 01:30:31 36.405 -117.863 3.5 CENTRAL CALIFORNIA
Mag 2.8 2009/10/03 01:26:05 36.386 -117.873 2.5 CENTRAL CALIFORNIA
Mag 2.7 2009/10/03 01:23:26 36.415 -117.849 4.3 CENTRAL CALIFORNIA
Mag 2.6 2009/10/03 01:22:28 36.402 -117.852 5.1 CENTRAL CALIFORNIA
Mag 2.7 2009/10/03 01:21:58 35.960 -117.670 14.5 CENTRAL CALIFORNIA
Mag 2.8 2009/10/03 01:19:50 36.389 -117.860 6.0 CENTRAL CALIFORNIA
Mag 5.2 2009/10/03 01:15:59 36.393 -117.877 0.0 CENTRAL CALIFORNIA
Mag 4.9 2009/10/03 01:10:25 36.386 -117.867 3.6 CENTRAL CALIFORNIA
Mag 4.7 2009/10/03 01:09:18 36.385 -117.864 0.1 CENTRAL CALIFORNIA
Mag 3.1 2009/10/03 00:32:04 36.386 -117.868 0.9 CENTRAL CALIFORNIA
OR HERE and Yes I am being sarcastic. ~@~

The power of social pressure

Written by James BlueWolf
Monday, 28 September 2009 - Lake County News

It's soccer season and suddenly the circle has come round and my wife and I are re-creating our lives from the early 1980s.

Instead of three children, it's four grandchildren. But times have changed and where we originally had to scrape and scurry to come up with money to sign them up and buy shin guards, this year we faced higher signup costs, uniform and cleat costs, shin guards as well as being asked to buy balls – one for each child – and almost all these costs are mandatory for participation.

The total cost for our grandchildren approached $400 and we haven't paid for pictures yet (or the balls). None of our grandchildren could have participated without our support.

It got me thinking. Last year I was amazed at how many times during the year our grandchildren came home from school saying they had to have $2, $3 or $5 for this or that. Field trips required a contribution. Class photos and participation in book-buying or candy sales, fundraisers and pledge drives all required that we pitch in financially. After all, no one wants their child to be the only one in class with no signatures on that pledge form and who doesn't purchase a class picture or individual photo?

Of course, I don't want to forget the nonschool-related but socially demanding holidays and events throughout the year – the county fair, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, birthdays, other kids' birthdays, school plays, costs to attend high school sporting events, etc. For parents living way below the poverty line, who can't rely on grandparents support, these costs can be overwhelming.

We can provide anecdotal evidence that in many cases local families regularly use monies earmarked for rent, utilities, clothing or food to cover these costs to protect themselves and their children from embarrassment, ridicule or denial of participation.

I know what many of you are thinking: Don't be concerned with sticks and stones and all that, be fiscally responsible like the US government or Wall Street. Rent comes before food, food before entertainment, and to all these superfluous expenditures one should “just say no!” After all, aren't home budgets about deciding on priorities and shouldn't those who are unable to stick to solid economics be deserving of ruin? Shouldn't we be expected to follow fiscally responsible policies like the state of California?

These kinds of responses are representative of the traditionally conservative economic line most of my generation grew up with. Basically, we were taught, “If you can't afford it – don't spend it!”

While the previously stated point of view was appropriate for my generation, times began changing even as our children began to grow. We lived significantly below the poverty line but we almost always paid our bills and managed to provide the basic necessities.

While they were growing up our standard of living did not provide for enough income beyond our basic expenses to allow them to participate without depending on the offer of credit. Our children suffered ridicule, embarrassment and taunting because their tennis shoes and clothing didn't come from the right stores.

Although we counseled them not to pay attention and quoted platitudes about “money not buying happiness” and “wealth not being an indicator of success,” it was difficult to compete with the endless barrage of consumeristic exhortations coming from TV and their peers. We were unaware, until much later, how great an effect those taunts and slights had on their perspective and self-esteem.

The most recent economic calamity is a direct result of unexpected changes in the socio-economic paradigm. Where we lived through periods without running water, utilities and sewer, eating rice and beans for dinner, believing that possessions were secondary in importance to cultural enrichment and family – subsequent generations have been educated (by the media) and encouraged by their peers and society around them to participate wholeheartedly in a consumer frenzy.

Thirty-something and younger adults grew up with feelings that they were entitled to a standard of living far beyond their means. It was no longer about keeping up with the Joneses (as it was in our time) but in sharing in the entitlement of the American Dream. After all, they saw it on TV every night – everyone should have a new car, a new house, new clothes, a new body, the latest toy, a well-paying job, a Super Bowl party, a well-heeled Christmas, store-bought Halloween costumes, Easter candy, etc. And it isn't just about families shedding balanced budget ethics.

Point 1: During most of my life loan sharks were prosecuted for charging greater than 10 percent interest on credit, but today corporate credit organizations can charge 18-, 25- even 30-percent interest without blinking. Recent health insurance corporation documents show that their industry would like to have 35 cents on the dollar.

For many years now, young people have been encouraged to rely on credit if their income was not compatible with their desired standard of living. Many of them simply cannot imagine making do, they have to have the latest phone or techno gadget to make them feel like they are a part of the technological main stream.

Point 2: Despite an older generation's perspective that it's just common sense to stay within your means economically, that comes from a different time. I won't open the discussion of why it was a different time – just emphasize my point of view that social and individual priorities, both nationally and individually have changed. For the sake of argument and this article, let me make that assertion.

My generation was big about not caring what others thought. We tried, and failed, to engender that belief in our children. The last two generations (except for a few) care very deeply about what others think. In fact, I would go so far as to say that with many of them it is of paramount importance that others view them positively. They desperately want to fit in and be viewed as successful. They want, as most people do, to have their children have what others have, and to participate with their peers. And so they constantly overextend themselves financially to make that happen, often ending up on the brink of economic disaster every month.

But that's only part of what I am writing this article about.

Consumerism created the monster – demanding through seasonal media blitzes that everyone participate in the holidays and events that drive the retail machine. Children have expectations, built by television and movies, that everyone is entitled to a bountiful Thanksgiving and a blitz of presents at Christmas and birthdays, candy at Halloween and Easter, participation in sports and events at school, etc.

The commonly held belief is that these are choices that people can make – whether or not to participate in these events and holidays relating to their economic level. But many of our young people are no longer setting priorities or making those judgments based on what they can afford. Why? We have simply misunderstood the dynamics of social pressure and peer influence.

Native people have a closer understanding of what has happened. Indigenous peoples seldom codified their lives into laws and ordinances. That doesn't mean we didn't have rules and regulations, values and mores, it simply means we enforced them differently.

We used, for the most part, public opinion and social pressures to enforce our precepts and manage our governments. Why was social pressure so effective? Because in native society people wanted to be a part of the whole. We cared what our neighbors and relatives thought and only occasionally did people stray from the norm. In those cases we didn't ostracize those who sought a different path, we built special roles and recognition for them within our societies – everybody had a value and a place. We understood how important and how powerful social pressure was when people wanted to belong and their self image depended on how they were perceived within the whole.

For reasons I won't go into here, much of the American populace under 40 has embraced similar values of caring and wanting to belong and be included. Unfortunately it is not values and culture that is at the center of what they want to belong to and share – it is that specific promise of entitlement to a wealthy standard of living that they have grown up expecting to be a part of.

They have grown up feeling assured it is their right to share in the wealth, whether they earn it or not. They rationalize that they must insure their children can participate in every way and their self-esteem is defined by that participation – for themselves and their families.

That perception is reinforced by their peers and children's schoolmates in the form of ridicule and ostracism if they don't live up to contemporary standards. Many children blame their parents for not being able to provide what others have and think less of them – diminishing the respect and family bonds that used to buffer families against the inequities of lack of wealth and economic status.

They simply must have everything and how they get there, or the potential future consequences of their indulgences, is less important to them than the momentary feeling of belonging and sharing in the success of the whole.

So they overspend at every holiday, birthday, and social event and participate in every school function to make sure their child isn't the only one left home during the field trip, or the only one without a signature on the pledge form – even if they have to overdraw their bank account to make it happen.

Go ahead and criticize them all you want, but we have a generation or two living like that today. The power of social pressure and the misinformation that consumerism is the end-all, be-all of the American Dream has co-opted their values. It's more important to fit in and participate now than to worry about the consequences tomorrow.

So we are enduring the resulting economic crisis – caused by those that encouraged default and those that embraced it. It doesn't do us a whole lot of good to bemoan our circumstances, after all, we all share the responsibility for letting it happen and even Native people are suffering the same problems on the wealthier reservations and rancherias.

The old story about the fiddling grasshopper ignoring the turning of fall and failing to prepare for winter is a perfect allegory to describe our present situation. So many important issues directly related to our future standard of living, even our survival, are ignored in favor of selfish, petty or philosophical fanaticism, and a tendency to ignore the mainstream for the fringe.

What can we do?

We can talk about openly curtailing our indulgent habits and returning to responsible economic practices.

We can begin to limit our consumerism and encourage our children and grandchildren to be satisfied with one present at a birthday rather than purposely inviting 10 other poor kids (all expected to bring a present) to the party so afterward we can experience a glut of things so we can feel rich (and teach our children the wrong lesson).

We can emphasize free music and art and sport without overhead, pot lucks and dances, poetry and prose events, social bonding and responsibility above buying and selling.

If we can do that we'll have a chance – if not we'll have to wait until the standard of living falls so far that the void between those that have and those that don't create the forces that demand change and upheaval. It's not rocket science—it's history and sociology.

But I'm not one to cast the first stone cause I'm just as guilty as the rest. I'm hoping others, more disciplined and capable, will lead the way.

James BlueWolf is a poet and author. He lives in Nice.

Standards Are Standards:
Are they meant to be ignored ???

The following come from Alexa's "Top 500 sites on the web" and were
obtained via: on September 20, 2009 by ~@~








Connection Refused:

Invalid bad
Negotiation Failed:




Q. Mr. Bush, What does HMO stand for?

A. This is actually a variation of the phrase, "HEY MOE." Its roots go back to a concept pioneered by Moe of the Three Stooges, who discovered that a patient could be made to forget the pain in his foot if he was poked hard enough in the eye.

Q. Mr. Bush, I just joined an HMO. How difficult will it be to choose the doctor I want?

A. Just slightly more difficult than choosing your parents. Your insurer will provide you with a book listing all the doctors in the plan. The doctors basically fall into two categories: those who are no longer accepting new patients, and those who will see you but are no longer participating in the plan. But don't worry, the remaining doctor who is still in the plan and accepting new patients has an office just a half-day's drive away and a diploma from a third world country.

Q. Mr. Bush, Do all diagnostic procedures require pre-certification?

A. No. Only those you need.

Q. Mr. Bush, Can I get coverage for my preexisting conditions?

A. Certainly, as long as they don't require any treatment.

Q. Mr. Bush, What happens if I want to try alternative forms of medicine?

A. You'll need to find alternative forms of payment.

Q. Mr. Bush, My pharmacy plan only covers generic drugs, but I need the name brand. I tried the generic medication, but it gave me a stomach ache. What should I do?

A. Poke yourself in the eye.

Q. Mr. Bush, What if I'm away from home and I get sick?

A. You really shouldn't do that.

Q. Mr. Bush, I think I need to see a specialist, but my doctor insists he can handle my problem. Can a general practitioner really perform a heart transplant right in his/her office?

A. Hard to say, but considering that all you're risking is the $20 co-payment, there's no harm in giving it a shot.

Q. Mr. Bush, Will health care be different in the next century?

A. No, but if you call right now, you might get an appointment by then.

'Second Stonehenge' discovered near original

'Bluestonehenge' found by archaeologists less than two miles from world-famous prehistoric monument

James Sturcke and Maev Kennedy,, [Visit site for links]

Archaeologists have discovered evidence of what they believe was a second Stonehenge located a little more than a mile away from the world-famous prehistoric monument.

The new find on the west bank of the river Avon has been called "Bluestonehenge", after the colour of the 25 Welsh stones of which it was once made up.

Excavations at the site have suggested there was once a stone circle 10 metres in diameter and surrounded by a henge – a ditch with an external bank, according to the project director, Professor Mike Parker Pearson, of the University of Sheffield.

The stones at the site were removed thousands of years ago but the sizes of the holes in which they stood indicate that this was a circle of bluestones, brought from the Preseli mountains of Wales, 150 miles away.

The standing stones marked the end of the avenue that leads from the river Avon to Stonehenge, a 1¾-mile long processional route constructed at the end of the Stone Age.

The outer henge around the stones was built about 2400BC but arrowheads found in the stone circle indicate the stones were put up as much as 500 years earlier.

Parker Pearson said his team was waiting for results of radiocarbon dating which could reveal whether stones currently in the inner circle of Stonehenge were originally located at the other riverside construction.

It should also show whether the newly discovered circle's stones were removed by Neolithic people and dragged along the route of the avenue to Stonehenge, to be incorporated within its major rebuilding about 2500BC. After that date Stonehenge consisted of about 80 Welsh stones and 83 local sarsen stones.

Pearson said: "The big, big question is when were our stones erected and when were they removed – and when we get the dating evidence we can answer both those questions."

He added: "We speculated in the past that there might have been something at the end of the avenue near the river. But we were completely unprepared to discover that there was an entire stone circle.

"I think we have found incontrovertible proof that the river was very important to the people who used Stonehenge. I believe that the river formed a conduit between the living and the dead and this is the point where you leave the realm of the living at the river and enter the one of the dead at Stonehenge."

The summer dig, which ended last month, also found evidence that the builders of the stone circle used deer antlers as pickaxes.

Excavations by the Stonehenge Riverside Project, which is a consortium of university teams, have uncovered a wealth of finds in recent years including the Neolithic village of Durrington Walls in 2005.

"Not many people know that Stonehenge was Britain's largest burial ground at that time. Maybe the bluestone circle is where people were cremated before their ashes were buried at Stonehenge itself," Parker Pearson added.

Dr Josh Pollard, project co-director from the University of Bristol, described the discovery as "incredible".

"The newly discovered circle and henge should be considered an integral part of Stonehenge rather than a separate monument and it offers tremendous insight into the history of its famous neighbour. Its landscape location demonstrates once again the importance of the river Avon in Neolithic funerary rites and ceremonies."

Another team member, Professor Julian Thomas, said the discovery indicated that this stretch of the river Avon was central to the religious lives of the people who built Stonehenge.

"Old theories about Stonehenge that do not explain the evident significance of the river will have to be rethought," he said.

There have been many theories about the use of Stonehenge, including that it was believed to have healing properties and was a giant astronomical observatory.

Stonehenge only acquired its famous silhouette after centuries of continuous rearrangement. In about 2500BC the gigantic sarsen stones were dragged across Salisbury plain and added to the smaller bluestones. Evidence from earlier excavations had already suggested that more bluestones were brought in to make a more complex pattern.

"The assumption was that they went back to Wales for more," Pearson said. "My hunch is that they just took them from our circle down the road." He believes the new circle marked the processional avenue from the river Avon to Stonehenge.

Powerful earthquakes off Vanuatu trigger warning of tsunami

Eleven countries in south Pacific put on alert, but no immediate reports of injury or damage

Mark Tran,, [Visit site for links]

A tsunami warning issued for 11 countries and territories, including the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Fiji and Kiribati, after three powerful earthquakes struck off Vanuatu in the south Pacific was cancelled early this morning.

A tsunami watch, a lower level of alert, had been in effect as far away as Australia and New Zealand. All were cancelled about two and a half hours after the initial earthquakes struck. There were no immediate reports of injury or damage from officials in Vanuatu, a chain of 83 islands that lie 2,200km (1,367 miles) north-east of Sydney, Australia.

The warnings were issued after the Pacific tsunami warning centre in Hawaii said the tremors had the potential to generate a series of destructive waves that could strike coastlines near the epicentre within minutes and more distant coastlines within hours. The US Geological Survey said the first quake, with a magnitude of 7.8, struck 294km northwest of the Vanuatu island of Santo, and 596km north-west of the capital, Port Vila, at a depth of 35km.

Just 15 minutes later a second quake with a magnitude 7.3 hit at the same depth but 35km farther north of Santo and Port Vila. "We have no damage reports yet, but we have had no contact with Santo so far," a Vanuatu police spokesman, Take Rakau, told the Associated Press. "The [country's] national disaster management office has sent out a tsunami warning." A third quake, measuring 7.1, struck 280km north-west of Santo, again at a depth of 35km. These were followed by three smaller earthquakes measuring between magnitude 5.2 and 5.7.

The small atoll nation of Tuvalu in the south Pacific had been "on full standby," after the country's radio alerted people across its eight islands of the tsunami warning, said the head of the meteorological office, Hilia Vavae.

"Some are in a panic," she told the AP about 40 minutes before any possible tsunami waves were due to reach the low-lying coral atolls.

"Authorities should take appropriate action in response to this responsibility," the tsunami warning centre said. "This centre will monitor sea level data from gauges near the earthquake to determine if a tsunami was generated and estimate the severity of the threat."

The tsunami warning follows devastating earthquakes and typhoons in south-east Asia last week. The Indonesian government said 609 people were confirmed dead – but the final death toll from the 7.6 magnitude quake that stuck western Sumatra was expected to rise to more than a thousand.

The region has also been hit by floods that destroyed homes in Cambodia and Vietnam and submerged much of the Philippine capital, Manila, where more than 330 people died. The Disasters Emergency Committee has launched an appeal for those affected by Typhoon Ketsana, which hit the Philippines and parts of Vietnam, and those left coping in the wake of huge earthquakes which struck western Sumatra.

Meanwhile the British Red Cross also launched its own appeal to help victims of the tsunami that struck Samoa, American Samoa and Tonga last Tuesday, killing 177 people.

Public Seismic Network - Current World Seismicity Heliplots - USGS Earthquakes

Rowan Williams decries human cost of Iraq war at memorial service

Tony Blair and Queen among those listening to Archbishop of Canterbury's address

James Sturcke and agencies,, [Visit site for links]

The Archbishop of Canterbury today criticised "policy makers" for failing to consider the cost of the Iraq war at a memorial service for the 179 British personnel who died in the conflict.

Rowan Williams, who has previously described the decisions that led to the war as "flawed", praised the "patient and consistent" efforts of troops on the ground.

But he used his address at the national service of remembrance in St Paul's cathedral to remind his audience that the conflict remained highly controversial.

Among those in the congregation listening to his words was former prime minister Tony Blair, who led the country into war.

"Many people of my generation and younger grew up doubting whether we should ever see another straightforward international conflict, fought by a standing army with conventional weapons," Williams said.

"We had begun to forget the realities of cost. And when such conflict appeared on the horizon, there were those among both policy makers and commentators who were able to talk about it without really measuring the price, the cost of justice."

The archbishop alluded to the controversial nature of the campaign, known as Operation Telic, which brought hundreds of thousands of people onto the streets in protest in the runup to the war.

"The conflict in Iraq will, for a long time yet, exercise the historians, the moralists, the international experts. In a world as complicated as ours has become, it would be a very rash person who would feel able to say without hesitation, this was absolutely the right or the wrong thing to do, the right or the wrong place to be."

Iraq veterans and bereaved families joined the Queen, Gordon Brown and senior military leaders for the service.

Servicemen and women injured fighting during Operation Telic, and the families of those killed in the conflict, were also among the congregation.

Other senior royals attending included the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall, Prince William, the Earl and Countess of Wessex and the Princess Royal.

In April, Britain ended combat operations in Iraq with a sombre remembrance service for the 178 service personnel and one civilian Ministry of Defence worker who died during Operation Telic. The event brought to a close the six-year campaign that began in March 2003.

In July an inquiry into the Iraq war, headed by Sir John Chilcot, was formally launched.

The new rules of news

Journalists need to stop being so lazy and unimaginative. Here are 22 ideas for changing the way news is produced

Dan Gillmor,, [Visit site for links]

You may have noticed – you could hardly miss it – the blizzard of anniversary stories last month about the fall of Lehman Brothers, an event that helped spark last year's financial meltdown. The coverage reminded me that journalists failed to do their jobs before last year's crisis emerged, and have continued to fail since then.

It also reminds me of a few pet peeves about the way traditional journalists operate. So here's a list of 22 things, not in any particular order, that I'd insist upon if I ran a news organization.

1. We would not run anniversary stories and commentary, except in the rarest of circumstances. They are a refuge for lazy and unimaginative journalists.

2. We would invite our audience to participate in the journalism process, in a variety of ways that included crowdsourcing, audience blogging, wikis and many other techniques. We'd make it clear that we're not looking for free labour – and will work to create a system that rewards contributors beyond a pat on the back – but want above all to promote a multi-directional flow of news and information in which the audience plays a vital role.

3. Transparency would be a core element of our journalism. One example of many: every print article would have an accompanying box called "Things We Don't Know," a list of questions our journalists couldn't answer in their reporting. TV and radio stories would mention the key unknowns. Whatever the medium, the organisation's website would include an invitation to the audience to help fill in the holes, which exist in every story.

4. We would create a service to notify online readers, should they choose to sign up for it, of errors we've learned about in our journalism. Users of this service could choose to be notified of major errors only (in our judgment) or all errors, however insignificant we may believe them to be.

5. We'd make conversation an essential element of our mission. Among other things:

- If we were a local newspaper, the editorial pages would publish the best of, and be a guide to, conversation the community was having with itself online and in other public forums, whether hosted by the news organization or someone else.

- Editorials would appear in blog format, as would letters to the editor.

- We would encourage comments and forums, but in moderated spaces that encouraged the use of real names and insisted on (and enforced) civility.

- Comments from people using verified real names would be listed first.

6. We would refuse to do stenography and call it journalism. If one faction or party to a dispute is lying, we would say so, with the accompanying evidence. If we learned that a significant number of people in our community believed a lie about an important person or issue, we would make it part of an ongoing mission to help them understand the truth.

7. We would replace PR-speak and certain Orwellian words and expressions with more neutral, precise language. If someone we interview misused language, we would paraphrase instead of using direct quotations. (Examples, among many others: The activity that takes place in casinos is gambling, not gaming. There is no death tax, there can be inheritance or estate tax. Piracy does not describe what people do when they post digital music on file-sharing networks.)

8. We would embrace the hyperlink in every possible way. Our website would include the most comprehensive possible listing of other media in our community, whether we were a community of geography or interest. We'd link to all relevant blogs, photo-streams, video channels, database services and other material we could find, and use our editorial judgement to highlight the ones we consider best for the members of the community. And we'd liberally link from our journalism to other work and source material relevant to what we're discussing, recognising that we are not oracles but guides.

9. Our archives would be freely available, with links on every single thing we've published as far back as possible, with application interfaces (APIs) to help other people use our journalism in ways we haven't considered ourselves.

10. We would help people in the community become informed users of media, not passive consumers – to understand why and how they can do this. We would work with schools and other institutions that recognise the necessity of critical thinking.

11. We would never publish lists of ten. They're a prop for lazy and unimaginative people.

12. Except in the most dire of circumstances – such as a threat to a whistleblower's life, liberty or livelihood – we would not quote or paraphrase unnamed sources in any of our journalism. If we did, we would need persuasive evidence from the source as to why we should break this rule, and we'd explain why in our coverage. Moreover, when we did grant anonymity, we'd offer our audience the following guidance: We believe this is one of the rare times when anonymity is justified, but we urge you to exercise appropriate skepticism.

13. If we granted anonymity and learned that the unnamed source had lied to us, we would consider the confidentially agreement to have been breached by that person, and would expose his or her duplicity, and identity. Sources would know of this policy before we published. We'd further look for examples where our competitors have been tricked by sources they didn't name, and then do our best to expose them, too.

14. The word "must" – as in "The president must do this or that" – would be banned from editorials or other commentary from our own journalists, and we'd strongly discourage it from contributors. It is a hollow verb and only emphasizes powerlessness. If we wanted someone to do something, we'd try persuasion instead, explaining why it's a good idea and what the consequences will be if the advice is ignored.

15. We'd routinely point to our competitors' work, including (and maybe especially) the best of the new entrants, such as bloggers who cover specific niche subjects. When we'd covered the same topic, we'd link to them so our audience can gain wider perspectives. We'd also talk about, and point to, competitors when they covered things we missed or ignored.

16. Beyond routinely pointing to competitors, we would make a special effort to cover and follow up on their most important work, instead of the common practice today of pretending it didn't exist. Basic rule: the more we wish we'd done the journalism ourselves, the more prominent the exposure we'd give the other folks' work. This would have at least two beneficial effects. First, we'd help persuade our community of an issue's importance. Second, we'd help people understand the value of solid journalism, no matter who did it.

17. The more we believed an issue was of importance to our community, the more relentlessly we'd stay on top of it ourselves. If we concluded that continuing down a current policy path was a danger, we'd actively campaign to persuade people to change course. This would have meant, for example, loud and persistent warnings about the danger of the blatantly obvious housing/financial bubble that inflated during this decade.

18. For any person or topic we covered regularly, we would provide a "baseline": an article or video where people could start if they were new to the topic, and point prominently to that "start here" piece from any new coverage. We might use a modified Wikipedia approach to keep the article current with the most important updates. The point would be context, giving some people a way to get quickly up to speed and others a way to recall the context of the issue.

19. For any coverage where it made sense, we'd tell our audience members how they could act on the information we'd just given them. This would typically take the form of a "What You Can Do" box or pointer.

20. We'd work in every possible way to help our audience know who's behind the words and actions. People and institutions frequently try to influence the rest of us in ways that hide their participation in the debate, and we'd do our best to reveal who's spending money and pulling strings. When our competitors declined to reveal such things, or failed to ask obvious questions of their sources, we'd talk about their journalistic failures in our own coverage of the issues.

21. Assess risks honestly. Journalists constantly use anecdotal evidence in ways that frighten the public into believing this or that problem is larger than it actually is. As a result, people have almost no idea what are statistically more risky behaviours or situations. And lawmakers, responding to media-fed public fears, often pass laws that do much more aggregate harm than good. We would make it a habit not to extrapolate a wider threat from weird or tragic anecdotes; frequently discuss the major risks we face and compare them statistically to the minor ones; and debunk the most egregious examples of horror stories that spark unnecessary fear or even panic.

22. No opinion pieces or commentary from major politicians or company executives. OK, this is a minor item. But these folks almost never actually write what appears under their bylines. We're being just as dishonest as they are by using this stuff. If they want to pitch a policy, they should post it on their own web pages, and we'll be happy to point to it.

Earlier versions of this article appeared on Mediactive. It is published under a Creative Commons attribution-noncommercial-share alike 3.0 (US) license

The World Can See U.S. Protect Evil War Criminals
Steve Bell Cartoon with a Bush holding paws with a rummy and a dick, saying he will always stand by them.
Steve Bell

Republicans and Democrats are Lying Hypocrites
Who Support Selective Terrorism Against U.S. Military
U.S.S. Liberty Memorial
Remember the U.S.S. Liberty

34 U.S. Military Dead, 171 Wounded
The Assault on the USS Liberty Still Covered Up After 26 Years

The Scooter Libby verdict is inextricably linked to Iraq: his lies were an attempt to cover up the disingenuous case for war. - Sidney Blumenthal


Why should we hear about body bags and deaths and how many, what day it's gonna happen? It's not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that? - Barbara [Heartless POS] Bush, 3/18/2003

Congress Covers Up Bush Administration Atrocities
War Criminals
War Criminal Supporter Pelosi, with Democrats, & Republicans, Protect Murderers
Wanted for Mass Murder

Lies, Lies, Lies -
Boots for Bush & Cheney from an Infantry Veteran
Boots for War Criminals Bush and Cheney

Photograph: Bill Perry, VVAW/VFP/IVAW via Rainbow Puddle and Dahbud Mensch

More Denialist Realities?

Dick Head Tweet
New York man accused of using Twitter to direct protesters during G20 summit

Elliott Madison arrested by FBI and charged with using social networking site to help demonstrators evade Pittsburgh police

Ed Pilkington in New York

A New York-based anarchist has been arrested by the FBI and charged with hindering prosecution after he allegedly used the social networking site Twitter to help protesters at the G20 summit in Pittsburgh evade the police.

Elliot Madison, 41, from Queens, had his home raided and was put on $30,000 (£19,000) bail after he and Michael Wallschlaeger, 46, were tracked to the Carefree Inn motel in Pittsburgh during the summit on 24 and 25 September.

The pair were found sitting in front of a bank of laptops and emergency frequency radio scanners. They were wearing headphones and microphones and had many maps and contact numbers in the room.

Official police documents allege the two men used Twitter messages to contact protesters at the summit "and to inform the protesters and groups of the movements and actions of law enforcement".

In all, almost 200 protesters were arrested during the two-day summit, which brought world leaders to Pittsburgh to discuss the global economic meltdown and other matters of common financial interest.

About 5,000 protesters were estimated to have taken part in demonstrations in the city.

Twitter has rapidly established itself as an important tool in the armoury of protest groups and demonstrators. During the summit, the police openly monitored Twitter to listen in to the protesters' communications.

The FBI said that as well as the computers and radio scanning equipment discovered at the motel, they also confiscated from Madison's home 11 gas masks, five pairs of goggles and test tubes and beakers. They said they also took away anarchist books and pictures of Marx and Lenin.

Madison is a social worker with a Manhattan-based programme attached to a psychiatric hospital. He is said to be a member of the People's Law Collective, a voluntary group that advises protesters on legal issues arising from actions. Wallschlaeger produces a talk show on radio called This Week in Radical History.

Who is John O'Neill and Why Did He Die?
Order W199I-WF-213589 - FBI hindered in Al-Qaeda investigation
See Full Image at:

This transcript is produced from the teletext subtitles that are generated live for Newsnight. It has been checked against the programme as broadcast, however Newsnight can accept no responsibility for any factual inaccuracies. We will be happy to correct serious errors

Has someone been sitting on the FBI?


The CIA and Saudi Arabia, the Bushes and the Bin Ladens. Did their connections cause America to turn a blind eye to terrorism?

There is a hidden agenda at the very highest levels of our government.

The sad thing is that thousands of Americans had to die needlessly.

How can it be that the former President of the US and the current President of the US have business dealings with characters that need to be investigated?

In the eight weeks since the attacks, over 1,000 suspects and potential witnesses have been detained. Yet, just days after the hijackers took off from Boston aiming for the Twin Towers, a special charter flight out of the same airport whisked 11 members of Osama Bin Laden's family off to Saudi Arabia. That did not concern the White House.

Their official line is that the Bin Ladens are above suspicion - apart from Osama, the black sheep, who they say hijacked the family name. That's fortunate for the Bush family and the Saudi royal household, whose links with the Bin Ladens could otherwise prove embarrassing. But Newsnight has obtained evidence that the FBI was on the trail of other members of the] Bin Laden family for links to terrorist organisations before and after September 11th.

This document is marked "Secret". Case ID - 199-Eye WF 213 589. 199 is FBI code for case type. 9 would be murder. 65 would be espionage. 199 means national security. WF indicates Washington field office special agents were investigating ABL - because of it's relationship with the World Assembly of Muslim Youth, WAMY - a suspected terrorist organisation. ABL is Abdullah Bin Laden, president and treasurer of WAMY.

This is the sleepy Washington suburb of Falls Church, Virginia where almost every home displays the Stars and Stripes. On this unremarkable street, at 3411 Silver Maple Place, we located the former home of Abdullah and another brother, Omar, also an FBI suspect. It's conveniently close to WAMY. The World Assembly of Muslim Youth is in this building, in a little room in the basement at 5613 Leesburg Pike. And here, just a couple blocks down the road at 5913 Leesburg, is where four of the hijackers that attacked New York and Washington are listed as having lived.

The US Treasury has not frozen WAMY's assets, and when we talked to them, they insisted they are a charity. Yet, just weeks ago, Pakistan expelled WAMY operatives. And India claimed that WAMY was funding an organisation linked to bombings in Kashmir. And the Philippines military has accused WAMY of funding Muslim insurgency. The FBI did look into WAMY, but, for some reason, agents were pulled off the trail.

The FBI wanted to investigate these guys. This is not something that they didn't want to do - they wanted to, they weren't permitted to.

The secret file fell into the hands of national security expert, Joe Trento. The Washington spook-tracker has been looking into the FBI's allegations about WAMY.

They've had connections to Osama Bin Laden's people. They've had connections to Muslim cultural and financial aid groups that have terrorist connections. They fit the pattern of groups that the Saudi royal family and Saudi community of princes - the 20,000 princes - have funded who've engaged in terrorist activity.

Now, do I know that WAMY has done anything that's illegal? No, I don't know that. Do I know that as far back as 1996 the FBI was very concerned about this organisation? I do.

Newsnight has uncovered a long history of shadowy connections between the State Department, the CIA and the Saudis. The former head of the American visa bureau in Jeddah is Michael Springman.

In Saudi Arabia I was repeatedly ordered by high level State Dept officials to issue visas to unqualified applicants. These were, essentially, people who had no ties either to Saudi Arabia or to their own country. I complained bitterly at the time there. I returned to the US, I complained to the State Dept here, to the General Accounting Office, to the Bureau of Diplomatic Security and to the Inspector General's office. I was met with silence.

By now, Bush Sr, once CIA director, was in the White House. Springman was shocked to find this wasn't visa fraud. Rather, State and CIA were playing "the Great Game".

What I was protesting was, in reality, an effort to bring recruits, rounded up by Osama Bin Laden, to the US for terrorist training by the CIA. They would then be returned to Afghanistan to fight against the then-Soviets.

The attack on the World Trade Center in 1993 did not shake the State Department's faith in the Saudis, nor did the attack on American barracks at Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia three years later, in which 19 Americans died. FBI agents began to feel their investigation was being obstructed. Would you be surprised to find out that FBI agents are a bit frustrated that they can't be looking into some Saudi connections?

I would never be surprised with that. They're cut off at the hip sometimes by supervisors or given shots that are being called from Washington at the highest levels.

I showed lawyer Michael Wildes our FBI documents. One of the Khobar Towers bombers was represented by Wildes, who thought he had useful intelligence for the US. He also represents a Saudi diplomat who defected to the USA with 14,000 documents which Wildes claims implicates Saudi citizens in financing terrorism and more. Wildes met with FBI men who told him they were not permitted to read all the documents. Nevertheless, he tried to give them to the agents.

"Take these with you. We're not going to charge for the copies. Keep them. Do something with them. Get some bad guys with them." They refused.

In the hall of mirrors that is the US intelligence community, Wildes, a former US federal attorney, said the FBI field agents wanted the documents, but they were told to "see no evil."

You see a difference between the rank-and-file counter-intelligence agents, who are regarded by some as the motor pool of the FBI, who drive following diplomats, and the people who are getting the shots called at the highest level of our government, who have a different agenda - it's unconscionable.

State wanted to keep the pro-American Saudi royal family in control of the world's biggest oil spigot, even at the price of turning a blind eye to any terrorist connection so long as America was safe. In recent years, CIA operatives had other reasons for not exposing Saudi-backed suspects.

If you recruited somebody who is a member of a terrorist organisation, who happens to make his way here to the US, and even though you're not in touch with that person anymore but you have used him in the past, it would be unseemly if he were arrested by the FBI and word got back that he'd once been on the payroll of the CIA. What we're talking about is blow-back. What we're talking about is embarrassing, career-destroying blow-back for intelligence officials.

Does the Bush family also have to worry about political blow-back? The younger Bush made his first million 20 years ago with an oil company partly funded by Salem Bin Laden's chief US representative. Young George also received fees as director of a subsidiary of Carlyle Corporation, a little known private company which has, in just a few years of its founding, become one of Americas biggest defence contractors. His father, Bush Senior, is also a paid advisor. And what became embarrassing was the revelation that the Bin Ladens held a stake in Carlyle, sold just after September 11.

You have a key relationship between the Saudis and the former President of the US who happens to be the father of the current President of the US. And you have all sorts of questions about where does policy begin and where does good business and good profits for the company, Carlyle, end?

I received a phone call from a high-placed member of a US intelligence agency. He tells me that while there's always been constraints on investigating Saudis, under George Bush it's gotten much worse. After the elections, the agencies were told to "back off" investigating the Bin Ladens and Saudi royals, and that angered agents. I'm told that since September 11th the policy has been reversed. FBI headquarters told us they could not comment on our findings. A spokesman said: "There are lots of things that only the intelligence community knows and that no-one else ought to know.

F.B.I. Is Investigating a Senior Counterterrorism Agent


WASHINGTON, Aug. 18 — The F.B.I. has begun an internal investigation into one of its most senior counterterrorism officials, who misplaced a briefcase containing highly classified information last year. The briefcase contained a number of sensitive documents, including a report outlining virtually every national security operation in New York, government officials said.

The official, John O'Neill, 49, is the special agent in charge of national security in the Federal Bureau of Investigation's New York office. The job is among the most powerful in the F.B.I., and, although Mr. O'Neill is not widely known, he has overseen cases like the terrorist bombing of the Navy destroyer Cole in Yemen last year and the bombings of American embassies in East Africa in 1998.

The briefcase incident was seen as potentially so serious that the Justice Department conducted a criminal investigation. The inquiry ended in recent weeks with a decision by the department's internal security section not to prosecute, law enforcement officials said.

Mr. O'Neill left his briefcase in a hotel conference room while he attended an F.B.I. meeting in Tampa, Fla., last summer. The briefcase was stolen, but the local authorities recovered it and returned it to him within hours with the contents.

Jill Stillman, a spokeswoman for the Justice Department, said that department officials would not comment on the matter. Requests to discuss the matter with Mr. O'Neill were made to bureau officials in New York and Washington. In both cases, they said that he declined to comment on the case.

After the criminal inquiry, the bureau's internal affairs unit began its own investigation to determine whether Mr. O'Neill had violated F.B.I. rules against mishandling classified information.

Officials identified one document in the briefcase as a draft of what is known in the bureau as the Annual Field Office Report for national security operations in New York. The closely guarded report contained a description of every counterespionage and counterterrorism program in New York and detailed the budget and manpower for each operation. The document, submitted to bureau headquarters, is used as a central planning tool each year.

F.B.I. agents are prohibited from removing classified documents from their offices without authorization. Violations are punishable by censure, suspension or even dismissal, depending on the seriousness.

But the outcome of the internal inquiry is uncertain. Even if the inquiry finds that Mr. O'Neill violated regulations, he is unlikely to be sanctioned. He has been planning to retire and told associates in recent days that he would step down next week. He is expected to take a job as a private security consultant.

Several officials said that Mr. O'Neill became the subject of especially intense scrutiny partly because law enforcement officials did not want to treat the matter lightly after the cases of John M. Deutch, the former director of Central Intelligence, and Wen Ho Lee, the Los Alamos nuclear weapons scientist.

Mr. Deutch lost his security clearances and was the subject of a Justice Department investigation for mishandling classified material after he placed classified documents on unclassified computers in his home. Mr. Deutch was pardoned by President Clinton in January.

Dr. Lee pleaded guilty in September 2000 to one count of mishandling classified material just as the rest of the government's case against him collapsed.

In Mr. O'Neill's case, F.B.I. officials were alarmed, in part, because of the sensitivity of the documents involved, including details about the bureau's counterterrorism and counterintelligence operations. One document contained highly sensitive information about an F.B.I. source.

Mr. O'Neill immediately reported the incident to his superiors. But after the Tampa authorities recovered the briefcase, it was taken from him and the documents inside it were fingerprinted to determine whether anyone had touched the briefcase and whether the documents might have been handled by a foreign intelligence service.

The investigation concluded that the documents in the briefcase had not been touched and that it had probably been stolen by thieves who were thought to be responsible for several hotel robberies in the Tampa area at the time.

Mr. O'Neill started as an entry- level clerk at the bureau and has been an agent for more than 25 years. Throughout his career, associates said, Mr. O'Neill has been regarded as a dedicated, relentless and hard-charging investigator who was one of the F.B.I.'s brightest stars. But associates said that he sometimes chafed at the restrictive rules of conduct at the bureau and that his single-mindedness had sometimes irritated colleagues in the bureau, at the C.I.A. and at the State Department. Mr. O'Neill's aggressiveness has led to serious frictions in the Cole bombing case, for example.

This year, the United States ambassador to Yemen, Barbara Bodine, blocked Mr. O'Neill from returning to Yemen to oversee the F.B.I. investigation of the bombing of the destroyer Cole. Mr. O'Neill had led the initial team of agents in Yemen after the bombing last fall, but ran afoul of Ambassador Bodine over what she considered his heavy-handed style, State Department officials said. She considered the F.B.I. contingent too large and objected to the agents' insistence on carrying heavy weapons, they said.

But Mr. O'Neill has many admirers. Barry W. Mawn, assistant director of the F.B.I. in charge of the New York office, said that Mr. O'Neill was a tireless worker and had his "complete confidence" since Mr. Mawn took over the office last year.

"John is recognized worldwide as probably one of the best in conducting both counterterrorism and counterintelligence operations," Mr. Mawn said.

James K. Kallstrom, the head of the New York office in the mid- 1990's, said that Mr. O'Neill "has been a major force for the public safety of the United States and the security of the United States for over two decades."

Like a number of Mr. O'Neill's friends and supporters, Mr. Kallstrom made clear that he thought Mr. O'Neill had been the victim of a smear campaign by people seeking to damage his reputation, perhaps because he was being mentioned for a national security job at the White House, a job he apparently never sought.

"The notion that individuals in public service or anywhere else are absolutely perfect human beings who never have a fault or lapse of memory or never make a mistake is a standard that no one should be held to," Mr. Kallstrom said.

Mary Jo White, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, praised Mr. O'Neill in a statement Friday as "one of the unsung heroes in our nation's efforts to combat terrorism in the United States and around the world."

Another widely overlooked conspiracy theory about the events of September 11th is the reasoning for George W. Bush, shortly after becoming president, according to a widely available BBC News video, to issue Executive Order W199I-WF-213589, demanding that Federal investigators "back off" of the bin Ladens and the group ABL, because of it's relationship with WAMY,(World Assembly of Muslim Youth). According to a report prepared for the UN, Saudi Arabia has transferred $500 million to Al Qaeda over the past decade, yet like the bin Ladens themselves who were flown out of the US by the CIA after the attacks, they are above suspicion because of business dealings they have with the Bush Administration(s). Senator Bob Graham publicly admitted, based on information he has received, that at least one foreign country assisted the 9-11 terrorists, and we won't find out who that is for the next 20 or 30 years.


Order W199I-WF-213589 - FBI hindered in Al-Qaeda investigation

- US agents told to "back off" Bin Ladens (ANANOVA)
- Bush Thwarted FBI probe against Bin Ladens (AFP)
- FBI told to "back off" investigating Bin Laden family before the attacks on Sept. 11th: BBC Newsnight Video
- Has someone been sitting on the FBI? BBC Newsnight transcript
- Bush took FBI Agents of bin Laden family trail (TIMES OF INDIA)
- FBI claims Bin Laden inquiry was frustrated (LONDON GUARDIAN)
- FBI 'was told to back off bin Laden family' (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD)
- Another FBI Agent Blows the Whistle on 9-11
- FBI agent: I was stymied in terror probe
- Whistleblower Complains of FBI Obstruction
- Judicial Watch press conference featuring special FBI agent Robert Wright - impeded from terrorist investigations
- Scandal Inside the FBI: Did G-Men Miss the Boat on 9-11?
- FBI Lawyer Tells of Terror 'Roadblock'
- Minneapolis agent says FBI headquarters rewrote requests for search warrants for Moussaoui
- Agent Claims FBI Supervisor Thwarted Probe
- Agent blasts FBI over 11 September 'cover-up'
- Angry FBI agents joked about al Qaeda mole at HQ
- Another FBI Agent Blows the Whistle - New evidence that the Bureau quashed another terror probe before 9/11
- FBI Agent: Bureau Prevented Terror Probe
- The ignored warning: FBI officer prevented from prosecuting future 9/11 hijacker

[Ed. Note: All of the above are links located at]:


John O'Neill was an F.B.I. agent with an obsession:
the growing threat of Al Qaeda.


Issue of 2002-01-14
Posted 2002-01-14

The legend of John P. O'Neill, who lost his life at the World Trade Center on September 11th, begins with a story by Richard A. Clarke, the national coördinator for counter-terrorism in the White House from the first Bush Administration until last year. On a Sunday morning in February, 1995, Clarke went to his office to review intelligence cables that had come in over the weekend. One of the cables reported that Ramzi Yousef, the suspected mastermind behind the first World Trade Center bombing, two years earlier, had been spotted in Pakistan. Clarke immediately called the F.B.I. A man whose voice was unfamiliar to him answered the phone. "O'Neill," he growled.

"Who are you?" Clarke said.

"I'm John O'Neill," the man replied. "Who the hell are you?"

O'Neill had just been appointed chief of the F.B.I.'s counter-terrorism section, in Washington. He was forty-two years old, and had been transferred from the bureau's Chicago office. After driving all night, he had gone directly to headquarters that Sunday morning without dropping off his bags. When he heard Clarke's report about Yousef, O'Neill entered the F.B.I.'s Strategic Information Operations Center (SIOC) and telephoned Thomas Pickard, the head of the bureau's National Security Division in New York. Pickard then called Mary Jo White, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, who had indicted Yousef in the bombing case.

One of O'Neill's new responsibilities was to put together a team to bring the suspect home. It was composed of agents who were working on the case, a State Department representative, a medical doctor, a hostage-rescue team, and a fingerprint expert whose job was to make sure that the suspect was, in fact, Ramzi Yousef. Under ordinary circumstances, the host country would be asked to detain the suspect until extradition paperwork had been signed and the F.B.I. could place the man in custody. There was no time for that. Yousef was reportedly preparing to board a bus for Peshawar. Unless he was apprehended, he would soon cross the Khyber Pass into Afghanistan, where he would be out of reach. There was only one F.B.I. agent in Pakistan at the time, along with several agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration and the State Department's diplomatic-security bureau. "Our Ambassador had to get in his car and go ripping across town to get the head of the local military intelligence," Clarke recalled. "The chief gave him his own personal aides, and this ragtag bunch of American law-enforcement officials and a couple of Pakistani soldiers set off to catch Yousef before he got on the bus." O'Neill, working around the clock for the next three days, coördinated the entire effort. At 10 A.M. Pakistan time, on Tuesday, February 7th, SIOC was informed that the World Trade Center bomber was in custody.

During the next six years, O'Neill became the bureau's most committed tracker of Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda network of terrorists as they struck against American interests around the world. Brash, ambitious, often full of himself, O'Neill had a confrontational personality that brought him powerful enemies. Even so, he was too valuable to ignore. He was the point man in the investigation of the terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia, East Africa, and Yemen. At a time when the Clinton Administration was struggling to decide how to respond to the terrorist threat, O'Neill, along with others in the F.B.I. and the C.I.A., realized that Al Qaeda was relentless and resourceful and that its ultimate target was America itself. In the last days of his life, after he had taken a new job as the chief of security for the World Trade Center, he was warning friends, "We're due."

"I am the F.B.I.," John O'Neill liked to boast. He had wanted to work for the bureau since boyhood, when he watched Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., as the buttoned-down Inspector Lewis Erskine in the TV series "The F.B.I." O'Neill was born in 1952 and brought up in Atlantic City, where his mother drove a cab for a small taxi business that she and his father owned. After graduating from Holy Spirit High School, he got a job as a fingerprint clerk with the F.B.I. During his first semester in college, he married his high-school sweetheart, Christine, and when he was twenty their son, John P. O'Neill, Jr., was born. O'Neill put himself through a master's program in forensics at George Washington University by serving as a tour guide at the F.B.I. headquarters. In 1976, he became a full-time agent in the bureau's office in Baltimore; ten years later, he returned to headquarters and served as an inspector. In 1991, he was named assistant special agent in charge in the Chicago office. In 1994, he received the additional assignment of supervising VAPCON, a national investigation into violence against abortion providers. The following year, he transferred to headquarters to become the counter-terrorism chief.

John Lipka, an agent who met O'Neill during the VAPCON probe, marvelled at his ability to move so easily from investigating organized crime and official corruption to the thornier field of counter-terrorism. "He was a very quick study," Lipka told me. "I'd been working terrorism since '86, but he'd walk out of the Hoover building, flag a cab, and I'd brief him on the way to the White House. Then he'd give a presentation, and I'd be shocked that he grasped everything I had been working on for weeks."

O'Neill entered the bureau in the J. Edgar Hoover era, and throughout his career he had something of the old-time G-man about him. He talked tough, in a New Jersey accent that many loved to imitate. He was darkly handsome, with black eyes and slicked-back hair. In a culture that favors discreet anonymity, he cut a memorable figure. He favored fine cigars and Chivas Regal and water with a twist, and carried a nine-millimetre automatic strapped to his ankle. His manner was bluff and dominating, but he was always immaculately, even fussily, dressed. One of his colleagues in Washington took note of O'Neill's "night-club wardrobe"—black double-breasted suits, semitransparent black socks, and ballet-slipper shoes. "He had very delicate feet and hands, and, with his polished fingernails, he made quite an impression."

In Washington, O'Neill became part of a close-knit group of counter-terrorism experts which formed around Richard Clarke. In the web of federal agencies concerned with terrorism, Clarke was the spider. Everything that touched the web eventually came to his attention. The members of this inner circle, which was known as the Counter-terrorism Security Group (C.S.G.), were drawn mainly from the C.I.A., the National Security Council, and the upper tiers of the Defense Department, the Justice Department, and the State Department. They met every week in the White House Situation Room. "John could lead a discussion at that level," R. P. Eddy, who was an N.S.C. director at the time, told me. "He was not just the guy you turned to for a situation report. He was the guy who would say the thing that everybody in the room wishes he had said."

In July of 1996, when T.W.A. Flight 800 crashed off the coast of Long Island, there was widespread speculation in the C.S.G. that it had been shot down by a shoulder-fired missile from the shore. Dozens of witnesses reported having seen an ascending flare that culminated in an explosion. According to Clarke, O'Neill, working with the Defense Department, determined the height of the aircraft and its distance from shore at the time of the explosion, and demonstrated that it was out of the range of a Stinger missile. He proposed that the flare could have been caused by the ignition of leaking fuel from the aircraft, and he persuaded the C.I.A. to do a video simulation of this scenario, which proved to be strikingly similar to the witnesses' accounts. It is now generally agreed that mechanical failure, not terrorism, caused the explosion of T.W.A. Flight 800.

Clarke immediately spotted in O'Neill an obsessiveness about the dangers of terrorism which mirrored his own. "John had the same problems with the bureaucracy that I had," Clarke told me. "Prior to September 11th, a lot of people who were working full time on terrorism thought it was no more than a nuisance. They didn't understand that Al Qaeda was enormously powerful and insidious and that it was not going to stop until it really hurt us. John and some other senior officials knew that. The impatience really grew in us as we dealt with the dolts who didn't understand."

Osama bin Laden had been linked to terrorism since the first World Trade Center bombing, in 1993. His name had turned up on a list of donors to an Islamic charity that helped finance the bombing, and defendants in the case referred to a "Sheikh Osama" in a recorded conversation. "We started looking at who was involved in these events, and it seemed like an odd group of people getting together," Clarke recalled. "They clearly had money. We'd see C.I.A. reports that referred to 'financier Osama bin Laden,' and we'd ask ourselves, 'Who the hell is he?' The more we drilled down, the more we realized that he was not just a financier—he was the leader. John said, 'We've got to get this guy. He's building a network. Everything leads back to him.' Gradually, the C.I.A. came along with us."

O'Neill worked with Clarke to establish clear lines of responsibility among the intelligence agencies, and in 1995 their efforts resulted in a Presidential directive giving the F.B.I. the lead authority both in investigating and in preventing acts of terrorism wherever Americans or American interests were threatened. After the April, 1995, bombing in Oklahoma City, O'Neill formed a separate section for domestic terrorism, but he concentrated on redesigning and expanding the foreign-terrorism branch. He organized a swap of deputies between his office and the C.I.A.'s counter-terrorism center, despite resistance from both agencies.

"John told me that if you put the resources and talents of the C.I.A.'s counter-terrorism center and the F.B.I.'s counter-terrorism section together on any issue, we can solve it—but we need both," Lipka recalled. In January, 1996, O'Neill helped create a C.I.A. station, code-named Alex, with a single-minded purpose. "Its mission was not just tracking down bin Laden but focussing on his infrastructure, his capabilities, where he got his funding, where were his bases of operation and his training centers," Lipka said. "Many of the same things we are doing now, that station was already doing then."

The coöperation that O'Neill achieved between the bureau and the C.I.A. was all the more remarkable because opinions about him were sharply polarized. O'Neill could be brutal, not only with underlings but also with superiors when they failed to meet his expectations. An agent in the Chicago office who felt his disapproval told me, "He was smarter than everybody else, and he would use that fine mind to absolutely humiliate people."

In Washington, there was one terrorist-related crisis after another. "We worked a bomb a month," Lipka recalled. Often, O'Neill would break for dinner and be back in the office at ten. "Most people couldn't keep up with his passion and intensity," Lipka said. "He was able to identify those people who shared his work ethic, and then he tasked the living shit out of them, with E-mails and status briefings and phones and pagers going off all the time, to the point that I asked him, 'When do you sleep?' " O'Neill began acquiring nicknames that testified to his relentlessness, among them the Count, the Prince of Darkness, and Satan.

But many in the bureau who disliked O'Neill eventually became devoted followers. He went to extraordinary lengths to help when they faced health problems or financial difficulty. "He was our Elvis—you knew when he was in the house," Kevin Giblin, the F.B.I.'s head of terrorist warning, recalled.

O'Neill's tenure in the F.B.I. coincided with the internationalization of crime and law enforcement. Prior to his appointment as the bureau's counter-terrorism chief, the F.B.I. had limited its involvement to operations in which Americans had been killed. "O'Neill came in with a much more global approach," Lipka told me. One of his innovations was to catalogue all the explosives used by terrorists worldwide. "He thought, When a bomb goes off in the Egyptian Embassy in Islamabad, even though no Americans were killed, why don't we offer our assistance, so that we can put that information on a global forensic database," Lipka said. Since 1984, the F.B.I. had had the authority to investigate crimes against Americans abroad, but that mandate had been handicapped by a lack of coöperation with foreign police agencies. O'Neill made a habit of entertaining every foreign cop or intelligence agent who entered his orbit. He called it his "night job."

"John's approach to law enforcement was that of the old Irish ward boss to governance: you collect friendships and debts and obligations, because you never know when you're going to need them," Clarke told me. He was constantly on the phone, doing favors, massaging contacts. By the time he died, he had become one of the best-known policemen in the world. "You'd be in Moscow at some bilateral exchange," Giblin recalled, "and you'd see three or four men approach and say, in broken English, 'Do you know John O'Neill?' "

The need to improve relationships with foreign police agencies became apparent in November, 1995, when five Americans and two Indians died in the bombing of an American-run military-training center in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The F.B.I. sent over a small squad to investigate, but the agents had scarcely arrived when the Saudis arrested four suspects and beheaded them, foreclosing any opportunity to learn who was behind the operation.

In the spring of 1996, Jamal Ahmed al-Fadl, who had supported a plot by Al Qaeda against American soldiers in Somalia four years earlier, arrived at the American Embassy in Asmara, Eritrea. The C.I.A. debriefed him for six months, then turned him over to the F.B.I., which put him in the witness-protection program. Fadl provided the first extensive road map of the bin Laden terrorist empire. "Fadl was a gold mine," an intelligence source who was present during some of the interviews told me. "He described the network, bin Laden's companies, his farms, his operations in the ports." Fadl also talked about bin Laden's desire to attack Americans, including his ambition to obtain uranium. The news was widely circulated among members of the intelligence community, including O'Neill, and yet the State Department refused to list Al Qaeda as a terrorist organization.

On June 25, 1996, O'Neill arranged a retreat for F.B.I. and C.I.A. agents at the bureau's training center in Quantico, Virginia. "We had hot dogs and hamburgers, and John let the C.I.A. guys on the firing range, because they never get to shoot," Giblin recalled. "Then everyone's beeper went off." Another explosion in Saudi Arabia, at the Khobar Towers, a military-housing complex in Dhahran, had killed nineteen American soldiers and injured more than five hundred other people, including Saudis. O'Neill assembled a team of nearly a hundred agents, support personnel, and members of various police agencies. The next day, they were on an Air Force transport plane to Saudi Arabia. A few weeks later, they were joined by O'Neill and the F.B.I. director, Louis Freeh.

It was evening when the two men arrived in Dhahran. The disaster site was a vast crater illuminated by lights on high stanchions; nearby lay charred automobiles and upended Humvees. Looming above the debris were the ruins of the housing complex. This was the largest bomb that the F.B.I. had ever investigated, even more powerful than the explosives that had killed a hundred and sixty-eight people in Oklahoma City in 1995. O'Neill walked through the rubble, greeting exhausted agents who were sifting the sand for evidence. Under a tarp nearby, investigators were gradually reconstructing fragments of the truck that had carried the bomb.

In the Khobar Towers case, neither the Saudis nor the State Department seemed eager to pursue a trail of evidence that pointed to Iranian terrorists as the likeliest perpetrators. The Clinton Administration did not relish the prospect of military retaliation against a country that seemed to be moderating its anti-Western policies, and, according to Clarke, the Saudis impeded the F.B.I. investigation because they were worried about the American response. "They were afraid that we would have to bomb Iran," I was told by a Clinton Administration official, who added that that would have been a likely course of action.

Freeh was initially optimistic that the Saudis would coöperate, but O'Neill became increasingly frustrated, and eventually a rift seems to have developed between the two men. "John started telling Louis things Louis didn't want to hear," Clarke said. "John told me that, after one of the many trips he and Freeh took to the Mideast to get better coöperation from the Saudis, they boarded the Gulfstream to come home and Freeh says, 'Wasn't that a great trip? I think they're really going to help us.' And John says, 'You've got to be kidding. They didn't give us anything. They were just shining sunshine up your ass.' For the next twelve hours, Freeh didn't say another word to him."

Freeh denies that this conversation took place. "Of course, John and I discussed the results of every trip at that time," he wrote to me in an E-mail. "However, John never made that statement to me. . . . John and I had an excellent relationship based on trust and friendship."

O'Neill longed to get out of Washington so that he could "go operational," as he told John Lipka, and supervise cases again. In January, 1997, he became special agent in charge of the National Security Division in New York, the bureau's largest and most prestigious field office. When he arrived, he dumped four boxes of Rolodex cards on the desk of his new secretary, Lorraine di Taranto. Then he handed her a list of everyone he wanted to meet—"the mayor, the police commissioner, the deputy police commissioners, the heads of the federal agencies, religious and ethnic leaders," di Taranto recalled. Within six months, O'Neill had met everyone on the list.

"Everybody knew John," R. P. Eddy, who left Washington in 1999 for a job at the United Nations, told me. "You would walk into Elaine's or Bruno's with him, and everyone from the owner to the waiters to the guy who cleaned the floor would look up. And the amazing thing is they would all have a private discussion with him at some point. The waitress wanted tickets to a Michael Jackson concert. One of the wait staff was applying for a job with the bureau, and John would be helping him with that. After a night of this, I remember saying, 'John, you've got this town wired.' And he said, 'What's the point of being sheriff if you can't act like one?' "

O'Neill was soon on intimate terms with movie stars, politicians, and journalists—what some of his detractors called "the Elaine's crowd." In the spring of 1998, one of O'Neill's New York friends, a producer at ABC News named Christopher Isham, arranged an interview for a network reporter, John Miller, with Osama bin Laden. Miller's narration contained information to the effect that one of bin Laden's aides was coöperating with the F.B.I. The leak of that detail created, in Isham's words, "a firestorm in the bureau." O'Neill, because of his friendship with Isham and Miller, was suspected of providing the information, and an internal investigation was launched. The matter died down after the newsmen denied that O'Neill was their informant and volunteered to take polygraphs.

In New York, O'Neill created a special Al Qaeda desk, and when the bombings of the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania occurred, in August, 1998, he was sure that bin Laden was behind them. "He was pissed, he was beside himself," Robert M. Blitzer, who was head of the F.B.I.'s domestic-terrorism section at the time, remembered. "He was calling me every day. He wanted control of that investigation." O'Neill persuaded Freeh to let the New York office handle the case, and he eventually dispatched nearly five hundred investigators to Africa. Mary Jo White, whose prosecuting team subsequently convicted five defendants in the case, told me, "John O'Neill, in the investigation of the bombings of our embassies in East Africa, created the template for successful investigations of international terrorism around the world."

The counter-terrorist community was stunned by the level of coördination required to pull off the simultaneous bombings. Even more troubling was the escalation of violence against civilians. According to Steven Simon, then a terrorist expert at the N.S.C., as many as five American embassies had been targeted—luck and better intelligence had saved the others. It was discouraging to learn that, nearly a year before, a member of Al Qaeda had walked into the American Embassy in Nairobi and told the C.I.A. of the bombing plot. The agency had dismissed this intelligence as unreliable. "The guy was a bullshit artist, completely off the map," an intelligence source said. But his warnings about the impending attacks proved accurate.

Moreover, key members of the Al Qaeda cell that planned the operation had been living in one of the most difficult places in the Western world to gain intelligence: the United States. The F.B.I. is constrained from spying on American citizens and visitors without probable cause. Lacking evidence that potential conspirators were actively committing a crime, the bureau could do little to gather information on the domestic front. O'Neill felt that his hands were tied. "John was never satisfied," one of his friends in the bureau recalled. "He said we were fighting a war, but we were not able to fight back. He thought we never had the tools in place to do the job."

O'Neill never presumed that killing bin Laden alone would be sufficient. In speeches, he identified five tools to combat terrorism: diplomacy, military action, covert operations, economic sanctions, and law enforcement. So far, the tool that had worked most effectively against Al Qaeda was the last one—the slow, difficult work of gathering evidence, getting indictments, hunting down the perpetrators, and gaining convictions.

O'Neill was worried that terrorists had established a beachhead in America. In a June, 1997, speech in Chicago, he warned, "Almost all of the groups today, if they chose to, have the ability to strike us here in the United States." He was particularly concerned that, as the millennium approached, Al Qaeda would seize the moment to dramatize its war with America. The intelligence to support that hypothesis was frustratingly absent, however.

On December 14, 1999, a border guard in Port Angeles, Washington, stopped an Algerian man, Ahmed Ressam, who then bolted from his car. He was captured as he tried to hijack another automobile. In the trunk of his car were four timers, more than a hundred pounds of urea, and fourteen pounds of sulfate—the makings of an Oklahoma City-type bomb. It turned out that Ressam's target was Los Angeles International Airport. The following day, Jordanian authorities arrested thirteen suspected terrorists who were believed to be planning to blow up a Radisson Hotel in Amman and a number of tourist sites frequented by Westerners. The Jordanians also discovered an Al Qaeda training manual on CD-ROM.

What followed was, according to Clarke, the most comprehensive investigation ever conducted before September 11th. O'Neill's job was to supervise the operation in New York. Authorities had found several phone numbers on Ressam when he was arrested. There was also a name, Ghani, which belonged to Abdel Ghani Meskini, an Algerian, who lived in Brooklyn and who had travelled to Seattle to meet with Ressam. O'Neill oversaw the stakeout of Meskini's residence and spent much of his time in the Brooklyn command post. "I doubt he slept the whole month," David N. Kelley, an assistant United States Attorney and chief of organized crime and terrorism for the Southern District, recalled. A wiretap picked up a call that Meskini had made to Algeria in which he spoke about Ressam and a suspected terrorist in Montreal. On December 30th, O'Neill arrested Meskini on conspiracy charges and a number of other suspected terrorists on immigration violations. (Meskini and Ressam eventually became coöperating witnesses and are both assisting the F.B.I.'s investigation of the September 11th attacks.)

O'Neill was proud of the efforts of the F.B.I. and the New York Joint Terrorism Task Force to avert catastrophe. On New Year's Eve, he and his friend Joseph Dunne, then the Chief of Department for the New York City Police, went to Times Square, which they believed was a highly likely target. At midnight, O'Neill called friends at SIOC and boasted that he was standing directly under the giant crystal ball.

After the millennium roundup, O'Neill suspected that Al Qaeda had sleeper cells buried in America. "He started pulling the strings in Jordan and in Canada, and in the end they all led back to the United States," Clarke said. "There was a general disbelief in the F.B.I. that Al Qaeda had much of a presence here. It just hadn't sunk through to the organization, beyond O'Neill and Dale Watson"—the assistant director of the counter-terrorism division. Clarke's discussions with O'Neill and Watson over the next few months led to a strategic plan called the Millennium After-Action Review, which specified a number of policy changes designed to root out Al Qaeda cells in the United States. They included increasing the number of Joint Terrorism Task Forces around the country; assigning more agents from the Internal Revenue Service and the Immigration and Naturalization Service to monitor the flow of money and personnel; and creating a streamlined process for analyzing information obtained from wiretaps.

Many in the F.B.I. point to the millennium investigation as one of the bureau's great recent successes. A year earlier, O'Neill had been passed over when the position of assistant director in charge of national security became available. When the post of chief of the New York office opened up, in early 2000, O'Neill lobbied fiercely for it. The job went to Barry Mawn, a former special agent in charge of the Boston office. As it happened, the two men met at a seminar just after the decision was announced. "I got a knock on the door, and there was John holding two beers," Mawn recalled. O'Neill promised complete loyalty in return for Mawn's support of his work on counter-terrorism. "It turns out that supporting him was a full-time job," Mawn said.

O'Neill had many detractors and very few defenders left in Washington. Despite occasional disagreements, Louis Freeh had always supported O'Neill, but Freeh had announced that he would retire in June, 2001. A friend of O'Neill's, Jerry Hauer, of the New York-based security firm Kroll, told me that Thomas Pickard, who had become the bureau's deputy director in 1999, was "an institutional roadblock." Hauer added, "It was very clear to John that Pickard was never going to let him get promoted." Others felt that O'Neill was his own worst enemy. "He was always trying to leverage himself to the next job," Dale Watson said. John Lipka, who considers himself a close friend of O'Neill, attributes some of O'Neill's problems to his flamboyant image. "The bureau doesn't like high-profile people," he said. "It's a very conservative culture."

The World Trade Center had become a symbol of America's success in fighting terrorism, and in September, 2000, the New York Joint Terrorism Task Force celebrated its twentieth anniversary in the Windows on the World restaurant. The event was attended by representatives of seventeen law-enforcement agencies, including agents from the F.B.I. and the C.I.A., New York City and Port Authority policemen, United States marshals, and members of the Secret Service. Mary Jo White praised the task force for a "close to absolutely perfect record of successful investigations and convictions." White had served eight years as the United States Attorney for the Southern District, and she had convicted twenty-five Islamic terrorists, including Yousef, six other World Trade Center bombers, the blind cleric Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, and nine of Rahman's followers, who had planned to blow up the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels, the United Nations headquarters, and the F.B.I. offices.

O'Neill seemed at ease that night. Few of his colleagues knew of a troubling incident that had occurred two months earlier at an F.B.I. pre-retirement conference in Orlando. During a meeting, O'Neill had been paged. He left the room to return the call, and when he came back, a few minutes later, the other agents had broken for lunch. His briefcase, which contained classified material, was missing. O'Neill immediately called the local police, and they found the briefcase a couple of hours later, in another hotel. A Montblanc pen had been stolen, along with a silver cigar cutter and a lighter. The papers were intact; fingerprint analysis soon established that they had not been touched.

"He phoned me and said, 'I gotta tell you something,' " Barry Mawn recalled. O'Neill told Mawn that the briefcase contained some classified E-mails and one highly sensitive document, the Annual Field Office Report, which is an overview of every counter-terrorist and counter-espionage case in New York. Mawn reported the incident to Neil Gallagher, the bureau's assistant director in charge of national security. "John understood the seriousness of what he had done, and if he were alive today he'd tell you he made a stupid mistake," Gallagher told me. Even though none of the information had been compromised, the Justice Department ordered a criminal inquiry.

Mawn said that, as O'Neill's supervisor, he would have recommended an oral reprimand or, at worst, a letter of censure. Despite their competition for the top job in New York, Mawn had become one of O'Neill's staunchest defenders. "He demanded perfection, which was a large part of why the New York office is so terrific," Mawn said. "But underneath his manner, deep down, he was very insecure."

On October 12, 2000, a small boat filled with C4 explosives motored alongside a U.S. destroyer, the Cole, which was fuelling up off the coast of Yemen. Two men aboard the small craft waved at the larger vessel, then blew themselves to pieces. Seventeen American sailors died, and thirty-nine others were seriously wounded.

O'Neill knew that Yemen was going to be an extremely difficult place in which to conduct an investigation. In 1992, bin Laden's network had bombed a hotel in Aden, hoping to kill a number of American soldiers. The country was filled with spies and with jihadis and was reeling from a 1994 civil war. "Yemen is a country of eighteen million citizens and 50 million machine guns," O'Neill reported. On the day the investigators arrived in Yemen, O'Neill warned them, "This may be the most hostile environment the F.B.I. has ever operated in."

The American Ambassador to Yemen, Barbara Bodine, saw things differently. In her eyes, Yemen was the poor and guileless cousin of the swaggering petro-monarchies of the Persian Gulf. Unlike other countries in the region, it was a constitutional democracy—however fragile—in which women were allowed to vote. Bodine had had extensive experience in Arab countries. During the Iraqi invasion and occupation of Kuwait, she had been the deputy chief of mission in Kuwait City, and she had stayed through the hundred-and-thirty-seven-day siege of the American Embassy by Iraqi troops until all the Americans were evacuated.

Bodine, who is on assignment from the State Department as diplomat-in-residence at the University of California at Santa Barbara, contends that she and O'Neill had agreed that he would bring in a team of no more than fifty. She was furious when three hundred investigators, support staff, and marines arrived, many carrying automatic weapons. "Try to imagine if a military plane from another country landed in Des Moines, and three hundred heavily armed people took over," she told me recently. Bodine recalled that she pleaded with O'Neill to consider the delicate diplomatic environment he was entering. She quoted him as responding, "We don't care about the environment. We're just here to investigate a crime."

"There was the F.B.I. way, and that was it," she said to me. "O'Neill wasn't unique. He was simply extreme." According to Michael Sheehan, who was the State Department's coördinator for counter-terrorism at the time, such conflicts between ambassadors and the bureau are not unusual, given their differing perspectives; however, Bodine had been given clear instructions from the outset of the investigation. "I drafted a cable under [then Secretary of State] Madeleine Albright's signature saying that there were three guiding principles," Sheehan said. "The highest priorities were the immediate safety of American personnel and the investigation of the attack. No. 3 was maintaining a relationship with the government of Yemen— but only to support those objectives."

O'Neill's investigators were billeted three or four to a room in an Aden hotel. "Forty-five F.B.I. personnel slept on mats on the ballroom floor," he later reported. He set up a command post on the eighth floor, which was surrounded by sandbags and protected by a company of fifty marines.

O'Neill spent much of his time coaxing the Yemeni authorities to coöperate. To build a case that would hold up in American courts, he wanted his agents present during interrogations by local authorities, in part to insure that none of the suspects were tortured. He also wanted to gather eyewitness testimony from residents who had seen the explosion. Both the Yemeni authorities and Bodine resisted these requests. "You want a bunch of six-foot-two Irish-Americans to go door-to-door?" Bodine remembers saying to O'Neill. "And, excuse me, but how many of your guys speak Arabic?"

There were only half a dozen Arabic speakers in the F.B.I. contingent, and even O'Neill acknowledged that their competence was sometimes in question. On one occasion, he complained to a Yemeni intelligence officer, "Getting information out of you is like pulling teeth." When his comment was translated, the Yemeni's eyes widened. The translator had told him, "If you don't give me the information I want, I'm going to pull out your teeth."

When O'Neill expressed his frustration to Washington, President Clinton sent a note to President Ali Abdullah Saleh. It had little effect. According to agents on the scene, O'Neill's people were never given the authority they needed for a proper investigation. Much of their time was spent on board the Cole, interviewing sailors, or lounging around the sweltering hotel. Some of O'Neill's requests for evidence mystified the Yemenis. They couldn't understand, for instance, why he was demanding a hat worn by one of the conspirators, which O'Neill wanted to examine for DNA evidence. Even the harbor sludge, which contained residue from the bomb, was off limits until the bureau paid the Yemeni government a million dollars to dredge it.

There were so many perceived threats that the agents often slept in their clothes and with their guns at their sides. Bodine thought that much of this fear was overblown. "They were deeply suspicious of everyone, including the hotel staff," she told me. She assured O'Neill that gunfire outside the hotel was probably not directed at the investigators but was simply the noise of wedding celebrations. Still, she added that, for the investigators' own safety, she wanted to lower the bureau's profile by reducing the number of agents and stripping them of heavy weapons. Upon receiving a bomb threat, the investigators evacuated the hotel and moved to an American vessel, the U.S.S. Duluth. After that, they had to request permission just to come ashore.

Relations between Bodine and O'Neill deteriorated to the point that Barry Mawn flew to Yemen to assess the situation. "She represented that John was insulting, and not getting along well with the Yemenis," he recalled. Mawn talked to members of the F.B.I. team and American military officers, and he observed O'Neill's interactions with Yemeni authorities. He told O'Neill that he was doing "an outstanding job." On Mawn's return, he reported favorably on O'Neill to Freeh, adding that Bodine was his "only detractor."

An ambassador, however, has authority over which Americans are allowed to stay in a foreign country. A month after the investigation began, Assistant Director Dale Watson told the Washington Post, "Sustained cooperation" with the Yemenis "has enabled the F.B.I. to further reduce its in-country presence. . . . The F.B.I. will soon be able to bring home the F.B.I.'s senior on-scene commander, John O'Neill." It appeared to be a very public surrender. The same day, the Yemeni Prime Minister told the Post that no link had been discovered between the Cole bombers and Al Qaeda.

The statement was premature, to say the least. In fact, it is possible that some of the planning for the Cole bombing and the September 11th attacks took place simultaneously. It is now believed that at least two of the suspected conspirators in the Cole bombing had attended a meeting of alleged bin Laden associates in Malaysia, in January, 2000. Under C.I.A. pressure, Malaysian authorities had conducted a surveillance of the gathering, turning up a number of faces but, in the absence of wiretaps, nothing of what was said. "It didn't seem like much at the time," a Clinton Administration official told me. "None of the faces showed up in our own files." Early last year, the F.B.I. targeted the men who were present at the Malaysia meeting as potential terrorists. Two of them were subsequently identified as hijackers in the September 11th attacks.

After two months in Yemen, O'Neill came home feeling that he was fighting the counter-terrorism battle without support from his own government. He had made some progress in gaining access to evidence, but so far the investigation had been a failure. Concerned about continuing threats against the remaining F.B.I. investigators, he tried to return in January of 2001. Bodine denied his application to reënter the country. She refuses to discuss that decision. "Too much is being made of John O'Neill's being in Yemen or not," she told me. "John O'Neill did not discover Al Qaeda. He did not discover Osama bin Laden. So the idea that John or his people or the F.B.I. were somehow barred from doing their job is insulting to the U.S. government, which was working on Al Qaeda before John ever showed up. This is all my embassy did for ten months. The fact that not every single thing John O'Neill asked for was appropriate or possible does not mean that we did not support the investigation."

After O'Neill's departure, the remaining agents, feeling increasingly vulnerable, retreated to the American Embassy in Sanaa, the capital of Yemen. In June, the Yemeni authorities arrested eight men who they said were part of a plot to blow up the Embassy. New threats against the F.B.I. followed, and Freeh, acting upon O'Neill's recommendation, withdrew the team entirely. Its members were, he told me, "the highest target during this period." Bodine calls the pullout "unconscionable." In her opinion, there was never a specific, credible threat against the bureau. The American Embassy, Bodine points out, stayed open. But within days American military forces in the Middle East were put on top alert.

Few people in the bureau knew that O'Neill had a wife and two children (John, Jr., and his younger sister, Carol) in New Jersey, who did not join him when he moved to Chicago, in 1991. In his New York office, the most prominent pictures were not family photographs but French Impressionist prints. On his coffee table was a book about tulips, and his office was always filled with flowers. He was a terrific dancer, and he boasted that he had been on "American Bandstand" when he was a teen-ager. Some women found him irresistibly sexy. Others thought him a cad.

Shortly after he arrived in Chicago, O'Neill met Valerie James, a fashion sales director, who was divorced and was raising two children. Four years later, when he transferred to headquarters, in Washington, he also began seeing Anna DiBattista, who worked for a travel agency. Then, when he moved to New York, Valerie James joined him. In 1999, DiBattista moved to New York to take a new job, complicating his life considerably. His friends in Chicago and New York knew Valerie, and his friends in Washington knew Anna. If his friends happened to see him in the company of the "wrong" woman, he pledged them to secrecy.

On holidays, O'Neill went home to New Jersey to visit his parents and to see his children. Only John P. O'Neill, Jr., who is a computer expert for the credit-card company M.B.N.A., in Wilmington, Delaware, agreed to speak to me about his father. His remarks were guarded. He described a close relationship—"We talked a few times a week"—but there are parts of his father's past that he refuses to discuss. "My father liked to keep his private life private," he said.

Both James and DiBattista remember how O'Neill would beg for forgiveness and then promise better times. James told me, "He'd say, 'I just want to be loved, just love me,' but you couldn't really trust him, so he never got the love he asked for."

The stress of O'Neill's tangled personal life began to affect his professional behavior. One night, he left his Palm Pilot in Yankee Stadium; it was filled with his police contacts all around the world. On another occasion, he left his cell phone in a cab. In the summer of 1999, he and James were driving to the Jersey shore when his Buick broke down near the Meadowlands. As it happened, his bureau car was parked nearby, at a secret office location, and O'Neill switched cars. One of the most frequently violated rules in the bureau is the use of an official vehicle for personal reasons, and O'Neill's infraction might have been overlooked had he not let James enter the building to use the bathroom. "I had no idea what it was," she told me. Still, when the F.B.I. learned about the violation, apparently from an agent who had been caught using the site as an auto-repair shop, O'Neill was reprimanded and docked fifteen days' pay. He regarded the bureau's action as part of a pattern. "The last two years of his life, he got very paranoid," James told me. "He was convinced there were people out to get him."

In March, 2001, Richard Clarke asked the national-security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, for a job change; he wanted to concentrate on computer security. "I was told, 'You've got to recommend somebody similar to be your replacement,' " Clarke recalled. "I said, 'Well, there's only one person who would fit that bill.' " For months, Clarke tried to persuade O'Neill to become a candidate as his successor.

O'Neill had always harbored two aspirations—to become a deputy director of the bureau in Washington or to take over the New York office. Freeh was retiring in June, so there were likely to be some vacancies at the top, but the investigation into the briefcase incident would likely block any promotion in the bureau. O'Neill viewed Clarke's job as, in many ways, a perfect fit for him. But he was financially pressed, and Clarke's job paid no more than he was making at the F.B.I. Throughout the summer, O'Neill refused to commit himself to Clarke's offer. He talked about it with a number of friends but became alarmed when he thought that headquarters might hear of it. "He called me in a worked-up state," Clarke recalled. "He said that people in the C.I.A. and elsewhere know you are considering recommending me for your job. You have to tell them it's not true." Clarke dutifully called a friend in the agency, even though O'Neill still wanted to be a candidate for the position.

In July, O'Neill heard of a job opening in the private sector which would pay more than twice his government salary—that of chief of security for the World Trade Center. Although the Justice Department dropped its inquiry into the briefcase incident, the bureau was conducting an internal investigation of its own. O'Neill was aware that the Times was preparing a story about the affair, and he learned that the reporters also knew about the incident in New Jersey involving James and had classified information that probably came from the bureau's investigative files.The leak seemed to be timed to destroy O'Neill's chance of being confirmed for the N.S.C. job. He decided to retire.

O'Neill suspected that the source of the information was either Tom Pickard or Dale Watson. The antagonism between him and Pickard was well known. "I've got a pretty good Irish temper and so did John," Pickard, who retired last November, told me. But he insisted that their differences were professional, not personal. The leak was "somebody being pretty vicious to John," but Pickard maintained that he did not do it. "I'd take a polygraph to it," he said. Watson told me, "If you're asking me who leaks F.B.I. information, I have no idea. I know I don't, and I know that Tom Pickard doesn't, and I know that the director doesn't." For all the talk about polygraphs, the bureau ruled out an investigation into the source of the leak, despite an official request by Barry Mawn, in New York.

Meanwhile, intelligence had been streaming in concerning a likely Al Qaeda attack. "It all came together in the third week in June," Clarke said. "The C.I.A.'s view was that a major terrorist attack was coming in the next several weeks." On July 5th, Clarke summoned all the domestic security agencies—the Federal Aviation Administration, the Coast Guard, Customs, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, and the F.B.I.—and told them to increase their security in light of an impending attack.

On August 19th, the Times ran an article about the briefcase incident and O'Neill's forthcoming retirement, which was to take place three days later. There was a little gathering for coffee as he packed up his office.

When O'Neill told ABC's Isham of his decision to work at the Trade Center, Isham had said jokingly, "At least they're not going to bomb it again." O'Neill had replied, "They'll probably try to finish the job." On the day he started at the Trade Center—August 23rd—the C.I.A. sent a cable to the F.B.I. saying that two suspected Al Qaeda terrorists were already in the country. The bureau tried to track them down, but the addresses they had given when they entered the country proved to be false, and the men were never located.

When he was growing up in Atlantic City, O'Neill was an altar boy at St. Nicholas of Tolentine Church. On September 28th, a week after his body was found in the rubble of the World Trade Center, a thousand mourners gathered at St. Nicholas to say farewell. Many of them were agents and policemen and members of foreign intelligence services who had followed O'Neill into the war against terrorism long before it became a rallying cry for the nation. The hierarchy of the F.B.I. attended, including the now retired director Louis Freeh. Richard Clarke, who says that he had not shed a tear since September 11th, suddenly broke down when the bagpipes played and the casket passed by.

O'Neill's last weeks had been happy ones. The moment he left the F.B.I., his spirits had lifted. He talked about getting a new Mercedes to replace his old Buick. He told Anna that they could now afford to get married. On the last Saturday night of his life, he attended a wedding with Valerie, and they danced nearly every number. He told a friend within Valerie's hearing, "I'm gonna get her a ring."

On September 10th, O'Neill called Robert Tucker, a friend and security-company executive, and arranged to get together that evening to talk about security issues at the Trade Center. Tucker met O'Neill in the lobby of the north tower, and the two men rode the elevator up to O'Neill's new office, on the thirty-fourth floor. "He was incredibly proud of what he was doing," Tucker told me. Then they went to a bar at the top of the tower for a drink. Afterward, they headed uptown to Elaine's, where they were joined by their friend Jerry Hauer. Around midnight, the three men dropped in on the China Club, a night spot in midtown. "John made the statement that he thought something big was going to happen," Hauer recalled.

Valerie James waited up for O'Neill. He didn't come in until 2:30 A.M. "The next morning, I was frosty," she recalled. "He came into my bathroom and put his arms around me. He said, 'Please forgive me.' " He offered to drive her to work, and dropped her off at eight-thirteen in the flower district, where she had an appointment, and headed to the Trade Center.

At 8:46 A.M., when American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the north tower, John P. O'Neill, Jr., was on a train to New York, to install some computer equipment and visit his father's new office. From the window of the train he saw smoke coming from the Trade Center. He called his father on his cell phone. "He said he was O.K. He was on his way out to assess the damage," John, Jr., recalled.

Valerie James was arranging flowers in her office when "the phones started ringing off the hook." A second airliner had just hit the south tower. "At nine-seventeen, John calls," James remembered. He said, "Honey, I want you to know I'm O.K. My God, Val, it's terrible. There are body parts everywhere. Are you crying?" he asked. She was. Then he said, "Val, I think my employers are dead. I can't lose this job."

"They're going to need you more than ever," she told him.

At nine-twenty-five, Anna DiBattista, who was driving to Philadelphia on business, received a call from O'Neill. "The connection was good at the beginning," she recalled. "He was safe and outside. He said he was O.K. I said, 'Are you sure you're out of the building?' He told me he loved me. I knew he was going to go back in."

Wesley Wong, an F.B.I. agent who had known O'Neill for more than twenty years, raced over to the north tower to help set up a command center. "John arrived on the scene," Wong recalled. "He asked me if there was any information I could divulge. I knew he was now basically an outsider. One of the questions he asked was 'Is it true the Pentagon has been hit?' I said, 'Gee, John, I don't know. Let me try to find out.' At one point, he was on his cell phone and he was having trouble with the reception and started walking away. I said, 'I'll catch up with you later.' "

Wong last saw O'Neill walking toward the tunnel leading to the second tower.

O'Neill Versus Osama
By Robert Kolker
December 17, 2001

Most of the victims of the September 11 attack seemed tragically random -- they were just going to work. Not John O'Neill. Until last August, he'd been the FBI's top expert on Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, a lead investigator of the USS Cole and African embassy bombings. Leaving the Bureau in frustration, he'd taken a job he thought of as retirement: World Trade Center security chief. But when he died it became clear: His own life contained as many mysteries as his enemy's. [Continue reading at]:

FBI terrorist fighter's body found at WTC

NEW YORK (CNN) --The body of John P. O'Neill, a former assistant director of the FBI and an expert on terrorism, was recovered Friday from the rubble of the World Trade Center.

O'Neill had recently retired from the FBI and had just taken over security for the World Trade Center, said New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik.

"That Tuesday was his first or second day on the job," Kerik said Friday in an interview with CNN's Larry King Live. . "He was going to go into One World Trade, the tower one, and when the strike came he went into the second tower in an attempt to help people get out of the building and he died there. We found his body today."

O'Neill, 50, was the chief of international terrorism operations for the FBI. He supervised on-site investigations of the bombing by terrorists of the USS Cole in Yemen last year, and the 1998 attacks on the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

A 1996 article published in the Van Impe Intelligence Briefing quoted O'Neill as saying, "No longer is it just the fear of being attacked by international terrorist organizations -- attacks against Americans and American interests overseas. A lot of these groups now have the capability and the support infrastructure in the United States to attack us here if they choose to do so."

In a 1997 speech to a meeting of the National Strategy Forum in Chicago, he called Afghanistan's conflict with Russia "a major watershed event" in terrorism.

Aided by the United States, Afghanistan "beat one of the largest standing armies in the world at that time, which gave them a buoyed sense of success and that they could take on other countries like the U.S. and be likewise successful," he said.

"John was a very good friend ... a great guy, a patriotic American," said New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. "Our hearts and sympathy and condolences go out to his family."

John O'Neill, Assassinated

John P. O'Neill Wall of Heroes

Rove and "All the _resident's men" might view this list as a carbon copy of their cabal's growing "enemies list." The individuals and groups cited here have acted or spoken heroically in defense of the US Constitution (in particular, the sanctity of the vote and the freedom of the press) as well as the UN Charter, the NATO alliance, the national security of the US, the economic security of the US, the environmental security of the US and/or other vital principles and institutions.

(NOTE: There are many others not yet listed here. This list is meant to be representative, not all-inclusive. Click on Explosive Books and "Vital Links" for authors (e.g., Mark Crispin Miller), columnists (e.g., Paul Krugman) and Information Rebellion Web sites (e.g., Buzzflash) that have fueled the resistance! All of them also, by right, deserve to have their names scrawled on the wall of heroes.)

US and British government officials or employees who resigned in protest and/or have spoken out:

John O'Neill, FBI counterterrorism investigator who resigned in frustration with the _resident's administration, went to work as security chief of the World Trade Center and died on 9/11 attempting to rescue others. The remarkable story of John O'Neil is told in the French best-seller Forbidden Truth, in a lengthy New Yorker magazine feature, and in an hour-long PBS Frontline documentary.

Richard Clarke, US Counterterrorism Czar, National Security Council official, who exposed the _resident's incompetence both pre-9/11 and post-9/11 in his book, Against All Enemies, and under oath at the 9/11 commission hearings.

Rand Beers, National Security Council official, resigned in protest over the _resident's handling of the "war on terrorism," spoke out publicly and went to work for Sen. John Kerry (D-Mekong Delta).

Joseph Wilson, former Poppy Bush ambassador to Iraq, spoke out publicly denouncing the _resident for using the "Niger uranium" lie in the 2003 SOTU as a justification for the war in Iraq.

Greg Thielmann, former State Dept. intelligence official, who spoke out publicly on the _resident's trumped up excuses for his unilateral, "pre-emptive" war in Iraq.

Eric Schaeffer, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) official, who resigned in protest and spoke out publicly to denounce the _resident's pro-polluter actions within the EPA.

Colleen Rawley, FBI investigator who blew the whistle and spoke publicly about how her attempts to get action on pre-9/11 intelligence on Al-Qaeda pilot training in the US were blocked by officials at the _resident's Just Us Dept. in D.C.

Sibel Edmonds, former FBI translator who is blowing the whistle on the White House's 9/11 cover-up.

Paul O'Neill, the _resident's former Treasury Secretary, who reported on the Bush administration obsession with Iraq and talk early on of removing Saddam Hussein.

Roger Cressey, terrorism expert in both Democratic and Republican administrations, quoted on NBC: Is Cressey saying that some senior members of the Bush administration viewed Saddam Hussein as a greater threat to the United States than Osama bin Laden? "Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. It was inconceivable to them that al-Qaida could be this talented, this capable without Iraq, in this case, providing them real support."

Robin Cook, Glenda Jackson and Clair Short, members of the British cabinet, Labor Party MPs, who resigned in protest of various misdeeds by the-shell-of-a-man-formerly-known-as-Tony Blair.

Michael Meacher, who resigned as UK Environment Minister, who wrote in the Guardian that "the war on terrorism is a smokescreen and that the US knew in advance about the September 11 attack on New York but, for strategic reasons, chose not to act on the warnings"

Dr. David Kelly, UK's leading bio-war expert, found dead in an alleged suicide (under investigation by a special inquiry in the UK) after being "outed" as the source for a BBC story on false allegations about WMD made by the-shell-of-a-man-formerly-known-as-Tony Blair in the ramp up the war in Iraq.

Katharine Gun, who worked as a translator at Britain's super-secret Government Communications Headquarters and now faces up to two years in prison

Andrew Wilkie, Australian intelligence officer, who gave testimony on the lies which the US, UK and Australian governments fed to their peoples.

Judge Guido Calabresi, 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals

Nicole Rank, a FEMA worker in West Virginia, and her husband Jeff, who were handcuffed and arrested at a 4th of July event for wearing anti-Bush tee-shirts

former U.S. Park Police Chief Teresa Chambers, fired for speaking the truth about the Bush Abomination

Michael F. Scheuer (aka "Anonymous") US CIA

James Hansen NASA

U.S. elected officials and U.S. former elected officials:

Congressional Black Caucus

Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-WV), who has made several speeches, denouncing the _resident's rush to war and articulating the danger to the Republic poised by the _resident's arrogance and misguided policies. These powerful orations, delivered while too many other Senators simply went along with the war cry, will go down in history as among the most important ever made from the floor of the U.S. Senate.

Former Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fraudida), who has spoke out on the 9/11 cover-up since the most painful days of mid-September 2001, who has courageously and relentlessly demanded full disclosure on what didn't happen pre-9/11, and who has even calmly discussed "impeachment."

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI), the only Senator to vote against the so-called PATRIOT ACT.

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), who has courageously and relentlessly demanded full disclosure in numerous scandals involving "all the _resident's men," incuding his demand that then NBC chairman Jack Welch release an election night newsroom video tape which allegedly records his instructions for NBC news to call the election for Bush in spite of the chaos that had broken out in Fraudida, as well as his demand for the release of VICE _resident's Cheney's "Energy Task Force" documents.

Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA), quoted in Associated Press: Rep. Jim McDermott, who drew headlines across the globe last year for criticizing President Bush while in Baghdad, is enmeshed in a new controversy over remarks he made about the capture of Saddam Hussein...Asked again if he meant to imply the Bush administration timed the capture for political reasons, McDermott said: "I don't know that it was definitely planned on this weekend, but I know they've been in contact with people all along who knew basically where he was. It was just a matter of time till they'd find him. "It's funny," McDermott added, "when they're having all this trouble, suddenly they have to roll out something."

Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA.) who spoke out on the record in the US Congress, demanding answers to numerous disturbing questions about what didn't happen before 9/11 and what did happen on and immediately after 9/11. McKinney lost her seat when she was defeated in a "Democratic" primary after being redistricted, in the months following her then explosive and now not so outrageous speech. She has since been voted back into the U.S. House of Representatives.

Former Senator Max Cleland (D-Georgia)Now outspoken member of the independent 9/11 commission investigation, robbed of his Senate seat duew to a) the shameless attack orchestrated by the Bush cabal's political hitmen and a) some "touch screen voting" technology

Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-MN) and Gov. Mel Carnahan (D-Misery), both of whom died in mysterious small plane crashes during hotly contested US Senate campaigns.

Rep. Doug Bereuter (R-NE)

Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE)

former Rep. Bob Barr (R-GA)

Howard Dean (D-Jeffords)

President-Elect Al Gore

Former Senators Gary Hart (D-CO) and Warren Rudman (R-NH), for highlighting the need for real Homeland Security as opposed to the crayola crayon folly of the _resident's Dept. of Homeland Insecurity

Former US President Jimmy Carter

Former Lt. Gov. of Texas Ben Barnes

Former Minnestoa Governor Elmer Anderson (R), who wrote in the Star-Tribune: "I am more fearful for the state of this nation than I have ever been -- because this country is in the hands of an evil man: Dick Cheney. It is eminently clear that it is he who is running the country, not George W. Bush."

U.S. Military and Intelligence (active and retired):

Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, US Army
General William Odom, former NSA Director
Admiral Stansfield Turner, former CIA Director
Captain Ian Fishback, US Army
Brigadier General Janet Karpinski
Col. Lew Tyree, US Army Reserve, quoted in Charleston (WV) Gazette: "I feel we were not told the truth. I do not think we should be there. America is in more danger now because we are using up a tremendous amount of human resources, the soldiers. We tend to ignore that there are well over 1,000 dead and well over 7,000 injured. We use many of the soldiers time and time again. Where are the replacements going to come from? We're getting re-enlistments, but not recruits. Where is the strength for defending this country in another arena?"
Staff Sgt. Charles Pollard, quoted in Washington Post
Spc. Clinton Deitz , "If Donald Rumsfeld was here," he said, "I'd ask him for his resignation," quoted on ABC News
Air Force Lt Col Karen Kwiatkowski), in Knight Ridder, "If one is seeking the answers to why peculiar bits of 'intelligence' found sanctity in a presidential speech, or why the post-Saddam [Hussein] occupation [of Iraq] has been distinguished by confusion and false steps, one need look no further than the process inside the Office of the Secretary of Defense [OSD]."
Pfc. Isaac Kindblade), in The Oregonian, "The president says, 'Bring 'em on.' The generals say we don't need more troops. Well, they're not over here."
Tim Predmore, 101st Airborne, quoted in the Independent: "I once believed that I served for a cause: 'To uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States'. Now I no longer believe that," Tim Predmore, a member of the 101st Airborne Division serving near Mosul, wrote n a blistering opinion piece this week for his home newspaper, the Peoria Journal Star in Illinois. "I can no longer justify my service for what I believe to be half-truths and bold lies."
Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki, who challenged the fantasy spun by Don Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz and correctly insisted that several hundred thousand troops would be needed to pacify Iraq.
Ray McGovern, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity
Wesley Clark, former NATO Supreme Commander
Anthony Zinni, retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni, former head of Central Command for U.S. forces in the Middle East, who said of "all the _resident's men" -- "I'm not sure which planet they live on..."
Colonel David Hackworth, US Army (Retired), quoted in Salon calling Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld an "asshole" who "misunderstood the whole war" and he predicted that American troops could be stuck in Iraq for "at least" another 30 years.
Larry C. Johnson is a member of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity. He served with the CIA from 1985 through 1989 and worked in the State Department's office of Counter Terrorism from 1989 through 1993. He also is a registered Republican who contributed financially to the Bush Campaign in 2000.
And many, many others named and unnamed...

US News & Media:

Bill Moyers, PBS NOW
Walter Cronkite, retired CBS anchor man
Helen Thomas, UPI correspondent
Charles MacArthur, Harper's Publisher who accused the "US mainstream news media" of proffering up Bush administration war propaganda
Bernie Ward KGO Radio
Ray TalieferoKGO Radio
Amy Goodman Democracy Now, Pacifica
Christiana AmanpourCNN
Howard Stern
Dom Imus
Rick Mercier of the Free Lance-Star (Fredricksburg, VA), who, ala Richard Clarke, apologized in an op-ed piece for the news media's failure to honestly cover the Iraq war.

9/11 Families and Families of US GIs in Iraq
[There are many names to list here, but these are at least worthy examples.]

Cindy Sheehan
Mindy Kleinberg, Patty Casazza, Lori van Auken, Kristen Breitweiser, four New Jersey women widowed on 9/11 are demanding real answers to real questions
Ellen Mariani, widow of 9/11 victim, who is suing the _resident, the VICE _resident and others under the RICO Act
Cherie Block, whose husband is in Iraq, quoted in the Chicago Tribune: "Either he doesn't really understand what's going on, or he's not telling it the way it really is," said Block, whose husband Wallace is a sergeant with the 129th Company.
Jane Bright, whose son died in Iraq, quoted in the Guardian: "I don't care what the administration says about flag-waving and children throwing flowers. It is just not true. The stories coming back are horrific. All he told me was that he had seen and done some horrible things, that they had all done and seen some terrible things."
Jill Kiehl, widow of Army Specialist James Kiehl, quoted in Reuters: "The evidence that's starting to come out now feels like he (Bush) was misleading us," Kiehl said, holding the couple's 10-month-old son Nathaniel, born seven weeks after his father died.
Nadia McCaffrey "...a California resident, defied the Bush administration by inviting news cameras to photograph the arrival of her son's casket from Iraq. The White House has banned photography of flag-draped coffins arriving at air force bases, but because Patrick McCaffrey's remains were flown into the Sacramento International airport, his mother was able to invite the photographers inside. "I don't care what [President Bush] wants," Ms McCaffrey declared, telling her local newspaper: "Enough war." (Guardian)
Lila Lipscomb: "Freed from the military censors who prevent soldiers from speaking their minds when alive, Lila Lipscomb has also shared her son's doubts about his work in Iraq. In Fahrenheit 9/11, she reads from a letter Michael mailed home. "What in the world is wrong with George, trying to be like his dad, Bush. He got us out here for nothing whatsoever. I'm so furious right now, Mama." (Guardian)
And many, many others...

Business and Economics:

George Soros, who has taken out full page ads in major city newspapers in the US to document the numerous untruths in the _resident's argument unliteral, "pre-emptive" for war in Iraq.
Ted Turner, former CNN owner, who has denounced the -resident on the environment, the UN, the war in Iraq and other vital issues
George A. Akerlof, 2001 Nobel prize laureate who
teaches economics at the University of California in Berkeley, quoted in Der Speigel: "I think this is the worst government the US has ever had in its more than 200 years of history. It has engaged in extradordinarily irresponsible policies not only in foreign policy and economics but also in social and environmental policy. This is not normal government policy. Now is the time for (American) people to engage in civil disobedience. I think it's time to protest - as much as possible."


Gore Vidal
Arundhati Roy
Carlos Fuentes

Entertainment and Media:

Michael Moore
Dixie Chicks
Bruce Springsteen
Sean P. Diddy Combs
Ron Reagan, for speaking the truth about the Bush Abomination during the media coverage of his father's passing
Margaret Cho
Linda Ronstadt
Bonnie Raitt
Madonna, for endorsing Wesley Clark (D-NATO)
Laurie David, Larry David & Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Cher, for calling C-SPAN about her visit the maimed US GIs from Iraq
Merle Haggard
Sean Penn
Barbara Streisand
Robert Redford
Susan Sarandon & Tim Robbins
Martin Sheen
George Clooney
Kanye West
Harry Belafonte
Danny Glover

International Leaders and Officials:

Nelson Mandela, South Africa
Kofi Annan, UN Secretary General
Jacque Chirac, France
Helmut Schroeder, Germany
Pope John Paul
Jacque Cretien, Canada
Hans Blix, former UN Weapons Inspector
Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba , Hiroshima, quoted in Agence France Press: "The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the central international agreement guiding the elimination of nuclear weapons, is on the verge of collapse. The chief cause is US nuclear policy that, by openly declaring the possibility of a pre-emptive nuclear first strike and calling for resumed research into mini-nukes and other so-called 'useable nuclear weapons,' appears to worship nuclear weapons as God"

Tribute To John P. O'Neill
An FBI Agent Who Stood Tall
By Martin Dillon

Aug. 29, 2001

Someday someone will die and the public will not understand why we were not more effective and throwing every resource we had at certain problems. [How many days before 9/11?]

FBI agent's e-mail response to headquarters

EXPOSED: Bush Planned on Invading Iraq Before 9/11-Part 1

EXPOSED: Bush Planned on Invading Iraq Before 9/11-Part 2

Above videos contain John O'Neill; A Human We Were Fond Of - digg

Asda carrotcam The supermarket has installed webcams to let customers watch their food being washed and packaged
Kipper Williams

Asda carrotcam The supermarket has installed webcams to let customers watch their food being washed and packaged...

Microsoft's grinning robots or the Brotherhood of the Mac. Which is worse?

Windows works for me. But I'd never recommend it to anybody else, ever.

by Charlie Brooker, The Guardian

I admit it: I'm a bigot. A hopeless bigot at that: I know my particular prejudice is absurd, but I just can't control it. It's Apple. I don't like Apple products. And the better-designed and more ubiquitous they become, the more I dislike them. I blame the customers. Awful people. Awful. Stop showing me your iPhone. Stop stroking your Macbook. Stop telling me to get one.

Seriously, stop it. I don't care if Mac stuff is better. I don't care if Mac stuff is cool. I don't care if every Mac product comes equipped a magic button on the side that causes it to piddle gold coins and resurrect the dead and make holographic unicorns dance inside your head. I'm not buying one, so shut up and go home. Go back to your house. I know, you've got an iHouse. The walls are brushed aluminum. There's a glowing Apple logo on the roof. And you love it there. You absolute MONSTER.

Of course, it's safe to assume Mac products are indeed as brilliant as their owners make out. Why else would they spend so much time trying to convert non-believers? They're not getting paid. They simply want to spread their happiness, like religious crusaders.

Consequently, nothing pleases them more than watching a PC owner struggle with a slab of non-Mac machinery. It validates their spiritual choice. Recently I sat in a room trying to write something on a Sony Vaio PC laptop which seemed to be running a special slow-motion edition of Windows Vista specifically designed to infuriate human beings as much as possible. Trying to get it to do anything was like issuing instructions to a depressed employee over a sluggish satellite feed. When I clicked on an application it spent a small eternity contemplating the philosophical implications of opening it, begrudgingly complying with my request several months later. It drove me up the wall. I called it a bastard and worse. At one point I punched a table.

This drew the attention of two nearby Mac owners. They hovered over and stood beside me, like placid monks.

"Ah: the delights of Vista," said one.

"It really is time you got a Mac," said the other.

"They're just better," sang monk number one.

"You won't regret it," whispered the second.

I scowled and returned to my infernal machine, like a dishevelled park-bench boozer shrugging away two pious AA recruiters by pulling a grubby, dented hip flask from his pocket and pointedly taking an extra deep swig. Leave me alone, I thought. I don't care if you're right. I just want you to die.

I know Windows is awful. Everyone knows Windows is awful. Windows is like the faint smell of piss in a subway: it's there, and there's nothing you can do about it. OK, OK: I know other operating systems are available. But their advocates seem even creepier, snootier and more insistent than Mac owners. The harder they try to convince me, the more I'm repelled. To them, I'm a sheep. And they're right. I'm a helpless, stupid, lazy sheep. I'm also a masochist. And that's why I continue to use Windows – horrible Windows – even though I hate every second of it. It's grim, it's slow, everything's badly designed and nothing really works properly: using Windows is like living in a communist bloc nation circa 1981. And I wouldn't change it for the world, because I'm an abject bloody idiot and I hate myself, and this is what I deserve: to be sentenced to Windows for life.

That's why Windows works for me. But I'd never recommend it to anybody else, ever. This puts me in line with roughly everybody else in the world. No one has ever earnestly turned to a fellow human being and said, "Hey, have you considered Windows?" Not in the real world at any rate.

Until now. Microsoft, hellbent on tackling the conspicuous lack of word-of-mouth recommendation, is encouraging people – real people – to host "Windows 7 launch parties" to celebrate the 22 October release of, er, Windows 7. The idea is that you invite a group of friends – your real friends – to your home – your real home – and entertain them with a series of Windows 7 tutorials. So you show them how to burn a CD, how to make a little video, how to change the wallpaper, and how to, oh no, hang on it's not supposed to do that, oh, I think it's frozen, um, er, let me just, um, no that's not it, um, er, um, er, so how's it going with you and Kathy anyway, um, er, OK well see you around I guess.

To assist the party-hosting massive, they've also uploaded a series of spectacularly cringeworthy videos to YouTube, in which the four most desperate actors in the world stand around in a kitchen sharing tips on how best to indoctrinate guests in the wonder of Windows. If they were staring straight down the lens reading hints off a card it might be acceptable; instead they have been instructed to pretend to be friends. The result is the most nauseating display of artificial camaraderie since the horrific Doritos "Friendchips" TV campaign (which caused 50,000 people to kill themselves in 2003, or should have done).

It's so terrible, it induces an entirely new emotion: a blend of vertigo, disgust, anger and embarrassment which I like to call "shitasmia". It not only creates this emotion: it defines it. It's the most shitasmic cultural artefact in history. Watch it for yourself.

Still, bad though it is, I vaguely prefer the clumping, clueless, uncool, crappiness of Microsoft's bland Stepford gang to the creepy assurance of the average Mac evangelist. At least the grinning dildos in the Windows video are fictional, whereas eerie replicant Mac monks really are everywhere, standing over your shoulder in their charcoal pullovers, smirking with amusement at your hopelessly inferior OS, knowing they're better than you because they use Mac OS X v10.6 Snow Leopard.

Snow Leopard. SNOW LEOPARD.

I don't care if you're right. I just want you to die.

Will California become America's first failed state?

Los Angeles, 2009: California may be the eighth largest economy in the world, but its state government is issuing IOUs, unemployment is at its highest in 70 years, and teachers are on hunger strike. So what has gone so catastrophically wrong?

by Paul Harris, The Observer, [Continue Reading At:]

Waitrose dumps Fox News in protest over remarks about Barack Obama

The supermarket chain withdrew its advertising in response to comments made by Glenn Beck on his show

by Sam Jones,

Waitrose, which prides itself more on its "quality food, honestly priced" than staring down rightwing attack dogs, has become the latest firm to pull its ads from Fox News after presenter Glenn Beck's remarks about the US president.

In July, Beck called Obama "a racist" with "a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture" after the president said that police in Cambridge, Massachusetts, had "acted stupidly" in arresting the distinguished professor Henry Louis Gates as he entered his own home.

Beck's outburst prompted dozens of companies – among them Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Travelocity – to withdraw their adverts from his show for fear that their businesses might become tainted by association.

Now Waitrose, which advertises on the channel carried by Sky in Britain, has followed suit after customers complained about the Glenn Beck Show. [Continue Reading At:]

The Republican party is guided by spite

Venom from Republicans is familiar, but this is a new low – and it's a clue to America's core problems by Paul Krugman,

There was what President Obama likes to call a teachable moment last week, when the International Olympic Committee rejected Chicago's bid to be host of the 2016 summer games.

"Cheers erupted" at the headquarters of the conservative Weekly Standard, according to a blogpost by a member of the magazine's staff, with the headline "Obama loses! Obama loses!". Rush Limbaugh declared himself "gleeful". "World Rejects Obama," gloated the Drudge Report. And so on.

So what did we learn from this moment? For one thing, we learned that the modern conservative movement, which dominates the modern Republican party, has the emotional maturity of a bratty 13-year-old. But more important, the episode illustrated an essential truth about the state of American politics: At this point, the guiding principle of one of our nation's two great political parties is spite, pure and simple. If Republicans think something might be good for the president, they're against it whether or not it's good for America.

To be sure, while celebrating America's rebuff by the Olympic committee was puerile, it didn't do any real harm. But the same principle of spite has determined Republican positions on more serious matters, with potentially serious consequences in particular, in the debate over healthcare reform.

Now, it's understandable that many Republicans oppose Democratic plans to extend insurance coverage just as most Democrats opposed President Bush's attempt to convert social security into a sort of giant 401(k). The two parties do, after all, have different philosophies about the appropriate role of government.

But the tactics of the two parties have been different. In 2005, when Democrats campaigned against social security privatisation, their arguments were consistent with their underlying ideology: they argued that replacing guaranteed benefits with private accounts would expose retirees to too much risk.

The Republican campaign against healthcare reform, by contrast, has shown no such consistency. For the main line of attack is the claim based mainly on lies about death panels and so on that reform will undermine Medicare. And this line of attack is utterly at odds both with the party's traditions and with what conservatives claim to believe.

Think about just how bizarre it is for Republicans to position themselves as the defenders of unrestricted Medicare spending. First of all, the modern Republican party considers itself the party of Ronald Reagan, and Reagan was a fierce opponent of Medicare's creation, warning that it would destroy American freedom. (Honest.) In the 1990s, Newt Gingrich tried to force drastic cuts in Medicare financing. And in recent years, Republicans have repeatedly decried the growth in entitlement spending that is largely driven by rising healthcare costs.

But the Obama administration's plan to expand coverage relies in part on savings from Medicare. And since the GOP opposes anything that might be good for Obama, it has become the passionate defender of ineffective medical procedures and overpayments to insurance companies.

How did one of our great political parties become so ruthless, so willing to embrace scorched-earth tactics even if so doing undermines the ability of any future administration to govern?

The key point is that ever since the Reagan years, the Republican party has been dominated by radicals, ideologues and/or apparatchiks who, at a fundamental level, do not accept anyone else's right to govern.

Anyone surprised by the venomous, over-the-top opposition to Obama must have forgotten the Clinton years. Remember when Limbaugh suggested that Hillary Clinton was a party to murder? When Gingrich shut down the federal government in an attempt to bully Bill Clinton into accepting those Medicare cuts? And let's not even talk about the impeachment saga.

The only difference now is that the Republican party is in a weaker position, having lost control not just of Congress but, to a large extent, of the terms of debate. The public no longer buys conservative ideology the way it used to; the old attacks on "big government" and paeans to the magic of the marketplace have lost their resonance. Yet conservatives retain their belief that they, and only they, should govern.

The result has been a cynical, ends-justify-the-means approach. Hastening the day when the rightful governing party returns to power is all that matters, so the Republicans will seize any club at hand with which to beat the current administration. It's an ugly picture. But it's the truth. And it's a truth anyone trying to find solutions to America's real problems has to understand. - © New York Times

America's memo to bloggers: don't lie, or we'll fine you

US regulators say they will fine bloggers who fail to disclose their relationships with advertisers. Can the scheme possibly work?

The long-running debate over freedom of speech on the internet took a new twist yesterday, when America's most important regulators - the Federal Communications Commission - decided to approve new rules to stop independent bloggers from hiding their links to advertisers.

More accurately, the FCC has put forward a new series of guidelines designed to encourage fair and transparent product reviews online - including an attempt to regulate "payola" on websites and blogs. The possible consequence of breaking those rules? A fine of up to $11,000 (more than £6,800 in real money).

Payola schemes - where web users are offered money or gifts to write about certain services or products - have increased in recent years, as marketers realise that there's a lot of hay to be made by using freebies and cash incentives to encourage bloggers, web users and forum contributors to produce reviews or testimonials. At its worst, it is a form of astroturfing, the pernicious practice of trying to trick people into thinking that has widespread support from ordinary members of the public.

However, the FCC's guidelines - which are detailed in this press release - could also stretch to sites like Facebook and Twitter, according to this CNet report. It says that FTC bigwig Richard Cleland said he "plans to keep tabs on social networks as well as blogs".

The rules also look at celebrity endorsements and generic testimonials, and were voted in unanimously by FCC commissioners. That means they aren't strictly law - nor do they specify exactly how bloggers must provide disclosure of their relationships with companies. But they do make a few things clear:

The revised Guides specify that while decisions will be reached on a case-by-case basis, the post of a blogger who receives cash or in-kind payment to review a product is considered an endorsement.

Thus, bloggers who make an endorsement must disclose the material connections they share with the seller of the product or service.

The idea has, unsurprisingly, enraged those who don't believe that the government has the right to start regulating what people say (even if it's misleading). That includes Guardian columnist Jeff Jarvis, who - despite his hatred of payola - calls it a "monument to unintended consequence, hidden dangers and dangerous assumptions".

One thing I am pretty sure about: this will be used by some journalists as a way to beat bloggers up. Payola is, after all, one area that journalism (stuck in its tedious and everlasting love-hate spiral with blogging) has often taken the sniffy high ground. Without a code of ethics and transparency, journalists often point out, bloggers are simply targets for unethical marketers. And while there's certainly truth in that - marketers have certainly latched onto the concept, not least the controversial company PayPerPost - it's also a bit rich to assume that every journalist or publication in America is a paragon of ethical virtue (or indeed unaffected by outside influences).

Anyway. Right now, I'm not entirely sure whether I think this is a good thing or not. The intention is clearly honourable, but I'm not sure what they mean in practice - the guidelines are 81 pages long and I haven't finished reading them yet. Is it possible to regulate the internet in this way? And even if it possible, would it potentially restrict other areas of online life? Any thoughts?

Bloggers to Those Behind U.S. Regulators
Angry Cow
How Many Innocent Iraqi Civilians Did You Murder for Bush/Cheney?

Possibly My Last Commentary:


Comment # 9015 - Sara says: October 21, 2009 at 11:50 pm


Comment # 9535 - Guest says: October 22, 2009 at 9:29 am

and this would appear to be the tip of an Iceberg.

Criminal Telecoms face net-neutrality defeat

Use to File Comments About Criminal Telecoms

AT&T enlists employees to oppose Net neutrality

byMarguerite Reardon

Advocacy groups say AT&T has gone too far in its lobbying efforts to oppose the Federal Communications Commission's new proposed Net neutrality regulations.

This week AT&T's top lobbyist Jim Cicconi sent a memo to managers urging them to encourage their families and friends "to join the voices telling the FCC not to regulate the Internet." [Continue Reading At]:

Cartoon of government wire taps on U.S. Citizens from Cagle Cartoons
Telecom Crimes

Violation of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution

Violation of the First Amendment to the Constitution

Unlawful electronic surveillance or disclosure or use of information obtained by electronic surveillance in violation of 50 U.S.C. §1809.

Unlawful interception, use or disclosure of Class communications in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2511

Unlawful solicitation and obtained disclosure of the contents of communications in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2702(a)(1) or (a)(2)

Unlawful solicitation and obtained disclosure of non-content records or other information in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2702(a)(3)

Violation of the Administrative Procedures Act

Violation of the constitutional principle of separation of powers

Telecom Punishment

Congress votes to immunize lawbreaking telecoms, legalize ...
Jul 9, 2008 ... It plainly violates the Fourth Amendment." EFF, the other non-profit organization behind the telecom lawsuits, announced the same, ...

The Democratic-led Congress this afternoon voted to put an end to the NSA spying scandal, as the Senate approved a bill -- approved last week by the House -- to immunize lawbreaking telecoms, terminate all pending lawsuits against them, and vest whole new warrantless eavesdropping powers in the President. The vote in favor of the new FISA bill was 69-28. Barack Obama joined every Senate Republican (and every House Republican other than one) by voting in favor of it, while his now-vanquished primary rival, Sen. Hillary Clinton, voted against it. John McCain wasn't present for any of the votes, but shared Obama's support for the bill. The bill will now be sent to an extremely happy George Bush, who already announced that he enthusiastically supports it, and he will sign it into law very shortly. [Continue Reading]

Senate Approves Telco Amnesty, Legalizes Bush's Secret Spy Program ...
That amendment got 57 votes, but due to an agreement by Senate Majority ..... It's also not in violation of the constitution, as it only applies to non-citizens. ..... 4th. Every law that alters the legal rules of evidence, and receives ... [Continue Reading]

Wiretapping, Telecom Companies, and You | The Legality
Feb 20, 2008 ... Discussion of warantless wiretapping, telecom immunity, ... Warrantless wiretaps violate the Fourth Amendment guarantee of freedom from ...

The telecom companies have a powerful ally in the U.S. federal government: officers of the federal government who approved wiretaps without a warrant may face widespread civil or criminal liability if any wrongdoing comes out in court. The law takes abuse of power very seriously, and under 50 U.S.C. § 1809, an agent of the government who monitors an illegal wiretap or uses information obtained from unlawful surveillance can be punished with a fine of $10,000, five years in jail, or both. [Continue Reading]

cartoon of war on terror people tearing up a house trying to find evidence and not finding it...then they start looking for drugs (the house is torn up).
Top Internet Threats: Censorship to Warrantless Surveillance

By David Kravets

The internet is filled with threats real and imagined, from malicious hackers to government censors.

Beyond the hacks and cracks — and in celebration of Sunshine Week — we've compiled a brief list of some of the biggest public and private threats facing the internet.

Warrantless Government Monitoring: Following the Sept. 11 terror attacks, the practice of wiretapping all internet traffic began in the United States with the Bush administration, and is now being defended in court by the Obama administration. All of the nation's major internet service providers are accused of funneling Americans' online traffic to the National Security Agency without warrants.

Private Censorship: From the mundane to the frightening, the examples run rampant. Wikipedia, the world's most trafficked online reference tool, is subject to shameful spin from trusted names of news organizations to the not so trustworthy engines of commerce. Among the examples, The Boston Globe enhanced the biography of a columnist while deleting information about his alleged plagiarism. Diebold excised an entire section critical of the company's voting machines.

Government Censorship: Reporters Without Borders reported last week that 12 nations — China, Burma, North Korea, Vietnam, Egypt, Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Cuba and Tunisia restrict internet access and often prosecute users for what they post online.

Even in democratic countries, censorship rears its ugly head. On Thursday, a secret blacklist surfaced detailing 2,395 web pages the Australian government is planning to filter from the internet. While about half of them dealt with illegal pornography, the remainder did not. Some of the sites were about gambling, dentists and even dog kennels.

In December, Wikipedia couldn't be edited by users in Britain. The entire site was put on a blacklist because it linked to the 1976 album cover of Virgin Killer by the Scorpions, which featured a nude young girl.

In the United States, a federal judge last year blocked WikiLeaks from operating in the country for a week after the renegade site posted allegedly stolen documents detailing individuals' Swiss bank accounts.

Deep Packet Inspection: Several U.S. internet service providers, including giants like Comcast and Cox Communications, have started inspecting the contents of internet packets, a practice (.pdf) allowing them to monitor, filter and ultimately control the traffic that passes through their pipes. In addition, online advertising services like NebuAd are paying ISPs to let it eavesdrop on web users via DPI.

ISP Tiered Pricing: Major ISPs, including AT&T, Time Warner and Comcast have moved or are gravitating toward pricing services based on the amount of bandwidth individuals use. Theoretically, the plans could unlock the internet door to low-income users. But we suspect the plans are designed to increase profits for ISPs as bandwidth use skyrockets — all of which may have a chilling effect on internet usage.

Recording Industry Association of America Proposes "Three-Strikes" Policy: The record labels are pushing for ISPs to ban service to customers the RIAA claims are file-sharing copyrighted music. Overseas, industry groups like the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry are pursuing similar efforts.

Digital Millennium Copyright Act Abuses: Unwarranted YouTube takedown notices by misguided copyright holders comes immediately to mind — including assertions by Universal Music that it need not consider whether a video, under the DMCA, makes a "fair use" of the copyrighted works in question. Google says 57 percent of takedown notices it received were sent by business targeting competitors and 37 percent were not valid copyright claims.

Tell us what you think are the most threatening threats to the internet:

Continue Reading at:

Cartoon of delivery services snooping by Danziger

Amateur radio operators on front lines during Loma Prieta quake

By Marianne L. Hamilton - Los Gatos Weekly-Times

When the next Big One hits, critical communications by cell phones and landlines will likely be impossible. But in any disaster, several Los Gatos residents will be on the front lines of emergency communications services. They're all amateur radio enthusiasts, more commonly known as ham radio operators.

Ham operators span virtually every demographic, although in Silicon Valley a large percentage make their living as engineers. The two pursuits go hand in hand, says Jack Marshall, an electrical designer and engineer at Boston Scientific who's tinkered with amateur radio equipment for over a decade.

"I got started with it because it connected so well with being an engineer. Suddenly everything I'd been studying made sense, because radio transistors really drove all engineering innovations in the first place."

Marshall and his colleagues all say they live in a constant state of readiness for the next natural disaster. In fact, embedded within the FCC's licensing regulations is verbiage stating that ham operators must do everything possible to "provide essential communication needs in connection with the immediate safety of human life, and immediate protection of property when normal communications systems are not available." Every ham takes this mandate seriously.

Bob Wolbert, now an engineering consultant, was living and working in San Jose when the Loma Prieta earthquake sent the South Bay shaking. After seeing the filing cabinet in his cubicle move a full 2 feet and watching a ceiling tile rocket downward, he dove beneath his desk. When the cataclysm subsided, he ran home and turned on his radio, gave his call sign and asked how he might be of assistance.

"The first day I was assigned to the San Jose Office of Emergency Services, providing communications in and out of the city," he recalls. "There wasn't that much going on in San Jose. But the Santa Cruz side of the mountains was having a lot more trouble, so the second day I was sent to C. T. English Middle School."

The Red Cross had set up a shelter at the Summit Road school, providing food and lodging for local residents displaced by the quake.

"I was able to help them get messages to the outside world," Wolbert says. "Few people in the area were dead or had serious injuries, the way they were in San Francisco and the East Bay, so the urgency here was greatly reduced. But we did have the only means of communications for several days."

During the series of aftershocks that continued to rattle locals in the aftermath of the quake, Wolbert and his fellow hams served as a human seismograph.

"Someone would get on the radio saying they'd just felt a shock, and would relay it to the next station. Sure enough, a minute or two later that operator would sign on and say they'd felt it, and so on. The aftershocks went on that way for about a week before everything quieted down."

Wolbert, who's been a ham operator since the age of 12, is also a long-time member of the Amateur Radio Emergency Service organization, a national network of hams who supplement emergency communications provided by police, fire departments and offices of emergency services.

"That's why I was immediately assigned to a station after the earthquake; I was a known volunteer," Wolbert explains. "On the first night I was holding the microphone for Mayor [Tom] McEnery in San Jose while we were relaying a message to Mayor [Art] Agnos in San Francisco."

Each week, all ham operators stage an on-air meeting called a "net," short for "network." During this session, ham operators sign on and run through drills that keep them rehearsed in the event that they may be needed during a natural disaster (Wolbert was instrumental in keeping the lines of communications open between fire and emergency services personnel for several days during the recent Lockheed fire, which burned dangerously close to his Empire Grade home). Nets also help hams make sure their "go-kits" — which contain battery-operated radio equipment and other gear — are functioning at the highest level.

"We can be deployed in the event of the next Big One," notes Jonathan Knowles, a technical strategist at AutoDesk and active town volunteer. "We grab our kits, and go. Then we're instructed on what frequency to tune into and where we're assigned to help out. That might be a police station or a hospital, or even a rooftop if we need to get up to a certain elevation to relay a signal.

"Some ham operators also may be asked to drive around and report on damage. In some cases we'll follow government officials, to provide communications for them as they're checking on things."

The nets are invaluable in giving ham operators the chance to practice their on-air skills, Knowles says. "In regular conversations both people can talk at the same time, and still hear each other. Radio doesn't work that way: the strongest signal wins, or you get crazy interference. It's very important to have strict protocols for beginning and ending transmissions. Our nets are all very crisp, kind of like the talk between air-traffic controllers."

Regional and county nets keep ham operators further rehearsed, with some drawing upwards of 50 or more participants. One of the most devoted net navigators is Ed Muns, who gave up an engineering career at Hewlett-Packard for life as a winemaker. His passion for ham was indirectly responsible for his vocational shift.

"I've been a ham operator since I was 15," Muns says. "At one point I'd moved to Colorado, and wanted to come back to Los Gatos. I told the real estate agent that I was a ham operator, and would need to find a property that was high enough to relay a signal. He actually brought me topographic maps; amazingly, the first place we looked at was the place I eventually bought."

The 77-acre property, which had once been a vineyard, was mostly a tangle of overgrown weeds and vines. But it did have the one thing Muns sought: uninterrupted sightlines on a high ridge that would allow a clear relay of a radio signal. Today, Muns Vineyards produces award-winning pinot noir, and Muns is a frequent ham "contester." These ham enthusiasts take part in competitions to see who can contact the most far-flung ham stations within a specified amount of time, and exchange information.

"I kind of backed into the vineyard, and it turned out to be my second career," Muns says. "I actually started building my house on Oct. 17, 1989. We were moving dirt around, and I had a semi-truck here. Then around 5 p.m. the ground shifted, and the truck moved sideways; we're only about 3 or 4 miles from the epicenter. A county geologist said our ridge pushed up an entire 2 feet."

Though Muns was not actively involved in the post-quake communications effort, he says he'll never forget the terror and trauma he and his neighbors felt on that day. With their safety in mind, he's constructed an 80-foot antenna tower on his property, to ensure the most efficient signal relay possible. And he relies on contesting to keep himself ready to lend a hand when the next huge temblor rolls through.

"It turns out that contesting and emergency communications have a lot in common," he says. "The equipment and skills you need are very similar, and the communications are very structured. You have to be very efficient, because in an emergency people's lives are at stake."

More information about ham radio operation can be found at the Santa Clara County Amateur Radio Association website, www.

92-year-old's website leaves oil giant Shell-shocked

How online protesters are using 'gripe site' as the focus for their complaints about big business

by Russell Hotten, The Guardian, Monday 26 October 2009

At 92 years old, Alfred Donovan is an unlikely online campaigner. But he and his son John, 62, have been a painful thorn in the side of Royal Dutch Shell for more than a decade. The pair run one of the oldest and most effective "gripe sites", and the oil giant's army of well-paid lawyers do not know how to neutralise them.

The number of so-called "gripe sites", which exist to criticise, mock, and generally annoy companies, people, and institutions, has exploded in recent years, and the trend is set to continue.

Take this month's campaign against the super-injunction obtained by the lawyers Carter Ruck on behalf of Trafigura. Thousands of Twitter users, empowered and astonished at the campaign's success, are expected to look afresh at how the internet can be used to fight against big business.

"The anti-Trafigura campaign really brought home – even to someone like me – the power of the internet and new media," says John Donovan, a former marketing entrepreneur. "Once, you could never hope to take on companies that had loads of money and lawyers. Now there is an alternative to legal action. You can make a big impact with very little cost."

Last week the Donovans were leafleting outside Shell's London HQ to advertise their website, But they hardly need the publicity – the site had more than 2m hits last month – and leafleting was just another way of goading a company they have been at war with since the early 1990s.

The site is so successful that Kremlin officials and US investigators have used it. Journalists, knowing that the site regularly receives juicy leaks from Shell employees, search it for stories. Since setting up his first anti-Shell site in 1995, Donovan estimates he has published about 24,000 articles about the company.

One early and successful gripe site was, founded after the celebrated McLibel trial involving McDonalds in 1997. Another site,, carved a niche as a forum for critics of the Dell computer company. Dell's answer was to engage with its critics rather than use legal muscle to close them down. In contrast the investment bank Goldman Sachs failed in a legal bid against

Katy Howell, the director of Immediate Future, which specialises in social media, believes Dell made a textbook response to its gripe site. "Dell spoke to its critics and responded to their concerns. They turned a negative into a positive," she says.

The Donovans' campaign was prompted by a grievance over claims that Shell stole intellectual property from their marketing company. The legal bills from four court cases in the 1990s almost crippled the two men. Shell fully investigated the Donovans' claims, and in 1999 agreed a "peace deal" under which the pair got an undisclosed sum. However, the payment was far less than the £1m they wanted. The Donovans claim Shell then breached the agreement by talking publicly about the case. Shell denies breaching any part of the agreement with the Donovans.

Since then, Shell is thought to have contacted the Donovans at least once, using a middle man, to resolve the dispute. John Donovan will not comment on this but shows no sign of agreeing to mediation.

Four years ago Shell was embroiled in a bitter dispute with Russia's environmental regulator over drilling for gas at Sakhalin Island. It was eventually forced to relinquish its majority stake in the project, costing Shell billions in lost revenue. Later, the regulator, Oleg Mitvol, publicly acknowledged the Donovans' help in getting information about alleged claims of environmental abuses by Shell. The company has denied breaking any environmental regulations.

Earlier this year the site disclosed plans for thousands of Shell job losses. And now, Donovan says, he is helping US investigators looking into the award of oilfield drilling licenses, providing them with information leaked to his website.

The site has broadened its coverage to include other stories about the oil and gas industry. "I knew when I started the site that if it was static – just with the same story – people would visit us once and never again," says Donovan. "So I brought in a news element, mixing negative but also positive stories about Shell."

But "kicking" Shell is still the site's raison d'etre, and Donovan has no intention of easing up. "My father is 92. So if I live that long there's still plenty of years to pursue my little hobby."

Shell says of the Donovans: "We disagree fundamentally with much of the information and basis on which they make their allegations."

The Donovans live in Essex but the website is hosted in Dallas, Texas, and is incorporated in America as a non-profit operation. US laws offer better protection against closure attempts. Shell tried to regain the website name, calling the Donovans cybersquatters, but in 2005 the World Intellectual Property Organisation dismissed the application.

Would Donovan stop if Shell waved a large cheque? "It's gone beyond money," he says, but he has no doubt that Shell's lawyers are watching closely, waiting for a slip-up that would give the company a chance to go on the attack.

A LIST of Congressional Members enjoying

Nobody Tells the Truth All the Time!
U.S. Department of Defense
Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, March 11, 2002

Question: On this six-month anniversary, how would you sum up the situation of where you are in the war in Afghanistan? And what sort of message does this send to other terrorists and nations such as Iraq -- the victory so far in Afghanistan?

Rumsfeld: Well, I would just say that I think the President of the United States earlier this morning summed up the situation with respect to the war on terrorism perfectly. The -- a great deal has been accomplished. The Taliban government is no longer running the country of Afghanistan. The people have been liberated. The al Qaeda in that country are no longer using the country as a haven or a sanctuary for terrorists -- to conduct terrorist attacks against the rest of the world. We have the al Qaeda in Afghanistan on the run, and we are assisting several other countries around the world with training so that they, too, are able to deal more effectively with the terrorists in their own countries.

Oil Is God to Some
Nothing Will Work Until Bush Administration Murderers Are In Jail

64 bit Architecture and Windows 7
Did this story actually start with a lie during 1995?

A friend sent me an article: Tilera Taunts Intel With a 100-Core Chip by Ashlee Vance, from the New York Times, and if one is into 'tech' this looks like a 'very fine' processor.

This article brought up something from over ten years ago and (imo) shows what happens 'when one really does build a better mouse trap'; but first, some source for the construction of this story from Google news.

How the Boyz in the Back Room Got Rid of
Digital Equipment Corporation

Digital Equipment Corporation sues Intel Corporation for violating microprocessor architecture patents

May 13, 1997: DEC sues Intel for violating microprocessor architecture patents

I Ran 64 bit Windows NT 5 on a DEC Alpha for 10 Years
with only 3 BSODs that were caused by a full disk ~@~

Steve Bell cartoon
Steve Bell

Vegetarian diet is better for the planet, says Lord Stern

Meat wastes water, creates greenhouse gases and could become as socially unacceptable as drink-driving

by David Batty and David Adam,, Monday 26 October 2009 15.37 GMT

Eating meat could become as socially unacceptable as drink-driving because of the impact it has on global warming, according to a senior authority on climate change.

Lord Stern of Brentford, former adviser to the government on the economics of climate change, said people will have to consider turning vegetarian to help reduce global carbon emissions.

"Meat is a wasteful use of water and creates a lot of greenhouse gases. It puts enormous pressure on the world's resources. A vegetarian diet is better," Stern said.

Farmed ruminant animals, including cattle and sheep, are thought to be responsible for up to a quarter of "man-made" methane emissions worldwide.

Stern, whose 2006 Stern Review warned that countries needed to spend 1% of their GDP to stop greenhouse gases rising to dangerous levels, said a successful deal at the climate change conference in Copenhagen in December would massively increase the cost of producing meat.

People's concerns about climate change would lead to meat eating becoming unacceptable, he predicted.

"I think it's important that people think about what they are doing and that includes what they are eating," he told the Times. "I am 61 now and attitudes towards drinking and driving have changed radically since I was a student. People change their notion of what is responsible. They will increasingly ask about the carbon content of their food."

Stern, a former chief economist at the World Bank and now IG Patel Professor of Economics at the London School of Economics, also warned that helping developing countries to cope with the adverse effects of global warming would cost British taxpayers about £3bn a year by 2015.

Meanwhile, an international effort to ensure that biofuel used by Britain and other western countries to tackle global warming does not damage the environment is on the brink of collapse.

The Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), an initiative of companies and campaigners, is divided over the need to control carbon emissions and could break up within days, insiders say.

Ministers last year introduced a demand on fuel suppliers to replace 2.5% of petrol and diesel sold with biofuel, at least 8% of which is currently palm oil.

The RSPO was established to set and enforce environmental standards for palm oil production, but has run into trouble after palm plantation companies in Indonesia and Malaysia blocked efforts to curb their greenhouse gas emissions.

"If this issue is not resolved and greenhouse gas emissions are not included in the standard, then I don't see how the RSPO can continue to act as a certifying body," said Marcus Silvius of environment group Wetlands International, who sits on the RSPO's working group on greenhouse gases.

Flying Snail - News & Views for Remnants of Paradise
Happy BOO !

Amateur Radio Public Seismic NetworkARPSN/Cobb Weather and Seismic Heliplots
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transferring it to the people who live on it.
- Dr. Lucy Jones
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Even Steven's BOPTIME streaming audio WVUD - 91.3 FM
Boptime - Saturday Morning
6 AM East -- 3 AM Pacific -- 1000 UTC
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Mike Wilhelm and his Bottle Rock Blues & Rhythm Band featuring Neon Napalm
Mike Wilhelm & his Bottle Rock Blues & Rhythm Band featuring Neon Knepalm
Visit Mike's Page with Video Links - Free iTunes - MP3 Podcast

Oh, I hope that I see you again I never even caught your name As you looked through my window pane -- So I'm writing this message today I'm thinking that you'll have a way Of hearing the notes in my tune -- Where are you going? Where have you been? I can imagine other worlds you have seen -- Beautiful faces and music so serene -- So I do hope I see you again My universal citizen You went as quickly as you came -- You know the power Your love is right You have good reason To stay out of sight -- But break our illusions and help us Be the light - "Message" by Michael Pinder

"Without love in the dream, It will never come true." - Garcia/Hunter
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