Enzo Titolo

Politics, Paranoispiricies, neologisms, diary, creative, ruminations

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Bush' Bullhorn Moment, Just Bull by Dennis Hamill

Bush's 'bullhorn moment' just bull
by Dennis Hamill, NY Daily News


I'm amazed that anyone is amazed that it took George W. Bush three days to show up in New Orleans after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

That's exactly how long it took him to show up at Ground Zero after 9/11.

So it mystifies me that the pundits and the cable gasbags keep telling us that George W. Bush missed his "bullhorn moment" in New Orleans.

No, he didn't.

Because his bullhorn moment in New York City was just as late and just as disgraceful as his fumbling handling of the Katrina carnage.

I wish I had a bullhorn to shout just how tired I am of hearing about how wonderful George W. Bush's "bullhorn moment" was.

It will go down as one of the worst moments in American history because when he stood on the smoldering ruins amid the dust of the dead it was through that bullhorn that Bush's Big Lie was first shouted to the world that the people who knocked down those buildings would soon be hearing from us.

It might have been a fairly good, better-late-than-never moment if all Bush had done was use that bullhorn to launch a war on Al Qaeda. It might have escalated into a great piece of historical stagecraft if we'd just gone into Afghanistan and stayed the course on a noble quest to kill Osama Bin Laden and all his Al Qaeda cowards who murdered our people.

But the words that echoed through Bush's bullhorn into the smoldering 16 acres of lower Manhattan, the words that resounded across the grieving outer boroughs and the sorrowful suburbs and the stunned globe, were but an orchestrated setup for a grander diabolical scheme.

Because we fast gave up the hunt for Bin Laden for a bait-and-switch war in Iraq that had nothing to do with the rubble upon which Bush stood at Ground Zero shouting bull through his bullhorn.

Bush has now declared that half-a-buck stops on his desk for Katrina.

But he doesn't ever mention that Osama Bin Laden is still out there roaming free and plotting more American murders. That stops on his desk, too.

Historians will refocus that bullhorn moment as the point of origin to exploit a terrible attack on America for a preconceived war in Iraq that had nothing to do with our dead.

Historians also will remember that directly after the terrorists attacked the World Trade Center on Sept. 11 2001, killing 2,749, our fearless leader, with all that Texas Air Guard combat training, hopped aboard Air Force One and lammed to, um, Omaha.

Talk about heroic.

And as real heroes dug in the rubble for signs of life, shortening their own lives in the toxic air, Bush hid out. Then three days later, when the coast was clear, he arrived to shoot a Karl Rove-inspired reelection commercial and to launch a war in Iraq.

The invasion of Baghdad started in New York in that "bullhorn moment" three days after Sept. 11.

That final battle of the war in Iraq was lost in New Orleans when Bush showed up three days after Katrina.

As bodies floated down the street, and tens of thousands were stranded without food, water and medical supplies in the convention center, the white flag in the war in Iraq was waved when Bush told Federal Emergency Management Agency boss Michael Brown, an incompetent crony, "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job."

Now, with Bush's approval rating at 40%, with more than 50% disapproving of his handling of Iraq, the Security Moms and NASCAR Dads for Bush are silent. Even the Swift Boat Vets can't save Bush from drowning in his own ineptitude.

For what the floods of Katrina revealed was just how out of his depth George W. Bush is as presidential stock.

I often ask successful conservative businessmen friends if they would let George W. Bush run their private businesses. They almost always smile and admit they wouldn't. And yet they voted for him torun the most powerful nation on the planet.

It would be funny except that almost 1,900 Americans troops have been killed to create an Islamic state that spirals toward a possible civil war in Iraq since Bush's wonderful "bullhorn moment."

Originally published on September 20, 2005

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Andy Warhol and Dick Nixon - a draft

You could barely imagine an odder pair of late Twentieth Century bookends than Andy Warhol and Richard Nixon. One was the warmongering straight guy and driven politician and the other was a the ultimately cool hipster and scenester, an enigmatic artist who made art of soup cans and celebrity.

Their nexus began in the aftermath of the 1972 election. Andy Warhol had done a pro-bono poster for the McGovern Campaign, mainly as a favor for a friend of his with the Democratic peace candidate's campaign. Shortly after this, Warhol was the subject of an intensive IRS audit that he suspected came from the Nixon Admistration as retribution.

Much of Warhol's business expenses were undocumented, so the audit was arduous and expensive. Warhol suspected that his artistic and brief foray into politics might have gotten him permently on some list at the IRS. and for this reason he employed his executive assistant to help him keep a verbal log of his daily expenses that he would phone in each day before work began. This was the birth of the "Andy Warhol Diaries." It was a log of what he bought and where he went the previous day to track his business expenses, while they were fresh in his mind, such as taking taxis, buying magazines for research (since he was the Publisher of Interview), and entertaining clients. The beginning of the Andy Warhol diaries is a dry listing of cab fares and other expenses. They soon started spicing up as Andy began embellishing the logue with his recollections of parties, observations of them and quips about the people.

Warhol as an avid collector of tchotkes and ephemera in daily time capsules, combined with his love of celebrity, fame, and fashion would naturally catalogue his experiences for posterity. He hung out with Halston, Jackie O's sister, Mick Jagger and his wives, and many other interesting people of his day in the most rarefied haunts.

Andy was also a known bitch, who since his Factory days was known for subtly observing things, recording them, and even detachedly starting fights for his own amusement. The publishing of the Diaries spawned a spate of libel lawsuits, but it is my feeling that they were faithful to Andy's words, although not always to what actually happened. I can imagine Warhol amusing himself by including embarrassing bits and even making up controversial stories just to give himself a laugh from the grave and something bitchy to do to start the next day right for himself by abusing his own celebrity.

Back to Nixon, it later emerged during the Watergate scandals that Nixon abused government agencies, including the CIA, FBI the Justice Department, and the IRS to do his political dirty work. His own undoing was the chance discovery, as the Watergate investigations were winding down, that Nixon taped all his phone and office conversations. It is not clear if Nixon implemented the taping system or if his predecessor Lyndon Johnson did. Both of them were paranoid, power hungry, full of imperial hubris, and not averse to dirty tricks to get their jobs done. Nonetheless, a nearly complete record existed of the Nixon coverup which led to the beginning of his impeachment proceedings and his resignation to avoid impeachment and prosecution. Nixon's tapes were his undoing. It was his hubris that spawned them and kept him from destroying them.

I find it amusing that the straight, square, imperial President and the gay, partyhopping, freaky hipster Warhol both obsessively recorded their dealings and observations. Warhol's Diary-keeping was spawned by Nixon's abuses, and they led to Warhol's bitchy controversial observations of celebrities from beyond the grave.

Questions Raised by Operation Able Danger and the Plane Bombings on September 11, 2001 in NYC and Washington, D.C

This summer it has emerged that the Pentagon had or has a secret domestic spying operation that datamines U.S. transactions to find patterns of terrorist activity planning and execution. Known as Operation Able Danger, it identified Al Quaida terrorist ringleader Mohammed Atta who was living and operating in the U.S. a couple of years before the 9/11/01 attacks. The operation was shut down abrubtly after these patterns emerged and investigative agencies such as the FBI and the CIA were asked to not follow up on this lead which could have prevented the plane hijackings.

Why did Operation Able Danger shut down? Mohammed Atta was not a U.S. citizen, so I don't see a controversy about spying on him, especially if he was linked to an organization that had attacked U.S. embassies in Africa in 1998, troops in Saudi Arabia in 1996, and later the U.S.S. Cole in 2000. Al Qu'aida had declared war and made good on its war against the U.S. years ago while this Operation was in effect. According to the news report below: the plug was pulled on the project due to 'feared negative repurcussions' if the project went wrong. What could be a negative repurcussion of such a project going wrong? That we'd blow a larger investigation of something even more important? It doesn't make sense.

I think, instead, the feared repurcussions were political, if the project were to go right, which it was. This project was on its way to nipping the 9/11/01 project in the bud. Perhaps, the datamining project was revealing some uncomfortable links to some of our country's 'allies,' such as Saudi Arabia where many of the conspirators were from and where Atta may have gotten some funding from Saudis of wealth and direct connection to the royal family, which owns the country. Perhaps the State Department pulled the plug on Able Danger. Who drove the demise of Able Danger and why?

The Pentagon, NORAD and the Airforce, was running multiple wargames on 9/11/01. These wargames at the very least confused and slowed down the defensive response to the hijackings since radar screens were populated with false blips as part of wargames' simulations. (It is absurd that the Pentagon could be attacked at all, especially hours after the first planes were hijacked. When the FAA first notified NORAD of the hijackings, NORAD's response was akin to, 'is this real or is this a drill?') I believe that the wargames, some of which included an aircraft hijacking interception excercize, and might have included an attack on U.S. buildings, affected the 9/11/01 attacks. Was there a link between the wargames planners, executioners, and the people who pulled the plug on Able Danger?

This Operation Able Danger (OAD) datamining project is reminiscent of the Total Information Awareness (TIA) Project that Admiral Poindexter (of Iran-Contra infamy) was heading until the project, which datamined Americans' purchases and registrations to detect terrorism planning and execution, was shut down due to its spying on Americans and the perception of privacy violations and potential abuse. What is the distinction between TIA and OAD? If they are similar or the same, then was OAD a violation of any laws, and why was its existence only revealed after several years of operation?

Senate Judiciary Committee taking up 'Able Danger' questions
NORRISTOWN - The Senate Judiciary Committee requested material Thursday from the FBI about the former defense intelligence program, "Able Danger," that reportedly linked a 9/11 hijacker to al-Qaida more than year before the Sept. 11 attacks.

About two past weeks ago, the congressional committee, chaired by Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., began interviewing individuals connected with the defunct intelligence operation that may have been able to disrupt the Sept. 11 plot.

In 2000, the operation's Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) team wanted to pool the talents of the FBI and Special Operations Command to track 9/11 hijacker, Mohamed Atta, and other Muslim extremists, that had been linked to al-Qaida in the United States, according to Army Reserve Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, a DIA employee who worked on the project.

The Pentagon pulled the plug on the classified program, however, according to Shaffer, because it feared negative repercussion if the operation went wrong.

Shaffer has met with the Judiciary Committee twice recently, he said, and revealed the names of about five Defense Department attorneys who advised shutting down "Able Danger" prior to the terrorist attacks.

In a letter Thursday from Specter to FBI Director Robert Mueller, the Pennsylvania lawmaker requested correspondence between Shaffer and FBI agent, Xanthig Mangum, dealing with the matter.

Shaffer, who went public with the "Able Danger" revelations last week, claims the former data-mining program could have foiled the terrorist attacks if it had been allowed to continue.
On Sept. 11, Atta piloted American Airlines Flight 11 that crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City.

The "Able Danger" story was revealed to The Times Herald in June by Rep. Curt Weldon, R-7th Dist., and was first published in the Norristown newspaper on June 19. However the story went unnoticed. In August, the operation was reported about in Government Security News, and a few days later, the New York Times.

When the team running "Able Danger" wanted to get the FBI and Special Operations to collaborate to track the Muslim extremists, Shaffer claims, attorneys in the Pentagon ultimately killed the project.

"I know who the lawyers are and have turned (the names) over to the committee," he said. The Reserve officer hopes the legal paper trail will reveal why "Able Danger" was cut short.
"(The committee) needs to get the lawyers' notes," he said.

Shaffer was encouraged this week when Navy Capt. Scott Phillpott and James D. Smith, a defense contractor, came forward to corroborate his story. Phillpott and Smith also met with the senate committee, he said.
Two weeks ago, Weldon blasted the 9/11 Commission staff for ignoring Shaffer's repeated offers to provide information about "Able Danger" during the panel's inquiry. The intelligence project was not included in the panel's final report in July 2004.

The former commission defended its actions and final report by saying that information received from Shaffer and a "Navy officer," likely Phillpott, was not compelling enough to include in the report.

Shaffer and former commission staff have differed over recollections of when Atta was first mentioned by name. Shaffer claims he revealed this in his first interview in 2003, while the commission said it didn't receive Atta's name until July 2004, just 10 days before publication of the panel's report.

On Monday, a Pentagon official said the Defense Department had been unable to find any information thus far on the former operation. The following day, Weldon issued a press release advising the Pentagon to keep looking and make a full accounting of the program.

The defense intelligence employees worked on "Able Danger," between 1999 and 2001, at the Army's Land Information Warfare Assistance Center (LIWA), in Fort Belvoir, Va.
Shaffer said as many as 25 individuals supported the LIWA program, though only about a dozen were fully briefed on the project's objective: To identify and target terrorists.

The "Able Danger" group mapped al-Qaida links worldwide, assembling charts that showed the connection between Atta and other suspected terrorists, he said. Though the original chart has not been unearthed, several other facsimiles have been recreated showing the terrorist links. Shaffer said about 20 boxes full of documents existed on "Able Danger" when he was involved.
The Pentagon's Office of General Counsel is ultimately responsible for legal decisions, he said, and he believes getting hold of the legal papers on "Able Danger" is paramount to resolving the controversy.

"If I could have one (set of) documents, I would ask for the lawyers' notes," he said. In Specter's letter to the FBI director, the chairman requested Mangum's correspondence with Shaffer, who attempted to arrange meetings at the FBI, according to the letter. The document request asks for "e-mail communication, notes, phone message slips, memos or any other supporting documentation" relevant to "Able Danger."

The letter also requested an interview with Mangum. In June, Shaffer said he tried to "broker" a working arrangement between Special Operations and the FBI for the operation, but the effort failed.

After reading the letter Thursday, Shaffer said the text was at odds with what he told the committee. "They got it wrong," he said. Shaffer claimed he directed the committee to ask for information from an agency other than the FBI, which he refused to identify for The Times Herald. "This (request) isn't going to get (the committee) the information they're looking for," he said.

Shaffer is scheduled to meet with the committee today, he said.

According to William Reynolds, director of communications for the Judiciary Committee, the committee has not scheduled any hearings on "Able Danger."

Keith Phucas can be reached at kphucas@timesherald.com or 610-272-2500, ext. 211.

Enzo Titolo

Weldon: Atta Papers Destroyed on Orders

Associated Press Writer
Sep 16, 7:24 AM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A Pentagon employee was ordered to destroy documents that identified Mohamed Atta as a terrorist two years before the 2001 attacks, a congressman said Thursday.

The employee is prepared to testify next week before the Senate Judiciary Committee and was expected to identify the person who ordered him to destroy the large volume of documents, said Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa.

Weldon declined to identify the employee, citing confidentiality matters. Weldon described the documents as "2.5 terabytes" - as much as one-fourth of all the printed materials in the Library of Congress, he added.

A Senate Judiciary Committee aide said the witnesses for Wednesday hearing had not been finalized and could not confirm Weldon's comments.

Army Maj. Paul Swiergosz, a Pentagon spokesman, said officials have been "fact-finding in earnest for quite some time."

"We've interviewed 80 people involved with Able Danger, combed through hundreds of thousands of documents and millions of e-mails and have still found no documentation of Mohamed Atta," Swiergosz said.

He added that certain data had to be destroyed in accordance with existing regulations regarding "intelligence data on U.S. persons."

Weldon has said that Atta, the mastermind of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and three other hijackers were identified in 1999 by a classified military intelligence unit known as "Able Danger," which determined they could be members of an al-Qaida cell.

On Wednesday, former members of the Sept. 11 commission dismissed the "Able Danger" assertions. One commissioner, ex-Sen. Slade Gorton, R-Wash., said, "Bluntly, it just didn't happen and that's the conclusion of all 10 of us."

Weldon responded angrily to Gorton's assertions.

"It's absolutely unbelievable that a commission would say this program just didn't exist," Weldon said Thursday.

Pentagon officials said this month they had found three more people who recall an intelligence chart identifying Atta as a terrorist prior to the Sept. 11 attacks.

Two military officers, Army Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer and Navy Capt. Scott Phillpott, have come forward to support Weldon's claims.

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