Saturday, September 15, 2007

Birmingham News: The Yellow Press and Don Siegelman's Crucifiction

The ‘B’ham News’ Revs Up the Slime Machine


BY Scott Horton
PUBLISHED September 15, 2007

A No Comment reader who works at the Birmingham News tells us that a certain editor and writer at the illustrious Pravda of the South are royally pissed off at Representative Artur Davis. It seems that Davis’s questions and press releases on the Siegelman case are making a decisive difference in pushing the matter forward. And the reputation of the News, which has played a key role in the anti-Siegelman campaign by giving press cover to the cabal and by disseminating and lending unwarranted credibility to claims of the prosecutors who front for it, is on the line. So what’s the answer? According to my source, the word went out: Slime Artur Davis. If you can’t hit him personally, at least slime some senior aide who works for him. Do it quickly.

I am told that the News will use one its marquee writers for this, probably one who has been deep in the anti-Siegelman vendetta. Also, the News has been busily pouring over the list of Davis’s staffers, family and other associates to find someone it can land a blow against, hopefully in time for the Sunday edition.

The message that the News wants to deliver is simple: Davis, you’ll shut up if you know what’s good for you. The right adjective for this conduct: thuggery. By a newspaper, moreover. Note: they won’t lift a finger to look into any of the Simpson allegations—all they do is shovel lies attempting to discredit Simspon. And, it seems, anyone else who raises questions about the matter.

It brought back some old memories. Back in the late Soviet period, I worked for Andrei Sakharov and his wife, Elena Bonner, helping out whenever I could, and mostly keeping anxious track of their welfare in a harsh and threatening environment. I remember that when the authorities were angry at Sakharov, they had a number of tools they could use for a sort of graduated response. And one of their favorite tools was to have the media launch an attack—sometimes on Sakharov directly. But there was a problem with that. After all, Sakharov was a sacrosanct figure, a hero. They didn’t want to publicize the fact that he was critical of them. So it was much easier to take target at someone close to Sakharov. And the favorite target was his wife, Elena Bonner—perhaps the bravest and most determined human rights advocate I ever had the privilege to work with.

One of the most striking incidents related to the Efim Davidovich, a Holocaust survivor and then Red Army colonel who sought and was denied permission to emigrate to Israel, and thus became a refusenik. Davidovich played a key role in documenting and publicizing events of shocking anti-Semitism in the former Soviet Union, including one particular incident—the murder of a 14-year-old boy by a group of teenagers whipped into an anti-Semitic rage. But in the view of the justice authorities, there was no anti-Semitism, and the shocking circumstances of the case were therefore officially suppressed.

Davidovich returned his medals as an act of protest over the failure to examine and prosecute this case. And Sakharov and Bonner met with Col. Davidovich to discuss how to advance his case.

In response, and as a caution to get Sakharov to shut up, Pravda published an attack on Elena Bonner, decrying her “anti-Soviet behavior.” She was complaining about the fairness of Soviet justice; she was suggesting that there was anti-Semitism; therefore she was disloyal to the state and deserved to be scapegoated. Sakharov describes this episode in pages 443-45 of his Memoirs.

History, alas, so often repeats itself. In essence what Bonner and Sakharov had done was expose a gross injustice and demand that it be fixed. And that is exactly what Artur Davis has done. But for those who cower in the shadows and who thrive off of this injustice, that was a threatening act. It warranted a reply blow. And tomorrow let us scrutinize the News closely and see if we don’t find the echo of Pravda that I fully anticipate will appear in its pages.


9/11 Truth?

9/11 - the big cover-up?
Even the chair of the 9/11 Commission now admits that the official evidence they were given was 'far from the truth'.
Peter Tatchell
The Guardian

Six years after 9/11, the American public have still not been provided with a full and truthful account of the single greatest terror attack in US history.

What they got was a turkey. The 9/11 Commission was hamstrung by official obstruction. It never managed to ascertain the whole truth of what happened on September 11 2001.

The chair and vice chair of the 9/11 Commission, respectively Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton, assert in their book, Without Precedent, that they were "set up to fail" and were starved of funds to do a proper investigation. They also confirm that they were denied access to the truth and misled by senior officials in the Pentagon and the federal aviation authority;
and that this obstruction and deception led them to contemplate slapping officials with criminal charges.

Despite the many public statements by 9/11 commissioners and staff members acknowledging they were repeatedly lied to, not a single person has ever been charged, tried, or even reprimanded, for lying to the 9/11 Commission.

From the outset, the commission seemed to be hobbled. It did not start work until over a year after the attacks. Even then, its terms of reference were suspiciously narrow, its powers of investigation curiously limited and its time-frame for producing a report unhelpfully short - barely a year to sift through millions of pages of evidence and to interview hundreds of key witnesses.

The final report did not examine key evidence, and neglected serious anomalies in the various accounts of what happened. The commissioners admit their report was incomplete and flawed, and that many questions about the terror attacks remain unanswered. Nevertheless, the 9/11 Commission was swiftly closed down on August 21 2004.

I do not believe in conspiracy theories. I prefer rigorous, evidence-based analysis that sifts through the known facts and utilises expert opinion to draw conclusions that stand up to critical scrutiny. In other words, I believe in everything the 9/11 Commission was not.

The failings of the official investigation have fuelled too many half-baked conspiracy theories. Some of the 9/11 "truth" groups promote speculative hypotheses, ignore innocent explanations, cite non-expert sources and jump to conclusions that are not proven by the known facts. They convert mere coincidence and circumstantial evidence into cast-iron proof. This is no way to debunk the obfuscations and evasions of the 9/11 report.

But even amid the hype, some of these 9/11 groups raise valid and important questions that were never even considered, let alone answered, by the official investigation. The American public has not been told the complete truth about the events of that fateful autumn morning six years ago.

What happened on 9/11 is fundamentally important in its own right. But equally important is the way the 9/11 cover-up signifies an absence of democratic, transparent and accountable government. Establishing the truth is, in part, about restoring honesty, trust and confidence in American politics.

There are dozens of 9/11 "truth" websites and campaign groups. I cannot vouch for the veracity or credibility of any of them. But what I can say is that as well as making plenty of seemingly outrageous claims; a few of them raise legitimate questions that demand answers.

Four of these well known "tell the truth" 9/11 websites are:

1) Scholars for 9/11 Truth, which includes academics and intellectuals from many disciplines.

2) 250+ 9/11 'Smoking Guns' a website that cites over 250 pieces of evidence that allegedly contradict, or were omitted from, the 9/11 Commission report.

3) The 911 Truth Campaign that, as well as offering its own evidence and theories, includes links to more than 20 similar websites.

4) Patriots Question 9/11, perhaps the most plausible array of distinguished US citizens who question the official account of 9/11, including General Wesley Clark, former Nato commander in Europe, and seven members and staffers of the official 9/11 Commission, including the chair and vice chair. In all, this website documents the doubts of 110+ senior military, intelligence service, law enforcement and government officials; 200+ engineers and architects; 50+ pilots and aviation professionals; 150+ professors; 90+ entertainment and media people; and 190+ 9/11 survivors and family members. Although this is an impressive roll call, it doesn't necessarily mean that these expert professionals are right. Nevertheless, their scepticism of the official version of events is reason to pause and reflect.

More and more US citizens are critical of the official account. The respected Zogby polling organisation last week found that 51% of Americans want Congress to probe President Bush and Vice-President Cheney regarding the truth about the 9/11 attacks; 67% are also critical of the 9/11 Commission for not investigating the bizarre, unexplained collapse of the 47-storey World Trade Centre building 7 (WTC7). This building was not hit by any planes. Unlike WTC3, which was badly damaged by falling debris from the Twin Towers but which remained standing, WTC7 suffered minor damage but suddenly collapsed in a neat pile, as happens in a controlled demolition.

In a 2006 interview with anchorman Evan Soloman of CBC's Sunday programme, the vice chair of the 9/11 Commission, Lee Hamilton, was reminded that the commission report failed to even mention the collapse of WTC7 or the suspicious hurried removal of the building debris from the site - before there could be a proper forensic investigation of what was a crime scene. Hamilton could only offer the lame excuse that the commissioners did not have "unlimited time" and could not be expected to answer "every question" the public asks.

There are many, many more strange unexplained facts concerning the events of 9/11. You don't have to be a conspiracy theorist to be puzzled and want an explanation, or to be sceptical concerning the official version of events.

Six years on from those terrible events, the survivors, and the friends and families of those who died, deserve to know the truth. Is honesty and transparency concerning 9/11 too much to ask of the president and Congress?

What is needed is a new and truly independent commission of inquiry to sort coincidence and conjecture from fact, and to provide answers to the unsolved anomalies in the evidence available concerning the attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon. Unlike the often-stymied first investigation, this new commission should be granted wide-ranging subpoena powers and unfettered access to government files and officials. George Bush should be called to testify, without his minders at hand to brief and prompt him. America - and the world - has a right to know the truth.