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 Sunday, August 29, 2004

  "Americans" in US Administration Spying for Israel !- So What's New?


  • The man at the center of an FBI investigation of possible Israeli espionage in Washington is a career Pentagon employee, a colonel in the Air Force reserves and a national security analyst who at the end of the Cold War taught himself Farsi and refashioned himself as an Iran expert, officials said Saturday.The FBI is trying to determine whether he is also a spy. The target of the investigation is Larry Franklin, the Pentagon's top Iran policy analyst and a close confidant of Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz and Douglas J. Feith, (both Jewish) who as undersecretary for policy is the Pentagon's third-ranking official. Read here for more

  • The espionage investigation focuses on an incident last year in which the analyst allegedly turned over a presidential directive on U.S. policy toward Iran to two people affiliated with a pro-Israeli lobbying group, the Washington-based American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) . AIPAC may have given the information to Israel, the sources said Friday. Investigators fear that the suspect - who works for Douglas Feith, chief policy adviser to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld - also may have been in a position to compromise government information about that country and the U.S. war effort.
    Read here for more

  • The FBI has spent more than a year covertly investigating, including with the use of electronic surveillance, whether a Pentagon analyst funnelled highly classified material to Israel . Prosecutors were still weighing whether to bring the most serious charge of espionage. The target of the investigation was identified as Larry Franklin, a senior analyst in a Pentagon office dealing with Middle East affairs. The case has taken so long in part because of diplomatic sensitivities between the U.S. and its ally Israel. Read here for more

  • An FBI probe into the handling of highly classified material by Pentagon civilians is broader than previously reported, and goes well beyond allegations that a single midlevel analyst gave a top-secret Iran policy document to Israel. The probe, which has been going on for more than two years, also has focused on other civilians in the Secretary of Defense's office, said the sources who have first-hand knowledge of the subject. But they both center on the office of Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith, the Pentagon's No. 3 official.(Feith is Jewish). Read here for more

  • Larry Franklin served as a U.S. Air Force reservist in Israel. Franklin may have been based at the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv, but was never permanently assigned there. An FBI investigation had been broadened in recent days to include interviews at the State and Defence departments and with Middle Eastern specialists outside government. The FBI is investigating whether the analyst gave classified documents to Israel via the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a powerful pro-Israel lobby in Washington. Read here for more

  • Commentary

    So we now hear there is a Pentagon analyst sending US foreign policy secrets to Israel?

    So what's new?

    For FBI to be shocked there are US Govt officials in Washington sending US secrets to Israel is incredulous.

    And for the US secret service not being aware in the last two decades there are members in pro-Israel groups in the US whose allegiance to the US are questionable at best, and who are in positions to compromise American foreign policy and national interest, is just unbelievable.

    It is unthinkable that one of the world's most equipped intelligence services can be caught asleep for that long.

    The rest of the world had accepted as fact that pro-Israel lobby groups rule the roost in Washington. They do that through their presence or connections in the White House, the US Senate and in Congress.

    The word in the corridors of powers of many nations is this: What America knows secretly, Israel already knows.

    Imagine if this had been an Arab-American caught compromising US secrets to a foreign government? The media-dogs would be out hunting for blood.

    So we ask, how can this be?

    It can only mean that the FBI or the CIA had already been compromised long before in their inability to monitor these embedded "un-American" individuals who don't give a squint about relaying US secrets to Israel.

    Or can it be, as it is most likely the case, any issue that involves Israel is kept out of average Joe's view and hushed-up to prevent embarrassment to Israel as an ally, even if that means a dangerous cost to US national interest?

    The major US media has been selling to average Joe that Israel is a harmless ally of the US, anyway.

    When you don't see an issue as a problem, you live with it. And when you live with a problem, you never see it as a problem.

    As far as pro-Israel legislators in Congress and US Senate, this is not a major national crisis. It should be treated as if an official in Washington was caught emailing a US document to the Governor's Office in Texas or Nebraska.

    After all, Israel, for all intent and purpose, is already the fifty-second state of the United States of America. So what's a document or two among members of the "same family"?

    While the pro-Israel news media in the US will treat this as just a "storm in the tea cup, US national interest is being dangerously compromised with US soldiers facing mortal danger in the Middle East, fighting a war, as some say, to protect Israel's interest in the region.

    Yes, Americans may not like it, but the issue will come to pass in a whimper.

    You can bet on that.

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     Saturday, August 28, 2004


    Here They Are: The Greatest Military Cowards of Them All

    Read here full article by Bob Herbert , "Where's The Shame?" in New York Times

    "George W. Bush ought to call off his dogs.

    I've interviewed several soldiers and marines who have suffered grave wounds in Iraq, including the loss of limbs.
    A permanent place of honor should be reserved for them in the pantheon of American heroes.

    The idea that someone some years from now may trash their service for political gain is beyond disgusting.

    It's one thing to decline to serve. It's quite another to throw mud at those who did serve - or to remain silent as allies hurl the mud."
    - Bob Herbert

    Mr. Max Cleland, a former U.S. senator, was himself the target of vicious, unconscionable attacks by the G.O.P. slime machine when he ran for re-election in Georgia in 2002.

    At a press conference under the hot Crawford sun, Mr. Cleland told reporters:

    "The question is, where is George Bush's honor? Where is his shame?

    Keep in mind, this president has gone after three Vietnam veterans in four years. That's got to stop."

    The attacks on men who served not just honorably, but heroically, are coming from a hawkish party that is controlled by men who sprinted as far from the front lines as they could when they were of fighting age and their country was at war.

    Who are these men?

    1. George W.Bush, President of the United States
    Mr. Bush himself, the nation's commander in chief and the biggest hawk of all. He revels in the accouterments of combat. But the story was somewhat different when he was 22 years old and eligible for combat himself.

    He managed to get into the cushy confines of the Texas Air National Guard at the height of the Vietnam War in 1968 - a year in which more than a half-million American troops were in the war zone and more than 14,000 were killed.

    We know the future president breezed off at some point to work on a political campaign in Alabama, skipped a required flight physical in 1972 and was suspended from flying. He supported the war in Vietnam but was never in any danger of being sent there.
    2. Dick Cheney, Vice President of the United States
    Cheney is another fierce administration hawk. Mr. Cheney asked for and received five deferments when he was eligible for the draft. He told senators at a confirmation hearing in 1989, "I had other priorities in the 60's than military service." Many draft-age Americans had similar priorities - getting an education, getting married and starting a family.
    3. John Ashcroft, Attorney-General of the United States
    He is reported to have said, "I would have served, if asked."

    But with the war raging in Vietnam, he received six student deferments and an "occupational deferment" based on the essential nature of a civilian job at Southwest Missouri State University - teaching business law to undergraduates.
    4. Paul Wolfowitz, Deputy Secretary of Defense, Department of Defense of the United States.
    Paul Wolfowitz, is a fanatical hawk on Iraq.

    He was not fanatical about Vietnam and escaped the draft with student deferments.
    And there are many others.

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     Thursday, August 26, 2004

      George W. Bush Lied About His Military Experience.

    Tell that to the founders of "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth"

    Read here full article by David Corn in The Nation

    Below edited article by David Corn:

    Did George W. Bush had overstated his military experience?

    In his campaign autobiography, he wrote that he had completed his pilot training in 1970 while assigned to an air base in Houston and "continued flying with my unit for the next several years."

    But as the Boston Globe revealed, he stopped flying during his final 18 months of service in 1972 and 1973. Bush had been grounded after failing to take a flight exam, and had won permission to train with a unit in Alabama where he did no flying. There are no records proving he showed up for duty in Alabama, but Bush has insisted he did.

    There was another instance when Bush clearly did not speak truthfully about his military record.

    In 1978, Bush claimed he had served in the US Air Force. Bush's congressional campaign ran a pullout ad in the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal that declared he had served "in the US Air Force and the Texas Air National Guard where he piloted the F-102 aircraft."

    Bush had never served in the Air Force.

    He had only been in the Air National Guard.

    But when AP asked Bush if he had been justified in claiming service in the Air Force, Bush, then the governor of Texas and a presidential candidate, said, "I think so, yes. I was in the Air Force for over 600 days."

    Karen Hughes, his spokeswoman, maintained that when Bush attended flight school for the Air National Guard from 1968 to 1969 he was considered to be on active duty for the Air Force and that several times afterward he had been placed on alert, which also qualified as active duty for the Air Force.

    All told, she said, Bush had logged 607 days of training and alerts. "As an officer [in the Air National Guard]," she told the AP, "he was serving on active duty in the Air Force."

    But this explanation was wrong.

    Says who? The Air Force.

    As the Associated Press reported:

    "The Air Force says that Air National Guard members are considered 'guardsmen on active duty' while receiving pilot training. They are not, however, counted as members of the overall active-duty Air Force.

    Anyone in the Air National Guard is always considered a guardsmen and not a member of the active-duty Air Force, according to an Air Force spokeswoman in the Pentagon.

    A National Guard member may be called to active duty for pilot training or another
    temporary assignment and receive active-duty pay at the time, but they remain Guard members. It may be a question of semantics."
    Two spokespersons for the US Air Force confirmed that an active-duty member of the Air National Guard is not considered a member of the US Air Force.

    Captain Cristin Lesperance of the US Air Force media relations office, said:

    "If a member of the Air National Guard is in pilot training, they would remain on the Guard books. They would be counted as Guard, NOT as an active-duty Air Force member."
    Bush was hyping his military record way back in 1978.

    But he repeated and defended the misrepresentation in 1999 while campaigning for the White House.

    And, no doubt, Kerry's critics would consider any remark Kerry made twenty-six years ago fair game.

    Admiral Roy Hoffman, a founder of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, recently said that his group is not politically motivated: "It would make no difference if John Kerry were a Republican, Democrat or an Independent, Swift Boat veterans would still be speaking the truth concerning John Kerry's military service record."

    But are any of Kerry's accusers willing to criticize Bush for falsely representing his service?

    Kerry, who volunteered to go to Vietnam and won five medals, has made his Vietnam service a central element of his campaign for the presidency. So there is nothing improper about examining his account of his Vietnam days, as long as such scrutiny is done in an honest and accurate fashion.

    But Bush overstated his own military record (which involved no combat, no derring-do, no wounds, and no enemy fire) for political purposes, and when he was caught doing so he stuck to a phony story.

    Yet no firestorm ensued.

    Will Republican funders now underwrite a group called Air Force Veterans for Truth that will demand that Bush withdraw his claim of membership in the Air Force?

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    US Presidential Election Campaign Turns Dirty and Ugly

    Read here article posted by Shane Cory "Swift Boat Veterans Continue to Sail a Ship of Lies" in The Washington Despatch

    The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth led by attorney and Kerry-hater, John O'Neill continue to be at the forefront of an election-year media storm.

    The Washington Post revealed today that a top attorney to the Bush campaign, Benjamin Ginsberg, has been advising the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. They point out that other attorneys serve both Kerry's campaign and left-leaning 527 groups.

    Regardless of their ties to the Bush administration, the SwiftVets continue to be discredited as the weeks roll on.

    Contradictions have arisen regarding the medals received by others during the same firefights in which Kerry was honored.

    • Additionally positive fitness reports for Kerry, written decades ago, run counter to some of the SwiftVets own stories which they now tell.
    • It should be noted that of the 250 plus members of the SwiftVets, only one served on a boat with John Kerry. This man, Steve Gardner, was berated by Kerry after firing into a Sampan which resulted in the death of a young boy.
    • The majority of the other SwiftVets are upset with John Kerry's anti-war actions after his return from Vietnam.
    • In an ironic twist and a blow to all Vietnam era veterans, SwiftVets now say of the veteran and presidential candidate that "the only baby killer I knew in Vietnam was John F. Kerry."

    Regardless of the holes in the SwiftVets' boat, they continue to press on and request that John Kerry reveal all of his personal medical files by signing DoD Form 180.

    Note that the group is not requesting that George Bush sign the same form or even prove his whereabouts during a significant period of time during the Vietnam war.

    John O'Neill, one of the leaders of the SwiftVets and co-author of a semi-fictional Kerry bashing book was not even in country at the same time as John Kerry during Vietnam.

    His hatred of Kerry began after he was tapped by the Nixon administration to start a group counter to the Vietnam Veterans Against the War.

    Kerry and O'Neill debated on national television in 1971. Kerry handily won the debate and O'Neill's embarrassment in failure may have driven him to start his lifelong campaign against Kerry.

    John O'Neill's book has a deal with Regnery Publishing in the coming weeks. Regnery is owned by Eagle Publishing which also owns the right-leaning publication Human Events that has promoted the book heavily.

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     Saturday, August 21, 2004

      IRAN Ready for Pre-Emptive Strike at US Forces in the Region

    Read here full article in Agence France Presse
    19th August 2004

    Iranian Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani warned that Iran might launch a preemptive strike against US forces in the region to prevent an attack on its nuclear facilities.

    Shamkhani told Al-Jazeera TV when asked if Iran would respond to an American attack on its nuclear facilities. Shamkhani, speaking in Farsi to the Arabic-language news channel through an interpreter said,

    "We will not sit (with arms folded) to wait for what others will do to us. Some military commanders in Iran are convinced that preventive operations which the Americans talk about are not their monopoly.

    America is not the only one present in the region. We are also present, from Khost to Kandahar in Afghanistan; we are present in the Gulf and we can be present in Iraq.

    The US military presence (in Iraq) will not become an element of strength (for Washington) at our expense. The opposite is true, because their forces would turn into a hostage in Iranian hands in the event of an attack.

    Where Israel is concerned, we have no doubt that it is an evil entity, and it will not be able to launch any military operation without an American green light. You cannot separate the two.

    We will consider any strike against our nuclear installations as an attack on Iran as a whole, and we will retaliate with all our strength".

    General Mohammad Baqer Zolqadr, a commander of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards was quoted in the Iranian press earlier Wednesday as saying that Tehran would strike the Israeli reactor at Dimona if Israel attacks the Islamic republic's own burgeoning nuclear facilities.
    "If Israel fires one missile at Bushehr atomic power plant, it should permanently forget about Dimona nuclear center, where it produces and keeps its nuclear weapons, and Israel would be responsible for the terrifying consequence of this move."
    Iran's controversial bid to generate nuclear power at its plant being built at Bushehr is seen by arch-enemies Israel and the United States as a cover for nuclear weapons development.

    The latest comments mark an escalation in an exchange of threats between Israel and Iran in recent weeks, leading to speculation that there may be a repeat of Israel's strike against Iraqi nuclear facilities at Osirak in 1981.

    Iran insists that its nuclear intentions are peaceful, while pointing at its enemy's alleged nuclear arsenal, which Israel neither confirms nor denies possessing.

    Shamkhani told Al-Jazeera it was not possible "from a practical standpoint" to destroy Iran's nuclear programs because they are the product of national skills "which cannot be eliminated by military means."

    He also warned that Iran would consider itself no longer bound by its commitments to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in the event of an attack. He also said,
    "The execution of such threats (to attack Iran's nuclear installations) would mean that our cooperation with the IAEA led to feeding information about our nuclear facilities to the attacking side, which (in turn) means that we would no longer be bound by any of our obligations."
    Diplomats said in Vienna Tuesday that the IAEA would not say in a report next month whether Iran's nuclear activities are of a military nature, nor will it recommend bringing the case before the UN Security Council.

    The IAEA board is due to deliver the report on Iran's nuclear activities during a meeting at the organization's headquarters in Vienna from September 13 after the last of a group of IAEA inspectors returned from Iran last week.

    The UN's nuclear agency is conducting a major probe into Iran's bid to generate electricity through nuclear power.

    The Islamic republic has agreed to temporarily suspend uranium enrichment pending the completion of the IAEA probe, but is working on other parts of the fuel cycle and has recently resumed making centrifuges used for enrichment.

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     Monday, August 16, 2004

      McGreevey Scandal: Israeli Underground Intelligence Connection ?

    Background of the McGreevey Scandal...Read here for more

    New Jersey Democratic Gov. James E. McGreevey admitted on Thursday Augst 12, 2004, his homosexuality and an extramarital affair with a man. Two sources close to McGreevey identified his former aide Golan Cipel, an Israeli national, as the unnamed man with whom the governor, acknowledged having an affair. He announced his resignation as Governor of New Jersey.

    Cipel met McGreevey in 2000 during a trip to Israel and then worked on the governor's 2001 campaign.

    He became McGreevey's hand-picked homeland security adviser with a $110,000 annual salary but was unable to get federal security clearances because he was not a U.S. citizen.

    McGreevey eventually moved Cipel out of that job but kept him on the payroll as an adviser.

    In an unusual move, Cipel attended at least one cabinet meeting, which disturbed some cabinet members and advisers, the senior administration source said.

    McGreevey plans to remain in office until Nov. 15, when Senate President Richard J. Codey will become acting governor until the term expires in January 2006.

    The Israeli Underground Intelligence Connection in the Scandal
    Read here full article by Wayne Madsen
    Wayne Madsen is the author of the forthcoming book: Jaded Tasks: Big Oil, Black Ops, and Brass Plates. He was with the National Security Agency during the Reagan administration and is a native of New Jersey.

    Another political bombshell hits the American people ..... yet another connection to the subterranean labyrinth of possible Israeli intelligence activities.

    New Jersey Democratic Governor Jim McGreevey's involvement in a gay relationship with an Israeli national may be the tip of an iceberg that represents another high-level Israeli attempt to burrow into the most sensitive areas of U.S. national security and our political process.

    The ties between Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Russian-mafia infused government and shadowy Israeli and Eastern European ex-intelligence agents are beyond a doubt, according to international law enforcement officials.

    But what is not readily apparent is the fact that a number of Israeli off-the-books intelligence operatives are active inside the United States and they do not have U.S. national interests in mind.

    In particular, the Israeli-Russian mobsters and their allies within the Sharon government have adopted one of the most successful intelligence ploys used by the former KGB and East German Stasi--the use of prostitutes or "swallows" to gain intimate access to high Western politicians, so-called "sexpionage."

    In the case of Israel, which welcomed a number of émigré former Eastern bloc intelligence agents during and after the Cold War, this has entailed the use of both female and male prostitutes.

    The fact that White House chief dirty tricks operator Karl Rove has close connections to the political spin machine run out of Sharon's Jerusalem office is also a concern when it comes to Israeli-connected dirty tricks operations being run against Democratic politicians in the United States.

    Jim McGreevey was a rising star in Democratic politics. As Mayor of Woodbridge, a New York City commuter suburb, McGreevey decided to opt for statewide political office.

    At the same time he appeared on the Israeli intelligence radar screens.

    McGreevey's admitted lifelong homosexuality also made him a likely target for an intelligence approach.

    In 2000, Mayor McGreevey joined a large delegation of New Jersey Jewish supporters in a political "mega pilgrimage" to Israel, where he met Golan Cipel, said to be a tour guide/information officer for the mayor of the Tel Aviv suburb of Rishon Le-Zion, the first Zionist settlement in Palestine.

    Who is Golan Cipel?

    Cipel had previously been the press secretary for the Israeli consulate general in New York City. He was also a former Israeli naval officer, leaving the service with the rank of lieutenant. He was also described as a one-time low-level Israeli government employee in New York and a "poet."

    Cipel was a 1998 graduate of the New York Institute of Technology and the New York Israeli consulate's press spokesman. He was more than familiar with north Jersey's political and social terrain.

    In 1995, Cipel and future Washington Times reporter Joshua Mitnick edited an Israeli consulate news wire called "Israel Line."

    In 1999, Cipel gave a speech on behalf of the Israeli government at a meeting at the Simon Wiesenthal Center's Madison Avenue offices on some very high profile issues, including the implications of the recent death of King Hussein of Jordan, the upcoming Israeli elections, and the peace process with the Palestinian Authority.

    How a person goes from an influential position with one of the most important Israeli diplomatic missions abroad to a mere Jerusalem area tour guide seems, on the surface, extraordinary.

    But in the world of intelligence, such career changes are driven by political necessity, not by choice.

    Charles Kushner as Cipel's Intermediary to McGreevey

    After McGreevey returned to New Jersey from Israel in 2000, Cipel also moved to Iselin, New Jersey.

    He was hired by Charles Kushner, an American Jewish billionaire Florham Park land developer and Democratic fundraiser who became the source for $250,000 for McGreevey's campaign for the governor's mansion.

    Kushner was recently indicted on federal charges of corruption involving a land deal and illegal campaign contributions.

    Kushner sponsored Cipel for a temporary work visa.

    As governor, McGreevey named Kushner to the board of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the original owners of the World Trade Center.

    Cipel became one of McGreevey's campaign advisers after McGreevey announced his candidacy for the governorship.

    During 2001, in his role as McGreevey's Jewish liaison adviser, Cipel received another temporary work visa sponsored by the New Jersey State Democratic Committee.

    Cipel Appointed as Homeland Security Adviser for New Jersey

    • After McGreevey's election, Cipel was named homeland security director for New Jersey, a $110,000 per year job.
    • New Jersey sponsored Cipel for yet another temporary work visa just four months after a number of Israelis were rounded up and arrested by New Jersey police and Federal agents for photographing and celebrating the collapse of the Twin Towers on September 11.
    • Cipel, who had no verifiable security experience, was touted by McGreevey's administration as having gained his anti-terrorist credentials as a member of the Israeli Defense Force.
    • But an Israeli military expert told the Bridgewater, New Jersey Courier News that Cipel's military record was "routine, at best."
    • In addition, Kathryn Flicker, an assistant attorney general for New Jersey, was appointed by McGreevey to head of the state counter-terrorism office but only after Cipel was strangely named as a parallel counter-terrorism official.
    • Both Republican and Democratic New Jersey legislators complained about Cipel's lack of qualifications.The Federal government refused to grant him a security clearance because he was an Israeli national and not a U.S. citizen. Cipel left his position as homeland security czar.

    Cipel then took up his previous campaign job as McGreevey's Jewish affairs adviser and special counsel at the same $110,000 salary. Inexplicably, Cipel maintained a staff of three assistants for a staff job that had no real responsibilities.

    McGreevey had also considered appointing Cipel as the Executive Director of the New Jersey-Israel Commission, created in 1989 to science and technology trade between Israel and New Jersey and which maintains an office in Raanana, Israel.

    Eventually, Andrea Yonah, an Israeli-U.S. citizen,Yonah had been product marketing director for Princeton eCom, a software company that provides billing software for various Fortune 500 companies, including telecommunications firms like AT&T.

    US Billing Companies and Israeli Spies/Arts Students: During a 2000-2001 Drug Enforcement Administration investigation of Israeli art students who were working illegally in the United States and who were suspected of being espionage agents, links were discovered between them and Israeli companies that also provided billing and other services for elecommunications companies, including AMDOCS -- which had a relationship with Nextel -- and Comverse Infosys.

    McGreevey's office stated that the trip was canceled after the State Department informed they had concerns over unspecified "hostilities" in the Middle East.

    It was apparent that someone wanted to clamp down any speculation about McGreevey's ties with Cipel and scuttle a potentially politically embarrassing trip to Israel.

    • Cipel soon resigned from the New Jersey state government and took a job with MWW Group,as the head of its New York-based Israeli division. MWW is a public relations firm close to McGreevey.
    • After a month at MWW, Cipel left to join the Trenton lobbying firm, State Street Partners.
    • After only a few months there, Cipel went back to work for Kushner.

    After Kushner's federal indictment, rumors surrounding McGreevey's connection to Kushner began to swirl around the state capital.

    Press Coverage of Golan Cipel's Identity

    After the McGreevey scandal broke, the neo-conservative World Net Daily, in an August 13 report, merely referred to Cipel as "Middle Eastern born," without any reference to his being an Israeli national.

    Yael Kohen, writing in the neo-conservative New York Sun, merely referred to Cipel as an "Israeli poet."

    An editorial in the same August 13 edition of the Sun condemning McGreevey did not once mention that Cipel was an Israeli.

    An aide to McGreevey said Cipel threatened the legal action unless McGreevey paid the Israeli millions of dollars--an act the aide called "extortion."

    There may be good reasons why the neo-conservatives want to play down Cipel's Israeli roots--McGreevey may have been set up in an attempt to ruin him and influence the upcoming U.S. presidential election.

    When foreign nations are found to be influencing American politics, there is an almost uniform tendency for the American people to react negatively to such meddling.

    One must merely recall the wailing and crying raised over alleged Chinese political contributions to Democrats and Republicans during the Clinton administration.

    New Jersey was considered a swing state by the Bush campaign early in the campaign cycle.

    As John Kerry leaped to a double-digit lead over Bush in the Garden State, the rumors surrounding McGreevey and Kushner were unleashed.

    Republicans in New Jersey are not happy that McGreevey is not resigning until November 15. The tactic of the Republicans was to make McGreevey's sexual orientation a campaign issue in order to get out the conservative vote on Election Day in a gambit to increase the right-wing fundamentalist voter turnout for George Bush and appeal to anti-gay conservative Democrats in the state.

    No sooner had McGreevey announced his resignation, right-wing talk show hosts were demanding he resign immediately.

    McGreevey deserves condemnation for allowing his relationship with a foreign national gay partner to influence his decisions and cloud his judgment on important matters dealing with the security of New Jersey during a time of increasing terror threats.

    He should also be praised for NOT succumbing to Republican pressure to resign immediately and permit Karl Rove's dirty trick machine to use this tragedy to influence New Jersey's 15 electoral votes in November.

    Read HERE article by Justin Raimondo, "How did Golan Cipel become New Jersey's 'anti-terrorism' czar? "

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     Sunday, August 15, 2004

      IRAQ: British Journalist Saved by Rebel Cleric Moqtada al-Sadr from Certain Death

    Read here full article by Khaled Farhan in The Sun-Herald

    August 15, 2004

    Radical Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr personally intervened to free a British journalist kidnapped by gunmen in the southern city of Basra.

    They had threatened to execute James Brandon, an Arabic-speaking freelance writer, within 24 hours if US forces did not pull out of Najaf.

    But Brandon's 20-hour ordeal ended when he was handed over to the cleric's lieutenants in Basra.

    Brandon appeared with a black eye and bruised face at a hastily organised press conference at the offices of al-Sadr's organisation. Brandon said he had been treated harshly during his seizure at a hotel in central Basra.

    "I'm OK - I'm recovering. I've been released thanks to the Mahdi Army, because they intervened and negotiated with the kidnappers.

    All sorts of unpleasant things happened. I want to say thanks to the people who captured me.

    Once they knew I was a journalist I was treated very well."

    Truce to end fighting in Najaf failed

    Radical Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr vowed to stay in his Najaf stronghold until victory or death yesterday, shattering hopes of a compromise with US forces encircling the city's holiest shrines

    Buoyed by mass demonstrations condemning a US offensive aimed at crushing his nine-day old uprising, al-Sadr was defiant towards what he called the "dictatorial" interim Government trying to negotiate an end to the standoff.

    "I advise the dictatorial, agent Government to resign . . . the whole Iraqi people demands the resignation of the Government," he told fighters holed up in the city's Imam Ali shrine.

    "I will not leave this holy city," he told his fighters, who chanted "no, no to America" in response. "We will remain here defending the holy shrines until victory or martyrdom."

    A spokesman had earlier said the cleric would pull his forces out of Najaf if US forces also withdrew and religious authorities agreed to administer the city's sacred sites, the holiest for Iraq's majority Shiite Muslims.

    But the fiery speech, designed to rally militia fighters who have suffered heavy losses against US warplanes and tanks, appeared to reject earlier government overtures for a deal to end the confrontation.

    Al-Sadr's hand and arm were bandaged, apparently confirming a report by his spokesman that he had been wounded in the chest, arm and leg in fighting around Najaf's cemetery on Friday. He appeared otherwise fit.

    Interior Minister Falah al-Naqib of Iraq's interim Government earlier denied al-Sadr had been wounded and said a truce had been in force since Thursday night. "Sayyed Moqtada will not be touched if he leaves the shrine peacefully," Mr Naqib said.

    The uprising in Najaf has killed hundreds and threatened to undermine the rule of interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, who is walking a tightrope trying to crush the radical Shiite rebellion across southern Iraq that has hit oil exports.

    By evening, witnesses said US soldiers had withdrawn from positions near al-Sadr's house in Najaf, which they raided on Thursday during their offensive on fighters around the Imam Ali mosque and the city's cemetery, strongholds for al-Sadr's men.

    US planes bombed targets in the city of Fallujah for the second day, killing six Iraqis, including two children, hospital officials said.

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     Saturday, August 14, 2004

      Bill Maher: "Bush blew it the morning of 9/11"

    Other Breaking News
  • British journalist James Brandon, a freelancer working for the U.K.'s Sunday Telegraph newspaper, who was kidnapped late yesterday in Basra, southern Iraq, has been freed by his captors, Sky News reported. Read here for more
  • The Washington Post apologized for flawed reporting in the runup to war in Iraq last year, publishing a front-page story by media reporter Howard Kurtz that called the paper's coverage "strikingly one-sided at times." In his 3,000-word article, Mr. Kurtz said Post editors tended to relegate pieces that criticized the Bush administration's war plans and the rationale for invading Iraq to the back pages of the paper. Read here for more
  • Judith Miller, the star New York Times reporter widely criticized for exaggerating the threat of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, was subpoenaed yesterday by a Washington grand jury investigating the disclosure of the identity of a C.I.A. undercover officer to the columnist Robert Novak and other journalists. Read here for more
  • Shiite radical leader Muqtada Sadr has not been wounded, Iraqi Defence Ministry spokesman said without explaining whether the reports about Sadr’s being wounded had led to the ceasefire. Muqtada Sadr is safe and sound, Iraqi Interior Minister Falah al-Nakib said. Read here for more
  • With its twin minarets and glinting gold dome, the Imam Ali Mosque in Najaf has been a beacon for the Muslim faithful for more than a thousand years. But with fighting raging around the Iraqi shrine, one of the holiest sites in Shiite Islam is reprising a different historical role: rallying point against foreign forces. Several Shiite Muslims likened any attack on the mosque to bombing the Vatican and predicted that it would spark retaliatory attacks on U.S. facilities in Afghanistan , India, Pakistan, Lebanon and other nations with significant Shiite populations. Read here for more
  • Thousands of Shiites have headed from Karbala to Najaf to make a “live shield” and protect Muslim sanctuaries. Shiite leader Moqtada Sadr’s supporters from Kut have also headed for Najaf. Read here for more
  • Two young Army officers with time in Iraq are the brains behind a new Web site called Operation Truth that will be launched later this month. Former Capt. David Chasteen and 1st Lt. Paul Rieckhoff, who is still serving in the Army National Guard, hope to "educate the American public about the truth of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan from the perspective of the soldiers who have experienced them first-hand." Their brochure says, "We intend to publicize how poorly planned policies and approaches have manifested themselves as problems on the front lines and back at home. We will act domestically to protect our troops and to aid them in their fight to protect us." Read here for more

  • Read here full article by Bill Maher
    Maher is the host of HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher."

    11th August 2004

    John Kerry has waded into an issue raised by Michael Moore in his film "Fahrenheit 9/11," namely:
    President Bush's sitting for seven minutes in a Florida classroom after being told "the country is under attack."
    The fact that Bush wasted 27 minutes that day - not only the seven minutes reading to kids but 20 more at a photo op afterward - was, in my view, the most outrageous thing a President has done since Franklin Roosevelt tried to pack the Supreme Court.

    Watergate was outrageous but it still did not carry the possibility of utter devastation, like a President's freezing at the very moment we needed his immediate focus on an attack on the United States.

    This is an issue about the ultimate presidential duty, acting in an emergency.

    Republicans are tying themselves in knots trying to defend Bush's actions that morning.

    The excuses they put forward are absurd:

    (1) He was "gathering his thoughts."

    This was a moment a President should have imagined a thousand times.

    There is no time in the nuclear age for a President to sit like Forrest Gump "gathering thoughts" after an attack has begun.

    Gathering information is what he should have been doing.

    (2) From the White House press secretary: "The President felt he should project strength and calm until he could better understand what was happening."

    I agree that gaining a better understanding of what was happening should have been his goal.

    What I don't get is how that goal was reached by just sitting there instead of getting up and talking to people.

    Is he a psychic? Was he receiving the information telepathically?

    (3) "He didn't want to scare the children."

    Vice President Cheney has said of Kerry, "The senator from Massachusetts has given us ample reason to doubt the judgment he brings to vital issues of national security."

    But at a moment of national crisis, Bush's judgment was: Better not to scare 20 children momentarily than to react immediately to an attack on the country!

    If he had just said, "Hey, kids, gotta go do some President business - be good to your moms and dads, bye!" my guess is the kids would have survived.

    I cannot see how someone who considers himself a conservative can defend George Bush's inaction.

    Bush choked at the most important moment a President could have.

    We're lucky Al Qaeda had done its worst by the time he pulled himself away from the photo op.

    Next time, it might not be that way.

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     Thursday, August 12, 2004

      Bush's Nominated CIA Director Confessed He is NOT Qualified To Work in CIA

    Read here full article by Reuter's David Morgan
    11th August 2004

    President Bush recently nominated Porter Goss, U.S. Republican Congressman from Florida, for the post of CIA Director replacing George Tenet. Goss is expected to appear at confirmation hearings before the Senate intelligence committee next month.

    A day after Bush picked Goss for the top U.S. spy job, Michael Moore, the documentary film-maker of "Fahreinheit 9/11", released on Wednesday an excerpt from a March 3 interview in which the 65-year-old former House of Representatives intelligence chief recounts his lack of qualifications for employment as a modern CIA staffer.

    Goss appears in Moore's film, the most financially successful documentary in history, during a segment devoted to the USA Patriot Act, an anti-terrorism measure. During the filming of Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11", Goss told Moore's film crew:

    "I couldn't get a job with CIA today. I am not qualified.

    And I certainly don't have the technical skills, uh, as my children remind me every day: 'Dad you got to get better on your computer.' Uh, so, the things that you need to have, I don't have.

    I don't have the language skills. I, you know, my language skills were romance languages and stuff.

    We're looking for Arabists today. I don't have the cultural background

    Goss, who served with the CIA clandestine services in Latin America and Europe in the 1960s, was not immediately available for comment.

    Moore told Reuters that Goss, who until Tuesday was chairman of the House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, granted an interview to two of his producers without first checking to see who they worked for.

    Moore told Reuters via telephone from New York:

    "You'd think the person who was the head of the intelligence committee would ask a few more questions.

    The reality is that Porter Goss was in charge of the oversight of the CIA during a time when the CIA didn't do its job, which in part resulted in the loss of lives of 3,000 people."

    A White House spokesman declined to comment specifically on the Goss interview but described the lawmaker as "the most qualified man for the job."

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    by Ted Rall
    3rd August 2004
    Ted Rall's cartoons appear in nearly 100 publications, including The Baltimore Sun, Atlanta Constitution, Toronto Star, Philadelphia Daily News, Newark Star-Ledger, Los Angeles Times, Z Magazine, Norwich (Conn.) Bulletin, Sacramento News & Review, Albuquerque Journal, Des Moines Register, St. Paul Pioneer-Press, Asbury Park Press, San Francisco Examiner and New York Times.

    Read here full article by Ted Rall

    Things are a bit trickier for our Texas-grown dictator, George W. Bush, burdened as he is by our annoying insistence on forcing him to run for the office he stole fair and square.

    Now that the invasion of Iraq has been universally acknowledged as an unjustifiable, counterproductive distraction from a war on terror that has yet to begin, Bush needs a still bigger war to distract us even more.

    Then, he figures, we'll forget about Iraq the way Iraq made us forget about Afghanistan.

    North Korea is too dangerous and Syria is too small to do the job.

    Next up: Iran. It's time to get even for the hostages.

    The Bush Administration began test-marketing a war against Iran by naming it as a charter member of the Axis of Evil.

    For the moment, however, electioneering to an alert-jittery electorate has forced the Bushies to place their neofascist tendencies in a lockbox.

    Bush and Cheney are deploying hoary Republican rhetorical ploys; referring to John Kerry as a flipflopping limousine liberal may harken to such classic GOP candidacies as Dole '96 and Reagan '80, but the war criminals of Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib are playing the role of traditional Republicans only to close the deal on a gullible electorate.

    Whether the Bushian neofascists win the election or opt for another end run around democracy, planning for a second-term war against Iran is already under way.

    Last week's column described the Bushies' lame attempts to link Iran to 9/11. My prediction that they would float new rationales for war after Iran-Al Qaeda failed to catch on has already come to pass.

    Now Administration gofer Colin Powell is accusing Iran of--you guessed it--trying to acquire weapons of mass destruction. The Bushies claim Iran's nuclear power plants could easily be converted into facilities for manufacturing weapons. "It is our judgment that Iran is developing nuclear weapons and a nuclear weapons program, and we'll all have to take note of this," Powell said on July 29.

    They're using the same lies on Iran that they used for Iraq.

    Iran, of course, had nothing to do with 9/11.

    It continues to allow International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors to examine its facilities.

    Though imperfect, Iran is a vibrant though nascent democracy that requires only the passage of time to liberate its people.

    But as we've seen in Afghanistan and Iraq, Bush's wars have little to do with 9/11, WMDs or spreading democracy.

    With nine percent of proven oil reserves, Iran was already the world's fifth largest producer. July 14 brought an announcement that a new oil field second in scale only to Saudi Arabia's legendary Ghawar facility had been discovered there.

    "Iran possesses far larger oil reserves than previously thought," writes Hooman Peimani in the Asia Times. (The Bushies floated their Iran-Al Qaeda story a few days after news broke about the Iranian oil strike.)

    Iran's newfound oil wealth, its strategic control of the Persian Gulf and its ideal placement for a gas and oil pipeline from the Caspian Sea--long considered the sane alternative to the Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline--have mouths watering at Halliburton and the White House it controls.

    But, unlike Iraq, we won't have the chance to botch the occupation of Iran.

    We won't get that far.

    Iran's military could keep us bogged down indefinitely, à la Vietnam. It has a combined active-duty troop strength of 600,000; reserves bring the total to a million. They have a respectable navy, and least 300 fighter jets.

    A vast nation the size of Texas, California and Montana combined, Iran is nearly four times the size of Iraq with twice its population, living on mountainous, harsh terrain.

    Iranians fighting a U.S.-backed Iraqi invasion during the '80s fought ferociously, which suggests that an American expeditionary force would be met by similarly passionate resistance.

    The American military, already stretched thin and forced to "call back" reservists to fight in Iraq, would probably have to go ahead with contingency plans to bring back a large-scale draft next year. At least a half-million conscripts would be needed for a fight that would likely drag on for years.

    Hundreds of billions of dollars would be spent on hardware and weaponry, not to mention lining the pockets of Administration-connected war profiteers.

    War against Iran could easily push us into the abyss of economic and moral bankruptcy. The draft would prompt tens of thousands of young American men to flee. It would push out of the community of nations once and for all.

    And that's if Iran doesn't have nukes by then.

    Iranian leaders, feeling the pressure of American occupation troops on their borders with Iraq to the west and Afghanistan to the east, are well aware of the fact that Bush would like to add them to their portfolio of oil-rich Muslim puppet states.

    The crisis ratcheted up a notch when Israel--which doesn't make a move without U.S. approval--threatened to bomb Iranian nuke plants.

    "The United States is showing off by threatening to use its wild dog, Israel [to attack Iran]," said Iranian spokesman Seyed Masood Jazayeri.

    "[But our] reaction will be so harsh that Israel will be wiped off the face of the earth and U.S. interests will be easily damaged."

    We would be wise to pay attention.

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     Tuesday, August 10, 2004

      AUSTRALIA: Richard Butler, Ex-UNSCOM Head, Forced to Resign as Governor of Tasmania.

    Ex-UNSCOM Head, Ex-Governor of Tasmania (Australia)

    The arrogance of controversial Tasmanian Governor Richard Butler, who resigned last night, led to his downfall, a Tasmanian Liberal senator said today.

    Special Minster of State Eric Abetz said some unfortunate incidents had earned Mr Butler the chastisement of all sides of politics.

    "I think there was a touch of arrogance about the man, which did not assist - but look, having said that, they (the incidents) are publicly documented," Senator Abetz told ABC Radio.

    Tasmanian Greens Senator Bob Brown welcomed the resignation, saying.

    " Mr Butler was just not suited to that job. He just wasn't a man who had time to be opening charity events, to be talking with people, to be engaged in what they were doing, to be listening and concerned about what they were doing, when he had his mind on other things."

    Federal Labor MP Harry Quick said Mr Butler's claims of a malicious campaign were a "figment of his imagination". He said,

    "Thankfully the whole thing was resolved last night and we can close a sad chapter in our history. I am surprised that it happened so quickly. Paul Lennon (Tasmanian Premier) must have drawn a line in the sand and said 'enough is enough'. I just think he was totally unsuited to the role of governor."

    Mr Quick said he believed Mr Butler was pompous and arrogant and treated people with disdain while living in the best piece of real estate in Tasmania and being paid a salary beyond most people's wildest dreams.

    "He at no stage showed any real or genuine interest in Tasmania and it became more obvious ... how bored and disinterested he was in the whole process."

    Mr Quick called for wider community consultation in appointing Mr Butler's replacement, which is tipped to be Tasmania's chief justice and Lieutenant Governor William Cox.

    Read here article by Libby Sutherland

    When Tasmania's former premier, the late Jim Bacon, announced Richard Butler as governor last year, he said: "I have no doubt that the people of Tasmania will warm to Richard and his partner Jennifer." He could not have been more wrong.

    Last night, not quite a year later - and only two months after Mr Bacon's death from cancer - Mr Butler resigned as Tasmania's 25th governor, claiming a smear campaign had driven him out.

    Mr Butler pledged to respect the rules and conventions of vice-regal office and keep his more frank opinions private. Weeks after he was sworn in, however, the premier was forced to defend the governor amid allegations he made a fuss when seeking an upgrade on a honeymoon flight to Vietnam. Internal Singapore Airlines emails obtained by The Mercury newspaper in Hobart alleged Mr Butler and his wife - whom he married the day after being sworn in - wanted cheap seats upgraded "because he is the governor of Tasmania".

    Then Mr Butler used his debut Australia Day address to criticise national health care policy and Australia's treatment of refugees. In April, Mr Lennon, the incoming premier, moved to gag him from further political discourse - 24 hours after Mr Butler delivered a speech to a business leaders' lunch. He reportedly told them that the US administration of George Bush was the most "highly nationalistic and self-centred government we have known".

    Tasmanian federal Labor MP Harry Quick has been among the Butlers' more vocal critics. He told ABC TV at the weekend,

    "Those of us who knew of past excesses by the governor laughed behind our hands when we heard of the appointment. Tasmanians now are realising that this governor is a real embarrassment and the Premier, despite his friendship with the late premier Jim Bacon, has to realise that his experiment is a total failure and the governor has to go."

    The Head of the United Nations Special Commission (Unscom) in Iraq is accustomed to being in the hot seat.

    Since he replaced Rolf Ekeus on 1 July 1997, as head of the UN weapons inspectors, Richard Butler has been repeatedly criticised by the Iraqi government and media, who consider him "America's man".

    One government-controlled newspaper described him as a "mad dog". The 56-year-old Australian diplomat made his reputation as a disarmament negotiator while ambassador to the conference on disarmament in Geneva from 1983 to 1988. "

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     Monday, August 09, 2004

      Australia: Former Military Chiefs Condemn John Howard for Dishonesty on the Iraq War

    See full text below

    Other Breaking News
  • A damning statement by 43 senior officials showed the Australian Prime Minister "can barely lie straight in bed", Opposition Leader Mark Latham said today. Mr Latham said the statement showed the government was not fit for office. Read here for more
  • Iraq's interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi and top U.S. military officials visited Najaf yesterday in a bid to end the Shiite insurrection, but their failed and they had to be hustled out of town amid renewed attacks by followers of anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.Read here for more
  • Iraq has issued an arrest warrant for Ahmad Chalabi, a former governing council member, on counterfeiting charges and another for Salem Chalabi, the head of Iraq's special tribunal, on murder charges, Iraq's chief investigating judge said Sunday. "They should be arrested and then questioned and then we will evaluate the evidence, and then if there is enough evidence, they will be sent to trial," said Judge Zuhair al-Maliky. Read here fore more
  • Former deputy Mossad director, Shmuel Toledano, launched a harsh verbal attack on Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon on Sunday, saying that the IDF under his leadership had lost its morality and military ethics. During the lecture, Toledano turned to the Chief of Staff and said: "There is a feeling among the public that the IDF under your command has entirely lost the sacred value of military ethics following the death and destruction the IDF is spreading at checkpoints". Toledano left the hall following participants' protests and resigned from the council. Read here for more
  • The number of Israeli casualties since the start of the intifada, including both deaths and injuries, exceeds the total number of casualties due to terror attacks during the previous 53 years, Shin Bet security service chief Avi Dichter told the cabinet yesterday. Read here for more

  • Forty-three former defence chiefs and diplomats have signed a statement calling for more honesty in government and saying Australia joined the war on Iraq on the basis of false assumptions and deceptions. The signatories believed Australia needed to balance its relationship with the US with its relationships with other countries and the United Nations.
    "We've come along almost willy nilly following decisions which are taken in Washington," retired defence chief General Peter Gration said. "And I believe without question the prestige of the United States has fallen, fallen quite alarmingly and as we're following along almost as an unquestioning coalition partner this inevitably rubs off on Australia." Read here for more

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     Sunday, August 08, 2004

      PASSPORT FRAUD: Tactic of Intimidation by Smear Utterly Repugnant
    - Commentary by Nick Turner

    Other Breaking News
  • A VIDEO aired yesterday that purportedly showed an American being decapitated in Iraq was a hoax.The American, Benjamin Vanderford, contacted in San Francisco, said he videotaped the staged beheading at his friend's house using fake blood. Read here for more
  • US forces in Iraq claimed yesterday to have killed 300 insurgents loyal to the radical Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in fighting in Najaf. A spokesman for Sheikh al-Sadr denied and said 36 militiamen died in several Iraqi cities from clashes . Read here for more
  • US Army Private Lynndie England, photographed holding a leash tied to the neck of a naked Iraqi detainee, claimed she was commended for humiliating prisoners at Abu Ghraib jail, according to Army investigators on Friday. Read here for more
  • The young military policeman who blew the whistle on Abu Ghraib testified that he had waited a month to turn over incriminating photos to investigators because it was "a hard call" to send his own friends to prison. But Sgt. Joseph Darby said at the hearing that he finally acted because he was shocked by the photos and worried that the abuse was about to resume."It violated everything I personally believed in and everything I had been taught about war. It was more of a moral call than anything," Darby testified. Read here for more
  • Four former finance employees at Halliburton Co. contend that a high- level and systemic accounting fraud occurred at the company between 1998 and 2001,. The filing details alleged accounting improprieties that go far beyond those outlined by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Read here for more
  • A Turkish company is pulling out of Iraq after captors threatened to behead one of its drivers.Turkish television broadcast a video purportedly showing the kidnapped truck driver in Iraq repeatedly urging fellow truckers not to come to the country.A newscaster said his captors threatened to behead the man unless his company withdrew from Iraq within 48 hours. Read here for more
  • The Bush administration blew the cover Monday of double agent Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan. On Sunday August 1, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge announced a new alert against an al-Qaeda plot concerning fincial institutions in New York and Washington, DC.Pressed for details by the New York Times, some Bush administration official revealed that the information came from a recently arrested man in Pakistan named "Khan." The New York Times published his name on Monday.Read here for more
  • There is an obvious growth of anti-Jewish sentiments worldwide. One cannot disregard anymore the rise in Judaeophobia and always consider it as just propaganda and manipulation. By the way, I prefer the use of the term Judaeophobia to the more common, and in itself racist term “anti-Semitism.” One of the best methods at the moment to fight Judaeophobia is to stop the Israeli crimes!It is as simple as that. Read here for more

  • 27th July 2004

    It must be pretty evident to most New Zealanders that the attack on Helen Clark by Ted Lapkin, of the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council's journal, was founded on a series of factual misrepresentations, false comparisons and unsupported inferences.

    Mr Lapkin condemned what he perceived to be a contrast between the Prime Minister's casual attitude to the trafficking of faked New Zealand passports in Bangkok and her fury at the attempt by Israeli agents to obtain a genuine one here.

    If he has any evidence for his assertion that the Bangkok forgery ring is being run by al Qaeda, Mr Lapkin would do a service to the war against terrorism and international crime by revealing it.

    According to information made public, the 23 faked New Zealand passports seized in Bangkok, along with faked passports of other countries, were produced for the black market by a criminal ring and available to all comers.

    It is possible that some had been acquired by al Qaeda terrorists, but no one apart from Mr Lapkin has affirmed publicly that the forgery operation is being run by al Qaeda. His complaint that our Foreign Ministry treated the matter dismissively in saying it had no confirmation that al Qaeda may be using them is nonsensical, given that the Thai police quoted by Mr Lapkin made clear this was only speculation.

    The attempt by a group of Israelis to obtain a genuine New Zealand passport under false pretences is in a very different category.

    This was not a "rather amateurish" plot by "a couple of errant Israelis", as Mr Lapkin would have us believe. It involved at least four people, one of whom is known to have been a long-time Israeli diplomatic "attache" (usually a non-diplomat operating under diplomatic auspices).

    Only through a minor slip was it detected, and it is reasonable to suspect the same methods may have been successfully used on previous occasions.

    The authorities in Israel have not denied that the men caught were Mossad agents, and, in fact, the respected newspaper Ha'aretz has reported they were.

    But, according to the same newspaper, Mossad managed to persuade Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to stop his Foreign Ministry providing any apology or explanation to New Zealand.

    If the plotters were just a couple of "errant Israelis", why did they go to such extraordinary lengths to get a New Zealand passport in Auckland when they could have obtained one for a tiny fraction of the cost and effort in Bangkok?

    Obviously, the Bangkok ones are inferior imitations, but would this matter to a couple of "keystone cops", as Mr Lapkin portrays them?

    There is a rather large difference between an Asian criminal gang passing off faked passports and the intelligence service of a sovereign state trying by criminal means to obtain a genuine one. There is also a difference between the co-operative attitude of the Thai Government and the refusal of Israel to confront the truth.

    Mr Lapkin's suggestion that Helen Clark has portrayed Israel as being a physical threat to New Zealand's national security is nonsense. But there are obvious security implications for New Zealand in having Mossad agents travelling round the world on New Zealand passports.

    Equally ridiculous is the attack on the Prime Minister for her failure to "rebuke" the Taleban over an alleged al Qaeda plot hatched from a "virtual command centre" in Auckland in 2000 against the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor in Sydney.

    Despite initial reports of such a plot, it turned out to have little substance. Certainly the men involved were Afghans and were engaged in organised crime, but they were actually anti-Taleban, and after investigation it seems that neither New Zealand nor Australian police concluded they presented a terrorist threat.

    And Mr Lapkin's statement that Helen Clark has "made common cause with bedfellows" in the Hamas terrorist organisation is both false and reprehensible.

    No only did the Prime Minister state publicly that her criticism of Israel should not give comfort to Hamas but her Government has long been on record as repeatedly condemning Hamas terrorism.

    It has also (along with many other governments round the world) criticised some Israeli actions, such as the construction of "the wall" on Palestinian territory, and this perhaps accounts for Mr Lapkin's condemnation of what he sees as the "moral bankruptcy" of her Middle East policy.

    If Mr Lapkin's logic is accepted, no one can ever make the least criticism of Israel without being accused of making "common cause" and being "bedfellows" with its Hamas terrorist enemies.

    This tactic of intimidation by smear, designed to silence criticism, is utterly repugnant in a democracy.

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     Saturday, August 07, 2004

      Passport to Terror: Israel's Underground Passport Factory – A Threat to US National Security

    Read here full article by Justin Raimondo
    6th August 2004

    In the world of international terrorism, passports and other identity papers are the coin of the realm.

    Terrorists targeting America are particularly eager to get hands on Canadian and New Zealand passports, because the holders don't need visas across the globe, including the United States.

    Now, as the orange alerts have us wondering when and where the next terrorist strike on American soil will occur, and U.S., British, and Pakistani agents bust up an important Al Qaeda operation, discovering how the terrorists procure travel documents provides important clues as to how they operate – and with whose complicity.

    In April I wrote about the "passport farm" Israeli agents set up in New Zealand, in which four employees of the Mossad, Israel's intelligence agency, were caught trying to obtain a New Zealand passport in the name of a housebound paraplegic. (I updated the story here.)

    Uriel Kelman and Eli Cara were arrested, in a much-publicized case, and jailed, while Prime Minister Helen Clark openly raged against what was undoubtedly an Israeli intelligence operation.

    It turns out that the ringleader, Ze'ev William Barkan, who fled before New Zealand security could nab him, was and presumably still is a member of the Israeli diplomatic corps, having served at embassies in Vienna and Brussels.

    He was last seen in North Korea, traveling with a Canadian passport as "Kevin Hunter," where he turned up in Pyongyang as a "consultant" brought on to help the North Korean government build a "security fence" in order to keep their people in.

    Now that the East Germans have wound up in history's dustbin, the Israelis are the current experts in the field.

    Barkan is a man of many skills, and one of them, according to an aid worker cited by the Sydney Morning Herald, is this: "

    'He goes to Laos, Cambodia, Burma and Thailand and deals with gangs who rob tourists of their valuables and passports,' the aid worker said. 'Barkan is mostly interested in passports and there have been a number of Australian passports.'

    Intelligence analysts in New Zealand believe Barkan, a former navy diver in the Israeli Defence Force, was trying to secure a 'clean' passport for use in a sensitive Israeli undercover operation in the region, less risky than a forged passport".

    The inner workings of Barkan's New Zealand operation were exposed when the fourth suspect in the case, Tony Resnick, was outed.

    Mr. Resnick, 35, who fled the day after the arrest of Kelman and Caras, was a paramedic with the St. John Ambulance in Auckland before taking a job as a healthcare lecturer at the Auckland University of Technology.

    He had previously worked as a paramedic in Israel, and, in his capacity as a paramedic in New Zealand, had possibly visited the home of the targeted paraplegic [be sure to click on this link if you have broadband!].

    Using Resnick's connections to wheelchair-bound and otherwise incapacitated New Zealanders, Barkan's cabal targeted people who would not likely be traveling abroad, and set up a passport farm by stealing their identities.

    The Israelis were caught by a suspicious official, who checked their references and laid a trap.

    But the question is how many times did they succeed before they were caught – and to what purpose was Israel culling travel documents?

    The answer to this last question is discernible if we look at Israel's record in this regard. The botched assassination of Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal in Jordan caught the Israelis with their pants down on the passport issue: the assassins were outfitted with Canadian travel documents.

    This incident no doubt came to mind as New Zealand government officials contemplated the meaning and purpose of Israel's underground passport factory.

    Speaking of Canada, the story of the Mossad's New Zealand hijinks took a Canadian twist when that country's foreign ministry announced that it was investigating the matter of Barkan's passport. New Zealand's foreign minister, Phil Goff, replied:

    "I have read with interest the Canadians are following up allegations he may have traveled at some point on a stolen Canadian passport. When he came to New Zealand my understanding was he was travelling on a U.S. passport.

    Clearly there would be co-operation between police forces in different countries to try to get to the bottom of these things."

    So there's an American twist, too.

    Barkan reportedly had an American accent, and said he came from Washington, D.C., where his family supposedly was in the "windows and doors" business.

    The Sydney Morning Herald confirms his Washington residence, and says Barkan grew up there as Zev Bruckenstein, where his father was director of religious studies at a synagogue.

    It isn't just the Israelis who are scrambling for passports.

    The recent wave of passport theft has now hit South Africa, where terrorists trying to enter the United States can easily obtain travel documents – thanks to what are described as "crime syndicates" within the government.

    Three terrorists, key links in the Al Qaeda network, were recently picked up in Pakistan using South African passports.

    The South African authorities went into shock after what one British official described as "boxes and boxes" of South African passports were found in a terrorist nest uncovered in London.

    The capture of Farida Goolam Mohamed Ahmed, who reportedly entered the U.S. hundreds of times through Mexico, featured a suspicious-looking South African passport with a few pages torn out.

    Ms. Ahmed was on her way to New York, and has been identified as a courier ferrying instructions to an Al Qaeda cell preparing a terrorist attack on our soil.

    Homeland Security Today magazine refers to her interrogation as leading to the "unreported capture by the CIA of two operatives of an Al Qaeda cell operating in Mexico": as a part of this cell, Ms. Ahmed was ferrying "instructions" to suspected Al Qaeda members in New York. This is apparently what triggered Sunday's orange alert for New York City and New Jersey.

    As the U.S. seeks to plug up the holes in its security, the recent activity in New Zealand ought to be of immediate concern. The Israeli government has refused to either disavow or claim "credit" for the activities of its agents in Kiwi-land, let alone apologize.

    In this age of terror, however, an Israeli covert operation that systematically and illegally collects Western passports is bound to raise all sorts of suspicions – and rightly so.

    If they did it to the Kiwis, and the Canadians, then why not screw us, too? A similar scam aimed at procuring U.S. passports on American soil can't be dismissed altogether.

    The danger of that, alone, ought to motivate U.S. government officials to do everything possible to assist New Zealand and Canada in tracking down Barkan and bringing him to justice, and yet, so far, we have heard not a peep out of them about this matter.

    The possibility that Barkan is indeed an American may eventually force the Washington spin team into performing the requisite verbal gymnastics, but I wouldn't hold my breath.

    The terror masters should seek out Ze'ev Barkan: I'm sure he can give them a real deal on a New Zealand passport – or perhaps even a Canadian one, in which case they'll have no trouble coming in from our equally porous northern border.

    But wait: doesn’t this posit a relationship of some sort – possibly falling somewhere between active and passive collaboration – involving the Mossad with the terrorists who seek our doom? Don’t be too surprised, because it wouldn’t be the first time .

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     Monday, August 02, 2004

      Israel's Merchants of Influence in Washington

    by Ben Duncan
    29 July 2004

    The Jewish state has no dearth of friends in the US Congress

    The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, bills itself as not only a pro-Israel lobby, but as a group that is consistently ranked as the most influential foreign-policy lobbying organisation on Capitol Hill.

    Many Middle East analysts in Washington seem to agree.

    By almost all accounts, AIPAC is the vanguard of what is widely considered to be a well-oiled network of pro-Israel interest groups and thinktanks with enormous influence in Congress and electoral politics.

    By comparison, Arab and Muslim American political groups are still in an "embryonic" stage of development, as one expert put it.

    They have neither the financial resources, the congressional contacts nor the grassroots network in place to compete with the more established pro-Israel lobbies led by AIPAC, many experts say.

    "In terms of influence, [Arab and Muslim lobbying] pales in comparison," says Samer Shehata, a professor of contemporary Arab studies at Georgetown University who specialises in US policy vis-a-vis the Middle East.

    Few representatives from major Arab and Muslim advocacy groups would dispute this point.

    "Obviously there is a disparity," says Rabiah Ahmed, a spokeswoman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). "The American Muslim community, in terms of its political status, is still in its infant stage."

    While many experts dismiss the notion that the Jewish American community is driving US foreign policy in the Middle East, specifically with respect to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, they say the ability of AIPAC to coordinate fundraising activities and exert public pressure on members of Congress is substantial compared to Arab and Muslim organisations.

    "They are one of the most powerful lobbies in Washington, period," said MJ Rosenberg, a former editor of AIPAC's Near East Report and now director of policy analysis for the Israel Policy Forum.

    Israel Policy Forum is a pro-Israel Jewish organisation that supported the Oslo Accords and the Bill Clinton administration's policies of greater engagement in the peace process.
    Rosenberg describes AIPAC as a group that advocates unfettered US support for the platform of the Sharon government.

    An AIPAC spokesman did not return a phone call for this story.

    Although AIPAC is not a political-action committee and does not officially endorse candidates, its ability to persuade other pro-Israel organisations and individuals to contribute money to political campaigns has given it a significant voice in Washington, according to people familiar with its activities.

    From a fundraising standpoint, the pro-Israel lobby vastly outspends the competition.

    Thus far in the 2004 election cycle, pro-Israel groups and individuals have donated more than $4.7m to various candidates and political parties, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a watchdog group in Washington that tracks campaign-finance figures.

    More than $3m of that went to Democrats and $1.7m to Republicans.

    Comparatively speaking, Arab and Muslims donors are not even on the radar screen.

    "There is far less money coming from Arab and Muslim interests," said Steven Weiss, a CRP spokesman.

    Not that the money is not there. "I think the resources are definitely there in the Muslim American community," CAIR's Ahmed says. "It's just a matter of convincing people that it's a good use of their money."

    Fundraising, however, is only one aspect of the fight for influence in Washington.

    Pro-Israel groups such as AIPAC who support a hardline, pro-Sharon approach to the US role in the peace process, have proved to be very effective at promulgating their message on Capitol Hill, many experts say.

    So much so that a vote against legislation supported by AIPAC is viewed by some politicians as a potentially fatal career move, according to Rosenberg.

    "I think that members of Congress don't want to get on the wrong side of a very powerful constituent group," he said.

    Congressional resolutions expressing support for Israel on the peace process almost always pass with overwhelming support.

    A recent Senate resolution co-sponsored by the Senate majority and minority leaders, Republican Bill Frist of Tennessee and Tom Daschle of South Dakota, endorsed the Bush administration's policy that said, among other things, "it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final-status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949".

    After the resolution passed by a vote of 95-3, AIPAC released a statement applauding the measure. Its website boasts that "AIPAC activists help pass more than 100 pro-Israel legislative initiatives a year".

    With the presidential election just over three months away, experts say both parties in Congress have introduced a slew of House and Senate resolutions in support of Israel.

    One high-level Democratic staffer, who asked to remain anonymous, said some members have grown weary of what they view as political redundancy and election-year posturing.

    Although a recent House resolution criticising the ruling by the International Court of Justice on the legality of the Israeli separation barrier passed decisively, 45 representatives voted against it and 13 voted "present", the congressional equivalent of an abstention.

    By conventional standards, the "no" votes were much higher than usual.

    "The sort of overall feeling of some members is it's not in the US national interest, nor in Israel's interest, to keep pumping out these very one-sided resolutions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," the Democratic staffer said.

    The challenge, he said, lies in convincing voters and large donors that a "no" vote on legislation supporting Israel is not an anti-Israel vote.

    While the staffer said AIPAC is "an excellent lobby group" in every way possible, Arab and Muslim organisations are beginning to close the gap "a little bit".

    Ahmed of CAIR says Muslim-American groups are making headway as well. "Certain people in Congress have welcomed us and been receptive to our efforts," she said.

    "Five or ten years from now, there will be a significant difference in terms of the amount of influence we have."

    Until then, however, the pro-Israel interest groups can be expected to dominate the Washington lobbying scene.

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