Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Napoleon Bone n' Fart

Traditionally, the Pope accepts and crowns emperors and kings. But Napoleon gave the Pope permission to even attend his coronation. Here, we see a painting of Napoleon taking the crown from the Pope, symbolically turning his back to the Church, and crowning his beloved Josephine.
He didn't actually crown her, but put the crown on his own head.
It's a pretty bad ass move.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

You Said You'd Never Forget Part III: I'll Give You a Conspiracy Theory!

I finally finished 9/11 Contradictions by David Ray Griffin, and I have a lot to take in and to work through my brain. As you've already seen, the contradictions are obvious and unacceptable. What can I do? Would Dan Burton even listen to me? How could we move forward 8 years later when so much evidence relies on eye-witness accounts? I don't know. I think I will try writing a letter or lending him the book. We'll see where it goes. In this post, I am going to discuss the last couple of chapters that I found interesting and then leave you with the closing statements of David Ray Griffin in his book because it is extremely well said.

What new conspiracy have I stumbled upon? What contradiction is now keeping me awake at night in wonder? You can trace my night terrors to one man: Rudy Giuliani. I don't remember now if the then-mayor of New York City was praised or put down for his hand in the 9/11 mess. But after reading the last few chapters, if I were a New Yorker, I would be demanding some answers from this chump.

Giuliani was being interviewed by ABC's Peter Jennings about his day on 9/11. During the interview, Giuliani revealed that he had been told prior to the South Tower's collapse that the World Trade Center would be coming down and that he needed to get out. At first glance, this seems like a normal story. He is an important man and therefore rightly told to rush to safety. But there is a huge problem with what he said. If you look at the testimonies, the oral histories, of the firefighters, the rescue workers, the contractors, anyone who had a part in the building of or cleaning up of the towers, one man in the hundreds of accounts believed that the plane crashes would take the buildings down. No one saw it coming. Why? Those towers were built specifically to withstand the impact of an airliner. And never in the history of fires or plane crashes had a large building collapsed in that way. So, how, when all the fire fighters and emergency workers were pulling people from the buildings without the thought of collapse ever entering their heads, did Rudy Giuliani know for a fact that the buildings were going to come down?

Let's take a look at what happened. On the morning of 9/11, Giuliani was working in WTC 7 at the Office of Emergency Management. He was told shortly before the first building came down that he needed to get out. Yet, as we discussed, there were very few people who could even imagine that the tower would fall. And, as we will see, the very building he was in was left to the small, manageable fires that broke out and building 7 was leveled. Who told Giuliani that they were going to collapse? He never reveals this. And he later changed his story to where he felt the floor tremble and was told to leave after the first tower had come down. David Ray Griffin did a good job at outlining the information passed between the fire fighters that day, which shows a bizarre circle of the collapse foreknowledge. Giuliani claimed it was the fire fighters who told him he had to leave. The fire fighter command post was given a message from an emergency personnel who was given a message from his superior who was, in fact, the deputy director of the Office of Emergency Management. Therefore, Giuliani gave himself the heads up.

If Giuliani knew the towers were going to collapse, he either knew something we did not or he has a superior sense of what will happen. Never has the world seen a building collapse because of a fire. Yet, somehow he knew. If you look at the official story, the Commission says that the fires burnt so hot that it melted the steel. Science tells us, however, that a fire from the jet fuel of a plane will not burn hot enough to melt steel. Perhaps the fire was hot enough to weaken the steel so that it bowed. Even then, it is hard to believe that weakened steel would down a 100+ story skyscraper in a matter of 10 seconds. How, then, did these towers collapse? The Commission Report only gives us fire as a possible explanation. What about explosions? The Commission claimed that there wasn't enough evidence that anyone had even heard or seen explosions. Griffin points out that dozens of fire fighters, emergency workers, WTC employees, and many others heard and saw what appeared to be explosions before and during the collapse of all three buildings. One very popular account was the live interview with Barry Jennings. He told of how he and another man were trying to escape WTC 7 hours before the collapse. On the way down the stairs, an explosions took out part of the staircase. He and his companion had to climb back up to the 8th floor and wait for rescue. There, Barry claims he watched both towers fall. The first tower collapsed just before 10:00. Building 7 didn't fall until after 5 that evening. Yet, Jennings was blown back by an explosion before any of the other buildings fell. Not only did the Commission ignore most of Barry Jennings's testimony, they completely changed the time of his rescue to better suit their official timeline.

And you know what really weirds me out? Building 7 wasn't even mentioned in the Commission Report. One of the most bizarre aspects of that day wasn't worth discussing. How about the circle of information from Giuliani's Office of Emergency Management? How about how there were reported explosions in the lower half of the building when the explanation was that damage from the other towers were what caused it to collapse? How about the seemingly small fires that were in only a few floors and yet the fire department were told it was too risky and to let the building go? These things do not make sense.

And lastly, during the clean up at Ground Zero, there were numerous eye witness accounts of molten steel in the debris and rubble. Curse you Science!! If fires had caused the WTC to collapse, there should not have been molten steel left behind. As we saw, fire cannot burn hot enough, even when boosted by really awesome jet fuel. The only way that there could have been molten steel in the smoldering piles of what had been the World Trade Center is if something else had been added to the fire. Yes. If explosions had been used, molten steel would be expected. The Commission denied that there was any evidence of molten steel, despite those numerous accounts.

So. Dozens of accounts by journalists, television news crews, fire fighters, World Trade Center janitors, and many others of explosions, mixed with what looks very much like controlled demolition, mixed with molten steel, is not even significant enough to discuss in the Commission Report? You have got to be kidding me. And, as you will see, David Ray Griffin says that that, in itself, is a conspiracy theory.

"Shortly after 9/11, President Bush told the American people, perhaps especially Congress and the press, that they should not 'tolerate outrageous conspiracy theories concerning the attacks of 11 September.' Although we can probably all agree that such theories should be rejected, the meaning of the phrase 'outrageous conspiracy theories about 9/11' may not be immediately self-evident.
One's first reaction might be that the term 'outrageous' does not serve to distinguish some conspiracy theories about 9/11 from others, because all such theories are outrageous. However, the official account of 9/11, which Bush was advocating, is itself a conspiracy theory. A conspiracy is simply 'an agreement to perform together an illegal, treacherous, or evil act.' A conspiracy theory about some event, therefore, is simply a theory that it resulted from such an agreement. According to the official account of the 9/11 attacks, they resulted from a conspiracy involving Osama bin Laden and several members of al-Qaeda. The official account is, accordingly, a conspiracy theory.
We must ask, therefore, what would make such a theory outrageous. What are the criteria?
Within the philosophy of science, there are two basic criteria for discriminating between good and bad theories. First, a theory should not be inconsistent with any of the relevant facts. Many critics of the official account of 9/11 have faulted it for not fulfilling this criterion. They have argued, for example, that the damage and fires resulting from the impact of two airliners cannot explain why the Twin Towers and WTC 7 collapsed.
But many journalists and politicians have felt unqualified to make judgments on such matters, which involve technical issues, such as how buildings react to being hit by planes and how steel behaves when it is heated.
The other basic criterion of good theories, however, does not require any technical expertise. It simply says that a theory must be self-consistent, devoid of any internal contradictions. If a theory contains an internal contradiction, it is an unacceptable theory. If it contained a large number of such contradictions, it would be an outrageous theory.
The official conspiracy theory about 9/11, counting at least 25 internal contradictions, is clearly an outrageous theory. And yet this theory has been used to justify attacks on two countries, which have caused over a million deaths, including the deaths of thousands of Americans. This theory has also been used to justify extraordinary rendition, torture, warrantless spying, the denial of habeas corpus, and a general undermining of the US Constitution.
Given the extraordinary developments that have been justified in the name of the official story about 9/11, Congress and the press need to ask if the many contradictions in this story point to its falsity."

Friday, February 13, 2009

You Said You'd Never Forget Part II: Lost in Afghanistan

In George Orwell’s classic, 1984, there is a terribly unsettling scene in which the workers and members of the Party take part in what is known as Two Minute Hate. This fairly simple event is a part of the lifestyle these people have come to known. The face of Emmanuel Goldstein is projected in front of an audience while propaganda is being tossed around loosely. Goldstein is a character that is only mentioned and never actually seen in the novel, and he probably didn’t exist except as more propaganda. According to the story, he was once a party member but broke away and started the Brotherhood, whose sole goal was to take down the party. At the Two Minute Hate, the audience yells and screams and shakes their angry fists at the man and his revolutionary ideas. After the allotted time, they quiet down and go back to work. Bizarre!

Or is it? I read that book many years ago. But when I saw Osama bin Laden’s face on CNN and Fox News on a consistent basis, Orwell’s book was resurrected in from my memory. He was immediately pointed out as the brains and/or the money behind 9/11. He was handed the blame, but no one could find him for him to accept or reject the blame. But his image appeared everywhere. How the United States wanted us to hate this man! Had Emmanuel Goldstein come back to us in a turban and a long scraggly beard? At the time (remember, I was merely sixteen-years-old), I took for granted that what our government and media was telling us was true. There was evidence that Osama bin Laden had planned the attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and, if the plane hadn’t crashed in Shanksville, Capitol Hill. And yet, after reading through 200 pages of Griffin’s book, I became aware that NO hard evidence had ever been presented that proved bin Laden’s guilt.

The Commission Report is built on the assumption that bin Laden was responsible for the attacks on 9/11, but there was never a single piece of paper presented by the government that showed beyond a reasonable doubt that our new Emmanuel was at the helm. Powell had promised a white paper with the evidence. When asked about the paper, Bush and Ari Fleisher avoided answering any questions. Eventually, the answer became, “we have evidence, but it is classified.” A skeptic reporter put in very good terms. When told that there was proof but that no one could see it, he replied, “So, you are telling there is evidence, but you cannot show us. We just have to trust that you are telling the truth.” Trust the Bush administration? As I’ve said before, I do not think that he is an evil man. But how could we possibly put our trust in those fiends of his? I guess it’s easy in retrospect to see how foolish we were. Maybe at the time, since his time in office had been so brief, we thought that he meant no harm. Maybe.

The press pushed and pushed the Bush administration for answers. They tried. Nothing. The United States demanded that Osama bin Laden be turned over. The Taliban and Pakistan and Saudi Arabia all agreed to do their part if evidence was provided that he had indeed had a hand in the attacks. President Bush said that there were going to be no discussions. I don’t know about you, but that just doesn’t sound like the way things work. In our society, you are innocent until proven guilty. Across the country, bin Laden’s face was being air brushed on t-shirts that said things like, “Wanted: Dead of Alive.” Now, of course, bin Laden was wanted for other things, most significant was his U.S. embassy bombing in east Africa. He had been on the FBI’s most wanted list for a long time. But something interesting happened, or, rather, didn’t happen: After our government placed the blame of 9/11 on bin Laden, the offense did not show up on his FBI profile. So the FBI reports said that he was wanted for his older offenses but not 9/11. When government officials were asked why the attacks were not on his file, they said childishly, that they don’t need to be because he is already wanted for those previous offenses. That doesn’t make any sense. If bin Laden was blamed for 9/11 in public, why wasn’t he blamed on paper? The Commission report said he did. The government said he did it. The FBI said he did it. But still to this day, he is wanted for the attacks on the American Embassy in 1998. OFFICIALLY.

What does the Commission have to go off of, anyway? The testimony of Khalid Sheikh Mohammad (KSM). According to KSM, he had taken his idea for 9/11 to bin Laden and together they picked the men and planned the attacks. KSM seemed to be the brains and bin Laden was more of an organizer, a respected terrorist who knew the ropes. Yet, how do we know what KSM’s testimony really was? The same government who tells us that bin Laden was involved is the same government who interrogated KSM. In 2006, some journalists tried to question KSM and the other detainees whose testimonies were what pointed out Osama bin Laden. No one was allowed to contact them. No one witnessed the interrogation. No one can say for sure that KSM actually said those things. Again, we have to trust our government.

What about the confession video? Not long after the attacks, a video was discovered of Osama bin Laden talking about his part in 9/11 and taking responsibility. This video, however, is of extremely poor quality. And if you look closely, you’ll see a few things that don’t quite add up. He looks much thicker, almost chubby. All other images of bin Laden, he is extremely thin. In the video, he is eating with his right hand. Bin Laden is left-handed. And on that right hand, there gleams a silver ring, something that bin Laden would not wear due to his extreme religious beliefs. Granted, these are small discrepancies, but so are all of the other contradictions surrounded the truth of 9/11.

To this day, no real, actual, hard evidence has been provided to the press or the public that proves beyond a reasonable doubt that Osama bin Laden was the man behind 9/11. I could also same the same thing about Dick Cheney. But we needed, much like the people in Orwell's book, someone to hate, someone to focus on to distract us from the truth. I think at this point, I don’t care who is at fault, I just want to uncover the truth. It feels like it is pretty widely accepted that our government knew about the attack on Pearl Harbor with enough advanced noticed that they could stop it. But they didn’t. And we packed our bags and went to war. What would stop us from doing the same thing a second time? I think we did. But I don’t want to let it slip by into some weird schism in history. I want to remember 9/11 as an attack on my country, and I want whoever is responsible to be tried fairly by jury of their peers. We’re a long way from that. I will keep digging.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

You Said You'd Never Forget Part I

For the last few weeks, I have been tossing around different ideas for a Napoleon post. I have been listening to a pod cast about his life for the last couple months, but I have been a sparse attendee, catching pieces of his life in stretched-out spurts. There is so much to his life and it is so spread out that it is difficult to put down something interesting that is both coherent and worthwhile. I mean, the man was a genius but he did so many things, it is hard to keep them organized in my brain. Then I went on tour and sort of lost all of those ideas.

While in Florida, we stopped at a Barnes and Nobles. I was snooping around some nonfiction books, trying to find some good creative nonfiction, but nothing was grabbing my attention. So I stumbled up the escalator to the Social Sciences/ Culture section. I dropped to my knees in disgust of what awful looking books were there. While on the ground, I saw two words on the spine of a book that immediately engulfed my entire being: 9/11 Contradictions. That’s right. I am referring to David Ray Griffin’s open letter to Congress and to the press. This book, 9/11 Contradictions, is not a conspiracy theory book. Some of my friends might recall when I got home from tour this past May and I stayed up all night watching conspiracy theory videos on you-tubes. Many of these videos involved 9/11, and the oddities that occurred on that infamous day. Since then, and after I listened to the audio book, Hubris, the circumstances of September 11 have been super interesting to me.

David Ray Griffin is not a conspiracy theorist. His book is just what the title suggests: a record of the contradictions that exist between the official 9/11 Commission Report and the hundreds of different sources that existed before the report came out and that still exist today. He doesn’t draw any conclusions from the information he gives. Instead, he simply states the contradictions, backing them up with facts and explaining both sides and then asks Congress and the press to look deeper into why these contradictions exist and which version is the truth. Brilliant.

I am about 120 pages into the book, and so far I am utterly fascinated by the ignorance, arrogance, and sheer lack of honesty of the 9/11 Commission and its ridiculous report. Neither I nor Griffin is accusing the Commission of lying. But there are so many things that the Commission overlooked when compiling its data. One of the biggest pieces of information that was completely ignored was the testimony of Norman Mineta, the Secretary of Transportation. Keep in mind Mineta, in order to have this job, was a cabinet member, probably appointed by Bush. So he would have no motive to tarnish the Bush administration or its claims about what happened on that day. I would like to investigate Mineta a little more and see if there would be any reasons for him to want to disagree. I say this because his testimony differs so greatly from the Commission Report that the two radically different sequence of events could have happened that day. Not only that, but this testimony by Mineta was given to the Commission for its report. . . And it was completely ignored and not mentioned when the report was published.

It bothers me immensely that so much debate relies on one man’s testimony. But Griffin discusses different testimonies, articles, and news programs that back up Mineta’s account. The 9/11 Commission Report, though, is also backed up by other resources. So, it is very difficult for me to say that Mineta is telling the truth and the Bush administration is lying. I think is obvious that the Bush administration is trying to hide something, and they kind of dig their own grave by being overly suspicious. Another man gave an account that backs up Mineta’s testimony, and he was also mostly ignored. Richard Clarke put out a book about the events of that day of September 11 just before the Commission Report came out. What about these men tells me that I should believe their accounts instead of the official one? Well, for one, the Commission Report, the official story of 9/11, is filled with so many holes that it makes anyone want to believe in someone else. But I really want to find out more about these men before I put any stock into their stories.

My skepticism aside, Mineta tells an incredibly compelling and interesting story about what happened that day. The first warning signs of contradiction we see is when Dick Cheney shows up in the underground bunker beneath the White House. Official reports say that Cheney did not arrive until right around or after the Pentagon was struck, which was about 9:58. Mineta, however, as well as some other accounts, places Cheney there as early as 9:10. In fact, before the report came out, it was widely believed and accepted that Cheney had been down there that early. But the report said he didn’t arrive until just before 10:00. That is quite a difference! Why is this discrepancy important? It is important because if Cheney were there, he would be in charge of the Presidential Emergency Operation Center. Remember, Bush was in Florida sitting with his ding dong in his hand in some elementary school. Mineta’s testimony tells of an extremely bizarre encounter of Cheney that, if it is true, places Cheney in the underground bunker at at least 9:25, nearly a half-an-hour prior to the official time. In Mineta’s story, a young man, presumably a secret service man, approaches Cheney and tells him an airplane is heading toward Washington and is about 80 miles out. He then asks, “Do the orders still stand?” Cheney says yes. This occurs three times, each time the plane getting closer and closer. Each time Cheney says, yes, the orders still stand.

First of all, how do we know this conversation even occurred? Officially, Cheney was still somewhere else in the White House. But let’s say for a moment that Mineta is an honorable and honest man. The Commission Report says that the military had notice on only Flight 11, the first plane to crash into the WTC. The report says that there was no notice for the other three planes, the plane that hit the South Tower, Flight 77 that hit the Pentagon, and Flight 93 that was downed in Pennsylvania. By the time Cheney would have had this encounter, the first two planes had already hit the WTC. If this conversation did happen, then Cheney would have known about one of these two hijackings long before the crashes. Why wouldn’t he contact the military? If he was referencing Flight 77 that hit the Pentagon, there would have been plenty of time to get fighter jets in the air to shoot down the airplane (which is, in fact, protocol). And if this conversation did happen, what orders would they be talking about? Protocol was to shoot down hijacked planes that were suspicious of being used weapons. The orders from Cheney still stood, and yet Flight 77 still crashed into the Pentagon. Could the orders have been to not shoot? Is that why the young man continued to ask, because it wasn’t protocol? And what if it was Flight 93? The report still says that the military had no advanced notice of that flight.

As you can see by a simple discussion of what time Dick Cheney arrived in a room, so many questions are raised that really affect the outcome of that day. This is just the beginning. It is extremely frustrating to me because the Bush administration looks incredibly suspicious, and up until now, I did not suspect foul play. My take on September 11 is as follows:

I do not believe that our government planned or executed or caused the terrorist attacks on 9/11. I believe they are just that--terrorist attacks. But, I think because of the holes in 9/11 Commission Report and because of the retracted and changed testimonies and statements of Cheney, Bush, and others that our government knew full well of the events that took place and had time to respond accordingly and they did not. They turned their heads and let these atrocities take the lives of hundreds of Americans. Why would they do that? The answer is pretty obvious. Remember earlier in 1991 when Dick Cheney, Scooter Libby, Paul Wolfowitz, Colin Powell, and many more hawks from the Republican army had their angry little hands in Iraq? Oh yes. Unfinished business.
As I stated in an earlier post, these hardliners really wanted to pin Saddam Hussein in the Gulf War with weapons of mass destruction charges and to get him out of power. But they didn’t have all the pieces they needed. After they left, it came out that he did indeed have biological weapons. So Bush leaves, Clinton comes in for 8 years but doesn’t bite. Bush Jr. comes home to the White House and Cheney and his handsome bullies are waiting, literally salivating, chomping at the bit, for a chance to get into Iraq and finish what was started. But they needed something huge to turn the page in their favor. Bam. September 11 knocks the American public off its feet. We are scared and we need help. In steps Dick Cheney, who fluffs up already faulty information about Iraq, and we’re back in just under two years.

Do I think our government caused 9/11? No. Do I think they turned a blind eye and allowed the events to occur as they did? You bet. Do I think Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld should be tried and punished for their actions? Yes. Do I think Bush is a terrible man? No, I think Cheney was pulling his dick most of the time. Pun intended.

There are so many things to discuss about this book by Griffin, so this will be Part I. Part II will come before too long and will most likely deal with the question of when the military was contacted or was it at all. In the mean time, I have a lot to think about. I want more than anything for the truth to come to light and for the criminals of this tragedy to be punished accordingly, but I don’t know what I can do. I have been thinking about writing my Congressman and asking him to look deeper into these questions because so much innocent blood has been shed between 9/11 and the war in Iraq and the war on terror, and I want it to end. Also, I am just really curious as to what really happened.