Republican PR squads after Michael Moore

The almighty seven-minute silence.

A centerpiece of Fahrenheit 9/11 will be the seven minutes, all of them, that Bush sat in the Florida classroom while the WTC burned. Psychological minutes. Minutes of very low credibility, shall we say. Roger Ebert reviews the movie.

There are goonies posing as a "grassroots" group trying to intimidate theaters into not showing Fahrenheit 9/11. The group, Move America Forward, is hosting its website from the same IP number as Russo Marsh & Rogers, a PR firm in San Francisco that among other things had people involved in the Gray Davis recall, as Cosmic Iguana dug up. They were also the same characters that got "The Reagans" bumped off network television so I couldn't see it.

The report of the 9/11 panel may wound Bush, duhh, but it is nice to see the Washington Post understanding that.

On the Fourth of July, a new book by an anonymous CIA official, "Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror," is going to be published. This article is fascinating but I'm not getting into the juicy bits right now.

A huge examination of 9/11 tapes by Gail Sheehy.

The families heard a tape that has just now surfaced. Recorded by American Airlines at its headquarters in Fort Worth, Tex., even as the first hijacked airliner, Flight 11, was being taken over, the tape shows the airline’s top management was made aware beginning at about 8:21 a.m.—25 minutes before the impact of the first plane into the World Trade Center’s north tower—that a group of men described as Middle Eastern had stabbed two flight attendants, clouded the forward cabin with pepper spray or Mace, menaced crew and passengers with what looked like a bomb, and stormed the cockpit in a violent takeover of the gigantic bird.

Despite all the high secrecy surrounding the briefing, a half-dozen different family members were so horrified by voice evidence of the airlines’ disregard for the fate of their pilots, crew and passengers that they found ways to reveal some of what they heard on those tapes, and also what they felt. To them, the tapes appeared to show that the first instinct of American and United Airlines, as management learned of the gathering horror aboard their passenger planes on Sept. 11, was to cover up.

The response of American’s management on duty, as revealed on the tape produced at the meeting, was recalled by persons in attendance:

"Don’t spread this around. Keep it close."

"Keep it quiet."

"Let’s keep this among ourselves. What else can we find out from our own sources about what’s going on?"

"It was disgusting," said the parent of one of the victims, herself a veteran flight attendant for United Airlines. "The very first response was cover-up, when they should have been broadcasting this information all over the place."

That instinct to hold back information, some of the families believe, may have helped to allow the third hijacked plane to crash into the Pentagon and contributed to the doom of a fourth flight, United Flight 93. The United dispatcher was told by his superiors: Don’t tell pilots why we want them to land. The F.B.I. and the F.A.A. have also held back or, in one case, destroyed evidence in the government’s possession that would tell a very different story of how the nation’s guardians failed to prepare or protect Americans from the most devastating of terrorist attacks on the homeland.
"This has been the attitude all the way along," Ms. Dillard observed. "Everybody was keeping it hush-hush."

The failure to trumpet vital news from calls placed from the first hijacked flight throughout the system and into the highest circles of government leaves families wondering whether military jets could have intercepted American Airlines Flight 77 in time to keep it from diving into the Pentagon and killing 184 more people. That suicide mission ended in triumph for the terrorists more than 50 minutes after the first American jetliner hit the World Trade Center. Suppose American Airlines had warned all its pilots and crew of what their families were able to see and hear from the media?

The information hold-back may have arisen from lack of experience, or from the inability to register the enormity of the terrorists’ destructive plans, or it may have been a visceral desire to protect the airlines from liability. The airlines make much of the fact that the "common strategy" for civil aircraft crews before 9/11 was to react passively to hijackings—"to refrain from trying to overpower or negotiate with hijackers, to land the aircraft as soon as possible, to communicate with authorities, and to try delaying tactics."

This strategy was based on the assumption that the hijackers would want to be flown safely to an airport of their choice to make their demands.

But that defense of the airlines’ actions is belied by the fact that the F.A.A., which was in contact with American Airlines and other traffic-control centers, heard the tip-off from terrorists in Flight 11’s cockpit—"We have planes, more planes"—and thus knew before the first crash of a possible multiple hijacking and the use of planes as weapons.
So many unconnected dots, contradictions and implausible coincidences. Like the fact that NORAD was running an imaginary terrorist-attack drill called "Vigilant Guardian" on the same morning as the real-world attacks. At 8:40 a.m., when a sergeant at NORAD’s center in Rome, N.Y., notified his northeastern commander, Col. Robert Marr, of a possible hijacked airliner—American Flight 11—the colonel wondered aloud if it was part of the exercise. This same confusion was played out at the lower levels of the NORAD network.

What’s more, the decades-old procedure for a quick response by the nation’s air defense had been changed in June of 2001. Now, instead of NORAD’s military commanders being able to issue the command to launch fighter jets, approval had to be sought from the civilian Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld. This change is extremely significant, because Mr. Rumsfeld claims to have been "out of the loop" nearly the entire morning of 9/11. He isn’t on the record as having given any orders that morning. In fact, he didn’t even go to the White House situation room; he had to walk to the window of his office in the Pentagon to see that the country’s military headquarters was in flames.

Mr. Rumsfeld claimed at a previous commission hearing that protection against attack inside the homeland was not his responsibility. It was, he said, "a law-enforcement issue."

Why, in that case, did he take onto himself the responsibility of approving NORAD’s deployment of fighter planes?

In minor media matters, CBS is waffling about airing an anti-Clinton ad.

Lately I have enjoyed looking at the blogs node707 "Just a Bump in the Beltway" , "WarAndPiece" and Spacerook. As always I recommend Mr Juan Cole and in particular this rich and huge interview he did with the somewhat maverick Pepe Escobar in Asia Times online.

I don't believe the Russians.

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