"Bureaucracy has committed murder;" The Big Spinstorm; a little more on Israeli spies shadowing hijackers before 9/11

BROUSSARD [of Jefferson Parish]: We have been abandoned by our own country. Hurricane Katrina will go down in history as one of the worst storms ever to hit an American coast. But the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina will go down as one of the worst abandonments of Americans on American soil ever in U.S. history. … Whoever is at the top of this totem pole, that totem pole needs to be chainsawed off and we’ve got to start with some new leadership. It’s not just Katrina that caused all these deaths in New Orleans here. Bureaucracy has committed murder here in the greater New Orleans area and bureaucracy has to stand trial before Congress now.

As featured at ThinkProgress.

Yeah, I don't know if I can put the big picture of the storm together. Nonetheless here are some stories.

Someone told Cheney to go fuck himself on live television. Tomgram: Iraq in America: At the Front of Nowhere at All: The Perfect Storm and the Feral City By Tom Engelhardt really puts it into perspective, and all the nasty parallels and feedback effects from the Iraq war making things worse, the sudden and shocking evidence that the Public Sector in this country has been stripped to the bone, etc. A lot of blame is getting spun around, Brit Hume even claimed that Bush "pleaded" that the mayor of New Orleans would evacuate.

Also this White House photo of Bush in a video teleconference before it hit just illustrates how they shouldn't have dropped the damn ball. Check out the official note from FEMA's Brown (PDF), five damn hours after it hit, putting DHS and FEMA into action in the "near catastrophic event". Via TPM.

The Red Tape and bizarre bureaucratic moves included having firefighters hand out fliers apparently. The pathology of our government:

...as specific orders began arriving to the firefighters in Atlanta, a team of 50 Monday morning quickly was ushered onto a flight headed for Louisiana. The crew's first assignment: to stand beside President Bush as he tours devastated areas.

Image before life. Also Barbara Bush said that "This is working out very well for them" in their tortured refugee status because they were "underprivileged anyway." There are some horrible reports about totally staged relief events - entire sites that appeared to hand out supplies, then collapsed as soon as Bush and the less observant American media moved off. The Germans of ZDF were more observant. But wait, maybe that was not accurate at all. Here are some translations of the media in question.

It would appear that Blackwater USA - the same private military firm/mercenary org that's done such a fine job in Mesopotamia - has sent at least 150 people into the New Orleans area. They are patrolling with M-16s. Yeah. A blogger on the ground appears to have broken this story.

The practice of putting political apparatchiks into FEMA makes more sense if we consider what might have happened if it had hit a swing state in an election year, such as the 2004 hit on Florida, where FEMA rolled in and basically showered people with cash well outside the damage zone, resulting in a nice bounce of several points for Bush. Was Michael Brown basically perpetrating fraud in Florida 2004 (PDF)? Salon: The Politics of Hurricane Relief. ThinkProgress Katrina Timeline attempts to counter the spin. Billmon is doing a damn good job these days, as always.

True Blue Conspiracy Theorist Wayne Madsen said that someone, probably the government, was jamming radio transmissions around New Orleans. What the hell? I don't get it. Well, now there is an update that is is coming from some kind of pirate radio station in the Caribbean. Ok, whatever. Here is how you can defeat radio jamming signals. Apparently. Also, he has a grand conspiracy already going into place about depopulating the poor black population of the city. I liked the bit about "secret hereditary societies." So take this with many grains of salt:

September 9, 2005 -- Dallas meeting plans reconstruction of New Orleans without poor African Americans. According to well-informed New Orleans sources, New Orleans' wealthiest families, including those who are direct descendants of the French who settled New Orleans (not the Acadians [Cajuns] who were poor refugees from British tyranny in Nova Scotia) are meeting in Dallas today with Bush administration officials, New Orleans city officials, wealthy Texas oilmen, and bankers to plan for the reconstruction of New Orleans. These wealthy New Orleans residents live in the gated community of Audobon Place, a section of the city near the Garden District replete with personal helipads that still has running water and sewage and was only slightly affected by hurricane Katrina. It is now reportedly being patrolled by private Israeli security forces. Yesterday's Wall Street Journal ran a piece with more details on this story.

Rep. Richard Baker (R-LA): "We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn't do it, but God did."

The Dallas meeting focused on rebuilding and re-zoning New Orleans without the "criminal element," a code word for the city's poor African American community.

These New Orleans residents have been scattered across the United States and are now under the control of FEMA. There is an understanding by the wealthy New Orleans elite that the poor will never be able to return. The Journal reported that the person who chaired the Dallas meeting was Jimmy Riess, one of the wealthy New Orleans elite who also served as Mayor Ray Nagin's Chairman of the Regional Transit Authority, which is in charge of the city's buses, trolleys, and trains. New Orleans sources report that public transportation was purposely not used to evacuate the poor New Orleans residents as a means to depopulate the poorer and more flood-prone sections of the city. [hongpong: wtf?!! let me get my tinfoil hat right away!] In fact, after the properties in New Orleans poorer communities are razed many of the deed records of the poor and middle class contained in government offices and title companies of Orleans Parish and neighboring Jefferson Parish may end up being casualties of the flood. As one New Orleans source put it, "people will not have proof they ever owned anything." As for renters and residents of public housing, they will be prevented from returning to their native city, according to New Orleans sources. Louisiana's Republican House member Richard Baker, a strong Bush ally, may have tipped his hand about the future plans for New Orleans when he told a group of lobbyists, "We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn't do it, but God did."

Guess Who Is Planning the Rebuilding of New Orleans?

The French-American elite of New Orleans are among the city's "rich and famous." They run the Mardi Gras "crews" (Krews) or clubs, secret hereditary societies that sponsor the annual pre-Lenten festival. Many also run large oil companies and are long time supporters of the Bush family and their associated oil and gas cartels.

Meanwhile, the wars: There was the conference about terrorism and security called America's Purpose, which you can see video about, and some stuff on CSPAN. Washington dude Steve Clemons was involved. In terms of the war, Juan Cole offered an excellent dissection of how Christopher Hitchens is still trying to defend it.

The "sovereign" Iraqi government wants to get those private mercenary / privatized military / security firms under control somehow, including a central registry. Also this news from the Telegraph.

 Images Blackwater In Najaf2-Tn

For more than two years such contractors have roamed with impunity. But now the interior ministry has imposed rules requiring all their firms to be registered and weapons to be carried only by guards holding an official licence.

If any of the companies is considered to be a threat or if it angers a government official its official permit could be revoked and the business ordered to depart.

About 25,000 security contractors, many of them British, American and South African ex-servicemen, lured to Iraq by wages of up to £750 a day, are estimated to be in the country providing protection for official buildings, supply convoys or visiting businessmen.

They are highly unpopular with locals. Convoys of contractors have become a common sight on a journey through Baghdad since the March 2003 US-led invasion.

Adorned in sunglasses and bullet-proof vests, they travel in white four-wheel-drive vehicles with gun barrels protruding from the windows. Many refuse to obey road signs and consider traffic jams a security risk so barge through the lines of vehicles which are often forced to pull over rapidly on to pavements.

Their lack of official status has long been a concern and those operating on US department of defence contracts are free from risk of legal penalty under the Iraqi judicial system if they killed anyone in a firefight.

But under the new rules confirmed yesterday all such firms will be brought under the authority of the Baghdad government. All companies will have to provide details of their number of employees, jobs undertaken and office addresses.

Most significantly their employees will no longer be allowed to possess a weapon without approval. Many of the firms have considerable firepower. As well as AK-47s and assault rifles some have heavy machineguns and anti-tank rocket launchers. One company, Blackwater, even has its own fleet of helicopters which criss-cross Baghdad with machine guns poking out from the side.

The surging private military industry is a fascinating subject for me. If you want a really entertaining video shot from the Blackwater guys' helicopters, check out MilitaryVideos.net. The latest video, from August, is Blackwater in Najaf 2 (BitTorrent wmv - legal). Sounds exciting. Index of some of these companies, Global Guerrillas on PMFs, the Guardian on it. Soldiers of Good Fortune by Barry Yeoman in Mother Jones is a really excellent primer. And of course Wikipedia on it.

OS X + Windows Video Tech Tip: For some horrible reason, Windows Media Player for Mac OS X is a very stubborn piece of crap that hates to play lots of WMV files. However, if you retitle the file's type from .wmv to .asf , then lots of them will work. Incredibly stupid, but it works on most of the videos from MilitaryVideos.net.

Juan Cole offers us the following tidbit about how Rummy thinks that we can do a Top Notch job in New Orleans, Iraq AND the Global War on Terror.

The US Pentagon is sending hundreds of members of the Louisiana National Guard home from Iraq. Some of them have lost homes in New Orleans. Internet gossip had earlier suggested substantial discontent in the ranks over being stuck in Iraq while Louisiana faced its biggest crisis in modern history.

The Iraqi Interior ministry said 9 Iraqis were killed, among them a high-ranking official in the ministry of the interior. Another 20, at least, were injured.

US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfield maintains that the US government can both take care of New Orleans and pursue the "global war on terror."

Uh, Donald, let's look at this situation. First, much of New Orleans is under water. You stole money that should have been spent on its levees for the Iraq War, and you stole state national guards from Louisiana to fight in Iraq. (The state national guards hadn't signed up to fight foreign wars and were surprised when you kidnapped them, sometimes for a whole year at a time.) So you haven't actually done a good job with the effects of Katrina in New Orleans. In fact, the job has been so bad that some wags are saying they can't believe you personally were not in charge of the recovery effort.

Then let's consider the war against al-Qaeda. You may have noticed that Ayman al-Zawahiri issued a videotape late last week. It was bundled with the farewell suicide tape of Muhammad Siddique Khan, the mastermind of the 7/7 bombers in London. It now appears that your inability to capture al-Zawahiri has allowed him to intrigue with Pakistani jihadi groups to recruit British subjects to bomb their own country. Bin Laden and Zawahiri are at large and free men, which is your failure.

Then there is the war in Iraq. I don't need to tell you that that isn't going very well. In fact, what in hell are you doing in the godforsaken Turkmen city of Tal Afar? Is it really a big threat to the United States? Is it likely to be friendly to us if you drop 500 pound bombs on its residential districts?

You left out the fourth war Bush is fighting, on the US poor. The average wage of the average American work fell last quarter, amidst rising corporate profits. Bush cut billions in taxes on the rich, and then gave $300 checks to some poor people, who didn't seem to realize that by taking it they were giving up all sorts of government services and maybe even their social security payments.

So, Donald, maybe it is true that you can save New Orleans, occupy Iraq and fight a global war on terror all at the same time. But you, at least, cannot actually do these things successfully. Which is why you should have resigned a long time ago.

Projects in Iraq are running out of cash. This would include water and power projects. Also, the US is obsessed with gaining control of the town of Tal Afar near Syria, and has been bombing the bridges over the Euphrates River in an effort to prevent militants from circulating. Of course, some people might suggest that such an action is pretty much the Direct Method for "dividing a country", but how could I suggest such a thing? Also the city of Qaim, on the edge of Syria, has been a site of dramatic violence and such... As usual it is all being blamed on Goldstein. I mean Zarqawi. A complex report about the struggle in Iraq over its economic organization. Of course, the US has been crushing the wishes of the more socialist-oriented Iraqis, who realize their country has a good chance of getting ahead with export-led industrial development and a heavily subsidized public sector backed up with oil wealth. Oh well. That is Not Suitable to our Fantasy Vision, dammit!

Israel is wrapping up the Gaza occupation, and the little slice of land between Gaza and Egypt will finally return to Arab hands. This is called the Philadelphi Corridor or Philadelphi Route, which this Fikret Ertan dude reflects on. The matter of border customs stations, overseen by an international team, has not been fully resolved yet. It seems that Bush is intervening with the Europeans, asking them not to pressure Sharon so that he's more likely to win against Netanyahu. However, as writer Gideon Samet points out, they are being lazy and unhelpful, making the wrong moves with the "Israeli hurricane" as well. Israel is sealing the Rafah crossing in Gaza to prep it. The notoriously goofy Rabbi Ovaida Yosef said that Hurricane Katrina was God's punishment for Bush's support for leaving Gaza.

"It was God's retribution. God does not shortchange anyone," Yosef said during his weekly sermon on Tuesday. His comments were broadcast on Channel 10 TV on Wednesday.

Yosef also said recent natural disasters were the result of a lack of Torah study and that Katrina's victims suffered "because they have no God," singling out black people......Yosef singled out black victims, saying "they don't study Torah." He used the word "Kushim," which in the Bible refers to an ancient African people but in vernacular Hebrew is considered derogatory.

Our last Israel tidbit comes from Amira Hass, on "Gun Envy." Life for a tiny child in the Gaza slums:

In another year or two, he will learn to distinguish between an armed Jew and an armed Palestinian. Instead of fear, maybe he will be filled with pride and excitement. In another three years, he will know how to distinguish between armed men from Hamas and armed men from the Palestinian Authority/Fatah, and will already decide which is his favorite team. Thus, without his parent's wanting it, without realizing it, without his similarly excited friends realizing it - he will be infected with the common malady whose scientific name is "gun envy."

The minor variety of this illness is sympathy (for one organization or another) and emulation (with toy guns). The serious variety is to join an organization. The most common symptom of this illness is reflected in the billboards and posters that constantly crowd one's field of vision: men armed with rifles and mortars, in every pose imaginable, and with each organization competing over whose is bigger. Another symptom is expressed in the public military ceremonies that elicit ecstatic reactions from the crowd.

She astutely points out that the Palestinians are in fact developing mirror images of the main force all around them, the IDF.

Was Israel Keeping Tabs on some of the 9/11 hijackers?

What an interesting question!! What do you say,

senior FOX News reporter Carl Cameron, in December 2001?


CARL CAMERON, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Since September 11, more than 60 Israelis have been arrested or detained, either under the new patriot anti-terrorism law, or for immigration violations. A handful of active Israeli military were among those detained, according to investigators, who say some of the detainees also failed polygraph questions when asked about alleged surveillance activities against and in the United States. 

There is no indication that the Israelis were involved in the 9-11 attacks, but investigators suspect that they Israelis may have gathered intelligence about the attacks in advance, and not shared it. A highly placed investigator said there are "tie-ins." But when asked for details, he flatly refused to describe them, saying, "evidence linking these Israelis to 9-11 is classified. I cannot tell you about evidence that has been gathered. It's classified information." 

Fox News has learned that one group of Israelis, spotted in North Carolina recently, is suspected of keeping an apartment in California to spy on a group of Arabs who the United States is also investigating for links to terrorism. Numerous classified documents obtained by Fox News indicate that even prior to September 11, as many as 140 other Israelis had been detained or arrested in a secretive and sprawling investigation into suspected espionage by Israelis in the United States. 

Investigators from numerous government agencies are part of a working group that's been compiling evidence since the mid '90s. These documents detail hundreds of incidents in cities and towns across the country that investigators say, "may well be an organized intelligence gathering activity." 

The first part of the investigation focuses on Israelis who say they are art students from the University of Jerusalem and Bazala Academy.....

And so on and so forth. An incredibly weird thing to hear from Fox News. But within weeks this story vanished down the memory hole, and only because someone managed to tape the four Fox reports and put them up on the Internet can we watch all 1 2 3 4 of them right now!

200509101540The new twist, as Justin Raimondo brought to attention, is that some corporate lawyer did a massive study (PDF) picking apart all the various weird detentions of Israelis, and he discovered a very serious overlap between where the 9/11 hijackers lived, and where the Israelis were apparently spying from. The maps are hilarious! So it would be quite a dramatic story if it all turned out to be true. Personally, I am not betting my lunch money on it, but I thought it certainly interesting enough to post on the site.

As always, Josh Marshall is holding it down on TalkingPointsMemo.com. There has been plenty of good stuff about the Katrina spinstorms there lately.

I am no fan of Allan Bloom style neoconservative browbeating of the "Liberal Academia", but this review in NYTimes about the effect of his classic "Closing of the American Mind: How Higher Education Has Failed Democracy and Stolen My Maple Syrup" was sort of interesting. I think the interesting point was that Bloom would be appalled how the rightwing is attempting to ideologically straitjacket academia in the same sorts of ways that Bloom thought the Big Scary Left did back in the day.

 News Media 2005 08 Week 1 05 Beachboys Gl

Misc bits: freewayblogger.com chronicles signs posted on overpasses and stuff against Bush and the War. This is very old news, but the British graffiti artist Banksy bombed the wall constructed by the Israeli government inside the Palestinian Territories. I can't believe he did something so detailed in the high-security area. Badass.

That's all for today, folks.

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