Friday Night News Reads: Sirens and Warnings

Good evening.

I hope everyone is okay, there have been tremendous storms today…and some have produced some killer tornadoes.

So here’s a few updates on the weather:

NOAA Storm Prediction Center  Best source for warnings.

Tornado outbreak in Tennessee and Ohio Valley, dangerous situation; Indiana towns destroyed – Capital Weather Gang – The Washington Post

msnbc video: Indiana town takes direct tornado hit

Storm Prediction Public Severe Weather Outlook

I just have a couple other links for you tonight.

I would love to get your take on the recent news regarding possible connections of Saudi Arabia to the attacks on September 11th, 2001.

A few days ago, former Senators Bob Graham and  Bob Kerrey filed sworn statements regarding their investigation into the possible involvement of Saudi Arabia in the 9/11 attacks.

Ex-Senators Graham and Kerrey See Possible Saudi 9/11 Link – NYTimes.com

For more than a decade, questions have lingered about the possible role of the Saudi government in the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, even as the royal kingdom has made itself a crucial counterterrorism partner in the eyes of American diplomats.

Now, in sworn statements that seem likely to reignite the debate, two former senators who were privy to top secret information on the Saudis’ activities say they believe that the Saudi government might have played a direct role in the terrorist attacks.

“I am convinced that there was a direct line between at least some of the terrorists who carried out the September 11th attacks and the government of Saudi Arabia,” former Senator Bob Graham, Democrat of Florida, said in an affidavit filed as part of a lawsuit brought against the Saudi government and dozens of institutions in the country by families of Sept. 11 victims and others. Mr. Graham led a joint 2002 Congressional inquiry into the attacks.

Bob Graham was my Senator in Florida. I have always respected him and found him to be one of the few genuine politicians I have met. Having said that, I want to give you the rest of the story from the NYT.

His former Senate colleague, Bob Kerrey of Nebraska, a Democrat who served on the separate 9/11 Commission, said in a sworn affidavit of his own in the case that “significant questions remain unanswered” about the role of Saudi institutions. “Evidence relating to the plausible involvement of possible Saudi government agents in the September 11th attacks has never been fully pursued,” Mr. Kerrey said.

Their affidavits, which were filed on Friday and have not previously been disclosed, are part of a multibillion-dollar lawsuit that has wound its way through federal courts since 2002. An appellate court, reversing an earlier decision, said in November that foreign nations were not immune to lawsuits under certain terrorism claims, clearing the way for parts of the Saudi case to be reheard in United States District Court in Manhattan.

It makes sense that some information…especially the pertinent intelligence against the Saudi’s would be withheld during the Bush years. It is about damn time this was fully investigated.

The Saudis are seeking to have the case dismissed in part because they say American inquiries — including those in which Mr. Graham and Mr. Kerrey took part — have essentially exonerated them. A recent court filing by the Saudis prominently cited the 9/11 Commission’s “exhaustive” final report, which “found no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi individuals funded” Al Qaeda.

But Mr. Kerrey and Mr. Graham said that the findings should not be seen as an exoneration and that many important questions about the Saudis’ role had never been fully examined, partly because their panels simply did not have the time or resources given their wider scope.

Yeah…that bit about the wider scope is something we would use in college when we did not know the answer to one of Prof VanNeste killer questions. “That is beyond the scope of my research.”

I think the matter of Saudi involvement was beyond the scope of friendship between the Bushes and the Saudi Royal Family. It also was beyond the meme needed to get our asses into Iraq, so that old “Bushie” scores could be settled with Saddam.

Cannonfire has a post about it here:  Were the Saudis behind 9/11? Cannonfire

And Naked Capitalism has one here: 9/11 Commissioner and Co-Chair of Congressional Inquiry into 9/11 Say in Sworn Declarations that Saudi Government Linked to 9/11 Attacks « naked capitalism

Emptywheel has yet to write about it, I am eagerly awaiting her take on it.

Some interesting points via Cannonfire:

In a sense, nothing new here. But the assertion that the Saudi connection won’t be probed because we are on the verge of war with Iran — now that is disturbing.

Lichtblau has been on this story for a while. Here, from 2009:

Allegations of Saudi links to terrorism have been the subject of years of government investigations and furious debate. Critics have said that some members of the Saudi ruling class pay off terrorist groups in part to keep them from being more active in their own country.

A self-described Qaeda operative in Bosnia said in an interview with lawyers in the lawsuit that another charity largely controlled by members of the royal family, the Saudi High Commission for Aid to Bosnia, provided money and supplies to the terrorist group in the 1990s and hired militant operatives like himself.

Another witness in Afghanistan said in a sworn statement that in 1998 he had witnessed an emissary for a leading Saudi prince, Turki al-Faisal, hand a check for one billion Saudi riyals (now worth about $267 million) to a top Taliban leader.

And a confidential German intelligence report gave a line-by-line description of tens of millions of dollars in bank transfers, with dates and dollar amounts, made in the early 1990s by Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz and other members of the Saudi royal family to another charity that was suspected of financing militants’ activities in Pakistan and Bosnia.

Of interest to me is the Israeli angle. There has been talk of Saudi/Israeli cooperation in a potential war with Iran — see, for example, here.

An investigation of possible Saudi involvement with 9/11 could seriously gum up the works.

Add that bit of rhetoric from Obama today, which was focused on Iran and Israel…that, he is the president of the United States and he doesn’t bluff. It is all too curious to ignore.

Over at Naked Capitalism, the Saudi connections are something they have written about for some time.

As we noted last year:

The Co-Chair of the Congressional Inquiry into 9/11 and former Head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Bob Graham, previously stated that an FBI informant had hosted and rented a room to two hijackers in 2000 and that, when the Inquiry sought to interview the informant, the FBI refused outright, and then hid him in an unknown location, and that a high-level FBI official stated these blocking maneuvers were undertaken under orders from the White House (confirmed here).

Today, Graham called for a new 9/11 investigation. As Raw Story notes:

Graham on Monday called on the U.S. government to reopen its investigation into 9/11 after a report found that links between Saudi Arabia and the hijackers were never disclosed by the FBI to the 2002 joint Congressional intelligence committee investigating the attacks.

“In the final report of the congressional inquiry, there was a chapter related primarily to the Saudi role in 9/11 that was totally censored, every word of the chapter has been withheld from the public,” Graham said on MSNBC’s The Dylan Ratigan Show.

“Some of the other questions we ought to be asking are if we know that the Saudis who lived in San Diego and now apparently in Sarasota received substantial assistance, what about the Saudis who lived in Phoenix, Arizona? Or Arlington, Virginia? … What was happening in those places?”

“I believe these are questions for which there are definitive answers, but the American people and largely their elected representatives have been denied that information.”

The article goes on to say:

As we’ve repeatedly noted:

9/11 Commissioner Bob Kerrey said that “There are ample reasons to suspect that there may be some alternative to what we outlined in our version . . . We didn’t have access . . . .” He also says that it might take “a permanent 9/11 commission” to end the remaining mysteries of September 11

Indeed, while everyone remembers the false allegations about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, most forget that the other primary justification for the war was the false linkage between Iraq and 9/11.

The failure to really investigate 9/11 led us into a disastrous war … which has virtually bankrupted our country.

Unfortunately, the endless wars in the Middle East and North Africa are about oil, not national security (and see this).

So we have idiots like MSNBC talking head Joe Scarborough saying that – even if the Saudi government backed the 9/11 attacks – Saudi oil is too important to do anything about it:

Video of Morning Joe at this link.

So what are your thoughts?

Oh, in the latest Romney news, it seems he has the red neck vote in hand…aside from his statements about NASCAR team owners are some of his closest friends…and lets not forget the way he made fun of the rain ponchos the fans were wearing. Yes, Romney got Waffle House King of Scattered and Smothered…Kid Rock to come aboard the Romney Starship. Today he secured the heavy metal, gun lovin’ NRA hunter vote: Ted Nugent endorses Mitt Romney for president

Rocker (and Detroit native) Ted Nugent has endorsed former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for president.

Nugent, the self-professed “Motor City Madman,” said in a tweet from his @tednugent Twitter feed: “after a long heart&soul conversation with MittRomney today I concluded this goodman will properly represent we the people & I endorsed him.”

Nugent has been a lifelong conservative and gun rights advocate, not at all shy about expressing his views. He toyed with the idea of running for governor of Michigan, but now lives in Texas.

Now, all he needs is to get is Walker, Texas Ranger to defect from the Eye of Newt campaign and the “rural” vote will surely step into line. (Cough, cough)

The wind is picking up and the sound of thunder is overpowering the sound of strange bald kids playing their banjos on the front porch. I’m outta here. I’ll try to catch up with you all later in the comments.


Twisting Personal Tragedy to Advance Unrelated and Evil Public Ends

Yesterday, Minkoff Minx wrote a beautiful and eloquent post that described her personal experience of the tragic events of September 11, 2001. I was so grateful to read what she wrote, because she simply described her own experience and emotions about what happened. She didn’t try to speak for her husband or any of the the other survivors–just herself. She also shared some wonderful resources for getting in touch with how we felt on that day ten years ago, when our country was attacked by foreign terrorists.

On September 11, 2001, nearly 3,000 people lost their lives to terrorist attacks as they were either beginning their days at work at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon or traveling on airplanes scheduled to fly from Boston to Los Angeles, Washington D.C. to Los Angeles, and Newark to San Francisco. For the families and friends of those who died, life would never again be the same. Thousands of others, like Minx’s husband, survived, but their lives and those of their families were also forever altered.

Thousands more were either directly impacted by the trauma of witnessing the attacks close up from their homes in New York or Washington, DC. Thousands of first responders were also directly affected by the attacks and their aftermath, including people who traveled to NYC, DC, and PA to help search for survivors or to support first responders.

Those of us who helplessly watched the events as they played out on television were affected too, although few of us probably suffered from post-traumatic stress as a result. But we empathized with those who were directly impacted, and we felt the terrible shock of having our country attacked. I can remember how shocked I was that day. I was on vacation at a Rhode Island beach with my family. It was a gorgeous day and I was out sightseeing with my parents and my sister when we heard the news. My sister had spoken to someone in a museum store and heard that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center. We headed back to the beach house as we listened to reports on the radio. My brother and his wife were watching TV at the beach house when we got back.

For the next couple of days we quietly read newspapers or watched TV. My sister’s husband drove out from Indiana to get her because the planes weren’t flying and she was very frightened. I had to go back to Boston to start teaching classes a couple of days later, and I recall that I felt nervous and jumpy while driving alone. Like many others, I was fearful of more attacks. At the time, everything was so confusing, I didn’t know what to expect. I also felt shame that two of the planes used in the attacks flew out of Logan Airport in Boston.

Most of us probably have clear memories of where we were and what we were doing that day and following days. We’re told told Americans pulled together after September 11, 2001, although I don’t really recall feeling that myself. But I have no doubt that millions of people empathized with those who were directly affected. As I mentioned above, many people took action by traveling to the places that were attacked to help in any way they could. Nothing that has happened since can change the basic caring and good will of the American people.

Yet for the past week, I’ve felt anger every time I saw the upcoming anniversary of September 11 being hyped on TV–the endless replaying of the videos of the planes hitting the towers; the preachy fake patriotism of the talking heads; the sudden reappearance of disgraced politicians George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld; the constant talk of “security” and the repetition of the words “the homeland,” which is so reminiscent of the Nazi term “the fatherland.” How could I not be angry after all that our government has done in the past ten years to supposedly avenge the lives lost on 9/11?

First there was the attack on Afghanistan, supposedly to catch Osama bin Laden. But when there was a chance to capture or kill bin Laden, Bush decided not to. Next came the barrage of lies from the Bush administration and from media sources like The New York Times and Washington Post, in order to get us into a second war in Iraq. Those wars have killed far more than 3,000 young American soldiers and perhaps hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Afghanis–and for what? No effort was made to confront Saudi Arabia–where most of the perpetrators and the financial support for the attacks came from. Over the past ten years we have seen the progressive erosion of our Constitutional rights in the name of “security” and “safety.” We have learned that our government captured and imprisoned people–often completely innocent people–without evidence or charges at Guantanamo, at Abu Ghraib, at Bagram, and untold other prisons around the world. We know that many of these people were tortured and killed. Americans voted for Barack Obama in hopes that he would end the pointless wars and stop the rendition and torture. Instead, he has continued the wars and continued to rendition people to foreign prisons where they will be tortured. He has ordered drone attacks in Pakistan and Yemen. He has continued the erosion of our Constitution rights and defended the Bush administration at every opportunity. These are the reasons I felt angry at the jingoistic celebrations of the tenth anniversary of September 11, 2001.

And what has become of the survivors of the 9/11 attacks? Every effort was made to keep any compensation they received to a minimum. And what of the first responders who were exposed to the toxic environment at Ground Zero in NYC? They have been denied the help they need along with the recognition of what they suffered. The Bush administration resisted any investigation of why the attacks were not prevented, and when they finally allowed a 9/11 commission–largely because of the efforts of four 9/11 widows (The Jersey Girls), they kept the Commission from from going “too far” in holding anyone in the administration accountable.

It was healing for me to read Minkoff Minx’s post, because she spoke of her personal pain and losses and how she was living with the aftereffects. I was able to recall my pure memories of that day, and how I worried about the reactions of my students, how I tried to get discussions going in my classes so we could share our reactions. For a short time as I read yesterday morning’s post, I was able to recall the pure feeling of loss from that day ten years ago before the tragedy was twisted to start wars that would decimate our economy and pass laws that would erode our individual rights and freedoms.

Yesterday morning, Paul Krugman wrote a brief but heartfelt blog post expressing some of the feelings I’ve tried to express with my post today. I’m going to take the liberty of reproducing Krugman’s statement here:

September 11, 2011, 8:41 am
The Years of Shame
Is it just me, or are the 9/11 commemorations oddly subdued?

Actually, I don’t think it’s me, and it’s not really that odd.

What happened after 9/11 — and I think even people on the right know this, whether they admit it or not — was deeply shameful. The atrocity should have been a unifying event, but instead it became a wedge issue. Fake heroes like Bernie Kerik, Rudy Giuliani, and, yes, George W. Bush raced to cash in on the horror. And then the attack was used to justify an unrelated war the neocons wanted to fight, for all the wrong reasons.

A lot of other people behaved badly. How many of our professional pundits — people who should have understood very well what was happening — took the easy way out, turning a blind eye to the corruption and lending their support to the hijacking of the atrocity?

The memory of 9/11 has been irrevocably poisoned; it has become an occasion for shame. And in its heart, the nation knows it.

For this brief blog post expressing his personal sadness over the way government, politicians, and media have twisted private tragedy to accomplish their own unrelated and corrupt ends, Paul Krugman has been attacked by right wingers and Islamophobics all over the internet. He has been called every name in the book for simply speaking his own truth. He has also gotten some support from liberal blogs, and other bloggers have discussed their own misgivings about the changes in our country after 9/11. I want to share a few of those reactions.

Nicole Belle at Crooks & Liars: While Thinking People Grapple With 9/11 Legacy, RWNJs Shoot The Messenger

Cliff Schecter at Al Jazeera English: 9/11 and Its Great Transformations

Kristin Breitweiser: No Place To Go But Up: Howard Schultz’ Upward Spiral 2011

Blue Texan at FDL: Krugman is Right: We Should Be Ashamed of What Happened After 9/11

Dave Weigel at Slate: Get Krugman!

I guess what I’m trying to say in this post is that ten years after September 11 2001, I still have faith in the basic goodness and caring of the American people, but I am even more suspicious of and cynical about the U.S. Government and the U.S. Media than ever before. I do think we need to be eternally vigilant, not about physical danger from foreign terrorists but from the constant psychological manipulations emanating from those who claim to be protecting and informing us.


Late Night Open Thread: Thank Goodness We have a Different Madame Secretary Now

Suddenly, in the wake of the killing of Osama bin Laden, the media is trotting out all the Bush administration war criminals to claim the credit. The most obnoxious of these has been Condoleezza Rice. Can you imagine being one of Condi’s students and having to sit through one this lying liar’s lectures?

Let’s flash back for a few moments to those heady days when Condi was in charge of U.S. foreign policy.

Remember this?

And this from Bob Woodward’s State of Denial?

Woodward writes that on July 10, 2001, then-CIA director George Tenet became so concerned about the communication intelligence agencies were receiving indicating that a terrorist attack was imminent that he went to the White House with counterterrorism chief J. Cofer Black — without an appointment — to meet with Rice, then the national security adviser. He and Black hoped the meeting would alert Rice to the urgency they felt.

But Tenet and Black felt that Rice gave them “the brush-off,” according to Woodward, telling them that a plan for coherent action against bin Laden was already in the works. Woodward writes that both Tenet and Black felt the meeting was the starkest warning the White House was given about bin Laden.

Please, Condi, just STFU. If we had a true leader as President, you’d be on trial for war crimes.