Daily Archives: February 27, 2004

Hastert Agrees to 9/11 Report Extension

Did I or did I not say this was a day for Good News? And the hits just keep on comin’.

WASHINGTON (CNN) — After intense pressure from lawmakers and family members of victims, House Speaker Dennis Hastert reversed his position Friday and said he would not oppose granting a 60-day extension to the commission investigating the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.In a letter to commission Chairman Tom Kean and Vice Chairman Lee Hamilton, Hastert said the commission could wait until July 26 to hand in its report — 60 days after the original May 27 deadline.

Are you wondering why the switch? I can say it in two words: Karl Rove.

But the White House said it supported the extension. Spokesman Scott McClellan dismissed as “silly” the suggestions by some Democrats that the administration was secretly backing Hastert’s earlier position.A senior administration official said the White House welcomed Hastert’s decision, and added that in the past week Bush spoke with Hastert about supporting the extension. White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card also called Hastert this week to reiterate the administration’s position.

Conversations continued into Friday between top aides to Bush and aides to the speaker. One official familiar with the conversations said that by midday Friday “it was pretty clear” the debate over the extension “was not a winner” for the speaker or the White House.

Karl is adjusting to the reality shown in the polls of the last few weeks. After throwing up every obstacle he could think of to hinder the Commission’s investigation, Junior was about to get egged like an omelet for using Hastert to kill the request. So Karl, a devoted student of both Sun-Tzu and Stonewall Jackson, decided to beat a strategic retreat, figuring the publication of the Report would do less damage overall than the perception that Bush had deliberately stalled it because he was afraid of what it would say.

It must have been a tough call. A lot of what the report could contain (scroll down to “What Really Happened on 9/11?”) is very…unflattering to Bush. If Commission RINO’s (Republicans In Name Only–Rush’s designation for moderates) like Kean and Hamilton decide to write as honest a report as, say, David Kay’s, Bush could be in real trouble right about the time he’s accepting the party’s nomination (either from a stage plunked down at Ground Zero or from the bowels of Dick Cheney’s bunker surrounded by the 8th Army and the 3rd Regiment Field Artillery Band, depending on how things go). Rove must have figured that the RINO’s would be unlikely to risk the Wrath of Kharl by doing something that would embarass the Prez–a pretty safe bet, actually, if not a sure thing.

Still, Karl Rove isn’t famous for backing down, and the fact that he’s had to retreat is a good indication of just how bad he thinks the polls are. And that can only be Good News for us.

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More Good News

And the good news just doesn’t stop today.
About effin’ time, I’d say.
–Perle Messda, Acclimated Poet of the Minnesota School for Regional Cookery, Specialty: Lemon Angels. “We do lutefisk!”John McKay over at archy links to a story about a student revolt at a Montana high school. What are they rebelling against, you ask? A new rule that forbids the wearing of t-shirts with the word “Britney” on them? the removal of pizza from the school lunch menu? a new requirement that seniors actually attend at least one class a day? Nope. They don’t want the school board to force them to learn creationism in their biology classes.

After the Darby School Board Tuesday made another move in the process of adopting an objective origins policy, students came out to express their opposition.About one-third of the high school’s 170 students Wednesday walked out of school 15 minutes before the bell rang and assembled between U.S. 93 and school property in protest of the school board’s decisions to question evolution.

Carrying signs criticizing the newly adopted policy, students walked the sidewalk and drew honks and yells from passers-by hoping school officials and trustees would take heed.

“Students really care what’s going on in the school,” said senior Aaron Lebowitz, who organized the protest. “(The school board) has been on their own track and haven’t really listened to us.”

Well, I’ll be damned.

What I particularly love is the new creationist label for justifying the injection of religion into science: the “objective origins policy.” That’s a good one, ay? They’re overturning scientific principles in order to be “objective.” As long as they’re being honest about it. The kids, however saw right through that bare-faced ploy and aren’t having any.

“Over the past few weeks, students have discussed the issue at length and formed opinions about intelligent design,” Lebowitz said.One sign read, “Creationism in a cheap tuxedo.” And others called on people to go to church for creationism.

Lebowitz walked down the row of students asking individuals why they were there. Students strongly voiced concern about creationism being in science class and encouraged people to vote in the upcoming school board election.

Currently, students touch on evolution in life science class in seventh grade and then again in 10th-grade biology.

“But evolution is not shoved down our throats,” he said. “I was pretty disturbed by the ignorance of our community about what we’re really being taught.”

Lebowitz carried a sign that read, “Strike against preaching pseudo science.”

Good for them. I have to admit that as a sometime teacher I have made my fair share–alright, more than fair–of disparaging comments concerning the knowledge-level of your average adolescent. Mentioning Afghanistan and being asked if that’s some kind of candy bar will do that to you. But for a third–a third!–of the entire student body to stage a walk-out over a threat to the quality of their education is, well, John says it best:

As long as the public schools can turn out kids like this, the school system is doing just fine. Don’t believe the far right propaganda about our schools being failures that need to be replaced by voucher supported private (religious) schools. And as long as we have kids like Aaron Lebowitz and his cohort, civilization isn’t doomed quite yet.

Amen.

Anti-Gay Religious Right Gets Knuckle Sandwich

Something’s happening out there that is as direct a slap-in-the-face to faux-Christian moralism as any legitimate human being could wish. Not only aren’t the masses rising up to denounce the godless blasphemy of gay marriage, they’re sending it flowers.

San Francisco’s florists have been overwhelmed by orders from people as far away as Australia who are paying for flowers to be delivered randomly to the gay and lesbian couples getting married at City Hall.The requests from same-sex marriage supporters have come from some surprising places — Minneapolis, Atlanta, Kalamazoo, Mich. Even Hong Kong.

“It has just exploded, skyrocketed, spread like wildfire,” said Thim Phan, owner of Flowers By the Bay. “We’ve been bombarded with phone calls, and we knew we couldn’t handle it alone, so I’ve been calling other florists in San Francisco like, ‘Please guys, help!”‘

Phan said he has processed nearly 200 orders from almost every state since the city began allowing the gay marriages.

Right-wing Christian zealots, stand down if you know what’s good for you. You have made your bed and the people are saying they want no part of it. Love, they are saying, is so rare a commodity in these days of hate and intolerance that we will support it even if we don’t care for the way it’s expressed and wouldn’t personally choose that option for ourselves. Love is precious however it comes, and we’re going to prove it to you.

Join the parade.

SEND FLOWERS TO SAN FRANCISCO! SEND FLOWERS TO BOSTON OR PITTSBURG OR ANYWHERE ELSE MAYORS DEFY THEIR STATE LEGISLATURES AND ALLOW LOVE TO SPREAD ITS WINGS! SUPPORT LIFE AND FIGHT THE DEATH THAT IS BIGOTRY!

I wish I had a button you could push but there isn’t one so you’ll have to take the responsibility for doing this on yourself. Good Luck and God Bless You.

(Via the San Francisco Chronicle by way of Mark Morford)

What Really Happened on 9/11?

In yesterdays NY Observer, veteran investigative reporter Gail Sheehy begins to piece together a picture of events that is at startling odds with the version the public knows. For instance, did you know that, thanks to an airphone call from Flight Attendant Amy Sweeney, the FBI probably knew the names and addresses of three of the five hijackers on American Airlines’ Flight 11 15-20 mins before the plane crashed into the towers?

Mr. Woodward ordered a colleague to punch up those seat locations on the computer. At least 20 minutes before the plane crashed, the airline had the names, addresses, phone numbers and credit cards of three of the five hijackers. They knew that 9G was Abdulaziz al-Omari, 10B was Satam al-Suqami, and 9D was Mohamed Atta—the ringleader of the 9/11 terrorists.”The nightmare began before the first plane crashed,” said Mike Sweeney, “because once my wife gave the seat numbers of the hijackers and Michael Woodward pulled up the passenger information, Mohamed Atta’s name was out there. They had to know what they were up against.”

Flight Service Manager Michael Woodward was relaying that information from Sweeney directly to American’s HQ in Dallas as he went along.

Would American Airlines officials monitoring the Sweeney and Woodward dialogue have known right away that Mohamed Atta was connected to Al Qaeda?”The answer is probably yes,” said 9/11 commission member Bob Kerrey.

It is inconceivable that airline officials could know that they were dealing with known terrorists and not have apprised the FBI of what was going on. The FBI would have alerted both the FAA and the Air Force, and jets would have been scrambled to intercept the planes. But they weren’t. Despite the fact that radar tracked Flight 11’s turn toward NYC and knew its probable destination, Sheehy’s report suggests that no interceptors were ever dispatched. Why not?

The mythology that has grown up around that fateful day is gradually being replaced by actual knowledge, and as our information grows, popular myths are being shattered one-by-one. For example, the myth that the planes had been hijacked using nothing more complicated than box cutters. In fact, Amy Sweeney reported to Woodward that the hijackers of Flight 11 had a bomb.

“How do you know it’s a bomb?” asked her phone contact.”Because the hijackers showed me a bomb,” Sweeney said, describing its yellow and red wires.

Or the myth that the revolt of the passengers on Flight 93 was responsible for the plane’s destruction before it reached its target.

The story put out by United—of heroic passengers invading the cockpit and struggling with the terrorists—is not believable to Melody Homer or to Sandy Dahl, widow of the plane’s captain, Jason Dahl. Mrs. Dahl was a working flight attendant with United and knew the configuration of that 757 like the back of her hand.”We can’t imagine that passengers were able to get a cart out of its locked berth and push it down the single aisle and jam it into the cockpit with four strong, violent men behind the door,” said Ms. Homer.

Sheehy suggests that it seems more likely the plane was shot down at Bush’s order.

Vice President Richard Cheney called President George W. Bush to urge him to give the order that any other commercial airliners controlled by hijackers be shot down. In Bob Woodward’s book, Bush at War, the time of Mr. Cheney’s call was placed before 10 a.m. The Vice President explained to the President that a hijacked airliner was a weapon; even if the airliner was full of civilians, Mr. Cheney insisted, giving American fighter pilots the authority to fire on it was “the only practical answer.”The President responded, according to Mr. Woodward, “You bet.”

Defense officials told CNN on Sept. 16, 2001, that Mr. Bush had not given authorization to the Defense Department to shoot down a passenger airliner “until after the Pentagon had been struck.”

Bush apparently wasn’t notified about what was happening until almost 15 mins after the first attack–around 9am–and nearly 45 mins after Sweeney’s information had identified the hijackers and American’s HQ had confirmed the ID. You would have thought that was pretty late in the game as it was, yet Bush waited another hour before ordering civilian planes grounded and giving the order to shoot down the other hijacked aircraft. Melody Home, whose husband was Flight 93’s First Officer, is understandably livid over Bush’s achingly slow response.

“Whether or not my husband’s plane was shot down,” the widowed Mrs. Homer said, “the most angering part is reading about how the President handled this.”*****************************

[After being notified of the first crash, Bush] went into a private room and spoke by phone with his national security advisor, Condoleezza Rice, and glanced at a TV in the room. Mrs. Homer’s soft voice curdles when she describes his reaction: “I can’t get over what Bush said when he was called about the first plane hitting the tower: ‘That’s some bad pilot.’ Why did people on the street assume right away it was a terrorist hijacking, but our President didn’t know?”

Maybe he was making one of those famous right-wing “jokes.”

But the worst of this is that the committee investigating 9/11 has ignored a lot of this basic evidence. They never interviewed Woodward, and a critical tape of Flight 11’s cockpit chatter recorded by the FAA Traffic Control Center at Nashua, NH which reportedly contains the voices of the hijackers threatening the crew, among other things, isn’t included on the commission’s evidence list even though the tape was removed by “Federal law enforcement officials” minutes after the first crash.

[Former Inspector General of the Department of Transportation Mary] Schiavo sat in on the commission’s hearing on aviation security on 9/11 and was disgusted by what it left out. “In any other situation, it would be unthinkable to withhold investigative material from an independent commission,” she told this writer. “There are usually grave consequences. But the commission is clearly not talking to everybody [and] not telling us everything.”

Granted the Bush Admin has been stonewalling their investigation for months and just refused their request for a 60-day extension because granting it might hurt the Pesident’s chances for re-election, still, why have they been ignoring evidence that is, as Sheehy puts it, “hiding in plain sight”?

This is a disturbing report, and even though it’s a long, somewhat complicated piece, I urge you to read it in its entirety. Sheehy has shown that we’ve moved way past conspiracy “theory” and into the borderlands of conspiracy “indications.” Something is going on here, and we have a right to know what it is.

(Via Atrios)

Quotes of the Day

Most people would sooner die than think; in fact, they do so.–Bertrand Russell

I’m also not very analytical. You know I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about myself, about why I do things.–George W Bush

No matter what you think you think, you think the same as I think.–Adam Bonner

The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made.–Grouch Marx