The easiest first. There was a typo. I should have written $200,000,000,000. Fortunately I wrote the words two hundred billion dollars. So everyone understood.
The Challenge Stands
You supply the billions, we here at Fog Facts will find Osama bin Laden. Plus any ten other terrorists to be named later.
It is astonishing that although the administration has spent $200,000,000,000, as a supplementary amount, on top of all other military and intelligence expenditures, they have not arrested – or captured or killed - the gang that attacked us. I don’t understand how that’s possible and I would like the opportunity to prove than any ordinary civilian ought to be able to do the job with that much money. Of course, I insist on US rules. I can kill, torture, bribe, whatever I want and I will never be liable.
The Terrorists Who Phoned In
Seven of the nineteen 9/11 terrorists declared themselves alive after 9/11. If that's true, then yes, they were not on the planes. And we don't know who was.
These are collated individual reports in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Time, the Guardian, the Telegraph, the Independent and on the BBC.
Six purported to come from the individuals concerned and one from the Saudi government.
The list of names and what they were doing – pilot, administrative supervisor, working at a petrochemical plant and so on – is in my book, Fog Facts: Searching for Truth in the Land of Spin. I, in turn, got it from The Terror Timeline: Year by Year, Day by Day, Minute by Minute: A Comprehensive Chronicle of the Road to 9/11 – and America’s Response, by Paul Thompson, (Regan Books, 2004). You can also find the material at their website www.cooperativeresearch.org. I crossed checked as many of the original articles as I could. They existed and Cooperative Research reported them correctly.
Frankly, I don’t know if the reports were true. I only know they were reported in the most credible of places and that they ought to have been very seriously addressed.
I also know that three years later when the 9/11 Commission Report came out, they simply used the original list of nineteen. They did not mention these reports at all. Even if they were false, fraudulent or hoaxes, that should have been demonstrated.
“Who done it?” is a pretty fundamental question. Not to answer it makes the whole project seem doubtful.
The 2000 Election Recount
There is still confusion over this.
I remember reading the story in the NY Times when it came out. I too thought it said that Bush won. It was only years later that an article by Gore Vidal drew me to the truth. It was in the fourth paragraph:
If all the ballots had been reviewed under any of seven single standards, and combined with the results of an examination of overvotes, Mr. Gore would have won, by a very narrow margin.
There are technicalities about undervotes and overvotes, but if all the votes in which the intention of the voters could be determined – which is the Florida standard under the law – Gore won. No matter how many ways you run it, and they ran it seven ways, Gore won.
It is understandable that people don’t know that. It was not only the NY Times that spun the story and buried the lead, so that they could in reasonable good conscience think that they had “reported” the facts while they worked so hard to mislead us.
Here are all the consortium’s headlines.
The New York Times: "Study of Disputed Florida Ballots Finds Justices Did Not Cast the Deciding Vote."
The Wall Street Journal: "In Election Review, Bush Wins Without Supreme Court Help,"
Los Angeles Times: "Bush Still Had Votes to Win in a Recount, Study Finds."
The Washington Post: "Florida Recounts Would Have Favored Bush"
CNN.com: "Florida Recount Study: Bush Still Wins."
The St. Petersburg Times: "Recount: Bush."
The truly fascinating thing is how all those major media organizations, committed both ethically and as a business proposition, to delivering the truth, all spun it the same way at the same time.
It’s one of the primary inspiration for the idea of Fog Facts. It’s one where the fog was deliberately created by the our most reputable news institutions.
Below the Law
There were a couple of comments that responded that people so awful as terrorists and unlawful combatants ought to be below the law. ‘Cause they’re so awful. And because they feel that to treat them lawfully, and to refrain from torturing them, would somehow endanger our “security.”
I would first direct you to John McCain's statement on the anti-torture amendment:
McCain, of course, was tortured and abused in North Vietnam. So he knows something special about the subject.
I will quote from it because he makes the argument so well:
To fight terrorism we need intelligence. That much is obvious. What should also be obvious is that the intelligence we collect must be reliable and acquired humanely, under clear standards understood by all our fighting men and women. To do differently would not only offend our values as Americans, but undermine our war effort, because abuse of prisoners harms – not helps – us in the war on terror. First, subjecting prisoners to abuse leads to bad intelligence, because under torture a detainee will tell his interrogator anything to make the pain stop. Second, mistreatment of our prisoners endangers U.S. troops who might be captured by the enemy – if not in this war, then in the next. And third, prisoner abuses exact on us a terrible toll in the war of ideas, because inevitably these abuses become public. When they do, the cruel actions of a few darken the reputation of our country in the eyes of millions. American values should win against all others in any war of ideas, and we can’t let prisoner abuse tarnish our image.
We are Americans, and we hold ourselves to humane standards of treatment of people no matter how evil or terrible they may be. To do otherwise undermines our security, but it also undermines our greatness as a nation. We are not simply any other country. We stand for something more in the world – a moral mission, one of freedom and democracy and human rights at home and abroad. We are better than these terrorists, and we will we win. The enemy we fight has no respect for human life or human rights. They don’t deserve our sympathy. But this isn’t about who they are. This is about who we are. These are the values that distinguish us from our enemies.
This addresses, first of all, the excuse for torture. It also discusses our ideals and our traditions.
But it doesn’t address the danger of having people below and above the law.
What does it take to be declared a “terrorist” or an “unlawful combatant”?
Some guy in a momentary position of power says so. It could be the attorney general. It could be a GI. It could be a prosecutor in the justice department.
If they’re mistaken, or foolish, or they think you looked at their girlfriend the wrong way, or if they were in a bad mood, or you witnessed them commit a crime and they want to cover it up, what can you do about it?
Nothing. You can’t call your lawyer. You can’t call your family. You can’t appeal to their superiors. All you can do is sit in your jail cell and hope they don’t beat you too savagely and let you use a toilet instead lying in your own urine and feces.
If, by good luck, or a miracle, or change of administration, you are released, you have no recourse.
Now it is true that these powers have not yet been widely used against our own domestic population. But there is no rule – now – that says it can’t be. We have said that we will go to war against countries that harbor terrorists, indeed, that’s the class that Afghanistan and Iraq are in. Am I giving aid and comfort to the enemy when I say that torturing them is wrong? If you read the right wing blogs and comments you will find that they say such things even about John McCain and they call him despicable for being against torture. What is there to say that I or John or you, cannot simply be labeled and whisked away.