Friday, February 29, 2008

UK Guardian New evidence challenges official picture of Kennedy shooting

James Randerson, Washington DC,
February 22 2008

The official record states that senator Robert F Kennedy, like his brother before him, was killed by a crazed lone gunman. But the assassination of a man who seemed to embody so much hope for a bitterly divided country embroiled in an unpopular war still troubles this nation.

Little about the official explanation of the events at the Ambassador Hotel on June 5 1968 makes sense. Now a new forensic analysis of the only audio recording of the fatal shots has given new weight to a controversial theory that there were in fact two shooters, and that the man convicted of Kennedy's killing — Sirhan Sirhan - did not fire the fatal shots.

Following his victory speech to supporters after clinching a tight democratic primary victory in California, Kennedy left the podium in the Embassy ballroom to address a press conference.

Bloody mayhem

But the shortcut he and his entourage took through the hotel's pantry quickly descended into bloody mayhem. As Kennedy turned from shaking hands with two of the kitchen staff, a gunman stepped forward and began firing. Kennedy was hit by four shots including one which lodged in the vertebrae in his neck and another which entered his brain from below his right ear. He died in hospital the following day. Five other people were injured but survived.

Sirhan - a Palestinian refugee who said he wanted to "sacrifice" Kennedy "for the cause of the poor exploited people" - was quickly apprehended. He was eventually sentenced to life imprisonment.

"Sirhan was apprehended at the scene with literally a smoking gun," said acoustic forensic expert Philip Van Praag of PVP Designs, who has carried out the new analysis. "At the beginning many people looked upon this as an open-and-shut case. It was one man, Sirhan Sirhan, who was observed by a number of people, who aimed and fired a gun in the direction of Kennedy's entourage."

Close range

But the lone gunman explanation has always looked shaky. The autopsy of Kennedy's body suggested that all four shots that hit him came from behind, and powder marks on his skin showed they must have been from close range.

But Sirhan was in front of Kennedy when he fired, and after shooting two shots was overcome by hotel staff, who pinned him to a table. Also, Sirhan fired eight shots in total, yet 14 were found lodged around the room and in the victims.

"There is no doubt in our minds that no fewer than 14 shots were fired in the pantry on that evening and that Sirhan did not in fact kill Senator Kennedy," said Robert Joling, a forensic scientist who has been involved with the Kennedy case for nearly 40 years. He and Van Praag have published a book on the killing this week entitled "An Open and Shut Case".

The inconsistencies in the case have bred numerous conspiracy theories, including the involvement of the CIA and the idea that Sirhan - who claims not to remember the shooting and pleaded insanity at his trial - was a "Manchurian Candidate" assassin who was hypnotically programmed to kill the senator.

Audio recording

Now Van Praag has added new weight to the 'two shooters' theory. He reanalysed the only audio recording of the shooting, which was made by an independent journalist, Stanislaw Pruszynski. "At the time Pruszynski was not even aware that his recorder was still on," said Van Praag.

The recording quality is poor, but it is possible to make out 13 shots over the course of just over 5 seconds, before what Van Praag describes as "blood-curdling screams" obscure the sound. That is more than the eight rounds that Sirhan's cheap Iver Johnson Cadet 55 revolver carried.

Also, there are two pairs of double shots that occurred so close together it is inconceivable that Sirhan could have fired them all. The third and fourth shots and the seventh and eighth were separated by 122 and 149 milliseconds respectively. In tests, a trained firearms expert firing under ideal conditions could only manage 366 milliseconds between shots using the same weapon. And he was not being pinned to a table at the time.

Frequency anomalies

Lastly, five of the shots - 3, 5, 8, 10 and 12 in the sequence - were found to have odd acoustic characteristics when specific frequencies were analysed separately. Van Praag thinks this is because they came from a different gun pointing away from Pruszynski's microphone.

To recreate this he recorded the sounds made by firing the Iver Johnson and another revolver, a Harrison and Richardson 922. At least one member of Kennedy's entourage was carrying this weapon when the killing happened. In the acoustic tests it produced the same frequency anomalies Van Praag had seen in the original recording but only when fired away from the microphone.

He presented his results on Thursday at the American Academy of Forensic Sciences annual meeting in Washington DC.

Paul Schrade, a close associate of Kennedy's who was director of the United Auto Workers union, was at the senator's side in the pantry and was shot in the head. He told the meeting that America lost an outstanding leader and potentially great president that day.

Lost hope

"I think we were in a position of really changing this country," he said. "What we lost was a real hope and possibility of having a better country and having better relations around the world."

He wants to see the case reopened and properly investigated. "We're going to go ahead and do our best to find out who the second gunman was and that's going to take a lot of work," he said.

Van Praag also wants the case reexamined. "We would hope that the evidence that we have uncovered ... would make a strong enough case to get serious consideration once again by the authorities," he said. © Guardian News and Media Limited 2008

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Bali Bombing: Another False Flag Operation: Fool Me Endlessly

Reprehensor writes:

This well-crafted, well-documented film from Australia exposes the 2002 Bali Bombings as yet another case of False Flag Terror.

Using a formula that has worked so well for the Loose Change crew, the filmmaker has crafted a very watchable piece that flows well, with interesting visuals, a soundtrack that moves from hip to emotionally engaging, and most importantly, and most damaging of all to the powers that be... the Truth.

"Fool Me Twice" examines well-known examples of False Flag terror, and adds an excellent new sequence about the 1993 World Trade Center bombing that leaves the viewer with no doubt that Emad Salem was a controlled asset. Utilizing audio that features Salem covertly recorded while talking with FBI agent John Anticev, "Fool Me Twice" cuts to the chase regarding the 1993 bombing, and goes deeper, examining the CIA's links to this milieu.

The Bali bombings are dissected with a healthy dose of newly gathered evidence that shows what the real effects of ANFO car bombs are, what they do, and what they don't do, like leave massive craters. The film argues that this is from high-intensity military-grade explosives, which the authorities declare were not used. At least not anymore. At first they claimed that Semtex and C4 were identified, but this didn't fit the official story in the hopper, which required that the bombers be tied to the purchase of ANFO making materials. This analysis of the bombing is brilliant indeed. (In a short but unfortunate detour, the film explores evidence that some sort of nuclear device may have been used, however, no physical evidence is produced that could definitively prove that a nuclear device was used. This small detour is something of a waste of time in my opinion, although the segment in question is well done. Please don't let this stop you from examining this film, skip over the segment if you wish, but this documentary is important and should not be overlooked. At the very least check out this report cited in the documentary by Robert S. Finnegan.)

The film closely examines the Jemaah Islamiyah and it's links to the CIA and other intelligence agencies that used this radical group. A very welcome and valuable analysis. This film reveals extensive connections between JI, the Bali Bombings and military and intelligence circles.

I rank this film among the most important and valuable of the year, packed with valuable information, bolstered by new analyses, and accompanied by a familiar pattern: violent extremists are targeted, infiltrated, aided, and ultimately directed by the very intelligence services that should be protecting innocent civilians from the extremists.

The Bali bombings were used to usher in tons of "anti-terror" legislation in Australia. Highly recommended viewing.


Below is the Press Release from the film-maker;


Released on Youtube and Googlevideo this week, FOOL ME TWICE, exposes the cover-up of the Bali bombings and provides evidence that it was a Falseflag Operation.

The film begins by documenting the Australian government’s prior knowledge of the Indonesian military’s plan to use violence to maintain autonomy over East Timor. Contrary to The Howard Governments claims they argued against peacekeeping forces allowing the Indonesian Special Forces to carry out their campaign of fear and suppression.

Within 24 hours of the 2002 Bali bombings a team of FBI, UK special agents and Australian federal police started arriving in Bali. The investigation team continuously claimed different explosive devices were responsible for the main blast. Days after the attacks, Indonesian Police Chief, General Dai’ Bachtier, announced that the FBI had discovered C4 pointing the blame towards Jemaah Islamiah, JI (“SE Asia wing of Al qaeda”). Eventually, investigators concluded that the main explosive device was a potassium chlorate car bomb. C4 was never included in final reports.

The main explosive device was so powerful it seriously damaged buildings in a 2/400 metre radius and left a 1 metre deep, 10 metre wide crater. 202 people perished in the blasts, the majority incinerated from the main explosive device. Investigators quickly excavated the crater contents and dumped the remaining debris off the coast of southern Bali, including completely stripped concrete reinforcing bars. Potassium chlorate is a low velocity explosive and does not have the overpressure force to create a 1 metre deep crater or completely incinerate humans, let alone strip concrete. Only a high-tech explosive device has the power to strip concrete.

FBI claims of C4 announced by General Dai’ Bachtier, ensured Jemaah Islamiah was immediately blamed for the Bali bombings. All prior intelligence of the Bali bombings came from so called JI leader, Omar Al-Faruq. Omar Al-Faruq was secretly handed over to the US by Indonesia months prior to the bombings under the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program. Australian intelligence agencies reported that intelligence obtained from captured “JI suspect”, Omar Al-Faruq, warned of possible terrorist attacks in Bali. After the attacks the Bush administration denied access to Al-Faruq for questioning in the Bali bombing trials. When Omar Al-Faruq was suddenly called by US court to provide evidence in a trial of another terrorist suspect – he had “escaped high security prison”. No JI leaders have ever been brought to trial.

Prior to the Bali bombings the Indonesian government denied the existence of terrorists within Indonesia and opposed US anti-terror operations in Afghanistan. After the bombings President Megawati signed a joint statement – “Agreeing that terrorism poses a continued threat to international peace and security, and that the two Presidents are committed to enhancing their bilateral cooperation in the fight against terrorism”. The Bush administration provided funds to the Indonesian police and military and setup a national terrorism unit under the control of national police chief, General Dai’ Bachtier.



Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Kurt Nimmo: Coulter as Stalking Horse for Bilderburgs: She Likes Hillary:

I started this with the idea of showing my differences with the estimable Nimmo, from whom I learned so much, and then I recalled that I'm reading Walter Karp at the moment (indispensable is his Indispensable Enemies) and he says the same thing (or would if he were alive) that McCain is put there to lose to Hillary. Hmmm.
We're facing, as they say, a lot of challenges, but I'm not sure it quite works that way.
Well, this is fun, but duty calls and I'll have to leave it to the dedicated reader. --RB

Coulter: Hillary is “Our Girl”

by Kurt Nimmo
Truth News
February 2, 2008

Case closed. You don’t need any more evidence there is little substantive difference between “conservatives” (neocons) and “liberals” (neolibs) than the pronouncements of the Queen of Hateful Shrill, Ann Coulter, the “author” who registers to vote in multiple jurisdictions and gets away with it.

Hillary is “more conservative” than John McCain, the Manchurian candidate who hates “gooks,” mostly because the Bilderberg Queen and selectee of preference by the Rothschilds and the elite is more on track with the neocon and neoliberal plan to kill recalcitrant Muslims, break their countries into manageable pieces along tribal and ethnic lines, and impose IMF and World Bank schemes on them and thus steal their natural resources and reduce them to slave labor gulag inmates à la “communist” China.

Coulter “absolutely” believes Queen Hillary will be “stronger on the war on terrorism,” that is to say not only killing people who have the misfortune of living in “rogue nations,” but decimating what remains of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Obviously, for Coulter and the neocons, who will soon enough throw their support behind Clinton, McCain’s crude forever war pronouncements are not enough. But then, of course, McCain is but window dressing for the stampede to “elect” Hillary, an expensive circus sideshow designed to make the American people think there is a “democratic” process in the United States and that they actually have a say in who will be the next decider-commander. Not explained is why the elite feel compelled to continue this transparent charade. Nostalgia, maybe?

In order to pretend there is a difference of opinion in regard to Hillary Clinton’s impending anointment as president, Sean Hannity tells us Hillary will “nationalize health care” and “pull the troops out of Iraq,” never mind Clinton is an unabashed warmonger who voted to kill a million plus Iraqis and has repeatedly stated her desire to do likewise to grandmothers and toddlers in Iran. Coulter disagrees and actually tells the truth: the positions of Republicans and Democrats, she avers, are “about that far apart,” and she makes the point by showing us a very small space between her thumb and forefinger.

Hannity’s role as straight man to Coulter’s snake oil dance is obvious enough on its face and his supposed protestation is entirely theatrical as his boss, Rupert Murdoch, has hosted Clinton fundraisers in the not too distant past. This “interfaith ménage,” opines Forbes, redraws “America’s political lines” and is nothing if not Bismarckian realpolitik.

Oh, please. It should be obvious by now to an astute grade school student of current events that the whole thing is rigged and choreographed — albeit rather shoddily — and Coulter is nothing if not a well-paid shill who is tasked with promoting whatever candidate our rulers want. Hillary Clinton and her VP, Barack Obama, will rule the roost in politically correct fashion — as brainwashed liberals are locked in the gender and race vice and dare not complain, lest they be expelled from the herd — and the so-called conservatives, actually GWB bumper sticker neocons, will be brought into the fold by the likes of Coulter, the Queen of Mean.

Of course, Hannity and Limbaugh will play the part of the disgruntled opposition, as Clinton hatred smolders fiercely at the root of the base, and they will be paid handsomely for their petty and operatic disagreement, which is less than meaningless, to say the least, but necessary to assuage the hurt feelings of the aforementioned GWB neocon followers.

John McCain will be selected as the Republican nominee for one reason above all others — to drive an appreciable number of “conservatives” into Camp Hillary. McCain, the Manchurian candidate and Keating Five associate, is ugly and unpalatable enough to accomplish this and the neocon flag-waving base is stupid enough to buy into it and remain none the wiser for the next eight years.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Kurt Nimmo: Bush’s State of the Union: Mandate for Iran Attack

This is good standard Nimmo, honing in on the important stuff. I would only disagree: Bush is not a sock puppet: he's a full partner, and if you think about it a good CEO for
destruction, doing what he does best, lying, and leaving the rest to Cheney to do the enforcing. --RB

Kurt Nimmo
Truth News
January 29, 2008

If it is true Bush — or rather the neocons, using the sock puppet Bush — plan to attack Iran before the decider-commander leaves office in a little less than a year, then the State of Union address seems to send up a couple red flags in that direction.

Consider the following:

When we met last year, militia extremists — some armed and trained by Iran — were wreaking havoc in large areas of Iraq.

Of course, there is no evidence of this, same as there was no evidence Saddam and Osama hung out together and plotted to attack the United States, as the neocons insisted prior to the invasion and occupation of Iraq. It was all bull feathers, same as this claim is a calculated lie.

As should be expected with this clan of traitors and warmongers, the lies must go on, or maybe that should be “catapulted”:

Iran is funding and training militia groups in Iraq, supporting Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon, and backing Hamas’s efforts to undermine peace in the Holy Land. Tehran is also developing ballistic missiles of increasing range and continues to develop its capability to enrich uranium, which could be used to create a nuclear weapon.

Again, there is a complete paucity of evidence Iran is “training militia groups in Iraq,” a fact underscored by both Def. Sec Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Peter Pace last year.

Even Anthony Cordesman, a former director of Intelligence Assessment in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, believes the neocons are full of it. “I’m not sure they understand how little credibility these statements have,” Cordesman told USA Today. “The great risk is that what may be a real issue will not be seen as real outside the United States.” Added USA Today: “Such claims, however, are being met with denials from Iran and skepticism at home. Faulty U.S. intelligence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, which Bush used to justify in part the 2003 invasion of Iraq, has eroded much of the administration’s credibility.”

Not that it matters in the United States, where the population, tuned in and mesmerized by Faux News and the like, buy whatever transparent tripe the neocons trot out as evidence there are big bad terrorists on the hunt, hungry to slaughter grade school girls.

Since Hamas was duly elected by the Palestinian people, much to the chagrin of Israel and the United States, we can only assume Bush the neocon sock puppet is declaring the Palestinians as a whole are undermining “peace in the Holy Land” from inside their open-air prison — hemmed in by a massive “security fence,” i.e., prison wall, and surrounded by thousands of troops and a vast array of military hardware provided by the U.S. — in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Maybe this collective plot to undermine peace is why Israel has slaughtered and tortured Palestinians for more than fifty years.

Bush tells you Iran is developing “ballistic missiles,” but this is a canard. As it now stands, Iran’s missiles can reach Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Armenia, Syria, that is to say neighboring states, none posing a threat to the regime in Tehran. It is estimated, if Iran acquires missiles from North Korea, it will be able to extend this range significantly, including Israel (see this map, provided by the Federation of American Scientists).

However, even with the Taepo Dong 2 missile, Iran will not be able to threaten the United States. In 2005, according to the authoritative Jane’s, Iran “acquired medium/ intermediate-range ballistic missiles” from North Korea with a range of approximately 2,500 kilometers.

In 2006, Iran’s army chief General Rahim Safavi declared on Iranian television that the “first and main goal” of a test of the Shahab-2 and Shahab-3 was “to demonstrate power and national determination to defend the country against any possible threat.” Of course, for Israel and the Bush neocons, this means Iran will nuke Israel, never mind this would be suicidal mental illness manifest.

In August, the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna reported that “while Iran continues to enrich uranium in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions, its fuel enrichment plant has produced ‘well below the expected quantity for a facility of this design.’ The quality of the uranium also was lower than expected, the IAEA said.” The report “praised Iran for taking ‘a significant step forward’ by agreeing to a new work plan and timelines for resolving numerous questions about the history of its nuclear program. Separately, U.N. officials said that Iran had slowed construction of a new plutonium-fuel reactor in Arak.”

It should be noted that the Security Council resolution — UNSC Resolution 1696 — contradicts the Non-Proliferation Treaty, allowing signatories to enrich uranium. The IAEA’s El-Baradei confirmed in Paragraph 52 of his November, 2003 report that “to date, there is no evidence that the previously undeclared nuclear material and activities referred to [in the report] were related to a nuclear weapons program.” Moreover, after extensive inspections, El-Baradei wrote Paragraph 112 of his November 2004 report that “all the declared nuclear material in Iran has been accounted for, and therefore such material is not diverted to prohibited activities” (see Iran Affairs, January 22, 2008).

Michael Spies of the Lawyer’s Committee on Nuclear Policy (see previous link) notes:

The conclusion that no diversion has occurred certifies that the state in question is in compliance with its undertaking, under its safeguards agreement and Article III of the NPT, to not divert material to non-peaceful purposes. In the case of Iran, the IAEA was able to conclude in its November 2004 report that that all declared nuclear materials had been accounted for and therefore none had been diverted to military purposes. The IAEA reached this same conclusion in September 2005.

And yet Israel, stockpiling around 200 nuclear weapons, has not signed the NPT. Israel’s nuclear program is truly secret although, thanks to Mordechai Vanunu, we have an idea of its dimension. Kenneth S. Brower has estimated Israel has as many as 400 nuclear weapons, that is to say 400 more than Iran has. In 2004, Louis René Beres, a professor of Political Science at Purdue University and a one-time advisor for the now comatose Ariel Sharon, suggested Israel, under the Samson Option, use its nukes to “support conventional preemptions” against its Arab neighbors. Israel has a sordid history of launching numerous “conventional preemptions” against these neighbors, a fact revealed in a study of former Israeli PM Moshe Sharett’s personal diary by Livia Rokach (see Israel’s Sacred Terrorism, AAUG Press, Third Edition, 1986).

But never mind. Bush and the perfidious neocons are way behind schedule and they realize even flimsily crafted lies work well enough on millions of Americans who, like well-trained monkeys, jump when they are told there’s a turbaned Muslim lighting a fire under their posteriors.

Our message to the people of Iran is clear: We have no quarrel with you. We respect your traditions and your history. We look forward to the day when you have your freedom.

Sure they do, sort of like they respected the traditions of the Iraqi people by blowing them away with depleted uranium. So compassionate are the neocons, as I write this millions of Iraqis live under the internationally accepted standard of living of less than a dollar a day, a situation that did not exist until Bush Senior, Clinton, and Bush the Lesser imposed medieval sanctions, resulting in the premeditated murder of more than 500,000 Iraqi children.

As Bush reiterated in his neocon manufactured speech, Iran is next on the target list and should expect the same treatment from Bush’s Arab and Muslim hating handlers.

Considering such, if I lived in Iran I’d want a few “ballistic missiles” as well, and the sooner the better to stave off Armageddon delivered by way of countless cruise missiles, bunker busters, depleted uranium, and possibly even “min-nukes.”

Kurt Nimmo on TruthNews.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

MSNBC: Candidates Court Jewish Voters (Oct 2007)
Candidates court Jewish support Clinton,
Giuliani attract some early interest

By Matthew E. Berger
NBC/National Journal Campaign Reporter

Oct. 12, 2007
WYNDHAM, N.H. - The John Edwards presidential campaign had a problem. Set to announce the appointment of former Rep. David Bonior as campaign manager in a few days, Edwards' strategists began to realize that the Michigan Democrat's strong support for Palestinians while he was in Congress could hurt Edwards among American Jews. And if Jewish voters started to get nervous about the former senator from North Carolina, a lot of dollars could be at stake. So before the December announcement, Bonior started making calls to influential American Jewish leaders, including some members of Congress, and to political donors, according to people familiar with the effort. Bonior assured the leaders he would not be involved in Middle East policy and said his appointment did not suggest any changes in Edwards's positions on Israel. But many Jewish leaders were still angry that their input was sought only after the decision had been made. The move added Edwards to the list of Democratic presidential candidates whose support for Israel, while strong, has blemishes. Some of the leading White House candidates don't have long congressional voting records with which to assess their support for Israel, so some Jewish voters are using other indicators to gauge them, such as whom the candidates are associating with and how often they talk about Middle East issues when they aren't speaking in front of a catered kosher spread. Clinton, Giuliani gain some early support

Thus far, many Jewish Democrats have rallied behind Hillary Rodham Clinton, who had to overcome doubts fueled by her embrace of the wife of then-Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat in 1999. And although former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani is beloved by many Jews for his engagement on Israel, many influential Jewish Republicans have not taken sides in what they view as a wide-open GOP race. Jews represent less than 2 percent of the American electorate, but their support is disproportionately important. A higher percentage of Jews vote than the general public and many are active political donors. This time around, they could play an even larger role in both the primary and general elections.

Historically, Jews have lent most of their support to Democrats and to liberal causes. But as more Republicans have embraced Israel and some Jewish voters have turned their focus to fiscal discipline, the GOP has been gaining in the Jewish community in recent years. Some younger and more-religious Jews have also embraced Republican ideals. President Bush garnered about 25 percent of the Jewish vote in 2004, up from 19 percent four years earlier. Jewish support was seen as helpful in winning electoral votes for Republicans in Ohio and Florida. In 2008, their votes could help in the primaries because several states with large Jewish populations -- including California, Florida, and New York -- will vote on or before February 5. That's why Democrats have been actively pursuing Jewish supporters and donors. The Clinton campaign is seen by many Jewish leaders as the most engaged and organized, and a lot of support has already coalesced around her. "The perception is, she's going to win," said a Jewish official who is not aligned with a campaign and spoke on condition of anonymity. "So they, like any other group, want to be with the winning team and want to be there early." But Clinton has baggage. She raised eyebrows throughout the Jewish community in 1999 with her embrace of Suha Arafat moments after the Palestinian made derogatory remarks about Israel.

Clinton said she was listening to the speech -- given in Arabic -- through an English interpreter and did not understand what Arafat was saying. Clinton also has to deal with some Jews' doubts about her husband's Middle East record. Many of them praise Bill Clinton's efforts at the end of his second term to bring Israelis and Palestinians together, but others say that he pressured Israel to offer too much. But advisers in the Jewish community say that Clinton has said and done the right things since being elected to the Senate in 2000, including leader the effort in Congress to have the International Red Cross recognize the Israeli branch, Magen David Adom. "She hugged Arafat's wife, but things have evolved with the Palestinians," a Jewish official said. "And she has built a relationship with the Jewish community in New York that shows how she has evolved." Barack Obama has been trying to take some of that support from Clinton and has made inroads with Jews opposed to the Iraq war. But he has faced questions about aligning himself with Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter's national security adviser, who has defended the controversial book, "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy," which contends that pro-Israel activists have undue influence over American foreign affairs. Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the umbrella organization for American Jewish groups, said that Brzezinski is a concern to many in the Jewish community because of his positions on Israel. "But the question is what role he plays and what other advisers are involved," Hoenlein said.

The Carter effect

A version of the adviser game hurt Democratic nominee John Kerry in 2004 when he suggested that Carter could serve as a Middle East envoy in his administration. To many Jews, Carter is seen as an apologist for Palestinians; his latest book, "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid," has only heightened that perception. Jewish leaders say that candidates who associate themselves with advisers who are at odds with mainstream Jewish beliefs on the Middle East can have a tough time trying to convince Jewish voters that their personal viewpoints are different. "Especially if a candidate doesn't have a well-crafted position on an issue, or a long-enough track record, then obviously the thing is to see who's advising them," a Jewish official said. "Who are the voices that are attempting to influence them? Who has access to the candidate's ear?" Kerry tried to defuse the criticism by touting his brother, Cam Kerry, who had converted to Judaism and was a campaign adviser. Similarly, Obama and Edwards have surrounded themselves with Jewish community leaders and supporters to offset the concerns that their controversial campaign aides have raised.

Obama advisers have said that concerns about Brzezinski have been overstated, and they stress that he will not be advising Obama on Israeli-Palestinian affairs. "He's not the uber-foreign-policy czar of the campaign," one adviser said. "Any candidate is going to be endorsed by people they don't agree with on other issues." On the Republican side, Giuliani has attracted some early support from Republican Jews. It helps that he ran a city with a large Jewish population and is well known for his strong ties to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. He also made headlines for kicking Arafat out of a concert for world leaders in 1995. "The Orthodox community in New York is obviously not the only Orthodox community in the country, but it's the largest," said one Jewish leader, speaking of the more conservative strand of Judaism. "And so far, they are going with what they know, and that's Rudy." But around the country, other Republican Jews say that their brethren are not jumping into the fray.

Although many Republican Jews view Giuliani and Sen. John McCain favorably, they're concerned about their electability. And other top-tier candidates are less well known. "It's disconcerting," said Fred Zeidman, a Republican fundraiser in Houston and the chairman of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, who has been raising money for McCain. "None of us are making serious headway in the Jewish community." Some analysts said that donors may be more likely to give once the candidates discuss their Middle East policies. Positions may become clearer on October 16, when the GOP contenders gather in Washington to address the Republican Jewish Coalition.

Most of the candidates will be addressing an audience interested primarily in the Middle East for the first time, and some campaigns will use the forum to discuss where they stand on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and their views on dealing with Iran. Indeed, Iran has become the new bellwether for the Jewish community. Historically, Jewish voters were most concerned about whether candidates supported Israel. But support for Israel has become almost a universal policy position in Washington. The new test is how tough the candidates will be in combating the nuclear threat that Iran poses to Israel, and whether Israel should be allowed to take pre-emptive action. In the end, analysts said, there are no leading candidates in either party whom Jewish leaders would be very unhappy to have as president. The question is, which one will show the greatest interest in the issues that Jewish voters value most.

The author is covering the presidential campaign as an NBC/National Journal reporter. He can be reached at .URL:

Friday, February 1, 2008

The Nation: Bush's Iran/Argentina Terror Frame-Up

Thanks to Xymphora for finding this. It was always dubious that the Iranians did this. So who did? I hate to sound like a naif, but while the the Mossad has done some wicked things, did they actually go this far? --RB

This article can be found on the web at
Bush's Iran/Argentina Terror Frame-Up


[posted online on January 18, 2008]

Research for this article was supported by the Investigative Fund of The Nation Institute.

Although nukes and Iraq have been the main focus of the Bush Administration's pressure campaign against Iran, US officials also seek to tar Iran as the world's leading sponsor of terrorism. And Team Bush's latest tactic is to play up a thirteen-year-old accusation that Iran was responsible for the notorious Buenos Aires bombing that destroyed the city's Jewish Community Center, known as AMIA, killing eighty-six and injuring 300, in 1994. Unnamed senior Administration officials told the Wall Street Journal January 15 that the bombing in Argentina "serves as a model for how Tehran has used its overseas embassies and relationship with foreign militant groups, in particular Hezbollah, to strike at its enemies."

This propaganda campaign depends heavily on a decision last November by the General Assembly of Interpol, which voted to put five former Iranian officials and a Hezbollah leader on the international police organization's "red list" for allegedly having planned the July 1994 bombing. But the Wall Street Journal reports that it was pressure from the Bush Administration, along with Israeli and Argentine diplomats, that secured the Interpol vote. In fact, the Bush Administration's manipulation of the Argentine bombing case is perfectly in line with its long practice of using distorting and manufactured evidence to build a case against its geopolitical enemies.

After spending several months interviewing officials at the US Embassy in Buenos Aires familiar with the Argentine investigation, the head of the FBI team that assisted it and the most knowledgeable independent Argentine investigator of the case, I found that no real evidence has ever been found to implicate Iran in the bombing. Based on these interviews and the documentary record of the investigation, it is impossible to avoid the conclusion that the case against Iran over the AMIA bombing has been driven from the beginning by US enmity toward Iran, not by a desire to find the real perpetrators.

A 'Wall of Assumptions'

US policy toward the bombing was skewed from the beginning by a Clinton Administration strategy of isolating Iran, adopted in 1993 as part of an understanding with Israel on peace negotiations with the Palestinians. On the very day of the crime, before anything could have been known about who was responsible, Secretary of State Warren Christopher blamed "those who want to stop the peace process in the Middle East"--an obvious reference to Iran.

William Brencick, then chief of the political section at the US Embassy in Buenos Aires and the primary Embassy contact for the investigation, recalled in an interview with me last June that a "wall of assumptions" guided the US approach to the case. The primary assumptions, Brencick said, were that the explosion was a suicide bombing and that use of a suicide bomb was prima facie evidence of involvement by Hezbollah--and therefore Iran.

But the suicide-bomber thesis quickly encountered serious problems. In the wake of the explosion, the Menem government asked the United States to send a team to assist in the investigation, and two days after the bombing, experts from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms arrived in Buenos Aires along with three FBI agents. According to an interview the head of the team, ATF explosives expert Charles Hunter, gave to a team of independent investigators headed by US journalist Joe Goldman and Argentine investigative journalist Jorge Lanata, as soon as the team arrived the federal police put forward a thesis that a white Renault Trafic van had carried the bomb that destroyed the AMIA.

Hunter quickly identified major discrepancies between the car-bomb thesis and the blast pattern recorded in photos. He wrote a report two weeks later noting that in the wake of the bombing, merchandise in a store immediately to the right of the AMIA was tightly packed against its front windows and merchandise in another shop had been blown out onto the street--suggesting that the blast came from inside rather than outside. Hunter also said he did not understand how the building across the street could still be standing if the bomb had exploded in front of the AMIA, as suggested by the car-bomb thesis.

The lack of eyewitness evidence supporting the thesis was just as striking. Of some 200 witnesses on the scene, only one claimed to have seen a white Renault Trafic. Several testified they were looking at the spot where the Trafic should have been when the explosion occurred and saw nothing. Nicolasa Romero, the wife of a Buenos Aires policeman, was that lone witness. She said she saw a white Renault Trafic approach the corner where she was standing with her sister and her 4-year-old son. But Romero's sister testified that the vehicle that passed them was not a white Trafic but rather a black-and-yellow taxi. Other witnesses reported seeing a black-and-yellow taxi seconds before the explosion.

Argentine prosecutors argued that pieces of a white Trafic imbedded in the flesh of many of the victims of the explosion proved their case for a suicide bomb. But that evidence was discredited by Gabriel Levinas, a researcher for AMIA's own legal team. Levinas is a member of a leading Jewish family in Buenos Aires who had published a human rights magazine during the dictatorship (his uncle's car was used to kidnap war criminal Adolf Eichmann and spirit him off to Israel for trial in 1961.)

He discovered that the manufacturer of the white Trafic had been sent fragments of the vehicle recovered by the police for analysis and had found that none of the pieces had ever been put under high temperature. That meant that these car fragments could not have come from the particular white Trafic that police had identified as the suicide bomb car--since that vehicle was known to have once caught fire before having been recycled and repaired.

Yet despite the lack of eyewitness testimony and the weakness of the forensic evidence, the State Department publicly embraced the suicide-bomb story in 1994 and 1995.

The Problem of Motive

Independent investigators have also long puzzled over why Iran would have carried out an action against Argentine Jews while its Hezbollah allies were embroiled in armed struggle with the Israeli military in Lebanon. In their 2006 indictment of several Iranian nationals in the bombing, Argentine prosecutors argued that Iran planned the AMIA attack because Carlos Menem's administration had abruptly canceled two contracts for the transfer of nuclear technology to Iran.

But the indictment actually provides excerpts from key documents that undermine that conclusion. According to a February 10, 1992, cable from Argentina's ambassador in Iran, the director of the American Department of Iran's foreign ministry had "emphasized the need to reach a solution to the problem [of nuclear technology transfer] that would avoid damage to other contracts." Iran thus clearly signaled its hope of finding a negotiated solution that could reactivate the suspended contracts and maintain other deals with Argentina as well.

On March 17, 1992, a bomb blast destroyed the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires--an incident for which the Argentine prosecutors also held Iran responsible. The indictment, however, quotes a top official of INVAP, an Argentine nuclear firm that dominated the National Commission on Atomic Energy, as saying that during 1992 there were "contacts" between INVAP and the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran "in the expectation that the decision of the national government would be revised, allowing the tasks in the contracts to be resumed." The same official confirmed that negotiations surrounding the two canceled projects continued from 1993 to 1995--before and after the AMIA explosion. Those revelations suggest that the Iranian attitude toward Argentina at the time of the bombing was exactly the opposite of the one claimed in the indictment.

The Hezbollah motive for involvement in the AMIA bombing, according to the indictment, was revenge against the Israeli bombing of a Hezbollah training camp in the Bekaa Valley in early 1994 and the Israeli kidnapping of Shiite leader Mustapha Dirani in May. That theory fails to explain, however, why Hezbollah would choose to retaliate against Jews in Argentina. It was already at war with the Israeli forces in Lebanon, where the group was employing suicide bomb attacks in an effort to pressure Israel to end its occupation. Hezbollah had a second easy retaliatory option available, which was to launch Katyusha rockets across the border into Israeli territory.

That is exactly what Hezbollah did to retaliate for the Israeli killing of some 100 Lebanese civilians in the town of Qana in 1996. That episode inspired greater anger toward Israel among Hezbollah militants than any other event in the 1990s, according to Boston University Hezbollah specialist Augustus Richard Norton. If Hezbollah responded to this Israeli provocation with Katyusha rockets on Israeli territory, it hardly makes sense that it would have responded to a lesser Israeli offense by designing an ambitious international attack on Argentine Jews with no connection to the Israeli occupation.

The Frame-up

The keystone of the Argentine case was Carlos Alberto Telleldin, a used-car salesman with a record of shady dealings with both criminals and the police--and a Shiite last name. On July 10, 1994, Telleldin sold the white Trafic the police claimed was the suicide car to a man he described as having a Central American accent. Nine days after the bombing Telleldin was arrested on suspicion of being an accomplice to the crime.

The police claimed they were led to Telleldin by the serial number on the van's engine block, which was found in the rubble. But it would have been a remarkable lapse for the organizers of what was otherwise a very professional bombing to have left intact such a visible identification mark, one that any car thief knows how to erase. That should have been a clue that the attack was likely not orchestrated by Hezbollah, whose bomb experts were well-known by US intelligence analysts to have been clever enough, in blowing up the American Embassy in Beirut in 1983, to avoid leaving behind any forensic evidence that would lead back to them. It should also have raised questions about whether that evidence was planted by the police themselves.

It is now clear that the Menem government's real purpose in arresting Telleldin was to get him to finger those they wanted to blame for the bombing. In January 1995, Telleldin was visited by retired army Capt. Hector Pedro Vergez, a part-time agent for SIDE, the Argentine intelligence agency, who offered him $1 million and his freedom if he would identify one of five Lebanese nationals detained in Paraguay in September 2004--men the CIA said might be Hezbollah militants--as the person to whom he had sold the van. After Telleldin refused to go along with the scheme, an Argentine judge found that there was no evidence on which to detain the alleged militants.

The Buenos Aires court, which threw out the case against Telleldin in 2004, determined that a federal judge, Luisa Riva Aramayo, met with Telleldin in 1995 to discuss another possibility--paying him to testify that he had sold the van to several high-ranking figures in the Buenos Aires provincial police who were allies of Menem's political rival, Eduardo Duhalde. In July 1996, Judge Juan Jose Galeano, who was overseeing the investigation, offered Telleldin $400,000 to implicate those police officers as accomplices in the bombing. (A videotape made secretly by SIDE agents and aired on television in April 1997 showed Galeano negotiating the bribe.) A month after making the offer to Telleldin, Galeano charged three senior Buenos Aires police officials with having involvement in the bombing, based on Telleldin's testimony.

"The Whole Iran Thing Seemed Kind of Flimsy"

In an interview last May James Cheek, Clinton's Ambassador to Argentina at the time of the bombing, told me, "To my knowledge, there was never any real evidence [of Iranian responsibility]. They never came up with anything." The hottest lead in the case, he recalled, was an Iranian defector named Manoucher Moatamer, who "supposedly had all this information." But Moatamer turned out to be only a dissatisfied low-ranking official without the knowledge of government decision-making that he had claimed. "We finally decided that he wasn't credible," Cheek recalled. Ron Goddard, then deputy chief of the US Mission in Buenos Aires, confirmed Cheek's account. He recalled that investigators found nothing linking Iran to the bombing. "The whole Iran thing seemed kind of flimsy," Goddard said.

James Bernazzani, then the head of the FBI's Hezbollah office, was directed in October 1997 to assemble a team of specialists to go to Buenos Aires and put the AMIA case to rest. Bernazzani, now head of the agency's New Orleans office, recalled in a November 2006 interview how he arrived to find that the Argentine investigation of the AMIA bombing had found no real evidence of Iranian or Hezbollah involvement. The only clues suggesting an Iranian link to the bombing at that time, according to Bernazzani, were a surveillance tape of Iranian cultural attache Mohsen Rabbani shopping for a white Trafic van and an analysis of telephone calls made in the weeks before the bombing.

Shortly after the bombing, the biggest Buenos Aires daily newspaper, Clarin, published a story, leaked to it by Judge Galeano, that Argentine intelligence had taped Rabbani shopping for a white Trafic "months" before the bombing. A summary of the warrants for the arrest of Rabbani and six other Iranians in 2006 continued to refer to "indisputable documents" proving that Rabbani had visited car dealers to look for a van like the one allegedly used in the bombing. In fact, the intelligence report on the surveillance of Rabbani submitted to Galeano ten days after the bombing shows that the day Rabbani looked at a car dealer's white Trafic was May 1, 1993--fifteen months before the bombing and long before Argentine prosecutors have claimed Iran decided to target AMIA.

In the absence of any concrete evidence, SIDE turned to "link analysis" of telephone records to make a circumstantial case for Iranian guilt. The SIDE analysts argued that a series of telephone calls made between July 1 and July 18, 1994, to a mobile phone in the Brazilian border city of Foz de Iguazu must have been made by the "operational group" for the bombing--and that a call allegedly made on a cellphone belonging to Rabbani could be connected to this same group. The FBI's Bernazzani told me he was appalled by SIDE's use of link analysis to establish responsibility. "It can be very dangerous," he told me. "Using that analysis, you could link my telephone to bin Laden's." Bernazzani said the conclusions reached by the Argentine investigators were merely "speculation" and said that neither he nor officials in Washington had taken it seriously as evidence pointing to Iran.

Then, in 2000, one more defector surfaced with a new tale of Iranian responsibility. Abdolghassem Mesbahi, who claimed he was once the third-ranking man in Iran's intelligence services, told Galeano the decision to bomb the AMIA had been made at a meeting of senior Iranian officials, including President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, on August 14, 1993. But Mesbahi was soon discredited. Bernazzani told me American intelligence officials believed that by 2000, Mesbahi had long since lost his access to Iranian intelligence, that he was "poor, even broke" and ready to "provide testimony to any country on any case involving Iran."

A Questionable Informant

Bernazzani admitted to me that until 2003, the case against Iran was merely "circumstantial." But he claimed a breakthrough came that year, with the identification of the alleged suicide bomber as Ibrahim Hussein Berro, a Lebanese Hezbollah militant, who, according to a Lebanese radio broadcast, was killed in a military operation against Israeli forces in southern Lebanon in September 1984, two months after the AMIA bombing. "We are satisfied that we have identified the bomber based on the totality of the data streams," Bernazzani told me, citing "a combination of physical and witness evidence." But the Berro identification, too, was marked by evidence of fabrication and manipulation.

The official story is that Berro's name was passed on to SIDE and the CIA by a Lebanese informant in June 2001. The informant claimed he had befriended a former Hezbollah chauffeur and assistant to top Hezbollah leaders named Abu Mohamad Yassin, who told him that a Hezbollah militant named "Brru" was the suicide bomber. That story is suspicious on several counts, the most obvious being that intelligence agencies almost never reveal the name, or even the former position, of an actual informant.

The September 2003 court testimony of Patricio Pfinnen, the SIDE official in charge of the AMIA bombing investigation until he was fired in January 2002, casts serious doubt on the informant's credibility. Pfinnen testified that when he and his colleagues went back to the informant with more questions, "something went wrong with the information, or they were lying to us." Pfinnen said his team ultimately discarded the Berro theory because the sources in Lebanon had "failed and were not certain." He concluded, "I have my doubts about [Berro] being the person who was immolated."

After Pfinnen was fired in a power struggle within the intelligence agency, SIDE named Berro as the suicide bomber in a secret report. In March 2003, just after that report was completed, Ha'aretz reported that the Mossad had not only identified the bomber as Berro but possessed a transcript of Berro's farewell telephone call to Lebanon before the bombing, during which he told his parents that he was going to "join" his brother, who had been killed in a suicide bombing in Lebanon. When the 2006 indictment was released, however, it became clear that no evidence of such a call existed.

In September 2004, a Buenos Aires court acquitted Telleldin and the police officials who had been jailed years earlier, and in August 2005 Judge Galeano was impeached and removed from office. But Galeano's successors, prosecutors Alberto Nisman and Marcelo Martinez Burgos, pressed on, hoping to convince the world that they could identify Berro as the bomber. They visited Detroit, Michigan, where they interviewed two brothers of Berro and obtained photos of Berro from them. They then turned to the only witness who claimed she had seen the white Trafic at the scene of the crime--Nicolasa Romero.

In November 2005, Nisman and Burgos announced that Romero had identified Berro from the Detroit photos as the same person she had seen just before the bombing. Romero, on the other hand, said she "could not be completely certain" that Berro was the man at the scene. In court testimony, in fact, she had said she had not recognized Berro from the first set of set of four photographs she had been shown or even from a second set. She finally saw some "similarity in the face" in one of the Berro photographs, but only after she was shown a police sketch based on her description after the bombing.

Bernazzani told me that the FBI team in Buenos Aires had discovered DNA evidence that was assumed to have come from the suicide bomber in an evidence locker, and Nisman took a DNA sample from one of Berro's brothers during his visit in September 2005. "I would assume, though I don't know, that once we got the brother's DNA, they compared them," he said. But Nisman claimed to a reporter in 2006 that samples had been contaminated. Significantly, the Argentine indictment of the Iranians makes no mention of the DNA evidence.

Despite a case against Iran that lacked credible forensic or eyewitness evidence and relied heavily on dubious intelligence and a discredited defector's testimony, Nisman and Burgos drafted their indictment against six former Iranian officials in 2006. However, the government of Néstor Kirchner displayed doubts about going forward with a legal case. According to the Forward newspaper, when American Jewish groups pressed Kirchner's wife, Christina, about the indictments at a UN General Assembly in New York in September 2006, she indicated that there was no firm date for any further judicial action against Iran. Yet the indictment was released the following month.

Both the main lawyer representing the AMIA, Miguel Bronfman, and Judge Rodolfo Canicoba Corral, who later issued the arrest warrants for the Iranians, told the BBC last May that pressure from Washington was instrumental in the sudden decision to issue the indictments the following month. Corral indicated that he had no doubt that the Argentine authorities had been urged to "join in international attempts to isolate the regime in Tehran."

A senior White House official just called the AMIA case a "very clear definition of what Iranian state sponsorship of terrorism means." In fact, the US insistence on pinning that crime on Iran in order to isolate the Tehran regime, even though it had no evidence to support that accusation, is a perfect definition of cynical creation of an accusation in the service of power interests.