Monthly Archives: April 2009
Is it just me or has the swine flu pandemic panic been a very fortuitous occurrence for one Richard B. Cheney and his fellow war criminal scum. It was only last week that the horrors of the torture memos were the order of the day and a pitched battle was being fought by activists and patriots over the waffling Obama administration’s ongoing failure to enforce the law. But then the word went out that we were all going to die and the media mongrels quickly snapped up the bullshit biscuits and stood on their hind legs begging for more. The torture memos are now a part of history, cast down the memory hole. It’s time to just move along as the Pope of Hope says, nothing to see here. We have work to do on our national rejuvenation you see and any sort of restoration of the law would be seen as a partisan witch hunt and reek of vengeance. Besides, our very own Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, your illustrious and feckless Democratic leaders were privvy to it all anyway.
Not to minimize the dangers of a global pandemic, especially not in a day when the world is run by hard core criminals, financial jackals and eugenics freaks. Anyone with a good feel for history and the way that the fuckers think has to be on alert every time that a potentially devastating and population reducing virus rears it’s head. Hey, I’ve read the white papers, am very cognizant of the seething disdain for the teeming masses that one still sliming around the planet Henry Kissinger once referred to as “useless eaters” and have this wild hair up my ass lately about the culling. But right now, with the country in panic mode but still with only isolated cases to this point it smells very badly to me, and not the sweet smell of the decomposing corpses laid low by Captain Trips in Stephen King’s epic post-apocalyptic novel The Stand. This smells like yet another of those fear and sensationalism media events that so often seem to swallow real and important news stories, relegating them to the shredder of memory and well out of the attention span of the average ant-brained American over-consuming, maxed-out sheep.
Being a suspicious person by nature and then turned into an even more hardened cynic by the abominations of the Bush-Cheney reign of terror and the feckless corporate toady Dems who enabled their every illegal act, I am not convinced by all of this fear mongering. One week’s pirates is another week’s pandemic and there is nothing like a massive distraction that our lazy, inept, careerist legions of media charlatans and hacks find to be easier work than blowing every morbid event out of proportion. You sure as hell aren’t going to find any of those twits who found the money to be better acting as shills rather than as true reporters out doing the hard work like getting to the bottom of the international criminality of the Bush administration, Jane Harman and others treasonous fornication with AIPAC and other agents of foreign governments or even the mass looting and wealth redistribution now entering stage two as Wall Street strikes back. No, they would rather circle like lazy vultures, slowly picking the flesh from molested and murdered children, masturbating over missing white teenaged females or drooling over the latest lurid celebrity sex scandal.
The opportunism here is incredible already and never forget that there is money to be made over mass panics, look at the windfall for Bayer when the still unsolved Anthrax attacks back in 2001 for example. Both Gilead and Roche the developer and manufacturer of the Tamiflu stand to make out very well as do Glaxo and Relenza and the stock is shooting up right now, that’s what you just gotta love about American capitalism, there is never any shame over profiteering over pestilence. Conversely, the storyline is already out there that a pandemic would severely damage the wondrous economic rejuvenation that is now under way as a result of the hugely successful coordinated public relations coup that was patterned after the General Petreaus SURGE and assisted greatly by both the changing of the mark to market accounting rules as well as the Wall Street mole filled Obama administration’s ongoing capitulation to the big boys of banking.The four-flushing financial oligarchs are now going to have it both ways, they can blame any loss of confidence in their Ponzi schemes on the pandemic while gambling on pharmaceuticals.
1: Evangelical Christian Megachurches
2: Gun Shows
3: Monster Truck Shows
4: Teabagger Gatherings (double bonus points for this one)
Then go get your meds!
Flies all green ‘n buzzin’ in his dungeon of despair
Prisoners grumble and piss their clothes and scratch their matted hair
A tiny light from a window hole a hundred yards away
Is all they ever get to know about the regular life in the day;
An’ it stinks so bad the stones been chokin’
‘N weepin’ greenish drops
In the room where the giant fire puffer works
‘N the torture never stops
The torture never stops
Slime ‘n rot, rats ‘n snot ‘n vomit on the floor
Fifty ugly soldiers, man, holdin’ spears by the iron door
Knives ‘n spikes ‘n guns ‘n the likes of every tool of pain
An’ a sinister midget with a bucket an’ a mop where the blood goes down the drain;
An’ it stinks so bad the stones been chokin’
‘N weepin’ greenish drops
In the room where the giant fire puffer works
‘N the torture never stops
The torture never stops
The torture never stops.
-Frank Zappa: The Torture Never Stops
Hail to the Chief! Much to the delight of befuddled, fear-stricken Americans and the heinously sadistic neocons whose grotesque perversion ensured that along with that nifty little nickname The Homeland that the good ole USA would become a torture state it has been announced that there will be no enforcement of the law by the incoming Obama administration. The foul mouthed, weasel eyed little prick Rahm Emanuel slammed down his jackboot resoundingly on the Sunday morning bloviation circuit and decreed that there will be no prosecution of the war criminals from the Bush administration for their engaging in torture. Hell, the gangster Emanuel – a danger to America that must be reigned in – even flippantly compared this week’s release of the torture manuals as something was basically irrelevant and that the information could be found – and I shit you not…in the New York Review of Books. Here is a piece of the transcript from his ever smarmy former Clinton administration crony George Stephanopoulos’s show that shit eyes Emanuel appeared on Sunday morning:
EMANUEL: It’s kind of a — let me say this. One of the reasons the president was willing to let this information out was that already the information was out. So if they’re saying that you basically have exposed something, it’s been written. Go get the New York Review of Books. It’s there.
So the notion that somehow, we’re exposing something — it’s already been out. In fact, President Bush let — allowed — let it — allowed a lot of this information out. So the notion that somehow this all of a sudden is a game changer doesn’t take cognizance of the fact that it’s already in the system and in the public domain. Therefore, it’s not new. So the notion that that is something we’ve built in — it’s already been there.
Number two, it’s one of the key tools Al Qaida has used for recruitment. There has been a net cost to America. By changing the way America is seen in the world, which means banning this technique and practice, we have actually stopped them and prevented them from using it as a rallying cry.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Final quick question. The president has ruled out prosecutions for CIA officials who believed they were following the law. Does he believe that the officials who devised the policies should be immune from prosecution?
EMANUEL: What he believes is, look, as you saw in that statement he wrote, and I would just take a step back. He came up with this and he worked on this for about four weeks, wrote that statement Wednesday night, after he made his decision, and dictated what he wanted to see. And Thursday morning, I saw him in the office, he was still editing it.
He believes that people in good faith were operating with the guidance they were provided. They shouldn’t be prosecuted.
STEPHANOPOULOS: What about those who devised policy?
EMANUEL: Yes, but those who devised policy, he believes that they were — should not be prosecuted either, and that’s not the place that we go — as he said in that letter, and I would really recommend people look at the full statement — not the letter, the statement — in that second paragraph, “this is not a time for retribution.” It’s time for reflection. It’s not a time to use our energy and our time in looking back and any sense of anger and retribution.
While I have been early on the record with my criticism of the incoming Obama administration (Hell, it would be the utmost in hypocrisy in not holding him to the same standards I held Bush to although the sycophantic O-bots would disagree) for what at first appeared to be a backdoor Clinton restoration. The very early escalation of the war in Afghanistan was bad enough, the ongoing capitulation to Republican Nazis out of some insane fantasy of bipartisan ship was worse, then it took an even more outrageous turn when it became apparent that the Wall Street pigs would find their troughs full of taxpayer loot under Summers and Geithner and now has become something much more dark and sinister with the refusal to restore the law and punish the torturers. I can certainly understand that slimy little cocksucker Emanuel’s reluctance to adhere to international law, his dual citizenship certainly doesn’t compel him to act in any manner that would potentially draw attention to participation of Israeli intelligence in criminal acts conducted under the blanket of the bogus war on terror. A former IDF man and son of a militant Zionist terrorist couldn’t possibly be expected to set a precedent that may legitimize international outrage over Israeli war crimes including killing babies and any sort of Obama led attempt to restore a sense of morality could come back to bite a pack of war criminals in the ass.
Now I am obliged to also note that one of those who are guilty of war crimes – at least according to the Spanish court that had considered indictments of the Bush Six is one certain filthy little neocon rat named Douglas J. Feith, a member of the Richard Perle-Bibi Netanyahu report on carving out a nice chunk of Israeli Lebensraum (never mind the brutality and body count) that was entitled A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm as well as one of the little dark elves that toiled in Cheney and Rummy’s notorious propaganda chop shop the Office Of Special Plans that lied us into the Middle East wars of aggression. Feith’s daddy, Dalk was a member of the extremist Betar youth movement that was a precursor to the Likud. It is really quite impossible to take any sort of serious look at the American human rights abuses and war atrocities of the new American century without taking into account the longtime corrosive moral degradation that comes from being the handmaiden to the rogue Zionist realm of dark and bloody oppression.
This entire thing reeks of the same different set of standards regarding human rights atrocities that has so metastasized in recent years. And the big stinky kosher pig in the middle of the living room is Israel and the ongoing capitulation of yet another administration that at least in theory is supposed to be serving the American people but let’s face it, when annoiting Rahm Emanuel is the first act of Obama the fix is once again in. There will be a slow ratcheting up of pressure on B.O. to ‘see the light’ on the necessity of attacking Iran…it is coming. For example the Zionist propagandists are already calling Obama’s policies a threat to God’s chosen land see Haaretz story – MI Chief: Obama Mideast policy threatens Israel. Then there was yesterday’s ridiculous and obviously planned sideshow of envoys walking out of the U.N. anti-racism conference when the ‘New Hitler’ Mahmoud Ahmadinejad dared to call that racist genocidal shithole Israel a racist state that practices genocide. As Orwell once said, “in a time of universal deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act” and god knows we sure as shit can’t handle the truth in lemming land. A further note on the dog and pony stunt at the U.N. racism conference (the exalted champion of human rights and TORTURE that is the USA was crudely bullied into not attending by the usual vermin) is that the sainted Elie Wiesel was among the leaders and who came out and called for the jailing of Ahmadinejad. In all sympathy for Wiesel, a survivor of the Nazi horrors in the death camps the constant invocation of The Holocaust as blanket justification to out Nazi the fucking Nazis in murder, torture, terror and violence is bullshit and he knows it. Having been fleeced by Bernie Madoff it is sad to see the Nobel Peace Prize laureate having to stoop to such cheapjack publicity stunts, were it not so dangerous to world peace it would be pitful.
I certainly didn’t intend for this to be an anti-Israel rant but since I am on the topic I also would like to opine that America’s transformation into a police/torture state could never have occurred without that fascist goon colony as a blueprint. The intimidation and perception management apparatus that Israel has implemented here is something that is both wondrous to behold and monstrous at the same time. The war on terror used as a post 9/11 excuse to justify the transformation was greeted with glee by the real New Hitler Bibi Netanyu who openly stated that 9/11 was good for Israel. It has become common practice to use the Israeli model of the hyping of horror to justify even more horror and repression and with Rahm Emanuel as Batman to Obama’s Robin we haven’t seen anything yet. In an important sidenote regarding Israeli bribery, blackmail and espionage that will soon disappear down the memory hole. Jane Harman, the whore of AIPAC was caught by an NSA wiretap colluding to peddle influence in what should be a huge scandal the reaches into the very bowels of the Bush White House and the torture man himself Alberto Gonzales. Here is the link to Glenn Greenwald’s piece on this explosive story, I would strongly recommend readin it. It’s nice to see a sow like Harman ensnared in her own trap but don’t expect anything to be done with this by our illustrious leader.
That however, is another story so I digress…
The abysmal moral failure of Barack and the Obamanauts with their refusal to hold accountable those responsible for these acts of evil is astonishing, as we are all sitting here right now we are witnessing something far worse than Ford pardoning Nixon. After all, Nixon never signed off on torture and damned as he tried he was never able to get anywhere near the disembowelment of the Constitution that the Bush-Cheney Axis of Evil pulled off along with their legal eagles like Addington, Bybee and Yoo. As much of a shock that this may be to those who exalted in the scenes in Chicago’s Grant Park on that November 4th evening or in the historic festival of euphoria that was Washington D.C. on inauguration day we are now seeing our great champion of change putting his own seal of approval on some of the most disgusting acts of flagrant fascism in this country’s history. This is more than just turning a blind eye for the sake of unity, or as the propagandists push their Pollyanna version of public relations derived drivel of a grand and cleansing national rejuvenation of “looking forward’, this is the Barack Obama administation’s assumption of complicity in these horrors. Imagine the Nuremburg Trials only with the most insidious of Nazi mass murdering scum lectured, given suspended sentences and sent about their merry torturing way…but this is worse. As skidrow poet Charles Bukowski once wrote; “if you’re losing your soul and you know it, then you’ve still got a soul left to lose”, what does it say of the majority of Americans, especially the O-bots if they can’t muster any outrage over this? It makes them the moral equivalent of their counterparts who worshipped George W. Bush under the Fuhrerprincip that was the unitary executive theory that turned the presidency into a dictatorship after 9/11.
They were just following orders…that’s what the sleazy little douchebag Rahm Emanuel and the Clinton sockpuppet reality TV show prez would want us to believe…that was no excuse at Nuremberg nor is it now. The management may have changed but this is still an outlaw nation and until every last fucking one of Bush’s laws is eradicated, the torturing vermin who have pissed away America’s moral high ground and ensured that every time that a U.S. serviceman or woman is captured that there will be nothing to restrain their captors from peeling their fucking skin off inch by agonizing inch because they are just doing as the Americans do….well…just God Damn them all to Hell. This is fucking intolerable and outrage is justifiable, Jesus Chirst..to NOT be outraged is a mortal sin.
Now that it’s their guy practicing (for the time being anyway) an enlightened despotism in which none of the previous administration’s vastly expanded powers that had previously been anathema to the so called left as well as the all important police state infrastructure that has been put into place…well they are just down with it. This stinks, it really stinks and if the masses of asses who accept this flagrant abuse of human decency well their souls stink too….but they already have sold them to the company store.
Flies all green ‘n buzzin’ in his dungeon of despair
An evil prince eats a steamin’ pig in a chamber right near there
He eats the snouts ‘n the trotters first
The loin’s ‘n the groin’s is soon dispersed
His carvin’ style is well rehearsed
He stands and shouts
All men be cursed
All men be cursed
All men be cursed
All men be cursed
And disagree, well no-one durst
He’s the best of course of all the worst
Some wrong been done, he done it first
The Torture Never Stops
A Brief Interlude: In Jack’s Country
The pain was immense for the crumbled heap on the concrete floor, the sweaty blond man just didn’t stop…”ok you fucker…you goddamned filthy sand nigger, you fucking piece of shit…I am going to peel you before Allah”
Not enough jagoff?? I’m gonna bring your son in here, fuck him in the ass, whack him into pieces, make him into soup and make you eat him goddammit…now one more time…WHERE the fuck is it???
Where sandnigger? Where is the fucking bomb, the ticking fucking time bomb….
“Fuck you heathen” hissed jack as he grabbed a steel chair, twisting like a ballet dancer as he pirouetted seamlessly and smashed the chair into the man’s back….sending him crashing into the reinforced concrete wall, a Rorschach spot of dark arterial blood was upon the wall as the man bounced back to land at the feet of the avenging angel in black.
“For God”…screamed Jack as he brought the chair down again. The man was now only whimpering….
“For Country”…..Jack executed a powerhouse karate kick that snapped the man’s neck and separated the jaw, teeth skittered across the piss and blood slicked floor, the jaw sort of flip flopped in place, held on by a piece of flesh….
“For John Wayne” shrieked Jack with spittle flying from his lips, hyperventilating he brought the chair down again….again….again….the sick sound like wet smacking meat, like Rocky using the beef carcasses for workout bags….he brought it down fifteen more times then dropped it….fell to his knees in a pool of blood and viscera.
Then, panting and drooling he undid his belt, opened his pants and masturbated into the mess before him. God bless America, our safety is once again assured by our courageous guardians.
Dialogue from a 2005 debate with former Bush Justice Department official and coauthor of the torture memos John Yoo.
Cassel: If the President deems that he’s got to torture somebody, including by crushing the testicles of the person’s child, there is no law that can stop him?
Yoo: No treaty.
Cassel: Also no law by Congress. That is what you wrote in the August 2002 memo.Yoo: I think it depends on why the President thinks he needs to do that.
The torture memos just leave me breathless and sickened. It’s not like I didn’t know what was going on, I live in the real world and refuse to be spoonfed by the corporate media machine. The unbelievable brutality and the codifying of it into law makes me want to vomit, it makes me truly ashamed to be an American. The thing that I can’t get over though is the part about the bugs. The waterboarding of the phony 9/11 ‘terrorist’ attack mastermind 138 fucking times in one month is bad enough, the nakedness and the beatings too, the sadomasochistic perverts that are drawn to the authoritarian right like coffin flies to fresh shit is a given. I mean, what the fuck is up with the goddamned torture by insects? That is something so macabre that it is out of a Dr. Phibes flick and would be hard to believe if not for the history of MKULTRA and other diabolical torture and mind control programs underwritten by the American taxpayer. Sick motherfuckers these neocon bastards are, I mean if there is any justice (and that is a fantasy) then the likes of David Addington, John Yoo, Douggie Feith and that Federalist Society Nazi and now Federal Judge Jay Bybee then they would be made to endure a fitting punishment: death by scaphism. I can understand if this is too much for the squeamish but it is the least that these pricks deserve:
Scaphism, also known as the boats, was an ancient Persian method of execution designed to inflict torturous death. The name comes from the Greek word skaphe, meaning “scooped (or hollowed) out”.
The naked person was firmly fastened within a back-to-back pair of narrow rowing boats (or a hollowed-out tree trunk), with the head, hands, and feet protruding. The condemned was forced to ingest milk and honey to the point of developing severe diarrhea, and more honey would be rubbed on his body so as to attract insects to the exposed appendages. They would then be left to float on a stagnant pond or be exposed to the sun. The defenseless individual’s feces accumulated within the container, attracting more insects, which would eat and breed within his or her exposed and increasingly gangrenous flesh. The feeding would be repeated each day in some cases to prolong the torture, so that dehydration or starvation did not provide them with the release of death. Death, when it eventually occurred, was probably due to a combination of dehydration, starvation and septic shock. Delirium would typically set in after a few days.
In other recorded versions, the insects did not eat the person; biting and stinging insects such as wasps, which were attracted by honey on the body, acted as the torture.
Death by scaphism was painful, humiliating, and protracted. Plutarch writes in his biography of Artaxerxes that Mithridates, sentenced to die in this manner for killing Cyrus the Younger, survived 17 days before dying.
This system is being preserved because despite whatever the new frontman for the empire might say to the contrary it is imperative that the ability to torture remain as one of the most kick ass clubs in the bag. The economy is in freefall and despite what the spinners try to tell us the jobs are NEVER coming back, there is also a growing desperation and the agent provocateurs of the oligarchy are whipping the knuckle draggers up into a full blown murderous frenzy – another Nazi tactic adapted for the American Homeland. The establishment would like nothing more than some sort of violent response, perhaps a new Timothy McVeigh style strike that provide the justification for the lockdown of the police street control grid. Then the paramilitary thugs weaned on the exploits of Jack Bauer could truly go into action. The Stasi style surveillance system will ensure that when the time comes that the lists will be ready for those designated to do the pickups. While the filthy torturers have been allowed the ideological cover of cracking the skulls, busting the spleens and waterboarding only suspected ‘terrorists’ it will be very soon that people who are outspoken, patriotic Americans will become increasingly tempting targets for a state run amok. I have always maintained that the torture was being beta tested for the day that it will be turned on political dissidents and there is nothing on earth that will convince me otherwise.
Not to go on All-Fours; that is the Law. Are we not men?
Not to suck up Drink; that is the Law. Are we not men?
Not to eat Fish or Flesh; that is the Law. Are we not men?
Not to claw the Bark of Trees; that is the Law. Are we not men?
Not to chase other Men; that is the Law. Are we not men?
-The Sayer of the Law
Laws have been broken, America’s good name has been defiled and dragged through the darkest alleys of torture states, the treasury has been looted and the entire system plundered and rigged for the benefit of the elitists to the point where the legitimacy of every institution in this land is now questionable in regard to its ability to function.
This is not revenge as the corrupt mainstream mockingbird pundits and the feckless corporate beholden gatekeeping whores like Rahm Emanuel would have you believe…this is about justice. It is necessary to relentlessly investigate, prosecute and pursue these bastards to the ends of the Earth if necessary for their myriad of crimes against humanity that have led to hundreds of thousands of deaths abroad as well as the gutting of the constitution here at home. Then there is the looting and the stinking torture state that has been put into place to protect the looters and the rest of the bastards.
If we are unwilling and unable to exist under a system of laws than ultimately we are no better than beasts.
When looking at today’s social and political trends it is fairly easy to extrapolate forward several years and when taking into consideration our new style fascist bent as well as the desire of theocrats to roll back the clock to the good old days of the Inquisition and along with an abundant supply of desperate, destitute, dumbed down, reality television addicted zombies and it could only be a matter of time until some cable televisioni network smash hit reality show will be American Torquemada where any influential government critic could become the featured guest. It would be a huge ratings pull for sweeps week.
America needs to scream now and scream loudly in unified righteous outrage in order to stop this decline into despotic barbarism. Silence only increases the chances that you will be screaming much louder if it is ever you who finds yourself strapped to the torture table.
Ah, the suffering. The sweet, sweet suffering.
-H. L. Mencken
The previously discredited CNBC ace shill Jim ‘Mad Money’ Cramer has now become the point man for the regenerated Wall Street hydra, launching into a sleazy Rovian war with a real life economist who actually got it right in predicting the collapse Nouriel Roubini. Roubini, a man who was from the outset mocked, scorned and derisively labeled ‘Dr. Doom’ by the same type of four-flushing assholes who brought us Deep Capture has been declared public enemy number one and must be taken out with extreme prejudice for the big con to succeed. The oafish court jester of looter capitalism is now back with a vengeance as he according to this piece by Frank Rich of the damned liberal New York Times states in his recent piece Awake and Sing!:
“I am pronouncing the depression over!” declared CNBC’s irrepressible Jim Cramer on April 2. The next day the unemployment rate, already at the highest level in 25 years, jumped yet again, but Cramer wasn’t thinking about the 663,000 jobs that disappeared in March. He was thinking about the market. Mad money. Fast money. Big money. The Dow, after all, has rallied in the weeks since Timothy Geithner announced his bank bailout 2.0. Par-tay! On Wednesday, Cramer rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange, in celebration of the 1,000th broadcast of his nightly stock-tip jamboree.
Roubini appropriately dismissed the man who acts like a baboon on crystal meth:
But “Cramer is a buffoon”, the professor countered, on the sidelines of a conference in Canada on Tuesday night. “He was one of those who called six times in a row for this bear market rally to be a bull market rally and he got it wrong. After all this mess, and after Jon Stewart, he should just shut up because he has no shame.”
The latest rally will fail when it becomes clear the economy is not improving and that several banks will be unable to pass the “stress tests” currently being carried out by the federal government, Mr Roubini says.
“Cramer keeps insulting me personally and saying a bunch of lies,” he told an Associated Press reporter. “He is not a credible analyst.”
Which of course didn’t stop the NYT from piling on Roubini in a Wednesday Op-Ed column by that unbiased source of wisdom William D. Cohan (a contributing editor for Fortune Magazine, the rag that featured a fawning hagiography back in the Depression years about Benito Mussolini and his fine corporate fascist system) that in upholding the finest traditons of Judith Miller poo pooed the questioning of the miraculous profits of Goldman Sachs as so much conspiracy theory even though Hank Paulson obviously had at best a conflict of interest in presiding over the TARP plan to socialize the losses of the looters to keep the big casino going. Similar sliming has been done to Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman in the insipid Newsweek cover story of a few weeks back by hack Evan Thomas who openly and brazenly admits his bias: “If you are of the establishment persuasion (and I am), reading Krugman makes you uneasy.”. Stenographers for the elite like Thomas are largely responsible for this disaster to begin with in that they failed to perform their constitutional duties in ensuring that a free press would ensure that power be kept in check but he and his ilk are more interested in careerism, sucking up to the establishment and ensuring that they keep get invited to cocktail parties. No wonder that the regular corporate media is getting its ass kicked by the alternative media and the blogs, you just can’t trust the bastards on anything anymore.
But I digress…
It is asinine and childish to think that Paulson, the former CEO of Goldman Sachs did not abuse his position as the Bush regime’s Treasury Secretary to favorably rig the big bailout for the benefit of his cronies, just look at how the AIG bailout was used to further shore up the big Kahuna of the street and ensure that the revolving door between the temple of avarice and the White House remains fully operational. Seems like the blood sucking jackals at the real center of American political power, Goldman Sachs is sending it’s legal army after a Florida based blogger named Mike Morgan for daring to set up a website Info, Comments, Opinions and Facts About Goldman Sachs. The white shoe Wall Street law firm Chadbourne & Parke has been set loose upon poor Mr. Morgan for his daring to question these criminal pigs and their ongoing assault on the American economy – you know it’s bad when they don’t outsource their wetwork to India but somehow the site which as the delightful url of http://www.goldmansachs666.com/ has really but a bug up the pasty white asses of the house of Paulson and Blankfein.
I would recommend that everyone take the time to not only check out Mr. Morgan’s site but to back him in his David versus Goliath stand against the mother of all moneychangers in Goldman Sachs. Let the buffonish tea baggers take to the streets at the behest of the deranged shill Glenn Beck, Dick Armey, uber crackpot Richard Mellon Scaife and the Texas oil Nazi Koch Foundation (see Think Progress for the scoop on who is really sponsoring this phony white populist mayhem) but the real enemy of America sits in the ivory tower at 85 Broad Street in lower Manhattan and it’s toxic tentacles extend directly into the highest realms of the new Obama administration. Putting Timothy Geithner and Larry Summers in charge of economic policy along with other dubious appointments (or in the case of real progressives non appointments) are an early indicator that the only change for Obama is going to be chump change. The hedge fund hyenas and derivatives alchemists and their pushers are going to have free reigh while an exponentially growing number of Americans are being rendered jobless, homeless and exiled to tent cities…hell, at least Reagan gave people surplus cheese.
In a remarkable interview on the PBS program Bill Moyers Journal former S & L regulator William K. Black gets right to the heart of things:
BILL MOYERS: Is it possible that these complex instruments were deliberately created so swindlers could exploit them?
WILLIAM K. BLACK: Oh, absolutely. This stuff, the exotic stuff that you’re talking about was created out of things like liars’ loans, that were known to be extraordinarily bad. And now it was getting triple-A ratings. Now a triple-A rating is supposed to mean there is zero credit risk. So you take something that not only has significant, it has crushing risk. That’s why it’s toxic. And you create this fiction that it has zero risk. That itself, of course, is a fraudulent exercise. And again, there was nobody looking, during the Bush years. So finally, only a year ago, we started to have a Congressional investigation of some of these rating agencies, and it’s scandalous what came out. What we know now is that the rating agencies never looked at a single loan file. When they finally did look, after the markets had completely collapsed, they found, and I’m quoting Fitch, the smallest of the rating agencies, “the results were disconcerting, in that there was the appearance of fraud in nearly every file we examined.”
BILL MOYERS: So if your assumption is correct, your evidence is sound, the bank, the lending company, created a fraud. And the ratings agency that is supposed to test the value of these assets knowingly entered into the fraud. Both parties are committing fraud by intention.
WILLIAM K. BLACK: Right, and the investment banker that — we call it pooling — puts together these bad mortgages, these liars’ loans, and creates the toxic waste of these derivatives. All of them do that. And then they sell it to the world and the world just thinks because it has a triple-A rating it must actually be safe. Well, instead, there are 60 and 80 percent losses on these things, because of course they, in reality, are toxic waste.
BILL MOYERS: You’re describing what Bernie Madoff did to a limited number of people. But you’re saying it’s systemic, a systemic Ponzi scheme.
WILLIAM K. BLACK: Oh, Bernie was a piker. He doesn’t even get into the front ranks of a Ponzi scheme…
BILL MOYERS: But you’re saying our system became a Ponzi scheme.
WILLIAM K. BLACK: Our system…
BILL MOYERS: Our financial system…
WILLIAM K. BLACK: Became a Ponzi scheme. Everybody was buying a pig in the poke. But they were buying a pig in the poke with a pretty pink ribbon, and the pink ribbon said, “Triple-A.”
In a nutshell the system itself is rotten to the core and Geithner, Bernanke and the rest of Mr. Obama’s A Team of the best and the brightest are just more of the same dirty rotten scoundrels who have destroyed the global economy and are now being allowed to finish the job. For Christ’s sake, Obama is actually going out on television and pushing refinancing as if most people really qualify anyway for the simple reasons that (a) the banks aren’t lending (b) their existing loans are well in excess of the property value in most cases…and (c) you can no longer instantly qualify for a 400,000 loan if you have no job and about a million a month are being jettisoned as the real economy continues the freefall. I mean Jesus Fucking Christ, is this guy a president or a pimp?
Selling the Sizzle: The recent attempts to manage perception in order to reflate the bubble and save the squadrons of corrupt paper dealers is a propaganda masterpiece unseen since the bloodshed and chaos of the Iraq war was flushed down the memory hole courtesy of the great General Petraeus and THE SURGE. What is now going on is every bit as dishonest and even more monstrous in that the large scale thieves who run the system are using their media and pocket politicians to further entrap Americans in the shackles of debt slavery from which they shall never be free as long as the failure of unregulated looter capitalism is not dealt with and the cancer cut out once and for all. Don’t believe anything, it’s all a big lie of Hitlerian proportions, a public relations stew of deception that Goebbels would be proud of and you just have to love that little bumper sticker slogan Green Shoots.
Do NOT, I repeat do NOT put one nickel into the markets because in the end you will be sorry. I am advising people to take this postponement of the looming collapse as an opportunity to shore up your personal positions. Do not spend a dime you don’t have to spend, take all of your money out of your 401k once it has been reflated and put it into real assets. Pay down debt, start learning about how to garden, hey our grandparents did it didn’t they? Stockpile non-perishable food, buy a Lifestraw (provided you can find one) because they are coming to privatize your water soon, buy guns and ammo and most importantly be suspicious of anything that the assclowns who run the corporate media try to sell you with their propaganda.
Obama, tagged as the pope of hope by one blogger is just another errand boy for the big banks. Pope of dopes is more like it , it took Clinton and Bush years to cheapen the presidency but Obama has done it in record time, sliming around with the likes of Jay Leno on the electronic crackpipe, taking pot shots at cripples, escalating the war in Afghanistan, reneging on boatloads of campaign promises and in the absolute nadir shilling for the banks in imploring people to refinance their overvalued McMansions and other cheaply constructed shitboxes.
The Obamanoids eat it up too, they are legion and tripping over themselves in falling in line to shill for the most despicable of the Obama administration policies, like the failure to order the Justice Department to arrest Karl Rove for flouting subpoenas, continuing the illegal wiretapping, escalating the war in Afghanistan and most odiously as all choosing to back the banksters in the gutting of the American economy. Sure, there are the little feely good cosmetic changes like stem cell research and relaxing restrictions on Cuba (both by the way make economic sense and if there is one thing to commend Obama on it is the lack of ideology exhibited early on, which in a way is also damnable in that it only supports the status quo) and that ridiculous ‘pirates’ thing which is about as phony as Reagan’s defeat of that industrialized military juggernaut Grenada.
One thing is for certain though, no matter how well that Surge II works it is only going to make the inevitable collapse that much worse when it does come. And those vicious shitheads who worship the unholy trinity of Limbaugh, Palin and Joe the Plumber will only become meaner and more better positioned to take advantage when it becomes apparent that the only change that has occured is a new coat of paint on the whorehouse that is American capitalism.
Here is a very interesting piece that I ran across courtesy of conspiracy researcher Jim Fetzer on the Cheney death squads. Anyone who truly understands the nature of the deep state and especially Cheney and Rummy’s involvement with the Shadow Government through their avid participation in Continuity Of Government (COG) programs knows that this is no earth shaking revelation. Of course there are death squads operational in America, the number of conveniently suicided or otherwise dead in fortuitous accidents is far too long to list here. So without further adieu here is Fetzer’s piece:
By Jim Fetzer (via Op Ed News)
Madison, WI (OpEdNews) April 12, 2009 –The stunning revelation from our nation’s premiere investigative reporter, Seymour Hersh, that Vice President Dick Cheney was running an “executive assassination ring” directly under his control and outside of the normal chain of command has raised the specter that the Vice President of the United States may have been murdering Americans. As a scholar who has invested a considerable effort in the investigation of the death of US Senator Paul Wellstone, this comes as no surprise. I and other experts with whom I have collaborated long since concluded that the crash that took his life and those of his wife, daughter, three aides and two pilots was brought about deliberately, where Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Karl Rove are the principal suspects. Other cases in which assassination appears all too probable include those of NFL star Pat Tillman and of 9/11 activist Beverly Eckert.
According to Paul Joseph Watson, the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) did not originate with Cheney but was founded in 1980, which suggests that it may have been initiated by our then-Vice President George H. W. Bush, a former Director of the CIA. It consists primarily of Delta Force soldiers and SEALs, who are stationed at Pope Air Force Base and at Fort Bragg, NC. According to Watson, this assassination unit is still active under President Obama. The very existence of an operation of this kind raises questions of the utmost seriousness about democracy in America. What has become of this country when the expression of your political convictions and the pursuit of what you think best for this nation runs the risk of bringing about your termination? When our elected officials, like Hitler and Stalin, have the power to decide whether we live or die depending on their whims, this country has ceased to be the home of the brave or the land of the free.
Outing an “Executive Assassination Ring”
The story broke on Minn Post.com (March 11, 2009), when Eric Black wrote of a “Great Conversations” even at the University of Minnesota, where, during the question and answer session, Hersh reported not only that the CIA has been “deeply involved in domestic activities against people they thought to be enemies of the state” but that a special unit of our military called the JSOC was set up independently of the normal chain of command, reporting only to the Vice President and to neither the Joint Chiefs or even the Secretary of Defense:
Congress has no oversight of it,” Hersh explained. “It’s an executive assassination ring essentially, and it’s been going on and on and on.… Under President Bush’s authority, they’ve been going into countries, not talking to the Ambassador or the CIA station chief, and finding people on a list and executing them and leaving. That’s been going on in the name of all of us.”
If the only targets were foreign terrorists who were threatening to attack the United States, of course, many Americans might be sympathetic and even forgiving. But, after publishing ten news columns, co-authoring a book, and following up with an expert in extending the scope of my research about the death of Senator Paul Wellstone, it would not surprise me whatsoever that Dick Cheney deployed one of these JSOC teams to bring about his death.
The crucial consideration in evaluating alternative hypotheses in cases like these—such as accident or assassination—is calculating the probability of the evidence on the assumption that each of them is true and comparing their values. These are known as “likelihood” measures of evidential support, where the hypothesis that confers the highest probability on the evidence qualifies as the preferable hypothesis. When the available evidence “settles down” (that is, points in the same direction), then the preferable hypothesis is also acceptable as true, in the tentative and fallible fashion of science.
The Death of Sen. Paul Wellstone
The plane crash that took the life of Senator Paul Wellstone occurred on October 25, 2002, just ten days before the election that pitted him against former St. Paul Mayor, Norm Coleman. It was widely known in Washington that the Bush leadership had targeted Wellstone for elimination, although most would have assumed that was politically speaking rather than literally. One of the first to raise alarms was Michael Niman, a professor at Buffalo State College, who enumerated reasons why they wanted to get rid of him. In an early article, “Was Paul Wellstone Murdered?” (October 28, 2002), he explained that Wellstone was the only progressive in the US Senate and an outspoken critic of the Bush administration. No one knew of Cheney’s assassination unit, but the circumstances of his death raised suspicions on their own. Control of Congress hung in the balance, since Jim Jeffords (R-VT) had left the Republican Party and become an independent. There were 50 Democrats and 49 Republicans.
On the day of the crash, several signs suggested to me that something was not right. The crash had occurred at about 10:22 AM/CT, but the site was not discovered until 11 AM/CT by Gary Ulman, the Eveleth-Virginia Airport assistant manager, who then landed and picked up the local fire chief so they could fly over the crash site—which was in a wooded, swampy area—and figure out the best way to bring equipment to the scene. Remarkably, when Rick Wahlberg, the Sheriff of St. Louis Country arrived there at 1:30 PM/CT, he encountered members of the FBI’s Rapid Response Team from St. Paul, whom he knew personally, who told him that they had been there since noon. Christopher Bollyn, a reporter for American Free Press, noted in an article published on October 29, 2002, this was remarkable insofar as Gary Ulman had not notified them. Indeed, when I calculated the minimal time it would have taken to fly from St. Paul to Duluth, rent a car and drive to the crash scene, they had to have taken off at about 9:30 AM/CT, which was the same time the Senator’s plane had departed. It was very strange.
Moreover, after the plane crashed, even though the wings (which carry the fuel supply) had been sheared off by the surrounding trees and the tail had broken off (a common occurrence in plane crashes), the fuselage burned so intensely for seven hours the firemen were unable to extinguish it and the bodies would not be recovered until the following day. Nonetheless, an FBI spokesman, Paul McCabe, would announce that night that there were “no signs of terrorist involvement”. That struck me as rather odd, because terrorists are simply assailants with specific political motivation, who do not have special access to techniques for sabotaging aircraft. Since the cause of the crash was not yet known, how could the FBI have possibly known? It would be more than a year before the NTSB would announce its findings. According to its official report, the plane crashed because the pilots had lost track of their airspeed and allowed the plane to crash.
The plane, a King Air A-100, was akin to the Rolls-Royce of small aircraft and had an excellent maintenance record. While there had been many exaggerated reports about the weather—Wolf Blitzer, for example, attributed the crash to freezing rain and heavy snow—those of us in the vicinity knew that was not true. Indeed, a local TV-news anchorman, Denny Anderson, who was himself a pilot, spent much of the day correcting those false impressions. It turned out that other planes had landed there earlier in the day and that Ulman had had no hesitation in taking off to search for the plane when he noticed it was overdue. A pilot in the local vicinity, who had been out taking pictures across water in close proximity of the airport, sent them to me. It was clear by studying them that there was no rain, much less freezing rain. Indeed, the NTSB would eventually conduct simulations of the flight with pilots from Charter Aviation and, even though they had them fly abnormally slowly, they were unable to cause the plane to crash.
The NTSB Report
The NTSB pinned responsibility for the crash on the pilots. The principal pilot, Richard Conry, however, had some 5,200 hours of experience, an Air Transport Pilots certification–which is the highest civilian qualification short of astronaut—and had passed his FAA “flight check” just two days before the fatal flight. His co-pilot, Michael Guess, was not as highly qualified, but he was a competent pilot for a plane that did not require two. Indeed, one of the ironies of the FBI’s announcement is that Guess turned out to have known Zacharias Moussaoui, an accused 9/11 conspirator, whom he had met at the Pam Am International Flight Academic in Eagan, MN, where he had allegedly “inadvertently” allowed Moussaoui access to a computer program about flying a Boeing 747. So not only could the FBI not have known there was “no terrorist involvement” the evening of the crash but the co-pilot would turn out to have actually had contact with an alleged terrorist.
Several features of the crash caught my attention early on. Although there were two pilots, there had been no distress call. A loss of air speed brings with it a loss of altitude, and the plane had crashed two miles south of the airport, apparently flying on the wrong azimuth. I began to ask myself the probability that two pilots would neglect their air speed, their altitude, and their azimuth. If we assume that these are independent events that might happen, say, one time in a hundred—an absurdly high frequency—then for one pilot to neglect all three would be equal to 1/100 x 1/100 x 1/100 = 1/1,000,000 or one time in a million. And there had been two of them, where the probability that they would both neglect those factors was equal to 1/1,000,000 x 1/1,000,000, a very small number. And the plane was equipped with a loud warning alarm to alert them of any risk of stalling.
The more I investigated the case, the more peculiar it seemed. An odd cell-phone anomaly was reported to me, where the driver, passing just south of the airport en route to the funeral the senator had planned to attend, heard a loud wailing and war-belling sound, unlike anything he had heard before. I contracted an Australian colleague, John P. Costella, who has a Ph.D. in electromagnetism, and asked him if this could have been an effect of the use of a high-tech weapon, which could take out all the planes electronics, including its navigation system, communication system, and stall warning alarm. It would turn out that the props were on idle when it crashed, which the NTSB was unable to explain. A directed-energy weapon could not only have taken out the plane’s electronics, including its communications and navigation systems, but flipped the solenoids that control the pitch of the props and set them to “idle”. The more that I studied the case, the more it appeared that the plane was not under their control. They had apparently been unable to stop it.
By this time, I had published ten columns on the case in an alternative newspaper in Duluth, which had led a Native American scholar from Northern Arizona University to contact me and offer to be co-author if I were disposed to turn my research into a book. We had both learned of an incident shortly before the crash where veterans at a meeting in Wilmer, MN, had learned from Wellstone that he had been threatened by Cheney, who told him that, if he opposed the administration on Iraq, there would be “severe ramifications” for him personally and for the state of Minnesota, which I confirmed with veterans who were there. He (Wellstone) had gone ahead and made a speech opposing the invasion of Iraq, which he thought might end his political career. Instead, he surged ahead of Coleman and was running 6-8 points and gaining at the time of the crash. Rove’s hand-picked candidate was going to lose to Wellstone.
We announced the publication of AMERICAN ASSASSINATION (2004) at the National Press Club exactly two years after the crash. My co-author, Don “Four Arrows” Jacobs, and I observed that the official account of the crash had a vanishing probability and that the NTSB had only considered accident-compatible alternatives, but that if you considered the possible use of a small bomb, a gas canister or a high-tech, directed-energy device, then the latter would confer a high probability upon the evidence, including the lack of any distress call, the odd cell-phone anomaly, and reports I had confirmed that garage doors in the vicinity had opened spontaneously that morning. I flew John to Minnesota and we visited the crash scene together in 35 degree-below-zero weather, picking up pieces of debris, studying the damage to the trees, and making other observations. He and I would also review some 2,500 pages of official documents and studies on which the NSTB report was purportedly based, where its report ran only sixty pages.
John Costella made the remarkable discovery of an odd meteorological phenomenon in the atmosphere above the crash site, where clouds that were normally loaded with ice were filled with water instead. This would be otherwise inexplicable, since the heat from the intense fire would fall off as a function of distance from its location. But it would be a predictable effect of the use of a directed-energy weapon. We authored a report, “The NTSB Failed Wellstone”, summarizing our findings, which Michael Ruppert would publish in his “From the Wilderness” newsletter. Indeed, his own research would lead him to the same conclusion, as he explained in his CROSSING THE RUBICON (2004). Ruppert had even been contacted by someone in the business of assassinations (“wet work”), who told him that some reinvigorated old white guys were in charge, that they were nobody to screw around with, and that he could anticipate there would be other “strategic accidents” in the future.
My own inference is that this was a small-scale conspiracy, which might have involved as few as ten persons. The King Air A-100 is manufactured by Beechcraft, which is owned by Raytheon. A military-industrial colossus, this company also owns numerous patents for directed-energy weapons. I believe it could have been as simple a matter as a phone call from one of the directors of Charter Aviation to Dick Cheney, telling him that Wellstone would be aboard. After consultation with Rumsfeld and Rove, a phone call to Raytheon would provide the information necessary about the best way to take the plane down. A small team from the JSOC could be entrusted with the assignment, where the crucial problem would be to lure the plane into the kill zone, apparently by manipulating the on-board GPS system, which is completely under military control. I even discovered corroboration that this is how it was done, as I have explained in a one-hour video lecture about 25-30 minutes into the program.
The Death of Cpl. Pat Tillman
There are typical signs that something is wrong in the case of deaths that have political ramifications. These include obfuscation about the cause of the event, especially by creating a false “first impression”, which tends to stick in the minds of most Americans. In the Wellstone case, it was that the cause had been the weather. In the case of Pat Tillman, it was that he had been killed in a fire-fight in Afghanistan. Although I shall not discuss it with the same degree of detail, the Tillman death appears to bear the signs that this, too, was an assassination. An article on Tillman in Wikipedia, exclusively based upon public sources, provides ample indications of the blatancy with which political killings can take place and then be covered up, especially by assassins who were themselves members of the military. (To insure its availability, I have archived it here under “Assassination”.)
An NFL star who enlisted in the Army in May 2002, he apparently became disenchanted with the conduct of the war. He not only did not support President Bush for reelection, but encouraged others to vote for John Kerry. According to his mother, a friend of his had arranged for him to meet with Noam Chomsky, professor emeritus from MIT and one of our nation’s most respected public intellectuals, who, no doubt, could have launched him into prominent orbit as an outspoken opponent of the war. In my opinion, the prospect of having a macho, NFL-complement to Cindy Sheehan—one who might inspire the nation to reconsider our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan—would have been a powerful incentive for removing him from the public arena in the minds of Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Karl Rove. The use of these special operations military serving as an ‘assassination ring’ in this situation may very well have been irresistible.
According to Wikipedia’s entry about him, Tillman was redeployed to Afghanistan and, on April 22, 2004, he was killed. The Army initially claimed that he and his unit were hit by an ambush on a road outside a village not far from the Pakistan border. The Army Special Operations Command initially claimed that there was an exchange with hostile forces, but an investigation conducted by the U.S. Department of Defense concluded that his death was due to friendly fire “aggravated by the intensity of the firefight”. Another, more thorough investigation, concluded that hostile forces had not been involved in the firefight and that two allied groups fired on each other in confusion after a nearby explosive device was detonated. But it also makes these points:
* No evidence of enemy fire at the scene has ever been produced;
* The lieutenant general who withheld details of Tillman’s death from his parents for months told investigators “he had a bad memory, and could not recall details of his actions” on more than 70 occasions;
* According to The Washington Post, on May 4, 2005, the Army’s own investigators were aware that Tillman had been killed by being shot three times in the head;
* Army doctors told the investigators that these wounds suggested murder and urged them to launch a criminal investigation, which would not be pursued; and
* Army attorneys congratulated each other in emails for impeding criminal investigation as they concluded that Tillman’s death was the result of friendly fire, and that only administrative, or non-criminal, punishment was indicated.
Evidence and Likelihoods
When we consider the alternatives of accident or assassination in this case, we have to compare their likelihoods In relation to the available evidence. If Tillman had been killed accidentally, even by “friendly fire”, then what is the probability that no evidence of friendly fire would be produced, that the Lt. General would suffer 70 “memory lapses”, that the corporal would have been shot three times in the head, that honors would be bestowed upon him, that the doctors would have suspected he was murdered, and that Army attorneys would impede criminal investigations? You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to conclude that something is very wrong here. The probability of these effects appears to be very high if he was deliberately taken out and very low if his death was accidental, friendly fire or not.
And there is more. On July 26, 2007, for example, the AP received official documents stating that the doctors who performed the autopsy suspected that Tillman was murdered. High ranking officers knew better at least four days before his nationally televised memorial service during which he “was lauded as a war hero for dying while engaging the enemy”. Members of Tillman’s unit burned his body armor and uniform. Tillman’s diary was never returned to his family, and its whereabouts are not publicly known. As a former Marine Corps commissioned officer, I affirm that this treatment of the personal property of a deceased is not proper procedure. The missing diary is especially striking, since diaries are legally admissible as evidence in courts of law and would have attested to his state of mind.
Some prominent news personalities have figured out that something seems to be wrong. On July 26, 2007, for example, Chris Matthews reported that Tillman’s death might have been a case of fragging (of the deliberate killing of a soldier by his comrades at arms) because the bullet holes were tight and neat, suggesting that he was shot at close range. Matthews based his speculation on a report from the doctors who investigated Tillman’s body. The following day the AP reported that a doctor who examined Tillman’s body after his death wrote, “The medical evidence did not match up with the, with the scenario as described,” also noting that the wound entrances appeared as though he had been shot with an M16 rifle from less than 10 yards (9 m) away.” Even his mother, in her disturbing book, BOOTS ON THE GROUND BY DUSK (2008), has been shaken by the way the military has handled the death of her son.
The Official Finding
On March 26, 2007, the Pentagon released their report on the events surrounding Tillman’s death and cover-up. The report reads in part:
we emphasize that all investigators established the basic facts of CPL Tillman’s death — that it was caused by friendly fire, that the occupants of one vehicle in CPL Tillman’s platoon were responsible, and that circumstances on the ground caused those occupants to misidentify friendly forces as hostile. None of the investigations suggested that CPL Tillman’s death was anything other than accidental. Our review, as well as the investigation recently completed by Army CID, obtained no evidence contrary to those key findings.
The denial of contrary evidence appears to be contrived. If the doctors even suspected murder, if there were three shots to the head, and if they were tightly grouped and appeared to have been fired from close range by an M-16 from less than 10 yards away, the “friendly fire” scenario looks more and more like deliberate misinformation. Tillman is not the kind of man his fellow soldiers would frag. On the contrary, he is just the kind of guy—and football star, no less—his fellow soldiers would have respected and admired. He’s the kind of guy they would have written home about! Indeed, the article confirms that Tillman “was popular among his fellow soldiers and had no enemies”. They harbored no reason to murder him.
He may have been killed by a member of the armed forces, which could have been obscured by the use of the phrase, “friendly fire”, but it would not have been by his comrades in arms. Interestingly, there are reports of snipers in a second group of troops that encountered Pat’s squad shortly before an explosive device went off and the shooting started. This looks like an idea situation in which a designated assassin, who was a member of this second group, could have used the chaotic conditions created by the detonation of a distracting explosive device to take out a man who could have become an outspoken opponent of the war, especially if the members of this ring are military. In my opinion, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rove would not have let his opposition to the war become public knowledge. His death does not appear to have been an accident.
The Death of a 9/11 Activist
The plane crash that took the life of 9/11 activist Beverly Eckert troubled me because of its striking similarities to the crash that took the life of Paul Wellstone. The plane, a Bombardier Q400, was an excellent commuter carrier with a 74-passenger capacity. Like the King Air A-100, it had no history of mechanical problems. Philip Trenary, the head of the Pinnacle Airlines that operated the plane, stated, “It’s an aircraft that’s had flawless service.” Reports of the weather appear to have been greatly exaggerated, where the plane, like the King Air A-100, was equipped with sophisticated de-icing equipment. Moreover—and this is especially notable—there was no distress call from the plane. According to an early report, Flight 3407 came straight down out of the sky, killing 50 persons, including Eckert.
There have been several stories about the crash in The New York Times, for example, including “Crew Reported ‘Significant Ice Buildup’ Before Crash” (February 14, 2009), “In Plane Crash, Loss of Momentum Still a Mystery” (February 15, 2009), and “Recreating a Plane Crash” (February 19 2009), where Matthew L. Wald offers speculation that the crew might have “overreacted” to a computerized flight-control system “trying to protect the aircraft from flying too slowly, going into a stall and crashing”.
Unfortunately, there are a number of disturbing signs that what we are being told does not add up. Consider the alleged ice-buildup. That report seems to be contradicted by the transcript of the final communications, as What Really Happened has highlighted, which has been compounded by another exaggerated report about the ice build-up in The New York Times. A very difference impression comes from Last moments of Buffalo Flight 3407, Webmaster’s Commentary, What Really Happened, on February 13, 2009 (http://www.whatreallyhappened.com/) as follows:
Read the transcript of the final communications from Colgan Flight 3407 in Buffalo.
No mention of ice being a problem for aircraft.
There is a brief incidental mention that there is an area of icing, but it is clear that nobody sees this as a problem. No mention of any problems at all.
3407 is there one moment, then gone the next.
Now, look at this line from the transcript:
17:40 – Delta 1998: Uh negative, Delta 1998, we’re just in the bottoms and nothing on the TKs …
Listening to the tape, it sounds like what the pilot of 1998 said was
“… nothing on the TCAS.”
TCAS (pronounced T-cass) stands for Traffic Collision Avoidance System, which sends out a lower power non-directional radar pulse and listens for any aircraft transponders in the vicinity in order to warn pilots of close approaching aircraft.
So, what the pilot of Delta 1998 is saying is that at the time Air Traffic Control asked him to look for a Dash-8 [Bombardier] at 2300 [feet altitude], 3407’s radar transponders had quit working.
One final note:
If the Air Traffic Controller is telling the pilot of Delta 1998 to look at 2300 feet altitude for the Dash 8, then that means the last altitude reading returned to the ATC was 2300 feet.
Air Traffic Radar never received a return showing a loss of altitude, which strongly suggests that the aircraft’s entire avionics (aircraft electronic control) system quit working while the plane was still half a mile in the air.
Now this suggests to me that the reason there was no distress call is that the aircraft’s entire avionics system quit working while the plane was still half a mile in the air. What could possibly explain this? There are several disturbing parallels with the Wellstone crash: the plane was an excellent aircraft, very forgiving, with sophisticated equipment, including for de-icing; the weather reports have exaggerated conditions, which were actually rather mild, where other planes had had no problems coping with them on their approach into Buffalo; and both of the pilots were well-qualified. I am also struck that Beverly Eckert, a 9/11 widow, was aboard the plane. The situations here, including political motivation, appear to be parallel.
Why Beverly Might Matter
She was a prominent 9/11 activist whose husband had died that day in the South Tower of the World Trade Center. She had actually met with none other than President Barack Obama shortly before flying back to Buffalo to honor her late husband’s birthday. She was a member of “The Jersey Girls”, four 9/11 widows, whose efforts to promote an investigation of 9/11 made a crucial contribution to the creation of the commission, which President George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney had opposed. It is no exaggeration to observe that Cheney and the Neo-Cons—to this day—fear more than anything else a bona-fide, objective investigation into 9/11 (motive). Because Obama kept Robert Gates on as Secretary of Defense, no doubt, lingering elements of Cheney’s operation, including members of the assassination ring, almost certainly still exercise influence within the Pentagon (means), where, as in the case of Wellstone, this flight could very well have offered the perfect occasion to take her out of the equation (opportunity).
The argument has been made that Beverly was not committed to 9/11 as “an inside job”, which may have made her all the more threatening. For a woman whose husband was killed on 9/11, who had refused to take the government’s proffered compensation—widely regarded as “hush money” in the 9/11 movement—her insistence upon further investigation of the case would have been alarming to those who were involved. Bush and Cheney were adamantly opposed to any investigation and, when they were forced to create a commission of inquiry, they did their best to manage it from within. In fact, Mike Ruppert’s book, CROSSING THE RUBICON (2004) makes a powerful case for the inference that Bush had placed Cheney in control of the 9/11 attack. While Henry Kissinger’s appointment as Executive Director was thwarted, that of Philip Zelikow was not, even though his self-described area of expertise is neither science nor history but the creation and maintenance of public myths. (Since these entries are subject to alteration, I have archved the original to which I refer here.)
He thus appears to have been perfect for the task he was assigned, since THE 9/11 COMMISSION REPORT (2004) has been refuted on virtually very significant count. The buildings were designed to withstand even multiple impacts of commercial aircraft, the fires burner neither long enough nor hot enough to cause the steel to weaken, much less melt. The towers were destroyed from the top down, largely turned into very fine dust in just 10 seconds apiece, which is nearly the speed of free fall, even though, from the 80th floor down in the South Tower and the 96th in the North, they were both stone cold steel. The method by means of which this was done remains a matter of intense debate, but there are indications that, among other means, explosives and incendiary devices were employed. Public discussion of 9/11 is something they desperately want to suppress, since it has been the justification for the “War on Terror”, including the attacks upon Iraq and Afghanistan, restrictions upon civil liberties, and all the rest.
Where Things Stand
Use of plane crashes to take out your political opponents offers a virtually “fool proof” method. Unless the Attorney General declares a crash site to be a crime scene, the NTSB is restricted to the investigation of only accident-compatible alternatives, such as that the plane, the pilots, or the weather were responsible for the crash. Indeed, an even more peculiar policy of the NSTB is that its “official reports” are not admissible evidence in courts of law [49 USC 1441(e)]. The procedure, therefore, is simple. Take out your opponent using a plane crash, have a complicit or compliant Attorney General decline to declare it a “crime scene”, and the only recourse for the NTSB is to investigate it as an accident. That is what happened in the case of Paul Wellstone and will undoubtedly be followed in the case of Beverly Eckert. If Ruppert is right—and I believe that he is—then the murder of 50 more Americans to protect himself would have been “small potatoes” for Cheney.
While the evidence concerning Wellstone establishes his death as an assassination beyond a reasonable doubt, the same cannot yet be said about Eckert. There are reports that she was heading on to Chicago to meet with Federal Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald with new evidence related to 9/11 and that Russian satellites detected (what is described as) a “low level” electromagnetic emanating from an area near the eastern part of Lake Erie shortly before the plane plunged to the ground. The probability that a reliable airplane with qualified pilots would lose its capacity to communicate and fall to the ground absent a precipitating cause appears to be negligible. Indeed, the recent death via plane crash of Mike Connell, an IT wizard who appears to have been in a position to have stolen elections for Bush, occurred at a time the attorneys who were deposing him thought he was about to “spill the beans”.
Even though this assassination unit does not appear to have originated with Cheney, it appears all too probable that these groups or sub-units within it have been the cover for “wet work”, including assassinations and unofficial acts of terrorism, since their inception. In the case of Senator Paul Wellstone, no alternative to assassination can explain the evidence. In the case of Cpl. Pat Tillman the only alternative would appear to be that the Army, knowing he had been killed by “friendly fire”, wanted to capitalize upon his death for the sake of recruiting, a motive that can be subsumed by the assassination alternative. The phrase “friendly fire” is a euphemism for “an American soldier”, who appears to have committed this killing. I expect additional evidence to clarify the death of the 9/11 activist Beverly Eckert, but there is a discernable pattern here. In relation to the question with which we began, therefore, “Has Cheney been murdering Americans?”, the research I have reviewed suggests that the answer, alas!, appears to be an unequivocal “Yes!”
Professor Fetzer’s website is at: www.d.umn.edu/~jfetzer/
“I don’t say this to my people. They’d think I’m nuts. I think the CIA killed Dorothy Hunt”
Time, July 8, 1974
One workday morning in the capital, early in October 1972, McCord got a call from Gerald Alch, his CREEP-appointed attorney of that moment. Alch said he had important news to convey, could they meet for lunch. When they met, says McCord, Alch’s opening words were, “I have just come from Bittman’s office [White House attorney William Bittman]. Nobody gets up on that (witness) stand during trial. In return, they will get executive clemency, money while in prison and rehabilitation afterwards.” Alch assured McCord that this was a good deal under the circumstances. “Nobody,” he repeated, “gets up on that stand.”
Alch then asked McCord, “Why aren’t you taking the money from Mrs.Hunt?” In McCord’s account of Watergate, A Piece of Tape, from which I borrow this dialogue, he writes, “I went over my concerns that the whole business had the appearance of a control mechanism to keep the men quiet prior to the Nixon election by the use of money as a weapon and tool. Between that concern and the surveillance I had experienced on the 19th of September, I had decided to take no further money in order to be completely free to pursue whatever course of action my conscience dictated without being obliged.”
McCord says Alch “berated” him for taking this stand, then popped a question which McCord found “rather unusual in the wording and context.” Said Alch, “Just what would it take for you to turn state’s evidence?” McCord says Alch’s tone and manner made it clear that he was not sponsoring this alternative. It was “as though he were feeling me out for someone else.” McCord told Alch that he would follow his own course of action. Alch, he notes, “fell silent at that statement.”
MACHO BARKER: The next day I got a call. “Do you recognize my voice?” And I said yes. It was Dorothy Hunt. She told me to go to Miami and stay in the airport and meet the next flight of the same line. I made sure that Dorothy was not being followed, and then we went to my home. She said, “From now on I will be your contact,” and it was quite evident that the Dorothy that I had known had a split personality, because for the first time she used operational terms that Howard and I had always used. She said n ot to trust Rothblatt too much, that she didn’t like him. She said to start figuring out how much assistance we would need. Up to this time, we had not any at all. She said remember the spirit of the old organization – that if you are caught by the enemy, two things will be done: (1) every effort will be made to rescue you, and (2) all expenses and your family will be taken care of. Even today, the families of those who were lost at the Bay of Pigs are being aided, and that is something you expect on a mission.
Late October 1972. Dorothy Hunt called Colson’s office in an agitated voice demanding to speak to Colson, who declined. By Colson’s later account she was “upset at the interruption of payments from Nixon associates to Watergate defendants.”
November 15. Colson met with Nixon, Haldeman, and Ehrlichman in the Laurel Lodge presidential office at Camp David to play a tape of Hunt expounding his blackmail threat. That same afternoon, Dean flew to New York with this tape to play it for Stams and Mitchell, meeting in safe rooms at the Metropolitan Club. A week later, Hunt called Colson in order to have it recorded that “…we are protecting the guys who are actually responsible…and of course that is a continuing requirement, but at the same time, it is a two-way street….”
Late November. McCord: “In addition, Mrs. E. Howard Hunt, on or about November 30, 1972, in a personal conversation with me, stated that E. Howard Hunt had just dictated a three-page letter with Hunt’s attorney, William O. Bittman, had to read to Kenneth Parkinson, the attorney for the Committee to Re-elect the President, in which letter Hunt purportedly threatened to ‘blow the White House out of the water.’ Mrs. Hunt at this point in her conversation with me also repeated the statement which she too had made before, which was that E. Howard Hunt had information which would impeach the president.”
December 2 (Saturday). The president met at Key Biscayne with Colson and Rebozo to discuss the growing blackmail threat. Dorothy Hunt in Washington meanwhile was hounding Colson’s secretary, Joan Hall, with phone calls about “the problem.” She demanded that Hall get the word to Colson to get the word to Nixon “to get something done about it.”
Mitchell was ultimately reached, and he reached for Dean. Mitchell told Dean to use some White House cash to get the Hunt situation settled down. Haldeman came into the picture as well as their implicit electronic audience. His function indeed forces him in his ceremonial innocence (pretend ignorance) to teach the Nixon-person how to be the Nixon-president before an unseen listening audience which they both pretend not to notice.
Dean continues with a precise summary and an understated suggestion which manages to say to Nixon the man that he certainly must employ his own special resources in this flight to prop up the presidency. Though Dean always talks to the mask of Nixon-president, he still has his sense of limits, as though carelessly, laid across Nixon’s private parts. Thus the poignancy of Dean’s next speech:
DEAN: …. So what are the soft spots on this? Well, first of all, there is the problem of the continued blackmail which will not only go on now, but it will go on while these people are in prison, and it will compound the obstruction of justice situation. It will cost money. It is dangerous. People around here are not pros at this sort of thing. This is the sort of thing Mafia people can do ….
Now the dialogue unwinds, constantly returning to the question of Hunt.
NIXON: Your major guy to keep under control is Hunt?
DEAN: That is right….
NIXON: ….the vulnerable points being, the first vulnerable points would be obvious. That would be one of the defendants, either Hunt, because he is most vulnerable in my opinion, might blow the whistle and his price is pretty high….
…You can’t keep it out if Hunt talks….
…I think Hunt knows a hell of a lot more….
…You have no choice on Hunt….
And finally, breaking at last into a hole utterance:
…But my point is, do you ever have any choice on Hunt? That is the point. No matter what we do here now, John, whatever he wants if he doesn’t get it – immunity, etc., he is going to blow the whistle.
Then this cabalistic exchange at a later meeting the same day in which Haldeman and Ehrlichman sail in over Dean’s head:
DEAN:…Hunt has now sent a blackmail request directly to the White House.
NIXON: Who did he send it to? You?
NIXON: Or to me?
DEAN: Your counsel.
HALDEMAN: That is the interesting kind of thing, there is something there that may blow it all up that way and everything starts going in a whole new direction.
EHRLICHMAN: The he would hurt the Eastern Asian Defense. [?] Right there. That is blackmail.
The FBI and the Crash
The criticism of the official pilot-error theory of the Hunt crash has been overwhelmingly identified with Sherman Skolnick, a Chicago-based private investigator, and his colleague, companion, and bodyguard, Alex Bottos, who has a murky background and claims former FBI, CIA and narcotics connections. Skolnick and Bottos are a pungent Dickensian pair. Skolnick has been confined from birth to a wheelchair. He is intense, loud, overbearing, quick, suspicious, sometimes merry, all upper torso and arms, boisterous, gnomic-faced. Bottos is more somber and sepulchral. He says he was at Opalaka in 1960-61 with Hunt on the Bay of Pigs campaign. He carries a pistol and is fond of flashing it. He dresses with old-fashioned nattiness and polishes to a high gloss both his black hair and black patent leather loafers. Skolnick and Bottos have seen each other through great controversies. They project an ominous, swirling, shadowy atmosphere, Skolnick wheeling and challenging, Bottos in a tailored flak jacket brooding on collapse.
The instrument of their collaboration is Skolnick’s Citizens Committee ot Clean Up the Courts. Their most spectacular hit so far – until United flight 553 – was Chicago’s once-immaculate liberal, Governor Otto Kerner, whom they discovered and exposed in a race-track payoff scheme. Skolnick and Bottos have also helped put away several Illinois Supreme Court judges on corruption counts.
Skolnick was instantaneous in charging that the crash of United flight 533 was the result of sabotage and that there was a big Watergate connection. IN the weeks immediately following the crash, he claims to have received a flood of information from protected inside sources supporting him in this belief. He also tried to make that information public, thus to generate a controversy and a demand for a new investigation of the crash.
In the furor of claim and counterclaim that followed, Skolnick’s voice often reached an intensity that many found hysterical. Anyone who disagreed with him about anything (your author included) he denounced as a secret agent of the CIA. The controversy over his personality came to interfuse with the controversy over the crash. He made it easy for his detractors to ridicule him for rampant paranoia and to ignore his specific claims as wild raving.
Yet in the instances in which the dispute has been resolved by a subsequent factual disclosure, Skolnick’s contentions have been substantially borne out. The question of FBI involvement in the crash investigation is the perfect case in point.
The Boeing 737 had barely hit, said Skolnick, before the crash site was aswarm with large numbers (he sometimes said “carloads”, sometimes “200,” sometimes “dozens”) of “federal people” who shouldered Chicago police and firemen asise and kept to themselves why and on what authority they were doing so. When I first encountered the array of Skolnick’s arguments about the crash, I dismissed this particular item – the 200 FBI agents prowling the wreckage within moments of the crash – as an improbable piece of melodramatic adornment. In my original summary of Skolnick’s case in the Boston Phoenix (May 15, 1973), I left the point out altogether, concentrating on what I regarded as his more impressive arguments.
But then came the disclosure, as a result of Skolnick’s agitation in Washington, of the two letters which I reprint in their entirety below. The first is from the chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, John Reed, to acting FBI Director William Ruckelshaus. The second is Ruckelshaus’s reply. The NTSB is a putatively independent branch of the Department of Transportation with responsibility for investigating all accidents involving commercial airliners. It investigated the crash of United 533. The NTSB chairman’s letter is dated June 5, 1973.
Dear Mr. Ruckelshaus:
As you may know, the National Transportation Safety Board is currently investigating the aircraft accident of the United Air Lines Boeing 737, at Midway Airport, Chicago, on December 8, 1972. Our investigative team assigned to this accident discovered on the day following the accident that several FBI agents had taken a number of non-typical actions relating to this accident within the first few hours following the accident.
Included were: for the first time in the memory of our staff, an FBI agent went to the control tower and listened to the tower tapes before our investigators had done so; and for the first time to our knowledge, in connection with an aircraft accident, an FBI agent interviewed witnesses to the crash, including flight attendants on the aircraft prior to the NTSB interviews. As I am sure you can understand, these actions, particularly with respect to this flight on which Mrs. E. Howard Hunt was killed, have raised innumerable questions in the minds of those with legitimate interests in ascertaining the cause of this accident. Included among those who have asked questions, for example, is the Government Activities Subcommittee of the House Government Operations Committee. On the basis of informal discussions with the staff of the Committee, it is likely that questions as to what specific actions were taken by the FBI in connection with this aircraft accident, and why such actions were taken, will come up in a public overhearing at which the NTSB will appear and which is now scheduled for June 13, 1973.
In order to be fully responsive to the Committee, as well as to be fully informed ourselves about all aspects of this accident so as to assure the complete accuracy of our determination of the probable cause, we would appreciate being advised of all the details with respect to the FBI activities in connection with this accident. We would like to have, for example, the following information: the purpose of the FBI investigation, the reasons for the early response and unusual FBI actions in this case, the number of FBI personnel involved, all investigative actions taken by the agents and the times they took such actions (including the time the first FBI agents arrived on the scene), and copies of all reports and records made by the agents in connection with their investigations (we already have copies of 26 FBI interview reports; any other documents should be provided, therefore).
While we have initiated action at the staff level between our agency and yours to effect better liaison and avoid engaging in efforts which may be I conflict in the future, we have determined that some formal arrangement – in the nature of an intra-agency memorandum of agreement of understanding, for instance – would seem appropriate. It would clearly delineate our respective statutory responsibilities and set forth procedures to eliminate any future conflicts. We would therefore appreciate it if you would designate, at your earliest convenience, an official with whom we may discuss this matter and with the authority to negotiate such a formal agreement with the Safety Board.
In the interim, however we would like to receive, in advance of the scheduled June 13, 1973, public oversight hearing, the specific information concerning the actions of the FBI in connection with the Midway accident and the reasons therefore, in order to enable us to be as fully responsive as possible to the House Subcommittee.
(Original signed by John H. Reed, Chairman)
FBI Director Ruckelshaus answered on June 11, 1973.
Dear Mr. Reed:
Your letter dated June 5, 1973, concerning the FBI’s investigation into the crash of a United Air Lines Boeing 737 at Midway Airport, Chicago, Illinois, on December 8, 1972 has been received.
The FBI has primary investigative jurisdiction in connection with the Destruction of Aircraft or Motor Vehicles (DAMV) Statute, Title 18, Section 32, U.S. Code, which pertains to the willful damaging, destroying or disabling of any civil aircraft in interstate, overseas or foreign air commerce. In addition, Congress specifically designated the FBI to handle investigations under the Crime Aboard Aircraft (CAA) Statute, Title 49, Section 1472, U.S. Code, pertaining, among other things, to aircraft piracy, interference with flight crew members and certain specified crimes aboard aircraft in flight, including assault, murder, manslaughter and attempts to commit murder or manslaughter.
FBI investigation of the December 8, 1972, United Air Lines crash was instituted to determine if a violation of the DAMV or CAA Statutes had occurred and for no other reason. The fact that Mrs. E. Howard Hunt was aboard the plane was unknown to the FBI at the time our investigation was instituted.
It has been longstanding FBI policy to immediately proceed to the scene of an airplane crash for the purpose of developing any information indicating a possible Federal violation within the investigative jurisdiction of the FBI. In all such instances liaison is immediately established with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) personnel upon their arrival at the scene.
Approximately 50 FBI Agents responded to the crash scene, the first ones arriving within 45 minutes of the crash. FBI Agents did interview witnesses to the crash, including flight attendants. Special Agent (SA) Robert E. Hartz proceeded to the Midway Airport tower shortly after the crash to determine if tower personnel could shed any light as to the reason of the crash. ON arriving at the tower, SA Hartz identified himself as an FBI Agent and explained the reason for his presence. He was invited by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) personnel at the tower to listen to the recording made at the tower of the conversation between the tower and United Air Lines Flight 553. At no time did SA Hartz request to be allowed to listen to the tapes, SA Hartz identified a sound as being that of the stall indicator on the aircraft. The FAA agreed that SA Hartz was right and immediately notified FAA Headquarters at Washington, D.C.
The FBI’s investigation in the matter was terminated within 20 hours of the accident and on December 11, 1972, Mr. William L. Lamb, NTSB, was furnished with copies of the complete FBI investigation pertaining to the crash after it was determined there was apparently no violation of the DAMV or CAA Statutes.
In order to avoid the possibility of any misunderstanding concerning our respective agencies’ responsibilities and to insture continuing effective liaison between the NTSB and the GBI, I have designated SA Richard F. Bates, Section Chief, Criminal Section, General Investigative Division, FBI Headquarters, Washington, D.C., telephone number 324-2281, to represent the FBI concerning any matters of mutual interest.
William D. Ruckelshaus
Based on the facts agreed upon by both sides, it is at least apparent from these letters that the FBI was all over Dorthy Hunt at the time of the crash, despite Ruckelshaus’s protest that Dorothy Hunt’s presence on 553 was “unknown to the FBI at that time.” There is no obvious way such a large response as fifty agents within the hour could have been generated from a standing start as of the moment of the crash itself. The closest FBI office is forty minutes from the crash site and there are never fifty agents available at once without warning. It is tradition that FBI agents do not gather in offices waiting for calls but stay in the field. When a really obvious intelligence agent, Hungarian Freedom Fighter Lazlo Hadek, died in a crash the next summer at Boston’s Logan Airport, leaving a trail of secret NATO nuclear documents strewn down the center of the runway, the FBI was barely able to get a solitary agent to the scene on the same day as the wreck. That this same FBI could get fifty agents to the scene of the Chicago crash within an hout is to my mind an interesting piece of information. How could the FBI have done this if it had not had Dorothy Hunt’s airplane, for whatever reason, under full company-scale surveillance before the crash ever happened? And why might the FBI have been doing that?
Note in this connection that it was specifically the airplane itself that was being followed, and not the person of Dorothy Hunt. That is, no FBI agent was aboard the plane. If the FBI was tailing Dorothy Hunt, why was she not being followed on the plane? Was it that her flight was too sudden? But it was delayed on the ground for fifteen minutes. Michelle Clark of CBS, who was on the same flight, knew she was going to be on it and may have been her companion in the first-class cabin. The Hunts took enough time at the airport to buy $250,000 worth of flight insurance.
Ruckelshaus does not meet Reed’s main questions. He reads the book with a straight face as though Reed had asked him what were the statutory grounds of the FBI intervention instead of why, suddenly, this time and no other time, and so massively, and hence with such a semblance of advance contrivance, were these grounds taken up and acted upon. One understands that the FBI will always be able to demonstrate a rudimentary legal basis for whatever it takes in its head to do. What we wan to know is where these whims and fancies bubble up from.
We wonder finally what in the world made the FBI think 553’s crash might have been a case of “willful disabling of a civil aircraft,” or of “crimes aboard the aircreft in flight, including assault, murder and manslaughter?” Not that any of this necessarily happened or did not but the FBI does not usually behave as if it might have. Does it? How does Ruckelshaus account fro this, especially in view of his assertion that the FBI acted with no knowledge of Dorothy Hunt’s presence? What was the chain-of-command activity and what were the reasons that so many FBI agents waiting to move when the plane came down?
The Plumbers and the Crash
The White House also responded immediately to the crash. Nixon moved Egil Krogh, Alex Butterfield, and Dwight Chapin, three of his remaining special agents, to positions of vantage around the crash investigation.
Krough was the organizer of the Nixon White House’s Special Investigative Unit, the “Room 16” group. Chapin was a key Haldeman aide who recruited and directed Segretti in his sabotage and espionage tasks. Butterfield, who so airily exposed the White House secret taping system on Friday, July 13, was a Haldeman man from UCLA, where their wives were sorority roommates. He has an Air Force background and some of his biographies say he flew with the Blue Angels. He served Nixon as White House liaison with the CIA.
There is how these agents were deployed in the days following the December 8 crash.
On Saturday, December 9, 1972, Krough was suddenly made an undersecretary of the Department of Transportation, the DOT being the seat of larger bureaucratic responsibility for the crash investigation. There was no prior announcement of this appointment. There was no explanation of why it had to be implemented the same day it was announced, a Saturday, not normally a business day in Washington. Once installed in the DOT, Krough proceeded to pressure the NTSB to speed up its reports and restrain its criticism of DOT or face “discipline.”
Ten days later, on December 19, Butterfield was appointed administrator of the Federal Aviatioin Administration, the parent body of the actual technical-investigation arm, the Bureau of Aviation Safety. Butterfield’s appointment was delayed to March because of a provision prohibiting any military or retired military officer from holding the position Nixon wanted to move him into. As when General Alexander Haig joined Kissinger’s National Security Council later, Butterfield had to resign his commission temporarily.
Early in January, Chapin left the White House behind a story that he was being drummed out because of his role in the activities of CREEP. He soon joined the staff of United Air Lines Chicago office as a “director of market planning.” He was present every day at the NTSB public hearings into the 553 crash that opened on February 28, 1973, in Chicago. He spent some of his time fending off Skolnick and Bottos and some of it intimidating the media with licensing threats.
Then there is the matter of Richard Spears.
In May 1973 stories reached the Senate Commerce Committee, overseer of the NTSB, that “officials of the White House or the Department of Transportation were trying to improperly influence members of the [Safety] Board in the pursuit of their lawful duties.” On May 3, Charman Warren Magnusen (D-Wash.) asked Chairman Reed to respond to these stories.
On May 9, exposed as a Plumber in the Fielding burglary, Krogh resigned his post as number two man in the DOT.
Magnussen’s inquiry motivated Reed and the Senate Commerce Committee to convene the sessions of May 21 and 23. These sessions were attended only by Senator Howard Cannon (D.-Nev.), although Senator Frank Moss (D.-Utah) submitted two questions to each witness remotely suggesting a suspicion of sabotage. But the most important development at these hearings was the clash between a Nixon appointee to the NTSB, General Manager Richard Spears, and the director of the Bureau of Aviation Safety, C.O. Miller.
Spears became a “consultant” to the NTSB in January 1971 shortly after the end of the term of Senator George Murphy (R.-Cal.), whom he formerly served as administrative assistant. Spears moved in as the head of the NTSB after a Nixon-inspired change in the regulations created the position of “NTSB general manager” and defined it as a political-patronage job. Spears had no former experience in the field of aviation safety, a specialized technical field.
According to Miller, Spears immediately began trying to run the NTSB. A quarrel developed between them. It boiled up in February 1973 just as the NTSB hearings into the Hunt crash were opening in Chicago. As BAS director, Miller was the boss of the technician, William Lamb, who would oversee the entire program of investigation, analysis and report on the crash of 553.
Late in February, Miller took off from his normal duties to attend a sixty-day Federal Executives Institute. When he was safely out of the building, Spears replaced him in the BAS directorship and let it out that his duties would be different upon return. Before Miller could return to challenge this personally, Spears himself rewrote the NTSB’s definition of “probably cause” of a crash, directed NTSB investigators to make fewer safety recommendations, and called for quicker completion of investigations and reports on all projects, including the 553 crash.
Miller returned for confrontation in April. He testified that Spears told him, “I have got orders from the only people that hire and fire me to become chief operating officer of the NTSB.” Asked by Senator Cannon how he interpreted this, Miller said he thought it meant that Spears “had some knowledge of some power base in the executive branch. One of the very serious impacts on the effectiveness of our Bureau, in my opinion, has been the use of this reference to outside power to, in a sense intimidate the people who perhaps are a little more concerned about their jobs than I am, to get things done without question.”
Miller’s appeal to the full NTSB was successful. He was restored to his former position as BAS director. Somewhat later, however, he began complaining of heart trouble and was obliged to retire.
What are we to make of Nixon’s evidently intense interest in the crash of the Hunt plane? FBI men intervening so quickly at company-level force; the three secret Nixon agents fanning out to positions of control around the crash investigation; Spears going to the report-writing center, cutting directly into the 553 investigation: What might all this mean?
This brings us to the detailed technical analysis of the NTSB report on the crash. It is a boggy and noxious area to explore because in entails necessarily technical exposition. At the same time, it is in the technical areas that our institutions have found strength before, so let us plunge ahead.
The Analysis of the Crash
We briefly and tersely dismissed Sherman Skolnick’s claims. We investigated thoroughly and found not a shred of evidence indicating the Dorothy Hunt plane was sabotaged.
September 23, 1974
The technical questions of fact and interpretation in the crash of United 553, for better or worse, have taken from in the course of a polemic set in train by Skolnick’s early accusations of sabotage and cover-up. In this section, we will take up several particular questions emerging from this polemic.
We begin with the question of cyanide poisoning not because it is the strongest of Skolnick’s claims – indeed it is much the weakest – or because it is the most important, which it is not, but because it is the question on which Skolnick’s critics have concentrated most of their fire.
Then we will move to consider the more substantial technical doubts about the precise mechanisms of the crash, most of which involve questions also first articulated in some form by Skolnick.
Finally we will take up the theory of the crash developed by the NTSB and advanced in their final report, “Aircraft Accident Report 73-16, United Airlines, Inc., Boeing 737, N9031U, Chicago-Midway Airport, Chicago, Illinois, December 8, 1972,” dated August 29, 1973.
The Question of Cyanide
James Walsh, administrative assistant to the Cook County coroner, told James Brady of New York magazine, “We found seven bodies which contained enough cyanide to kill them. We are not saying cyanide killed them, but that there was enough of it to have done so.
Brady notes that Walsh refused to say whether or not the pilot’s body contained cyanide. But Skolnick had already unearthed FAA technical exhibit No. 6A, docket No. SA-435, entitled “Human Factors Group Chairman’s Factual Report,” by C. Hayden LeRoy. Page 8 of this exhibit contains in its entirety a typewritten table introduced by the words, “Federal Aviation Administration, Civil Aeromedical Institute, Aviation Toxicology Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, examined specimens from three aircraft occupants. Results were as follows.” Among other things, the table shows that the three whose bodies were examined by the Civil Aeromedical Institute were Captain Whitehouse, Flight Officer W.O. Coble, and a first-class passenger otherwise unidentified. (According to NTSB spokesman Slattery, Dorothy Hunt was flying in the first-class cabin forward, just behind the cockpit.) By the item, “Cyanide (Conway Diffusion, NaOH),” the value entered for Captain Whitehouse is 3.9 micrograms per milliliter. In the columns for Coble and the first-class passenger there are hyphens indicating that the test for cyanide was not carried out on them.
What does it mean that Whitehouse had 3.9 micrograms per milliliter of cyanide in him? For the record, let us first note that the NTSB had some trouble in establishing that figure. The Chicago coroner’s office reported to begin with that Whitehouse’s blood showed cyanide in the amount of 0.211 milligrams per milliliter, an extremely high tamount which by itself would establish a prima facie case of foul play.
There are a few problems with this simplification, however.
Dr. Smith proceeded to analyze a blood specimen from the pilot (but not the others) to see how much cyanide actually was present, and the value he came up with was not “an innocuous” 0.211 micrograms per milliliter, which is the value arrived at by assuming that there was an error in the placing of the decimal point. Rather, it is the 3.9 micrograms per milliliter value we found in Exhibit 6A. That value, in the first place, does not bear our the Chicago coroners’ guess that their assumed error was in the decimal; there is still a difference of a whole magnitude between their adjusted value of 0.2 micrograms per milliliter and Dr. Smith’s new value of 3.9 micrograms per milliliter. And in the second place, 3.9 micrograms per milliliter is not an innocuous level, a fact which even Dorfman concedes indirectly when he notes that this “is the highest blood cyanide reading [Dr. Smith] has ever recorded in a crash victim.”
Dorfman continues: “A research toxicologist I consulted confirmed that while a concentration of 3.9 micrograms is more than enough to kill, it is quite possible – depending on the concentration of cyanide gas in the air and the physical condition of the victim – to inhale that much before death occurs.
Very well, but observe how far this shifts the grounds of the argument. A moment before, we were being told that the pilot died a normal cyanide death, period. Now we are only being told that it is not absurd on the facts to speculate that he did.
The NTSB report states (pg 13) that “elevated hydrogen cyanide levels were found in the captain and in six fatalities in the crash,” but it says nothing of the new record poor Whitehouse set and does not pause to tell us what these “elevated levels” were, even though it notes (p. 14) that “smoke inhalation with carbon monoxide asphyxia and blood cyanide accumulation” was finally determined to have been the cause of the captain’s death. It merely explains that the plastics used extensively in the cabins of commercial airliners give off hydrogen cyanide as a gas when burned.
The crash was indeed followed by an intense fire in the center section, mainly in the first-class cabin where Dorothy Hunt and Michelle Clark were traveling. But there was little fire in the captain’s half of the cockpit, possibly because the nose and cockpit section broke off from the cabin and split in half. The NTSB report states (p. 12): “The left side of the cockpit and the left forward entry door were relatively intact. The captain’s seat was intact and sustained only minor fire damage.” And in any case, not to be too elementary, the possibility of a crash-normal cyanide gas poisoning would hardly cancel out the possibility of a non-crash-normal cyanide gas poisoning (as with a canister delivery mechanism). The existence of a convenient explanation (as in the use of potassium and cortisone as poisons) is actually the leading advantage of such a method.
It is certainly true, as Dorfman says, that Skolnick goes beyond the evidence in a self-discrediting way in claiming that the shadows like the above demonstrate intentional poisoning in the 553 crash. Here Skolnick seems at his most lurid, turning, in Dorfman’s words, every “assumption” into a “conclusion,” every “hunch” into a “fact”.
Still, Skolnick’s informed misses teach us more of the truth of Watergate power politics than the baseless reassurances Dorfman prefers. That is because, first, Skolnick’s overall conception of what goes into politics, wheat constitutes it, what comes out, is currently rooted in real experience. So even wandering at his most hysterical through dismal swamp, as perhaps with the cyanide question (and perhaps not), Skolnick still makes more sense and does more good teaching than those who use modest rhetoric to tell us there is nothing wrong. Something in fact may be quite wrong, the wrong may be of Satanic magnitude, and there is no way the standard statistic-ridden, political-sociology models employed in conventional federal-academic discourse can even focus the structured character of what is wrong. These models, these assumptions, give us a lone madman here and a lone madman there, as though our time’s violent assault on presidential figures were the purest contingency, purest acts of God, unstructured, random events lying outside the events constitutive of “politics” proper and of no greater interest to the “political scientist” than the normal airplane accident or normal heart attack.
Finally, as inadequately supported as it no doubt is, Skolnick’s assertion about 553 and cyanide poisoning still ought not to be dismissed altogether. A palpable residue of doubt remains, partly because the authorities have seemed so anxious to shut the question up, but also partly because these are not bare, naked allegations. In view of the extreme political sensitivity of Dorothy Hunt’s death, it might appear to the trusting among us that the public officials responsible would bend over backwards to follow every shadow of doubt all the way through to the end. What had they to fear? As it was, the very day after the crash, even as Plumber Krogh was being scrambled to the number two spot at the Department of Transportation over the FAA and NTSB, the official voices began their choral chant that there was no possibility of sabotage,” not a shred of evidence,” and let slip no chance to heap more vituperation on Skolnick. The FBI was saying no sabotage within twenty hours of the crash, before it was even announced to the public that Dorothy Hunt was among the victims, and NTSB spokesmen were saying it early in May at a moment when the analysis of the data had barely begun. There is too much intensity in this, too much head-shaking. Too much protest betokens fear of some discovery. It reeks of cover-up whether it is one or not.
In view of the report of the Cook County coroners and Dr. Smith’s own results in the retest of the captain’s blood, for example, why did Dr. Smith and the NTSB not press to examine the other seven or ten or twelve bodies said to contain “elevated levels” of cyanide? In view of the queer behavior of the FBI, why was not every angle looked into, every doubt openly faced, before the curtains started being closed on the play?
I have been nagging some version of this question, or it me, through many passages of this book: why the cover-up? A paragraph from the short-lived polemic that flared up between Dorfman and me in the Nation contains what may be a hint of an answer. Dorfman wrote:
I do not disbelieve in conspiracies. I have helped uncover a few myself. My quarrel is not even with Oglesby’s own treatment of the December crash, which he suggests has been carefully hedged about with distinctions between what is known and what needs to be known. Rather, I take issue with, and he defends, a style of political thinking [i.e. Skolnick’s] which turns assumptions into conclusions and hunches into facts, which are in turn [note:] broadcast to an increasingly receptive public content that, since the forces at work are not only beyond their reach but omnipotent, there is nothing they can or need do about public problems.
In other words, gentle reader, it is you despair that Dorfman fears. If you come to think that such theories as the sabotage theory of the Hunt crash are not crazy on facts, and that such things can actually happen and the offender not be caught, then your faith in politics will wither and die, and where shall we all be then.
To this I answer, first, that there is no point in trying to set preconditions on the truth. Either the airplane was sabotaged or it was not, just as John Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Robert Kennedy and George Wallace either were or were not attacked by conspiracies acting behind cover stories of lone, mad, diary-writing gunmen. And either we can do something about this or we cannot. Nothing whatever is served by hiding from the question. If we cannot, then indeed the age of politics is behind us and we are the creature of new millennium.
Second, Skolnick’s track record does not entitle his detractor to such airy contempt. Dorfman may be unable to muffle a boast about helping to “uncover a few” conspiracies himself (he is too modest to remind us what they were), but Skolnick is something else. We have already noted his major works: the bust of some half-dozen federal and other judges in Illinois and Indiana, including three members of the Illinois Supreme Court, and the exposure of Kerner in 1969.
Finally, something in the turn of Dorfman’s last phrase in the above passage reminds me again that what academic liberals are typically so worried about is not the lapse of people’s faith in politics so much as the lapse of their faith in the politics of the current system. But it is the power and invisibility of that system’s demonstrated current corruption that threatens political demoralization, not the fact that a handful of people with virtually no resources are trying to expose it, analyze it, name it, and raise in public forums the question of direct political action to do something about it. To Dorfman I say, if that is what we are really talking about, preserving the people’s faith in a corrupt political system, I know I am not the only democratic-minded patriot who will say, let it bleed.
Skolnick and others have raised much more substantial questions about the actual mechanisms of the crash of United 553: that the in-flight recorders were stolen from the wreckage, that the altimeter was sabotaged, that the runway system at Midway was used irregularly on this landing, that an electronic landing aid was unaccountably switched off at a crucial moment, and that the crew failed even to take not of, much less to act on, the actuation of a cockpit stall-warning signal designed expressly to be imperative.
The Flight Recorders: The Boeing 737 caries two data-recording systems, both designed to survive crashes of much greater violence than that of 553. In the shock test, each package must withstand the blow of a five-hundred-pound steel bar dropped from ten feet. This is because their only purpose is to help crash investigators determine as absolutely as possible the cause or causes of a crash.
One is the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR), a super-quality but otherwise ordinary tape recorder system wired through a network of microphones to tape a whole range of cockpit sounds – the distinctly different clicks, chimes, rattles, horns, and whirrs of the controls – besides every word of cabin conversation and any signals incoming from outside the aircraft, as from a tower, another airplane, or an electronic beacon on the ground. In other words, it is designed to record the total acoustical signal environment of the crew. This record of the cockpit acoustical environment is so sensitive that General Electric engineers, working with a tape that had been badly damaged (see below), were nevertheless able to reconstruct from its acoustical data precise thrust settings, left and right, for each of the 737’s two tail-mounted jet engines, right up to the moment of impact.
The other is the Flight Data Recorder (FDR). It is by far the more important of the two from the standpoint of technical crash analysis. The FDR keeps a continuous graph-paper trace on the stat of the aircraft’s nerve center, the Central Air Data Computer, mounted with the FDR in the tail because that is the safest part of the aircraft. The FDR records such parameters as air speed, barometric (coarse) altitude, transponder (fine) altitude, and aircraft roll and pitch angles, and it also records instrument presentations to the crew in order that errors in instrumentation can be discriminated from errors in sensing or servomechanization or the like.
The critical points in connection with the CVR and the DRR are threefold:
First, the NTSB did not recover these instruments from the crash, even though its technical team was already in the field early Saturday morning. News accounts at the time said that both recorders were turned over to the NTSB team by James McConaugh, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation, who actually held a little ceremony of handover to which he invited a handful of newspeople. No one asked, however, what the Department of Streets and Sanitation was doing with these instruments. They could not have simply tumbled into the street. The NTSB report tells us in fact that the nose and the tail sections of the aircraft suffered relatively little damage. News accounts incuriously note that the two recorders “had been recovered from the wreckage.” They do not pry into such questions as: By whom where they recovered, and in what way, and under what power and authority, whether by streets and Sanitation people or others?
What would Streets and Sanitation people know about extracting these recorders from a still-burning wreckage? Not that they could know nothing, but what did they know? In the immediate aftermath of a horrifying mid-afternoon plane crash in the heart of a residential neighborhood, when there were survivors still screaming in the wreckage, why would Streets and Sanitation people be in such a hurry to save the flight-data recorders? Not that there could be no innocuous explanation for this, but what is it? And if Streets and Sanitation gog the recorders from the FBI agents also present, as seems likely, then the question is: Why was Pat Gray’s FBI so hot to get its hands on the technical instruments needed for a precise reconstruction of the crash?
The second critical point bears on the state of the Cockpit Voice Recorder. A Dwight Chapin-inspired Chicago news story from the March NTSB hearings in Chicago ran as follows:
“United Air Line investigative committee members are suggesting that hydraulic pump failures may have contributed to the crash. They point out that the Cockpit Voice Recorder was filled with hydraulic oil when recovered from the wreckage, and some four days were required in the laboratory to clean the tape sufficiently for it to be played back to Safety Board listeners.
There is no mention of this oil, however in the NTSB’s final report, or of any need to treat the CVR tape in any way whatsoever, never mind for four days, before unnamed minds accounted it fit to be heard by the NTSB investigators.
The report reads, ‘Although the CVR showed evidence of extreme fire and heat damage, the entire tape was recovered with only moderate damage to a non pertinent area” (p.8); although another passage tells us that the normally high fidelity “CVR tape contained a high-level background noise which tended to mask meaningful frequency data.” (p.16); and in another context (p.8) notes without explanation that there were “variances” of up to six seconds in the “times of identical events recorded by Air Traffic Control sources [ground based] and the CVR.” The transcript of the last eight minutes of the CVR tape, printed in the NTSB report as Appendix F, shows fourteen “unidentified voice” entries and ten “unintelligibles,” ever so reminiscent of those other transcripts boiled in oil.
Or was Haig’s Sinister Force at Chicago, too?
The third critical point involves the all-important Flight Data Recorder, the one mounted in the tail near the Air Data Computer. The FDR shows that the crew did not get a suggestion of any FDR failure until about eight minutes later than that, and that up until about five minutes before the crash, the circuit and tape functions were still indicating positive.
Without exploring this side canyon, the NTSB report nevertheless acknowledges the importance of the simultaneous loss of capability in both recording systems at once: “The absence of FDR information, the [inherent] imprecision of the data, and the high ambient noise level of the CVR recording preclude a precise determination of the nature and tempo of events during the 60 seconds from the call for the final descent check until impact” (p.26)
The altimeters. Skolnick claimed shortly after the crash that the flight instrument actually sabotaged on 553 was the altimeter. He said his information from an FAA source inside the investigation was that the diaphragm of a barometric-pressure-sensing device had a pinprick in it. The NTSB established that the pilot’s altimeter had no such pinprick and showed that the copilot’s instrument was smashed too badly in the crash for a positive determination to be made.
There the NTSB laid the matter to rest and proceeded with its own reconstruction. In the course of this reconstruction, however, it appeared that there were indeed serious technical peculiarities in the performance of the altimeter system as a whole.
There are actually two independent altitude measuring and display systems on the Boeing 737, one for the pilot and one for the copilot. Each system begins with a barometric-pressure-sensing device mounted outside the aircraft on “independent Pilot-static probes which have no common connections.” The signals from each sensor go to one of two Central Air Data Computers (CADC) which continue the parallel redundancy of the system. Each CADC then supplies inputs to identical and independent altitude indicators, one at the pilot’s instrument console and the other at the copilot’s.
Indeed, the altitude-measuring system’s only catastrophic failure is the situation in which both the pilot’s altimeter and the copilot’s altimeter fail or malfunction in precisely the same way, in precisely the same magnitude, at precisely the same time. I am not a mathematician and will not try to compute the probability that these three conditions will ever be met in actual performance, but one’s inner ear says that the chance would be low, all the more so because of the unsurpassed reliability performance record of the Boeing 737. The only wreck this model ever had was the wreck it got into a mile and a half short of Midway.
What do you know, these three conditions appear nevertheless to have been met in the case of the crash of 553. “Both CADC units were capable of normal operation,” reads the NTSB report (p. 24), “but their altitude synchros, as recovered, showed an altitude higher than that of the crash site. The altitude differences, which could have been transmitted from the [independent] CADC units to the captain’s and first officer’s servo altimeters, were 157 feet and 103 feet, respectively.”
These are not trivial errors in either altimeter by itself, and it is putting it mildly to say that they are not trivial when they occur in the two independent systems at once.
Runway Utilization: Midway is an old airport with few of the modern electronic instrumentation systems which jet flight has come to depend on. One of its runways, however, runway 13R, is longer than the others and better equipped for jets. It has an electronic glidescope, a system that automatically tells the captain whether he is descending at the right altitude and rate throughout the whole length of the initial approach. Wind not being a factor (a light 4-6 knots at the time of the crash), it is the runway normally assigned to the few airline jets that still land at Midway instead of O’Hare. Use of this runway is all the more appropriate under conditions of low overcast, as on December 8, when the ceiling was about five-hundred feet.
The question of when and why flight 553 was reassigned to runway 31L, which is shorter and lacks a glidescope, is lost in the confusion of the lost “approach clearance,” that is, the word given, or in this case not given, by O’Hare tower (which handles all the graffic circulating around Chicago) and Midway’s story was never told. The whole question of O’Hare’s hand-off of 553 to the Midway tower is muddy with irregularities.
Related to the evident uncertainty in the cockpit of 553 about the landing procedure is the question of the light private plane, a two-prop Aero-Commander, that landed just ahead of 553 on Runway 31L. The more appropriate runway for such a small plane was 31R, which parallels 31L. Indeed, at one point the CVR transcript shows that Midway considered having the Aero-Commander go to that runway, but then changed its mind.
Less than twelve seconds later, with no communications intervening, the Midway tower sent its next and last message to 553: “United five fifty-three, execute a missed approach, make a left turn to a heading of – one eight zero, climb to two thousand.”
Nineteen-and-a-half seconds later came the crash. There were no future communications between the tower and 553 either way. The reason Midway gave for the wave-off was that 553 was going too fast and the distance between it and the Aero-Commander had closed to an unsafe margin. ON its first approach to the runway, 9VS had been well ahead of 553, some three miles. Unaccountably, its pilot requested a missed approach clearance from Midway tower and was given permission to pull up, circle, and come back for another try, all without giving place to 553 coming in behind it out of its holding pattern. The reason for the Aero-Commander’s missed-apporach request is not given in the NTSB report.
The Kedzie Outer Marker: Skolnick’s original claim was that the Kedzie Localizer/Outer Marker was turned off as 553 passed over it. This is a vertical electronic beam emitted by a transmitter located on Kedzie Avenue, 3.3 miles from the runway, on direct line with runway 31L. Especially in overcast conditions, it is needed to ensure that landing aircraft are headed in properly toward the runway.
The NTSB report ignores Skolnick’s assertions and puts a good face on the performance of the Outer Marker. The CVR transcript shows the Kedzie beacon tones sounding just after 553’s approach is handed over from O’Hare to Midway tower, a little less than two minutes before the crash. No irregularities are noted, and in its only remote approach to the point, the report says only (p.7) that “all navigational facilities associated with this approach procedure were flight-tested by the FAA immediately after the accident and wer found to be operating within prescribed tolerances. None of the flights using the localizer before or after the accident reported any problems.”
One must have access to the part of the CVR transcript not published with the NTSB final report to know of the following snatch of dialogue from the cockpit:
“Is Kedzie Localizer off – off the air, is that it?”
“I beg your pardon?”
“Is Kedzie Localizer off the air? There’s an inbound, ah, there’s an in-bound on 31.”
As to the significance of the shut-off of the Kedzie Outer Marker, the NTSB report scatters fragments of the answer throughout its pages and never brings them together so that the meaning can come out clearly. On page 9 it tells us that 553 crashed “1/4 mile to the right of the localizer approach course.”
From the report in Appendix D, we learn that the magnetic heading of the path of the wreckage across three city blocks, hence the heading of the aircraft at impact, was 340 degrees.
From Appendix E we learn that the magnetic heading of runway 31L was 312 degrees. Thus, a little more than a mile-and-a-half after it had crossed the suddenly turned-off Kedzie beacon, in spite of the fact that its crew was turning 553 left for the missed-approach exercise in the moments just before impact, it was still a quarter-mile off course to the right on a magnetic heading in error by 28 degrees. This is precisely the kind of error that the electronic marker system is installed to prevent.
The Stickshaker: The eeriest technical oddity about this crash is the behavior of the flight crew when the stickshaker went off.
The stickshaker is a no-uncertain-terms warning device installed in the cockpit expressly to warn the flight crew if the airplane is ever in danger of going into a stall. It is operated by the Air Data Computer, which constantly monitors and reflects upon the airplane’s total flight state, including the airspeed, engine thrust, and aerodynamic configuration. By aerodynamic configuration is meant the positions of the variety of movable surfaces on the wings and tail – tabs, flaps, spoilers, landing gear, etc. – that affect the drag and lift of the airplane while moving through the airstream. Under some combinations of airspeed, thrust, and aerodynamic configuration, drag exceeds left, the nose spools up, and the aircraft stalls. If a stall happens at a high altitude, the plane will go into a spin; if at a low altitude, as with 553, it will crash tail first.
The stall is thus an eventuality not to be trifled with, and the designers of the super-safe Boeing 737 make it as unlikely an event as they can, partly by building into the crew’s control system a stall-warning device designed for absolute infallibility.
The warning system has two parts. One is a noisemaker in the roof of the cockpit. Its alarm is described as sounding something like a rattlesnake but louder. It is made to sound as alarming as possible, since its purpose is to get the crew to do something. The other part of the stall-warning system, from which the over-all system gets its name of “stickshaker,” is a mechanism for actually shaking the flight controls in the pilot’s and copilot’s hands. It produces something like the jerking felt in the steering wheel of a car when load exceeds power and the engine begins to lug, except that the stickshaker action is purposely mor eintense.
Commercial airline pilots say the stickshaker warning system should b ehard and felt only during training flights. “The sound of the shaker,” says the NTSB’s chief investigator, William Lamb, “should trigger an immediate alarm” in the crew.
The fact is that in the case of 553 it produced no apparent reaction whatsoever, though it came on twenty seconds before the crash and stayed on all the way to the end. The transcript of the well-oiled, well-cleaned CVR tape has it that two seconds after the stickshaker alarm went off, and unidentified voice in the cockpit spoke “two to three hurried words at very low amplitude and masked by noise of the stickshaker” (p. 52): the stickshaker went off simultaneously with the word “execute” in Midway tower’s abrupt command, “United five fifty-three , execute a missed approach.” Six seconds later, Flight Officer Coble “was almost languid” (NTSB report, Appendix F) in response to the tower’s command to “make a left turn to a heading of – one eight zero, climb to two thousand.” “Okay,”
Coble radios the tower, “left turn to one eight zero – left turn, okay?” A preliminary NTSB statement said, “The inquiry, which is far from concluded, has found that the final words of the plane crew showed no concern or alarm about the planned landing” and that “no vocal or other indication was received from United’s three-man flight crew that an emergency had developed onboard. Instead, the voice of Second Officer E.J. Elder [the final NTSB report assigns this speech to Coble] was almost languid as he responded to Midway tower’s instruction to ‘take it around again, you are too close to the Aero-Commander ahead.’” (This last language, incidentally – about being too close to the Aero-Commander – is quoted here in the NTSB statement as though it were the actual language of the tower, but no such words can be found in the CVR transcript or Appendix F.)
The stickshaker warning signal that was not evidently noted by the crew of 553 was not noted by tower personnel either until (in the story Ruckelshaus told Reed) FBI Special Agent Robert E. Hartz “proceeded to the Midway Airport tower shortly after the crash to determine if tower personnel could shed any light as to the reason for the crash….After listening to the [tower’s] tapes, SA Hartz identified a sound as being that of the stall indicator on the aircreft. The FAA agreed that SA Hartz was right and immediately notified FAA headquarters at Washington D.C.”
How is this to be explained? What chance is there that the sound of the stickshaker was electronically imposed on the tapes by some Startrekish internal device as the “de-gaussing gun” with which Charles Colson once considered erasing the White House tapes from a position beyond the White House grounds? I do not know if an instrument that can do that exists, but we know for a fact that the CVR tape transcript published in the NTSB report gives not the slightest indication of any vocal or operational reaction by any of the three flight crew members to the activation of a warning system designed to be irresistible. That intrigues me. If I had been the NTSB and known that the tapes had been in the possession of the Nixon-Gray FBI and Shicago Streets and Sanitation and/or others for twenty hours, I should hav einquired further into it.
The NTSB did not. But then, Krogh and Spears and Butterfield were telling them to hurry.
To sum up the is much, I am saying that we face serious technical doubts in six areas connected with the crash of this airplane:
1: The elevated levels of cyanide shown in the pilot’s body and at least six others aboard the flight.
2: The fate of the flight recorders, including:
a) the missing fourteen minutes of the FDR record;
b) the oil-pollution and “special treatment’ to which the CVR tape was subjected for four days and the garbled nature of its final input to the investigation;
c) the irregular way these vital instruments came into the hands of the NTSB though Streets and Sanitation.
3: The parallel and common errors occurring simultaneously in the captain’s altimeter system and the copilot’s altimeter system, physically independent of each other.
4: The irregular utilization of the runways.
5: The malfunction of the Kedzie Outer Marker on an apparently exclusive-to-553 basis, leading 553 a quarter-mile astray inside a mile and a half.
6: The apparent failure of the crew to respond in any way to the activation of the stickshaker stall-warning system.
I am not saying that these technical doubts cannot possibly be resolved in innocuous ways or that they constitute by themselves a proof of the sabotage theory of the plane crash. I am saying only that they have not yet been resolved, innocuously or not. In the Appendis to this book, I argue further that the NTSB’s technical explanation of the crash, a “pilot-error” theory, is based on assumptions contradicted by the NTSB’s own technical findings. What remains to be seen is whether a more likely reconstruction of the event can be put together.
The Sabotage Theory
I have mentioned Skolnick’s bodyguard and companion Alex Bottos. Following is ann outline of the story he tells of the Hunt crash.
In September 1971, Bottos and other Skolnick associates quietly began investigating records of the Lake County Coroner’s Office in connection with a number of mysterious deaths of people figuring in one way or another in court actions pending in Hammond, Chicago, and Omaha against former executives of Northern Natural Gas Company and an assortment of public officials in Hammond and East Chicago.
This is the same Northern Natural whose lawyers Blodgett and Krueger will bring the so-called Mitchell documents aboard United 553 a year and a half later.
Northern Natural had been accused of a basic big-utilities bribery scheme involving the regional price structure and the seduction of pliant officials in a variety of levers-of-power positions. The indictment was originally to have been drawn in June of 1972. It was delayed by the stir created by new Skolnick-Bottos disclosures to the effect that the case had precipitated a string of cover-up crimes including murder and the falsification of death records. By September, when the information was that the documents finally brought $5 million on the underworld market.
As Bottos saw it, this meant that the Sarelli mob had something to do with the 553 crash. The way he pieced the story together, a group which Bottos occasionally follows General Haig in calling “the Sinister White House Force” was strongly desirous that several passengers aboard 553 not reach Chicago alive: Dorothy Hunt, because of her involvement in the blackmail operation; Michelle Clark of CBS, because she could put Dorothy Hunt on the gib stage; Krueger and Blodgett, because they had the Mitchell documents, part of the Huntmail. Because of the short time in which the technically difficult job had to be contracted for and carried out, the Sinister Force betook itself to the Syndicate group with the greatest technological capability of carrying it out, the Sarelli group. The hit group then employed a technique classically indicated for do-or-die situations, the use of double cutouts, i.e., of a number of independent hit-men each acting in ignorance of the others to get rid of the same people. The kill mechanisms employed overlapped and produced the overkill of 553. Bottos claimed also the elements of the FBI and other federal agencies were involved.
The 553 investigation was meantime heating up on its own burner and Skolnick and Bottos, pressing their views where they could were demanding, but not winning, a chance to present evidence at the NTSB public hearings.
On March 1 Skolnick presented the NTSB Board of Inquiry chairperson, Isobel Burgess, with a letter outlining his claims and requesting an opportunity to present them in a regular public session. Burgess rejected this petition on the spot without comment or explanation.
On March 2, Skolnick denounced the hearings as “a sham and a pretense” and filed suit against Burgess in the Cook County District Court.
On March 5, Bottos was suddenly taken prisoner by federal marshals acting on the order of another Chicago federal judge.
Without formal charges, hearing, or trial, Bottos was spirited away for sixty days of “mental observation” at the Federal Medical Facility in Springfield, Missouri, a prison-hospital long reckoned by the cognoscenti to be the main high-technology dungeon of the high-technology state, a “Clockwork Orange” subcellar. Bottos was released without harm after about forty days owing to the intervention of the Northwest Indiana Crime Commission, a citizen’s watch agency connected with Skolkick. By this time, however, the Sarelli case had gone by and he had not given his testimony.
Bottos is convinced that it was to keep him from testifying in the Sarelli trial that he was taken off to Springfield. A point cited against him in the “mental observation” period, in fact, was that he had been pushing so irrationally hard to be heard as a witness in that case. Davidson and Roller wanted him out of the picture, he came to believe, because they were protecting the Sarelli-White House link in the 553 crash.
This was only obliquely denied by Peter Vaira, Davidson’s successor as head of the Justice Department’s Organized Crime Strike Force in Chicago. Vaira told me in a telephone interview in late September 1974 (before all the CIA stories broke). “We did not put Alex on the stand because once he gets started, God almighty, he’d be all over the place. He talks about the CIA, the Bay of Pigs, all kind of weird stuff. Says he knew Howard Hunt at the Bay of Pigs. We figured the jury’s got enough problems. So we used the agent who listened into Alex’s conversations.”
The result even so was convictions for Sarelli and Chiodo. But as Vaira added sadly, “Unfortunately for us, they both got quick probation. I’d have thought they’d have done time. They got a lot of money.”
One of course lacks the means to evaluate the Skolnick-Bottos version of events from a distance; no doubt it is lurid and frightening. It goes beyond the image-frame of normal politics and so gives us an unwelcome, vertiginous sense of suddenly not understanding politics anymore. The act imputed is indeed so monstrous tha the imputation itself seems a monstrous act. Would this Sinister Force of ours really kill so many innocent people to protect itself? Would it actually do that? In the time of Mai Lai? Secret wars? Allende? Dallas? Memphis? Los Angeles? Laurel? Fred Hampton’s bedroom in Chicago? The Audubon Ballroom in Harlem? The road to Selma? Jackson State? Kent State? Watergate?