Monday, December 29, 2008

Lusitania - Human Shields - Anglo-American Deadly Lies

Secret of the Lusitania: Arms find challenges Allied claims it was solely a passenger ship
By Sam Greenhill

Her sinking with the loss of almost 1,200 lives caused such outrage that it propelled the U.S. into the First World War.

But now divers have revealed a dark secret about the cargo carried by the Lusitania on its final journey in May 1915.

Munitions they found in the hold suggest that the Germans had been right all along in claiming the ship was carrying war materials and was a legitimate military target.

The Cunard vessel, steaming from New York to Liverpool, was sunk eight miles off the Irish coast by a U-boat.

Maintaining that the Lusitania was solely a passenger vessel, the British quickly accused the 'Pirate Hun' of
slaughtering civilians.

The disaster was used to whip up anti-German anger, especially in the U.S., where 128 of the 1,198 victims came from.

A hundred of the dead were children, many of them under two.

Robert Lansing, the U.S. secretary of state, later wrote that the sinking gave him the 'conviction we would ultimately become the ally of Britain'.

Americans were even told, falsely, that German children were given a day off school to celebrate the sinking of the Lusitania.

The disaster inspired a multitude of recruitment posters demanding vengeance for the victims.

One, famously showing a young mother slipping below the waves with her baby, carried the simple slogan 'Enlist'.

Two years later, the Americans joined the Allies as an associated power - a decision that turned the war decisively against Germany.

The diving team estimates that around four million rounds of U.S.-manufactured Remington .303 bullets lie in the Lusitania's hold at a depth of 300ft.

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posted by u2r2h at 12:25 PM 0 comments

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Israel is a criminal enterprise

Happy festive Season...
unless you voted for a party of your choice...
Israel wants voting for Hamas suppressed.

The state of Israel is a criminal enterprise because it was hijacked by covert operators.
Red Cross van that was hit by a rocket and bullets.
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posted by u2r2h at 3:45 AM 0 comments

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Iran Nuclear War - Capitalist Wet Dream

Dec 19, 2008

Orwell revisited: Iran and dirty bombs

By Kaveh L Afrasiabi

Dirty bombs. There is definitely something Orwellian about this term, which gives the impression that the far more deadly nuclear bombs are cleaner, more respectable, reminding one of how United States military planners who dropped the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan in World War II had kept those cities "virgin". That is, without the prior taint of bombardments to do a precision analysis of the atomic explosions. In military lexicon, the sanitized often stand for the horrific and vice versa, just as truth and falsehood stand on their head in George Orwell's 1984.

At year's end, lest we forget exactly one year ago the US government released its National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran that caused a firestorm of controversy by its conclusion that Iran had since 2003 not pursued a nuclear weapons program. A chief architect of that report, Thomas Fingar, is stepping down and has defended the NIE report, telling the Washington Times that he "stands by that estimate".

Little wonder then, that Iran fear-mongers in the US are now desperately seeking any scintilla of evidence to disprove the NIE, to force the US intelligence community to recant or revise its important conclusions, and also hoping to find new hammers with which to beat Iran on the head; seemingly some of them have settled on the next best alternative, Iran's threat of dirty bombs.

A figment of the author's imagination? Hardly, all one needed to do was listen to the blistering Iran-phobic rhetoric at a recent conference of mayors held by the American Jewish Congress that was well timed with growing anxieties about Iran's "cunning mullahs" resorting to dirty bombs.

At the same time, there have been a number of reports focusing on precisely this threat, one being about an Iranian merchant ship hijacked by Somali pirates; the ship has been described by some Israeli reports as a "giant floating dirty bomb" that had been on its way to the coastal waters of Israel with the sinister intention of detonating and covering a vast swath of Israeli towns and cities with "radioactive sand" - assuming that Mother Nature would cooperate by sending the winds in the right, or rather wrong, direction.

This is pure rubbish and reflects another Orwellian disinformation ploy to smear Iran, at a time when Washington neo-conservatives are on the defensive after the recent presidential elections and, as in a new report by the conservative Heritage Foundation, dread president-elect Barack Obama's idea of dialogue with Tehran without any preconditions. Perhaps the purpose of this new disinformation is to impose a whole new demand on Iran that ostensibly no one in the new White House could possibly disagree with: Iran must not manufacture dirty bombs.

But, where is the evidence that Iran is in any way in the business of making dirty bombs? So far, the only answer is, much like the one on the nuclear threat, simply that Iran has the "capability" to do so.

Never mind that dirty bombs can be made by using material from literally tens of thousands of sources used in doctors' offices, food-processing plants, hospitals, laboratories, mines, factories, etc. According to a Harvard nuclear expert, Matthew Bunn, a powerful dirty bomb can be made out of "machines that kill bacteria in food processing plants". A US website on nuclear issues informs us that even "medical supplies ... used in cancer treatment" can be used to make dirty bombs, as well as material used in metallurgy, and in mining, not to mention the tens of thousand of "well-loggers" that are currently in use around the world, many of which use radioactive material.

Some of the US media now want us to focus on one of the most sophisticated versions of those well-loggers that could make a "nasty" neutron bomb that, with sufficient explosive, could contaminate "several city blocs". This is the storyline of a high-profile, widely-quoted article in the Boston Globe [1] that is full of harsh words for an international oil service company for its sin of "sidestepping sanctions" and potentially imperiling US national security by providing Iran with a high-tech drilling tool called the azimuthal density neutron tool. Implicit in this is that "terrorist-sponsoring" Iranians cannot be trusted with this tool and the article goes to great pains in establishing the need in the US to "close the loopholes" that allow the export of such technology by international firms.

Using this argument, there should be a call to ban from Iran all medical sterilization equipment, or thousands of pieces of other equipment, such as those used in food irradiation plants. In a word, practically everything that can possibly be misused by Iran to make dirty bombs.

In its pure form, this Iran-phobia is relatively straightforward and has figured out answers for every question, such as why would Iranians risk using those bombs when they know that their targets would strike back, perhaps 10 or 100 times harder at them? Answer: it's their salvific, martyristic ideology, one that makes them impervious to their own destruction for the sake of the greater divine cause. Underlying this is that there should be no appeasement with Iran.

Such narratives as the Globe's fall by the wayside when one confronts their silences on pertinent counter-facts as well as their one-sided presentation of "expert" views. A case in point, the Globe article is silent on relevant history, that is, the fact that Iran did not use chemical weapons on Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, despite the deaths and injuries of tens of thousands of Iranians as a result of Iraq's use of chemical weapons. Iran did not do so not because that did not make military sense, it did, but rather because it was prohibited by the country's religious ideology that, militant and all, contains elements of religious humanism.

Shi'ite humanism, this is the great unknown in the West today, which has been completely sold to the Iran-phobic false image of Iranians as "militant", "revolutionary" and so on, without realizing that underneath the militant or revolutionary facade there is also an Islamist "reverence for life" principle that militates against weapons of mass destruction.

As a result of this ignorance, Western pundits have portrayed the Iranian regime as engaging in public deception by issuing a religious declaration, fatwa, against weapons of mass destruction, attributing this instead to a Shi'ite practice of dissimulation, taghieh, which Shi'ism developed as a repressed minority facing persecution for centuries. Thus, misinterpreting taghieh goes hand-in-hand with misinterpreting the post-revolutionary regime's embrace of Shi'ite humanism, a double mistake seen in the writings of, among others, Harvard nuclear expert Graham Allison.

Yet, what Allison and other Western pundits overlook is that the norm-binding fatwa by Iran's supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has significant ramifications for the community of believers in Iran and the followers of the ayatollah simply do not distinguish between one or another fatwa, but rather treat them equally as issuing certain obligations on them. In other words, if it were a mere case of state expediency, and Iran was actively pursuing a nuclear bomb, the ayatollah would never have gone as far as putting his seal on a fatwa that forbids the manufacturing, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons (deemed explicitly as anti-humanity, zede bashariyat).

On a broader level, this fatwa is part and parcel of the Islamic revolution's weltanschauung, world-view, that can be better understood philosophically as a (Edmund) Husserlian "world-disclosing subjectivity", one that is religious humanist to the core. This is reflected in Iran's constitution's mandating support for liberation movements, and Iranian leaders' constant lament about global injustice, reflecting Iran's Shi'ite version of a religious humanist liberation theology.

This brings us back to the subject of dirty bombs and the Boston Globe article that operates on a basic false assumption about today's Iran, as a terroristic state that feeds and supports other terrorists, etc. One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter, and it would obviously be too much to expect the newspaper to question the official Washington line that designates such groups enjoying mass support as terrorist pure and simple, or to pin the same label on Israel. As American author Noam Chomsky has aptly put it, Israel is usually exonerated of its "terrorism" by depicting its actions as acts of "self-defense".

Does Israel have dirty bombs? The Globe article does not address this issue, yet that is a relevant question that may be linked to the above-mentioned propaganda about the hijacked Iranian ship. Israel may be looking for more pretexts to attack Iran, now that Bush is on his way out and about to be replaced by a less hawkish president who might one day even agree to a public debate with an Iranian leader.

Who knows, maybe in the closing window of the next month or so, before Obama is sworn in on January 20, Israel senses an opportunity to pull off something spectacular against Iran. The Israelis are the masters of pre-emptive strikes and now the twin fears of nuclear and dirty bombs have sufficiently rattled the Israeli public to rally them behind any military campaign launched against Iran's "mad mullahs".

The Israelis have recently said they might go it alone without the US, and the issue is whether the US could stand up to Israel. This partly depends on how successful the Orwellian Iran-phobic spin proves to be, seeing that when it comes to Iran-bashing, the sky is limit; a recent Wall Street Journal piece raises the specter of a single Iranian outerspace detonation sending the US "back to the 19th century".

In comparison, the Globe article shows that with potentially deadly well-cloggers operating in Iran, although under foreign control, even the deep underground is not the limit. The evisceration of any limits in demonizing the "hostile other" is after all 1984's greatest insight.


1. Oil firm sidesteps sanctions on Iran.

Kaveh L Afrasiabi, PhD, is the author of After Khomeini: New Directions in Iran's Foreign Policy (Westview Press) . For his Wikipedia entry, click here. His latest book, Reading In Iran Foreign Policy After September 11 (BookSurge Publishing , October 23, 2008) is now available.

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posted by u2r2h at 3:22 PM 0 comments

United States TORTURE report New York Times -- Gladio


The Torture Report

Published: December 17, 2008

Most Americans have long known that the horrors of Abu Ghraib were not the work of a few low-ranking sociopaths. All but President Bush.s most unquestioning supporters recognized the chain of unprincipled decisions that led to the abuse, torture and death in prisons run by the American military and intelligence services.

Now, a bipartisan report by the Senate Armed Services Committee has made what amounts to a strong case for bringing criminal charges against former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld; his legal counsel, William J. Haynes; and potentially other top officials, including the former White House counsel Alberto Gonzales and David Addington, Vice President Dick Cheney.s former chief of staff.

The report shows how actions by these men .led directly. to what happened at Abu Ghraib, in Afghanistan, in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and in secret C.I.A. prisons.

It said these top officials, charged with defending the Constitution and America.s standing in the world, methodically introduced interrogation practices based on illegal tortures devised by Chinese agents during the Korean War. Until the Bush administration, their only use in the United States was to train soldiers to resist what might be done to them if they were captured by a lawless enemy.

The officials then issued legally and morally bankrupt documents to justify their actions, starting with a presidential order saying that the Geneva Conventions did not apply to prisoners of the .war on terror. . the first time any democratic nation had unilaterally reinterpreted the conventions.

That order set the stage for the infamous redefinition of torture at the Justice Department, and then Mr. Rumsfeld.s authorization of .aggressive. interrogation methods. Some of those methods were torture by any rational definition and many of them violate laws and treaties against abusive and degrading treatment.

These top officials ignored warnings from lawyers in every branch of the armed forces that they were breaking the law, subjecting uniformed soldiers to possible criminal charges and authorizing abuses that were not only considered by experts to be ineffective, but were actually counterproductive.

One page of the report lists the repeated objections that President Bush and his aides so blithely and arrogantly ignored: The Air Force had .serious concerns regarding the legality of many of the proposed techniques.; the chief legal adviser to the military.s criminal investigative task force said they were of dubious value and may subject soldiers to prosecution; one of the Army.s top lawyers said some techniques that stopped well short of the horrifying practice of waterboarding .may violate the torture statute.. The Marines said they .arguably violate federal law.. The Navy pleaded for a real review.

The legal counsel to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the time started that review but told the Senate committee that her boss, Gen. Richard Myers, ordered her to stop on the instructions of Mr. Rumsfeld.s legal counsel, Mr. Haynes.

The report indicates that Mr. Haynes was an early proponent of the idea of using the agency that trains soldiers to withstand torture to devise plans for the interrogation of prisoners held by the American military. These trainers . who are not interrogators but experts only on how physical and mental pain is inflicted and may be endured . were sent to work with interrogators in Afghanistan, in Guantánamo and in Iraq.

On Dec. 2, 2002, Mr. Rumsfeld authorized the interrogators at Guantánamo to use a range of abusive techniques that were already widespread in Afghanistan, enshrining them as official policy. Instead of a painstaking legal review, Mr. Rumsfeld based that authorization on a one-page memo from Mr. Haynes. The Senate panel noted that senior military lawyers considered the memo . .legally insufficient. and .woefully inadequate.. .

Mr. Rumsfeld rescinded his order a month later, and narrowed the number of .aggressive techniques. that could be used at Guantánamo. But he did so only after the Navy.s chief lawyer threatened to formally protest the illegal treatment of prisoners. By then, at least one prisoner, Mohammed al-Qahtani, had been threatened with military dogs, deprived of sleep for weeks, stripped naked and made to wear a leash and perform dog tricks. This year, a military tribunal at Guantánamo dismissed the charges against Mr. Qahtani.

The abuse and torture of prisoners continued at prisons run by the C.I.A. and specialists from the torture-resistance program remained involved in the military detention system until 2004. Some of the practices Mr. Rumsfeld left in place seem illegal, like prolonged sleep deprivation.

These policies have deeply harmed America.s image as a nation of laws and may make it impossible to bring dangerous men to real justice. The report said the interrogation techniques were ineffective, despite the administration.s repeated claims to the contrary.

Alberto Mora, the former Navy general counsel who protested the abuses, told the Senate committee that .there are serving U.S. flag-rank officers who maintain that the first and second identifiable causes of U.S. combat deaths in Iraq . as judged by their effectiveness in recruiting insurgent fighters into combat . are, respectively, the symbols of Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo..

We can understand that Americans may be eager to put these dark chapters behind them, but it would be irresponsible for the nation and a new administration to ignore what has happened . and may still be happening in secret C.I.A. prisons that are not covered by the military.s current ban on activities like waterboarding.

A prosecutor should be appointed to consider criminal charges against top officials at the Pentagon and others involved in planning the abuse.

Given his other problems . and how far he has moved from the powerful stands he took on these issues early in the campaign . we do not hold out real hope that Barack Obama, as president, will take such a politically fraught step.

At the least, Mr. Obama should, as the organization Human Rights First suggested, order his attorney general to review more than two dozen prisoner-abuse cases that reportedly were referred to the Justice Department by the Pentagon and the C.I.A. . and declined by Mr. Bush.s lawyers.

Mr. Obama should consider proposals from groups like Human Rights Watch and the Brennan Center for Justice to appoint an independent panel to look into these and other egregious violations of the law. Like the 9/11 commission, it would examine in depth the decisions on prisoner treatment, as well as warrantless wiretapping, that eroded the rule of law and violated Americans. most basic rights. Unless the nation and its leaders know precisely what went wrong in the last seven years, it will be impossible to fix it and make sure those terrible mistakes are not repeated.

We expect Mr. Obama to keep the promise he made over and over in the campaign . to cheering crowds at campaign rallies and in other places, including our office in New York. He said one of his first acts as president would be to order a review of all of Mr. Bush.s executive orders and reverse those that eroded civil liberties and the rule of law.

That job will fall to Eric Holder, a veteran prosecutor who has been chosen as attorney general, and Gregory Craig, a lawyer with extensive national security experience who has been selected as Mr. Obama.s White House counsel.

A good place for them to start would be to reverse Mr. Bush.s disastrous order of Feb. 7, 2002, declaring that the United States was no longer legally committed to comply with the Geneva Conventions.


Les terroristes ne sont (trop souvent) pas ceux que l'on pense

A chaque crise l'appareil d'Etat sécrète ses propres virus terroristes pour imposer son pouvoir. Les provocations policières sont aussi vieilles que les luttes sociales. En Suisse comme ailleurs.


Jusqu'où ira l'obsession antiterroriste de nos sociétés? Avoir le degré d'approbation rencontré dans la population par les mesures les plus vexatoires sur le plan personnel et les plus liberticides sur le plan social, on ne peut hélas que se dire que le pire n'est pas encore arrivé. Il faudrait pour sortir de l'ornière parvenir à imaginer une société baignant dans l'utopie d'un bonheur parfait et équilibré ayant auparavant transformé le mythe du bon sauvage en fiction du bon civilisé.

Nous n'en sommes pas encore là. Les masses, loin de gagner en sagesse, toujours plus malléables sous la pression, justement, des mass-médias, sont massivement perméables aux discours dominants. Les temps étant à la crise, la prévoyance anticrise du bon politicien de droite passe inévitablement par la dénonciation du complot terroriste et la prise subséquente de mesures policières exceptionnelles.

En Suisse, c'est la police politique qui aimerait recommencer à se pourlécher avec fiches, écoutes et filatures, faisant mine d'oublier qu'elle avait naguère largement prouvé son incompétence en ces matières. En France, où les traditions ne sont pas pareilles, c'est avec la provocation que certaines officines du ministère de l'Intérieur ont cherché à renouer. En montant l'affaire des «anarcho-autonomes» de Tarnac. Une affaire si mal ficelée qu'elle n'a convaincu personne, même pas les juges qui ont relâchés la plupart des «terroristes» arrêtés.

Mais la police ne renonce pas facilement: deux personnes, Julien Coupat et Yldune Lévy sont toujours en prison. Elles risquent d'y rester longtemps car, vous l'avez remarqué comme moi, le vaste mouvement de solidarité suscité par le ridicule des accusations et la démesure des sanctions possibles est en train de retomber. Cela signifie que la répression préventive est en train de gagner: les acteurs des mouvements sociaux que les licenciements, le chômage et les pertes de salaire vont engendrer ces prochaines semaines, ces prochains mois, seront freinés, contraints à la défensive par la menace de la prison. Pour le président Sarkozy et sa ministre de l'Intérieur Alliot-Marie, l'affaire de Tarnac n'a qu'une finalité: montrer que le pouvoir peut frapper fort.

J'exagère? Pour se convaincre du contraire, il suffit de se reporter à un ouvrage très intéressant, intitulé «Mourir en manifestant», qui vient de paraître aux Editions d'En Bas à Lausanne. Il s'agit du compte-rendu d'un colloque d'historiens tenu l'an dernier à Genève pour marquer le 75ème anniversaire de la fusillade qui, le 9 novembre 1932, fit 13 morts et 65 blessés sur la plaine de Plainpalais lors de la répression d'une banale manifestation ouvrière. L'étude des archives a permis d'établir que ce massacre ne doit rien au hasard mais qu'il fut le fruit d'une provocation politique de droite visant à intimider les organisations ouvrières au moment où la crise économique déclenchée à New York en 1929 battait son plein à Genève. La leçon de 1932 est en soi un moment de l'histoire suisse qui devrait être enseigné dans les écoles. Mais dans leur colloque les historiens ne s'en sont pas tenu à ce seul épisode de la lutte des classes (une lutte des classes qui court toujours quoi qu'en dise la pensée unique).

Grand spécialiste du XIXe siècle, Marc Vuilleumier raconte les répressions qui, avant la Première Guerre mondiale, frappèrent le mouvement ouvrier naissant. Bernard Degen décrit lui l'usage de l'armée (équipée de mousquetons, puis de grenades) dans la répression des années d'immédiat après-guerre quand les industriels et grands bourgeois suisses (y compris les officiers supérieurs) voyaient des bolcheviques à tous les carrefours.

Un morceau de choix de ce livre est l'excellente synthèse de Luc van Dongen sur le rôle des extrêmes-droites et des services américains (opération Gladio) dans la lutte contre les mouvements sociaux des années 1960, début 1970. L'historien passe en revue les multiples provocations réellement terroristes organisées en Europe occidentale dès le milieu des années 1960. Soit symboliquement dès l'arrivée au pouvoir du centre-gauche en Italie. Il ne faut pas oublier qu'à l'époque, en pleine guerre froide, les partis communistes français et italiens pouvaient compter sur le soutien d'un quart de l'électorat. Et que les journées de grève dans l'industrie atteignaient des proportions dont nous n'avons même plus le souvenir.

Contraintes à la défensive, les droites européennes ne se privèrent jamais d'une provocation pour maintenir leur pouvoir. Les exemples les plus probants sont les infiltrations fascistes dans des groupes anarchistes ou prochinois, avec leurs attentats meurtriers. Comme celui du 12 décembre 1969 qui fit seize morts et quatre-vingt blessés dans une banque milanaise. Dans son étude van Dongen montre que, à chaque moment fort de résistance à la crise ou aux offensives patronales, des provocateurs agirent dans l'ombre pour favoriser l'intervention des forces de police.

A l'époque, oubliant que le mot terroriste avait fait le bonheur de la propagande nazie pour lutter contre les résistants, on commençait à voir du terrorisme à la moindre distanciation active (voire musclée) de l'ordre établi. Aujourd'hui, alors que les piétons osent à peine, dans un carrefour désert, griller un feu rouge de crainte de se faire tirer dessus, on cherche désespérément à faire la part des choses. Se souvenant de sa jeunesse anarchiste, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, président des députés écologistes à Strasbourg, propose de qualifier l'affaire de Tarnac de vandalisme. C'est oublier qu'avant de devenir de paisibles paysans en (V)andalousie, les Vandales mirent l'Europe et l'Afrique du Nord à feu et à sang. Ce n'est pas très gentil pour les anars d'aujourd'hui.

Charles Heimberg, Stéphanie Prezioso, Marianne Enckell (Ed): «Mourir en Manifestant. Répressions et démocratie», Ed. d'En Bas. Lausanne

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posted by u2r2h at 2:36 PM 0 comments

United States Torture Report - New York Times


The Torture Report

Published: December 17, 2008

Most Americans have long known that the horrors of Abu Ghraib were not the work of a few low-ranking sociopaths. All but President Bush.s most unquestioning supporters recognized the chain of unprincipled decisions that led to the abuse, torture and death in prisons run by the American military and intelligence services.

Now, a bipartisan report by the Senate Armed Services Committee has made what amounts to a strong case for bringing criminal charges against former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld; his legal counsel, William J. Haynes; and potentially other top officials, including the former White House counsel Alberto Gonzales and David Addington, Vice President Dick Cheney.s former chief of staff.

The report shows how actions by these men .led directly. to what happened at Abu Ghraib, in Afghanistan, in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and in secret C.I.A. prisons.

It said these top officials, charged with defending the Constitution and America.s standing in the world, methodically introduced interrogation practices based on illegal tortures devised by Chinese agents during the Korean War. Until the Bush administration, their only use in the United States was to train soldiers to resist what might be done to them if they were captured by a lawless enemy.

The officials then issued legally and morally bankrupt documents to justify their actions, starting with a presidential order saying that the Geneva Conventions did not apply to prisoners of the .war on terror. . the first time any democratic nation had unilaterally reinterpreted the conventions.

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posted by u2r2h at 2:35 PM 0 comments

Monday, December 15, 2008

BBC will explode covert rule

BBC To Launch 'Democracy Live' Political Webcasting Service.

DATELINE: 26/11/08

The BBC is to launch a political webcasting platform known as Democracy Live, Helen Boaden, Director of News at the BBC, told delegates at Headstar's E-Democracy '08 conference in London this month.

The site "will offer live and on-demand video from all the main UK institutions and the European Parliament. Users will be able to search across the video for representatives and issues that are relevant to them. They will be able to find out more about their representatives in the institutions and follow their contributions," Boaden said.

The site will also provide information on how the institutions of UK government work and what powers they have, as well as providing a resource of must know information concerning the issues in the news. "And while this will make for a compelling mix on the site, we also want it to be a shareable resource, with video and text content that users can take and place on their own sites or blogs," she said.

In her keynote speech, Boaden focused on the role of citizen journalism enabled by new technologies in a modern democratic free press."Today, and increasingly in the future, audiences want the news at the time they want it; on the platform most convenient to them and tailored to the subjects or agenda they find most appealing.and for audiences who want to join in, that means including them in the process of making the news."The London tube bombings of July 2005 brought the realisation that news gathering had changed forever, she said. It introduced citizen journalism on an unprecedented scale fuelled by the use of mobile camera and video phones. Within 24 hours of the attacks, the BBC had received 1,000 stills and videos, 3,000 texts and 20,000 e-mails.

The technology also gives organisations like the BBC footage that would be difficult to obtain otherwise, for example the BBC is barred from entering Burma but when the protests erupted last year they were bombarded by emails, pictures, texts and video from citizens observing the events.

The importance of user-generated content (UGC) is now reflected in the creation of the UGC Hub -"a seven-day, 24-hour operation at the heart of our newsroom".

Boaden's speech is available in full on the BBC editor's blog:

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posted by u2r2h at 12:40 PM 0 comments

OBL not guilty


By Peter Duveen

PETER'S NEW YORK, December 9, 2008--Former Pakistani intelligence chief Hamid Gul said today that the recent events in Mumbai, India, in which some 170 people died in an armed siege of a hotel in that city, were orchestrated with the purpose of drawing India into the Middle East conflicts.

"The motive is very simple," Gul said. "The NATO allies are pulling out" of Afghanistan, he said in an interview today with radio personality Alex Jones. "They want to make it an Indian" cause, he said. Israel, he noted, also wanted to keep the conflict going in the region because it feared Americans could lose heart and and "go away without denuclearizing Pakistan."

Gul said America's allies were pulling out of the war zones in Afghanistan, and the United States needed to draw India into the conflict to make up for the manpower deficit.

(Original story with changes and additions may be found at


Role of Alleged CIA Asset in Mumbai Attacks Being Downplayed

by Jeremy R. Hammond / December 10th, 2008

Recent press reports on developments with regard to last month.s attacks in Mumbai, India indicate the role of Dawood Ibrahim, a wanted crime boss, terrorist, and drug trafficker, is being downplayed, possibly the result of a deal taking place behind the scenes between the governments of the US, Pakistan, and India, to have others involved in the Mumbai attacks turned over while quietly diverting attention from a man who some say could reveal embarrassing secrets about the CIA.s involvement in criminal enterprises.

The role in the terrorist attacks in Mumbai last month of an underworld kingpin that heads an organization known as D-Company, has known ties to Pakistan.s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), and who is alleged to have ties with the CIA is apparently being whitewashed, suggesting that his capture and handover to India might prove inconvenient for either the ISI or the CIA, or both.

It was Dawood Ibrahim who was initially characterized by press reports as being the mastermind behind the attacks. Now, that title of .mastermind. is being given to Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi by numerous media accounts reporting that Pakistan security forces have raided a training camp of the group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), which evidence has indicated was behind the attacks. Lakhvi was reportedly captured in the raid and is now in custody.

At the same time Ibrahim.s role is being downplayed, Lakhvi.s known role is being exaggerated. Initial reports described him as the training specialist for LeT, but the major media outlets like the New York Times and the London Times, citing government sources, have since promoted his status to that of commander of operations for the group.

The only terrorist from the Mumbai attacks to be captured alive, Azam Amir Kasab, characterized Ibrahim, not Lakhvi, as the mastermind of those attacks, according to earlier press accounts.

Kasab reportedly told his interrogators that he and his fellow terrorists were trained under Lakhvi, also known as .Chacha., at a camp in Pakistan. Indian officials also traced calls from a satellite phone used by the terrorists to Lakhvi.

But the phone had also been used to call Yusuf Muzammil, also known as Abu Yusuf, Abu Hurrera, and .Yahah.. And it has been Muzammil, not Lakhvi, who has previously been described as the military commander of LeT. It was an intercepted call to Muzammil on November 18 that put the Indian Navy and Coast Guard on high alert to be on the lookout for any foreign vessels from Pakistan entering Indian waters.

Kasab told his interrogators that his team had set out from Karachi, Pakistan, on a ship belonging to Dawood Ibrahim, the MV Alpha. They then hijacked an Indian fishing trawler, the Kuber, to pass through Indian territorial waters to elude the Navy and Coast Guard that were boarding and searching suspect ships.

Although the MV Alpha was subsequently found and seized by the Indian Navy, there have been few, if any, developments about this aspect of the investigation in press accounts, such as whether it has been confirmed or not that the ship was owned by Ibrahim.

Upon arriving off the coast near the city, they were received by inflatable rubber dinghies that had been arranged by an associate of Ibrahim.s in Mumbai.

The planning and execution of the attacks are indicative of the mastermind role not of either Lakhvi or Muzammil, but of Ibrahim, an Indian who is intimately familiar with the city. It was in Mumbai (formerly Bombay) that Ibrahim rose through the ranks of the underworld to become a major organized crime boss.

At least two other Indians were also connected to the attacks, Mukhtar Ahmed and Tausef Rahman. They were arrested for their role in obtaining SIM cards used in the cell phones of the terrorists. Ahmed, according to Indian officials, had in fact been recruited by a special counter-insurgency police task force as an undercover operative. His exact role is still being investigated.

One of the SIM cards used was possibly purchased from New Jersey. Investigators are looking into this potential link to the US, as well.

Dawood Ibrahim went from underworld kingpin to terrorist in 1993, when he was connected to a series of bombings in Bombay that resulted in 250 deaths. He is wanted by Interpol and was designated by the US as a global terrorist in 2003.

It.s believed Ibrahim has been residing in Karachi, and Indian officials have accused Pakistan.s ISI of protecting him.

Ibrahim is known to be a major drug trafficker responsible for shipping narcotics into the United Kingdom and Western Europe.

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), most Afghan opium (or its derivative, heroin, which is increasingly being produced in the country before export) is smuggled through Iran and Turkey en route by land to Europe; but the percentage that goes to Pakistan seems to mostly find its way directly to the UK, either by plane or by ship.

Afghanistan is the world.s leading producer of opium, a trend that developed during the CIA-backed mujahedeen effort to oust the Soviet Union from the country, with the drug trade serving to help finance the war.

The principle recipient of CIA-ISI funding was Gulbaddin Hekmatyar, one of the major drug lords. Hekmatyar has since joined with the Taliban in the insurgency effort to expel foreign forces from the country . not the Soviet Union, this time, but the US.

A Taliban ban on the cultivation of opium poppies in 2000 resulted in the near total eradication of the crop. But since the US overthrow of the regime in 2001, Afghanistan has once again become the world.s leading producer of opium, surpassing all previous records.

While Hekmatyar chose to side with anti-government forces, a number of other warlords involved in the drug trade were members of the Northern Alliance to whom the CIA doled out cash in the US effort to overthrow the Taliban following the 9/11 attacks.

One such warlord is Abdul Rashid Dostum, who was appointed Chief of Staff of the army under the government of Hamid Karzai, and who has been described in US intelligence.s own files as a .Tier One Warlord..

That list includes a number of other high ranking officials within the Afghanistan government, including former defense minister and parliament member Marshal Mohammad Fahim, Interior Minister for Counter-Narcotics General Mohammad Daoud, and former governor of Helmand province (now by far the largest producer of opium) Sher Mohammed Akhundzada.

Although government officials parroted by the mainstream media tend to characterize the Afghan opium trade as being controlled by the Taliban, in fact the estimated drug profits of all anti-government elements (AGEs) is a mere fraction of the trade.s total estimated export value. The UNODC estimated the export value this year at $3.4 billion. Of that, AGEs profited between $250-470 million, less than 14% of the total trade. Moreover, what fraction of that percentage has gone specifically to the Taliban as opposed to other AGEs is unknown.

Furthermore, while the Taliban profits from the production of opium through ushr, a 10% tax on all agricultural products, and possibly through a protection racket in which it receives compensation for providing security along smuggling routes, the UNODC has acknowledged that there is little indication that the Taliban itself is responsible for either the actual production or trafficking of the drug.

This is an inconvenient truth for the US, which has so far managed through its propaganda efforts to successfully obfuscate the truth about the Afghan drug trade and portray the Taliban as being almost wholly responsible.

A known drug trafficker, Dawood Ibrahim is naturally also involved in money laundering, which is perhaps where the role of gambling operations in Nepal comes into the picture.

Yoichi Shimatsu, former editor of the Japan Times, wrote last month after the Mumbai attacks that Ibrahim had worked with the US to help finance the mujahedeen during the 1980s and that because he knows too much about the US.s .darker secrets. in the region, he could never be allowed to be turned over to India.

The recent promotion of Lakhvi to .mastermind. of the attacks while Ibrahim.s name disappears from media reports would seem to lend credence to Shimatsu.s assertion.

Investigative journalist Wayne Madsen similarly reported that according to intelligence sources, Dawood Ibrahim is a CIA asset, both as a veteran of the mujahedeen war and in a continuing connection with his casino and drug trade operations in Kathmandu, Nepal. A deal had been made earlier this year to have Pakistan hand Ibrahim over to India, but the CIA was fearful that this would lead to too many of its dirty secrets coming to light, including the criminal activities of high level personnel within the agency.

One theory on the Mumbai attacks is that it was backlash for this double-cross that was among other things intended to serve as a warning that any such arrangement could have further serious consequences.

Although designated as a major international terrorist by the US, media reports in India have characterized the US.s past interest in seeing Ibrahim handed over as less than enthusiastic. Former Indian Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani wrote in his memoir, .My Country My Life., that he made a great effort to get Pakistan to hand over Ibrahim, and met with then US Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice (now Secretary of State) to pressure Pakistan to do so. But he was informed by Powell that Pakistan would hand over Ibrahim only .with some strings attached. and that then Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf would need more time before doing so.

The handover, needless to say, never occurred. The Pakistan government has also publicly denied that Ibrahim is even in the country; a denial that was repeated following the recent Mumbai attacks.

Others suspected of involvement in the attacks and named among the 20 individuals India wants Pakistan to turn over also have possible connections to the CIA, including Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, the founder of LeT, and Maulana Masood Azhar, both veterans of the CIA-backed mujahedeen effort.

Azhar had been captured in 1994 and imprisoned in India for his role as leader of the Pakistani-based terrorist group Karkut-ul-Mujahideen. He was released, however, in 1999 in exchange for hostages from the takeover of Indian Airlines Flight 814, which was hijacked during its flight from Kathmandu, Nepal to Delhi, India and redirected to Afghanistan. After Azhar.s release, he formed Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), which was responsible for an attack on the Indian parliament in 2001 that led Pakistan and India to the brink of war. LeT was also blamed for the attack alongside JeM.

Both LeT and JeM have links to the ISI, which has used the groups as proxies in the conflict with India over the territory of Kashmir.

Hafiz Saeed travelled to Peshawar to join the mujahedeen cause during the Soviet-Afghan war. Peshawar served as the base of operations for the CIA, which worked closely with the ISI to finance, arm, and train the mujahedeen. It was in Peshawar that Saeed became the protégé of Abdullah Azzam, who founded an organization called Maktab al-Khidamat (MAK) along with a Saudi individual named Osama bin Laden.

MAK worked alongside the CIA-ISI operations to recruit Arabs to the ranks of the mujahedeen. The ISI, acting as proxy for the CIA, chose mainly to channel its support to Afghans, such as Gulbaddin Hekmatyar. The U.S. claims the CIA had no relationship with MAK, but bin Laden.s operation, which later evolved into .al-Qaeda., must certainly have been known to, and approved by, the CIA.

But there are indications that the CIA.s relationship with MAK and al-Qaeda go well beyond having shared a common enemy and mutual interests in the Soviet-Afghan war. A number of al-Qaeda associates appear to have been protected individuals.

Branches of MAK existed elsewhere, including in the United States. The US Treasury Department lists one of MAK.s aliases as Al-Kifah. The Al-Kifah Refugee Center in Brooklyn, New York, served as a recruitment center during the 1980s, but its operations did not end after the end of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Al-Kifah was also a recruitment center for efforts by extremist groups in the Balkans.

Just as in Afghanistan, the US also had mutual interests with Bosnian Muslims and extremist groups acting in the Balkans. MAK had since evolved into al-Qaeda under Osama bin Laden, which had links to groups operating in Bosnia. Despite an arms embargo against such groups, they managed to obtain weapons and supply shipments in which the US at best looked the other way and at worst played an active role.

The operations to arm al-Qaeda linked groups in Bosnia were carried under the watch of then director of the US European Command Intelligence Directorate Gen. Michael V. Hayden. Hayden subsequently served as the director of the National Security Agency from 1999 to 2005 and is currently the Director of Central Intelligence, or DCI, which is the head of the CIA.

A former official at the US consular office in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Michael Springman went public after 9/11 to explain how his office was used by the CIA to bring recruits to the US for training during the 1980s.

The Jeddah office is where most of the 9/11 hijackers obtained their visas to enter the US.

Two other of the hijackers, Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar, were in fact known to the CIA and were being monitored. Despite being known al-Qaeda operatives, they were allowed to enter the US under their real names and neither the FBI nor the State Department were notified.

The US explains this as the result of the CIA losing the terrorists. trail when they travelled to Thailand after an al-Qaeda meeting in Kuala Lumpur. But this explanation does not stand up to scrutiny since it was known that they had obtained visas to enter the US. Thus, even if the CIA did in fact lose track of the terrorists, standard procedure should have dictated that the FBI and State Department be alerted.

The 9/11 Joint Inquiry and subsequent 9/11 Commission were apparently satisfied with the CIA.s explanation that it lost al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar, and nobody was ever held accountable for the .mistake. of knowingly allowing two known al-Qaeda operatives on the terrorist watchlist to enter the United States unhindered.

Upon arriving in the US, al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar were assisted by an individual under FBI surveillance for his possible connections to terrorist groups and, furthermore, even lived in a house rented from an FBI informant. But the FBI claims that it didn.t know anything about the men, despite them using their real names and being listed in the phone book, because the CIA hadn.t informed them the two were in the country. The Joint Inquiry report described this as perhaps the single greatest missed opportunity to break up the 9/11 operation and prevent the attacks.

Additionally, it was in fact the CIA who not once, but at least on six separate occasions, approved a visa, including from the office in Jeddah, for or the entry of Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, a.k.a. .the Blind Sheikh., into the US, despite his known connection to terrorist acts in Egypt, including the assassination of Anwar Sadat, and despite having been on the State Department.s terrorist watchlist. This, too, was described as a series of .mistakes. after the government was forced to admit that it had occurred . an explanation that the New York Times, which reported this information in a series of articles, seemed to find perfectly satisfactory.

Many, however, find such incompetency and coincidence theories to be simply not credible, preferring instead alternative, oftentimes much more plausible, conspiracy theories.

The Blind Sheikh had also travelled to Peshawar during the mujahedeen effort, and was good friends with Gulbaddin Hekmatyar, the CIA.s top asset during the Soviet-Afghan war. He later became the spiritual head of the terrorist group that carried out the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, a plot which the FBI had known about in advance through two or more informants.

One of the informants served as a bodyguard for the Blind Sheikh and was made responsible for obtaining materials to make the bomb with. Tape recordings he secretly made of conversations with his FBI handlers reveal that the original sting operation involved a plan to replace a chemical used in making the bomb with an inert stimulant that would render it inoperative. But this plan was withdrawn by a supervisor at the FBI and the terrorist cell was allowed to go ahead and make a real bomb . which was then used to blow up the World Trade Center.

Another notable character connected to Al-Kifah training and recruitment efforts for al-Qaeda is Ali Mohammed. He also happened to be an in FBI informant, a CIA asset, and a member of the special forces in the US Army. It is Ali Mohammed whom some suspect of actually being the mastermind of the 1993 WTC bombing. He was later charged in connection to the 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, but has since seemingly disappeared off the map.

After the 9/11 attacks, the investigation into the financing of the attacks led to Omar Saeed Sheikh, a British national of Pakistani origin. According to Indian officials, a joint investigation with the FBI revealed evidence that it was at the direction of the head of the ISI, Lt. Gen. Mahmud Ahmed, that Omar Sheikh transferred $100,000 to lead hijacker Mohammed Atta in Florida.

Omar Sheikh, a known associate of Osama bin Laden, was captured and imprisoned in India for his role in the kidnapping of American and British nationals in 1994. He was released in 1999 along with Maulana Massod Azhar in exchange for the hostages from Flight 814. According to former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf, Omar Sheikh was also an agent of Britain.s spy agency, MI6, for whom he served in operations in the Balkans.

Omar Sheikh.s role in the 9/11 attacks has also been downplayed. Mention of him in the media instead focus on his role as the man responsible for the murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. He is currently being held in Pakistan on charges relating to Pearl.s murder.

After Mahmud Ahmed.s alleged role in the 9/11 attacks became known publicly, Musharraf quietly replaced him and the whole affair was hushed up in the US. When a reporter from a foreign news agency asked then National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice whether she was aware of the reports that the ISI chief had financed the hijackers and was in Washington meeting with high level officials at the time of the attacks, she denied having seen .that report. and protested that, .he was certainly not meeting with me..

Interestingly, the White House website transcript of the press briefing censored the words .ISI chief. from the reporter.s question, despite the words clearly being audible in the video of the briefing.

The 9/11 Commission also acted to whitewash Mahmud Ahmed.s alleged role in the attacks. Despite the question of the ISI chief.s involvement being included on a list of items for the Commission to investigate from families of the victims of the attacks, the Commission.s report made no mention of it, either to confirm or deny the information, which, despite having received zero coverage in the US major media (with the one exception of a citation of a report from the Times of India in a blog on the Wall Street Journal.s opinion website), was widely reported internationally (as well as in US alternative media).

Rather, the 9/11 Commission simply acted as though such reports didn.t exist. Despite Bob Graham, one of the chairs of the earlier Congressional Joint Inquiry, publicly stating that he was surprised by the evidence of foreign government involvement (he added that this information would not be made public for another twenty or thirty years when it would be due for release to the national archives), the 9/11 Commission report arrived at the opposite conclusion, saying there was no evidence of any such involvement and, moreover, that the question of who financed the attacks was .of little practical significance..

Another former head of the ISI is now being privately accused by the US of involvement with the group responsible for the Mumbai attacks, according to reports citing a document listing former ISI chief Lt. Gen. Hamid Gul and four other former heads of Pakistan.s intelligence agency as being involved in supporting terrorist networks. The individuals named have been recommended to the UN Security Council to be named as international terrorists, according to Pakistan.s The News.

The document has been provided to the Pakistan government and also accuses Gul, who was head of the ISI from 1987-1989, of providing assistance to criminal groups in Kabul, as well as to groups responsible for recruiting and training militants to attack US-led forces in Afghanistan, including the Taliban.

Hamid Gul responded to the reports by calling the allegations hilarious. The US denied that it had made any such recommendations to the UN.

But the US has similarly accused the ISI of involvement in the bombing of India.s embassy in Kabul last July. This was unusual not because of the allegation of an ISI connection to terrorism but because it was in such stark contrast with US attempts to publicly portray Pakistan as a staunch ally in its .war on terrorism. when the country was under the dictatorship of Pervez Musharraf.

The US attitude toward Pakistan shifted once an elected government came to power that has been more willing to side with the overwhelming belief among the public that it is the .war on terrorism. itself that has exacerbated the problem of extremist militant groups and led to further terrorist attacks within the country, such as the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto last year or the bombing of the Marriot Hotel in September. While the world.s attention has been focused on the attacks in Mumbai, a bomb blast in Peshawar last week killed 21 and injured 90.

While the purported US document names Gul and others as terrorist supporters, another report, from Indian intelligence, indicates that the terrorists who carried out the attacks in Mumbai were among 500 trained by instructors from the Pakistan military, according to the Sunday edition of the Times. This training of the 10 known Mumbai terrorists would have taken place prior to their recent preparation for these specific attacks by the LeT training specialist Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi.

But while Lakhvi, Muzammil, and Hafiz Saeed have continued to be named in connection with last month.s attacks in Mumbai, the name of Dawood Ibrahim seems to be either disappearing altogether or his originally designated role as the accused mastermind of the attacks being credited now instead to Lakhvi in media accounts.

Whether this is a deliberate effort to downplay Ibrahim.s role in the attacks so as not to have to force Pakistan to turn him over because of embarrassing revelations pertaining to the CIA.s involvement with known terrorists and drug traffickers that development could possibly produce isn.t certain. But what is certain is that the CIA has had a long history of involvement with such characters and that the US has a track record of attempting to keep information about the nature of such involvement in the dark or to cover it up once it reaches the light of public scrutiny.
# See also .The Mumbai Attacks: More Than Meets the Eye..

Jeremy R. Hammond is the editor of Foreign Policy Journal, a website providing news, analysis, and opinion from outside the standard framework provided by government officials and the corporate media, particularly with regard to the "war on terrorism". His articles have also been featured in numerous other online publications. You can contact him at:


Five 9/11 Suspects Offer to Confess
But Proposal Is Pulled Over Death Penalty Issue

By Peter Finn
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 9, 2008; A01

GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba, Dec. 8 -- Five of the men accused of planning the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks said Monday that they wanted to plead guilty to murder and war crimes but withdrew the offer when a military judge raised questions about whether it would prevent them from fulfilling their desire to receive the death penalty.

"Are you saying if we plead guilty we will not be able to be sentenced to death?" Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-proclaimed operational mastermind of the attacks, asked at a pretrial hearing here.

The seesaw proceedings Monday raised and then postponed the prospect of a conviction in a case that has become the centerpiece of the system of military justice created by the Bush administration. A conviction would have capped a seven-year quest for justice after the 2001 attacks, but the delay in entering pleas will probably extend the process beyond the end of the Bush presidency.



Paul Thompson

Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was captured in Rawalpindi, Pakistan on March 1, 2003. General elation greeted the news. Porter Goss (R), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, even proclaimed, .This is equal to the liberation of Paris in the second World War.. [AP, 3/2/03 (C)] But its not that simple. Frankly, the official story of his arrest is a mass of lies, cover-ups and contradictions. It is highly likely Mohammed was not arrested on that day. What exactly did happen when is unclear, but the details of his arrest suggest something very disturbing is going on.

Was Mohammed Actually Arrested in Rawalpindi?
One doesn.t have to dig deep to find contradictions to the standard story of Mohammed.s arrest. The Guardian article, .Raided Family of Microbiologist Denies Official Version of al-Qaeda Arrests,. details what witnesses saw when the police came. [Guardian, 3/3/03 (B)] The family in the house claims that at 3 a.m., around 20 to 25 armed police and intelligence officers kicked open the door and burst into the house. .They dragged away Ahmed and held his wife and children at gunpoint for an hour as they ransacked the house, according to Ahmed.s sister Qudsia. .They left clothes and books strewn on the floor and took a bundle of dollar bills which were locked in a cupboard,. she said. .The bedrooms were turned upside down, one door upstairs was broken and they took the new computer,. she said. At no point, the family say, was Mohammed or any other man in the house. The agents did not even ask about them. .The only people in the house were my brother, his wife and their kids,. Qudsia said. .I have absolutely no idea why the police came here.. . [Guardian, 3/3/03 (B)] The brother, Omar Qudoos, gave a similar account. He added that there also was a guard outside. .The police pounded on the gate and then they rushed through. There was some firing, but no one was hurt and then they beat the guard and broke the lock on the front door.. [AP, 3/2/03] Other articles reported roughly the same account. [AP, 3/2/03 (B), Australian Broadcasting Corp., 3/2/03, New York Times, 3/3/03]

Other arrests of major al-Qaeda figures haven.t been accompanied by these types of contradictory accounts from eyewitnesses. However, most accounts of Mohammed.s arrest have mentioned the eyewitness reports only in passing. Also generally mentioned only in passing are doubts that Mohammed was arrested at all. As one report put it, .Some analysts questioned whether Khalid Sheikh Mohammed had actually been arrested on Saturday and speculated he may have been held for some time. .I think he was arrested several months ago in the shoot-out in Karachi,. one expert on Pakistan who declined to be identified said.. [Australian Broadcasting Corp., 3/2/03] MSNBC reported, .Some analysts questioned whether Mohammed was actually arrested Saturday, speculating that he may have been held for some time and that the news was made public when it was in the interests of the United States and Pakistan. [MSNBC, 3/3/03] (also see [Reuters, 3/3/03 (E), BBC, 3/4/03]). One Guardian reporter said of his capture, .The story appears to be almost entirely fictional.. [Guardian, 3/6/03]

Well respected journalist Tariq Ali has serious doubts that Mohammed has been arrested: .Who he is and how he was captured is still shrouded in mystery. . But as to who he is and what his exact role is, we are dependent totally on intelligence sources, as all the newspapers indicated today in the Western world.. [Australian Broadcasting Corp., 3/3/03] When asked if a different man might have been arrested, Ali responded, .Well, we do not know. At the moment we have absolutely no evidence at all. Reports from Pakistan are coming out from what are described as Taliban sources, i.e. members of the former government in Afghanistan who are now around in Pakistan, who are denying that he has been captured and saying, .We know exactly where the guy claiming to have captured is,. and until he is produced before a court of law or interviewed or allowed access to the press or lawyers, we will not know who he is.. [Australian Broadcasting Corp., 3/3/03]

Mohammed Had Already Been Killed
Why are some writers so harsh in their assessments? A large reason, as one of the unnamed experts mentioned above, is a very curious shoot-out in Karachi, Pakistan on September 11, 2002. Ramzi bin al-Shibh, the man who wanted to join the 19 hijackers but was unable to get a US visa, was captured at the end of a four hour battle involving thousands of police. Nine other terrorists were captured, and two killed. [Telegraph, 9/16/02] The capture of bin al-Shibh was hailed as a major victory, but it was accidental: .Pakistani intelligence and police officials now admit that the man they were actually looking for that day was Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.. [Christian Science Monitor, 10/29/02, Guardian, 9/23/02]

.Afterward, and still, Karachi was thick with rumor. Mohammed was dead, was captured, was there and got away, was there and was allowed to get away.. [Los Angeles Times, 12/22/02] Asia Times has claimed Mohammed was killed, and since his arrest continue to strongly suggest that he is already dead. [Asia Times, 10/30/02, Asia Times, 3/6/03] They reported the FBI together with Inter-Services Intelligence, or the ISI, Pakistan.s notorious intelligence agency, conducted a raid with the goal of capturing Mohammed alive. .However, despite instructions to the contrary, a few Pakistan Rangers entered the flat, where they found Shaikh Mohammed and another man, allegedly with their hands up. The Rangers nevertheless opened fire on the pair.. Later, the Pakistani press carried pictures of a message scrawled in blood on the wall of the flat, proclaiming the Muslim refrain of Kalma, in Arabic: .There is no God except Allah, Mohammed is his messenger. ). An official who was present in the flat at the time of the shooting has told Asia Times Online that the message was written by Shaikh Mohammed with his own blood as his life drained from him.. His wife and two children, captured in the raid, confirmed his identity. [Asia Times, 10/30/02] An Australian newspaper repeated the idea he was killed, and added, .Some reports went so far as to suggest his wife and son had identified his body and buried him under the watchful eye of the FBI.. [Daily Telegraph, 3/4/03]

The Christian Science Monitor has also suggested something similar: ..We had some information that terrorists were there [at the apartment]. An encounter ensued and two men were killed.. says Sayed Kamal Shah, the police inspector-general for southern Sindh province. Some say Shaikh Mohammed may have been one of the two men killed in the shoot-out, though authorities say they have not identified either body. Muslims bury bodies within 24 hours, and Pakistan.s forensics services tend to be inadequate.. [Christian Science Monitor, 10/29/02] .Apparently, neither of the bodies was buried, a departure from usual custom.. [Asia Times, 3/6/03] Four days after the incident, US National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, when asked if Mohammed was killed, could only say, .I wouldn.t rule anything out here, but I think that we.ll just wait and see how this unfolds.. Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf enigmatically told CNN, .I am told, maybe, there is an important person [besides Binalshibh].. [Telegraph, 9/16/02] No other important terrorist has since been revealed.was Musharraf referring to Mohammed?

.Pakistani police officers at the scene initially insisted that one of the dead men was an Arab, naming him as Khalid bin Mohammed.. [Telegraph, 9/16/02] .ISI officials close to the case at this time were convinced, as were the FBI, that Khalid had been killed. But they chose not to disclose the death as they wanted other al-Qaeda members to attempt to remain in contact with him through the recovered satellite telephones, mobile phones and laptop computers. Sources who had been involved in the shoot-out and subsequent events were taken off all al-Qaeda operations.. [Asia Times, 3/6/03]

Time later offered an explanation for what they deemed was a misidentification: .A female FBI agent crouched down to examine the blood-smeared bodies [killed in the raid]. Suddenly, she smiled and, to the surprise of [a] Pakistani cop, bounded over and gave him a kiss. .Do you know who got?. she asked. killed Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.. But a fingerprint check later revealed that the dead man on the floor of the Karachi apartment wasn.t Mohammed. The FBI was almost as crestfallen as the Pakistani cop dreaming of how he would spend his piece of the $25 million reward offered by the US Government for Mohammed.s capture.. [Time, 1/20/03]

Not long after, there was another raid, in the outskirts of Karachi. After some heavy gunfire, several Arabs were arrested. .The next day, some Pakistani authorities claimed in newspapers that one of the people who had escaped, although injured, was Khalid. People in the neighborhood who witnessed the siege, though, say that with the building surrounded and more than 600 police and [US] Rangers in attendance, it would have been very difficult for anyone to escape.. [Asia Times, 3/6/03]

Or Was He Captured Then?
It was reported that, near the end of the shoot-out, .Within minutes, a burly, curly haired man was brought out with his entire face covered by a blindfold. Hundreds of policemen fired off volleys of gunfire to celebrate his capture. The final gunman was captured shortly afterward.. [AP, 9/16/02] Certainly Mohammed is a burly, curly haired man. Other reports suggest that police came .within moments. of capturing Mohammed, as one senior US investigator put it, his two children being left behind. [Los Angeles Times, 12/22/02] It has also been suggested he was shot and wounded by a police sniper as he narrowly escaped. [Australian Broadcasting Corp., 3/2/03]

Or Was He Captured Months Before?
A few days before this shoot-out, a number of articles in the Pakistani and Indian press suggested that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was actually captured on June 16, 2002. Supposedly he was then sent to the US, though the US and Pakistan deny the reports. [Daily Times, 9/9/02, Times of India, 9/9/02] This month was also the month Al Jazeera reporter Yosri Fouda says he had a secret interview in Karachi with Ramzi bin al-Shibh and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (though one account says it took place two months later [Guardian, 9/9/02]) [Sunday Times, 9/8/02]. Could both of these men have been captured or killed before the famous interview, thus allowing US intelligence to put any words they desired into their mouths? The interviews were .the first full admission by senior figures from Bin Laden.s network that they carried out the September 11 attacks.. [Sunday Times, 9/8/02] The Financial Times, hardly purveyors of conspiracy theory, reported on Fouda.s interview, .Analysts cited the crude editing of the tapes and the timing of the broadcasts as reasons to be suspicious about their authenticity. Dia Rashwan, an expert on Islamist movements at the Al-Ahram Centre for Strategic Studies in Cairo, said: .I have very serious doubts [about the authenticity of this tape]. It could have been a script written by the FBI.. . [Financial Times, 9/11/02]

Curiously, Fouda was later given a bin Laden cassette that made headlines around the world. [MSNBC, 11/18/02] Why would al-Qaeda have given such an exclusive to the man said to have betrayed them? US officials believe the voice on that cassette is .almost certainly. bin Laden, but one of the world.s leading voice-recognition institutes said they were 95% certain the tape is a forgery. [BBC, 11/18/02, BBC, 11/29/02] Even more curiously, Fouda recently changed the date of his interview with Mohammed and bin al-Shibh. After having repeatedly saying it took place in June, he now says it happened in April.placing it clearly before the reports of Mohammed.s capture in June. [Guardian, 3/4/03, Canada AM, 3/6/03]

Alternately, either or both could have been captured shortly after the interview because of clues learned during the interview. It has been reported that bin al-Shibh.s recorded voice was the key that led to his capture. [CBS, 10/9/02, Observer, 9/15/02] Fouda has been accused of betraying al-Qaeda, and now fears for his life. [Independent, 9/17/02] As the Washington Post put it: .Now al Jazeera is also subject to rumors of a conspiracy.. [Washington Post, 9/15/02]

How can one square the September 11, 2002 shoot-out with reports that Mohammed was already captured? Perhaps the shoot-out was a charade to cover the earlier events and preserve the legitimacy of the Fouda interview. Curiously, a PBS reporter says, .Some neighbors told me the men in the apartment didn.t fire any shots at all.. He says they were off, though not by much. He suggested the terrorists fired only a little, despite reports of being heavily armed. By contrast, thousands of police may have fired thousands of rounds at them. [PBS Frontline, 9/23/02]

Or Was He Not Captured At All?
Robert Fisk, another very well known and respected journalist, has yet a different idea. In an article entitled, .Was .Mastermind. Really Captured?,. he suggests Mohammed could still be alive. He writes, .In the theatre of the absurd into which America.s hunt for al-Qaeda so often descends, the .arrest..the quotation marks are all too necessary.of Khaled Shaikh Mohammed is nearer the Gilbert and Sullivan end of the repertory.. He calls it .a case of the .whoops. school of journalism: a good story that just might be totally untrue.. [Toronto Star, 3/3/03] One of Pakistan.s main newspapers, The News, also reports that .details made available by the [Pakistani] government about the age along with the photograph revealed that the person arrested in Rawalpindi was not Khalid.. Sources say Mohammed is still free. [The News, 3/5/03]

Much of the above is rumor or speculation. But certainly there is room for doubt amid all this intrigue. To hide Mohammed.s death or capture would have been very clever espionage that could have led to the arrest of many of his associates. But someone has been sloppy as well, because there is virtually no aspect of Mohammed.s arrest that hasn.t been contradicted in media reports.

Where Was He Before the Arrest?
Typical accounts say that Mohammed was moving around Pakistan to avoid capture. [Washington Post, 3/2/03] In early February 2003, he was hiding in the town of Quetta. Neighbors, wary of the unknown Arab man living amongst them, tipped off the police. He narrowly escaped capture there around February 14, but phone records led investigators to his hideout in Rawalpindi. [Time, 3/1/03, AP, 3/2/03 (B), New York Times, 3/4/03] However, .authorities. told the Washington Post that Mohammed was in the Rawalpindi house since January, and Pakistan.s interior minister, Syed Faisal Saleh Hayat, said Mr. Mohammed had been hiding in the Rawalpindi house .for quite some time.. [New York Times, 3/3/03, Washington Post, 3/2/03] Curiously, the US has offered a $25 million reward for information leading to Mohammed.s arrest, but US officials now say that no one will receive the award .because he was arrested based on intelligence gathered by a joint effort by the CIA and Pakistani law enforcement.. [ABC News, 3/3/03] What about the neighbors. tips that lead to his arrest.does this suggest there were no neighbors?

It was said that US phone surveillance led Pakistan to Mohammed. [Los Angeles Times, 3/2/03, [Washington Post, 3/2/03] But in contradiction to this and the .neighbor tip off. story is another account from unnamed .intelligence sources. who say .the ISI had known of his whereabouts for up to six weeks prior to his arrest.. Supposedly they waited to arrest him so they could see who contacted him and catch them as well. [Financial Times, 3/4/03] Is has been reported that Mohammed met with bin Laden, .possibly in Rawalpindi. where Mohammed was arrested, during the month of February. [New York Times, 3/6/03] If so, why did the ISI fail to catch bin Laden?

Where Was He Arrested?
Remarkably, even the widely reported fact that Mohammed was arrested in the house of Ahmed Abdul Qudoos and his family has been disputed. The Los Angeles Times, quoting unnamed Pakistani Interior Ministry officials, initially reported that Mohammed was arrested in a second raid in a nearby apartment that Abdul Qudoos was renting for him. [Los Angeles Times, 3/2/03] However, the next day, the same reporter had dropped this apartment idea and was following all other reports and accounts of officials that all three were arrested in the same house. [Los Angeles Times, 3/3/03, AP, 3/1/03]

Perhaps this second apartment idea was meant to explain the fact that there appear to be no photos or descriptions of the bedroom or bed supposedly slept in by Mohammed. Photos do show a house in disarray, with possessions strewn everywhere. This would seem to corroborate the family.s account that the raid took only one hour. If Mohammed really was in the house, wouldn.t agents have gone over the house with a fine tooth comb, and investigated every possession, every room, for possible leads?

Was There a Fight?
Pakistani Information Minister Rashid said the three terrorists in the Rawalpindi house put up resistance: .Shots were fired but no one was injured.. [Reuters, 3/2/03] Australian newspapers have been reporting, .Evil al-Qaeda kingpin Khalid Sheik Mohammed battled desperately in the seconds before his arrest.grabbing a gun and wounding one of his captors.. [Daily Telegraph, 3/4/03] By contrast, a New York Times article was headlined, .Qaeda Suspect, Sound Asleep at Trail.s End, Offers No Resistance,. explaining that the only visible sign of violence was the broken down front door. [New York Times, 3/3/03] The family there says there were no shots fired inside the house. [Reuters, 3/2/03] A Pakistani official said they were arrested without incident. [Los Angeles Times, 3/2/03]

Who Arrested Mohammed?
Some Pakistani officials said both US agents and Pakistani security took part in the raid. [CNN, 3/2/03] Other Pakistani officials said it was conducted entirely by armed ISI agents. [Los Angeles Times, 3/2/03, New York Times, 3/2/03] A senior US intelligence official said, .US officials were present when Pakistani authorities arrested Mohammed and two other men, but they did not participate.. [CNN, 3/2/03] Another account explained that CIA and FBI officials were waiting outside. [Telegraph, 3/3/03] By most accounts, the family in the house said some of the agents who took part in the raid .were speaking English and were looking like foreigners from their accent and fair complexion.. [Los Angeles Times, 3/2/03, London Times, 3/3/03] Yet by one account, the family says .all [the agents] appeared to be Pakistani.. [AP, 3/3/03 (C)] Are people being misquoted?

Who Was Arrested With Him?
It was widely reported that Ahmed Abdul Qudoos, a son in the family owning the house, was arrested with Mohammed. But rarely mentioned are the claims by Ahmed.s family that he is not a terrorist and in fact is mentally feeble. They say the 42-year-old has never been able to hold down a job and had lived at home with his parents his entire life. [AP, 3/2/03 (B)] The media was so uninterested in the possibility that this man might be too mentally impaired to be any kind of terrorist, much less a close associate of Mohammed, that the only mention of him having a disability certificate appeared in the photo caption of one article. [AP, 3/3/03 (C)]

Also little noticed were reports that Major Adil Qudoos was arrested the same day in the nearby town of Kohat. Officials said Adil was Ahmed.s uncle, but his sister told reporters they were brothers. [Reuters, 3/3/03] By some accounts the Major is being held by the FBI, but he is also variously said to be held by Pakistan or simply not allowed to leave town. [News, 3/3/03, Reuters, 3/3/03]

A third man was supposedly arrested in the house with Ahmed Abdul Qudoos and Mohammed. Initially he was described as an Egyptian. [Reuters, 3/2/03] Later officials were suggesting he might be Saif Adel, Osama bin Laden.s security chief. [Los Angeles Times, 3/3/03] Then, Interior Minister Faisal Saleh Hayat said the third man was Somali, but gave no details. [Reuters, 3/3/03] Most recently, senior US intelligence officials are claiming the third man is Mustafa Ahmed Al-Hawsawi, a native of Saudi Arabia. He is said to be the main money man behind the 9/11 attacks. [Reuters, 3/3/03 (C), MSNBC, 3/3/03, MSNBC, 3/3/03 (B)] As I have previously suggested elsewhere, and will discuss further below, considerable evidence suggests no such person by this name exists but was in fact an alias. Shortly after 9/11 it was reported that a man who had at least ten aliases, multiple birthdates, social security numbers and so forth transferred money to the hijackers using the name .Mustafa Ahmed.. [Newsweek, 10/15/01] Why wouldn.t he have used a better alias for such a transaction?

Al-Hawsawi.s supposed presence leads credence to the family.s claims that only Abdul Qudoos was arrested and that the other two are fictional.only one fake raid would be needed. Most recently, it has been reported that according to Pakistani officials, .Mustapha Ahmed al-Hawsawi had been arrested in Quetta, in southwest Pakistan, on 13 February.. [Financial Times, 3/4/03] So once again the identity of the third man is confused. Unlike Mohammed, no photo of Al-Hawsawi after the raid has been released, and in fact no photo of him is known to exist.

Where Are They Now?
Supposedly, Mohammed and Al-Hawsawi were taken out of Pakistan within three hours of their capture. [CNN, 3/2/03 (B), Telegraph, 3/3/03, AP, 3/2/03 (C), New York Times, 3/3/03] Some US and Pakistani officials have confirmed this. [CNN, 3/2/03, Los Angeles Times, 3/2/03, Washington Post, 3/2/03] However, other Pakistani officials have claimed that Pakistan is still holding them. [BBC, 3/3/03] Interior Minister Faisal Saleh Hayat strongly denied US possession: .Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is in the custody of Pakistan.s law enforcement agencies and until we have satisfied ourselves, after the interrogation process, of the nature of his activities in Pakistan, there is no question of handing him over to anyone.. [Reuters, 3/2/03] Pakistan further claims that if he is extradited, it will be to Kuwait, the country where he was born, not the US. [BBC, 3/3/03] There have been other conflicting accounts of Abdul Qudoos. whereabouts. It would be particularly controversial to extradite him since he.s a Pakistan citizen [Daily Times, 3/3/03, Washington Post, 3/2/03, Reuters, 3/3/03 (B)] (Pakistan seems happy to forget that Mohammed had a Pakistani passport beginning in 1982 [Financial Times, 2/15/03]).

What Was Recovered With Mohammed?
Officials and the Qudoos family originally claimed that a single computer hard drive, documents, and US dollars were taken from the house. [AP, 3/2/03 (B), Australian Broadcasting Corp., 3/2/03] The family said the single computer had no Internet hookup, and the mentally impaired Ahmed Abdul Qudoos didn.t know how to use it. [AP, 3/2/03 (B)] Soon it was reported that authorities were said to have .recovered a huge amount of information about al-Qaeda. from multiple computers, disks, cell phones and documents recovered with Mohammed. [Associated Press, 3/3/03] They very quickly .gleaned crucial information. from a .mother lode. of evidence. [Baltimore Sun, 3/3/03] But it was simultaneously reported that .the computers and cell phones seized during the arrest have not yielded the wealth of information that officials had hoped they would.. [ABC News, 3/3/03]

Even assuming that Mohammed was not earlier captured or killed, it is clear that many possessions of his have already been taken in previous near misses. On September 10, 2002, a raid yielded four laptops, a satellite telephone and $5,000 in cash all belonging to Mohammed. [Guardian, 9/23/02] At least one more laptop and .literature. was found in another the next day in the raid that captured Ramzi bin al-Shibh. [Christian Science Monitor, 10/29/02] Ramzi bin al-Shibh was known to have been carrying a collection of .souvenirs. of documents related to 9/11 with him [Australian, 9/9/02], so that may have been captured that day as well. Wouldn.t such earlier raids have been the real .mother lodes?.

Meanwhile, it has generally been reported that .Mohammed has so far refused to answer any questions.. [ABC News, 3/3/03] But the Pakistanis, who may well not even be holding him, after only two days claim the .suspect is cooperating with interrogators and that his information is being acted upon.. [BBC, 3/3/03]

A Delay in Notification
Mohammed was captured around 3 AM, local time (account vary from 2:30 to 4). His identity was confirmed .a few minutes. after his capture by CIA and FBI agents. [Telegraph, 3/3/03, Washington Post, 3/2/03] Yet supposedly, CIA Director George Tenet did not notify National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice until midnight, in the Eastern Standard time zone. [Los Angeles Times, 3/2/03] Because of the time zone difference, that meant Tenet waited about eight hours to notify her. It took another seven hours to notify President Bush. [Los Angeles Times, 3/2/03] Perhaps he didn.t want to be wakened? Why these delays? Was the time used to determine if all was secure to use the arrest of Ahmed Abdul Qudoos as a cover to falsely claim the arrests of Mohammed and Al-Hawsawi as well?

The Timing of the Capture Helps Bush
One unnamed terror expert claimed to have predicted the arrest, saying that .several weeks ago he believed Mohammed had been arrested and that he expected the news would be only be made public when it was in the interests of the United States and Pakistan.. [Australian Broadcasting Corp., 3/2/03] One could hardly imagine a more opportune time for Bush to pull out such an ace in the hole. A New York Times article written just prior to the announcement of Mohammed.s arrest listed .a host of discouraging weekend developments for the Bush administration.. Turkish parliament had narrowly voted not to allow the US to use their country as a staging ground for an Iraq war. The Arab League agreed on a final statement expressing .complete rejection of any aggression on Iraq. while also promising .refusal to participate in military action.. France issued a forceful new rejection of a second UN resolution sanctioning war with Iraq. Thousands of antiwar protesters filled the streets in cities in Bosnia, Pakistan, Yemen, Morocco and Japan, among other places. Organizers said more large demonstrations were planned for next week. Pope John Paul II gave a letter for President Bush arguing against war. Iraq began destroying its prohibited Al Samoud 2 missiles. Iraq also allowed UN inspectors to interview a biological weapons scientist and a missile expert with no minder or tape recorder present. [New York Times, 3/2/03 (C)]

Furthermore, the Observer leaked a document showing the US had been engaging in a .dirty tricks. campaign of spying on UN delegations to help win support for a war on Iraq. [Observer, 3/2/03] The story, posted on the web the same day the Mohammed story broke, led news reports in Europe, but remained unreported in the US. That wasn.t the case overseas. The author of the story said he had agreed to interviews with NBC, CNN, and Fox News Channel, but all three later canceled. [Salon, 3/3/03] The story finally began to get limited US coverage once CBS ran it two days later. [CBS, 3/3/03] Did the capture of Mohammed.headlines for two obscure the .dirty tricks. story, as well as all the other bad news?

The Independent had a story titled, .Arrest May Silence Critics of War on Terrorism.. [Independent, 3/4/03] As the New York Times put it, .Mr. Mohammed.s arrest suggested that American counterterrorism agents were capable of significant direct action after months when the government.s security apparatus seemed caught in the throes of reorganization.. [New York Times, 3/2/03 (B)] .The arrest came as Americans had been expressing diminished confidence in the nation.s ability to defeat al-Qaeda.. Democrats and other critics have complained that Bush has allocated too much attention and resources to preparing for an invasion of Iraq at the expense of the war on terrorism.. A pollster pointed out that .Bush.s approval ratings are really held up by views on how he deals with the war on terrorism,. and that Mohammed.s arrest would be a .shot in the arm. for Bush.s ratings. [Baltimore Sun, 3/3/03] The arrest also helped deal with future events. Attorney General John Ashcroft, FBI Director Robert Mueller and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge all faced a Congressional hearing about terrorism on March 3. [AP, 3/4/03] When the hearing came, the arrest of Mohammed .served to deflect tough questioning from members of Congress.. [New York Times, 3/5/03 (B)] Furthermore, a few weeks earlier the Justice Department faced a .collapse. of its legal case against al-Qaeda suspect Zacarias Moussaoui. Mohammed.s arrest now will offer .a graceful way out for Justice. by allowing Moussaoui.s case to be folded into a larger 9/11 conspiracy trial. [Newsweek, 3/5/03]

The timing was so fortuitous that New York Times ran a front page headline: .Major Catch, Critical Time.. [New York Times, 3/2/03 (B)] In fact, some hinted it was more than just luck. For instance, Tariq Ali: .The timing of this is quite interesting. Just as the US Government was coming under criticism for not doing anything about the actual terrorists and being too distracted by the war in Iraq, suddenly, hey presto, the intelligence in Pakistan supplies them with a prisoner been looking for.. [Australian Broadcasting Corp., 3/3/03] The Independent called the .immaculate timing. a .mystery.. [Independent, 3/3/03] Lt. Gen. Hamid Gul, former head of Pakistan.s ISI, also made some curious comments: .High-profile people arrested in this way are never going to be presented publicly so many people would question if this claim is even true. From the Pakistani public many would say that the US and Pakistan are both in need of claiming success stories and this is what it is. Pakistan needs to prove itself a useful ally and the US administration wanted to claim a success story as it prepares to go in to Iraq.. [Financial Times, 3/2/03]

Fortuitous Timing For Pakistan As Well
Reuters, paraphrasing regional expert and journalist Ahmed Rashid, wrote, .As important the timing was for Bush, it was even more important for Pakistani President Musharraf. The arrest should also help Musharraf in dealing with three major problems Washington was currently .burying. due to its preoccupation with Iraq, which were bound to surface when that crisis passed.. These include allegations that Pakistan provided nuclear materials to North Korea, something Islamabad denies and its confrontation with India over the disputed state of Kashmir.. [Reuters, 3/2/03 (B)]

Rashid.s third problem was the upcoming UN vote on the Iraq war. Pakistan is facing tremendous pressure from the US to vote in favor of the resolution, and great pressure from the Muslim world and forces within Pakistan to vote against it. [Telegraph, 3/4/03] As Rashid put it, the arrest .would make it much easier for Pakistan to abstain in the (Iraq) vote, because it is doing one duty, so it does not have to do the other duty.. [Reuters, 3/2/03 (B)] Other analysts and a Pakistani official voiced similar sentiments. [Telegraph, 3/4/03, Reuters, 3/2/03 (B)]

Pakistan.s Reputation Is Revived
Some days earlier, famous reporter Seymour Hersh said the US partnership with Pakistan was .dealing with the devil.. He pointed out that Pakistan had been secretly giving nuclear weapons technology to North Korea for years, and may even have allowed some members of bin Laden.s immediate family to escape US forces in Afghanistan (inadvertently or not). [Now with Bill Moyers, 2/21/03] A week before the arrest, the Washington Post had an even more scathing editorial. It suggested that a regrouping of al-Qaeda and Taliban forces in Afghanistan is taking place, and this .has been supported by elements of Pakistan.s military intelligence agency.. as these forces are given safe haven in Pakistan. .Gen. Musharraf and his intelligence services must get the clear message that such staging grounds cannot be tolerated. If he is unwilling to act against them, the Bush administration must reconsider whether its attenuated alliance with the general is worth the growing cost.. [Washington Post, 2/25/03]

This was merely the latest in a rising chorus of criticism against Pakistan. A few months earlier, another Washington Post editorial stated, .Pakistan today is the most dangerous place on Earth, in large part because the administration does not understand the forces it is dealing with there and has no policy to contain them.. Pervez Musharraf.s Pakistan is a base from which nuclear technology, fundamentalist terrorism and life-destroying heroin are spread around the globe. . Official Washington will not even tell the truth to or about Musharraf, much less hold him accountable for his lies and subterfuge.. [Washington Post, 10/24/02]

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Friday, December 12, 2008

KLUGE - excerpt - not full text pdf

The Haphazard Construction of the Human Mind

Remnants of History

It has been said that man is a rational
animal. All my life I have been searching
for evidence which could support this.

.Bertrand Russell

Are human beings .noble in reason.
and .infinite in faculty. as William
Shakespeare famously wrote?
Perfect, .in God.s image,. as some
biblical scholars have asserted? Hardly.
If mankind were the product
of some intelligent, compassionate
designer, our thoughts would be rational,
our logic impeccable. Our memory would
be robust, our recollections reliable. Our
sentences would be crisp, our words
precise, our languages systematic and
regular, not besodden with irregular verbs
(sing-sang, ring-rang, yet bring-brought)
and other peculiar inconsistencies. As
the language maven Richard Lederer has
noted, there would be ham in hamburger,
egg in eggplant. English speakers would
park in parkways and drive on driveways,
and not the other way around.
At the same time, we
humans are the only species smart
enough to systematically plan for the
future.yet dumb enough to ditch our
most carefully made plans in favor of
short-term gratification. (.Did I say I was
on a diet? Mmm, but three-layer
chocolate mousse is my favorite . . .
Maybe I.ll start my diet tomorrow..) We
happily drive across town to save $25 on
a $100 microwave but refuse to drive the
same distance to save exactly the same
$25 on a $1,000 flat-screen TV. We can
barely tell the difference between a valid
syllogism, such as All men are mortal,
Socrates is a man, therefore Socrates is
mortal, and a fallacious counterpart,
such as All living things need water,
roses need water, therefore roses are
living things (which seems fine until you
substitute car batteries for roses). If I tell
you that .Every sailor loves a girl,. you
have no idea whether I mean one girl in
particular (say, Betty Sue) or whether
I.m really saying .to each his own.. And
don.t even get me started on eyewitness
testimony, which is based on the absurd
premise that we humans can accurately
remember the details of a briefly
witnessed accident or crime, years after
the fact, when the average person is
hard pressed to keep a list of a dozen
words straight for half an hour.
I don.t mean to suggest that
the .design. of the human mind is a total
train wreck, but if I were a politician, I.m
pretty sure the way I.d put it is .mistakes
were made.. The goal of this book is to
explain what mistakes were made.and

Where Shakespeare imagined infinite
reason, I see something else, what
engineers call a .kluge.. A kluge is a
clumsy or inelegant.yet surprisingly
effective.solution to a problem.
Consider, for example, what happened in
April 1970 when the CO2 filters on the
already endangered lunar module of
Apollo 13 began to fail. There was no
way to send a replacement filter up to
the crew.the space shuttle hadn.t been
invented yet.and no way to bring the
capsule home for several more days.
Without a filter, the crew would be
doomed. The mission control engineer,
Ed Smylie, advised his team of the
situation, and said, in effect, .Here.s
what.s available on the space capsule;
figure something out.. Fortunately, the
ground crew was able to meet the
challenge, quickly cobbling together a
crude filter substitute out of a plastic
bag, a cardboard box, some duct tape,
and a sock. The lives of the three
astronauts were saved. As one of them,
Jim Lovell, later recalled, .The
contraption wasn.t very handsome, but it
Not every kluge saves lives.
Engineers sometimes devise them for
sport, just to show that something.say,
building a computer out of Tinkertoys.
can be done, or simply because
too lazy to do something the right way.
Others cobble together kluges out of a
mixture of desperation and
resourcefulness, like the TV character
MacGyver, who, needing to make a
quick getaway, jerry-built a pair of shoes
from duct tape and rubber mats. Other
kluges are created just for laughs, like
Wallace and Gromit.s .launch and
activate. alarm
clock/coffeemaker/Murphy bed and Rube
Goldberg.s .simplified pencil sharpener.
(a kite attached to a string lifts a door,
which allows moths to escape,
culminating in the lifting of a cage, which
frees a woodpecker to gnaw the wood
that surrounds a pencil.s graphite core).
MacGyver.s shoes and Rube Goldberg.s
pencil sharpeners are nothing, though,
compared to perhaps the most fantastic
kluge of them all.the human mind, a
quirky yet magnificent product of the
entirely blind process of evolution.

The origin, and even the spelling, of the
word kluge is up for grabs. Some spell it
with a d (kludge), which has the virtue of
looking as clumsy as the solutions it
denotes, but the disadvantage of
suggesting the wrong pronunciation.
(Properly pronounced, kluge rhymes with
huge, not sludge. One could argue that
the spelling klooge (rhymes with stooge)
would even better capture the
pronunciation, but I.m not about to foist a
third spelling upon the world.) Some
trace the word to the old Scottish word
cludgie, which means .an outside toilet..
Most believe the origins lie in the
German word Kluge, which
means .clever.. The Hacker.s Dictionary
of Computer Jargon traces the term back
at least to 1935, to a .Kluge [brand]
paper feeder,. described as .an adjunct
to mechanical printing presses..

The Kluge feeder was designed before
small, cheap electric motors and control
electronics; it relied on a fiendishly
complex assortment of cams, belts, and
linkages to both power and synchronize
all its operations from one motive
driveshaft. It was accordingly
temperamental, subject to frequent
breakdowns, and devilishly difficult to
repair.but oh, so clever!

Virtually everybody agrees
that the term was first popularized in
February 1962, in an article titled .How
to Design a Kludge,. written, tongue in
cheek, by a computer pioneer named
Jackson Granholm, who defined a kluge
as .an ill-assorted collection of poorly
matching parts, forming a distressing
whole.. He went on to note that .the
building of a Kludge . . . is not work for
amateurs. There is a certain, indefinable,
masochistic finesse that must go into
true Kludge building. The professional
can spot it instantly. The amateur may
readily presume that .that.s the way
computers are...
The engineering world is filled
with kluges. Consider, for example,
something known as vacuum-powered
windshield wipers, common in most cars
until the early 1960s. Modern windshield
wipers, like most gizmos on cars, are
driven by electricity, but back in the
olden days, cars ran on 6 volts rather
than 12, barely enough power to keep
the spark plugs going and certainly not
enough to power luxuries like windshield
wipers. So some clever engineer rigged
up a kluge that powered windshield-wiper
motors with suction, drawn from the
engine, rather than electricity. The only
problem is that the amount of suction
created by the engine varies, depending
on how hard the engine is working. The
harder it works, the less vacuum it
produces. Which meant that when you
drove your 1958 Buick Riviera up a hill,
or accelerated hard, your wipers slowed
to a crawl, or even stopped working
altogether. On a rainy day in the
mountains, Grandpa was out of luck.
What.s really that most people probably
didn.t even realize it was possible to do
better. And this, I think, is a great
metaphor for our everyday acceptance of
the idiosyncrasies of the human mind.
The mind is inarguably impressive, a lot
better than any available alternative. But
it.s still flawed, often in ways we
scarcely recognize. For the most part,
we simply accept our faults .such as
our emotional outbursts, our mediocre
memories, and our vulnerability to standard equipment.
Which is exactly why recognizing a
kluge, and how it might be improved
upon, sometimes requires thinking
outside the box. The best science, like
the best engineering, often comes from
understanding not just how things are,
but how else they could have been.

If engineers build kluges mostly to save
money or to save time, why does nature
build them? Evolution is neither clever
nor penny-pinching. There.s no money
involved, no foresight, and if it takes a
billion years, who.s going to complain?
Yet a careful look at biology reveals
kluge after kluge. The human spine, for
example, is a lousy solution to the
problem of supporting the load in an
upright, two-legged creature. It would
have made a lot more sense to distribute
our weight across four equal cross-
braced columns. Instead, all our weight
is borne by a single column, putting
enormous stress on the spine. We
manage to survive upright (freeing our
hands), but the cost for many people is
agonizing back pain.We are stuck with
this barely adequate solution not
because it is the best possible way to
support the weight of a biped, but
because the spine.s structure evolved
from that of four-legged creatures, and
standing up poorly is (for creatures like
us, who use tools) better than not
standing up at all. Meanwhile, the light-
sensitive part of our eye (the retina) is
installed backward, facing the back of
the head rather than the front. As a
result, all kinds of stuff gets in its way,
including a bunch of wiring that passes
through the eye and leaves us with a pair
of blind spots, one in each eye.
Another well-known example
of an evolutionary kluge comes from a
rather intimate detail of male anatomy.
The tubing that runs from the testis to
the urethra (the vas deferens) is much
longer than necessary: it runs back to
front, loops around, and does a 180-
degree turn back to the penis. A
parsimonious designer interested in
conserving materials (or in efficiency of
delivery) would have connected the testis
directly to the penis with just a short
length of tubing; only because biology
builds on what has come before is the
system set up so haphazardly. In the
words of one scientist, .The [human]
body is a bundle of imperfections,
with . . . useless protuberances above
the nostrils, rotting teeth with trouble-
prone third molars, aching feet . . . ,
easily strained backs, and naked tender
skin, subject to cuts, bites, and, for
many, sunburn. We are poor runners
and are only about a third as strong as
chimpanzees smaller than ourselves..
To this litany of human-
specific imperfections, we might add
dozens more that are widely shared
across the animal world, such as the
byzantine system by which DNA strands
are separated prior to DNA replication (a
key process in allowing one cell to
become two). One molecule of DNA
polymerase does its job in a perfectly
straightforward fashion, but the other
does so in a back-and-forth, herky-jerky
way that would drive any rational
engineer insane. Nature is prone to
making kluges because it doesn.t .care.
whether its products are perfect or
elegant. If something works, it spreads.
If it doesn.t work, it dies out. Genes that
lead to successful outcomes tend to
propagate; genes that produce creatures
that can.t cut it tend to fade away; all
else is metaphor. Adequacy, not beauty,
is the name of the game.

Nobody would doubt this when it comes
to the body, but somehow, when it
comes to the mind, many people draw
the line. Sure,my spine is a kluge,
maybe my retina too, but my mind? It.s
one thing to accept that our body is
flawed, quite another to accept that our
mind is too. Indeed, there is a long
tradition in thinking otherwise. Aristotle
saw man as .the rational animal,. and
economists going back to John Stuart
Mill and Adam Smith have supposed
that people make decisions based on
their own self-interest, preferring
wherever possible to buy low and sell
high, maximizing their .utility. wherever
they can.
In the past decade, a number
of academics have started to argue that
humans reason in a .Bayesian. fashion
(the term Bayesian comes from a
particular mathematical theorem
stemming from the work of the Reverend
Thomas Bayes (1702.1761), although
he himself did not propose it as a model
for human reasoning. In rough terms, the
theorem states that the probability of
some event is proportional to the product
of the likelihood of that event and its prior
probability. For a clear (though
somewhat technical) introduction, point
your browser to
istics.), which is mathematically optimal.
One prestigious journal recently devoted
an entire issue to this possibility, with a
trio of prominent cognitive scientists from
MIT, UCLA, and University College
London arguing that .it seems
increasingly plausible that human
cognition may be explicable in rational
probabilistic terms . . . in core domains,
human cognition approaches an optimal
level of performance..
The notion of optimality is
also a recurrent theme in the
increasingly popular field of evolutionary
psychology. For example, John Tooby
and Leda Cosmides, the cofounders of
the field, have written that .because
natural selection is a hill-climbing
process that tends to choose the best of
the variant designs that actually appear,
and because of the immense numbers of
alternatives that appear over the vast
expanse of evolutionary time, natural
selection tends to cause the
accumulation of superlatively well
engineered functional designs..
In the same vein, Steven
Pinker has argued that .the parts of the
mind that allow us to see are indeed well
engineered, and there is no reason to
think that the quality of engineering
progressively deteriorates as the
information flows upstream to the
faculties that interpret and act on what
we see..
This book will present a
rather different view. Although no
reasonable scholar would doubt the fact
that natural selection can produce
superlatively well engineered functional
designs, it is also clear that superlative
engineering is by no means guaranteed.
What I will argue, in contrast to most
economists, Bayesians, and
evolutionary psychologists, is that the
human mind is no less of a kluge than
the body. And if that.s true, our very
understanding of ourselves.of human
nature.must be reconsidered.

In the extensive literature on evolutionary
psychology, I know of only a few
aspects of the human mind that have
been attributed to genuine quirks.
Although most evolutionary
psychologists recognize the possibility
of suboptimal evolution in principle, in
practice, when human errors are
discussed, it.s almost always to explain
why something apparently nonadaptive
actually turns out to be well engineered.
Take, for example,
infanticide. Nobody would argue that
infanticide is morally justifiable, but why
does it happen at all? From the
perspective of evolution, infanticide is not
just immoral, but puzzling. If we exist
essentially as gene-propagating vessels
(as Richard Dawkins has argued), why
would any parent murder his or her own
child? Martin Daly and Margo Wilson
have argued that from the gene.s-eye
view, infanticide makes sense only in a
very limited set of circumstances: when
the parent is not actually related by
blood to the child (stepparents, for
example), when a male parent is in
doubt about paternity, or when a mother
is not currently in a position to take good
care of the child, yet has prospects for
taking better care of some future child
(say, because the current infant was
born hopelessly unhealthy). As Daly and
Wilson have shown, patterns of murder
and child abuse fit well with these
Or consider the somewhat
unsurprising fact that men (but not
women) systematically tend to
overinterpret the sexual intentions of
potential mates (except, tellingly, those
of their sisters). Is this simply a matter
of wishful thinking? Not at all, argue the
evolutionary psychologists Martie
Haselton and David Buss. Instead, it.s a
highly efficient strategy shaped by
natural selection, a cognitive error
reinforced by nature. Strategies that lead
to greater reproductive success spread
(by definition) widely throughout the
population, and ancestral males who
tended to read too much into the signals
given by possible partners would have
more opportunities to reproduce than
would their more cautious counterparts,
who likely failed to identify bona fide
opportunities. From the gene.s-eye view,
it was well worth it for our male
ancestors to take the risk of
overinterpretation because gaining an
extra reproductive opportunity far
outweighs the downside, such as
damage to self-esteem or reputation, of
perceiving opportunity where there is
none. What looks like a bug, a
systematic bias in interpreting the
motives of other human beings, might in
this case actually be a positive feature.
When reading clever, carefully argued
examples like this one, it.s easy to get
caught up in the excitement, to think
that behind every human quirk or
malfunction is a truly adaptive strategy.
Underpinning such examples is a bold
premise: that optimization is the
inevitable outcome of evolution. But
optimization is not an inevitable outcome
of evolution, just a possible one. Some
apparent bugs may turn out to be
advantages, the spine and
inverted retina attest. some bugs may
be genuinely suboptimal and remain in
place because evolution just didn.t find a
better way.

Natural selection, the key mechanism of
evolution, is only as good as the random
mutations that arise. If a given mutation
is beneficial, it may propagate, but the
most beneficial mutations imaginable
sometimes, alas, never appear. As an
old saying puts it, .Chance proposes
and nature disposes.; a mutation that
does not arise cannot be selected for. If
the right set of genes falls into place,
natural selection will likely promote the
spread of those genes, but if they don.t
happen to occur, all evolution can do is
select the next best thing that.s available.
To think about this, it helps to
start with the idea of evolution as
mountain climbing. Richard Dawkins, for
example, has noted that there is little
chance that evolution would assemble
any complex creature or organ (say, the
eye) overnight.too many lucky chance
mutations would need to occur
simultaneously. But it is possible to
achieve perfection incrementally. In the
vivid words of Dawkins,

you don.t need to be a mathematician or
physicist to calculate that an eye or a
hemoglobin molecule would take from
here to infinity to self-assemble by sheer
higgledy-piggledy luck. Far from being a
difficulty peculiar to Darwinism, the
astronomic improbability of eyes and
knees, enzymes and elbow joints and
the other living wonders is precisely the
problem that any theory of life must
solve, and that Darwinism uniquely does
solve. It solves it by breaking the
improbability up into small, manageable
parts, smearing out the luck needed,
going round the back of Mount
Improbable and crawling up the gentle
slopes, inch by million-year inch.

And, to be sure, examples of sublime
evolution abound. The human retina, for
example, can detect a single photon in a
darkened room, and the human cochlea
(the hair cell containing the part of the
inner ear that vibrates in response to
sound waves) can, in an otherwise silent
room, detect vibrations measuring less
than the diameter of a hydrogen atom.
Our visual systems continue, despite
remarkable advances in computer power,
to far outstrip the visual capacities of any
machine. Spider silk is stronger than
steel and more elastic than rubber. All
else being equal, species (and the
organs they depend upon) tend, over
time, to become better and better suited
to their environment. sometimes even
reaching theoretical limits, as in the
aforementioned sensitivity of the eye.
Hemoglobin (the key ingredient in red
blood cells) is exquisitely adapted to the
task of transporting oxygen, tuned by
slight variations in different species such
that it can load and unload its oxygen
cargo in a way optimally suited to the
prevailing air method for
creatures that dwell at sea level, another
for a species like the bar-headed goose,
an inhabitant of the upper reaches of the
Himalayas. From the biochemistry of
hemoglobin to the intricate focusing
systems of the eye, there are thousands
of ways in which biology comes
startlingly close to perfection.
But perfection is clearly not
always the way; the possibility of
imperfection too becomes apparent
when we realize that what evolution
traverses is not just a mountain, but a
mountain range. What is omitted from
the usual metaphor is the fact that it is
perfectly possible for evolution to get
stuck on a peak that is short of the
highest conceivable summit, what is
known as a .local maximum.. As
Dawkins and many others have noted,
evolution tends to take small steps
(Emphasis on .tends to.. Strictly
speaking, the steps taken by evolution
may be of any size, but dramatic
mutations rarely survive, whereas small
modifications often keep enough core
systems in place to have a fighting
chance. As a statistical matter, small
changes thus appear to have a
disproportionately large influence on
evolution). If no immediate change leads
to an improvement, an organism is likely
to stay where it is on the mountain
range, even if some distant peak might
be better. The kluges talked about
already.the spine, the inverted retina,
and so forth.are examples of just that,
of evolution getting stuck on tallish
mountains that fall short of the absolute
In the final analysis, evolution
isn.t about perfection. It.s about what the
late Nobel laureate Herb Simon
called .satisficing,. obtaining an outcome
that is good enough. That outcome
might be beautiful and elegant, or it
might be a kluge. Over time, evolution
can lead to both: aspects of biology that
are exquisite and aspects of biology that
are at best rough-and-ready.
Indeed, sometimes elegance
and kluginess coexist, side by side.
Highly efficient neurons, for example, are
connected to their neighbors by
puzzlingly inefficient synaptic gaps,
which transform efficient electrical
activity into less efficient diffusing
chemicals, and these in turn waste heat
and lose information. Likewise, the
vertebrate eye is, in many respects,
tremendously elegant, with its subtle
mechanisms for focusing light, adjusting
to varied amounts of lighting, and so
forth. Though it operates with more
sophistication than most digital
cameras, it.s still hobbled by the
backward retina and its attendant blind
spot. On the highest peak of evolution,
our eyes would work much as they do
now, but the retina would face forward
(as it does in the octopus), eliminating
those blind spots. The human eye is
about as good as it could be, given the
backward retina, but it could be better.
a perfect illustration of how nature
occasionally winds up notably short of
the highest possible summit.

There are a number of reasons why, at
any particular moment, a given creature
might have a design that is less than
optimal, including random chance (sheer
bad luck), rapid environmental change
(for example, if there.s a major meteor
hit, an ice age, or another cataclysmic
event, it takes time for evolution to catch
up), or the influence that will animate
much of this book: history, as
encapsulated in our genome. History
has a potent.and sometimes
detrimental.effect because what can
evolve at any given point is heavily
constrained by what has evolved before.
Just as contemporary political conflicts
can in part be traced to the treaties
following the world wars, current biology
can be traced to the history of earlier
creatures. As Darwin put it, all life is the
product of .descent with modification.;
existing forms are simply altered
versions of earlier ones. The human
spine, for example, arose not because it
was the best possible solution
imaginable, but because it was built
upon something (the quadruped spine)
that already existed.
This gives rise to a notion
that I call .evolutionary inertia,. borrowing
from Newton.s law of inertia (an object at
rest tends to stay at rest, and an object
in motion tends to stay in motion).
Evolution tends to work with what is
already in place, making modifications
rather than starting from scratch.
Evolutionary inertia occurs
because new genes must work in
concert with old genes and because
evolution is driven by the immediate.
Gene-bearing creatures either live and
reproduce or they don.t. Natural
selection therefore tends to favor genes
that have immediate advantages,
discarding other options that might
function better in the long term. Thus the
process operates a bit like a product
manager who needs his product to ship
now, even if today.s cut corners might
lead to problems later.
The net result is, as Nobel
laureate François Jacob famously put it,
that evolution is like a tinkerer .who . . .
often without knowing what he is going
to produce . . . uses whatever he finds
around him, old cardboards, pieces of
strings, fragments of wood or metal, to
make some kind of workable object . . .
[the result is] a patchwork of odd sets
pieced together when and where
opportunity arose.. If necessity is the
mother of invention, tinkering is the
geeky grandfather of kluge.
In short, evolution often
proceeds by piling new systems on top
of old ones. The neuroscientist John
Allman has captured this idea nicely
with an analogy to a power plant he once
visited, where at least three layers of
technology were in simultaneous use,
stacked on top of one another. The
recent computer technology operated
not directly, but rather by controlling
vacuum tubes (perhaps from the 1940s),
which in turn controlled still older
pneumatic mechanisms that relied on
pressurized gases. If the power plant.s
engineers could afford the luxury of
taking the whole system offline, they
would no doubt prefer to start over,
getting rid of the older systems
altogether. But the continuous need for
power precludes such an ambitious
In the same way, living
creatures. continuous need to survive
and reproduce often precludes evolution
from building genuinely optimal systems;
evolution can no more take its products
offline than the human engineers could,
and the consequences are often equally
clumsy, with new technologies piled on
top of old. The human midbrain, for
example, exists literally on top of the
ancient hindbrain, and the forebrain is
built top of both. The hindbrain, the
oldest of the three (dating from at least
half a billion years ago), controls
respiration, balance, alertness, and other
functions that are as critical to a
dinosaur as to a human. The midbrain,
layered on soon afterward, coordinates
visual and auditory reflexes and controls
functions such as eye movements. The
forebrain, the final division to come
online, governs things such as language
and decision making, but in ways that
often depend on older systems. As any
neuroscience textbook will tell you,
language relies heavily on Broca.s area,
a walnut-sized region of the left forebrain,
but it too relies on older systems, such
as the cerebellum, and ancestral
memory systems that are not
particularly well suited to the job. Over
the course of evolution our brain has
become a bit like a palimpsest, an
ancient manuscript with layers of text
written over it many times, old bits still
hiding behind new.
Allman referred to this
awkward process, by which new
systems are built on top of old ones
rather than begun from scratch, as
the .progressive overlay of technologies..
The end product tends to be a kluge.

Of course, explaining why evolution can
produce kluge-like solutions in general is
not the same thing as showing that the
human mind in particular is a kluge. But
there are two powerful reasons for
thinking that it might be: our relatively
recent evolution and the nature of our
Consider, first, the short span
of human existence and what it might
mean. Bacteria have lived on the planet
for three billion years, mammals for three
hundred million. Humans, in contrast,
have been around for, at most, only a
few hundred thousand. Language,
complex culture, and the capacity for
deliberate thought may have emerged
only in the past fifty thousand years. By
the standards of evolution, that.s not a
lot of time for debugging, and a long time
for the accumulation of prior evolutionary
Meanwhile, even though your
average human makes its living in ways
that are pretty different from those of the
average monkey, the human genome
and primate genomes scarcely differ.
Measured nucleotide by nucleotide, the
human genome is 98.5 percent identical
to that of the chimpanzee. This suggests
that the vast majority of our genetic
material evolved in the context of
creatures who didn.t have language,
didn.t have culture, and didn.t reason
deliberately. This means that the
characteristics we hold most dear, the
features that most distinctly define us as
human beings.language, culture,
explicit thought.must have been built
on a genetic bedrock originally adapted
for very different purposes.
Over the course of this book,
we.ll travel through some of the most
important areas of human mental life:
memory, belief, choice, language, and
pleasure. And in every case, I will show
you that kluges abound.
Humans can be brilliant, but
they can be stupid too; they can join
cults, get addicted to life-ruining drugs,
and fall for the claptrap on late-night talk
radio. Every one of us is susceptible.
not just Joe Sixpack, but doctors,
lawyers, and world leaders too, as books
like Jerome Groopman.s How Doctors
Think and Barbara Tuchman.s The
March of Folly well attest. Mainstream
evolutionary psychology tells us much
about how natural selection has led to
good solutions, but rather less about
why the human mind is so consistently
vulnerable to error.
In the pages to come I.ll
consider why our memory so often fails
us, and why we often believe things that
aren.t true but disbelieve things that are.
I.ll consider how it is that half of all
Americans can believe in ghosts and
how almost four million can sincerely
believe that been abducted by
space aliens. I.ll look at how we spend
(and often waste) our money, why the
phenomenon of throwing good money
after bad is so widespread, and why we
inevitably find meat that is 80 percent
lean much more appealing than meat
that is 20 percent fat. I.ll examine the
origins of languages and explain why
they are replete with irregularity,
inconsistency, and ambiguity. and, for
that matter, why a sentence like People
people left left ties us in knots even
though it.s only four words long. I.ll also
look at what makes us happy, and why.
It.s often been said that pleasure exists
to guide the species, but why, for
example, do we spend so many hours
watching television when it does our
genes so little good? And why is mental
illness so widespread, affecting, at one
time or another, almost half the
population? And why on earth can.t
money buy happiness?
Kluge, kluge, kluge. In every
case, I.ll show that we can best
understand our limitations by
considering the role of evolutionary
inertia in shaping the human mind.

This is not to say that every cognitive
quirk is without redeeming
value.Optimists often find some solace
in even the worst of our mental
limitations; if our memory is bad, it is
only to protect us from emotional pain; if
our language is ambiguous, it is only to
enable us to say no without explicitly
saying .no..
Well, sort of; there.s a
difference between being able to exploit
ambiguity (say, for purposes of poetry or
politeness) and being stuck with it.
When our sentences can be
misunderstood even when we want them
to be clear.or when our memory fails
us even when someone.s life is at stake
(for example, when an eyewitness gives
testimony at a criminal trial).real
human cognitive imperfections cry out to
be addressed...

RNZ SAT: Gary Marcus - the brain as kluge
Professor of Psychology at New York University and author of Kluge, the Haphazard Construction of the Human Mind.
File Size:9.9MB
Date: (Sat, 29 Nov 2008 08:10:00 +1300

Kim Hill Radio New Zealand, Saturdays

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