Saturday, November 27, 2010

Neutrinos and ISRAEL

by Frank Close (Oxford, £9.99)
Our anthropomorphic bestiary next welcomes some "shy" particles (they rarely interact with normal stuff), and the "dog-cat", which oscillates between dog and cat as it walks down the street. It's a vividly explanatory image, deployed in this story of the first hypotheses of, the long search for, and the eventual discovery of neutrinos. Much of it is a chronicle of apparent failure, although hindsight tempts the author to offer some mischievous interpretations, such as that the failure to discover something "implicitly proved" the existence of something else. Thematically it is also a detective story about the sun: solar neutrinos were what everyone was trying to detect, by the apparently paradoxical means of burrowing ever deeper into the earth to build detectors in abandoned mines.

Close, a physicist, writes with great sympathy for his scientist actors, and he also knows how to exploit the pleasure of the amazing fact – that the centre of the sun is 14 times denser than lead; or that "66 billion solar neutrinos" pass through your eyeball every second. That made me blink.

Gaza in Crisis

by Noam Chomsky and Ilan Pappé (Hamish Hamilton, £14.99)

The Obama administration's latest wheeze, to bribe Israel to stop building "settlements" for three months by giving it warplanes, seems to justify anew the pessimism of Chomsky's essay here on a "peace that could happen (but won't)". From him there is also a piece on the 2008-09 attack on Gaza, and two interviews; the "new historian" Ilan Pappé contributes chapters on "US Involvement in the Palestine Question", Israel's expulsion of Palestinians in 1948, the "one-state solution", and Israel's relentless assault on Gaza in the past half-decade. Both authors perform fiercely accurate deconstructions of official rhetoric. Their critiques are themselves performed rhetorically, as is no doubt inevitable: Chomsky appeals to the authority of his chosen sources ("prominent", "leading"), though he also espouses views that may surprise some of his critics – against academic boycotts, and in favour of Hamas "recognising" Israel. Pappé retorts: "Peace is made between enemies not lovers"; elsewhere, he claims that in the wake of 9/11 the US launched "a total war against Islam".
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posted by u2r2h at 2:30 AM 0 comments

Friday, November 12, 2010

Chomsky at Brandeis

Professor Noam Chomsky makes waves at Brandeis ‘Israel Occupation Awareness Week’

By Jon Ostrowsky
November 12, 2010
Section: Front Page

Noam Chomsky, MIT Linguistics Professor and world renowned activist, labeled the United States and Israel as “rejectionist states” that refuse to join the entire world’s opposition of Israel’s “occupied territories” in a lecture to the Brandeis Community inside Sherman Function Hall Thursday evening.

“Within the occupied territories, it [the situation] is much worse than apartheid,” he said, adding that in much of Israel there is “discrimination, but its not apartheid.”

Chomsky, an author of many books about linguistics, philosophy and foreign policy, told an audience inside the over-filled room that there are two fundamental choices in Israeli politics.

There is “the occupation or the political settlement that has been the international consensus for 35 years.” He expressed optimism that the United States and Israel may one day shift their attitudes, but cautioned that if not, the conflict will endure.

Chomsky’s talk was one of several events during Israel Occupation Awareness Week sponsored by Brandeis Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace. Other students, including some in the Brandeis Zionist Alliance, organized tabling in the Usdan Student Center and an Israeli cultural event on Monday as part of Israel Peace Week.
“We trust that students will show respect for our guests and take to heart Tzipi Livni’s advice: criticism of Israel does not constitute a threat, unless it seeks to deny its right to exist,” Larry Sternberg, executive director of Brandeis Hillel, wrote in an e-mail to members on Sunday evening.
During his speech, at least 50 students stood up about halfway through and exited the room, many of them carrying or wearing Israeli flags. The room was filled to capacity and some students were originally not allowed inside.
“Basically we heard what you said. You put us all to sleep,” Pinchus Polack ’14 said. “We respectfully reject everything you just said.”
Renana Gal ’12, Co-President of Brandeis Students for Justice in Palestine said she respected the silent protest.

“It was very respectful,” she said. “Our concerns were way greater than that.”

During a forum on campus last November with former Israeli Ambassador Dore Gold and South African Justice Richard Goldstone, who wrote a U.N. report criticizing the Israeli Defense Forces for unjust and disproportional use of force during the 2009 Gaza War, several pro-Palestinian students protested when Gold spoke.

They stood up with signs taped to their backs until being told to sit down by a Brandeis professor moderating the forum.

On the Rabb steps Thursday afternoon, several students standing underneath a large banner that said “I Support Israel” asked students to sign a petition advocating forthe release of Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier captured by Hamas in 2006.
“We don’t want to combat them [critics of Israel]. We don’t want to fight them,” Rafi Abramowitz ’14 said. “[But] putting up ‘I Support Israel’ shouldn’t be offensive to anybody.”

He added that the goal in the demonstration was simply to convey that there is another side to the conflict, one that fully supports Israel’s rights and citizens.

Other students read off the names of many Israeli victims of terrorist attacks as a rush of students walked down the steps from class.
Despite the opposition during the lecture Thursday, Lev Hirschhorn ’11, said that the week itself had been successful.

“The fact that we’re able to have this week at Brandeis University [shows] that times are changing,” Hirschhorn said.
Recalling his studies of the Middle East in the 1940s, Chomsky said that a “bi-nationalist solution was still possible today. Maybe someday we can get to it,” he said. “I don’t think that it’s lost.”
Referencing the U.N. Security Council and the International Court for Justice, Chomsky said that the Geneva Conventions still apply to Israel’s policies in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

“There is a short-term solution,” Chomsky said. “The thing that’s blocking it is the United States and its Israeli ally.”

Concerning Israel’s decision to reject Egypt’s proposed peace treaty in February 1971, Chomsky said that “once you’ve decided on expansion over security, it follows that you’re going to have perpetual conflict.”
Chomsky pointed out that Israel need to differentiate between self-defense and violent self-defense.
“Israel of course has a right of self-defense, but the issue is do they have a right [to use] violence as self-defense.”
Israel can defend itself from rocket attacks by reinstating a ceasefire with Hamas, Chomsky said.

When comparing the “occupied territories” to apartheid in South Africa, Chomsky said the two situations are different because in South Africa, the country “needed the black population” to stay. In Israel, however, he said many people would be satisfied if the Palestinians moved.
Chomsky also criticized academia during his talk, explaining that much of history is often written to please people.

“We write history to make what we do look wonderful,” he said. “That’s a principle of academic scholarship.”

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posted by u2r2h at 10:02 AM 0 comments

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

CIA tapes and Bush Torture


Imagine an african tin-pot dictator in his memoires saying:

Torture was legal 
because our lawyers said so.

This is what just happened, on prime-time TV,
when George W Bush was interviewed on: 
Matt Lauer & George W. Bush on NBC:

Bush43 would not answer if he felt that other countries could use the techniques on Americans. When Lauer asked Bush if he would be okay with other countries using waterboarding on an American soldier, Bush told Lauer just to read the book and decide for himself.

Steve Ballinger from Amnesty International goes on to make the logical assumption, "So President Bush's statement [about waterboarding] is an admission that a crime has been committed." Tom Porteous, the UK Director of Human Rights Watch said, "There is no point having international justice for petty African dictators if you can't apply it to the leaders of powerful countries like the US… 

Bush talked about his legacy during his interview. "I hope I'm judged a success. But I'm gonna be dead, Matt, when they finally figure it out," 

(It sounds like Shrub is wise enough to suspect that they will "figure out" that 9/11 was an inside job BEFORE HE IS DEAD)


LIKEWISE...  the 9/11 tapes where KHALID SHEIKH MOHAMMED confessed
to having planned the 911 attacks...   were DESTROYED.

but no problem.

November 9, 2010

No one will be charged in connection with the 2005 destruction of CIA interrogation videotapes

tension between the Justice Department and the CIA and led to a grand jury investigation that has lasted more than two years. It's still possible someone could be charged with satellite violations, such as lying to the grand jury -- and a broader inquiry into whether CIA contractors broke the law in their harsh interrogation of terrorism suspects is continuing. Robert Siegel talks to NPR's Justice Correspondent Carrie Johnson, who broke the story.

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

No one will face criminal charges for destroying CIA videotapes that showed interrogation of detainees. News of those tapes first came to light in late 2007 and touched off a criminal investigation that's lasted for more than two years. The statute of limitations on the tapes' destruction expired this week.

NPR's justice correspondent Carrie Johnson broke this story, and now she's here to talk about it. Hi.


SIEGEL: And first, remind us when these tapes were made and why they were destroyed.

JOHNSON: These tapes appeared to have been made in 2002, and they captured footage of a few high-value detainees in CIA custody in black site prisons overseas. The reasons behind making these tapes remain a bit murky. All along, though, the CIA executives involved in making the tapes seemed to be uncomfortable about them. They had discussions over a three-year period about what to do with them. And finally, in November 2005, Jose Rodriquez, who was then the agency's top clandestine officer, ordered them to be destroyed.

SIEGEL: These were tapes of interrogations of - they're some people we've heard of - Abu Zubaydah is one of the people who was interrogated.

JOHNSON: Abu Zubaydah, who was a famous al-Qaida money man; and al-Nashiri, a man who's suspected of being involved in the plotting for the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole.

SIEGEL: Now, as you understand it, after this active investigation, why weren't there any criminal charges brought for destroying tapes before the statute of limitations expired this week?

JOHNSON: Well, Robert, it really was not for want of trying. Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey in the Bush administration appointed a special prosecutor to investigate this. That man, John Durham, has been having a very active grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia, hauling in former CIA executives, agency lawyers and a host of other people to testify about the reasons for those tapes' destruction.

And he just, it appears, couldn't prove that the tapes were destroyed for a matter of ill intent. There was no apparently criminal wrongdoing in the destruction of the tapes themselves.

SIEGEL: What is the Obama administration saying about this?

JOHNSON: The Justice Department confirmed a few hours after we broke the story online that the investigation into the destruction of the tapes had ended without charges. That said, I've been calling around all day to sources - lawyers involved in the investigation and others - they tell me there's still a possibility that people could be charged for making false statements to the grand jury, or otherwise obstructing justice.

However, Jose Rodriquez's defense lawyer, Bob Bennett, told me this afternoon that Jose Rodriquez is a real patriot and he never broke the law.

SIEGEL: But there are things - at least it's been reported - there are things that were captured in these destroyed videotapes that were very disturbing, if not plainly illegal.

JOHNSON: Robert, that's a very important point. In some of the content portrayed on these videotapes and elsewhere, including menacing of a detainee with a gun and a drill, some detainees were injured and some even died after interrogations. And all of that conduct remains under active criminal investigation by the special prosecutor John Durham.

The Justice Department has said it will not prosecute CIA operatives who acted within the bounds of the law. But if they violated those laws, they still could face criminal jeopardy.

SIEGEL: So the investigation of what was being videotaped may still be going on. The actual destruction of the videotapes is what is now at an end.

JOHNSON: That's exactly right. And that investigation into what was being videotaped could take some period of time because we do know the special prosecutor in this case, John Durham, is an exceedingly cautious man.

SIEGEL: NPR's Carrie Johnson.

Thank you, Carrie.

JOHNSON: Thank you, Robert.


Former president George W. Bush kicked off a week-long book promotion tour with a television interview broadcast on NBC in which he defended every crime committed by his administration, from the illegal wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, to torture, to the abandonment of New Orleans and the Gulf coast during Hurricane Katrina.

The NBC interview is the beginning of a systematic effort to politically rehabilitate the disgraced former president. Bush left office in January 2009 with the lowest approval of any US president since Herbert Hoover, denounced internationally as a mass murderer whose proper fate would be to face a war crimes tribunal.

Bush will follow up the hour-long prime-time interview with appearances on the Oprah Winfrey Show, the Today Show, and other watering holes on the celebrity publicity circuit, aimed at boosting sales of his book, which is expected to earn him tens of millions of dollars. Republican Party leaders reportedly pressed him not to release the book until after the November 2 election, to avoid antagonizing voters.


The greatest media attention has been on Bush's boast that he personally authorized the torture of three Al Qaeda prisoners. Bush had previously acknowledged his role as the ultimate decider on waterboarding, in an interview with Martha Raddatz of ABC News in April 2008. (See: "Top Bush aides directed torture from the White House")

But it was the first time that the former president has discussed the subject since he left office, and he seemed to relish this chapter of his presidency, at one point urging his interviewer, Today Show host Matt Lauer, "Let's talk about waterboarding."

Bush blandly denied that waterboarding was torture, despite the consensus among human rights groups, including the International Commission of the Red Cross, that waterboarding and many other forms of interrogation used at Guantanamo Bay, Bagram and CIA secret prisons violate the Geneva Conventions. Prior to Bush, waterboarding was viewed as a war crime by the US military, and Japanese officers were tried and prosecuted after World War II for using water torture.


The former president claimed that waterboarding was not torture because the lawyers he consulted had said so. This is a transparently circular argument, since these lawyers worked in the Justice Department as his employees, and devised legal opinions to legitimize the actions that Bush, Cheney & Co. wanted to carry out. By that standard, Hitler's "final solution" was also legal, because it conformed to German law as laid down by the Nazis.

While Bush argued that the waterboarding was justified because it "saved lives," supposedly by giving US officials advance warning of terrorist operations, no evidence has ever been presented to support such claims. Last year the New York Times reported that the real motivation for the torture of 


Khalid Sheikh Muhammed (waterboarded 183 times) and Abu Zubaida (waterboarded 83 times) was to extract testimony from them about a nonexistent Al Qaeda connection to Saddam Hussein, to strengthen the Bush administration's case for invading Iraq.

As the World Socialist Web Site wrote, "This fact establishes a direct connection between the violation of domestic and international laws barring torture, the preparation of an unprovoked war of aggression against Iraq, and a conspiracy by the president and his top officials to deceive the American people and drag them into war on the basis of lies." (See: "Bush, top cabinet officials monitored torture of detainees")

The rest of the hour-long interview featured friendly questions from Lauer and smirking, self-justifying answers from Bush. The discussion was structured around the "decision points" which are the focus of Bush's newly released memoir of the same name, and excluded large swathes of the history of the Bush administration.

In particular, there seems to have been a ban on questions about politics. Lauer asked nothing about the stolen 2000 election, which placed Bush in the White House; about the 2002 election, during which the Bush administration pushed through a vote in Congress to authorize war in Iraq, warning of "mushroom clouds" over American cities otherwise; about Bush's reelection campaign in 2004; or about the 2006 election, in which the Republican Party was swept out of power in a wave of popular hostility to Bush and his policies, particularly the war in Iraq.


Bush gave predictable, formulaic answers to questions about 9/11 (he said he never asked whether more could have been done to prevent the terrorist attacks), the decision to go to war in Iraq, the failure to find the "weapons of mass destruction" that were the pretext for the war, the atrocity photos from Abu Ghraib, and his handling of the Katrina disaster and the Wall Street collapse of September-October 2008.

The only regret he expressed over the war in Iraq was his appearance on an aircraft carrier in May 2003 under the banner "Mission Accomplished," which proved a public relations disaster. Of the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, Bush claimed, "No one was more shocked or angry than I was."

When Lauer asked him whether he had considered apologizing for leading the country into war on false pretenses, Bush rejected the suggestion. "I mean, apologizing would basically say the decision was a wrong decision," he said. "And I don't believe it was the wrong decision."

Lauer asked him whether he would do the same thing again if he had known then what he knows now. Bush evaded the issue, replying, "I, first of all, didn't have that luxury. You just don't have the luxury when you're president."

This is the kind of response that is meant to sound tough-minded, but actually has zero content. What's past is past for everyone, not just presidents. That doesn't prevent human beings from reflecting on the past and considering what could have been done differently. Bush wishes to avoid, not just retrospection, but above all, accountability.

Lauer was always deferential, never suggesting, let alone expressing, the visceral hatred that millions of Americans felt and feel for the former "commander-in-chief." Some of his questions were of a disgustingly fawning character. How had the support of military families sustained him when the American public turned against the war in Iraq? Did Bush feel he got enough credit for the decision to escalate the war in late 2006 (the "surge")?

When Bush offered transparent evasions of questions, there was little or no attempt to follow up. Did he expect the war in Afghanistan to last so long? Bush replied that "building a democracy takes a long time," and Lauer made no effort to point out the absurdity of applying such a label to the corrupt narco-puppet state of Hamid Karzai.

When Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld offered to resign over Abu Ghraib, why had Bush decided to keep him? Bush said he couldn't find anyone else to fill the job, a non-answer if there ever was one.

On Katrina, Bush admitted to errors of public relations, not performance, such as the notorious photo of his flyover of the drowned city of New Orleans. The actual failure to forestall the disaster and rescue the survivors he attributed entirely to local and state officials.

The discussion of Katrina brought the moment most revealing of the small, narrow-minded personality of George W. Bush, as he described the statement by rap singer Kanye West, attributing the administration's failure to the fact that "George Bush doesn't care about black people," as the low point of his presidency.

Even Lauer was non-plussed by this. "You're not saying that the worst moment in your presidency was watching the misery in Louisiana," he said. "You're saying it was when someone insulted you because of that."

He could have added that Bush felt this criticism more deeply than the 3,000 killed on 9/11, or the 4,000 US dead in Iraq, or the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis slaughtered in that war.


Bush made a point of not criticizing his successor, without acknowledging that Obama has largely continued his policies, including the two wars, the bailouts of Wall Street and the auto industry, the use of secret detention, spying, torture, and, in a significant escalation of the attack on democratic rights, the assertion of the president's right to order the assassination of an American citizen.

He could have been speaking for Obama as he defended the decision to bail out the big financial institutions that precipitated the crisis of September-October 2008, saying he "had to abandon the free market to save the free market." Bush went on to say that the financial disaster was "not a crisis of the lack of regulation," another claim that Lauer did not challenge or follow up.

According to press reports, there is not a word of criticism of Obama in Bush's 477-page memoir, and the former president expresses his support for the escalation of the war in Afghanistan, where Obama has followed the example of the Bush "surge" in Iraq by ordering an additional 70,000 US troops into the Central Asian country.

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posted by u2r2h at 11:35 AM 0 comments

Monday, November 08, 2010

1 mio MURDERED iraqis - USA war crimes

MEDIA LENS: Correcting for the distorted vision of the corporate media

November 8, 2010



The UK and US media smears described in Part 1 should be kept in mind when considering the gravity and importance of the latest WikiLeaks. In addition to thousands of previously unreported civilian killings, the leaks revealed more than 1,300 claims of torture by Iraqi police and military between 2005 and 2009. More than 180,000 people were detained at some point between 2004 and 2009, or one in 50 Iraqi males.

But these are only the incidents the US military knew about, or chose to know about, or chose to report; and the documents are an unknown sample of all documentation held by the US government. There are, for example, no reports from the "shock and awe" year of 2003, and none from the tens of thousands of after-attack Pentagon bombing assessments. The leaks also report no civilian deaths in major US atrocities, including the offensive that devastated Fallujah in 2004.

The leaks corroborate previous allegations that US forces turned over prisoners to the Wolf Brigade, the feared 2nd battalion of the Iraqi interior ministry's commandos, infamous for their torture and extra judicial killings. This was not merely 'turning a blind eye' to torture, as investigative journalist Gareth Porter notes: "The implication was that the Shi'a commandos would be able to extract more information from the detainees than would be allowed by U.S. rules." (

US forces, then, were complicit in the torture. Indeed, under international law, as the occupying power, the coalition is accountable for all of these crimes.

US troops are actually commanded to +not+ investigate the tortures by an order called Frago 242. Issued in June 2004, this instructs coalition troops not to investigate any abuse of detainees unless it directly involves members of the coalition. Where the alleged abuse is committed by Iraqi forces on Iraqis, "only an initial report will be made... No further investigation will be required unless directed by HQ". (

The leaks reveal that the US military was also aware that the Iraqi government had murdered detainees.

Civilian Deaths - The "Standard Accepted Figure"

The leaks reveal, not just a staggering level of violence and criminality in occupied Iraq, but also the determination of the Iraqi government and US forces to hide civilian casualties.

This is hardly surprising and fits with evidence that the US and UK governments have worked hard to smear credible scientific analysis of the likely death toll. A recent study by Professor Brian Rappert of the University of Exeter reported of the UK government: "deliberations were geared in a particular direction – towards finding grounds for rejecting the [2004] Lancet study [estimating almost 100,000 Iraqi deaths from the war] without any evidence of countervailing efforts by government officials to produce or endorse alternative other studies or data". (

Nevertheless, with a near-uniform intellectual sleight of hand, journalists have managed to turn evidence that civilian casualties are likely +much+ higher (as much as ten times higher) than most media have been reporting into evidence that casualties are perhaps 15 per cent higher. As one seasoned journalist told us privately, "WikiLeaks has been Guardianised" - their true significance has been disarmed, defanged and contained by the media.

This has been achieved by ignoring obvious implications of the leaks for the media's preferred death toll source, Iraq Body Count (IBC), and by ignoring much higher death counts altogether, notably those offered by the 2004 and 2006 Lancet studies. It has been achieved by turning to IBC spokespeople and by blanking alternative sources offering a very different view.

Recall that, prior to the latest WikiLeaks, IBC had offered a "maximum" figure of around 100,000 civilian deaths by violence as reported by the media. The second (2006) Lancet study found 655,000 excess deaths as a result of the 2003 invasion. The BBC's Paul Reynolds quoted IBC:

"'On the basis of these analyses [of WikiLeaks] IBC is able to conclude that some 15,000 hitherto unrecorded civilian deaths will be added to the public record from the Iraq War Logs, and that these, together with new information on combatant deaths contained in the logs, will bring the recorded death toll since March 2003 to over 150,000, roughly 80% of whom were civilians.'"

Reynolds added:

"So 120,000 might well become the standard accepted figure for civilian deaths in the Iraq invasion and its aftermath, unless an examination of all the new logs shows otherwise."

We asked Reynolds why he had quoted both IBC's figures and personnel without even mentioning the Lancet studies. Why had he not turned to Lancet co-authors Les Roberts and Gilbert Burnham for their opinion? Reynolds replied:

"Calm down, David... I have e-mailed Les Roberts and have added his reply." (Email to Media Lens, October 26, 2010)

In his reply, Roberts wrote:

"I remain confident that because people are systematically prone to under-report deaths, our 600,000 violent death estimate by mid-2006 was too low!"

He added:

"There are just so many things that are not consistent with 120,000 deaths! The ORB 11/07 and BBC (see: polls that are completely at odds with the IBC implication that 1 in 20 or 1 in 25 Iraqi households have lost someone to violence. The ORB implication that 1 in 4 households have lost someone matches all the ground reports I hear. You cannot have the Iraqi Ambassador reporting half a million new war widows or UNICEF speculating that there are a million orphans if there are 120,000 war deaths."

As we will see, this is a rare exception to the media rule of ignoring the Lancet authors.

The New York Times reported that the leak "does seem to suggest numbers that are roughly in line with those compiled by several sources, including Iraq Body Count..." (

In the Guardian, assistant editor Michael White, wrote:

"The war logs suggest 109,032 deaths, including 15,000 that the Iraq Body Count (IBC) survey was unaware of, far fewer than others claim, as [Princeton University's] Jacob Shapiro points out in his warning note."

White added:

"One last point here. As Shapiro points out, the war logs cannot be the last word on the Iraq war and occupation's death toll. But, even allowing for its likely failings, the war log total of 109,032 is still way short of the 655,000 deaths - including indirect ones - reported by Johns Hopkins University via the Lancet magazine in October 2006. Yet again the Lancet's figures fail to tally with another source by some distance." (White, 'Iraq war logs: who did the killing?' The Guardian, October 25, 2010)

We have seen many foolish comments from journalists over the years, but this truly numbs the mind - the fingers (temporarily) rest motionless on the keyboard. What to say? Perhaps this: the war logs record an unknown portion of violent deaths reported by US troops in the field; they are only as good as the military calling them in, and we know the military has sought to suppress the truth. As we have noted, the logs do not even contain the tens of thousands of after-attack Pentagon bombing assessments. They cannot conceivably be considered comprehensive, complete, or in any way scientific. By contrast, the 2006 Lancet study estimated +all+ excess deaths as a result of the war (not just from violence) through proven epidemiological methods. To criticise an apple because it is not an orange is simply to make a lemon of oneself.

To his credit, White did at least mention the Lancet studies - a rare feat for our media. On November 4, with the help of US-based media analyst David Peterson, we conducted a LexisNexis search of media reporting on WikiLeaks. Using several search categories, we checked for articles mentioning 'WikiLeaks', for articles mentioning 'WikiLeaks' and 'Iraq Body Count', and for articles mentioning 'Wikileaks' and 'Lancet' between October 23 and November 4. This is what we found:

UK Broadsheets
'Wikileaks': 103 mentions
'Wikileaks' and 'Iraq Body Count': 17
'Wikileaks' and 'Lancet': 0

UK Nationals
'Wikileaks': 137
'Wikileaks' and 'Iraq Body Count': 21
'Wikileaks' and 'Lancet': 0

UK Newspaper Stories
'Wikileaks': 204
'Wikileaks' and 'Iraq Body Count': 28
'Wikileaks' and 'Lancet': 0

UK Publications
'Wikileaks': 320
'Wikileaks' and 'Iraq Body Count': 31
'Wikileaks' and 'Lancet': 1 [Michael White's Guardian article]

UK Wire Service Stories
'Wikileaks': 11
'Wikileaks' and 'Iraq Body Count': 1
'Wikileaks' and 'Lancet': 0

On November 4, we also conducted a Factiva database search covering October 23-November 4 under the categories 'Wires' (twir) and 'Newspapers: All' (tnwp). Factiva covers major sources in the US, UK, and elsewhere:

1. rst=(twir or tnwp) and Wikileaks: 1,374
2. rst=(twir or tnwp) and Wikileaks and Iraq Body Count: 107
3. rst=(twir or tnwp) and Wikileaks and Lancet: 5

The tiny handful of mentions of Lancet are as follows:

Michael White, 'Iraq war logs: who did the killing?' The Guardian, October 26, 2010

'WikiLeaks "truth"; The secret history of the Iraq war turns out to be pretty familiar,' Editorial, Washington Post, October 26, 2010

'U.S. editorial excerpts,' Kyodo News, October 26, 2010 (a reprint of the Washington Post editorial)

'WikiLeaks' release of war files gives little new on Iraq,' Editorial, Winnipeg Free Press, October 27, 2010 (also a reprint of the Washington Post editorial)

Les Roberts and Gilbert Burnham, 'A clouded view from Iraq,' Letter, Washington Post, October 29, 2010

The 126-word-long letter in reply from Roberts and Burnham published by the Washington Post constitutes the +only+ defence of the Lancet studies we have been able to find (apart from the BBC's inclusion of Roberts' comments on our prompting, mentioned above).

The "Mouse Journalism" That Didn't Roar

In a Guardian article, IBC's Harmit Dardagan and John Sloboda noted that "the war logs are likely to add some 15,000 previously unreported deaths of civilians and police to public knowledge". (

What the IBC authors failed to acknowledge is that the logs have obvious and serious implications for the comprehensiveness of their study.

The logs +prove+ that the US and Iraqi governments lied about civilian deaths and sought to cover them up. This is a problem because the IBC study is based on media reports in a country where the ability of journalists to report civilian deaths, and indeed to stay alive, is absolutely dependent on US and Iraqi government support and military cooperation.

As we have described in previous alerts, IBC-style media counts tend to record +less+ deaths when violence increases, particularly when journalists are being targeted for attack. Patrick Ball, co-author of the book 'State Violence in Guatemala, 1960-1996', was questioned about the disparity between the 2004 and 2006 Lancet studies, and figures from media-based counts like IBC. Ball replied:

"I've found a similar disparity between reported deaths and likely deaths in other conflicts that I've studied in Guatemala, Kosovo, Peru and Timor-Leste. Methods such as media reports typically capture violence well when it is moderate, but when it really increases, they miss a great deal. There are a series of biases regarding what gets reported - we get very good reports about journalists killed, but not rural peasants; we know about big landowners, but not grassroots union organizers." (

This is significant because Iraq is the most dangerous conflict journalists have covered since the Second World War. The evidence that they have been barely able to function is overwhelming. In 2005, the Independent's Robert Fisk told the Toronto Star:

"Right now, coverage of the war in Iraq has been reduced to 'mouse journalism,' says Fisk. That's because it's too dangerous for journalists to venture into the streets for more than 20 minutes or so. That's all it takes for a cellphone call to be placed and a car of men to arrive.

"'NBC lives behind a kind of cage on the 7th floor of a hotel. Their armed security men tell them they can use the cafe downstairs but not the swim pool which is overlooked by an apartment block in which Iraqis live. The Associated Press lives behind two steel walls in the Palestine Hotel. It takes 10 minutes to negotiate your way into the newsroom. The New York Times has a stockade of concrete and steel with four watchtowers and Iraqis wearing T-shirts with New York Times on them and armed with Kalashnikov rifles.

"'My objection is not that they don't leave their hotels. My objection is that they don't tell their readers, listeners and viewers that they don't leave their hotels - giving the impression that they can make a tour d'horizon, they can check out stories on the streets.'"

In reporting the latest WikiLeaks, Paul Jay of the Real News Network asked Iraqi journalist Sahar Issa about the threats facing journalists. Jay began by quoting from a speech Issa made in 2007:

"To be a journalist in violence-ridden Iraq today, ladies and gentlemen, is not a matter lightly undertaken. Every path is strewn with danger, every checkpoint, every question a direct threat. Every interview we conduct may be our last." (

In his interview, Jay asked Issa if it was less dangerous in Iraq now. Issa replied:

"It is less dangerous. However, the targets now are more defined (before, it used to be more random), so that journalists are targeted. We don't know where from, exactly, whether it is by people who don't want Iraqis to work with the foreign agencies, whether it is by hardcore Islamists who simply don't want the news about the violence and the chaos that is taking place in Iraq to be out. And at the same time, we have suspected very much that some of the violence also came from the political side, because so much that was questionable, nobody wanted a witness there for the things that were happening, and that's what we were, witnesses."

JAY: "By 'the political side' you mean the Iraqi government."

ISSA: "The Iraqi government, yes, of course."

JAY: "Or US Forces."

ISSA: "The US Forces, Iraqi government. Now, because generally speaking the violence has gone down, we can see that the targeting is more defined. So now in Iraq who is being targeted? It is journalists, it is security forces, and it is government officials. So we know."

Given this climate of fear, how likely is it that the public would even talk to journalists about civilian deaths, much less Iraqi state agencies? Last week, Saleh Al-Mutlaq, head of the Iraqi Front for National Dialogue, the largest Sunni party in Iraq, told Al Jazeera:

"Nothing will change until the [Iraqi] government will be changed. And when it will be changed, then we will find out that the number of the crimes that have been reported in this [WikiLeaks] report will be multiplied by a high factor. At that time the Iraqis will have their own right, they will be free to say what had been done to them. Now the reports are only coming from outside. The Iraqis are not being able to tell the world what happened in this country."

Asked why Iraqis were not free to report the truth now, Al-Mutlaq answered:

"Because if they say anything, they will be taken to jail. I have seen many people who were released from jail and freed because they had done nothing. But they were tortured in a very inhuman way. And then when I asked them, 'Why don't you tell the media?' They said 'They [the torturers] told us if you tell anything, then we will get you back.' So everybody now is silent, they are waiting the time when they will give their cases to the court."

In light of this evidence, how can journalists justify relying solely on IBC's media-based figures, while ignoring the credible, peer-reviewed epidemiological science of the Lancet studies?

Reviewing the WikiLeaks, Professor John Tirman, Executive Director and Principal Research Scientist at MIT's Center for International Studies, comments:

"The most authoritative review of all the mortality estimates - passive and active - appeared in the professional journal Conflict and Health in March 2008, and concluded that population-based surveys are superior (for the reasons discussed here), and that 'of the population-based studies, the [Lancet] studies provided the most rigorous methodology.' The passive reporting, these experts agree, suffers from under-reporting and inability to capture indirect deaths, and thereby called into question the estimates of IBC, the Brookings index, the U.N. office in Baghdad, and other such efforts.

"There is also the matter of corroborating evidence, which typically is overlooked. Two pieces in particular are powerful. The first is the number of displaced Iraqis, estimated between 3.5 and 5 million. Hundreds of interviews of those in Syria and Jordan suggest nearly all fled because of violence in their neighborhoods. No war has produced more than about a 10 to 1 ratio of displaced to dead, and in most wars the ratio is about 5 to 1 or narrower. The 5 to 1 ratio would translate into at least 700,000 deaths in Iraq. The second and less reliable number is the overwhelming number of widows, some from earlier wars, which the Iraqi government has variously estimated at about 750,000."

Tirman concludes:

"The evidence, then, is rather clear and compelling. Something like 700,000 or more Iraqis have been killed either through direct or 'structural' violence in the period since the U.S. invaded more than seven years ago. The number could easily be as high as a million." (

Iraq's Lethal Morgues

In recent years IBC has not relied solely on media reports; it now also includes state sources such as morgues. An insight into the problems surrounding this data was provided by a long-serving journalist working in Iraq for a major news organisation. We asked him:

"How do journalists go about learning of civilian casualties in Iraq? Where do they normally receive the information? Are they informed by Coalition forces or by the Iraqi government? And do they then travel to the scene? Is there some other mechanism for finding out?" (October 27, 2010)

The journalist, who preferred to comment anonymously, responded:

"accurate casualty figures were always tough to come by: the best way was to phone the morgue in any given city after an attack, as under Iraqi law any violent death was supposed to be submitted for an autopsy. They kept the most thorough lists, although of course plenty of bodies were dumped in rivers and lakes in the worst days and may never be found, although the authorities did send divers down in some of the worst spots.

"The US casualty figures were always sketchy at best (and as the WikiLeaks showed, they consistently lied about not keeping a tab) mainly because they were frequently based on a battlefield assessment, ie some grunt who was scared witless claiming that he'd shot X number of people, but with no verification afterwards. The ministry of health was supposed to keep its own figures, but it took years for it to start functioning properly after the invasion, and for key periods of the civil war was controlled by the Sadrists, whose information was liable to be questionable (though the ministry did have some very professional civil servants working for it who gave us good assessments of the situation)." (Email to Media Lens, October 29, 2010)

We replied the same day:

"I read that Iraqi families often don't come forward when family members have been killed because they're terrified of being associated with the insurgency and warring factions. Where does all this leave the Iraq Body Count figure of 100,000 deaths based mostly on media reports?"

He responded again:

"Journalists do go out and cover individual incidents - it used to be incredibly dangerous to do so, less so now, although still risky. In 2005-07 simply getting outside the hotel involved military-style planning, and a bunch of hacks still got lifted as soon as they left their hotel compounds. Now you can get to most places, though some are still quasi off limits to just show up in without setting up meetings in advance. But while that gives you the individual accounts, it'll never give you an accurate overall death toll of a sprawling war like Iraq.

"I think the figures were blurred mainly for the reasons I mentioned earlier, but also, as you said, on occasion because of the problems associated with reporting any death. For a while, for example, Sunnis were terrified of going to the morgues, because the Shia militias (many of whom were 'legit' policemen) would wait for them at the morgue and pick them up, then ask the families for a ransom - then usually kill them anyway, so the business of registering a death produced another series of deaths. But generally the morgues would register the arrival of bodies, no matter how disfigured and even if they remained unidentified...

"There may be a more accurate picture of the death toll years down the line, but I think it will take time - they'd need a lot of security to check all the remote dumping sites of bodies from the death squads, and at the moment there are still too many of the civil war politicians in place to have a real interest in doing so. For example, Bayyan Jabr was the interior minister when whole streets of people were being carted off in police trucks in broad daylight, then being found days later drilled to death with no eyes or kneecaps - last time I checked, he was still the finance minister." (Email to Media Lens, October 30, 2010)

A Disservice To Truth?

In their Guardian article, IBC's Dardagan and Sloboda had nothing at all to say about these factors limiting the reliability of their count as a realistic death toll. This takes some explaining. IBC are well aware that mainstream journalists have, for years, presented their figures as a likely maximum +total+ for civilians killed in the war. Even more troubling, IBC works hard, not merely to identify the limitations it perceives in other studies, but to trash them! In a blog on their website with the sober title, 'Exaggerated claims, substandard research, and a disservice to truth,' IBC wrote in May:

"There have been several survey-based attempts to roughly estimate the number of Iraqis killed as a result of the 2003 invasion and subsequent conflict. It is unfortunate that... the most flawed and inadequate work has dominated public discourse. This has been largely due to the shocking (but ultimately numbing) effect of their hugely exaggerated death toll figures." (

Recall that IBC is a website run by a professor of music psychology and other helpers (one of IBC's key analysts, Joshua Dougherty, has been described on the website as "a guitarist") involved in what they accept is the humble work of data collection. Nevertheless, they feel qualified to offer scathing judgements of the peer-reviewed science:

"Iraq Body Count (IBC) applied an early and so far unanswered set of reality checks to the Johns Hopkins survey published in the Lancet in October 2006, a paper which has recently been comprehensively discredited in a new study by Prof. Michael Spagat of Royal Holloway University. Even among the generally inexact survey results for deaths in Iraq the 'Lancet estimate' was an extreme outlier..."


"In a meticulous and detailed analysis of ORB's survey [an Opinion Research Business survey estimating one million murdered Iraqis between 2003-2007;], IBC researcher Josh Dougherty and Spagat have laid to rest any notion that ORB's massive estimate is even nominally sound, let alone capable of providing validation for another outlier."

Moreover, we are told, neither the Lancet studies, nor ORB, have anything to "contribute, even in broad outline, to the work that lies ahead", for they are offering "the manipulation of numbers disconnected from reality".

This, we need hardly note, is the language of propaganda, not science. But it is language that has appealed to, and influenced, journalists who have turned to IBC as a one-stop shop for opinion on the Iraq death toll.

Responding to criticism from a leading professional epidemiologist that he and his colleagues are in fact "amateurs" in the field of mortality studies, IBC's John Sloboda responded:

"Our position is, and always has been, that reading press reports, which is what this job is, requires nothing other than care and literacy. The whole point about it is that it doesn't require statistical analysis or extrapolations." (

But claiming that a study published in one of the world's leading science journals has been "comprehensively discredited" involves much more than just "reading press reports".

Why, we have to ask, would IBC subject other studies to such fierce criticism while failing to highlight even the most obvious limitations of its own study? And why are journalists not able to see that the latest leaks make these limitations even clearer?

As ever, the commentators asking the important questions will be "the people who comment online under articles", while "responsibility" will remain "the preserve of professionals".


The goal of Media Lens is to promote rationality, compassion and respect for others. If you do write to journalists, we strongly urge you to maintain a polite, non-aggressive and non-abusive tone.

Write to John Burns at the New York Times

Write to Edward Heathcoat-Amory at the Daily Mail

Write to Michael White at the Guardian

Write to Iraq Body Count

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The second Media Lens book, 'NEWSPEAK in the 21st Century' by David Edwards and David Cromwell, was published in 2009 by Pluto Press. John Pilger writes of the book:
"Not since Orwell and Chomsky has perceived reality been so skilfully revealed in the cause of truth."
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Saturday, November 06, 2010

American Airlines Flight 587 ENGINES CAME OFF

get out of it, get out of it




Federal investigators still have no evidence indicating that a benign structural failure played a role in the tail breaking off of Flight 587 last month, sending the plane tumbling into Queens, N.Y., according to 

But as National Transportation Safety Board and other safety experts wrestle to solve the mystery of the powerful forces that ripped the plane's fin off and then cast the engines from their mountings, one aviation expert said sabotage of the aircraft's left engine while still on the ground could explain what shook the aircraft to pieces. 

Expert Marshall Smith opined, "A single point failure, the in-flight actuation of the left engine thrust reverser, can account for all three observed phenomena of the clean breaking off of the tail and the failure of both pylons holding the engines. 

"If the left engine thrust reverser had either partially or completely actuated during flight, it would cause the plane to go into a flat spin to the left. The airplane would spin something like a flat Frisbee with the right engine pushing forward and the left engine pushing backwards," Marshall explained. 

"Within a second of the flat spin occurring, the sideways windblast would rip off the tail assembly, since it was never designed to take such a side blast of air. 

"As soon as the tail assembly broke off, there is now very little wind resistance to the flat spin. At this point the engines would cause the aircraft to spin even faster with the g-forces away from the center of the spin becoming so great that both engines would be violently ripped off the wings and thrown outward away from the plane," Marshall said. 

Marshall's opinion is that the spin accounted for why the engines were found so far away from the crash site and why the tail came off first. 

Terrorist Scenario 

The mechanical engineer, aviation ground school instructor and former NASA adviser painted this scenario: 

  • During the night, a terrorist saboteur disguised as a ground crew mechanic reached up in the back of the left jet engine of the American Airlines Airbus and cut the hydraulic line going to the thrust reverser actuator and the control safety sensor lines. 

  • The next morning after the jet engines were started, the hydraulic fluid began dripping from the cut line. 

  • When the aircraft was about 3,000 feet in the air, the sound of an "airframe rattle" was heard in the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) record. Cause: the tampered-with left thrust reverser had started to close, causing the plane to turn to the left. 

  • The pilot compensated by applying right rudder to bring the nose back to straight flight by turning to the right. 

  • The aircraft commenced a "side slip." During this condition, the burbling air flowing over the extended control surfaces made the plane shake, rattle and roll, accounting for the airframe rattle noise heard on the CVR at 107 seconds into the flight. 

  • The pilot thought he had overcompensated, worried about losing too much airspeed, and returned the controls to normal. The rattling momentarily stopped as indicated on the CVR. 

  • The plane continued to turn back to the left.
  • Seven seconds later, one of the flight crew commented about "air turbulence." 

  •  The pilot again tried to compensate for the plane's strong drift to the left caused by the partially closing thrust reverser by again applying right rudder and opposite aileron. The same rattling sound is heard at 121 seconds into the flight. 

  • Four seconds later, at 125 seconds into the flight, the first officer calls for "full power," presumably to compensate for the side slip, which had slowed the plane down to dangerously low speed. 

  • As soon as the power went to full, the spinning effect caused by the partially or fully actuated thrust reverser caused the plane to spin out of control in a flat spin. 

  • Two seconds later, at 127 seconds, the CVR indicated the flight crew making a comment about being out of control. No more comments are made after that, and the recording ends 17 seconds later when the plane hits the ground. 

  • Fighting to control the aircraft, the pilot held full right rudder and hard left aileron just as the left thrust reverser came into the full-on position. The application of full power greatly increased the turn to the left, created a huge side force on the tail and rudder assembly, and snapped them off cleanly. 

  • Within another second, without the vertical tail assembly to slow the spin, the plane spun violently to the left about the center of gravity of the airplane. The plane spun horizontally with the full power from both engines increasing the spin faster and faster until both engines broke off.

  • The flight crew at the front was thrown violently forward with such g-force they were instantly rendered unconscious or killed, explaining why no more comments from the flight crew are heard after applying full power. 

  • With the plane completely out of control and the engines still running at full power, the engines broke away ripping the fuel tanks in both wings and igniting the plane. 

    Wake Turbulence Discounted 

    Marshall created his saboteur scenario because he concluded early on that it is not possible for any type of wake turbulence from a preceding jet to rip off the tail of an airplane. Furthermore, he concluded, even with the vertical stabilizer gone, Flight 587 would not have gone out of control in such a way that both engines would also fall off. 

    He pointed to a 1985 incident where a Japanese Boeing 747 with the vertical tail assembly completely torn away continued to fly in large circles for over half an hour before hitting a mountain. 

    According to Marshall, Flight 587, an Airbus A300, used a modern "fly-by-wire" computer system and could fly quite easily with complete loss of the vertical fin and rudder. 

    "Most air accident investigators would easily conclude that the chances of three simultaneous airframe failures all occurring at the same time is not probable. It must be one or the other but not all three. It would be much easier to conclude that something else actually caused all three failures," Marshall said. 

    Marshall pointed to a statement by New York City Mayor Rudolph Guiliani at a news conference Nov. 14 that the rescue workers recovered 262 bodies including "a man still holding a baby." 

    "Certainly no man can be strong enough to hold on to a baby through that force, unless instead the plane was in a flat spin. For the passengers in the center of the plane, the force would have been downward [not forward] as the plane hit the ground, and the baby would be simply forced deeper into the man's lap as he sat in the passenger seat. 

    Further clues pointing to his theory, said Marshall: news videos of the crash scene as firemen put out the flames. A large section of the central part of the plane is lying on the ground almost intact but in flames.

  • NTSB Identification: DCA02MA001Scheduled 14 CFR AMERICAN AIRLINES INC
    Accident occurred Monday, November 12, 2001 in Belle Harbor, NY
    Probable Cause Approval Date: 4/14/2005
    Aircraft: Airbus Industrie A300B4-605R, registration: N14053
    Injuries: 265 Fatal.

    The Board's full report is available at

    On November 12, 2001, about 0916:15 eastern standard time, American Airlines flight 587, an Airbus Industrie A300-605R, N14053, crashed into a residential area of Belle Harbor, New York, shortly after takeoff from John F. Kennedy International Airport, Jamaica, New York. Flight 587 was a regularly scheduled passenger flight to Las Americas International Airport, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, with 2 flight crewmembers, 7 flight attendants, and 251 passengers aboard the airplane. The airplane's vertical stabilizer and rudder separated in flight and were found in Jamaica Bay, about 1 mile north of the main wreckage site. The airplane's engines subsequently separated in flight and were found several blocks north and east of the main wreckage site. All 260 people aboard the airplane and 5 people on the ground were killed, and the airplane was destroyed by impact forces and a postcrash fire. Flight 587 was operating under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 121 on an instrument flight rules flight plan. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. 

    The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:

    the in-flight separation of the vertical stabilizer as a result of the loads beyond ultimate design that were created by the first officer's unnecessary and excessive rudder pedal inputs. Contributing to these rudder pedal inputs were characteristics of the Airbus A300-600 rudder system design and elements of the American Airlines Advanced Aircraft Maneuvering Program.

    On November 12, 2001, about 0916:15 eastern standard time, American Airlines flight 587, an Airbus Industrie A300-605R, N14053, crashed into a residential area of Belle Harbor, New York, shortly after takeoff from John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), Jamaica, New York. Flight 587 was a regularly scheduled passenger flight to Las Americas International Airport, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, with 2 flight crewmembers, 7 flight attendants, and 251 passengers aboard the airplane. The airplane's vertical stabilizer and rudder separated in flight and were found in Jamaica Bay, about 1 mile north of the main wreckage site. The airplane's engines subsequently separated in flight and were found several blocks north and east of the main wreckage site. All 260 people aboard the airplane and 5 people on the ground were killed, and the airplane was destroyed by impact forces and a postcrash fire. Flight 587 was operating under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 121 on an instrument flight rules flight plan. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. 

    The accident airplane arrived at JFK about 2231 on the night before the accident. The airplane had been flown from San Jose, Costa Rica, to JFK with an intermediate stop in Miami International Airport, Miami, Florida. During postaccident interviews, the pilots of the flight leg from MIA to JFK indicated that the flight was smooth and uneventful. 

    Flight 587 was the first leg of a 1-day roundtrip sequence for the flight crew. American Airlines records indicated that the captain checked in for the flight about 0614 and that the first officer checked in about 0630. The gate agent working the flight arrived at the departure gate about 0645. She stated that the flight attendants were already aboard the airplane at that time and that the captain and the first officer arrived at the gate about 0700. 

    About 0710, the airplane fueling process began. The airplane fueler indicated that, during the fueling process, he saw one of the pilots perform an exterior inspection of the airplane. He finished the fueling process about 0745 and stated that he saw nothing unusual regarding the airplane.

    Statements provided to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police Department by American Airlines maintenance and avionics personnel indicated that, sometime between 0730 and 0800, the captain reported that the number 2 pitch trim and yaw damper system would not engage. Two avionics technicians were sent to the airplane to investigate the problem. They performed an auto flight system (AFS) check, which indicated a fault with the number 2 flight augmentation computer. The circuit breaker was then reset, another AFS check was performed, and no fault was detected. In addition, an autoland system check was performed, and that test also did not detect a fault. The avionics technicians estimated that they were in the cockpit for 5 to 7 minutes. 

    The cockpit voice recorder (CVR) recording began about 0845:35. The CVR indicated that, about 0859:58, the airplane was cleared to push back from the gate. About 0901:33, the ground controller provided the flight crew with taxi instructions to runway 31L, and the first officer acknowledged these instructions. About 0902:05, the captain told the first officer, "your leg, you check the rudders." (The first officer was the flying pilot, and the captain was the nonflying pilot.) Data from the flight data recorder (FDR) showed that, about 0902:07, the rudder pedal check began. The FDR data also showed that a maximum right rudder pedal deflection of about 3.7 inches was recorded about 0902:11 and that a maximum left rudder pedal deflection of 3.6 inches was recorded about 0902:19. About 0902:23, the first officer responded, "rudders check." The FDR data showed that the rudder pedals returned to their neutral position about 0902:25.

    About 0906:53, the ground controller provided the pilots of Japan Air Lines flight 47, a Boeing 747-400, with taxi instructions to runway 31L. About 0908:01, the ground controller instructed the Japan Air Lines pilots to contact the local (tower) controller. About 0908:58, the ground controller instructed the flight 587 pilots to follow the Japan Air Lines airplane and to contact the local controller. The first officer acknowledged this instruction.

    About 0911:08, the local controller cleared the Japan Air Lines airplane for takeoff. About 0911:36, the local controller cautioned the flight 587 pilots about wake turbulence and instructed the pilots to taxi into position and hold for runway 31L. The first officer acknowledged the instruction. About 0913:05, the local controller instructed the Japan Air Lines pilots to fly the bridge climb and to contact the departure controller at the New York Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON). About 0913:21, the flight 587 captain said to the first officer, "you have the airplane."

    About 0913:28, the local controller cleared flight 587 for takeoff, and the captain acknowledged the clearance. About 0913:35, the first officer asked the captain, "you happy with that [separation] distance?" About 3 seconds later, the captain replied, "we'll be all right once we get rollin'. He's supposed to be five miles by the time we're airborne, that's the idea." About 0913:46, the first officer said, "so you're happy."

    The National Transportation Safety Board's airplane performance study for this accident0 determined that flight 587 started its takeoff roll about 0913:51 and lifted off about 0914:29, which was about 1 minute 40 seconds after the Japan Air Lines airplane. About 0914:43, the local controller instructed the flight 587 pilots to turn left, fly the bridge climb, and contact the New York TRACON departure controller. About 5 seconds later, the captain acknowledged this instruction. Radar data indicated that the airplane climbed to 500 feet above mean sea level (msl) and then entered a climbing left turn to a heading of 220º. About 0915:00, the captain made initial contact with the departure controller, informing him that the airplane was at 1,300 feet msl and climbing to 5,000 feet msl. About 0915:05, the departure controller instructed flight 587 to climb to and maintain 13,000 feet msl, and the captain acknowledged this instruction about 5 seconds later. About 0915:29, the CVR recorded the captain's statement "clean machine," indicating that the gear, flaps, and slats had all been retracted.

    About 0915:35, flight 587 was climbing through 1,700 feet msl with its wings approximately level. About 1 second later, the departure controller instructed flight 587 to turn left and proceed direct to the WAVEY navigation intersection (located about 30 miles southeast of JFK). About 0915:41, the captain acknowledged the instruction. The controller did not receive any further transmissions from flight 587. 

    FDR data indicated that, about 0915:36, the airplane experienced a 0.04 G drop in longitudinal load factor, a 0.07 G shift to the left in lateral load factor, and about a 0.3 G drop in normal (vertical) load factor. The airplane performance study found that these excursions were consistent with a wake turbulence encounter. Between 0915:36 and 0915:41, the FDR recorded movement of the control column, control wheel, and rudder pedals. Specifically, the control column moved from approximately 0º (neutral) to 2º nose up, 2º nose down, and back to 0º; the control wheel moved a total of seven times, with peaks at 18º right, 30º left, 37º right, 34º left, 5º left, 21º left, and 23º right, before moving to between 5º and 6º left; and the rudder pedals moved from about 0.1 inch left (the starting point for the pedals) to about 0.1 inch right and 0.2 inch left before moving to 0.1 inch left. The airplane performance study indicated that, during this time, the rudder moved from 0º (neutral) to about 2º left, about 0.6º right, and back to 0º. 

    During the wake turbulence encounter, the airplane's pitch angle increased from 9º to 11.5º, decreased to about 10º, and increased again to 11º. The airplane's bank angle moved from 0º (wings level) to 17º left wing down, which was consistent with the turn to
    the WAVEY navigation intersection. 

    At 0915:44.7, the captain stated, "little wake turbulence, huh?" to which the first officer replied, at 0915:45.6, "yeah." At 0915:48.2, the first officer indicated that he wanted the airspeed set to 250 knots, which was the maximum speed for flight below 10,000 feet msl. At that point, the airplane was at an altitude of about 2,300 feet msl.

    FDR data indicated that, about 0915:51, the load factors began excursions that were similar to those that occurred about 0915:36: the longitudinal load factor dropped from 0.20 to 0.14 G, the lateral load factor shifted 0.05 G to the left, and the normal load factor dropped from 1.0 to 0.6 G. The airplane performance study found that these excursions were also consistent with a wake turbulence encounter. According to the FDR, the airplane's bank angle moved from 23º to 25º left wing down at 0915:51.5, the control wheel moved to 64º right at 0915:51.5, and the rudder pedals moved to 1.7 inches right at 0915:51.9.

    At 0915:51.8, 0915:52.3, and 0915:52.9, the CVR recorded the sound of a thump, a click, and two thumps, respectively. At 0915:54.2, the first officer stated, in a strained voice, "max power." At that point, the airplane was traveling at 240 knots. About 0915:55, the captain asked, "you all right?" to which the first officer replied, "yeah, I'm fine." One second later, the captain stated, "hang onto it. Hang onto it." The CVR recorded the sound of a snap at 0915:56.6, the first officer's statement "let's go for power please" at 0915:57.5, and the sound of a loud thump at 0915:57.7. According to the airplane performance study, the vertical stabilizer's right rear main attachment fitting fractured at 0915:58.4, and the vertical stabilizer separated from the airplane immediately afterward. At 0915:58.5, the CVR recorded the sound of a loud bang. At that time, the airplane was traveling at an airspeed of about 251 knots.

    According to the FDR, the rudder pedals moved from 1.7 inches right to 1.7 inches left, 1.7 inches right, 2.0 inches right, 2.4 inches left, and 1.3 inches right between 0915:52 and 0915:58.5. Also, the FDR showed that the control wheel moved 64º to the right at 0915:51.5, 78º (full) to the left at 0915:53.5, 64º to the right at 0915:55.5, and 78º to the left at 0915:56.5. 

    The airplane performance study estimated that, at 0915:53.2, the rudder was deflected 11º to the left, and the sideslip angle at the airplane's center of gravity (cg) was about 4º to the left (after peaking temporarily at 5º to the left).21 At 0915:56.8, the rudder was deflected 10.2º to the left, and the sideslip angle was about 7º to the left. At 0915:58.4 (the time that the right rear main attachment fitting fractured), the rudder was deflected between 10º and 11º to the right, the sideslip angle was between 11º and 12º to the right, and the airplane experienced a 0.2 G shift to the right in lateral load factor.

    The CVR recorded, at 0916:00.0, a sound similar to a grunt and, 1 second later, the first officer's statement, "holy [expletive]." At 0916:04.4, the CVR recorded a sound similar to a stall warning repetitive chime, which lasted for 1.9 seconds. At 0916:07.5, the first officer stated, "what the hell are we into…we're stuck in it." At 0916:12.8, the captain stated, "get out of it, get out of it." The CVR recording ended 2 seconds later. The airplane was located at 40º 34' 37.59" north latitude and 73º 51' 01.31" west longitude. The accident occurred during the hours of daylight.

    get out of it, get out of it

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    posted by u2r2h at 12:55 PM 0 comments