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September 14th, 2006

08:25 pm:




North America is surrounded by an area called the Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), which is jointly administered by the United States (US) and Canada. This area, which is almost exclusively over water, serves as a national defence boundary for air traffic, as a sort of "buffer zone". Any aircraft that wishes to fly in or through the boundary must file either a Defence Visual Flight Rules (DVFR) flight plan or an Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) flight plan before crossing the ADIZ. The pilot must have a transponder and a two-way radio while approaching and crossing the ADIZ. In the US, the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) handles these requests; Transport Canada handles Canadian requests. Any aircraft flying in these zones without authorization may be identified as a threat and treated as enemy military aircraft.


The contiguous US ADIZ is defined by Federal Aviation Regulation Part 99 section 43:

Sec. 99.43
Continguous U.S. ADIZ.

The area bounded by a line from 43°15'N, 65°55'W; 44°21'N; 67°16'W; 43°10'N; 69°40'W; 41°05'N; 69°40'W; 40°32'N; 72°15'W; 39°55'N; 73°00'W; 39°38'N; 73°00'W; 39°36'N; 73°40'W; 37°00'N; 75°30'W; 36°10'N; 75°10'W; 35°10'N; 75°10'W; 32°00'N; 80°30'W; 30°30'N; 81°00'W; 26°40'N; 79°40'W; 25°00'N; 80°05'W; 24°25'N; 81°15'W; 24°20'N; 81°45'W; 24°30'N; 82°06'W; 24°41'N; 82°06'W; 24°43'N; 82°00'W; 25°00'N; 81°30'W; 25°10'N; 81°23'W; 25°35'N; 81°30'W; 26°15'N 82°20'W; 27°50'N; 83°05'W; 28°55'N; 83°30'W; 29°42'N; 84°00'W; 29°20'N; 85°00'W; 30°00'N; 87°10'W; 30°00'N; 88°30'W; 28°45'N; 88°55'W; 28°45'N; 90°00'W; 29°25'N; 94°00'W; 28°20'N; 96°00'W; 27°30'N; 97°00'W; 26°00'N; 97°00'W; 25°58'N; 97°07'W; westward along the U.S./Mexico border to 32°32'03"N, 117°07'25"W; 32°30'N; 117°25'W; 32°35'N; 118°30'W; 33°05'N; 119°45'W; 33°55'N; 120°40'W; 34°50'N; 121°10'W; 38°50'N; 124°00'W; 40°00'N; 124°35'W; 40°25'N; 124°40'W; 42°50'N; 124°50'W; 46°15'N; 124°30'W; 48°30'N; 125°00'W; 48°20'N; 128°00'W; 48°20'N; 132°00'W; 37°42'N; 130°40'W; 29°00'N; 124°00'W; 30°45'N; 120°50'W; 32°00'N; 118°24'W; 32°30'N; 117°20'W; 32°32'03"N; 117°07'25"W; eastward along the U.S./Mexico border to 25°58'N, 97°07'W; 26°00'N; 97°00'W; 26°00'N; 95°00'W; 26°30'N; 95°00'W; then via 26°30'N; parallel to 26°30'N; 84°00'W; 24°00'N; 83°00'W; then Via 24°00'N; parallel to 24°00'N; 79°25'W; 25°40'N; 79°25'W; 27°30'N; 78°50'W; 30°45'N; 74°00'W; 39°30'N; 63°45'W; 43°00'N; 65°48'W; to point of beginning.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) is responsible for the intercept of aircraft inside the ADIZ.  However, as it is the FAA and Transport Canada that handle the ADIZ clearances, a request for intercept from one of these agencies precedes any action by NORAD against civilian aircraft.  NORAD do not, and never have, directly monitored air traffic inside the ADIZ themselves.

NORAD areas of responsibility are divided into three regions – Alaska, Continental USA, and Canada.  Each region is further divided into Air Defense Sectors, with a number of fighter interceptor aircraft always on alert for rapid deployment.

At the height of the Cold War fighters were located at over 100 alert sites across the NORAD Continental United States Region, however after the fall of the Soviet Union there was not considered to be a significant threat, and the number of alert bases was slashed repeatedly.  In February 1993 the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff recommended that the dedicated alert stations be entirely eliminated.
In February 1993, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff recommended that (1) the continental air defense mission be performed by dual tasking existing active and reserve general-purpose fighter and training squadrons in the Air Force, the Navy, and the Marine Corps and (2) the number of Air National Guard units dedicated to this mission be sharply reduced or eliminated.

In a 3 May 1994 Report to Congressional Committees entitled Continental Air Defense – A Dedicated Force Is No Longer Needed it was announced that NORAD would reduce the continental US force to 28 aircraft located in 14 alert stations, on 5 minute response time, 24 hours a day:
NORAD plans to reduce the number of alert sites in the continental United States to 14 and provide 28 aircraft for the day-to-day peacetime air sovereignty mission. Each alert site will have two fighters, and their crews will be on 24-hour duty and ready to  scramble within 5 minutes.
By 2001 this had dropped to 14 aircraft at 7 alert bases located on the perimeter of the continental USA, with a 15 minute response time.

At the time of the attacks, only seven locations—around the perimeter of the United States—were engaged in the air defense mission. Each was assigned a pair of Air National Guard fighter aircraft ready to scramble if US airspace were threatened. These alert locations had F-15 or F-16 fighters on the runways, fueled, and ready to take off in fewer than 15 minutes.

(from Air Force Magazine article: The Return Of NORAD, February, 2002)
The hijackings on September 11 occurred within the North East Air Defense Sector – NEADS.  The NEADS mission normally had four interceptor aircraft on duty at any given time – 2 at Otis Air National Guard Base (ANGB) in Massachusetts, and 2 at Langley Air Force Base (AFB), Virginia.

None of the aircraft hijacked on September 11 entered the ADIZ.  Prior to September 11, there was no formal system in place for military intercepts of civilian aircraft outside the ADIZ.  In the 10 years prior to September 2001 there was only one instance in which military aircraft were involved in an intercept of a civilian aircraft outside the ADIZ.

This was the intercept of Payne Stewart’s Learjet 35, registration N47BA, which lost cabin pressure and flew across several states before crashing on October 25, 1999.  According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) report on the incident, communication with the aircraft was lost at 0933 EDT.  The Jacksonville Air Radar Traffic Control Centre (ARTCC) directly requested an intercept from the USAF.  A test pilot from the 40th Flight Test Squadron at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, reached the Learjet at 0954 CDT – a full 81 minutes after initial communication was lost.

In comparison, the duration from first sign of distress to flight termination for the four aircraft hijacked on September 11 were:

AA11 0813 0846 33 minutes
UA175 0847 0903 16 minutes
AA77 0856 0937 41 minutes
UA93 0928 1003 35 minutes
All times are Eastern Daylight Time (EDT)

The intercept of Stewart’s Learjet took twice as long as the longest flight duration on 9/11 – American Airlines Flight 77.]Unlike Stewart’s Learjet, all four aircraft hijacked on September 11 had their transponders turned off.  The transponder broadcasts vital information including the flight identification.  Only transponder contacts appear on the secondary radar screen.

Without transponder information, aircraft had to be located on the primary radar screen which shows a radar signal from every single aircraft in the air – none of them labeled.  In order to identify the hijacked aircraft, Air Traffic Controllers had to first cross-reference all of the aircraft appearing on the secondary radar screen with their correlating reading on the primary screen.  AA 77, for example, was only located on the primary radar screen five minutes before it crashed into The Pentagon.

From this information we can conclude the following facts:
  1. NORAD's area of responsibility is inside the ADIZ

  2. The Hijackings occured outside the ADIZ

  3. There was no standard proceedure for hijackings outside the ADIZ on 9/11

  4. From 1991 to 2001 only one military intercept occured over CONUS airspace.  It took 81 minutes and the aircraft transponder remained on at all times.

  5. Incident-specific conditions on 9/11 did not favor a successful intercept, based on previous experience.

In addition, standard FAA procedure for a hijacking is to hand over all details to the FBI; there is no procedure for involving the military in incidents outside the ADIZ.  As such there were delays between the first signs of hijacking, and NEADS being notified.  This delay is critical.  A delay in notification restricts the “window” of time in which NEADS has to execute a successful intercept.

As you will see from the NORAD timeline (which I will post later), the times from NEADS notification to aircraft destruction are as follows:

AA11 0813 0837 0846 +9 minutes
UA175 0852 0903 0903 0 minutes
AA77 0856 0935 0937 +2 minutes
UA93 0939 1007 1003 -4 minutes
All times are Eastern Daylight Time (EDT)

 So from the outset a successful intercept by NORAD on 9/11 was to be difficult.  Indeed, an intercept of UA175 or UA93 would be quite simply chronologically impossible.  The longest window NEADS would get was 9 minutes.  How did the wargames factor into this?


05:48 pm: The NORAD Response to 9/11 Part One


One of the more common 9/11 Conspiracy claims is that there was some form of "stand-down" of military forces on 9/11, in particular the North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD), responsible for protecting North American airspace. The nature of this "stand-down" varies considerably, however the most common is that a number of wargames were scheduled for 9/11 that replicated the attacks, added false radar blips, and essentially distracted and confused the military so they could not respond.

I believe the nature of this theory lies in the incredibly faith Americans have in their military. The United States armed forces are amongst the most professional, well trained, well equipped, dedicated, and advanced military forces on the planet. This is all true. But that does not mean they are invunerable.

I decided to look into the claims of a stand down. More importantly, I was interested in what did happen inside the military bunkers on 9/11.

When Vanity Fair received recordings of what happened inside the North East Air Defence Sector (NEADS) command centre, they wrote an article on the NORAD response entitled 9/11 Live: The NORAD Tapes. Finally I could find out what really went on, and address the NORAD "stand-down" theory for good.

At the heart of the Conspiracy Theories are the wargames. The claims by Conspiracy Theorists are far ranging. I have heard claims of "dozens" of live-fly wargames on 9/11. Obviously it is impossible to provide evidence that something didn't happen. All we have are the rare occasions on which officials are asked directly about the wargames.

As such, I have addressed only wargame claims that are supported by collaborating sources such as the media, government officials, and so forth. The primary wargames claimed are:

  • Northern Vigilance
  • Vigilant Guardian
  • Vigilant Warrior
There are a range of other exercises claimed to involve a host of other agencies. However as none of these has any direct relationship to NORAD, I have not addressed them.

My research covers two basic areas:
  • The NORAD Mission and Intercept Proceedures on 9/11
  • NORAD Wargames
In addition I have constructed a minute by minute timeline of NORAD's response to the 9/11 attacks.

Stay Tuned

04:22 pm: Something useful.
I have decided to begin using this space, at least in part, to present my own findings in my wanderings through the realm of 9/11 Conspiracy theories. Fear not, the silli-ness, the film reviews, and the vague thoughts shall continue.

They'll just be interdispersed with something a bit more substantial. I'll include all of these under the tag "9/11" for ease of use.

Truck on.

September 12th, 2006

12:25 am: I Wish People behaved like it was 9/11 Every Day
The time is 00:24:38 NZST, September 12, 2006.

Five years ago, to this very moment, in the eastern United States, the time was 38 seconds past 8.24am, September 11, 2001. It was a Tuesday morning.

Boston Air Traffic Control Centre received an odd transmission from one of the thousands of commercial aircraft filling the sky of the Eastern Sea Board. It was not the pilot, but a man with a Middle-eastern accent.

"We have some planes."

The man was Mohammed Atta.

The flight was AA11.

The most significant event in modern history had begun.

In a little over two hours, nearly 3,000 people would be dead, their lives extinguished. The two tallest buildings in New York would be reduced to rubble. Terrorists would have struck at the very heart of the mighty US military.

The politics of 9/11 are vast and many, and it seems virtually impossible to avoid discussing them. Afghanistan. Iraq. Weapons of Mass Destruction. CIA abductions. Illegal Detainees. The Patriot Act. Fear Mongering. Anti-Islam. Israel...

The list goes on. More than any other event, 9/11 fires up emotions, because it fits, like a fulcrum, at the heart of the global debate on the policies and actions of our greatest superpower.

Yet there are 364 days of the year on which to argue back and forwards the issues above.

Not this day. Not now.

This is a time for rememberance.

I get a sick feeling in my stomach, when I hear the political rant raised on this day. It is much like when figures twist ANZAC Day commemorations to fit some agenda.

What is it, about the nature of modern mankind, that we cannot allow a single day to go past with genuine heartfelt love and compassion, grief and rememberance? Why is it we are so cynical of such genuine emotions in this day and age? Why must everything be tarnished with conspiracy theories, cries of blame, political agendas?

Why can we not simply allow a tragedy to be a tragedy, just for one day?

My heart is with America this day. My heart is with the many nations who lost loved ones, citizens, that day in Autumn. This was truely an international tragedy.

My good online friend starkly illustrates the scope of the international tragedy with a flag for each of the nations who lost citizens.

Most of all, my heart is with the FDNY. Those that know me, know well that I love and adore fire engines and firemen. When I was a youngin, it was my dream to be a fireman. When I was younger still, I would vanish from the house, galloping after fire engines when they passed by.

To this day, when I see a fire engine roar past, lights flashing, siren blaring, I stop and stare like a five year old.

To see so many brave fire personnel lost on that day, to see so many of their wonderful fire-engines torn to shreds, chews me up inside something chronic.

But it's about time I addressed the topic of this post, before someone chews me a new one.

"I Wish People Behaved Like It Was 9/11 Every Day"

What an odd remark to make.

Yet on 9/11, amidst the tragedy, we hear amazing tales of just how decent human beings can be. We hear of heroes who risked their lives to save others. We hear of even the tiniest gestures, like those coming down from the towers giving glasses of water to the firemen going up. We hear of firemen who knew they needed to evacuate the buildings, but decided to remain, in order to help others. We hear the story of the passengers on United 93 who fought back against the terrorists, and saved the Capitol Building in the process.

We hear of the fighter pilots who calmly spoke of ramming their unarmed jets into airliners to prevent another tragedy on the ground. We hear of people sharing a radio or a hug with complete strangers. We see the out-pouring of sympathy towards New York. We hear French people say "We are all Americans".

The same stories arise from other tragedies - the Bali Bombings; the Madrid Bombings; the London Bombings; the Boxing Day Tsunami; earthquakes; fires; air disasters; hurricanes. Why is it, only these sorts of events bring out the best in us? Why is it the rest of the time we allow the walls of personnal opinion to come between our common humanity?

And why is it, that humanity only lasts a day or two? The pattern is always the same. Within a few days people are trying to blame others. Governments are criticised for failing to act quickly enough (or for not preventing the event). Ominous predictions are made of the "backlash" from tragic events.

An orgy of navel gazing and finger pointing commences.

It is sad, for humanity, that we act like this.

Wouldn't it be nice, if fellow motorists responded to your flat tyre, or stalled engine, the way they would if your car was ripped apart by a freak accident? Wouldn't it be nice if you could share thoughts with those that have different points of view every day, not just while you watched thousands die on television?

Wouldn't it be nice, just once, if we could all accept that sometimes horrific events just happen, and that this is a part of the world we live in? Instead of greedily looking for someone to blame and punish for incompetence or negligence?

Wouldn't it be nice if we could look at world events in terms of what is best for us all, instead of what best fits our own political opinions?

Sadly that is not the world we live in. Good old-fashioned values aren't important. I am though. Me me me. What *I* want, and *I* think and *I* say, matters. But that's all.

And how easy it is to point blame, when you are removed from what happened. It's easy to point a finger at the people who told those working in WTC2 they were safe and could go back to their offices. It is easy to point a finger at the policies that left airport security lax in the interests of faster and less imposing processing of passengers. It is easy to point fingers at military commanders suddenly faced with a threat they had no way to deal with. It is easy to blame government agents who missed clues and ignored warnings that flashed passed them in the enormous mass of "noise" that they try to filter day in and day out.

It is easy.

But human civilisation is not bourne on the back of those people. It is not carried on the shoulders of people who so quickly see the faults and the mistakes.

Well this post has taken me all day to write, and then some.

Not because it has a wealth of content, really, just because I have roiling thoughts in my head that I find it difficult to put down in words.

Instead, on this day of memorial for the dead, and for rememberance of the great acts of human spirit that occured on that day so long ago, I wish to finish with some compelling words. I hope anyone that reads this section will really think about these following words, and consider how they apply to THEIR daily lives.

It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by the dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly; so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat.
-Theodore Roosevelt
23 April, 1910

September 10th, 2006

12:57 pm: DEAD OR ALIVE
No, it's not a wanted poster. Although, I do want it. It's a film. Kind of. Well. Really it was more like a non-interactive computer game...if you can picture that.


Best. Dubbing. Ever. Creepy how the english dubs perfectly match the lip movements in the original Chinese or Spanish, or Swahili, or whatever. Pity about the performances however...

The filmmakers were also very audience conscious. The title of the film flashed up on screen every ten minutes or so in enormous yellow 3D cut-scene text. Just in case you have forgotten what film you're watching.

And you could forget. These filmmakers clearly know their cinema. They filled it chocka with moving homages to other hollywood classics. Mortal Kombat. American Beauty. That annoying "don't steal videos" ad.

Highlights for me, however, were certainly the Filing Ninja armies, the Telecom dial-up internet faults, and the Kryptonian technology. Enuff said.

See it with a friend. Heck. See it with two.

If I had a rating system (I don't) this would get 6 stars out of 5.

Current Mood: busybusy
Current Music: The Doors - Peace Frog

June 1st, 2006

01:28 pm: Americana

I've been reading through over 2,000 events on a timeline of 9/11,
beginning back in the 70's and tracing various US intelligence
efforts, movement of terrorists, etc etc etc.

Even early in the process I began to conclude three distinct features
about the United States that I believe were primarily responsible for
enabling the attacks to happen (this is in contrast to the "let it
happen" theory that the government knew about it but chose not to act)

The three key features of the US are as follows:

Liberal courts. In the desire of a free and fair court system, much
of the west, the US included, seems to have a fairly incompetent
justice system, in that a high portion of people guilty of crimes are
found not guilty because of technicalities, flaws in law, failure by
prosecutors to gather evidence in precisely the right way, etc. The
end result being, no matter how strong the evidence arrayed against a
suspect, there can never be any guarantee that they will be convicted,
and if convicted, will receive an appropriate sentence.

Arrogance. This is perhaps too strong a word, but perhaps not.
Essentially an over-confidence in the abilities of its own systems and
people for achieving their objectives. This covers both an
exaggerated opinion of intelligence abilities and of military/defence

Cowardice. hat I mean is a reluctance to commit to military actions
in order to address a situation. In particular, a reluctance to commit
questionable strikes and pre-emptive strikes.

Okay, now how is this relevent?

Over the course of the decades prior to 9/11 the US has had an
enormous number of opportunities to take direct action against various
members of different terrorist networks, most notably members of Al
Qaeda, and in particular those involved in 9/11.
These opportunities varied, from capturing known terrorists and
letting them go, to being offered terrorists by other countries and
refusing them, to knowing the location of terrorists in the USA and
not acting.

Now, the ALPHA, BRAVO, and CHARLIE factors mentioned caused problems
for any three of the potential actions in each case.

Firstly, the obvious action to take when you know the location of a
significant terrorist is to send people to kill them. However CHARLIE
steps into play here. The US has a policy of not assassinating
people. While admirable, it is also, I think, unwise. I'm not
advocating assassination as a way to solve political problems, but it
should always be there as an option.

This is an example of a wider American reluctance to become involved
in military actions. This is not new. America was incredibly
reluctant to enter both world wars, and countless actions post-World
War 2. In Somalia, for example, an entire Marine Division sat in
ships off the coast of Mogadishu with heavy armour doing nothing while
a hundred lightly armoured and armed infantry were caught in an
enormous gun fight. The government even pulled support such as a
gunship as this was considered too high profile.

Even Post 9/11, when it is clear that American's strategy has failed
miserably, they sent only 150,000 troops into Iraq after military
commanders said a minimum of 300,000 were needed.

Countless opportunities to snatch or kill identified enemies of the US
have been missed because of a reluctance to deploy clandestine
operations on foreign soil. I am guessing the much quoted fear of
upsetting political allies or creating a crisis are responses to the
failed Operation Eagle Claw (attempt to rescue US hostages in Iranian
Embassy). This response itself is unfair I believe. It is too easy
to write off Eagle Claw as a "dissmal failure". I disagree. The
gutsy and risky plan had ever chance of succeeding. It only had a
single flaw in its plan (though a big one) which was immediately
addressed through extension of US capabilities.

Given that US reluctance to execute military operations, the response
of killing terrorists must be ruled out.

That leaves two options.

One - arrest the terrorists and put them on trial

Two - allow the terrorist to go free and continue to monitor them

One would, of course, be preferred by the FBI, who are primarily law
enforcers - they want to catch bad guys.
Two would be preferred by the CIA, who are in intelligence and are
interested in gathering information about targets so the military can
act (which, of course, they won't, due to factor CHARLIE)

ALPHA causes major problems for One. I believe factor ALPHA is
primarily responsible for the enormous number of times the FBI either
failed to act on evidence and arrest a terrorist, or let a terrorist
go that they had in their custody.

There are a number of problems with trialing a terrorist, aside from
the simple truth that in the west you can never guarantee a
conviction, regardless of your evidence.

In these cases, one of the big problems was the nature of the
evidence. Western courts have very vigorous conditions for what is
acceptable as evidence and what isn't. It does not favour convicting
terrorists (a large number of those caught are actually convicted on
minor crimes such as passport forgery).

There are three basic ways in which intelligence (evidence) is
gathered. Open gathering involves anything where the target is aware
of what you are doing. An interview, for example.

Covert gathering is when you are open about what you are doing
(official) but the target is not aware of it. For example getting a
court order to tap someone's phone and using conversations recorded.

The final one is clandestine gathering. This involves actions that
officially never even happened. In other words spying. Given that,
until the Patriot Act, the US could not legally spy on people inside
the US, nothing gathered by intelligence agencies in a clandestine
manner could be admissable as evidence. Unfortunately, virtually all
information gathered on terrorists is gained in this way. Further
more, revelation of such evidence at trial will require exposure of
significant intelligence assets. These are likely to undermine
ongoing intelligence operations and potential risk lives.

This is essentially the great flaw in using spy systems to apprehend
criminals for trial. That is not what they are for. They are for
gathering intelligence so that military operations can be executed.

So, there are obvious risks in taking a known terrorist to trial. At
best, the guy walks free, at worst anything in place to gather
intelligence on the wider terrorist network is exposed and the entire
infrastructure has to be rebuilt (which can take decades).

The only other option open is to let them go and continue to monitor
them, and I suspect in the majority of cases this is the action that
the US decided to take.

And herein comes factor BRAVO. The major reason people believe the US
government had something to do with 9/11 is that they can't accept
that Osama Bin Laden and associates managed to run circles around the
US intelligence community for several decades, including having double
(or even triple) agents working with the CIA. It is inconceivable
that the US system for protecting the country was simply beaten by
better opponants (especially given those opponants were a bunch of
"cave-dwelling towel-heads"). This is extreme arrogance.

From what I can see, Al Qaeda have an exceptional understanding of the
american political mindset and their judicial system, and I believe
they quite effectively used these factors against the US efforts to
stop them. They exploited CIA involvement in Afghanistan and the
prevailing US fear of the "Red Terror", they exploited the US' weak
immigration policies, and they exploited the US' reliance on Mid-east
oil resources. They did these things brilliantly. Not because of the
incompetence of US officials (or even compliance).

In considering these three factors, ALPHA, BRAVO, and CHARLIE, I have
found them evident not only throughout US history, but throughout
world history.

With the exception of the liberal courts (only relevant in the modern
age where democratic societies have the naive notion that you can
simply arrest and trial enemies of the state) these factors (BRAVO and
CHARLIE) occur throughout history.

Most tragic of all... it comes back to Pre-WW2 Europe. Britain and
France, in particular, were arrogantly confident of not only their
military strength, but their diplomatic abilities to stop Hitler.
While at the same time demonstrating astounding reluctance to actually
use any sort of military action to prevent war.

The mechanisms that allowed this "Global War on Terror" to happen are
the exact same mechanism of reluctance to act pre-emtively and
arrogance that resulted in World War Two. Why do we never learn?

Funnily enough, when I was about 10, and the Persian Gulf War was
wrapping up, I couldn't understand why we didn't keep fighting into
Iraq and defeat Saddam.

It now is clear that had we done this, it's unlikely Al Qaeda would
have become anything at all (no, I'm not saying an Iraq connection -
the connection is via Saudi Arabia). Odd that a 10 year old boy can
see what needs to be done when the political and military minds of the
time can't.

Told ya so.


Current Mood: sleepysleepy

May 30th, 2006

07:45 pm: The News
We all know that the media aren't always exactly honest...

But I think some of us, as we eagerly read our news, don't really pick up just how much of our response is being engineered by the words we are reading, rather than being born as a personal interpretation of facts.

To illustrate this I am going to use an old journalism school exercise.

In this exercise a news article is edited, and all "emotive" words and phrases are removed.

In this context "emotive" refers to words or phrases that are put in the article primarly to illicit a desired emotive response from the reader, rather than to inform the reader of events.

As an example...

"the masked man shot three children from the same family aged 3, 6, and 7"

is informative

"the masked gunman brutally executed an entire family, Sam (3) and her brothers John (6) and Scott (7)."

is emotive

Emotive journalism is essentially propaganda as they are purposefully engineering audience response to suit their own needs.

Below is an article that has had all emotive words (or all words belonging to a primarily emotive phrase) replaced with XX.


Tuesday May 30, 2006
By Rupert Cornwell

WASHINGTON - To Americans of a certain generation, the news this weekend XX XX XX XX familiar: an XX war, whose rationale is XX XX to understand, a group of soldiers XX by the XX of a XX to an XX enemy, XX XX and XX XX on civilians, XX XX XX XX XX XX XX XX XX XX XX XX XX XX XX.

Today, the name that XX to XX an XX war is Haditha, northwest of Baghdad, XX in the XX XX.

A generation and a half ago, the place was My Lai, a hamlet in South Vietnam.

At Haditha, it is US Marines from Kilo Company of the 3rd Battalion of the 1st Marine Division.

In Vietnam, the troops at My Lai were Charlie Company, of the 11th Brigade of the Americal Division. Similarities XX XX XX the events are separated by 37 years.

No one disputes that what happened at Haditha on November 19 last year, when XX XX XX 24 civilians, XX XX and XX, may have been shot by US soldiers, was provoked by the death of 20-year-old Marine Lance Corporal Miguel Terrazas, killed by a roadside bomb.

In Vietnam, XX of members of Charlie Company had been killed and wounded by XX in the weeks before the XX in the hamlet of My Lai 4 (XX XX XX XX XX XX XX).

A couple of days earlier, on March 14, a XX XX XX XX XX XX had killed one C Company sergeant and wounded others. Military intelligence concluded that a XX unit of the Viet Cong was in My Lai, and C Company was ordered to XX them.

Three platoons were assigned to the operation, one led by Lieutenant William Calley, an XX XX XX-XX who had been XX through officer training.

Calley's platoon entered the hamlet with guns XX around 8am on March 16. There was no hostile fire and the men found 700 XX XX, XX, and XX. "We never saw a male of military age," one participant later said.

Over the next three hours, the men XX XX. Villagers were bayoneted, women and children were XX XX XX XX XX XX XX, and XX XX one girl was raped and XX.

Calley himself is said to have forced dozens of villagers into a ditch and XX them with a machine-gun.

The exact number of XX is unknown to this day, anywhere from 300 to more than 500. A monument at the site lists the names of 504, their ages ranging from 1 to 82.

Like Haditha now, My Lai was XX of the XX things that can happen in wars fought by XX XX, XX XX XX XX XX to an enemy they XX XX, in another skirmish in a conflict XX XX XX XX, where every victory is XX, which unfolds amid a civilian population whose language the XX soldiers XX speak, XX XX XX they XX XX.

But should XX be XX that this group of Marines XX XX XX XX? Can XX XX say that under such XX stress, when a soldier's XX XX XX XX XX XX XX, but XX XX XX in the XX and the XX and the XX, XX could not have done something similar?

XX, XX, do such considerations cross the minds of the leaders who send armies to war. Delivering the commencement speech at West Point military academy this weekend, George W. Bush invoked the Cold War as the comparison for the "war on terror", of which the White House has long proclaimed that Iraq is the central front. But XX XX with every passing day, the war that Iraq resembles is Vietnam.

In this electronic age, XX XX, everything in war is speeded up, including cover-ups. The first official XX of My Lai spoke of a signal victory, in which the Americans had killed 128 insurgents and suffered only one casualty.

But, in March 1969, an ex-soldier who had heard witness accounts of what had really happened sent letters to President Nixon, the Pentagon and members of Congress.

XX the military was XX XX XX, but XX on September 5, 1969, 18 months after the XX, was Calley charged with murder.

The public XX XX until the story was XX by Seymour Hersh, the same journalist who, in April 2004, disclosed the prison abuse at Abu Ghraib - which was, at least until Haditha, the XX XX XX on America's XX left by the Iraq war.

A cover-up was XX at Haditha too, but it has XX XX more quickly. Time published the first details in mid-March.

The criminal inquiry should be wrapped up next month; some Marines XX XX to face murder charges XX XX XX XX XX XX.

General Michael Hagee, commander of the US Marine Corps, is already in Iraq, impressing upon his men the overriding need to observe the rules of war. XX XX XX XX XX XX XX.

Haditha XX XX XX on three XX. It XX XX further XX the trust of XX Iraqis in the XX who were XX to bring them peace and democracy.

Second, it XX XX into public XX for the troops - XX of the XX XX XX of the Vietnam War. Today, XX American will speak ill of soldiers in Iraq. XX XX, XX XX?

XX XX, Haditha XX affect the US XX of the war. The incident has XX XX XX when public opinion has already XX XX XX.

XX XX XX after Hersh published his account of My Lai did polls reveal a majority against the Vietnam War.

Today, six out of 10 Americans XX believe the 2003 invasion of Iraq was a mistake - a XX that XX that XX of XX Bush XX to acknowledge last week.

XX, Haditha could be XX XX XX XX XX XX of XX for a XX US exit from Iraq, XX XX XX.

XX XX XX XX that the congressman who has spoken out XX XX about the XX is John Murtha, a XX XX Pennsylvania senator with XX XX to the Pentagon. Last November, he created a XX by demanding a swift US withdrawal from Iraq, arguing that the war was doing the US more harm than good.

Haditha has XX XX that XX. "This will be very, very bad for America," the XX XX XX XX said. "This is the kind of war when you have to win the hearts and minds of the people.

"And we're set back every time something like this happens. This is worse than Abu Ghraib."

For Murtha, what happened was murder. "This investigation should have been over two or three weeks afterwards, and it should have been made public and people should have been held responsible for it."

And that XX will be the XX XX XX of Haditha.

Who will be held responsible? XX XX XX XX My Lai, where Calley was the XX person of XX to be convicted (XX XX XX XX XX XX XX XX XX)? Or will XX XX XX XX?

The XXof My Lai and Abu Ghraib, for which no senior officer has yet faced charges, is XX XX. But My Lai helped XX a country's XX in its military and the XX of its leaders.

Thirty-seven years later, Haditha XX XX XX XX.


I decided not to XX the "Independent" at the end, though when such an article appears in a non-independent newspaper (that decided to print the article when they had the choice not to) even the tag "independent", though factual, has enormous emotive weight.

So there you go.

Current Mood: coldcold
Current Music: REM - Everybody Hurts

January 5th, 2006

08:24 am: Will Someone Please Think Of The Children!!!!
I found a news article regarding the trapped miners in the US, however this one, with a single spelling error, just made the whole headline a little more entertaining.


What are they thinking, still sending children down the mine!

Current Mood: tiredblegh
Current Music: the beautiful hum of air conditioning

December 28th, 2005

01:44 pm: So I'm doing this experiment.

I'm at work. I'm bored stupid. I've been reading bash.org which always gets you in that kind of silly frame of mind.

I am now about to consume about a litre of coke and a bottle of V. I want to know how my brain will react to the combination of silly internet-ness, under stimulated environment, and way-over stimulating chemicals in body.

Stay tuned.

December 22nd, 2005

01:40 pm: small things amuse small minds
I've had a pretty heinous week. The sort that makes you want to curl up in a little ball and just cease to be. It wasn't anything overly dramatic - no relatives died. No car accidents. No falling outs with dear friends.

It was just all those little things, piled one upon the other. In fact the week started pretty damn good. I was even getting enthusiastic about the holiday season.

So anyway.

I was in a pretty foul mood at work today. I'm bored stupid because the person I trained is doing everything now and I have nothing to do. Our building directly overlooks a pretty busy T-intersection, and my seat has a nice view of it all. There's a fair bit of emergency vehicle activity so I guess there's an ambulance station and a fire station somewhere around, and there's always police about.

Today we had three fire engines come screaming down and park outside a building across the road, and a few minutes later two more came screaming past and went off in a different direction.

Now any decent building is going to automatically get a 2 or 3 fire truck response if one of their alarms is accidently tripped, so no great excitement. Unless you're me.

When I was a kid I had a strange obsession with fire engines. Sure, all kids love those big bright red trucks with their flashing lights and sirens and blaring horns. But with me it was a bit more than that.

I lived on an Air Force Base as a kid, and they have their own fire section with three or four engines. Sometimes they'd do patrols of the married quarters (the houses where married servicemen/women and their families live) in their fire engines, and of course there were call outs as well.

From the age I could walk, any time a fire engine came past I'd be out the door quick as a flash and stumbling down the street after it. Mum and Dad had to keep the door shut just in case. This childlike fascination with fire engines has never ceased, even all these years later.

When a fire engine goes past with its lights flashing and siren going I still have to stop and stare in stupified awe. I have this overwhelming urge to clap my hands and wave at the firemen.

So witnessing five fire engines racing around in the space of half an hour was something rather special. So much so that I'm not really that upset about the week anymore. So my employer forgot to pay me. Big deal.

Current Mood: Playful
Current Music: Sirens
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