Bush's South Asia Strategy: Keep Terrorism as the Villain

January 7, 2002


WACO, Tex., Jan. 6 - In the three weeks since a deadly
attack on the Indian Parliament, President Bush and his
foreign policy team have scrambled to avoid war in South
Asia with a simple formula: in daily phone calls to both
sides, they have tried to reframe the conflict as a battle
over terrorism, not territory.

They have carefully offered no opinion on the question of
who should control Kashmir, an emotionally explosive issue
in both countries. They have not volunteered to oversee negotiations, a role the United States has played so often in the Middle East and elsewhere.

Instead, they have acted as if the Islamic extremist groups accused of carrying out the assault were stateless terrorists similar to Al Qaeda and perhaps linked to it - and that they threaten the stability of Pakistan, where they are based, as surely as they threaten India.

It is partly a convenient fiction. President Bush has made
no public mention of the fact that the terrorist groups he
says must be crushed have often acted as a surrogate for Pakistan's intelligence service.

Yet so far the strategy appears to have worked, or at least bought some time for the opponents, who met this weekend at a tense summit meeting in Nepal.

The president's aides here and in Washington say they
believe that their constant barrage of telephone calls to
India and Pakistan probably prevented a rapid escalation of
the conflict into a war between two hot- headed nuclear

"We decided early on that the purpose now is not to solve Kashmir; it is to defuse the crisis," one senior administration official in Washington said the other day.

Another added, "The question is how long will that work -
how long can you keep both sides from making a big

At the core of the strategy has been constant pressure on
Mr. Bush's new ally, Gen. Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan. At
the urging of Secretary of State Colin L. Powell,
Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, and then
the president himself, who called from his ranch, Mr.
Musharraf has begun a roundup of the leaders of the Islamic groups suspected in the attacks, and a few who are not suspected. The administration's thinking was that each round of arrests makes it more difficult for India to justify an attack that would almost certainly turn into war.

Mr. Bush, describing his conversations with Prime Minister
Atal Behari Vajpayee of India, said last week that, "while
I understood his anger," he should "give us all a chance to work with President Musharraf to bring the terrorists to justice."

"Terror is terror," Mr. Bush said, before buying a
cheeseburger in the small gas station and deli near his
ranch, "and the fact that the Pakistani president is after terrorists is a good sign."

The Indians were suspicious of the strategy. They had been outraged at Mr. Bush's characterization of the two main terrorist groups operating in Kashmir as "stateless," which they saw as a crude pander to Mr. Musharraf. And they noted that despite repeated acts of terrorism in the last few years, Lashkar-e-Taiba, or the Army of the Pure, and
Jaish-e- Muhammad, or the Army of Muhammad, were never
placed on the State Department's list of terrorist groups.
The administration belatedly remedied that on Dec. 27, more than two weeks after the attack on the Parliament.

Now Indian officials say they want "guarantees" from the
United States that Pakistan would wipe out the groups. Administration officials say they have heard no such request, and they doubt they could offer such a guarantee anyway.

But they can continue to pressure General Musharraf, who by
all accounts has so far offered little resistance to the American call for a crackdown, perhaps seeing an opportunity to consolidate his own power.

While General Musharraf has long identified himself with
the Kashmir issue, American officials were betting that he
was nervous about the Islamic radicals in his midst and the terror groups' brewing anger about Pakistan's decision to side with the United States in the war against the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

"The unspoken part of this deal," said one White House official, "is that Musharraf has a brief window of opportunity to act against these guys before they threaten him. And he's feeling a lot stronger than he did a few months ago." But in many conversations with senior American officials, General Musharraf expressed growing alarm about the size of the Indian military buildup on his border.

Defusing a crisis of this magnitude is not what the Bush administration envisioned when it came to power. All last spring and summer, the president and his aides focused on India, not Pakistan. While Mr. Bush's team has few charitable comments about Clinton-era diplomacy, they saw an opportunity to build on Mr. Clinton's courting of Indian leaders, and the strengthening of economic ties.

In contrast, they saw little potential in building a relationship with Pakistan: its support of the Taliban, its proliferation of missile technology and its constant dalliance with economic default made it seem, in the words of one American diplomat, "only a few shades better than North Korea." Hard-liners in the Pentagon, moreover, thought a tilt toward India would help in the containment of China, India's other great rival.

Sept. 11 changed all those calculations. Now Washington
finds itself, to India's distress, with an equal interest
in both countries. But it does not yet have a strategy to
meet that new reality.

Assuming that the current crisis can be defused, officials
say Mr. Bush must begin to address both the substance of
the Kashmir dispute and the threat posed by both countries' nuclear arsenals. Eventually, that will require creating some kind of arms control framework that gives officials in Islamabad, New Delhi and the rest of the world some assurance that a firefight over the Line of Control does not risk rapid escalation into a nuclear exchange.

But for now the Bush administration is starting small. On Friday, Secretary Powell suggested that he was ready to send an American envoy to the region. That envoy may be Secretary Powell himself, or his deputy, Richard Armitage, or Richard Haass, who heads the State Department's policy planning operations and has long experience in defusing past India-Pakistan crises.

The hope is that the envoy will convince both sides to pull back their troops, reducing the chance of an inadvertent disaster. They are mindful, they say, of the warning from Brig. Muhammad Yaqub, the Pakistani Army's commander in Kashmir, who told a reporter the other day, "When you've got two armies standing eyeball to eyeball, even a little accident can lead to a chain reaction."

January 8, 2002

Guantánamo Naval Base, Anti-Terrorism and US/Cuban Relations

By Nelson P Valdés


The U.S. Defense Department announcement that it will use Guantanamo Naval

Base in Cuba to set up prison facilities and military tribunals where

terrorists captured in Afghanistan and elsewhere will be held and tried

raises important questions.

Why select Guantanamo base rather than, Utah or the Marshall Islands which

are more isolated and the surrounding territory is controlled by the United

States military? What possible military or political attraction could Cuba


It should be noted that the base has 71 square miles, of which 48 square

miles are on land (swamps claim 13 square miles). This small territory is

surrounded by the Sierra Cristal mountain range controlled by the Cuban

military. Thus, in a sense the real security of the base will not depend on

the US government alone but on the Cuban armed forces. It is odd that the

United States will hold such high profile prisoners in a place that is so

close to another country's territory.

Even more peculiar is the fact that the U.S. State Department in its most

recent 2001 report on "international terrorism" claims that Cuba harbors and

supports terrorists. Then why set up the tribunals and the prison facilities

on the island? Obviously the U.S. military consider that Cuba does not

present any real terrorist threat, despite what the State Department has

claimed. So, which side of the US government is correct?

From the Cuban government perspective the U.S. government decision

constitutes an outright political provocation.

Since 1959 the Cuban government has asked the United States government to

leave the base (which was granted "in perpetuity" to the US military by a

Cuban Congress handpicked by the US armed forces in 1901. Yes, the base is

the outcome of Teddy Roosevelt's "Big Stick" policy and the Platt Amendment.

When in the 1990s Cuban rafters were intercepted by the US Coast Guard and

refused entry into the US mainland, the INS transported thousands of Cubans

to Guantanamo base. At the time Cuba complained about the new use given to

the military base. It will not be surprising if again the Cuban government

denounces the new function given to the base. The Cuban authorities have not

been consulted nor asked by anyone in the U.S. government. They have earned

about the matter from the American media.

But there may be an added insult as far as the Cuban government is

concerned. Five Cuban nationals have just been sentenced in the last 2 weeks

to long prison terms (three have received life) by a Miami. They were

accused of having engaged in espionage. The Cuban agents were in Miami

spying on anti-Castro terrorist organizations. Thus, Cuba antiterrorism

agents have been tried and found guilty by a Miami court precisely for

attempting to thwart what the US claims to be trying to stop as well. The

government in Havana, and many Cubans in the island, consider such

developments an outrageous affront.

So, why was Cuba chosen? Secreatry of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has stated

that Cuba was "the least of the worse" options. Seemingly, the argument for

not having the prison and the tribunals on the US mainland would be a matter

of security for the American people. But, if that is the argument, should

the security of Cubans not be taken into account as well?

What would happen if an Al Qaeda agent manages to get to the Cuban mountains

surrounding the base and literally attacks the base? Is the Cuban government

going to be held accountable by the United States government? Then what?

If the Cuban government rejects the Defense Department plan (Rumsfeld

assumes the Cubans will keep silent), then it is possible that the U.S.

government could claim that the Cuban government has rejected collaborating

with the anti-terror campaign, which could open another chapter of conflict

between the two countries.

It is clear that if the "detainees" are held at Guantanamo within Cuba, it

can be assumed that Al Qaeda or other terrorist organizations may attempt to

do something about it. Thus, the United States government decision has

externally impose a political, military and economic cost on the Cuban

government. After all, it is not in the interests of Cuba to have terrorists

running around the island. or attempting to attack the base. Thus, Cuba, the

only country that has stated that it opposed the terrorists as well as the

war against Afghanistan will be forced to deploy Cubans and limited

resources to protect Cuba's "home security" against Cuban exile terrorists

as well as those that are the enemies of the United States.

But what can Cuba's government do about the decision made by the United

States government? Not much.

The base is under U.S. control. If the Cuban government officially denounces

the new use given to the base, then the Bush administration as well as the

rightwing Cuban exiles will have one more issue to exploit against any kind

of improvement in relations. On the other hand if the Cuban government

consents to the new function, it could be interpreted by the most

reactionary sectors within the US government and in Miami as a Havana

concession made out of fear.

The Cuban government will have to opt for a policy that denounces all forms

of terrorism, expresses its willingness to work with the United States, yet

demands of the Bush administration to address the issues involving terrorism

against the Cuban government. Hence, Cuba's government might not openly

state its opposition of the use given to Guantanamo as long as the United

States addresses the historical problem of rightwing Cuban exile terrorism

against the island, including over 600 assassination attempts against Fidel


That probably will be the message that the Cuban revolutionary government

would like to convey to the US mass media, the Congress and the American


United States' unilateral decisions on the use of Guantanamo base, without

taking into account of Cuba's security needs will only contribute to greater

instability throughout the Caribbean region and will exacerbate the poor

relations between the United States and Cuba. The strategists at the

Pentagon and the politicians in Washington, DC. should reconsider their

ill-conceived decision or, at the very least, become more sensitive of the

rational demands made from Havana.

It is doubtful, however, that Cuba's needs or interests will be recognized

by the Washington crowd. To do so would be to go against over 42 years of

confrontation and arrogance.

Nelson Valdés is director of the Program of Academic Research on Cuba at the

University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.

Rumsfeld: Israel knew arms on seized boat to be used against it

By Daniel Sobelman, Aluf Benn and Nitzan Horowitz, Ha'aretz
Correspondents, and Ha'aretz Service

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Tuesday justified last week's
capture by the IDF of a vessel carrying a cache of weapons in the Red
Sea, saying that Israel had as "very good intelligence" that the arms on
board were to be used to attack it.

"They clearly had very good intelligence that those weapons were going
to be used against them and they intercepted the ship by pre-empting
that ship from landing and unloading and then providing those weapons to
be used against Israel," he told the C-SPAN program "Washington Journal."

"The United States has done a similar thing with respect to various ship
interceptions... and it is something I think that is not unusual or not
uncalled for when one thinks of the magnitude of the weapon stash that
was on that ship," he said.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said Tuesday afternoon that the United
States government was fully aware that the Palestinian Authority was
behind the attempt to smuggle weapons.

"The government knew all the details. It was known to them that the
Palestinian Authority paid millions of dollars. Payments of this nature
are authorized only by [PA Chairman] Yasser Arafat," Sharon said.

Sharon's comments followed criticism by government officials, who said
the U.S. response to the capture of the weapons-laden ship was muted
because it feared that the episode would damage the diplomatic process.

Earlier Tuesday, Transport Minister Ephraim Sneh criticized the United
States for saying it was not yet clear who had hired the captured
weapons ship Karine A, and for whom the weapons were intended. The
vessel was seized by the IDF in the Red Sea last Thursday.

Sneh told Army Radio that the U.S. State Department was simply not
willing to admit the significance of the capture of the ship, which was
carrying 80 tons of weapons, including long-range Katyusha rockets.

"Tons of weapons and ammunition are being transferred to Lebanon in
clear daylight, so anybody can understand that these weapons [on the
Karine A] were intended for the Palestinian Authority, and not
Hezbollah," Sneh said. (After the ship's capture, the New York Times
quoted administration officials as saying that the shipment was most
likely headed for Hezbollah in southern Lebanon.)

Sneh added that it was patently clear that the arms shipment was
destined for the Palestinian Authority. "If you consider the possible
destinations of the ship, the fact that the captain is a high-ranking
official in the Palestinian Authority, and that there were Palestinian
Authority people aboard the ship, anybody can figure out where it was

The State Department said Monday that it did not know who had hired the
vessel. "We don't know. We don't know who hired it, who was the
recipient. Those are the kind of pieces of information we're looking
for," said department spokesman Richard Boucher.

Boucher said the State Department was trying to find out if the ship was
loaded in the Gulf port of Dubai, and said that the facts largely were
not known to the United States.

While the State Department said it lacked the facts on Israel's
interception, Boucher praised Israel for what it did on the high seas.
"Any law enforcement operations or other operations that are able to
prevent terrorists or violent groups from acquiring the means of
carrying out there violence is good," the spokesman said.

Army Radio also quoted American sources Tuesday morning as saying that
the U.S. administration was aware that the weapons on board the Karine A
were purchased by the Palestinian Authority and intended for
PA-controlled areas, but has deliberately avoided a formal statement
saying so in order to restrain Israel's response.

Omar Akawi, the captain of the captured arms ship "Karine A," told the
press Monday that the arms on the ship were destined for the Palestinian
Authority, and that senior PA officials had organized the consignment.

And according to American reports of PA Chairman Yasser Arafat's talks
with U.S. special envoy Anthony Zinni, which were obtained by Ha'aretz
on Monday, Arafat never explicitly denied the PA's connection with the
"Karine A." A senior administration official termed Arafat's response

Akawi gave a joint interview to four media outlets - Israel's Channel
One and Channel Two television stations, the American TV station Fox
News and the Reuters news agency - from his Ashkelon prison. He said
that he has been a member of Arafat's Fatah movement since 1976, and is
currently a lieutenant colonel in the PA's naval police.

Akawi said he was asked to look into ways of buying a ship by Adel
Awadallah, who is also known as Adel Mughrabi, and is considered one of
the PA's senior purchasing agents. "They asked us to... ask where there
are ships for sale. I asked in Egypt, but I didn't find. Afterward
someone else got it - Adel," he said.

He said he last spoke to Awadallah a week before Israel seized the ship,
which was shortly after Arafat had called on militant groups to cease
anti-Israeli violence. "I expected to receive an order [to] stop it," he
said. "But he [Awadallah] did not tell me to stop it."

Akawi said he doubted that Arafat and the rest of the PA's senior
leadership knew about the smuggling operation. "The leadership, I don't
think that they know something... Maybe they know from him [Awadallah].
From my side, I don't think that they know."

PA announces investigation into claims it was behind boat
The Palestinian Authority said Tuesday it will question government
officials accused by Israel of trying to smuggle Iranian arms.

The PA confirmed that Akawi is an official in its naval unit, but denied
links to the shipment.

"The Palestinian Authority is not interested and does not want any form
of escalation in this situation," PA Information Minister Yasser Abed
Rabbo told a news conference. "It is not a Palestinian option to lead
the confrontation toward a military one between the two sides."

Abed Rabbo said those accused of involvement would be questioned by a
four-member committee of senior security officials.

Distributed by MidEastTruth
> Series on Insider
> Trading and September 11th

> W's OWN 1991 INSIDER
> by Tom Flocco and Michael C. Ruppert
> Edited by Michael C. Ruppert
> [C Copyright 2001, From The Wilderness Publications, www.copvcia.com
> . All Rights Reserved. May
> be recopied,
> distributed or posted on the worldwide web for
> non-profit purposes
> only.]
> ----------
> [Editor's Notes - In Part I of this series FTW,
> thanks to the brilliant
> research of Tom Flocco, demonstrated that the CIA
> has, in fact, been
> involved in monitoring stock trades on world
> financial markets, and that
> current CIA executives have had recent business
> relationships with firms
> handling obvious insider trades connected to the
> attacks of September
> 11th. Those connections ran directly into the heart
> of German financial
> giant Deutschebank. In Part II we documented that a
> former Deutschebank
> executive, Kevin Ingram, had recently been convicted
> on drug and money
> laundering charges that were directly a result of
> attempts to arm
> Islamic terrorist groups. Now in Part III, we
> conclude this series by
> revealing a devastating conflict of interest in
> investigating these
> leads on the part of President George W. Bush by
> virtue of his own past
> insider trading through Harken Energy in Bahrain and
> Kuwait.
> The Administration's apparently deliberate omission
> of key mid-Eastern
> banks in these two countries from post 9-11
> investigations suggests
> clearly that the principal financial institutions of
> the countries where
> Harken did business have something to hide which the
> Bush Administration
> does not want to see the light of day - especially
> as potentially
> explosive Enron investigations gather steam.
> After our publication of Part II a number of careful
> FTW readers were
> careful to point out that our description of "put"
> options was
> oversimplified to the point of describing a
> short-sell, rather than the
> more highly leveraged "put option." We acknowledge
> this error but
> re-emphasize that the point of these stories - which
> could easily be
> sidetracked into lengthy and detailed discussions of
> the workings of
> financial instruments - is not the trades
> themselves, but who might have
> made the trades, why they made them and, most
> importantly, why the Bush
> Administration wants so desperately to conceal
> information about them
> from the world. - MCR]
> ----------
> FTW, January 9, 2001 -- President George W. Bush may
> have personal
> reasons for hampering investigations into insider
> trading connected to
> the attacks of September 11th. There is substantial
> evidence suggesting
> that a detailed investigation into Deutschebank's
> connection to Islamic
> terrorists and 9-11 might reopen a mysteriously
> closed 1991
> investigation of criminal insider trading connected
> to Harken Energy, a
> Houston company where George W. Bush served on the
> board of directors as
> a major stockholder with his some of his father's
> key campaign
> contributors. On January 30, 1990 Harken, with a
> remarkably unsuccessful
> history of drilling projects, signed major oil
> drilling contracts with
> Bahrain. Five months later, Bush's company suffered
> an unexplained huge
> loss of stock value just prior to the Gulf War --
> but not before the
> future president had already cashed out, making
> close to a million
> dollars selling his own stock. Because of 9-11 leads suggesting the
> possible involvement of certain Arab banks in
> financing the attacks, a
> conflict of interest exists, clearly limiting how
> far the President
> would be willing to pursue the most obvious leads.
> And U.S. government
> investigations since 9-11 have avoided looking at
> key Middle Eastern
> banks in Bahrain and Kuwait already linked to
> terrorist activities.
> In fact, two banks located in Bahrain and Kuwait -
> The Faysal Islamic
> Bank and the Kuwait Finance House - which had been
> listed in European
> reports as having terrorist ties were glaringly
> omitted from George W
> Bush's financial crackdown after September 11th.
> [Source: The Inner City
> Press, 9-1199.] Both banks have correspondent
> relationships with
> Deutschebank.
> In spite of mounting evidence of a number of
> connections between German
> financial giant Deutschebank and the terrorist
> attacks of September 11 -
> including previously documented links to insider
> trading based upon
> events of 9/11 - no press agency or government
> entity is questioning why
> certain banking institutions in Kuwait and Bahrain
> with deep financial
> ties to the Bush family have been overlooked in the President's
> supervision of a so-called "worldwide crackdown on
> terrorist financing."
> Reuters reported on 11-7-2001 that the Treasury
> Department added 61
> additional people and organizations to the
> President's original
> Executive Order of September 23 -- including banks
> in Somalia and
> Nassau, The Bahamas. But mysteriously, no banks in
> Bahrain, Kuwait, or
> Saudi Arabia were named in either the original order
> or its expansion.
> Moreover, the President's lack of effective
> direction and oversight of
> terrorist finance appears to be abetted and endorsed
> by the U.S.
> Congress.
> Just 32 days before the attack on the World Trade
> Center and Pentagon, a
> Financial Times of Asia (FT) Wire-Business Line
> report linked
> Deutschebank to the United States Central
> Intelligence Agency (CIA),
> Pakistani and Afghani heroin smuggling, and money
> laundering of
> narcotics proceeds (8-10-2001). Retired Pakistani intelligence chief
> Brig Imtiaz was jailed for eight years on July 31,
> 2001 for laundering
> heroin profits -- for covert actions -- via a
> CIA-linked drug smuggling
> cell, using Deutschebank and other financial
> entities and properties.
> Former State Department official Jonathan Weiner
> confirmed that Bahrain,
> Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates
> have been of little
> help to federal officials regarding known terrorist
> funds moving back
> and forth between those countries. Weiner made these statements in a
> National Public Radio (NPR) interview on 11-21-2001.
> Weiner told host Linda Wertheimer, "Since September
> 11th, all those
> countries have frozen accounts or have looked in
> their banking systems
> for the money of people associated with terrorist
> finance, [and] have
> gone through the entire list provided by the United
> States."
Announcing the P.U.-Litzer Prizes for 2001
By Norman Solomon

The P.U.-litzer Prizes were established a decade ago to give recognition to the stinkiest media performances of the year.

As each winter arrives, I confer with Jeff Cohen of the media watch group FAIR to sift through the large volume of entries. This year, the competition was especially fierce. We regret that only a few journalists can win a P.U.-litzer.

And now, the tenth annual P.U.-litzer Prizes, for the foulest media performances of 2001:

* "LOVE A MAN IN A UNIFORM" AWARD -- Cokie Roberts of ABC News "This

On David Letterman's show in October, Roberts gushed: "I am, I will just confess to you, a total sucker for the guys who stand up with all the ribbons on and stuff, and they say it's true and I'm ready to believe it. We had General Shelton on the show the last day he was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and I couldn't lift that jacket with all the ribbons and medals. And so when they say stuff, I tend to believe it."


"It seems perverse to focus too much on the casualties or hardship in Afghanistan," said Isaacson, in a memo ordering his staff to accompany any images of Afghan civilian suffering with rhetoric that U.S. bombing is retaliation for the Taliban harboring terrorists. As if the American public may be too feeble-minded to remember Sept. 11, the CNN chief explained: "You want to make sure that when they see civilian suffering there, it's in the context of a terrorist attack that caused enormous suffering in the United States."


An October internal memo from the daily in Panama City, Florida, warned its
editors: "DO NOT USE photos on Page 1A showing civilian casualties from the U.S. war on Afghanistan. Our sister paper ... has done so and received hundreds and hundreds of threatening e-mails... DO NOT USE wire stories which lead with civilian casualties from the U.S. war on Afghanistan. They should be mentioned further down in the story. If the story needs rewriting to play down the civilian casualties, DO IT."


This category had many candidates -- pundits apparently trying to sound as fanatical as the terrorists they were denouncing -- but it was won by Coulter, who wrote in September: "We know who the homicidal maniacs are. They are the ones cheering and dancing right now. We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity."

Runner-up: Thomas Woodrow and The Washington Times, for a column headlined "Time to Use the Nuclear Option," which asserted: "At a bare minimum, tactical nuclear capabilities should be used against the bin Laden camps in the desert of Afghanistan. To do less would be rightly seen by the poisoned minds that orchestrated these attacks as cowardice."

* TORTUOUS PUNDITRY PRIZE -- Jonathan Alter of Newsweek

In the Nov. 5 edition, under the headline "Time to Think About Torture," Newsweek's Alter wrote: "In this autumn of anger, even a liberal can find his thoughts turning to ... torture. OK, not cattle prods or rubber hoses, at least not here in the United States, but something to jump-start the stalled investigation of the greatest crime in American history.... Some people still argue that we needn't rethink any of our old assumptions about law enforcement, but they're hopelessly 'Sept. 10' -- living in a country that no longer exists."


On a Nov. 26 broadcast, the longtime anchor of "Morning Edition" interviewed a 12-year-old boy about a new line of trading cards marketed "to teach children about the war on terrorism" by "featuring photographs and information about the war effort." The elder male was enthusiastic as he compared cards. "I've got an Air Force F-16," Edwards said. "The picture's taken from the bottom so you can see the whole payload there, all the bombs lined up." After the boy replied with a bland "yeah," Edwards went on: "That's pretty cool."

* "WILD ABOUT THAT MADMAN" AWARD -- Thomas Friedman of The New York Times

"I was a critic of Rumsfeld before, but there's one thing ... that I do like about Rumsfeld," columnist Friedman declared on Oct. 13 during a CNBC appearance. "He's just a little bit crazy, OK? He's just a little bit crazy, and in this kind of war, they always count on being able to out-crazy us, and I'm glad we got some guy on our bench that our quarterback -- who's just a little bit crazy, not totally, but you never know what that guy's going to do, and I say that's my guy."


When Newsweek published a Dec. 3 cover story on George W. and Laura Bush, it was a paean to "the First Team" more akin to worship than journalism. Along the way, the magazine explained that the president doesn't read many books: "He's busy making history, but doesn't look back at his own, or the world's.... Bush would rather look forward than backward. It's the way he's built, and the result is a president who operates without evident remorse or second-guessing."

* BLAME CERTAIN AMERICANS FIRST PRIZE -- televangelist/pundits Jerry
Falwell and Pat Robertson

On the national "700 Club" TV show, with host Robertson expressing his agreement, Falwell blamed the Sept. 11 attacks on various Americans who had allegedly irritated God: "I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America, I point the finger in their face and say, 'You helped this happen.'"

Sullivan of The New Republic and Sunday Times of London

Columnist Sullivan, as if trying to prove that a gay rights advocate can be as hysterically right-wing as a Falwell, wrote in mid-September: "The middle part of the country -- the great red zone that voted for Bush -- is clearly ready for war. The decadent left in its enclaves on the coasts is not dead
-- and may well mount a fifth column."

* SHEER O'REILLYNESS AWARD -- Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly and
Catherine Seipp of MediaWeek

A February profile of O'Reilly in MediaWeek quoted the TV host's claim that the Los Angeles Times had never named the woman who'd accused Bill Clinton of raping her in 1978: "They never mentioned Juanita Broaddrick's name, ever. The whole area out here has no idea what's going on, unless you watch my show." After it was pointed out that O'Reilly was wrong and that Broaddrick had been repeatedly mentioned in the L.A. Times, the writer of the MediaWeek profile, Catherine Seipp, commented that she would likely have caught the error "if I hadn't been so mesmerized by O'Reilly's sheer O'Reillyness. There's just something about a man who's always sure he's right even when he's wrong."
Norman Solomon's latest book is "The Habits of Highly Deceptive Media."

*** Note to readers of "Media Beat": If you'd like to see Norman Solomon's syndicated column appear in a local daily newspaper, you can help-- by contacting the opinion-page editors of papers in your area and urging that they give the column a try. Editors can make arrangements by phoning Creators Syndicate in Los Angeles or by sending an email note to mediabeat@igc.org.

Explosive New Book Published in France Alleges that U.S. Was in Negotiations to Do a Deal with Taliban

Aired January 8, 2002 - 07:34 ET


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Time to check in with ambassador-in- residence, Richard Butler, this morning. An explosive new book published in France alleges that the United States was in negotiations to do a deal with the Taliban for an oil pipeline in Afghanistan.

Joining us right now is Richard Butler to shed some light on this new book. He is the former chief U.N. weapons inspector. He is now on the Council on Foreign Relations and our own ambassador-in- residence -- good morning.


ZAHN: Boy, if any of these charges are true...


ZAHN: ... this...


ZAHN: ... is really big news.

BUTLER: I agree.

ZAHN: Start off with what your understanding is of what is in this book -- the most explosive charge.

BUTLER: The most explosive charge, Paula, is that the Bush administration -- the present one, just shortly after assuming office slowed down FBI investigations of al Qaeda and terrorism in Afghanistan in order to do a deal with the Taliban on oil -- an oil pipeline across Afghanistan.

ZAHN: And this book points out that the FBI's deputy director, John O'Neill, actually resigned because he felt the U.S. administration was obstructing...

BUTLER: A proper...

ZAHN: ... the prosecution of terrorism.

BUTLER: Yes, yes, a proper intelligence investigation of terrorism. Now, you said if, and I affirmed that in responding to you. We have to be careful here. These are allegations. They're worth airing and talking about, because of their gravity. We don't know if they are correct. But I believe they should be investigated, because Central Asian oil, as we were discussing yesterday, is potentially so important. And all prior attempts to have a pipeline had to be done through Russia. It had to be negotiated with Russia.

Now, if there is to be a pipeline through Afghanistan, obviating the need to deal with Russia, it would also cost less than half of what a pipeline through Russia would cost. So financially and politically, there's a big prize to be had. A pipeline through Afghanistan down to the Pakistan coast would bring out that Central Asian oil easier and more cheaply.

ZAHN: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) as you spoke about this yesterday, we almost immediately got a call from "The New York Times."

BUTLER: Right.

ZAHN: They want you to write an op-ed piece on this over the weekend.

BUTLER: Right, and which I will do.

ZAHN: But let's come back to this whole issue of what John O'Neill, this FBI agent...

BUTLER: Right.

ZAHN: ... apparently told the authors of this book. He is alleging that -- what -- the U.S. government was trying to protect U.S. oil interests? And at the same time, shut off the investigation of terrorism to allow for that to happen?

BUTLER: That's the allegation that instead of prosecuting properly an investigation of terrorism, which has its home in Afghanistan as we now know, or one of its main homes, that was shut down or slowed down in order to pursue oil interests with the Taliban. The people who we have now bombed out of existence, and this not many months ago. The book says that the negotiators said to the Taliban, you have a choice. You have a carpet of gold, meaning an oil deal, or a carpet of bombs. That's what the book alleges.

ZAHN: Well, I know you're going to be doing your own independent homework on this...


ZAHN: ... to see if you can confirm any of this. Let's move on to the whole issue of Iraq. The deputy defense secretary, Paul Wolfowitz, at one time was considered one of those voices within the administration...


ZAHN: ... that was pushing for moving beyond Afghanistan. He seemed to back off a little from that yesterday.


ZAHN: What do you read through the tea leaves here?

BUTLER: A very interesting report that the administration will focus on the Philippines, Yemen, Somalia as places where there are al Qaeda cells. But the word Iraq wasn't used by the man who was the chief hawk -- used as a, you know, as a future target. So what I interpret from that is this: That very likely our allies have been saying to us, this is too hard. This is really serious. Be careful. Saddam is essentially contained at the moment. Don't start, you know, a bigger problem either in the Arab world or in the coalition by going after him. And Wolfowitz, it seems, has probably accepted that.

ZAHN: A quick thought on the Israelis intercepting this latest armed shipment? What that means? You've got to do it in about 15 seconds.

BUTLER: It's extraordinarily serious, because it seems to have been tied to Yasser Arafat himself. It needs to be further investigated, but you know, Paula, the potentiality that this could once again prove an impediment to resume peace negotiations is really quite serious.

ZAHN: Thank you as usual for covering so much territory. Richard Butler, see you same time, same place tomorrow morning.


ZAHN: We appreciate your insights.