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<nettime> ivogram: media watch x4
Ivo Skoric on Sun, 14 Oct 2001 23:38:18 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> ivogram: media watch x4

"Ivo Skoric" <ivo {AT} reporters.net>
     Media Watch
     Media Watch 2
     Media Watch 3
     Media Watch 4
          [digested  {AT}  nettime]

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From: "Ivo Skoric" <ivo {AT} reporters.net>
Date: Wed, 10 Oct 2001 17:08:46 -0400
Subject: Media Watch

Prompted by the US mainstream electronic media failure to report the anti-
war protest from Times Square, New York, on October 7, I decided to 
start a Media-Watch project, kind of like what we have seen done by the 
dozen of Western NGO-s with Croatian, Bosnian and Serbian media 
during the wars of Yugoslav succession. There it was widely perceived 
that the state-owned mainstream electronic media were used by 
nationalist governments to manufacture the consent for war. In the 
words of Noam Chomsky, here in the U.S. the media are used in pretty 
much the same way right now.

On Monday, the second day of the air-strikes against Taliban positions 
in Afghanistan, I watched news from three major European sources to 
compare them to the major American TV networks. Here are my findings:

Deutsche Welle gave a lot of space to considerations about fate of the 
aid workers still held prisoners by Taliban in Afghanistan. They went all 
but unmentioned on American TV on Monday (they were mentioned on 
Tuesday). Deutsche Welle also noted that among the first casualties of 
the bombing were aid agencies vital for survival of Afghanistan civilians: 
UNICEF and UNHCR buildings were burned in Queta by protesters 
following the first day of bombing.

French TV went further, interviewing the doctor working with Medecins 
Sans Frontieres, who expressed doubts about the real value of air drops, 
calling them merely a useful propaganda tool. The anchor then went on 
to mock American networks for showing endless footage of nightly 
skies, supposedly, over Kabul, where not much could be seen, since 
they look, indeed, quite the same like nightly skies over Bagdad or over 

BBC, besides showing the disturbing footage from protests in Queta a 
day ahead from its American colleagues, has also shown the (even more 
disturbing) footage of burning Gaza strip, which American colleagues yet 
have to gain the courage to show. We haven't yet seen what exactly did 
American/British attacks destroyed in Afghanistan - the satellite photos 
did show the targets, but they didn't look to an average viewer as 
damaged as the UNICEF building in Queta did. The BBC reporting from 
Pakistan, Egypt and Gaza, while not explicitly saying so, gave an 
intelligent viewer the opportunity to imply that the main casualty of the 
American/British bombing so far was the stability in the Arab world.

It is also worth to note that buildings in Gaza were not set aflame by 
Israelis. They were set aflame by Palestinian protesters and by the PLO 
police that cracked down on them. In apparent violation of their own 
religious law that prohibits worshiping images, young Arab protesters in 
all places carried pictures of Osama Bin Laden, their new messiah. Yasser 
Arafat, on the other hand, wants to seize the opportunity - At what other 
time could anybody imagine Syria getting a seat at the UN Security 
Council? Over Shimon Peres dead body, maybe. - and get a more serious 
commitment of the US to the Palestinian State. Palestinians carrying 
pictures of Osama Bin Laden around are not exactly helpful in that 

With each new day of bombing Afghanistan, one more Arab state is a 
step closer to civil war. The problem with Arab world is demographic and 
political. And it most certainly won't be helped with war. Arab countries 
are full of young people. When half of the population is under 30, it is 
usually easier to imagine revolutions, protests and violent upheavals. 
When half of the population is under 20, some sort of change simply 
MUST happen. It is impossible to believe that the old order may survive. 
Particularly, if it is a corrupt, authoritarian order with no mandate of the 
people. Is there any democracy in the Arab world, except for Israel, 
which is not really an Arab state? No. Arab states are either former 
Soviet clients like Libya, Iraq and Syria - lead by Soviet style totalitarian 
regimes, or they are military dictatorships like Pakistan, Egypt or Algeria, 
or they are anachronistic feudal monarchies like Saudi Arabia, Morocco, 
Jordan, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrein, Yemen, U.A.E. Iran is not an Arab 
state, but it is geographically a part of the Arab world (just like Israel is), 
and it is indeed the newest political regime in the region - but, while it 
does show some promise, it is still an autocratic theocracy, where the 
Council of Guardians - clerics appointed by the Supreme Leader - has a 
veto power over the democratically elected president and 

Maybe we should start asking ourselves why in the Arab world there is 
not a single state by the people and for the people. And whether does 
the quest for the cheap oil has anything to do with floating corrupt 
autocratic states way past their expiration date. In which case it would be 
expected that oppressed population there hates those who aid and abate 
the regime that oppresses them. And are we really prepared to live like 
Israelis just in order to keep the oil prices low, as they are just to keep on 
with their settlement policy? Is there a third way? Again, I had to browse 
foreign press to catch a glimpse of such an angle. Time, Newsweek, 
People, USA Today, US News & World Report, they were all 
preoccupied counting the missiles and airplanes their trustees possess 
to dig deeper for the causes. So, I had to turn to the British The 
Economist and particularly to the Canada's Maclean's with its essay 
Season Of Change by Arthur Kent that carefully tackled that issue: this 
is not about winning the war and capturing Bin Laden - this is about 
winning young Arab world over to "our" side, to the values of freedom, 
democracy and peace.

But, while the US government espoused that rhetoric from the beginning, 
it did in the end resort to the old fashioned air-war doctrine, and it did 
impose the control over media reporting unseen of in a democratic state. 
President Bush even wanted to cut the Congress out of the loop - on the 
pretext of the leakage of sensitive information - something that even 
ancient Roman Emperors would think twice before saying (less they 
wanted to be found with a poisoned dagger in their chest on the next 
morning). This is not how this war may be won. Osama Bin Laden 
showed himself healthy, calm and belligerent on TV immediately after the 
first day of attacks, simply repeating his old call on all Muslims around 
the world to kill Americans wherever they can. And it works. For every 
cruise missile fired in the abandoned training camp tent in Afghanistan, 
there seems to be another young Arab willing to sacrifice his life doing 
Al Qaeda's bidding. 

So far (if we take all recent ‘accidents' to be connected to Al Qaeda) the 
network focused on: a) destroying international aid facilities related to 
Afghanistan - which shows precisely how a war against Afghanistan is 
misguided: Osama doesn't give a damn for Afghan civilians, they may all 
starve, freeze to death in brutal Afghan winter, bleed to death in 
hemorrhagic fever or burn to death in American napalm for all does he 
care; b) raising the general fears in developed world - by random and 
colossal destruction of property, sudden cases of rare contagious 
diseases, bus hijacking, etc., and; c) raising in particular the fear of 
traveling by airplane - more than a half of all recent ‘accidents' were air 
travel related (including the Cessna that rammed the passenger airplane 
on the Milan airport).

Of the developed world the countries that depend most on the air-travel 
are the English speaking former "white" colonies of British Empire, that, 
together with its old master, today form the vaguely defined cultural 
empire that ‘guides' rather than rules the world. With the exception of 
Japan, all other industrialized, developed nations are today connected by 
roads or railroads (including the U.K. after the tunnel was built). The 
U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand, unlike the U.K. and Japan, are 
also dependent on air-travel not only to reach other countries but also 
for domestic travel - due to the large distances and poorly developed 
railroad network. The air travel became not only preferred perk but also 
an inevitable part of life of a Western business professional. If business 
people remain scared to fly - as they currently are - not only the airlines 
will suffer: with the lack of personal contact the business in general will 
become slower and less ebullient. This was well known to terrorist 
groups in 1970s. 

Europe responded with high security on airports (what we see now in the 
U.S.) and by building a high-speed rail network as an alternative 
(although the train can also be hijacked and run into another train, which 
at that speeds is not much less deadly). Al Qaeda did not come up with a 
new idea, here. They just perfected an old one: by using suicide pilots 
that crash planes, they eliminated the need for firearms and explosives, 
which can be detected by the modern airport security. I am also not sure 
whether the U.S. intelligence even considered a remote possibility that 
other, perhaps even non-Arab, states might have an interest in dragging 
the U.S. into this kind of war - despite their unequivocal support that 
they publicly express now. 

It is hardly a secret that it has been a while since Americans had to watch 
their "boys" dying at evening news. Yet, CNN was bringing carnage to 
the American dinner table often from another parts of the world: Bosnia, 
Croatia, Kosovo, Serbia, East Timor, Rwanda, Congo, Iraq, Kuwait, Israel, 
Chechnya, Kashmiri, Algeria, Spain (ETA), Britain (IRA), etc. The 
perception is that the American viewer must have acquired the blaze 
feeling that Roman public once had watching, after a good meal, the 
gladiator fights in the Colosseum. This feeling, if it had existed, was 
brutally and severely shattered by the September 11 events. And the 
polls (although I am not sure how much could we believe them) are 
strongly suggesting that Americans are now ready and prepared to 
watch their soldiers die in a war that would eventually destroy Al Qaeda. 

Well, the public in other countries is more than prepared - in some places 
the public is relieved - to watch American ‘boys' die in war. Even more 
perversely, they can't wait to see how well will American public cope 
with the sight. For example, although we saw the genuinely touchy 
candle-lit vigil for the victims of September 11 attacks, in downtown 
Zagreb (capital of Croatia), on Friday, September 14, we were spared from 
hearing how the minute of silence was broken by the group of football 
hooligan youth shouting: "Vukovar, Vukovar...." The city was leveled by 
the Yugoslav army, while Croatia was under the Western imposed arms 
embargo, unable to defend it. This is definitively a part of the reason why 
we don't see anything interesting on the major U.S. news networks: the 
authorities don't think American public would cope well with the sight, 
and the public support for the campaign might wane, so the media are 
obviously restricted in what they can show, i.e. the media, indeed, 
became manufacturers of the consent for war, just as Chomsky said, with 
the story of Dick Cheney "at the secret location" rivaling ‘the best' of 
what we used to hear about ailing Soviet and Chinese leaders in the days 
of cold war.
Therefore, I was shocked, when, yesterday (Tuesday, October 9), at 
around 8:30 pm I've heard this lyrics on the K-Rock, a commercial, 
alternative-rock radio station in New York: "War is not the answer. We 
should not escalate." I was stretching, and it took at least two repetitions 
of that lyrics to sink into me that it was the first time since September 11 
that I've heard a song with anti-war lyrics on the American radio station. 
As I thought - "what's going on?" - the song went into the chorus part, 
singing: "what's going on?" It was hilarious. Someone called to have 
that song played. And for a while the D.J. deliberated publicly should 
they or should they not play that particular song. Then they played it. It 
was a tribute to Marvin Gaye by Papa-Roach. For some reason (?), the 
D.J. couldn't play the entire song up until the end - the repetitions of the 
‘war is not the answer' were blocked out of the song - but, cleverly, with 
playing Nirvana's ‘Lythium' over it - "I am so happy..." - the most potent 
sedative available on the American market. Upon the end of this, the D.J. 
announced how he received an amazing number of phone calls, and he 
didn't want to discuss them - he just exclaimed "who are these people?" - 
and played a jingle "Freedom" before proceeding to the next song. 

The jingle ‘Freedom' is K-Rocks sales pitch for free tickets for concerts - 
it ends like this: "...in some countries the freedom is not possible, but we 
live in America and we have the freedom to chose." Thanks, dude. If you 
lived in Serbia, you'd be considered for the U.S. based Committee to 
Protect Journalists 
‘Freedom of Press Award' - but we shall at least hope that you would be able to 
keep your job in America after this. Of course, earlier in the day, K-Rock did 
exactly what Croatia' Radio 101 did during the war in Croatia: engage in some 
OBL-bashing, like encouraging listeners to go to certain Yahoo forum 
and ‘kick some ass' of alleged Islamic fundamentalist supporters there. 
Later in the evening I watched an intelligent show with Charlie Rose on 
channel 13 and I've heard Lennon's "Imagine" played on 90.7 FM. I 
think the real battle is here, not in Afghanistan. Also, a couple of days 
ago I've listened to opinions of hip-hop artists, and they were strikingly 
outspoken. That's good, because if the freedom is lost here, then the 
ultimate results of bombing Afghanistan will be quite irrelevant.

Ivo Skoric

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From: "Ivo Skoric" <ivo {AT} reporters.net>
Date: Thu, 11 Oct 2001 16:13:48 -0400
Subject: Media Watch 2

"They that can give up liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve 
neither liberty nor safety." -Benjamin Franklin

"There ought to be limits to freedom." - GW Bush, commenting on the 
website www.gwbush.com

"Government is not reason. Government is not eloquence. It is force. Like 
fire, it is a dangerous servant, and a fearful master." -George Washington 

"If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as 
I'm the dictator." GW Bush 12/18/2000 CNN.

"Experience hath shown, that even under the best forms [of government] 
those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, 
perverted it into tyranny." -Thomas Jefferson

"Ari Fleischer, the White House press secretary, saying of news 
organizations, and all Americans, that in times like these "people have to 
watch what they say and watch what they do." -NY Times 9/28/2001 "In 
Patriotic Time, Dissent Is Muted"

At 11 PM on Wednesday, October 10, MSNBC reported from Boca 
Raton, FL, about the third (3) anthrax case so far. The reporter insisted 
that anthrax was caused by a virus, although the FBI official whom her 
crew taped talked about the anthrax bacteria. The expert interviewed later 
in the same program also spoke of anthrax bacteria. The CNN anchor 
referred to anthrax as a bacterium, and my mom, a physician, also told me 
that anthrax is a bacterial disease. Obviously, the MSNBC reporter was 
wrong. First - that she did not check the facts about anthrax etiology and 
second - that she did not listen to what the officials around her said. The 
first mistake is forgivable to a journalist - we shouldn't expect that 
journalists have extensive knowledge of biology, but the second mistake 
suggests the failure of observing the rules of journalism 101 - not 
listening to what your sources are saying.

It is insulting that the major US media treat their public as an 
undereducated, immature bunch of ignoramuses, that needs events 
filtered and pre-digested for them in contravention of the spirit and letter 
of the First Amendment, yet then they cannot get their facts straight. 
But, besides being shabby at fact-checking, the US networks, also, in 
their self-censorship attempts focus on the wrong issues. The anti-war 
rally in New York on October 7, that went unreported by them, received 
attention abroad. So far, I got information that CBC, Canadian TV had a 
segment and German Der Spiegel magazine has an article about it. In 
Germany particular the peace protests are very strong - on Monday, 
October 8, 5,000 high school pupils in Berlin walked out of classes, 
despite threats from the education authorities and school 
superintendents, to demonstrate for peace. We did not see a report 
about that on the US networks, either. On Friday, October 12, a similar 
youth rally is scheduled in front of MTV studios in New York (www.9-
11peace.org) - we shall see how is that going to be reported.

In the meantime US networks got involved in the nasty squabble about 
the rights to re-broadcast Osama Bin Laden's video-fatwah from the 
Qatar's Al Jazeera television. Al Jazeera is the only TV network given 
permission from Taliban to film within Afghanistan. CNN has an 
exclusive deal with Al Jazeera to be given their stuff 6 hours before other 
networks. That usually pertains to those murky, dark green shots of 
skies over Kabul with some indiscernible details and a few moving light 
spots that confirm existence of the anti-aircraft fire. There is not much 
competition over those. However, when Al Jazeera aired Bin Laden, other 
US networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX) failed to observe the embargo, 
provoking an angry response from the CNN. CNN eventually backed-off 
after being accused by ABC executives of "actions bordering on war 
profiteering." Indeed, it looked like the five largest world electronic media 
scrambled into a fight over the crumbs that Osama Bin Laden generously 
let fall of his table and onto the floor of public availability. As Muslims 
once scooped the sand where the feet of prophet Mohammed walked.

That unpleasant situation provoked a stern response from the White 
House. National security adviser Condolezza Rice called on the media to 
exercise judgement in airing Bin Laden's statements. To that effect CNN 
announced that it will not air Bin Laden at all any more. This may be yet 
another dangerous precedent in stifling media freedoms worldwide. If 
CNN refuses to air Bin Laden - other US networks may fear to do so as 
well. No major network wants to be viewed as un-patriotic in these times. 
And if US networks refuse to air Bin Laden, than other TV stations in the 
world may reconsider airing him, too. Al Jazeera may risk being 
suspected in aiding and abetting terrorism and having its equipment 
seized if it does not join the chorus of ‘enduring freedom.' The effect 
may be to completely cut off Bin Laden from the world - once he is 
completely unseen and unheard off, the theory goes, he could do less 
potential harm. And Condolezza might be onto something here.

First, unlike the unreported anti-war protests in New York, Osama's 
message was not an example of speech protected by the First 
Amendment, because it explicitly advocated violence - not only a violent 
overthrow of government, but killing Americans everywhere. It is indeed 
educative to see how the US networks overlooked that in their quest for 
sensational news. Second, while I doubt that he ‘communicates' to 
terrorist cells through such video messages, I think that is beyond the 
point, because Al Qaeda for its success maybe does not depend only on 
a certain number of terrorist cells, but rather on the general 
dissatisfaction among young Islamic fundamentalists everywhere. In that 
scenario it would be enough for Osama Bin Laden to show himself alive 
and kicking on TV after the first day of bombing and say a few 
regurgitated phrases about how infidel Americans should pay for 
whatever they did to re-invigorate beliefs that a) Al Qaeda is impervious 
to American attacks, b) that Americans are vulnerable to Al Qaeda's 
attacks and c) that those attacks should go on by any means necessary 
until America is defeated. This may be just enough for another suicide 
bomber to step forward - even if he never was trained, financed or even 
contacted by the Al Qaeda network. That's the nature of hate.

Obviously, any national security adviser would be nervous with any 
further airing of Bin Laden. Also, while it would bother my libertarian 
self, to see anybody, including Bin Laden, completely censored out of 
the world media, it is definitely a low casualty warfare way of dealing 
with the situation. Instead of killing troves of Afghan civilians and 
turning Western societies to police states, maybe it would be better just 
to cut-off Bin Laden from the rest of the world. If he is not seen any 
more, if he is not heard off, then the rest of the world has to worry only 
about the existing terrorist cells, and not about the entire population of 
angry young Islamic fundamentalists, who would eventually forget him, 
if he does not appear again.  
However, that would not solve the underlying problem of hate for 
America and the West. And frankly - that ‘problem' can't be solved by 
war. The five million offered for Osama's head is also a good move. It is 
reported that bribes and pay-offs can go a long way among the Afghan 
warring factions. But, again, this does nothing for the underlying 
problem of hate for America and the West. The Arab world is simply 
undergoing some serious changes right now. And the developed world 
was caught on the wrong side - primarily because of its dependence on 
oil and its selfish insistence to keep the status quo in Arab world so that 
oil remains cheap. This wrong should be straightened out right, now - 
because this is the only long-term solution. World needs new energy 
solutions. World needs democratic Arab states.

So that we can live in the world with news that would less often sound 
like this:
- a truck hit a bus in Chile
- US Marines helicopter crashed in Poland
- 9 died in Cessna crash in Alaska
- US embassies around the world ordered to stock up on a 3-day supplies 
of the anti-anthrax drug (that despite the officials deny terrorist activity 
in connection with the anthrax cases in Florida; all US networks except 
FOX bought into the ‘official version')

Of course, some of those accidents are indeed accidents that would 
happen anyway - with or without Al Qaeda - and some, perhaps, while 
being intentionally caused, may not have anything to do with either Al 
Qaeda or Islamic militants in general. It is, however, truth that there is a 
raise of dangerous events in the world after the September 11 events. 
Which may have its roots in the psychology of violence: at any point of 
time there is a fair amount of angry, hateful, ‘deranged' individuals in the 
world. They often feel being victims of injustice and helpless in the face 
of it. A percentage of them is violent, and the only thing that ‘holds them 
down' is the apparent functioning of the system. It is more than just the 
fear of getting caught - it is the understanding of the desperate that 
desperate acts are generally unsuccessful. Al Qaeda changed that 
perception very pointedly by destruction of the WTC. Suddenly it 
seemed possible to punish and hurt the unworthy world. And every 
sighting of Bin Laden re-enforces that bellief.

But again - it is not enough, in my view, to just eradicate Al Qaeda, 
which essentially served as a fuse in already explosive world situation, 
but the reasons for discontent should be addressed and dealt with. We 
shouldn't feel comfortable living in the world where so many people are 
unhappy. Particularly if they see us as a cause of that unhappiness. 
We've seen that in former Yugoslavia. When "it started", all those 
unbelievable characters started crawling out from under their rocks and 
getting involved in the unspeakable acts of torture and mistreatment of 
the "other side." Therefore, many of us, who came here from former 
Yugoslavia, tend to see September 11 events, and the post-911 events, 
as the continuance of the same evil that some of us, unfortunately, had 
the opportunity to witness earlier than September 11, 2001.

On Wednesday, October 10, Indira Kajosevic, a Women In Black activist 
from Belgrade and New York (and my partner - so I can't be fully 
objective :)), appeared in the radio show Democracy Now. She told a 
story about that ‘continuance': a mother with two sons who survived the 
NATO bombing of Belgrade cowering in bomb shelters, eventually 
immigrated to the US, and got a job on the 80th floor of the WTC 1. She 
was there when the plane hit the building. She survived, but her sons 
watched the event on TV in school, and not knowing what's happening 
with her, relived the trauma from their previous Belgrade war experience, 
ending up having nightmares and not being able to sleep. In the perverse 
turn of circumstances, she was indeed closer to death in New York than 
in Belgrade.

The yesterday's Democracy Now was about the FBI call that the feminist-
pacifist group Women in Black received in San Francisco. Some people 
raised a big stink around it. I thought somebody got arrested, 
interrogated or worse. Yet, it was only a phone call. It indeed is 
interference, maybe harassment, but nothing sort of what Women in 
Black in Serbia or Israel had been exposed too, as Ms. Kajosevic and Ms. 
Svirsky (WiB Israel) told the American audience. As those, who were 
involved with peace activism in the U.S., in times when this was an 
interesting and invigorating country, know, peace activism inherently 
entails such risks as being occasionally inconvenienced by the police, 
and activists shouldn't be too much bothered about that, as the folk 
singer from San Francisco pointed out. Kajosevic and Svirsky gave 
examples suggesting that a little good will communication with police can 
actually do some good both to the movement and to the police.


The one story that seems to be entirely absent from the mainstream US 
media is that of the Bin Laden's connection to the US intelligence, 
military and corporate world, mainly through the family Bush. One can 
understand that stories like those would not entirely please the sitting 
president, but they indeed offer a glimpse in why was it possible for 
Osama Bin Laden to get away with his hate rhetoric for so long, and still 
catch the US off guard. I guess, they never expected such a hit from him. 
And I bet they are angry now. It all looks to me as a typical family feud 
from the Dallas soap-opera - only here J.R. found a match well worthy of 
his cunning, knifing Texan self.

In January 15-21,1998 issue of Nouvel Observateur, p. 76, there was an 
interview with Zbigniew Brzezinski.  He said that the CIA was already 
aiding the future Taliban guys against the pro-Soviet Kabul goverment 6 
months before the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.  Carter gave the first 
secret directive on July 3, 1979. "We knowingly increased the 
probability" of the Soviets invasion in December. Brzezinski wrote Carter 
at the time that "We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its 
Vietnam War."  Any regrets? "What is more important to the history of 
the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet Empire?  Some 
stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe?..."

This from Carter, the guy who could not get American hostages released 
by the Iran Islamic fundamentalist government. How appropriately of 
that revered peacemaker to go on and aid another Islamic fundamentalist 
movement in the sad course of prosecuting the cold war. And who was 
the head of CIA (the one who actually did the "aiding") in that period?
Meanwhile, fresh out of Harvard Business School, young George W. 
Bush returned to Midland, TX, to follow his father's footsteps in the oil 
business. Beginning in 1978, he set up a series of limited partnerships - 
Arbusto '78, Arbusto '79, and so on - to drill for oil. Salem Bin Laden, 
Osama's older brother, was an early investor in Arbusto Energy. 
According to a 1976 trust agreement, Salem bin Laden appointed James 
Bath as his business representative in Houston - the same year former 
President George Herbert Walker Bush served as director of the CIA. 
Bath served with President W. Bush in the Texas Air National Guard, and 
was one of his earliest financial backers.  In 1992 Bill White, a former real 
estate business partner with Bath, informed federal investigators that 
Bath told him that he had assisted the CIA in a liaison role since 1976.

In sworn depositions, Bath admitted he represented four wealthy Saudi 
Arabian businessmen as a trustee. He also admitted he used his name on 
their investments and received, in return, a five- percent stake in their 
business deals.  One of those was Sheik Khalid bin Mahfouz, one of the 
largest stockholders in the Bank of Credit and Commerce International. 
BCCI was a corrupt global banking empire operating in 73 nations and 
was a major financial and political force in Washington, Paris, Geneva, 
London, and Hong Kong. Despite the appearance of a normal banking 
operation, BCCI was actually an international crime syndicate providing 
"banking services" to the Medellin drug cartel, Pamama dictator Manuel 
Noriega, Saddam Hussein, terrorist mastermind Abu Nidal, and Khun Sa, 
the heroin kingpin in Asia's Golden Triangle. 

The BCCI scandal implicated some of the biggest political names in 
Washington - both Democrats and Republicans - during the first Bush 
White House. The bank was accused of laundering money for drug 
cartels, smuggling weapons to terrorists, and using Middle Eastern oil 
money to influence American politicians.  There is more of this at 

Disturbing as it is - it is worth knowing what's really going on here.

Ivo Skoric

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From: "Ivo Skoric" <ivo {AT} reporters.net>
Date: Fri, 12 Oct 2001 17:11:14 -0400
Subject: Media Watch 3

So far the story about anti-war protest on Times Square on October 
7 found its way in the following US media:
- NPR radio
- New York Times

There is an interesting detail in New York Times story - that about 
the 50 people FOLLOWING the marchers with pro-war slogans - 
I've seen nothing like that - there were people on the street vocally 
disagreeing with marchers, but there was no anti-protest to my 
best knowledge. Maybe NYT engaged in creative journalism here 
making the story more fit to print.

Here is another under-reported story - that from the previous WTC 
bombing in 1993 - FBI and CIA really need to pick their informants 
better and don't make them unhappy afterwards...

It is a sad story that those who hate America so deeply have to 
resort to American made graphic design for their marketing 
campaigns - they hate modernity, as Ariah Neier wrote, but they 
can't live without it - as this story shows:

Here is also a list of songs - not banned ones - but suggested to 
cheer up Taliban, who otherwise ban ALL music:

Those looking for anti-Taliban volunteers should check this out:
Female Sniper Down on Her Luck
                 Galina Sinitsyna , a 40-year-old Russian sharpshooter, 
lamented to The Moscow Times on 2 October that she is having a 
hard time selling her services to the Russian military in Chechnya. 
All she wants is to use her talent to kill rebels in Chechnya for 
cash. "Where else can I earn enough to buy a new apartment for 
us?" Sinitsyna asked. The distressed sniper said she has had an 
offer to do a contract killing but turned it down. As for the Russian 
military, so far it has repeatedly turned down her applications, 
despite the fact that the practice of hiring contract soldiers to fight 
in Chechnya is common. According to officers, however, Sinitsyna 
is simply too old.

Or maybe there are more people like Tim McVeigh in the US? 
Maybe some of them would be willing to drive a truck bomb into Al 
Qaeda? That would for sure increase the symmetry in this warfare 
and by default, then, decrease the probability of continuation, since 
a sort of deterrence quality would be established. This, of course, 
was not exactly a pacifist idea.

The most interesting story yesterday was the Bush's press 
conference, the first in his term. He is such a terrible reader. The 
speech-writers wrote an eloquent, although quite boring and 
repetitive speech, and he made it unlistenable. By the end I gave 
up, concluding that the speech was as irrelevant as the incessant 
declarations of Holy War by Taliban are. Come up with something 
NEW, please.

In the q.&a. session, however, Bush was quite likeable. At least, 
people could wait until he says something stupid and laugh. And 
as he relaxes more into answering questions, his answers start to 
matter more. Ok, he, in a typical W. moment, said (about Osama): 
"I don't know whether he is dead or alive but I know that we will 
bring him to justice."

And if one takes into consideration that the two families (Bush and 
Bin Laden) know each other for 25 years, had done business 
together, and once shared similar political views (on Afghanistan, 
at least), one may believe that he feels personally betrayed by Bin 
Laden's renegade son. One can imagine Bush dragging Osama to 
justice. And going with the lit torch from cave to cave in Hindu-
Kush mountain range to try to "smoke him out."

Bush also - answering the question about security concerns - 
mentioned petro-chemical plants - with no allusion to Toulouse, of 
course. Then, there was this relentless repeating of the words 
'justice' and 'punishment' in his answers. That, coming from a 
former governor of the state that administers more death penalties 
than any other state in the union, sounds almost like he would like 
to personally be involved with Osama's execution.

He made a good point about Osama as a man who hijacked a 
country (Afghanistan) and a man who hijacked a religion (Islam).

In retrospect, it is indeed Bush's job to stop Osama - after all it is 
his family drama (unfortunately playing near you worldwide and 
mostly outside theaters). Is it possible that the U.S. did indeed get 
quite annoyed with Osama following the embassy bombings and 
the USS Cole attack and wanted to get him? Is it possible that the 
$43 million that Bush administration gave to Taliban this May, was 
an attempt to buy them into surrendering Bin Laden? After all, 
most of observers of mujahedeen, suggest that pay-offs go a long 
way in the local culture. 

And is it possible that Osama, annoyed with Americans trying to 
buy Taliban's compliance, "hijacked" the country, subjecting 
Taliban to his control, while issuing a general threat to the U.S. 
(where he said that there would be no more distinguishing between 
civilians and combatants)? Is that why I observed such a 
heightened police activity in New York this summer? They knew 
that something is in the works - but they didn't know exactly what - 
and certainly nobody expected what actually happened.

The day before the strike on WTC and Pentagon, Al Qaeda had 
murdered the leader of Northern Alliance, decapitating opposition to 
Taliban - but Northern Alliance continued to fight the Taliban, under 
new leader, who is closer to Moscow, and with weapons freely 
flowing from Russia. Therefore, it might be that OBL orchestrated 
the killing of Massoud not only to please Taliban, but also hoping 
to prevent the West from using Northern Alliance - he, perhaps, 
speculated that Russia and America won't become such a good 
friends so instantly after so many years of the cold war. Apparently 
he miscalculated himself on that one. Perhaps, with Al Qaeda 
bringing mayhem to so many places in the world, he lost track of 
all of them, and forgot that nearly every country has some 
grievances against him.

Now, another general warning is out. But it might be a bluff. Just 
hoping to scare the US into abandoning the pursuit of Al Qaeda. 
Instead the US decided to react even fiercer. Obviously, the cruise 
missile attack must be a smoke-screen for possible special forces 
operations on the ground which are not televised. But more 
worrying is the need to establish tighter home security in order to 
prevent expected Al Qaeda's retaliation.

So, barely created Homeland Security Office was already applying 
for more power! Now, it is to be at the cabinet level. That's what in 
Europe is 'Innenminister' or 'Minister of Interior' - there is a function 
like this in the US, too, but it deals primarily with forests and 
national parks - not with security. For me that was always an 
interesting and highly pleasing peculiarity about US society, that it 
can survive and function quite decently without the national police 
minister. Not any longer, it seems.

The other obvious victim, and the theme of these messages, is the 
press freedom. And since this is a global fight, the press freedom 
may be endangered globally. Let's consider the case of Al Jazeera. 
It is an independent satellite TV station in Qatar. Qatar is one of 
the most reasonable countries in the region: the rulers there even 
allowed women to vote in the last elections, meaning they also 
introduced some rudimentary institutions of democracy like 
elections and general suffrage. Al Jazeera is an embrionic piece of 
independent electronic media in the Arab world. And that's why it 
was chosen by Osama to air his hateful rhetoric.

Osama proves to be good at creating riddles. Powell and Rice are 
probably right when they say that any his appearance on TV 
increases the likelihood of continuation of terrorist attacks. So long 
as he appears alive and well, disturbed people around the world 
would feel that it is their time, that now it is possible to do things 
like that. He doesn't have to do anything else any more, but raise 
his index finger and call for more killing. So, it is unlikely, we'll see 
more of him on American TV networks. But that's irrelevant - what 
is really relevant is whether his statements would be broadcasted 
on Al Jazeera.

The US can weigh on Qatar to put pressure on Al Jazeera - but 
that would be a dangerous way to destroy emerging democracy in 
Qatar - something clearly not in American interests. Osama 
presented his enemy with a lose-lose choice.

In the event that Al Jazeera decides not to air Bin Laden without 
outside pressure, they may estrange their viewers. Also, with no 
reporting from Afghanistan it is going to be hard to know what is 
going on there. For example - US networks get their info through 
Pentagon - but Pentagon is not exactly a non-partisan source. 
Right now Pentagon claims no civilian death in Afghanistan. On the 
other hand Taliban speak of hundreds of civilian death - but they 
also are not an independent source. And there is no independent 
source - because foreign journalists are banned from Afghanistan. 
All, except for Al Jazeera. That comes at the price: the Arab world 
is repeatedly exposed to Osama's message of hate.

What would be a logical solution? Find an Arab Islamic leader who 
commands as deep respect among the misguided Arab Islamic 
fundamentalist youth as Osama does to tell them, at mortal risk, 
that Osama is a Satanic blasphemy to Islam? But is there such a 
leader in the corrupt world of Arab leaders? How much it would 
cost to get Al Khamenei to issue a fatwah against Osama, and get 
it on tape to Al Jazeera?


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From: "Ivo Skoric" <ivo {AT} reporters.net>
Date: Sat, 13 Oct 2001 14:44:39 -0400
Subject: Media Watch 4

Reuters now puts civilian death toll in Afghanistan at 76 and injured 
at about 100. Mohamed Heikal, the former foreign minister of 
Egypt, and former editor and chariman of Egyptian dail Al Ahram, 
sees no logic in the attack on Afghanistan:
  "I have seen Afghanistan, and there is not one target deserving 
the $1m that a cruise missile costs, not even the royal palace. If I 
took it at face value, I would think this is madness, so I assume 
they have a plan and this is only the first stage."

He also questions whether Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida 
network were solely responsible for the September 11 attacks, 
arguing that the limited evidence so far presented is far from 
convincing. "Bin Laden does not have the capabilities for an 
operation of this magnitude. When I hear Bush talking about al-
Qaida as if it was Nazi Germany or the communist party of the 
Soviet Union, I laugh because I know what is there. Bin Laden has 
been under surveillance for years: every telephone call was 
monitored and al-Qaida has been penetrated by American 
intelligence, Pakistani intelligence, Saudi intelligence, 
Egyptian intelligence. They could not have kept secret an operation 
that required such a degree of organisation and sophistication."

Indeed, it does make sense to believe that the US was preparing to 
strike against Al Qaeda for some time - after all Al Qaeda has been 
striking against the US for about 8 years so far, if not longer. If we 
take into the account the $43 million bribe to Taliban this Spring 
and the larger police presence in New York that I observed this 
Summer, it is conceivable that both sides were preparing the strike 
at the same time. 

The U.S., however, for political considerations, could not strike 
without a pretext. So, they had to wait for Al Qaeda to strike first. 
Still, it is improbable that the US government would allow 
destruction of WTC to provide for the reason to strike against Al 
Qaeda and its host country (Afghanistan). This is highly 
uneconomical proposition: the costs highly outweigh the benefits. 
They probably expected a truck bomb type of attack - not 
something of this scale in human atrocities and economic damage. 
The fourth plane would not be allowed to hit anything (even if the 
passengers did not manage to wrestle down attackers), because F-
16s were already over DC waiting for it. Plus, there is no 
guarantees that September 11 attack would not happen even if the 
US stroke Afghanistan during the summer - and US would be 
without global support for its action in that case.

As Bush was speaking to the youth, looking like he is slowly 
waking up from a rather bad nightmare, and hoping that when he 
opens his eyes the "evil one" would be gone, yesterday, the 
anthrax scare came to New York city. It came, conveniently, after 
it was officially admited that the 3 cases of it in Florida *were* the 
enemy act. Just as in Florida, here in New York anthrax bacterium 
happened to be found among journalists - not among farm workers 
or wool sorters - where it is more commonly found under 
circumstances without terrorist intervention. Here, it happened at 
NBC. And suspicious, but later declared clean, packages were 
received by CBS and New York Times as well. Anthrax targets 
media. The objective is to hit the media with the anthrax scare, so 
journalists become scared of their own offices.

This is a pre-emptive strike. It is as if Al Qaeda anticipated the next 
move of the US government - that would at this point try everything 
to keep Al Qaeda's side of the story out of media. The US would 
like to paint Osama to look like a loser, hoping that this is how he 
shall lose. But, even if we never see or hear anything from him, with 
anthrax repeatedly being discovered in buildings of the U.S. news 
media, Osama will make sure to stay in the news as a winner - 
keeping his enemy on tippy-toes and guessing about his new move.

Here are some useful sites on anthrax baccilum:

The cure for anthrax - antibiotic Ciprofloxacin - has to be 
administered in early stages of the disease, practically before the 
symptoms occur - otherwise the fatality rate is about 90% - that's 
what makes it such a good bio-terrorist weapon. Unfortunately, for 
the terrorists, the disease is not highly contagious (nothing like 
smallpox or plague or ebola for example), and both the cure and 
the vaccine exist. However, there is not enough of vaccine available 
and Cipro has side-effects: insomnia, diarrhea and rashes.

The anthrax spores are actually a good analogy for Al Qaeda 
terrorist cells - they work on the same principles. The 'societal 
Cipro' of course also has nasty side effects - certain loss of 
freedoms, militarization of society, general insomnia of population 
and general logorrhea of political leaders. And it also works best 
only if administered before symptoms occur. For example, if Bush 
tried to create the office of Homeland Security before September 
11, i.e. at the time the government started to expect the onset of 
'the terrorist disease', the towers might still stand out there, but we 
would all passionately hate Bush by now, people on streets in New 
York would walk with his pictures in Nazi uniform and his approval 
rating would (at best) be a half of what it is now. 

Here is the recent Chinese Civil Aviation Association memo - a vivid 
example of advantages that a totalitarian state posses in fighting 
  "The Chinese memo said tickets should not be issued to holders
     of the following passports: Afghanistan, Israel, Egypt,
     Syria,Jordan, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, United Arab Emirates, Oman,
     Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Kuwait, Sudan,
     Libya,Algeria and Pakistan. Holders of Palestinian passports
     were also barred. "

Of course, none of us would want the US to do the same. My 
impression Osama is a rich, intelligent, spoiled kid. He is used to 
be able to control the situation. He plans well in advance and 
thinks about his opponent moves and about ways how to block 
them. This is fun for him. He, perhaps, may be defeated only by a 
move that he could not possibly envision the U.S. could make. 
Something that runs completely astray of the rules, guidelines and 

Fatwahs against Osama:
You are asking "How much it would cost to get Al Khamenei to 
issue a fatwah against Osama?  
May be an easy answer is to let Iranian pistachios come freely to 
the US market , without added taxes as is today the case.  I mean 
that offering opening for business, especially small enterprise, will 
'pull the rug" (if i may use the expression) under Bin Laden.

For existing anti-Osama fatwas, check out:
        A leading Muslim scholar, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, issued a
        fatwa - which is an opinion of an Islamic scholar, based
        on Islamic law - immediately after the attacks, saying
        Osama Bin Laden could not call himself a Muslim.

Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi is an Egyptian-born cleric living in Qatar 
and a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood.  He has a broad following 
throughout the Muslim world, particularly among the militant youth. 
 Qaradawi's fatwa condemning Bin Laden as "not a Muslim" and 
the WTC attacks as a violation of Islamic law, was broadcast on Al 
Jazeera TV.  Curious we didn't see it on the US networks ... US 
networks act even less inspiring than the US government. Very self-


Prosecuting Osama:
VIENNA, Friday -- The Hague Tribunal Prosecutor said this 
morning that she has proof that the Taleban and Osama Bin 
Laden's terrorist organisation Al-Qaida are active in Bosnia-
Herzegovina. Carla Del Ponte told Austria daily Die Presse that 
proof of this had been established in the course of tribunal 
The tribunal is at present attempting to establish whether Bin 
Laden's terrorists had been smuggled into Macedonia in order to 
destabilise the situation in the country.
Del Ponte added that the tribunal could indict Bin Laden if it could 
obtain a mandate for this from the United Nations.
(comment) --> We know that Del Ponte loves to prosecute. But 
doesn't she already have a backlog of cases? Besides, I don't think 
that THe Hague should broaden its mandate. I do think, though, 
that Osama should be tried in international court (if possible) and I 
would like to see UN establish such a tribunal for global terrorism 
at the most appropriate place - in NY city where the largest act of 
global terrorism was committed; besides, that's the only way we'll 
get rid off Giuliani as a mayor - to let him prosecute Bin Laden.

Ivo Skoric

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