Friday, February 29, 2008

Karl Rove Addresses American Jewish University Public Lecture Series

"[T]he horns are retractable and so is the tail...I'm not a human being...I may appear to be flesh and blood, but I am a myth. The mark of Rove is: If you can't explain it, Rove is responsible."---Karl Rove

The Jewish Journal (2-29-08) reports:

The Gibson Amphitheatre at Universal Studios was packed Monday evening for the second in this year's Public Lecture Series from American Jewish University (AJU)...

[Y]ou could hear the grumblings before the lecture began, friends asking each other why Karl Rove -- "Bush's brain," as he was known before resigning last summer as the president's chief adviser and deputy chief of staff -- had been invited to speak. Why, some in the community asked, would the university give a forum to someone who has been blamed for many of the things they don't like about the Bush administration?

But once Rove began talking, the animosity not only slackened but seemed to slip away for many in the crowd of 4,000. When the room cleared two hours later, people seemed relieved that Rove, who said "the horns are retractable and so is the tail," was actually "a likeable guy."

Rove presented a 41-point program that anyone could use to get elected. And with about 30 minutes to speak, he moved at breakneck speed, jumping from the importance of staying on message to looking for voters who can be wooed away from your opponent's party to focusing on the Electoral College and not just the popular vote -- "Ask President Gore about that," he said."

When running for president, the best way to describe it is 'The Emperor's New Clothes,'" he said. "Remember that childhood fable? At the end of the parade, the voters are going to see you exactly as you are: buck-naked. They are going to see you with your warts, your strengths, your weaknesses and your failings, your high points and your low points. And the people are not stupid. The masses are not asses.

"Self-deprecating to a point, at a VIP dinner before the event, Rove spoke briefly, saying he didn't know what to talk about: "Somebody suggested I tell you about what it was like to work at the White House. I can't do it in three minutes. But I had a fantastic experience. I knew a lot more before I showed up there than I know now."

Rove opened his lecture by threatening to send series organizer Gady Levy, who had ribbed him in an opening remark, on a red-eye to Guantanamo Bay.

The lecture was followed by a longer Q-&-A with AJU President Robert Wexler, in which Rove offered his insights on growing up in Utah, the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and the impact of another Ralph Nader run for president.

Rove was coy, though, when Wexler asked if he knew exactly how to get Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) or Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) elected."Yes, and I ain't telling ya. I only work for Republicans -- and Joe Lieberman," he said.

...[Gady] Levy, the series organizer, said Rove was an ideal lecturer. Not only would he offer a political perspective sure to encourage discussion, but 2008 is a presidential election year and Rove is considered one of the greatest political strategists of modern time.

"We are an educational institution, and part of educating people is having access to opinions we might not share," Levy said before the event. "If we only invited people we liked, it would be boring."

Levy's gamble appeared to have paid off after the talk.

"I came here with a Republican customer, though I had a lot of trepidation," said Pat Wheeler, a banker and supporter of Clinton who thought she would spend most the lecture rolling her eyes. "I found Rove very charming; I'm not walking out of here thinking he is the devil. This is a powerful mind, and I am walking out of here thinking better about him than I did walking in."

Now teaching at his alma mater, the University of Texas, and contributing columns to Newsweek, Rove remains a public figure -- and source of controversy, including in a segment on "60 Minutes" Sunday, in which a former Republican campaign volunteer in Alabama accused Rove of a five-year campaign to destroy the career of former Democratic Gov. Don Siegelman. Rove denied the allegations Monday.

He said it was all part of what he had come to personify."

I'm not a human being," he said. "I may appear to be flesh and blood, but I am a myth. The mark of Rove is: If you can't explain it, Rove is responsible." [Full text]

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Tim Giago Commemorates the Destruction of Wounded Knee: February 27, 1973

Tim Giago
"There is a trial to be held starting June 17, 2008 in Rapid City. John Boy Graham, a member of AIM, has been accused of murdering Anna Mae Pictou Aquash. Her body was discovered near the village of Wanbli on Feb. 24, 1976...I think every member of the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council, and President Steele, should be seated in the courthouse in Rapid City as many of the horrid details about the death of Anna Mae and the destruction of Wounded Knee come to light."---Tim Giago
Mr. Giago has published an article in memory of February 27, 1973, the day that AIM terrorists attacked the Lakota town of Wounded Knee and reduced the community to rubble.
Most of the terrorist leaders who attacked the town were never punished because they hypocritically depicted themselves as "liberators." How did destroying people's homes, church, store, and lives liberate poor Indians?
When the Soviet Union fell, a defector from the KGB archives named Vasili Mitrokhin brought out documentation that the AIM lawyer Mark Lane had a relationship with the Soviet KGB. [See more on this here and here.]
I think that the take-over of Wounded Knee was an example of what the KGB calls "active measures." Sometimes active measures are just propaganda, but sometimes the KGB instigates violence in order to achieve its goal of discrediting an enemy. This is a kind of terrorism, but they blame the FBI, CIA, U.S. Army, and so on.
I think that these AIMsters went into Wounded Knee in order to draw the FBI into a fight so that they could discredit the FBI. Since February 27, 1973, the FBI has been blamed unfairly for violence and murder on Pine Ridge.
Mark Lane was also the lawyer for the more than 900 people at Jonestown who were murdered in 1978. Mark Lane escaped into the jungle when his clients were murdered and then wrote a book that blamed Jonestown on the CIA.
Mr Giago's article is titled "A Holiday That Should Never Be":
For some odd reason, and I will explain what I mean by odd later, the tribal government of the Oglala Sioux Tribe celebrates a reservation-wide holiday on February 27.
On Feb. 27, 1973, a group of American Indian Movement members occupied the Pine Ridge Reservation village of Wounded Knee. The village soon became “The Knee” to the occupiers.
In the 71 day occupation an entire village was pillaged and destroyed and more than 30 families, the original inhabitants of Wounded Knee, mostly Lakota people, were left homeless. A trading post, actually more of a grocery store than trading post, was burned to the ground and the Sacred Heart Catholic Church was also destroyed.
The Village of Wounded Knee was never rebuilt. A Lakota woman named Pinky Plume built another store and gas station in the community of Manderson, a village very near Wounded Knee that was a life saver to the people that had lost the services provided by the Trading Post at Wounded Knee.
The ousted citizens of Wounded Knee Village have tried without success to have their homes rebuilt. In the interim, the leaders of AIM have raised millions of dollars for its projects and legal defense funds, but have not contributed a single dollar to rebuild the village they helped to destroy.
I am not the only member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe to find the adoption of a holiday to commemorate the destruction of a historical village not only odd, but enraging.
...[S]ome of the individuals behind this charade call Feb. 27, 1973 the day that Wounded Knee was liberated. Liberated? How about destroyed, burned to the ground, demolished. Some liberation.Any news reporter who wants to find out about the reality I speak of should track down some of the former residents of Wounded Knee and see if they are celebrating this reservation holiday.
I lived in Wounded Knee when I was a child. My father worked as a store clerk for Clive and Agnes Gildersleeve, the owners of the Wounded Knee Trading Post. One of my childhood playmates was Joan, the daughter of Clive and Agnes. The Gildersleeves were taken as hostages by AIM members on the night of Feb. 27, 1973. The business they had operated as the Wounded Knee Trading Post since 1930 was destroyed as was their home.
...Many of the people that occupied the Village of Wounded Knee that night weren’t even members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and the agony after that night brought nothing but poverty to the people. That day did absolutely nothing to improve the conditions of the Oglala Lakota people. In fact, it probably set us back by 20 years.
...To learn about the other side of the occupation of Wounded Knee get a copy of the book American Indian Mafia [my link] by Joe Trimbach. It is a pretty detailed description of what happened inside of Wounded Knee in 1973 [Full text].

Sunday, February 24, 2008

John Graham Defense Wants DNA Testing

Accused Triggerman John Boy Patton-Graham
"Graham's arrival on U.S. soil will further imperil AIM's legacy...Dozens of co-conspirators, even the minor players who aided and abetted the murder and subsequent cover-up, could face the same fate that awaits Anna Mae's alleged executioner: life in prison. And so they are naturally concerned that Graham will cut a deal and sing like a canary. As Professor Ward Churchill likes to say, the chickens have come home to roost, perhaps one of them being his old pal, Russell Means. For the next several years, U.S. attorneys could be very busy prosecuting one very old murder case."---Retired FBI agent Joseph H. Trimbach in American Indian Mafia, p. 467.
The Canadian Press (2-24-08) has just reported:
The defence lawyer for a Canadian man charged with killing [American Indian Movement activist] Anna Mae Pictou Aquash 32 years ago wants a federal judge to allow DNA testing in hopes it points to someone other than his client, according to court documents.
John Graham is charged with killing Aquash, a fellow American Indian Movement member, around Dec. 12, 1975, on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
...Graham's lawyer, John Murphy, has filed court documents asking a judge to make the government reveal the location of and make available for testing Aquash's underwear and a sanitary napkin said to be taken at the first autopsy.
In their response, federal prosecutors Marty Jackley and Bob Mandel wrote the government never had possession of the pad, nor were investigators obligated to keep it.
"There was not a scientific basis for the pathologist to retain that for DNA evidence at the time the autopsy was performed in 1976," they wrote.
The panties were kept and tested after Aquash's body was found but showed no signs of blood or semen, the prosecutors wrote.
They want to test the underwear again for DNA material and compare it to samples from Graham. Then defence experts could do their own testing - but only to determine Graham's guilt, Jackley and Mandel wrote.
Murphy responded that if DNA other than Graham's is present, the defence should be allowed to compare the samples to databases and determine if someone else had a role in Aquash's death.
Murphy also wrote that the government should be ordered to do "a comprehensive search of all files, records and evidence storage facilities" to make sure the sanitary napkin doesn't exist.
"During its investigation of this matter, witnesses have told the government that third parties - not John Graham - raped and murdered Ms. Aquash," Murphy wrote, referring to no one specifically.
The allegation of rape previously came up at the 2004 trial of the other man charged with killing Aquash, Fritz Arlo Looking Cloud, who was convicted and sentenced to a mandatory life prison term.
At that sentencing hearing, Mandel said if any DNA were available, it would be relevant to the case against Graham, not Looking Cloud.
Any DNA found "would ultimately be beneficial to the United States in further prosecution that might take place in this matter regarding the co-defendant," he said, referring to Graham.
In 2004, Looking Cloud's lawyer was ultimately denied a request to have Aquash's body tested for DNA evidence before the family took her body to her native Nova Scotia for reburial.
"It might be another story if I knew that there was at least some probability that DNA material could be collected," U.S. District Judge Lawrence Piersol said in denying the request.
At Looking Cloud's trial, witnesses said he, Graham and another AIM member, Theda Clark, drove Aquash from Denver and that Graham shot Aquash in the Badlands as she begged for her life.
...Graham, a Yukon native also known as John Boy Patton, denies killing Aquash, though he acknowledged being in the car with her from Denver.
Murphy was unavailable for comment. U.S. Attorney Marty Jackley said he would not comment regarding evidentiary matters in front of the judge. [Full text]

Raúl Castro Will Be Chosen as Cuba's President

"Even when Fidel Castro underwent intestinal surgery in 2006 and Raúl Castro became Cuba's acting president, Raúl didn't make a public appearance for two weeks, until after photos assured the country that Fidel was alive." CNN (2-20-08)

Today Cuba's 31-member Council of Ministers will choose Cuba's new new head of state. Castro's younger brother Raul Castro, who has been the acting president since 2006 and the head of the Cuban Army for 50 years, will almost certainly be elected.

Raul Castro is 76 years old. He was born on June 3, 1931 and may only be Fidel Castro's half-brother, because the Batista army loyalist Felipe Miraval is rumored to be Raul's biological father.

As youngsters, Raul and his brothers were expelled from the Catholic school they attended after the priest told their father that they were "the three biggest bullies" ever to attend his school.

If Raul wants any improvement in relations with the US, the schoolyard bully might release more than only four non-violent political prisoners it has jailed.

José Gabriel Ramón Castillo, 50, a journalist who wrote articles critical of the regime and was one of four dissidents released this week, told The Sunday Telegraph (2-23-08):

Nothing will change with the resignation of Castro. He will still be manipulating things behind the scenes...His resignation could be a small step but I have my reservations. We were only released because (Castro) wants to clean up his image as a human rights violator. He is still present. He is a ghost governing the country.

The London Times (2-8-08) reports:

[Raul Castro] controls the three most powerful institutions in Cuba – the military, the security services and Communist Party – and has no real challenger in sight.

“Fidel has been the visionary, but hopelessly disorganised," said Brian Latell, a retired CIA officer and author of 'After Fidel', a biography of the Castro brothers. “Raúl has provided the organisational glue. That's why he has been the one truly indispensable man in the revolution, other than Fidel himself.”

Wikipedia reports that in the early 1950s while he was in exile in Mexico, Raul "reportedly befriended Ernesto "Ché" Guevara in Mexico City and brought him into Fidel's circle of revolutionaries." During his sojourn in Mexico, Raul also resumed an earlier relationship begun on a 1953 trans-Atlantic voyage (see page 37) with a young Russian named Nikolai Leonov, who eventually became the KGB's leading Latin American expert and a high official in the First Chief Directorate (foreign intelligence) of the KGB.

In 2003, Nikolai Leonov was elected to the lower house of the Russian parliament as a member of the Motherland or Rodina Party. Leonov is reportedly a friend and mentor to his former subordinate Vladimir Putin.

Leonov's contact Raul was the leftist Castro brother. Once in power, Raul's brother Fidel claimed that he was already a Marxist-Leninist in 1953 when he began his guerrilla war against Batista, but the word "socialism" never appeared in Castro's speeches until 1961. Fidel had an affluent upbringing and reportedly drew his political inspiration from the radical nationalist Partido del Pueblo Cubana and from its anti-Marxist founder Eduardo Chibas (The World Was Going Our Way, p. 33)

Wikipedia reports:

Chibás is considered to have had influence on Fidel Castro's views but his name is not mentioned in today's Cuba because he was avowedly anti-communist. However, Fidel Castro wrote an essay praising him, published in the Communist Youth newspaper Juventud Rebelde on August 26, 2007.

In 1992, when the KGB archivist Vasili Mitrokhin defected to the British, he brought with him notes he had taken based on KGB archival materials that documented KGB activities abroad. Mitrokhin teamed up with the Cambridge historian Christopher Andrew and published a book that contains information about KGB activities in Cuba called The World Was Going Our Way: The KGB and the Battle for the Third World. Google books has excerpted some passages about the KGB in Cuba here and here.

Beginning on page 27, National Public Radio has excerpted a long passage from the book that discusses KGB views about Central and South America. I have cited only the NPR excerpt that deals with Leonov below:

The serious interest of the Centre (KGB headquarters) and subsequently of the Kremlin in the possibility of challenging the United States in its own backyard was first aroused by the emergence of a new generation of charismatic Latin American revolutionary leaders, chief among them Fidel Castro. The KGB's leading Latin American expert, Nikolai Leonov, who was the first to make contact with Castro, wrote later, "Cuba forced us to take a fresh look at the whole continent, which until then had traditionally occupied the last place in the Soviet leadership's system of priorities." The charismatic appeal of Castro and "Che" Guevara extended far beyond Latin America. Though the Western "New Left" of the 1960s had little interest in the increasingly geriatric leadership of the Soviet Union, it idolized both Castro and Guevara, lavishing on them the uncritical adulation which much of the Old Left had bestowed on Stalin's supposed worker peasant state in the 1930s. Che Guevara T-shirts on American campuses comfortably outnumbered, even in presidential election years, those bearing the likeness of any US politician alive or dead. Though there was much that was genuinely admirable in Cuban health-care and educational initiatives, despite the increasingly authoritarian nature of the Cuban one-party state, the radical pilgrims to Havana in the 1960s were as uncritical as those to Moscow in the 1930s of whom Malcolm Muggeridge had written, "Their delight in all they saw and were told, and the expression they gave to that delight, constitute unquestionably one of the wonders of our age." One of the wonders of the 1960s was delight such as that expressed by the political economist Paul Sweezy after his pilgrimage to Cuba:

"To be with these people, to see with your own eyes how they are rehabilitating and transforming a whole nation, to share their dreams of the great tasks and achievements that lie ahead – these are purifying and liberating experiences. You come away with your faith in the human race restored."

Though sympathetic to the Cuban Revolution, Frances Fitzgerald accurately noted that "many North American radicals who visit Cuba or who live there have performed a kind of surgery on their critical faculties and reduced their conversation to a kind of baby talk, in which everything is wonderful, including the elevator that does not work and the rows of Soviet tanks on military parade that are in the ''hands of the people."

Similar examples of self-administered brain surgery proliferated across both the West and the Third World. Even Jean-Paul Sartre, despite his global reputation for rigorous philosophical analysis, became for a period almost incoherent in his hero-worship:

"Among these fully awake men, at the height of their powers, sleeping doesn't seem like a natural need, just a routine of which they had more or less freed themselves . . .They have excluded the routine alternation of lunch and dinner from their daily programme.

. . . Of all these night watchmen, Castro is the most wide awake. Of all these fasting people, Castro can eat the most and fast the longest . . . [They] exercise a veritable dictatorship over their own needs . . . they roll back the limits of the possible."

Castro's emergence, after some hesitations, as a reliable pro-Moscow loyalist was of immense importance for both Soviet foreign policy and KGB operations. Had he shared much of the New Left's scornful attitude to the bloated Soviet bureaucracy and its increasingly geriatric leadership, siding instead with the Prague Spring and other manifestations of "Socialism with a human face" (as many expected him to do after the tanks of the Warsaw Pact invaded Czechoslovakia in August 1968), Castro would have added to Moscow's problems instead of becoming one of its greatest international assets. With Castro and other charismatic Latin American revolutionaries on its side against American imperialism, the prestige of the Soviet Union in the Third World was enormously enhanced and its ageing revolutionary image rejuvenated.

It was often the KGB, rather than the Foreign Ministry, which took the lead role in Latin America. As Khrushchev later acknowledged, the first Soviet ambassador to Castro's Cuba "turned out to be unsuited for service in a country just emerging from a revolution" and had to be replaced by the KGB resident, who proved to be "an excellent choice." Nikolai Leonov later described how he had also"'worked with many [other] Latin American leaders . . . to help them as far as possible in their anti-American stance." The first contacts with Salvador Allende before his election as President of Chile in 1970 and with Juan and Isabel Peron before their return to Argentina in 1973 were also made by the KGB rather than by a Soviet diplomat. KGB contacts with the Sandinistas began almost two decades before their conquest of power in Nicaragua in 1979. As Leonov acknowledged, the initiative frequently came from the Centre's Latin American experts:

"We ourselves developed the programme of our actions, orienting ourselves . . . I might as well admit that sometimes we also wanted to attract attention to ourselves, to present our work as highly significant. This was to protect the Latin American direction in intelligence from withering away and dying out. On the whole we managed to convince the KGB leadership that Latin America represented a politically attractive springboard, where anti-American feeling was strong ..." (pages 27-30).

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The University of Colorado's President Bruce Benson

Picture credit and article: the new President of the University of Colorado Bruce Benson once "chaired the blue ribbon panel that has proposed Colorado's higher education voucher plan."

"It’s good to remind the inmates that they don’t run the asylum. The appointment of Bruce Benson as president of the University of Colorado serves as the latest reminder. More specifically, it says this: The University of Colorado, even the Boulder campus, doesn’t belong to self-important ideologues in Boulder. It belongs to the citizens of Colorado..." the Colorado Springs Gazette

UPDATE: CU press release (2-20-08): University of Colorado Names Bruce Benson Its 22nd President

A Spring 2003 article in National Crosstalk titled "Colorado's 'Grand Experiment'" discusses President Benson's role as chairman of a panel that once proposed a voucher plan for higher education:

The first of its kind in the country, the plan would turn the traditional form of state appropriations on its head, routing state subsidies for education directly to students, instead of institutions. As envisioned by the panel that hatched the idea, the higher education commission that refined it, and the legislators who are seeking to enact it into law, the new funding mechanism would have a dual effect: enticing more low-income students to attend college while allowing four-year universities the tuition increases they say they badly need.

The plan is designed to address the peculiarities of Colorado's fiscal landscape-namely by liberating schools from constitutional limits on revenue increases. Since 1993, state government has operated under the Colorado Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, or TABOR, amendment, which strictly limits increases in state revenue, including tuition. By placing a large chunk of institutions' traditional revenue in students' hands, the plan would reduce schools' revenue below the ceiling required for exemption from TABOR-a key reason the state's two research universities favor the proposal. But since distributing dollars to students could help keep higher education funding on the public's agenda, the notion is drawing interest from policymakers in other states as well.

"This is the boldest plan I've seen," said David Longanecker, executive director of the Boulder-based Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education. "This could be the way to secure the long-term future for higher education in Colorado. I think a lot of states will pay attention."

...Colorado is one of the nation's wealthiest states, and it ranks number one in terms of the percentage of citizens with a college degree, according to U.S. census figures. On the other hand, the state falls below the median in terms of college attendance by its own citizens (according to the Measuring Up 2002 report published by the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, which also publishes National CrossTalk) and ties for third in the percentage of 16-to-19-year-olds who are high school dropouts, according to an Annie E. Casey Foundation report.

While the state's population mushroomed by more than 30 percent in the 1990s, college enrollment grew by just under ten percent, the panel said in its report. And, in terms of probability of low-income families attending college, Colorado placed dead last in 1999 and 41st in 2000, according to higher education policy analyst Tom Mortenson.

...In its final report, released in January, the panel eschewed the term "voucher" altogether, instead talking about "student educational savings accounts." As the legislation was drafted by Representative Keith King (R-Colorado Springs), who had sat on the blue ribbon panel, the name morphed to "college opportunity grants" and, finally, "college opportunity savings accounts." [Full text]

I have never researched educational funding and will try to find out what happened with this proposal.

I really enjoyed the perspective of the sharply-worded article published by the Colorado Springs Gazette (2-22-08) about the controversy over Mr. Benson's appointment as President of CU. I think that some professors and students at CU were very ignorant, arrogant, narrow-minded, prejudiced, and disrespectful during the debate about hiring Mr. Benson to head the university:

It’s good to remind the inmates that they don’t run the asylum. The appointment of Bruce Benson as president of the University of Colorado serves as the latest reminder. More specifically, it says this: The University of Colorado, even the Boulder campus, doesn’t belong to self-important ideologues in Boulder. It belongs to the citizens of Colorado, and the vast majority of them don’t live anywhere near Boulder.

We predict Benson will quickly emerge as one of the nation’s premier college presidents, setting new standards others will strive to achieve. Few college presidents come with his extraordinary qualifications. His dedication to higher education has already been proved. College presidents today must run their institutions the way a successful captain of industry runs a business. They must compete for money, students and prestige, all the while adapting quickly to what a changing society needs from institutions of higher learning. Benson’s appointment was controversial, mostly in Boulder, where liberal Democrats took issue with his conservative Republican politics. Fair enough. Those who didn’t overtly oppose him on political grounds, however, made issue of Benson’s education. Perennial students often park themselves for life in Boulder. As such, advanced degrees are common — even at the homeless shelter. Benson doesn’t have one, meaning some Boulder janitors and waitresses have superior academic pedigrees.

The silliness about Benson’s education was best summarized when a CU graduate student told The Gazette she would be a better choice.

“I have as many qualifications to run our university as Mr. Benson, and shortly will have more . . . and I am not qualified to run this university,” said graduate student Jennifer Johnson.

Wipe your nose, Jennifer Smarty Pants, and eat some humble pie. You will soon have more qualifications than Benson, because you have the time and money to pursue an advanced degree? And that degree will impart you with more wisdom and experience than what Benson has amassed in 69 years? To follow Jennifer’s logic, one must believe that a graduate degree from CU outweighs:

* Owning and operating an oil and gas exploration company that’s also involved in banking, cable TV, real estate, investment banking, pizza franchises, restaurants, manufacturing, trucking and geothermal power.
* Amassing a personal fortune through hard work, discipline and creativity.
* Service with 15 other companies, including those involved in banking, investing, research and geological exploration.
* Extensive community service on multiple boards and committees devoted to promoting excellence in education.
* Chairmanship of the Colorado Commission on Higher Education.
*A successful, long-term marriage.
* Parenting three children; grandparenting eight. * Service and experience so impressive the administration of CU responded with the prestigious University Medal and an honorary doctorate.
* The successful leadership in getting Referendum C approved by voters, which provided billions for higher education.
* A life of success and philanthropy, in which money has been given so students such as Jennifer have exceptional instructors and learning facilities. That’s the short list of Benson’s notable service and achievements. But soon, Jennifer will have a master’s degree. In some shallow minds, that will qualify her more to lead a major university than anything Benson has done. Harvard, look out, because CU is selling degrees we can only describe as priceless. And Mr. Benson, as president you should hire Jennifer to do PR. She can shill the value of an advanced diploma from CU — the most crowning achievement life has to offer.

Do I detect a little sarcasm?

Friday, February 22, 2008

More Mark Lane Conspiracy Theories Debunked

Picture credit and story: Jane Fonda and attorney Mark Lane on an Airplane — 1970 in Cleveland, Ohio

"During the reading I checked some of Mark Lane's footnotes. The testimony he had cited as evidence that the Warren Report was a cover-up had often been quoted out of context, so that what he quoted changed the meaning of what had actually been said. For example, the way Lane wrote about Jack Ruby's testimony led readers to believe that Ruby was denied the opportunity to reveal the existence of a conspiracy.

...Ruby told Warren:

'No subversive organization gave me any idea. No underworld person made any effort to contact me. It all happened that Sunday morning...If you don't take me back to Washington tonight to give me a chance to prove to the President that I am not guilty, then you will see the most tragic thing that will ever happen...All I want is a lie detector test...All I want to do is tell the truth, and that is all. There was no conspiracy.'

The following month Ruby was allowed to take a polygraph test in his jail cell, and he showed no signs of deception when he denied being part of a conspiracy. Because of the doubts about his sanity, however, the test results were considered inconclusive.

The only part of this background that appears in Lane's book is Ruby's statement, 'All I want to do is tell the truth, and that is all.' Had he presented the accompanying material, Lane might have argued that Ruby was faking. Instead, Lane cheated. He transformed a man who seemed pathetically anxious to prove his innocence into an honest conspirator desperate to reveal everything he knew. And this was only one of many similar distortions in RUSH TO JUDGMENT.

I remember feeling outraged when I realized what Lane had done. Evidently, the Warren records were like a vast lumber yard. By picking up a few pieces here and there, and doing some cutting and fitting, any theory could be built for which someone had a blueprint." ---Jean Davison in Oswald's Game pp. 17-19.

I have written about the lawyer Mark Lane many times on this blog. He was the lawyer for the AIM terrorists during the violent 1973 occupation of the Indian village of Wounded Knee on Pine Ridge Indian reservation. During the trial of the terrorists, Mark Lane tried to put the FBI on trial.

Now we know why.

According to the retired FBI agent Joseph H. Trimbach, the author of American Indian Mafia, before allowing Mr. Lane to drive into Wounded Knee to meet with his AIM clients, the FBI even confiscated materials in his trunk that could have been used to make molotov cocktails. (paperback ed. p. 122).

Now we know why.

In 1978, Mark Lane was also the lawyer for the ill-fated people of Jonestown and one of only 9 people who escaped into the jungle when 913 people--his clients--were murdered. Mark Lane then wrote a book that claimed that the CIA killed these Americans.

Now we know why.

When the Soviet regime ended, the KGB archivist Vasili Mitrokhin defected to the British with documentation showing that Mark Lane received money from the KGB through an intermediary and advice from the KGB writer Genrikh Borovik and other Soviet journalists the KGB trusted.

Vasili Mitrokhin and the Cambridge historian Christopher Andrew wrote about Mark Lane in a book called The Sword and Shield, and you can read what they wrote on pages 227-228. The passage from 225-230 details the conspiracy theories of the KGB and Mark Lane about the Kennedy murder.

According to Mitrokhin and Andrew, the KGB believed that President Kennedy had been killed by right-wingers:

The choice of Oswald as Kennedy's assassin, the KGB believed, was intended to divert public attention from the racist oil magnates and make the assassination appear to be a Communist plot (225).

Mitrokhin and Andrew also detail Mark Lane's conspiracy theory:

Together with student assistants and other volunteers, Lane founded the Citizens' Committee of Inquiry in a small office on lower Fifth Avenue and rented a small theater at which, each evening for several months, he gave what became known as "The Speech," updating the development of his conspiracy theory. "This alternative method of dissent was required," writes Lane, "because not a single network radio or television program permitted the broadcast of a word of divergence from the official view." Though it dared not take the risk of contacting Lane directly, the New York residency sent him 1,500 dollars to help finance his research through the intermediary of a close friend whom Lane's KGB file identifies only as a trusted contact. While Lane was not told the source of the money, the residency suspected that he might have guessed where it came from; it was also concerned that the secret subsidy might be discovered by the FBI.

The same intermediary provided 500 dollars to pay for a trip by Lane to Europe in 1964. While there, Lane asked to visit Moscow in order to discuss some of the material he had found. The Centre regretfully concluded that inviting him to Russia would reveal its hand in too blatant a way and his proposed trip was "tactfully postponed." Trusted contacts were, however, selected from among Soviet journalists to encourage him in his research. Among them was the KGB agent Genrikh Borovik, who later maintained regular contact with Lane. Lane's Rush to Judgment, published in 1966, alleged complicity at the highest levels of government in the Kennedy assassination. It was top of that year's hardback bestseller best and went on to become the best-selling paperback of 1967, as well as enjoying what Lane modestly describes as enormous success around the world" and causing "a dramatic change in public perception" of the assassination.

During the late 1960s and early 1970s, Lane's success was less enormous. The most popular books on the assassination were now those that exposed some of the excesses of the conspiracy theorists." CPUSA leaders who visited Moscow in 1971, though describing Rush to Judgment as "advantageous to the Communists," claimed that Lane's main motive was his own self-aggrandizement (pp. 227-228).

On page 233, The Sword and Shield provides the KGB's account of its efforts to blame the Jonestown tragedy on the CIA, although remarkably the book fails to mention that Mark Lane was the lawyer for Jonestown.

In 1978, a publication called the Covert Action Information Bulletin was founded "on the initiative of the KGB." The CIA defector Philip Agee and a group of supporters were the publishers (Sword and Shield. pp. 232-233).

Mitrokhin and Andrew explain:

The Centre [KGB] assembled a task force of personnel from Service A and Directorate keep the Covert Action Information Bulletin supplied with material designed to compromise the CIA...[The] task force, however, became increasingly concerned about the difficulty of finding enough secret material for the Bulletin, and recommended that it look harder for more open-source material...which could be blamed on the CIA---among them the Jonestown massacre in Guyana, when 900 members of the American religious cult the "People's Temple" had been persuaded to commit mass suicide or had been murdered (233).

Much of the information Mitrokhin brought out from the KGB files is still classified, so I don't know if this book gives a full account of Mark Lane's activities according to the KGB.

In his article "Documenting the KGB," Stephen Stromberg explains:

According to the FBI, Mitrokhin’s documents are 'the most complete and extensive intelligence ever received from any source.' Perhaps the most significant prize for the Western intelligence community are the documents that contain the real names and identities of thousands of foreign agents the KGB recruited and kept under deep cover abroad—a rosetta stone for the spy world...Many of the documents remain classified [Full text].

Mark Lane also published a book called Coversations with Americans that told half-truths and totally fabricated stories about American war crimes in Vietnam.

Now we know why.

In 1970, Neil Sheehan, who stongly opposed the Vietnam War and felt that the American Army was sometimes guilty of war crimes, exposed the fabrications in Lane's book in the New York Times Book Review (12-27-70). You can read Sheehan's article about Mark Lane's propaganda here.

Neil Sheehan writes:

This book is so irresponsible that it may help to provoke a responsible inquiry into the question of war crimes and atrocities in Vietnam. Conversations with Americans is a lesson in what happens when a society shuns the examination of a pressing, emotional issue and leaves the answers to a Mark Lane.

Mr. Lane is a New York lawyer who charged admission six years ago to his lectures in an East Side theater about a conspiracy behind the assassination of President Kennedy (a conspiracy Mr. Lane did not prove in his book attacking the Warren Commission report). He now purports to have assembled a collection of interviews with American soldiers and Marines who witnessed or participated in atrocities in Vietnam. The publisher, Simon & Schuster, advertised the book in the Nov. 22 issue of this review as "one of the most shocking, eye-opening books ever encountered in the annals of wartime reporting." The headline on the advertisement read: "A generation is being brutalized / Thirty-two Vietnam veterans give first-hand accounts of what is happening to our under 30's as they are trained in savagery, sadism, torture, terrorism, and murder."

..."Here the victims do not make allegations," [Mark Lane] says of his book. "Here those who performed the acts of brutality and their friends come forward to place those acts before us. It is for us to place these acts in context. In a country where one cannot imagine the police smashing the printer's plates or confiscating this book, there is yet time for analysis, evaluation and action." Mr. Lane uses his freedom to suggest the interviews show that the Army and the Marine Cops consciously operate on a moral par with Hitler's S.S. So reader, get control of your stomach and prepare for some credible testimony on atrocities from the men who attached the electrodes to the genitals of their victims, male and female, and who butchered women and children like chickens.

The first interview in the book is with Chuck Onan, who deserted the Marines in 1968 and fled to Sweden. Onan says he was in an elite Marine long-range patrol unit, that he went to parachute, frogman and jungle survival schools and received a special course in torture techniques. "How were you trained to torture women prisoners?" Mr. Lane asks.

"To strip them, spread them open and drive pointed sticks or bayonets into their vagina," Onan replies. "We were also told we could rape the girls all we wanted."

...Now here is some information that Mr. Lane did not include in his book. Marine Corps record say the only combat training Onan received was the normal boot camp given every Marine. He then, according to the records, attended Aviation Mechanical Fundamentals School at Memphis, Tenn., and next worked as a stock room clerk at the Marine air base at Beaufort, S.C., handing out spare parts for airplanes. He left Beaufort on Feb. 5, 1968, with orders to report to Camp Pendleton, Calif., for shipment to Vietnam after 30 days leave. He deserted. There is no indication in his records that he ever belonged to a long-range patrol unit and received parachute, frogman and jungle survival training. The Marine Corps contends it does not give courses in torture.

Later on in Mr. Lane's book you will meet Michael Schneider. He says that he spent a year and a half in Vietnam as an infantry squad leader and then platoon leader with the 101st Airborne Division and the 196th Light Infantry Brigade. He tells how he shot three unarmed peasants, tortured a prisoner by hooking a hand crank field telephone up to the man's testicles on orders from a lieutenant, and watched other men torture prisoners in similar fashion on several occasions. His battalion commander, he says, ordered the men to kill prisoners. Schneider says he was awarded the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart with oak-leaf cluster and the Silver Star, the Army's third highest combat decoration, for his Vietnam service. He subsequently deserted in Europe.

Schneider says that he was born in Germany as Dieter von Kronenberger, but his father changed the family name to Schneider when they immigrated to the United States in 1948.

"How has your family reacted to the fact that you deserted?" Mr. Lane asks.

"My father says I'm a traitor. He says you have an obligation to be loyal to any army you are in. He's a colonel in Vietnam. He recently replaced Col. George Patton as the commander of the Eleventh Armored Calvalry Regiment. He was a captain in World War II. In the Nazi Army," Schneider replies.

"Your father is a colonel in Vietnam?" Mr. Lane asks.

"Right. Full colonel. Commanding officer in Eleventh Cavalry Regiment now." Schneider goes on to tell you that his father once worked for the notorious Nazi armor commander, Gen. Heinz Guderian. The implication is fairly obvious: The United States army has Nazis in command of important units.

There is no Colonel Schneider or von Kronenberger, according to the army records. No such man ever commanded the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment. There is no trace in the records of any officer who resembles the description that Michael Schneider gives of his father.

Here is some more information from Army records that Mr. Lane also does not mention in his book. Michael Raymond Schneider left Europe last January, flew to New York and surrendered to the army at Kennedy Airport. He soon went A.W.O.L. and was arrested by police in Denver in July in a murder warrant from Oklahoma. The records last placed him in the maximum security ward of Eastern State Mental Hospital in Vinita, Okla., in October.

...It is particularly difficult to separate fact from fiction in those interviews where, to the experienced ear, the soldier or Marine obviously has seen combat and is speaking in the argot of the "grunt." The interview with Terry Whitmore, a black Marine who deserted to Sweden, is a good example.

Whitmore says he participated, among other atrocities, in a planned massacre of an entire village of several hundred Vietnamese men, women and children. Marine Crops records say Whitmore was in Vietnam over the time period he cites and in the unit he mentions. By telephone, I reached Whitmore's former battalion commander, a lieutenant colonel still on active duty, and a former platoon leader in his company, now a teaching assistant at Appalachian state University in Boone, N.C., both said no such massacre had occurred. They said that at the time Whitmore describes it as taking place, the battalion was operating in an unpopulated area near the Demilitarized Zone.

They remembered an earlier incident involving Whitmore's company in which four Vietnamese, two women, a man and a child were shot to death in a hostile area at night. The company commander, a captain, and an enlisted man, were tried by a court martial for murder. They were acquitted on the grounds that the company had just been fired upon, and it had been impossible in the darkness to distinguish the moving figures as civilians.

Is Whitmore transmogrifying this incident into a massacre of several hundred? The conflicting accounts certainly raise the question.

...Garry Gianninoto, who says he was a Navy medical corpsman assigned to the Marine infantry, describes orgies of burning and killing. "The people were terrorized by the Marines. I mean they terrorized them to death, and the people were scared."

"Did you see much of this?" Lane asks.

"All the time," Gianninoto replies. He recounts one incident in which five Vietnamese men were hanged, stabbed and then shot and their bodies tossed into a river.

Gianninoto says that, in disgust, he finally refused "to fight" and was court-martialed. Medical corpsmen normally do not fight. They do, however, often work in dangerous circumstances, saving the lives of wounded infantrymen on the battlefield and getting shot at themselves in the process.

Marine Corps records do not indicate that Gianninoto had a lot of combat experience either to fight or to witness the atrocities he describes. He was assigned to an aid station at a battalion headquarters in February, 1968, according to the records, and then court-martialed in July for twice refusing orders to work in areas where he might have been shot at. While in the brig, he signed a statement claiming that he had committed a homosexual act in the service and had taken morphine. The statement had the effect of getting him transferred to Navy hospital in New York City for evaluation. Otherwise, he would have had to finish his 13-month tour in Vietnam after he emerged from jail. He went A.W.O.L. from the hospital, the records continue, was court-martialed again and then given an undesirable discharge.

The records do show that there was an incident around the time Gianninoto cites in which five Vietnamese were hanged, stabbed, shot and thrown in a river. One Marine is now serving life imprisonment for the killings and Gianninoto could have learned of them from newspaper stories [full text].

Thanks to Vasili Mitrokhin, we now know why Mark Lane spent his career fabricating damaging stories about the FBI, CIA, and the US Army.

Robert Novak's Article "Why Torts Trumped Terrorism"

Picture credit of the Pentagon after 9-11 by Global Security

"It's hard to think of an action that has put as many lives at risk as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D.-Calif.) declaration of unilateral disarmament in the War on Terror last week.

By refusing to renew our ability to monitor terrorist communications overseas, Speaker Pelosi has put Americans at risk. She has blinded our counterterrorism capability and shut down America's most sophisticated defenses against the irreconcilable wing of Islam. As of midnight last Saturday, the law governing America's defense is totally inadequate to stop terrorists.

Why? Because the Democratic left believes lining the pockets of trial lawyers is more important than stopping terrorists....

The simple fact is that if a company cooperates with the United States government in tracking down terrorists, it should receive our thanks and gratitude, not a lawsuit...

The United States Congress by its inaction has created a gap in our national defense. A gap we can now only hope will not be filled by our enemies. "---Newt Gingrich

Update: letter to Congressman Reyes from attorney General Michael Mukasey and Director of National Intelligence J.M. McConnell

Robert Novak's 2-18-08 column is called "Why Torts Trumped Terrorism."

Novak reports:

A closed-door caucus of House Democrats last Wednesday took a risky political course. By 4 to 1, they instructed Speaker Nancy Pelosi to call President Bush's bluff on extending the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to continue eavesdropping on suspected foreign terrorists. Rather than passing the bill with a minority of the House's Democratic majority, Pelosi obeyed her caucus and left town for a week-long recess without renewing the government's eroding intelligence capability.

Pelosi could have exercised leadership prerogatives and called up the FISA bill to pass with unanimous Republican support. Instead, she refused to bring to the floor a bill approved overwhelmingly by the Senate. House Democratic opposition included left-wing members typified by Rep. Dennis Kucinich, but they were only a small faction of those opposed. The true reason for blocking the bill was Senate-passed retroactive immunity to protect from lawsuits private telecommunications firms asked to eavesdrop by the government. The nation's torts bar, vigorously pursuing such suits, has spent months lobbying hard against immunity.

The recess by House Democrats amounts to a judgment that losing the generous support of trial lawyers, the Democratic Party's most important financial base, would be more dangerous than losing the anti-terrorist issue to Republicans. Dozens of lawsuits have been filed against the phone companies for giving individuals' personal information to intelligence agencies without a warrant. Mike McConnell, the nonpartisan director of national intelligence, says delay in congressional action deters cooperation in detecting terrorism.

Big money is involved. Amanda Carpenter, a columnist, has prepared a spreadsheet showing that 66 trial lawyers representing plaintiffs in the telecommunications suits have contributed $1.5 million to Democratic senators and causes. Of the 29 Democratic senators who voted against the FISA bill last Tuesday, 24 took money from the trial lawyers (as did two absent senators, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama). Eric A. Isaacson of San Diego, one of the telecommunications plaintiffs' lawyers, contributed to the recent unsuccessful presidential campaign of Sen. Chris Dodd, who led the Senate fight against the bill containing immunity.

The bill passed the Senate 68 to 29, with 19 Democrats voting aye. They included intelligence committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller and three senators who defeated Republican incumbents in the 2006 Democratic takeover of Congress: Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Jim Webb of Virginia and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island.

That opened the door for Pelosi to pass the bill with minority Democratic support. A Jan. 28 letter to the speaker signed by 21 House Blue Dogs (moderate Democrats) urged passage of Rockefeller's bill containing immunity. Democrats supporting it could exceed 40 in a House vote, easily enough for passage.
Instead, the Democratic leadership Wednesday brought up another bill simply extending FISA authority, this time for 21 days. Republicans refused to go along because it did not provide phone companies with the necessary immunity. It still could have passed with support from Democrats alone, and the leadership surely thought that would happen when it was brought to the floor Wednesday. But it failed, 229 to 191, with 34 Democrats voting no despite pleas for support from their leaders. The opponents included three congressmen who signed the letter to Pelosi advocating immunity from lawsuits, but most were Kucinich Democrats who intuitively oppose any anti-terrorist proposal.

Clearly, opposition to the Rockefeller bill shown in the subsequent House Democratic caucus derived less from Kucinich's phobia about tough anti-terror countermeasures than obeisance to generous trial lawyers [Full text].

Monday, February 18, 2008

Trial Lawyers Cash in by Suing Phone Companies Who Protect Americans from Terrorists

On Wednesday, February 13, 2008, Townhall journalist Amanda Carpenter published an article that appears to show a connection between Senate campaign contributions from trial lawyers and the Senate vote on the Protect America Act.

Carpenter observed:

As Congress debates giving immunity to phone companies that assisted the government in tracking terrorist communications, trial lawyers prosecuting those phone companies have poured money into the coffers of Democratic senators, representatives and causes.

Court records and campaign contribution data reveal that 66 trial lawyers representing plaintiffs in lawsuits against these phone companies donated at least $1.5 million to Democrats, including 44 current Democratic senators...

On Wednesday, the Senate held a critical vote on an amendment to the FISA reauthorization that would grant this immunity. It passed, but 29 Democratic senators voted against it. 24 of them have accepted campaign contributions from trial lawyers who are suing the government over those activities.

Two of them are running for President.

Sen. Barack Obama (D.-Ill.), who is in the running for the Democratic nomination, was given $28,650 from trial lawyers listed as counsel for plaintiffs who are suing those companies becuase they turned over phone records as a part of President Bush’s covert phone surveillance program. $19,150 of that was donated in the last year.

Sen. Hillary Clinton (D.-N.Y), the other main contender for the Democratic presidential bid, also accepted money from trial lawyers on the case. Records show those lawyers have poured $34,800 to her and her husband’s campaigns over the years. $12,150 of those donations were made to her within the last year.

The other 22 senators who opposed the amendment and have taken similar donations are: Joe Biden (Del.), Barbara Boxer (Calif.), Maria Cantwell (Wash.), Ben Cardin (M.D.), Chris Dodd (Conn.), Byron Dorgan (N.D.), Dick Durbin (Ill.), Russ Feingold (Wisc.), Teddy Kennedy (Mass.), John Kerry (Mass.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Frank Lautenberg (N.J.), Patrick Leahy (Vt.), Carl Levin (Mich.) Robert Menendez (N.J.), Patty Murray (Wash.), Jack Reed (R.I.), Harry Reid (Nev.) Charles Schumer (N.Y.), Debbie Stabenow (Mich.), Jon Tester (Mont.) and Ron Wyden (Ore.).

Clinton did not vote Tuesday because she was campaigning. She has, however, voted against granting telephone companies immunity and other FISA reforms in the past.

Since 1997, Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D.-Nev.) accepted donations from three lawyers working the FISA case that amount to $10,000. The No.2 Democrat in the Senate, Dick Durbin, who is charged with whipping votes, has accepted $18,350 from 1996 through 2007 from lawyers listed as counsel against phone companies. [Full text]

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Presidential Candidate Senator John McCain on the 1999 Russian Apartment Bombings

Picture credit and information about the 1999 Russian apartment bombings. Read about the film Disbelief and watch the film. Read Chapter Two of David Satter's book Darkness at Dawn (pp. 24-33) here.

"There remain credible allegations that Russia's FSB had a hand in carrying out these attacks."---Senator John McCain (11-4-03)

In progress...

I have written a number of articles about the Russian apartment bombings of 1999 [Search "Litvinenko", "Trepashkin", and "apartment" on this site].

A series of bombings in Moscow and elsewhere occurred beginning on August 31, 1999, and ending on September 22, 1999, when local police found and defused a bomb in the basement of a Ryazan apartment block before it could explode. The bombings killed nearly 300 people and injured more than 550. The survivor's possessions were destroyed and they were left homeless. Many articles about these bombings can be found at a site called TERROR-99.

The bombings precipitated the Second Chechen War, although Chechen field commanders did not take responsibility for the bombings and Chechnya's President Aslan Maskhadov said that his government was not involved.

Wikipedia notes:

On the evening of September 22, 1999, an alert resident of an apartment building in the town of Ryazan noticed two suspicious men who carried sacks into the basement from a car with a Moscow license plate.[2] When police arrived, the car with people was gone.

The cops found three hundred-pound sacks of white powder in the basement. A detonator and a timing device were attached and turned on. The timer was set for 5:30 in the morning [1]. Yuri Tkachenko, the head of the local bomb squad, disconnected a detonator and a bomb timing device and tested three sacks of white substance with a gas analyzer MO-2. The substance was identified as hexogen (RDX), military explosive used in all previous bombings.[2]

Police and rescue vehicles converged from different parts of the city, and 30,000 residents have been evacuated from the area. 1,200 local police officers with automatic weapons set up roadblocks on highways around the city and started patrolling railroad stations and airports to hunt the terrorists down. In the morning, "Ryazan resembled a city under siege".[2] Composite sketches of two man and a women terrorist suspects were sent to two thousand policeman and shown on TV.

At 8 a.m. September 23 Russian television networks reported the attempt to blow up a building in Ryazan using hexogen. The minister of internal affairs Vladimir Rushailo announced that police prevented a terrorist act. Later in the evening Vladimir Putin praised the vigilance of the Ryzanians and called for the air bombing of Grozny.[6].

In the evening of September 23, the perpetrators were caught. A telephone service employee tapped into a long distance phone conversations managed to detect a talk in which an out-of-town person suggested to "split up" and "make your own way out". That person's number was found to belong to an FSB office in Moscow. When arrested, the detainees produced FSB identification cards. They soon have been released on orders from Moscow. The names and further fate of three FSB agents who conducted this operation remained unknown as of 2007.

Next morning FSB director Nikolai Patrushev declared that the incident was a training exercise.[7]

On March 23 2000, a few days before the Putin's election, Igor Malashkevich, the president of NTV Russia was going to broadcast "The Sugar of Ryazan" movie about the events. He was warned that NTV "should consider themselves finished" if they will go ahead with the broadcast. The warning allegedly came from Vladimir Putin and was brought by Valentin Yumashev, son-in-law of Boris Yeltsin [8]

Wikipedia's entry on the bombings notes:

The Russian Duma rejected two motions for parliamentary investigation of the Ryazan incident. An public commission to investigate the bombings chaired by Duma deputy Sergei Kovalev was rendered ineffective because of government refusal to respond to its inquiries. Two key members of the Kovalev Commission, Sergei Yushenkov and Yuri Shchekochikhin, both Duma members linked with Berezovski as well, have since died in apparent assassinations in April 2003 and July 2003 respectively.The Commission's lawyer Mikhail Trepashkin has been arrested in October 2003 to become one of the better-known political prisoners in Russia.

In his book Darkness at Dawn, David Satter cited evidence against the FSB in the 1999 bombings and the attempted bombing in Ryazan. Most of his story is in Chapter 2, "Ryazan." pages 24-33. These pages are available on-line here.

On 5-17-07, Mr. Satter testified before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs:

With Yeltsin and his family facing possible criminal prosecution [for corruption]...a plan was put into motion to put in place a successor who would guarantee that Yeltsin and his family would be safe from prosecution and the criminal division of property in the country would not be subject to reexamination. For “Operation Successor” to succeed, however, it was necessary to have a massive provocation. In my view, this provocation was the bombing in September, 1999 of the apartment building bombings in Moscow, Buinaksk, and Volgodonsk. In the aftermath of these attacks, which claimed 300 lives, a new war was launched against Chechnya. Putin, the newly appointed prime minister who was put in charge of that war, achieved overnight popularity. Yeltsin resigned early. Putin was elected president and his first act was to guarantee Yeltsin immunity from prosecution [Full text of Satter's 5-17-07 Congressional testimony. See also David Satter's 4-19-02 on-line paper for The Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies: "The Shadow of Ryazan: Who Was Behind the Strange Russian Apartment Bombings in September 1999?"]

A Russian lawyer who had worked for the FSB (the main domestic security service of the Russian government and the main successor-agency of the Soviet-era KGB), Mikhail Trepashkin, investigated these bombings for Duma deputy Sergei Kovalyev's independent public commission and concluded the bombings were the work of his own agency, the FSB. The FSB is supposed to be in charge of tracking terrorists, but really they may be the terrorists.

The ex-FSB lawyer Trepashkin has been held in a Russian prison for revealing state secrets (See Trepashkin's prison letters here); and others who also shared his suspicions, such as the ex-FSB officer Alexander/Alexandr Litvinenko, have been murdered.

This past November, the Eurasian Security Services Daily Review (11-29-07), citing the Russian news agency Interfax, reported that Trepashkin was expected to be released from prison on 11-30-07. According to the Eurasian Security Services Daily Review (11-29-07):

The Moscow District Military Court said [Trepashkin] would spend four years in a convict settlement. Trepashkin applied for the release on parole after he had served a third of his time, Interfax notes [Full text].

A website about a film called Nedoverie or Disbelief that chronicles the investigation of these bombings can be viewed here. A short synopsis of the film explains:

When Tatyana Morozova, a pre-school teacher in Milwaukee, learned that her mother had been killed and her old apartment block destroyed by an explosion back in Moscow, she believed the official version: that the attack was the work of Chechen terrorists. Then an American scholar published a book arguing that the bombing was engineered by the FSB, the Russian secret service, to help Vladimir Putin win the elections.

Torn by grief and disbelief, Tatyana and her sister Alyona embark on a journey in space and time to seek the truth - followed by the camera of Russian filmmaker Andrei Nekrasov. Filmed in Milwaukee, Moscow, Denver, Washington, London and the Ural Mountains, Disbelief chronicles the agony of a devastated family swept up in the high-stake politics of the age of global terrorism.

The actual film Disbelief can be viewed here.

Some people claim that blaming the FSB for these bombings is a conspiracy theory akin to blaming the Bush administration for the 9-11 attacks. Anything is possible, and both sides of the controversy are available in the Wikipedia entry about these bombings.

Still, the KGB has a long history of using active measures and of hiring terrorists to achieve its goals, so it is disturbing that the KGB's main successor agency, the FSB, is charged with countering terrorism.

Soviet active measures have historically included terrorism directed against totally innocent people that was then often blamed on the regime's enemies---who were not necessarily the same as the Russian people's enemies.

The Wikipedia entry on active measures notes:

Active measures range "from media manipulations to special actions involving various degree of violence". They can be used abroad or domestically. They include disinformation, propaganda, counterfeiting official documents, assassinations, and political repression, such as penetration of churches, and persecution of political dissidents [1].

"Active measures" include establishment and support of international front organizations (e.g. the World Peace Council); foreign communist, socialist and opposition parties; wars of national liberation in the Third World; and underground, revolutionary, insurgency, criminal, and terrorist groups. [1]. The intelligence agencies of Eastern Bloc and other communist states also contributed in the past to the program, providing operatives and intelligence for assassinations and other types of covert operations. [1]

Retired KGB Maj. Gen. Oleg Kalugin described "active measures" as "the heart and soul of Soviet intelligence": "Not intelligence collection, but subversion: active measures to weaken the West, to drive wedges in the Western community alliances of all sorts, particularly NATO, to sow discord among allies, to weaken the United States in the eyes of the people of Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America, and thus to prepare ground in case the war really occurs." [2]

In my opinion, the 1973 occupation of Wounded Knee and the 1978 mass-killings at Jonestown may have been instances of KGB-sponsored terrorist active measures that were blamed on the FBI and CIA. Indeed, discrediting these agencies may have been the main objective of these tragic events: The lawyer for both the AIM terrorists who occupied Wounded Knee and for the Jonestown commune was Mark Lane, who wrote a book about the Jonestown murders that blamed the CIA.

KGB documention brought out by the KGB defector Vasili Mitrokhin has subsequently revealed that the lawyer for both the Wounded Knee occupiers on the Pine Ridge Indian reservation and for the ill-fated people at Jonestown was Mark Lane, who reportedly had a relationship with the KGB.

When over 900 of his clients were poisoned with cyanide, attorney Mark Lane reportedly abandoned them and saved himself by fleeing into the jungle. Mark Lane was one of only 9 people who escaped into the jungle. And then Mark Lane wrote a book that blamed the Jonestown mass-murders on the CIA.

The discredited "Indian expert," ex-professor Ward Churchill---a vicious, mendacious radical who celebrated the war crimes of 9-11 and characterized the innocent victims as "little Eichmanns"---once claimed in a KGB-sponsored publication that the FBI backed death squads who killed 342 Pine Ridge Indians.

A site called The Trepashkin Case quotes the 2003 remarks of Republican Pesidential candidate John McCain on the Russian apartment bombings here:

From the Statement of U.S. Senator John McCain delivered on the Senate floor on November 4, 2003

...It was during Mr. Putin's tenure as Prime Minister in 1999 that he launched the Second Chechen War following the Moscow apartment bombings. There remain credible allegations that Russia's FSB had a hand in carrying out these attacks. Mr. Putin ascended to the presidency in 2000 by pointing a finger at the Chechens for committing these crimes, launching a new military campaign in Chechnya, and riding a frenzy of public anger into office...

...Earlier this year, State Duma deputy Sergei Yushenkov, who had been investigating potential connections between the 1999 Moscow apartment bombings and the start of the Second Chechen War, was killed outside his Moscow apartment. State Duma deputy Yuri Schekochikhin, who had been looking into the role of the FSB in the Moscow bombings as well as a scandal surrounding the involvement of FSB officers in illegal trade, was also killed in mysterious circumstances. Both crimes remain unsolved. [Links added by Snapple; Read full text here, here, and here].

The last book that Shchekochikhin published was titled Slaves of the KGB: 20th Century. The Religion of Betrayal. The book recounts the experiences of people who were unwillingly recruited into the KGB. Shchekochikhin died after a brief mysterious illness. Many people who have tried to investigate the Putin regime have been silenced by poisons, shootings, or bombs: from the pro-democracy Kremlin critic Galina Starovoitova to the American expert on the KGB Paul Joyal, who survived a shooting in the driveway of his Maryland home.

It is very bitter experience to reread Shchekochikhin's premature optimism about the young generation that was coming into adulthood during the 1980s. In the foreward Nancy Traver's book Kife: The Lives and Dreams of Soviet Youth (1989), Shchekochikhin wrote about his hopes for these young people who grew up without the fear of Stalin in their hearts:

A new generation, devoid of social fear, had stepped into life. The nightmare of Stalin's terror was not in their genes because they were the first generation in our country whose innocent fathers had not been arrested....

Already another new young generation is appearing in our life: it's composed of the ones who are growing up during perestroika. These are the children of glasnost. They don't have to look for the words of truth in samizdat (illegally published literature). Glasnost is not an unexpected gift for them, as it is for us, the older generation. Glasnost is an integral part of their lives and they will never let anybody destroy it (KIFE x-xi).

A Radio Free Liberty article published on 7-16-03 by Virginie Coulloudon a few days after Shchekochikhin's mysterious death explains why Shchekochikhin was a threat to some people:

Shchekochikhin became famous in the summer of 1988, when he published in "Literaturnaya Gazeta" an interview with the then deputy head of the Interior Ministry's Organized Crime Department, Aleksandr Gurov.

Shchekochikhin and Gurov were among the first in the Soviet Union to denounce publicly the system of organized corruption that linked Soviet industry and the system of domestic trade to the police and the state. In his articles, Shchekochikhin ultimately revealed the real -- unofficial -- Soviet Union and Russia: the informal rules of clan logic and the secret prices for all official functions, the extent of endemic corruption at both the local and federal levels, and the key issue of burgeoning juvenile crime.

After a remarkable career in investigative journalism, Shchekochikhin took advantage of a second window of opportunity opened by the state and entered politics. This turning point dates back to 1989, when he was elected as a USSR People's Deputy from Ukraine and became a member of the Interregional Group. He was elected deputy in the Russian State Duma in 1995, where he joined the Yabloko parliamentary group. Since then, Shchekochikhin was a Duma deputy and one of the most visible members of Grigorii Yavlinskii's party.

After his re-election in December 1999, he was appointed deputy chairman of the Duma's Security Committee. He primarily worked on issues related to organized crime and corruption, and he advised the United Nations on all issues related to international organized-crime groups linked to the Russian mafia.

Shchekochikhin had already received a death threat last February. The threat came immediately after he published a detailed article on the so-called Tri Kita affair. Tri Kita is the name of a major furniture store in Moscow, some of whose managers are suspected of weapons smuggling, laundering large sums of money in Europe, and corrupting officials in the Interior Ministry and the Prosecutor-General's Office. Only four days after the article appeared, Yabloko issued a press release making this threat public and denouncing the atmosphere of intimidation that accompanies the work of investigative journalists. "If the life of a journalist and his family is the price to pay for telling the truth, then there is no freedom of speech in the country," Yabloko's press release declared.

Shchekochikhin had been doggedly investigating the Tri Kita affair over the past three years. He wrote detailed articles in "Novaya Gazeta" and used his position at the State Duma to question high-ranking officials and request official documents and materials related to the case. As of today, only one thing is certain: Shchekochikhin was embarrassing too many people.