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January 8, 2002
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Finally, finally, finally!! Someone in the mainstream media is finally asking some questions. Lots of people (here and abroad) have known about this book for some time. I think it deserves some checking into.
posted by bas67 (77 comments total)

 
Explosive stuff, it will be interesting to see how this plays out.
posted by onegoodmove at 9:04 PM on January 8, 2002


John O'Neil was the FBI's "Osama expert" and he gave an interview to the authors for the book. Unforturnately he took the job as head of security for the World Trade Center and died in the rubble.
posted by bas67 at 9:12 PM on January 8, 2002


Somehow, I dunno, ehhhhhhh, this sounds like exactly the type of thing our goverment would do.
posted by fleener at 9:16 PM on January 8, 2002


What does the FBI have to do with Afghanistan? Doesn't the F stand for "Federal?"

That aside, I am repulsed but not surprised by this.
posted by swerve at 9:17 PM on January 8, 2002


Isn't this old news?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 9:21 PM on January 8, 2002


not if that "old news" impeded national security efforts.
posted by machaus at 9:30 PM on January 8, 2002


It isn't old news for the US news media. This is the first time I have ever heard it reported on television here.
posted by bas67 at 9:30 PM on January 8, 2002


Great link, bas67.
posted by dglynn at 9:33 PM on January 8, 2002


Nothing constructive to add. Cannot think clearly. Too busy screaming at monitor.
posted by Optamystic at 9:43 PM on January 8, 2002


bas67, I didn't mean to come off as (first time I get to use this word) snarky.

I was honestly under the impression that this was, in fact, old news. I lived in Texas in '97, and the Taleban visit made the local news there.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 9:46 PM on January 8, 2002


No offence taken Davis. You're right, it truely is old news. But it has been completely ignored by the media.
posted by bas67 at 9:52 PM on January 8, 2002


/me starts to make up a list of things he needs for his "Come Celebrate Bush's Impeachment" party.
posted by UrbanFigaro at 9:52 PM on January 8, 2002


I believe the negotiations being discussed in the link allegedly happened in 2001, mr_crash_davis.

The quote in the link says;

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

At least that was my understanding, that these were not the (Unocal?) talks from '97, but new talks in mid-2001.
posted by dglynn at 9:59 PM on January 8, 2002


Wait a minute, how does Oil fit into this mess about Afghanistan? *puzzling*
posted by hotdoughnutsnow at 10:03 PM on January 8, 2002


Ask yourself what those old bastions of liberty Henry Kissinger (Unocal Consultant Kissinger, that is) and Alexander Haig had been up to. Ask what our friends in Texas have been up to. Then there's this fascinating piece. Finally, what nightmare would be complete without the Enron connection.

Does anyone really think American corporations and their bought-and-paid-for politicians really give a flying fuck about American lives (or any other kind of lives) or for what America really stands for (you may remember those annoying values like free speech, free press, dissent, justice, etc, etc) if there is a profit to be made by ignoring them?

As Ed Abbey once put it, these vermin could hear a dollar bill fall on a hotel lobby carpet during a thunderstorm.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 10:05 PM on January 8, 2002


This isn't surprising at all. What Really Happened has been all over this since mid-September. Take it with as many grains of salt as you like.
posted by insomnyuk at 10:08 PM on January 8, 2002


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

There ya go.
posted by Aikido at 10:10 PM on January 8, 2002


I'm glad you all are paying attention. I linked many documents on Metafilter in the past month pertaining to this and was roasted in flame wars. I finally gave up because no one wanted to hear it. Maybe everyone is ready now. Go to my past links for tons of background information.
posted by bas67 at 10:10 PM on January 8, 2002


so, is the implication merely that the bush administration is hypocritical?

or is the implication that the attacks on the WTC were actually pre-emptive strikes made in response to these threats? that seems unlikely, since those attacks supposedly took months to plan, right?

so the implication is that the bush administration, driven by greed, deliberately slowed down investigations that then, inadvertantly resulted in the deaths of all of those who died on 9.11. not that those investigations would necessarily have prevented them, but that they *might* have, were they still in place.

---
anyway, here's an excellent (though ultimately reductionist) timeline of the bombing for oil meme. sure enough, it starts with Agence France-Presse.
----

it's important not to jump to conclusions in situations like this one. if there is monkey-business afoot, it will be hard enough to track it down. making baseless charges will only rile up the war apologists and make it easier for the administration to hide their tracks: they can focus on the charges that are patently false and conveniently ignore those that might have some truth to them.
posted by rebeccablood at 10:16 PM on January 8, 2002


Shocking but not surprising . . . will be interesting to see how this plays out.

And I do love this exchange from the transcript:

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

BUTLER: If...

ZAHN: ... this...

BUTLER: Yes.

ZAHN: ... is really big news.

BUTLER: I agree.

posted by donovan at 10:29 PM on January 8, 2002


Thanks for the link Rebeccablood. Gives a new perspective on the discussion.

However, the fact that that US were negotitating with Afganistan EVEN IN 2001, after the regime there has been thoroughly discredited (incl. in its own state department pages) gives a new meaning to the word hypocracy. I guess I shouldnt be surprised. Diplomacy often doesnt have as much to do with right and wrong as it does with self-interest. But still!!

Isn't the new US ambassador to Afganisan an ex-Unocal guy?
posted by justlooking at 10:29 PM on January 8, 2002


so the implication is that the bush administration, driven by greed, deliberately slowed down investigations that then, inadvertantly resulted in the deaths of all of those who died on 9.11. not that those investigations would necessarily have prevented them, but that they *might* have, were they still in place.

Actually it'd be in interesting accusation that the gov't slowed down the investigations on terrorism because they wanted (or maybe even knew of) a future attack, thus creating a scape goat for the slowing economy which was well on its way downhill before 9/11. Not to mention, the terrorist attack also improved the Republican party's popularity and gave them a reason to even go into Afghanistan so they could build a pipeline. And finally, the terrorist attacks gov't an excuse to gain more power by taking away our rights which had nothing to do with preventing terrorism.

How birds would that kill with one stone? 3, maybe 4 at once?
posted by Aikido at 10:30 PM on January 8, 2002


"Why does the bombing-for-pipelines theory hold such appeal? For the same reason the supporting-the-Taliban-for-pipelines theory attracted so many: There's evidence that points in that direction. Unocal did want to build a pipeline through Afghanistan and did cozy up to the Taliban. Bush and Cheney do have ties to big oil. But theories like these are ridiculously reductionist. Their authors don't try to argue conclusions from evidence—they decide on conclusions first, then hunt for justification. Also, many thinkers are comfortable with the conditioned response that dates back to Ida Tarbell vs. Standard Oil: When in Doubt, Blame Oil First.

What's absurd about the pipeline theory is how thoroughly it discounts the obvious reason the United States set the bombers loose on Afghanistan: Terrorists headquartered in Afghanistan attacked America's financial and military centers, killing 4,000 people, and then took credit for it. Nope—must be the pipeline."


I trust Bush about as much as I trust the Taliban, but they make good points in the slate article.... I dont know if I can buy this just quite yet... If more evidence DID come up, however....
posted by Espoo2 at 10:34 PM on January 8, 2002


Aikido: That sounds kinda far fetched!
I think its quite possible the Bush administration pressured by its oil industry buddies and contrinutors decided to diregard Taliban's human rights record, Osama etc. in order to build a pipeline. It is also possible (though rather unlikely IMO) that they took the war to Afgaistan for oil rather than to get Osama.
But the idea that they deliberately slowed down terrorism investigations knowing that an attack is coming in order to wage war in Afganistan for their various petty interests sounds very far fetched indeed!
posted by justlooking at 10:39 PM on January 8, 2002


sorry about the typos in the previous post :(
posted by justlooking at 10:40 PM on January 8, 2002


Afghanistan: Terrorists headquartered in Afghanistan attacked America's financial and military centers, killing 4,000 people, and then took credit for it. Nope—must be the pipeline.

Maybe I'm beating a dead horse here, but couldn't this just as well be further proof of the Bush administration's true intentions? Of course, if you chose to believe they knew about the 9/11 attacks in advance, and at the same time got the FBI to turn the other cheek on Al Quaeda.

What disturbs me is that these terrorists all have links back to the US... it's not like these terrorist groups and the US have been isolated from each other, considering terrorists like Osama were trained by the US.
posted by Aikido at 10:42 PM on January 8, 2002


Kaushik- Yes, there's not really any evidence I can use to back myself up. And hell, even if such a theory were true, most people including myself would rather want to know about it.

Ah, I suppose I've been playing too much MGS2 lately. ^^
posted by Aikido at 10:45 PM on January 8, 2002


Looks like another strong argument for drilling our own oil in Alaska, and moving on to new sources of energy. It seems tragically ironic, this situation, and yes, hypocritical. But it also goes to show that even the most hostile regime is willing to do business with us.

However, there is no way that the attacks were in some way connected to this, other than that perhaps the Bush Administration is exploiting an opportunity. I don't think they are smart enough or evil enough to pull off a conspiracy of that magnitude.
posted by insomnyuk at 10:51 PM on January 8, 2002


It might be a good idea to disentangle some of the threads here.
I tend to doubt some of Aikido's darker suggestions, but I don't hold with the pipeline-theory-is-absurd argument either.
The disturbing allegation in all this is that, prior to 9/11, the Bush administration put FBI investigations of al-Qaeda on the back burner, because they were trying to cozy up to the Taliban, for their own geopolitical and oil-industry reasons.
We will never know, but we might have been able to anticipate & prevent the bombings if the investigations hadn't been curtailed.
Of course, after 9/11, everything changed, and the Bush administration gave up on cozying up to the Taliban.
But their errors in judgment before, if they occured are still very troubling.
posted by Rebis at 10:58 PM on January 8, 2002


Oh, man, I hope this proves to be false. Not that I would be terribly surprised if it is true. Rather than sending us to the arctic to drill however, I would hope it would be an impetus to get serious about graduating from fossil fuels and making a truer effort to utilizing other technologies that have been under heavily impaired development to meet our energy needs. I'd say more, but do not wish to hijack the thread.
posted by scottymac at 11:20 PM on January 8, 2002


the question that always seems to lead me to the root of a situation is this: "who benefits most?"

This doesn't surprise me at all. Certainly W isn't smart enough to pull off a conspiracy of this size, but as for evil enough to try...
posted by Bones423 at 11:34 PM on January 8, 2002


[sarcasm]wow... ol' george dubya was fucking over america because of oil? say it ain't so! [/sarcasm]
posted by phalkin at 12:10 AM on January 9, 2002


Rebis does a good job of separating the charges. We should all remember that these are based on hazy third-party allegations.

Investigations. We don't know that any investigations were actually curtailed. All we know are that a top FBI guy resigned, and that he claimed investgations were curtailed or slowed. (That may simply mean a failure to allocate resources in the same manner after a change of administrations.)

Negotiations with Taliban. As beyond-the-pale as they were, these "negotiations" -- which mostly boil down to the "track two" meeting as part of the "six plus two" interested-country talks which had been going on completely above board since the early 90s -- were conducted through third parties with the goal of bringing a wayward régime back into the fold of nations. This would be legitimate in any event: it is a policy known as engagement, and we choose engagement with many countries whose policies we dislike. One of the few exceptions is Cuba! (And some opening towards engagement with that nation has recently begun.) Those who consider this shocking should reconsider what they know of diplomacy. We do business even with people who are nominally our declared enemies in undeclared wars, when it is in our interest to do so, both at the purely business level and as a diplomatic chip. Do note that with the Taliban government of Afghanistan, presiding over a largely wrecked agrarian economy, there was precious little in the way of bargaining chips of any definition.

Pipeline. It is in our interest to seek out markets for our goods and secure access to vital resources. For the last half-century this has involved opening up the international economic system to free trade, which ironically means we cannot secure exclusive access to any resource. One should consider all the benefits and side-effects of such policies. A pipeline through Afghanistan is, in fact, much less important to the US now because we have vastly improved relations with Russia, and an oil deal there as well. But a pipeline was and is in our interests and of the people in Central Asia and the people who will benefit from allowing it to pass through their nations, namely Afghanistan. It is a mutual benefit. That US foreign policy has been in consonance with this long-term interest is neither surprising nor necessarily causative.

Doing business with bad guys. As stated above, we do this all the time. If one believes in the spread of liberal economic and political systems (see Fukuyama), economic engagement is one important way to do this, and arguably a moral way to do it as well, because it involves supporting individual choices and rights and building a middle class which will eventually run the country one way or another. Superimposing democracy by fiat has had a fairly dismal rate of success.

Betrayal. As it happens, some of the people with whom we do business or have even warm, friendly relations may eventually turn on us and become enemies. This does not mean that the prior relationship was foolish or craven; it means that there are bad, dishonorable people in the world. Most nations had diplomatic relations with Germany up until September, 1939. The judgement is not on those who were betrayed; it is on the actions taken after the betrayal.

Carpets. The "carpet of gold, carpet of bombs" quote as noted is sourced back to a track-two meeting that was not a negotiation between the US and Taliban, but a discussion of policy options between foreign ministers of interested countries. Afghanistan was not present, but Pakistan was. The only source reporting this is the French book noted in the previous thread; and this book relies on memory and hearsay. That is not to say it is not accurate, but it is not established fact.

US war plans. Several mainstream news organizations have reviewed US policy toward Afghanistan over the first 8 months of the administration, and clearly at some time prior to 9/11 our policy had shifted toward more overt support of the Northern Alliance, at a time when world opinion had shifted notably against the Taliban (the Buddhas, and the increasing famine), and our bilateral relationship with Pakistan had cooled considerably, allowing us to choose policy options which would put us in direct conflict. Our plans for Afghanistan prior to 9/11 would have been very unlikely to include "war" other than in this form of support. For starters, we would have been singularly unable to gain the cooperation of nations like Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Iran, and Russia without the moral authority gained from the 9/11 attacks, and as it was we had thousands of citizens dead in a surprise attack and an uphill battle selling our policy, a battle which remained at high pitch until the success on the ground made it moot. Without 9/11, we could not have rained a "carpet of bombs" on Afghanistan. At most, some cruise missiles and some tricky delivery of supplies to a besieged and cornered faction through nominally non-friendly territory in Central Asia. The reality of the war cannot have been the threat we posed to the Taliban, even assuming that threat were real and as direct as people are suggesting.

They started it. No, I don't mean that Taliban/al-Qaeda policy toward the US sprung from Athena's head on 9/11. But US policy did not create the al Qaeda terrorist attacks, because they proved that we were a target long before we changed our policy to oppose the Taliban (WTC 1993; Embassies 1998; Cole 2000). The Taliban are people with independent choices and motivations and responsibility for their own actions. Whatever US policy may have been in the past, the Taliban created a régime of odious character, and harbored an international terrorist organization within their borders, which may or may not have been carrying out attacks in consonance with Taliban foreign policy. It really doesn't matter. Taliban policy would likely have brought them in conflict with the US sooner or later, most especially because of the bin Laden relationship.

Training Osama. Can we all get past this myth? We did not train, fund, support, create, or otherwise midwife Osama bin Laden. He did not head any mujahedin faction during the Soviet Afghan war. (He may have been an errand-boy for Saudi royalty that we knew about.) The Taliban were themselves neither a mujahedin faction; they were born anew in 1992 in Saudi-funded madrassas in Pakistan, long after the US had signed a pact with Russia to offer no assistance to Afghan rebels (and which we infamously obeyed to the letter, thus "ignoring" Afghanistan), and the Taliban did not run Afghanistan until 1996, again long after US support had drifted away in the wind. We funded, armed, and trained tens of thousands of Afghan mujahedin entirely through Pakistan (it was a deniability shield), and in fact only a small fraction of those mujahedin decided to become terrorists and strike at us. Even so many mujahedin factions, including the one to which bin Laden attached himself, eschewed Western support because of pre-existing religio-political prejudices. Most of the terrorists do not in fact seem to have come from the ranks of Afghan mujahedin, but from Arab glory-hunters who flowed in without any assistance from the US from all corners of the world of Islam. The Taliban, and Osama, got where they did on their own. Saying otherwise indicates a very sloppy understanding of the timeline, and a wilful suppression of the personal responsibility that any individual has for his own actions.

What does this boil down to? A couple of very tenuously-sourced and highly interpretative quotes that come through a handful of heavily-biased sources. (And if you don't think, for example, that Richard Butler is biased, you haven't been paying much attention to the man.) On top of these is built a fragile tinker-toy house of causation that just happens to fit longstanding political criticisms.
posted by dhartung at 12:15 AM on January 9, 2002


isn't paula zahn sexy when she ---er, i mean, smart--- when she gets tough like that?
posted by blackholebrain at 12:26 AM on January 9, 2002


it's worth noting that bombing afghanistan might actually be considered a "quicker time to market" so-to-speak for the oil pipeline thru afghanistan zealots. i mean, why bother cozying-up and kissing-ass with the taliban when they can just bomb them out of the way?

and, of course, there's also the whole india-enron mess on the other side of all this.
posted by blackholebrain at 12:51 AM on January 9, 2002


On top of these is built a fragile tinker-toy house of causation that just happens to fit longstanding political criticisms.

Hmmm...
posted by y2karl at 12:55 AM on January 9, 2002


We funded, armed, and trained tens of thousands of Afghan mujahedin entirely through Pakistan (it was a deniability shield), and in fact only a small fraction of those mujahedin decided to become terrorists and strike at us

So what you're saying is that the US financed fanatic Religious warriors, some of whom likely become Taliban or Al Qaeda fighters. I understand why you make the distinction between idiocy (The US created the Taliban, dude!) and reason, but don't you think the harsh light exposing bad decisions and amoral actions should shine on all parties equally? Why can't I find anyone who is able to separate US actions and policies from the individual choice to target civillians (terrorism), but still be critical of obviously and continuously flawed US foreign policy?
posted by chaz at 1:21 AM on January 9, 2002


Time for a wholesale impeachment process to begin. This coming year it will take all of our voices to oust this "democratic" anomaly from office via our votes and voices. We are witnessing the largest defrauding of the American people in America's history by our government which is of course, was once ostensibly, of and by us. And history will forever attest to it, as long as freedom of the press survives this horrific quagmire.

Why can't I find anyone who is able to separate US actions and policies from the individual choice to target civillians (terrorism), but still be critical of obviously and continuously flawed US foreign policy?

Can you then explain the choices made by our govermnet, concealed from the American people, in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Columbia, Lebananon, Panama et al? What power did those who you envision to be sympathetic to the "Al Qaeda Fighters" know of the forthcoming attacks on the US on 9-11? Nothing. Precisely as powerless as the American people, as we bore witness to some of the most egregious crimes against humanity in this century, compliments of, but intelligently distanced from, by the US government. Yet we bear witness to these crimes just as various anonymous Muslim sympathizers bore witness to the crimes of their particular heroes--knowing nothing individually of what was planned. We'd be fools to believe that the great propagandic machines of the west do not exist in the east in their various culturally atuned incarnations.
posted by crasspastor at 1:42 AM on January 9, 2002


Re: “Doing business with bad guys. ……economic engagement is … arguably a moral way to do it as well, because it involves supporting individual choices and rights ……. Superimposing democracy by fiat has had a fairly dismal rate of success.”

I disagree with that.

US economic engagement in poor countries has almost always had to do with self interest (both commercial and strategic) than with ‘Support of individual choices and rights’. I am not suggesting that other countries do things vastly differently. But let us try to call a spade a spade.

To give a few representative examples

-Latin America till about the early seventies: During the cold war era US was involved in all kinds skullduggery in South America. And there were very strong economic interests at play. Both US and USSR were playing a game of global domination and ‘Individual rights’ of the people of Latin American countries were the last thing on the minds of these countries. Even as late as in the eighties, Reaganites supported all kinds of unsavory characters in Hondurus and Nicaragua in the name of fighting communism.

-China: To say that the market in China is too big for US to ignore or to say that if US doesn’t involve itself, EU will take ownership of that market will be more truthful than to say that US investments in China is supportive of ‘individual rights’ there.

- If we use the same yard stick that was used in that post to legitimize the negotiations with Afganistan, US should be looking to ‘engage’ Maynmar too.

South Asia: US commercial and military involvement with Pakistan from 1947 till about early 1990s had nothing with ‘supporting individual choices and rights’ and a lot to do with the cold war logic of balance of power vis-à-vis India. India was considered to be more sympathetic to USSR. USA wanted to have client state in South Asia.

As I said in another post sometime back, the power of the Madrasas in Pakistan are to a large extent a legacy of General Zia’s Islamization of Pakistan. If I may put it simplistically - General Zia bought his survival by providing carte blanche support to US covert war efforts in Afganistan. US provided the financial support that Zia needed to survive. The systematic dismantling of democratic artifacts during the Zia years is something that the Western world turned a blind eye to.

I am not so starry eyed that I believe that a country should ‘engage’ only with those whose actions it approves of. But I think talking to Taliban in 2001 was a little beyond the pale. My feeling of incredulity stemmed primarily from there. Other than the aforementioned hypocrisy, I too believe that the conspiracy theories (based on the information that is available thru this thread) sound kinda far fetched.
posted by justlooking at 1:45 AM on January 9, 2002


So to sum up....

Afghanistan: Guilty of being a rogue state, barbaric human rights policies, and harboring terrorist organizations.

Al Qaeda: Guilty of terrorist acts, almost certainly including the WTC attacks

Osama Bin Laden: Guilty as hell of being a general megalomaniacal evil mastermind, straight out of Marvel comics, and deserving of whatever happens to him in a dark alley with a long blade.

United States: Guilty of practicing a liberal, market driven, embracing version of realpolitik, with neccessary interactions with undesireable states and individuals to maintain a general forward momentum for the spread of capitalism with the belief that market forces encourage peace through commercial interdependence , for the good of it's own enlightened self-interest as well as bringing other nation-states to more liberal political policies via economic self-interests created by economic interaction with the liberal free market western states.

The Bush Administration: Guilty of continuing foreign policy that has been in place for all administrations since Nixon went to China. Guilty of carrying on back channel communications with Taliban, nefariousness of said negotiations still undetermined. May have threatened Taliban with "lead or gold" as the narcotrafficantes say. May have changed policies that resulted in the inhibition of ongoing investigations focusing on Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden, and that represented the best opportunity to stop the WTC attack.

American Public: Guilty of being addicts to a substance that causes political entanglements that later make us ashamed, all to avoid going into the attic and laying more insulation, driving a lighter truck, and paying more for energy.

George W. Bush: Gulty of being either picked by God to be our man at the right time, anointed by fire and firemen at our new most hallowed ground, or a sock puppet with Karl Rove's hand up his ass, depending on your political persuasions, which are probably actually a meme you got from your parents.

Me: Guilty of believing that American business is capable of influencing American politics to betray American political ideals for the benefit of American business.

And I still want to know as much as I can about was going on with all this mess before 9/11. The CIA, the FBI, the INS, the Congress, The White House, the Saudis, the oil companies, everyone. Line 'em all up, and let's get some damn answers for once.
posted by dglynn at 2:18 AM on January 9, 2002


Of COURSE it's the fucking oil. To all American citizens reading this: your Government is doing you a favour. Like most Western nations you ain't yet got enough energy resources of your own to last more than a few months starved of international oil imports. So Bush has a legitimate reason to support any efforts to facilitate the flow of oil from various corners of the world right into your gas tank. It just happens that his family and Texas oil buddies pocket a few extra dollars in the process.

Now, how does this relate to terrorism and the war? Not directly. No-one is suggesting that we're bombing Afghanistan solely because of oil, or that bin Laden bombed the World Trade Center because of some pipeline deal. But oil is ALWAYS a contributing factor in US politics, one that will influence and shape the actions that have taken place in Afghanistan. And, in the knowledge of that, I would ask each one of you to question why the bombing even now must continue over Afghanistan while blameless civilians (perhaps as many as four thousand by one unconfirmed estimate) are still being hit.
posted by skylar at 2:29 AM on January 9, 2002


Of COURSE it's the fucking oil.

If you need more proof, U.S. Ends Car Plan on Gas Efficiency; Looks to Fuel Cells (NY Times login: mefi password: mefi). "The Bush administration is walking away from a $1.5 billion eight- year government-subsidized project to develop high-mileage gasoline- fueled vehicles."

Why is anyone surprised that we'll go to any lengths to protect the Friends of Dubya who are almost all tied to oil production or consumption? The sad part is that one of the chief witnesses to this mess is dead.
posted by willrich at 3:39 AM on January 9, 2002


Training Osama. Can we all get past this myth? We did not train, fund, support, create, or otherwise midwife Osama bin Laden.

dhartung: Sources? This directly contradicts anything I've, and I'm guessing most of us here, have ever read during and in some cases before this whole ordeal. This "myth" thing is presented to MeFi in lecture form as well, so it deserves some sort of citations.
posted by raysmj at 4:31 AM on January 9, 2002


Well, one thing's for sure: The Doonesbury cartoons are going to be pretty entertaining.
posted by alumshubby at 6:26 AM on January 9, 2002


chaz: "So what you're saying is that the US financed fanatic Religious warriors, some of whom likely become Taliban or Al Qaeda fighters."

dhartung was talking about the mujahedin, who are not religious fanatics, but clan fighters. The taliban are religious fanatics. The 'northern alliance' was made up of mujahedin factions mostly based along clan lines somewhat resembling the fuedalism of Western Europe back in the day (although I'm sure in any of those groups, there were some religious fanatics. Like there are anywhere).

dhartung is mostly right in what he's posted. The U.S. didn't CIA train Osama directly or purposely, but Osama was involved in the Soviet war, where he may have received benfits from U.S. support of the rebel factions. It's just that the media loves to draw easy lines where there are none.

As for this whole book thing:

I doubt the U.S. participated in a massive conspiracy threatening oil or bombs, and knowingly used the September 11 attacks to push this agenda.

I do believe that the Bush administration is entirely capable of having cut the FBI's homeland investigations and work regarding the Taliban and al Qaeda, believing in the CIA overseas operations more (since the Cole and Embassy attacks were overseas).

Bush, because of his dad, I would think would also tend more towards the CIA than the FBI. Enron and other oil interests were pressing for the Afgan pipeline for years, and I'm sure much of Bush's promises to them was to work on getting that up and running. (Also, across Armenia and Azerbajan are important oil lines, too)

(isn't it odd that the guy from the FBI that left because of these problems also ended up dead in the attacks he would have been trying to prevent?)

So, in a nutshell:

Bush wants oil deal in Afganistan. Thinks he can get a win-win by making Taliban act nicer (yay America! They protected human rights!) and getting cheap oil through a wrecked country.
Curbs FBI investigations of Taliban. Probably increased CIA work on overseas Al Qaeda networks.
Attack on U.S. soil
Bombs Afganistan, not because of oil deal but because of attacks.
Oil deal in retrospect seems very stupid. Let Enron fall, drop issue. Hope it goes away in confusion.
posted by rich at 6:38 AM on January 9, 2002


What do you people have against oil? I like oil. I mean, what do you put into your cars, anyway? Papaya juice? What's the moral problem with going to war over oil? Should we only go to war over abstract prinicples, political organization, or blows to national pride? The world should take notice of the fact that we like oil. We're willing to pay for it. But we're also willing to kill for it. That's how we are. So get out of our way.
posted by Faze at 6:51 AM on January 9, 2002


dhartung is mostly right in what he's posted. The U.S. didn't CIA train Osama directly or purposely, but Osama was involved in the Soviet war, where he may have received benfits from U.S. support of the rebel factions. It's just that the media loves to draw easy lines where there are none.

No, dhartung said American officials supported bin Laden in no shape or form, whatsoever - that said support was a "myth." That's a big difference between saying whether the support was direct or indirect.
posted by raysmj at 7:03 AM on January 9, 2002


Or (realizing I may have sounded confusing there), there is a huge difference between saying whether there was direct or indirect U.S. funding and training of bin Laden - and no such training or funding at all.
posted by raysmj at 7:15 AM on January 9, 2002


I've posted this When Osama Bin Laden was Tim Osman link before, but it's relevant again. In fact, the whole Make Them Accountable piece linked in the previous post seems relevant, especially the section on "Who benefits from this war" - check out the links under Promotion of the “awl bidness”.
posted by ferris at 7:18 AM on January 9, 2002


What is perhaps less interesting than whether the allegations are true or not, is that Bush is now on the same hot seat that Clinton was on for eight years in which the president was linked to just about every conspiracy theory that matter how implausible. The Matt Drudge case successfully proved that one can libel a political opponent and get away with it by leaking a fabricated story to a sympathetic media source. Now that the shoe is on the other foot expect the same pundits that spun gossamer thin Gothic webs of corruption betrayal and murder around the Whitewater scandal to wail about the impossibility of oil supplies as a motivator behind the Afghanistan war.

Of course, the Bush administration is not projecting a very strong image of honesty. After all, we have a convicted perjurer from the Iran-Contra scandal on the National Security Council, repeated attempts to block congressional oversight, an apparent attempt to make freedom of information act requests more difficult, on top of the disputed election. What is perhaps a little bit more unusual is not the possibility of corruption cloaked behind executive privilege. After all, dirty deeds were done on the government dole under Clinton, Bush Sr., and Reagan. What is unusual is at the current administration seems to be quite a bit more brazen about it. The previous three administrations could always invoke plausible deniability by shoving the blame off on underlings. (Although in the case of Reagan, it is likely that he like Woodrow Wilson was out of order for most of the presidency.) But heck, reappointing a convicted perjurer who may or may not have also been involved in the funding of right-wing death squads in Central America to the post of "human rights czar" (an ironic oxymoron if I ever saw one) is about as blatant as you can get.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:35 AM on January 9, 2002


The Matt Drudge case successfully proved that one can libel a political opponent and get away with it by leaking a fabricated story to a sympathetic media source.

Name one of the accusations ever alleged by Drudge which was false? He was the guy that broke the Monica Lewinsky story, it turned out to be true..
posted by insomnyuk at 7:38 AM on January 9, 2002


"Or (realizing I may have sounded confusing there), there is a huge difference between saying whether there was direct or indirect U.S. funding and training of bin Laden - and no such training or funding at all."

No, I wasn't confused. And that's why I said 'mostly correct'. Correct more than not correct because the media (and metafilter) perception seems to be that Osama was the U.S.'s hand-toy like Noriega. Which isn't at all true. It's more like some guy Noriega hired after we gave him his money and trained his guys, and then that guy trained Osama.

the 6 degrees of Osama bin Laden.
posted by rich at 7:44 AM on January 9, 2002


Faze... I love you. Oil will run out sooner rather than later, though, so we'd better find a way of making our S.U.Vs run on papaya juice...
posted by skylar at 7:45 AM on January 9, 2002


what is the threat to saudi hegemony in the oil biz were a pipeline across afganistan to be built??

i still think the one of the answers is here

excellent post and discussion.
posted by specialk420 at 7:53 AM on January 9, 2002


rich: Two to four degrees of separation? Sure. Six, no.
posted by raysmj at 8:27 AM on January 9, 2002


Thing about this is that you don't have to go as far as saying that Bush is complicit in the attacks or positing a conspiracy theory or whatever to say that there was a serious problem here for which someone should take responsibility.

Given what we know (and the great deal that we don't), it seems reasonable to say that the Bush administration changed (drastically) some parts of the more hidden bits of US foreign policy. That there was a departure from the tactics (though not the strategy) used earlier and that it failed miserably, in that it provoked a reaction.

The policy change might have been completely innocent and relatively minor, it could have been driven by hubris and arrogance, it could have been well informed or no - we don't know any of that to this point. Either way I think that everyone deserves a true accounting of what went before this, whether or not anyone is to blame.

And whatever went on, hardly anything imaginable short of a direct threat by the US to the Taliban (of the "sign this treaty for a pipeline or you're toast" nature) would adequately explain what happened, or excuse it, or prove that it was really provoked.

Of course if some US official did that - look out. If it ever comes out, there will be huge repercussions. But I doubt it happened that way - wouldn't bin Laden have let that be known in the videos?
posted by mikel at 8:36 AM on January 9, 2002


You mean like the direct threat that the BBC reported on here.
posted by bas67 at 8:45 AM on January 9, 2002


If you need more proof, U.S. Ends Car Plan on Gas Efficiency; Looks to Fuel Cells (NY Times login: mefi password: mefi). "The Bush administration is walking away from a $1.5 billion eight- year government-subsidized project to develop high-mileage gasoline- fueled vehicles."

uh, will - i don't think you understand the definition of "fuel cell" - most in development eliminate the need for gasoline *at all*. the is a step away from oil, not closer to it.
posted by lizs at 9:05 AM on January 9, 2002


No, everyone should go to war over football (soccer).

But seriously, this is a very interesting thread with more sense than usual in these discusions. Nice one people.
posted by nedrichards at 9:13 AM on January 9, 2002


Lisz: fuel cells are great, but they're not the panacea most news stories make them out to be. They're basically big chemical batteries, and those chemicals are -- guess what -- hydrocarbons, natural gas, or phosphoric acid.

Quote: A fuel cell is a device that converts the energy of a fuel (hydrogen, natural gas, methanol, gasoline, etc.) and an oxidant (air or oxygen) into useable electricity. Endquote.

So no, you don't need to put gasoline in your fuel-cell-powered car, but you still need to put gasoline into the poewr plant that's charging the cell.

Their main advantage, in my understanding, is that they're cleaner and more flexible, not that they reduce our dependence on foreign oil in any way.
posted by ook at 10:09 AM on January 9, 2002


Maybe I just missed it, but does anyone know the name of the book, its author, or publisher?
posted by kaibutsu at 10:10 AM on January 9, 2002


Name one of the accusations ever alleged by Drudge which was false?

I can name three off the top of my head:

1) Hillary Clinton would be indicted (within days!) in the Whitewater case -- never happened
2) Bill Clinton fathered a child with a black prostitute in Arkansas -- DNA test was ultimately negative
3) Sidney Blumenthal beats his wife -- this one put Matt in libel court.

This thread hijack has now concluded. Please return to your previous discussion.
posted by Dirjy at 10:18 AM on January 9, 2002


without Clinton there is no Drudge, he's a one trick pony who is not interested in truly breaking news or journalism or commentary, or sadly, the truth.

he is a Republican pawn, a dirty bathroom wall in which he allows the conservatives to scribble on as they do their daily dirty business. like Rush, without a democrat in the Oval Office he is exposed as the nothing that he was in the first place.
posted by tsarfan at 10:33 AM on January 9, 2002


Ook: fuel cells are much cleaner - to a first approximation they emit no oxides of nitrogen, carbon monoxide, or particulates, but they are also much more efficient. Reacting the same amount of fuel in a fuel cell gets you twice as much power as it does in an internal combustion engine. Since many improvements in fuel economy are coming from reducing the amount of power it takes to move the car rather than increasing the amount of power you get from a gallon of fuel, they will help fuel cell vehicles just as much.
posted by jaek at 11:01 AM on January 9, 2002


Well obviously Bush supporting hydrogen fuel cells just proves he's in the pockets of big oil. Um, strike that...
posted by revbrian at 11:13 AM on January 9, 2002


anyone know the name of the book?

Bin Laden: The Forbidden Truth by Jean-Charles Brisard and Guillaume Dasquie.
posted by ferris at 11:36 AM on January 9, 2002


In case anyone missed bas67's BBC link:
Niaz Naik, a former Pakistani Foreign Secretary, was told by senior American officials in mid-July that military action against Afghanistan would go ahead by the middle of October.
So, um, when did we start dropping them bombs?
posted by sudama at 11:49 AM on January 9, 2002


uh, will - i don't think you understand the definition of "fuel cell" - most in development eliminate the need for gasoline *at all*. the is a step away from oil, not closer to it.

uh, lisz - fuel cell technology is at least 10-20 years away. What are we going to do until then? That's right...use more oil than we would have had Bush fought for stricter standards today. More oil equals more money for oil companies, most of whom are (ohmygod!) Friends of W. Do you think he cares who's making the money in 10 years? He and his buddies will be long gone.
posted by willrich at 11:51 AM on January 9, 2002


What really happened to John O'Neill?

If you believe the media, John P. O'Neill was simply another innocent victim killed in the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center. But you don't need much imagination to suspect something deeper was at work.

And especially when you realize that 1) John O'Neill worked on the 34th floor, and 2) "In each tower, 99% of the occupants below the crash survived."
posted by ferris at 12:15 PM on January 9, 2002


So, um, when did we start dropping them bombs?
Coincidence... or happenstance? Does everything have to be part of the Evil USAian Oil Conspiracy? Or is this more of the interminable 'we knew 9/11 would happen and did nothing' theorizing? (Considering how rapacious and greedy USAia is supposed to be, you'd think that we'd have stopped it if only to save the millions of dollars invested in the WTC.)
posted by darukaru at 12:46 PM on January 9, 2002


What do you people have against oil? I like oil. I mean, what do you put into your cars, anyway? Papaya juice?

Grease.

What really happened to John O'Neill?

According to Lawrence Wright's story 'The Counterterrorist', he went back in to try to help. The article isn't online, but there's a press release.
posted by rdc at 1:03 PM on January 9, 2002


Reacting the same amount of fuel in a fuel cell gets you twice as much power as it does in an internal combustion engine

Source? I'm no engineer, but a few minutes of google searching shows internal combustion engines at between 30% and 50% efficiency; current fuel-cell technology (according to the DOE link I posted earlier, the only page I could find that gives numbers) is between 40% and 60% in the laboratory -- and that presumably only takes the chemical -> electricity conversion into account, leaving out any energy loss in the the electric-power -> rotary motion conversion. (If there are any mechanical engineers on MeFi -- and I'm sure some of you must be -- can you confirm or refute?)

As for the predicted 70% and 80% efficiency of future microturbine / hybrid fuel cells, well that'd be lovely when and if it becomes a reality.

Not that I'm knocking fuel cells -- they're super cool and I expect 30 years from now, when production costs come down, we'll have them in everything from our cars to our wristwatches... and if they do in fact turn out to be more efficient than IC or other engines, so much the better. But I've read too many stories by lazy journalists who seem to think fuel cells are some magic perpetual-motion technology, misleading people into thinking they require no input fuel.
posted by ook at 3:33 PM on January 9, 2002


Er -- read -> as ->, please. Preview issues.
posted by ook at 3:36 PM on January 9, 2002


Actually, is there is a big oil connection to fuel cells. British Petroleum is a major investor in photoelectric technology which is likely to be one of the sources for hydrogen. The other main source will probably come from natural gas, another energy source that big oil has some fingers in.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:40 PM on January 9, 2002


ook's numbers are pretty well on the mark. Automotive scale IC engines typicially achieve 33% to 35% efficiency, while comparable 60 KW PEM fuel cells can achieve 40-50% efficiency. Small scale (less than 2 MW) utility generation sofc fuel cells can achieve efficiencies of over 60% with micro-turbine hybrid cycles, and they could potentially reach efficiencies over 70%.

One of the most significant obsticals for automotive fuel cell systems is the lack of a hydrogen distribution network; to achieve the sort of power and acceleration that north americans have come to expect from their cars, fuel cells must run hydrogen. A fuel cell's instantaneous power is a function of the concentration of hydrogen in the fuel stream. reformed natural gas contains significant amounts of water and carbon dioxide, and the presence of these gases lowers the electric potential of the cell. thus, reforming natural gas fuel cell systems must be larger and heavier than comparable hydrogen cells. in my opinion, of the most attractive (and often overlooked) applications for fuel cells is residential or district cogeneration, in which natural gas is used to produce both electricity and heat in a fuel cell, and these energies are used to satisfy the thermal and electrical demand in a household. Plug Power (previously linked by ook) is a leader in bringing residential fuel cells to market, and the technology is significantly more mature than automotive fuel cells.

Incidently, DOE's Fuel Cell Handbook (1.6 MB, pdf) is an excellent general reference on fuel cell systems. At 270 some-odd pages, though, it's not exactly light reading material.
posted by astirling at 5:08 PM on January 9, 2002


What do you people have against oil? I like oil. I mean, what do you put into your cars, anyway? Papaya juice?

No problem with oil. Problem with stopping terrorist investigation of man who had already bombed the WTC. And let's not move off topic please with the fuel cell business - that should be its own thread.

The problem is that you have a man that has already killed people and you stop the investigation for an oil deal. Not saying it really happenned, but if it did let's all at least agree that that would have been a nefariously evil thing.
posted by xammerboy at 10:05 PM on January 9, 2002


good post xammerboy

.... i read the new yorker article last night...not much of a smoking gun... sounds like o'neill left the FBI for more cash and glitz in nyc, rather than having his investigation of OBL hampered. bad call on his part. the article definitely worth a read.
posted by specialk420 at 1:17 PM on January 10, 2002


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