The author is the founder and editor of The Unz Review, a leading conservative American political website. He is also a silicon valley entrepreneur, and a one-time candidate for the governor of California. He was once described as ‘the smartest guy in his class’ at Harvard (class of 1983). His biography on Wikipedia is interesting.
He is Jewish, raised in a Yiddish speaking household, and writes frequently on the Jewish Question.
Back in 1999 I was invited to join Steve Sailer’s HBD email group, where I encountered all sorts of interesting people. The participants were mostly intellectuals or journalists having sharply heterodox views about racial differences, especially those involving IQ and crime, and this was reflected in the somewhat euphemistic title, which stood for “Human Bio-Diversity.” A reasonable sense of the controversial roster is that less than a year earlier a founding member named Glayde Whitney had contributed the Foreword to David Duke’s 700 page opus My Awakening.
Although the discussions were intended to focus on scientific matters, it sometimes seemed that half the heated arguments revolved around immigration, and on that highly contentious topic, I was invariably outnumbered around 99-to-1, with even the handful of self-proclaimed liberals regularly ranging themselves against me. Despite such apparently long odds, I regarded myself as always victorious in all those endless debates, though I would have to admit that 99% of the audience probably would have disagreed with my verdict.
Particularly contentious was the question of Hispanic immigrant crime rates, which I claimed were roughly the same as those of whites, a position that virtually all those professors and authors denounced as utter lunacy. That particular dispute went on for so many years that eventually I no longer even bothered to argue the case, but just every now and then provided some satirical jibes on the topic.
As it happens, the late J. Philippe Rushton, longtime professor of Psychology at the University of Western Ontario, was a very occasional participant, and one of my jokes happened to catch his eye. Being a bit on the humorless side, he failed to comprehend that my remarks were actually tongue-in-cheek, and after three or four explanatory exchanges, I was finally forced to state my position as explicitly as possible: “Hispanics have approximately the same crime rates as whites of the same age.”
He found my claim totally astonishing, saying that it contradicted absolutely everything he had learned about the topic and even threatened to overturn his entire ideological world-view, which he had so painstakingly built up over his previous thirty years of scientific investigation into human racial differences. Therefore, he said I couldn’t possibly be right.
Now Rushton was then widely regarded as being the world’s foremost White Nationalist academic scholar, and he was basically saying that he would eat his own hat if my contradictory racial analysis proved correct. Such an intellectual challenge was just too tempting for me to resist, so I took a brief hiatus from my ongoing software project to work out the crime numbers.
Regardless of the cause, for years afterward whenever I Googled “Hispanic Crime” or “Latino Crime”, the search engine would turn up many tens of millions of web pages, but my own article was generally listed in the top five or six results, quite often in the top two or three. Even today, nearly a decade later, copies of my article still rank remarkably high in such searches on Google, Bing, and DuckDuckGo.
Was my controversial analysis actually correct? Well, when I moved to Palo Alto in 1992, neighboring East Palo Alto had America’s highest per capita murder rate, which obviously made people here rather nervous. But then over the next 25 years, a vast flood of Hispanic immigrants, both legal and illegal, swept into the region, and the city became overwhelmingly Latino and immigrant.
Perhaps coincidentally, the homicide rate fell by some 99%, with the last two years marred by only a single killing, a murder-suicide involving a couple of elderly white lesbians, while all other crime rates have also plummeted. Palo Alto is home to the CEOs of Google, Facebook, Apple, and numerous other leading tech companies, so perhaps rightwing activists should be less than totally mystified why their anti-immigrant zealotry has generally fallen on rather deaf ears within the Silicon Valley business community.
Although immigration and Hispanic crime were perennial topics in that HBD group, for a few years after the 9/11 attacks the latter issue was almost entirely displaced by feverish exchanges on Muslim terrorism and the accompanying Clash of Civilizations. Once again, I was invariably on the short end of a 99-to-1 divide, with nearly all the others in the group claiming that destruction of the World Trade Center conclusively proved that we needed to close our borders to foreign immigrants.
I pointed out that since the Arab hijackers involved hadn’t been immigrants, but had generally entered our country on tourist visas, maybe the “War on Terrorism” should be renamed the “War on Tourism,” and we should protect America by completely closing our borders to the horrifying risks of the latter. Yet everyone ignored my sage advice.
The 9/11 attacks themselves had astonished me as much as everyone else on the HBD list, but aside from carefully reading the developing story in the New York Times and my other morning newspapers, I was too busy with my work to otherwise follow the topic. At first, everyone seemed certain that there would soon be a wave of follow-up attacks by the dozens or perhaps even hundreds of other Islamic terrorists remaining in our country, but nothing like that ever happened.
After a few weeks had gone by without any further explosions, even small ones, I told the other HBD listmembers that I now strongly suspected that every last Al Qaeda terrorist in America had probably died in the suicide attacks of September 11th, and there wasn’t a single remaining operative left behind to commit further mayhem. Many of the others disagreed with me, but as the months and years went by, my surprising hypothesis turned out to be correct.
There was one important exception to this pattern, but it actually served to confirm the rule. As I wrote a few years ago in my original “American Pravda” article:
Consider the almost forgotten anthrax mailing attacks in the weeks after 9/11, which terrified our dominant East Coast elites and spurred passage of the unprecedented Patriot Act, thereby eliminating many traditional civil-libertarian protections. Every morning during that period the New York Times and other leading newspapers carried articles describing the mysterious nature of the deadly attacks and the complete bafflement of the FBI investigators. But evenings on the Internet I would read stories by perfectly respectable journalists such as Salon’s Laura Rozen or the staff of the Hartford Courant providing a wealth of additional detail and pointing to a likely suspect and motive.
Although the letters carrying the anthrax were purportedly written by an Arab terrorist, the FBI quickly determined that the language and style indicated a non-Arab author, while tests pointed to the bioweapons research facility at Ft. Detrick, Md., as the probable source of the material. But just prior to the arrival of those deadly mailings, military police at Quantico, Va., had also received an anonymous letter warning that a former Ft. Detrick employee, Egyptian-born Dr. Ayaad Assaad, might be planning to launch a national campaign of bioterrorism. Investigators quickly cleared Dr. Assaad, but the very detailed nature of the accusations revealed inside knowledge of his employment history and the Ft. Detrick facilities.
Given the near-simultaneous posting of anthrax envelopes and false bioterrorism accusations, the mailings almost certainly came from the same source, and solving the latter case would be the easiest means of catching the anthrax killer.
Who would have attempted to frame Dr. Assaad for bioterrorism? A few years earlier he had been involved in a bitter personal feud with a couple of his Ft. Detrick coworkers, including charges of racism, official reprimands, and angry recriminations all around. When an FBI official shared a copy of the accusatory letter with a noted language-forensics expert and allowed him to compare the text with the writings of 40 biowarfare lab employees, he found a perfect match with one of those individuals.
For years I told my friends that anyone who spent 30 minutes with Google could probably determine the name and motive of the likely anthrax killer, and most of them successfully met my challenge.
This powerful evidence received almost no attention in the major national media, nor is there any indication that the FBI ever followed up on any of these clues or interrogated the named suspects. Instead, investigators attempted to pin the attacks on a Dr. Steven Hatfill based on negligible evidence, after which he was completely exonerated and won a $5.6 million settlement from the government for its years of severe harassment. Later, similar hounding of researcher Bruce Ivins and his family led to his suicide, after which the FBI declared the case closed, even though former colleagues of Dr. Ivins demonstrated that he had had no motive, means, or opportunity. In 2008, I commissioned a major 3,000-word cover story in my magazinesummarizing all of this crucial evidence, and once again almost no one in the mainstream media paid the slightest attention.
It was around that point when I first started to wonder whether the elite media publications I had always relied upon were merely “Our American Pravda” under a different name. Moreover, a 2014 book by Prof. Graeme MacQueen that I only very recently discovered has made a reasonably persuasive case that the Anthrax killings were intimately connected to the 9/11 attacks themselves, greatly magnifying the malfeasance of our media elites.
In theoretical physics, new scientific breakthroughs often occur when known objects are found to behave in inexplicable ways, thereby suggesting the existence of previously unsuspected forces or particles. In evolutionary biology, when an organism appears to be acting against its own genetic interests, we may safely assume that it has probably fallen under the control of some other entity, typically a parasite, which has hijacked the host and is directing its activities toward different ends. While I couldn’t be entirely sure what was happening to the politics and media of my own country, something very odd and disturbing was certainly taking place.
Things soon became much worse. Since the 9/11 attacks had apparently been organized by Osama bin Laden and he was based in Afghanistan under Taliban protection, our attack on that country at least seemed rational. But suddenly there also soon appeared talk of attacking Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, which made absolutely no sense whatsoever.
At first I couldn’t believe what was taking place, simply awed by the breathtaking power and dishonesty of “our American Pravda,” with the establishment media so easily transforming black into white and night into day. Once again, quoting from my original article of that title:
The circumstances surrounding our Iraq War demonstrate this, certainly ranking it among the strangest military conflicts of modern times. The 2001 attacks in America were quickly ascribed to the radical Islamists of al-Qaeda, whose bitterest enemy in the Middle East had always been Saddam Hussein’s secular Baathist regime in Iraq.
Yet through misleading public statements, false press leaks, and even forged evidence such as the “yellowcake” documents, the Bush administration and its neoconservative allies utilized the compliant American media to persuade our citizens that Iraq’s nonexistent WMDs posed a deadly national threat and required elimination by war and invasion. Indeed, for several years national polls showed that a large majority of conservatives and Republicans actually believed that Saddam was the mastermind behind 9/11 and the Iraq War was being fought as retribution. Consider how bizarre the history of the 1940s would seem if America had attacked China in retaliation for Pearl Harbor.
True facts were easily available to anyone paying attention in the years after 2001, but most Americans do not bother and simply draw their understanding of the world from what they are told by the major media, which overwhelmingly—almost uniformly—backed the case for war with Iraq; the talking heads on TV created our reality.
Prominent journalists across the liberal and conservative spectrum eagerly published the most ridiculous lies and distortions passed on to them by anonymous sources, and stampeded Congress down the path to war.
The result was what my late friend Lt. Gen. Bill Odom rightly called the “greatest strategic disaster in United States history.” American forces suffered tens of thousands of needless deaths and injuries, while our country took a huge step toward national bankruptcy. Economics Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz and others have estimated that with interest the total long-term cost of our two recent wars may reach as high as $5 or $6 trillion, or as much as $50,000 per American household, mostly still unpaid.
Meanwhile, economist Edward Wolff has calculated that the Great Recession and its aftermath cut the personal net worth of the median American household to $57,000 in 2010 from a figure nearly twice as high three years earlier. Comparing these assets and liabilities, we see that the American middle class now hovers on the brink of insolvency, with the cost of our foreign wars being a leading cause.
But no one involved in the debacle ultimately suffered any serious consequences, and most of the same prominent politicians and highly paid media figures who were responsible remain just as prominent and highly paid today. For most Americans, reality is whatever our media organs tell us, and since these have largely ignored the facts and adverse consequences of our wars in recent years, the American people have similarly forgotten. Recent polls show that only half the public today believes that the Iraq War was a mistake.
Author James Bovard has described our society as an “attention deficit democracy,” and the speed with which important events are forgotten once the media loses interest might surprise George Orwell.
As President George W. Bush began inexorably moving America toward the Iraq War in 2002, I realized with a terrible sinking feeling that the notoriously pro-Israel Neocon zealots had somehow managed to seize control of the foreign policy of his administration, a situation I could never have imagined even in my worst nightmare.
I and my other DC friends were well aware of the fanatical views most Neocons held on Israel and Middle Eastern policy, with their foreign policy obsessions being a regular staple of our jokes and ridicule. But since it seemed unimaginable that they would ever be given any authority in that sphere, their beliefs had seemed a relatively harmless eccentricity. After all, could anyone possibly imagine fanatical libertarians being placed in total control of the Pentagon, allowing them to immediately disband the American armed forces as a “statist institution”?
Moreover, the complete ideological triumph of the Neocons after the 9/11 attacks was all the more shocking given the crushing recent defeat they had suffered. During the 2000 presidential campaign, nearly all of the Neocons had aligned themselves with Sen. John McCain, whose battle with Bush for the Republican nomination had eventually turned quite bitter, and as a consequence, they had been almost totally frozen out of high-level appointments.
Both Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld were then widely regarded as Bush Republicans, lacking any significant Neocon ties, and the same was true for all the other top administration figures such as Colin Powell, Condeleeza Rice, and Paul O’Neil. Indeed, the only Neoconservative offered a Cabinet spot was Linda Chavez, and not only was the Labor Department always regarded as something of a boobie prize in a GOP Administration, but she was ultimately forced to withdraw her nomination due to her “nanny problems.” The highest-ranking Neocon serving under Bush was Rumsfeld Deputy Paul Wolfowitz, whose seemingly inconsequential appointment had passed without any notice.
Yet just eight or ten months later, he and his close allies were on their way to gaining overwhelming influence in our government. In an eerie parallel to the aftermath of Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s Lenin in Zurich, the totally fortuitous 9/11 attacks and the outbreak of war had suddenly allowed a small but committed ideological faction to seize control of a gigantic country.
A thorough account of the Neocons and their takeover of the Bush Administration in the aftermath of 9/11 is provided by Dr. Stephen J. Sniegoski in his 2008 book The Transparent Cabal, conveniently available on this website:
The Neoconservative Agenda, War in the Middle East, and the National Interest of Israel
STEPHEN J. SNIEGOSKI • 2008 • 178,000 WORDS
Oddly enough, for many years after 9/11, I paid very little attention to the details of the attacks themselves. I was entirely preoccupied with building my content-archiving software system, and with the little time I could spend on public policy matters, I was totally focused to the ongoing Iraq War disaster, as well as my terrible fears that Bush might at any moment suddenly extend the conflict to Iran. Despite Neocon lies shamelessly echoed by our corrupt media, neither Iraq nor Iran had had anything whatsoever to do with the 9/11 attacks, so those events gradually faded in my consciousness, and I suspect the same was true for most other Americans.
Al Qaeda had largely disappeared and Bin Laden was supposedly hiding in a cave somewhere. Despite endless Homeland Security “threat alerts,” there had been absolutely no further Islamic terrorism on American soil, and relatively little anywhere else outside the Iraq charnel house. So the precise details of the 9/11 plots had become almost irrelevant to me.
Others I knew seemed to feel the same way. Virtually all the exchanges I had with my old friend Bill Odom, the three-star general who had run the NSA for Ronald Reagan, had concerned the Iraq War and risk it might spread to Iran, as well as the bitter anger he felt toward Bush’s perversion of his beloved NSA into an extra-constitutional tool of domestic espionage.
When the New York Times broke the story of the massive extent of domestic NSA spying, Gen. Odom declared that President Bush should be impeached and NSA Director Michael Hayden court-martialed. But in all the years prior to his untimely passing in 2008, I don’t recall the 9/11 attacks themselves even once coming up as a topic in our discussions.
During those same years, I’d also grown quite friendly with Alexander Cockburn, whose Counterpunch webzine seemed a very rare center of significant opposition to our disastrous foreign policy towards Iraq and Iran. I do recall that he once complained to me in 2006 about the “conspiracy nuts” of the 9/11 Truth movement who were endlessly harassing his publication, and I extended my sympathies. Each of us move in different political circles, and that brief reference may have been the first and only time I heard of the 9/11 Truthers during that period, causing me to regard them more like an eccentric UFO cult than anything else.
Admittedly, I’d occasionally heard of some considerable oddities regarding the 9/11 attacks here and there, and these certainly raised some suspicions. Most days I would glance at the Antiwar.com front page, and it seemed that some Israeli Mossad agents had been caught while filming that plane attacks in NYC, while a much larger Mossad “art student” spy operation around the country had also been broken up around the same time. Apparently, FoxNews had even broadcast a multi-part series on the latter topic before that expose was scuttled and “disappeared” under ADL pressure.
In 2007, Counterpunch itself published a fascinating follow-up story about the arrest of that group of Israeli Mossad agents in NYC, who were caught filming and apparently celebrating the plane attacks on that fateful day, and the Mossad activity seemed to be far larger than I had previously realized. But all these details remained a little fuzzy in my mind next to my overriding concerns about wars in Iraq and Iran.
However, by the end of 2008 my focus had begun to change. Bush was leaving office without having started an Iranian war, and America had successfully dodged the bullet of an even more dangerous John McCain administration. I assumed that Barack Obama would be a terrible president and he proved worse than my expectations, but I still breathed a huge sigh of relief every day that he was in the White House.
Moreover, around that same time I’d stumbled across an astonishing detail of the 9/11 attacks that demonstrated the remarkable depths of my own ignorance. In a Counterpunch article, I’d discovered that immediately following the attacks, the supposed terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden had publicly denied any involvement, even declaring that no good Muslim would have committed such deeds.
Once I checked around a little and fully confirmed that fact, I was flabbergasted. 9/11 was not only the most successful terrorist attack in the history of the world, but may have been greater in its physical magnitude than all past terrorist operations combined. The entire purpose of terrorism is to allow a small organization to show the world that it can inflict serious losses upon a powerful state, and I had never previously heard of any terrorist leader denying his role in a successful operation, let alone the greatest in history.
Something seemed extremely wrong in the media-generated narrative that I had previously accepted. I began to wonder if I had been as deluded as the tens of millions of Americans in 2003 and 2004 who naively believed that Saddam had been the mastermind behind the September 11th attacks. We live in a world of illusions generated by our media, and I suddenly felt that I had noticed a tear in the paper-mache mountains displayed in the background of a Hollywood sound-stage. If Osama was probably not the author of 9/11, what other huge falsehoods had I blindly accepted?
A couple of years later, I came across a very interesting column by Eric Margolis, a prominent Canadian foreign policy journalist purged from the broadcast media for his strong opposition to the Iraq War. He had long published a weekly column in the Toronto Sun and when that tenure ended, he used his closing appearance to run a double-length piece expressing his very strong doubts about the official 9/11 story, noting that the former director of Pakistani Intelligence insisted that Israel had been behind the attacks.
But I interpreted those same facts very differently. France probably possessed one of the four or five best intelligence service in the world, and surely a French Defense Minister would be privy to better information about true events than a typical media pundit. In fact, one of the earliest books sharply questioning the official 9/11 narrative was 9/11: The Big Lie by French journalist Thierry Meyssan, which appeared in 2002. This book had similarly argued that the Pentagon had been struck by a missile, perhaps suggesting that it may have been partly influenced by leaks coming from French Intelligence.
I later shared that account of the French minister’s private opinions with a very well-connected American individual situated in our elite Establishment with whom I’d become a little friendly. His reaction made it clear that he held the same highly unorthodox views about the 9/11 attacks, although he had never publicly voiced them lest he risk losing his elite Establishment membership card.
I eventually discovered that in 2003 former German Cabinet Minister Andreas von Bülow had published a best-selling book strongly suggesting that the CIA rather than Bin Laden was behind the attacks, while in 2007 former Italian President Francesco Cossiga had similarly argued that the CIA and the Israeli Mossad had been responsible, claiming that fact was well known among Western intelligence agencies.
Over the years, all these discordant claims had gradually raised my suspicions about the official 9/11 story to extremely strong levels, but it was only very recently that I finally found the time to begin to seriously investigate the subject and read eight or ten of the main 9/11 Truther books, mostly those by Prof. David Ray Griffin, the widely acknowledged leader in that field. And his books, together with the writings of his numerous colleagues and allies, revealed all sorts of very telling details, most of which had previously remained unknown to me. I was also greatly impressed by the sheer number of seemingly reputable individuals of no apparent ideological bent who had become adherents of the 9/11 Truth movement over the years.
Therefore I hardly found their rebuttal persuasive, and I half-wondered whether Homeland Security had quietly arranged the publication, which might help explain the extremely odd nepotistic coincidence. Popular magazines simply do not carry the scientific weight of research professors at major universities. Perhaps the holes in the official 9/11 narrative were so numerous and large that no serious scholar could be enlisted to defend it.
The numerous Griffin books, beginning with his important 2004 volume The New Pearl Harbor, provide a very helpful evolving compendium of these. Although they all contain a great deal of overlap I might emphasize Debunking 9/11 Debunking, a 2007 reply to the Popular Mechanics volume, and the 2008 book The New Pearl Harbor Revisited as among the more important ones. In addition, he co-edited an important 2007 collection of essays with scholar Peter Dale Scott entitled 9/11 and American Empire. For those too cheap or impatient to click a button and order something from Amazon, I’m pleased to provide three of the shorter Griffin books in HTML form:
DAVID RAY GRIFFIN • 2008 • 110,000 WORDS
DAVID RAY GRIFFIN • 2011 • 116,000 WORDS
DAVID RAY GRIFFIN • 2011 • 66,000 WORDS
Now I am obviously just an amateur in the complex intelligence craft of extracting nuggets of truth from a mountain of manufactured falsehood. Although the arguments of the 9/11 Truth Movement seem quite persuasive to me, I would obviously feel much more comfortable if they were seconded by an experienced professional, such as a top CIA analyst. A few years ago, I was shocked to discover that was indeed the case.
William Christison had spent 29 years at the CIA, rising to become one of its senior figures as Director of its Office of Regional and Political Analysis, with 200 research analysts serving under him. In August 2006, he published a remarkable 2,700 word article explaining why he no longer believed the official 9/11 story and felt sure that the 9/11 Commission Report constituted a cover-up, with the truth being quite different.
The following year, he provided a forceful endorsement to one of Griffin’s books, writing that “[There’s] a strong body of evidence showing the official U.S. Government story of what happened on September 11, 2001 to be almost certainly a monstrous series of lies.” And Christison’s extreme 9/11 skepticism was seconded by that of many other highly-regarded former US intelligence officers.
We might expect that if a former intelligence officer of Christison’s rank were to denounce the official 9/11 report as a fraud and a cover-up, such a story would constitute front-page news. But it was never reported anywhere in our mainstream media, and I only stumbled upon it a decade later.
Even our supposed “alternative” media outlets were nearly as silent. Throughout the 2000s, Christison and his wife Kathleen, also a former CIA analyst, had been regular contributors to Counterpunch, publishing many dozens of articles there and certainly were its most highly-credentialed writers on intelligence and national security matters.
But editor Alexander Cockburn refused to publish any of their 9/11 skepticism, so it never came to my attention at the time. Indeed, when I mentioned Christison’s views to current Counterpunch editor Jeffrey St. Clair a couple of years ago, he was stunned to discover that the friend he had regarded so very highly had actually become a “9/11 Truther.” When media organs serve as ideological gatekeepers, a condition of widespread ignorance becomes unavoidable.
For those so interested, Christison’s 2006 article mentioned the strong evidence he found in a C-Span broadcast of a two-hour panel discussion on the September 11th terrorist attacks, and he especially cited the documentary Loose Change as an excellent summary of many of the flaws in the official 9/11 case. The full “Final Cut” version of that film is conveniently available on YouTube:
With so many gaping holes in the official story of the events seventeen years ago, each of us is free to choose to focus on those we personally consider most persuasive, and I have several of my own. Danish Chemistry professor Niels Harrit was one of the scientists who analyzed the debris of the destroyed buildings and detected the residual presence of nano-thermite, a military-grade explosive compound, and I found him quite credible during his hour-long interview on Red Ice Radio.
The notion that an undamaged hijacker passport was found in an NYC street after the massive, fiery destruction of the skyscrapers is totally absurd, as was the claim that the top hijacker conveniently lost his luggage at one of the airports and it was found to contain a large mass of incriminating information. The testimonies of the dozens of firefighters who heard explosions just before the collapse of the buildings seems totally inexplicable under the official story. The sudden total collapse of Building Seven, never hit by any jetliners is also extremely implausible.
Let us now suppose that the overwhelming weight of evidence is correct, and concur with high-ranking former CIA intelligence analysts, distinguished academics, and experienced professionals that the 9/11 attacks were not what they appeared to be. We recognize the extreme implausibility that three huge skyscrapers in New York City suddenly collapsed at free-fall velocity into their own footprints after just two of them were hit by airplanes, and also that a large civilian jetliner probably did not strike the Pentagon leaving absolutely no wreckage and only a small hole. What actually did happen, and more importantly, who was behind it?
The first question is obviously impossible to answer without an honest and thorough official investigation of the evidence. Until that occurs, we should not be surprised that numerous, somewhat conflicting hypotheses have been advanced and debated within the confines of the 9/11 Truth community. But the second question is probably the more important and relevant one, and I think it has always represented a source of extreme vulnerability to 9/11 Truthers.
The most typical approach, as generally followed in the numerous Griffin books, is to avoid the issue entirely and focus solely on the gaping flaws in the official narrative. This is a perfectly acceptable position but leaves all sorts of serious doubts. What organized group would have been sufficiently powerful and daring to carry off an attack of such vast scale against the central heart of the world’s sole superpower? And how were they possibly able to orchestrate such a massively effective media and political cover-up, even enlisting the participation of the U.S. government itself?
The much smaller fraction of 9/11 Truthers who choose to address this “whodunit” question seem to be overwhelmingly concentrated among rank-and-file grassroots activists rather than the prestigious experts, and they usually answer “inside job!” Their widespread belief seems to be that the top political leadership of the Bush Administration, probably including Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, had organized the terrorist attacks, either with or without the knowledge of their ignorant nominal superior, President George W. Bush.
The suggested motives included justifying military attacks against various countries, supporting the financial interests of the powerful oil industry and military-industrial complex, and enabling the destruction of traditional American civil liberties. Since the vast majority of politically-active Truthers seem to come from the far left of the ideological spectrum, they regard these notions as logical and almost self-evident.
Although not explicitly endorsing those Truther conspiracies, filmmaker Michael Moore’s leftist box office hit Fahrenheit 9/11 seemed to raise such similar suspicions. His small budget documentary earned an astonishing $220 million by suggesting that the very close business ties between the Bush family, Cheney, the oil companies, and the Saudis were responsible for the Iraq War aftermath of the terrorist attacks, as well as a domestic crackdown on civil liberties, which was part-and-parcel of the right-wing Republican agenda.
Prior to his joining the Bush Administration, Cheney had served as CEO of Halliburton, an oil services giant, and his firm had heavily lobbied for the lifting of U.S. economic sanctions against Iraq. Prof. James Petras, a scholar of strong Marxist leanings, published an excellent 2008 book entitled Zionism, Militarism, and the Decline of US Power in which he conclusively demonstrated that Zionist interests rather than those of the oil industry had dominated the Bush Administration in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, and promoted the Iraq War.
As for Michael Moore’s film, I remember at the time sharing a laugh with a (Jewish) friend of mine, both of us finding it ridiculous that a government so overwhelmingly permeated by fanatically pro-Israel Neocons was being portrayed as in thrall to the Saudis. Not only did the plot of Moore’s film demonstrate the fearsome power of Jewish Hollywood, but its huge success suggested that most of the American public had apparently never heard of the Neocons.
Bush critics properly ridiculed the president for his tongue-tied statement that the 9/11 terrorists had attacked America “for its freedoms” and Truthers have reasonably branded as implausible the claims that the massive attacks were organized by a cave-dwelling Islamic preacher. But the suggestion that that they were led and organized by the top figures of the Bush Administration seems even more preposterous.
Cheney and Rumsfeld had both spent decades as stalwarts of the moderate pro-business wing of the Republican Party, each serving in top government positions and also as CEOs of major corporations. The notion that they capped their careers by joining a new Republican administration in early 2001 and immediately set about organizing a gigantic false-flag terrorist attack upon the proudest towers of our largest city together with our own national military headquarters, intending to kill many thousands of Americans in the process, is too ridiculous to even be part of a leftist political satire.
Let’s step back a bit. In the entire history of the world, I can think of no documented case in which the top political leadership of a country launched a major false-flag attack upon its own centers of power and finance and tried to kill large numbers of its own people. The America of 2001 was a peaceful and prosperous country run by relatively bland political leaders focused upon the traditional Republican goals of enacting tax-cuts for the rich and reducing environmental regulations.
Too many Truther activists have apparently drawn their understanding of the world from the caricatures of leftist comic-books in which corporate Republicans are all diabolical Dr. Evils, seeking to kill Americans out of sheer malevolence, and Cockburn was absolutely correct to ridicule them at least on that particular score.
Consider also the simple practicalities of the situation. The gigantic nature of the 9/11 attacks as postulated by the Truth movement would have clearly required enormous planning and probably involved the work of many dozens or even hundreds of skilled agents. Ordering CIA operatives or special military units to organize secret attacks against civilian targets in Venezuela or Yemen is one thing, but directing them to mount attacks against the Pentagon and the heart of New York City would be fraught with stupendous risk.
Bush had lost the popular vote in November 2000 and had only reached the White House because of a few dangling chads in Florida and the controversial decision of a deeply divided Supreme Court. As a consequence, most of the American media regarded his new administration with enormous hostility. If the first act of such a newly-sworn presidential team had been ordering the CIA or the military to prepare attacks against New York City and the Pentagon, surely those orders would have been regarded as issued by a group of lunatics, and immediately leaked to the hostile national press.
The whole scenario of top American leaders being the masterminds behind 9/11 is beyond ridiculous, and those 9/11 Truthers who make or imply such claims—doing so without a single shred of solid evidence—have unfortunately played a major role in discrediting their entire movement. In fact, the common meaning of the “inside job” scenario is so patently absurd and self-defeating that one might even suspect that the claim was encouraged by those seeking to discredit the entire 9/11 Truth movement as a consequence.
The focus on Cheney and Rumsfeld seems particularly ill-directed. Although I’ve never met nor had any dealings with either of those individuals, I was quite actively involved in DC politics during the 1990s, and can say with some assurance that prior to 9/11, neither of them were regarded as Neocons. Instead, they were the archetypical examples of moderate business-type mainstream Republicans, stretching all the way back to their years at the top of the Ford Administration during the mid-1970s.
Skeptics of this claim may note that they signed the 1997 declaration issued by the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), a leading Neocon foreign policy manifesto organized by Bill Kristol, but I would regard that as something of a red herring. In DC circles, individuals are always recruiting their friends to sign various declarations, which may or may not be indicative of anything, and I remember Kristol trying to get me to sign the PNAC statement as well.
Since my private views on that issue were absolutely 100% contrary to the Neocon position, which I regarded as foreign policy lunacy, I deflected his request and very politely turned him down. But I was quite friendly with him at the time, so if I had been someone without strong opinions in that area, I probably would have agreed.
This raises a larger point. By 2000, the Neocons had gained almost total control of all the major conservative/Republican media outlets and the foreign policy wings of nearly all the similarly aligned thinktanks in DC, successfully purging most of their traditional opponents.
So although Cheney and Rumsfeld were not themselves Neocons, they were swimming in a Neocon sea, with a very large fraction of all the information they received coming from such sources and with their top aides such as “Scooter” Libby, Paul Wolfowitz, and Douglas Feith being Neocons. Rumsfeld was already somewhat elderly while Cheney had suffered several heart-attacks starting at age 37, so under those circumstances it may have been relatively easy for them to be shifted toward certain policy positions.
Indeed, the entire demonization of Cheney and Rumsfeld in anti-Iraq War circles has seemed somewhat suspicious to me. I always wondered whether the heavily Jewish liberal media had focused its wrath upon those two individuals in order to deflect culpability from the Jewish Neocons who were the obvious originators of that disastrous policy; and the same may be true of the 9/11 Truthers, who probably feared accusations of anti-Semitism.
Regarding that former issue, a prominent Israeli columnist was characteristically blunt on the matter in 2003, strongly suggesting that 25 Neocon intellectuals, nearly all of them Jewish, were primarily responsible for the war. Under normal circumstances, the president himself would have surely been portrayed as the evil mastermind behind the 9/11 plot, but “W” was too widely known for his ignorance for such accusations to be credible.
It does seem entirely plausible that Cheney, Rumsfeld, and other top Bush leaders may have been manipulated into taking certain actions that inadvertently furthered the 9/11 plot, while a few lower-level Bush appointees might have been more directly involved, perhaps even as outright conspirators. But I do not think this is the usual meaning of the “inside job” accusation.
So where do we now stand? It seems very likely that the 9/11 attacks were the work of an organization far more powerful and professionally-skilled than a rag-tag band of nineteen random Arabs armed with box-cutters, but also that the attacks were very unlikely to have been the work of the American government itself. So who actually attacked our country on that fateful day seventeen years ago, killing thousands of our fellow citizens?
Effective intelligence operations are concealed in a hall of mirrors, often extremely difficult for outsiders to penetrate, and false-flag terrorist attacks certainly fall into this category. But if we apply a different metaphor, the complexities of such events may be seen as a Gordian Knot, almost impossible to disentangle, but vulnerable to the sword-stroke of asking the simple question “Who benefited?”
America and most of the world certainly did not, and the disastrous legacy of that fateful day have transformed our own society and wrecked many other countries. The endless American wars soon unleashed have already cost us many trillions of dollars and set our nation on the road to bankruptcy while killing or displacing many millions of innocent Middle Easterners. Most recently, that resulting flood of desperate refugees has begun engulfing Europe, and the peace and prosperity of that ancient continent is now under severe threat.
Our traditional civil liberties and constitutional protections have been drastically eroded, with our society having taken long steps toward becoming an outright police state. American citizens now passively accept unimaginable infringements on their personal freedoms, all originally begun under the guise of preventing terrorism.
I find it difficult to think of any country in the world that clearly gained as a result of the 9/11 attacks and America’s military reaction, with one single, solitary exception.
During 2000 and most of 2001, America was a peaceful prosperous country, but a certain small Middle Eastern nation had found itself in an increasingly desperate situation. Israel then seemed to be fighting for its life against the massive waves of domestic terrorism that constituted the Second Palestinian Intifada.
Ariel Sharon was widely believed to have deliberately provoked that uprising in September 2000 by marching to the Temple Mount backed by a thousand armed police, and the resulting violence and polarization of Israeli society had successfully installed him as Prime Minister in early 2001. But once in office, his brutal measures failed to end the wave of continuing attacks, which increasingly took the form of suicide-bombings against civilian targets.
Many believed that the violence might soon trigger a huge outflow of Israeli citizens, perhaps producing a death-spiral for the Jewish state. Iraq, Iran, Libya, and other major Muslim powers were supporting the Palestinians with money, rhetoric, and sometimes weaponry, and Israeli society seemed close to crumbling. I remember hearing from some of my DC friends that numerous Israeli policy experts were suddenly seeking berths at Neocon thinktanks so that they could relocate to America.
Sharon was a notoriously bloody and reckless leader, with a long history of undertaking strategic gambles of astonishing boldness, sometimes betting everything on a single roll of the dice. He had spent decades seeking the Prime Ministership, but having finally obtained it, he now had his back to the wall, with no obvious source of rescue in sight.
The 9/11 attacks changed everything. Suddenly the world’s sole superpower was fully mobilized against Arab and Muslim terrorist movements, especially those connected with the Middle East. Sharon’s close Neocon political allies in America used the unexpected crisis as an opportunity to seize control of America’s foreign policy and national security apparatus, with an NSA staffer later reporting that Israeli generals freely roamed the halls of the Pentagon without any security controls.
Meanwhile, the excuse of preventing domestic terrorism was used to implement newly centralized American police controls that were employed to harass or even shut down various anti-Zionist political organizations. One of the Israeli Mossad agents arrested by the police in New York City as he and his fellows were celebrating the 9/11 attacks and producing a souvenir film of the burning World Trade Center towers told the officers that “We are Israelis…Your problems are our problems.” And so it immediately became.
General Wesley Clark reported that soon after the 9/11 attacks he was informed that a secret military plan had somehow come into being under which America would attack and destroy seven major Muslim countries over the next few years, including Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Libya, which coincidentally were all of Israel’s strongest regional adversaries and the leading supporters of the Palestinians.
As America began to expend enormous oceans of blood and treasure attacking all of Israel’s enemies after 9/11, Israel itself no longer needed to do so. Partly as a consequence, almost no other nation in the world has so enormously improved its strategic and economic situation during the last seventeen years, even while a large fraction of the American population has become completely impoverished during that same period and our national debt has grown to insurmountable levels. A parasite can often grow fat even as its host suffers and declines.
I have emphasized that for many years after the 9/11 attacks I paid little attention to the details and had only the vaguest notion that there even existed an organized 9/11 Truth movement. But if someone had ever convinced me that the terrorist attacks had been false-flag operations and someone other than Osama had been responsible, my immediate guess would have been Israel and its Mossad.
Certainly no other nation in the world can remotely match Israel’s track-record of remarkably bold high-level assassinations and false-flag attacks, terrorist and otherwise, against other countries, even including America and its military. Furthermore, the enormous dominance of Jewish and pro-Israel elements in the American establishment media and increasingly that of many other major countries in the West has long ensured that even when the solid evidence of such attacks was discovered, very few ordinary Americans would ever hear those facts.
The pattern of behavior is really quite remarkable. Even prior to the establishment of the State of Israel, the various Zionist factions assassinated Lord Moyne, the British Minister for the Middle East, and Count Folke Bernadotte, the UN Peace Negotiator, and made unsuccessful attempts to kill President Harry S. Truman and British Foreign Minister Ernest Bevin, while even discussing the possible assassination of Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
There seems considerable evidence that the Israeli Mossad subsequently played a central role in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy because of the enormous pressure he was applying to persuade Israel to abandon its nuclear weapons development. Mossad defector Victor Ostrovsky warned the American government that Israel was planning to assassinate President George H.W. Bush in the early 1990s due to the bitter conflict over financial aid, and apparently those warnings were taken seriously. As recently as 2012, the editor of the largest Jewish newspaper in Atlanta publicly called for the assassination of President Barack Obama over his policy differences with Israel.
The history of military and terrorist attacks is even more striking. One of history’s largest terrorist attacks prior to 9/11 was the 1946 bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem by Zionist militants dressed as Arabs, which killed 91 people and largely destroyed the structure. In the famous Lavon Affair of 1954, Israeli agents launched a wave of terrorist attacks against Western targets in Egypt, intending to have those blamed on anti-Western Arab groups.
There are strong claims that in 1950 Israeli Mossad agents launched a wave of false-flag terrorist bombings against Jewish targets in Baghdad, successfully using those violent methods to help persuade Iraq’s thousand-year Jewish community to emigrate to the Jewish state. In 1967, Israel launched a deliberate air and sea attack against the U.S.S. Liberty, intending to leave no survivors, and ultimately killing or wounding over 200 American servicemen before word of the attack reached our Sixth Fleet and it was called off.
The enormous extent of pro-Israel influence in world political and media circles meant that none of these brutal attacks ever drew serious retaliation, and in nearly all cases, they were quickly thrown down the memory hole, so that today probably no more than one in a hundred Americans is even aware of them. Furthermore, most of these incidents came to light due to chance circumstances, so we may easily suspect that many other attacks of a similar nature have never become part of the historical record.
Once we accept that the 9/11 attacks were probably a false-flag operation, a central clue to the likely perpetrators has been their extraordinary success in ensuring that such a wealth of enormously suspicious evidence has been totally ignored by virtually the entire American media, whether liberal or conservative, left-wing or right-wing.
The only other such extreme cases that come to my mind almost invariably involve either Jewish issues or Israel. For example, virtually no Americans are today aware of the close Nazi-Zionist economic partnership of the 1930s that played a crucial role in the establishment of the State of Israel. Similarly, although our Western media has enshrined it as one of the central events of the twentieth century, there seems a good likelihood that the Jewish Holocaust of the Second World War is either substantially or almost entirely fraudulent. Even highly successful false-flag terrorist operations will tend to leave behind a certain number of individual clues, and possessing the media power to cause that evidence to vanish from perceived reality is an extremely important tool for such operations.
In the particular case at hand, the considerable number of zealously pro-Israel Neocons situated just beneath the public surface of the Bush Administration in 2001 could have greatly facilitated both the successful organization of the attacks and their effective cover-up and concealment, with Libby, Wolfowitz, Feith, and Richard Perle being merely the most obvious names. Whether such individuals were knowing conspirators or merely had personal ties allowing them to be exploited in furthering the plot is entirely unclear.
Most of this information must surely have long been apparent to knowledgeable observers, and I strongly suspect that many individuals who had paid much greater attention than myself to the details of the 9/11 attacks may have quickly formed a tentative conclusion along these same times. But for obvious social and political reasons, there is a great reluctance to publicly point the finger of blame towards Israel on a matter of such enormous magnitude. Hence, except for a few fringe activists here and there, such dark suspicions remained private.
Meanwhile, the leaders of the 9/11 Truth movement probably feared they would be destroyed by media accusations of deranged anti-Semitism if they had ever expressed even a whisper of such ideas. This political strategy may have been necessary, but by failing to name any plausible culprit, they created a vacuum that was soon filled by “useful idiots” who shouted “inside job!” while pointing an accusing finger toward Cheney and Rumfeld, and thereby did so much to discredit the entire 9/11 Truth movement.
This unfortunate conspiracy of silence finally ended in 2009 when Dr. Alan Sabrosky, former Director of Studies at the US Army War College, stepped forward and publicly declared that the Israeli Mossad had very likely been responsible for the 9/11 attacks, writing a series of columns on the subject, and eventually presenting his views in a number of media interviews, along with additional analyses.
Obviously, such explosive charges never reached the pages of my morning Times, but they did receive considerable if transitory coverage in portions of the alternative media, and I remember seeing the links very prominently featured at Antiwar.comand widely discussed elsewhere. I had never previously heard of Sabrosky, so I consulted my archiving system and immediately discovered that he had a perfectly respectable record of publication on military affairs in mainstream foreign policy periodicals and had also held a series of academic appointments at prestigious institutions. Reading one or two of his articles on 9/11, I felt he made a rather persuasive case for Mossad involvement, with some of his information already known to me but much of it not.
Since I was very busy with my software work and had never spent any time investigating 9/11 or reading any of the books on the topic, my belief in his claims back then was obviously quite tentative. But now that I have finally looked into the topic in much greater detail and done a great deal of reading, I think it seems quite likely that his 2009 analysis was entirely correct.
I would particularly recommend his long 2011 interview on Iranian Press TV, which I first watched just a couple of days ago. He came across as highly credible and forthright in his claims:
He also provided a pugnacious conclusion in a much longer 2010 radio interview:
Sabrosky focused much of his attention upon a particular segment of a Dutch documentary film on the 9/11 attacks produced several years earlier. In that fascinating interview, a professional demolition expert named Danny Jowenko who was largely ignorant of the 9/11 attacks immediately identified the filmed collapse of WTC Building 7 as a controlled-demolition, and the remarkable clip was broadcast worldwide on Press TV and widely discussed across the Internet.
And by a very strange coincidence, just three days after Jowenko’s broadcast video interview had received such heavy attention, he had the misfortune to die in a frontal collision with a tree in Holland. I’d suspect that the community of professional demolition experts is a small one, and Jowenko’s surviving industry colleagues may have quickly concluded that serious misfortune might visit those who rendered controversial expert opinions on the collapse of the three World Trade Center towers.
Meanwhile, the ADL soon mounted a huge and largely successful effort to have Press TV banned in the West for promoting “anti-Semitic conspiracy theories,” even persuading YouTube to entirely eliminate the huge video archive of those past shows, notably including Sabrosky’s long interview.
Most recently, Sabrosky provided an hour-long presentation at this June’s Deep Truth video panel conference, during which he expressed considerable pessimism about America’s political predicament, and suggested that the Zionist control over our politics and media had grown even stronger over the last decade.
His discussion was soon rebroadcast by Guns & Butter, a prominent progressive radio program, which as a consequence was soon purged from its home stationafter seventeen years of great national popularity and strong listener support.
The late Alan Hart, a very distinguished British broadcast journalist and foreign correspondent, also broke his silence in 2010 and similarly pointed to the Israelis as the likely culprits behind the 9/11 attacks. Those interested may wish to listen to his extended interview.’
These writers have provided a great deal of material in support of the Israeli Mossad Hypothesis, but I would focus attention on just one important point. We would normally expect that terrorist attacks resulting in the complete destruction of three gigantic office buildings in New York City and an aerial assault on the Pentagon would be an operation of enormous size and scale, involving very considerable organizational infrastructure and manpower.
In the aftermath of the attacks, the US government undertook great efforts to locate and arrest the surviving Islamic conspirators, but scarcely managed to find a single one. Apparently, they had all died in the attacks themselves or otherwise simply vanished into thin air.
But without making much effort at all, the American government did quickly round up and arrest some 200 Israeli Mossad agents, many of whom had been based in exactly the same geographical locations as the purported 19 Arab hijackers. Furthermore, NYC police arrested some of these agents while they were publicly celebrating the 9/11 attacks, and others were caught driving vans in the New York area containing explosives or their residual traces.
Most of these Mossad agents refused to answer any questions, and many of those who did failed polygraph tests, but under massive political pressure all were eventually released and deported back to Israel. A couple of years ago, much of this information was very effectively presented in a short video available on YouTube.
There is another fascinating tidbit that I have very rarely seen mentioned. Just a month after the 9/11 attacks, two Israelis were caught sneaking weapons and explosives into the Mexican Parliament building, a story that naturally produced several banner-headlines in leading Mexican newspapers at the time but was greeted by total silence in the American media.
Eventually, under massive political pressure, all charges were dropped and the Israeli agents were deported back home. This remarkable incident was only reported on a small Hispanic-activist website, and discussed in a few other places. Some years ago I easily found the scanned front pages of the Mexican newspapers reporting those dramatic events on the Internet, but I can no longer easily locate them. The details are obviously somewhat fragmentary and possibly garbled, but certainly quite intriguing.
One might speculate that if supposed Islamic terrorists had followed up their 9/11 attacks by attacking and destroying the Mexican parliament building a month later, Latin American support for America’s military invasions in the Middle East would have been greatly magnified. Furthermore, any scenes of such massive destruction in the Mexican capital by Arab terrorists would surely have been broadcast non-stop on Univision, America’s dominant Spanish-language network, fully solidifying Hispanic support for President Bush’s military endeavors.
Although my growing suspicions about the 9/11 attacks stretch back a decade or more, my serious investigation of the topic is quite recent, so I am certainly a newcomer to the field. But sometimes an outsider can notice things that may escape the attention of those who have spent so many years deeply immersed in a given topic.
From my perspective, it seems that a huge fraction of the 9/11 Truth community spends far too much of its time absorbed in the particular details of the attacks, debating the precise method by which the World Trade Center towers in New York were brought down or what actually struck the Pentagon. But these sorts of issues seem of little ultimate significance.
I would argue that the only important aspect of these technical issues is whether the overall evidence is sufficiently strong to establish the falsehood of the official 9/11 narrative and also demonstrate that the attacks must have been the work of a highly sophisticated organization with access to advanced military technology rather than rag-tag band of 19 Arabs armed with box-cutters. Beyond that, none of those details matter.
In that regard, I believe that the volume of factual material collected by determined researchers over the last seventeen years has easily met that requirement, perhaps even ten or twenty times over. For example, even agreeing upon a single particular item such as the clear presence of nano-thermite, a military-grade explosive compound, would immediately satisfy those two criteria. So I see little point in endless debates over whether nano-thermite was used, or nano-thermite plus something else, or just something else entirely. And such complex technical debates may serve to obscure the larger picture, while confusing and intimidating any casually-interested outlookers, thereby being quite counter-productive to the overall goals of the 9/11 Truth movement.
Once we have concluded that the culprits were part of a highly-sophisticated organization, we can then focus on the Who and the Why, which surely would be of greater importance than the particular details of the How. Yet currently all the endless debate over the How tends to crowd out the Who and the Why, and I wonder whether this unfortunate situation might even be intentional.
Perhaps one reason is that once sincere 9/11 Truthers do focus on those more important questions, the vast weight of the evidence clearly points in a single direction, implicating Israel and its Mossad intelligence service, with the case being overwhelmingly strong in motive, means, and opportunity. And leveling accusations of blame at Israel and its domestic collaborators for the greatest attack ever launched against America on our own soil entails enormous social and political risks.
But such difficulties must be weighed against the reality of three thousand American civilian lives and the subsequent seventeen years of our multi-trillion-dollar wars, which have produced tens of thousands of dead or wounded American servicemen and the death or displacement of many millions of innocent Middle Easterners.
The members of the 9/11 Truth movement must therefore ask themselves whether or not “Truth” is indeed the central goal of their efforts.
The macro pig farm threatening a historical gem in northern Spain | Culture
Christians and Muslims fought over the castle of Gormaz in Soria in the Spanish region of Castilla y León for two centuries. Now, after a lapse of hundreds of years, it is once again under threat – this time, from a macro pig farm for 4,200 animals. The proposed farm is within two kilometers of the fortress, and will be visible from its impressive caliphal gate, which is one of the biggest tourist attractions of the medieval site.
Environmental and neighborhood associations, architecture and restoration professionals, as well as the town councils of Recuerda, a village of 70 inhabitants, and Gormaz, a village of 20, call the plans an “attack” on one of the most impressive Islamic fortresses on the peninsula. With a perimeter measuring more than one kilometer, the castle of Gormaz was once the largest in Europe. It was this fortress that the Caliph of Córdoba, Al-Hakam II, ordered to be reinforced and expanded at the end of the 10th century to stop the Christian advance from the north.
Meanwhile, the company behind the project, Agro Peñaranda Esteban, insists it will comply “strictly with the law” and that if the permits are not issued, it will go elsewhere. “It’s great to eat torreznos [a kind of fried bacon snack] from Soria in a good restaurant in a big capital city,” says one of the shareholders, who is from the area. “People must think that they fall from the sky.”
The castle of Gormaz was built in the 9th century to strategically support Medinaceli, the capital of the so-called Muslim Middle Frontier. Divided into two large areas separated by a moat, there is the fortress with the tower of Almanzor and the caliphal quarters, and then the area for the troops, where the main entrance is located. Altogether, it has 28 towers with battlements and arrowslits.
The Soria fortress defended the routes to the north of the peninsula that followed the banks of the Duero river and was coveted by a number of figures, including Count García Fernández, Sancho II of Pamplona, Ramiro III of León, Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar and the de facto ruler of Islamic Iberia, Almanzor. And so it passed from one side to the other until, in 1060, Fernando I of León seized it once and for all. During the reign of Spain’s Catholic Monarchs, it was turned into a prison as it no longer had any strategic value.
But now it is administrative forces that are advancing on the castle. On June 29, the Castilla y León regional government published “the announcement of a pig farm of 4,200 pigs in plot 20114 of industrial estate 1 of the municipality of Recuerda,” which backs onto Gormaz. August 10 was the deadline for anyone wishing to take issue with the environmental impact assessment, which states that the farm would not alter the surrounding landscape. “It is a landscape altered by human activity, due to its agricultural use, with no dominant variations or striking contrasts,” claims the report.
This contradicts the regional plan for the Duero Valley, approved by the Castilla y León regional authorities in 2010, which mentions a series of Landscape Management Areas (AOP) needing a specific regime of protection, management and planning. One such area includes the castle of Gormaz and the surrounding area where the farm would be located.
Luis Morales, architect and member of the Soria Association for the Defense of Nature (Aseden), points out that the castle’s environment is “totally agricultural – fields and forests – and very similar to what it might have been in the Middle Ages, when Gormaz was built. To put an industrial complex of enormous dimensions to house more than 4,000 pigs, which is what they intend, is barbaric,” he adds. “It breaks up the landscape from the same caliphal gate, the one that is so often photographed for tourism purposes.”
Morales also believes that the municipalities have the means to stop the project, “because the land is rustic and can therefore be classified as protected, which would prevent the livestock complex from being built.” Meanwhile, the Aseden association points out that the regional authorities were responsible for the White Paper of the Territorial Enclaves of Cultural Interest (ETIC), which selected 111 locations of cultural or heritage interest, one of which was Gormaz.
According to the NGO Ecologists in Action, in this type of facility whose surface area would be 4,000 square meters plus another 2,000 for slurry, “the problem of odor emissions is very important because of its proximity and orientation with respect to inhabited areas and other places of interest.” It explains: “In this case, the farm would be to the west, 1.3 kilometers from Recuerda and two kilometers from the castle of Gormaz. According to data from [Spain’s national weather agency] Aemet, the prevailing winds are from the west. In other words, it would bring unhealthy smells for most of the year to Recuerda. Surprisingly, the project says that the prevailing winds are from the northeast.”
Consuelo Barrio, mayor of Recuerda, agrees. “It is not only the visual impact, which is very important, but also the environmental impact due to the possible contamination of the water from the slurry as we are in an area of aquifers; this is in addition to the smell that would come our way as we are barely a kilometer from it.”
Meanwhile, the company behind the project considers it is under “unjustified attack.” According to one 38-year-old businessman involved in the project, “in this part of Soria there are at least three farms: Quintanar, Gormaz…. And if ours smells, it means they all smell. It’s not like years ago, when pigs were thrown into the Duero – some of which I have seen floating – or the slurry was dumped down drains. No. There are strict environmental laws and we will comply with them. It is easy to talk about ‘deserted’ Spain and all the things the politicians are saying, but when you try to create wealth, obstacles are thrown up because you can be seen from the castle two kilometers away. If they don’t let us set up here, we’ll go somewhere else,” he adds angrily.
Marisa Revilla, president of Amigos del Museo Numantino, is particularly upset by the visual effect of the pig farm. “The impact report does not take into account the horizontal impact. It only states that they are going to put up some hedges to hide the farm. But the installation will not only affect the castle, it will also affect the nearby Romanesque San Miguel hermitage.” This hermitage was inspected in the 1990s by architect José Francisco Yusta, who specializes in historical monuments and also opposes the construction of the farm. “There is no justification for breaking up the landscape,” says Yusta, who has worked on such architectural gems as the cathedral of Burgo de Osma, the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela and castle of Gormaz itself.
“I believe it is not worth destroying our landscape for the two jobs that the macro-farm will provide, which are those proposed by the promoters,” says architect Luis Morales. “If there were only 200 for deserted Spain….”
English version by Heather Galloway.
Ex-Ireland rugby player charged with stealing almost €600,000 from BOI
Former Irish rugby international Brendan Mullin is to face trial accused of deception, false accounting and theft of close to €600,000 from Bank of Ireland where he held a senior executive position.
Mullin (57) appeared at Dublin District Court on Tuesday following an investigation by the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB) into bank fraud allegations going back a decade.
The former rugby star won 55 Irish caps between 1984 and 1995 before he went into financial services and became managing director at Bank of Ireland Private Banking Ltd.
He was arrested at 9.08am on Tuesday when he met gardaí in Dublin city-centre. He was brought to the Bridewell Garda station where he was charged with 15 offences which allegedly took place between 2011 and 2013.
He is accused of stealing €500,000 on December 16th 2011, at Bank of Ireland Private Bank at Burlington Plaza, Burlington Road, Dublin 4.
Mr Mullin, of Albert Lodge, Stillorgan Road, Donnybrook, Dublin 4, is charged with eight further thefts of amounts totalling €73,000 from the bank.
Five counts of false accounting were also put to him.
He was also charged with deception by inducing a named man and woman to sign a payment instruction with the intention of making gain for himself or another on July 27th, 2011.
Dressed in a grey suit and light blue shirt, he sat silently during his hearing before Judge Michael Walsh.
GNECB Detective Sean O’Riordan told the court Mr Mullin made no comment when charged.
The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has directed trial on indictment meaning his case will go before a judge and jury in the circuit court.
The DPP has also stated that he can be sent forward for sentencing on a signed plea, should that arise, but defence solicitor Robert Purcell told Judge Walsh a book of evidence will be required.
Bail terms had been agreed, Judge Walsh noted, and it was set in Mr Mullin’s own bond of €10,000.
He was ordered to surrender his passport but this was not made a precondition of release; Judge Walsh warned him that it must be handed over to gardai within 48 hours of taking up bail.
Mr Mullin needed to travel for work purposes and that could be done once the GNECB detective is notified in advance, the judge said.
He must appear again at the District Court on November 11th next to be served with the book of evidence by the prosecution.
A trial order can then be granted.
Shock in Germany after cashier shot dead in Covid mask row
The killing on Saturday evening in the western town of Idar-Oberstein, Rhineland-Palatinate, is believed to be the first in Germany linked to the government’s coronavirus rules.
The row started when the cashier, a student, told the customer to put on a face mask, as required in all German shops. After a brief argument, the man left.
The suspect then returned about an hour and a half later, this time wearing a mask. But as he brought his six-pack of beer to the till, he took off the mask and another discussion ensued.
“The perpetrator then pulled out a revolver and shot him straight in the head,” prosecutor Kai Fuhrmann told reporters on Monday.
The suspect, a 49-year-old German man, walked to a police station the following day to turn himself in. He was arrested and has confessed to the murder.
He told police he felt “cornered” by the coronavirus measures, which he perceived as an “ever-growing infringement on his rights” and he had seen “no other way out”, Fuhrmann said.
Idar-Oberstein mayor Frank Fruehauf called it “an unfathomable, terrible act”, and residents have laid flowers and candles outside the petrol station.
The murder comes just days before Germans head to the polls for a general election on September 26 that will see Chancellor Angela Merkel bow out of politics after 16 years.
Katrin Goering-Eckardt, the parliamentary leader of the Green party, tweeted that she was “deeply shaken” by the killing, which she said was “the cruel result of hatred”.
Agriculture Minister Julia Kloeckner from Merkel’s centre-right CDU party, who hails from the region, said the murder was “shocking”.
The Tagesspiegel newspaper said far-right chat groups on Telegram were applauding the murder, with one user writing “Here we go!!!” while others posted thumbs-up emojis.
Germany has seen repeated protests from anti-mask demonstrators throughout the pandemic, some of them attracting tens of thousands of people.
The Querdenker (Lateral Thinkers) movement has emerged as the loudest voice against the government’s coronavirus curbs and regulations. Its marches have drawn a wide mix of people, including vaccine sceptics, neo-Nazis and members of Germany’s far-right AfD party.
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