by John Tully
The New York Herald Sun
July 26, 2009
Whether it was Michael Wolff’s “piece” in Vanity Fair on Politico or the Paris tap water that produced the explosive diarrhea on a hot sweaty July night in the City of Lights, we’ll never know…
Time moves both slow and fast in these Dog Days of Summer and the memory hole of the past eight bloody years is fading and digging deeper.
I take you back to the city of D.C.
A few years ago…
A quaint city, soon to written about like Rome, gilded on their own lily and pathetic to boot.
Sucked in to television, watching the camera moves, editing, and heavy music to a story about a mom and a dad and a wife who lose their little/big man to a fiery explosion in Iraq. The soldier leaves a “just in case” final video for his bride, tells her of his deep love, and urges her to go on with life: “get married, have kids” It’s a noble gesture from a brave young man and the camera cuts to the weeping widow watching the tape.
The evening news comes on and the 80 year-old man who marched against Iraq in a February freeze watches a report on two dead Marines and 17 Iraqi dead civilians . Remember seeing that look on the face of the Marines’ mother or the site of yet another widow with two babies that finally punches the gut.
At this point in the war, President Bush hadn’t been to one funeral service for them.
Remember banned television cameras at the arrival of the bodies from Germany, at the base in Delaware .
The cowering, obedient press corpse giving the President a free pass after 9/11 and the Administration using it to make the United States less safe, less secure, and spoil environmental and geopolitical progress for years to come.
Remembering Television and Freedom Fries and Terror Alerts here in Paris 6 years later, the mind once again boggles and crunches the serious, sad, mistaken war of choice that ignored all plans and warnings of consequences.
Powered by arrogance and breathtaking hubris and television’s Meet The Press and This Week With Will for the latest talking points of the day.
MR. RUSSERT: All right, this way: Should the blogs, talk radio, cable TV—should people lower their voices, and, and, and control their rhetoric?
Remember that very same week when the Vice-President poked a fat finger in the eye of Russia while the Bush Administration reflexively rejected the first written communication from Iran in seventeen years. Neither Vice President Cheney’s speech or the letter was ever mentioned on either program.
Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney had blown the cover of longtime C.I.A. agent Valerie Plame who it turns out was working on nuclear proliferation. Her contacts through front company Brewster Jennings were actively working the underground nukes world. That intel might have been helpful that very same week in dealing with Iran.
Instead, the latest Cool-Kids Media Club Memes emerged: “Anger on the Blogs”
That’s right. Three different allusions to blogs and anger on both Meet The Press and This Week complete with an obligatory question from Tim Russert to new/old ham Newt Gingrich.
Schmuck David Brooks, perpetual mealy-mouthed defender of the Bush administration throwing out his shoulder shrugging off the incident at Haditha in front of two shocked Marines: Mark Shields and Jim Lehrer.
Remember when columnist Tony Blankley said the war protests were organized by the communist party and the Press corps labeled Al Gore as Crazy for his pre-war criticism about invading Iraq.
How about when war hero Max Cleland was derisively compared to both Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein in a television advertisement by his republican opponent, Saxby Chambliss during their Senate race? Mr. Cleland lost his legs and an arm during Vietnam but the republican claimed the democrat was soft on National Security. Mr. Chambliss sat out the war with a bad knee.
Go back in time and recall when Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz had no idea how many Americans had been killed in Iraq and called the idea of two hundred thousand troops needed in Iraq as “wildly off the mark”
It’s apparent that there Was Not a massive intelligence failure and the administration indeed was warned about the vagueness of the information about Iraq.
Remember that classic “Everybody thought-even-France and Germany” song about W.M.D.’s.
The Memory-Hole pieces together the events of the past six years but can never illuminate fully how one of the most brilliant countries in history could now be cowardly defending war atrocities and blaming, as Mr. Blankley said that very same week about the incident at Haditha: “Over reporting by a gleeful media is more damaging than any single fact”
Come to think of it-maybe that gleeful, fluffy, Politico piece that completely failed to mention the publication’s Reagan connection was responsible for that gut bomb the other night.
Either way, I’m still sick as a dog.
Saturday, July 24 2004
THE LOS ANGELES SUN
Amazing that the two-year old Sandy Berger investigation leak came out two days before the (now all-but-forgotten, complete stonewalling every step along the way by this administration) 9/11 report would be released…
David Brooks was just salivating the other night about how this five hundred page report is such a great symbol of blah blah blah…A beacon, if you will, of light, in an otherwise dark period of time, in this great nation or somesuch trite.
Get a root canal now.
Hey this report would have come out earlier if the Bush Jr. administration hadn’t delayed, delayed, delayed.As usual, the media is now parroting each other this week in urging /warning/encouraging Kerry to not Bush-bash….I mean everyone in the cool- kids media club is squawking about it…Awesome!
The whole ” Who is the real John Kerry?” nonsense? The Dems. are going to listen and Kerry, who IS charismatic, will give a so-so mushy speech instead of what everyone, of either political party, is salivating to see to see in a politician: someone who lays it on the line and stands for something, anything.
Prolly won’t happen, Kerry will win anyway and it’s a good thing I don’t run campaigns.
I can’t for the life of me find a valid account of Sandy Berger stuffing his pockets/pants with secrets, etc. etc. Ah, and there’s the rub these days in the Cool Kids Media Club. I tried hard; I love a good research hunt and spent some coin calling D.C. but I’m new in the media game so I don’t have many contacts yet. Nothing, nada, zilch, and rumor becomes fact.
Robert Novak saying that everyone knew Valerie Plame was undercover?
He’s still saying this and seems more confident now that the second round of the “Smear Ambassador Wilson Patrol” is out and about.
He’s going to swallow
his wet teeth one of these days.
Jack Cafferty isn’t dead and was on CNN Monday morning grumbling about….
you guessed it, Berger stuffing things into his… socks er…jacket,er….pants… ….and the boys on Imus were snickering like seventh graders about that SPY stealing secrets in his underwear…
©2004 THE LOS ANGELES SUN
Americans are a good people and America is truly a great country. We are a tribe; like it or not. Los Angeles International Airport was the scene of a three-person murder this morning; the suspect and his two victims. Apparently fellow travellers stepped in to help stop the suspect before a security guard shot him dead. Twenty miles away in San Dimas California a small plane crashed into a picnic site at a local lake. Nearby Fourth Of July celebrants rushed over to help lift one of the plane’s s smoking wings and free a small child.
Firefighters and ordinary people in Arizona and Colorado have been battling massive wildfires in thier backyard this week. Drink a cup of coffee and read the paper on this day that we celebrate America’s independence.
There is another story about some shady business transactions from our top leader that are similar to the criminal acts of Enron and Arthur Andersen. The real story may be the lack of surprise by the American people to this newest revelation. Thirty years of American leaders lying cheating and stealing from the American public produced this heavy cynicism. Hundeds of thousands of people have lost their life savings and their jobs this year due to fraud from business leaders possibly helped by political leaders. Big business has always held a certain special place in American society. However, with the stock markets crashing, huge companies failing and the prospects that more will bust soon, confidence is low.
Will this nation’s leaders show leadership, step in and step up to the corruption in business and politics pulling the country away from this fire? The citizens of Colorado, Arizona and California have all shown this week that they are ready to help. The rest of the tribe must speak up.
June 21 —2002
Millions saw the horrific images of the World Trade Center attacks, and those who saw them won’t forget them. But a New Jersey homemaker saw something that morning that prompted an investigation into five young Israelis and their possible connection to Israeli intelligence.
Maria, who asked us not to use her last name, had a view of the World Trade Center from her New Jersey apartment building. She remembers a neighbor calling her shortly after the first plane hit the towers.
She grabbed her binoculars and watched the destruction unfolding in lower Manhattan. But as she watched the disaster, something else caught her eye.
Maria says she saw three young men kneeling on the roof of a white van in the parking lot of her apartment building. “They seemed to be taking a movie,” Maria said.
The men were taking video or photos of themselves with the World Trade Center burning in the background, she said. What struck Maria were the expressions on the men’s faces. “They were like happy, you know … They didn’t look shocked to me. I thought it was very strange,” she said.
She found the behavior so suspicious that she wrote down the license plate number of the van and called the police. Before long, the FBI was also on the scene, and a statewide bulletin was issued on the van.
The plate number was traced to a van owned by a company called Urban Moving. Around 4 p.m. on Sept. 11, the van was spotted on a service road off Route 3, near New Jersey’s Giants Stadium. A police officer pulled the van over, finding five men, between 22 and 27 years old, in the vehicle. The men were taken out of the van at gunpoint and handcuffed by police.
The arresting officers said they saw a lot that aroused their suspicion about the men. One of the passengers had $4,700 in cash hidden in his sock. Another was carrying two foreign passports. A box cutter was found in the van. But perhaps the biggest surprise for the officers came when the five men identified themselves as Israeli citizens.
‘We Are Not Your Problem’
According to the police report, one of the passengers told the officers they had been on the West Side Highway in Manhattan “during the incident” — referring to the World Trade Center attack. The driver of the van, Sivan Kurzberg, told the officers, “We are Israeli. We are not your problem. Your problems are our problems. The Palestinians are the problem.” The other passengers were his brother Paul Kurzberg, Yaron Shmuel, Oded Ellner and Omer Marmari.
When the men were transferred to jail, the case was transferred out of the FBI’s Criminal Division, and into the bureau’s Foreign Counterintelligence Section, which is responsible for espionage cases, ABCNEWS has learned.
One reason for the shift, sources told ABCNEWS, was that the FBI believed Urban Moving may have been providing cover for an Israeli intelligence operation.
After the five men were arrested, the FBI got a warrant and searched Urban Moving’s Weehawken, N.J., offices.
The FBI searched Urban Moving’s offices for several hours, removing boxes of documents and a dozen computer hard drives. The FBI also questioned Urban Moving’s owner. His attorney insists that his client answered all of the FBI’s questions. But when FBI agents tried to interview him again a few days later, he was gone.
Three months later 2020’s cameras photographed the inside of Urban Moving, and it looked as if the business had been shut down in a big hurry. Cell phones were lying around; office phones were still connected; and the property of dozens of clients remained in the warehouse.
The owner had also cleared out of his New Jersey home, put it up for sale and returned with his family to Israel.
‘A Scary Situation’
Steven Gordon, the attorney for the five Israeli detainees, acknowledged that his clients’ actions on Sept. 11 would easily have aroused suspicions. “You got a group of guys that are taking pictures, on top of a roof, of the World Trade Center. They’re speaking in a foreign language. They got two passports on ’em. One’s got a wad of cash on him, and they got box cutters. Now that’s a scary situation.”
But Gordon insisted that his clients were just five young men who had come to America for a vacation, ended up working for a moving company, and were taking pictures of the event.
The five Israelis were held at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, ostensibly for overstaying their tourist visas and working in the United States illegally. Two weeks after their arrest, an immigration judge ordered them to be deported. But sources told ABCNEWS that FBI and CIA officials in Washington put a hold on the case.
The five men were held in detention for more than two months. Some of them were placed in solitary confinement for 40 days, and some of them were given as many as seven lie-detector tests.
Plenty of Speculation
Since their arrest, plenty of speculation has swirled about the case, and what the five men were doing that morning. Eventually, The Forward, a respected Jewish newspaper in New York, reported the FBI concluded that two of the men were Israeli intelligence operatives.
Vince Cannistraro, a former chief of operations for counterterrorism with the CIA who is now a consultant for ABCNEWS, said federal authorities’ interest in the case was heightened when some of the men’s names were found in a search of a national intelligence database.
Israeli Intelligence Connection?
According to Cannistraro, many people in the U.S. intelligence community believed that some of the men arrested were working for Israeli intelligence. Cannistraro said there was speculation as to whether Urban Moving had been “set up or exploited for the purpose of launching an intelligence operation against radical Islamists in the area, particularly in the New Jersey-New York area.”
Under this scenario, the alleged spying operation was not aimed against the United States, but at penetrating or monitoring radical fund-raising and support networks in Muslim communities like Paterson, N.J., which was one of the places where several of the hijackers lived in the months prior to Sept. 11.
For the FBI, deciphering the truth from the five Israelis proved to be difficult. One of them, Paul Kurzberg, refused to take a lie-detector test for 10 weeks — then failed it, according to his lawyer. Another of his lawyers told us Kurzberg had been reluctant to take the test because he had once worked for Israeli intelligence in another country.
Sources say the Israelis were targeting these fund-raising networks because they were thought to be channeling money to Hamas and Islamic Jihad, groups that are responsible for most of the suicide bombings in Israel. “[The] Israeli government has been very concerned about the activity of radical Islamic groups in the United States that could be a support apparatus to Hamas and Islamic Jihad,” Cannistraro said.
The men denied that they had been working for Israeli intelligence out of the New Jersey moving company, and Ram Horvitz, their Israeli attorney, dismissed the allegations as “stupid and ridiculous.”
Mark Regev, the spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in Washington, goes even further, asserting the issue was never even discussed with U.S. officials.
“These five men were not involved in any intelligence operation in the United States, and the American intelligence authorities have never raised this issue with us,” Regev said. “The story is simply false.”
Despite the denials, sources tell ABCNEWS there is still debate within the FBI over whether or not the young men were spies. Many U.S. government officials still believe that some of them were on a mission for Israeli intelligence. But the FBI told ABCNEWS, “To date, this investigation has not identified anybody who in this country had pre-knowledge of the events of 9/11.”
Sources also said that even if the men were spies, there is no evidence to conclude they had advance knowledge of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11. The investigation, at the end of the day, after all the polygraphs, all of the field work, all the cross-checking, the intelligence work, concluded that they probably did not have advance knowledge of 9/11,” Cannistraro noted.
As to what they were doing on the van, they say they read about the attack on the Internet, couldn’t see it from their offices and went to the parking lot for a better view. But no one has been able to find a good explanation for why they may have been smiling with the towers of the World Trade Center burning in the background. Both the lawyers for the young men and the Israeli Embassy chalk it up to immature conduct.
According to ABCNEWS sources, Israeli and U.S. government officials worked out a deal — and after 71 days, the five Israelis were taken out of jail, put on a plane, and deported back home.
While the former detainees refused to answer ABCNEWS’ questions about their detention and what they were doing on Sept. 11, several of the detainees discussed their experience in America on an Israeli talk show after their return home.
Said one of the men, denying that they were laughing or happy on the morning of Sept. 11, “The fact of the matter is we are coming from a country that experiences terror daily. Our purpose was to document the event.”
ABCNEWS’ Chris Isham, John Miller, Glenn Silber and Chris Vlasto contributed to this report.