from a public HS teacher (Gov't, Religion, Soc. Issues), who is eclectic (Dem-leaning) politically and Quaker (& open) on everything else. Hope you enjoy what you find here.

Saturday, April 10, 2004

What is our responsibility when we buy things? 

For many of us on tight budgets we want the best bargain we can find. But what if the result of that bargain is to impoverish others, either as individuals or as communities? If I shop at Walmart, do I not subsidize corporate behavior which has little regard either for its employees or for the communities it destroys by being able to underprice preexisting shops?

And if I want cheaper food, even fresh food, how often is that lower price maintained by poor - even dangerous and unhealthy - working conditions for those who pick it?

Should I choose something "handmade," how can I be sure that it is not the result of the labor of a child in another country working 10-12 hours a day and never seeing either a school or a playground?

I think if there is an afterlife, our condemnation will be not so much for the deliberately bad things we do, but for the slippery slope of self-justification and willful ignorance of how we benefit from the suffering and misery of others.

FEEL FREE TO CONTACT ME OFFLINE at kber@earthlink.net Comments, suggestions and even rude remarks are welcomed! Preface any messages with "teacherken" so I know they are not spam.

Where's the followup? 

the following entry has already been posted to dailykos, but I felt it was improtant enough to cross-post on my own blog. It was my first reaction after finally reading the fully released text of the August 6, 2001 PDB. There is much more I could have said, but this should do for now.

Where is the tasking to have appropriate people kept informed about the progress of the information?  What if any further information from the investigations was given to the president in subsequent briefings?

If they didn't believe that the Clinton approach -- to treat terrorism as a law-enforcement issue  -  was sufficient, surely someone should have been tasked to do something as a result of this briefing.

I am only a poor, 57-year-old HS social studies teacher, but perhaps my brief service in the Marines, and 20+ years in data processing, mainly as a systems analyst, leads me to immediately raise a series of questions as a result of what has been released. I cannot  believe that anyone competent would have done less.

And that's the point   --- the total lack of competence to the task at hand  -- on the part of Rice and her deputy Hadley, on the part of the President, on the part of the leadership of the Defense Department, on the part of the leadership of the Justice Department, and yes, on the part of Louis Freeh while he still ran the FBI.

Perhaps prior to '93 one might imagine that we were "safe."  I note that in  the public testimony in the trials relating to the '93 WTC bombing, testimony was given that the towers had been built to sustain an impact by a 707.  A simple review of what was known about '93 might have raised the question about using planes as weapons, even if we did not have the testimony from the Bojinko plot that an alternative to blowing up airliners over the ocean was to crash a plane into the CIA, that an attempt had been made to hijack a plane to crash it into the Eiffel Tower, that precautions had been taken in Atlanta in 1996 and at Genoa in 2001 (?after this briefing?) to protect against planes being used as missiles [and Bush did NOT stay at the hotel, but on a U.S. Navy ship equipped with surface-to-air missiles].

In the old days, the FBI wanted people to have an accounting degree / background.  One reason was that accountants were trained to put pieces of information together in logical fashion.  As a systems analyst and before that as a maintenance programmer, I learned to anticipate what could go wrong with a system  [which is why the ones I designed rarely failed].  The skills are not that difficult to develop, but you do need to have acces to all information that MIGHT be relevant.    With this memo, Moussaoui in MN and the report from Embry-Riddle out of the Phoenix office, ALL the pieces are in place, when combined with information that SHOULD have been known by a competent national security staff, all the pieces except the exact date.  

And that should not have mattered.  Proper security in the airports, proper alert status from FAA and NORAD, and NONE of the plnaes should have been able to crash into buildings.

Most Americans do not realize that 20 minutes after Payne Stewart's private plane was off course and not responding, there was an AF jet along side of it, for the rest of the flight.   Given this memo, I would have thought that there woulod have been jets able to respond just as quickly all along the Eastern seaboard.   Why was the only response to the hijackings of the planes that crashed into WTC come out of a MA airbase  [they were already far to the west when contact was lost, and there should have been closer bases, even in NY state?]  Why was the response to the Dulles hijacking from the Tidewater area of Virginia (Langley AFB) rather than from Andrews, which even if it took 10 minutes to get the pilot off the ground would then have been only 2-3 minutes from the Pentagon-White House-Capitol, and wouldn't that have given sufficient time to shoot the plane down over the Potomac when it turned?  If the president was informed about the first plane, why did he not immediately act proactively, operating on a worst case scenario, that it might have been deliberate, and immediately begin coordinating action in response, just in case?  

Had the president been informed of the assassination of the leader of the Northern Alliance, Massoud,  and how it happened [men posing as journalists]?  Was his immediate protective staff aware of a possible similar attempt on his life the night of September 10 on Longboat Key, when apparently several men attempted to enter the club where he was staying saying they wanted to interview him?

Something stinks.   Is it in fact that the administration expected and were willing to accept a hijacking [to have their causus belli, only they didn't think it would be different from previous hijackings, despite the evidence that Al-Qaeda had at least some interest in using planes as missiles?

No time limits should have been allowed for anyone  being questioned.   All people, including current and former Presidents and VPs should be under oath (and separate, even if not in public).  The members of the Hart-Rudman commission should have testified in public.

Before I was not sure.  Now I am.  This WAS preventable if people were doing the jobs for which they were being paid.  

FEEL FREE TO CONTACT ME OFFLINE at kber@earthlink.net Comments, suggestions and even rude remarks are welcomed! Preface any messages with "teacherken" so I know they are not spam.

Sunday, April 04, 2004

A bloody day in Iraq 

U. S. deaths were 10, 8 soldiers and 4 Marines. One Salvadoran soldier. And dozens of Iraqis.

I fear that our response to this, and to the events of the past week where 4 "contractors" werre killed and their bodies abused, will only cause the situation to deteriorate further.

I ahve no doubt that what the U.S. government has said about those four is false. Clearly we are in a situation where U.S. companies are effectively bringing in mercenaries. These four were American, former servicemen, three at least with special forces-type training: I have read of one how he enlisted in the Army at 19, got SEAL training, and spoke in addition to English Russian, Spanish, Arabic and Croatian. I have also read that some of the companies are hiring former Chilean and S African police and military. There ae now perhaps 15,000 of these rent-a-guns in Iraq. They are not bound by U.S. rules of engagement, nor are they subject to the UCMJ. Yet whatever they do will be interpreted by the Iraqis as actions of the American government, and the Iraqis will respond accordingly.

After today's events, I fully expect that some in the U.S. will argue for grabbing al-Sadr, the 30 year old Shi'ite cleric who is vocally opposed to the U.S. presence. That would be a disaster -- much of today's violence was a direct result of our arresting one of his chief aides for a murder that apparently happened last year. We have also closed down his newspaper. And the greatest violence now seems to be in Najaf, which is a holy city for Shi'ites.

I have insufficient time to post to this blog, because I have been busy devouing various of the books that so scare the Bushites, such as Clark, John Dean, Craig Ungar. Methinks the focus of discourse is changing to something at least somewhat critical of the administration: interviews with military officers saying they'll vote for Kerry, 60 Minutes doing a piece on a major environmental coverup in Appalachia. We may be at a crossroads in the discourse, to the point where the overall modd and attitude of the American public may be about to tip. We will see in the next week or so, with testimony before the 9-11 commission not only by Condi Rice in public, but in privatge by the top two of each of the past two administrations [and if people think what is said in executive sessions will not get out, they are sorely mistaken].

It is late. Actually, it is late only because of the clock change, but I have already been orinetating my body to the spring forward, so i feel tired as the time on my toolbar say 11:40 PM.

This blog is now being linked from posts on dailykos. I wonder who if anyone ever reads it ... other than family and firends, i have neer had a response.

FEEL FREE TO CONTACT ME OFFLINE at kber@earthlink.net Comments, suggestions and even rude remarks are welcomed! Preface any messages with "teacherken" so I know they are not spam.

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