Monday, August 31, 2009

Film Critic Criticizes Quentin Tarantino over his remark on 9/11

By Leonard Clark
August 28, 2009

Quentin TarantinoA theater critic named Johann Hari, who is a columnist for the London Indepent has critized movie director Quentin Tarantino for making this statement about 9/11 not long after it happened: "It didn't affect me because there's, like, a Hong Kong action movie... called Purple Storm and they work in a whole big thing in the plot that they blow up a skyscraper."

Mr. Hari, in response to this statement say: It's a case-study in atrophy of moral senses: to brag you weren't moved by the murder of two and half thousand actual people, because you'd already seen it simulated in a movie. Only somebody who has never seen violence -- who sees the world as made of celluloid -- can respond like this.

This reporter has to ask: Are we now going to the movie because of the plot or are many of us only going to the movie because of the blood and guts that Mr. Tarantino portrays to large effect in his movies?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Hagel Headed for Obama's Intelligence Board (Also, PIAB's John Hamre, 9/11, Markle Foundation, CSIS, ChoicePoint, Zelikow, Judith Miller, etc.)

By Al Kamen
August 14, 2009

Former Nebraska senator Chuck Hagel (R), a senior administration official-in-waiting either later this term or in President Obama's second term (if there is one), is taking another step into Obama's national security team. We're hearing Hagel is in line to co-chair the important President's Intelligence Advisory Board (formerly known as the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board).

Hagel, who is a longtime pal of Vice President Biden and who toured Iraq and Afghanistan with Obama during the campaign, already has been named to replace former House speaker Newt Gingrich on the Defense Policy Board, run by former deputy secretary of Defense John Hamre [see Hamre profile below - AC]. ...

The board, which usually acts in secrecy, is given access to key intelligence information and is charged with giving the president an objective analysis of the quality of that information. Prior chairmen have been folks such as former Bush I national security advisor Brent Scowcroft, former New Hampshire senator Warren Rudman, former House speaker Tom Foley, Gen. Maxwell Taylor and former Johnson administration secretary of defense Clark Clifford.


Hamre is the ChoicePoint connection to ITT - the communications and Chilean coup-plot people - where he has been a director since '00. This was the same year he became chairman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

Before joining CSIS, Hamre was U.S. deputy secretary of defense, 1997-2000 ... under William Cohen, one of the Senate Republicans who signed Lee Hamilton's martinized Iran-contra report - and under-secretary of defense/comptroller from 1993 to 1997. Before joining the DoD, Dr. Hamre was on the staff of the Senate Armed Services Committee, 1984-1993, with responsibilities for oversight of weapons R&D and assorted defense budget issues. From 1978 to 1984, he was deputy assistant director for national security and international affairs at the Congressional Budget Office. Dr. Hamre is a director of MITRE Corp. and Integrated Nano Technologies LPC. He's a Rockefeller Fellow at Harvard Divinity School, and received a Ph.D. in 1978 from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.3

Dr. Hamre is also board chairman of the John and Mary R. Markle Foundation.

The list of Markle grant recipients and partners includes CNN, Infonautics, Crossover Technologies, M.I.T., RAND Corporation, Carnegie-Mellon University and The Brookings Institute.

Some members of the "philanthropic" Markle foundation under Dr. Hamre:

Philip Zelikow: executive director of the 911 Commission.

Judith A. Miller: The New York Times reporter whose articles on Saddam Hussein's WMD program proved to be fictional.

Stewart A. Baker: Chief counsel, NSA.

William P. Crowell: CEO of Cylink, Inc. in Santa Clara, California. Crowell came to Cylink from the NSA, where he had a series of senior positions, including deputy director of operations and deputy director.

Eric Benhamou: vice chairman, Israel21c, a non-profit organization that seeks, according to its website, to "promote the 21st century Israel that exists beyond the conflict."

Paul Schott Stevens: Under President Reagan, special assistant for national security affairs, executive secretary and legal adviser of the NSC.

Robert M. Bryant: former assistant director of the FBI, CEO of the National Insurance Crime Bureau. In November 1999, after 31 years of service, he retired as deputy director of the FBI, where he presided over the Bureau's strategic plan, and served as the agency's chief operations officer. While at the FBI, he directed a number of high-profile investigations, including the Aldrich Ames spy case, the Oklahoma City bombing and the Montana Freeman

John O. Marsh: Former Secretary of the Army and Virginia Congressman. A member of the Advisory Panel to Assess Domestic Response Capabilities for Terrorism Involving Weapons of Mass Destruction. Recently, the Panel released its second annual report entitled "Toward a National Strategy for Combating Terrorism."

Morton Halperin: Director of the Washington office of the Open Society Institute. Halperin is a director of policy planning staff at the Department of State. He was special assistant to President Clinton and a senior director at the NSC, 1994-1996. Other positions include director of the Center for National Security Studies, and director of the ACLU's Washington
D.C. office.

Wesley Clark: War profiteer and former "liberal" presidential candidate.

Gilman Louie: President and CEO of In-Q-Tel, a CIA front, delivers new technologies to the intelligence community.

Michael Okerlund Leavitt: Republican governor of Utah, first elected in 1992. Leavitt resigned his office in November 2003, and was sworn in as the administrator of the EPA under Bush the next day. He was confirmed to this office on October 28, 2003. Leavitt also serves on the Homeland Security
Advisory Council.

Ashton Carter: Ford Foundation Professor of Science and International Affairs, International Security Program.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Godson of Mafioso Frank Costello is an FBI "Counter-Terrorist" and "TV News Reporter"

By Alex Constantine

Caveat: No mention of the Mafia in the following puff piece from National Journal - ABC reporter/FBI counter-terrorist John Miller (left) is the son of John Miller, Sr. - "a gossip columnist in New York whose colorful friends included singer Bobby Darin and mafia boss Frank Costello."

A finer point on it: "The two [Miller, Sr. and the mobster] were so close, Costello served as godfather to John Jr."

Bearing in mind the fascinating Mafia link, see: "Reporter" John Miller's Foreknowledge-- More Media/Government Collusion in the Events of 9/11" - "There are many remarkable things we can learn about John Miller! Soon after this 9/11 'reporting,' he was promoted to co-anchor of 20/20 at ABC-TV. And within a year, he wrote a book that 9/11 happened because of 'intelligence agencies' failures. ..."

The multi-faceted godson of Frank Costello surfaces in some interesting places:

Former TV Newsman To Lead U.S. Intel Tech
August 18, 2009

John Miller, a broadcast journalist who parlayed his expertise on terrorism into a career with local law enforcement and later the FBI, plans to leave the bureau to help lead reform efforts for the intelligence community. According to sources familiar with Miller's plans, he would move to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, where he'd head up a team devoted to "analytic transformation." It was established in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks to improve the ability of analysts to share information across bureaucratic boundaries and to encourage them to use new technologies, such as social networking. Since 2005, Miller has been the FBI's assistant director for public affairs, the bureau's top spokesman. Miller did not respond to e-mails or messages left with his office seeking comment. A spokesman for the Director of National Intelligence said the office had "no personnel announcements to make at this time."

Over the course of his career, Miller has alternated between covering terrorism as a reporter and joining ranks to fight it as a law enforcement official. In the early 1990s, he was one of a few reporters closely following the then nascent Al Qaeda network and its ties to the first World Trade Center attack in 1993. Miller became friends with agents in the FBI's New York field office, particularly John O'Neill, whose career in the bureau was the subject of a PBS Frontline documentary titled "The Man Who Knew," a reference to O'Neill's dogged pursuit of Al Qaeda and its shadowy leader, Osama bin Laden. In 1998, Miller became one of the few western journalists to interview bin Laden in person when he and a cameraman sat down with the terrorist leader in Afghanistan.

In New York, Miller earned a reputation as one of the most plugged-in reporters covering the FBI. In a 2003 review of a book that Miller co-wrote about the 9/11 attacks, New Yorker writer Malcolm Gladwell remarked on his reporting prowess in the wake of the first World Trade Center attack: "At the bombing site, he was continuously trailed by a knot of reporters -- I was one of them -- who had concluded that the best way to learn what was going on was to try to overhear his conversations." In 1994, Miller left media to become spokesman for the New York City Police Department. As he recalled in an interview with People magazine, "I thought, 'What if you spent your days not just talking about it? What if you were doing it?'"

After a brief stint with the NYPD, Miller returned to the news business. He was a correspondent for ABC News, where he continued to cover Al Qaeda and scored the interview with bin Laden. In 2002, he became co-anchor of ABC's news magazine program 20/20 with Barbara Walters. But the following year, Miller left journalism again, this time for a position with the Los Angeles Police Department, where he led the Counterterrorism and Criminal Intelligence Bureau, as well as the Major Crimes Division, which managed the department's bomb squad and hazardous materials unit.

In his new intelligence post, Miller would replace a veteran analyst and technologist named Mike Wertheimer, who spent the majority of his career at the National Security Agency. Wertheimer, who was the subject of a profile in National Journal, has overseen efforts to bring the intelligence community into the 21st Century. During his tenure, the intelligence community began using a social network system called A-Space, modeled after My Space and Facebook, which allows analysts from different agencies to share information. Wertheimer has also overseen the launch of Intellipedia, a resource modeled on Wikipedia, which allows users to write, and indefinitely re-write, articles in a collective fashion.

Despite Miller's law enforcement credentials, it's not immediately clear what technological expertise he would bring to the new job. Wertheimer, whom he would replace, spent 21 years as a cryptologist at the National Security Agency and rose to become the agency's most senior technical leader. Although his work leading analytic transformation has been focused partly on abstract issues such as workplace culture, many of his programs are technical in nature. The position is also not as high-profile as Miller's current role, which has allowed him to become one of the public faces of the FBI. -- Shane Harris

Monday, August 10, 2009

9/11 survivors call for renewed probe as 8th anniversary approaches

Posted by Bob Braun/Star-Ledger Columnist August 09, 2009

The eighth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks is a month away and some survivors of those lost believe it's a good time to renew an investigation into the events of that disastrous day. New York City disagrees.

"We know we never have learned the truth, it's as simple as that,'' says Lorie Van Auken of East Brunswick, one of the most ardent supporters of the creation of the 9/11 commission in 2002. It was headed by former New Jersey governor Thomas H. Kean.

"Members and staff of the 9/11 commission have said many of the questions raised by the attacks have never been answered.''

Van Auken was a founding member of Sept. 11 Advocates, originally a group of four New Jersey widows whose husbands were killed that day. The group, informally called "the Jersey girls," successfully lobbied for the creation of the commission.

The four women formed the core of a "steering committee" that was loosely attached to the panel, and then became lobbyists for enactment of the commission's recommendations and critics of many of its findings after the panel's report was published almost exactly five years ago.

Van Auken is now affiliated with an organization called NYC-CAN -- New York City Coalition for Accountability Now -- that has spent the last few months collecting signatures on a petition designed to require New York's city council to place the creation of an investigating commission on the November ballot.

The city clerk's office has rejected the petition, challenging thousands of the signatures and, more importantly, the legality of the referendum itself. The dispute already is in court.

NYC-CAN is still pushing for signatures, relying on a provision of the law that allows voters to bypass city council action to place a referendum directly on the ballot.

Visitors to the area around the old World Trade Center site -- now all but inaccessible because of construction -- are likely to encounter supporters of the ballot initiative seeking signatures. Only New York City voters, however, are eligible to sign the petition.

That would exclude Van Auken herself, although, under the terms of the petition, she would be one of the commissioners who would supervise the investigation. The effort has been endorsed by the other "Jersey girls" -- Mindy Kleinberg, also of East Brunswick, and Patty Casazza and Kristen Breitweiser, both of whom have moved out of state.

"We are looking for some way to renew interest in the idea of an investigation,'' says Van Auken.

Another leader of the NYC-CAN effort is Robert McIlvaine, who became a fixture at public hearings of the 9/11 commission, always noticeable in the audience because he wore an orange baseball cap. It was his son Robert's Princeton cap -- the young man had graduated from Princeton in 1997, moved to New York and gotten a job with Merrill Lynch. He was attending a conference at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

"It's a murder -- my son was murdered -- and there never has been a murder investigation and a finding of what happened,'' says McIlvaine, who was laid off from his teaching job at a mental hospital four months after his son's death. He is retired and spends much of his time pushing for a renewed probe into 9/11.

"It's very simple -- I'm a father who lost his son," says McIlvaine, who lives in Oreland, Pa., a suburb of Philadelphia. He is a member of the executive council of NYC-CAN. "Why wouldn't any father want to know how and why his son died?''

Previous efforts to promote a New York-based investigation into 9/11 have failed. McIlvaine was a leader of a petition drive in 2004 to get former New York attorney general Elliot Spitzer to impanel a special grand jury to look into the day's events.

Efforts like those of NYC-CAN face the danger of becoming overwhelmed by the more radical elements of the so-called "truther" movement, some of whose members already have reached their own conclusions about 9/11 -- including a contention that the destruction of the Twin Towers was not caused by the airplane crashes but rather internal demolition.

The NYC-CAN website -- -- insists any investigation it supervises will not begin with conclusions:

"The investigation will commence from a starting point of zero assumption or bias about the events of September 11. The investigation will be fact-driven and will use only the most rigorous legal standards for establishing the truth about those tragic events.''

Even if the petition succeeds in getting the issue on the ballot, and even if the referendum is adopted, the independent investigation will face daunting problems -- including how to pay for its operations. The 9/11 commission spent $12 million on its investigation; NYC-CAN hopes to raise $50 million privately.

"We do face a lot of problems,'' says Van Auken. "But we really don't have much of a choice.''