From under the linoleum
Old newspapers show Mussolini's imperialism looked a lot like today's

I sat on the floor and picked through the tragedy of the country we now call Ethiopia laid out on the yellowing pages. It was eerily reminiscent of the current Iraq adventure.

A tale for our times
The December 1934 assassination of Sergei Kirov

Seventy years on, the killing of Sergei Kirov casts an eerie light on the events of 11 September 2001, the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, the “war on Terror” and the state-sponsored hysteria surrounding the shadowy figures of Osama bin Ladin and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Ninety-three years of bombing the Arabs
It was the Italians, hell-bent on acquiring an African empire, who got the ball rolling. In 1911 the Libyan Arab tribes opposed an Italian invasion. Their civilians were the first people in the world to be bombed from the air.

Dispossessed all over again
After spending nearly two months in the West Bank the pull towards my village was growing stronger, especially after being detained twice and threatened with deportation … an Australian Palestinian returns to her ancestral home.

The tragic inevitability of a forlorn hope
Australia slides further into the Iraq quagmire
Cabinet documents recently released under the 50-year rule show that, in 1954, Liberal (conservative) Prime Minister, Robert Menzies, and key figures in his Cabinet were extremely gloomy about the prospects for success in an American war against nationalists in Indochina. But eventually they went to the Vietnam War anyway.

Bombing King David
One man’s freedom fighter is another’s terrorist

Some historians date the beginning of modern terrorism from the 1946 bombing by Zionist terrorists of the British military HQ in Jerusalem.

Don’t loiter near the exit
Military debacle and economic decline haunt the Bush regime

When I was just a young possum in the school cadet corps there was a hoary old war story that we all knew. It was almost certainly apocryphal, but it ruefully expressed a nasty historic truth about the US role in the demise of the British Empire.


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The murky depths

1 August 2003

I spent Saturday trying to trace Philip Ruddock’s benefactor, the enterprising Jim Foo, by way of his mobile phone records. My contacts were abundantly helpful. They could smell Ruddock’s blood in the water and were keen to open the wounds a little further.

On Sunday morning a clean cold wind was still blowing in off the Snowy, so I stayed hunkered down in my office, monitoring the weird coup attempt in Manilla and catching up on the news.

The Philippines business is a bizarre twist in the “War on Terror”. It’s hard to know what to think when a bunch of elite soldiers accuse the rightist Arroyo government of selling arms to Muslim separatists and Stalinist guerillas, and of perpetrating terrorist bombings previously blamed on Muslims, but it was the report of the US congressional inquiry into the September 11 attacks that made my tail stiffen and my fur stand on end. I sensed immediately I was looking down into the murky grey world of espionage where you can’t trust anyone to be who they claim to be, and hidden agendas multiply like politicians’ lies.

It seems that in the Autumn of 2000, two of the September 11 hijackers, Nawaf al Hazmi and Khalid al Midhar, boarded at the San Diego home of a Muslim man who had befriended them at the local Islamic Centre; a man described as a “tested” undercover “asset” of the FBI, who was helping the bureau with inquiries into the activities of Hamas and Hezbollah.

According to Newsweek, which broke the story, the two men had arrived in San Diego in January 2000, right after they attended an al-Qaeda “summit” in Kuala Lumpur.

The CIA knew of the summit and even photographed some of the attendees, but it wasn’t until late August 2001 that the CIA warned the FBI and other US law enforcement agencies to watch for the two men, in case they tried to enter the United States. But it was too late -- al Hazmi and al Midhar had arrived months before and somehow their landlord’s FBI controller never got round to checking up on his asset’s roommates.

According to news reports, support is growing in the US Congress for a top-level inquiry into September 11, similar to those conducted into Pearl Harbour and the Kennedy assassination. Only that way, the argument goes, will the US public get the truth.

Surely this is a joke. Both the Pearl Harbour inquiry and the Warren Commission -- which investigated the Kennedy assassination -- are widely regarded as cover-ups.

The Pearl Harbour inquiry shafted Admiral Kimmel, Commander of the Pacific Fleet, and General Short, Commander of the Hawaiian Department, for negligence in not preparing for a Japanese surprise attack. The fact was, however, that the White House sat on hard intelligence information on the Japanese preparations and kept the two commanders in the dark.

The Warren Commission was made up of hand-picked establishment types. At its head was the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Earl Warren. Then there were two prominent members of the Senate, two from Congress, and the former heads of the World Bank and the CIA.

Throughout the hearings, Gerald Ford, one of the two congressman, secretly reported direct to the head of the FBI, the notorious J. Edgar Hoover, even though the alleged assassin was then, (and is still) widely suspected of having been an asset of either the FBI or the CIA, or maybe both.

To this day the Kennedy assassination is mired in mystery and controversy. Maybe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone (which seems highly improbable to this possum), maybe he was but one member of a hit team, or maybe he was just the patsy. But one thing is certain: the trajectory of Oswald’s short and weird life screams out that he was an “asset”.

In succession, Oswald was a teenage Marxist, a patriotic member of the Civil Air Patrol, a US Marine with a top security job monitoring the U2 spy flights over the Soviet Union, a short term “defector” to the Soviets, a trusted associate of the ultra-right-wing White Russian community in Texas, an employee at a Dallas print shop specialising in highly classified government work, and an agent-provocateur working for the anti-Castro émigrés in New Orleans.

Certainly Jack Ruby, who in turn murdered Oswald, had been an FBI asset, making contact with the agency nine times in 1959. He was also a frequent visitor to Cuba in the years following Castro’s revolution, travelling there to visit the jailed mobster Santos Trafficante who would later be plausibly blamed for organising the Kennedy assassination.

In the 40 years since John F Kennedy’s death, the world has become a more dangerous, unstable, place. The US of A has descended further into the murky palace politics that go with imperial rule and Washington is run by a crazy mixture of grey nine-to-five security bureaucrats, neo-conservative fantasists, think-tank fanatics and egotistical psychopaths.

It would be nice to think that we will one day know the deeper story of September 11, but I wouldn’t hold your breath.