Friday, November 28, 2008

The Chancellor's New Clothes

The Pre-Budget Report looks progressive at first glance, but despite some token steps in that direction it's mostly more Socialism for the Rich and more shafting people on low incomes and 'struggling families'. It's not the 'irresponsible borrowing' the Conservatives claim it is either though

The government is proudly boasting a 5% increase in tax rates on incomes over £150,000 a year, a 2.5% cut in VAT, increased tax credits for people on low incomes and even an increase in child benefit from £18.80 to £20 per week for the first child in a family and from £12.55 to £13.20 for 'subsequent children'.Does their generosity know no bounds? Are they the most progressive government in living memory? Not really.

Nor, though, is this the dangerous irresponsibility the Conservatives have tried to paint it as based on their economic illiteracy.

45% top rate of income tax is fair enough - but what about the billionaires and the big firms - shouldn't they pay a higher rate than someone on £150,000 a year?

Increased taxes on high earners would be fair enough if they were used to cut taxes on low earners and focused especially on the very highest earners.
A 45% rate on people earning over £150,000 is fine, but what about tax increases on big companies and billionaires like News International, Rupert Murdoch, Mittal Steel, Lakshi Mittal and Sainsbury's and Lord Sainsbury, or the big oil companies who've raked it in from the increases in oil prices caused by wars and terrorism? Well it seems Gordon frankly doesn't have the 'moral courage' to tax people whose newspapers might criticise him or who donate millions to Labour party funds.

Some people might answer that these firms and billionaires would simply move to tax havens if a higher tax rate was put on them. Those tax havens could be closed down by the OECD by simply placing tourism bans and sanctions preventing the transfer of money to their banks until they provide information on bank accounts in their territory and raise their income and corporation taxes to agreed OECD minimum levels. The OECD has in fact proposed these kind of measures before - they were blocked by the Bush administration and a certain Chancellor of the Exchequer in the UK.

It's also not credible that Murdoch would give up his influence in UK politics by closing down his newspaper operations in the UK - and if he did he'd merely sell them on to another employer. Nor is it credible that oil companies would leave the North Sea - they can hardly take the oil with them if they leave after all - and as oil starts to become in shorter supply in the decades ahead they'll want some of the profits from it

VAT cuts are good - but a temporary 2.5% cut doesn't do much for anyone

A cut in VAT is certainly positive, since as a sales tax it taxes everyone at the same rate, with no connection to how much they can afford to pay (their income). However 2.5% off is not going to prevent any bank accounts being broken - and since VAT isn't charged on essentials like food or clothes(thankfully) a cut in VAT won't reduce the price of either essential for people on low and middle incomes.

What's more the government's made it clear that this is only a temporary cut to boost the economy, not a permanent one in the interest of fairer taxes or reducing taxes on low income earners.

The government says that the original treaties which founded the EC (now the EU) prevent it cutting VAT below 15%. That's a weak argument since it's brazenly ignored other treaties its ratified and laws it passed itself - like the Human Rights Act - whenever it's felt like it. So it could do the same on VAT. Also, if it's possible to negotiate concerted action internationally on the economy through-out the whole world it's surely possible to negotiate a cut in the EU's minimum VAT rate.

Why tax credits instead of cutting income tax for low earners?

Increased tax credits for people on low incomes aren't a bad thing, but the tax credit system is ridiculously complicated and time consuming to make an application for credits - and people who apply and are granted reduced taxes sometimes even find they actually shouldn't have got them - and are then charged with fraud.

It's hard to see what reason there could be for not just restoring the 10p tax rate for low earners or even having a 5% rate or income tax exemptions for people on the minimum wage. The only reason i can think of is to save Gordon Brown the embarassment of doing a U-turn, which does not seem like a valid reason.

The 'rise' in Child Benefit is a cut in real terms

Some Labour MPs are proudly boasting of the government's increase in child benefit from £18.80 to £20 for the first child in a family and from £12.55 to £13.20 for each additional child. The first amounts to an increase of just over 1%. The second amounts to just under 5%. The government's statistics show inflation was 4.5% last month. So very roughly for an average family with say 2 children they'll get roughly a 3% increase in benefits (5% plus 1% divided by two - not exact but close enough). That means that unless inflation falls very rapidly they'll actually get a rise in their child benefit of 1.5% less than the inflation rate on prices - a cut in real terms. At best they might break even(if inflation falls by 1.5%) or get an increase of 1 or 2% in real terms if there's massive deflation.

I'm wondering if the PFI consortia who the government insists on constantly handing over-priced contracts to build new hospitals and schools at prohibitive costs (including annual charges lasting decades) have seen their payments fall in real terms too? I doubt it since they get the contracts pretty much their own way every time and 'new' hospitals and schools replace old ones and can afford less beds and staff due to PFI charges.

The UK's National Accounts Office reports that there are now over 500 PFI projects in the UK with a capital value of £44 billion. They don't give any figures on how much NHS trusts and other QUANGOs are having to pay out in annual charges to the PFI consortia. If they did people would rapidly realise that Conservative and Labour governments have been putting us massively in debt for decades now - but keeping it off the accounts sheet by using the fiction that PFI projects arent debts.

Why the government going further into debt doesn't matter as long as the economy starts growing again at some point - which it always does

The Conservatives have attacked the government for supposedly irresponsibly trying to borrow their way out of debt. This is what's known as 'the fallacy of composition', confusing two very different things - in this case confusing how government finances work with how they work for one person or family.
Even for an individual it's quite possible to borrow your way out of debt, if, for instance, you invest the money in a business that starts making a profit or use the borrowed money to make a profit by buying things cheaply and selling them on at a higher price.

For governments this is even more true because as long as the economy of the country isn't totally bankrupt (and it's not, nor even close to it) they can keep getting tax revenues. Developed world governments have excellent credit ratings because they've never gone bankrupt (and are never likely to in the next 50 years at the least). If they borrow money to cut taxes or to create jobs then the extra money spent by taxpayers or going into the pockets of formerly unemployed people will boost the economy and increase tax revenues in the long run.

Economies have always gone through cycles of booms and recessions - but always recover and grow in the long term. There was one long exception - the Great Depression of the 1930s. This was caused by classically trained economists operating on abstract theories about a perfect market which doesn't exist - as the Great Depression and economists like John Maynard Keynes showed.

The free market classical economists had two main theories - first Say's Law - that if you leave the economy alone and do nothing it'll reach a new equilibrium (or balance) and that this will be one in which supply equals demand with full or close to full employment. In fact left to itself the economy can go into a vicious spiral of falling prices leading to falling wages and demand leading to falling prices and so on (a deflationary spiral).

The second theory was the theory of 'sound money' - that governments had to restore sound money by reducing the money supply and returning to the 'Gold standard' (with central banks only issuing an amount of money equal in value to the amount of gold reserves they held). The problem with this was that it reduced the money supply and the amount of money available in loans or credit when there was already a shortage of money and a credit crisis. This resulted in many businesses which were viable in the long run going bust because they couldnt get a loan to tide them over and many people being reduced to unemployment and poverty.

In other words it made things worse, not better.

Only fraudsters or people who don't understand government finance would say that governments have to balance their books - they don't because the economy grows in the long run anyway so they'll always have tax revenue and always have a decent credit rating. What's more if governments don't cut taxes and increase spending during recessions the recessions will last longer and could turn into another Great Depression - and then we'd really be in trouble.

Nor is it credible for the Conservatives or Brown and Darling to pose as fiscally responsible when all of them in government have run PFIs which are in effect massive debts and massive handouts to companies of taxpayers' money when new schools and hospitals could be built far more cheaply by the government taking out a loan to build them. The interest payments wouldnt come to nearly as much as the annual payments they make to PFI consortia and they'd be paid off a lot sooner.

Why is it ok for British farmers to grow poppies for painkillers but not Afghans? - it's certainly not because Afghan farmers would get less money for painkillers than heroin - they'd get more.

When people ask when opium poppy crops in Afghanistan will be licensed for sale as painkillers to reduce the global shortage and end one cause of the war there the usual reply from governments is that Afghan farmers wouldn’t accept the lower prices they’d get for painkillers compared to heroin.

However the UN Office on Drugs and Crime found Afghan farmers only get about 20% of the sale price of their crops as heroin (1). So if they were offered a much higher percentage of the sale price of their crops as morphine they’d actually be getting more money. If you added in international aid to establish pharmaceutical plants in Kabul to process the opium paste into painkillers for sale then many more jobs for Afghans would also be created.

The UK government has even approved British farmers growing poppy crops to reduce the price of morphine for the NHS (‘UK farmers allowed to cultivate poppies for morphine’ September 3rd) (2). So why not Afghans who rely on poppy crop money for food and for 70% of their entire economy?


(1) = UN Office on Drugs and Crime ‘Afghanistan’s Drug Industry’,
(cited by Ahmed Rashid (2008) Descent into Chaos, Chapter 15, p326

(2) = Herald 03 Sep 2008 ‘UK farmers allowed to cultivate poppies for morphine’,

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Market Values and Globalisation Fantasies – and an alternative


Why markets give no accurate measure of the value of anything

P.J O’Rourke and other advocates of an unrestrained free market claim that the market is like a set of scales which determine what the real price or value of each commodity (including labour) is worth. He claims that we may not like the result our scales give us, just as we may not like the weight when we are when we weigh ourselves on our bathroom scales, but that it’s still our real weight – the real value of that commodity.

Recent events have shown how wildly inaccurate this analogy is. The stock markets valued some banks and companies at one value one day and then half or a tenth of that value a few days or months later. There is no way that the real value of those companies and banks changed that much that quickly. The markets actually massively over-valued them initially and then, when they found out they weren’t worth quite that much, massively under-valued them in a panic the next. In many cases traders were deliberately trying to push down the value of banks’ shares so that their futures’ trading (basically bets that the value of a commodity or the shares in a company will fall or rise) would make them a profit. So in reality the market is wildly inaccurate and erratic as a device to measure the real value of anything. If it’s a set of scales its an old-fashioned double sided one with a manic depressive heroin addict on either side jumping in and out of the balance based on their current mood and the rumours they’ve just heard. If we tried to measure our own weight on it we’d be told we were amazingly trim one minute and morbidly obese the next.

What we’ve seen over and over again from the 18th century ‘South Sea Bubble’ to the Great Depression to the Asian currency crisis and the present crisis is that markets are incapable of regulating themselves and are sometimes wildly inaccurate and erratic in deciding the value of things. We should stop treating markets as wise bastions of stability who know the true value of everything, because the markets’ judgements are not only erratic but often morally degraded. According to the markets coltan for playstations, laptops and mobile phones is worth more than the lives of any number of Congolese people killed to steal it or forced to work as slave labourers at gunpoint to mine it. Can that be an acceptable judgement on the value of human life? According to the markets some Chief Executives of big companies and banks can be worth hundreds of times as much in annual salaries and bonuses of their banks employees, whose work is likewise valued at dozens or hundreds of times as much as the work done by people in China or India or Latin America. The result is that even when the bank fails the CEO gets a big pay-off, the employees may lose their mortgaged homes and the third world employees may die of malnutrition or due to lack of affordable health care. This is not, despite the hype, usually the result of the brilliance of the Chief Executive, but because most Chief Executives make sure big institutional shareholders get the big share dividends they want at the expense of falling or pitiful real wages for the banks or companies domestic or overseas employees and suppliers. In return the shareholders approve a big payoff to the firm’s executives. That isn’t an unbiased appraisal of the value of the work done by different people – it’s a cosy relationship between executives and major shareholders which may be legal but in any moral sense that takes into account fairness, justice and the value of human life is utterly corrupt.

We need to decide what we actually value rather than let a few executives and big shareholders decide that they themselves are valuable and deserve to be massively rewarded at the expense of everyone else. If we keep allowing them to pretend they are a neutral force ‘the market’ which accurately judges the value of everything then we will keep on being fed a mixture of reduced real wages for longer hours of work (‘increased productivity’) combined with wildly unrealistic judgements on the rate the real economy can grow it, followed by massive crises as the stock markets realise that real people have limits on their productivity and that they have let their fantasies collide with the reality that the economy isn’t as big as they’d gambled on it being.

The unrestrained ‘free market’ knows the price of everything but has no idea of the real value of anything – not even lives.

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Why deregulated markets slow the development of new technologies - and reduce living standards

Free markets famously result in innovation and entrepreneurship, but take the deregulation too far and in fact they do the opposite. In a deregulated market the demand on big companies' executives from big institutional shareholders is for ever increasing share dividend payments. If the executives fail to deliver these the big share-holders will vote them off the board of the company - i.e sack them. If the executives deliver the big share dividends in the short term though the big share-holders won't vote them off the board - and will even let them take big bonuses for themselves. If it goes pear-shaped in the long term the top executives usually have a 'golden hand-shake' clause in their contract which means they get a very generous pay off.

Ever increasing share dividends require ever increasing profits. It's not enough for a company to be profitable - many may close down or move plants overseas to ensure they have bigger profits than their rivals or ever increasing profits. Investing in new technologies could bring bigger profits in the long term, but will result in a reduction of the amount of money available for share dividends in the short term. So in a deregulated environment company executives are discouraged from big investments in new technologies or new training, mostly making do with token ones which are more part of the advertising budget than a major investment (e.g every oil company now makes small investments in wind power so they can run adverts about it). So investment in new technologies is reduced - even though they're exactly the thing that could raise productivity in ways that actually increase peoples' standards of living rather than make them work longer hours.

One easy way to get ever increasing profits without big investments of money is to sack people and make less people do more work - reducing their standard of living (the opposite of what the free market is supposed to do); another is to close down operations in the developed world and transfer them to third world countries, one party states and dictatorships where the labour is cheaper - or contract out those operations to firms that do. If these options are legal and accepted then any executive who doesnt take them will see their firm put out of business or taken over by one of its rivals who has taken those options. There are alternative systems though.

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Banking on Sanity; Favouring Small Businesses; Fair Taxes

Two possible ways to do this would be to allow central banks to take deposits and lend to people and companies, rather than just set interest rates or print money (as suggested by John O’Dowd ); and to expand community credit organizations. The latter have not been affected by the credit crisis as they mostly don’t make big acquisitions or large risky loans, but just involve people in a neighbourhood setting up their own local bank that only accepts deposits from and lends to that neighbourhood. The former – central banks – would similarly be immune to stock markets causing a run on their shares or lenders withdrawing their deposits in a panic en masse as they are backed by the government. This would be even more certain if they didn’t issue any shares. So both could lend money to alleviate a credit crisis even when private banks are refusing to lend. This would also be a lot cheaper than having to bail out the private banks every time there’s a crisis and would ensure some of the profits went to taxpayers. The current deal we have with the banks may ensure the government gets some of our money back from the banks eventually but won’t get us a share of their profits in the long term. Central banks have taxes to lend right away even before they accept any deposits. The central bank should not be independent but run by either the government or an all party committee. John McDonnell MP has suggested of making all banks include a significant proportion of employees and customers on their boards by law – possibly at least 50% of the board, so that banks lending policies and their division of their profits has to benefit everyone.

The same set-up could work for companies.

We also need to change government policy so it stops being biased towards big multinationals who make big donations to party funds but frequently move employment to other countries and starts favouring native small and medium sized businesses who can be relied on to keep employing people in their home country and who provide almost 60% of the private sector jobs in the UK and over half the British private sector’s turnover.

We also need to cut income tax for low earners. Recently the New Labour government in the UK has begun to repeat an argument they previously derided when Tommy Sheridan and others made – that people on low incomes are more likely to spend any money they get. This is pretty obviously true, so tax cuts for low earners are not only the morally right thing to do but good for everyone. Unfortunately Brown and Darling haven’t got round to actually cutting income tax on low earners, or even restoring Brown’s former 10p tax rate for low earners which they scrapped last year, doubling taxes on the lowest paid.

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The Globalisation Fantasy and an Alternative

Finally we need to end the fantasy of globalization, which is the fantasy that globalization benefits everyone by allowing different countries to specialize in whatever they’re best at. In theory this means that say China and India are more efficient at producing textiles while the UK is better at banking, so if each country restricts itself to what its best at doing most cheaply and there’s free trade everyone benefits from reduced prices for everything. What actually happens is very different. Companies based in the ‘developed’ world move production overseas to countries with few or no minimum levels for employees’ wages, hours, working conditions and damage to the environment. This reduces their production costs. They then export the finished product back to the UK (or move their call centre to India). In many cases the countries production is moved to are one party states or dictatorships like China, where trade unions independent of the ruling party are not allowed, trade union leaders are often sent to insane asylums or ‘re-education’ camps for torture and workers sometimes die of sheer exhaustion or in fires after being locked into the factory to prevent them leaving work too early.

The worst thing about this system is that any company which doesn’t ‘out source’ to India or China or wherever is almost certain to be put out of business by others that will – so even many responsible companies who would prefer to pay people in their own country a decent wage, or buy from suppliers in their own country, are forced to outsource abroad or go out of business.

Many governments and economists claim we have no choice in this, that we have to ‘raise our game’ and work harder to compete with China and other rising economies or go under.
The truth is that there is no way people in Britain or other developed countries can compete on costs with those used as sweatshop or slave labour in countries like India and China, except by turning into an India or China with massive levels of poverty and pollution and no independent trade unions allowed to protect workers’ rights. The only real alternative under the free market system would be for unemployment to rise and less workers work many times harder for longer hours to compete with China.

The theory is that China is like say 19th century Britain and as its economy develops it will create a middle class which will bring about democracy and decent living standards. The reality is that people had to fight for decent wages, working conditions and democracy in Britain, with independent trade unions being one of the major causes of a fairer distribution of income and better working conditions rather than the result of economic development. This process went into reverse in the late 1970s.

There is an alternative. Our governments do have leverage with China – that leverage is access to huge markets like the EU and US. They currently use this leverage in negotiations to get access for our firms exports to China, but we could use it instead to demand increased minimum wages and working conditions in China, real democratization allowing other parties and independent candidates to stand in elections, an end to torture and jail without trial and toleration of independent trade unions. This would increase wages and improve working conditions for the majority of Chinese people, most of whom have had little or no share of the benefits of economic growth and at the same time stop wages falling and jobs being lost in the ‘developed’ world as we’d be able to compete with China on the costs of products, so competition would become more to do with the quality of products and service rather than a vicious cycle of falling wages and growing unemployment worldwide.

This highlights another myth of the free market – that for it to benefit everyone everyone must act in their own selfish interests, with suffering, even for the majority, being a necessary stage towards progress. In fact if the vast majority of people in the developed world want to keep their own jobs and maintain or increase their own wages and standard of living they need to push for increases in the wages and working conditions of the poorest people in some of the poorest countries in the world. It’s in their vital self interest to do so.

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Unregulated markets cause mass unemployment, which causes extremism and wars

If we allow this vicious circle to continue we risk another Great Depression and the growth of extremist groups and parties. In the 1930s mass unemployment led to the rise of fascism, Nazism and Stalinist communism. This was not only in Germany and Japan but worldwide. Britain had its own Blackshirts under Sir Oswald Mosley, who fought running battles in the streets with the
Communists, with the police often favouring the fascists, or even being fascists themselves. The rise of the extremist movements and dictators at their head soon led to war.

Today we’re seeing the growth of extreme nationalist parties again – the neo-conservatives and Christian fundamentalists in the US for instance. In Britain from the 90s on as clothing retailers started buying their products from India and China the last textile mills in the North of England closed down. Within a few years there were neo-fascist British National Party councilors elected there and running battles in the street between whites and people of Asian descent. The area has also provided a high proportion of British Al-Qaeda inspired suicide bombers. The Iraq war and the British government’s blind adherence to the Israeli government line in the Israel-Palestine conflict are also major factors here, but there’s no doubt that rapid rises in unemployment and poverty trend to lead to an increase in support for extreme sectarian and violent groups and parties. This may be because having a job has become a major source of peoples’ self-respect and identities. When made unemployed and given no prospect of getting another decent job they may feel isolated from membership of any social group and reduced in status. So many may be more likely to be persuaded by ideologies like the BNP’s racist one – which tells them they are valued members of a group - white and British people, whether they’re employed or not; or like Al Qaeda’s, which tells them they matter as Muslims and have a purpose in life – to fight against the ‘enemies of Islam’. I’m tempted to add all nationalists of all nations, who, at the extremes, tend to see the lives of people of their own nationality as worth a great deal while those of other nationalities don’t matter too much. This holds true to some extent for all nationalities including ‘multinational’ ones like British nationalism of the type that New Labour and One Nation Conservatives hold to.

One party states like China and Russia are doing the same thing the neo-conservatives in the US have done and which European countries did before World War One and Two – using nationalism and tension and wars with other countries to unite their people behind the government in order to silence anyone demanding a fairer distribution of wealth or jobs or equitable use of taxes and label them ‘unpatriotic’.

(Of course not all violent extremists are motivated by poverty or unemployment – Osama Bin Laden and many wealthy and middle class Saudis and Egyptians in Al Qaeda are motivated by opposition to corrupt, torturing dictatorships in their own countries which are militarily, politically and financially supported by developed world governments. Some Iraqis and Palestinians targeting civilians are seeking revenge for the killing of civilians in their own, occupied countries. That of course does not make their actions right just as mass unemployment and poverty in Germany could never be a justification for the Holocaust or Hitler’s wars )

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Protectionism Isn’t a dirty word – We need a balance between Free Trade and Protectionism

The only other alternative is protectionism, which, while it definitely has it’s drawbacks in reduced economic growth, is not the disaster it’s been presented as. The establishment view is that the Great Depression was caused by protectionism, which is an unlikely claim since the protectionist policies actually came after the Depression began, as a reaction to it – and not before it, so can hardly have caused it. The British Empire and American governments both maintained protectionist policies for centuries until they were confident that their own industries could compete and defeat others internationally. Then they became advocates of free trade – and even then in reality the EU and US have maintained protection for many of their industries while insisting other countries open their markets to developed world companies’ exports in return for IMF and World Bank loans. The free trade policy is more ‘do as we say’ than ‘do as we do’. African, Middle Eastern, Asian and former Communist countries could probably benefit from free trade areas with some of their neighbours who have industries of similar strength, their own firms and farmers have no chance of competing with developed world based multinationals. They would probably benefit from having their own trade barriers and tarrifs from imports from outside their region, much as the EU does. This would allow their industries and farmers to develop to a level where they could compete internationally – and give these countries more collective negotiating power if e.g the EU had to negotiate for access to the whole trade zone and not just one country at a time. Opening up African waters to EU trawlers has destroyed fish stocks in Somalia and elsewhere and turned fishermen into pirates. That’s one of the many ‘benefits’ of developed world governments’ hypocritical demands for ‘free trade’.

It’s also worth remembering that the reason the Great Depression affected every country in the world was that there was a completely free trade system in place which gave no country protection from the crisis which began with the 1929 crash in the US. If democratic governments and Germany’s creditors had allowed some protectionism and public works projects to create jobs – and if the French hadn’t maintained a military occupation of the Rhur and the Rhineland and punitive payments which left many Germans in poverty so bad they couldn’t get enough food, then Hitler might never have come to power. (He and Mussolini were both seen as ‘bulwarks against Communism’, much as dictatorships and military governments today are frequently viewed as ‘bulwarks against Islamism’). The question isn’t whether we should have protectionism or free trade but what the best balance between the two is.

Total Free Trade with the Developing World would make things worse, not better;
We need to level up, not level down

Nor would real free trade with Africa or Asia result in benefits for everyone ; it would more likely result in more of what we’ve already seen – a choice for the majority of people of leveling down to third-world wages and lives or else mass unemployment. The solution is the one already mentioned – use the negotiating power on access to our markets for developing world imports to demand democracy, human rights and decent wages for people in the developing world in order to level up developing world living conditions to developed world ones instead of leveling the majority down to third world wages and living standards.

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Thursday, November 06, 2008

A Brief 'In Your Face'

I can't claim any credit for Obama's election; I've at best had none and at worst i've been a minor handicap for his campaign, but i feel that at this point it would be appropriate and fitting to issue an 'in your face' to the following people and organisations.

  • Karl Rove

  • Dick Cheney

  • Rupert Murdoch

  • Sean Hannity

  • Rush Limbaugh

  • Bill O' Reilly

  • Sarah Palin

  • People who shouted 'kill him' at McCain rallies or said Obama was a 'terrorist'

  • Donald Rumsfeld

  • The KKK and James Earl Ray

  • The British National Party

  • Melanie Phillips (a columnist for the UK's Daily Mail comic, but even the Mail wouldn't publish this rant by Phillips about Obama being a corrupt Communist involved with the mafia )

  • Tony Blair (who doesnt have an American President with right wing enough views for him to fawn over them any more)

  • Freidmanite economists

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Want to know the exit poll results? Sorry you can't - not till we've fiddled them

In 2004 the Republican party in the US accused the Ukrainian government of election rigging when final election results there differed greatly from the exit polls. The same happened in the US, where the opposite explanation was given - the polls had 'got it wrong'. Much of the media later modified their exit poll results by 'weighting them by the final results' in order to make it appear there was no discrepancy between the exit poll results and the number of votes for each candidate that were actually counted.Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie then asked the US media not to report exit polls in American elections in future There are many reasons why many people who plan to vote Obama won't get to - and even many of the Obama votes that get cast will never be counted. (1), (2), (3).

It's 2008 and the media have agreed not to report the actual exit poll results. Exit polls will be carried out on behalf of a media consortium including AP and they've said no-one will be allowed to hear early exit poll results - allowing for plenty of time to 'weight them by final results'.One CNN analyst explained that it would be "dangerous" to allow ordinary people to know exit poll results as they supposedly wouldn't understand them.(4)

Why did the media agree so readily to deny the public information that could reveal one of the many ways elections in the US are rigged? Well the Chief Executives of the supposedly ‘liberal’ media companies are chiefly pre-occupied with securing further de-regulation of media ownership to expand their own business empires – and tax cuts on their own incomes. Sumner Redstone, head of Viacom, of which CBS News is a subsidiary, told Time Magazine in October 2004 that he had nothing against John Kerry, but “I do believe that a Republican Administration is better for media companies than a Democratic one” (5). He had previously described ‘de-regulation’ as one benefit (6).

Rupert Murdoch, mogul of Fox News and owner of the New York Post and the Wall Street Journal similarly said this September (in an interview on Fox)that "I like Sen. Obama very much....But his policy of anti-globalization, protectionism, is going to... find companies leaving this country...his policy is really very, very naive, old-fashioned, 1960s." Because we all remember how bad the economy was in the 1960s and how great it's been since then. Yes, i am being sarcastic - but one group have benefited - one very small group, the executives of big firms like Rupert Murdoch and Sumner Redstone.

The media have a bias alright, but it's anything but 'liberal' or 'democratic', with a small or a capital 'd'. When it comes to a choice between their interests and the interests of the majority or peoples' democratic rights they know what side their on and how they'll manage the news.

(1) = Professor Steven F. Freeman (2004) 'The Unexplained Exit Poll Discrepancy'

(2) = Steven Freeman & Joe Bliefuss 'Was the 2004 Presidential Election Stolen?: Exit Polls, Election Fraud, and the Official Count', Seven Stories Press, amazon listing


(4) = Chicago Tribune 04 November 2008 , 'Exit polls 2008' ,,0,6272057.story

(5) = Time Magazine 10 Oct 2004 , ‘10 Questions for Sumner Redstone’ ,

(6) = Asian Wall Street Journal 24 September 04 cited in Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) Action alert 28 September 2004 ,

Saturday, November 01, 2008

September 11th - Did the Bush administration even try to keep Americans safe?

The amazing thing is not that there haven’t been more September Eleventh’s , but that the 9/11 attacks succeeded partly because the Bush administration took no action to try to prevent them, despite many specific and detailed warnings from the FBI and it’s agents, the CIA, flight school instructors and foreign intelligence agencies. Whether through sheer incompetence or due to cynicism and dubious motives the Bush administration did nothing to try to prevent the worst terrorist attack in American history – and then tell people they’ve ‘kept Americans safe’ because they weren’t grossly negligent in allowing thousands of deaths a second time.

Either way the neo-conservative wing of the Republican party represented by people like Cheney and former CIA director James Woolsey (now an adviser to John McCain) failed to even attempt to prevent 9/11 and don’t deserve to be re-elected. The same goes for the hard-right Christian fundamentalist wing represented by Sarah Palin, John Ashcroft and George W. Bush.

Why were FBI agents also ordered by the Clinton and Bush administrations not to continue investigations into extreme Muslim groups operating in the US which were receiving money from the Saudi monarchy?

There are similar questions to be asked about why warnings from two informants working for the FBI inside a jihadist cell in the US in 1993 were ignored by the FBI under the Clinton administration, allowing the 1993 truck-bombing of the World Trade Center to succeed. .

Laura Bush at this year’s Republican National Convention was just one in a long line of politicians and journalists to repeat the claim that “President Bush has kept the American people safe” since 9-11 (1). Amazingly polls show the endless repetition of this line has convinced 65% of Americans that that’s the real issue. The real issue though isn’t why there hasn’t been another September 11th. The real issue is why there was a first September 11th – and why first the Clinton administration and then the Bush administration, despite many specific and detailed warnings from FBI agents, the CIA, flight school instructors and foreign intelligence agencies (detailed below with full sources) took no action whatsoever to improve airport security or security on domestic flights, no action to arrest September 11th plotters who flight school trainers told them were asking to learn how to fly but not how to land. The FBI under Clinton also failed to prevent the 1993 truck-bombing of the World Trade Center despite being given full information on the plot and offers to help them prevent it from two informants inside an Islamic extremist group. There are many other questions. Why was a US military intelligence unit which had identified an Al Qaeda cell in the US directed by its superiors in the Pentagon not to pass the information on to the FBI or the police? Why did Attorney General John Ashcroft not even list counter-terrorism in his memo list of departmental priorities to his employees? Why did the Bush administration ignore warnings from out-going counter-terrorism officials? Why did the Clinton administration and senior FBI officers similarly ignore detailed intelligence from a spy working for the FBI inside the jihadist cell which subsequently carried out the 1993 truck-bombing of the world trade center.

Four days after September 11th President Bush claimed “we're facing a new kind of enemy…No one could have conceivably imagined suicide bombers burrowing into our society and then emerging all in the same day to fly their aircraft - fly U.S. aircraft into buildings full of innocent people”(White House Press Release 15th Sep 2001 ‘Remarks by the President Upon Arrival - The South Lawn’,
American journalist James Bovard in his book ‘Terrorism and Tyranny’ quotes White House spokesman Ari Fleischer claiming that the 9-11 attacks were “ a new type of attack that had not been foreseen” (Bovard Chapter 3, p59).As Bovard and many others have shown all these claims are false. In 1994 the Algerian Armed Islamic Group hijacked a French civilian airliner and threatened to crash it into the Eiffel tower. In 1995 police in the Phillipines shared information with the FBI and CIA about a plot by another group to hijack planes and crash one into the CIA’s headquarters in the US.

It might be objected that these were all hijackings of planes in other countries, planning to fly them to the US. The 9-11 hijackers hi-jacked planes in the US. There were repeated, detailed and specific warnings of Al Qa’ida’s training operations in the US and plans for such an attack in the US too though, from 1996 on, and in greater detail from 1998 on, coming from FBI agents, the CIA, American flight school instructors and the intelligence agencies of governments allied to the US. (Washington Post 23 Sep 2001 ‘FBI Knew Terrorists Were Using Flight Schools’ ; Boston Globe 15 Sep 2001 OFFICIALS AWARE IN 1998 OF TRAINING

I’ll only cover a couple of them here – to read a time-line including many of the major warnings and precedents from 1992 on click here.

In 1999 a Library of Congress report to the US National Intelligence Council warned that “suicide bombers belonging to Al Qaeda…could crash-land an aircraft packed with high explosives into the Pentagon, the headquarters of the [CIA] or the White House(Source : US Joint Intelligence Committee (Joint Inquiry into the events of September 11, 2002, being conducted by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence) ‘The FBI's Handling of the Phoenix Electronic Communication and Investigation of Zacarias Moussaoui Prior to September 11, 2001’ Statement by Eleanor Hill, Staff Director, Joint Inquiry Staff, September 24, 2002
,cited by Bovard* (2003), Ch3, p45-6 ,385

In August 2001 a flight school instructor contacted the FBI telling them “Do you realize how serious this is? This man wants training on a 747. A 747 fully loaded with fuel could be used as a weapon!”. FBI agents including Coleen Rowley and Kenneth Williams investigated and soon arrested the man in question – Zacarias Moussaoui. They then informed FBI Headquarters and told them that they had reason to believe Moussaoui was part of a larger plot to hijack planes and crash them into buildings, possibly the World Trade Center. They requested that HQ apply to the Department of Justice for a standard search warrant so they could search the suspect’s flat and computer. HQ refused. When it finally did apply for a different kind of warrant it didn’t include vital information provided by the agents, nor information from French intelligence confirming Moussaoui had repeatedly met members of known terrorist groups. Even after 9-11 HQ staff claimed the plot discovered by the Minessota agents was nothing to do with the September 11th attacks. The HQ staff were promoted. Rowley and Williams weren’t. (Minneapolis Star Tribune ‘Eagan Flight Trainer Wouldn't Let Unease About Moussaoui Rest’,; USA Today 28 May 2002 ‘Letter shifts heat to FBI’, ; Time Magazine 21 May 2002 ‘The Bombshell Memo : Coleen Rowley's Memo to FBI Director Robert Mueller - An edited version of the agent's 13-page letter’, )

There were at least two obvious measures the Clinton and Bush administrations could have taken to make a successful hijacking less likely. One would have been to bring in new laws to improve security searches and scans of all passengers and their baggage at airports. The Clinton administration did bring in stricter regulations, but, after lobbying by the airlines, they did not apply to domestic flights within the US, only international flights. The Bush administration did not bring in any new security measures at airports even after the number of warnings of planned hijackings rocketed from June 2001 on. FBI and CIA officers and flight school instructors had been warning since 1998 that the many Arabs training at flight schools in the US were likely to include Bin Laden’s people. So the lack of any increased security on domestic flights was amazing.

The other would have been to devote more FBI and CIA agents and resources to counter-terrorism – and listen to warnings from investigating agents. The Clinton administration did increase funding for counter-terrorism and assigned more agents to it. The Bush administration actually re-assigned many FBI agents from counter-terrorism to drugs, prostitution and vice. An internal FBI memo sent by Attorney General John Ashcroft on his department’s priorities didn’t include any mention of counter-terrorism.

The third thing they could have done would have been to carry out the same security checks on Saudis entering the US as any other nationality. was on Saudis travelling to and staying in the US. Before 9-11 there were not the same security checks on Saudis travelling to the US as there were on other travellers from the Middle East. This seems to have been because the Saudi monarchy are allies of the US government. Possibly the assumption was that the Saudi government would prevent most possible terrorists getting on planes heading for the US.

According to the Boston Globe “Flight instructors in Florida said it is common for students with Saudi affiliations to enter the United States with only cursory background checks. Foreign students, who make up 80-90 percent of students at Florida's 80 or so aeronautical schools, are subjected to far more scrutiny from US State Department officials if they come from Middle Eastern nations that are less friendly with Washington than is Saudi Arabia, instructors said.”
(Boston Globe 15 Sep 2001 ‘Hijackers may have taken Saudi identities’,

Under both the Clinton and Bush administrations the FBI were also directed to end investigations into organisations with Saudi links which were suspected of links to terrorist groups – such as the World Assembly of Muslim Youth.

Could this have had anything to do with the massive trade in arms and oil between Saudi and the US? Or the investments made before 9-11 by the Bin Laden family in the Carlyle Group, a firm which has employed former members of American Presidential administrations including former President George H W Bush?

Americans need to know that the Clinton and Bush administrations largely failed to institute basic regulations to keep them safe and ignored repeated and specific warnings that Bin Laden’s people were training in American flight schools and planning to hijack airliners and crash them into buildings. Whether the reason was incompetence or rivalry for funding and prestige between the FBI , the CIA and military intelligence, or something worse – or else a combination of the three - can’t be known for certain. What can be said is that senior FBI officers appeared to block investigations by agents before and after September 11th – and were subsequently promoted by the Bush administration. None of the investigating officers whose investigations were blocked have been promoted, despite their actions having been proven right. We also know that a report from the Project for a New American Century in 2000 – named ‘Rebuilding America’s Defenses’ said that getting the increased military spending the report called for faster would require “some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor” PNAC members included future Vice President Dick Cheney and future Bush administration members Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle. The 2002 US National Security Strategy stated that “The events of September 11, 2001...opened vast, new opportunities.” (see page 28 of the NSS)

The best way to protect Americans from terrorism may not be to give far more people a motive to hate or wish revenge on them through wars, air strikes, occupations and torture. It may be to ensure that there’s a competent, trustworthy government in the US and intelligence and law enforcement agencies which are given motives to co-operate with one another rather than compete for recognition and funding.


(1) = CNN ELECTION CENTER ‘The Republican National Convention’
Aired September 2, 2008 - 21:00 ET,

Bovard, James (2003) ‘Terrorism and Tyranny : Trampling Freedom, Justice and Peace to Rid the World of Evil’, Palgrave MacMillan, N.Y & Houndmills, U.K, 2003, paperback edition, Chapter 3

Project for a New American Century September 2000 , ‘Rebuilding America’s Defenses’, page 51 reads "Further, the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor. Domestic politics and industrial policy will shape the pace and content of transformation as much as the requirements of current missions.” , and

The National Security Strategy of the United States 2002, , page 28

Washington Post 14 Apr 2004 , 'Ashcroft drawn into row over September 11', (Ashcroft rejected FBI agents request for more funds and agents to be assigned to counter-terrorism and the 9-11 commission heard that 'One day after telling the Senate that combating terrorist attacks was his highest priority, Ashcroft issued a memo on May 10, 2001, outlining the Justice Department's strategic goals that contained no mention of counterterrorism.')

New York Times 22 Dec 2001, 'Flight School Warned F.B.I. Of Suspicions', , (An instructor at a Minnesota flight school warned the F.B.I. in August of his suspicion that a student who was later identified as a part of Osama bin Laden's terror network might be planning to use a commercial plane loaded with fuel as a weapon, a member of Congress and other officials said today.)

Guardian 21 May 2002 ‘Ashcroft drawn into row over September 11’,

(He [Ashcroft] has accused his critics of undermining the fight against terrorism. But it is becoming clear that before September 11 he had little interest in counter-terrorism, and diverted resources from measures to prevent terrorism towards those aimed at more traditional targets, such as drugs and child pornography ….

On September 10 last year, the last day of what is now seen as a bygone age of innocence, Mr Ashcroft sent a request for budget increases to the White House. It covered 68 programmes, none of them related to counter-terrorism.

He also sent a memorandum to his heads of departments, stating his seven priorities. Counter-terrorism was not on the list. He turned down an FBI request for hundreds more agents to be assigned to tracking terrorist threats. )

Guardian 15 June 2002 ‘Cracks show in Bush's White House’,

(Mr Ashcroft, who carries the banner for the Christian right, spent his first months in office seeking to divert justice department resources from counter-terrorism to crusades against drugs and pornography. Even after September 11, scores of FBI agents have been tied up by a prolonged surveillance of a New Orleans brothel, and a crackdown was ordered against medical marijuana.)

Guardian 22 May 2002 ‘The return of politics’,

CNN 15 May 2002 ‘Senator: U.S. didn't connect 'dots' before 9/11’,
(FBI Phoenix memo drafted July 2002 asked if unusual number of Arab students taking flight lessons in US could be part of known Bin Laden plane hijacking plan)

Washington Post 16 May 2002 ‘Bush Was Told of Hijacking Dangers’,
(Bush warned by FBI in Aug 2001 memo that Bin Laden planning to hijack planes in US)

Observer 6 Jun 2004 ‘UK spymasters shrugged off al-Qaeda recruit's warning’,,6903,1232389,00.html
(Al Qaeda recruit warned FBI in New York about UBL’s hijacking plan in April 2001)

Washington Post 03 Jun 2004 ‘CIA Failed To Share Intelligence On Hijacker - Data Could Have Been Used to Deny Visa’,¬Found=true (CIA found one 9-11 hijacker met with known terrorists by late 2000/early 2001 – did not inform FBI or immigration service)

Reuters 20 Sep 2002 ‘CIA knew about 3 hijackers in 2000 - 9/11 inquiry’,

Guardian 03 Jun 2002 ‘Hijackers 'trailed by CIA before attacks'’,
(18 months before 9-11, but didn’t inform FBI or Immigration Service)

Independent 19 May 2002 ‘Bush told in August of specific threat to US’, (excerpt below)

In 1996, Abdul Hakim Murad, a Pakistani terrorist convicted of trying to destroy 12 American jumbo jets as they flew over the Pacific, intended to fly a plane into the CIA headquarters at Langley, Virginia. He had learnt to fly at several US flying schools, but the FBI discounted the threat of such suicide attacks.

Minneapolis Star Tribune ‘Eagan Flight Trainer Wouldn't Let Unease About Moussaoui Rest’,

Guardian 17 May 2002 ‘US asks: just what did Bush know?’,

As far back as 1994, the French authorities foiled a plot by Algerian terrorists to fly an airliner into the Eiffel tower. The next year, the Philippine police warned the US that Ramzi Youssef, responsible for the first bombing of the World Trade Centre in 1993, had contemplated flying a commercial plane into the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia.

The Independent 25 February 2004 ‘Germans told CIA of 9-11 hijacker’,
(German gvt gave CIA name and telephone number of one of the Sep11th hijackers in 1999 - CIA did nothing)

USA Today 28 May 2002 ‘Letter shifts heat to FBI’,

She [FBI agent Coleen Rowley] said supervisors in Washington, and one unidentified supervisory agent in particular, not only failed to respond to potentially important information, but also worked against Minnesota agents who sought search warrants against Zaccarias Moussaoui, a flight student who had been arrested on immigration charges in August. The French-Moroccan is now charged with being part of the al-Qaeda conspiracy that carried out the attacks.

A Minnesota agent who interviewed Moussaoui last August wrote in his notes that Moussaoui, 33, might be interested in flying a jet into the World Trade Center. Despite Minnesota agents' suspicions about Moussaoui — which later were confirmed by French intelligence reports linking him to al-Qaeda — Rowley said FBI headquarters refused to support a search of Moussaoui's laptop computer.
Even after the Sept. 11 attacks had begun, Rowley wrote, "the (supervisory special agent) in question was still attempting to block the search of Moussaoui's computer, characterizing the World Trade Center attacks as a mere coincidence with Minneapolis' prior suspicions."

Time Magazine 21 May 2002 ‘The Bombshell Memo : Coleen Rowley's Memo to FBI Director Robert Mueller - An edited version of the agent's 13-page letter’,

Boston Globe 15 Sep 2001 OFFICIALS AWARE IN 1998 OF TRAINING

Guardian 14 Jun 2002 ‘UK spies fooled by scale of raid on US’
(MI6 warned CIA Bin Laden attacks causing thousands of casualties imminent months before 9-11)

Independent 07 Sep 2002 ‘Revealed: The Taliban minister, the US envoy and the warning of September 11 that was ignored’, (Taliban foreign minister warned US govt Al Qaeda planning major attack in US weeks before 9-11)

9-11 September 11th Warnings Ignored Timeline

Summer 1992 – Emad Salem, an FBI informant who has infiltrated an extreme Islamic fundamentalist group in the US, informs the FBI that Ramzi Yousef and others are planning a truck-bombing of the World Trade Center. The FBI don’t believe him. They reject his offer to replace real explosives with duds and fire him, before re-hiring him after the February 1993 attack which kills six people and injures around a thousand. A second informant inside the group who gave similar warnings to the FBI was also ignored (source = Bovard* 1993 p32-38)

1994 - An Algerian terrorist group threatens to fly a hijacked airliner into the Eiffel tower (Guardian 17 May 2002 ‘US asks: just what did Bush know?’,

1996 - ‘In 1996, Abdul Hakim Murad, a Pakistani terrorist convicted of trying to destroy 12 American jumbo jets as they flew over the Pacific, intended to fly a plane into the CIA headquarters at Langley, Virginia. He had learnt to fly at several US flying schools, but the FBI discounted the threat of such suicide attacks.’(Source : Independent 19 May 2002 ‘Bush told in August of specific threat to US’,

1998 – Federal authorities ‘aware that two Osama bin Laden associates had trained in the United States as airplane pilots, possibly while operating as members of the suspected terrorist's organization….US officials were also aware that bin Laden had recruited American citizens to join his Al Qaeda terrorist group and that many of them received military and intelligence training in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Sudan. Members of the organization lived in California, Texas, and Oregon, among other states.’
(Boston Globe 15 Sep 2001 ‘Officials Aware In 1998 of Training’,

1999 - 1999 Library of Congress report to the US National Intelligence Council warns that “suicide bombers belonging to Al Qaeda…could crash-land an aircraft packed with high explosives into the Pentagon, the headquarters of the [CIA] or the White House (Source : US Joint Intelligence Committee (Joint Inquiry into the events of September 11, 2002, being conducted by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence) ‘The FBI's Handling of the Phoenix Electronic Communication and Investigation of Zacarias Moussaoui Prior to September 11, 2001’ Statement by Eleanor Hill, Staff Director, Joint Inquiry Staff, September 24, 2002,
,cited by Bovard* (2003), Ch3, p45-6 ,385)

March 1999 – German intelligence gives the CIA the name and phone number of one of the future September 11th hijackers. The CIA does not attempt to put him under surveillance(NYT 24 Feb 2004 ‘C.I.A. Was Given Data on Hijacker Long Before 9/11’,

January 2000 – CIA agents monitor two Al Qaeda members as they go to a meeting of the terrorist group and then fly to the US where they train at flight schools on how to fly large jet planes. The CIA does not inform the FBI or immigration services (Guardian 03 Jun 2002 ‘Hijackers 'trailed by CIA before attacks'’, )

April 2000 Niaz Khan, a Pakistani with British citizenship, who claimed to have trained in Al Qaeda camps in Pakistan comes to the FBI offices in New York and warns them Bin Laden plans to hijack a Boeing 747 in the US. The FBI officers are told by superiors to ‘forget it and return him to London’, which they do.
(Sources : Observer 6 Jun 2004 ‘UK spymasters shrugged off al-Qaeda recruit's warning ‘,,6903,1232389,00.html ; Statement by Eleanor Hill to US JIC )

2000 to February 2001 - Members of US military intelligence operation Able Danger discover an Al Qaeda cell including 9-11 hijacker Mohammed Atta. Officers including Lt. Col. Anthony Schaffer plan to inform the FBI, but military lawyers order them to cancel planned meetings with the FBI on the unlikely grounds that this would have ‘violated the privacy of civilians who were legally in the United States’.
(New York Times 17 Aug 2005 ‘Officer Says Military Blocked Sharing of Files on Terrorists’,

June 2001 - The Egyptian government warns the American and Italian governments of an intercepted Al Qaeda communication saying Bin Laden plans to crash a plane packed with explosives into the G8 summit meeting in Genoa. (Source : Guardian 27 Sep 2001, ‘G8 summit may have been Bin Laden target’, )

July 2001 Anti-aircraft missile batteries are set up at Genoa airport for the G8 summit leaders’ arrival based on the Egyptian warning
(Source: Independent newspaper, Independent 20 July2001 ‘Genoa summit: Anti-aircraft guns and 150,000 protesters await world's leaders’,

July 2001 FBI agent Kenneth Williams sends the Phoenix Memorandum to FBI headquarters, warnings that many people, possibly linked to Bin Laden’s hijacking plot, are learning to fly at the same flight school in Phoenix, Arizona. The memo is ignored by his superiors.(CNN 15 May 2002 ‘Senator: U.S. didn't connect 'dots' before 9/11’,

August 2001 – A flight school instructor in Nevada phones FBI agents to warn that one of his students – Zacharias Moussaoui - wants to learn how to take off in a plane, but not to land it – and that a plane full of jet fuel could be crashed into buildings as ‘a flying bomb’ (Minneapolis Star Tribune ‘Eagan Flight Trainer Wouldn't Let Unease About Moussaoui Rest’,

August 2001 – Coleen Rowley and other FBI agents arrest Moussaoui, notify FBI headquarters that they believe he is part of a larger hijacking plot by Bin Laden and that the plan is to crash planes into buildings. Senior FBI HQ staff refuse their agents’ plea to request warrants from the Department of Justice to allow them to search Moussaoui’s flat and computer, even after French intelligence confirms Moussaoui’s links to violent extremist groups. When they finally agree to request a different type of warrant from the DoJ the FBI HQ staff don’t include information that their agents had requested be included, or any of the information provided by French intelligence. Even after 9-11 FBI HQ claims the plot discovered by Rowley and others was a ‘co-incidence’ and nothing to do with the September 11th attacks. The HQ staff are later promoted. (Sources : US Joint Intelligence Committee (Joint Inquiry into the events of September 11, 2002, being conducted by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence) ‘The FBI's Handling of the Phoenix Electronic Communication and Investigation of Zacarias Moussaoui Prior to September 11, 2001’ Statement by Eleanor Hill, Staff Director, Joint Inquiry Staff, September 24, 2002,
Cited by Bovard* (2003), Ch3 ;
Minneapolis Star Tribune ‘Eagan Flight Trainer Wouldn't Let Unease About Moussaoui Rest’,; USA Today 28 May 2002 ‘Letter shifts heat to FBI’, ; Time Magazine 21 May 2002 ‘The Bombshell Memo : Coleen Rowley's Memo to FBI Director Robert Mueller - An edited version of the agent's 13-page letter’, )

6 August 2001 - A US intelligence memo, delivered to President Bush at his ranch in August 2001, stated 'Clandestine, foreign government and media reports indicate Bin Ladin since 1997 has wanted to conduct terrorist attacks in the US. Bin Ladin implied in US television interviews in 1997 and 1998 that his followers would follow the example of World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef and "bring the fighting to America".....Al Qa'ida members - including some who are U.S citizens - have resided in or traveled to the US for years...A clandestine source said in 1998 that a Bin Ladin cell in New York was recruiting Muslim-American youth for attacks...We have not been able to corroborate...that in 1998..,Bin Laden wanted to hijack a US aircraft. Nevertheless FBI information since that time indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York.' The Bush administration made no attempt to improve airport security even after this memo and other warnings from the FBI and CIA.
(Source = National Security Archive of the United States, 'President's Daily Brief, "Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in US" 6 August 2001 (2 pp.), declassified 10 April 2004' , and )

* = Bovard, James (2003) ‘Terrorism and Tyranny : Trampling Freedom, Justice and Peace to Rid the World of Evil’, Palgrave MacMillan, N.Y & Houndmills, U.K, 2003, paperback edition, Chapter 3