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FTR #322 Miscellaneous Articles and Updates

Lis­ten: Side 1 | Side 2

As the title indi­cates, this pro­gram brings up-to-date a num­ber of sto­ries cov­ered in past FTR broad­casts, as well as cov­er­ing new ones.

1. Con­tin­u­ing cov­er­age of a bomb­ing in Venice, Italy, the pro­gram high­lights the pos­si­bil­i­ty that the Strat­e­gy of Ten­sion may be in the process of resus­ci­ta­tion. “Italy was threat­ened with a return to the dark days of ter­ror­ism as a pow­er­ful bomb ripped through the Venice cour­t­house in yesterday’s ear­ly-morn­ing hours, destroy­ing sev­er­al stores and shat­ter­ing win­dows across the city short­ly before a vis­it by Prime Min­is­ter Sil­vio Berlus­coni. Law enforce­ment offi­cials would say only that a sophis­ti­cat­ed bomb was used. But both gov­ern­ment and oppo­si­tion politi­cians linked the blast, which slight­ly injured two guards, with the vio­lence between antiglob­al­iza­tion demon­stra­tors and police at last month’s Genoa sum­mit of the Group of Eight lead­ing nations.” (“Bomb Explodes in Venice, Cast­ing a Pall” by Yaroslav Trofi­mov; The Wall Street Jour­nal; 8/10/2001; p. A7.)

2. The may­or of Venice gave voice to the anx­i­ety felt by many Ital­ians over the attack. “ ‘Italy has already expe­ri­enced this strat­e­gy of ten­sion in the past, when it was used by extrem­ists on both sides,’ Venice May­or Pao­lo Cos­ta said in an inter­view.” (Idem.)

3. Fur­ther height­en­ing spec­u­la­tion about a revival of the Strat­e­gy of Ten­sion, a bomb explod­ed at the head­quar­ters of the rightwing North­ern League, part of the coali­tion gov­ern­ment of Sil­vio Berlus­coni. “A bomb explod­ed in an office of the rightwing North­ern League in a small town near Pad­ua ear­ly yes­ter­day, less than a month after a cour­t­house was bombed in Venice. The attacks have led some gov­ern­ment mem­bers to claim that the coun­try is fac­ing a cam­paign to desta­bi­lize the new admin­is­tra­tion of Sil­vio Berlus­coni, prime min­is­ter.” (“Par­ties Sus­pect One Anoth­er Over Ital­ian Bomb­ing” by Jo John­son; Finan­cial Times; 8/24/2001; p. 2.)

4. The North­ern League, pre­dictably, charged the left with being behind the attack. “The League had pre­dict­ed these bombs,’ said Rober­to Castel­li, jus­tice min­is­ter and North­ern League politi­cian. ‘They are ter­ror­ist acts against change.’ The night before the bomb Umber­to Bossi, North­ern League leader, was quot­ed as say­ing the left want­ed to ‘prof­it from ter­ror­ism in order to reverse elec­toral results’. Mr. Berlus­coni has spo­ken of a ‘wor­ry­ing esca­la­tion of vio­lence’ aimed at the Ital­ian gov­ern­ment.” (Idem.)

5. Oth­er observers had a dif­fer­ent analy­sis. “But oth­ers have sug­gest­ed Ital­ian intel­li­gence ser­vices may be reviv­ing a ‘strat­e­gy of tension’—the term giv­en to sus­pect­ed col­lu­sion between parts of the Ital­ian state, fas­cist ter­ror­ists and prova­ca­teurs in the 1970’s to dis­cred­it the left. Lawyers for the Genoa Social Forum, an umbrel­la group for anti-glob­al­iza­tion groups, say they have evi­dence of links between hooli­gans and police.” (Idem.)

6. The make-up and his­to­ry of the Berlus­coni gov­ern­ment is sum­ma­rized in the con­clu­sion of the arti­cle. “The inclu­sion in the gov­ern­ment of the North­ern League, which was once com­mit­ted to the break-up of the Ital­ian state, and of the Nation­al Alliance, which has its ori­gins with Italy’s fas­cist past, has also been cit­ed as a pos­si­ble cause of recent bombs. Respon­si­bil­i­ty for the bomb in Venice and a fake one found last week at Rome’s busy Ter­mi­ni rail­way sta­tion has been claimed by var­i­ous groups, includ­ing at least one that said it was a spin-off from the Red Brigades, the mil­i­tant group noto­ri­ous for kid­nap­ping and mur­der­ing Aldo Moro, a for­mer prime min­is­ter, in 1978. Yesterday’s bomb injured no-one.” (Idem.)

7. Sil­vio Berlus­coni was a mem­ber of the P‑2 Lodge of Licio Gel­li. High­light­ing an inter­est­ing aspect of Gelli’s flight from jus­tice in the mid 1980s (after the dis­clo­sure of the exis­tence of the P‑2 and its role in Ital­ian pol­i­tics), in Switzer­land, Gel­li ren­dezvoused with a jour­nal­ist with whom he was acquaint­ed. Going to the appoint­ed place of meet­ing, the jour­nal­ist walked right past some­one wear­ing the uni­form of a U.S. Air Force Gen­er­al. That per­son turned out to be Gel­li! When asked where he got the uni­form, Gel­li said he got it from his good friend George Bush, who had aid­ed him in his escape! At the time the inci­dent took place, Bush was Vice Pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States. (Panora­ma [Ital­ian news mag­a­zine]; 10/4/87.)

8. Turn­ing to a mys­te­ri­ous suit­or for US Air­ways, the pro­gram exam­ines one Emil Bernard. The dis­cus­sion engages in spec­u­la­tion that the mys­te­ri­ous Mr. Bernard may be asso­ci­at­ed with the remark­able and dead­ly Bor­mann Orga­ni­za­tion. “US Air­ways took a break from wor­ry­ing about its future yes­ter­day to pon­der the iden­ti­ty and motives of the lit­tle-known investor who claims to want to buy the car­ri­er. Emil Bernard, who chairs an unlist­ed com­pa­ny called Glob­al Air­lines, said on Sun­day he would be pre­pared to offer $1.8bn, or $27 per share in stock and cash, for the air­line. Indus­try exec­u­tives have been able to find out very lit­tle about Glob­al, except that it is an air­line with no air­craft. Until last year Mr. Bernard had made head­lines only for an unsuc­cess­ful pro­pos­al in 1978 to buy the San Fran­cis­co Giants base­ball team and move it to Wash­ing­ton.” (“US Air­ways Attempts to Unmask its Mys­tery Suit­or” by Andrew Edge­cliffe-John­son; Finan­cial Times; 8/7/2001; p. 1.)

9. The assets of the elu­sive Mr. Bernard are alto­geth­er enig­mat­ic. “James Sprayre­gen of Kirk­land & Ellis, which act­ed as TWA’s coun­sel [dur­ing an ear­li­er attempt by Bernard to take con­trol of TWA], said: ‘We were unable to con­firm the finan­cial where­with­al of Mr. Bernard’s group and as a result elect­ed not to pro­ceed with his pro­pos­al.’ Oth­er peo­ple close to TWA said Mr. Bernard’s pro­posed offer to buy TWA was sent on a sin­gle sheet of plain paper and stat­ed that if TWA would not accept his terms of $3.75 per share he would make anoth­er offer of $4.75.” (Idem.)

10. Bernard’s back­ground in run­ning air­lines appears to be min­i­mal. “Mr. Bernard’s spokesman, John Scott, has described him as a real estate investor. Reg­u­la­tors said yes­ter­day he had not been grant­ed any pri­or approval to run an air­line. . . .Glob­al said last year it had agreed to buy 450 air­craft from Alliance Air­craft, a start-up with no man­u­fac­tur­ing plant. Noth­ing has come of the agree­ment. Mr. Scott also announced last year that Glob­al would seek an Amer­i­can Stock Exchange list­ing. The exchange said yes­ter­day there was no appli­ca­tion pend­ing. Mr. Bernard has no list­ed tele­phone num­ber or web­site, and could not be reached yes­ter­day.” (Idem.)

11. Con­tin­u­ing dis­cus­sion of the Bor­mann orga­ni­za­tion, the pro­gram turns to one of the many com­pa­nies that appear to have had deal­ings with the Bor­mann group—the giant ConA­gra food com­pa­ny. The firm was involved in a labor dis­pute of almost two years’ dura­tion. (“Team­sters Reach Deal with ConA­gra, End­ing Strike” by Nan­cy Clee­land; Los Ange­les Times; 8/18/2001; p. C8.)

12. One of the firms absorbed into ConA­gra was the Bre­men-based firm Bech­er GmbH. Found­ed by SS Colonel Kurt Bech­er with pro­ceeds gleaned from the Holo­caust, the firm grew into a lead­ing grain-trad­ing firm. (“Nazi Mon­ey Trail Heats Up after 50 Years” by Greg Stein­metz; Wall Street Jour­nal; 4/28/97; p. A1.)

13. Revis­it­ing a sub­ject that has occu­pied a great deal of dis­cus­sion in past pro­grams, the broad­cast cites one of the rel­a­tive­ly few arti­cles touch­ing on Haj Amin al-Husseini—the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. The first leader of the Pales­tin­ian Nation­al Move­ment and an offi­cer in the SS, the Grand Mufti was one of the most impor­tant Axis oper­a­tives in the Mus­lim world.

The pro­gram high­lights Grand Mufti’s role in sup­press­ing Pales­tin­ian dis­sent against his anti-Semit­ic poli­cies. “. . .When West­ern­ers puz­zle over why it’s so hard for Israel to find mod­er­ate inter­locu­tors among the Palestinians—historically among the best edu­cat­ed, most entre­pre­neur­ial, and lib­er­al of Arab societies—a sad but sim­ple part of the answer is that a great num­ber of he Pales­tin­ian elites who might have filled that role were either killed or per­suad­ed to leave long ago. Those now liv­ing pros­per­ous­ly in Europe, Amer­i­ca or the Gulf states have lit­tle inter­est in return­ing to fight both Israel and Yass­er Arafat for this lit­tle patch of dry land. The cre­ation of such a sit­u­a­tion was exact­ly the intent of Haj Amin al-Hus­sei­ni, the mufti of Jerusalem and fore­most Arab polit­i­cal and reli­gious leader in Pales­tine under the British man­date. Dur­ing the late 1930’s, his forces killed hun­dreds of Jews. But even more impor­tant to him was get­ting rid of any Arabs who might tol­er­ate a Jew­ish pres­ence. Many were killed, often in mass exe­cu­tions. Oth­ers fled.” (“Where Have All the Mod­er­ate Pales­tini­ans Gone?”; Wall Street Jour­nal; 8/14/2001; p. A14.)

14. Turn­ing to the con­tin­u­ing war­fare in the for­mer Yugoslavia, the broad­cast sets forth alle­ga­tions from the Ger­man press that US advi­sors to Mace­don­ian rebels were among the fight­ers evac­u­at­ed under UN aus­pices. “Among the rebels that were with­draw­ing, there were 17 ‘instructors’—former US offi­cers that pro­vid­ed mil­i­tary train­ing for the rebels. Not only that: the Mace­don­ian secu­ri­ty forces claim that 70% of the equip­ment that the gueril­la fight­ers took with them are of US pro­duc­tion, among which are some of the most sophis­ti­cat­ed third gen­er­a­tion night vision devices.” (“US Advi­sors Were Help­ing the Alban­ian Rebels;” Ham­burg­er Abend­blat; 6/28/2001.)

15. It has also been alleged that British mer­ce­nar­ies were among the eth­nic Alba­ni­ans fight­ing in Mace­do­nia. “For­mer British sol­diers are fight­ing the Mace­do­nia secu­ri­ty ser­vices as part of the eth­nic Alban­ian Nation­al Lib­er­a­tion Army, Scot­land on Sun­day has learned. Sources with in the NLA con­firmed that 12 British nation­als were fight­ing with them in the Kumano­vo region, along with at least two Dutch men and a Ger­man.” (“British Fight­ers Seek Thrill of Bat­tle in Macedonia’s Strug­gle” by Conal Urquhart; Scot­land on Sun­day; 7/15/2001.)

16. Next, the pro­gram sets forth an eerie item of dis­cus­sion (repeat­ed in FTR#326 and in FTR#349.) The broad­cast high­lights the theft of a brief­case con­tain­ing top-secret doc­u­ments about coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence and coun­tert­er­ror­ist oper­a­tions in New York. (“FBI Ter­ror Expert Lost Track of Top-Secret Plans” by David John­ston [New York Times]; San Fran­cis­co Chron­i­cle; 8/19/2001; p. A8.) The FBI expert in ques­tion, the [late] John O’Neill, was in charge of the Bin Laden inves­ti­ga­tion for the FBI. The broad­cast delin­eates a dis­turb­ing aspect of the doc­u­ments stolen from O’Neill in the sum­mer of 2000. “Offi­cials iden­ti­fied one doc­u­ment in the brief­case as a draft of the annu­al field office report for nation­al secu­ri­ty oper­a­tions in New York. The close­ly guard­ed report con­tained a descrip­tion of every coun­teres­pi­onage and coun­tert­er­ror­ism pro­gram in New York and detailed the man­pow­er for each oper­a­tion.” (Idem.) In August, O’Neill left the bureau to become direc­tor of secu­ri­ty for the World Trade Cen­ter. He was killed on 9/11, approx­i­mate­ly two weeks after this pro­gram was broad­cast!

17. One of the more revolt­ing media posi­tions tak­en in recent years was assumed by writer and social crit­ic Gore Vidal. Vidal began a cor­re­spon­dence with con­vict­ed Okla­homa City bomber Tim­o­thy McVeigh and (ulti­mate­ly) end­ed up lion­iz­ing this fas­cist mur­der­er. (The evi­dence is over­whelm­ing that McVeigh and Nichols did not act alone. Nonethe­less, Vidal’s embrace of McVeigh is pre­pos­ter­ous. Since this pro­gram was broad­cast, Vidal has topped it off by blam­ing World War II on Franklin Delano Roo­sevelt!) (“Vidal Casts McVeigh as a Hero” by James Bone; The Lon­don Times; 8/8/2001.)

18. As if Vidal’s take on the Okla­homa City bomb­ing and World War II wasn’t star­tling enough, the pro­gram cov­ers the pro­posed role of a pro­to-fascis­tic UFO cult in the dri­ve to clone human beings. The Raelians are a group found­ed by a French ex-race car dri­ver, after his alleged con­tact with a space alien. (“Cloning Clash” by Edward Epstein; San Fran­cis­co Chron­i­cle; 8/8/2001; pp. A1, A10.)

19. The pro­gram con­cludes with dis­cus­sion of the state of Amer­i­ca in the late sum­mer of 2001. Jour­nal­ist Robert Par­ry not­ed the con­trast between the World War II gen­er­a­tion of Amer­i­cans (as epit­o­mized in the movie Sav­ing Pri­vate Ryan) and the cur­rent crop. “Near the end of Steven Spielberg’s World War II epic Sav­ing Pri­vate Ryan, Cap­tain John Miller—played by Tom Hanks—lies dying, wound­ed after a des­per­ate bat­tle to defend a bridge in Nor­mandy. He sig­nals to Pri­vate James Ryan to come close and whis­pers a final mes­sage. ‘Earn this,’ Miller tells the young sol­dier. ‘Earn it.’ The admo­ni­tion seems harsh. In the movie, Ryan—played by Matt Damon—had lost his broth­ers in the Nor­mandy inva­sion and fought brave­ly him­self. He chose to say with his unit to defend the bridge rather than leave his post for safe­ty when Miller’s patrol arrived to ‘save’ him.” (“A Time to ‘Earn This’ by Robert Par­ry; ConsortiumNews.com; 8/9/2001; p. 1.)

20. “Like many real sol­diers who served in World War II, the fic­tion­al Ryan would seem to have done more than his fair share in the defense of his coun­try and in the bat­tle against tyran­ny. Yet, the mes­sage from a dying Capt. Miller to the young Pri­vate Ryan was ‘earn this.’ What a dif­fer­ence a gen­er­a­tion or two can make!” (Idem.)

21. After Par­ry notes the many areas of dis­in­te­gra­tion of the coun­try, he goes on to re-empha­size the con­trast between Miller, Ryan and the Bush gen­er­a­tion. “In recent years, it has become increas­ing­ly clear that the Wash­ing­ton news media is more con­cerned about demo­graph­ics than democ­ra­cy. It’s a dif­fer­ent time and ethos from the one depict­ed in Sav­ing Pri­vate Ryan. Fifty-sev­en years ago, Amer­i­can sol­diers were bat­tling their way across Europe, con­tribut­ing to the end of one of history’s most tyran­ni­cal regimes. That vic­to­ry gave rise to demo­c­ra­t­ic aspi­ra­tions around the would, fuel­ing the hope that all nations might final­ly accept the found­ing Amer­i­can prin­ci­ple, that gov­ern­ments must derive their just pow­ers from the con­sent of the gov­erned. At the end of Sav­ing Pri­vate Ryan, the scene of Ryan on the bridge in France merges into the face of Ryan as an old man. He has returned to Nor­mandy and searched out the grave­stone of Capt. Miller. Fight­ing back tears, Ryan says he has tried to live a good life and has thought every day about Miller’s admo­ni­tion to ‘earn this.’ He says it is his great­est hope that ‘I’ve earned what all of you have done for me.’” (Ibid.; p. 6.)


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