....LMB: "Mastermind Mystery"....

March 07, 2003

It was certainly good news when the U.S. captured Al Qaeda mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.

But really, Mohammed's capture raised as many questions as answers.

First of all, it managed to demonstrate press fallibility. Back in October 2002, it was reported "definitively" that Mohammed had been killed.

Then, there were reports that Mohammed was in U.S. custody. Then that he was in Pakistani custody. And then I even read a report that Mohammed was being shipped off to an unnamed country for "interrogation."

So for the hell of it, we'll assume that Mohammed is indeed alive, and not worry about where exactly he's being held right now.

How is this guy involved in Al Qaeda? One columnist points out that before his arrest, Mohammed was rated last on a list of 22 dangerous terrorists. Now that he's in custody, he's seen as #2 or so on the list. The columnist makes the reasonable argument that Mohammed was not an important figure but is being portrayed as one now to make the U.S. government's "war on terrorism" appear more successful.

Reporter Robert Fisk also writes in a highly cynical and skeptical tone. Fisk points out that the last known Al Qaeda position held by Mohammed was as "media adviser to the marriage of Osama bin Laden's son in Kandahar in January of 2001." Fisk also refers to the ISI, the shady Pakistani intelligence agency. They are, quite literally, the organization that brought us the Taliban. ISI has its own motives and goals, which are sometimes at odds with those of the Pakistani government and the U.S. government. According to Fisk, Mohammed was turned over to the Pakistani authorities by the ISI, which Mohammed used to work for.

And let's even go one degree shadier. According to the Christian Science Monitor, when Mohammed was captured, he was staying at the home of a representative of the Pakistani parliament. Which should remind us that although officially a U.S. ally, many folks and factions inside Pakistan are not U.S.-friendly, or even support its enemies like Al Qaeda.

With the information available to me, I really can't draw any sorts of conclusions. I certainly hope that he was a major Al Qaeda player and that his arrest and interrogation will be a devastaing blow to the terrorist group. But I can't help but be suspicious of government claims, especially when they are coincidently self-serving.

Posted by Jake at 12:50 AM

Its also good that they've found Bin Laden (http://english.pravda.ru/main/2003/03/07/44139.html) if in deed it's true.
Given that CNN were saying they know the area he was in, its possible that this is true. And they would need a few days to make sure what he's going to say if they did catch him.
And if they have cought him, then the threat of terrorism has reduced and there is no reason to go to war.
Oh dear, probably best not to tell us the truth. Then we can get loads of oil illegitimately without anybody worrying.

Posted by: Richard at March 7, 2003 02:10 AM

Thanks for the post. One must be skeptical ... nay, cynical ... about any report mentioning Al Quaida or OBL. This is like the reporting in Vietnam ... any dead body found was said to be Viet Cong. We now know that truthful Pentagon reports in Vietnam were rare at best.

In fact, if one reviews all the OBL/Al Quaida reports of the past 1.5 years, one has to wonder whether OBL even had anything to do with 9-11. Colin Powell promised proof, but then was told by Bush to shut up. Blair presented two documents of "proof", both of which were laughed at by all independent media as conjectures and heresay. The ore-invasion Taliban pointed out, correctly, that bin Laden has taken credit for, and been given credit for, many terrorist acts he had no involvment in. A Pakistani report in late 9/01 of an alleged interview with OBL quoted him as saying 9-11 wasn't his doing, but he approved of it. The OBL videotape captured 2 months after the Afghan invasion did have OBL claiming responsibility in a strange exhibition of self-adoration, but again no proof ... and given his tendency of self-promotion, who knows?

I'm not saying it wasn't OBL behind 9-11, I'm just saying that the nonstop propoganda has made it such that even established, universally-accepted "facts" really haven't been proven.

Posted by: Z at March 7, 2003 05:26 PM

According to the FBI, Khalid Shaik Mohammed is only 18th most wanted terrorist and is wanted for the conspiracy to bomb a US airliner flying out of Southeast Asia. They don't say anything about his status as 9-11 mastermind.


Posted by: madprophet at March 9, 2003 03:32 PM
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Media News

November 16, 2004

Tales of Media Woe

Senate May Ram Copyright Bill- one of the most depressing stories of the day that didn't involve death or bombs. It's the music and movie industries' wet dream. It criminalizes peer-to-peer software makers, allows the government to file civil lawsuits on behalf of these media industries, and eliminates fair use. Fair use is the idea that I can use a snippet of a copyrighted work for educational, political, or satirical purposes, without getting permission from the copyright-holder first.

And most tellingly, the bill legalizes technology that would automatically skip over "obejctionable content" (i.e. sex and violence) in a DVD, but bans devices that would automatically skip over commericals. This is a blatant, blatant, blatant gift to the movie industry. Fuck the movie industry, fuck the music industry, fuck the Senate.

Music industry aims to send in radio cops- the recording industry says that you're not allowed to record songs off the radio, be it real radio or internet radio. And now they're working on preventing you from recording songs off internet radio through a mixture of law and technological repression (although I imagine their techno-fixes will get hacked pretty quickly).

The shocking truth about the FCC: Censorship by the tyranny of the few- blogger Jeff Jarvis discovers that the recent $1.2 million FCC fine against a sex scene in Fox's "Married By America" TV show was not levied because hundreds of people wrote the FCC and complained. It was not because 159 people wrote in and complained (which is the FCC's current rationale). No, thanks to Jarvis' FOIA request, we find that only 23 people (of the show's several million viewers) wrote in and complained. On top of that, he finds that 21 of those letters were just copy-and-paste email jobs that some people attached their names to. Jarvis then spins this a bit by saying that "only 3" people actually wrote letters to the FCC, which is misleading but technically true. So somewhere between 3 and 23 angry people can determine what you can't see on television. Good to know.

Reuters Union Considers Striking Over Layoffs- will a strike by such a major newswire service impact the rest of the world's media?

Pentagon Starts Work On War Internet- the US military is talking about the creation of a global, wireless, satellite-aided computer network for use in battle. I think I saw a movie about this once...

Conservative host returns to the air after week suspension for using racial slur- Houston radio talk show host (and somtime Rush Limbaugh substitute) Mark Belling referred to Mexican-Americans as "wetbacks" on his show. He was suspended for a couple of weeks, and then submitted a written apology for the racial slur to a local newspaper. But he seems to be using the slur and its surrounding controversy to boost his conservative cred with his listeners.

Stay Tuned for Nudes- Cleveland TV news anchor Sharon Reed aired a story about artist Spencer Tunick, who uses large numbers of naked volunteers in his installations and photographs. The news report will be unique in that it will not blur or black-out the usual naughty bits. The story will air late at night, when it's allegedly okay with the FCC if you broadcast "indecent" material. The author of this article doesn't seem to notice that Reed first claims that this report is a publicity stunt, but then claims it's a protest against FCC repression. I'd like to think it's the latter, but I'm not that much of a sucker.

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Mission: Mongolia

Jake's first attempt at homemade Mongolican barbecue:


What went right: correctly guessing several key seasonings- lemon, ginger, soy, garlic, chili.

What went wrong: still missing some ingredients, and possibly had one wrong, rice vinegar. Way too much lemon and chili.

Result: not entirely edible.

Plan for future: try to get people at Great Khan's restaurant to tell me what's in the damn sauce.

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