The Loathsome War Over Rachel Corrie

It was inevitable that the coverage of the legal proceedings on Rachel Corrie’s death would turn into a partisan firefight of left vs. right and Israel vs. Palestine.

The whole affair was poisoned and marked by sleaze from the start. The ISM doctored photographs of the incident. Its opponents called Corrie a  ‘commie bitch’. There has been terrible behavior on both sides. Tom Wolfe couldn’t have written this drama better.

I like a lot of what Brendan O’ Neill writes. Not only is he a good writer, he’s an engaging speaker, and I would urge anybody to see him in action if possible. However, this article and others like it devoted to mocking the fairly ridiculous cult that has grown around Rachel Corrie completely miss the point.

The simple truth right now is that the evidence points towards accidental death. There is too much doubt in this case. No civilised court would have reached a guilty verdict in this situation and convicted the operator of the bulldozer.

Ironically, it was Corie’s friends in the ISM who did more to destroy their own case than any defenders of Israel. They doctored photos, which was eventually acknowledged by Reuters. Witnesses completely changed their stories. Any semi-competent ambulance chaser could have ripped them apart.

Yet the ultimate irony is that those who profess to care about human rights don’t seem to care so much about long-standing rights of the accused, or calling for the blood of a likely innocent man.

Below is the official summary of the judgement. I have highlighted some interesting parts. Note how the IDF that day was attempting to clear brush on the ground, not destroy a house (as is common misconception). It is also clear Corrie contributed to her own death, by climbing the dirt moving slowly towards her rather than running out of the way.

Summary of the Judgment of the Haifa District Court in the Rachel Corrie case:

Summary of the Verdict (T.A. 371/05) Estate of the Late Rachel Corrie, etc.
v. The State of Israel – Ministry of Defense

1.     The decedent, Rachel Corrie, was born on April 10, 1979.  She was an American citizen, residing in Olympia, Washington.  On March 16, 2003, the decedent was killed during an incident which is the focus of this lawsuit.  She was 24 years old.

The decedent was an activist in the International Solidarity Movement (hereafter: “the Organization” or “the ISM”).

2.     In this lawsuit (T.A. 371/05) the plaintiffs, the estate of the late Rachel Corrie (hereafter: “the decedent”), the decedent’s parents, brother and sister, are petitioning to direct the defendant, the State of Israel, to pay them compensation for special damages and general damages inflicted on them, they claim, as a result of the death of the decedent during the incident that is the focus of this trial.  In addition to the aforementioned, the plaintiffs have petitioned to direct the defendant to pay “punitive damages”.

3.     The plaintiffs claimed in their lawsuit that on March 16, 2003, the decedent, together with other activists in the ISM, arrived at the “Philadelphi Corridor” in the Rafiah area of the Gaza Strip where two bulldozers and an IDF tank were observed conducting operational activities in the area.  The plaintiffs claimed that the bulldozers were about to demolish a house in the area and that the decedent and her fellow members of the ISM stood in the path of the bulldozers in order to prevent them from implementing their plan.

In Article 8.5 of the Statement of Claim, the plaintiffs claimed as follows:

“At 17:00 or thereabouts, the decedent stood near the house of Dr. Samir Nasrallah, which was designated for demolition, and one of the bulldozers was 10 to 15 meters from her.  The bulldozers approached the decedent and pulled dirt from under her feet.  The decedent fell and the blade of the bulldozer ran over her leg and later the bulldozer ran over her body.  When the bulldozer backed up the decedent was gravely injured and was bleeding extensively, although she was still breathing.

The decedent was evacuated to the Al-Najer Hospital in Rafiah, where her death was declared after 20 minutes”.

4.     The plaintiffs claimed that the bulldozer intentionally caused the death of the decedent.  The plaintiffs based their claim on the following three grounds: assault, negligence and legal grounds.

5.     After hearing many witnesses from both sides, including expert witnesses, and studying the extensive summations from representatives of both sides, I hereby determine as follows:

a.    During the relevant period of time, the “Philadelphi Corridor” was the site of daily warfare, i.e. daily gunfire by snipers, missile fire and IED explosions directed at the IDF forces.  During this period, unceasing efforts were made to kidnap IDF soldiers.  Only soldiers who were in combat units fought in the region.

According to the notes made in the IDF records, from September 2000 to the date of the incident that is the focus of this lawsuit (March 16, 2003), nearly 6,000 grenades had been thrown at IDF forces in the Corridor; there had been approximately 1,400 incidents of gunfire; and there were more than 40 occurrences of mortar fire.  These aforementioned events led to the injury and death of many Israelis.

The United States government issued a travel warning on March 16, 2003 to warn American citizens against visiting the Gaza Strip area or the West Bank.

b.    During the period pertinent to this case, there was a military directive in force declaring the “Philadelphi Corridor” a “closed military area” and forbidding the entry of civilians.

c.    The ISM assigned itself the task of working alongside the Palestinians against the “Israeli occupation” by using what it called “non-violent protest activities”.  However, the evidence presented to me shows a significant gap between the Organization’s statements and the true character of its activities and actions.  The actions taken by the members of the organization, in practice, do not match its statements.  In fact, the Organization exploits the dialogue regarding human rights and morality to blur the severity of its actions, which are, in fact, expressed through violence.

Inter alia, ISM activities included “defending” Palestinian families, even ones that were engaged in terror activities.  The Organization’s activists “specialized” in sabotaging the IDF’s operational actions.  ISM activities included, inter alia: stationing activists to serve as “human shields” for terrorists wanted by Israeli security forces; financial, logistical and moral assistance to Palestinians, including terrorists and their families; interrupting demolition activities or the sealing off of houses belonging to terrorists who conducted suicide attacks with multiple casualties.

d.    The mission of the IDF force on the day of the incident was solely to clear the ground.  This clearing and leveling included leveling the ground and clearing it of brush in order to expose hiding places used by terrorists, who would sneak out from these areas and place explosive devices with the intent of harming IDF soldiers.  There was an urgency to carrying out this mission so that IDF look-outs could observe the area and locate terrorists thereby preventing explosive devices from being buried.  The mission did not include, in any way, the demolition of homes.  The action conducted by the IDF forces was done at real risk to the lives of the soldiers.  Less than one hour before the incident that is the focus of this lawsuit, a live hand-grenade was thrown at the IDF forces.

e.    I hereby determine that, on the day of the incident, the two bulldozers and the armored personnel carrier were occupied with the clear military operational task of clearing the land in a dangerous area which posed a significant risk.  The force’s action was designed to prevent acts of terror and hostility, i.e. to eliminate the danger of terrorists hiding between the creases of land and in the brush, and to expose explosive devices hidden therein, both of which were intended to kill IDF soldiers.  During each act of exposure, the lives of the IDF fighters were at risk from Palestinians terrorists.  As aforementioned, less than an hour before the incident that is the focus of this lawsuit, a live hand-grenade was thrown at the IDF force.

For this reason, I hereby determine that the act of clearing the land with which the IDF force was occupied during the event was “a war-related action” as defined in The Civil Wrongs Ordinance.

f.     On March 16, 2003, the decedent and her fellow ISM activists arrived at the location where the IDF force was working to clear the land.   They did so, they claim, in order to prevent the IDF force from demolishing Palestinian houses.  They did so illegally and in contradiction of the military directive declaring the area a “closed military area”.  They held signs, stood in front of the bulldozers and did not allow them to carry out their mission.  The IDF soldiers informed the activists that they had to distance themselves from the area, threw stun grenades towards them, fired warning shots towards them and used methods to disperse demonstrations.  All without avail.

The IDF force was very careful not to harm the Organization’s activists.  Because of the activists’ interference, the force repeatedly relocated to continue carrying out their mission.

g.    Based on the evidence presented to me, including the testimony of the expert for the prosecution, Mr. Osben, I hereby determine that at approximately 17:00, the decedent stood roughly 15 to 20 meters from the relevant bulldozer and knelt down.  The bulldozer to which I refer was a large, clumsy and shielded vehicle of the DR9 model.  The field of view the bulldozer’s operator had inside the bulldozer was limited.  At a certain point, the bulldozer turned and moved toward the decedent.  The bulldozer pushed a tall pile of dirt.  With regard to the field of view that the bulldozer’s operator had, the decedent was in the “blind spot”.  The decedent was behind the bulldozer’s blade and behind a pile of dirt and therefore the bulldozer’s operator could not  have seen her.

The bulldozer moved very slowly, at a speed of one kilometer per hour.

When the decedent saw the pile of dirt moving towards her, she did not move, as any reasonable person would have.  She began to climb the pile of dirt.  Therefore, both because the pile of dirt continued to move as a result of the pushing of the bulldozer, and because the dirt was loose, the decedent was trapped in the pile of dirt and fell.

At this stage, the decedent’s legs were buried in the pile of dirt, and when her colleagues saw from where they stood that the decedent was trapped in the pile of dirt, they ran towards the bulldozer and gestured towards its operator and yelled at him to stop.  By the time the bulldozer’s operator and his commander noticed the decedent’s colleagues and stopped the bulldozer, a significant portion of the decedent’s body was already covered in dirt.

The decedent’s entire body was not covered in dirt.  In fact, when the bulldozer backed up, the decedent’s body was seen to free itself from the pile of dirt and the decedent was still alive.

The decedent was evacuated to the hospital and after 20 minutes, her death was declared.

I hereby determine unequivocally that there is no foundation to the plaintiffs’ claim that the bulldozer struck the decedent intentionally.  This was a very unfortunate accident and was not intentional.  No one wished to harm the decedent.  I was convinced that the bulldozer’s operator would not have continued to work if he had seen the decedent standing in front of the bulldozer, as he and his colleagues acted in similar circumstances earlier that day, when they moved from location to location because of the disturbances caused by the members of the Organization.

h.    Because I find, as aforementioned, that the decedent was accidentally killed in the framework of a “war-related activity” as defined in The Civil Wrongs Ordinance, and in light of the instructions laid out in Article 5 of the aforementioned ordinance, the State bears no responsibility for the damages inflicted on the plaintiffs resulting from a war-related action.

This makes superfluous the need to discuss the cause of action made by the plaintiffs because legally their demand should be rejected.

Nevertheless, above and beyond what is necessary, I have also decided to discuss the cause of action filed by the plaintiffs as well as their other claims.

i.      The plaintiffs claimed that evidentiary damage was done in two areas: first, they claim that the Criminal Investigations Division (CID) investigation carried out after the event was sloppy and unprofessional and led to evidentiary damage for the plaintiffs; the second area, which refers to the responsibility of the Institute for Forensic Medicine for evidentiary damage caused to the plaintiffs as a result of the violation of the judicial order and the destruction of the recording documenting the decedent’s autopsy.

It could be expected that, in light of the claim made above, the plaintiffs’ representative would submit to the court the file of the investigation conducted by the CID so that I could form my own opinion regarding the investigatory actions carried out and the manner in which the investigation was carried out, and to learn if the actions taken by the CID were sufficient or not.  However, it was the plaintiffs that objected to submitting the full file of the investigation as evidence, even though the defendant agreed to do so.  Thus did the plaintiffs, by their own actions, introduce circumstances in which an extremely important tool to examine their claims was denied to the court.

After examining the evidentiary material and studying the claims made by representatives of both sides, I reached the conclusion that the CID investigation was conducted appropriately and without fault.

j.      With regard to the claims made regarding evidentiary damages relating to the Institute of Forensic Medicine:

Investigators from the CID concluded that in order to advance the investigation, an autopsy would have to be performed on the decedent.  As a result, they approached the District Court in Rishon LeZion and asked for a court order that would allow for such an autopsy.  The court order “…that the body be autopsied at the Abu Kabir Institute for Forensic Medicine by a doctor who is not in the military and in the presence of a representative of the American State Department” (Exhibit 6/T).

Professor Hiss testified that since the American Consulate saw no need to send a representative to be present at the autopsy, the autopsy was conducted, with the family’s agreement, without a consular representative.  He also testified that the Consulate sent a fax confirming that the autopsy could be conducted without a representative from the family (Exhibit 11/T).

After examining the evidentiary material and studying the claims made by representatives of both sides, I reached the conclusion that the plaintiffs’ claim of evidentiary damage by the Institute for Forensic Medicine seems strange.  This is because the decedent’s father himself testified that, from the outset, the family had no intention of conducting an autopsy and that their intention was to pursue the matter diplomatically in order to clarify what happened to the decedent.  Moreover: it appears that the decedent’s family had no interest regarding the identity of the Consular representative that was to be present during the autopsy, nor in the type of professional training they had had.  The family wanted a Consular representative to be present even if a secretary or typist had been sent!

Professor Hiss explained in his testimony that the aforementioned fax was sent to him after he telephoned the United States Embassy and asked that they send an American doctor to be present at the autopsy.  He claims that the embassy did not find a need to do so.  Professor Hiss asked to receive approval from the decedent’s family and he then received the fax 11/T in which it is specifically stated that the decedent’s family agreed to the autopsy and that no other faxes would be sent.

I believe that under these circumstances, Professor Hiss was well within his rights to conclude that, ultimately, the decedent’s family conceded its demand for a representative to be present during the autopsy.  The family’s desire was to receive the decedent’s body as soon as possible.  Indeed, the family did not conduct any additional examinations after receiving the decedent’s body and it was cremated: see Mr. Craig Corrie’s testimony.

I am aware of the fact that, according to the language of the District Court’s decision regarding the autopsy of the decedent’s body, there should have been a representative of the US Embassy present during the autopsy.  However, under the circumstances, when it was explained that the embassy saw no reason to send a representative, as Professor Hiss testified, and because the fax sent to Professor Hiss (11/T) stated that the family agreed to the autopsy, we can understand why Professor Hiss believed that there was nothing preventing him from conducting the autopsy without an embassy representative being present.  There is no doubt that the proper course of action would have been to return to the District Court so that, in light of the change in circumstances, the court could amend its decision and remove the condition regarding the presence of an embassy representative.  However, given the circumstances and in light of the aforementioned, it is not clear what evidentiary damage was made to the plaintiffs’ case because of the conduct of the Institute of Forensic Medicine.

With regard to the plaintiffs’ claim regarding the recording documenting the autopsy, I found no grounds to accept it.  It is an audio recording (as opposed to a video recording) which served as a draft for Professor Hiss when preparing his report.  Recordings like this are made because, during an autopsy, the doctor’s hands are holding scalpels and covered in blood, and therefore notes cannot be taken.  Apparently, the aforementioned audio recording simply does not exist anymore because, due to budgetary problems, the Institute of Forensic Medicine recycles tapes (see the testimony given by Professor Hiss).  Under these circumstances, it is not clear what evidentiary damage was caused to the plaintiffs as a result of the aforementioned draft having been erased due to recycling.

In summation, with regard to evidentiary damages, I hereby determine that the two cumulative conditions necessary as laid out in the precedent determined by the Supreme Court were not upheld.  They did not prove that evidentiary damage was caused which harmed their ability to prove their claims, nor did they prove that the defendant, through negligence, caused the claimed evidentiary damage.

k.    With regard to grounds for assault I hereby determine that there is no foundation for such claims because there is no component of “malice”.  As I have determined that the decedent was killed accidentally and not intentionally, legally the claim regarding grounds for assault must be rejected.

l.      With regard to grounds for negligence:  I am convinced that, given the circumstances created at the location of the incident, the actions taken by the force were without fault.  Indeed, the field of vision of the bulldozer’s operator was limited.  However, the decedent’s field of vision while she stood in front of the bulldozer and knelt down was open and without any limitation.  The decedent could have distanced herself from any danger without any difficulty.  However, she chose to take the risk described above, and that eventually led to her death.

Given these circumstances, I have reached the conclusion that it was not negligence on the part of the defendant or any of its representatives that caused the decedent’s death.  Therefore it can be understood that I reject the claim that there is any foundation for the grounds of negligence in this case.

m.   The defendant claims a “willing endangerment” defense, in accordance with Article 5(A) of the Civil Wrongs ordinance.  I reached the conclusion that the foundation for this defense, as determined by the Supreme Court, has not been proven in this case, and therefore I hereby determine that the aforementioned defense does not exist with regard to this lawsuit.

However, even though I have determined that it was not negligence on the part of the defendant or its representatives that led to the death of the decedent, and although the aforementioned defense does not exist with regard to this lawsuit, it is not enough to change the result of rejecting this claim.

n.    With regard to legal grounds:  It is true that the decedent was killed during the incident that is the focus of this lawsuit.  However, in this case the defendant did not violate the decedent’s right to life.  The decedent put herself in a dangerous situation.  She stood in front of a large bulldozer in a location where the bulldozer’s operator could not see her.  Even when she saw the pile of dirt moving towards her and endangering her, she did not remove herself from the situation, as any reasonable person would have.  The decedent began to climb the pile of dirt, got tangled up in it, fell and eventually died.

The decedent’s death was the result of an accident that the decedent caused.  This occurred despite the efforts of the IDF force to distance her and her colleagues from the area.

I believe that, under these circumstances, there is no justification to obligate the State to pay compensation for damages that the decedent could have prevented, but preferred not to, thereby choosing to risk her life as she did.

Therefore, I reject the request to obligate the State to pay compensation on legal grounds.

6.     Because of this and in light of the aforementioned, I reject the lawsuit.
Because of the circumstance surrounding the decedent’s death, I will not make the plaintiffs’ pay the legal expenses and each side will bear its own costs.

[ENDS]

Six Million Jews Should Die, Says Left-Wing Anti-Zionist

Yes, its true. It was said at SOAS (where else?) by Antony Lowenstein, a left-wing anti-Zionist of Jewish extraction. Lowenstein was promoting a book he and several others wrote in favour of the destruction of the Jewish state*.

When asked how many Israeli Jews would have to die if they refused to go along peacefully with this idea, the moderator (Frank Barat) said ‘200,000’. When pressed, Lowenstein said six million, and asked the questioner to “write that down”.

This incident tells us a lot about the ‘one-stater’ movement. The moderates are fine with 200,000 Jews dead in order to acheive their vision. This is far, far more than the number of Israelis and Palestinians killed in the entire conflict up to now. The more extreme (or perhaps more honest) among them want all the Jews dead. They actually wouldn’t mind a situation in Israel and Palestine far worse that the status quo as long as Israel is destroyed.

So don’t believe these people when they talk of peace, human rights, and all that baloney. People like Lowenstein are in the same grain as the revolutionary left and right wing movements of the last century, who were happy to sacrifice hundreds of millions of lives for ideology.

* His previous book, My Israel Question, was endorsed by John Pilger. Pilger was one of the many journalists responsible for fabricating atrocities in his coverage of the Battle of Jenin in 2002.

Forty Years On, and Watergate Still Doesn’t Make Sense.

Public Perception vs. The Truth

In all seriousness, what is the root of the American fixation on Watergate and Richard Nixon? The fortieth anniversary of the break-ins this year has led to mass media commemoration and yet more pats on the pack for the folks at the Washington Post.

Its not as if there haven’t been worse political scandals before or since: Chappaquiddick, JFK’s disgusting sex and drug habits, Iran-Contra and Bill Clinton’s entire political career come to mind. What we have been through in the last ten years alone is enough to sicken even the most seasoned of political observers. Compared to the American government’s lies about Pat Tillman, and Obama’s arming of violent Mexican gangs that went on to murder Americans under Fast and Furious, Watergate seems almost like a jolly college prank.

Ben Bradlee happens to agree. As the former executive editor at the Washington Post said to his friend Jeff Himmelman in Yours in Truth: A Personal Portrait of Ben Bradlee:

“Watergate … achieved a place in history … that it really doesn’t deserve. … The crime itself was really not a great deal. Had it not been for the Nixon resignation, it really would have been a blip in history.”

Not only that, Bradlee went on to express his doubts about much of Woodward and Bernstein’s account of the story:

“Did that potted palm thing ever happen? … And meeting in some garage. One meeting in the garage. Fifty meetings in the garage … there’s a residual fear in my soul that that isn’t quite straight… I just find the flower in the window difficult to believe and the garage scenes…

If they could prove that Deep Throat never existed … that would be a devastating blow to Woodward and to the Post. … It would be devastating, devastating.”

Witnesses say that Bob Woodward became highly stressed when he heard what Bradley told Himmelman, and repeated the statement about “a residual fear… that that isn’t quite straight” countless times to himself. Woodward tried to get Bradlee to withdraw his statements. He even threatened legal action to prevent Himmelman from publishing them. It didn’t work. Far more people really should have heard the words of Bradlee.

There may indeed have been a Deep Throat in the form of Mark Felt. But we now know – thanks to Max Holland’s great work in Leak: How Mark Felt Became Deep Throat – that the man was no hero. Felt was not motivated by his conscience or a sense of justice. He simply wanted to get back at Nixon for not appointing him as J. Edgar Hoover’s successor. He also wanted to bring down the outsider and squeaky-clean L. Patrick Gray to protect the FBI’s ‘turf’.

It seems to me that the obsessive focus on the identity of Deep Throat distracted the public from the more important questions raised during Watergate. For the Washington Post and the Pulitzer Committee, there is the important matter of the unethical and flagrantly illegal methods used by Woodward and Bernstein in the course of their work. This was discovered years before Felt revealed himself.

However, the most important mystery concerns the real story behind the break-ins at the offices of the DNC – something still largely unknown by the American public.

The Break-Ins: What Really Happened

The clue to solving this mystery begins with a woman known as Maureen Elizabeth Kane Owen “Mo” Biner. “Mo” was the wife of the far more famous John Dean: one of those responsible for the espionage at the Democratic National Committee and mastermind of the subsequent cover-up. As the man who pleaded guilty to a single felony count in exchange for becoming a key witness for the prosecution, history has judged Dean favourably. This might not be justified, but we’ll get to that. Maureen was the author of Mo: A Woman’s View of Watergate. Its a real turd of a book, devoted mostly to her love for John and what the people at the centre of the Watergate scandal were wearing. For the discerning reader, there is one part of interest: a wedding photograph with a woman called “my very dear friend Heidi”. We don’t read much at all about this dear friend elsewhere in the book. That is because “Heidi” was in fact Erika “Heidi” Rikan, a.k.a. Cathy Dieter: a notorious DC stripper at Washington’s Blue Mirror Club, a madam, and mistress of the mafia boss Joe Nesline.

Rikan and Maureen Biner were roommates and long-time friends. In all likelihood, Biner was once a prostitute. Before dating John Dean, she was the girlfriend of the notorious deviant and sexual blackmailer Bobby Baker. He once tried to compromise John F. Kennedy by setting him up with the East German spy Ellen Rometsch.

The truth is that the break-ins at Watergate were entirely the result of a sex scandal involving a DC call-girl ring. Larry O’ Brien’s office was not even the main target.

In 1971, a call-girl operation was set up in the DNC’s Watergate offices and nearby Columbia Plaza by Phillip Mackin Bailey. Bailey was a Washington attorney known for representing prostitutes. With his amassed contacts, somewhere along the line he began pimping. Its a good business in Washington. Bailey set up the DNC operation at the request of Biner’s dear friend “Heidi” Rikan. Her lover, Nesline, was also linked to a sexual blackmail operation run out of the Georgetown Club involving the Korean intelligence agent Tongsun Park and the CIA agent Ed Wilson. Both appeared in Rikan’s address book.

Bailey arranged for a secure telephone line between the Watergate offices and Rikan’s operation, where the clientele could hear a description of all the girls available. For this they used the office phone of the frequently-absent Democratic Party employee R. Spencer Oliver. It was in the desk of his secretary, Ida Maxine Wells. A key to this desk was found in the possession of the Watergate burglar Eugenio Martinez when he was arrested on June 17th, 1972, only to be kept in the National Archives until this very day.

Bailey was arrested on account of his sleazy activities only days after the initial Watergate burglary. One of the Assistant US Attorneys who investigated Bailey’s ring, John Rudy, later testified in a different case that he had evidence tying R. Spencer Oliver to Bailey’s call-girl ring. He claims he was told by his superiors to suppress it because it was politically explosive.

Maureen “Mo” Dean, listening to her husband’s testimony at the Watergate Hearings

Rudy also uncovered an address book listing all of Bailey and Rikan’s girls and clientele. It included the name and contact details of a woman they dubbed “Clout”. This was a name used for Rikan’s dear friend Maureen Biner. Biner was by this time dating John Dean. Hence, she was political “clout”.

The first Watergate break-in was actually masterminded by the chief executive of the infamous White House Plumbers, G. Gordon Liddy, as well as John Dean, simply to get sexual dirt on the Democrats. Such operations had been planned and done before. In October 1971, John Dean ordered a White House security advisor, John Caulfield, to investigate a recently-busted call-girl ring in New York to see if any Democratic politicians happened to be clients. In January of the next year, Liddy proposed something called ‘Operation Gemstone’. ‘Gemstone’ aimed to spy on the Washington headquarters of Ed Muskie and George McGovern, as well as the site of the Democratic National Convention – the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami. The Fontainebleau was also connected Meyer Lansky and the Syndicate, and prostitutes were expected to be at the convention. Operation Gemstone proposed recruiting prostitutes to help videotape convention attendees in compromising positions.

Nixon certainly did not order the break-in. The legendary lawyer James F. Neal, prosecutor of the Watergate Seven, did not believe this was the case. He cited Nixon’s surprised reaction to news of the burglary on June 23, 1972 when he asked his aide, Harry Haldeman: “who was the asshole that did it?”

Dean very quickly married Biner, asking Haldeman for some very brief time off to do so. A wife cannot be forced to testify against her husband, after all.

The second break-in was planned by John Dean, who needed to find out if a picture and contact information of “Mo” (his own nickname for her) was in the desk if Ida Maxine Wells.

Wiretaps transcripts exist of the conversations that took place over the phone in Oliver’s office, but they have been sealed by a federal judge. Philip Mackin Bailey spent the rest of his life in and out of mental institutions.

While the full truth will likely remain buried for a long time, its quite clear from available evidence that the typical picture the public has of Watergate is severely distorted.

They Were No Heroes

Not only does the John Dean get off easy and appear regularly on news shows, Woodward and Bernstein are still considered the princes of American journalism. This is despite the fact we now know from Jeff Himmelman that Carl Bernstein interviewed a Watergate grand juror. The intrepid duo showed contempt for one of the most sacred institutions of the justice system and lied about it for 40 years. And The Post knew about the whole thing.

Himmelman discovered this second gem from his work on Yours in Truth. He found seven pages of interview notes with what was clearly a Watergate grand juror in the Washington Post’s records. This is the source that Bernstein falsely described as a secretary for the Committee to Re-elect the President in ‘All the President’s Men’, whom he called ‘Z’.

What’s more shocking is that Bob and Carl had the audacity to attempt contacting several other Watergate grand jurors, the names of which Woodward had illegally obtained from the District Court clerk’s office. One juror complained to the prosecuting attorney, Earl Silbert in December of 1972. Silbert’s team informed Judge John Sirica. Sirica called Woodward and Bernstein into court two weeks later and warned against any further meddling. Edward Bennett Williams, chief legal counsel to the Washington Post, was dispatched to a private meeting with the judge. Sirica wanted the journalists to be jailed. Assured that their attempts to breach the secrecy of the grand jury were unsuccessful, he merely issued a warning to all reporters to avoid any grand juror contact.

Forty years on, the traditional account of Watergate given by John Dean and the Washington Post is becoming hard to defend indeed.

South African police gun down more than 30 attacking miners

I’ll wager this isn’t going to attract the kind of universal scorn seen after Sharpeville, 1960. There will likely be no international outcry over this or any of the crimes committed by the regime of the ANC  – the crooked swine running a once-wonderful country into the ground.

At moments like this, I take time to appreciate some of the brave, principled critics of the new South Africa. One that particularly comes to mind is the former blogger ‘Uhuru Guru’, who has had to start a new life here in London with his wife and two young girls. Their home was raided by ANC ‘police’ thugs on trivial charges. His colleague, a lawyer, who used to run the excellent ‘South Africa Sucks’ blog with him, was found dead in the toilet of a police station. Self-inflicted gunshot wound, apparently. Sadly he is no longer blogging.

I am not under any illusions about the circumstances the police faced confronting the strikers. They were armed and dangerous fanatics, using machetes and even using tear gas. This is not uncommon at South African strikes and demonstrations, and its something the police should have been well prepared for. Its very hard to defend a reaction that left dozens dead from volley-style automatic rifle fire. After all, the police at Sharpeville were certainly thinking of their nine comrades hacked to death and mutilated at Cato Manor not long before.

At least the old SAPS was a competent force that successfully kept the twin scourges of crime and communism at bay. The quality of the police service in South Africa has so declined that today serious crimes, even murders, are often not responded to for days – if at all. The ANC has disbanded the elite, highly-regarded anti-corruption squad known as ‘the Scorpions’, to spare itself and the world from hearing the uncomfortable truths.

Remember that more people are murdered in one week under the ANC’s watch than died under the detention of the Afrikaner government over the course of roughly four decades. Remember that this is the country still held up as an ideal model for the rest of the world to follow, from justices of the US Supreme Court to the idiots of the Palestine Solidarity movement. Always remember that scenes of murder and chaos like the ones above are the real face of the regime of the ANC.

Thoughts on the Anonymous Israeli Soldier

An anonymous Israeli soldier killed two innocent women in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead. He fired his weapon at a crowd of civilians fleeing the vicinity under a white flag. His attorneys contended there was no conclusive proof that he caused their deaths -a common situation in a conflict zone – so the soldier agreed to a plea bargain. His flagrantly stupid act has resulted in a 45-day prison sentence for the illegal use of  a weapon.

Its a sad week. The only thing I can say in the defense of the country I love is that the soldier fired his weapon without permission, and was not under orders to do this. Thus, the episode does not prove that Israel deliberately targeted civilians in Gaza, as the Goldstone Report stated. This is in no way an endorsement of the Goldstone Report. That report’s namesake has effectively called it worthless and withdrawn the former allegation anyway

Even still, justice was simply not done in this case. What’s more, the Israeli justice system has added fuel to the raging fire of bigotry among certain quarters; those that most certainly don’t give a damn about right or wrong. Friends of Israel should indeed condemn what has occurred. We will not resort to hyperbole and silly comparisons with Nazism. And that can ultimately make our criticism all the more effective. Advice from friends is easier to swallow than fiery rhetoric motivated by jihadism or extreme left-wing politics, which, for good reason, will fall on deaf ears. That hurts everyone.

Oh, Happy Day: The Downfall of Chris Andrews

Reading the Sunday Independent this morning nearly caused me to die from laughter. It appears that one of the most odious men in Irish politics, Chris Andrews of Fianna Fail, has been drummed out of his party after an elaborate sting operation exposed him as the man behind the fake Twitter profile @brianformerff. The account was dedicated to attacking Fianna Fail.

I have waited a long time for this idiot’s online nonsense to properly catch up with him. I initially took issue with a tweet that reeked of anti-Semitism. I was willing to give Andrews the benefit of the doubt and put it down to populist Israel-bashing rather than anti-Semitism. Delving deeper into the activities of Andrews uncovered darker things, however. My own blog happened to be the first website to disseminate a picture of him being quite chummy with Mr. Assad of Syria (see above). This was actually in a leaflet sent to his constituents, and one of them passed it to me.

The story of how Andrews was exposed this weekend reads like  a great espionage or detective novel. Consensus at the moment seems to be that this was all done by some opponents within Fianna Fail. When the party finally disbands, many of its adherents might just find work in G-2, the Garda Security and Intelligence Branch, or private investigations. According to the Sindo (Ireland’s best newspaper, in my humble opinion), the sleuth behind this:

[S]pent months tracking down the identity in what almost became a personal crusade and used ingenious IT techniques.

The author used a third party service called SnapBird.org which records every tweet posted indefinitely, even after they have been deleted.

He used SnapBird to recover a complete transcript of @brianformerff tweets which included messages sent in response to tweets posted by a range of newspaper and broadcast journalists, RTE and Newstalk Twitter accounts.

He discovered that each tweet had originated from the Twitter web interface, meaning it had been posted from a web browser on a computer, rather than sent from a mobile phone or other portable device.

Based on the times that tweets were posted by @brianformerff, he deduced that the Tweets were being posted while the user was on a work break, using a company computer or an internet cafe.

The next stage in the hunt was uncovering the IP address of the computer where the tweets originated.

“I created my own web redirection service which would allow me to take links to articles of interest, for example in the Irish Times, and then transform them into short links that would pass through a redirection server I controlled. In this way, if someone read the tweets and clicked on the link, I would be able to establish the IP address of the computer that was being used at the time.”

The author created a new twitter account, @john_cant _type, based on the persona of a politics student based in Kildare. He started sending several messages and tweets to “brian” and other users to establish himself as a genuine twitter user.

Eventually @brianformerff responded to a post from @john_cant_type to a link to an article at Silicon Republic. The bait was taken and the IP address was tracked to an internet cafe, Amazon cyber/net Rathmines which offers web access “at the very reasonable rate of €1/hour”.

What happened next descended almost into the realms of farce. The author waited for tweets from @brianformerff and then rushed to the internet cafe to try and catch Chris Andrews. Eventually the plan worked and the author used photography and video surveillance, even taking covert photographs of tweets as they were being posted in the internet cafe by Chris Andrews and analysing if the word count and structure matched the tweets appearing in cyberspace under the tag @brianformerff.

They did.

Many of the tweets are comedy gold. In one exchange with Sarah Ryan, a rival of Andrews within Fianna Fail, he says:

‎”FF say they want change from past but they still elect to continue dynasties like @SarahCatRyan to internal positions in party!!”

This is coming from Chris Andrews: grandson of Todd Andrews, son of Niall Andrews and his nephew of David Andrews. Oh, and cousin of Barry Andrews. He is the fourth member of his family to sit in the Dáil. If he has any work history prior to entering politics, he has never revealed it.

Others tweets are more childish:

‎”@CllrMcGuinness You left FF because you tried to get a job using the party and that effort failed now cop on to yourself!”

“@CllrMcGuinness How is the drinking going are you still trying to get off it?”

Pride of his family, Chris is.

Trawling through these tweets, it just seems like the gift that keeps on giving. Thank you for the laughter, Chris Andrews.

Where, Oh Where is the Israeli Tom Wolfe?

This woman claimed at a talk held in Westminster not long ago in that Israel is actually far worse than apartheid South Africa. She recently toured Ireland to tell everybody how persecuted she is.

She is an Arab member of the Israeli Knesset. One of her uncles was a judge on the Israeli Supreme Court. Another served as deputy minister of health.

The self-styled Arab Mandela earns a nice salary from the Israeli state, is a regular fixture in Jerusalem’s fanciest restaurants, and clearly has great taste in sunglasses. Those prisoners force-fed salt in China don’t know how good they have it. Taxpayer-funded trips around the world so that you can call those who pay your salary a bunch of racists are incredibly draining.