Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Keith Olbermann on "A textbook definition of cowardice"

Keith Olbermann in Rolling Stone magazine. Oh boy! My man Keith just keeps on getting better and better! Gawd it is so great to see someone in the American media finally having the balls to stand up there and say exactly what he thinks about the Bush administration regime. At last!

*sigh* I love a man who stands up for what he believes in...

In this week's Countdown Special Comment, Keith laid into Fox News for ambushing Bill Clinton during an interview last Sunday - and he pulled no punches when it came to expressing his opinion on Dubya's cowardice, either.

You are probably aware that on Sunday former President Bill Clinton was interviewed by Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday. He was expecting to answer questions about the Clinton Global Initiative, but first Wallace (claiming that his viewers had "emailed him the question") asked Clinton why he didn't do more to capture or kill Osama bin Laden while he was in office. Following on from the distortions of the truth by The Path to 9/11, eh Chris? Must be one of the Republicans' memes of the month, I guess.

Thing is, I don't think it's such a great idea to try and put one over on Bill Clinton. Bill got mad, and he got even by telling the truth, and exposing the Republican talking points for what they are - lies and distortions. Way to go, President Clinton!

Screenshot of Clinton interview. It was too long to put on YouTube, so here's the first half of the interview at Crooks and Liars. I love this screenshot. Bill Clinton making his feelings clear and emphasising his point - literally! Heh.

Here's one of my favourite bits...

WJC: I authorized the CIA to get groups together to try to kill him. The CIA was run by George Tenet, who President Bush gave the Medal of Freedom to and said he did a good job. The country never had a comprehensive anti-terror operation until I came to office.

If you can criticize me for one thing, you can criticize me for this: after the Cole, I had battle plans drawn to go into Afghanistan, overthrow the Taliban, and launch a full scale attack/search for Bin Laden. But we needed basing rights in Uzbekistan, which we got (only) after 9/11.

The CIA and the FBI refused to certify that Bin Laden was responsible while I was there. They refused to certify. So that meant I would have had to send a few hundred Special Forces in helicopters and refuel at night. Even the 9/11 Commission didn't do (think we should have done) that. Now the 9/11 Commission was a political document, too? All I'm asking is if anybody wants to say I didn't do enough, you read Richard Clarke's book.

CW: Do you think you did enough, sir?

WJC: No, because I didn't get him.

CW: Right...

WJC: But at least I tried. That's the difference in me and some, including all the right-wingers who are attacking me now. They ridiculed me for trying. They had eight months to try and they didn't. I tried. So I tried and failed. When I failed, I left a comprehensive anti-terror strategy and the best guy in the country: Dick Clarke. So you did Fox's bidding on this show. You did your nice little conservative hit job on me...

You can read the full transcript of the interview at Crooks and Liars - Fox Clinton Interview - Part 1 - Osama bin Laden.

So today Keith's Special Comment was all about the interview, the MSM's spinning of Clinton's response (they called it "crazed", amongst other things), the fact that we should all be mad as hell for what the Bush regime has done over the past five years - and that Bush's actions (or, rather, inactions in this case) are a "textbook definition of cowardice".

Check it out:

Here's one of my favourite bits:
Thus was it left for the previous president to say what so many of us have felt; what so many of us have given you a pass for in the months and even the years after the attack:

You did not try.

You ignored the evidence gathered by your predecessor.

You ignored the evidence gathered by your own people.

Then, you blamed your predecessor.

That would be a textbook definition, Mr. Bush, of cowardice.

To enforce the lies of the present, it is necessary to erase the truths of the past.

That was one of the great mechanical realities Eric Blair—writing as George Orwell—gave us in the book 1984.

The great philosophical reality he gave us, Mr. Bush, may sound as familiar to you, as it has lately begun to sound familiar to me.

"The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power...

"Power is not a means; it is an end.

"One does not establish a dictatorship to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship.

"The object of persecution, is persecution. The object of torture, is torture. The object of power... is power."

You can read the full transcript on Keith's Countdown page - A textbook definition of cowardice.

Oh yeah, it's official - Keith Olbermann - I know I love you!

Interesting links:
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Monday, September 25, 2006

Why I blog - and a great big thank-you!

Check this out! It's my latest blog post translated into Japanese at The New Clay Aiken Blog. How cool is that? I love writing. It's the main reason why I started this blog in the first place. Well, that and the fact that all my friends were doing it. Heh.

I write on quite a range of subjects - from geekery to gardening, literature to cats, politics to rugby, environmentalism to human behaviour, and from New Zealand to Clay Aiken. Since I started this blog in May my visitor numbers have gradually increased, and my Technorati ranking has got better and better. On an average day I get about fifty visitors, but on a good day - like today - I can get over a thousand. Wow! I started at 2 million and something on Technorati and now my ranking is up to 57,180. I've still got a very long way to go, but I'm feeling pretty good about where I'm at after only four months.

The most hit-worthy subjects I write about are Clay and American politics - with Clay coming out on top by a very big margin.

I've had a pretty good month this month. My live-blogging piece on the Path to 9/11 garnered over 800 visits and over 1000 page views, and I got linked to from all over the progressive blogosphere. I did a diary about it over at DailyKos - only my second diary in those hallowed cyber-halls - and to my absolute amazement (and complete bethrillment [I just made that word up - good, isn't it?]) I was on the Recommended list at Kos for quite a few hours.

And then there's the piece I wrote on Saturday night about Clay and the never-ending media fascination in his sexual orientation. It's been my most talked-about and visited piece so far. Yesterday I had over 1000 visitors and more than 1300 page views, and today another 750+ visitors and 1000+ page views. A-mazing!

I've been linked to from right across the ClayNation over the past couple of days - it's been fascinating visiting all the URLs that have come up in my SiteMeter stats this weekend. The picture at the top of this page is a screenshot of a Japanese Clay fan site - The New Clay Aiken Blog. Check it out (you can see a larger version of the picture by clicking on it)! It's a mention of my latest post translated into Japanese! How cool is that?

My blog translated from the Japanese version into Korean. Kewl! And look - here's a Korean blog post written by heyn6364, where the writer has translated the piece from the Japanese blog about my blog into Korean and included it in her blog! Totally, completely and utterly cool! I just had to include a screenshot of the entire page because it's so pretty. Click on the pic to see the large version. I got AltaVista Babel Fish to translate a bit of it. "Clay" translated as "lay" and "blog" as "blow". Heh. Heh heh heh!

I don't know exactly why I'm so inordinately excited about my blog being translated into other languages - maybe in this case it's the novelty and beauty of the Japanese and Korean characters, or perhaps it's the whole thing about someone caring enough about what I've written to take the time to translate it so that others may read it too. Whatever the reason, it thrills me to pieces - so, as I'm still getting visitors from both those sites, WELCOME, 歓迎 and 환영 - and THANK YOU, ありがとう, and 너를 감사하십시요!

I think what these two blog posts (the 9/11 one and the Clay one) have in common is passion - and somewhat controversial subject-matter. I don't always aim to be controversial, and I don't write passionately every single day (that would be exhausting!), but when I do, and when I get it right, it certainly seems to have an effect.

I guess what I'm aiming for is "good" writing, although I'm not entirely sure if I can always define precisely what that means. I see blogging as the "little sister" of journalism, in that we've both got a story to tell, or an opinion to share - and although many "real" journalists still look down their noses at bloggers, I think there's a place for us all in the big wide world of the media.

For me, telling a story means getting my facts right, and having corroborating evidence from a number of sources. The internet is absolutely brilliant for finding information, but I think it's important to ensure that I don't just go to a single source. I need to be sure that what I'm saying is correct - and that I have links and references to back me up.

When I'm writing an opinion piece, I do bring in facts to support what I'm saying, but my main aim in that case is to express how I feel or what I think about a subject, and to convince my reader that my point is view is at least valid, if not exactly the one they share.

In both cases I think the best way to get my points across is by developing a clear writing style, by expressing the story with a logical and easy to follow narrative, and by really personalising what I'm saying.

I think that last point is really important. Having been trained as a scientist about a million moons ago, and having been both a technical writer, a report writer and teacher at various stages of my career, I find myself often slipping into a rather impersonal style of writing. Then I read it back and realise I need to make it more personal - I need to link it to me. Why do I find this subject important? Why do I feel passionately about this thing/event/person/whatever? I think that's what makes a blog interesting - the response of the writer to whatever they're writing about.

I'm also a complete perfectionist - it takes me a few hours to write a piece and get it just how I want it, and I love good grammar, spelling and punctuation. In fact I'd go further than that. I cannot bear reading stuff that's misspelled - and as for incorrect punctuation? Aaaargggggghhhh! Apostrophes are easy, folks! You just have to know the rules and apply them properly and.... oh yeah, I know. Old-fashioned. I admit it! I even txt in complete words and sentences most of the time! Heh.

Anyway. This rather rambling piece - because I really have to go to bed and I really want to get it finished first (knowing me, I'll probably come back and tidy it up tomorrow!) is my way of explaining the thinking behind what I do in WebWeaver's World and of saying a great big THANK YOU to everyone who visits my blog, and and even bigger THANK YOU to everyone who takes the time to make a comment. I really appreciate it.

Starting this blog was primarily a way of expressing myself through the written word, and I'm pleased and thrilled to find that other people sometimes enjoy my writing too. Thank you!

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Sunday, September 24, 2006

Is Clay gay or straight? It's none of your business!

Clay's double-page feature in People magazine - thanx to ClayIzzaQT for the fold fixin'. The release of Clay Aiken's sophomore album, A Thousand Different Ways this week has been accompanied by a resurgence of the endless speculation about his sexual orientation.

It appears that the media, the tabloids and those who enjoy celebrity gossip cannot stop asking the question: "So, Clay, are you gay?". Even though he has answered the question a number of times in the past, it appears that some people will not take "no" for an answer, and continue to insist that he "must" be gay, and that he's either confused or lying about his sexual preference.

And Clay, in his typical stubborn, ballsy way, has decided that he's not going to answer the question yet again - partly because he believes it's rude, intrusive, and none of your business, and partly because he's realised that people will believe what they want to believe - whatever he says.

From Rolling Stone magazine - 07/10/03:

"Some people, for example, seem to think that because he is slender, has long, fluttering eyelashes, and currently doesn't have a girlfriend, he must be gay. ...This kind of stuff seems to amuse Aiken more than it upsets him.

One thing I've found of people in the public eye," Aiken says, "either you're a womanizer or you've got to be gay. Since I'm neither one of those, people are completely concerned about me. They're like, 'What are you then?'

From Prime Time Live with Diane Sawyer: 10/09/03:
Clay: "I have some very effeminate qualities... I'm not completely blind to it. I have gotten used to people asking the question. They think, ok, he doesn't drink; he doesn't go out and have sex with every woman that he sees. I think it's high time there's somebody who represents people who aren't gay, but doesn't sleep around with everybody, you know. If I'm supposed to carry the banner for all the nerds in the world I'm fine with that, too."

To those people who either insist on asking him again and again (presumably because, thus far, he hasn't given them the answer they want to hear), and to those who are so sure he's gay because he pings their gaydar I would ask: "How the f*ck is this any of your business?"

How would you feel if complete strangers insisted on speculating publicly about your love life, asked you intrusive questions about whether you preferred men or women, and then completely ignored your answer and carried on believing what they believed in the first place, regardless of the answer you'd given?

Listen: I'm a fully paid-up member of the ClayNation (in case you hadn't noticed!) and I don't give two hoots about what Clay does or doesn't do behind closed doors. It's absolutely NONE of my business - just as what I get up to in my bedroom is none of his. Or yours.

Firstly - what gives someone the right to pry into another person's private life? OK, if you're planning to enter into a relationship with them - or even just hoping for a quick f*ck, I can see why it might be a fair question to ask - although in both cases I would think by that point you might have a good idea of whether they preferred men or women... But otherwise? How is it any of your business?

Clay Aiken - People Online pic by Matthew Ralston. Oh. Wait. It's because he's famous, isn't it? Famous people are fair game, right? It comes with the territory, right? They deserve it, right?

Really? Why? No, really, why??

Are you jealous of their success and fame? Do you think you have a better voice than they do/can act better than they can/have more talent than they do? Is that it?

Or is it because you envy the money and recognition that comes with fame, and wish you had a piece of it - and because you don't you find it fun to tear them down instead?

Or is it because you secretly find that you're attracted to them, and you can't acknowledge that, even to yourself, and so you attack them instead?

Or is it simply that you enjoy gossip, and you just can't stop yourself from speculating - regardless of the fact that this is a real person, with real feelings, real hopes and dreams, and real insecurities and hang-ups - just like you - and that they can feel real pain, sorrow and frustration as a result of your actions - just like you would if the tables were turned?

Oh - and in case you're wondering how Clay's religious beliefs fit into all of this - because you know he's a committed Christian - a Southern Baptist to be exact - and you have some half-arsed notion that Clay's gay but can't admit it because you think his church and/or family are homophobic and wouldn't approve, here's what he said on Good Morning America this week:
Despite the trauma that the reports have caused, Aiken said his Baptist faith had gotten stronger.

"Are there tolerant Baptists? Absolutely. Are there intolerant Baptists? Oh yes, I'm sure there are," he said.

But the Jesus that he believes in loves all faiths, races and sexual orientations: "Muslim, Jewish, Christian, gay, straight, black, white, everybody."

What does it say about you as a person if you get your jollies from speculating about someone else's sex life? Especially if that speculation includes refusing to believe that what they say is true? What's missing in your life to make you feel the need to pry into the private life of someone else?

The fact that some betting organisations were offering odds on whether or not Clay was going to come out this week says a lot about the state that people are in right now. Have you got nothing better to think about? Nothing more important to focus on? Puh-lease!

Clay performing on GMA this week. Secondly - why would a person's sexual orientation affect the way I feel about them? I have straight friends and I have gay friends - and their private lives have nothing to do with our friendship. I love them all, regardless of whom they choose to make love with. It's the same with the artists, musicians, actors and performers whom I admire - why would the gender of the people they love have any effect on the fact that I love the way they paint/sing/dance/act? I just don't understand why some people might think that it would make a difference to the way I respond to their art.

One of my friends, when she found out that I'm a fan of Clay's, shrieked "Why??? He's so GAAAAAAYYYYYYY!!!" My response was threefold: "1. How do you know? He's already said he's not - do you think you know him better than he does? 2. What business is it of yours anyway? 3. And finally - why on earth do you think that would that make a difference to the way I feel about him?"

If Clay came out next week and told the world that he's gay, I would shrug my shoulders and say "Oh well, good for him, I'm glad he feels that the time is right for him to come out, and I hope he's found a good man who will love and cherish him forever"... and then I'd go back to enjoying his music and admiring his character and integrity.

And if he announced next week that he's fallen in love with a beautiful woman and they're planning to get married and have dozens of babies, I would say "Oh well, good for him, I'm glad he's found the girl of his dreams who will love and cherish him forever - so when's that CD of lullabies going to be released?"... and then I'd go back to enjoying his music and admiring his character and integrity.

Clay during the soundcheck at GMA - photo by ClayIsAdorkable. It seems as though Clay has finally arrived at the end of his patience with regards to the questions and the speculation. He's drawn his line in the sand, and he's now refusing to dignify the question with any kind of answer at all. I've gotta say: the man has balls.

In an interview on Good Morning America the other day, he told Diane Sawyer:
"I've gotten to a point now where I a) am tired of trying, and b) I feel it's kind of invasive, you know? What I do in my private life is nobody's business anymore..." "It's one thing to try to be open and talk to people and try to share as much as I can and, and of course I want to," he said. "But at some point it becomes just really rude, you know?"

Aiken said he didn't understand the curiosity, Sawyer's included, about his sexual orientation... "I'm not spending my time with this anymore, this is a waste of my time."

During the interview he also stated quite clearly that the recent tabloid stories about him are not true - although he's not going to dignify those by discussing them either. And of course - as he predicted - the media and the gossip-mongers are continuing to read their own agenda into his refusal any longer to answer the question. "Oh well" they say, "he didn't say he wasn't this time, did he? So that must mean he's gay, but he won't come out and say it!" Which is exactly what he's tired of fighting.

As he told MTV this week:
"Most celebrities, after a while, get used to the fact that no matter what you say, people are gonna believe one thing or believe another one, so it kinda becomes a waste of your time to even attempt to deal with it anymore," he said, shrugging his shoulders.
And as he said to People magazine:
"I learned this year that you can't make people like you or care about you or love you."

Clay - official fanclub photo. Yum! It's OK, Clay, you didn't need to "make" me like you or care about you or love you - you did it just by being yourself.

My dear friend Pink Armchair at the CH and The ConCLAYve wrote this great skit which, for me, really says it all - with humour. I think it demonstrates one of the reasons why Clay's decided that answering "that" question, over and over again, is simply a waste of his time. Enjoy.

Kimmel: So, Clay... whatcha been up to?
Clay: Well, Jimmy, Ah'm here to promote mah new CD, A Thousand Different Ways, and announce that, AGAIN, Ah'm not gay.

Kimmel: So, Clay... you don't have any new album to promote, so what's going on?
Clay: Jest here ta announce that Ah'm STILL not gay.

Kimmel: So, Clay... how're things?
Clay: Well, as ya know, Ah got married this year, to a woman. So Ah guess it's oh-fishul: Ah'm NOT gay.

Kimmel: So, Clay... I hear you have a new baby.
Clay: Yep, shore do. So Ah guess it's obvious: AH'M.NOT.GAY.

Kimmel: So, Clay... How many kids do you have now?
Clay: Five. Oh, and Ah s'pose Ah should make mah annual announcement: Ah'm STILL.NOT.GAY.

Kimmel: So, Clay... I hear you had a hip and two knee replacements.
Clay: Huh? Better crank up mah hearin' aid. What was that? Oh, that's right. And Ah'm STILL.NOT.GAY.

Kimmel: So, Clay... is there anything you have to tell me?
Clay: Yeah... but Ah'll be danged if Ah kin remember what it is.

Interesting links:

On Clay and his private life:
On Clay and A Thousand Different Ways:
Other blogs about Clay, his private life and his new CD:
Oh - and the photos on this page? As always, if you click on a pic, you'll find a larger version hiding just beneath the surface. Just sayin'.

UPDATE 18/02/07: I see I'm getting a whole lot of new visitors to this post who've searched Google to find out What Clay confessed to Kimmel. The answer is that he confessed to having his teeth done this week.

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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

A Thousand Different Ways to be patient

Clay Aiken - A Thousand Different Ways. *sigh*

I adore living in New Zealand, I reckon it's the best country in the world, but just occasionally there's a downside to living here.

Clay's new CD, A Thousand Different Ways, was released at midnight in the US (which was around 6pm here), and everyone I know there was either at a Clay Aiken CD release party (there were parties at record stores right across the country), or sitting with their fingers poised on the "buy album" button at iTunes, waiting for the clock to strike twelve. Unfortunately New Zealand doesn't have an iTunes store yet, so although I can see Clay's ATDW page, I can't actually buy the CD.


Which is a total bummer, because the iTunes version of the CD includes a bonus track, not available anywhere else. It's called Lover All Alone, and by all accounts it's to die for. Rumour has it that the song was co-written by Clay, and everyone who's heard it seems to be completely amazed that it isn't on the regular version of the CD - it's so heartbreakingly good. Waaaaaaa! I wanna hear it! If you're lucky enough to have an iTunes store in your country, go to Clay's ATDW iTunes page to get a copy and see/hear it for yourself.

Mustbepatient. Mustbepatient.

UPDATE 12.51am: You rule, luckiest1! I love the internets. Dearest luckiest1 from the CH just bought me a copy of the CD from iTunes and emailed me an mp3 of Lover All Alone. Oh my Gawd! It's so beautiful, and gentle, and just... yearning... what a sad, sad, gorgeous song. Every single woman who hears it will be a weeping puddle on the floor by the time it's halfway through. Go get it!

Then there's another bonus track (a different one) on the KMart version of the CD. If you buy A Thousand Different Ways from one of their stores, you get a PIN number which allows you access to the downloadable bonus track. However I can't get hold of it because they don't do overseas sales. Rats! I can't even find ATDW listed on their website, so maybe it's an in-store thing only.

Mustbepatient. Mustbepatient. Mustbepatient.

Clay Aiken Soundcheck. There's also a thing at Walmart called Soundcheck, which is an exclusive video of Clay backstage, singing four complete songs from the CD, Clay talking about the making of the CD and all kinds of other stuff (it's an excellent interview) and generally doing his thing. He looks and sounds gorgeous, but for some reason it's running really slowly for me tonight, and I'm only getting a couple of seconds at a time before it stops and loads some more.

Mustbepatient. Mustbepatient. Mustbepatient. Mustbepatient.

Bleagh. It's hard listening to him sing for only 3 seconds and then have to wait 60 seconds to hear the next tiny bit! I'm not even going to mention the fact that I have one or two political "issues" with this particular store. Let's not go there. Mustbepatient. Mustbepatient. Mustbepatient. Mustbepatient. Mustbepatient.

Then there's the Sony store with the bonus special magnet thingy that comes with the CD. I can't buy that either, because the US Sony store won't accept overseas payments and they won't ship overseas either. Rats!

Mustbepatient. Mustbepatient. Mustbepatient. Mustbepatient. Mustbepatient. Mustbepatient.

Clay Aiken fanclub banner. Of course, you know that, being one of Clay's slightly, er, more *enthusiastic* fans, I've already figured out ways around all these little challenges.

I have friends in the US buying me all these bits and pieces as we speak; I've had two copies of the CD ordered on Amazon since the moment it became available for pre-order; and I'm even going to try sweet-talking Brian at work tomorrow, because he used to be an American, and if he still has an American credit card maybe I can persuade him to buy me an iTunes copy of the album so I don't have to wait until my Amazon package arrives. We shall see.

Mustbepatient. Mustbepatient. Mustbepatient. Mustbepatient. Mustbepatient. Mustbepatient. Mustbepatient.

Patience is a virtue, I know, but sometimes, even I just.want.it.now! And NOW is one of those times....

PS In the time I've been writing this, ATDW has gone from #150-something, to #55 and now to #24 on iTunes top album downloads. The CD's been available for just over 6 hours. Wonder how long it'll take to get to #1? :)

Useful Links

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Monday, September 18, 2006

Problem-solving in the shower

I've been working like a crazy person this week, which is why I haven't had a chance to update my blog for a few days. I reckon my job as a web developer is the best job in the world, and it suits me perfectly. It's a great mixture of creativity and cold hard logic, which I don't think you find in many careers.

Each website I build is a one-off, and each comes with its own challenges in terms of the build. A couple of years ago I started building sites in pure CSS instead of using tables for layout, and that's meant a whole new set of techniques (and bug fixes) to figure out.

The site I've been working on for the past couple of months is pretty darned complicated, and it's really stretched my brain at times. Lots of layout trickiness, which, as usual, has thrown up a whole bunch of bugs that have to be fixed and sometimes even hacked. Yeah Internet Explorer, I'm looking at you...

Honestly, I reckon that IE (in the three or four versions that we still build for) can add 50% longer to build times, because of the many ways in which it doesn't comply with CSS standards. There are so many ways in which it has to be forced to do the right thing, while making sure your fixes aren't breaking the site in any other browsers.

Lucky I love problem-solving eh? It's such a big part of my job that I don't think I'd get very far if I didn't like it. I use a mixture of logic, lateral thinking, my knowledge of the techniques and tricks, creative thinking, unending perseverence (because I never, ever give up) and a regular dose of inspiration.

I realised a long time ago that inspiration is most likely to strike when I'm not even thinking about it. Like when I'm sleeping, for example - or at least when I'm falling asleep or just waking up. That's the moment when I'll get the flash of an idea that will lead to a solution.

And I'm not alone in that, either. Recent research has shown that when subjects were asked to make a complex decision while being distracted by another task, they did much better than those subjects given time to think about the decision without distraction. Interesting! You can read more about it here: Trust your instincts.

Dijksterhuis [the researcher] points out that consciousness is good at following precise rules - arithmetic, solving anagrams, etc - but has only limited capacity for handling more complex problems. He proposes the "deliberation without attention" hypothesis, whereby complex problems are best solved by the parallel-computing capabilities of the unconscious mind.
...which I suppose is exactly what I'm doing when I have a cigarette break and watch the world go by, when I take a moment to make a fresh cup of coffee and peruse the paper while I'm at it, or when I simply stare into space and let my mind wander for a minute or two.

Here's an example - I was sitting on the bus this evening, gazing out of the window, thinking about nothing in particular, and it suddenly occurred to me that the layout problem I've got with Opera might just be solved if I try a width: 100% on an outer div, rather than the one I can't use 'cos it breaks in Firefox... We'll see tomorrow...

And as for problem-solving in the shower - well, that's just about the perfect place to sort out the toughest of layout problems - as long as you're not actually thinking about them, that is!

Think about it - you're still half asleep, you're concentrating on getting your bits clean rather than that fiendish float you've got waiting for you at work, it's a new day, the sun's shining through the window, and even though in some ways you'd (I'd) much rather just go back to bed, there's a new challenge waiting... (which, remember, you're not thinking about).

Get all those factors together, add the cats waiting for their breakfast and the stress of having got up late and ohbuggernowI'mgoingtobelateforworkagain and that's the moment when inspiration is bound to strike. It always does.

And if it doesn't strike today, there's always tomorrow...

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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Keith Olbermann talks impeachment

Wow. I *heart* Keith Olbermann. And boy, is he on a roll at the moment!

A couple of weeks ago he used the words of another great broadcaster, Edward Murrow, to comment on Donald Rumsfeld's pathetic attempts to paint the majority of American as "unpatriotic". It was an amazing piece, full of sober passion and serious poetry.

Today I think he outdid himself, with a blistering piece on Bush's woeful response to 9/11, that there is still a gaping hole in the ground where the World Trade Center once stood, a gaping hole in the fabric of the nation, and, worse, that this represents "the promise unfulfilled, the urgent oath reduced to lazy execution."

It's an absolutely brilliantly argued, beautifully presented cry of anguish for everything that America (and the world) has lost, and for all that Bush has squandered in the past five years.

And he uses the "I" word. (That's "I" for "impeachment", folks.)

Take a look...

Crooks and Liars have the full transcript up here: Keith Olbermann’s Special Comment on Bush

History teaches us that nearly unanimous support of a government cannot be taken away from that government, by its critics. It can only be squandered by those who use it not to heal a nation's wounds, but to take political advantage.

They promised bi-partisanship, and then showed that to them, "bi-partisanship" meant that their party would rule and the rest would have to follow, or be branded, with ever-escalating hysteria, as morally or intellectually confused; as appeasers; as those who, in the Vice President's words yesterday, "validate the strategy of the terrorists."

They promised protection, and then showed that to them "protection" meant going to war against a despot whose hand they had once shaken... a despot who we now learn from our own Senate Intelligence Committee, hated Al-Qaeda as much as we did.

The polite phrase for how so many of us were duped into supporting a war, on the false premise that it had 'something to do with 9/11', is "lying by implication."

The impolite phrase, is "impeachable offense."

When those who dissent are told time and time again - as we will be, if not tonight by the President, then tomorrow by his portable public chorus - that he is preserving our freedom, but that if we use any of it, we are somehow un-American...

When we are scolded, that if we merely question, we have "forgotten the lessons of 9/11"… look into this empty space behind me and the bi-partisanship upon which this administration also did not build, and tell me:

Who has left this hole in the ground?
We have not forgotten, Mr. President.
You have.
May this country forgive you.


And here's his piece on Rumsfeld, in case you missed it:

You can read the full transcript at Crooks and Liars here: Keith Olbermann Delivers One Hell Of a Commentary on Rumsfeld

For it did not merely serve to impugn the morality or intelligence - indeed, the loyalty - of the majority of Americans who oppose the transient occupants of the highest offices in the land; worse, still, it credits those same transient occupants - our employees - with a total omniscience; a total omniscience which neither common sense, nor this administration’s track record at home or abroad, suggests they deserve.

And about Mr. Rumsfeld’s other main assertion, that this country faces a "new type of fascism." As he was correct to remind us how a government that knew everything could get everything wrong, so too was he right when he said that - though probably not in the way he thought he meant it. This country faces a new type of fascism - indeed.

Keith Olbermann, I think I love you.

Interesting links:

Countdown with Keith Olbermann
Keith Olbermann Delivers One Hell Of a Commentary on Rumsfeld
Keith Olbermann’s Special Comment on Bush
The Olbermann factor
The Worst Person in the World: And 202 Strong Contenders

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Monday, September 11, 2006

Response from TVNZ to my Path to 9/11 complaint

Graphic by bushwatch.comI heard back from TVNZ today about the (extremely detailed) complaint I made on Friday. My complaint was about what I feel was misleading promotion for The Path to 9/11. You can read it here - The controversy of The Path to 9/11.

Basically I asked them to change their promos so that they no longer claim the mini-series is "the shocking true story" when even ABC has admitted it isn't; to put a disclaimer before and after each of the two parts; and to reconsider even showing it at all.

Anyway, I was most excited to see a reply from TVNZ in my in-box this morning. Until I opened and read it, that is...

To: webweaver
From: ViewerCorrespondence@tvnz.co.nz
Subject: RE: Complaint - A Programme - The Path to 9/11

Hi webweaver,

We did add a disclaimer.

Thanks for your email.

Kind regards

Lesley Rowe
Viewer Correspondent
Public Affairs

That's it??? After all my research and hours spent carefully crafting my complaint, all you've got is "ner ner ner-ner ner - we did add a disclaimer! So there!"

Well crappity crap. So I sent this reply back to them:

To: ViewerCorrespondence@tvnz.co.nz
From: webweaver
Subject: RE:RE: Complaint - A Programme - The Path to 9/11

Hi Lesley,

Yes you did - I noticed. Thank you. So could I ask why you
continued to promote it as "the shocking truth", when it
quite clearly isn't.

Not good enough, I'm afraid. I'll be making a formal
complaint to the Broadcasting Standards Authority - both
about the promotion and the mini-series itself. I don't
think I'll be the only one, either.


Right back atcha Lesley!

I wonder if the extreme - uh - brevity of her reply was because she had another eleventy hundred Path to 9/11 complaints to deal with this morning? Hope so.

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Sunday, September 10, 2006

Live blogging of New Zealand screening of The Path to 9/11

Well, the TV One screening of Path to 9/11 has screened, and I've attempted to do a live blog - particularly so that those of you in the US can get a handle on what you (may or may not) see tomorrow; so you have time to figure out the details of what's correct and what's been falsified or made up; and so that we can compare the NZ version with the US version, to see if anything's been changed by ABC/Disney by the time you guys get to see it.

Apologies in advance for any typos (and appalling mis-spellings of names of famous Americans!) - I've now tidied it all up so it makes more sense.

Screening on TV One begins with a BIG disclaimer:

Due to subject matter, viewer discretion is advised.

The following movie is a dramatization that is drawn from a variety of sources including the 9/11 Commission Report and other published materials, and from personal interviews. The movie is not a documentary.

For dramatic and narrative purposes, the movie contains fictionalized scenes, composite and representative characters and dialogue, as well as time compression.

Credits. Scenes of NY streets. Classical music.

On-screen text:
Based in part on the book “The Cell” by John Miller and Michael Stone
On-screen text:
The 9/11 Commission is an independent, bipartisan commission created by congress in late 2002.

"Our aim has not been to assign individual blame. Our aim has been to provide the fullest possible account of the events surrounding 9/11 and to identify lessons learned"

"In an event of this scale, touching so many issues and organizations, we are conscious of our limits"
- 9/11 Commission

Busy airport - Logan International, Boston. 7.13am, September 11, 2001. Passengers checking in to United flight. Muhammad Atta checking in. Warning on screen about him. Allowed through. Employee asks should he be searched? No, just hold their bags until they board. Checking bags packed by other terrorists. They go through OK.

John O'Neill, Director of Security, WTC (retired FBI agent), arrives for work and reminds security to check his sticker, "...even if he knows me. No-one gets in the building without a sticker!"

Dulles Airport Washington DC 7.15am. Salem al-Hazmi checks in. No photo id. Employee instructs baggage handler to “hold these bags off the plane until they have boarded”

Terrorists boarding aircraft, hand luggage being x-rayed and allowed through.

John O’Neill arrives at office.

Planes takes off, terrorists on different planes call each other on cellphones “we are about to take off - all is good" "it’s good here too" "God is great” terrorists look nervous. Told to turn off their cellphones by stewardess.

Flying view over water towards Manhattan and WTC...

8.5 yrs earlier - February 26, 1993.

NY city streets, WTC aerial view, yellow truck pulls into car park under WTC.

Ramzi Yousef (Palestinian engineer) is one of the people in the truck.

Parks in reserved spot, leaves keys in vehicle, one guys gets out and gets into another car and drives off. Security guards not paying attention.

Others prepare the bomb. Mahmoud "The Red" Abouhalima (Egyptian cab driver), Mohammad A. Salameh (Jordanian).

Bombs set in truck. Speaking Arabic (praying). Light fuses, get into other vehicles and leave fast.

Still security not paying attention. Bombers are trying to get out of car park – honking with impatience. Bomb’s about to blow - stuck in queue to get out. Finally get out, drive like mad, woman in office notices. Vehicles hurtle out of car park and onto busy NY street.

Fire starts in van, fills up with smoke and blows up huge explosions everywhere, people getting hurt, fireball.

News report.

Emad Salem (immigrant from Egypt, ex-colonel, Egyptian army) watches news report at home.

Nancy Floyd (FBI special agent, NY office) watches on her TV while packing.

Bombers arrive on the shoreline to the S of Manhatten to watch the WTC destruction from a distance.

NY Fire House 10 first on scene.

Breathing equipment, fire, smoke, water, darkness, torchlight.

Emad calls Nancy and tells her he told her it would happen. "You know who this is, don't you Nancy? I don't understand your FBI! These people - they don't listen!" She says: “They don’t believe people are smart enough to pull this off. You did the best you could. We both did the best we could!” He says “I’m afraid they will come and get me!”

Terrorists watch WTC from across water to S, not happy, buildings were supposed to fall into each other. Have to go! Now!

Fire team break through into car park.

Nancy to Emad: "Let’s see what happens and if anyone contacts you, page me."

News report: Suspected to have been a truck bomb, no idea of perpetrators, number of organisations claiming responsibility.

Ramzi Yousef sees report on news while at airport waiting to leave country. Calls crime hotline and claims responsibility on behalf of the 5th Batallion of the Liberation Army. Action was against Americans for govt’s politic, economic and military support of Israel.

Nancy arrives at work at FBI NY office - February 27 1993.
Meets Neil Herman (FBI supervising special agent) and Lou Napoli (NYPD detective - joint terrorism task force). Lou: "this isn't our guys is it? The guys your informant turned us on to? We were tailing them, remember?" "Will he come in?"

Nancy remembers only too well - "he was the best mole we ever had and he came to them - and they shut him down because he wanted $500/week" Napoli says it was an upstairs decision and that he didn't want to lose him either.

"You guys were wrong why won’t you admit it?" "Call him and see if he'll talk to us."

Bomb squad detective in cleanup of WTC finds part from bomb truck. Worried about avalanche caused by vibrations from subway train - can't move evidence, but the piece has an ID number which could allow them to identify it, trains being tested nearby which could destroy the evidence. Not allowed, but they remove it anyway.

Asked by boss if they removed evidence. Yes. Boss: "Nothing was to be removed! Could blow whole case." Crime wagon took it to the lab. Boss: "FBI case - not NYPD or Port Authority. Don’t think – just follow orders!"

VIN number belongs to Salameh's truck – he wants deposit back - reported stolen. FBI Neil Herman v excited. Lou: "So it was those guys?" "Yeah."

Salameh was friend of guy who shot Jewish defence league rabbi in attempted assasination 3 years ago. These guys were questioned but never charged.

FBI watching rental company surveillance. Salameh comes in about stolen van. Fill out form. Has no keys (left in van) $200 settlement. Wants $400. FBI getting nervous. Signs form. Cash handed over. Initiate the takedown. FBI moves in. Salameh arrested.

Under WTC – cleanup. On news: "Joint Terrorism Task force arrested Mohamad Salameh". Cleanuppers cheer.

John Miller (news correspondent) meets Neil Herman in a bar.

Neil: "John it’s BS - we were tailing those guys since the rabbi shooting we knew they were up to no good but we couldn't convince guys upstairs. Caught up with little guys, only luck, like Keystone Cops. Miracle that only 6 people killed. Any idea how bad it could have been? Sending John O'Neill to Washington. Chief of Counter-Terrorism. Plan to catch the big fish."

Lou Napoli and FBI team meet Emad.
Emad: "6 months ago I told you something might happen. But the FBI fired me 'cos I wanted to get paid."
FBI guy: "You wouldn't testify and investigations can't go on for ever. Individuals have the right to be protected from domestic spying."
Emad: "Don’t they have the right to be protected against terrorists? They want to bring down both buildings and kill as many people as possible! I read every day in the newspapers how the FBI are heroes, no-one knows the truth, huh?"
Nancy: "We want to reactivate you and put you back in."
Emad: "They are still out there - the members of the cell. Mosques been taken over by fundamentalists."
Nancy: "Are you willing to work with us again?
Napoli: "Got to be prepared to testify. We want the sheikh. But there's two guys we really want - the masterminds - Rashid the bomb-maker and 'The Red.'"
Emad: "Rashid - met him only once. Quiet, smart. "The Red" I know well. Not shown up for work. What will you pay?"

Napoli to Nancy in FBI office: "Clearance to restart relationship with Emad. $1.5mil. They sweated before they signed off on it."

Khalid Sheikh Muhammad (Ramzi Yousef's uncle) at club/party in Manilla, Philippines, 1993.

Talking about bomb with nephew, Ramzi Yousef (Rashid the bomb maker). "Once the American people realise that their government's policies put them in danger, they will change those policies"

Yousef tells him he is working on something incredible – bomb that can blow up a plane, cannot be detected - developed into mould like gelatine, can be placed inside anything. Detonator – casio watch.
Yousef: "A dozen planes in one day. We will kill thousands – needs money to do it properly with professionals."
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed: "There's a wealthy Saudi - we fought together against the Russians in Afghanistan"
Yousef: “I’ll knock those towers down... someday!”

Amad calls Nancy from outside mosque: "'The Red' is in Egypt – they arrested him - they haven’t told you - you must do something! He's been arrested for assassination of Egyptian president Sadat! They will torture and kill him!"

'Blind Sheikh" being hassled by media outside mosque re: connection to WTC bombing.

Helicopters with armed guards arriving in NY, handcuffed man being taken away.

Mahmoud ('The Red') being interviewed by FBI – FBI got him out of Egypt. FBI have him. He’s been tortured. Flashbacks of torture. They say they won’t hurt him. "We're not gonna torture you here. We don't do that. Did they hurt you? I hear the Egyptian Scret Police are pretty tough guys... Can you help us? Will you help us?" Trying to make connection with the Blind Sheikh who ordered murder of an associate by Red.

Want all his info about Blind Sheikh and Ramzi Yousef. He can talk to an attourney and get a better deal. They don't want him for the WTC bombing, they just want all his info.
Emad meets with FBI – he has taped conversation with Blind Sheikh where he talks about war with America. "We must kill American soldiers, attack military targets. Is it enough for an arrest?"

"We'll have to check with Janet Reno - see if she has any balls." She has to approve an arrest.

News report on Blind Sheikh’s arrest.

FBI Briefing. Herman: "Rashid the Iraqi – Ramzi Yousef pic – this is our guy, the mastermind behind the attack. Left NY for Pakistan - his home."
Frank Pellegrino: "Explanation of two agencies in Pakistan FIA (like FBI) and ISI (like CIA). They hate each other. Someone in FIA (as Pakistan is very anti-American) could have warned Yousef at the last minute. Missed arresting him by 2 hours. Committed to murder and mayhem. We must get him. Achilles heel is his brazenness. Placed bomb outside Prime Minister-to-be Benazir Butto’s home but mucked it up. Injured (damaged left eye and fingers). Prime suspect in bomb in a mosque in Iran. Why would a Muslim try to assassinate his PM or blow up mosque? Benazir Butto is a woman (first female head of state). He is a Sunni. Anti Shia (hence anti-Iranian). FBI’s most wanted man. We believe he's in the Philippines."

Bomber (Yousef) on Philippines airlines plane setting up bomb in toilets. He gets off at Narita. Passenger in his seat (where he's put the bomb) gets blown up after plane takes off again.

John O’Neill (now FBI Counterterrorism Division): “Yousef is practicing, he will learn from this and try again. I'm going to DC early - get things started.”

Yousef building bombs at home above the club in the Philippines. Accidentally starts a fire. Leaves laptop, files and address book in building, sends a mate (Murad) to get them, who gets arrested. Murad tries to run but gets caught “The two Satans must be destroyed!”

Police find laptop and open it. "Do we need a warrant" Well get one"

Richard Clarke (National Co-ordinator Counterterrorism - NCC) press conference. Afterwards meets with “Kirk” FBI field agent. Talks about finding laptop with info on "Day of Death" plot to hijack a dozen airliners in a single day. Kill 4,000 people. All US carriers - bound for LA, SF, Honolulu and NY. Also assassinate Clinton and the Pope. Small bomb with each hijkacker. Suicide mission. Man arrested in Manilla was a commercial airlines pilot. "When was this supposed to happen?" "Same day as Pope’s visit – Friday."

John O’Neill wants to meet a bunch of people. Richard Clarke from White House calls him about info on Yousef.

O'Neill meets up with Lou, Herman and others at FBI.

They discuss Ramzi Yousef – bomb factory exposed, cell broken, on way to Pakistan. "We need to pinpoint him and get him out of there fast. No lawyers getting in our way. We cover our bases."

Herman: "We could never look at that laptop if that happened here. All that evidence - inadmissable. It’s a new kind of war, and if preventions’ our duty…" O'Neill: "His rap sheet's a mile long. We won’t lose this guy."

Islamabad, Pakistan - US embassy - Feb 4, 1995.

Man approaches embassy gate to get in, but walks away when he sees security. Passes note to soldier at back gate – pic of Yousef wanted poster. Gets inside embassy. Very nervous. Wants no-one to know he’s there. Will be murdered if anyone knows him. Gives explanation of why Yousef has become a martyr. No work, people get angry. This is all they can do. Bill Miller and Scott Randall (Diplomatic Security Service) ask for verification that he knows Yousef. Informer says that Yousef lost his laptop in Manila. Has a new one now. Sometimes leaves it with this informer.

They discuss it with FBI back in US by video link. Believe the informer is for real. Has provided them with info about more attacks. He doesn't believe in killing innocents, which is why he's informing. US officials in Pakistan believe they have to move fast - before Yousef does. O’Neill says he must contact State Dept. Get permission from Butto.
US official: "That's very risky, John. Needs absolute security."
O'Neill: "She'll give it"
US official: "But he's a rock star here! He has friends high up in the government."
O'Neill: I'll take care of it. Get as many agencies as you can - whoever you can trust. Contact the embassy - tell them it's the real deal - 6 hours".

Meeting with Clarke at his home at night.
Clarke: "Tell O'Neill I'll back him all the way on this but when it comes to pulling the trigger - he needs approval. Up and down the line. He can't be a cowboy on this."

O'Neill is calling someone about the "Rendition Plan" (which will take place when they catch Yousef). "If our planes don't have clearance to land... I don't care! This top priority!"

Informer (Ishtiak) calls Miller. He has spoken to Yousef and has been invited to dinner. "What should I do?" "Have dinner with him." "I won’t know where until closer to the time." "Try to find out where he’s staying." "We won't arrest him in public - it's too dangerous. Don't worry" Informer very scared – doesn’t want to be led into a trap. Doesn’t want them to tail him.

Ishtiak arrives home to find Yousef and his uncle (Khalid Sheikh) waiting for him. They show him the bomb in a chessboard box. They are sending him on a flight this evening. Yousef will be on one too. Islamabad to Bankok to US. "You plant the bomb and leave the aircraft in Bangkok. Once over Pacific it will blow up." "But I have no passport!" "We have one for you." He’s very scared.

Ishtiak calls US officials, warning them what's going to happen.

Scott: "My wife’s on that flight!" Miller: "We can’t have Americans changing flights or they will figure it out. No-one's getting on that plane - but if we're gonna arrest them they have to think everything's normal."
Asks Pakistani Colonel how they can have let this happen.
Pakistani official: "Do you want to point fingers, make accusations or arrest this animal and protect your wife?"

Ishtiak calls again to say the plan’s changed again. "No bombs on any planes?" "Not as far as I know." "That's not not good enough!" "He will kill me and my family if he finds out!"

Miller: "What info do you have?"
Ishtiak: "He intends to leave for Peshawar tomorrow. He intends to cross to Afghanistan. He doesn't know. I'm meeting him tomorrow morning." Gives them Yousef's hotel address. Doesn't know if he's there now.
Miller: "We'll have to go back to the embassy and talk to John. Maybe we can get him tomorrow."

Talk to O'Neill by phone. Haven't confirmed Yousef is in the hotel because they don't want him tipped off. Want authorisation.
Pakistani Colonel: "Prime Minister has given me sole authority"
Miller to O'Neill: "Do we have authority?"
Herman to O'Neill: "John - we have got to get authority! We can't do this alone!"
O'Neill: "Justice, Langley and NSC will hang you up if you get this wrong."
O'Neill to Miller: "Place your men. I’ll get a decision."

Ishtiak walking through streets. DSS/Pakistani authorities in position.

Yousef: "We are going to Afghanistan to teach mujehaddin about bombing. You will meet 'The Tall One' who finances our efforts. He’s a great man. He has asked me to come and share my knowledge, we are in a new movement to change the world. Will take the 12 o’clock bus to Peshawar and then across the border, wake me up before noon."

Ishtiak goes to buy a newspaper. He gives signal to watching men. They place call to John O’Neill. "We can get him!" O'Neill puts him on hold - Director Freed is on the other line.

Freed: "I want Bill Gabin to arrest him"
O'Neill: "But he's not there!"
Freed: "He's on his way with 20 other agents and a rendition team."
O'Neill: "But he's on his way to Afghanistan! This might be our only opportunity!"
Freed: "Just keep an eye on him - he’s not going anywhere."
O'Neill: "He might if 20 FBI agents turn up at the airport!"
Freed: "This isn’t my decision. Secretary of State is coordinating with Benazir Butto. There are other agencies involved! I’ll call you back!"

They have to wait.

Back at FBI there’s a phone call - Director Freed gave go-ahead. Go! Now!

They catch Yousef asleep in bed and arrest him. Maps of NY, passports in his room. Weapons, bomb-making equipment.

Locals are not happy. Pakistani police move in to keep people calm.

Yousef’s uncle realises what has happened and slips away.

In car on way to airport Miller wants to know from Yousef who’s financing the operation. Is it Saddam? Revenge for the Gulf War? Who are you going to see in Afghanistan? Pakistani Colonel asks for 1 hour with him (to get all answers they want...). Miller refuses.

Ishtiak and family leaving in haste for US with US official. Says he doesn’t believe in jihad. All neighbours are watching. Nervous moments.

Back at the FBI... "Fingerprints are a match – it’s Yousef! We got him!" He's being brought to Manhatten.

Mohamed Salameh comes out of courtroom after being given sentence of 240 years along with other terrorist “Red” (240 years) and "Blind Sheikh" Omar Abdel-Rahman (life in prison).

Later in court Yousef says “I support terrorism as long as it is against US government and Israel. You are more than terrorists. You invented terrorism, you are using it every day, you are liars, hypocrites.”

Herman whispers to O'Neil: "Who's funding these terrorists? Who's paying for their defense?"

Judge makes comment about Islam and jihad. "You are not fit to uphold Islam. Your God is death." Judge wants to sentence him to death but instead he will do 240 years in isolation in jail.

He is flown by chopper to jail, past WTC. “If I'd had enough money and explosives, they wouldn’t be still standing.”

O’Neill and Clarke discuss following money trail – 'Tall One' - Saudi millionaire, paid for Yousef’s defence and supported Blind Sheikh. Name is Osama bin Laden - Clarke shows photo. OSB has declared fatwah/jihad against America. O'Neill: "We're at war!"

Afghanistan. Hill fort.

Western (ABC) film crew (including John Miller) walks nervously through crowds of men, one of whom spits at them. Crew searched by Afghanis who take their camera. Crew complains, guns are drawn. OK! OK!

Dr Ayman Al-Zawahiri (Liuetenant to OSB) and Muhammed Atef (Al-Qaeda military commander) greet camera crew. Crew want to speak with bin Laden.

Real footage of bin Laden (the interview).

June 10, 1998. CIA team watches the interview on the news back at HQ (Counterterrorism Center, CIA Langley, Virginia). CIA very angry that film crew got in without them knowing about it. Clarke and crew watch it at the White House and look very crestfallen. FBI team watches it at their HQ. Lots of footage of this interview is shown.

OSB: “We predict a black day for America!”

O'Neill wants extended complete version of footage from ABC, wants to meet with journalist John Miller. Gets info about meeting with Bin Laden from Miller “everyone went nuts when he turned up” (flashback of much shooting into the air and craziness amongst supporters). OSB blesses little boy.

O'Neill: "What was he like?"
John Miller: "Committed to his cause, whole new warrior, fought Russians, now want to fight us and believes he can win. We think Reagan won the Cold War. The Afghanis think they won the Cold War because they forced the Russians out and caused the 'Evil Empire' to crumble. Now they want us."

O’Neill realises gold dagger OSB sometimes wears is a signal of some kind to operatives watching – it's a message. Miller: "He did seem irritated that we weren't taking him seriously. Bin Laden was trying to provoke a response with his threats to hurt civilians"

Watching footage of Masoud, Northern Alliance commander of Mujehaddin.
Miller: "If it’s bin Laden you want. Masoud is your man, they hate each other. Are you thinking of hooking up?"

Caves in Afghanistan, Masoud’s stronghold, old military chopper arrives with Masoud in it, everyone cheers. FBI operatives already there. They meet Masoud. He’s happy to see them. They fly off together in his chopper.

Jury is watching bin Ladens’ whole speech. O'Neill paces outside. Mary Jo White (US Attorney S District of NY) gives O'Neill their decision: "Yes you have the legal basis to go after bin Laden. Indictment is in absentia. Are you bringing him in any time soon?" "I’m on it already!" They are nailing him for aiding and abetting Yosef, causing Black Hawk Down etc etc.

Masoud’s men fan out across Afghan countryside with FBI operatives. Arrive near Al-Qaeda camp and spy over camp. Masoud: "OBL is there. He raises money from mosques across the world, his money has been frozen for years."

They spot OBL. Masoud gives them his daily movements. FBI operative: “This is isolated, it’s perfect for us – it’s beautiful!”

CIA Langley, Virginia, June 1998. George Tenet (CIA director) gets briefing from "Kirk" (FBI operative) about the deal with OBL – details of how they will capture him.
"Patricia" (CIA Senior Analyst) asks for more info about mujehaddin and equipment.
Sandy Berger (National Security Advisor): "What are your intentions once you've siezed the target?"
Kirk: "We'll take him to Masoud’s cave, then Pakistan with the rendition team and then to NY."
George Tenet (CIA boss): I hope the indictment's solid - I don't want to get him all the way to NY and have some fancy lawyer get him off."
O'Neill: "Indictment is solid sir."
Paul Kessler (Chief of Operations, CIA): Is this covert or clandestine? Where’s the money coming from? I don't want to be the guy going in front of a special congresional coimmitte asking for money!"
Kirk: "Depends on if we succeed or not!"
Berger: "Do Masoud’s men know this is a snatch not an assassination?"
Kirk: "Absolutely"
Tenet: "It's not just killing OBL that worries me. What about the women and children in the compound? And do we trust Masoud?
Discuss pros and cons of Masoud. He grows heroin! He’s not a criminal, never been prosecuted for a crime. Deserves our backing and our support!

Want to discuss it privately. Kirk goes out of room.

Clarke to Kirk: "You go back and get them ready."
Kirk: "It's not a go?"
Clarke: "They are worried about political fallout and are not advocating assassination. Presidential directive that it would be OK if OBL were killed accidentally."
Kirk: "They flinch at the idea of wacking him? This is not about covering your own asses!"
O'Neill: "The fact is, terrorism is perceived by this administration as being a law and order problem. Period."
Kirk: "How do you win a law and orderly war?"
O'Neill: "You don't."

Cut immediately to real footage of Clinton press conference where he is saying “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.”

Clarke in car with O'Neill: "The President has assured me that this scandal won’t affect his decision-making."
O'Neill: "So it’s OK for us to kill BL as long as he didn’t give the order. Pathetic!"

Afghanistan, Masoud's stronghold. Chopper flies in.

Kirk tells operatives: "Janet Reno's signed off on it. We can kill him by accident, just not on purpose. He could get caught in the cross-fire."

Message comes in: Washington says it’s a go! They move out with Masoud.

CIA and FBI HQs with video linkup. All watching screens nervously. They are in audio contact with men on ground with Masoud in Afghanistan.
Afghani voice: "Afghanistan is standing by"
Patricia (CIA chick) to Berger on the video hookup: "Our people are in danger!"
Berger: "I understand that. But I don’t have that authority."
Patricia: "Excuse me sir but what authority do we have here?"
Random CIA dude: "Is the President leaving it up to us?"
Tenet: "The President has approved every plan presented for review."
Berger: "I can't call them until we're all on the same page"
Patricia: "The same page - is this some kind of code-speak, Sir?"
Afghani voice on audio hookup: "There are women and children near the target! They are moving towards the target! Do you want us to act now?"
Patricia: "Our people are in place!"
Tenet: "There are women and children nearby - how close are they? Can we clear them?"
Patricia to Clarke: "This is the nature of intelligence, sir, we rarely have the full information, We do the best that we can with the information"
Clarke: "But what do we know, Patricia?"
Patricia: "We know enough to try now. Now excuse me Sir, you are the National Security Adviser. Can’t you give the order?"
Berger to Tenet: Now look George, if you feel confident you can make a recommendation to the President yourself. "
Tenet: "So if it all goes bad it comes down on my head - like Janet Reno and Wako! The buck stops down the hall!"

Everyone looks down. Berger looks like he doesn't know what to say. Tenet laughs bitterly.
FBI ops and Masoud wait as the day dawns in Afghanistan.

Mahmoud: "Are there any men left in Washington or are they all cowards?"

John Miller watching video footage with Herman. Evil-eye is in Nairobi (reporter met him when interviewed OBL - Evil-Eye spat at him). There's a lot of intelligence chatter saying there's a plot by Al-Qaeda. OSB has a lot of cells. Can’t tell if it’s true. CIA checked walk-in informant's info (about plot to blow up Nairobi embassy) with Israeli Mussad and said to drop it.

Miller asks if they have any informants in Al-Qaeda. Herman says "I can't say" (meaning yes but I can't say).

Herman: "Embassy in Nairobi wants more money for security, State Dept considers it low budget priority."
Miller: "This guy is bad news – I guarantee it."

Kirk arrives at Nairobi embassy and is greeted by Ambassador.
Evil-eye approaches embassy with bomb in truck.
Evil-Eye: "Let me in! Let me in!"
Embassy security guard: "He has a gun! He has a gun! I need support!"
Evil-Eye throws a grenade into the compound. It explodes as those inside the embassy are discussing "unusual communications" they haven't been able to figure out.
Evil-Eye runs (away?) but other suicide bomber in the truck presses the button. Huge explosion. All embassy officials thrown across the room by the blast.

News report. Terrible death and destruction. 240 dead. Patricia marches angrily through CIA offices. Truck bomb also struck US embassy in Dar-es-Salam, Tanzania.

Bill Clinton in TV address: "We will use all the means at disposal to bring those responsible to justice."

Patricia storms into FBI meeting: "You should have ordered those people we had on the ground in Afghanistan to get bin Laden because we had him!”
Very upset - crying: "Those deaths. We’re responsible because we didn’t act on the info we had and we could have had him!"
CIA dude: "You don’t know for sure it’s him!"
Patricia laughs hysterically and leaves in tears. All top CIA guys look suitably chastised...

Nairobi – woman informs FBI (CIA? I'm getting confused who is who now! I think one guy is Kirk who was supposed to get blown up at the embassy. He has cuts on his face.) where Evil-Eye is. They arrive with guns. He has a gun. Chase him round the shacks, corner him. He rushes them, they arrest him.

Nairobi men surround them with machetes but the FBI/CIA talk their way out of it.

Clarke and O'Neill talk on the phone.
Clarke: "It's bin Laden all the way - although the CISA's witholding judgement. They are sending a team from the Washington Field office. I wisd they were sending you."
O'Neill: "What's Clinton going to do?"
Clarke: "They're talking about it as we speak."
O'Neill: "He has to do something. He has to act."
Clarke: "He's preparing a series of options but I can't say anything right now."

White House Situation Room, National Security Council, August 1998.
Tenet: "We have a number of suggestions. We must determine who is the enemy. We know OBL is responsible. Taliban have allowed himin the country and are protecting him.
Madeleine Albright (Secretary of State): "Taking on the Taliban would be a major miltary undertaking. President isn’t prepared to go that far in response to attacks on two embassies."
Clarke: "This isn't a game. We're at war!"
Albright: "The Attorney General's indictment name is bin Laden, not the Taliban. We need to focus on him and his terror network. What targets do you have in mind?
Clarke: Al Shifa. Pharmaceutical plant in Sudan. OBL is part owner in order to develop chemical and nuclear weapons"
Tenet: "Egyptian intel shows precursary substances assoc w chemical weapons"
Another CIA chick: "Need better intelligence on cthis facility before we consider any options"
Berger: "And if there's a nerve gas attack on NYC or a dirty bomb fired at a military base overseas and we had the opportunity to act??"
Albright: Do we have a retiatory plan I can present to the President? I'm waiting..."
Everyone looks dumbstruck.
William Cohen (Secretary of Defense): "We all agree we don't want to send in the ground troops. That would be a huge overreaction on our part. We can't do airstrikes because of flyover restrictions. So our best bet here will be missiles. Tomahawk missiles."
Tenet: "We can use President Reagan's missile strike on Libya as precedent. That way no-one on Capitol Hill can cry "assassination".
Albright: "Where? What are your targets?"
Clarke: The Al Shifa plant and we've got new intelligence that there's been a celebratory meeting between OBL and his top advisers."
Tenet gives location of meeting: "bin Laden will be chairing the meeting. Isolated, only jihadists, no civilian population."
Albright: "When?"
Tenet: "August 20th."

Slomo of Tomahawks being launched.

Clinton: The US launched an attack this morning on one of the most active terrorist bases in the world. Located in Afghanistan and operated by groups affiliated with OSB. Chemical weapons-related facility."

News report says that pharmaceutical plant was producing medicines and that there was no connection to bin Laden. Local people riot in the streets.

Reporter on the ground (John Miller): "Clinton is under fire from Republicans and media pundits – accusations that attack it is to distract people from Lewinsky affair." US flag burns.

OBL’s lieutenant calls news reporter (Nicholas Lanier - ABC Middle East Correspondent) to say the attacks have failed and OBL is alive. "Tell Clinton if he wants to fight, to come to Afghanistan and fight like a warrior. The war has begun!!!"

Clinton on news in background: "America will continue to lead the world's fight. For peace, freedom and security."

Lanier calls someone to tell them the news.

Al-Zawahiri in military convoy on two-way radio: "Attack the Northern Alliance! Let us show the world what happens to those allied with our enemies! Annihilate them!!!!!!"

Attack on Masoud camp from Taliban. FBI guy finds out they didn’t get OBL and tells Masoud.

Masoud: "OBL received notice from Pakistan. You know assassination was destined for failure. Because Washington informed Pakistan. This is your doing!"

Masoud is v angry w FBI guy. Battle rages, Masoud’s men take heavy casualties. He doesn't want any more help from FBI.

White House Situation Room
Tenet: "The Pakistani govt was informed when exactly of the Pentagon attack?"
Madeleine Albright: "The President feared missiles crossing Pakistan airspace could be mistaken as an attack from India, igniting a nuclear exchange between two countries looking for anyexcuse to go to war. We had no other choice!"
Tenet: "I realise that. But when did we let them know?"
Albright doesn't answer.
Tenet: "Madam Secretary. The Pakistani Security Service, the ISI, has close ties with the Taliban."
Albright: "We tried to time the disclosure through General Rolston so that any warning would be too late."
Tenet: "These are cruise missiles launched from thousands of miles waway. They take hours to honme in on their targets."
Albright: "We had to inform the Pakistanis. There are regional factors involved here!"
Tenet: "And the end result is that we've enhanced bin Laden's stature in the Islamic world. He's thumbing his nose at us!"
Berger: "That's the risk we take with covert military actions - Kennedy learned it with the Bay of Pigs, Reagan with Iran-Contra..."
Tenet: "When I took over at Langley I warned the administration about using covert operations to solve failed foreign policy..."
Berger: "You need to just do your job"
Tenet: "I am trying to do so sir - if you'll let me!"

O'Neill at party, wants to talk about "bad intel, bad PR" but they won't let him.

Khalid Sheikh Muhammad (Ramzi Yousef's uncle) arrives at Al-Qaeda training camp. Al Matar, Afghanistan, March 1999.

Men training. Weapons, guns, computers, bomb-making.

He greets OBL’s lieutenant. Suggests a collaboration to hijack and blow up lots of planes. Not an attempt to get his nephew out of jail, although it was an idea he had once. "I call it 'The Planes Operation'.”

Later that night in camp. Flames flicker from torches. A projector lights up a big screen with a viseo image of Bill Clinton. They shoot his image through the head and call him Satan. Everyone waves their guns in the air. "Clinton is Satan! Clinton is Satan!"

Making plans for Planes Operation. Once in Pakistan they must go alone to different places. Al-Zawahiri tells Khalid Sheikh Muhammad not to tell Ressam about their secret discussions or his meeting with OBL. "Ressam has his own path to follow."
Khalid Sheikh Muhammad wants money and help from OBL.
Al-Zawahiri: "You may begin preparations but it will be a limited operation - 10 planes is too many. Too many people involved. Much can go wrong. Targets must be carefully determined. Beauty must be its maximum casualities. Suggest December 31 1999. The millennium."
Khalid: "This is too soon! I don't have pilots to do this operation."
"With God's help you will."

US/Canada border, Port Angeles, Washington, December 14, 1999.

Sweaty guy driving car. Lots of police and security at border. He gets stopped by border guard because he’s so uptight. They want him to open the trunk. They find bomb-making raw materials. They try to arrest him but he runs. They get him. He’s Algerian - Ahmed Rassan. He has a NY phone number (Miskini's) written on a scrap of paper. They inform the FBI.

John O’Neill is told they may be dealing with multiple cells. Gets background info on movements of some people they are watching incl Miskini.
FBI dude: "Have we got enough to arrest this guy?"
O'Neill: "Not yet, but we have enough to get into his apartment and sniff around. Who knows what we may find."

Brooklyn, New York, December 20 1999.
In his apartment they find bottles of chemicals, wires, maps of LA and Manhatten, lots of credit cards and a gun.
FBI dude: "We have enough to arrest this guy, why are we screwing around?"
O'Neill: "We’re 11 days from the millennium. I want the whole network."

Herman tells O'Neill they have over 40 possibles that Miskini's linked them to in the last week. All under surveillance. O'Neill tells team they will round themn up on the 30th, which means they can hold them until after millennium.

FBI ops go back to house and arrest Miskini. News reports of many arrests of suspected terrorists.

FBI going through mounds of evidence, most of it in Arabic and encrypted. It will be hard to break it. Trying to get code-crackers but they just aren’t out there, and they have less than 40 hours. Fears of attack during millennium. News report says there is evidence that “may trace back to OBL with links via bomb-making materials to Yousef.”

Interviewing Miskini. Wanting to know who is the lead dog? What’s the big flame that you guys talk about on the telephone sheets? He won’t reply except to say Happy New Year in Arabic and “boom”.

Giuliani won’t cancel NY celebrations in Times Square. Tons of security.

Build-up to millennium celebrations as O’Neill questions terrorist suspect. "Is your mother proud of you? IS GOD PROUD OF YOU???? (and lots more yelling!)

Times Square, NYC, 31 December 1999

Massive celebrations. Heaps of security searching everyone. O’Neill v worried that there will be an attack. Dramatic music! Terrorist saying prayer! Worried faces! Drummer drums! Fireworks go off!

Celebration dinner of FBI dudes (and John Miller) after midnight because nothing happened. O'Neill: “We dodged a bullet tonight, but nobody bats a thousand - remember that."
Miller: "When is this ever going to end?”
They stand and sing “Danny Boy.”

American Airlines flights are leaving their airports on the morning of September 11 2001. Terrorists look at each other. They get knives and duct tape out of their bags in the overhead lockers. They start walking towards the cockpit...


They showed this disclaimer at the end as well:

The preceding movie is a dramatization that is drawn from a variety of sources including the 9/11 Commission Report and other published materials, and from personal interviews. The movie is not a documentary.

For dramatic and narrative purposes, the movie contains fictionalized scenes, composite and representative characters and dialogues, as well as time compression.

Phew! It's 7.20am and I've been rewriting this all night. I have to go to work in an hour or so. I'm not sure I can do this all again tonight - in fact I know I can't cos I'll be far too tired. I hope there's another Kiwi out there who might have a crack at it instead...

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