What bokononists whisper whenever they think of how complicated and unpredictable the machinery of life really is.



By Elton Beard

There are two kinds of people in the world, those who divide people into two kinds and those who don't. I don't.



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12/02/01 08:45pm link

Dept. of Bizarre Coincidence: the domain name saudi-binladin-group.com was registered on October 27 to Chris Curry of Studio City, CA. According to a Howard Altman article in Wired News, Mr. Curry is a Web site designer who had originally purchased the domain name for resale. He subsequently decided to use the domain name for a site to distribute information about the bin Laden family. The still-incomplete site has been receiving 13,000 hits per day.

Previously the domain name had belonged to the Saudi Binladin Group, the bin Laden family conglomerate. The bin Ladin family has officially denounced Osama bin Laden.

Frozen snapshots of the Web site from when it was owned by the Saudi Binladin Group are available on the Internet Archive WayBack Machine.

What makes this story remarkable is the date on which the Saudi Binladin Group annual registration of the domain name expired: September 11th, 2001. The registration was not renewed and so the domain name became available to be registered by Mr. Curry.

This tends to indicate that the Saudi Binladin Group site at was only supposed to exist for one year, from September 11, 2000 to September 11th, 2001. As every Webmaster knows, you had better renew your annual domain name registration well before it expires or you can suffer consequences ranging from disruption of access to having someone else register the name immediately once it expires. The decision to not to renew the registration was probably made before, not after, September 11th.

There is no reason to suspect anything more than a coincidence here, but this sure is an odd one.

11/30/01 08:30am link

It's the death penalty, stupid. Responding to a reporter's questions about the extradition of terrorist suspects from Spain during a White House Photo-Op on Monday, George W. Bush said that he was "not the least bit concerned" that U.S. allies are balking at administration plans to prosecute suspected terrorists before military tribunals. "It is the right decision to make and I will explain that to any leader who asks", said Mr. Bush.

Mr. Bush does have some explaining to do, but not necessarily about military tribunals. This according to Spanish Prime Minister Jose Mariz Aznar, who visited the NY Stock Exchange this morning and paused for a live interview with a CNBC reporter. The reporter asked about the extradition to the U.S. of eleven suspects arrested in Spain, for whom there was evidence of direct links to Osama Bin Laden.

Prime Minister Aznar replied that should the U.S. request the extradition of these suspects, the request would be honored in compliance with Spanish law. He said that military tribunals per se would not be a reason for the denial of an extradition request, but that the suspects would not be extradited if they were subject to the death penalty.

So according to the Prime Minister, it's not the military tribunals but rather the possible imposition of a death sentence that might prohibit our allies, properly, from extraditing terrorism suspects to the U.S. No civilized country utilizes judicial killing as a mechanism of social control. Perhaps it's time for the United States to join the ranks of civilized nations, if only for reasons of expediency.
11/26/01 08:50pm link

The World War II military tribunal prosecuted American citizens, according to a U.S. Coast Guard article about Operation Pastorious, the Nazi sabotage attempt. Here is how it describes the recruitment of the eight men who would later be prosecuted by a secret military tribunal:

Two naturalized citizens and six Germans who had lived in America for varying lengths of time were chosen to undertake a crash course in sabotage.
Mr. Bush's military order establishing the institution that William Safire too-kindly called a "Star Chamber" is limited to "any individual who is not a United States citizen". But what if an American citizen is suspected of involvement in terrorist activity?

The stated argument in support of Bush's edict is that secret military tribunals are necessary to protect against retaliation and the exposure of U.S. intelligence. If that is the case, then there is no logical reason why citizens suspected of terrorist activity should be treated differently from non-citizens facing similar suspicions.

That is why it's significant that the World War II military tribunal cited most often as a precedent for Bush's order apparently prosecuted American citizens. There may be another shoe yet to drop.

Finally, why did I call Safire's "Star Chamber" reference too kind? Because the original Star Chamber was at least a somewhat civilized institution, in that it was not able to impose a death penalty. Bush's secret military tribunal is under no such constraint, and it deserves Safire's more accurate epithet, kangaroo court.

11/26/01 04:30pm link


J. Edgar Hoover
Was the WWII secret military tribunal fair? An exchange with direct bearing on this question took place yesterday on NBC's Meet The Press. Tim Russert was the host, and guests for this segment were Senator Patrick Leahy, (D-Vt.) and Senator Richard Shelby, (R-Ala.). From the official transcript, about 43 minutes in:

MR. RUSSERT: Franklin Roosevelt in World War II apprehended eight Nazi...

SEN. LEAHY: Right. And it...

MR. RUSSERT: ...saboteurs at a military tribunal.

SEN. LEAHY: Sure. And look what happened in that. It turned out years and years and years later that J. Edgar Hoover kept secret information that would have exonerated a couple of the people being held. And why? Because he didn't want to embarrass his own FBI agency. He didn't want to embarrass his own name, because Congress was thinking of giving him, J. Edgar Hoover, a medal at that time.

So he kept this secret and nobody ever found out about it afterward. I'm not sure that's the-sort of like the interment of the Japanese-Americans - probably not the best thing that what he did.

This History Net article essentially confirms Sen. Lehey's description.

Rather than being an argument for military tribunals, this WWII precedent seems to caution against them.

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What bokononists whisper whenever they think of how complicated and unpredictable the machinery of life really is.



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