Thursday, June 28, 2007

Current Status of the Sibel Edmonds Case in DC

The Silence of Henry Waxman, by Michael Mejia, June 15, 2007 --

And so it was, that in November, 2006, the American people cried for change and reform, an end to the quagmire in Iraq, as well as to the open and crass corruption of Dennis Hastert, Tom Delay and their fellow Congressional Republicans. The Democrats were swept into power on a wave of disgust at the decadence and decay that had enveloped D.C., taking back both Houses of Congress in one fell swoop. A revolution, it seemed, had begun. The good guys were in charge now. Thus, one could not blame prominent FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds, who served as a Turkish language specialist from 2001-2002, for feeling a surge of optimism after the Democratic sweep. After all, it was the Bush Administration and Republicans in Congress who had done everything in their power to suppress her case, which revealed high-level U.S. Neoconservatives acting as Turkish spies (amongst other illegal activities.) And it was the Democrats that assured Ms. Edmonds behind the scenes from 2002 to 2005 that once they took over, she would have the full, open hearings she had been pushing for. Furthermore, the buzz on the Democratic blogs was that, since Henry Waxman was going to be in charge of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, all the buried scandals of the Bush years would now finally be uncovered. Surely Ms. Edmonds had reasons to feel the tide was turning. Alas: The bad news is that the sweeping changes the people voted for last November have been severely watered down. The war in Iraq wages on, and Waxman is confining his 'oversight' to very safe scandals that reflect badly only on Republicans. He appears unwilling to take on messy scandals like the Edmonds case, which reflects well on neither Party. Edmonds and a coalition of civil liberties and good government groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), presented Waxman with a petition containing over 15,000 signatures in March asking Waxman to hold hearings. But Waxman has to date refused to give any response. Henry Waxman knows very well who Sibel Edmonds is; he can't plead ignorance. He has heard her testimony behind closed doors and has worked with her and her organization, the National Security Whistleblower's Coalition, in drafting whistleblower legislation. But despite the shock and outrage that Waxman apparently expressed when he heard the full classified version of Edmonds' allegations, his answer to the former translator and her grassroots supporters has been silence. Absolute silence. For the record, the whistleblower's sources in Congress told her Waxman was initially disposed to hold hearings on the Edmonds case, but they were not going to be hearings that dug into the heart of the matter. They would not have exposed the darker machinations of the Turkish and Israeli lobbies, nor exposed an underground network of arms and drugs dealers with its tentacles reaching into U.S. agencies. Indeed, such hearings probably would not have allowed the words "Turkey" or "Israel" to be mentioned at all, much less named some of the U.S officials allegedly involved in passing classified information to these foreign powers. The hearings Waxman had planned, according to the grapevine, would have been the type of hearings to put even the most ardent Constitutional legal scholar to sleep for the night: they would have been sham discussions on the more arcane details of the 'state secrets privilege', with testimony limited to boring Bush hacks like FBI Director Robert Mueller. Edmonds, a very strong-willed individual with a low tolerance for weak-kneed politicos, sent a clear message through her own channels: ‘no hearings’ were better than trumped up ones. Ms. Edmonds was not willing to let Waxman or any other politician grab the limelight and become "hero of the blogs for a day" unless they were really prepared to go to bat on this issue and defy John Ashcroft’s illegal retroactive classification. In the face of her principled stand, Waxman appears to have caved to the will of corrupt interests. His choice is logical from a political perspective, especially considering the Turkish lobby has now hired former Democratic House Minority leader Richard Gephardt. Waxman won't investigate these allegations because his current colleagues in the House and ex-colleagues like Dick Gephardt and Stephen Solarz do not want him to. He has everything to lose, and nothing to gain, from a political perspective: by digging up this can of worms, he risks exposing that corruption and bad foreign policy is not limited to the Bush Administration. Should the grassroots be surprised that Waxman made a choice to snub Edmonds, the ACLU and CREW? Sure, Edmonds was declared 'credible' by conservative Senator Charles Grassley, and was largely backed up in her core allegations by the Department of Justice's own Inspector General Report. And, yes, Edmonds’ translations of Turkish counterintelligence wiretaps do not look good for hated conservatives like Richard Perle, Douglas Feith and Dennis Hastert. But these same wiretaps also do not look great for at least one Clinton appointee, former Undersecretary of State Marc Grossman, or for at least two as of yet unnamed Democrats in Congress. Nor would they look good for the Turkish Lobby, the Israeli Lobby or defense contractors like Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin, the beneficiaries of apparent corruption run out of the American Turkish Council. In Washington D.C., the only scandal that gets exposed is the scandal that implicates the other party and stays away from hurting vested groups that fund both Democrats and Republicans alike. As former DEA agent and radio host Michael Levine noted in a recent interview with Australian Luke Ryland, a blogger who has written the most extensive investigative reports on the Edmonds case, the U.S. Congress has rarely tackled thorny issues like this Turkish corruption case. Not only do the Democrats have no backbone, but many of their own are bought off by the same special interest groups as the GOP, especially in the areas that touch on the military industrial complex and foreign policy. Most of the progressive community have not yet caught on to this harsh reality, and instead is focused on the 2008 elections. More sound advice would be to forget about 2008 and start holding the Democratic Party to its campaign promises. Otherwise, the illegal Bush wars will grind on and the corruption will continue unabated- albeit the Democrats will be getting a greater share of the lobbyist largesse.

I don't like the fact that it's all one big, long paragraph, but in a way, that fact is very symbolic of the situation in Washington -- there has been no change in the ideas, despite the election: it's politics as usual, with government of the elites, by the elites and for the elites going strong.

The Bush Administration is every bit as corrupt and inept as the Clinton Administration was, but too many people, aghast as they were at the Clinton years, don't seem to make the connection now.

For now, all we can expect from our elected officials in Washington is more squabbling over that which divides us, while they themselves take advantage of our distraction and "get while the getting is good".

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Warrior, Part 3

The Warrior, Part 3 of 3

They were having tea: the master, The Ancient, the man who had arrived with The Ancient, the master's old friend, and Bruce Wayne. The master was serving.

"What would The Ancient have done if I had failed the test?" Wayne asked.

The master translated the question, and everyone laughed loud and hard. Then, The Ancient said something back. Wayne looked at the master.

"He says that if he hadn't known how you would do on the test, he wouldn't have travelled all this way to see you," the master translated.

"If you no pass test, The Ancient no waste time," added the master's old friend in his broken English.

"Well, if he already knew how I was going to do, then he did waste his time," Wayne said. "Why have a test if he already knows how I'm going to do?"

The master translated Wayne's question, and everyone laughed again, even harder than before. The master's old friend laughed so hard, tea sprayed out of his nose. Wayne couldn't help but laugh a little himself, although he had no idea what was so funny.

While the others were still laughing, the master took it upon himself to answer Wayne's question.

"The test was so you would know, Mr. Wayne."

Rick looked around. It was unusual to have two meetings in the same week. Something must be happening. Johnny, Tyrone, Elliot, Abdul, the shooter, and a couple of others... something big must be happening....

Johnny started speaking.

"A couple of loser reporters are making some connections that we don't want made."

Rick looked around again. He was trying not to be obvious.

"This is causing problems not just for me, but for people I do business with." The boss sounded serious.

"Well, boss, your problems are our problems."

"Thanks, Rick, I appreciate that." The boss looked at his lawyer, Tyrone, and his accountant, Elliot. "Suppose they connect us to the Gotham Towers and to Aladdin. What kind of damage are we looking at?"

Tyrone and Elliot looked at each other, then looked back at the boss and just shook their heads.

The boss slammed his hand down on his desk. "That's what I mean." He looked around at everyone, slowly. "We got problems."

"Why don't we just have something happen to the reporters? After all, Gotham is in the midst of a 'War on Crime'," Johnny smiled. "Things happen every day, ya know what I mean?"

"Why not have our friends in the mayor's office declare them to be 'with the criminals'?" It was Elliot. "Gotham Police picks them up, they get one of these special, new interrogations that the mayor's office brags about.... That'll make an example out of 'em."

Rick didn't like speaking at these meetings, but he felt he had to say something again. "Who tipped these reporters off?"

"One of them was seen talking to that 'Batman' the other morning, like I was telling ya," answered the boss.

The boss looked at Rick, as Rick considered what the boss had just said, and, more importantly, how he had said it. The boss, like Johnny, was from the streets, but the boss had learned to speak educated English. When things got tense, though, the boss reverted back to the kind of English he had learned on the streets -- and the boss was doing that now.

"That's what I mean," Rick began. "The reporters are nothing. It's this 'Batman' that's causing us the problems. Shut the reporters up, this 'Batman' finds more reporters." Rick looked around. "It's this 'Batman' we gotta get."

"A very astute analysis, Rick," the boss said. "I like that." The boss swiveled around in his chair and looked out the window at Gotham's nighttime skyline.

Wayne sat dumbfounded as the master and the master's old friend cleaned up the tea that had spilled while everyone was laughing. Meanwhile, The Ancient and his companion were taking something out of a satchel. It was some kind of statue. The Ancient began to speak slowly, pausing frequently, as the master translated for him.

"You are afraid of bats, Mr. Wayne," the master began.

"How do you know?" Wayne asked quickly.

"The Ancient said so." The Ancient's companion handed Wayne the statue. It was a statue of a bat. The Ancient continued speaking.

"He is talking about the legend of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table," the master continued.

Wayne looked at The Ancient, surprised to hear a reference to an English legend from such an old Asian man in a village in the middle of nowhere on the opposite end of the world.

"He says that you are about to become a member of a special group, something like the Knights of the Round Table, if you should choose to continue," the master explained. "It is a group that spans time and distance, with a history going back many generations," the master added, as The Ancient paused.

"How did he know about my fear of bats?" Wayne asked.

"Do you recall in the village when I told you that these two men were connected?" the master asked.

Wayne nodded.

"Well, it's true, though not in the way you took it. The Ancient is connected. He perceives."

The Ancient continued speaking, as Wayne studied the statue of the bat.

"He says that you are very brave and very honorable. He is using several words in his language, but in English, it is one word: 'chivalrous'." The master paused as The Ancient continued, then the master translated again. "He says that like King Arthur's men, you are a knight in shining armor, Mr. Wayne."

The Ancient talked a great deal, making gestures toward his head, as the master nodded and listened.

"He is telling the story of the Monkey King," the master began. "The Monkey King was given a crown, and when he put the crown on, the monkey had magical powers and great intelligence. But, when he tried to use it for his own benefit, the magical powers failed him, and the crown tightened on his head, causing the monkey pain," the master explained. "In the same way, the gifts you have will only work if you use them to do good for those around you, like you sought to do for the little girl in the village today; otherwise, they will fail, and cause you pain."

The Ancient spoke some more, and the master translated.

"The Knights of the Round Table wore shining armor, but you shall be a dark knight and your armor shall be dark; you shall be a creature of the shadows and of the night. Your heart will be pure, and your works will be good, yet your existence and your reputation will strike terror in the hearts of those who do evil, and it is through this terror that you shall be victorious."

The master paused, and looked at The Ancient. Wayne looked down at the statue of the bat. He looked up again, and noticed The Ancient's gaze fixed on him and the statue. The Ancient continued speaking.

"That statue was made for you," the master translated, "centuries ago!"

Wayne looked at the statue. He was at a complete loss for words; all he could do was keep his mouth from dropping open. He noticed an inscription in three languages. One looked like Chinese; what the other two languages were, he couldn't even begin to guess. "What does the inscription say?"

"It is a prophecy. It was fulfilled once beyond all expectations, beyond even the wildest of dreams, two millenia ago by the greatest of warriors, and it has been fulfilled again periodically over the centuries, both before and after that event," the master explained, then paused as he looked at The Ancient. The Ancient nodded to him.

"It says: 'In a world darkened by the overcast of evil, one man will emerge, a warrior, and in defense of justice, he will work magic.'"

Wayne thought about the fortune-teller's six cards: The World, Darkness, Evil, The Warrior, Justice, and The Magician.

The Ancient continued speaking, and the master translated: "Just as the Knights of the Round Table each had a name that he was known by, so will you have a name that you shall be known by."

Wayne looked at the statue of the bat, remembering also the drawing of the bat he had been given by the fortune-teller, as she explained that it was his destiny.

Choked up, Bruce Wayne drifted away in the thoughts and images that raced through his mind: his parents' murder before his eyes when he was a child; the teachings of the master; his own readiness to sacrifice everything to defend a lost little girl in a foreign land....

Tears clouded his eyes as he quietly asked, his voice breaking, a question that he knew had been answered hundreds of years before he was born.

"What will my name be?"

The boss turned back from the window, and looked around at the people in the room, making eye contact with everyone. Then, he slowly looked upward and thoughtfully stared at the ceiling.

"I have given a name to my problems," he announced with great deliberation, "and it is 'Batman'."

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Warrior, Part 2

The Warrior, Part 2 of 3

"Who?" Alfred approached him slowly.

"There are legitimate business interests that are making a great deal of money from Gotham's War on Crime, a war that was prompted by the attack on the Gotham Towers."

"Making a reasonable profit by supplying those who defend us against crime is not a crime itself, Master Bruce."

"No," Wayne answered, turning to Alfred. "The real crime wasn't the attack on the Gotham Towers. That attack covered the real crime."

Alfred looked puzzled.

"The fires were started in the Gotham Towers, then somehow spread to Building 7. No fire could bring down three steel-frame skyscrapers all in the same day. The buildings were demolished explosively."

"So they were destroyed with the help of explosives. It's a minor twist on the story, sir."

"The fire was a distraction. While everyone was reacting to the emergency, the computers in the buildings continued running. Someone was pushing stock trades through the unattended computers, then demolished the buildings to cover their tracks. Building 7 was destroyed in part because it housed the agencies that investigate shady stock trades and white collar crime."

"Someone murdered all those people just to cover their stock trades?"

"They were laundering money. And, somebody wanted to have a War on Crime to make more money." Wayne looked back at the photos, the drawing and the statue. "On top of that, someone in the Gotham Bureau of Investigation was preventing Gotham's law enforcement from acting on information that they had, information that might very well have allowed Gotham Police to prevent the attack on the towers. Even now, honest people in the GBI who come forward are fired, silenced by court orders and harassed."

"Indeed, sir," Alfred commented. It was hard to imagine Alfred excited about anything, but he certainly seemed to react a little to that.

"And," Wayne continued, "someone in the mayor's office is obstructing justice and covering the criminals' trail." He turned back to Alfred. "The mayor runs a very secretive city hall, one of the most secretive we've had in decades in Gotham. His announcement that 'Either you're with us or you're with the criminals' in this War on Crime is especially chilling, having the effect of preventing people with important information about problems in Gotham's government from coming forward with it. They run the risk of being labeled an enemy of Gotham: their information might not be acted upon, but pointing out problems in Gotham's government may cause them to be silenced by Gotham's authorities."

"Against this kind of background, it's a race against the clock to find the nuclear weapons that the Mujahideen have hidden somewhere here in Gotham," Alfred added somberly.


There was a long pause as each of them thought about the situation.

Finally, Alfred broke the silence. "You can't protect the world, Master Bruce."

"No, but I can protect this little girl!" Wayne snapped back. Gently, he turned to the little girl. "It's going to be okay," he said softly. Wayne didn't know her language, but hoped she would sense the meaning of what she was being told. He turned back to the master. "You talk so much about 'the skilled warrior'," Wayne said, a mocking tone noticeable in his voice. "You of all people should know, the defense of the weak and innocent is the first duty of any warrior!" He looked back down at the girl. She still looked scared, but he could sense she felt a little more comforted than before. "There must be some place we can take her, an orphanage or something...." Wayne thought aloud.

"Even in Gotham City, where there are many such places, this is a scene which plays itself out all too frequently, Mr. Wayne," the master answered. There was a pause, then the master added, "Besides, it looks like you're not the only one interested in her."

At the master's words, Wayne looked up. The two men from the store, the one who had been standing in the shade and the older one who had been sitting, were walking across the clearing toward them.

Wayne stood up, facing the men, with the little girl behind him. "Tell them they had better not touch her," he told the master in a low voice.

"If you touch those men, you will be spending time in an Asian prison. They're very well-connected...."

"If they touch this girl, they'll be dead!" Wayne shot back. "Tell them!"

The men were walking slowly towards them, as the master leaned over and whispered, "You are here for a test, Mr. Wayne. If you involve yourself with this little girl, you will fail the test, and there will be nothing more I will be able to do for you."

"Any kind of a test that I would fail by trying to help this little girl is a test that is not worth passing, or even taking!" Wayne shot the master an angry glance. "I had a higher opinion of you than this," he added. The two men were getting close now, as the younger man motioned to the girl and said something to the older man. The older man nodded. "Now tell them!" insisted Wayne defiantly.

"Are you sure?" the master asked, as the two men stopped several feet in front of Wayne. "No more training, no more fortune and future in Gotham City, just Bruce Wayne rotting in an Asian prison... because that is what you risk for this little girl. Are you sure?"

"Yes, I'm sure. Now tell them!" Wayne answered firmly, ready for a fight.

The master said something to the two men in their language. The old man smiled as the younger one said something back. The master answered as he made a motion indicating Bruce Wayne and the girl. Wayne tried to stand a little more firmly and defiantly, as if that were possible. The younger man said something, then the master spoke again. Then the old man said something, and the master nodded and bowed low, as did the younger man that had walked over with the old man. Then the two men bowed to the master, and the master bowed back to them again.

"What did he say?" asked Wayne.

"He said to congratulate you," the master answered. "You passed the test."

Wayne's mouth fell open, as he glanced behind him at the little girl, who was smiling now.

"It is a great honor to present to you the master who taught me so many years ago," the master continued, indicating the old man who now stood before Wayne, bowing. "Bruce Wayne, this is 'The Ancient'."

Wayne looked at Alfred.

"You can battle the Mujahideen," Alfred began, "perhaps even corruption in the mayor's office, but if you battle corrupt elements in the GBI, you will be labeled as 'with the criminals'. Those corrupt elements are, after all, the GBI, and the GBI always gets its man!" Alfred looked at Wayne. "If you battle them, the price could be all of this," Alfred pointed around the Batcave.

"If I don't try to defend Gotham, the price will be my soul."

The Warrior, Part 1

The Warrior, Part 1 of 3

The master was leading him through the village. As they walked by, Bruce Wayne noticed a woman sitting at a table in the shade off to one side.

"A fortune-teller," the master commented, noticing Wayne's curious look.

Wayne walked over toward her. The woman looked up at Wayne. Their eyes made contact. The woman paused, then looked down at a strange-looking deck of cards she had on the table in front of her.

Slowly, she turned some cards over. Wayne read the English-language inscriptions on the bottoms of the three cards: The World; Darkness; Evil.

The woman looked up at him, and studied his face closely, making frequent eye contact. Then she turned over three more cards: The Warrior; Justice; The Magician.

Wayne looked at her, as she closed her eyes.

"What do the cards mean?" he asked. The master translated his question. The woman opened her eyes, got up, went inside the hut behind her, and came back out with a rolled-up paper in her hands. She said something to the master.

"She says they indicate your destiny," the master translated. Then he added, "It is inappropriate for her to ask for anything in return, but she needs to make a living. She supports an old mother and a young daughter."

Wayne pulled out a ten-dollar bill and showed it to the master. "Is this enough?"

"That's quite generous. With that, she will be able to survive a week or more."

Wayne began to give it to the woman.

"Offer it to her with both hands, bowing in humility and respect," the master cautioned.

The woman bowed as she accepted Wayne's money, then held out to him the rolled-up paper, offering it to him with both hands. With her head bowed a little, she said something to him.

"Your destiny," translated the master.

Wayne bowed as he accepted the paper from her. Curious, he unrolled it and looked at it: it was a drawing of a bat.

Alfred looked at him. Bruce Wayne was staring at a drawing and a statue he had picked up years ago in Asia. He was deep in thought. Alfred hated to disturb him.

Silently and without turning, Wayne had anticipated him. "I think you sleep even less than I do, Alfred."

"You don't say."

He smiled at Alfred's response.

"Is everything okay, Master Bruce?"

"Yes, just thinking Alfred."

The master led him back out to the periphery of the village, where they had been the day that Wayne was told that "The Ancient" was coming -- the day the master disappeared.

"Before 'The Ancient' works with you, you have a test," the master said.

"What kind of test?" Wayne asked.

"It's a surprise. Just stand here," the master answered.

Wayne looked around. He studied the sights and sounds. Ahead of him was the boulder with the tree and the road, where the master had disappeared the other day. On either side of that were the cultivated plots of the villagers. Off to the right, and somewhat behind them, a child was crying. Behind him, he could hear foreign music coming from the village. Behind him and to his left, he could hear some voices. He didn't understand the language, but it sounded like some men were arguing.

In the distance, he could hear a motorcycle. The sound came from in front of him, and it was getting louder. It was approaching fast; it seemed like it was coming through the forest, probably down that road in front of him that went past the boulder.

This was it! he thought.

Out of the forest came the motorcyclist, a young man, in his late teens or early twenties. The motorcycle was loud, and left a great deal of exhaust behind it. The young man had a helmet on, but was not wearing it correctly. In the heat of the summer day, he had the helmet sitting high up on his head, exposing his entire face to the cooling wind from in front of him.

Ready, Wayne waited for the motorcycle. It came down the road straight for him, and, at the last moment, slowed down some, passed to his right, then went behind him through the clearing and down a dusty village street. It went past the arguing men, and proceeded off into the distance, likely on to the next village.

Wayne glanced at the master. Behind the master, off near a hut, he could see the crying child. He turned a little, and looked at the child. About four years old -- was it a little girl?

"What's the matter with the child?" Wayne asked.

"Lost, probably," replied the master. "Deliberately so, more than likely," he added drily.

"What do you mean?"

"It happens quite often. A young woman has more children than she can maintain. So, she brings one of them, usually a girl, into the nearest village, and leaves her there," the master explained. "Boys are more valuable. When they grow up and marry, their wives move in and help with the work. The resources spent raising a girl are lost, however; when she marries, she goes and helps with the work in her husband's family." Wayne turned some more, as the master continued. "Besides that, often times, their mothers themselves were left in a village somewhere when they were young, so when they fall into problems, they feel a strange sense of cosmic justice abandoning their own children."

Wayne took a step toward the girl, hesitating. "What will happen to her?"

"Someone will take her in. There is always someone happy to take in a girl," the master said. To Wayne, the answer sounded a little ominous.

"Why's that?"

"Oh, really, Mr. Wayne," began the master. "Don't be so naive. Asia is full of brothels. There is a thriving sex industry, right here in this village." Wayne looked around as the master continued. "Western men arrive in Asian cities and pay a great deal to be the first man to have sex with an underage virgin. This little girl is a commodity in demand -- one man's trash is, after all, another man's treasure." The master turned to look at the girl, as he added, "Often times, the girl is the product of the woman's unprotected sex with a foreigner, or perhaps of the woman having been raped. Again, a strange sense of cosmic justice...."

The men who were arguing had left. Near where they had been, Wayne noticed a man standing in the shadow of one of the village's stores. The man was casually looking at the little girl. Near him, an old man was sitting on a chair in front of the store. The old man glanced up at Wayne and the master, then at the man in the shade, then looked back down.

Wayne started walking over to the girl.

Alfred looked at the drawing in front of Wayne. "Thinking about what, if I may ask?"

Wayne looked at a photo. It was the criminal mastermind, Aladdin, who was leading Gotham's crime sydicate, the Mujahideen.

Above it was a statue of a bat, and next to the statue was a drawing of a bat. Next to Aladdin's photo was a photo of the Gotham Towers.

"Gotham's law enforcement services could deal with the Mujahideen, if allowed to do their work."

"Someone is not allowing them then, Master Bruce?"

"The Mujahideen have allies. Some of their allies may not intend to be or even know that they are the Mujahideen's allies, but they are the Mujahideen's allies, nevertheless."

The master followed him, a short distance behind, raising his voice some, as he continued speaking. "Really, Mr. Wayne, it is no concern of yours. It happens all over the world every day."

"Well it needs to stop." Wayne answered firmly. He arrived in front of the little girl, and looked at her. She actually was a little older than he at first had thought, maybe seven or eight; she was undernourished, and in loose-fitting raggedy clothes, making it hard to judge her age. Sobbing, she looked up at Wayne. Wayne melted as he looked into her innocent brown eyes.

"She's just one little girl, Mr. Wayne."

There was fire in Wayne's eyes as he shot an angry glance at the master. "If we leave her here, the cycle continues. Some day she will have a daughter, and that little girl will be left in a village somewhere...."

"You can't protect the world, Mr. Wayne," the master commented.

Monday, June 25, 2007

The Federal Bureau of Investments

The following information is presented complete and without commentary:

From Five, Including F.B.I. Agents, Are Named In a Conspiracy, May, 2002:

Five people, including a current and a former F.B.I. agent, were charged by federal prosecutors yesterday with using confidential government information to manipulate stock prices and extort money from companies.

The conspiracy was led by Amr Ibrahim Elgindy, a stock adviser who has clashed with regulators and is well known among traders in small stocks for his aggressive attacks on companies he considers overvalued, according to an indictment unsealed yesterday in Brooklyn. Prosecutors said that he obtained government information about publicly traded companies and then used that information to predict which stocks would fall and to persuade companies to pay for his silence. Hundreds of investors have paid up to $7,000 a year for stock recommendations from Mr. Elgindy, known as Tony Elgindy and Anthony Pacific.

On Tuesday afternoon, F.B.I. agents arrested Mr. Elgindy and four others in California, New Mexico and Oklahoma. Derrick W. Cleveland, Troy Peters, Jeffrey A. Royer and Lynn Wingate were arraigned in federal courts; a hearing for Mr. Elgindy in San Diego was postponed until tomorrow, a Justice Department spokesman said. Prosecutors hope to consolidate the case in Brooklyn next week, but some of the defendants may oppose the move. Lawyers for four of the five could not be reached for comment or declined to comment. Stephen McCue, Ms. Wingate's lawyer, said she would fight the case and denied any wrongdoing.

The 33-page indictment is another blow to the F.B.I., which already faces complaints from lawmakers about its response to warnings of potential terrorist attacks before Sept. 11. An F.B.I. spokesman said the bureau was distressed by the indictment. The charges include obstruction of justice, racketeering, extortion and insider trading.

According to the complaint, the charges arose from the work of a Justice Department task force formed one week after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Mr. Elgindy has supported Muslim refugees in Kosovo. But the indictment does not mention any connection to terrorism by Mr. Elgindy, or by anyone else it names.

Mr. Royer, who worked at the F.B.I. from 1996 until December 2001, gave Mr. Elgindy and Mr. Cleveland information from confidential government databases about criminal histories and continuing criminal investigations of companies, the complaint said. In return, Mr. Royer received more than $30,000 from Mr. Cleveland, the indictment says.

Mr. Elgindy, who operates two Web sites -- and -- and an e-mail stock tip service, then gave the information to his subscribers, hoping to cause the stocks of the companies to fall, the indictment contends. Mr. Elgindy is a short seller, an investor who borrows shares and then sells them, hoping to buy them back later at a lower price, pocketing the difference.

After Mr. Royer left the bureau to join Mr. Elgindy's firm, Pacific Equity Investigations, Ms. Wingate, another F.B.I. agent, began to pass along information to Mr. Elgindy, according to the indictment. In addition, Mr. Royer and Ms. Wingate used their access to F.B.I. databases to monitor the progress of the criminal investigation against Mr. Elgindy and the other conspirators, the indictment says.

Besides publicizing bad news on companies whose stocks they sold short, the conspirators threatened other companies that they would make negative information public if the companies did not give them free stock, the indictment says.

The suspected extortion and manipulation was apparently confined mainly to smaller companies. The indictment does not identify most of the companies that Mr. Elgindy is suspected of threatening, but it indicates that several traded on the over-the-counter bulletin board market, which contains mostly very small companies with relatively few shares. The only company mentioned by name in the indictment, Nuclear Solutions, has a market value of only $2.5 million.

The indictment offers a public peek into the knotty relationship between short sellers like Mr. Elgindy, who profit when companies' stocks fall, and regulators and prosecutors.

Short sellers often detect accounting fraud before government agencies and take the information they have discovered to the F.B.I. and the Securities and Exchange Commission, hoping to prompt investigations. In general, the agencies will listen, especially if the tips come from short sellers with a history of ferreting out troubled companies.

The relationship between Pacific Equity and Mr. Royer began just that way, according to the indictment. In 1999, Mr. Cleveland began giving Mr. Royer tips ''concerning individuals and companies that Cleveland claimed were engaged in securities fraud,'' the indictment said. Some of the tips led to criminal investigations by the F.B.I.

But within a few months, the relationship shifted, and Mr. Royer began offering Pacific Equity information from confidential F.B.I. databases. On Nov. 28, 2000, Mr. Cleveland wired $8,500 to Mr. Royer, and more payments followed, totaling $30,425. The indictment does not contend that Ms. Wingate received any payments for the tips she gave.

At a hearing in Albuquerque yesterday, prosecutors asked that Magistrate Judge Lorenzo F. Garcia order Mr. Royer detained as a flight risk. But they declined to present evidence in open court to support their assertion, and Mr. Royer was released after agreeing to wear a monitoring device, according to his lawyer, Douglas Couleur. Ms. Wingate was released on her own recognizance, Mr. McCue said.

In San Diego, Mr. Elgindy was detained pending a hearing tomorrow, and Mr. Peters was ordered released on $100,000 bond, according to the Justice Department. But Mr. Peters has not yet posted the bond and remains in custody.

The indictment is a strange new turn in the career of Mr. Elgindy, who has already served four months in federal prison for collecting disability benefits while he was still working. Despite his criminal record and the fact that the National Association of Securities Dealers has revoked his broker's license, Mr. Elgindy has a loyal following of small investors and traders who pay up to $600 a month for his stock advice.

During the heights of the Internet bubble, Mr. Elgindy loudly warned his followers, and anyone else who would listen, against buying Internet and small biotechnology stocks. Many of the stocks he took aim at are now bankrupt or have fallen 90 percent or more from their highs.

Those losses, and the fees from his service, have meant big profits for Mr. Elgindy. According to the indictment, he owns several luxury vehicles, including a Bentley and a Hummer, and a home worth $2.2 million.

A follow-up, days later... from U.S. Suggests, Without Proof, Stock Adviser Knew of 9/11:

A San Diego stock adviser who is accused of bribing an F.B.I. agent to give him confidential government information may have had prior knowledge of the Sept. 11 attacks, a federal prosecutor said yesterday. But a judge disregarded that contention and the adviser's lawyer called the allegation ludicrous.

In a court hearing in San Diego, Kenneth Breen, an assistant United States attorney, said the adviser, Amr Ibrahim Elgindy, tried to sell $300,000 in stock on the afternoon of Sept. 10 and told his broker that the stock market would soon plunge. ''Perhaps Mr. Elgindy had preknowledge of Sept. 11, and rather than report it he attempted to profit from it,'' Mr. Breen said.

Mr. Breen, coordinator of the stock market unit of a government task force set up to investigate financing for terrorist groups, offered no other evidence that Mr. Elgindy had prior knowledge of the attacks.

A lawyer for Mr. Elgindy said the allegation appeared to be motivated by the fact that Mr. Elgindy is Muslim and was born in Egypt. Senior F.B.I. officials also said they had no evidence that Mr. Elgindy had prior knowledge of the attacks.

In the hearing yesterday, Mr. Breen asked Judge John A. Houston of Federal District Court in San Diego to hold Mr. Elgindy without bond. Mr. Elgindy, also known as Tony Elgindy and Anthony Pacific, recently moved $700,000 to Lebanon and is a serious flight risk, Mr. Breen said.

Judge Houston disregarded Mr. Breen's claims about Mr. Elgindy and Sept. 11. But the judge said there was enough other evidence that Mr. Elgindy might flee to justify detaining him at least until a June 6 hearing to determine whether he should be moved to New York for a trial.

Jeanne Geren Knight, a lawyer for Mr. Elgindy, said after the hearing that Mr. Breen's allegations were ludicrous and untrue. ''The government, for lack of factual evidence, has decided to smear my client with terrorist innuendoes,'' Ms. Knight said. ''This is smacking of racial profiling.''

Mr. Elgindy and four other people, including one current and one former F.B.I. agent, were charged Wednesday with using confidential government information to manipulate stock prices and extort money from companies. Jeffrey A. Royer, who was an F.B.I. agent before joining Mr. Elgindy's stock advisory firm in December, accepted $30,000 from a partner of Mr. Elgindy's in exchange for providing Mr. Elgindy with information about current criminal investigations of companies, prosecutors allege.

Mr. Elgindy and his partner, Derrick W. Cleveland, sold short the shares of companies that they learned were under investigation, according to the indictment. (Short sellers borrow shares and sell them, hoping to buy them back later at a lower price and pocket the difference.) Then Mr. Elgindy publicized the negative information on two Web sites he ran, hoping that the companies' stocks would fall, prosecutors say.

At the hearing yesterday, Mr. Breen said that on the afternoon of Sept. 10, Mr. Elgindy contacted his broker at Salomon Smith Barney and asked him to sell $300,000 in stock in his children's trust funds. During the Sept. 10 conversation, Mr. Elgindy predicted that the Dow Jones industrial average, which at the time stood at about 9,600, would soon crash to below 3,000, Mr. Breen said. Mr. Elgindy was unable to sell the stock before markets closed Sept. 10, and it was instead sold Sept. 18, the first day that markets reopened for trading after the attacks, Mr. Breen said.

The Salomon Smith Barney broker contacted the F.B.I. after the attacks to report the conversation, Mr. Breen said. He did not identify the broker. A spokesman for Salomon Smith Barney confirmed that Mr. Elgindy was a client but said that Salomon did not comment on matters relating to its clients.

Mr. Elgindy also transferred more than $700,000 to Lebanon in the months after the attacks, Mr. Breen said. When F.B.I. agents raided Mr. Elgindy's home outside San Diego on Wednesday, Mr. Breen said, they found $43,000 in cash, as well as a loose diamond and faxes indicating that Mr. Elgindy had been tipped about the raid and had given his wife a power of attorney to liquidate his assets.

Ms. Knight, Mr. Elgindy's lawyer, denied that Mr. Elgindy had any prior knowledge of the attacks.

Mr. Elgindy's wife is from Louisiana, Ms. Knight said, adding that his mother was a pediatrician and his father a professor. ''Tony isn't political at all,'' she said. ''He's a capitalist. He's not going to move to a third world country.''

Senior law enforcement officials said yesterday that investigators had no hard evidence that Mr. Elgindy had advance information about the Sept. 11 attacks. So far, they have not found anyone who had prior knowledge of the attacks, they said. But they said the investigation into why Mr. Elgindy tried to sell the shares in his children's trust accounts before Sept. 11 had raised questions that had not been fully answered.

Mr. Elgindy has been an active supporter of Muslim causes. In 1999, he arranged to bring 30 Muslim refugees from Kosovo to the United States, according to The Daily Herald of Chicago.

Mr. Elgindy said the violence in Kosovo, Serbia's southern province, appalled him, comparing it to the shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado. ''Take Columbine, have it occur five times a day for a year, and that's Kosovo,'' Mr. Elgindy told The Daily Herald.

Mr. Elgindy's father and brother are also active in Arab and Muslim causes. His father, Ibrahim Elgindy, founded an umbrella group of Muslim organizations in Chicago and led a 1998 protest on behalf of Muhammad A. Salah, whose assets were seized that year after the United States government linked Mr. Salah to Hamas, the radical Palestinian group. Mr. Elgindy's brother, Khaled, has worked for several Arab political groups.

Neither Ibrahim Elgindy nor Khaled Elgindy has ever been linked to terrorism. Khaled Elgindy did not return calls yesterday. Ibrahim Elgindy could not be reached for comment.

Mr. Elgindy himself publicly criticized the Sept. 11 attacks. In a press release that day, his company, Pacific Equity Investigations, said, ''We must seek, find, apprehend and destroy those who are responsible for this terrorist attack.''

Two days later, Mr. Elgindy put out another press release, saying that he had forwarded to the F.B.I. and the Securities and Exchange Commission ''many Internet posts and messages that may have relevance on this tragedy and the capture of the responsible parties behind it.'' He also asked that investors refrain from selling short the stocks of any United States companies or the United States dollar.

Mr. Elgindy sold the shares in his children's trusts five days later.

From Ex-F.B.I. Agent and Trader Found Guilty in Fraud Case, January, 2005:

Anthony Elgindy, a well-known figure in the Internet world of penny stocks, was convicted yesterday on charges that he used confidential information from an F.B.I. agent about criminal investigations to profit illegally in the market.

The former agent who supplied the information, Jeffrey A. Royer, was also found guilty of securities fraud conspiracy charges related to Mr. Elgindy's stock-selling scheme. The federal grand jury in Brooklyn had deliberated for four days after a 10-week trial.

The guilty verdicts end an unusual trial that invoked the Sept. 11 attacks and provided a rare glimpse into the shadowy world of thinly traded, easily manipulated stocks.

Prosecutors maintained that Mr. Royer, a Federal Bureau of Investigation agent assigned to Indian reservation crimes, provided Mr. Elgindy with information about white-collar corporate investigations. Mr. Elgindy then posted some of that information on his investment Web site, enabling him to collect at least $2.7 million from subscribers. Prosecutors said he also made "thousands of dollars" by trading ahead of those subscribers in some of those stocks, or selling shares short in anticipation that the disclosures about them would send their prices lower.

Prosecutors also said that Mr. Elgindy and his associates threatened to disclose bad news about several small companies unless they were given free or deeply discounted stock.

"Under the guise of protecting investors from fraud, Royer and Elgindy used the F.B.I.'s crime-fighting tools and resources actually to defraud the public, and to insulate themselves from detection and prosecution," Roslynn R. Mauskopf, the United States attorney in Brooklyn, said in a statement.

When the first guilty verdict was read, Mr. Elgindy, 36, placed his head in his hand and rocked back and forth, sobbing and moaning. Judge Raymond J. Dearie then stopped the proceedings so that Mr. Elgindy could be excused from the courtroom.

Mr. Royer, 41, who showed little emotion on the witness stand when he, unlike Mr. Elgindy, testified in his own defense, remained stoic after the verdict. "I honestly don't get it," he said outside the courtroom. He said he would appeal.

Mr. Royer was found guilty of racketeering and securities fraud charges. He was also convicted on obstruction of justice. Prosecutors said that Mr. Royer alerted Mr. Elgindy that the Justice Department was investigating him in relation to the Sept. 11 attacks.

Mr. Elgindy, who was never found to have terrorist ties, was acquitted of charges that he interfered with that investigation.

But he was convicted on 11 counts of securities and wire fraud, conspiracy and extortion.

Mr. Elgindy and Mr. Royer each face between 10 years and 15 years in prison when they are sentenced. Mr. Elgindy also stands to lose several million dollars in cash, stock accounts, and luxury cars the government seized after his May 2002 arrest.

Mr. Royer was set free after Judge Dearie denied a prosecution request to raise his $400,000 bail. Mr. Elgindy has been detained since he boarded a plane in April using a false name and credentials. No date was set for sentencing.

Mr. Elgindy's lawyers said they would appeal, saying that the evidence that their client was a subject of a Sept. 11 investigation was inflammatory and presented only to prejudice the jury.

The government's case is not yet over. Lynn Wingate, a former F.B.I. agent who is also Mr. Royer's ex-girlfriend, and two others are expected to stand trial separately. Three of Mr. Elgindy's associates have already pleaded guilty and are cooperating with the government, including Derrick Cleveland, who was an important prosecution witness in the case.

Prosecutors maintained that Mr. Royer provided Mr. Elgindy with confidential information for a potential job offer and a percentage of trading profits. "There was no crusade here. They were not crime-fighting heroes," an assistant United States attorney, Seth Levine, told the jury during his closing statements. "They were mercenaries."

From 6-Year Sentence in Trading Case, October, 2006:

A federal judge in Brooklyn sentenced a former F.B.I. agent yesterday to six years in prison for racketeering and securities fraud related to the inside-trading prosecution of a former stock picker, Anthony Elgindy.

The former agent, Jeffrey A. Royer, 39, who was convicted after a trial with Mr. Elgindy, will be allowed to surrender to federal prison authorities by Nov. 6, said Robert Nardoza, a spokesman for the United States attorney for Brooklyn, Roslynn R. Mauskopf.

Mr. Royer was an F.B.I. agent from 1996 to December 2001, when he left to work for Mr. Elgindy, prosecutors said.

In June, Mr. Elgindy was sentenced to 11 years and 3 months in prison and ordered to forfeit $1.5 million for using inside information to make short sales and extort money from companies he criticized in an online newsletter. He was convicted last year of racketeering conspiracy, securities fraud, wire fraud and extortion. According to witnesses at the trial, Mr. Elgindy used information supplied by Mr. Royer, then an F.B.I. agent, to spread negative publicity about companies through his Web site,

Prosecutors say Mr. Royer also supplied Mr. Elgindy with information about investigations of companies by the F.B.I. and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Mr. Royer’s lawyer, Lawrence D. Gerzog, did not return a call made to his office after business hours seeking comment.

Short sellers seek to profit by correctly predicting a decline in a stock’s price. They sell borrowed shares, planning to buy them later at a lower price and return them to holders. Mr. Elgindy’s gains from trading shares of 32 companies using illegally leaked information totaled $3.02 million, the government said.

Friday, June 22, 2007


It has become the system that it sought to destroy.

(Part of my comment on a post over at The Barefoot Bum.)

Thursday, June 21, 2007


"Are you okay?" It was Mrs. Jones. She had brought him a glass of cool water.

He smiled. "Yes, I'm fine. Thanks for asking," he answered reassuringly. "And thanks for the water," he added.

The figure who answered her was dressed like Bruce Wayne, and even looked like Bruce Wayne. He was standing in Bruce Wayne's office, high up in Wayne Enterprises. But, he was not Bruce Wayne.

Had Alfred been there, Alfred would have understood.

"You know, I've seen that look before, Mr. Wayne," she said with a big smile.

The figure looked at her.

"You're in love," she nodded approvingly. "I'll leave you alone for a little while. I just wanted to make sure you were okay." She was already back at the door when she paused and added, "Don't be so busy daydreaming that you forget about those messages from this morning."

"Consider this morning's messages delivered." His response was a strange kind of whisper, full of confidence, inscrutable -- it was the kind of whisper that got someone's attention.

Mrs. Jones closed the door, and the figure turned and walked toward the windows. There he stood, gazing out toward where the Gotham Towers had stood, looking. It was as if he could still see the Gotham Towers standing there, even though they had collapsed years ago. It was as if he could watch them collapse again, but with a kind of perspective that no one else had... a knowing omniscience, an understanding, an insight.... It was as if he could see something that no one else could see.... It was as if, gazing out the window, he could see Eternity.

"'The Ancient' is coming to visit you." It was the master's voice from years ago.

"'The Ancient'?" he asked the master.

A friend of the master looked at him, then walked over toward him. "This is great honor, Mr. Wayne," he explained in his broken English. "Great honor!"

Wayne looked at him.

"What is 'The Ancient'?" Wayne asked.

"No 'what' -- 'who'!" corrected the master's friend.

"'The Ancient' is the master who taught me, many years ago," the master smiled, looking off at something that only he could see. "This is indeed a great honor, for all of us," he continued slowly, "but especially for you, Mr. Wayne."

Wayne looked at them both.

The master's friend stepped a little closer to Wayne, then glanced around. "One time, communist come look for 'The Ancient'," he explained with a smile. "'The Ancient' was old man even then. Communist find old man, say to old man 'You the one. You come with us.' Old man no answer, he just look around communist soldier. Many soldier, many weapon! Old man disappear."

"'Disappear'?" Wayne asked. "He hid from them?"

"No 'hid'. 'Hid' for children." The master's friend leaned closer. "Old man disappear!" His voice lowered some as he explained some more. "Ten communist soldier watch, and old man disappear! Communist soldier very scared," he paused, letting the story sink in. "Communist soldier never come back village!" He laughed. It was as if he understood something that the soldiers in his story didn't.

Wayne looked at him, puzzled.

Linda looked at him, puzzled.

She had received an offer for a contract assignment to work at Wayne Enterprises. Today was her first day on the job. The work was writing some technical manuals for new products that Wayne Enterprises was putting on the market. It was boring work, but she needed the money. Wayne Enterprises always seemed to offer her work just when she needed it most.

With the events that had transpired this morning, however, she was finding it harder than ever to concentrate on writing dry, boring technical manuals.

She was assigned to work with an employee who himself had just started at Wayne Enterprises, a thirty-ish looking man named Edward Nygma. He seemed every bit as boring as this work that she needed.

Linda thought back to the GBI agents that tried to intimidate her outside the gym very early this morning. Then she thought about the mysterious figure that gave her an envelope immediately after the GBI agents left.

Determined not to be intimidated by anyone, she continued through the parking lot into the gymnasium and did a thorough workout. When she left, however, she got to thinking about the envelope. She was very curious, so she stopped in at a coffee shop she knew, and there had a light breakfast and some coffee. The Irish creme coffee tasted delicious; it was warm, soothing, yet reinvigorating after her workout. There, feeling reasonably safe in the familiar surroundings of the coffee shop (not that she had felt intimidated, of course!), she proceeded to open the envelope. Information about the Gotham Towers, some information about some insider trading... but the figure had indicated it related to her investigation of corruption in the Gotham Bureau of Investigation. What could possibly have been the connection? And, was this figure someone to be believed, or was he just some kook? Only a mental case would dress in a dark suit and hide in the bushes at night, she thought... a mental case, or a real professional.... At first glance, this guy was a psycho, but for some reason, he seemed far less scary than the GBI agents!

All of this was running through her mind as she worked on her boring technical manuals with her boring partner, Nygma.

Finally, boredom overcame them both, and they began to talk a little.

It turns out that Nygma had, until recently, been an investigative reporter, just like her!

But, what had Nygma been on to that had gotten him fired?

Nygma pulled out some photos.

"Look," he began, "these are photos of the collapse of the Gotham Towers. Look at this dust cloud," he indicated a picture of one of the towers. "Here one of the towers is just beginning to collapse. Notice this giant plume of dust and debris. Although the tower is only beginning to collapse, the concrete has already been pulverized, and the resulting cloud of dust has already expanded far away from the tower."

"So?" questioned Linda. The picture of the disaster was certainly fascinating, but she failed to see any point in it, although it was ironic that the envelope from the mysterious figure also had information about the collapse of Gotham's Towers.

"People trying to convince us of the official theory tell us that the force of the collapsing building is what pulverizes the concrete. But, if that is the case, then the building would be falling first, then its force would be pulverizing the concrete. Here you can see the reverse is actually true: The concrete is pulverized first, and blown far out away from the tower, then the building begins to fall," Nygma explained.

Linda looked more closely at the photos.

"See how big the cloud of pulverized concrete is? Not only is the concrete pulverized, but the cloud is already much larger than the building," Nygma added.

"What are these little puffs down here?" Linda asked, pointing at what appeared to be a cloud of debris ejected from a place several floors below the bottom of the big cloud of debris and pulverized concrete.

"You tell me."

"There's your concrete getting pulverized first by the weight of the collapsing floors above." Linda sounded a little unsure.

"Why don't we see it all around the building? After all, the whole tower is collapsing," Nygma answered. "Besides, with such a big cloud of debris above, from so much of the concrete already pulverized and in this dust cloud, I'm wondering how much weight is really pressing down." He looked at Linda. "The whole collapse took something like eleven seconds. That's about how long it would take for something to free fall from the top of the tower."

Nygma looked at Linda, then continued. "If the weight from above is causing the floors below to collapse, there should be a momentary delay as the debris and weight impact each floor. That delay, times several dozen floors, should result in a collapse that takes noticeably longer than free fall speed."

"That would make sense. But, you seem to believe that didn't happen," Linda began. "If that didn't happen, what did?"

"Gotham firefighters, and others, reported multiple explosions in each tower right before its collapse," Nygma answered. "These little puffs of smoke -- and there were more of them than just those shown in this picture -- might be cutting some of the verticle supports." Nygma paused. "Other explosions would certainly be pulverizing the concrete, allowing the building to fall faster by destroying the supports that might slow it down. The floors weren't 'pancaking' into each other, as has been suggested -- the time it would take for that to happen is longer than the time it actually took for each tower to collapse. The floors below were being explosively demolished, the concrete turned to dust and explosively blown out to form this cloud. This is what allowed the building to come down at free-fall speed."

"An interesting suggestion," Linda paused and studied Nygma. "But then the building would have to have been completely rigged with explosives," Linda thought aloud. "Both towers would have to have been rigged."

"Actually, all three towers were rigged. Remember, it wasn't just the Gotham Towers that collapsed." Nygma showed Linda some more photos. "Building 7 came down later that afternoon, only it collapsed from the bottom." Linda studied the photos. "Here you can see pools of molten steel. What caused the steel to melt?"

"The fire weakened the structure," Linda answered.

"An office fire intense enough to weaken steel is hard enough to imagine." Nygma showed her some more photos. "But an office fire intense enough to melt steel, and leave it molten weeks after the event? Because that's exactly what the emergency workers observed, and that really goes well beyond the limits of believability."

Linda studied Nygma's materials, as Nygma pulled out photos of molten steel and a sheet of information about different grades of steel, and another sheet describing what color molten steel looked like at different temperatures.

"So you think the buildings were explosively demolished." Linda looked at Nygma. "That's much more than a random criminal act. That takes access to the building over an extended period of time. That takes planning. That takes connections, expertise, special equipment...." Linda looked down at the photos, studying them as she casually asked, "Why? Insurance?"

"Different people probably had different reasons, and not everybody involved knew what the final result would be," Nygma answered, putting more papers in front of Linda. "But somebody pushed a great deal of stock trades through the computers in the Gotham Trade Center the day of the disaster. And some investments made big money as a result of the events of that day."

Linda looked at the papers. They indicated less than $5 million of documented trades. "A few million dollars is small potatoes. It would cost more than that just to set this whole thing up."

Nygma couldn't help but notice one thing, though: Linda was taking him seriously! With an unnoticed effort, Nygma maintained his calm.

"I think these profits were made by just low-level players who knew when this was going to occur. The real money was probably made with longer-term investments, by the higher-ups who knew many months in advance what was going to happen. To make the big money, these guys didn't even have to know when it was going to happen, they just needed to know that something was going to happen several months or maybe a year down the road. They likely made big, long-term investments accordingly, based on what businesses in the Gotham Trade Center and in Gotham City in general would be impacted, and how, by the collapse of the Gotham Towers at some point in what was then the not-too-distant future." Nygma looked at Linda. "And, the profits were a motivation only for some of the players."

Linda looked at him. "What else would be a motivation?"

"Stock trades, even losing a little money, still serve a purpose, if you're interested in the transaction itself."

Linda frowned. "I don't get it."

"An incredible number of stock trades were run through the computers of the Gotham Trade Center during the emergency, then the buildings were imploded, collapsing the structures and burying the computers that were in them. They were laundering money, then covering their trail. And," Nygma added, "the attack on Building 7 resulted in, among other things, the destruction of the offices of those agencies that investigate white collar crime and questionable stock trades."

Nygma's explanation made sense. And, that made the connection to the insider trading information in the file from the dark figure outside the gym... that and more! But, what was the connection to the corrupt GBI agents that were trying to keep her quiet?

"What I don't understand," Nygma thought aloud, "is why Gotham's law enforcement agencies let it happen."

"What do you mean?" Linda looked at him, puzzled.

"I have information that certain elements in Gotham's law enforcement agencies had indications that something was going to happen. The GBI, for example, had many leads, but it's as if some highly-placed someone wouldn't allow anyone to make the connection...."

"Belladonna!" Linda interrupted excitedly.

They were in the village. Off to one side was a clearing, and on the other side of the clearing was a large boulder. To the right of the boulder was a tree that grew to a height of maybe thirty feet. Next to the tree passed a road, wide enough for one wagon to pass. In recent years, it had seen cars with increasing frequency. On the other side of the road were a few bushes, and immediately behind the bushes were plots of land cultivated by the villagers. To the left of the boulder was another small plot of land cultivated by the villagers. Wayne was wondering why the master had brought him here to the periphery of this small village.

"The skilled warrior," began the master, "is able to conceal himself as if beneath the nine levels of earth, yet he moves as if above the nine levels of heaven." Wayne looked at the master as the master continued. "This is how the skilled warrior is able to both protect himself and gain a complete victory." The master paused, admiring the vegetables growing in the field. "Against the skilled warrior, the enemy knows neither where to attack nor where to defend. This is because the skilled warrior is without ascertainable shape."

Wayne studied the vegetables, but inwardly was pondering the meaning of the master's words. It was as if the master were speaking to him in riddles, yet he had come to know that the mystery of the master's words was hidden in plain sight.

"Now it is according to the shapes that the skilled warrior makes his plans for victory, but the multitudes of people" -- he made a gentle sweeping gesture towards the villagers, who were pleasantly going about the same business that had been occurring here for centuries -- "do not understand this. Although most can see the victory, yet none understands how the victory has been created."

"What?" asked Nygma.

"Belladonna!" Linda repeated excitedly. "It was a GBI operation, or project, or something. It was all very secret," Linda was talking fast. "The GBI got special warrants to collect intelligence on various criminal groups. They set up a series of wiretaps, and they were turning up information on Gotham's underworld. But, the information was never passed to investigators for follow-up. It seems the warrants for the wiretaps were being abused, and had actually been obtained using fraudulent information."

"Ah," commented Nygma. "It's not nice to play the judge for a fool!"

"Exactly," Linda continued. "It seems there may not have ever been an intent to use the information for lawful purposes. Some information I have indicates that the real reason behind the wiretapping was to collect information that could be used to blackmail Gotham's wealthy, powerful elite. But, when you start moving in the right circles, the line between legal elites and criminal elites becomes blurred, and the taps actually turned up real, useful information about Gotham's organized crime syndicates and about Gotham's underworld, in addition to the indiscretions of Gotham's politicians and businessmen."

Nygma was having more trouble maintaining a calm demeanor as he listened.

"Some GBI agents and employees came forward with information about the taps, the operation, and the criminal activities they discovered, but GBI leadership kept it quiet instead, firing them, and even going so far as to get court orders to keep them quiet, and sending people out to intimidate them." Linda paused and took a needed breath as she thought about the visit they had paid to her just that morning. "People in the mayor's office are on board with all this, helping to obstruct justice," she added.

Nygma and Linda both stared at their files. Actually, they stared beyond their files, and, for the first time, each of them felt like someone else could see what they were seeing.

Nearby, a child was playing with a handheld video game. In the distance, foreign music could be heard from someone's house. One villager had a T-shirt from a recent Superbowl game, except that the team declared on the shirt to be the winner had in fact lost the game -- Wayne knew; he had been at the game. The village was so full of contradictions, yet in such harmony.

"His enemy may be great in number, and very strong and well-equipped. But of what benefit is this to the outcome?" The master looked at Wayne. "The skilled warrior creates his victories. He flows through his enemies like water, changing his form in accordance with the situation, managing and shaping his victories as they come."

Wayne looked hard at the master, trying to understand his words.

The master walked into the cultivated plot to the left of the boulder, then behind the boulder. Wayne waited for a moment for the master to step out, but he didn't, so Wayne took a couple steps toward the boulder.

"Subtle and insubstantial," continued the master, "the skilled warrior leaves no trace." The voice came from the left. "Divinely mysterious, he is inaudible. And so, he is master of his enemy's fate." Wayne looked, and there was the master walking toward him from the left! How could that be?! The only way from behind the boulder to the direction from where the master was now coming was right in front of Wayne; he had been watching intently the whole time, and the master had not gone over there, yet there he was!

The master smiled, and walked to the right, around the bushes on the other side of the road from the boulder and the tree, and into a cultivated plot behind them. Wayne watched intently as the master bent down to inspect some vegetables. Wayne glanced up at the master's old friend, who was watching and smiling. He looked back at the master. Apparently, the master had found something quite interesting in the cultivated plot. Wayne took a step closer, then realized that it wasn't the master that he was watching -- it was merely the plants that the master had been inspecting!

Wayne looked around, frustrated. "Where are you?" he asked impatiently.

"I'm right here." It came from behind him; it was the master's voice, but it was a strange kind of whisper. It was the kind of whisper that got someone's attention.

Wayne spun around and looked, and the master held out for him a selection of oriental vegetables.

Wayne looked again at the master's old friend, who was laughing. "Ten communist soldier watch, 'The Ancient' disappear. Communist soldier never come back village," the old man laughed. "Communist soldier very scared!"

Belladonna, Linda thought. A plant from the nightshade family. Some of the plants from the nightshade family were useful, even edible. The tomato, for example, was not just edible, but widely enjoyed and important economically. But, belladonna itself was poisonous.

How ironic, she thought. Just like those two dirty GBI agents who visited her outside the gym this morning... the GBI was useful and important, many of its operations were beneficial to Gotham, but those two agents themselves were corrupt. They worked their shady deals in the dark, and were poisonous to Gotham City.

Then she thought about that ghostlike figure who delivered the file to her in plain sight of the corrupt GBI agents who had just tried to intimidate her. She wouldn't have believed the events of the morning had ever happened to her -- she would have thought it had been a dream -- if she hadn't had the envelope with its files and CD ROM to prove it. The figure spoke to her, tossed the envelope with the file down at her feet, then just disappeared, right before her eyes!

That figure worked in the night and the shadows, too. And, she thought, he was going to be poisonous to whatever was happening in the dark shadows of Gotham's underworld.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Final Warning!

We've heard so many warnings from Al Qaeda that, to me, it was starting to sound like a barking dog that maybe isn't going to bite, at least like it did on 9/11.

An excellent analysis in's Global Terrorism Analysis (linked by America's Truth Forum Terrorism Update) entitled Al-Qaeda's American Recruit Releases Something Entirely New by Michael Scheuer sheds some light on what may be happening. Here are some excerpts (numbers in brackets are footnotes; see original link):

The American Adam Gadahn—now known as Azzam al-Amriki (Azzam the American)—has emerged as the third most important spokesman among al-Qaeda leaders, following Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri [1]. While officially only a member of al-Qaeda's media committee, Gadahn has joined bin Laden as the only other al-Qaeda member who has devoted entire statements to directly addressing the U.S. president and American citizens. To be sure, al-Zawahiri has ridiculed the president and talked to Americans, urging conversion and warning of coming attacks, but for the most part these statements have been in the context of regional issues—such as Iraq—for which he is the group's lead spokesman. Gadahn, therefore, is at the core of al-Qaeda's most important U.S.-oriented communication projects—although this does not necessarily mean he is fully involved in military operations—and seems to serve as the speaker responsible for ensuring that there is no way Americans can misunderstand what bin Laden is talking about. Speaking in the idiom of American English, and often using contemporary slang, Gadahn is the sledge that drives home the spike of bin Laden's messages for Americans.

So this guy is the mouthpiece to make sure the message gets communicated. This is because the message is deemed important, and Al Qaeda does not want the world to say that America wasn't warned.

In this role, Gadahn's May 29 videotape entitled "Legitimate Demands" constitutes a rare and perhaps singular item in the immense corpus of al-Qaeda's statements, interviews, essays, sermons and editorials [2]. At the most basic level, it completes what appears to have been Gadahn's assignment to amplify bin Laden's effort to satisfy his post-9/11 critics by ensuring that Americans were—according to the Prophet Muhammad's guidance—offered the chance to convert to Islam and warned about coming attacks well before they occurred. Bin Laden both offered conversion and warned Americans multiple times between Spring 2002 and Summer 2006, and Gadahn focused on clarifying bin Laden's conversion offer in a lengthy September 2006 video called "An Invitation to Islam" [3]. Gadahn's words in the conversion video were shorn of most of the Quranic references common to bin Laden's rhetoric and were spoken in the American vernacular.

Again, in accordance with Islamic Law, we are being warned and being offered the chance to "submit" in a language we can understand: idiomatic American English spoken by an American.

Gadahn's bare-knuckled and supremely confident presentation sharpens and clarifies the message of warning bin Laden has repeatedly delivered to Americans; it is spoken by an American, in modern English, and is studded with contemporary slang and catch-phrases. Gadahn's words also have a note of finality about them, as if he is saying there will be no more warnings from al-Qaeda, and the choice for Americans is between surrender and domestic attack. Again, this is out of character for the rhetoric of bin Laden and al-Zawahiri, and it suggests that they ordered Gadahn to make a last-warning to Americans before al-Qaeda attacks inside the United States. The obvious unacceptability of the demands also suggests that al-Qaeda has an attack ready and that nothing short of a U.S. capitulation would deter it. In Gadahn's words, "the die has been cast" and an era has begun that will see "your end, not ours" [10].

Basically, the demands made on us are such as to ensure non-compliance. This khawarij is confidently warning us of an imminent, decisive strike.

The strike is planned to be severe. We are being warned so the world cannot blame Al Qaeda for such a terrible attack coming without notice or without a chance for the US to surrender.

What kind of an attack? Some people have suggested a hit on a US school. But, consider FBI Director Mueller's recent speech about nuclear terrorism.

Al Qaeda is warning us in preparation for the use of nuclear weapons. They're confident because the weapons are already in place in the United States -- ?

Preparations are possibly too far along for them to not use the weapons should they decide not to -- ? -- but in any case, there is probably too strong a desire for their use, and too many resources invested in the preparations.

Also keep in mind that every day that the weapons are around but have not been used is another day that they might get discovered, or that, for some reason, something might go wrong so that Al Qaeda loses them. Nuclear weapons are a big investment, moving them into place in the US is a big investment, and Al Qaeda doesn't want to lose that investment.

It's nukes -- but when and where?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Somewhere in a Lonely Hotel Room

From a comment to a post over at Death and the Maiden:

What I think is interesting, too, is that in the American legal system, the accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Yet, abuse "of terrorists" is justified by presuming the accused person to be guilty from the beginning.

Abuse of detainees -- torture -- is exactly the opposite of what America stands for.

The other argument that one could make is that the detainees are enemy combatants, captured fighting against our troops.

But, if you make that argument, then it is the Geneva Conventions that apply, and, again, abuse of the prisoners is exactly the opposite of what America stands for.

It's a twisted perversion of logic to try to find a technical legal status where they are neither accused criminals nor prisoners of war, but rather exist in some legal twilight zone where abuse is okay.

One must add to that a physical twilight zone, an American gulag system, to keep them territorially in a place where this legal fiction can be maintained.

The difficulties of constructing the excuse for the abuse belie the perversion of logic necessary for its existence, and thus, its immorality.

This song is dedicated to all those "heroes" who are ordering what never should be ordered and doing what never should be done, and telling us it's for our own good. You have eroded American morality and perverted American law, justifying it by saying you're not as bad as the terrorists and that it's for our protection, until, grotesquely, America, a victim of terror, is herself accused of terrorism.

True torturers, you have made the victim, America, responsible for the crime.

For all you do, this song's for you!

The Twilight Zone

Somewhere in a lonely hotel room there's a guy starting to realize that eternal fate has turned its back on him. It's 2AM.

It's 2AM - it's 2 AM
The fear is gone - the fear is gone
I'm sittin' here waiting - I'm sittin' here waiting
The gun's still warm - the gun's still warm
Thinking my connection is tired of taking chances

Yeah, there's a storm on the loose, sirens in my head
Wrapped up in silence, all circuits are dead
Cannot decode - my whole life spins into a frenzy

Help, I'm stepping into the Twilight Zone
The place is a mad-house, feels like being cloned
My beacon's been moved under moon and star
Where am I to go now that I've gone too far

Help, I'm stepping into the Twilight Zone
The place is a mad-house, feels like being cloned
My beacon's been moved under moon and star
Where am I to go now that I've gone too far

Soon you will come to know
When the bullet hits the bone
Soon you will come to know
When the bullet hits the bone

I'm fallin' down a spiral, destination unknown
A double cross messenger, all alone
Can't get no connection, can't get through, where are you

Well the night weighs heavy on his guilty mind
This far from the border line
And when the hitman comes
He knows damn well he has been cheated
And he says

Help, I'm stepping into the Twilight Zone
The place is a mad-house, feels like being cloned
My beacon's been moved under moon and star
Where am I to go now that I've gone too far

Help, I'm stepping into the Twilight Zone
The place is a mad-house, feels like being cloned
My beacon's been moved under moon and star
Where am I to go now that I've gone too far

Monday, June 11, 2007

Comments on Abuse During Interrogation

There's a debate in the comments to a post over at Death and the Maiden.

Here are my remarks:

"Obviously some techniques used by torturers will be more brutal than others."

Let me reword that: "Obviously some techniques used by torturers will be less sophisticated than others."

And this leads me to answer Jonathan's comment:

"Good guys" who are the good guys only because they're not as bad as the bad guys aren't really the "good guys".

It's a question of integrity.

Once you take your finger out of the dike and let a little water in, then the structure has lost its integrity and the flood is on the way.

Similarly, once you allow some of the more sophisticated techniques of abuse, you are now a torturer, your soul has been sold, and you and the devil are merely haggling over the price.

Bin Laden can't destroy America, because he has no idea what America is. And that's why he fears us; he fears the unknown.

The people who are going to destroy America are those short-sighted people who allow the promise of immediate expediency in the face of the exigencies of a crisis to erode the integrity of their principles, until America no longer offers "liberty and justice for all", but only for those who aren't deemed a threat.

At that point, we will be no better than the regimes in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, or the one we just overthrew in Iraq.

At that point, our troops will come home, only to realize they were sold out and the war was lost while they were away.

At that point, Bin Laden will declare victory; even though he is unable to destroy us, if we destroy ourselves reacting to him, he's still won.

"... one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all."

"This isn't an anti-U.S. blog."

No, this is a pro-U.S. blog, because you are trying to defend what is right about America.

The America that I know and love is the land of chivalry and heroes -- sure, they wear cowboy hats instead of suits of armor, but let's not confuse form with content! The America that I know and love is the land of Superman and Wonder Woman, where the FBI are the good guys, where our military has the best record of any military anywhere in the world ever for treating even our enemies humanely, indeed, well! The America that I know and love is a place where even the little guy is equal before the law, and knows his rights will be protected.

And that means no abuse during interrogation.

This is what makes America great. If we lose this, we lose ourselves, and Bin Laden takes the credit for doing what the communists, the Nazis, and all the other thugs of history have failed to do.

As I live, that America is not consigned to the trash heap of history.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Legend

It was almost two o'clock, and Mr. Wayne still hadn't shown up.

Mrs. Jones frowned. There were several important messages for him. Significantly, too, there was a bouquet of flowers that had arrived for him. She put it in his office, on his desk, out of everyone's sight, but the damage had been done: enough people had seen the bouquet, enough people had caught a glimpse of the envelope. In feminine-looking handwriting, it thanked him "for a wonderful evening".

The oddest thing about it was the question mark down below the note instead of a signature. Now, everyone knew why Mr. Wayne hadn't come in to work yet, but worse, the gossip and speculation about who he had been with was quietly making the rounds of Wayne Enterprises. The answer to that was known only to Mr. Wayne, although one could assume the card inside the pink envelope offered some information.

As a good executive assistant, Mrs. Jones knew it was her job to protect her boss, but there were times when there was only so much she could do. She sighed, and looked again at the clock: it was now 2:00 PM.

Rick glanced at his watch: 2:00 PM. The boss had called a meeting for a few of his key people for 2:00, and it looked like one guy was going to be a little late. But, that guy was a special agent with Gotham's Bureau of Investigation, and the boss wasn't the agent's boss; the boss was the agent's other boss. Everybody knew that the GBI man could come in late, or not at all, just as long as the others at the GBI didn't suspect anything, and just as long as he kept his other boss happy with him.

The boss nodded to one of his men -- a tough-looking guy, well-dressed, but obviously a man of the streets; everybody called him Johnny.

"A friend of ours from the mayor's office is gonna do some time," Johnny began, his heavy Gotham City accent betraying his background. "He'll be okay, as long as he keeps quiet." He looked around the room. The threat was obvious to everyone.

"What happened? Who brought him down?" The question came from an accountant named Elliot.

"He was talking when he should've been listening," Johnny answered, looking down at the table, but his voice menacing nonetheless.

That didn't ring right. Everybody in the room knew what happened to guys who talk when they should be listening; if the guy had been talking, he wouldn't be doing time, he wouldn't be doing nothing right now, Rick thought.

"That ain't what I heard at all." Rick casually looked over: it was Abdul. "I heard 'The Bat' got him."

"There ain't no 'Bat'!" Johnny looked up disgustedly.

The boss motioned to Johnny; Johnny looked at the boss, then just sat there quietly.

"One of my people saw this 'Bat' this morning," the boss began. "He gave something to some reporter. The reporter's a girl. She's been sniffing around some of our operations."

Everyone was trying to look around the room at everyone else without anyone noticing; Rick almost smiled at how funny it looked, except that now would not have been a good time to smile.

"I heard about this 'Bat'. If he got seen, it's because he wanted to get seen." The comment came from a quiet, gentle-looking man in the back of the room. Rick didn't know his name, and didn't want to know. The man was a shooter, and Rick was afraid of him.

"This is going to sound funny," began a well-dressed man with a briefcase, who was looking down at some papers. It was Tyrone. Like Johnny, Tyrone was raised in the streets. Unlike Johnny, Tyrone had made something of his life, and had become an attorney. His opinion carried weight with the boss. Tyrone continued, looking up, "but I heard this guy can walk through walls."

Abdul nodded, and added, "I heard he can read people's minds."

The boss looked at everyone. "Well, Abdul, if he reads your mind, I'll be dealing with him. If he hears your voice, I'll be dealing with you."

Wayne walked past the clock. It was 2:15. He thought he'd never make it into the office! Wayne hurried down the hallway into the elevator in the lobby. He had a private elevator that took him directly to his office, of course, but he liked being in the lobby and in the corridors; it gave him some interaction with his employees, and he wanted to be approachable and accessible to them.

Still, though, today he was wondering if he shouldn't have taken his private elevator, coming in this late. Was it his imagination, or was he getting funny looks from some of the people?

The elevator door opened, he walked quickly down the hallway, and into his outer office, where Mrs. Jones sat at her desk.

"Good morning, Mrs. Jones!" he said cheerfully.

"Good afternoon, Mr. Wayne," she responded, glancing at the clock. "There are several important messages for you. Also, someone left a surprise for you. I put it on your desk. It was drawing some attention as it was being delivered this morning."

"Thanks," he said, walking into his inner office.

There on the desk was a big bouquet of flowers. He walked around his desk to his chair, and froze: a pink envelope was slipped inside the flowers.

He looked around quickly, then picked up the envelope. Outside, it said


Thank you for a wonderful evening.


He opened the envelope, and looked at the card: a big, fluffy cat with a raised paw was toying with a piece of yarn.

He opened the card. No pre-printed caption, just feminine-looking handwriting:

Riddle me this, riddle me that;
Who's afraid of the big, black bat?

For the first time in a long time, Bruce Wayne was scared.

"Is everything alright, Mr. Wayne?"

He looked toward the door. Mrs. Jones looked worried.

"You look like you've seen a ghost."

"I'm alright," he answered, but his voice was a whisper. And, his breath was shallow. "Just give me a few minutes, please."

"Let me know if you need anything," Mrs. Jones said, closing the door behind her.

His mind was racing, his heart beating fast.

Wayne looked at the card again. Someone was using him, and using Batman. Someone was reaching out and touching him, manipulating him, toying with him, getting Batman to do his or her work. Bruce Wayne had no idea who it could be, but whoever it was, that person knew all there was to know about Bruce Wayne.

"Fear is a paralyzing instinct, Mr. Wayne." The voice belonged to one of his masters when he studied martial arts in Asia. It was years ago, but he could hear it now, plain as day, as he relived the memory, a memory brought back to him by the paralyzing instinct that now controlled him.

He had wanted to learn more martial arts, but his master sat him down to play chess, instead. Wayne was young and impulsive then, and would have fired him on the spot, except that this instructor was not an employee. For all the martial arts training that he had had, with the best instructors money could buy, the best training came from an instructor who refused to take any money; he merely insisted that his young student, Bruce Wayne, apply himself and master his lessons.

His father had tried to teach him chess when he was younger, but Bruce had never been good at it. Then, after his parents' death, he had even more trouble with the game; he associated it with his dad.

The master sat him down at the table and insisted that he concentrate.

"Martial arts is more than punching and kicking, weapons and fighting, Mr. Wayne," he explained. Odd how it sounded, such a mature, accomplished master addressing a young upstart as "mister"....

"Martial arts is here," the master said, pointing at his head, "and here," he said, pointing at his stomach.

Wayne moved his queen. Two more moves, and it would be checkmate.

"When I wish to avoid battle, Mr. Wayne, I may do so merely by drawing a line on the ground." Wayne looked up at him, as he continued. "My opponent will be unable to attack me, because I divert him from going where he wishes." The master moved his knight, jeopardizing the spot Wayne was going to move his queen to.

Wayne studied the board. He moved a bishop. On his next move, he would capture the knight, and then, two more moves... unless the master removed his knight, in which case he was only two moves away from victory again right now.

"When I wish to give battle, Mr. Wayne, my opponent, though well-hidden and well-defended, cannot help but engage me at the time and place of my choosing." The master leaned across the table. "I attack a position he must protect." With Wayne's bishop out of the way, a quick move by the master's bishop placed his king in check.

"You can only win by checkmating me, Mr. Wayne. But that is not possible if you yourself are checkmated," the master explained. "Offense and defense. One offers the possibility of victory; the other offers the possibility of survival."

Wayne moved out of check, but the master moved the knight that was protecting his king, and placed Wayne in check again.

"Offense and defense are like interlocked rings; who can tell where one ends and the other begins?" The master's words were sinking in, as Wayne struggled desperately to get out of check. "One can become the other, and the other can become one."

Checkmate! From a pawn!!

"An opponent can be checkmated, Mr. Wayne, as you were just now," the master continued. "A man can be killed, as your father was." The master leaned back in his chair. "You must become more than a man in the mind of your opponent."

Wayne's breath was shallow, his heart beating fast, thinking about his father, about his father's life, and about his father's death.

"And what might that be?" he asked the master.

The master leaned over and whispered, "A legend, Mr. Wayne."


Whether it's delay of game or pass interference, either way, it's still a foul (this post updates the one linked in this sentence).

From FBI derailed case against al Qaeda man, May 11, 2007 8:26 AM, by Bill Myers and Scott McCabe, The Examiner (a Washington, D.C., journal):

WASHINGTON (Map, News) - A turf battle between an immigration agency and the FBI nearly derailed a terrorism investigation, allowing a suspected al Qaeda fundraiser to continue his work, a former top immigration official alleged.

Joe Webber, a former executive in Immigration and Customs Enforcement, told The Examiner that in late 2003, his agents developed information that a man in the Houston area was allegedly raising money for al Qaeda. But the FBI sat on applications for wiretaps of the suspect for months, letting evidence slip through the cracks, Webber said.

Webber has accused top FBI officials, including former FBI task force leader Michael Morehart — the current special agent in charge of administration in the FBI’s D.C. office — of burying the investigation.

Morehart could not be reached for comment. But FBI officials insisted they handled the case properly. Director Robert Mueller addressed a media breakfast Wednesday and said he was “absolutely” sure the bureau was cooperating with other federal agencies.

Webber said the delays in the Houston-area case could have deadly consequences.

“I can’t tell you how many dollars were actually collected, but if you look at an AK-47 round — that’s about 13 cents in Iraq or Afghanistan,” Webber said. “So if 13 cents left this country, it’s significant.”

The man continues to raise money for al Qaeda, sources familiar with the investigation said.

Webber’s allegations raise the possibility that, nearly a decade after the Sept. 11 attacks, federal law enforcement agencies still aren’t working together to root out terrorist cells in the U.S.

“This is not an isolated incident as they would leave you to believe,” Webber said.

In a partially classified report by the Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General, the FBI admitted the delays but blamed it on the local FBI office and Webber’s agents.

The inspector general agreed with the FBI in its report.

Webber condemned the inspector general’s report. He said the inspector general didn’t put anyone under oath and did not require Morehart to take a lie detector test.

Webber has the support of U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who has accused the FBI of worrying more about “who’s getting the credit” than stopping terrorists.

In 2005, as it was finishing its report on Webber’s allegations, the Justice Department’s inspector general office opened a review of 10 cases in which the FBI is alleged to have stalled investigations to protect its turf.

“Where is that report?” Webber asked. “The bottom line is, the FBI is not going to let anyone else prosecute a counterterrorism case.”

"In 2005, as it was finishing its report on Webber’s allegations, the Justice Department’s inspector general office opened a review of 10 cases in which the FBI is alleged to have stalled investigations to protect its turf."

Ten cases!

Ten cases that were being investigated, that we hear about after doing a little research. And we haven't heard the findings from that review, either.

From Delay of Game or Pass Interference?

And, he says, what was making his blood boil during the wait, was the news he was hearing out of Iraq: terrorists offering reward money for the deaths of Americans.

Webber: “It was $3,000 for the death of a U.S. Serviceman, $2,000 for the death of an Iraq Serviceman, and $1,000 for a U.S. contractor.”

Corderi: “Without terrorist financing, that wouldn't be possible.”

Webber: “Correct. If they don't have the means of support to carry it out, they can't do it....”

Ten investigations delayed, that we know about.... A review that began in 2005, and we still haven't heard the results....

How much terrorist money is that? How many dead and wounded American and coalition service personnel is that? How many dead Iraqi civilians, who die by the dozens in terrorist attacks, is that?

The comment in the article quoted here has FBI Headquarters blaming it on the local office; but the article quoted in my other post has Webber saying they were getting great cooperation from the FBI office in Houston.

Recall Sibel Edmonds' remark in my post America's Secret Police (which references the transcript of an interview):

And here is another thing, the agents themselves, we’re talking about the street level agents, case agents, these are patriotic great guys. So it was not these agents going and violating these rules, but it was taking place within the FBI’s administrative headquarters and the higher-ups within the Justice Department.

The pattern (and I will post more evidence of this) is of FBI Headquarters not letting anyone else investigate terrorism-related cases. And then, someone at FBI Headquarters is selective of which cases the FBI investigates, and how.

President George W. Bush, Thursday, September 20, 2001:
"Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists."

Somebody in FBI Headquarters is with the terrorists.