Final jeopardy | OPINION: Peter Eichenberger | Indy Week
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Final jeopardy 

The facts don't matter. I've beaten the truth around enough and when there is the level of blind support of the administration's false and boogered-up facts as is going around, well, let's just say I'm a bit winded. Those bad boy scouts in D.C. are busy lighting fires faster than I can put them out. Time to put on your critical thinking caps and let us go over this stuff one more time.

Trivia time, class.

Q: Which leader asked the following question of the Kurds: "I do not understand this squeamishness about the use of gas. I am strongly in favour of using poison gas against uncivilised tribes."

No not that one. Give up?

A: Winston Churchill.

Q: What is the longest time one power has held both the Khyber pass (Afghanistan) and Iraq--a goal of every empire since the beginning of time?

A: Two whole years between 1917 and 1919 by our old buddies the British, until they gave up on the Khyber Pass (negated by invention of the airplane) and grabbed Iraq because the Royal Navy had (like, duh) switched to oil in 1904.

This is my personal candidate for pure emotional appeal for the chicken-hawks in D.C.--and London. Oh, I can just see it--Paul Wolfowitz, Dick Cheney and Rummy clutching each other, jumping up and down, squealing with girlish joy, "We gonna do it. We're actually going to do it. Hold me tight, Donny!"

Q: Who said: "The United States does not target civilian populations"?

A: That whopper would be from Donald Rumsfeld--an Orwellian utterance quite contrary to ongoing policy of the widespread use of aerial bombardment of civilian targets, inaugurated during the short time that Britain held Iraq (the name itself invented) and continuously refined through World War II with the incendiary bombing of Dresden, the vaporizing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, and continued on through Vietnam and Panama to this day with U.S. illegal attacks and sanctions on civilians around the globe. And that is dispensing with the Native Americans or General William Tecumseh Sherman.

Q: What is the number of deaths of Iraqi children that was "worth it" to Madeleine Albright?

A: 500,000 due to the United States' systematic destruction of Iraq's water systems. Heck, even the Nazis didn't stoop that low. Read the paper yourself:

Marc W. Herold, professor of economics, international relations, and women's studies at the University of New Hampshire has pointed out that the average daily rate of Afghan civilian deaths from the U.S. bombing has been approximately 41-47. Now, of course, since we will never know how many they have captured, we have to guess that this is many, many more than there are al Qaeda.

Speaking of which:

Q: When did al Qaeda meet with the Iraqis?

A: March 2001, according to repeated columns by esteemed Noo Yawk Times columnist William Safire.

Too bad no one agrees with him, including Robert Mueller, director of the FBI, veteran CIA analyst Melvyn Goodman, Pakistan's spy agency ISI, and everyone else who actually knows anything. If yours truly made such repeated bold claims with a similar paucity of evidence, I could probably get a cushy job in journalism, say, cleaning the wastebaskets at the Southside Shopper.

Q: Where did CIA spook Larry Mitchell meet with Osama?

A: At the American Hospital in Dubai, August 2001, according to Le Figaro, the Parisian daily, in a story they have never retracted.

Q: The curfew hours of former U.S. Navy officer Mike Veranda, recently released on bail?

A: Seven to seven. Veranda's boo-boo was writing an advance warning outlining Sept. 11.

Q: Number of warnings the U.S. received about possible terrorist attacks involving jets and buildings in the weeks before that fateful day?

A: Dozens.

Q: The number of minutes that it took two F-15 Strike Eagles from Eglin Air Force Base in Florida to intercept golfer Payne Stewart's errant Lear 35 from the time Orlando air traffic control notified the Federal Aviation Administration?

A: Thirteen. The Department of Defense tries to keep interception times to less than 15.

Those babies really move. Runway to 50,000 feet in 47 seconds--that's 6 Gs straight up--and we have a thousand or so advanced interceptors--F-18s, F-16s, F-15s and so forth--stationed in the United States.

Stewart's jet blew a cabin gasket on the way to Dallas. The crew and passengers suffocated in seconds. NORAD ordered Eglin and McDill AFB. McDill waved off because Eglin was closer. Two F-15s shadowed the Lear, finally handing the interception off to a Missouri Air Guard unit that followed the bogie until it ran out of fuel and fluttered down into a corn field in South Dakota. The pilots talked about a shoot-down, but the rogue never got close enough to a population center to make that necessary.

Now for comparison:

Q: Number of minutes Hani Hanjour (flight 77) had to fly a loaded, hijacked jetliner from West Virginia back to D.C.?

A: Forty.

Of all the hijackers, Hani seems to have been the "best." After the second WTC tower was hit and the world knew it was no--um--accident, Hanjour managed to evade the entire U.S. air defense system, including a 24/7 Air Force and a Navy interceptor wing from Andrews AFB, 10 miles away from the most heavily protected airspace in the world, pitch 100,000 pounds of metal and fuel and screaming, bloody passengers into a very tricky maneuver called a "slip turn" (7,000 feet to 0 in two and a half minutes--the jet is basically falling sideways)--and come in so low he was clipping light poles before he hit the Pentagon. Not bad for a guy who according to a New York Times report "could not fly at all."

With all the blunders (or worse) about what did and didn't happen that day, no one has addressed the fact that, despite numerous warnings, somehow our air defense system was curiously unable (in violation of several FAA regulations) to respond to not one, not two, not three, but FOUR separate hijackings on the same day in the crowded skies of the Northeast. Bringing up yet another probing question.

Q: Why does George Tenet, the director of central intelligence, still have a job?

A: Unknown.

Q: In view of two Columbia inquiries started around the time that the last wreckage came fluttering down, and a third independent panel commenced within a week, when did the independent inquiry begin over Sept. 11? (Careful--this is a trick question.)

A: It hasn't.

Q: What has the Pentagon offered to do for independent journalists who report on Iraq outside of officially sanctioned channels?

A: Bomb them.

Q: How many times has the Bush family betrayed the interests of the United States for the enemy?

A: That would take a battalion of brilliant and creative investigators to get the full story, but we know it is certainly at least two: Prescott Bush's (the president's granddaddy) old firm, the Union Bank, had its assets seized by the feds in 1942 for providing the Nazis with steel, weapons and cash. Then there was the little, ol' Iran-Contra deal, you remember, where the executive branch and George 41 masterminded a sale (with a fat Richard Armitage 20 percent upcharge) of weapons to our then-enemy Iran, fighting our then-friends, the Iraqis. And what about W. being in bed with the bin Laden family in the Carlysle industrial concern? The mind swirls.

Q: We come full circle. Who supplied the Iraqis with chemicals, weapons, and intelligence with which they attacked the Kurds?

A: Oh, you can guess that one.

Q: Under the recently leaked Domestic Security Enhancement Act (Son of USA Patriot Act), who could be renamed a "foreign power" and subjected to secret arrest?

A: All persons. EndBlock

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