Annual Fundraising Appeal

The US Geological Survey recorded a minor earthquake this morning with its epicenter near Wasilla, Alaska, the probable result of Sarah Palin opening her mail box to find the latest issue of CounterPunch magazine we sent her. A few moments later she Instagrammed this startling comment…

Ayers

The lunatic Right certainly has plenty of problems. We’ve made it our business to not only expose these absurdities, but to challenge them directly. With another election cycle gaining steam, more rhetoric and vitriol will be directed at progressive issues. More hatred will be spewed at minorities, women, gays and the poor. There will be calls for more fracking and war. We won’t back down like the Democrats. We’ll continue to publish fact-based critiques and investigative reports on the shenanigans and evil of the Radical Right. Our future is in your hands. Please donate.

Day10

Yes, these are dire political times. Many who optimistically hoped for real change have spent nearly five years under the cold downpour of political reality. Here at CounterPunch we’ve always aimed to tell it like it is, without illusions or despair. That’s why so many of you have found a refuge at CounterPunch and made us your homepage. You tell us that you love CounterPunch because the quality of the writing you find here in the original articles we offer every day and because we never flinch under fire. We appreciate the support and are prepared for the fierce battles to come.

Unlike other outfits, we don’t hit you up for money every month … or even every quarter. We ask only once a year. But when we ask, we mean it.

CounterPunch’s website is supported almost entirely by subscribers to the print edition of our magazine. We aren’t on the receiving end of six-figure grants from big foundations. George Soros doesn’t have us on retainer. We don’t sell tickets on cruise liners. We don’t clog our site with deceptive corporate ads.

The continued existence of CounterPunch depends solely on the support and dedication of our readers. We know there are a lot of you. We get thousands of emails from you every day. Our website receives millions of hits and nearly 100,000 readers each day. And we don’t charge you a dime.

Please, use our brand new secure shopping cart to make a tax-deductible donation to CounterPunch today or purchase a subscription our monthly magazine and a gift sub for someone or one of our explosive  books, including the ground-breaking Killing Trayvons. Show a little affection for subversion: consider an automated monthly donation. (We accept checks, credit cards, PayPal and cold-hard cash….)
button-store2_19

or use
pp1

To contribute by phone you can call Becky or Deva toll free at: 1-800-840-3683

Thank you for your support,

Jeffrey, Joshua, Becky, Deva, and Nathaniel

CounterPunch
 PO Box 228, Petrolia, CA 95558

The Hair Gel Terror Hype

Hitting a Nerve

by CRAIG MURRAY

I appear to have hit a nerve with my call for a sceptical view of the alleged "bigger than 9/11" plot. In the UK, at least, the more serious wing of the mainstream media is beginning to catch up with the idea that all is not well here.

Still, after eight days of detention, nobody has been charged with any crime. For there to be no clear evidence yet on something that was "imminent" and "Mass murder on an unbelievable scale" is, to say the least, rather peculiar. The 24th person, who was arrested amid much fanfare yesterday, has been quietly released without charge today. Breaking news, another "suspect" has just been released too.

The drip, drip of information to the media from the security services has rather dried-up. The last item of any significance was that they had found a handgun and a rifle–neither of which could have been in any use in the alleged plot. If you were smuggling undetectable liquid explosive onto a plane, you would be unlikely to give the game away by tucking a rifle into your hand baggage.

As with the murder some years ago of the uncle of the suspect held in Pakistan, it remains a possibility that there could be some criminal activity here involving a few of the suspects, which is not terrorist linked.

As the Police immediately told the press about the guns, it is a reasonable deduction that it remains true that they still have found no bombs or detonators, or they would have told us, particularly as they haven’t charged anyone yet. They must be getting pretty desperate to announce some actual evidence by now.

This brings us to one particuarly sinister aspect of the allegations–that the bombs were to be made on the plane.

The idea that high explosive can be made quickly in a plane toilet by mixing at room temperature some nail polish remover, bleach, and Red Bull and giving it a quick stir, is nonsense. Yes, liquid explosives exist and are highly dangerous and yes, airports are ill equipped to detect them at present. Yes, it is true they have been used on planes before by terrorists. But can they be quickly manufactured on the plane? No.

The sinister aspect is not that this is a real new threat. It is that the allegation may have been concocted in order to prepare us for arresting people without any actual bombs.

Let me fess up here. I have just checked, and our flat contains nail polish remover, sports drinks, and a variety of household cleaning products. Also MP3 players and mobile phones. So the authorities could announce–as they have whispered to the media in this case–that potential ingredients of a liquid bomb, and potential timing devices, have been discovered. It rather lowers the bar, doesn’t it? This has a peculiar resonance for me. I spoke at the annual Stop the War conference a couple of months ago. I referred to the famous ricin plot. For those outside the UK, this generated the same degree of hype here two years ago. It was alleged that a flat in North London inhabited by Muslims was a "Ricin" factory, manufacturing the deadly toxin which could kill "hundreds of thousands of people". Police tipped off the authorities that traces of ricin had been discovered. In the end, all those accused were found not guilty by the court. The "traces of ricin" were revealed to be the atmospheric norm.

The "intelligence" on that plot had been extracted under torture in Algeria–another echo here, as the "intelligence" in this current case has almost certainly been extracted under torture in Pakistan. Another police tip-off to the media was that the intelligence had been stored in plastic jars, and they had indeed found plastic jars containing a suspicious substance. It turned out the containers in question were two Brylcreem tubs. What was in them? In the first, paper clips. In the second, Brylcreem.

I told the story in my speech, and concluded with a ringing "So we must congratulate the government for saving us from a dastardly Islamic plot to take over the World using hair styling products."

I fear the government may have taken me seriously!

I do not discount the possibility that there is a germ of something behind the current alleged plot. Will it be anything like the hype? No.
The hype scarcely lowers. On the flagship ten o’clock news last night, the BBC reported breathlessly on the United flight diverted from Washington to Boston last night, and its fighter escort. We had very earnest besuited security experts terrifying us about the dangers.

The extraordinary thing was that, by this stage, we knew definitely that this was a 60 year old woman with claustrophobia, who had a few loose matches and some Vaseline intensive care hand lotion in the bottom of her handbag. The facts reported were totally at odds with the whole manner of the "be terrified" report and the analysis being built on it. But that didn’t stop them.

It has, of course, worked. When did you last see Iraq on the news? Where is Liebermann’s defeat now on the news agenda?

CRAIG MURRAY served as the British Ambassador to Uzbekistan from August 2002 to October 2004. He can be reached at: http://www.craigmurray.co.uk/index.html