HAMMERNEWS- Michael Hammerschlag

Current Political Commentary by journalist Michael Hammerschlag; Thoughts on foreign policy, Republican outrages, liberal strategies, science by 8 year correspondent in Russia/Ukraine over 22 years and longtime commentator; Website: http://HAMMERNEWS.com

Monday, September 12, 2005

9-11 Predictions + Dreams AND Hitchens-Galloway Debate

WTC PHOTOS- view off top, ground zero 12-01, overflight 9-15-01
updated 2010
Watching some of the History and Discovery Channel coverage of 9-11: The Flight That Fought Back about the real heroes of 9-11, a plane of average citizens, who in a few minutes came together as a fighting force, and saved the US Capitol or the White House (still can't understand why the first plane hit the Pentagon instead of the Capitol, since any explosion on the Pentagon is like a fly on an elephant- panic I think). And The Man Who Predicted 9-11- about Rick Rescorla, who had put in place the evacuation plan that saved thousands; and Grounded on 9-11, about the amazing grounding of 5000 flights in a few hours. Apparently rumors of hijackings almost caused 2 planes heading into Cleveland and a Korean Airline flight into Anchorage to be blown from the sky. (haunting deep Esquire full story of this photo, the taboo controversy, and the 200 jumpers: "In a nation of voyeurs, the desire to face the most disturbing aspects of our most disturbing day was somehow ascribed to voyeurism, as though the jumpers' experience, instead of being central to the horror, was tangential to it, a sideshow best forgotten." )

The jumpers were disappeared from history because so many people had a religious problem with suicide, but it wasn't suicide, but a choice between deaths. Having covered the horrendous RI Nightclub fire , I think burning to death is the worst death imaginable, whereas flying free for a few seconds to an instant end is comparatively elegant. Idiotic religious people decided that decision was shameful, somehow, and those photos were suppressed for years. The story for ESQUIRE identified the jumper, a pastry chef at Windows on the World, but the family virulently resisted, which I thought was due to Hispanic conservatism. I almost did that story. In 2006 they made this FALLING MAN documentary: But who was the falling man... really?
http://www.youtube. com/watch? v=eo6bIb_ yiKs
      Sept. 15, 2001
I thought I was immune from the rage and frustration, but it all came back. On 9-11 I was just finishing an all-night packing for a 5:30 pm flight smack over midtown Manhattan PVD-CINC-SEA, about to collapse for 5 hours of sleep. Watching the History Channel, which to their everlasting disgrace never interrupted WW2 to report the history actually happening, I almost missed the whole thing. "They're attacking", my mother sleepily said. "Iraq air strikes" again I thought, turning on the TV at 10:28am, 20 seconds before the second tower collapsed. The only way I knew it was actually real and live was the utter absence of commentary or speaking for 1 minute, as the newscasters were stunned into catatonia, as I was, convinced I had witnessed the deaths of 25,000 humans. I was on the first airliners to overfly the smoking ruins that Saturday, Sept. 15.
                                           Jan 5, 2000 - expands

I visited the WTC, perched improbably on the bottom tip of the $26 island like it would unbalance it, for the first and last time just after Y2K. I spent 6 hours at the top, wandering around the huge walls of glass with the secluded alcoves below, gazing down on the great city from Olympian heights, roaming the roof, unable to leave. A Brutal Wake-Up Call is my Sept 12 piece about that day, with many exclusive photos. Airline Insecurity details the slow pace of improvements in 2002, almost picked up by Tribune newspaper syndicate.

Author Tom Clancy details a deliberate 747 crash into the Capital by a pilot whose son + brother have been killed in a war with the US in Debt of Honor in 1994 (90° rotated), just when Bin Laden was turning against America. He might have read it. Apart from the pilot's dubious nationality (Japanese), the question was only ‘when’, not ‘if’. Palestinian rage and frustration was obviously building to a crescendo- in our Stop the Madness (July 14th) newsletter (at end) we predicted a terrorist attack on NYC or DC, which we thought might be nuclear. In Aug 2001, I replied to an Israeli girl/friend who had sent me an anguished letter about the latest bus bombing, "I really fear US will become a target of Palestinian rage that will dwarf anything that's happened in Israel (we have more Arabs + Moslems than Jews now): a Paki or Russian nuke (or biological) attack. In fact I think something like that is inevitable, and would turn the USA into an instant police state." That letter also foretold the coming of the West Bank Wall.

A week before 9-11, chatting by phone with a friend in Greenwich Village we speculated about the probable coming terrorist attack- would it be NYC or DC, NY or DC... NY or DC. When it was both, we were floored. See numerous other Pulitzer-worthy Accurate Forecasts over 26 years of world class commentary.
               photo of my video from skybridge to nowhere -
In the last coincidence that confirms the smallness of our world and my instinctive journalistic skill at being at  the right place at the right time to see history unfolding (Russia 5 weeks before the Soviet Union's collapse), in April 2001 I spent a month in Florida scuba diving wrecks and biking off blubber; mostly in Ft. Lauderdale and Miami, with a trip to Key West on the deadly Overseas Hwy. My motel in Lauderdale was 2 blocks from the main public library, where I checked my email every 2 days or so. One day I noticed 2 Arabic guys there, very unusual even in the enormously polyglot Hispanic world of South Florida. There was something unusual about them that I couldn't really place, but I watched them from as close as 5ft and almost talked to them. One was soft-faced, friendly looking, academic; the other sharp harsh featured, more tribal.

When I looked at the photos of the hijackers, they jumped out: Marwan al Shehhi, Atta's 2nd in command and pilot of 2nd WTC plane, and Ahmed al-Haznawi, who both who lived... in.... Ft. Lauderdale (Hollywood, which is suburb on southern edge). They were there to send their untraceable Hotmail or Yahoo emails on cache-less library computers. I could be wrong, but probability of instantly picking 2 of only 4 hijackers (out of 19) who lived in Lauderdale is 1 in 24.

Wish I could do that over, and befriend them... with extreme prejudice.

Even now +1200 of the victims have never been found or identified, incinerated in the jagged metal furnace of WTC rubble. I finally slipped into the ruins in Dec '01 for an hour- official permission was difficult. On another note, Isn't it incredibly strange no photos or video of the Pentagon plane (Flt. 77) have ever shown up in a city with tens of thousands of tourists- the FBI apparently seized security camera footage from several places and has never released it.

I love fireman but NYFD Chiefs (9-11 NARCISSISM ) set up their command center in the bottom floor of the WTC, equivalent to a wartime command post setting up at the absolute front line of a battle, rather than miles behind. They couldn’t even see anything that was happening above. That CBS French documentary that followed a local fire company into the WTC revealed the stunning fact that the commanders in the second tower had no idea the first collapsed. The blunders were manifest, if you read the agonizing book 102 minutes by NYT reporters Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn. Doors to the roof were sealed, so even official maintenance men couldn’t unlock them after a searing choking climb to a possible escape. The FDNY bosses didn't turn on the WTC walkie talkie amplification system because they wrongly thought it didn't work, so almost no one had any communications, except some police, who couldn’t talk to the firemen. 100 collapsed fireman perished on the 20th floor on the 2nd tower, who incredibly DIDN'T KNOW THE FIRST TOWER HAD COLLAPSED, even though warned by cops whose communications worked.

2015 ADDENUM:  Many stories about the failed chances to stop 9-11 have energed, the 20th hijacker's arrest in Mpls, the only FBI office so by the book that they wouldn't have ignored DC's tragic instruction to not look at his computer, multiple warnings to Bush that "Bin Laden determined to attack with commercial aviation", so many that CIA people debated resigning lest they be blamed!

Here is another one that should make every American's blood boil: the FBI liaison at the Counter Terrorism Center was prevented from sending a report that 2 Al-Qaida operatives were here, even had multiple entry US visas because some dimwit CIA analyst was trying to recruit them!! A similar idiocy by CIA's Jennifer Matthews, who recruited the double agent (Al Zawahiri's doctor) who killed her and six other CIA personnel on a remote base in Afghanistan on December 2009- driven into a CIA base without being searched—on Matthew’s explicit, tragic orders—and blew himself up.

Various extreme leftists and an amazing number of people around the world believe the Bush Admin conspired in 9-11, absurd on its face, nothing Bush ever did worked that well. I would not rule out, however, that their evil was so extreme that they allowed it to happen, realizing every lunatic neo-con dream would then be possible.


Two heavyweight silver tongued speakers bashed each other bloody over the Iraq War, Bush, NOLA, and various personal baggage. Christopher Hitchens is the neo-con converted liberal British Vanity Fair gadfly who supported the war; British MP George Galloway is the Scottish firebrand who disemboweled Sen. Norm Coleman in a Senate hearing when he tried to accuse Galloway of aiding and abetting Saddam. His defense was so catagorical, scathing, eloquent, and devastating that the hearing was immediately adjourned (starts at 4th MP3, first 3 are waiting). This is the kind of free and serious bare knuckle debate that has vanished in our gutless society and domesticated media.PROMO: Two years after the invasion of Iraq, British MP George Galloway and journalist Christopher Hitchens will debate the causes and consequences of the Iraq war. Moderated by Amy Goodman.
George Galloway is Respect party MP for Bethnal Green and Bow in East London. He recently electrified the United States with his appearance at a Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations hearing on May 17, when he turned the proceedings into a condemnation of the war in Iraq.
CNN's Wolf Blitzer described Galloway's speech in the Senate as "a blistering attack on U.S. senators rarely heard" in Washington. His new book, out in September, is "Mr. Galloway Goes to Washington" (The New Press).
Christopher Hitchens is a widely published polemicist and frequent radio and TV commentator. He is the author of "A Long Short War," "Why Orwell Matters," "The Trial of Henry Kissinger," and many other books. The London Observer calls him "One of the most brilliant journalists of our time."
This debate is part of a national tour of the United States by George Galloway, "Stand Up and Be Counted: No to War and Occupation." see the website:


Read a terrifying story of an instant raw fight for survival, when an Escondido man and his daughter hiking in Glacier Nat. Park surprised a huge grizzly sow and cubs on the trail. The bear savagely attacked the man, shattering his back in five places, ripping off his scalp (ow), and breaking his eyeball socket, wrist, and ribs.... then moved on to the daughter. They actually curled up and played dead, almost too successfully, recommended when you surprise a bear (as opposed to when the bear wants to eat you). I'm not sure about this playing dead business (in, between the a screams)- I like the idea of trying to scare the bear off or fighting back.

In Yosemite Valley, a rampaging bear opened the screen zipper of my tent, ripped open my backpack (only food: toothpaste) then went out the back door. Problem was, there was no back door. Luckily I wasn't there; he took out 3 other tents too. Later they relocated or killed all Valley bears. At a shelter near Clingmans Dome, Great Smokey Mtns. Pk., a black bear roared and jumped at me from about 6 ft away at about 3am, when I went around the side to see the beasty that had just woken us by standing on hind legs and casually munching on the food I'd stuck in the 8ft high rafters. The bear had gone crashing into underbrush 100 ft away after our collective yells, but this was a second bear. Unfortunately, our shelter was only one that no chain link fence in the front- the only barrier was a wire with strung open food cans to clank when the bear came in. I flew backyards and slammed into the wire so hard that I pivoted into the ground hard enough to peel much of the skin off the tops of my fingers, as well as slashing my palm on the open cans (how about chimes?). I still have the "bear attack" scar, which made holding the walking stick awkward. Then solo hiking down 1000 ft into Yellowstone Canyon just after hungry irate grizzly bears came out of their den in early June (still a foot of snow at 7800 ft), I blew my whistle all night in terror at every noise. A buff had come up right next to the tent and snorted, and it sure sounded big. A ranger had given a nice lecture at the end of last season about a poor Swiss girl eaten by grizzly bears: "They only found an arm and a leg... They usually eat their kill." (Note to women: Avoid hiking in bear country during that time of month.) You don't get the right idea when you see them riding a bike in the Moscow circus.


CBS newsman John Roberts skated through his confirmation hearings with a performance so slick, so reasonable, and so skillfully evasive that Judiciary members were impressed with his slippery lawyer ability even as they were frustrated by his lack of answers. Of course, what does anyone expect when, off the bat, Specter and Cornyn invited Roberts to not answer anything he didn't want to (why even hold hearings?- a Heritage Foundation commentator suggested on ATC). When questioning grew heated, Specter was quick to jump in and defend the candidate's right to evade and obfuscate, and honoring his cancer-defying courage, no Senator slapped him down. This is the most powerful post in the US Government, and all questions are valid, but sadly, with complete Repub control, unless the candidate is a child molester, advise and consent has become a sad joke. What's worse, Roberts seemed determine to tell members what they wanted to hear- he respected precedent, and wouldn't overturn established principles, nice moderate positions that could be blatant lies, considering his radical arrogant young punk writings, most of which wasn't released. David Brooks seemed to suggest that in a NYT column: that Roberts was just going to lie, since once confirmed he could and would do anything he wanted.

Tone deaf to the crony outrage over Katrina, Bush nominated White House Council Harriet Meirs, who has never even been a judge (president of the State Bar of Texas and Dallas Bar Association, member of the Dallas City Council). Why appoint another slavish loyalist- his own longtime lawyer, to the Supreme Court??? For the same reason Yeltsin appointed Putin to replace him- for protection from the blizzard of criminal investigations about to inundate this administration- Iraq lies, Plamegate, Delay duplicity, Roving crimes, Scooter sleaze, Frist's failings, Katrina contempt. Simply put, Miers is a prophylactic against IMPEACHMENT.

For once, extreme whacko rightists are correct: "The reaction of many conservatives today will be that the president has made possibly the most unqualified choice since Abe Fortas, who had been the president's lawyer," said conservative activist Manuel Miranda of the Third Branch Conference, referring to President Lyndon B. Johnson's pick to the high court in 1965. Bush speechwriter David Frum says Miers was the most slavishly loyal of the imperial retinue, saying that "Bush was the smartest person she'd ever met". Really?

Miers may have been intimately involved in suppressing the Bush National guard desertion scandal. As well, Kos reports she headed a corrupt law firm in Austin: [ "Miers headed Locke, Liddell & Sapp at the time the firm was forced to pay $22 million to settle a suit asserting that "it aided a client in defrauding investors." Under Miers' leadership, the firm represented the head of a "foreign currency trading company [that] was allegedly a Ponzi scheme." The law firm admitted that it "knew in March 1998 that $8 million in [the company's] losses hadn't been reported to investors" but didn't tell regulators. This wasn't an isolated incident, either. The Austin American-Statesman reported in 2001 that Miers' law firm was forced to pay another $8 million for a similar scheme to defraud investors. ] Buzzflash article

As White House Policy Dep. Chief of Staff she answered questions on the WH site: Sept. 10, 2004: Miers defended the administration's efforts to draw links between Iraq and 9/11, said she appreciates "the president's calm, strong leadership". Oct. 14, 2004: When a writer suggested that Bush's tax cuts and other policies were aimed at helping big business more than "ordinary Americans," Miers said that she hoped the writer would "spend some time learning about what the president really has done for the American people, in tax relief and so many other ways." When another writer asked why Bush is "restricting federal funding on embryonic stem cell research," Miers said: "You should start from the premise that the president supports promising medical research."

Sadly, maybe, Dems prefer an unqualified corrupt partisan hack to a confirmed facist:
[Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, was complimentary of Miers. He raised Miers' name during a September 22 breakfast meeting with the president in which Sens. Frist, Specter, Leahy and he discussed possible candidates with the president, Reid spokeman Jim Manley said. Reid believes Miers would bring a "fresh perspective" to the court, Manley said. ]
"I like Harriet Miers," Reid said in a statement. "As White House counsel, she has worked with me in a courteous and professional manner. I am also impressed with the fact that she was a trailblazer for women as managing partner of a major Dallas law firm and as the first woman president of the Texas Bar Association."

So, like 50% of the country, she's got one gene right. Some qualification for a lifetime on the highest court in land.