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"News Fit to Transmit in the Post Cassini Flyby Era"

Putin follow-up * Peltier Update * Malik Abdullah Akili on 9/11 * Gore Won?

19 November 2001

"We live on a recycling earth. You can't put poison into a recycling earth. We're damaging the seed… that's a death process. We're seeing it crop up as breast cancer, mentally retarded and hyperkinetic kids. We're seeing it crop up as infertility, and we're seeing animal species destroyed. But we don't seem to have quite said ‘yes, that's us. That's our planet, that's what we did, and let's stop it." -- Dr. Rosalie Bertell

After the barbecue, and all the wheeling and dealings, President Vladamir Putin stayed strong for his country's commitment to the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. Russia doesn't want a new arms race. Please use the Institute for the Cooperation in Space (ICIS) online fax system to thank President Putin for his support of disarmament treaties. Please, also, encourage him to take the lead in endorsing a world treaty to ban space-based weapons. This would pressure the US into making a decision to unite with the world or to continue on a fear-incentive direction that can only return devastation to the sender. If there is any united intelligence left in this world, then we might have an impact to turn the US policy around to a more sustainable direction. Please, also, consider supporting ICIS. They are currently seeking to raise funds in support of their online fax campaign. For more information, link to:

On another subject, this Tuesday, 20 November, a Leonard Peltier support group is meeting in Brattleboro, Vermont [at the Common Ground Restaurant beginning at 5:30pm] to plan a constituency meeting with Senator Patrick D. Leahy, who is the chair of the US Senate's Judiciary Committee. Senator Leahy could ask for the review of the 6,000 + FBI-Peltier documents still withheld from the defense and public. Also, recently, a Leonard Peltier attorney, Eric Seitz, filed a motion seeking the reduction of Mr. Peltier's life sentences from consecutive to concurrent. The motion argues that the judge who originally sentenced Leonard Peltier was misled to believe that Mr. Peltier shot the agents. The jury, too, was misled. Leonard Peltier never received a fair trial, and has spent more than 25 years in the belly of the beast. Please help free him -- contact your Senators and Representative and request that they urge the Department of Justice not to oppose the motion. Your Senators and Representative can be contacted through the Capitol Switchboard # 202-224-3121. If a D.C. office is closed, please call your local office. And also contact Senator Leahy and any of his Vermont constituents to help support a review of the Peltier case.

For talking points, as well as a sample letter, which can be faxed, link to:

Thanks for any of your actions on this case, and especially to those who still are riding with a free Leonard Peltier bumper sticker on their vehicle. Sure, it sticks out more than ever during these times of flag mania, but the integrity of American justice depends on this case being resolved soon.

Item 2 is from a letter from Malik Abdullah Akili. Malik offers an insider's view, and as a Muslim, regarding the tragic events of last September 11. Please forgive any misspellings. Malik's letter was a hand written of October 8. Item 3 is part of the weird tale on the ongoing saga of the 2000 US presidential elections.

1. U.S. to Pursue Missile Test Plans
2. From the inside, reflections of 9/11, from Malik Abdullah Akili
3. Al Gore Won in Florida


1. U.S. to Pursue Missile Test Plans

Friday November 16 5:16 AM ET
U.S. to Pursue Missile Test Plans

By SANDRA SOBIERAJ, Associated Press Writer

CRAWFORD, Texas (AP) - The United States will push ahead with aggressive testing of missile defenses, White House officials said after President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin ended their summit without agreement on the disputed program.

``The timeline has not really changed,'' national security adviser Condoleezza Rice told reporters after Bush bid his Russian counterpart a warm farewell Thursday at Bush's central Texas ranch.

``The president continues to believe that he has got to move forward with the testing program in a robust way, so that we can really begin to evaluate the potential for missile defenses,'' Rice said.

Putin, who went to New York, told National Public Radio later Thursday that, since he and Bush have a common goal of ensuring security, ``We will, at the end of the day, be able to arrive at a solution that will be acceptable for everyone.''

His Russian guests gone after three days of talks in Crawford and Washington, Bush and his wife, Laura, settled in for a long, quiet weekend on their remote ranch.

Already, there were active discussions about when Bush would make a reciprocal visit to Russia. Aides expect a springtime trip.

``Given that I'm from Texas and kind of like the warm weather, I was hoping to wait a couple of months,'' Bush joked Thursday at the final joint appearance of Putin's four-day visit to the United States.

Putin reaffirmed his opposition to testing any kind of a weapons system that could intercept missiles aimed at the United States and its allies. Such tests would violate the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty as it is currently interpreted.

Putin also said that, no matter what Bush does, ``Under no circumstances could it lead to any tension in the relations between Russia and the United States.''

U.S. officials said they viewed the remark as a signal that Putin won't try to stand in the way of coming missile tests. That understanding, however, fell far short of a formal deal to make the ABM flexible enough to allow testing, which had been Bush's hope for the summit.

Distracted by the war against terrorism, both leaders seemed to push the issue down the road.

``We shall continue our discussions,'' Putin said.

Aides said Bush's trip to Moscow next year might offer a fitting setting to resolve the ABM debate.

A provision in the treaty permits either party to withdraw on six months' notice. Already, the Pentagon, as recently as last month, postponed parts of missile-shield testing that might violate the Cold War-era treaty with the Soviet Union.

The Bush administration, eyeing the schedule for future testing, knows negotiations now are running out of time.

``I think that everybody, including the Russians, understands that we're soon going to run up against certain constraints of the treaty,'' Rice said.

In the meantime, both sides committed to continued talks.

``No particular `kaboom' breakthrough is to be expected at any particular time, but they are continuing to work the issue,'' Rice said.

``And we'll see how long we can go before we have to actually begin the testing and development program.''

On the separate issue of reducing Russian and U.S. strategic nuclear stockpiles, which both presidents promised after their Tuesday meetings at the White House, Putin said Thursday the question of whether warheads should be disarmed or destroyed must be decided in negotiations.

Bush countered: ``We are talking about reducing and destroying the number of warheads.''

Rice later used wording that suggested Bush should not have spoken so definitively. ``We are in the process right now of examining precisely how this drawdown takes place,'' she told reporters.


2. From the inside, reflections of 9/11, from Malik Abdullah Akili


Greetings Friend;

There has been few times in my life that I've had the opportunity call someone "Friend" and truly meant it from my heart to their heart.. I don't take or accept the word friendship loosely. I was raised from the age of the Manchild to respect and honor each and every individual friendship, as if we're the only two people left on earth. From this perspective, you can understand the seriousness of what friendship has developed to mean for me.

Most people of these new times, take friendship as toys. They don't understand the depth of profoundness of the emotions, intake, energy or the sharing/receiving that goes into the building of a principle and respectable friendship..

I don't feel or think that one can learn this.. ..the emotions, sharing, exchanging and love isn't such an emotional feeling one can learn - if we weren't gifted with it from birth... Many of these sort of things I was raised in a house that they were practiced, so it became easy for me to live out what was already within the framework of my gut level feelings.

My mother raised me without the fears of racism and all the other fears of the skin game... I think of it as being extremely important that we develop at a young age HOW TO THINK rather than let someone else teach us WHAT TO THINK. For once we learn how to be independent thinkers. Why? Well, when you read, speak or listen to most people of the world, you'll be able to sense and or feel that the individual has never said or written anything that was his/her own thoughts,,, Most people have never come up with any genuine, original thoughts of their own.. This is why this society is so messed up.. If this society had raised a nation of independent thinkers– People wouldn't allow things to take place in their lives, as they do..

..when I reflect or rethink about September 11, 2001, I can't help but to say that all of us have had some tragedy in our lives.. These tragic situations that comes to touch our lives, can so deeply affect our emotions that words become too inadequate to express the core of the depth of that feeling.. As a father, husband and Muslim with a social conscience – I am like most people, the events of September 11, 2001 have troubled me enormously and I remain concerned about the foreseeable future.. Therefore, if this letter I address to you from my heart to your heart should fall short of what I could have said, but didn't say, please forgive???

As a result of September 11, 2001, there is much hurt, pain, anguish, suffering and hate throughout the world against Muslims. This hate is only out of ignorance and a lack of knowledge about Islam.

I am and have been a practicing Muslim for quite some years, and I can tell you that this (blowing up of the WTC) isn't the picture of Islam.. These ignorant befools are ascribing to Islam.. There is a richness in Islamic history and civilization – even a divided-ness – that people in the west do not always appreciate. They would do well to start doing so, given recent events.

From its beginning, Islam has debated within itself, what its true nature should be. Barely a quarter of a Century after the death of the Prophet (P.B.B.H.) In A.D. 632, Islam was rent with civil war between the adherents of the assassinate third Caliph, Uthman and the partisans of Ali, the fourth Caliph. The war eventually led to the division between Suni and Shiite (which I am Sunni) Islam. As the question of the political leadership of Islam was disputed, a philosophical and theological debate began that has never really ended.

One group, the Murji'tes, became the advocates of toleration and equality within Islam. They counseled peace to the warring parties, recognized non-Arab Muslims as the equal of Arabs, accepted even a sinning Muslim as a member of the faith and emphasized faith over works as the means to salvation. They were not enamored of the law. Like most ordinary Muslims today, the Murji'ites defined Islam as a religion of toleration, faith and peace. The second party, Mu'tazilites championed the role of reason within Islam. They made use of the works of the pagan philosophers that had come into the Islamic empire. Reason, the Mu'tazilites taught, could ascertain the truth without the aid of the revelation. But because of the weakness of the human will, revelation was needed to confirm to man, woman, what was truly good and to provide him/her with the rules of conduct that unaided could not apprehend.. Eventually the Mu'tazilites lost the struggle to become the dominant ideology of the Islamic empire. Yet many great Islamic philosophers – Al-Farubi Avicenna, – Averroes – championed reason, even if they were not of the Mu'tazilite party. And many modern day Islamic reformers and thinkers are also, in their own way, heirs to the Mu'tazalite tradition.

A third group, the Kharijites, was the enemy of all. They held that any person who strayed from the perfect practice of Islam was an apostate subject to being killed. And leaders who did not hold true to the principles of Islam was likewise illegitimate and should be overthrown and killed.

The Caliph Ali himself eventually died at their hands. The Kharijites were near fully unified in command or tactics. But true to their beliefs, they committed frightful massacres on Muslims who they believed no longer practiced the faith.

Their ideology followed their politics. They rejected the doctrine of salvation by faith. Practice and only practice determined who was a true Muslim. It took two Centuries of war before the Kharijites were effectively suppressed and rejected by the other Islamic tradition.

Today, radicals who attack civilians replicate the tactics of that ancient sect of behavior.. A fourth element with the faith, the legalists, eventually bested its rivals to become a prominent voice in Islam. As the Islamic empire grew in the eight and ninth Centuries, the legalists disputed and ultimately absorbed a pietist movement that wanted the Qur'an (Koranic) norms to inform conduct in the empire. What emerged was a highly developed system of law, the Shari'a, containing civil and religious regulations.. Where the rules of the Shuri'a got in the way of State governance, such as in criminal law. The authorities often removed it from [their] jurisdiction, and set up state courts enforcing state regulations... In today's Muslim countries, there is often a dispute between those supporting religiously-based law. Modern fundamentalists, though widely differing among themselves, generally seek the adoption of the rules of the Shari'a.

The fundamentalists differ from Kharijite-inspired extremists, and the great majority of Muslims seek to live a morally righteous life without needing the Shari'a to be the law of the state.. which, for me, personally, I am not in agreement with.., because I wholeheartedly have come to understand that without the Shari'a (the law) there can absolutely be no Islam!!!

It isn't for the people of the west, of course, to define what "true" Islam is, especially when Muslims dispute it among ourselves. But, I do know that all of us can stand against evil, and we can oppose an evil that Islam itself experienced and turned away in its early days.

More important, I think that the none Muslims of the world can begin to appreciate the varied voices that Islamic civilization offers to the world.

Thank you for your letter of September 29, 2001. It was great to hear from you after some period of time.

I still have not heard anything about either the bail or the appeal yet. Nor have received any word from my attorney, but my spirit is still high, as I await their decision.

I don't know if the September 11, 2001 had anything to do with not receiving any word. I think patience is extremely important under these circumstances. It isn't the end of the world...

..We'll be together soon in the free world and all this will be behind us. I hope my sharing in a way touches you in the exchange of our friendship, and so, until our spirits meet again in this form – take care. Love,


For more on Malik and a statement from his defense committee, see item 1 in Flyby News issue of 30 August, 2001,87474,


3. Al Gore Won in Florida
Gore's Victory

By Robert Parry
November 12, 2001

So Al Gore was the choice of Florida's voters -- whether one counts hanging chads or dimpled chads. That was the core finding of the eight news organizations that conducted a review of disputed Florida ballots. By any chad measure, Gore won.

Gore won even if one doesn't count the 15,000-25,000 votes that USA Today estimated Gore lost because of illegally designed "butterfly ballots," or the hundreds of predominantly African-American voters who were falsely identified by the state as felons and turned away from the polls.

Gore won even if there's no adjustment for George W. Bush's windfall of about 290 votes from improperly counted military absentee ballots where lax standards were applied to Republican counties and strict standards to Democratic ones, a violation of fairness reported earlier by the Washington Post and the New York Times.

Put differently, George W. Bush was not the choice of Florida's voters anymore than he was the choice of the American people who cast a half million more ballots for Gore than Bush nationwide. [For more details on studies of the election, see stories of May 12, June 2 and July 16.]

The Spin

Yet, possibly for reasons of "patriotism" in this time of crisis, the news organizations that financed the Florida ballot study structured their stories on the ballot review to indicate that Bush was the legitimate winner, with headlines such as "Florida Recounts Would Have Favored Bush" [Washington Post, Nov. 12, 2001].

Post media critic Howard Kurtz took the spin one cycle further with a story headlined, "George W. Bush, Now More Than Ever," in which Kurtz ridiculed as "conspiracy theorists" those who thought Gore had won.

"The conspiracy theorists have been out in force, convinced that the media were covering up the Florida election results to protect President Bush," Kurtz wrote. "That gets put to rest today, with the finding by eight news organizations that Bush would have beaten Gore under both of the recount plans being considered at the time."

Kurtz also mocked those who believed that winning an election fairly, based on the will of the voters, was important in a democracy. "Now the question is: How many people still care about the election deadlock that last fall felt like the story of the century – and now faintly echoes like some distant Civil War battle?" he wrote.

In other words, the elite media's judgment is in: "Bush won, get over it." Only "Gore partisans" – as both the Washington Post and the New York Times called critics of the official Florida election tallies – would insist on looking at the fine print.

The Actual Findings

While that was the tone of coverage in these leading news outlets, it's still a bit jarring to go outside the articles and read the actual results of the statewide review of 175,010 disputed ballots.

"Full Review Favors Gore," the Washington Post said in a box on page 10, showing that under all standards applied to the ballots, Gore came out on top. The New York Times' graphic revealed the same outcome.

Earlier, less comprehensive ballot studies by the Miami Herald and USA Today had found that Bush and Gore split the four categories of disputed ballots depending on what standard was applied to assessing the ballots – punched-through chads, hanging chads, etc. Bush won under two standards and Gore under two standards.

The new, fuller study found that Gore won regardless of which standard was applied and even when varying county judgments were factored in. Counting fully punched chads and limited marks on optical ballots, Gore won by 115 votes. With any dimple or optical mark, Gore won by 107 votes. With one corner of a chad detached or any optical mark, Gore won by 60 votes. Applying the standards set by each county, Gore won by 171 votes.

This core finding of Gore's Florida victory in the unofficial ballot recount might surprise many readers who skimmed only the headlines and the top paragraphs of the articles. The headlines and leads highlighted hypothetical, partial recounts that supposedly favored Bush.

Buried deeper in the stories or referenced in subheads was the fact that the new recount determined that Gore was the winner statewide, even ignoring the "butterfly ballot" and other irregularities that cost him thousands of ballots.

The news organizations opted for the pro-Bush leads by focusing on two partial recounts that were proposed – but not completed – in the chaotic, often ugly environment of last November and December.

The new articles make much of Gore's decision to seek recounts in only four counties and the Florida Supreme Court's decision to examine only "undervotes," those rejected by voting machines for supposedly lacking a presidential vote. A recurring undercurrent in the articles is that Gore was to blame for his defeat, even if he may have actually won the election.

"Mr. Gore might have eked out a victory if he had pursued in court a course like the one he publicly advocated when he called on the state to 'count all the votes,'" the New York Times wrote, with a clear suggestion that Gore was hypocritical as well as foolish.

The Washington Post recalled that Gore "did at one point call on Bush to join him in asking for a statewide recount" and accepting the results without further legal challenge, but that Bush rejected the proposal as "a public relations gesture."

The Bush Strategy

Instead of supporting a full and fair recount, Bush chose to cling to his official lead of 537 votes out of some 6 million cast, Bush counted on his brother Jeb's state officials to ensure the Bush family's return to national power.

To add some muscle to the legal maneuvering, the Bush campaign dispatched thugs to Florida to intimidate vote counters and jacked up the decibel level in the powerful conservative media, which accused Gore of trying to steal the election and labeled him "Sore Loserman."

With Bush rejecting a full recount and media pundits calling for Gore to concede, Gore opted for recounts in four southern Florida counties where irregularities seemed greatest. Those recounts were opposed by Bush's supporters, both inside Gov. Jeb Bush's administration and in the streets by Republican hooligans flown in from Washington. [For more details, see stories from Nov. 24, 2000 and Nov. 27, 2000]

Stymied on that recount front, Gore carried the fight to the state courts, where pro-Bush forces engaged in more delaying tactics, leaving the Florida Supreme Court only days to fashion a recount remedy.

Finally, on Dec. 8, facing an imminent deadline for submitting the presidential election returns, the state Supreme Court ordered a statewide recount of "undervotes." This tally would have excluded so-called "overvotes" – which were kicked out for supposedly indicating two choices for president.

Bush fought this court-ordered recount, too, sending his lawyers to the U.S. Supreme Court. There, five Republican justices stopped the recount on Dec. 9 and gave a sympathetic hearing to Bush's claim that the varying ballot standards in Florida violated constitutional equal-protection requirements.

At 10 p.m. on Dec. 12, two hours before a deadline to submit voting results, the Republican-controlled U.S. Supreme Court instructed the state courts to devise a recount method that would apply equal standards, a move that would have included all ballots where the intent of the voter was clear. The hitch was that the U.S. Supreme Court gave the state only two hours to complete this assignment, effectively handing Florida's 25 electoral votes and the White House to Republican George W. Bush.

A Third Hypothetical

The articles about the new recount tallies make much of the two hypothetical cases in which Bush supposedly would have prevailed: the limited recounts of the four southern Florida counties – by 225 votes – and the state Supreme Court's order – by 430 votes. Those hypothetical cases dominated the news stories, while Gore's statewide-recount victory was played down.

Yet, the newspapers made little or nothing of the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court's decision represented a third hypothetical. Assuming that a brief extension were granted to permit a full-and-fair Florida recount, the U.S. Supreme Court decision might well have resulted in the same result that the news organizations discovered: a Gore victory.

The U.S. Supreme Court's proposed standards mirrored the standards applied in the new recount of the disputed ballots. The Post buries this important fact in the 22nd paragraph of its story.

"Ironically, it was Bush's lawyers who argued that recounting only the undervotes violated the constitutional guarantee of equal protection. And the U.S. Supreme Court, in its Dec. 12 ruling that ended the dispute, also questioned whether the Florida court should have limited a statewide recount only to undervotes," the Post wrote. "Had the high court acted on that, and had there been enough time left for the Florida Supreme Court to require yet another statewide recount, Gore's chances would have been dramatically improved."

In other words, if the U.S. Supreme Court had given the state enough time to fashion a comprehensive remedy or if Bush had agreed to a full-and-fair recount earlier, the popular will of the American voters – both nationally and in Florida – might well have been respected. Al Gore might well have been inaugurated president of the United States.

Favored Outcome

But this outcome was not the favored hypothetical of the news organizations, which apparently wanted to avoid questions about their patriotism. If they had simply given the American people the unvarnished facts, the reality that the voters of Florida favored Al Gore might have bolstered the belief that Bush indeed did steal the White House. That, in turn, could have undermined his legitimacy during the current crisis over terrorism.

In its coverage of the latest recount numbers, the national news media also showed little regard for the fundamental principle of democracy: that leaders derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, not from legalistic tricks, physical intimidation and public-relations maneuvers.

It is that understanding that is most missing in the news accounts of the latest recount figures.

Presumably, the American people are supposed to accept that everything just turned out right – the Bush dynasty was restored to power, the proper order was back in place. Anyone who begs to differ is a "conspiracy theorist" or a "Gore partisan."

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