Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
December 27, 2007

Bee Bee Killed

Pakistan's Bhutto killed by bombing

RAWALPINDI, Pakistan - Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was assassinated Thursday in a suicide bombing that also killed at least 20 others at a campaign rally, a party aide and a military official said.

First thoughts:

1. Who did it?

Many people will point to Musharraf, as being behind the assassination, but according to the BBC, someone shot Bhutto and then blew himself up. Suicide bombing is not the hallmark of the Pakistani military, but of the takfiris.

Bhutto had promised to fight the U.S.'s war of terror against the Taliban and takfiris in the tribal North West Frontier State, certainly reason enough for those folks to kill her.

Then again, the big winner in this is Musharraf.

2. What will happen to the election?

According to polls, Bhutto's PPP party would have gotten some 30% of the votes, the PML-N of Saudi favorite Nawaz Sharif 25% and Musharraf's PML-Q 23%.

Without Bhutto the PPP will have much less 'pull' and the race will most likely go to Sharif. But as he has more or less promised to oust Musharraf for his blantant illegal behaviour, we can expect that Musharraf will find ways to prevent such an outcome. I expect him to find a puppet to set up as prime minister and keep the reins in his hands.

3. U.S. relations

The U.S. backing of Bhutto put huge pressure on Musharraf. Support for U.S. policies in Pakistan is about zero. Musharraf is now again free to take the popular stand of independence from U.S. policies. The pressure point the U.S. has left is the money it pays to the Pakistani military. But that is a weak point, as any operation in Afghanistan is impossible without logistic support through Pakistan. Take away the Pakistani military's money and the Afghanistan operation will have to  top.

Short of an unlikely military coup against Musharraf, I currently see no way how the U.S. can again get the upper hand over him. The bribing of the tribes and planed operation of U.S. special forces in North Western Frontier may have ended before they really started.

Posted by b on December 27, 2007 at 13:36 UTC | Permalink


My God. If Pakistan disintegrates, nuclear weapons go to the winner by default.

Another Bush/Rice failure that can melt the world.

And the boy king is on his way to his Neverland Ranch in Crawford.

That is never good.

Posted by: Diogenes | Dec 27 2007 14:10 utc | 1

looks like U.S. BFF Musharraf really doesn't want to share power. of course handy scapegoat AQ will get the blame though.

Posted by: ran | Dec 27 2007 14:37 utc | 2


The BBC piece I linked above emphazises Bhuttos "self-imposed exile" before her return. Someone should write a paper on how that propaganda made its way into the 'western' media.

From the Reuters Bhutto bio:

In 1999, both Bhutto and her husband, Asif Ali Zardari, were sentenced to five years in jail and fined $8.6 million on charges of taking kickbacks from a Swiss company hired to fight customs fraud. A higher court later overturned the conviction as biased. Bhutto, who had made her husband investment minister during her period in office from 1993 to 1996, was abroad at the time of her conviction and chose not to return to Pakistan.
She self-imposed herself to avoid jail - some exile.

Posted by: b | Dec 27 2007 15:02 utc | 3

From Karachi metroblog: Panic Grips Karachi - commentators hear shots fired, shops are closing ...

Dawn coverage - Police uses tear gas against protests in Peshawar

Pak Spectator: Update on Benazir Death : Rawalpindi-Islamabad in Violent Protests

On Dusht Road, Peshawar, angry crowd has blocked the main road.

All the roads leading to capital Islamabad have been barricaded and blocked and there are reports of collision of police with protesters.

Asif Ali Zardari and the two daughters of Benazir has left for Pakistan from Dubai.

Posted by: b | Dec 27 2007 15:13 utc | 4

Prediction from a commentator in Islamabad on this thread at All Things Pakistan

After this sad news certain things are obvious in Pakistan.

1-Elections will be postponed.
2-General (retired) Musharraf in any way would have to go.
3-Pakistani federation would face severe problems of its existance as the Sindhi leaders would again blame Punjabis for the assasination.
4-Governmnt will nominate Al-Qaeda or local Taliban for the killing of Benazir Bhutto.
and the worst scenario is that
5-Pakistan may witness anarchy.

Azaz Syed

I expect curfews, emergency rule etc. - not that Musharraf will go.

Posted by: b | Dec 27 2007 15:48 utc | 5

If the US/UK were so behind BB, why was she so unprotected?

She obviously has millions stashed away, why bother stay after the suicide attacks on her first day there two months ago?

Did US/UK gauranttee here safety?

Bush and Negroponte will be pissed.

Posted by: Cloned Poster | Dec 27 2007 16:08 utc | 6

This will Guiliani? No idea why but TV says so ...

@CP - I'm sure she had protection, but such is never perfect ...

Today there was also a snipper attack on a Nawaz Sharif rally ...

Lots of food for conspiracy theorists.

Posted by: b | Dec 27 2007 16:16 utc | 7

Whatever the beliefs of the person who pulled the trigger were, they probably won't provide any insight into whoever planned the operation. Elements of the army felt very strongly that Bhutto had betrayed her nation by working as an agent for USuk, so they may have elected to 'borrow' the technique, or recruited an islamic radical cell or even just an individual.

I can barely listen to the Beeb on this they have had anyone whoever benefitted from the PPP, along with 'western leaders' mouthing platitudes about this awful woman's heroism, while insisting 'the show must go on'. The election process was a joke from the moment that Mushareef suspended then illegally amended the constitution, why should the death of a front runner change anything?

As for BushCo, here is final proof if it were really needed that shrub has the midas touch. Everything he meddles in turns to shit. There will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth in Washington about the dangers of such an 'unstable' state as Pakistan having a few thermonuclear devices. That will be the furtherest thing on the minds of the people in Pakistan who have to live with the mess USuk meddling has made of their home.

It will sort itself out if everyone on the outside takes a pace back and lets the Pakistani people work through their issues.

Of course that won't happen lest this assassination upset the carefully planned moves to put a lid on the mess amerika has made of that part of the world for the duration of 08.

Can't have the empire be an election issue now can we?

Posted by: Debs is Dead | Dec 27 2007 16:17 utc | 8

Barnett Rubin, on of the sane Pakistan watchers, in an interview:

Bhutto's assassination presents an opportunity for Musharraf. "It's very possible Musharraf will declare [another] state of emergency and postpone the elections," Rubin continues. "That will confirm in many people's minds the idea that the military is behind" the assassination. For it's part, the U.S. will likely "be scrambling to say the election either needs to be held as planned or postponed rather than canceled, but Musharraf is in a position to preempt that."

As a result, Rubin says, U.S. strategy is "in tatters."

Posted by: b | Dec 27 2007 16:19 utc | 9

"the big winner in this is Musharraf."

("the big winner in this is Bush")

"I'm sure she had protection, but such is never perfect..."

("I'm sure US airspace had protection, but such is never perfect...")

LIHOP, anyone?

On a similar note, I'm pleased Garry Kasparov is still breathing.

Posted by: OkieByAccident | Dec 27 2007 16:54 utc | 10

Al-Qaeda has popped up to claim responsibility. IMHO, they seem to be the ones who will benefit the most from this assassination.

Posted by: Ensley | Dec 27 2007 17:13 utc | 11

Calls for restraint are once again inversely proportional to USuk's knowing what the fuck to do.

Posted by: biklett | Dec 27 2007 17:41 utc | 12

Six days isolated, away from the world, come home, now this.

She was being *brave woman*. Of the people, with the people, amongst the people. She had said she did not fear death, this was after the first attack upon her return. Certainly there was no ‘real’ security to speak of.

And yes, it will benefit the Ghoul. He is the number one anti-terror, anti-alQ guy.

The first news site (french) I looked at says there was another attack, at the same moment, at an electoral meeting, targetting Nawaz Sharif, which also killed and/or injured several. I don’t know anything more about it.

Posted by: Tangerine | Dec 27 2007 17:58 utc | 13

I find Juan Cole's take on this quite pro Bhutto and imperialistic.

The Pakistani authorities are blaming Muslim militants for the assassination. That is possible, but everyone in Pakistan remembers that it was the military intelligence, or Inter-Services Intelligence, that promoted Muslim militancy in the two decades before September 11 as a wedge against India in Afghanistan and Kashmir. The Pakistan People's Party (PPP) faithful will almost certainly blame Pervez Musharraf, and sentiment here is more important than reality, whatever the reality may be. ... Pakistan is also a key transit route for any energy pipelines built between Iran or Central Asia and India, and so central to the energy security of the United States.
First he blames the ISI for promoting the Taliban. But it was exactly under Bhutto's rule that this promotion started. There is no mentioning of the CIA's strong involvement in the issue or the Saudi money and feet involved in this.

And how please is a pipeline between Iran and India "central to US energy security"?

I thought it was central to Belgium energy security.

Posted by: b | Dec 27 2007 17:59 utc | 14

bertolt brecht was correct to draw the parallel to political elites & to gangsters. political life all over this globe represents little more than the politics of hoodlums. & nowhere moreso than pakistan - where mme bhutto was bugsy siegel to mushareff's lucky luciano

they live like gangsters - roobing savagely from the public purse - & they die like gangsters

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Dec 27 2007 19:43 utc | 15

Well, this certainly makes things interesting in that part of the world. I am trying to decide if this woman was extremely brave or extremely foolish for choosing such a dangerous career. After all, her father was hanged and two of her brothers were killed. Many people died in the first attempt on her life. What was driving her? Is the money that good? or was it the power?

btw, even wikipedia speaks of her "self imposed exile". I guess that sounds better than saying she was a fugitive from justice.

Posted by: dan of steele | Dec 27 2007 19:47 utc | 16

Sorry I didn't think to copy the link, but Bhutto was told last week by Musharaff, when she planned a rally similar to this one, to cancel it because it was too dangerous from a security standpoint; and she did. Pity she decided that she was safe this week.

The real winner, in the US, will be whichever presidential candidates recommend the US not get involved and letting Pakistan solve its own problems. I think any candidate who pushes for US involvement, especially military, is going to be boo'ed off the stage. The majority of Americans are thoroughly tired of being world cops by this point in Bush's reign.

Posted by: Ensley | Dec 27 2007 20:06 utc | 17

convinient timing w/ the US congress just approvong 750 million in 'civilian aid' to pakistan just days ago. bhutto's death should be the ticket to shut up critics

Concern Raised In U.S. Congress Over $750-million Aid Plan To Pakistan

what i keep thinking is how fortunate it is that after diverting our attention in this region while totally fucking up iraq, now at the end of bushes term we are directed back to working w/our ISI buddies. hmm.

Posted by: annie | Dec 27 2007 20:12 utc | 18

The plans USuk had for quelling Waziristan and the other tribal lands are now in tatters, Bhutto was probably the only pol with sufficient support amongst secular citizens to be able to achieve this oppression of one section of Pakistans population without suffering any electoral payback.

The plan for paying off the Pathans would never have worked in Pakistan or Afghanistan as simply as Iraq. For starters the amerikans are going to have to use mercenaries (contractors) on the Afghan/Pakistan border areas because they just don't have troops to spare, plus Afghanistan is a NATO op not an amerikan one so actual troops would come under NATO control which could cramp their style, and importantly the bribing of Iraq won't be going down well amongst the corporate welfarists and their political enablers back home in Amerika.

Traditionally colonies pay for the privilege of being colonised, that is the ultimate sting in the tail of colonisation; the target nation has it's wealth stolen, sorry 'diverted' and is then unable to stand independently.

This way - amerika buying a colony or colonies is unusual to say the least.

The rich don't like welfare or universal health coverage and this is much worse for them than those programs.

All that hard fought for tax money taken off the simpletons in amerika is meant to go to the rich, paying it in wages to the amerikan military is one thing, because most of it gets spent buying goods and services from amerikan corporations on or close to the base, so that money comes back.

But Iraqi 'concerned citizens' waste little on the crap that amerikan troops buy. They still use largely traditional food sources, the money is put through the old Iraqi economic infrastructure and is pretty much lost from the usual suspects who get normally get the lion's share of amerikan taxdollars.

In fact foreign aid is rarely given in the form of cash. It may be presented to the electors as if a cash grant has been made, but apart from a few million given to grease the wheels in the 'recipient' administration most aid is given in the form of amerikan goods and services. Rarely like this, which is tens, maybe hundreds, of thousands of families getting several hundred a month in cash.

That hurts - some of the ablest brains in amerika devote their lives to constructing complex pork-barrel operations to ensure the stream of tax revenue is concentrated into a flow into the pockets of the rich. Every dollar given to an Iraqi or an Afghani is a dollar they won't see again, it's positively un-amerikan.

Bringing contractors in to Afghanistan was probably seen as a small way around that problem. The contractors who are part of the good old boys amerikan corporate welfare network, will be taking a big cut. The military will have been struggling to keep their system honest and free from corrupt favours, and probably failing, but it is unlikely contractors could come close to that discipline. Apart from the differing mindset of a national army and mercenaries, contractors won't invest in the system and infrastructure that would be needed to keep that cash flow honest.

In all likelihood the payments to locals program will be corrupt and ineffective, causing more trouble than good in the tribal lands.

In other words Bhutto's death is probably a favour but no one will see it that way. No one in Washington will go, "Hmm our meddling seems to have made things worse, perhaps we should stop and let Pakistanis figure out what is best for them". Doing that would be the antithesis of what control freak pols are about.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Dec 27 2007 20:18 utc | 19

One more point (the end of the spam filter allows us to be as garrulous as ever). I suppose some may feel a twinge of sorrow over the needless death of another human being. Around twenty including the assassin died in this murder but B Bhutto is the only one we feel we 'knew' by way of following her antics. In fact, that we criticised her in life may make some wonder if we should be more gentle in death.

Not all the Bhuttos were evil s/dob's. Benazir had a younger brother named Murtaza Bhutto who some considered a terorist in his youth because he fought for ordinary people in Pakistan and Afghanistan. His elder sister had 'no time' for him, especially after he campaigned as an independent in the 1993 elections, winning a seat in the assembly governing the Sindh province. In 1995 he led a schism of the ruling Pakistan People's Party over many of the corruption issues which eventually drove Benazir to flee Pakistan.

That split almost let Nawaz Sharif's Muslim Brotherhood get into power. What happened next is documented here.

Other sites claim that when the policeman who most suspect of murdering Murtaza came under public suspicion, the policeman "committed suicide by shooting himself in the head several times".

Of course Benazir wouldn't have appreciated that their mother, Nusrat, an Iranian Kurd, sided with Murtaza during the feud. (Despite all of the accusations of sectarianism and racism levelled against Islamic people, families do marry across racial and cultural lines much more frequently than whiteys in the west, perhaps we should consider that at MoA sometime).

Murtaza's brother Shahnawaz died in France in 1985, there have been many conspiracy theories about that death, the funeral inspired a popular demonstration of opposition to the Zia dictatorship, but it was most likely the death of a junkie who got better than usual quality.

Apply the cui bono test and Benazir was almost certainly responsible for the death of her only surviving brother,Murtaza, in 1996, so I'm not going to buy the bathos sodden eulogies currently infesting the media with the false and hollow noises common when a well known elected official, no matter how corrupt or oppressive while alive, karks it.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Dec 27 2007 21:24 utc | 20

as debs lays clear - everything that bush touches turns to shit

their policy in pakistan is now in tatters

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Dec 27 2007 21:30 utc | 21

The way she was killed sound like something AQ or Taliban, or some madrassa-inspired group would do with her.
Yet, Musharraf could also win with such a move, or think he could win.
So, could it be, not necessarily a false-flag operation, but just standard manipulation, the way red brigades in Italy were manipulated, of some islamist organization to do Musharraf's bidding unwillingly?

Then, all things considered, I think some people in Tehran are breathing more freely and with relief. Sure, an anarchic nuclear Pakistan wouldn't be fun, but the increasing risk around the very real dozens of Pakistani nukes should be enough to relief some of the pressure and propaganda about "possible Iranian nukes 5-10 years from now". (and no, I don't suspect any Iranian meddling here, just a probably beneficial side-effect for them)

Posted by: CluelessJoe | Dec 27 2007 22:08 utc | 22

Times of India Bhutto killed by sniper bullet.

Posted by: Cloned Poster | Dec 27 2007 22:37 utc | 23

from the USA standpoint, there should'nt be anything un-imaginable about this. Not after Lincoln, JFK, MLK, RFK, Malcolm X ... And all of these are generally considered to be domestic affairs, perhaps with the exception off some lingering suspicion of official Cuban involvement in JFK's assassination.

so, massive USA geo-political dimensioning gets trumped by some dude, domestically recruited it seems, for being able to point a rifle with steady enough aim. This is not the way it was supposed to be, This is just not the sort of domestic obstacle USA would have had to worry about fifty years ago. Sure, Benazir could have done more to protect herself. For herself, for her family, for her supporters, if not for the USA geo-benefits.

the picture thats coming out of this is that USA geo-interests are not quite so dominant, not enough to marshal Pakistani domestic interests this way or that way, as might be intended, at least not the way it used to be.

and the Bhutto's are a family surrounded by endless challenge & tragedy. And if they were New Yorkers living in Staten Island, they might be the exact same family.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Dec 28 2007 1:29 utc | 25

I never believe a thing the CNN folks say, but ...

Who did it? Who allowed it to happen?

in an email she asked to be released if she was murdered.

If harmed in Pakistan, "I wld (would) hold Musharaf (sic) responsible," Ms Bhutto wrote in the October email, revealed on air by CNN journalist Wolf Blitzer, who received it from Bhutto's friend and US spokesman Mark Siegel.

"I have been made to feel insecure by his minions," Ms Bhutto wrote of President Musharraf, detailing security measures which she said were not granted her after her return to the volatile country.

"There is no way what is happening in terms of stopping me from taking private cars or using tinted windows or giving jammers or four police mobiles to cover all sides cld (could) happen without him."

Mr Siegel told the channel that Ms Bhutto had asked authorities to provide protection including a four-car police escort and jamming devices against bombs, but had not received them.

The depravedly indifferent+fucking crazy coalition strikes again.

Posted by: rjj | Dec 28 2007 2:23 utc | 26

Michael Rivero has an interesting link to a David Frost interview of Bhutto after the first assassination attempt in Nov. She discusses the likely culprits and mentions a Sheik Omar "who murdered Osama Bin Laden".

A curious thing to say if she was under western favor and protection, especially with the reports of a new OBL tape about to be released.

Posted by: ww | Dec 28 2007 7:07 utc | 27

To clarify my point a bit.. Bhutto, knowing how important the OBL myth and the AlQuaeda construct is to the west, why would she tweak the west by making this statement at this time?

Posted by: ww | Dec 28 2007 7:58 utc | 28

Since all that appears in the NYTimes must be read backwards, this link may show that the lamentable assassination is actually a major triumph for President Bush. One can only wonder about the occult puppetmasters of this assassination. So far no one has mentioned the Indian RAW, the Chinese secret services, or even the "universal" culprit for intra-islamic strife (the one operating out of Herzliya), although all could be plausibly accused of drawing advantage from the assassination.

At this point I am worried about "synchronicity", like that between
the assassinations of Diem and JFK, or RFK and MLK.

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Dec 28 2007 8:18 utc | 29

On the cover of this weeks Time: Russia's Putin
on the cover of this weeks Newsweek: China

Russia is buddying up with Iran, China is buddying up with various parties...

I see the nwo elite cleverly crafting the basic impetus for World War 3 as we speak, and this Bhutto assassination is the opening salvo, I suspect.

'Ordo Ab Chao', Order Out of Chaos.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Dec 28 2007 8:26 utc | 30

Since I can't watch Youtube, I won't post a link. But THERE IS A MUST SEE INTERVIEW THERE - David Frost interviewing Bhutto in beg. of November -around the time of her return- on Al Jaz. (Eng.). In discussing the people who are financing the groups that are trying to kill her, she mentions in passing a guy of approx. name "Omar Sayed Sheikh, who murdered Osama bin Laden." (I just heard audio on Mike Malloy's (radio) show.) I believe Wikip. has him listed as a Brit. who, while attending LS of Econ., was recruited by MI-6.

(Also, don't forget that Negroponte recently made a trip there - I or b-, or perhaps someone else, posted a link to that awhile back.)

Posted by: jj | Dec 28 2007 8:30 utc | 31

Does the U.S. still has a state department?

I mean - where is Rice? Not a word from her on this. The state dep. website has Bush's talk but nothing from Rice.

Of course Pakistan policy and the whole Vhutto scheme was run from the Office of the VP but still one would expect State to have some formal role in this.

So: Where is Rice? Buying shoes somewhere? Where? Tel Aviv?

Posted by: b | Dec 28 2007 8:36 utc | 32

I see the nwo elite cleverly crafting the basic impetus for World War 3 as we speak, and this Bhutto assassination is the opening salvo, I suspect.

Agreed, Unca$. Pakistan is such a dangerous stew of 3rd cen. fundie madness - thanks to Saudi Arabian nutbags - wayy too many males w/no future & 20th cen. weapons. Lies alone about Iran no longer sufficient.

Posted by: jj | Dec 28 2007 8:37 utc | 33

You can find the Frost interview here - today (12/27). Butto's statement about OBL's murder is 6mins. 12 sec. into interview.

Posted by: jj | Dec 28 2007 8:48 utc | 34

Frost over the World - Benazir Bhutto - 02 Nov 07

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Dec 28 2007 9:01 utc | 35

re "the man who killed Osama bin Laden," my gut says she really did mean to say Daniel Pearl. I've made similar brain farts in conversation and heard worse than this one made in interviews. Sometimes the host suggests a correction and sometimes not, and I'll make the mental substitution myself. Usually it's no big deal, because there's not this kind of scrutiny.

She said this so nonchalantly that if she meant it then it's unlikely this would have been the first time she said it. It would already be out there in some form or another, that Omar Saeed Sheikh had murdered bin Laden.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Dec 28 2007 9:12 utc | 36

The police prevented a boy from assassinating Bhutto yesterday:

POLICE in Pakistan have stopped a 15-year-old boy they say was carrying a bomb made of dynamite and nails from getting into a rally by opposition leader Benazir Bhutto.

The boy got past the first of four security checkpoints set up outside the rally in the northwestern city of Peshawar but was caught at the second, said police officer Rahim Shah, according to the Associated Press.

In October, suicide bombers struck a parade celebrating Ms Bhutto's return from exile, killing more than 140 people in the southern city of Karachi.

They were not going to stop until they got her...

Also, It's about time Pakistan's society woke up to the reality that US interference has been a disaster -- as has been the case in dozens of instances where American alliance has not only failed to meet public expectations but actively confounded the political, economic, judicial, human/civil rights and security prospects of their 'partners'.

The following article suggests a large number of Pakistanis see Musharraf as a US stooge -- it's likely they'll implicate him with Bhutto's assassination, tho I don't expect this POV will gain much traction in the compromised US mainstream media. Most Americans are dismally uninformed about the deceit, duplicity and ulterior motives behind America's 20-yr.+ manipulation and intrigue of Pakistan as a Taliban/Al Qaeda/terrorism/arms-drugs controller/middleman.

Pakistanis' anger at Musharraf extends to U.S.

Henry Chu
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
Pakistanis' anger at Musharraf extends to U.S.

Washington is perceived as propping up an autocratic leader and ignoring the people's desire for democracy. Many want it to stop its 'interference.'

November 10, 2007
LAHORE, Pakistan — It takes almost no effort to find people who are angry with Pervez Musharraf on the streets of this bustling city. The Pakistani leader's name comes up quickly in casual conversation, yoked with unprintable adjectives and harsh denunciations of the emergency rule he has imposed.

But dig just a little deeper and another target of resentment surfaces: Musharraf's richest, staunchest and most powerful patron, the United States.

"We blame the U.S. directly for keeping us under the rule of the military," said Arfan Ghani, a 54-year-old professor of architecture. Musharraf, who heads Pakistan's army, is just "another dictator," Ghani told an American reporter, "serving the interests of your country." Musharraf's already abysmal popularity has reached a new low after he declared a state of emergency Nov. 3. But sinking alongside it is the public image of the United States, which many Pakistanis see as the primary force propping up an autocratic ruler.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Dec 28 2007 9:20 utc | 37

Cogent thght. re Frost oversight, Unca$. I'm puzzled he didn't bother to stop her to clarify.

b- raised interesting question re Rice's whereabouts. Maybe this has something to do w/it. I just heard that she engineered Bhutto's return. link.

Was this part of the larger NeoNut plan? Have Rice sucker her back so they could sponsor death squads knowing she'd be murdered, so they could proceed w/even more wars? Jesus, it's all tooo mad, utter maelstrom.

When I got home tonight & wanted to get some serious news of Pakistan, was when it really hit me how utterly the news functions of the "mass media" has been utterly supplanted by Propaganda. I never worshipped at the altar of Walter Cronkite, but Jesus CNN, the supposed all-news TV station, or that was its raison-d'etre, does not even have any news bureaus any more. There was nothing on all of so-called cable TV. It was like looking out the window of the bus, only to discover all the windows have been painted black. Yes, we know the distortions are serious in the media. But it wasn't til today, that I realized that in this time of instanteous info. via satellite, the seat of the Empire, no longer has any news gathering capacity...Astounding...

Anyone else have this experience? Do European TV stations still have reputable news gathering bureaus around the world?

Posted by: jj | Dec 28 2007 10:04 utc | 38

Washington Post:

U.S. Brokered Bhutto's Return to Pakistan

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Dec 28 2007 10:18 utc | 39

When I got home tonight & wanted to get some serious news of Pakistan, was when it really hit me how utterly the news functions of the "mass media" has been utterly supplanted by Propaganda. I never worshipped at the altar of Walter Cronkite, but Jesus CNN, the supposed all-news TV station, or that was its raison-d'etre, does not even have any news bureaus any more. There was nothing on all of so-called cable TV. It was like looking out the window of the bus, only to discover all the windows have been painted black. Yes, we know the distortions are serious in the media. But it wasn't til today, that I realized that in this time of instanteous info. via satellite, the seat of the Empire, no longer has any news gathering capacity...Astounding...

I watched CNN yesterday and it was worse than I expected. No real analysis to talk of. They phoned up a few knowledgable people on the ground in Pakistan but then immediately dismissed what those folks said as it didn't match the Musharraf friendly party line.

Nothing on the background of Bhuttos return. Only propaganda by people who don't know what they are talking about.

Posted by: b | Dec 28 2007 10:32 utc | 40

dear jj,

though there is still a tiny bit of diversity in european broadcasting, they have all moved very close to parroting the official US position. the same buzz words are used, i.e., terrorism or radical islamists, the same lowest common denominator approach and the same shiny objects to distract the masses. it was the Romans after all who knew that bread and circuses were required to govern.

my recent visit to the US was quite shocking for me to see just how much is not shown or spoken of there. residents probably do not notice because most do not remember ever having a decent source of news and the change has been gradual.

much of this can be laid at the feet of Rupert Murdoch who I believe is probably the most dangerous man in the whole world. he is a king maker, the puppet master and untouchable. his media empire spans the globe and billions happily give him money each and every month to watch mind numbing programs and hear newspeak from the countless talking heads.

still, we do have Euronews which is not bad, and the BBC which can do some decent work now and then. The Germans have N24 which I enjoy. the Italians have three staterun teevee channels and each of them is controlled by a major party, so Rai 1 is mostly right wing, Rai 2 is mostly center, and Rai 3 is mostly left wing. another benefit is that there are so many countries here in Europe with differing desires and goals that you are bound to find different viewpoints. Most countries here also broadcast state TV over satellite without subscription fees so one is able to view them without too much effort.

I do not speak or understand french, perhaps tangerine or rememberinggiap will write of what goes on in that world.

Posted by: dan of steele | Dec 28 2007 10:34 utc | 41

Uncle, thanks for the explanation of the Frost interview oversight.

DOS, we find Press TV informative, although it does have some annoying hosts and commentators and are still working out technical problems. The bias cannot be denied, but they often host excellent discussions.

Posted by: ww | Dec 28 2007 12:27 utc | 42

It is probably a mistake to read too many 'onion layers' into the Bhutto assassination.

Recent amerikan action in the ME that has had the tacit support of both Tweedledum and Tweedledee has focused almost entirely on quietening things down, not "putting out the fire with gasoline' to quote Mr Bowie.

There isn't an establishment funded candidate for dog catcher who wants amerika's military adventures in the ME to be an issue, much less the issue in '08.

If things are loud and rambunctious with peeps being shot, amerikan troops publicly implicated in the nastiness that goes with empire, the evening news leading with more bad shit from ragheadland, eventually one of the dem candidates that has been paid to know better will crack.

One of the 'mainstream' front -runners, a Clinton, Edwards or Obama will get that rush of sheer crazed ambition which has led pols into all sorts of 'off the songsheet' epiphanies in the past.

One of the three leaders will break ranks and make more than perfunctory meaning-free statements about amerika's military adventures in the ME and actually undertake to reduce, pull back or even uninvade.

If the noise of empire's cruelty and perfidy is loud, the chances whichever pol broke ranks first would create such a groundswell of support that even the mainstream amerikan media couldn't swift boat this 'traitor to empire'. Those three front runners have been in the public consciousness for long enough that they are impervious to a Howard Dean hoot or whatever quick and clean sabotage the elites prefer right now.

If the noise was loud and disturbing enough to Joe Voter's ears, the chances are that the overly ambitious candidate who broke ranks first could command such a groundswell of support, that they would appear unstoppable to the other two. Then the worst of all scenarios, for the imperialists, one or other even both of the other two candidates decide to try and 'out withdraw' the front-runner.

The campaign becomes a horse race between the dems for the fastest withdrawal promise. On sober reflection none of the three front runners would countenance a withdrawal of empire, that is why they were anointed in the first place, but ambition is a powerful motivator for any political candidate who has devoted as much to 'the big gig' as these guys have. They would eat their babies for a shot at prez, spinning a 'withdrawal' is minor in comparison to that.

Of course the candidates would rationalize they will cross the bridge of actual withdrawal when they come to it ie if they get elected.

However this would be a first term prez, and a first term prez's number one priority is winning a second term, the winner wouldn't want to actually blatantly break their word. Of course neither would they want to go into 2012 with the mainstream media whispering about a prez who 'retreated'. Nevertheless some substantial 'downsize' of the ME expeditionary force, painstakingly built up by successive dem and rethug administrations for the last two decades (following every assassination, mistranslated axis of evil speech, and "act of terror") would have to be made, lest the new prez go the way of GHB's "no new taxes".

That is the nightmare scenario that the imperialists who make up the bulk of amerika's ruling elite most dread. It would mean that at some stage they would probably have no choice other than to reveal the iron fist beneath the velvet glove. The relationship between the country's leadership and it's citizenry would be damaged, creating fear, resentment and worst of all resistance.

Resistance that would hang around like a bad smell for years.

So in order to prevent the situation arising where some whore of a pol out hawking his/her fork for a vote does decide to 'go all in' and promise to 'bring our fine young men and women home' (murdering and raping assholes) billions of dollars, most of which would otherwise be finding it's way into the hip pockets of amerika's elite has been ante'd up to keep the ragheads quiet for a year.

I'm not sure people really do understand just how unprecedented this mass handout of cash is.

I know I wrote on this before, but the best way to consider these payouts as being totally unheard of is to consider a parallel from the war on drugs, which has been fought around the 'third world' for decades.

Over the years there has been much talk of 'paying peeps not to grow drugs', but those programs never amounted to jack-shit. In fact we looked at one such program in Afghanistan a few months back. Bugger all money got anywhere near the peasant farmers, consequently bugger all stopped growing O.

That is typical of such programs. As discussed before it is highly abnormal for amerika to put together a program where large amounts of real cash money is given to the peasants, generally the buck stops with the warlord/'tribal elder'. Buying a few blokes with a few grand apiece is one helluva lot cheaper than buying millions with hundreds of dollars a month. This is big money most of which will disappear from the rich list's grasp for ever. A program like that needs a powerful motivation to get up with as little discussion, let alone opposition as this one.

That such a program has been run in Iraq right now with ongoing efforts to get it up in Afghanistan and even the Pakistani tribal areas, indicates exactly how desperate the elites are to prevent a domestic meltdown over the empire next year.

In such circumstances there is no way that anyone from the amerikan empire's leadership would risk rocking the boat in Pakistan by having Bhutto, Musharraf or Shareef murdered. It is also highly doubtful any foreign agency could get the bodies on the ground to pull off a successful assassination without word leaking out or being detected.

The military dictatorship has broken up an institutional culture that wasn't particularly cohesive in the first place. That is Pakistan doesn't have a sense of agreed positions on what's 'in the national interest' held by people in positions of authority.

Opinions on the national interest are widely varied which is why Pakistani prosecution of the war on terra has been such a dismal failure.

With circumstances like that where individuals in the army, the police and the security services all hold widely differing view from the colleagues about what is good for Pakistan, it is impossible to imagine any agency could provide support to a clandestine amerikan action.
As Tariq Ali points out Pakistan has an unfortunate legacy of political assassination, that extends back to it's first flower of nationhood. This was a domestic Pakistani political act.

Pakistan is made even less likely for a high risk unpredictable adventure from amerika, by one of those logical disconnects that are so frequent in media generated shared realities.

The average amerikan peep currently wants everyone home yesterday, when circumstances force he/she to consider the Mid East. Despite that the average amerikan peep also wants OBL's sorry, sand swimming, raghead ass on trial in amerika too.

The two beliefs are obviously incompatible so the amerikan elite do what they can to keep some sort of support for the imperial adventures by talking AQ and leaving OBL out.

As this thread demonstrates, consideration of Bin Laden goes hand in hand with consideration of the Bhutto assassination. Another cross for the backs of the '08 candidates and an increase in the odds of an outsider winning prez.

Consideration of Tora Bora or any other milestone of failure to apprehend OBL is something that the army and the pols agree on- that is, they agree there shouldn't be any public discussion of this signal failure, lest the citizenry wake from their slumber and demand an end to imperial adventure.

Someday some historian will write a treatise on how the amerikan empire came to be hoist on it's own petard.

That is the lies spread by the empire's proponents had such a profound effect on amerika's ability to act freely. The empire was lost due to these falsehoods originally manufactured to facilitate amerika's imperial expansion.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Dec 28 2007 13:13 utc | 43

in france, it is wall-to-wall worship for the lat mme bhutto - because when they are 'our' criminals we always fail to mention their real character

at the end of days she is not fundamentally different from the sadisr somoza or the buthcher bokassa

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Dec 28 2007 15:31 utc | 44

i am just reading an imbecilic book called 'charlie wilson's war' - which is so depraved - so stultifying in its stupidity - i wonder if it is written ironically

in relation to policy & practice in both pakistan & afghanistan - it is a cast of the most complete cretins, sociopaths, psychopaths & men who in an honourable society would have been hospitalised

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Dec 28 2007 15:46 utc | 45

b, I remember hearing someone in the news media, immediately after Bhutto was killed, saying that Rice was scheduled to meet with Bhutto in "a few days" or "next week," but can't remember exactly. Whether it was intentionally quashed, or merely became irrelevant, I never heard a peep about it again.

Posted by: Ensley | Dec 28 2007 15:58 utc | 46

Ensley, I heard something to that affect too. I forget where...

mobs rampage through pakistani cities

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Dec 28 2007 17:09 utc | 47

I watched the Pakistani press conference on Bhutto's death a short while ago. They are saying she was not shot, had no shrapnel in her body. Apparently she hit her head on the sunroof and that is what done her in.

what a strange twist of fate, she was most likely killed by one of her body guards dragging her back into safety upon hearing the gunshot.

Posted by: dan of steele | Dec 28 2007 17:33 utc | 48

@r'giap - 45 - Todays WaPo has a love piece on Michael Vickers, the guy portraid in "Charlie Wilson's War".

He is now empire central ... in the DoD.

Posted by: b | Dec 28 2007 18:03 utc | 49

"the Chinese secret services"
Ah yes, I was thinking the same thing last evening. China has been quite the buddy with Pakistan for a long time to threaten India. Yet I've rarely seen anyone mentioning what Beijing's angle would be in the whole mess with Musharraf and various troubles in Pakistan, or who they would support here.

Then of course, there is some internal involvement, whether the whole thing was also supported or sponsored by foreign powers or not. And I think it's foolish to think that anyone, Musharraf, Sharif or Bhutto, would be 100% aligned on any foreign power's position. They have their own plans - first to take and then keep power, and to a lesser extent some other plans for their country, varying from one to another -and if their backers' interests are opposed to their own, they may well make lip-service while taking covert actions against US, China, Russia, Saudis. (despite appearances, I don't think Musharraf can't be described as the most perfect US puppet ever, for instance)

Posted by: CluelessJoe | Dec 28 2007 19:32 utc | 50

There is no irony intended in "Charlie Wilson's War". As insult to injury Hollywood whore Mike Nicolls has made a movie of the big lie. Counterpunch published a trenchant review by Stanley Heller here.

an excerpt from Heller's first para's:

"Imagine, they made a funny movie about how the US helped turn Afghanistan into a killing field. It's the film "Charlie Wilson's War, a ligthearted look of how a skirt-chasing Congressman and a no-nonsense CIA thug helped bring mountains of weapons and money to the fanatic, women-despising "freedom fighters" who gave us 9/11. It's certainly material for a "laugh riot".

To be sure it was the Soviets who did most of the killing. From December 27, 1979 when they overthrew the government of Afghanistan until February of 1989 they ravaged the country. By the war's end there were a million dead Afghans, another 3 million injured, and a whole generation growing up to think that war and war crimes were the natural way of life. Soviet land mines still litter the country.

Yet the evidence is that the US government wanted the Soviets to invade and did what it could to provoke it. According to Secretary of State Robert Gates 1997 book "From the Shadows" the CIA started giving aid to Islamic rebels in Afghanistan six months before the Soviets invaded. This was confirmed and detailed in an interview with Zbignew Brzezinski, Jimmy Carter's National Security Advisor in 1998 in the French journal Le Nouvel Observateur. In the interview Brzezinski explained that Jimmy Carter signed an order on July 3 of 1979 to give aid to the mujahadeen and that he (Brzezinski) wrote Carter a note that same day saying "this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention"."

further on . . ."The movie makes mention of aid going to just one mujahadeen leader, Ahmad Shah Massoud. Actually he received virtually nothing. Nearly half of CIA money went to Gulbaddin Hekmatyar, the most hardline of the mujahadeen. Hakmatyar in his younger days had been notorious for throwing acid in the faces of unveiled women. You can see why that didn't make it into the film, very difficult to show humorously.

Wilson's "sidekick" as reviewers describe him was CIA operative Gust Avrakotos, a man who was "crude and hilarious" according to one review. He was a "working-class" guy who ignored the stuffed shirts and got things done. In Greece, where he was posted in the 60's and 70's people remember him differently. Avrakotos was in Greece when army colonels overthrew the government and set up a dictatorship. He became the CIA's chief liaison with the Greek colonels. This fascist regime's best known victory was rolling over university students with tanks. Its biggest defeat was getting its ass whomped when it faced real (Turkish) soldiers in Cyprus. By 1978 Avrakotos was so villified by the Greek press that he left the country ripe for other adventures. " . .

Posted by: Debs is dead | Dec 28 2007 20:24 utc | 51


what is most remarkable in their non-analysis is theori complete inability to view that they have armed & organised their enemies & debs i was moved to disgust by what is not said about the thug avratokos in greece where he was a star amongst the torturers - for anyone to understand what avratokos practice meant day to day in greece - there is nothing better than by that sad figure of journalism oriana fallaci & her book, ' a man' which is based on the life of the greek hero alexandre panagoulis

like their confreres on wall street they imagine themselves master of the universe but they are not even masters of what comes out of either their mouths or their ass

the people everywhere - wounded, tortured, mutilated & disenfranchised are the motive force in history & all of contemporary history proves that fact

these psychopaths like avratakos delight in the killing of their opponents whether they are communists or islamists - whether they are yellow or brown, white or black - but in the end it is their civilisation & culture which is being murdered, forever. in that context the walking cadavers of a wolf blitzer, of a an o'reilly or an anderson cooper represent the death, the maladorous death of their culture with their certaines clawed from the crypt

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Dec 28 2007 21:11 utc | 52

transcript of tariq ali & manan ahmed on friday's democracynow program

Posted by: b real | Dec 29 2007 7:04 utc | 53

Anatol Lieven in the FT pretty much agrees with my point 3: Pakistan must seek a route from dynasty to unity

In the short term, this is likely to benefit President Pervez Musharraf and the army but, in the longer term, Islamist extremists may have the most to gain.

If the PPP does fragment, the ability of the army to use patronage to put together coalition governments including some of these PPP fragments will be greatly increased. General Musharraf will also most probably gain more freedom of manoeuvre vis a vis Washington. American pressure on him will be diminished, for the US no longer has a strong pro-American civilian leader to promote in his place.

At a time when the US is becoming increasingly exasperated with Gen Musharraf’s administration – and Democratic leaders such as Barack Obama have been making openly menacing speeches – US options have become radically limited. Breaking with Gen Musharraf now means breaking with Pakistan as a whole, with potentially disastrous consequences for the “war on terror” and the conflict in Afghanistan.

Posted by: b | Dec 29 2007 11:39 utc | 54

b 49, that is quite the frightening link.

Senior Pentagon and military officials regard Vickers as a rarity -- a skilled strategist who is both creative and pragmatic. "He tends to think like a gangster," said Jim Thomas, a former senior defense planner who worked with Vickers. "He can understand trends then change the rules of the game so they are advantageous for your side."

But Vickers's greatest influence was in the clinically precise way he reassessed the potential of Afghan guerrilla forces and prescribed the right mix of weaponry to attack Soviet weaknesses. This brash plan to create a force of "techno-guerrillas" able to fight year-round called for exponentially more money, which through sheer force of logic Vickers was able to obtain.

Today Vickers's plan to build a global counterterrorist network is no less ambitious. The plan is focused on a list of 20 "high-priority" countries, with Pakistan posing a central preoccupation for Vickers, who said al-Qaeda sanctuaries in the country's western tribal areas are a serious threat to the United States. The list also includes Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, the Philippines, Yemen, Somalia and Iran, and Vickers hints that some European countries could be on it. Beyond that, the plan covers another 29 "priority" countries, as well as "other countries" that Vickers does not name.

The plan deploys a variety of elite troops around the world, including about 80 to 90 12-man teams of Army Special Forces soldiers who are skilled in foreign languages and at working with indigenous forces. Today, those forces are heavily concentrated in Iraq and Afghanistan, but as their numbers grow, they will increase their presence in other countries.

"The war on terror is fundamentally an indirect war. . . . It's a war of partners . . . but it also is a bit of the war in the shadows, either because of political sensitivity or the problem of finding terrorists," Vickers said. "That's why the Central Intelligence Agency is so important . . . and our Special Operations forces play a large role."

But while local forces can be far more effective in countering terrorism in their regions, creating the forces must be done carefully, said Thomas, the former defense planner. "The last thing we want to do is create a bunch of right-wing goon squads that go out and shoot jihadists with very little legitimacy."

hell no, we want them to be legit!

Finally, Vickers seeks authority for more flexible and rapid "detailing" that would allow Special Operations forces, in larger numbers, to be seconded to the CIA and allowed to work under agency rules.

Working with proxy forces will also enable the United States to extend and sustain its influence,


Posted by: annie | Dec 29 2007 18:11 utc | 55

hmm, forgot this quote from the article

some Pentagon officials once jokingly referred to his efforts as the "take-over-the-world plan," one official said.


Posted by: annie | Dec 29 2007 18:15 utc | 56

Charlie Wilson's War (2007)

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Dec 31 2007 15:16 utc | 57

Arlen -single bullet- Specter, eh? Now, I wasn't necessarily pointing any fingers at Uncle Sam this time, until I read about this meeting. Did Ms. Bhutto know Specter's role in the JFK assassination?
Did she know she was set to meet with gangsters? Did she know Specter was the kiss of death?...

Bhutto dossier: ‘secret service was diverting US aid for fighting militants to rig the elections’


On the day she was assassinated, Benazir Bhutto was due to meet two senior American politicians to show them a confidential report alleging that Pakistan’s intelligence service was using US money to rig parliamentary elections, officials in her party said yesterday.


Patrick Kennedy, a Democratic congressman for Rhode Island, and Arlen Specter, a Republican member of the Senate sub-committe on foreign operations, have confirmed that they were planning to have dinner with Ms Bhutto on Thursday evening but were not available for comment yesterday.

Sarfraz Ali Lashari, a senior PPP official who works in its election monitoring cell, told The Times that he had helped to compile a 200-page report on the Government’s efforts to rig the poll, which Ms Bhutto planned to give to the Americans and to the press the day she was killed.


“But there is another report relating to the ISI and she was going to discuss it with them,” said Mr Lashari, an envi-ronmental economist who taught at Cranfield University for several years.

The second report, which Ms Bhutto did not plan to release to the media, alleged that the ISI was using some of the $10 billion (£5 billion) in US military aid that Pakistan has received since 2001 to run a covert election operation from a safe house in G5, a central district of Islamabad, he said.

“The report was done by some people who we’ve got in the services. They directly dealt with Benazir Bhutto,” he continued, adding that Ms Bhutto was planning to share the contents of the report with the British Ambassador as well as the US lawmakers.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jan 1 2008 3:11 utc | 58

chalmers johnson: Imperialist Propaganda: Second Thoughts on Charlie Wilson's War

What to make of the film (which I found rather boring and old-fashioned)? It makes the U.S. government look like it is populated by a bunch of whoring, drunken sleazebags, so in that sense it's accurate enough. But there are a number of things both the book and the film are suppressing.
The tendency of imperialism to rot the brains of imperialists is particularly on display in the recent spate of articles and reviews in mainstream American newspapers about the film.
My own view is that if Charlie Wilson's War is a comedy, it's the kind that goes over well with a roomful of louts in a college fraternity house. Simply put, it is imperialist propaganda and the tragedy is that four-and-a-half years after we invaded Iraq and destroyed it, such dangerously misleading nonsense is still being offered to a gullible public. The most accurate review so far is James Rocchi's summing-up for Cinematical: "Charlie Wilson's War isn't just bad history; it feels even more malign, like a conscious attempt to induce amnesia."

Posted by: b real | Jan 7 2008 15:29 utc | 59

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