Wednesday, February 8

A 9/11 Conspirator in King Bush's Court?
Sheehan Wasn't Welcome But a Saudi Accused of Support for al Qaeda Was

by Jeremy Scahill,, February 2, 2006

While Cindy Sheehan was being dragged from the House gallery moments before President Bush delivered his State of the Union address for wearing a t-shirt honoring her son and the other 2,244 US soldiers killed in Iraq, Turki al-Faisal was settling into his seat inside the gallery. Faisal, a Saudi, is a man who has met Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants on at least five occasions, describing the al Qaeda leader as "quite a pleasant man." He met multiple times with Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar. Yet, unlike Sheehan, al-Faisal was a welcomed guest of President Bush on Tuesday night. He is also a man that the families of more than 600 victims of the 9/11 attacks believe was connected to their loved ones' deaths.

Al-Faisal is actually Prince Turki al-Faisal, a leading member of the Saudi royal family and the kingdom's current ambassador to the US. But the bulk of his career was spent at the helm of the feared Saudi intelligence services from 1977 to 2001. Last year, The New York Times pointed out that "he personally managed Riyadh's relations with Osama bin Laden and Mullah Muhammad Omar of the Taliban. Anyone else who had dealings with even a fraction of the notorious characters the prince has worked with over the years would never make it past a U.S. immigration counter, let alone to the most exclusive offices in Washington." Al-Faisal was also named in the $1 trillion lawsuit filed by hundreds of 9/11 victims' families, who accused him of funding bin Laden's network. Curiously, his tenure as head of Saudi intelligence came to an abrupt and unexpected end 10 days before the 9/11 attacks.

"Nobody explained the circumstances under which he left," says As'ad AbuKhalil, author of The Battle for Saudi Arabia: Royalty, Fundamentalism, and Global Power. "We know for sure that he was tasked by the United States government back in the late 1970s and on to assemble the kind of Arab Muslim fanatical volunteers to help the United States and the C.I.A. in the fight against the Soviet communist regime [in Afghanistan]. In the course of doing that, this man is single-handedly most responsible for the kind of menace that these fanatical groups now pose to world peace and security." Yet, there al-Faisal sat on Tuesday as President Bush spoke of his war on terror and Cindy Sheehan was being booked. At one point, the cameras even panned directly on al-Faisal listening intently to Bush. [... more]

... The obvious question is: how does the president justify the ejection of a Gold Star Mother from the State of the Union, while openly welcoming a man believed by hundreds of victims' families to be connected to the attack Bush uses to justify every shred of his violent policies?

During his speech, Bush said, "It is said that prior to the attacks of September the 11th, our government failed to connect the dots of the conspiracy."

Perhaps he should have just looked over his wife's shoulder up there in the gallery during the State of the Union.
Tuesday, February 7

H’wood celebrity sex tapes benefit careers
Philippine Daily Inquirer,Feb 5, 2006

NEW YORK—IN A HOLLYWOOD museum specializing in erotica is a grainy tape of a woman having sex with a man on a couch. It’s widely believed, though denied by her estate, that the woman is Marilyn Monroe, circa 1948.

Fast-forward some 60 years. The latest celebrity sex tape contains 14 minutes of hard-core action between actor Colin Farrell and a former Playboy Playmate, punctuated by dialogue like: “Where’s the zoom on this?”

But Farrell’s career is not likely to be harmed. In fact, it could even get bigger.

“The public is very forgiving [of show biz celebrities],” says Kate White, editor in chief of Cosmopolitan. “It’s not like, ‘Oh no, Colin, not you!’ It makes him more interesting.”

In the old days, Hollywood studios worked hard to suppress behavior they didn’t like. Contract stars signed morals clauses, says Jonathan Kuntz, a film professor at the University of California, Los Angeles who specializes in Hollywood history.

The celebrity sex tape really emerged decades after Monroe, along with accessible home video equipment. In the late 1980s, Rob Lowe became infamous for a videotaped encounter with two women, one a minor. But the actor climbed back; he later got the plum role of presidential aide Sam Seaborn in “The West Wing.”

A decade later, “Baywatch” star Pamela Anderson and her rocker husband Tommy Lee were subjects of a sex tape stolen from their home and distributed on the Internet. Anderson went on to launch her own TV series, “V.I.P.,” which ran for four years. She now stars in the sitcom “Stacked.”

All this is but a prelude, of course, to Paris Hilton.

In late 2003, Hilton was a mere hotel heiress and socialite favored by the paparazzi for her blonde looks, skimpy outfits and nightclub escapades. Her sex tape, made with then-boyfriend Rick Salomon in eerie night-vision green, surfaced just before the start of her reality TV series, “The Simple Life.”

It helped propel her to superstardom: A fragrance. A nightclub chain. A CD. Memoirs. In Yahoo’s compilation of the top web searches of 2005, “Paris Hilton” was the seventh most-searched term, in all categories, globally.

It would appear that Colin Farrell has little to worry about, despite his video romp with ex-girlfriend Nicole Narain, who is now trying to sell it.

But he’d better look good in the tape. One thing that will hurt a celebrity’s career is looking bad, showing paunch or bags around the eyes or greasy hair.

“Now that,” says RobertThompson, professor of popular culture at Syracuse University, “would be a scandal.” Associated Press

Drudge Report, Feb 07 2006

Today's memorial service for civil rights activist Coretta Scott King -- billed as a "celebration" of her life -- turned suddenly political as one former president took a swipe at the current president, who was also lashed by an outspoken black pastor! [...more]

The outspoken Rev. Joseph Lowery, co-founder of Southern Christian Leadership Conference, ripped into President Bush during his short speech, ostensibly about the wife of Martin Luther King Jr.

"She extended Martin's message against poverty, racism and war. She deplored the terror inflicted by our smart bombs on missions way afar. We know now that there were no weapons of mass destruction over there," Lowery said.

The mostly black crowd applauded, then rose to its feet and cheered in a two-minute-long standing ovation.

A closed-circuit television in the mega-church outside Atlanta showed the president smiling uncomfortably. [...more]

Former President Jimmy Carter later swung at Bush as well, not once but twice. As he talked about the Kings, he said: "It was difficult for them then personally with the civil liberties of both husband and wife violated as they became the target of secret government wiretaps." The crowd cheered as Bush, under fire for a secret wiretapping program he ordered after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, again smiled weakly.

Later, Carter said Hurricane Katrina showed that all are not yet equal in America.

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