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Gore Vidal Dies - Another Great Human Is Gone at 86
#1
I'm greatly saddened to hear that one of my favorite writers and political analysts, Gore Vidal, has died. I'll try to find a good obituary that does justice to his life and work.....I was just watching a recent interview with him yesterday in which he mentioned Jolly West, which we were talking about....more soon. Sad. I really feel something and someone important to a sane World is gone....he is! I'll also try to link to some his better videos - I have many downloaded, but will have to find them on the internet and link - they are great. He was NOT fooled in the least by the Beast. What a life he had and what a great job he made of it!
"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn
"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will" - Frederick Douglass
Reply
#2
Tribute to Gore Vidal on his 80th birthday
03.10.2005

October 3, 2005 is the 80th birthday of prolific American author and historian Gore Vidal

Vidal's genius shines through engaging prose (novels, plays, essays, short stories, non-fiction books) elucidating America's history and its powerful lessons, and making greatly needed observations about America. Such an extraordinary individual is rarely given the recognition, respect and honor they deserve during their lifetime.

With a personal library of Vidal's work spanning from 1946 to present, I take this opportunity to share a few quotes from Vidal books, essays, interviews, and lectures which may lead you to explore the wealth of wisdom, knowledge and insightful observations in his extensive body of work:

From Vidal's book "Homage to Daniel Shays - Collected Essays by Gore Vidal": "...I think it is tragic that the poor man has almost no chance to rise unless he is willing to put himself in thrall to moneyed interests." (June 6, 1968, postscript to 'The Holy Family')

"Why do we allow our governors to take so much of our money and spend it in ways that not only fail to benefit us but do great damage to others as we prosecute undeclared wars...in what is supposed to be peacetime? Whether he knows it or not, the middle-income American is taxed as though he were living in a socialist society. But for the money he gives the government he gets almost nothing back." (The New York Review of Books, August 10, 1972, 'Homage to Daniel Shays')

From Vidal's April 20, 1992 Lowell Lecture at Harvard University: "Our prisons are the most terrible in the First World and the most crowded. Our death row executions are a source of deep disgust in civilized countries where more and more we are regarded as a primitive, uneducated, and dangerous people."

From interview by Brooks Peters, "Vintage Vidal," Fall 1992, Out magazine:

"Monotheism is the great unmentionable evil at center of our culture...And considering the damage it [Christianity] has done to the United States through vicious laws, I am for curbing it. First step, tax all church/temple portfolios..."

From Vidal's book "The Last Empire-Essays 1992-2000": "It is part of the myth that the attack [Pearl Harbor] was unprovoked." (Newsweek, Jan. 11, 1993, 'How We Missed The Saturday Dance')

"The sensible code observed by all the world (except for certain fundamentalist monotheistic Jews, Christians, and Muslims) is that "consensual" relations in sexual matters are no concern of the state." (The Nation, July 21, 1997, 'The New Theocrats')

"Drugs. If they did not exist our governors would have invented them in order to prohibit them and so make much of the population vulnerable to arrest, imprisonment, seizure of property, and so on." (Vanity Fair Nov. 1998, 'Shredding the Bill of Rights')

From Vidal's book, "Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace," 2002 : "Although we regularly stigmatize other societies as rogue states, we ourselves have become the largest rogue state of all. We honor no treaties. We spurn international courts. We strike unilaterally wherever we choose. We give orders to the United Nations but do not pay our dues. We complain of terrorism, yet our empire is now the greatest terrorist of all..."

From Vidal's Book, "Dreaming War," 2002, 'The Last Defender of the American Republic' interview with GV by Marc Cooper: "Americans have no idea of the extent of their government's mischief. The number of military strikes we have made unprovoked, against other countries, since 1947-48 is more than 250. These are major strikes everywhere from Panama to Iran."

From article by Steven Kotler, "Vidal and Condon," VLifemag.com, March 2005: "There's no such thing as a gay person or a straight person. Some of us are more of one thing than others, but no one is any one thing. There are no identifying signs, no simple classifications. Human beings are human beings, there are no two alike." Gore Vidal is a man who has lived true to himself, and in doing so has become an astute observer of human weakness and its often detrimental, if not tragic, impact upon humanity's history. He lives on his own terms, a true patriot fighting for the republic.

Christine Smith
Colorado, USA
--------------------------------
Some quotes by Gore Vidal:

Congress no longer declares war or makes budgets. So that's the end of the constitution as a working machine.

Everybody likes a bit of gossip to some point, as long as it's gossip with some point to it. That's why I like history. History is nothing but gossip about the past, with the hope that it might be true.

I am at heart a propagandist, a tremendous hater, a tiresome nag, complacently positive that there is no human problem which could not be solved if people would simply do as I advise.
Whenever a friend succeeds, a little something in me dies.
Quoted in The Sunday Times Magazine, London (16 September 1973)
Envy is the central fact of American life.
"Gore Vidal," interview by Gerald Clarke (1974), The Paris Review Interviews: Writers at Work, 5th series (1981)
First coffee, then a bowel movement. Then the Muse joins me.
"Gore Vidal," interview by Gerald Clarke (1974), The Paris Review Interviews: Writers at Work, 5th series (1981)
It is not enough to succeed. Others must fail.
Quoted by Gerard Irvine, "Antipanegyric for Tom Driberg," [memorial service for Driberg] (8 December 1976)
I can understand companionship. I can understand bought sex in the afternoon, but I cannot understand the love affair.
Quoted in profile by Martin Amis, "Mr. Vidal: Unpatriotic Gore" (1977) in The Moronic Inferno (1987)
As one gets older, litigation replaces sex.
Quoted in profile by Martin Amis, "Mr. Vidal: Unpatriotic Gore" (1977) in The Moronic Inferno (1987)
A narcissist is someone better looking than you are.
Quoted in "Vidal: 'I'm at the Top of a Very Tiny Heap,'" profile by Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times (12 March 1981), Late City Final Edition, Section C, Page 17, Column 1
Never pass up a chance to have sex or appear on television.
Quoted by Bob Chieger, Was It Good For You, Too? (1983)
The great unmentionable evil at the center of our culture is monotheism. From a barbaric Bronze Age text known as the Old Testament, three anti-human religions have evolved Judaism, Christianity, Islam. These are sky-god religions. They are, literally, patriarchal God is the Omnipotent Father hence the loathing of women for 2,000 years in those countries afflicted by the sky-god and his earthly male delegates. The sky-god is a jealous god, of course. He requires total obedience from everyone on earth, as he is in place not for just one tribe but for all creation. Those who would reject him must be converted or killed for their own good. Ultimately, totalitarianism is the only sort of politics that can truly serve the sky-god's purpose.
"America First? America Last? America at Last?", Lowell Lecture, Harvard University (20 April 1992)
Congress no longer declares war or makes budgets. So that's the end of the constitution as a working machine.
"America First? America Last? America at Last?," Lowell Lecture, Harvard University (20 April 1992)
'Liberal' comes from the Latin liberalis, which means pertaining to a free man. In politics, to be liberal is to want to extend democracy through change and reform. One can see why the word had to be erased from our political lexicon.
"America First? America Last? America at Last?," Lowell Lecture, Harvard University (20 April 1992)
At least when the Emperor Justinian, a sky-god man, decided to outlaw sodomy, he had to come up with a good practical reason, which he did. It is well known, Justinian declared, that buggery is a principal cause of earthquakes, and so must be prohibited. But our sky-godders, always eager to hate, still quote Leviticus, as if that looney text had anything useful to say about anything except, perhaps, the inadvisability of eating shellfish in the Jerusalem area.
"America First? America Last? America at Last?," Lowell Lecture, Harvard University (20 April 1992)
We're supposed to procreate and society, god knows, is ferocious on the subject. Heterosexuality is considered such a great and natural good that you have to execute people and put them in prison if they don't practice this glorious act.
"American psyche", extract from interview with Anthony Clare on BBC Radio 4, "In the Psychiatrist's Chair"; published in The Independent (8 October 2000)
We should stop going around babbling about how we're the greatest democracy on earth, when we're not even a democracy. We are a sort of militarised republic. The founding fathers hated two things, one was monarchy and the other was democracy, they gave us a constitution that saw to it we will have neither. I don't know how wise they were.
"Gore Vidal and the Mind of the Terrorist", interview by Ramona Koval, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Radio National (November 2001)
Apparently, "conspiracy stuff" is now shorthand for unspeakable truth.
"The Enemy Within," The Observer (27 October 2002)
Happily for the busy lunatics who rule over us, we are permanently the United States of Amnesia. We learn nothing because we remember nothing.
"The State of the Union," The Nation (13 September 2004)
We have ceased to be a nation under law but instead a homeland where the withered Bill of Rights, like a dead trumpet vine, clings to our pseudo-Roman columns.
"The State of the Union," The Nation (13 September 2004)
Lennon was somebody who was a born enemy of those who govern the United States. He was everything they hated. So I just say that he represented life, and is admirable; and Mr. Nixon and Mr. Bush represent death, and that is a bad thing.
Quoted in the documentary The U.S. vs John Lennon (2006) video excerpt at The Huffington Post (12 September 2006)
Private lives should be no business of the State. The State is bad enough as it is. It cannot educate or medicate or feed the people; it cannot do anything but kill the people. No State like that do we want prying into our private lives.
Quoted in Gert Jonkers, "Gore Vidal, the Fantastic Man," Butt, No. 20 (7 April 2007)
Everybody likes a bit of gossip to some point, as long as it's gossip with some point to it. That's why I like history. History is nothing but gossip about the past, with the hope that it might be true.
Quoted in Gert Jonkers, "Gore Vidal, the Fantastic Man," Butt, No. 20 (7 April 2007)
We must always remember that the police are recruited from the criminal classes.
As quoted by Dick Cavett, in "The Swimmers", The New York Times (3 June 2007)
Don't ever make the mistake with people like me thinking we are looking for heroes. There aren't any and if there were, they would be killed immediately. I'm never surprised by bad behaviour. I expect it.
The Times Online, (30 September 2009)
As the age of television progresses the Reagans will be the rule, not the exception. To be perfect for television is all a President has to be these days.
Quoted in The Observer (7 February 1982)
American writers want to be not good but great; and so are neither.
Two Sisters: A Memoir in the Form of a Novel (1970)
There is something about a bureaucrat that does not like a poem.
Preface to Reflections Upon a Sinking Ship (1969)
Preface to Sex, Death, and Money (1969)
The hatred Americans have for their own government is pathological, if understandable. At one level it is simply thwarted greed: since our religion is making a buck, giving a part of that buck to any government is an act against nature.
"The State of the Union", Esquire magazine, (May 1975)
[edit]
Homage to Daniel Shays : Collected Essays (1972)

The theater needs continual reminders that there is nothing more debasing than the work of those who do well what is not worth doing at all.
Random House/Vintage, 1973, ISBN 0-394-71950-6
I am at heart a propagandist, a tremendous hater, a tiresome nag, complacently positive that there is no human problem which could not be solved if people would simply do as I advise.
"Writing Plays for Television" in 'New World Writing, #10 (1956)
The theater needs continual reminders that there is nothing more debasing than the work of those who do well what is not worth doing at all.
"Love Love Love," Partisan Review (Spring 1959)
At any given moment, public opinion is a chaos of superstition, misinformation, and prejudice.
"Sex and the Law," Partisan Review (Summer 1965)
The more money an American accumulates the less interesting he himself becomes.
"H. Hughes," The New York Review of Books (1972-04-20)
[edit]
Matters of Fact and Fiction (1978)
In any case, rather like priests who have forgotten the meaning of the prayers they chant, we shall go on for quite a long time talking of books and writing books, pretending all the while not to notice that the church is empty and the parishioners have gone elsewhere to attend other gods, perhaps in silence or with new words.
"French Letters: Theories of the New Novel" (1967)
That peculiarly American religion, President-worship.
"President and Mrs. U.S. Grant" (1975)
The period of Prohibition called the noble experiment brought on the greatest breakdown of law and order the United States has known until today. I think there is a lesson here. Do not regulate the private morals of people. Do not tell them what they can take or not take. Because if you do, they will become angry and antisocial and they will get what they want from criminals who are able to work in perfect freedom because they have paid off the police.
"The State of the Union" (1975)
The United States was founded by the brightest people in the country and we haven't seen them since.
"The State of the Union" (1975)
Big oil, big steel, big agriculture avoid the open marketplace. Big corporations fix prices among themselves and thus drive out of business the small entrepreneur. Also, in their conglomerate form, the huge corporations have begun to challenge the very legitimacy of the state.
"The State of the Union" (1978)
[edit]
The Second American Revolution (1983)
Precocious talents mature slowly if at all.
"F. Scott Fitzgerald's Case" (1980)
It is reasonable to assume that, by and large, what is not read now will not be read, ever. It is also reasonable to assume that practically nothing that is read now will be read later. Finally, it is not too farfetched to imagine a future in which novels are not read at all.
"Thomas Love Peacock: The Novel of Ideas" (1980)
In any case, write what you know will always be excellent advice to those who ought not to write at all.
"Thomas Love Peacock: The Novel of Ideas" (1980)
Television is a great leveler. You always end up sounding like the people who ask the questions.
"Sex Is Politics" (1979)
Religions are manipulated in order to serve those who govern society and not the other way around.
"Sex Is Politics" (1979)
Actually, there is no such thing as a homosexual person, any more than there is such a thing as a heterosexual person. The words are adjectives describing sexual acts, not people. The sexual acts are entirely normal; if they were not, no one would perform them.
"Sex Is Politics" (1979)
The reason no one has yet been able to come up with a good word to describe the homosexualist (sometimes known as gay, fag, queer, etc.) is because he does not exist. The human race is divided into male and female. Many human beings enjoy sexual relations with their own sex, many don't; many respond to both. This plurality is the fact of our nature and not worth fretting about.
"Sex Is Politics" (1979)
[edit]
At Home (1988)

The average "educated" American has been made to believe that, somehow, the United States must lead the world even though hardly anyone has any information at all about those countries we are meant to lead. Worse, we have very little information about our own country and its past...
My father had a deep and lifelong contempt for politicians in general ("They tell lies," he used to say with wonder, "even when they don't have to").
"On Flying" (1985)
The last best hope on earth, two trillion dollars in debt, is spinning out of control, and all we can do is stare at a flickering cathode-ray tube as Ollie "answers" questions on TV while the press, resolutely irrelevant as ever, asks politicians if they have committed adultery. From V-J Day 1945 to this has been, my fellow countrymen, a perfect nightmare.
"Ollie" (1987) [Ollie = Oliver North ]
In a nation that has developed to a high art advertising, the creator who refuses to advertise himself is immediately suspected of having no product worth selling.
"William Dean Howells" (1983)
The average "educated" American has been made to believe that, somehow, the United States must lead the world even though hardly anyone has any information at all about those countries we are meant to lead. Worse, we have very little information about our own country and its past. That is why it is not really possible to compare a writer like Howells with any living American writer because Howells thought that it was a good thing to know as much as possible about his own country as well as other countries while our writers today, in common with the presidents and paint manufacturers, live in a present without past among signs whose meanings are uninterpretable.
"William Dean Howells" (1983)
I suspect that one of the reasons we create fiction is to make sex exciting.
"Oscar Wilde: On the Skids Again" (1987)
Class is the most difficult subject for American writers to deal with as it is the most difficult for the English to avoid.
"Dawn Powell: The American Writer" (1987)
I regard monotheism as the greatest disaster ever to befall the human race. I see no good in Judaism, Christianity, or Islam good people, yes, but any religion based on a single... well, frenzied and virulent god, is not as useful to the human race as, say, Confucianism, which is not a religion but an ethical and educational system that has worked pretty well for twenty-five hundred years. So you see I am ecumenical in my dislike for the Book. But like it or not, the Book is there; and because of it people die; and the world is in danger.
Appendix
[edit]
A View from the Diner's Club (1991)
Apparently, a democracy is a place where numerous elections are held at great cost without issues and with interchangeable candidates.
"Gods and Greens" (1989)
Think of the earth as a living organism that is being attacked by billions of bacteria whose numbers double every forty years. Either the host dies, or the virus dies, or both die.
"Gods and Greens" (1989)
The corporate grip on opinion in the United States is one of the wonders of the Western World. No First World country has ever managed to eliminate so entirely from its media all objectivity much less dissent.
"Cue the Green God, Ted" (1991).
[edit]
Screening History (1992)
Harvard University Press, 1992, ISBN 0-674-79587-3
To speak today of a famous novelist is like speaking of a famous cabinetmaker or speedboat designer. Adjective is inappropriate to noun.
Ch. 1: The Prince and the Pauper, pp.2-3
Half the American people never read a newspaper. Half never vote for President the same half?
Ch. 1: The Prince and the Pauper, p. 5
Sometimes quoted as: Half of the American people never read a newspaper. Half never voted for president. One hopes it is the same half.
Maxwell, Bill (2002-07-07). "In gloomy times, let's try to find a sense of humor". St. Petersberg Times. Retrieved on 2008-10-04.
Lonely children often have imaginary playmates but I was never lonely; rather, I was solitary, and wanted no company at all other than books and movies, and my own imagination.
Ch. 1: The Prince and the Pauper, p. 23
Apparently, a concern for others is self-love at its least attractive, while greed is now a sign of the higher altruism. But then to reverse, periodically, the meanings of words is a very small price to pay for the freedom not only to conform but to consume.
Ch. 1: The Prince and the Pauper, p. 24
I shared, naturally, in that hatred of organized labor which has been the one political constant in my lifetime, culminating in Ronald Reagan's most popular gesture, the smashing of the air-controllers' union. No alternative view of organized labor has ever come to us through the popular media. If labor leaders were not crooks like Jimmy Hoffa, they were in the pay of Moscow.
Ch. 2: Fire Over England, p. 34
It is notable how little empathy is cultivated or valued in our society. I put this down to our traditional racism and obsessive sectarianism. Even so, one would think that we would be encouraged to project ourselves into the character of someone of a different race or class, if only to be able to control him. But no effort is made.
Ch. 2: Fire Over England, p. 49
By and large, serious fiction was the work of victims who portrayed victims for an audience of victims who, it was oddly assumed, would want to see their lives realistically portrayed.
Ch. 3: Lincoln, p. 78
[edit]
The Decline and Fall of the American Empire (1992)
Every four years the naive half who vote are encouraged to believe that if we can elect a really nice man or woman President everything will be all right. But it won't be. Any individual who is able to raise $25 million to be considered presidential is not going to be much use to the people at large. He will represent oil, or aerospace, or banking, or whatever moneyed entities are paying for him. Certainly he will never represent the people of the country, and they know it. Hence, the sense of despair throughout the land as incomes fall, businesses fail and there is no redress.
As societies grow decadent, the language grows decadent, too. Words are used to disguise, not to illuminate, action: you liberate a city by destroying it. Words are to confuse, so that at election time people will solemnly vote against their own interests.
[edit]
United States - Essays 1952-1992 (1992)
Must one have a heart of stone to read The Ballad of Reading Gaol without laughing? (In life, practically no one ever gets to kill the thing he hates, much less loves.) And did not De Profundis plumb for all time the shallows of the most reported love affair of the past hundred years, rivalling even that of Wallis and David, its every nuance (O Bosie!) known to all, while trembling rosy lips yet form, over and over again, those doom-laden syllables The Cadogan Hotel? Oscar Wilde. Yet again. Why?
Opening lines to "Oscar Wilde: On the Skids Again"
...American society, literary or lay, tends to be humorless. What other culture could have produced someone like Hemingway and not seen the joke?
"Edmund Wilson: This Critic and This Gin and These Shoes"
We do not, of course, write literary criticism at all now. Academe has won the battle in which Wilson fought so fiercely on the other side. Ambitious English teachers now invent systems that have nothing to do with literature or life but everything to do with those games that must be played in order for them to rise in the academic bureaucracy. Their works are empty indeed. But then, their works are not meant to be full. They are to be taught, not read. The long dialogue has broken down. Fortunately, as Flaubert pointed out, the worst thing about the present is the future. One day there will be no... But I have been asked not to give the game away. Meanwhile, I shall drop a single hint: Only construct!
"Edmund Wilson: This Critic and This Gin and These Shoes", closing lines
After four centuries, Montaigne's curious genius still has that effect on his readers and, time and again, one finds in his self-portrait one's own most brilliant aperçus (the ones that somehow we forgot to write down and so forgot) restored to us in his essaysattemptsto assayvaluehimself in his own time as well as, if he was on the subject, all time, if there is such a thing.
"Montaigne"
World events are the work of individuals whose motives are often frivolous, even casual.
"The Twelve Caesars"
The late Mr. [Carl] Sandburg was a public performer of the first rank ("Ker-oh-seen!" he crooned in one of the first TV pitches for the jet-engine ole banjo on his knee, white hair mussed by the jet-stream), a poet of the second rank (who can ever forget that feline-footed fog?) and a biographer of awesome badness.
"First Note on Abraham Lincoln"
In fact, the French - who read and theorise the most - became so addicted to political experiment that in the two centuries since our own rather drab revolution they have exuberantly produced one Directory, one Consulate, two empires, three restorations of the monarchy, and five republics. That's what happens when you take writing too seriously.
"Lincoln and the Priests of Academe"
Professor Richard N. Current fusses, not irrelevantly, about the propriety of fictionalising actual political figures. I also fuss about this. But he has fallen prey to the scholar-squirrel's delusion that there is a final Truth revealed only to the tenured few in their footnote maze; in this he is simply naïve.
"Lincoln and the Priests of Academe"
Current is also outraged by a reference to Lincoln's bowels, whose 'frequency,' he tells us, 'cannot be documented.' But, of course, they can. 'Truth-teller' Herndon tells us that Lincoln was chronically constipated and depended on a laxative called bluemass. Since saints do not have bowels, Current finds all this sacrilegious; hence 'wrong.'
"Lincoln and the Priests of Academe"
What is going on here is a deliberate revision by Current not only of Lincoln but of himself in order to serve the saint in the 1980s as opposed to the saint at earlier times when black were still colored, having only just stopped being Negroes. In colored and Negro days the saint might have wanted them out of the country, as he did. But in the age of Martin Luther King even the most covertly racist of school boards must agree that a saint like Abraham Lincoln could never have wanted a single black person to leave freedom's land much less bravery's home. So all the hagiographers are redoing their plaster images and anyone who draws attention to the discrepancy between their own past crudities and their current falsities is a very bad person indeed, and not a scholar, and probably a communist as well.
"Lincoln and the Priests of Academe"
Basler finds my Lincoln the 'phoniest historical novel I have ever had the pleasure of reading.'... Also, 'more than half the book could never have happened as told.' Unfortunately, he doesn't say which half. If I knew, we could then cut it free from the phony half and publish the result as Basler's Vidal's Lincoln.
"Lincoln and the Priests of Academe"
Nothing that Shakespeare ever invented was to equal Lincoln's invention of himself and, in the process, us.
"Lincoln and the Priests of Academe"
[edit]
The City and the Pillar and Seven Early Stories (1995)
I have begun writing what I have said I'd never write, a memoir ("I am not my own subject," I used to say with icy superiority).
Preface
[edit]
Palimpsest : A Memoir (1995)
Viking/Penguin, 1996, ISBN 0-14-026089-7
Anais Nin gave me my most original, or so I thought, creation.

As I read Incest, I realized that something which I had always taken to be unique, the voice of Myra Breckinridge, was actually that of Anaïs in all the flowing megalomania of the diaries. Of course, I had not read the diaries then, but even so, if only for that one thundering voice, I am forever in her debt.
Ch. 7: "Today My Nerves Are Shattered. But I Am Indomitable!," pp. 107-108
I used to be able to summon up scenes at will, but now aging memory is so busy weeding its own garden that, promiscuously, it pulls up roses as well as crabgrass.
Ch. 12: The Guest of the Blue Nuns, p. 162
Celebrities are invariably celebrity-mad, just as liars always believe liars.
Ch. 18: To Do Well What Should Not Be Done at All, p. 311
[edit]
What I've Learned (2008)

People in my situation get to read about themselves whether they want to or not. It's generally wrong. Or oversimplified which is sometimes useful.
Interview by Mike Sager, Esquire, (June 2008), p. 132
There was more of a flow to my output of writing in the past, certainly. Having no contemporaries left means you cannot say, "Well, so-and-so will like this," which you do when you're younger. You realize there is no so-and-so anymore. You are your own so-and-so. There is a bleak side to it.
You hear all this whining going on, "Where are our great writers?" The thing I might feel doleful about is: Where are the readers?
Everything's wrong on Wikipedia.
Some of my father's fellow West Pointers once asked him why I turned out so well, his secret in raising me. And he said, "I never gave him any advice, and he never asked for any." We agreed on nothing, but we never quarreled once.
Nonprofit status is what created the Bible Belt. The tax code brought religion back to this country.
People in my situation get to read about themselves whether they want to or not. It's generally wrong. Or oversimplified which is sometimes useful.
We're the most captive nation of slaves that ever came along. The moral timidity of the average American is quite noticeable. Everybody's afraid to be thought in any way different from everyone else.
[edit]
Gore Vidal's America (2009)
Seven part interview by Paul Jay, The Real News, (5 July 2009)
You cannot get through the density of the propaganda with which the American people, through the dreaded media, have been filled and the horrible public educational system we have for the average person. It's just grotesque.
On American Altruism
Well, it's been the monopolizing of great wealth, which tends to happen in basically unjust societies and undemocratic societies. We have plenty of would-be democrats, would-be liberals, and would-be progressives. But how do you organize? The Democratic Party is a machine to get votes for its people, none of who should probably be elected to the high offices of state. That's all. The Republican Party is fundamentally crooked and might well be outlawed one of these days. Le Pen, you know, in France, who is an out-and-out fascist, the French have managed in some clever way to contain him. I mean, he's always running for president; his votes never seem to show up. I don't know how they do it, but we've got to do that with the Republican base, the religious right. We don't want them running the country. Nobody does. Certainly not the founding fathers. And I think we have to ride herd on them and make sure they do not seize the state.
On fascism
Well, you have to work out what it is. They are a little splinter. They can't summon many voters at any given time. They are a minority of a minority of a minority. They have everybody buffaloed because the great corporations like them and pay money to their candidates for sheriff and senator. And they're playing big-time politics. Yes, indeed. But the average person doesn't like them. You know, any time I want to get applause and I lecture across America in state after state after state when I fear things are getting a little low, I always say, "And another thing: Let us tax all the religions," I bring down the goddamn house with that. And any politician would if he had sense enough to do it. The people don't like their tax exemption.
On the religious right in America
Well, remember, all that area from which the Gore family comes was solid Democrat and progressive under Roosevelt for several decades. So they just didn't become Republicans because they all wanted to be bankers. They became it because they didn't like black people, and they thought the Democrats were pushing integration too fast. And that's how the great split came about, to the shame of the whole country.
On the American South's switch from Democrat to Republican
You know, I've been around the ruling class all my life, and I've been quite aware of their total contempt for the people of the country.
On the Media
"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn
"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will" - Frederick Douglass
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#3
Peter Lemkin Wrote:I'm greatly saddened to hear that one of my favorite writers and political analysts, Gore Vidal, has died. I'll try to find a good obituary that does justice to his life and work.....I was just watching a recent interview with him yesterday in which he mentioned Jolly West, which we were talking about....more soon. Sad. I really feel something and someone important to a sane World is gone....he is! I'll also try to link to some his better videos - I have many downloaded, but will have to find them on the internet and link - they are great. He was NOT fooled in the least by the Beast. What a life he had and what a great job he made of it!
Yes! I just heard. Very sad. What a great man and a great life and one of the sanest voices to come out of that place. Very few of his stature.
"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.
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#4
Peter,

And all that great wisdom. A rare one, he was.

Adele
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#5
When asked by the New York Times what he had thought upon learning of the passing of William F. Buckley, Jr., Gore Vidal responded, "I thought hell is bound to be a livelier place, as he joins forever those whom he served in life, applauding their prejudices and fanning their hatred."

I just learned that Gore Vidal has passed. I cannot imagine a contemporary literary life -- or, for that matter, afterlife -- worth living without his heroic presence in it.
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#6
Truth and Politics
The Meaning of Timothy McVeigh
Americans were fed the story of Timothy McVeigh's trial and execution as a simple, unquestionable narrative: he was guilty, he was evil, and he acted largely alone. Gore Vidal's 1998 Vanity Fair essay on the erosion of the U.S. Bill of Rights caused McVeigh to begin a three-year correspondence with Vidal, prompting an examination of certain evidence that points to darker truthsa conspiracy willfully ignored by F.B.I. investigators, and a possible cover-up by a government waging a secret war on the liberty of its citizens.
by Gore Vidal

T
oward the end of the last century but one, Richard Wagner made a visit to the southern Italian town of Ravello, where he was shown the gardens of the thousand-year-old Villa Rufolo. "Maestro," asked the head gardener, "do not these fantastic gardens 'neath yonder azure sky that blends in such perfect harmony with yonder azure sea closely resemble those fabled gardens of Klingsor where you have set so much of your latest interminable opera, Parsifal? Is not this vision of loveliness your inspiration for Klingsor?" Wagner muttered something in German. "He say," said a nearby translator, "How about that?'"

How about that indeed, I thought, as I made my way toward a corner of those fabled gardens, where ABC-TV's Good Morning America and CBS's Early Show had set up their cameras so that I could appear "live" to viewers back home in God's country.

This was last May. In a week's time "the Oklahoma City Bomber," a decorated hero of the Gulf War, one of Nature's Eagle Scouts, Timothy McVeigh, was due to be executed by lethal injection in Terre Haute, Indiana, for being, as he himself insisted, the sole maker and detonator of a bomb that blew up a federal building in which died 168 men, women, and children. This was the greatest massacre of Americans by an American since two years earlier, when the federal government decided to take out the compound of a Seventh-Day Adventist cult near Waco, Texas. The Branch Davidians, as the cultists called themselves, were a peaceful group of men, women, and children living and praying together in anticipation of the end of the world, which started to come their way on February 28, 1993. The Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, exercising its mandate to "regulate" firearms, refused all invitations from cult leader David Koresh to inspect his licensed firearms. The A.T.F. instead opted for fun. More than 100 A.T.F. agents, without proper warrants, attacked the church's compound while, overhead, at least one A.T.F. helicopter fired at the roof of the main building. Six Branch Davidians were killed that day. Four A.T.F. agents were shot dead, by friendly fire, it was thought.

There was a standoff. Followed by a 51-day siege in which loud music was played 24 hours a day outside the compound. Then electricity was turned off. Food was denied the children. Meanwhile, the Media were briefed regularly on the evils of David Koresh. Apparently, he was making and selling crystal meth; he was alsowhat else in these sick times?not a Man of God but a Pedophile. The new attorney general, Janet Reno, then got tough. On April 19 she ordered the F.B.I. to finish up what the A.T.F. had begun. In defiance of the Posse Comitatus Act (a basic bulwark of our fragile liberties that forbids the use of the military against civilians), tanks of the Texas National Guard and the army's Joint Task Force Six attacked the compound with a gas deadly to children and not too healthy for adults while ramming holes in the building. Some Davidians escaped. Others were shot by F.B.I. snipers. In an investigation six years later, the F.B.I. denied ever shooting off anything much more than a pyrotechnic tear-gas cannister. Finally, during a six-hour assault, the building was set fire to and then bulldozed by Bradley armored vehicles. God saw to it that no F.B.I. man was hurt while more than 80 cult members were killed, of whom 27 were children. It was a great victory for Uncle Sam, as intended by the F.B.I., whose code name for the assault was Show Time.

It wasn't until May 14, 1995, that Janet Reno, on 60 Minutes, confessed to second thoughts. "I saw what happened, and knowing what happened, I would not do it again." Plainly, a learning experience for the Florida daughter of a champion lady alligator rassler.

The April 19, 1993, show at Waco proved to be the largest massacre of Americans by their own government since 1890, when a number of Native Americans were slaughtered at Wounded Knee, South Dakota. Thus the ante keeps upping.

Although McVeigh was soon to indicate that he had acted in retaliation for what had happened at Waco (he had even picked the second anniversary of the slaughter, April 19, for his act of retribution), our government's secret police, together with its allies in the Media, put, as it were, a heavy fist upon the scales. There was to be only one story: one man of incredible innate evil wanted to destroy innocent lives for no reason other than a spontaneous joy in evildoing. From the beginning, it was ordained that McVeigh was to have no coherent motive for what he had done other than a Shakespearean motiveless malignity. Iago is now back in town, with a bomb, not a handkerchief. More to the point, he and the prosecution agreed that he had no serious accomplices.

I sat on an uncomfortable chair, facing a camera. Generators hummed amid the delphiniums. Good Morning America was first. I had been told that Diane Sawyer would be questioning me from New York, but ABC has a McVeigh "expert," one Charles Gibson, and he would do the honors. Our interview would be something like four minutes. Yes, I was to be interviewed In Depth. This means that only every other question starts with "Now, tell us, briefly … " Dutifully, I told, briefly, how it was that McVeigh, whom I had never met, happened to invite me to be one of the five chosen witnesses to his execution.

Briefly, it all began in the November 1998 issue of Vanity Fair. I had written a piece about "the shredding of our Bill of Rights." I cited examples of I.R.S. seizures of property without due process of law, warrantless raids and murders committed against innocent people by various drug-enforcement groups, government collusion with agribusiness's successful attempts to drive small farmers out of business, and so on. (For those who would like further evidence of a government running amok, turn to page 397 of my The Last Empire.) Then, as a coda, I discussed the illegal but unpunished murders at Ruby Ridge, Idaho (a mother and child and dog had been killed in cold blood by the F.B.I.); then, the next year, Waco. The Media expressed little outrage in either case. Apparently, the trigger words had not been spoken. Trigger words? Remember The Manchurian Candidate? George Axelrod's splendid 1962 film, where the brainwashed (by North Koreans) protagonist can only be set in murderous motion when the gracious garden-club lady, played by Angela Lansbury, says, "Why don't you pass the time by playing a little solitaire?"

Since we had been told for weeks that the Branch Davidian leader, David Koresh, was not only a drug dealer but the sexual abuser of the 27 children in his compound, the maternal Ms. Reno in essence decreed: Better that they all be dead than defiled. Hence, the attack. Later, 11 members of the Branch Davidian Church were put on trial for the "conspiracy to commit murder" of the federal agents who had attacked them. The jury found all 11 innocent on that charge. But after stating that the defendants were guilty of attempted murderthe very charge of which they had just been acquittedthe judge sentenced eight innocent church members up to 40 years on lesser charges. One disgusted juror said, "The wrong people were on trial." Show Time!

Personally, I was sufficiently outraged to describe in detail what had actually happened. Meanwhile, the card players of 1998 were busy shuffling and dealing. Since McVeigh had been revealed as evil itself, no one was interested in why he had done what he had done. But then "why" is a question the Media are trained to shy away from. Too dangerous. One might actually learn why something had happened and become thoughtful. I wrote in these pages:

For Timothy McVeigh, [Waco and Ruby Ridge] became the symbol of [federal] oppression and murder. Since he was now suffering from an exaggerated sense of justice, not a common American trait, he went to war pretty much on his own and ended up slaughtering more innocents than the Feds had at Waco. Did he know what he was doing when he blew up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City because it contained the hated [Feds]? McVeigh remained silent throughout his trial. Finally, as he was about to be sentenced, the court asked him if he would like to speak. He did. He rose and said, "I wish to use the words of Justice Brandeis dissenting in Olmstead to speak for me. He wrote, Our government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or ill, it teaches the whole people by its example.'" Then McVeigh was sentenced to death by the government.

Those present were deeply confused by McVeigh's quotation. How could the Devil quote so saintly a justice? I suspect that he did it in the same spirit that Iago answered Othello when asked why he had done what he had done: "Demand me nothing, what you know you know, from this time forth I never will speak word." Now we know, too: or as my grandfather used to say back in Oklahoma, "Every pancake has two sides."

When McVeigh, on appeal in a Colorado prison, read what I had written he wrote me a letter and …

B
ut I've left you behind in the Ravello garden of Klingsor, where, live on television, I mentioned the unmentionable word "why," followed by the atomic trigger word "Waco." Charles Gibson, 3,500 miles away, began to hyperventilate. "Now, wait a minute … " he interrupted. But I talked through him. Suddenly I heard him say, "We're having trouble with the audio." Then he pulled the plug that linked ABC and me. The soundman beside me shook his head. "Audio was working perfectly. He just cut you off." So, in addition to the governmental shredding of Amendments 4, 5, 6, 8, and 14, Mr. Gibson switched off the journalists' sacred First.

Why? Like so many of his interchangeable TV colleagues, he is in place to tell the viewers that former senator John Danforth had just concluded a 14-month investigation of the F.B.I. that cleared the bureau of any wrongdoing at Waco. Danforth did admit that "it was like pulling teeth to get all this paper from the F.B.I."

In March 1993, McVeigh drove from Arizona to Waco, Texas, in order to observe firsthand the federal siege. Along with other protesters, he was duly photographed by the F.B.I. During the siege the cultists were entertained with 24-hour ear-shattering tapes (Nancy Sinatra: "These boots are made for walkin' / And that's just what they'll do, / One of these days these boots are gonna walk all over you") as well as the recorded shrieks of dying rabbits, reminiscent of the first George Bush's undeclared war on Panama, which after several similar concerts outside the Vatican Embassy yielded up the master drug criminal (and former C.I.A. agent) Noriega, who had taken refuge there. Like the TV networks, once our government has a hit it will be repeated over and over again. Oswald? Conspiracy? Studio laughter.

TV-watchers have no doubt noted so often that they are no longer aware of how often the interchangeable TV hosts handle anyone who tries to explain why something happened. "Are you suggesting that there was a conspiracy?" A twinkle starts in a pair of bright contact lenses. No matter what the answer, there is a wriggling of the body, followed by a tiny snort and a significant glance into the camera to show that the guest has just been delivered to the studio by flying saucer. This is one way for the public never to understand what actual conspiratorswhether in the F.B.I. or on the Supreme Court or toiling for Big Tobaccoare up to. It is also a sure way of keeping information from the public. The function, alas, of Corporate Media.

In fact, at one point, former senator Danforth threatened the recalcitrant F.B.I. director Louis Freeh with a search warrant. It is a pity that he did not get one. He might, in the process, have discovered a bit more about Freeh's membership in Opus Dei (meaning "God's work"), a secretive international Roman Catholic order dedicated to getting its membership into high political, corporate, and religious offices (and perhaps even Heaven too) in various lands to various ends. Lately, reluctant Medialight was cast on the order when it was discovered that Robert Hanssen, an F.B.I. agent, had been a Russian spy for 22 years but also that he and his director, Louis Freeh, in the words of their fellow traveler William Rusher (The Washington Times, March 15, 2001), "not only [were] both members of the same Roman Catholic Church in suburban Virginia but … also belonged to the local chapter of Opus Dei." Mr. Rusher, once of the devil-may-care National Review, found this "piquant." Opus Dei was founded in 1928 by Jose-Maria Escrivá. Its lay godfather, in early years, was the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco. One of its latest paladins was the corrupt Peruvian president Alberto Fujimoro, still in absentia. Although Opus Dei tends to Fascism, the current Pope has beatified Escrivá, disregarding the caveat of the Spanish theologian Juan Martin Velasco: "We cannot portray as a model of Christian living someone who has served the power of the state [the Fascist Franco] and who used that power to launch his Opus, which he ran with obscure criterialike a Mafia shrouded in whitenot accepting papal magisterium when it failed to coincide with his way of thinking."

Once, when the mysterious Mr. Freeh was asked whether or not he was a member of Opus Dei, he declined to respond, obliging an F.B.I. special agent to reply in his stead. Special Agent John E. Collingwood said, "While I cannot answer your specific questions, I note that you have been informed' incorrectly."

It is most disturbing that in the secular United States, a nation whose Constitution is based upon the perpetual separation of church and state, an absolutist religious order not only has placed one of its members at the head of our secret (and largely unaccountable) police but also can now count on the good offices of at least two members of the Supreme Court.

From Newsweek, March 9, 2001:

[Justice Antonin] Scalia is regarded as the embodiment of the Catholic conservatives.… While he is not a member of Opus Dei, his wife Maureen has attended Opus Dei's spiritual functions … [while their son], Father Paul Scalia, helped convert Clarence Thomas to Catholicism four years ago. Last month, Thomas gave a fiery speech at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think-tank, to an audience full of Bush Administration officials. In the speech Thomas praised Pope John Paul II for taking unpopular stands.

And to think that Thomas Jefferson and John Adams opposed the presence of the relatively benign Jesuit order in our land of laws if not of God. President Bush has said that Scalia and Thomas are the models for the sort of justices that he would like to appoint in his term of office. Lately, in atonement for his wooing during the election of the fundamentalist Protestants at Bob Jones University, Bush has been "reaching out" to the Roman Catholic far right. He is already solid with fundamentalist Protestants. In fact, his attorney general, J. D. Ashcroft, is a Pentecostal Christian who starts each day at eight with a prayer meeting attended by Justice Department employees eager to be drenched in the blood of the lamb. In 1999, Ashcroft told Bob Jones University graduates that America was founded on religious principles (news to Jefferson et al.) and "we have no king but Jesus."

I have already noted a number of conspiracies that are beginning to register as McVeigh's highly manipulated story moves toward that ghastly word "closure," which, in this case, will simply mark a new beginning. The Opus Dei conspiracy iswas?central to the Justice Department. Then the F.B.I. conspired to withhold documents from the McVeigh defense as well as from the department's alleged master: We the People in Congress Assembled as embodied by former senator Danforth. Finally, the ongoing spontaneous Media conspiracy to demonize McVeigh, who acted alone, despite contrary evidence.

B
ut let's return to the F.B.I. conspiracy to cover up its crimes at Waco. Senator Danforth is an honorable man, but then, so was Chief Justice Earl Warren, and the findings of his eponymous commission on the events at Dallas did not, it is said, ever entirely convince even him. On June 1, Danforth told The Washington Post, "I bet that Timothy McVeigh, at some point in time, I don't know when, will be executed and after the execution there will be some box found, somewhere." You are not, Senator, just beating your gums. Also, on June 1, The New York Times ran an A.P. story in which lawyers for the Branch Davidians claim that when the F.B.I. agents fired upon the cultists they used a type of short assault rifle that was later not tested. Our friend F.B.I. spokesman John Collingwood said that a check of the bureau's records showed that "the shorter-barreled rifle was among the weapons tested." Danforth's response was pretty much, Well, if you say so. He did note, again, that he had got "something less than total cooperation" from the F.B.I. As H. L. Mencken put it, "[The Department of Justice] has been engaged in sharp practices since the earliest days and remains a fecund source of oppression and corruption today. It is hard to recall an administration in which it was not the center of grave scandal."

Freeh himself seems addicted to dull sharp practices. In 1996 he was the relentless Javert who came down so hard on an Atlanta security guard, Richard Jewell, over the Olympic Games bombing. Jewell was innocent. Even as he sent out for a new hair shirt (Opus Dei members mortify the flesh) and gave the order to build a new guillotine, the F.B.I. lab was found to have routinely bungled investigations (read Tainting Evidence, by J. F. Kelly and P. K. Wearne). Later, Freeh led the battle to prove Wen Ho Lee a Communist spy. Freeh's deranged charges against the blameless Los Alamos scientist were thrown out of court by an enraged federal judge who felt that the F.B.I. had "embarrassed the whole nation." Well, it's always risky, God's work.

Even so, the more one learns about the F.B.I., the more one realizes that it is a very dangerous place indeed. Kelly and Wearne, in their investigation of its lab work, literally a life-and-death matter for those under investigation, quote two English forensic experts on the subject of the Oklahoma City bombing. Professor Brian Caddy, after a study of the lab's findings: "If these reports are the ones to be presented to the courts as evidence then I am appalled by their structure and information content. The structure of the reports seems designed to confuse the reader rather than help him." Dr. John Lloyd noted, "The reports are purely conclusory in nature. It is impossible to determine from them the chain of custody, on precisely what work has been done on each item." Plainly, the time has come to replace this vast inept and largely unaccountable secret police with a more modest and more efficient bureau to be called "the United States Bureau of Investigation."

I
t is now June 11, a hot, hazy morning here in Ravello. We've just watched Son of Show Time in Terre Haute, Indiana. CNN duly reported that I had not been able to be a witness, as McVeigh had requested: the attorney general had given me too short a time to get from here to there. I felt somewhat better when I was told that, lying on the gurney in the execution chamber, he would not have been able to see any of us through the tinted glass windows all around him. But then members of the press who were present said that he had deliberately made "eye contact" with his witnesses and with them. He did see his witnesses, according to Cate McCauley, who was one. "You could tell he was gone after the first shot," she said. She had worked on his legal case for a year as one of his defense investigators.

I asked about his last hours. He had been searching for a movie on television and all he could find was Fargo, for which he was in no mood. Certainly he died in character; that is, in control. The first shot, of sodium pentothal, knocks you out. But he kept his eyes open. The second shot, of pancuronium bromide, collapsed his lungs. Always the survivalist, he seemed to ration his remaining breaths. When, after four minutes, he was officially dead, his eyes were still open, staring into the ceiling camera that was recording him "live" for his Oklahoma City audience.

McVeigh made no final statement, but he had copied out, it appeared from memory, "Invictus," a poem by W. E. Henley (18491903). Among Henley's numerous writings was a popular anthology called Lyra Heroica (1892), about those who had done selfless heroic deeds. I doubt if McVeigh ever came across it, but he would, no doubt, have identified with a group of young writers, among them Kipling, who were known as "Henley's young men," forever standing on burning decks, each a master of his fate, captain of his soul.

Characteristically, no talking head mentioned Henley's name, because no one knew who he was. Many thought this famous poem was McVeigh's work. One irritable woman described Henley as "a 19th-century cripple." I fiercely E-mailed her network: the one-legged Henley was "extremities challenged."

The stoic serenity of McVeigh's last days certainly qualified him as a Henley-style hero. He did not complain about his fate; took responsibility for what he was thought to have done; did not beg for mercy as our always sadistic Media require. Meanwhile, conflicting details about him accumulatea bewildering mosaic, in factand he seems more and more to have stumbled into the wrong American era. Plainly, he needed a self-consuming cause to define him. The abolition of slavery or the preservation of the Union would have been more worthy of his life than anger at the excesses of our corrupt secret police. But he was stuck where he was and so he declared war on a government that he felt had declared war on its own people.

One poetic moment in what was largely an orchestrated hymn of hatred. Outside the prison, a group of anti-death-penalty people prayed together in the dawn's early light. Suddenly, a bird appeared and settled on the left forearm of a woman, who continued her prayers. When, at last, she rose to her feet the bird remained on her armconsolation? Ora pro nobis.

CNN gave us bits and pieces of McVeigh's last morning. Asked why he had not at least said that he was sorry for the murder of innocents, he said that he could say it but he would not have meant it. He was a soldier in a war, not of his making. This was Henleyesque. One biographer described him as honest to a fault. McVeigh had also noted that Harry Truman had never said that he was sorry about dropping two atomic bombs on an already defeated Japan, killing around 200,000 people, mostly collateral women and children. Media howled that that was wartime. But McVeigh considered himself, rightly or wrongly, at war, too. Incidentally, the inexorable beatification of Harry Truman is now an important aspect of our evolving imperial system. It is widely believed that the bombs were dropped to save American lives. This is not true. The bombs were dropped to frighten our new enemy, Stalin. To a man, our leading World War II commanders, including Eisenhower, C. W. Nimitz, and even Curtis LeMay (played so well by George C. Scott in Dr. Strangelove), were opposed to Truman's use of the bombs against a defeated enemy trying to surrender. A friend from live television, the late Robert Alan Aurthur, made a documentary about Truman. I asked him what he thought of him. "He just gives you all these canned answers. The only time I got a rise out of him was when I suggested that he tell us about his decision to drop the atomic bombs in the actual ruins of Hiroshima. Truman looked at me for the first time. O.K.,' he said, but I won't kiss their asses.'" Plainly another Henley hero, with far more collateral damage to his credit than McVeigh. Was it Chaplin's M. Verdoux who said that when it comes to calibrating liability for murder it is all, finally, a matter of scale?

After my adventures in the Ravello gardens (CBS's Bryant Gumbel was his usual low-key, courteous self and did not pull the cord), I headed for Terre Haute by way of Manhattan. I did several programs where I was cut off at the word "Waco." Only CNN's Greta Van Susteren got the point. "Two wrongs," she said, sensibly, "don't make a right." I quite agreed with her. But then, since I am against the death penalty, I noted that three wrongs are hardly an improvement.

Then came the stay of execution. I went back to Ravello. The Media were now gazing at me. Time and again I would hear or read that I had written McVeigh first, congratulating him, presumably, on his killings. I kept explaining, patiently, how, after he had read me in Vanity Fair, it was he who wrote me, starting an off-and-on three-year correspondence. As it turned out, I could not go so I was not able to see with my own eyes the bird of dawning alight upon the woman's arm.

T
he first letter to me was appreciative of what I had written. I wrote him back. To show what an eager commercialite I amhardly school of CapoteI kept no copies of my letters to him until the last one in May.

The second letter from his Colorado prison is dated "28 Feb 99." "Mr. Vidal, thank you for your letter. I received your book United States last week and have since finished most of Part 2your political musings." I should say that spelling and grammar are perfect throughout, while the handwriting is oddly even and slants to the left, as if one were looking at it in a mirror. "I think you'd be surprised at how much of that material I agree with.…

As to your letter, I fully recognize that "the general rebellion against what our gov't has become is the most interesting (and I think important) story in our history this century." This is why I have been mostly disappointed at previous stories attributing the OKC bombing to a simple act of "revenge" for Wacoand why I was most pleased to read your Nov. article in Vanity Fair. In the 4 years since the bombing, your work is the first to really explore the underlying motivations for such a strike against the U.S. Governmentand for that, I thank you. I believe that such in-depth reflections are vital if one truly wishes to understand the events of April 1995.

Although I have many observations that I'd like to throw at you, I must keep this letter to a practical lengthso I will mention just one: if federal agents are like "so many Jacobins at war" with the citizens of this country, and if federal agencies "daily wage war" against those citizens, then should not the OKC bombing be considered a "counter-attack" rather than a self-declared war? Would it not be more akin to Hiroshima than Pearl Harbor? (I'm sure the Japanese were just as shocked and surprised at Hiroshimain fact, was that anticipated effect not part and parcel of the overall strategy of that bombing?)

Back to your letter, I had never considered your age as an impediment [here he riots in tact!] until I received that letterand noted that it was typed on a manual typewriter? Not to worry, recent medical studies tell us that Italy's taste for canola oil, olive oil and wine helps extend the average lifespan and helps prevent heart disease in Italiansso you picked the right place to retire to.

Again, thank you for dropping me a lineand as far as any concern over what or how to write someone "in my situation," I think you'd find that many of us are still just "regular Joes"regardless of public perceptionso there need be no special consideration(s) given to whatever you wish to write. Until next time, then …

Under this line he has put in quotes "Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.' H. L. Mencken. Take good care."

He signed off with scribbled initials. Needless to say, this letter did not conform to any notion that I had had of him from reading the rabid U.S. press led, as always, by The New York Times, whose clumsy attempts at Freudian analysis (e.g., he was a broken blossom because his mother left his father in his 16th yearactually he seemed relieved). Later, there was a year or so when I did not hear from him. Two reporters from a Buffalo newspaper (he was born and raised near Buffalo) were at work interviewing him for their book, American Terrorist. I do think I wrote him that Mencken often resorted to Swiftian hyperbole and was not to be taken too literally. Could the same be said of McVeigh? There is always the interesting possibilityprepare for the grandest conspiracy of allthat he neither made nor set off the bomb outside the Murrah building: it was only later, when facing either death or life imprisonment, that he saw to it that he would be given sole credit for hoisting the black flag and slitting throats, to the rising fury of various "militias" across the land who are currently outraged that he is getting sole credit for a revolutionary act organized, some say, by many others. At the end, if this scenario is correct, he and the detested Feds were of a single mind.

A
s Senator Danforth foresaw, the government would execute McVeigh as soon as possible (within 10 days of Danforth's statement to The Washington Post) in order not to have to produce so quickly that mislaid box with documents which might suggest that others were involved in the bombing. The fact that McVeigh himself was eager to commit what he called "federally assisted suicide" simply seemed a bizarre twist to a story that no matter how one tries to straighten it out never quite conforms to the Ur-plot of lone crazed killer (Oswald) killed by a second lone crazed killer (Ruby), who would die in stir with, he claimed, a tale to tell. Unlike Lee Harvey ("I'm the patsy") Oswald, our Henley hero found irresistible the role of lone warrior against a bad state. Where, in his first correspondence with me, he admits to nothing for the obvious reason his lawyers have him on appeal, in his last letter to me, April 20, 2001"T. McVeigh 12076-064 POB 33 Terre Haute, In. 47808 (USA)"he writes, "Mr. Vidal, if you have read the recently published American Terrorist', then you've probably realized that you hit the nail on the head with your article The War at Home'. Enclosed is supplemental material to add to that insight." Among the documents he sent was an ABCNews.com chat transcript of a conversation with Timothy McVeigh's psychiatrist. The interview with Dr. John Smith was conducted by a moderator, March 29 of this year. Dr. Smith had had only one session with McVeigh, six years earlier. Apparently McVeigh had released him from his medical oath of confidentiality so that he could talk to Lou Michel and Dan Herbeck, authors of American Terrorist.

Moderator: You say that Timothy McVeigh "was not deranged" and that he has "no major mental illness". So why, in your view, would he commit such a terrible crime?

Dr. John Smith: Well, I don't think he committed it because he was deranged or misinterpreting reality.… He was overly sensitive, to the point of being a little paranoid, about the actions of the government. But he committed the act mostly out of revenge because of the Waco assault, but he also wanted to make a political statement about the role of the federal government and protest the use of force against the citizens. So to answer your original question, it was a conscious choice on his part, not because he was deranged, but because he was serious.

D
r. Smith then notes McVeigh's disappointment that the Media had shied away from any dialogue "about the misuse of power by the federal government." Also, "his statement to me, I did not expect a revolution'. Although he did go on to tell me that he had had discussions with some of the militias who lived in the hills around Kingman, AZ, about how easy it would be, with certain guns in the hills there, to cut interstate 40 in two and in that sense interfere with transportation from between the eastern and western part of the United Statesa rather grandiose discussion."

Grandiose but, I think, in character for those rebels who like to call themselves Patriots and see themselves as similar to the American colonists who separated from England. They are said to number from two to four million, of whom some 400,000 are activists in the militias. Although McVeigh never formally joined any group, for three years he drove all around the country, networking with like-minded gun-lovers and federal-government-haters; he also learned, according to American Terrorist, "that the government was planning a massive raid on gun owners and members of the Patriot community in the spring of 1995." This was all the trigger that McVeigh needed for what he would doshuffle the deck, as it were.

The Turner Diaries is a racist daydream by a former physics teacher writing under the pseudonym Andrew Macdonald. Although McVeigh has no hang-ups about blacks, Jews, and all the other enemies of the various "Aryan" white nations to be found in the Patriots' ranks, he shares the Diaries' obsession with guns and explosives and a final all-out war against the "System." Much has been made, rightly, of a description in the book of how to build a bomb like the one he used at Oklahoma City. When asked if McVeigh acknowledged copying this section from the novel, Dr. Smith said, "Well, sort of. Tim wanted it made clear that, unlike The Turner Diaries, he was not a racist. He made that very clear. He did not hate homosexuals. He made that very clear." As for the book as an influence, "he's not going to share credit with anyone." Asked to sum up, the good doctor said, simply, "I have always said to myself that if there had not been a Waco, there would not have been an Oklahoma City."

McVeigh also sent me a 1998 piece he had written for Media Bypass. He calls it "Essay on Hypocrisy."

The administration has said that Iraq has no right to stockpile chemical or biological weapons … mainly because they have used them in the past. Well, if that's the standard by which these matters are decided, then the U.S. is the nation that set the precedent. The U.S. has stockpiled these same weapons (and more) for over 40 years. The U.S. claims that this was done for the deterrent purposes during its "Cold War" with the Soviet Union. Why, then, is it invalid for Iraq to claim the same reason (deterrence)with respect to Iraq's (real) war with, and the continued threat of, its neighbor Iran?…

Yet when discussion shifts to Iraq, any day-care center in a government building instantly becomes "a shield." Think about it. (Actually, there is a difference here. The administration has admitted to knowledge of the presence of children in or near Iraqi government buildings, yet they still proceed with their plans to bombsaying that they cannot be held responsible if children die. There is no such proof, however, that knowledge of the presence of children existed in relation to the Oklahoma City bombing.)

Thus, he denies any foreknowledge of the presence of children in the Murrah building, unlike the F.B.I., which knew that there were children in the Davidian compound, and managed to kill 27 of them.

McVeigh quotes again from Justice Brandeis: "Our government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or ill it teaches the whole people by its example." He stops there. But Brandeis goes on to write in his dissent, "Crime is contagious. If the government becomes the law breaker, it breeds contempt for laws; it invites every man to become a law unto himself." Thus the straight-arrow model soldier unleashed his terrible swift sword and the innocent died. But then a lawless government, Brandeis writes, "invites anarchy. To declare that in the administration of the criminal law the end justifies the meansto declare that the government may commit crimes in order to secure the conviction of a private criminalwould bring terrible retribution."

One wonders if the Opus Dei plurality of the present Supreme Court's five-to-four majority has ever pondered these words so different from, let us say, one of its essential thinkers, Machiavelli, who insisted that, above all, the Prince must be feared.

Finally, McVeigh sent me three pages of longhand notes dated April 4, 2001, a few weeks before he was first scheduled to die. It is addressed to "C.J."(?), whose initials he has struck out.

I explain herein why I bombed the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. I explain this not for publicity, nor seeking to win an argument of right or wrong, I explain so that the record is clear as to my thinking and motivations in bombing a government installation.

I chose to bomb a Federal Building because such an action served more purposes than other options. Foremost, the bombing was a retaliatory strike: a counter-attack, for the cumulative raids (and subsequent violence and damage) that federal agents had participated in over the preceding years (including, but not limited to, Waco). From the formation of such units as the FBI's "Hostage Rescue" and other assault teams amongst federal agencies during the 80s, culminating in the Waco incident, federal actions grew increasingly militaristic and violent, to the point where at Waco, our governmentlike the Chinesewas deploying tanks against its own citizens.

… For all intents and purposes, federal agents had become "soldiers" (using military training, tactics, techniques, equipment, language, dress, organization and mindset) and they were escalating their behavior. Therefore, this bombing was also meant as a pre-emptive (or pro-active) strike against those forces and their command and control centers within the federal building. When an aggressor force continually launches attacks from a particular base of operations, it is sound military strategy to take the fight to the enemy. Additionally, borrowing a page from U.S. foreign policy, I decided to send a message to a government that was becoming increasingly hostile, by bombing a government building and the government employees within that building who represent that government. Bombing the Murrah Federal Building was morally and strategically equivalent to the U.S. hitting a government building in Serbia, Iraq, or other nations. Based on observations of the policies of my own government, I viewed this action as an acceptable option. From this perspective what occurred in Oklahoma City was no different than what Americans rain on the heads of others all the time, and, subsequently, my mindset was and is one of clinical detachment. (The bombing of the Murrah Building was not personal no more than when Air Force, Army, Navy or Marine personnel bomb or launch cruise missiles against (foreign) government installations and their personnel.)

I hope this clarification amply addresses your question.

Sincerely, T.M., USP Terre Haute (In.)

There were many outraged press notes and letters when I said that McVeigh suffered from "an exaggerated sense of justice." I did not really need the adjective except that I knew that few Americans seriously believe that anyone is capable of doing anything except out of personal self-interest, while anyone who deliberately risksand giveshis life to alert his fellow citizens to an onerous government is truly crazy. But the good Dr. Smith put that one in perspective: McVeigh is not deranged. He is serious.

I
t is June 16. It seems like five years rather than five days since the execution. The day before the execution, June 10, The New York Times discussed "The Future of American Terrorism." Apparently, terrorism has a real future; hence we must beware Nazi skinheads in the boondocks. The Times is, occasionally, right for the usual wrong reasons. For instance, their current wisdom is to dispel the illusion that "McVeigh is merely a pawn in an expansive conspiracy led by a group of John Does that may even have had government involvement. But only a small fringe will cling to this theory for long." Thank God: one had feared that rumors of a greater conspiracy would linger on and Old Glory herself would turn to fringe before our eyes. The Times, more in anger than in sorrow, feels that McVeigh blew martyrdom by first pleading not guilty and then by not using his trial to "make a political statement about Ruby Ridge and Waco." McVeigh agreed with the Times, and blamed his first lawyer, Stephen Jones, in unholy tandem with the judge, for selling him out. During his appeal, his new attorneys claimed that the serious sale took place when Jones, eager for publicity, met with the Times's Pam Belluck. McVeigh's guilt was quietly conceded, thus explaining why the defense was so feeble. (Jones claims he did nothing improper.)

A
ctually, in the immediate wake of the bombing, the Times concedes, the militia movement skyrocketed from 220 anti-government groups in 1995 to more than 850 by the end of '96. A factor in this growth was the belief circulating among militia groups "that government agents had planted the bomb as a way to justify anti-terrorism legislation. No less than a retired Air Force general has promoted the theory that in addition to Mr. McVeigh's truck bomb, there were bombs inside the building." Although the Times likes analogies to Nazi Germany, they are curiously reluctant to draw one between, let's say, the firing of the Reichstag in 1933 (Göring later took credit for this creative crime), which then allowed Hitler to invoke an Enabling Act that provided him with all sorts of dictatorial powers "for protection of the people and the state" and so on to Auschwitz.

T
he canny Portland Free Press editor, Ace Hayes, noted that the one absolutely necessary dog in every terrorism case has yet to bark. The point to any terrorist act is that credit must be claimed so that fear will spread throughout the land. But no one took credit until McVeigh did, after the trial, in which he was condemned to death as a result of circumstantial evidence produced by the prosecution. Ace Hayes wrote, "If the bombing was not terrorism then what was it? It was pseudo terrorism, perpetrated by compartmentalized covert operators for the purposes of state police power." Apropos Hayes's conclusion, Adam Parfrey wrote in Cult Rapture, "[The bombing] is not different from the bogus Viet Cong units that were sent out to rape and murder Vietnamese to discredit the National Liberation Front. It is not different from the bogus finds' of Commie weapons in El Salvador. It is not different from the bogus Symbionese Liberation Army created by the CIA/FBI to discredit the real revolutionaries." Evidence of a conspiracy? Edye Smith was interviewed by Gary Tuchman, May 23, 1995, on CNN. She duly noted that the A.T.F. bureau, about 17 people on the ninth floor, suffered no casualities. Indeed they seemed not to have come to work that day. Jim Keith gives details in OKBOMB!, while Smith observed on TV, "Did the A.T.F. have a warning sign? I mean, did they think it might be a bad day to go into the office? They had an option not to go to work that day, and my kids didn't get that option." She lost two children in the bombing. A.T.F. has a number of explanations. The latest: five employees were in the offices, unhurt.

Another lead not followed up: McVeigh's sister read a letter he wrote her to the grand jury stating that he had become a member of a "Special Forces Group involved in criminal activity."

I
n the end, McVeigh, already condemned to death, decided to take full credit for the bombing. Was he being a good professional soldier, covering up for others? Or did he, perhaps, now see himself in a historic role with his own private Harper's Ferry, and though his ashes molder in the grave, his spirit is marching on? We may knowone day.

As for "the purposes of state police power," after the bombing, Clinton signed into law orders allowing the police to commit all sorts of crimes against the Constitution in the interest of combating terrorism. On April 20, 1996 (Hitler's birthday of golden memory, at least for the producers of The Producers), President Clinton signed the Anti-Terrorism Act ("for the protection of the people and the state"the emphasis, of course, is on the second noun), while, a month earlier, the mysterious Louis Freeh had informed Congress of his plans for expanded wiretapping by his secret police. Clinton described his Anti-Terrorism Act in familiar language (March 1, 1993, USA Today): "We can't be so fixated on our desire to preserve the rights of ordinary Americans." A year later (April 19, 1994, on MTV): "A lot of people say there's too much personal freedom. When personal freedom's being abused, you have to move to limit it." On that plangent note he graduated cum laude from the Newt Gingrich Academy.

In essence, Clinton's Anti-Terrorism Act would set up a national police force, over the long-dead bodies of the founders. Details are supplied by H.R. 97, a chimera born of Clinton, Reno, and the mysterious Mr. Freeh. A 2,500-man Rapid Deployment Strike Force would be organized, under the attorney general, with dictatorial powers. The chief of police of Windsor, Missouri, Joe Hendricks, spoke out against this supra-Constitutional police force. Under this legislation, Hendricks said, "an agent of the F.B.I. could walk into my office and commandeer this police department. If you don't believe that, read the crime bill that Clinton signed into law in 1995. There is talk of the Feds taking over the Washington, D.C., police department. To me this sets a dangerous precedent." But after a half-century of the Russians are coming, followed by terrorists from proliferating rogue states as well as the ongoing horrors of drug-related crime, there is little respite for a people so routinelyso fiercelydisinformed. Yet there is a native suspicion that seems to be a part of the individual American psycheas demonstrated in polls, anyway. According to a Scripps Howard News Service poll, 40 percent of Americans think it quite likely that the F.B.I. set the fires at Waco. Fifty-one percent believe federal officials killed Jack Kennedy (Oh, Oliver what hast thou wrought!). Eighty percent believe that the military is withholding evidence that Iraq used nerve gas or something as deadly in the Gulf. Unfortunately, the other side of this coin is troubling. After Oklahoma City, 58 percent of Americans, according to the L.A. Times, were willing to surrender some of their liberties to stop terrorismincluding, one wonders, the sacred right to be misinformed by government?

Shortly after McVeigh's conviction, Director Freeh soothed the Senate Judiciary Committee: "Most of the militia organizations around the country are not, in our view, threatening or dangerous." But earlier, before the Senate Appropriations Committee, he had "confessed" that his bureau was troubled by "various individuals, as well as organizations, some having an ideology which suspects government of world-order conspiraciesindividuals who have organized themselves against the United States." In sum, this bureaucrat who does God's Work regards as a threat those "individuals who espouse ideologies inconsistent with principles of Federal Government." Oddly, for a former judge, Freeh seems not to recognize how chilling this last phrase is.

The C.I.A.'s former director William Colby is also made nervous by the disaffected. In a chat with Nebraska state senator John DeCamp (shortly before the Oklahoma City bombing), he mused, "I watched as the Anti-War movement rendered it impossible for this country to conduct or win the Viet Nam War.… This Militia and Patriot movement … is far more significant and far more dangerous for Americans than the Anti-War movement ever was, if it is not intelligently dealt with.… It is not because these people are armed that America need be concerned." Colby continues, "They are dangerous because there are so many of them. It is one thing to have a few nuts or dissidents. They can be dealt with, justly or otherwise [my emphasis] so that they do not pose a danger to the system. It is quite another situation when you have a true movementmillions of citizens believing something, particularly when the movement is made up of society's average, successful citizens." Presumably one "otherwise" way of handling such a movement iswhen it elects a president by a half-million votesto call in a like-minded Supreme Court majority to stop a state's recounts, create arbitrary deadlines, and invent delays until our ancient electoral system, by default, must give the presidency to the "system's" candidate as opposed to the one the people voted for.

M
any an "expert" and many an expert believe that McVeigh neither built nor detonated the bomb that blew up a large part of the Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995. To start backwardrather the way the F.B.I. conducted this caseif McVeigh was not guilty, why did he confess to the murderous deed? I am convinced from his correspondence and what one has learned about him in an ever lengthening row of books that, once found guilty due to what he felt was the slovenly defense of his principal lawyer, Stephen Jones, so unlike the brilliant defense of his "co-conspirator" Terry Nichols's lawyer Michael Tigar, McVeigh believed that the only alternative to death by injection was a half-century or more of life in a box. There is another aspect of our prison system (considered one of the most barbaric in the First World) which was alluded to by the British writer John Sutherland in The Guardian. He quoted California's attorney general, Bill Lockyer, on the subject of the C.E.O. of an electric utility, currently battening on California's failing energy supply. "I would love to personally escort this CEO to an 8 by 10 cell that he could share with a tattooed dude who says"Hi, my name is Spike, Honey."' … The senior law official in the state was confirming (what we all suspected) that rape is penal policy. Go to prison and serving as a Hell's Angel sex slave is judged part of your sentence." A couple of decades fending off Spike is not a Henley hero's idea of a good time. Better dead than Spiked. Hence, "I bombed the Murrah building."

Evidence, however, is overwhelming that there was a plot involving militia types and government infiltratorswho knows?as prime movers to create panic in order to get Clinton to sign that infamous Anti-Terrorism Act. But if, as it now appears, there were many interested parties involved, a sort of unified-field theory is never apt to be found, but should there be one, Joel Dyer may be its Einstein. (Einstein, of course, never got his field quite together, either.) In 1998, I discussed Dyer's Harvest of Rage in these pages. Dyer was editor of the Boulder Weekly. He writes on the crisis of rural America due to the decline of the family farm, which also coincided with the formation of various militias and religious cults, some dangerous, some merely sad. In Harvest of Rage, Dyer made the case that McVeigh and Terry Nichols could not have acted alone in the Oklahoma City bombing. Now he has, after long investigation, written an epilogue to the trials of the two co-conspirators. Herewith, some of his startling findings.

I
n the end, on June 2, 1997, Timothy McVeigh was found guilty on 11 counts, including conspiracy and eight murder charges pertaining to what the F.B.I. called the "OKBOMB."

The prosecution did a good job of skirting some of its case's weaker points, such as the fact that some explosive experts questioned whether a single fertilizer bomb could account for the extensive damage done to the Murrah building, and that no fewer than 10 witnesses claimed to have seen a Ryder truck parked at Geary Lake in Kansasthe location where, the goverment argued, the bomb was assembledprior to the time McVeigh actually rented the truck used in the bombing. The most damaging testimony against McVeigh came from a former army buddy and his wife, Michael and Lori Fortier. The Fortiers turned State's evidence, Michael testifying that McVeigh had planned to destroy the Murrah building because he believed that the orders to raid the Branch Davidian compound had originated there. Michael also told the jury that he had helped McVeigh case the Murrah building before the bombing. Despite the evidence to the contrary, the Fortiers claimed that they had not been involved in the bombing plot. Michael was sentenced to 12 years.

Stephen Jones continually pointed out that the Fortiers were liars and methamphetamine users, and so not reliable. But the jury was unmoved. The presentation of McVeigh's defense was scarcely a week long. Jones often left the jury more confused and bored than convinced of his client's innocence. Even when he succeeded in his attempts to demonstrate that a large conspiracy was behind the bombing, he did little to show that McVeigh was not at the center of the conspiracy. Jones's case led some reporters to speculate that McVeigh himself was limiting his own defense in order to prevent evidence that might implicate others in the bombing from entering the record.

Both Playboy and The Dallas Morning News published what they purported to be confessions by McVeigh to his defense team. In both articles, McVeigh admitted to the bombing. In many circles, the confessions have been viewed as proof that only McVeigh and Nichols were directly involved in the bombing. After all, that's what McVeigh was reported to have claimed. But there is reason for skepticism. I believe that by confessing McVeigh was, once again, playing the soldier, attempting to protect his co-conspirators.

Did the government blow it? Terry Nichols was tried in the fall of 1997. From the beginning, the government's case against Nichols was more difficult to prove than that against McVeigh. Biggest difference: Nichols was in Kansas at the time of the bombing. Also, Nichols had a good lawyer in Michael Tigar. The jury found Nichols innocent of murder but guilty of planning to bomb the Murrah building and guilty of eight counts of involuntary manslaughter. Next, the jury deadlocked during sentencing, which ruled out the death penalty. After two days of deliberation, the forewoman, Niki Deutchman, informed Judge Richard P. Matsch that the jury was hung. On June 4, 1998, Matsch stepped in and sentenced Terry Nichols to life, but the judge's decision was not without controversy. Deutchman told the press, "Decisions were probably made very early on that McVeigh and Nichols were who they were looking for, and the same sort of resources were not used to try to find out who else might be involved.… The government really dropped the ball." Some of the jurors thought that there may have been others involved who are still at large. Shortly after her news conference, Deutchman reportedly received bomb threats.

And then the government responded.

Attorney General Janet Reno blasted Deutchman's criticism. Reno assured the nation that the F.B.I. had followed every lead in its effort to find those responsible for the blast. She denied a larger conspiracy and said that McVeigh and Nichols were the sole perpetrators of the crime.

Unfortunately, Janet Reno is likely wrong. During my investigation, which included an examination of all the McVeigh discovery materials, I unearthed evidence that the F.B.I. did not follow up on solid leads, or, if they did, failed to turn those over to the defense. I uncovered information provided to the F.B.I. by Kansas law enforcement, and by very reliable eyewitnesses who were apparently disregarded. More important, I found evidence that the F.B.I. may have withheld certain information from the defense teams during discovery, potentially tainting the verdicts against both McVeigh and Nichols.

Subject No. 1. The first time Charles Farley was shown a picture of the man he repeatedly tried to get the F.B.I. to investigate was December 10, 1997. Farley was seated on the witness stand in a federal courtroom in Denver, and the man showing him the photo did not work for the government. He worked for Terry Nichols. "Mr. Farley, … do you recognize the individual depicted in this picture?" asked Adam Thurschwell, one of Nichols's defense attorneys. "Yes, sir," answered Farley. "That was the individual that was standing at the door of the truck, the individual that gave me a dirty look," he said.

Farley was testifying for the defense about his experience a few days before the bombing. Farley, an employee of the Fort Riley Outdoor Recreation Center, near Geary Lake, had already told the F.B.I. that on April 17 or 18, 1995, he had gone to the lake to scout out the fishing potential. After inspecting the lake, Farley drove down the road that led back to the highway, but his departure was slowed by a number of vehicles parked close to the exita pickup, a large stakebed truck, a brown car, and a Ryder truckand standing near the vehicles were several men. The large truck was burdened with what he believed were bags of ammonium nitrate fertilizer. "It looked like it was completely weighted down," Farley told the jury. He thought the truck was stuck due to the weight of the fertilizer, and decided to offer assistance. He quickly changed his mind when one of the menthe same man, he believed, he was identifying more than two and a half years later in courtshot him a nasty glare. The man was standing practically next to Farley's car, and he had a number of distinguishing features, including a beard with no mustache. A few days later, after the bombing, Farley claims, he saw the man again. This time on TV, being interviewed about militia issues. By then it was known that the bomb had been detonated in the back of a Ryder truck that had allegedly been rented in Junction City, Kansas, close to Geary Lake. The bomb was said to have been made from ammonium nitrate fertilizer. Thinking that he may have had eyewitness information about the men who built the bomb, Farley called an F.B.I. tip line. Two weeks later an agent appeared at his workplace for an interview, but apparently that visit was as far as the government went in following this important lead, despite the fact that Farley's information seemed to confirm the government's suspicions regarding the location where the bomb was constructed. The F.B.I. apparently did not try to identify the individual Farley had seen up close. According to sources close to the defense, Nichols's attorneys, believing they had learned the identity of the man Farley had seen, asked the F.B.I. during the trial for all of its information on the individual. They were given a file containing nothing more than newspaper clippings. There was nothing in the file to indicate that the F.B.I. had ever attempted to contact the man or to place him in a lineup for Farley to identify. They hadn't even bothered to contact the Topeka television station to review the footage of Farley's suspect.

I found this lack of investigation curious. In mid-1997, I decided to attempt to identify the mystery man, based solely on Farley's description. Within 20 minutes of placing the first phone call to my militia contacts in Kansas, I was able to identify the man in the photo Farley had been shown in the courtroom. Subject No. 1 was hardly low-profile within the anti-government movement.

In addition to appearing on television, the man was quoted in a Kansas City newspaper article after the bombing, bragging that he was using Freemen tactics to pass off bogus liens and checks in Kansas. Several Kansas law-enforcement sources told me that, at the time these quotes were published, there was a massive federal investigation into Freemen-sponsored bank fraud in Kansasan investigation that included Farley's man. I have confirmed the existence of this investigation through several sources. Since Subject No. 1 was under investigation, there should have been more in his file than newspaper clippings. Information, it appears, was withheld from the defense team. Why didn't the F.B.I. pursue Farley's lead? The best explanation is that it posed a serious problem to the government's cases against McVeigh and Nichols. You see, Farley saw five people, not two, with ammonium nitrate and a Ryder truck.

Subject No. 2. The day after the bombing, two police sketches were faxed to media organizations and law-enforcement offices across the country. They depicted two men who were believed to have detonated the bomb, John Doe No. 1 and John Doe No. 2. McVeigh, taken into custody 90 minutes after the bombing for driving without a license plate and carrying a concealed weapon, was quickly identified as John Doe No 1. John Doe No. 2 has never been identified by the F.B.I.

Shawnee County, Kansas, sheriff's deputy Jake Mauck says he nearly fell out of his chair when, shortly after the bombing, he compared the John Doe No. 2 sketch to the photo of a known anti-government activist in his area. Shawnee County is about 50 miles east of Junction City, where the Ryder truck was rented and where McVeigh stayed overnight at the Dreamland Motel with another man, who has never been identified. Mauck says he quickly alerted the F.B.I. about his suspicions concerning Subject No. 2. For reasons that will likely never be known, the F.B.I. apparently failed to respond to Mauck's information. Nor did it heed similar tips from Suzanne James, an employee of the Shawnee County D.A.'s office. The F.B.I. told her that agents had already investigated Mauck's John Doe look-alike. So had they? Apparently not. One person who did investigate the man Mauck and James suspected is Mike Tharp, a reporter for U.S. News & World Report. Mauck talked to Tharp after his frustration with the Feds became unbearable. Tharp obtained a photo of S
"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn
"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will" - Frederick Douglass
Reply
#7
Gore Vidal's essay, "We Are The Patriots"

"We Are The Patriots," by Gore Vidal. The Nation, June 2, 2003:

I belong to a minority that is now one of the smallest in the country and, with every day, grows smaller. I am a veteran of World War II. And I can recall thinking, when I got out of the Army in 1946, Well, that's that. We won. And those who come after us will never need do this again. Then came the two mad wars of imperial vanityKorea and Vietnam. They were bitter for us, not to mention for the so-called enemy. Next we were enrolled in a perpetual war against what seemed to be the enemy-of-the-month club. This war kept major revenues going to military procurement and secret police, while withholding money from us, the taxpayers, with our petty concerns for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

But no matter how corrupt our system became over the last centuryand I lived through three-quarters of itwe still held on to the Constitution and, above all, to the Bill of Rights. No matter how bad things got, I never once believed that I would see a great part of the nationof we the people, unconsulted and unrepresented in a matter of war and peacedemonstrating in such numbers against an arbitrary and secret government, preparing and conducting wars for us, or at least for an army recruited from the unemployed to fight in. Sensibly, they now leave much of the fighting to the uneducated, to the excluded. During Vietnam Bush fled to the Texas Air National Guard. Cheney, when asked why he avoided service in Vietnam, replied, "I had other priorities." Well, so did 12 million of us sixty years ago. Priorities that 290,000 were never able to fulfill.

So who's to blame? Us? Them? Well, we can safely blame certain oil and gas hustlers who have effectively hijacked the government from presidency to Congress to, most ominously, the judiciary. How did they do it? Curiously, the means have always been there. It took the higher greed and other interests to make this coup d'état work.

It was Benjamin Franklin, of all people, who saw our future most clearly back in 1787, when, as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention at Philadelphia, he read for the first time the proposed Constitution. He was old; he was dying; he was not well enough to speak but he had prepared a text that a friend read. It is so dark a statement that most school history books omit his key words.

Franklin urged the convention to accept the Constitution despite what he took to be its great faults, because it might, he said, provide good government in the short term.

There is no form of government but what may be a blessing to the people if well administered, and I believe farther that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in Despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic Government, being incapable of any other.

Think of Enron, Merrill Lynch, etc., of chads and butterfly ballots, of Scalia's son arguing before his unrecused father at the Supreme Court while unrecused Thomas sits silently by, his wife already at work for the approaching Bush Administration. Think, finally, of the electoral college, a piece of dubious, antidemocratic machinery that Franklin doubtless saw as a source of deepest corruption and subsequent mischief for the Republic, as happened not only in 1876 but in 2000.

Franklin's prophecy came true in December 2000, when the Supreme Court bulldozed its way through the Constitution in order to select as its President the loser in the election of that year. Despotism is now securely in the saddle. The old Republic is a shadow of itself, and we now stand in the glare of a nuclear world empire with a government that sees as its true enemy "we the people," deprived of our electoral franchise. War is the usual aim of despots, and serial warfare is what we are going to get unlesswith help from well-wishers in new old Europe and from ourselves, awake at lastwe can persuade this peculiar Administration that they are acting entirely on their vicious own, and against all our history.

The other night on CNN I brought the admirable Aaron Brown to a full stop, not, this time, with Franklin but with John Quincy Adams, who said in 1821, on the subject of our fighting to liberate Greece from Turkey, the United States "goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy." If the United States took up all foreign affairs, "she might become the dictatress of the world. She would no longer be the ruler of her own spirit," her own soul.

Should we be allowed in 2004 to hold a presidential election here in the homeland, I suspect we shall realize that the only regime change that need concern our regained spiritor soulis in Washington.

President Adams is long since dead. And we have now been in the empire business since 1898: We had promised to give the Filipinos their independence from Spain. Then we changed our mind, killing some 200,000 of them in the process of Americanizing them.

A few years ago there was a significant exchange between then-General Colin Powell and then-statesperson Madeleine Albright. Like so many civilians, she was eager to use our troops against our enemies: What's the point of having all this military and not using it? He said, They are not toy soldiers. But in the interest of fighting Communism for so long, we did spend trillions of dollars, until we are now in danger of sinking beneath the weight of so much weaponry.

Therefore, I suppose it was inevitable that, sooner or later, a new generation would get the bright idea, Why not stop fooling around with diplomacy and treaties and coalitions and just use our military power to give orders to the rest of the world? A year or two ago, a pair of neoconservatives put forward this exact notion. I respondedin printthat if we did so, we would have perpetual war for perpetual peace. Which is not good for business. Then the Cheney-Bush junta seized power. Although primarily interested in oil reserves, they liked the idea of playing soldiers too.

Last September Congress received from the Administration a document called the National Security Strategy of the United States. As the historian Joseph Stromberg observed, "It must be read to be believed." The doctrine preaches the desirability of the United States becomingto use Adams's wordsdictatress of the world. It also assumes that the President and his lieutenants are morally entitled to govern the planet. It declares that our "best defense is a good offense." The doctrine of preemption is next declared: "As a matter of common sense and self-defense, America will act against such emerging threats before they are fully formed." Doubtless, General Ashcroft is now in Utah arresting every Mormon male before he can kidnap eight young girls for potential wives.

Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution says that only Congress can declare war. But Congress surrendered that great power to the President in 1950 and has never taken it back.

As former Senator Alan Simpson said so cheerily on TV the other evening, "The Commander in Chief of the military will decide what the cause is. It won't be the American people." So in great matters we are not guided by law but by faith in the President, whose powerful Christian beliefs preach that "faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

In response to things not seen, the USA Patriot Act was rushed through Congress and signed forty-five days after 9/11. We are expected to believe that its carefully crafted 342 pages were written in that short time. Actually, it reads like a continuation of Clinton's post-Oklahoma City antiterrorist act. The Patriot Act makes it possible for government agents to break into anyone's home when they are away, conduct a search and keep the citizen indefinitely from finding out that a warrant was issued. They can oblige librarians to tell them what books anyone has withdrawn. If the librarian refuses, he or she can be criminally charged. They can also collect your credit reports and other sensitive information without judicial approval or the citizen's consent.

Finally, all this unconstitutional activity need not have the slightest connection with terrorism. Early in February, the Justice Department leaked Patriot Act II, known as the Domestic Security Enhancement Act, dated January 9, 2003. A Congress that did not properly debate the first act will doubtless be steamrolled by this lawless expansion.

Some provisions: If an American citizen has been accused of supporting an organization labeled as terrorist by the government, he can be deprived of his citizenship even if he had no idea the organization had a link to terrorists. Provision in Act II is also made for more searches and wiretaps without warrant as well as secret arrests (Section 201). In case a citizen tries to fight back in order to retain the citizenship he or she was born with, those federal agents who conduct illegal surveillance with the blessing of high Administration officials are immune from legal action. A native-born American deprived of citizenship would, presumably, be deported, just as, today, a foreign-born person can be deported. Also, according to a recent ruling of a federal court, this new power of the Attorney General is not susceptible to judicial review. Since the American who has had his citizenship taken away cannot, of course, get a passport, the thoughtful devisers of Domestic Security Enhancement authorize the Attorney General to deport him "to any country or region regardless of whether the country or region has a government." Difficult cases with no possible place to go can be held indefinitely.

Where under Patriot Act I only foreigners were denied due process of law as well as subject to arbitrary deportation, Patriot Act II now includes American citizens in the same category, thus eliminating in one great erasure the Bill of Rights.

Our greatest historian, Charles Beard, wrote in 1939:

The destiny of Europe and Asia has not been committed, under God, to the keeping of the United States; and only conceit, dreams of grandeur, vain imaginings, lust for power, or a desire to escape from our domestic perils and obligations could possibly make us suppose that Providence has appointed us his chosen people for the pacification of the earth.

Those Americans who refuse to plunge blindly into the maelstrom of European and Asiatic politics are not defeatist or neurotic. They are giving evidence of sanity, not cowardice, of adult thinking as distinguished from infantilism. They intend to preserve and defend the Republic. America is not to be Rome or Britain. It is to be America.
"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn
"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will" - Frederick Douglass
Reply
#8
Gore Vidal's essay, "We Are The Patriots"<br><br>"We Are The Patriots," by Gore Vidal. The Nation, June 2, 2003:<br><br>I belong to a minority that is now one of the smallest in the country and, with every day, grows smaller. I am a veteran of World War II. And I can recall thinking, when I got out of the Army in 1946, Well, that's that. We won. And those who come after us will never need do this again. Then came the two mad wars of imperial vanityKorea and Vietnam. They were bitter for us, not to mention for the so-called enemy. Next we were enrolled in a perpetual war against what seemed to be the enemy-of-the-month club. This war kept major revenues going to military procurement and secret police, while withholding money from us, the taxpayers, with our petty concerns for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.<br><br>But no matter how corrupt our system became over the last centuryand I lived through three-quarters of itwe still held on to the Constitution and, above all, to the Bill of Rights. No matter how bad things got, I never once believed that I would see a great part of the nationof we the people, unconsulted and unrepresented in a matter of war and peacedemonstrating in such numbers against an arbitrary and secret government, preparing and conducting wars for us, or at least for an army recruited from the unemployed to fight in. Sensibly, they now leave much of the fighting to the uneducated, to the excluded. During Vietnam Bush fled to the Texas Air National Guard. Cheney, when asked why he avoided service in Vietnam, replied, "I had other priorities." Well, so did 12 million of us sixty years ago. Priorities that 290,000 were never able to fulfill.<br><br>So who's to blame? Us? Them? Well, we can safely blame certain oil and gas hustlers who have effectively hijacked the government from presidency to Congress to, most ominously, the judiciary. How did they do it? Curiously, the means have always been there. It took the higher greed and other interests to make this coup d'état work.<br><br>It was Benjamin Franklin, of all people, who saw our future most clearly back in 1787, when, as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention at Philadelphia, he read for the first time the proposed Constitution. He was old; he was dying; he was not well enough to speak but he had prepared a text that a friend read. It is so dark a statement that most school history books omit his key words.<br><br>Franklin urged the convention to accept the Constitution despite what he took to be its great faults, because it might, he said, provide good government in the short term.<br><br>There is no form of government but what may be a blessing to the people if well administered, and I believe farther that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in Despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic Government, being incapable of any other.<br><br>Think of Enron, Merrill Lynch, etc., of chads and butterfly ballots, of Scalia's son arguing before his unrecused father at the Supreme Court while unrecused Thomas sits silently by, his wife already at work for the approaching Bush Administration. Think, finally, of the electoral college, a piece of dubious, antidemocratic machinery that Franklin doubtless saw as a source of deepest corruption and subsequent mischief for the Republic, as happened not only in 1876 but in 2000.<br><br>Franklin's prophecy came true in December 2000, when the Supreme Court bulldozed its way through the Constitution in order to select as its President the loser in the election of that year. Despotism is now securely in the saddle. The old Republic is a shadow of itself, and we now stand in the glare of a nuclear world empire with a government that sees as its true enemy "we the people," deprived of our electoral franchise. War is the usual aim of despots, and serial warfare is what we are going to get unlesswith help from well-wishers in new old Europe and from ourselves, awake at lastwe can persuade this peculiar Administration that they are acting entirely on their vicious own, and against all our history.<br><br>The other night on CNN I brought the admirable Aaron Brown to a full stop, not, this time, with Franklin but with John Quincy Adams, who said in 1821, on the subject of our fighting to liberate Greece from Turkey, the United States "goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy." If the United States took up all foreign affairs, "she might become the dictatress of the world. She would no longer be the ruler of her own spirit," her own soul.<br><br>Should we be allowed in 2004 to hold a presidential election here in the homeland, I suspect we shall realize that the only regime change that need concern our regained spiritor soulis in Washington.<br><br>President Adams is long since dead. And we have now been in the empire business since 1898: We had promised to give the Filipinos their independence from Spain. Then we changed our mind, killing some 200,000 of them in the process of Americanizing them.<br><br>A few years ago there was a significant exchange between then-General Colin Powell and then-statesperson Madeleine Albright. Like so many civilians, she was eager to use our troops against our enemies: What's the point of having all this military and not using it? He said, They are not toy soldiers. But in the interest of fighting Communism for so long, we did spend trillions of dollars, until we are now in danger of sinking beneath the weight of so much weaponry.<br><br>Therefore, I suppose it was inevitable that, sooner or later, a new generation would get the bright idea, Why not stop fooling around with diplomacy and treaties and coalitions and just use our military power to give orders to the rest of the world? A year or two ago, a pair of neoconservatives put forward this exact notion. I respondedin printthat if we did so, we would have perpetual war for perpetual peace. Which is not good for business. Then the Cheney-Bush junta seized power. Although primarily interested in oil reserves, they liked the idea of playing soldiers too.<br><br>Last September Congress received from the Administration a document called the National Security Strategy of the United States. As the historian Joseph Stromberg observed, "It must be read to be believed." The doctrine preaches the desirability of the United States becomingto use Adams's wordsdictatress of the world. It also assumes that the President and his lieutenants are morally entitled to govern the planet. It declares that our "best defense is a good offense." The doctrine of preemption is next declared: "As a matter of common sense and self-defense, America will act against such emerging threats before they are fully formed." Doubtless, General Ashcroft is now in Utah arresting every Mormon male before he can kidnap eight young girls for potential wives.<br><br>Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution says that only Congress can declare war. But Congress surrendered that great power to the President in 1950 and has never taken it back.<br><br>As former Senator Alan Simpson said so cheerily on TV the other evening, "The Commander in Chief of the military will decide what the cause is. It won't be the American people." So in great matters we are not guided by law but by faith in the President, whose powerful Christian beliefs preach that "faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."<br><br>In response to things not seen, the USA Patriot Act was rushed through Congress and signed forty-five days after 9/11. We are expected to believe that its carefully crafted 342 pages were written in that short time. Actually, it reads like a continuation of Clinton's post-Oklahoma City antiterrorist act. The Patriot Act makes it possible for government agents to break into anyone's home when they are away, conduct a search and keep the citizen indefinitely from finding out that a warrant was issued. They can oblige librarians to tell them what books anyone has withdrawn. If the librarian refuses, he or she can be criminally charged. They can also collect your credit reports and other sensitive information without judicial approval or the citizen's consent.<br><br>Finally, all this unconstitutional activity need not have the slightest connection with terrorism. Early in February, the Justice Department leaked Patriot Act II, known as the Domestic Security Enhancement Act, dated January 9, 2003. A Congress that did not properly debate the first act will doubtless be steamrolled by this lawless expansion.<br><br>Some provisions: If an American citizen has been accused of supporting an organization labeled as terrorist by the government, he can be deprived of his citizenship even if he had no idea the organization had a link to terrorists. Provision in Act II is also made for more searches and wiretaps without warrant as well as secret arrests (Section 201). In case a citizen tries to fight back in order to retain the citizenship he or she was born with, those federal agents who conduct illegal surveillance with the blessing of high Administration officials are immune from legal action. A native-born American deprived of citizenship would, presumably, be deported, just as, today, a foreign-born person can be deported. Also, according to a recent ruling of a federal court, this new power of the Attorney General is not susceptible to judicial review. Since the American who has had his citizenship taken away cannot, of course, get a passport, the thoughtful devisers of Domestic Security Enhancement authorize the Attorney General to deport him "to any country or region regardless of whether the country or region has a government." Difficult cases with no possible place to go can be held indefinitely.<br><br>Where under Patriot Act I only foreigners were denied due process of law as well as subject to arbitrary deportation, Patriot Act II now includes American citizens in the same category, thus eliminating in one great erasure the Bill of Rights.<br><br>Our greatest historian, Charles Beard, wrote in 1939:<br><br>The destiny of Europe and Asia has not been committed, under God, to the keeping of the United States; and only conceit, dreams of grandeur, vain imaginings, lust for power, or a desire to escape from our domestic perils and obligations could possibly make us suppose that Providence has appointed us his chosen people for the pacification of the earth.<br><br>Those Americans who refuse to plunge blindly into the maelstrom of European and Asiatic politics are not defeatist or neurotic. They are giving evidence of sanity, not cowardice, of adult thinking as distinguished from infantilism. They intend to preserve and defend the Republic. America is not to be Rome or Britain. It is to be America.
"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn
"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will" - Frederick Douglass
Reply
#9
Gore Vidal's essay, "The End of Liberty"

"The End of Liberty," by Gore Vidal, Septermber 2001.

Note: Not long before September 11, 2001. Vanity Fair commissioned a piece from their favorite author, Gore Vidal. Sometime after the events of 9/11, he submitted the below essay, which the magazine returned with a kill fee for "market reasons." The essay had, however, already been published in a collection of Vidal's essays by Fazi Editore in Italy under the title "La fine della libertà: verso una nuova totalitarianismo." (The below retains British punctuation and spelling.)

According to the Qoran, it was on a Tuesday that Allah created darkness.

Last 11 September, when suicide-pilots were crashing commercial airliners into crowded American buildings, I did not have to look to the calendar to see what day it was: Dark Tuesday was casting its long shadow across Manhattan and along the Potomac river. I was also not surprised that despite the seven or so trillion dollars we have spent since 1950 on what is euphemistically called 'Defense', there would have been no advance warning from the FBI or CIA or Defense Intelligence Agency. While the Bushites have been eagerly preparing for the last war but two - missiles from North Korea, clearly marked with flags, would rain down on Portland, Oregon only to be intercepted by our missile-shield balloons, the foxy Osama bin Laden knew that all he needed for his holy war on the infidel were fliers willing to kill themselves along with those random passengers who happened to be aboard hijacked airliners. Also, like so many of those born to wealth, Osama is not one to throw money about. Apparently, the airline tickets of the 19 known dead hijackers were paid through a credit card. I suspect that United and American Airlines will never be reimbursed by American Express whose New York offices Osama - inadvertently? - hit.

On the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania, a passenger telephoned out to say that he and a dozen or so other men - several of them athletes - were going to attack the hijackers. 'Let's roll!' he shouted. A scuffle. A scream. Silence. But the plane, allegedly aimed at the White House, ended up in a field near Pittsburgh. We have always had wise and brave civilians. It is the military and the politicians and the media that one frets about. After all, we have not encountered suicide bombers since the Kamikazes, as we called them in the Pacific where I was idly a soldier in World War II. Japan was the enemy then. Now, bin Laden... The Muslims... The Pakistanis... Step in line.

The telephone rings. A distraught voice from the United States. 'Berry Berenson's dead. She was on Flight...'

The world was getting surreal. Arabs. Plastic knives. The beautiful Berry. What on earth did any of these elements have in common other than an unexpected appointment in Samarra with that restless traveller Death?

The telephone keeps ringing. In summer I live south of Naples, Italy. Italian newspapers, TV, radio, want comment. So do I. I have written lately about Pearl Harbor. Now I get the same question over and over: Isn't this exactly like Sunday morning 7 December 1941?

No, it's not, I say. As far as we now know, we had no warning of last Tuesday's attack. Of course, our government has many, many secrets which our enemies always seem to know about in advance but our people are not told of until years later, if at all. President Roosevelt provoked the Japanese to attack us at Pearl Harbor. I describe the various steps he took in a book, The Golden Age. We now know what was on his mind: coming to England's aid against Japan's ally, Hitler, a virtuous plot that ended triumphantly for the human race. But what was - is - on bin Laden's mind? For several decades there has been an unrelenting demonisation of the Muslim world in the American media. Since I am a loyal American, I am not supposed to tell you why this has taken place but then it is not usual for us to examine why aNYThing happens other than to accuse others of motiveless malignity. 'We are good,' announced a deep-thinker on American television. 'They are evil,' which wraps that one up in a neat package. But it was Bush himself who put, as it were, the bow on the package in an address to a joint-session of Congress where he shared with them - as well as all of us somewhere over the Belt-way - his profound knowledge of Islam's wiles and ways: 'They hate what they see right here in this Chamber.' A million Americans nodded in front of their TV sets. 'Their leaders are self-appointed. They hate our freedoms, our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other.'

At this plangent moment what American's gorge did not rise like a Florida chad to the bait? Should the 44-year-old Saudi-Arabian, bin Laden be the prime mover, we know surprisingly little about him. We can assume that he favours the Palestinians in their uprising against the European- and American-born Israelis, intent, many of them, on establishing a theocratic state in what was to have been a common holy land for Jews, Muslims and Christians.

But if Osama ever wept tears for Arafat, they have left little trace. So why does he and millions of other Muslims hate us?

Let us deal first with the six foot seven inch Osama who enters history in 1979 as a guerrilla warrior working alongside the CIA to defend Afghanistan against the invading soviets. Was he anti-communist? Irrelevant question. He is anti-Infidel in the land of the Prophet. Described as fabulously wealthy, Osama is worth 'only' a few million dollars, according to a relative. It was his father who created a fabulous fortune with a construction company that specialised in building palaces for the Saudi royal family. That company is now worth several billion dollars, presumably shared by Osama's 54 brothers and sisters. Although he speaks perfect English, he was entirely educated at the Saudi capital, Jeddah.... Several siblings live in the Boston area and give large sums to Harvard. We are told that much of his family appears to have disowned him while many of his assets in the Saudi kingdom have been frozen. Where does Osama's money now come from? He is a superb fund-raiser for Allah but only within the Arab world; contrary to legend, he has taken no CIA money. He is also a superb organiser within Afghanistan.

In 1988, he warned the Saudi king that Saddam Hussein was going to invade Kuwait. Osama assumed that after his own victories as a guerilla against the Russians, he and his organization would be used by the Saudis to stop the Iraqis. To Osama's horror, King Fahd sent for the Americans: thus, were infidels established on the sacred sands of Mohammed. 'This was,' he said, 'the most shocking moment of my life.' 'Infidel', in his sense, does not mean aNYThing of great moral consequence - like cheating sexually on your partner; rather it means lack of faith in Allah, the one God, and in his Prophet. Osama persuaded 4,000 Saudis to go to Afghanistan for military training by his group. In 1991, Osama moved on to Sudan. In 1994, when the Saudis withdrew his citizenship, Osama was already a legendary figure in the Islamic world and so, like Shakespeare's Coriolanus, he could tell the royal Saudis, 'I banish you. There is a world elsewhere.' Unfortunately, that world is us. In a 12-page 'declaration of war', Osama presented himself as potential liberator of the Muslim world from the great Satan of modern corruption, the United States. When [President] Clinton lobbed a missile at a Sudanese aspirin factory, Osama blew up two of our embassies in Africa, put a hole in the side of an American war-ship off Yemen, and so on to the events of Tuesday, 11 September. Now President George W Bush, in retaliation, has promised us not only a 'new war' but a secret war. That is, not secret to Osama but only to us who pay for and fight it.

'This administration will not talk about any plans we may or may not have,' said Bush. 'We're going to find these evil-doers... and we're going to hold them accountable' along with the other devils who have given Osama shelter in order to teach them the one lesson that we ourselves have never been able to learn: in history, as in physics, there is no action without re-action. Or, as Edward S Herman puts it, 'One of the most durable features of the U.S. culture is the inability or refusal to recognise US crimes.'

When Osama was four years old, I arrived in Cairo for a conversation with Nasser to appear in Look Magazine. I was received by Mohammed Hekal, Nasser's chief adviser. Nasser himself was not to be seen. He was at the Barricade, his retreat on the Nile. Later, I found out that a plot to murder him had just failed and he was in well-guarded seclusion. Hekal spoke perfect English; he was sardonic, cynical. 'We are studying the Qoran for hints on birth control.' He sighed.

'Not helpful?'

'Not very. But we keep looking for a text.' We talked off and on for a week. Nasser wanted to modernize Egypt. But there was a reactionary, religious element... Another sigh. Then a surprise. 'We've found something very odd, the young village boys - the bright ones that we are educating to be engineers, chemists and so on - are turning religious on us.'

'Right wing?'

'Very.'

Hekal was a spiritual son of our Eighteenth Century Enlightenment. I thought of Hekal on Dark Tuesday when one of his modernised Arab generation had, in the name of Islam, struck at what had been, 40 years earlier, Nasser's model for a modern state. Yet Osama seemed, from all accounts, no more than a practising, as opposed to zealous, Muslim. Ironically, he was trained as an engineer. Understandably, he dislikes the United States as symbol and as fact. But when our clients, the Saudi royal family, allowed American troops to occupy the Prophet's holy land, Osama named the fundamental enemy 'the Crusader-Zionist Alliance'. Thus, in a phrase, he defined himself and reminded his critics that he is a Wahhabi Muslim, a Puritan activist not unlike our Falwell-Robertson zanies, only serious. He would go to war against the United States, 'the head of the serpent'. Even more ambitiously, he would rid all the Muslim states of their western-supported regimes, starting with that of his native land. The word 'Crusader' was the give-away. In the eyes of many Muslims, the Christian West, currently in alliance with Zionism, has for 1,000 years tried to dominate the lands of the Umma - the true believers. That is why Osama is seen by so many simple folk as the true heir to Saladin, the great warrior king who defeated Richard of England and the western crusaders.

Who was Saladin? Dates 1138-1193. He was an Iraqi Kurd [born in Takrit in what is now Iraq]. In the century before his birth, western Christians had established a kingdom at Jerusalem, to the horror of the Islamic Faithful. Much as the United States used the Gulf War as pretext for our current occupation of Saudi Arabia, Saladin raised armies to drive out the Crusaders. He conquered Egypt, annexed Syria and finally smashed the Kingdom of Jerusalem in a religious war that pitted Mohammedan against Christian. He united and 'purified' the Muslim world and though Richard Lion-heart was the better general, in the end he gave up and went home. As one historian put it, Saladin 'typified the Mohammedan utter self surrender to a sacred cause.' But he left no government behind him, no political system because, as he himself said, 'My troops will do nothing save when I ride at their head...'

Now his spirit has returned with a vengeance. The Bush administration, though eerily inept in all but its principal task which is to exempt the rich from taxes, has casually torn up most of the treaties to which civilised nations subscribe - like the Kyoto Accords or the nuclear missile agreement with Russia.

As the Bushites go about their relentless plundering of the Treasury and now, thanks to Osama, Social Security (a supposedly untouchable trust fund) which, like Lucky Strike green has gone to war, they have also allowed the FBI and CIA either to run amok - or not budge at all, leaving us, the very first 'indispensable' and at popular request last global empire, rather like the Wizard of Oz doing his odd pretend-magic tricks while hoping not to be found out.

Latest Bushism to the world, 'Either you are with us or you are with the Terrorists.' That's known as asking for it. To be fair, one cannot entirely blame the current Oval One for our incoherence. Though his predecessors have generally had rather higher IQs than his, they, too, assiduously served the 1% that owns the country while allowing everyone else to drift. Particularly culpable was Bill Clinton.

Although the most able chief executive since FDR, Clinton, in his frantic pursuit of election victories, set in place the trigger for a police state which his successor is now happily squeezing. Police state? What's that all about? In April 1996, one year after the Oklahoma City bombing, President Clinton signed into law the Anti-Terrorist and Effective Death Penalty Act, a so-called 'conference bill' in which many grubby hands played a part including the bill's co-sponsor Senate Majority leader Bob Dole. Although Clinton, in order to win elections, did many unwise and opportunistic things, he seldom, like Charles II, ever said an unwise one. But faced with opposition to Anti-Terrorism legislation which not only gives the attorney-general the power to use the armed services against the civilian population, neatly nullifying the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, it also, selectively, suspends Habeas Corpus, the heart of Anglo-American liberty. Clinton attacked his critics as 'unpatriotic'. Then, wrapped in the flag, he spoke from the throne: 'There is nothing patriotic about our pretending that you can love your country but despise your government.' This is breathtaking since it includes, at one time or another, most of us. Put another way, was a German in 1939 who said that he detested the Nazi dictatorship unpatriotic?

There have been ominous signs that our fragile liberties have been dramatically at risk since the 1970s when the white-shirt-and-tie FBI reinvented itself from a corps of 'generalists', trained in law and accounting into a confrontational 'Special Weapons and Tactics' (aka SWAT) Green Beret style army of warriors who like to dress up in camouflage or black ninja clothing and, depending on the caper, the odd ski mask. In the early 80s an FBI super-SWAT team, the Hostage 270 Rescue Team was formed. As so often happens in United States-speak, this group specialised not in freeing hostages or saving lives but in murderous attacks on groups that offended them, like the Branch Davidians - evangelical Christians who were living peaceably in their own compound at Waco, Texas until an FBI SWAT team, illegally using army tanks, killed 82 of them, including 25 children. This was 1993. Post Tuesday, SWAT teams can now be used to go after suspect Arab-Americans or, indeed, anyone who might be guilty of terrorism, a word without legal definition (how can you fight terrorism by suspending habeas corpus since those who want their corpuses released from prison are already locked up?) But in the post-Oklahoma City trauma, Clinton said that those who did not support his draconian legislation were terrorist co-conspirators who wanted to turn 'America into a safe house for terrorists'. If the cool Clinton could so froth what are we to expect from the over-heated Bush post-Tuesday?

Incidentally, those who were shocked by Bush the Younger's shout that we are now 'at war' with Osama and that those parts of the Muslim world that support him, should have quickly put on their collective thinking caps. Since a nation can only be at war with another nation-state, why did our smouldering if not yet burning bush come up with such a phrase? Think hard. This will count against your final grade. Give up? Well, most insurance companies have a rider that they need not pay for damage done by 'an act of war'.

Although the men and women around Bush know nothing of war and less of our Constitution, they understand fund-raising. For this wartime exclusion, Hartford Life would soon be breaking open its piggy bank to finance Republicans for years to come. But it was the mean-spirited Washington Post that pointed out, under US case law, only a sovereign nation, not a bunch of radicals, can commit an 'act of war'. Good try, W. This now means that we the people, with our tax money, will be allowed to bail out the insurance companies, a rare privilege not afforded to just any old generation. Although the American people have no direct means of influencing their government, their 'opinions' are occasionally sampled through polls. According to a November 1995 CNN-Time poll, 55% of the people believe 'The federal government has become so powerful that it poses a threat to the rights of ordinary citizens.' Three days after Dark Tuesday, 74% said they thought, 'It would be necessary for Americans to give up some of their personal freedoms.' 86% favoured guards and metal detectors at public buildings and events. Thus, as the police state settles comfortably in place, one can imagine Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfield studying these figures, transfixed with joy. 'It's what they always wanted, Dick.'

'And to think we never knew, Don.'

'Thanks to those liberals, Dick.'

'We'll get those bastards now, Don.'

It seems forgotten by our amnesiac media that we once energetically supported Saddam Hussein in Iraq's war against Iran and so he thought, not unnaturally, that we wouldn't mind his taking over Kuwait's filling stations. Overnight our employee became Satan - and so remains, as we torment his people in the hope that they will rise up and overthrow him - as the Cubans were supposed, in their US-imposed poverty, to dismiss Castro a half-century ago, whose only crime is refusal to allow the Kennedy brothers to murder him in their so-called Operation Mongoose.

Our imperial disdain for the lesser breeds did not go unnoticed by the latest educated generation of Saudi Arabians, and by their evolving leader, Osama bin Laden, whose moment came in 2001 when a weak American president took office in questionable circumstances. The New York Times is the principal dispenser of opinion received from corporate America. It generally stands tall, or tries to. Even so, as of 13 September, the NYT's editorial columns were all slightly off-key. Under the heading 'Demands of Leadership' the NYT was upbeat, sort of. It's going to be OK if you work hard and keep your eye on the ball, Mr President. Apparently Bush is 'facing multiple challenges, but his most important job is a simple matter of leadership.' Thank God. Not only is that all it takes, but it's simple, too! For a moment... The NYT then slips into the way things look as opposed to the way they ought to look. 'The Administration spent much of yesterday trying to overcome the impression that Mr Bush showed weakness when he did not return to Washington after the terrorists struck.

'But from what I could tell no one cared while some of us felt marginally safer that the national silly-billy was trapped in his Nebraska bunker. Patiently, the NYT spells it out for Bush and for us, too. 'In the days ahead, Mr. Bush may be asking the nation to support military actions that many citizens, particularly those with relations in the service will find alarming. He must show that he knows what he is doing.' Well, that's a bull's eye. If only FDR had got letters like that from Arthur Krock at the old NYT. Finally, Anthony Lewis thinks it wise to eschew Bushite unilateralism in favour of cooperation with other nations in order to contain Tuesday's darkness by understanding its origin while ceasing our provocations of cultures opposed to us and our arrangements. Lewis, unusually, for a New York Times writer, favours peace now. So do I. But then we are old and have been to the wars and value our fast-diminishing freedoms unlike those jingoes now beating their tom-toms in Times' Square in favour of an all-out war for other Americans to fight.

As usual, the political columnist who has made the most sense of all this is William Pfaff in the International Herald Tribune (17 September 2001). Unlike the provincial war-lovers at the New York Times, he is appalled by the spectacle of an American president who declined to serve his country in Vietnam, howling for war against not a nation or even a religion but one man and his accomplices, a category that will ever widen.

Pfaff:

The riposte of a civilised nation: one that believes in good, in human society and does oppose evil, has to be narrowly focused and, above all, intelligent. Missiles are blunt weapons. Those terrorists are smart enough to make others bear the price for what they have done, and to exploit the results. A maddened US response that hurts still others is what they want: it will fuel the hatred that already fires the self-righteousness about their criminal acts against the innocent. What the United States needs is cold reconsideration of how it has arrived at this pass. It needs, even more, to foresee disasters that might lie in the future.

War is the no-win, all-lose option. The time has come to put the good Kofi Annan to use. As glorious as total revenge will be for our war-lovers, a truce between Saladin and the Crusader Zionists is in the interest of the entire human race. Long before the dread monotheists got their hands on history's neck, we had been taught how to handle feuds by none other than the god Apollo as dramatised by Aeschylus in The Eumenides (a polite Greek term for the Furies who keep us daily company on CNN). Orestes, for the sin of matricide, cannot rid himself of the Furies who hound him wherever he goes. He appeals to the god Apollo who tells him to go to the UN - also known as the citizens' assembly at Athens - which he does and is acquitted on the ground that blood feuds must be ended or they will smoulder forever, generation after generation and great towers shall turn to flame and incinerate us all until:

The thirsty dust shall never more suck up the darkly steaming blood... and vengeance crying death for death! But man with man and state with state shall vow the pledge of common hate and common friendship, that for man has oft made blessing out of ban, be ours until all time.

Let Annan mediate between East and West before there is nothing left of either of us to salvage. The awesome physical damage Osama and company did us on Dark Tuesday is as nothing compared to the knock-out blow to our vanishing liberties - the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1991 combined with the recent request to Congress for additional special powers to wire-tap without judicial order; to deport lawful permanent residents, visitors and undocumented immigrants without due process and so on.

Even that loyal company town paper the Washington Post is alarmed:

The Justice Department is making extraordinary use of its powers to arrest and detain individuals, taking the unusual step of jailing hundreds of people on minor ... violations. The lawyers and legal scholars... said they could not recall a time when so many people had been arrested and held without bond on charges - particularly minor charges - related to the case at hand.

This is pre-Osama:

Restrictions on personal liberty, on the right of free expression of opinion, including freedom of the press; on the rights of assembly and associations; and violations of the privacy of postal, telegraphic and telephonic communications and warrants for house searches, orders for confiscations as well as restrictions on property, are also permissible beyond the legal limits otherwise prescribed.

The tone is familiar. It is from Hitler's 1933 speech calling for 'an Enabling Act' for 'the protection of the People and the State' after the catastrophic Reichstag fire that the Nazis had secretly lit.

Only one congresswoman, Barbara Lee of California, voted against the additional powers granted the President.

Meanwhile, a NYT-CBS poll notes that only 6% now oppose military action while a substantial majority favour war 'even if many thousands of innocent civilians are killed'. Most of this majority are far too young to recall World War II, Korea, even Vietnam. Simultaneously, Bush's approval rating has soared from the around 50% to 91%.

Traditionally, in war, the President is totemic like the flag. When Kennedy got his highest rating after the debacle of the Bay of Pigs he observed, characteristically, 'It would seem that the worse you fuck up in this job the more popular you get.' Bush, father and son, may yet make it to Mount Rushmore though it might be cheaper to redo the handsome Barbara Bush's look-alike, George Washington, by adding two strings of Teclas to his limestone neck, in memoriam, as it were. Finally, [DQ] the physical damage Osama and friends can do us - terrible as it has been thus far - is as nothing as to what he is doing to our liberties.

Once alienated, an 'unalienable right' is apt to be forever lost, in which case we are no longer even remotely the last best hope of earth but merely a seedy imperial state whose citizens are kept in line by SWAT teams and whose way of death, not life, is universally imitated. Since VJ Day 1945 ('Victory over Japan' and the end of World War II), we have been engaged in what the great historian Charles A Beard called 'perpetual war for perpetual peace'. I have occasionally referred to our 'enemy of the month club': each month a new horrendous enemy at whom we must strike before he destroys us. I have been accused of exaggeration, so here's the scoreboard from Kosovo (1999) to Berlin Airlift (1948-49).

You will note that the compilers, Federation of American Scientists, record a number of our wars as 'ongoing', even though many of us have forgotten about them. We are given, under 'Name' many fanciful Defense Department titles like Urgent Fury which was Reagan's attack on the island of Grenada, a month long caper which General Haig disloyally said could have been handled more briefly by the Provincetown police department. In these several hundred wars against communism, terrorism, drugs or sometimes nothing much, between Pearl Harbor and Tuesday 11 September 2001, we always struck the first blow.
"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn
"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will" - Frederick Douglass
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#10
Ah yes - Gore Vidal, an insider with the sharpest of pens and the clearest of minds.

And so he was cast out by the same beasts we fight here...
"It means this War was never political at all, the politics was all theatre, all just to keep the people distracted...."
"Proverbs for Paranoids 4: You hide, They seek."
"They are in Love. Fuck the War."

Gravity's Rainbow, Thomas Pynchon

"Ccollanan Pachacamac ricuy auccacunac yahuarniy hichascancuta."
The last words of the last Inka, Tupac Amaru, led to the gallows by men of god & dogs of war
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