if only Rubin had been born sometime in the 1940s, or earlier,
he might have actually had the power to enforce his anti-speculation
diktat but, alas, the job of press spokesperson for
the Soviet government, along with the Soviet Union itself,
is no more.
anti-speculation edict has worked pretty well with the American
media: so far, at least, reporters and commentators in this
country have pretty much toed the government line, they are
still dutifully broadcasting selected government "leaks"
of the voice recorder transcript, and mindlessly repeating
the story that the Egyptian copilot inexplicably decided to
commit suicide and take 217 people with him. Unfortunately
for Rubin, however, and those U.S. government officials who
have been spinning the story of EgyptAir 990 away from the
possibility of terrorism, for the first time an Egyptian official
has raised the question, albeit obliquely.
FLY IN THE OINTMENT
Issam Ahmed, the chief of Egypt's pilot training program,
recently derided the suicide theory, echoing many if not all
of his countrymen in his outrage at the idea that an Egyptian
pilot could be responsible but
going one step further and suggesting that an explosion in
the plane's tail section may have downed the plane. According
to Reuters, Ahmed said that an explosion must be considered
because the flight data and voice recorders located in the
rear of the plane were badly damaged: "This confirms
that the tail of the plane, where the two boxes are located,
was subjected to an explosion at the height of 33,000 feet.
It was either an internal or external explosion." Very
interesting: although Ahmed is not directly involved in the
investigation, surely he is in a position to know something
more than the US government is willing to admit. Ahmed demonstrated
an acute understanding of the role of the American media in
al this by warning that "methods aimed at condemning
EgyptAir and its pilots have been taken by preparing public
opinion to accept what they (Americans) want to impose, which
is the suicide theory."
wedded to this suicide theory, pushing it hard even after
it seems to be discredited, anonymous "leakers"
in the US government continue to divert attention away from
the looming possibility of a terrorist attack. Far from stopping
the buzz, these anonymous spin-meisters only accelerate it
along with a fierce skepticism of all government pronouncements.
The more they reassure us that "everything is under control"
the more we can be certain that something is afoot
and, whatever it is, it ain't good.
series of columns on the mystery of EgyptAir flight 990 has
generated a record number of letters, which generally fall
into two categories: keep up the good work, and put a lid
on it. The former have my thanks, but the latter deserve an
answer. For the record, I am not wedded to the idea that this
tragedy was the result of a terrorist attack: I am merely
wondering why this possibility has been dismissed out
of hand, and is barely mentioned by US government officials
and our echo chamber media. Why have journalists been so ready
to accept the "official" story, especially since
it seems to change on a daily basis? And, most importantly,
who is doing all the very selective "leaking"
from the voice recorder transcript, and what is their agenda?
This last is a question that, perhaps, many in the American
media can answer, but dare not for fear of losing a valuable
point of my EgyptAir 990 commentaries is to shed light, not
only on the tenuous situation in Egypt, but to throw the spotlight
on the role of the American news media as the servitor of
government. EgyptAir 990 crystallizes a trend that started
during the Gulf war and culminated as the bombs started dropping
on Belgrade: the growing symbiosis of the media and government.
LIAR HOUSE ON FIRE
is what made the war in Kosovo possible: while State Department
spokesman James Rubin was handing out the official government
line at press briefings, his wife, CNN reporter Christiane
Amanpour, was broadcasting the unofficial government
line over what is popularly known as the "Clinton News
Network." Together, they managed to fool the public long
enough to tear off a large piece of the former Yugoslavia.
the real story
a few thousand killed, on both sides, before the NATO
invasion is coming out. Why should anybody listen to
these liars about anything?
MY OWN HORN
Ahmed did not raise the question of terrorism, the implications
of an explosion are clear. I raised this possibility in both
columns on this subject, just on the basis of the information
available at the time, and Ahmed's thesis fits my own theory
like a glove.
EGYPTIAN VOLCANO READY TO ERUPT?
another bit of circumstantial evidence is the reaction of
the Egyptian people to the suicide theory. The vehemence and
level of outrage seems way out of proportion to the alleged
offense to Egyptian national pride, as if a long-held resentment
that has been carefully controlled suddenly burst through
to the surface. The nationalistic reaction seems to have caught
Washington and Cairo off guard with the latter
forced to assert itself by overwhelming pressure from below.
That pressure is just an indication of the volcanic nationalist
and religious turbulence that churns just beneath the surface
of Egyptian society. The government of President Hosni Mubarak
has so far managed to keep a lid on the Egyptian cauldron
by ruthlessly suppressing all opposition. But while the Egyptian
government would like everyone to believe that they are using
the billions we pour into Cairo's coffers to ensure the stability
of the regime, the militant Islamist movement is far from
ISLAM IN EGYPT
according to many reports, the
radical Islamist movement in Egypt is quite active. One
of their leaders recently threatened to strike out at the
West in retaliation for the apprehension and arrest of 107
Egyptian militants handed over to Cairo by Western intelligence
services: nine have been sentenced to death. It seems that
these worthies were on their way back from helping NATO to
fight their glorious war for "human rights" in Kosovo:
what ingratitude! The day before the bombing of US embassies
in East Africa, a spokesman for the Islamic Jihad group, Aynman
al-Zawahiri, declared that soon his group would be sending
a "message" to the US and that it would be
"loud and clear." A close ally of Osama bin Laden,
Zawahiri's group is not especially active: rather than a lot
of small operations, the Islamic Jihad goes in for bigtime
stuff: they are prime suspects in the attacks on the Egyptian
Embassy in Pakistan, as well as the bombing of the US embassies
in Kenya and Tanzania.
visibility of the Egyptian terrorist network has been relatively
low, at least since the 1981 assassination of Egyptian President
Anwar Sadat; that is, until October 26, when a leader of Islamic
Jihad was gunned down in the streets of Tirana by Albanian
police. The recent mass roundup of Egyptian militants from
their Albanian bases was clearly a coordinated attack on the
Islamic Jihad group. Could the downing of EgyptAir flight
990 have been payback time?
is far more evidence, albeit all of it circumstantial, that
this was a terrorist act than there is for the "suicide"
New York Times [November 25, 1999] portrait of
the accused pilot depicts a man who had no reason to commit
suicide, no history of mental illness or depression, and every
reason to live: "The picture painted of Batouti by those
who knew him best seems, absent a secret life yet to be uncovered,
starkly at odds with any notion of someone who might have
done what the American investigators suggest." Caught
in a lie, unable to backtrack, government officials are stuck,
insisting against all the mounting evidence that their theory
is not at variance with the known facts. But how long can
they keep stonewalling?
top Egyptian government officials breaking their silence,
and the Egyptian nationalist backlash gaining steam, US government
officials seem hard put to come up with another "theory."
And yet, as the millennium approaches, and the specter of
terrorism rises up in the collective unconscious, the EgyptAir
investigation had better come up with some honest answers
and quick. If this administration is not capable of
conducting a credible investigation, then perhaps it is time
for Congress to step in and conduct an inquiry of its own.
For if government has any legitimate function and don't
you wonder about that sometimes? then surely
it is to protect us from organized attacks by murderous thugs.