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September 27, 2004

Setting the stage for the “October Surprise.” Was there ever any doubt? They’ll bring him in just when they need to. Plan on it. [05:19 PM]
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Comments on Setting the stage for the "October Surprise.":

Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2004, 06:10 PM:

I have my doubts, purely inferential, but doubts.

If they had him, they'd have set it up at the Convention. The lack of so much as one reference to him, not one single comment about him, leads me to think they really didn't want people thinking about who really attacked New York and DC, but rather on the smoke and mirrors of the war as it's being, and poorly, fought.


Stuart Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2004, 06:35 PM:

I mostly agree - Bin Laden soundbites have been like hen's teeth since flightsuit boy announced 'Mission Accomplished'.

If anyone in the Bush administration even says his name in anagram form in the next few days, though, I think we can expect to get a late night newsflash about a carefully-planned operation by Pakistani special forces...

Andrew Gray ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2004, 06:47 PM:

Well, the same coincidence happened on a smaller scale; "a senior al Qaeda figure" was picked up just before the other convention in Pakistan, and then announced just in time to catch the tail end of it. Handy, that... googling throws up the likes of this, which seems to provide a reasonable summary of what people commented at the time.

I do concur with Terry, though; the lack of comment on him does lead me to suspect they're not confident of catching him - whether that's through differing priorities or his Evil Mastermind Plans depends which way you want to look at it - so they'd just as soon not have him a topic for debate.

But hey! Moustache-guy's gone, right! Mission accomplished!

neil ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2004, 06:49 PM:

I simply have trouble believing that they could be able to keep such a huge and terrible secret. Or even that they would risk trying to keep it. Could you really find enough people who will not so much as whisper to their friends or family back home? Could you really prevent any witnesses to the capture, American or otherwise?

The only way I could see this as being plausible is if bin Laden has been working with the Bush government all along and is playing his part willingly. And that's just too hard to believe, so I have to say that I don't think he'll show up in time.

Andrew Gray ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2004, 07:01 PM:

neil: "We have him locked up" is hard to keep a secret - although for a week or so it'd be doable, and even spinnable - but it can be read as plausible if, say, they've broken AQ's communications, or got infiltrated observers...

If you know where he is, and can surround that place well enough to know if he goes, then either capturing him or finding a body becomes much more of a to-order prospect. Of course, that may well not be plausible, I don't know... but it would fit well with "let's keep quiet".

Hmm. This is showing the hallmarks of a conspiracy theory; the fact that there isn't evidence for it is evidence for it... gah... get out of my head, thoughts...

Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2004, 07:23 PM:

I have no doubt that they would like to do this, and if given half a chance, will do this. The problem is that if one expects to catch someone up on the Afghanistan/Pakistan border, the weather will not be good for this much longer (it's actually rather nice in Kabul right now, weatherwise) especially in the high country. The time to do this was earlier in the year.

IIRC, some American spokespersons in the region tried to float the story that there would be a "big push" this fall, and Pakistani military types shot it down, describing it as an American political move. They've been paying attention.

Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2004, 07:28 PM:

I agree with Terry. I'm worried about a bunch of other "October-November" surprises: war with Iran, forced-extension of military service contracts, raids on Iraq reconstruction money for "security measures," outrageous legislation that tries to end-run the Constitution, subversion of the electoral process, useless spending on anti-missile systems.

In the Rose Garden speech, I noticed that Bush said Congress had allocated 9 billion dollars to rebuild Iraq instead of 20 billion (of which 2 billion has already been spent). Could they be planning to blow another 9 billion dollars on the January McFranchise election project?

I think pulling the Bin Laden rabbit out of the hat is an extra side bet item that may or may not pay off.

(But I'm also, apparently, off in my own fuzzy liberal dream space. I want Kerry to be saying: "Look. Part of our plan for Iraq is to spend reconstruction money to give people their water and electricity back and create jobs for Iraqi service professionals -- instead of continuing to pass under-the-table money to hand-picked corporations like Halliburton. Ordinary Iraqis need to have credible evidence that we're sincere about helping them rebuild their own country if we expect them to stop actively or passively siding with insurgents.")

Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2004, 07:45 PM:

One reason I don't believe OBL's being held under wraps is because I think that the Administration and at least a few of our key allies would rather see him get the Uday & Qusay treatment. And trying to keep his capture a secret would be dicey, at best. Any revelations to that effect would be damaging, even after Bush 43 leaves office.

lightning ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2004, 12:19 AM:

I'm with Larry. If OBL is in custody, he's in a freezer somewhere, waiting for the proper time to get thawed. He could say *a lot* of things that a lot of people don't want to hear. (My own personal wish is to see him in an orange jumpsuit and leg irons getting interviewed by Geraldo Rivera. Ain't gonna happen.)

Also, the implication is that OBL is in a village somewhere, waiting for Chuck Norris and Sylvester Stallone to swoop in and grab him. Given the way this part of the world works, this is a seriously low percentage shot.

My own feeling is that he's a DNA smear on some rocks in Tora Bora, but we'll see.

Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2004, 02:00 AM:

Get away from me with that tinfoil hat! :-)

More seriously, I'm sure they've got an October surprise planned, but I doubt that's it. Capturing Osama bin Laden would be an uncertain business at best. Holding him until the right moment would be even more uncertain. So I don't think that's it. What it is...

pericat ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2004, 02:32 AM:

Oh, dear. I read that first bit in the story as

"...believes the al Qaeda leader is probably in Pakistan.

"Or on a visit to The Hague in the Netherlands..."

Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2004, 09:25 AM:

If the have to switch the spin back to Osama bin Forgotten being the big deal, they will be admitting that Iraq is a failure.

While it would be a good thing for them to do that, I don't think they agree with me about that.

The surprise is quite likely that all 38 states with Diebold voting machines will elect Bush; all they have to do to get that is to keep the polls close enough that it's publically plausible for this to be the case.

Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2004, 10:22 AM:

It seems to me that Kerry is not asking, "Why haven't they captured OBL yet?" either, which seems kind of strange. Unless he's afraid they do have him on ice.

A few months ago, I read an article on the BBC about a couple of the people responsible for 9/11 being tried in Germany. The Germans were requesting testimony from someone who's being held at Guantanamo in order to convict these people, but the US refused to cooperate.

Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2004, 11:13 AM:

I'm thinking that it's a whole lot easier for Pakistan to keep a secret than it is for the U.S., what with all our pesky civil rights and all. I don't know how likely it is, but totalitarian societies do "disappear" people. I don't see a reason why Pakistan couldn't disappear and then reappear OBL as is convenient. Of course, I'm saying this having only the very roughest idea of what the political situation is in Pakistan. On the American side, only a few highly placed people need to know, few enough people, and all loyal to Bush, to keep the secret for another three to four weeks.

These are the same people that negotiated the hostage crisis in Iran so that the hostages weren't released until after the election. They seem to have mostly gotten away with that. They don't seem to have lost any skills in that kind of politics in the interim.

Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2004, 11:15 AM:

I have my doubts about bin Laden's continued metabolic integrity. If you will recall, he was frail, diabetic, and suffering from chronic renal failure -- on dialysis, in fact -- back before 9/11. Now, dialysis does not necessarily mean "big expensive haemodialysis machines that need a power supply and a jeep to carry them around" -- you can do CAPD (continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis) on the move by simply infusing dialysis fluid into the peritoneal cavity, and the dialysis fluid is basically just a sterile electrolyte solution -- at a pinch/in an emergency you could boil it up in a cauldron using nothing but purified water and some basic chemicals as ingredients. But CAPD takes something like 40 hours a week, IIRC, and the recipient is at risk of infections, and doing it on the run in caves in Afghanistan doesn't sound too plausible to me.

My money is on Osama having been dead for 18-36 months, and the October Surprise is going to be something different.

Derek Lowe ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2004, 11:25 AM:

Patrick, I fear that you need either a much cheaper or a much more expensive grade of tinfoil. I'm not sure which would be more effective at screening out the rays. Count me among those who think that bin Laden is dead, and has been for some time. And count me in among those who doubt this administration's (any administration's) ability to pull off such a conspiracy these days.

Look at some of the thinking here in the comments: Bush not mentioning bin Laden? That means that. . .something's up! Bush mentions bin Laden? Aha! Something's definitely up! Y'all are becoming unglued.

But I forget: I'm talking about Satan and His Minions here, right? And it's what, about the year 1939 or so, you reckon?

Well, no, it actually isn't. Perhaps you still realize how crazy this sort of thing sounds. It gives off exactly the same geiger counter clicks as all that 1990s Mena-Vincent Foster stuff from the anti-Clinton fringe. They were wrong; this level of paranoia is wrong, too. People can find plenty of reasons to oppose Bush's re-election without sounding like they've mixed up their dosages.

Ken Brown ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2004, 12:14 PM:

This Brit is more worried at the idea that war with Iran could be imagined as a vote-winning Ocober surprise.

Please tell me that it would lose votes, like it would in any other country?

I had a genuine shiver of fear when I read that just now. At least we won't be in if you d. It is still just remotely possible that Blair will have to go because of Iraq - none of our lot are likely to want to bomb Iran.

That said, I think I agree with Charlie (after all, he "define[s] the current position of sf's cutting edge" according to Brian Stableford, so he must have something going for him). It seems likely bL's body was eaten by jackals under a pile of rocks many months ago.

Charles Dodgson ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2004, 12:44 PM:

FWIW, an article in this month's Atlantic on the search for bin Laden says that the reports of his ill health may be somewhat exaggerated. In fall of 2001, his camp was visited by a doctor who saw no sign of the already-rumored kidney disease, and a former comrade-in-arms with Pakistani intelligence reports that he is well enough to ride horses (though he won't say exactly when or how this news reached him). Bin Laden is believed to have medical problems (diabetes, old war wounds, possibly Marfan syndrome), but nothing life-threatening, and his right-hand man, al-Zawahiri, is apparently a pretty good physician when he isn't plotting murder and mayhem. So some of his frailty may be wishful thinking on the part of Western intelligence, in the manner of Zarqawi's trick leg.

(Atlantic subscribers can read the whole thing online here).

It's true, by the way, that a captured bin Laden might have really embarassing things to say about his former contacts with the U.S. government at a trial -- but that's doubly true of Saddam, who hasn't suffered any unexpected medical setbacks yet...

Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2004, 12:46 PM:

Quoth Ken Brown: This Brit is more worried at the idea that war with Iran could be imagined as a vote-winning October surprise. Please tell me that it would lose votes, like it would in any other country?

Unfortunately, I wish I could reassure you, but I can't. By many, Iraq was regarded as a job half-finished. Iran, however, managed to rub our (the US's) face in a pile of dung back in the late 70's, and, to the thinking of an even wider circle, this indignity has never been avenged.

It's the mob mind at work. Why did Germans chafe so under Verailles? And how did that work out? How about French memories of the Franco-Prussian War. And so on, ad infinitum.

As I see it, the only thing that would take Iran of the mob's hit list (and I'm not saying that it's on the government's hit list in any meaningful way at the moment) would be a revolution that deposed the mullahs and installed a US-friendly government. Sort of a parallel to what happened in Eastern Europe - the Czechs, Poles and Hungarians are no longer Satan's lackeys, instead, they're our best buddies.

So, an invasion of Iran would be foolhardy from a military perspective (we're already spread too thin), but probably a net vote-getter for Bush. It would also activate a significant, but smaller, anti-war faction. It might also alienate some traditional conservatives, the majority of whom would probably still hold their noses and vote for Bush.

On a different note, I'm not sure what would relieve America's resentment of France...

Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2004, 01:37 PM:

"Please tell me that it would lose votes, like it would in any other country?"

There has never been a major battle in a modern war fought in North America. The Battle of Britain is not two generations away in our memories. Modern war is just not real to many of us. And so, yes, war is popular with some of us.

The more fools, us.

Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2004, 09:48 PM:

I don't think it's too tinfoil-hattish to think that Bush & Co. will put a special push through all available channels (read: carrots and sticks for Pakistan) to turn up Osama so that the cheering from the right wing will eclipse anything productive the left might be having to say at the time. However, I also think that the Bush crew are not putting all their eggs in this basket, or in any of the other surprises they might have planned. After all, if no surprise happens and they win via electoral college twinkery, questionable voting practices and name-calling (Flip-Flopper! Flip-Flopper! Nanny-nanny boo-boo, you're a Flip-Flopper!), what do they care? They've got the White House, haven't they?

Having Osama embedded in an ice swan somewhere is an entertaining thought, but not a secret this current military could keep. Besides which, having Osama, alive or dead, would have given them so much to crow about that there wouldn't be much point to not running around with his head on a stick if you had it.

The likely fall back plan, if they can't catch Osama at a convenient time, will be to get the new Iraqi puppets to stage Saddam's trial for presidential sweeps week.

Or maybe not, depending on what opinion polls show.

tost ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2004, 12:44 AM:

Derek - "But I forget: I'm talking about Satan and His Minions here, right?"


ajay ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2004, 07:48 AM:

Just my contrib - I can't comment on the US political machinations but I'm pretty confident that bin Laden is indeed alive, given that a source I trust reasonably well saw him alive, apparently healthy and mobile north of Gilgit in July this year.

Tim Kyger ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2004, 12:43 PM:

All ---

Here's what Christopher Hitchens has to say on this subject, as of two days ago. I agree with him.


Tim Kyger ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2004, 12:44 PM:

Patrick: "Plan on it."

Gee. I will. Is that, then, somehow *bad* that we then will have *gotten* Bin Ladin? Isn't that what we've been *after?* I'm confused. Please explain.

Andrew Gray ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2004, 12:45 PM:

Ken: I really can't see it; all tinfoil-hattery aside, they'd have, ooh, a month to start something in... and whilst the US military is in Iraq in force, it really has its hands pretty full.

I was thinking about the possibility of a diplomatic October Surprise ("-- renounces rogue nation status, praises Bush Administration!"), but there likewise doesn't seem to be much room for one anywhere...

Charles Dodgson ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2004, 02:04 PM:

Hmmm... we've already had a diplomatic "surprise" along those lines this summer, when Libya took a couple of steps back from "rogue nation" status, and it didn't make a huge splash. And if Iran or Syria professed sudden new friendship with Dubya's crew... well, that would be a heck of a surprise.

Then again, if you go down the list of governments of muslim middle eastern states looking for ones that Dubya hasn't antagonized over the past few months, and strike off the ones which aren't already supposed to be our good, dear, and oh-so-cooperative friends (Saudi Arabia, anyone?), the one that looks most likely to me is... the sovereign government of Iraq. It might be that Allawi's trip was actually intended to be the, well, going-into-October diplomatic surprise. In which case, it may have fizzled a bit...

Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2004, 02:52 PM:

How about Rutan wins the X-Prize for an October surprise?

Tim Kyger ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2004, 03:10 PM:


That's the Anasari X-PrizeTM, isn't it? *grin*

Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2004, 04:30 PM:

Of course it is - though I've never seen it trademarked. I haven't heard the follow-on name for the Bigelow America's Space Prize which sounds too generic to trademark. Certainly looks right now that the existing engine Rutan is using will never be man rated though.

SpaceShipOne X-Prize flights. The flights to capture the X-Prize are set for Sept. 29 and Oct. 4. at Mojave, Calif. Propulsion subcontractor SpaceDev of Poway, Calif., itself a small commercial space company, has delivered to the Burt Rutan team three new SpaceShipOne systems carrying more synthetic rubber fuel and nitrous oxide oxidizer than used during the demonstration flight June 21 (AWST June 28, p. 28). Trademark misuse here?

For the political front in October, I look for China to speak loudly (not necessarily publicly) to axis of evil member North Korea about rousing Japan with nuclear threats - they have one version of a Greater South East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere they don't want one based on historical principles.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2004, 06:44 PM:

Tim Kyger, old friend --

Here's what Andrew Northrup had to say about that Christopher Hitchens piece.

Marc Mulholland is pretty good too.

I'm sorry my oldest friend appears to agree with Christopher Hitchens that I'm "deplorable, detestable, unforgivable" for thinking no enormity is beyond these people. Unfortunately, after 2000 and the four years since, that's what I think.

We no longer live in the country I was born in.

Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2004, 12:10 AM:

Christopher Hitchens says,

I first heard this "October surprise" theory mentioned seriously, by a prominent foreign-policy Democrat, at an open dinner table in Washington about six months ago.

Wow. I'm better informed than Christopher Hitchens. I heard that at least a year ago. Wow.


Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2004, 03:55 PM:

Hypothesis: an October Surprise was planned, but like everything else they botched it badly, and have had to fall back on Plan B, an honest win (by any means necessary).

Suitable October Surprises planned a year ago would include a grateful Iraqi President going to the White House to thank Bush, to a background of cheering happily-liberated munchkins. (Of course.) And failing that, Osama bin Laden onna stick. Except that (surprise!) all the planned firecrackers misfired.

Competence, thy name is not George W. Bush.

On the other hand, I really really hope they're not so desperate they try to run with Plan C, the one where the opposition candidate is winning until he's killed in a freak accident.

Matt Austern ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2004, 05:19 PM:

I'm skeptical of this particular October Surprise theory not because I think the Bush crowd has any scruples (like Patrick, I've noticed that I've been wrong every time I thought I saw a line they wouldn't cross) but because I doubt they have the competence to do it. I think that pulling something like this off would be hard, and I don't think they have the ability.

The one thing they're good at is using the US election process to their advantage, and that's what they're doing: fundraising, slime campaigns, press manipulation, voter intimidation, redistricting abuse, petty vote fraud where necessary. I hope Kerry can win by a big enough margin to overcome all this.

Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2004, 08:59 AM:

I'm not expecting an October Suprise so much as some October I-Wish-I-Were-Surprised revelations of further incompetence and destructiveness.

Ken MacLeod ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2004, 10:50 AM:

One October Surprise I can imagine involves that Aegis-equipped US fleet off North Korea and those 500-pound bunker-busting bombs just supplied to Israel. The two remaining Axis of Evil countries defanged in a morning. Mission accomplished. Bush can then return to his native Mongo, his work here on Earth done.

Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2004, 04:30 PM:

Jon Carroll at SFGate.com indicates that tonight's debate may present a different kind of October Surprise: the Bush campaign coming clean about Cheney really being the evil one incarnate. Quoting Berkeley professor Alan Smithee:

Among these questions, suggests Smithee, is the very viability of monotheism itself. "If Cheney is the sole incarnation of evil, as many suggest, Satan's only representative on the earthly plane, then the Hindu and Buddhist communities are going to have to, as they say, go back to the old drawing board. This would be even more true if, during the debate, Cheney caused the earth to open up and John Edwards to fall from a precipice into the yawning jaws of Hades."

Experts agree, however, that such an outcome is unlikely. The Bush campaign understands that hints of any direct satanic connection at this point would be counterproductive. Even if Dick Cheney does indeed have the power to cause kine to sicken, probably he would not do that. The nation's kine ranchers would probably swing to the Democratic column.

On the other hand, if Cheney is joined onstage by a host of evil flying monkeys and other demons, polytheism is still very much in play. Indeed, the small groups of Democrats who do worship evil flying monkeys would see the manifestation as a gesture to their side, and flock to the polls in higher- than-usual numbers.

Hmm . . . sounds like it would be worth finding a friend with HDTV to watch the debate tonight.

Dan ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2004, 08:04 PM:

OBL will be captured or killed prior to election day. US and Pakastani intelligence know exactly where he is in Pakistan. Pakastan does not want to capture OBL themselves fearing a backlash from Pakastani citizens, many of whom support OBL.

They also have been unwilling to give the US authority to do the job themselves for the same reason. The US has not taken action hoping Pakastan will come around and has debated whether to just go in on its own. With the election almost here and Bush sliding in the polls, the US will disperse special forces to the Pakastani safe house OBL is located and either kill or capture him.

Kerry needs to get ahead of the story and point out that they've dropped the ball for 3 years on this and that the only people who will derserve credit here are the military who were finally given the authority to get the job done.

Richard Ames ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2004, 03:42 PM:

Wow. You folks are losing it. Bin Laden as an October surprise? What next? Mainstream liberal thought just keeps getting weirder all the time.

Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2004, 08:47 AM:

I'm not sure that they are competent to spring Bin Laden. But check this out: Karl Rove annouces he has some surprises planned for October:

President Bush's top political adviser, Karl Rove, said Wednesday that the Bush-Cheney campaign is planning some October "surprises" for challengers John Kerry and John Edwards.

"We've got a couple of surprises that we intend to spring," Rove told ABC radio host Sean Hannity while explaining that he intends to wage an aggressive campaign no matter what the polls show.

(Via Josh Marshall.)

I expect that the surprises will probably be much lamer than pulling Osama out of a hat. I would expect them to deploy one less than 24 hours before the final debate.

CHip ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2004, 11:40 AM:

Richard Ames -- you may have noticed that this blog is unfiltered (except for removal of obvious spam and disemvowelment of the grossly rude). This means that there are occasional postings from both kinds of outliers: the tinfoil-hat set (e.g. Dan) and those with the markings of the Freeperati (e.g. yourself).

mythago ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2004, 05:31 PM:

I doubt Rove has any actual "surprises." But if something good happens, he can point to his earlier comment, whereas if nothing at all happens, everyone will have forgotten about it and Bush will pretend it didn't have anything to do with him.

This administration couldn't even keep Abu Ghraib under wraps, and we're supposed to believe they've captured bin Laden and kept that secret? Nnnno.

My understanding, from military guys, is that bin Laden is almost certainly in one of those no-man's-land areas of Pakistan that the Pakistani government only pretends to control. Getting him out would either mean losing a lot of troops or doing the kind of carpet-bombing Pakistan would not tolerate.

ElizabethVomMarlowe ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2004, 05:30 PM:

Am I the only one secretly worrying about an early morning Nov 2nd "terrorist" bombing?

These guys and their end justifies the means morality make my inner tinfoil hat wearer creep out of the woodwork, I guess.

James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2004, 09:31 PM:

Let's see what's actually coming up:

The hour-long Swift Boat Liars' ad disguised as news that'll be running on Sinclair Media's TV stations just before the election.

Talking Points Memo is all over this one:

The Times today has a piece on the anti-Kerry documentary Sinclair Broadcasting Group has ordered its 62 local stations to broadcast in the days before the election. Those 62 stations include affiliates of all six major broadcast networks in Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin, Nevada and Pennsylvania. The broadcast will preempt normal prime-time programming on those channels.

These are the folks who refused to run Nightline the night they read the names of all the US servicemenbers who'd died in Iraq.

Included over at Talking Points is much good material on what to do: If you're in a Sinclair Broadcasting area, watch their channel, copy down the names of local advertisers, and call those folks on the phone to let them know (politely and calmly) how supporting this programming will hurt their business.

But look too at this amazing coincidence:

Sinclair Broadcasting Group, under fire for ordering its 62 networks to broadcast a film sharply critical of John Kerry’s opposition to the Vietnam War, is a major investor in a company recently awarded a military contract by the Bush Administration, RAW STORY has learned.

Jadoo Power Systems, Inc., a producer of portable power systems, announced Sept. 28 that it had been awarded a contract to supply its products, which are used for covert surveillance operations, to US Special Operations Command. According to the SOCOM website, SOCOM "plans, directs, and executes special operations in the conduct of the War on Terrorism."

Jadoo, whose name in Hindi means "magic," is owned by Sinclair Ventures, Inc. and Contango Capital Management. Sinclair Ventures is "a wholly owned subsidiary of Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. as well as other individuals."

Read all about it here.

Wow. Defense contractor owned by major media group gets special deals. Major media group gives special consideration. Wow.

cd ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2004, 03:22 AM:


There's also this:
"Employees of a private voter registration company allege that hundreds, perhaps thousands of voters who may think they are registered will be rudely surprised on election day. The company claims hundreds of registration forms were thrown in the trash."

Democratic registrations, I might add.

Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2004, 05:31 AM:

Strewth! <stares unbelievingly>
I was truly shocked at the story cd linked to - Voter Registrations Possibly Trashed, about "Voters Outreach of America, AKA America Votes", saying that "The company has been largely, if not entirely funded, by the Republican National Committee." That, if true, is just banana republic stuff.

It does completely make my jaw drop, that people's voting registration can possibly go through an unaccountable & possibly partisan group rather than an independent body of some kind - especially if you actually register as supporting a particular party. That bit has always worried & puzzled me about that system, presumably based on the older English system which didn't have secret voting (an innovation from Australia in the nineteenth century).

Under that system, why have a secret ballot at all? Why bother with elections or voting -- just ask people to change their registration from one party to another when they change their mind, say every year, and move people in & out of Parliament/Congress?

(I gradually came to understand that you could register as something, but vote differently. I read somewhere that it's possible to register as independent, or something non-partisan -- I personally am somewhat neurotic about disclosing who I vote for, after the fight to get a truly secret ballot to help stop some kinds of oppression, so I'd have to do that -- though you might work it out from my expressed opinions, if you cared.)

James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2004, 08:33 AM:

With Nevada polling Bush 45%, Kerry 47%, it's clear to the Republicans that keeping just a few hundred Democrats from voting can swing the state. They'll do anything in their power, legal or illegal, to do it.

Why would anyone vote for the party that laughs at the law?

You can't be a patriot and vote Republican this year. No matter what state you live in, no matter what race, punish them at the polls. It's the only way to get their attention.

Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2004, 01:40 PM:

Epacris: It is perfectly legal for anyone at all to get scads of voter registration forms from the proper state office and walk around asking people if they are registered and if they aren't to give them a form. It is also perfectly legal to accept that form back from them with the promise of turning it in to the proper authorities. I have done it myself in voter registration drives. It makes it much easier for people to register by bringing the forms to them at their home, grocery store, mall or wherever. Of course, then one has to be ethical and turn them all in. I suspect that not doing so is illegal, but I can't say for sure without doing research. I'd HOPE it's illegal, but that depends on whether someone thought to make a law about it.


Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2004, 02:51 PM:

State of Washington offers the registration form on the web for print out and mail in - Get it done by this Monday for this election Secretary of State Sam Reed Urges You to Register to Vote - but I'd hate to see criminal liability in the absent minded spouse who neglects to mail that letter.

rjschwarz ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2004, 06:30 PM:

Wrong October Surprise, Bin Laden is dead, crushed beneath Tora Bora.

You should be looking a bit further West where two events are picking up. First we we have Syria which looks poised to take a dive like Libya, we've even got French pressure working on that one. Second we have Allawi demanding the Fallujia leaders turn over Zarqawi and reports of the Fallujia leaders talking smack about foreign fighters. The Washington Post even mentions one of Zarqawi's top guys getting shot down in the streets of Fallujia by a truckload of tribal Iraqi Sunnis.

Either event has got to be worth a few points come election day.

Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2004, 06:51 PM:

Mary Kay, depending on the state, you may be wrong.

One state that this is occurring in is Nevada (the case referred to in the story above). If the company or its employess was in any way considered a field registrar under Nevada law (and looking at that law, it would be difficult not to be), the choice to not turn in registration forms and selecting which to shred by party, would be the basis for multiple Class E felony charges. (Class E felonies usually result in county jail time and 1-4 years probation -- but it is a felony criminal record. You can generally get extraditon for felony chargers. Crossing state lines to escape a felony arrest is a federal crime. Multiple felonies in multiple states should trigger RICO. I could go on . . .)

Since no money changed hands between putative voter and registrar, and the registrar could not collect payment (depends on the state) for forms not turned in, fraud would probably not be an issue. False advertising might stick though.

Of course, this will not be a question at the debate tonight. I can dream, though . . .

Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2004, 02:17 AM:

According to the WashPost this week, workers at an Indian Reservation Hospital can't run a non-partisan vote drive because it would violate the Hatch Act. But workers on military bases *can* run non-partisan vote drives. Three guesses which way each facility tends to vote.

cd sees comment spam ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2004, 06:18 PM:

No real surprise, but it seems to be pointing to an impressively diverse array of sites...

Julia Jones finds spam ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2004, 02:38 AM:

More spam, this time on a recent thread.

Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2004, 11:50 PM:

Well, it looks like Usama was involved in an "October Surprise" -- our news Osama drops in to play and an Australian reaction: Bin Laden message a wake-up call

Elsewhere: It will be interesting to see how things work out with that 'shred the Democrat registrations' story.

David Goldfarb notices comment spam ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2004, 05:32 AM:

Safari has an interesting capability that I think is new: when I roll my cursor over the link in the name, it pops up a dialog box giving the URL that the redirect points to.