The Event from the Past that Suggests Maybe 9-11 Was a Pretext for Knocking Off Saddam

News at Home

Mr. Castagnera, a Philadelphia journalist and attorney, is the Associate Provost at Rider University and author of the weekly newspaper column “Attorney at Large.”

The summer of '68 was an exciting time for my hometown of Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania. Paramount Pictures brought Sean Connery, Richard Harris, Samantha Edgar and Anthony Zerby to the hard coal region to film The Molly Maguires. What premiered about a year and a half later in early 1970 was the classic tale of capitalist oppression, reprisals by a secret society of Irish terrorists, betrayal by an undercover agent, and --- inevitably --- the day of the rope. Connery, looking to escape being typecast as a certain British spy, brought his license-to-kill over to the character of Black Jack Kehoe, presented to film goers as a coal miner with a pick ax to grind against the mine owners, bosses, and coppers. Harris was James McParland, aka Jamie McKenna, the Pinkerton detective on the make, who befriends and then betrays Kehoe and his cohorts.

Not a bad movie, except that it got much of the story wrong. Although he mined coal in his salad days, Kehoe was a Girardville tavern keeper and political leader when he was arrested, tried and hanged as the alleged King of the Mollies. And McParland… well, was he an undercover detective who later testified honestly to the Molly Maguire crimes he had witnessed? Or was he an agent-provocateur who instigated crime and violence in the mine patches, providing an opportunity for his masters --- the likes of Alan Pinkerton and President Franklin Gowan of the Philadelphia & Reading --- to break the power of organized labor and the Irish immigrants' own Ancient Order of Hibernians? These questions have bedeviled historians and stirred controversy for generations.

Clues to the correct answer may be found more than a quarter century and a couple of thousand miles from the Molly Maguire trials, in the Coeur d'Alene mining district of Idaho early in the twentieth century. Like the July 1916 terrorist attack on the Black Tom Island arsenal in New York harbor, written about at this website last month, the murder of Idaho Governor Frank Steunenberg on December 30, 1905 in Caldwell, Idaho, has faded into history's mists, its lessons largely lost to our policy makers today. But Steunenberg's murder, caused by a terrorist's bomb tied to his garden gate, has a lesson to teach us about conspiracy and the two-edged nature of terrorism.

Coeur d'Alene was a region rich in precious metals and in labor union agitation. The Western Federation of Miners was militant and bare knuckled. During work stoppages, union terrorism took the form of dynamiting company mines and mills, capturing and imprisoning scab labor in the union hall, and hijacking trains. The dynamiting of the Bunker Hill Mining Company's major processing facilities in Wardner, Idaho, in May 1898, led Governor Steunenberg to call in federal troops, who arrested "every male --- miners, bartenders, a doctor, a preacher, even a postmaster and a school superintendent," in the nearby union bastion of Burke, Idaho. All together about 1,000 men were herded into the "Cow Pen," a kind of makeshift concentration camp and held for weeks without trial.

Mario Puzo, author of The Godfather, claimed that "revenge is a dish best served cold." Fully seven and a half years later the ex-governor, back home in Caldwell, opened his garden gate at six o'clock on the second-to-last, snowy evening of '05. The explosion of a homemade bomb, fastened to the gate by a fish line, took off Steunenberg's legs. He lingered an hour before bleeding to death in a downstairs bedroom, conscious to the bitter end.

A waitress at Caldwell's Saratoga Hotel fingered a long-term guest, one Thomas Hogan, as a possible suspect. A warrant-less search of Hogan's hotel room turned up plaster of paris in his chamber pot. Other detritus, that could have comprised bomb components, was found in his valise. On New Year's day, 1906, Hogan aka Harry Orchard was arrested and charged with first degree murder. Less than a week later, the State of Idaho hired America's most famous detective: none other than James McParland, who headed the Pinkerton Agency's Denver office.

McParland, the famed Molly Maguire-catcher, rushed to Boise, where he interrogated Hogan/Orchard relentlessly. The result? An astonishing 64-page confession to the killing of Frank Steunenberg and seventen others, all ordered, said Orchard, by the leaders of the Western Federation of Miners. On the strength of this confession, McParland led a posse by special train to Denver, where Colorado Governor McDonald had a warrant waiting for the arrest of WFM officers William "Big Bill" Haywood, Charles Moyer and George Pettibone. Denied any opportunity to contact their loved ones and lawyers, the three union leaders were kidnapped aboard the Idaho special and hauled to Boise for trial. The U.S. Supreme Court subsequently sanctioned their kidnapping to Idaho.

Luckier than Black Jack Kehoe and Yellow Jack Donohue, Big Bill Haywood and his comrades had Clarence Darrow on their side. Already a rising star, and later to win international fame in the Scopes Monkey Trial and Leopold-Loeb Thrill-Killing case, Darrow was the darling of the American Federation of Labor.

Looking for three bites at the union apple, the prosecution brought Big Bill to trial first. Harry Orchard --- like another alleged-turncoat, Kelly the Bum, in the Molly trials --- told his lurid tale of a life of crime, terrorism and murder on the witness stand. In a long and passionate closing argument, Darrow told the jury of ranchers and business men,

I don't believe that this man [Orchard] was ever really in the employ of anybody. I don't believe he ever had any allegiance to the Mine Owners Association, to the Pinkertons, to the Western Federation of Miners, to his family, to his kindred, to his God, or to anything human or divine. I don't believe he bears any relation to anything that a mysterious and inscrutable Providence has ever created. . . . He was a soldier of fortune, ready to pick up a penny or a dollar or any other sum in any way that was easy . . . to serve the mine owners, to serve the Western Federation, to serve the devil if he got his price, and his price was cheap.
Darrow's theory was that Orchard acted alone in belated revenge for being squeezed out of a lucrative silver-mine deal by Steunenberg years earlier.

In a direct attack on McParland and his methods, Darrow recalled for the jury the great detective's ambiguous role in bringing the Mollies "to justice," and expressly drew the parallel between the two cases, especially the Pinkerton's production of the snitch known as "Kelly the Bum" to bolster McParland's testimony for the prosecution.

Some say the jury's unanimous "not guilty" verdict was the result of Darrow's silver-tongued oratory. Less kind critics claim the twelve jurors were intimidated by the terrorist tactics of the WFM. But when George Pettibone was likewise acquitted, the prosecutors gave up the ghost and released the three defendants.

Were the WFM union officers guilty or innocent? Were Black Jack Kehoe and the other alleged Molly Maguires guilty or innocent? Or, in a climate of violence and terrorist tactics, did beleaguered government officials lay those indisputable acts of violence at the feet of political opponents they preferred to see removed from the stage?

Was Saddam Hussein in league with al-Qaeda? Or did the 9-11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington provide a later generation of our government officials with an opportunity to remove another political thorn from the side of our body politic?

If, as I am suggesting here, both the so-called Molly Maguires and the three top officers of the Western Federation of Miners were brought to trial as scapegoats for terrorist acts, not because they instigated or aided those acts, but because government and corporate interests wanted them removed as potentially-powerful opponents then, in the ongoing absence of evidence of weapons of mass destruction and ties to al-Qaeda, might we not fairly wonder whether Saddam Hussein has been made the unlikely bed-fellow of Black Jack Kehoe and Big Bill Haywood? An unusual context in which to view his pending trial, perhaps, but one which in this writer's opinion cannot be dismissed out of hand.

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Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

We have had this problem before, Mr Friedman. A tendency to fire off opinions first, consider their relevancy second, and gather facts last (if ever).

Here is a more sensible approach, consistent with that followed by bonafide historians:

1. Find out how many articles by Bernard Lewis have been on HNN and how many have appeared from Daniel Pipes.

2. Note the discrepancy (hint: it is vast).

3. Ask yourself how this result compares to the stated objectives of HNN.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

I find it hard to believe that you "wonder".

But, since you waste so much of your own time repeating the same question, incessantly and uselessly, how about considering a historical analogy instead ? Don't bother doing real history, just use the quick and dirty approach to "history" found regularly (not always) on HNN.

Why didn't Paul Revere write a nice letter to King George ?

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Your lack of sense of control is interesting, Mr. Friedman, but in fact if you look around this lengthy debate about nothing here, you will see that you jumped into a thread that I began, in order to make an essentially irrelevant aside, and then got all hot and bothered when I pointed out, more abruptly than I normally would, I confess, that important facts were missing from that aside.

The issue of the thread is not whether Mr. Friedman agrees or disagrees "all that much with" Daniel Pipes. I, for example, do not agree "all the much" with David Irving, but I do object to his sort of writings being featured scores of times on a website that purports to be about exposing bogus analogies and fallacious reasoning in history. It is an insult to historians and a dangerous distortion of historical reasoning to have it repeatedly hijacked for hate-driven agendas. And it makes a considerable difference to most open-minded and serious historians, I would suggest, whether David Irving is discussed on a website once a year in an article written by someone else, or is one of the five or six most common writers ever to appear on that site (as Daniel Pipes -together with his fanatic-in-arms Judith Klinghoffer- in fact is here).

Did you have a point about the Molly Maguires then, or just a need to print capital letters ?

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

To Ralph (Benedict Arnold?) Luker:

If only they were coming, to see how their history is being twisted and exploited, and the abuses committed in their name whitewashed.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Why yet another deliberately misleading headline ?

No real historian who truly believed in the purported objectives of this website (see below) would make the silly leap suggested by the headline - a leap which 99% of the article has nothing to do with.

The absurdity and bogus motives of HNN should also be obvious to anyone who so much as was awake on 9-11 and during the first Kerry-Bush debate (even if he or she was asleep for three years in between).

OF COURSE, 9-11 "was a pretext for Iraq", that was why president-in-name W. Bush slipped up and said, during a question about Iraq, that the "enemy" attacked us on 9-11 ! There has been a deliberate campaign to merge Saddam and Al Qaeda ever since 9-12-01 when "W" was found wandering helplessly around the White House "Situation Room" (in Richard Clarke's account) mumbling about Saddam.

Preparations for this campaign of obfuscation actually started even before 9-11, as is obvious to anyone who ever read the now infamous Project for a New American Century statement about how it would take another "Pearl Harbor" before a new wave of reckless foreign adventuring could be launched.

HNN's purported but oft-violated goals, from the "About us" page, are (emphasis added) :

"To expose politicians who misrepresent history. To POINT OUT bogus analogies. To deflate beguiling myths. To remind Americans of the irony of history. To put events in context. To remind us all of the complexity of history."

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

You are revisiting old territory, Ralph, but without your normally clear-headed and insightful powers of observation. The problem clearly runs far deeper than the lack of an occasional "really smart article".

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

I fully concur with everything that comes after "its a pleasure". Did we need a headline with Saddam in it to get to that result ? By the way, is Saddam dead now ?

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

With due respect, Mr. Castegnera, you employ the logic of a trial lawyer with some effectiveness, but those in your audience here who are historians are not likely to consider circumstantial similarity to suffice as a credible historical argument.

To put it simply, the proposed parallel is so far fetched as to be example of the "bogus analogy" which this website pretends to expose but more often promotes. There are literally thousands of historical examples, involving American presidents dealing with foreign policy problems exploiting the national mass media, abusing the powers of commander-in-chief, doing so for electoral purposes and damaging America's international power in the process - all aspects at least very arguably central to the case of G. W. Bush and Saddam vs. American democracy, but which have nothing to do with the Molly Maguires.

I regret to say that it would appear that you have been used, and probably not at the "customary billing rate".

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Ralph, I would say in response that HNN, with some apparent but little real authority, routinely, egregiously and in flat and obvious contradiction to its stated goals, abuses history. Not with every article, or even most, but very frequently nevertheless and with a clear pattern that cannot be accidental. The sensationalized and hyped-up headline in this particular instance is a trivial infraction compared to many more flagrant cases readily viewable in the archive (or even elsewhere in this week's selections. Why don't you ever address that fundamental underlying problem, instead of taking tiresome shots at one of the messengers who points it out ?

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

The consistent, deliberate, and hypocritical abuse of history IS a matter of substance in my book, Ralph. If you disagree, that is your right, but if you can't or won't address my original question in this thread -why this abuse must continue- then maybe it is time to go back to your blog, which I will certainly acknowledge is a relatively reasonable and historically valid subsection of this weird website. (That was meant as an indirect compliment: I don't, in fact, only "constantly carp")

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Ralph, I don't who is being "monomaniacal", but you have now made five comments in a row that have precisely nothing to do with either the article on the page or with my comment which began the thread, and which amount to little more than a useless repetition of an unworkable and irrelevant admonition to me. This is a good example of one of the many minor problems with this website.

Surely you must realize by now that I an not going to adopt your disingenuous and dubious suggestion, now after you have made it, without variation, for about the 23rd time. So what is up ? Don't you see your name in print often enough on your blog ? If the editor is running a bogus history site for some ulterior motive, it is not my mission in life to help him do so more effectively. If he is ignorant of what goes on on the comment boards, that is his problem, not mine.

Now then, do you in fact have anything useful to say about the Molly Maguires, and how they are related to G.W. Bush, Saddam Hussein, or the man in the moon, or not ?

P.S. I made it clear already that this particular article is far from the worst example of history being abused on HNN. It is simply the one you have apparently decided to make a federal case against me over. Go to the one this week by Klinghoffer (for example) and ask yourself honestly what is really going on here, if you are so inclined, but kindly refrain from misrepresenting what I said.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

I believe you have not been around here, Ben, as Ralph and I have, for three years. Fads come and go. We have heard very little from either Carpenter and Heuisler in recent weeks, for example. A couple of years ago they might constituted most of the action some weeks.

I have come to the conclusion over this time that HNN repeatedly and deliberately trivializes, distorts, and sensationalizes history in flat contradiction to its stated aims, and tries to deceive readers into thinking that it is something which it is not. What the motives for this may be I can only speculate, but I prefer to deal with objective observations instead. (That is why "why" was in my original comment on this page).

I suggest that you keep an open mind, observe patterns, read elsewhere, compare and come to your own conclusions. Personal background and preferences of course play a role in forming opinions. If you really think, for instance, that most insightful historian of foreign relations is Lawrence Wittner, and the most straightforward historian of the Middle East is Daniel Pipes, then you may well continue to have a highly favorable view of HNN.

None of this has the slightest relation to whether any particular commenter also submits articles or not. I would like to be a more active part of a real history website that adheres to the stated goals of HNN. I frankly doubt whether HNN can ever become that website itself, even if there has been a very slight drift in that direction over the past 6 months or so. Certainly a significant "regime change" would be needed, in my judgement.

Now, I must stand on my own principles and declare that there has been quite enough irrelevant and tangential comment on this page. The subject at hand is whether deception and violence in the coal fields of Pennsylvania well over a century ago have any significantly useful value in understanding the deception and violence of Dick Cheney's foreign policy. I think not. Some atrocities in history have no particularly good analogies in other times and places.

John T. Richards - 12/20/2004

Well, I was just about to bail out of this dB, abandoning it to that massive junk pile of useless website diatribes and big egos partaking in a wrestling match where fact and thoughtful assessment are nowhere to be found. Thank you Charles, for finally bring forth a perspective that is obviously based on a reading of the literature and not done just for the sake of rolling in the mud. I’ll be back.

John (great grandson of Governor Steunenberg)

N. Friedman - 10/24/2004


That is a bit different. One is a comment regarding an individual's political skills. The other is out of the Antisemitic play book.

Val Jobson - 10/24/2004

If you google "Scowcroft is critical of Bush" you will find a Washington Post article in which "Brent Scowcroft, national security adviser to President George H.W. Bush" criticizes G.W. Bush and talks about Sharon's influence; including the following quote
"Sharon just has him wrapped around his little finger," Scowcroft told the Financial Times. "I think the president is mesmerized." He added: "When there is a suicide attack [followed by a reprisal] Sharon calls the president and says, 'I'm on the front line of terrorism,' and the president says, 'Yes, you are . . . ' He [Sharon] has been nothing but trouble."

N. Friedman - 10/24/2004


I might add, that in political rhetoric as it has been used in the US for generations, "even handed" means siding with the Arab side. Govenor Dean made that error -confusing poll language and diplomatic language - and lost a lot of support.

N. Friedman - 10/24/2004


One puppeteer, many puppets. And the Israeli is the CHIEF PUPPETEER. What could be clearer?

And, even if I am wrong, the comment is outrageous that the Israelis is the puppeter of the US government in any sense. It is a disqualifying statement for anyone running for President. Why? Because: it is rhetoric directly from the Nazi era. So, if he did not mean what he said, then he is too stupid to be President.

As for the poll, I think my poll addresses the same issue but from a different angle. Which is to say, more Americans, when push comes to shove, side with the Israelis, as they should. So, again, the poll you cite comes to the same issue from a different angle. I note: were any President to actually side harshly against Israel, it is the impact of my poll which would drive the President from office. Why? He (or she) would lose Christian Zionists.

Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/24/2004

Mr. Friedman,

More importantly, your poll has little to do at all with my comment on "an even-hand approach" in regards to the conflict. I did not say most Americans "sympathize" more with one party or the other- I simply stated that from the latest poll I had seen, once again, a majority wanted an "even hand" approach. Here is a quote from a Gallup poll taken:

Gallup Poll. June 12-15, 2003. N=510 adults nationwide. MoE ± 5.

"In the Middle East conflict, do you think the United States should take Israel's side, take the Palestinians' side, or not take either side?"

Israel: 18 %

Palestine: 4 %

Neither: 74 %

No opinion: 4 %

And from The Jerusalem Post: "Poll: 2/3 of Americans favor Mideast neutrality" http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&;cid=1096430701256

In regards to our correspondences, which I think have been somewhat fruitful, thus far you have not been dishonest. I would hate for you to begin being that way by taking what I say out of context as well as others (in particular Nader). You quoted an Editorial with the following alluding to Nader’s supposed belief that Israel controls the U.S.:

“The days when the chief Israeli puppeteer comes to the United States and meets with the PUPPET IN THE WHITE HOUSE and then proceeds to Capitol Hill, where he meets with HUNDREDS OF OTHER PUPPETS, should be replaced." (caps added)

Again, he refers to all these government officials as puppets. If you were remotely familiar with what Nader has been fighting against for the past few decades you would come to the conclusion that this is nothing more than an attack on his main target: As John Dewey would say, politics that are cast on society by big business.

Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/24/2004

Mr. Friedman,
It is interesting to note that you quote Nader's comment on the "Israeli puppets", but you completely failed to quote him in the exact same statement calling all the other government officials puppets. Why is this?

N. Friedman - 10/23/2004


The idea - a fantasy - that the US government performs as a puppet for the Israeli government occurs primarily to Antisemites which is why you can find the same nonsense spouted by Nader that is used by the KKK. Which was the point of The Washington Post Editorial. You will note that the exact same nonsense - and this time, substitute the word Jews or, in Nazi terminology, The Jews - appeared in Nazi rhetoric.

As for US public opinion, I note the following from the Pew Research Center/Council on Foreign Relations survey conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International on July 8-18, 2004,(a Nationwide poll):

"In the dispute between Israel and the Palestinians, which side do you sympathize with more, Israel or the Palestinians?" N=2,009 adults, MoE ± 2.5


Israel: 40%
Palestinians: 13%
Both: 7%
Neither: 18%
Unsure: 22%

I suppose it depends what question you ask.

In any event, whatever side the US takes, the Israelis are going to defend their own interest. And that interest includes defeating groups like Hamas and somehow coming to a liveable situation with the Palestinians. It would appear that neither side, at this point, seeks a Palestinian state along side Israel. That leaves either, as the Palestinians now seek, to control Israel or, as the Israelis likely prefer, to create a Federation between the, on the one hand, the West Bank and Gaza, and on the other hand, Jordan.

Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/23/2004

Mr. Friedman,
"I have read Mr. Nader's letter in CounterPunch. I note that the Washington Post views Nader's rhetoric as sometimes being anti-Semitic in character - akin to statements by the KKK. So do I. See http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A64028-2004Aug13.html"

You, obviously, know more about how you feel on matters than I do. I will only say that I found nothing "anti-Semitic" about Nader's remarks. Furthermore, I think his voice represents a majority of Americans voices (we still live in a democracy do we not?). The latest poll I have seen showed that (if memory serves me correct) 17% of Americans want to support Israel in regards to the "Israeli-Palestinian Conflict" (as if "conflict" is an adequate description) while a majority of Americans wanted to see the U.S. have an "even-hand" for both the Palestinians and Israelis. I suppose that I am one of the majorities while you are one of the minorities. Fortunately, “tyranny of the masses” is pretty much non-existent, but unfortunately is seems that “tyranny of the minority” does.

N. Friedman - 10/23/2004


Regarding your comment: "I am not condoning the use of suicide bombers by Palestinians; but to demonize all Palestinians while anointing all Israelis as a bunch of heroic freedom fighters is absolutely onesided bigotry. They are two tribes fighting over land and resources, which makes for vicious behaviour on both sides; look at the Indian wars in the USA."

I partially agree with you. Which is to say, there is a fight over land and resources. However, the context, if you want to be analytical rather than political, is the entire Arab world and Israel.

Moreover, it is a fight not only over land and resources but also over people and their status in society. Which is to say, the Arab position, pre-1948, was that Jews had no right to participate in governance of what is now Israel. At the same time, the Arab position appears also to be that Jews had no right to continue living among Arabs - thus the expulsions of Jews all over the Arab world -.

That further backdrop of the dispute inclues the 900,000 Jewish refugees from the surrounding Arab countries and the greater Arab world. And a further backdrop of the dispute is the willingness of the Israelis to absorb Arab Jewish refugees but the unwillingness of the Arab side to absorb the Arab refugees.

I have not demonized all Palestinians. I have asserted factually that the vast majority of Palestinians support the use of massacres of Israelis. Would you like my sources? I have also asserted that Hamas' covenant is, for practical purposes, a religious version of the Nazism. I stand by that. Read the covenant. There is no possible settlement with those people who follows Hamas. And Hamas represents a substantial part of Palestinian society.

N. Friedman - 10/23/2004


While I am certainly no expert regarding water usage and supply, I do know that the Middle East as a whole has severe water problems.

The assumption of your comment is that, but for the Israelis, all would be well for the Palestinians regarding water. An examination - and there are many available online - of the region shows that to be nonsensical. Which is to say, Jordan and Egypt and Syria have the same sort of troubles as the West Bank and Gaza.

I also know for a fact that a major cause of water shortage in the West Bank and Gaza is the unwillingness, over the course of many years - and well before second Intifidah - of the PA to fix leaking pipesline. Such, you will note, accounts for a substantial part of the problem. And such failure is, in part, due to corruption by which water is sold.

On the other hand, it is true to say that the Israelis overconsume water. It is also true that the Israelis buy substantial amounts of water, at great cost, from Turkey. The water is shipped to Israel.

And it is also true that the Israelis, unlike all of her neighbors, have been actively researching how to obtain more efficient water useage from available supplies. Such, you will note, has helped make Israel among the world's most efficient users of water for agricultural projects. Which is not to say that the Israelis are not overconsuming water - a different point entirely -.

N. Friedman - 10/23/2004


I do not condemn the Palestinians. I merely say their cause to destroy Israel is unjust.

The substantiation on the water is a biased source. It is true to say that the Israelis use most of the water. However, it is not true to suggest that the Palestinians have been deprived of water. What you need to provide is information that Palestinians are unable to obtain the water they actually need. And, frankly, such information does not exist. Moreover, you would need information suggesting that Palestinians are using less water, per capita, than in the past. Frankly, such information does not exist. In other words, you have cited a source which is playing games with statistics for a political purpose.

As for the Israeli army, the fact that children have been killed is a fact. That the Israeli army has committed mass murder is not shown by your evidence. Note: the Palestinians have placed their children intentionally in battles. The same source you cite, namely, Haaretz, has run dozens of stories about that fact.

Val Jobson - 10/23/2004

Evidence of water use: http://mondediplo.com/focus/mideast/a2344
"According to the World Bank statistics 90 % of the water in the West Bank is used for Israel’s benefit and the Palestinians have to make do with the remaining 10 %. The consequent difference in consumption levels can be seen from the following figures for annual consumption per capita : Israel : 375 cubic metres
Gaza Strip and West Bank : 115 cubic metres"

Evidence that there are mass murderers among the Israelis also:

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/489479.html about the hundreds of children killed by the Israeli army

http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/story.jsp?story=573212 about the effects of violence on Palestinian children

I am not condoning the use of suicide bombers by Palestinians; but to demonize all Palestinians while anointing all Israelis as a bunch of heroic freedom fighters is absolutely onesided bigotry. They are two tribes fighting over land and resources, which makes for vicious behaviour on both sides; look at the Indian wars in the USA.

N. Friedman - 10/22/2004


I have read Mr. Nader's letter in CounterPunch. I note that the Washington Post views Nader's rhetoric as sometimes being antisemitic in character - akin to statements by the KKK. So do I. See http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A64028-2004Aug13.html

I again, say, read the Hamas covenant. It does not mince words. And it employs, as I said, much from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and from Nazi propaganda. I stand by that. And I stand by the view that fighting such people is a fight for freedom. And I stand by the view that the Palestinian side has opted to employ massacres as a weapon of choice. And I stand by the view that public opinion among Palestinians in the captured territories includes support for massacring civilians. And I stand by the view that it is moral and proper to attack those involving in the massacre movement even if that means some civilians are harmed.

N. Friedman - 10/22/2004


As people have said to me, site direct evidence, not a group who has an agenda.

And, I ask that you reply to my point about the Hamas covenant. I think it speaks directly to the situation.

N. Friedman - 10/22/2004


I do not take CounterPunch as a serious source. Tell me your point and I shall, if I can, respond.

Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/22/2004


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/22/2004

http://www.counterpunch.org/nader10162004.html "The Man who Didn't Walk By"

N. Friedman - 10/22/2004


Read the Hamas covenant. It was written before the current civil war began. At the time it was written, Palestinians, in the captured territories, had living standards at the very top of the Arab world.

The events you refer to are occurring in the context of a civil war (or, as Palestinians call it, an uprising or Intifadah) in which the Palestinian side, with no ifs, ands or buts about what is sought, actively advocates the commission of massacres against civilians. And more than advocate, such massacres have repeated on a serial basis. And such, you will note, is a far, far greater sin than allegations - unproven ones at that - that the Israelis are stealing water and other resources.

The allegation regarding people being killed by Israelis may, in some instances, be true. However, in a war against people who harbor mass murderers and who, by public opinion polls, overwhelmingly support the use of attacks against civilians, it is an unfortunate fact that civilians will die in the effort to the fight mass murderers.

But again, read the Hamas covenant. Note the portions pilfered from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Note the portions that parallel Nazi propaganda. Then tell me that resisting people who march under that banner is anything other than a freedom fight.

Val Jobson - 10/22/2004

They are fighting for their freedom by taking water and other resources from the occupied territories so that the Palestinians there do not have enough? By shooting Palestinian children who are at home baking bread, or trying to walk to school?

N. Friedman - 10/21/2004


Nonsense. One read of the Hamas covenant is enough to understand the nature of the fight. In fact, Jews in Israel are fighting for their freedom.

N. Friedman - 10/21/2004


Good point.

N. Friedman - 10/21/2004


I shall make the comments I believe appropriate whether or not you started the threadand and whether or not you like what I have to say. I believe I addressed a trend in your argument - one that obviously caught a raw nerve, given your insulting response -.

You evidently confused what I wrote for a comment regarding your main point. Next time I shall remember to explain myself in more detail so that you will not misunderstand me.

I have no comment regarding the likes of Irving. Suffice it to say that I have relatives who were caught up in the Shoah.

Certainly, the likes of Irving are not to be compared with Pipes or Klinghoffer. Which is to say, you may or may not agree with Pipes and/or Klinghoffer but neither is an affront to the world of scholarship.

I do not think that Pipes or Klinghoffer is closed minded. They merely have a different viewpoint than you.

The part about them being hate mongers is rather simplistic. I think Pipes, in particular, expresses himself contentiously so that he appears to adopt more extreme views than he actually holds. Klinghoffer is merely one who expresses her views which happen to deviate from what you might prefer to read.

As I said, the world is not limited to HNN. There are many sites which have scholarly articles and that allow posts. I suggest that if you do not see everything you like here, try expanding your universe. That is what open minded people do instead of complaining that a cite offers too few viewpoints or deviates from its mission.

Regarding the article, the question of whether Saddam had a workding connection with al Qa'eda is a factual question. Clearly, the CIA and other spy agencies are too incompetent to get to bottom of the question. At the same time, the news services have no way of knowing the answer either. As for historians, they will, after all the shooting is over, have to spend the time to find out the actual answer. I suspect they will not find a working connection but, who knows, stranger things have occurred.

Ralph E. Luker - 10/21/2004

Peter Paul Revere Clarke: "Help, help, the Jews are coming! The Jews are coming!"

Ralph E. Luker - 10/21/2004

Bad analogy, but it is yours. Paul Revere had the good sense to take up arms against King George rather than simply gossiping behind his back.

N. Friedman - 10/21/2004


On your most recent tirade, I note that I do not much care the percentage of articles by any writer.

Perhaps the very elderly Professor Lewis has better things to do with his remaining years than write article for HNN or maybe he does not want many published on HNN. Maybe Mr. Pipes has nothing better to do with his time. I do not know and I do not care.

On the other hand, obviously it would be nice if there were more of Professor Lewis as he is the world's leading scholar of Muslimdom. It would sure be an antidote for Professor Cole. But, we should respect and learn from the various viewpoints presented (including Professor Cole whom I think has little to offer) and, if something is not found at HNN, try finding it on some other resources.

N. Friedman - 10/21/2004


My comment was directed only to the point I addressed. You, by contrast, have responded with a stupid tirade of nonsense. Again, I was not addressing your main point but only the specific point I noted. Next time: TRY READING WHAT I WRITE AS I AM RATHER TIRED OF RESPONDING TO BRAIN DEAD COMMENTS!!!

N. Friedman - 10/21/2004


While one might not agree all or even most of the time with Mr. Pipes - and I do not agree all that much with him (other than with his basic support for Israel which, in my view, is the correct position to take even if you or I do not accept his arguments) -, he has surely made serious contributions to the field.

Ralph E. Luker - 10/21/2004

One does wonder why you condescend to comment on this site, if it is as you describe it.

Charles V. Mutschler - 10/21/2004

You are most welcome. Thanks for the kind words.


N. Friedman - 10/20/2004

Mr. Castagnera,

History consists of narratives. There are many of them. The more narratives that can properly be told about an event, the more that can be known about the event.

On the other hand, articles about current events are not history. They may help, someday, to create narratives but they should not themselves be confused with history.

Ben H. Severance - 10/20/2004


While your comments and criticisms on the many articles that appear on HNN are often appropriate and informative, your assault on HNN itself is full of misplaced rage. This site provides an excellent forum for discussing a variety of current issues, all within historical contexts. The selections are electic and credentialled. Like all of us, I find some a waste of time, others overblown in their rhetoric, and others still noticeably biased, but I also find many of them provocative, enjoyable, and insightful. The commentary aspect of HNN is an additional strength to the site, allowing readers like myself to chime in with opinions that run the gamut from thoughtful to outright stupid (I'm guilty of the latter no doubt).

I don't know what you expect from historians, but you seem to have some unreasonable standards of objectivity. I have my personal and professional views, but always try to keep an open mind, and never accept anything I read as gospel truth (at least regarding interpretations). Happily, your strong condemnation of how HNN operates has never dissuaded you from frequenting the site and reading the articles.

And I think Ralph's challenge is a good one. I'd like to read a formal article by you on a topic you have a passion for.

James Ottavio Castagnera - 10/20/2004

History is an ever-changing data set of facts, inferences, conjectures and assumptions, arranged and re-arranged by each new generation of historians, teachers, politicians, journalists, film makers and others.

Legal "facts" are what the jury has found to be true or what the appellate court has found to be the facts and stated as such in its published opinion. Whatever the "objective" truth, which we might discover if we could travel back in time or chase light rays out into the cosmos, the legal truth for purposes of verdict, judgment and remedy is what can no longer be subjected to a new trial or another appeal.

Neither history nor law can claim to "know" the "truth" in some final, cosmic, objective way.

Gary Ostrower - 10/20/2004

Despite the tiresome complaints about HNN, some of which follow this Idaho story, it's a pleasure to note that Mutschler's email above is the kind of informative and judicious posting that makes reading HNN worthwhile. My thanks to the author.

Gary Ostrower

Ralph E. Luker - 10/20/2004

1) The title of the article is misleading.
2) The article itself is a good one.
3) I don't read Edith Klinghofer's work, because I don't think that I have much to learn from it.
4) You do pretty much the same song and dance every time you comment at HNN.
5) If you'd like to be something other than a crank, either write an article worth reading at HNN or take your complaints to the one person who can do something about them.

Ralph E. Luker - 10/19/2004

Mr. Clarke, If you care to have it addressed, take what you call the "consistent, deliberate, and hypocritical abuse of history," by which I take it you mean the mistitling of this article in a complaint via e-mail to Rick Shenkman. To continually, monomoniacally make the same complaint in comments, when you know they are unlikely to be read by the one person who might make a difference, is simply to be a crank.

Ralph E. Luker - 10/19/2004

Peter, What's tiresome is your constant carping in lieu of substantial contribution, either in terms of an article at which others may, like you, carp, or comments of substance rather than formal complaint. The titles are commonly created by Rick Shenkman, HNN's editor, rather than the authors of the articles. If you wish to lodge this complaint, which according to you is an "underlying problem", then lodge it in an e-mail to Shenkman rather than here on the comment boards, which he often doesn't have time to read. O.K.?

Ralph E. Luker - 10/19/2004

Old territory, yes -- because you continue to behave in your routine ways. With no apparent authority, you routinely criticize the work of other people. Sometimes the criticism is justified. Mostly it simply signals a hostile self who hasn't put himself on the line.

Van L. Hayhow - 10/19/2004

Fascinating stuff.

Charles V. Mutschler - 10/18/2004

For the second time in two weeks HNN readers are offered a look at the murder of Idaho's former governer, Frank Steunenberg. In both articles, the implication is that Clarence Darrow saved his clients from being railroaded to the gallows. That is, of course possible. However, it seems quite possible that labor leaders engaged in behavior as sordid as hiring a hit man to kill political figures they disapproved of. Of course, if this is correct, then the argument that William Haywood and the Western Federation of Miners leadership were decent men, and the mining companies engineered the trial to purge the country of labor leaders becomes harder to sustain.

The Steunenberg killing resulted in a trial which was like the O. J. trial of its day. The country followed it closely, in print, and via telegraph. Afterwards, the trial receeded into the background, but at least four books on the subject all seem to suggest that the union leaders were, indeed, guilty of hiring Harry Orchard to kill people.

No disinterested party, the killer himself penned _Harry Orchard: The Man God Made Again_ (Southern Publishing Association, 1952) while serving his life sentence in the Idaho prison. Orchard confesses his crimes, and explains his religious conversion in prison. If one takes his confessions, both in court and again in his memoir at face value, the killer was hired by union leaders. One should note, however, that by 1952, Orchard had outlived the other major players, and they could not contest his account.

Stewart H. Holbrook spent much of his life writing for newspapers before turning to writing popular history. _The Rocky Mountain Revolution_, New York: Henry Holt & Co., 1956 is his narrative account of the labor violence in the hard rock mining camps of Idaho and Colorado, and Orchard's role in it. Holbrook didn't use footnotes, and his work was largely based on interviews, a common practice for journalists. He was able to obtain an interview with Orchard in prison, and also interviewed Edward Boyce, Clarence Darrow, and Mrs. Frank Steunenberg. The bibliography lists a number of secondary sources and some contemporary newspapers, but the interviews were probalby Holbrook's major source. He concludes that Orchard was hired by the WFM leadership, based on Orchard's trial testimony, and his interview with the elderly man.

Robert G. Grimmett revisited the events, and wrote _Cabal of Death: Harry Orchard and His Associates in Murder in the Western Mining Wars_, Moscow, Idaho: University of Idaho Press, 1977. Although not footnoted, Grimmett's bibliography suggests that he went much deeper into the primary sources than Holbrook had. Grimmett cites the James H. Hawley papers, and William Borah papers held by the Idaho Historical Society, which include a copy of Orchard's confession, and a transcript of the Haywood trial. Grimmett is not quite as positive as Holbrook or Orchard, and notes the basic conflict between the testimony of Orchard and that of the WFM leaders. He seems to lean toward the point of view that Orchard was probably hired by the WFM leadership.

J. Anthony Lukas, _Big Trouble: A Murder in a Small Town Sets off a Struggle for the Soul of America_, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997 is the larges, and most recent study of the case. Lukas used extensive footnotes, and he probably did the most extensive research of any writer to date. He ultimately concludes that the WFM leaders were guilty. His proof isn't in the trial transcripts or Orchard's confesson. He found correspondence files of the radical publication _Appeal to Reason_ which seem to be solid evidence that Haywood, Moyer, and Pettibone were guilty. The concluding sentence of _Big Trouble_ reads, "If, four years after the Boise trial, these prominent Socialists wrote freely to one another about the guilt of Haywood, Moyer, and Pettibone, what does this tell us about who struck down the governor on that snowy night in Caldwell?"

If Lukas is correct, it makes the argument that the trial for the murder of Governor Steunenberg was a mine owner 'railroad job' a lot less plausible. Comparing the Steunenberg trial to the Molly Maguire trials, or the decsion to go to war in Iraq, may not be particularly apropos.

Thanks for reading.

Charles V. Mutschler

Charles V. Mutschler - 10/18/2004

Mr. Castagnera writes, "All together about 1,000 men were herded into the "Cow Pen," a kind of makeshift concentration camp and held for weeks without trial. "

Actually, the stockade in the Coeur d' Alene mining unrest was referred to as the 'Bull Pen."

Charles V. Mutschler

James Ottavio Castagnera - 10/18/2004

Of course, I fully appreciate your points. While I did not write the headline --- which I presume the editor INTENDS to be a bit provocative and certainly current --- I do take full responsibility for the provocative questions at the article's end. I posed them recognizing full well that a pattern of past behavior usually is not admissible in a court of law precisely because it is highly prejudicial while in fact failing to prove the defendant's guilt for the specific act of which s/he actually stands accused.

On the other hand, past criminal acts are admissible in federal court when they tend to prove "motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity, or absence of mistake or accident...."(Fed. Rule of Evidence 404(b))

Now, of course, in this article I am talking about governmental and corporate entities separated by more than a century from the present regime in Washington. The human actors are entirely different people. So, naturally, as one of you rightly points out, evidence is needed that the present administration in Washington is walking in the footsteps of the governmental and corporate actors of Pennsylvania in the 1870s and Idaho in the 1900s.

Does such evidence exist? Well, is it not true that some presidential advisors had been urging invasion of Iraq --- to finish the job started by the elder Mr. Bush --- since early in the 1990sand certainly since Mr. Bush the Younger took office? Is it not the case that there was little reliable intelligence to support the existence of an al Qaeda-Saddam Hussein connection or the existence of WMDs in Iraq prior to the invasion of Iraq? And is it not true that no such connection nor any such weapons have been shown to exist, since the invasion?

Is it also not true that the Vice President of the United States, after leaving office as Sec. of Defense in the first Bush administration, joined the Halliiburton Corp. and "earned" some $34 million in compensation? And is it not also true that Halliburton now enjoys the lion's share of Iraqi-rebuilding contracts... without the necessity of engaging in competitive bidding?

All of this, if true, admittedly is circumstantial evidence. But many a man sits in prison today on the basis of circumstantial evidence... often rightly so.


Ralph E. Luker - 10/18/2004

c.a.r.p., Mr. Clarke. Instead of the constant carping, why don't you write a really smart article and submit it for publication at HNN?

Oscar Chamberlain - 10/18/2004

The reminder of the Molly Maguires is interesting. I'd love to see more on it, and I would by happy if Mr. Castagnera, or someone else, provided more articles on it.

Whether or not 9/11 was used as a pretext is a legitmate topic. I'd love to see someone bring new facts to life or pull old ones together in a new way.

But why are the two being connected here? Castagnera argues that the Molly Maguire trial offers a useful, if "unusual" perspective. But it's only useful if it adds something to the already ongoing debate.

It adds nothing: no new facts,no old facts reinterpreted. This idea of 9/11 as pretext is all over the place. It didn't take the Molly Maguires for people to perceive the possibility. Some who believe it have even offered some facts that support it (though I'm not sure if those facts prove it.)

And unless an informative thread spins off on the Maguires, this article offers nothing more to the debate over American policy than a chance for more yelling, pouting, and ad hominem (ad nauseum) attacks.

Though I'd be pleased to find out that I am wrong.