Sunday, April 29, 2007

Kurds and Armenian Genocide

Published on (
Daily Shvitz: Blogging with the heat turned up
Free Kurdistan
by August 21, 2006

Judging by Peter Galbraith's excellent The End of Iraq, the advent of Kurdistan as a distinct country has occurred in all but name. The language is different, the identity is different (most Kurds are Sunnis, but declare themselves Kurds first), and you won't find the flag of democratic Iraq flapping in Suleimania, Erbil or Dohuk. To drop "Sevres" into casual conversation in any of these three Iraqi governates would be like mentioning "Balfour" in 1945 Brooklyn. The spark of self-determination awaits the right wind to catch fire, if you'll pardon the hoary Orientalist metaphor. And if sectarian killing and anarchy in the rest of Iraq reaches the parliamentary level -- where, with a preeminent Kurd as president, it has yet to divide state with demands for secession -- then the Kurds are ready to put the official stamp of independence on the de facto variety they've been enjoying for over a decade. It is their constitutional right as Iraqis to do this, not to mention their moral right as victims of genocide and centuries-long persecution. With 30,000 million in diaspora, they're as much entitled to their own state as the are Palestinians, or as were the Jews or Ukrainians. The precedent for a unified "Iraq" isn't all that compelling. This is Michael Totten in Reason:

If Middle Easterners had drawn the borders themselves, Iraq wouldn’t even exist. Blame the British for shackling Kurds and Arabs together when they created the post-colonial, post-Ottoman map. The Kurds do. Like the English, they refer to a toilet as “a W.C.”—but they insist that stands for “Winston Churchill.”

History has suffered incalcuably by having valid arguments mouthed by the worst human beings. Tariq Aziz was fond of reiterating the Saddamist line during the first Gulf War that Kuwait "belonged" to Iraq because the latter territory was delineated by arrogant English cartographers after the World War I and was therefore subject to native reassessment. To accept this was to accept that Kuwaitis, too, had a legitimate grievance with their own boundaries and just as much of a claim to redraw them through conquest and annexation... Where does post-colonalism end? How far back do we have to go to "remake" the Middle East? With Kurdistan, the destination has already been reached by on-the-ground realities. No less important, so has justice.

Michael is an associate editor of Jewcy and a contributor to Slate. His blog is Snarksmith.

Source URL:

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Why Bush will never pull out of Iraq

The old box trick has caught many a monkey. Let's not monkey around...Henry_Allen

House Passes Iraq Troop Pullout Bill
WASHINGTON, April 25, 2007(CBS/AP) A sharply divided House of Representatives brushed aside a veto threat and passed legislation that would order President George W. Bush to begin withdrawing troops from Iraq by Oct. 1.

The 218-208 vote Wednesday came as the top U.S. commander in Iraq told lawmakers the country remained gripped by violence but was showing some signs of improvement.

Passage puts the bill on track to clear Congress by week's end and arrive on the president's desk in coming days as the first binding congressional challenge to Bush's handling of the conflict now in its fifth year.

“Our troops are mired in a civil war with no clear enemy and no clear strategy for success,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a Democrat.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — the Democrat most credited with leading Congress into this head-to-head confrontation with President Bush — laid low on Wednesday, reports CBS News correspondent Sharyl Attkisson. She skipped the meeting with Gen. David Petraeus, opting for a phone briefing instead.

Republicans promised to stand squarely behind the president in rejecting what they called a “surrender date” handed to the enemy.

“Al Qaeda will view this as the day the House of Representatives threw in the towel,” said Rep. Jerry Lewis, a Republican who is on the House Appropriations Committee.

The $124.2 billion bill would fund the war, among other things, but demand troop withdrawals begin on Oct. 1 or sooner if the Iraqi government does not meet certain standards. The bill sets a nonbinding goal of completing the troop pull out by April 1, 2008, allowing for forces conducting certain noncombat missions, such as attacking terrorist networks or training Iraqi forces, to remain.

House and Senate appropriators agreed to the legislation earlier this week. The Senate was expected to clear the measure Thursday, sending it to the president.

While Bush was confident the bill would ultimately fail because Democrats lacked the two-thirds majority needed to override a veto, he kept up pressure on lawmakers.

On the same day as the House vote, the president dispatched his Iraq commander, Petraeus, and other senior defense officials to Congress to make his case: Additional forces recently sent to Iraq are yielding mixed results and the strategy needs more time to work.

Petraeus told reporters sectarian killings in Baghdad were only a third of what they were in January, before Bush began sending in additional U.S. forces. He added that progress in the troubled western Anbar province was “breathtaking,” and that he thought Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was “doing his best” at leading the country.

But “the ability of al Qaeda to conduct horrific, sensational attacks obviously has represented a setback and is an area in which we're focusing considerable attention,” Petraeus said.

Petraeus said he would not touch on the “minefield of discussions about various legislative proposals,” but he noted that the new strategy in Iraq was just beginning. He said he planned to provide more details in early September.

Petraeus briefed his findings to lawmakers in a private room, where protesters outside chanted “Troops home now!” Republicans and Democrats alike emerged to say Petraeus had only confirmed their positions.

“This briefing reinforced our view that the solution in Iraq is a political solution,” Hoyer told reporters. Also confirmed, he said, was “our belief that we must hold the Iraqis accountable for achieving real progress.”

Rep. John Boehner, the House Republican leader, said Petraeus acknowledged there were challenges. “But considering where we are, I think the general feels good about the progress thus far,” Boehner said.

Bush said he stands firm on his latest strategy for winning the war and dismisses as counterproductive the Democratic call for withdrawal.

“That means our commanders in the middle of a combat zone would have to take fighting directions from legislators 6,000 miles away on Capitol Hill,” Bush said this week. “The result would be a marked advantage for our enemies and a greater danger for our troops.”

Petraeus' comments Wednesday put a finer point on when the much-awaited decision about the length of the U.S. troop buildup may come, saying he will make an assessment of the conditions in Iraq in early September, and report back to Defense Secretary Robert Gates and other military leaders.

Gates has said he expects the assessment this summer, but this is the first time military leaders said it would not be until September.

© MMVII, CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Monday, April 23, 2007


I'm not a Christian, but a very convinced Monotheist. So much so that I simply

can't take either of the easy ways out when evil triumphs; I can't just mumble

something about "mysterious ways" of the True Believer, nor can I be dismissive

in the manner of the atheist. What I can do - what any of us can do - is assume

that I don't know everything, that our maxmum capacity may be to evolve to the

limit "inside the box" as Stephan Wolfram's "New Kind of Science" would have the

coherent universe -- and assume, ipso facto, that (A) there is an "outside the

box" but (B) my trying to figure that out would require a Great Whatsit beyond

my ability to understand....nevertheless, I can observe the box we are within

and infer whether I think the Whatsit exists (I do) and that it is by nature

benovolent (I do). I do not infer that the Whatsit doesn't come through, I

assume that's our job mostly, and we are not in any case capable of what "coming

through" means. Henry_Allen

Where Is God?
Written by Rick Vassar
Published April 23, 2007

There's a dyin' voice within me reaching out somewhere
Toiling in the danger and in the morals of despair
Don't have the inclination to look back on any mistake
Like Cain, I now behold this chain of events that I must break
In the fury of the moment I can see the Master's hand
In every leaf that trembles, in every grain of sand.

- Bob Dylan, Every Grain of Sand 1981

In the beginning, God...

- Genesis 1:1

When a tragedy occurs in the magnitude of the shootings last week at Virginia

Tech, we look for answers. How could such evil be in the heart of one man, and

why did this evil take the lives of 32 innocent lives? Has evil and hate taken

over the world?
And one question many will ask:

Where was God when this happened? How can a loving God stand by and watch such

evil and not stop it?

I don't have the answers, and I'm not even close to understanding. I do know

that all of us are confronted by evil and hate every day. We all know right from

wrong, and sometimes, despite our greatest efforts, we succumb to the wrong and

somehow are able to justify it at the end of the day.

Bad things happen. When they happen to bad people, we understand. An eye for an

eye, we say. But when bad things happen to good people, we don't get it. And

many question God, his place in their lives, and his very existence.

Here are just a few of the horrific examples of evil that have cut to our


- On July 27, 1981, Adam Walsh was abducted from a shopping mall. His

dismembered body was found 16 days later...

- On October 1, 1993, Polly Klass was abducted from her home at knifepoint

during a slumber party. Her body was found 65 days later...

- On April 20, 1999, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris entered Columbine High School

in Littleton, CO and killed 12 classmates, a teacher and injured 20 before

taking their own lives...

- On April 16, 2007, Seung-Hui Cho, a student at Virginia Tech, kills 32 before

taking his own life...

If your faith is shaken by this event or one that is much more personal, then

the evil has won. God is here, and He is great. Evil exist in all our hearts,

and God loves us enough to allow us to make these choices yourself. God could

force you to love and obey him, but what kind of love would that be? He wants

you to come to Him of your own free will and love Him because you want to and

not because you have to.

God mourns for the dead, and He did not want this to happen. From this tragedy,

He will work to show His love to all in this world and He will ensure that none,

especially the innocent, have died in vain.

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now

being done, the saving of many lives...

- Genesis 50:20

- Adam Walsh's father, John Walsh, co-founded the National Center for Missing

and Exploited Children in 1984; the television show America's Most Wanted has

led to the arrest of 932 criminals to date; in 2006, President George W. Bush

signed the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act.

- Mark Klass, father of Polly, founded The Klasskids Foundation which is

dedicated to educating the public on the necessity of stronger laws and

cooperation among law enforcement agencies to protect our children. The first

line on their website is 'The KlaasKids Foundation arose like a phoenix out of

the ashes of despair.'

- Cassie Bernall was killed at Columbine after refusing to deny her faith, a

symbol of faith in a fallen world, doing what Peter could not...

These are just a few examples of how God has taken the evil in this world and He

has used it for good. God did not intend for the horror of Virginia Tech to

occur, but from it, His love will shine through.

God is good. God is here. Your distance from Him is up to you. Draw near.

He who testifies to these things says, "Yes, I am coming soon." Amen. Come, Lord

Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God's people. Amen

- Revelation 22:20-21

Tori Amos

God, sometimes you just don't come through
God, sometimes you just don't come through
Do you need a woman to look after you
God, sometimes you just don't come through

You make pretty daisies, pretty daisies love
I gotta find what you're doing about things here
A few witches burning gets a little toasty here
I gotta find
Why you always go
When the wind blows

God, sometimes you just don't come through
God, sometimes you just don't come through
Do you need a woman to look after you
God, sometimes you just don't come through

Tell me you're crazy maybe then I'll understand
You got your 9 iron in the back seat just in case
You heard you've gone south
Well, baby, you love your new 4 wheel
I gotta find
Why you always go
When the wind blows

Will you even tell her
If you decide to make the sky fall
Will you even tell her
If you decide to make the sky fall

God, sometimes you just don't come through
God, sometimes you just don't come through
Do you need a woman to look after you
God, sometimes you just don't come through

Saturday, April 21, 2007

George W Bush - American Idiot

More on Bush - is fearless leader of Kazakhstan...I wish Henry_Allen

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Liquid Sky Should be here

I'll have my own list for you at an early date. Meantime, here's one guy's

version of bizarre. Henry_Allen

Retro 10 List: Bizarre Films
Written by Chris Beaumont
Published April 30, 2005
See also:

Originally posted on Draven99's Musings on 7/28/04:

The list is compiled from films that I own and I have limited myself to one

film per director, as some directors make a lot of strange films. The list is in

no order of weirdness.

Ten Bizarre Films
1. Mulholland Dr.: One of the most unexplainable films (except for the hard to

find Lost Highway) I have ever seen, this film from David Lynch started it's

life as a pilot for a television show that got rejected.

2. City of Lost Children: From the director of Amelie, comes this sci-fi film

about a circus strongman searching for his little brother and getting ensnared

in a child thievery ring. More strange than it sounds.

3. Happiness of the Katikuri's: A Japanese remake of a Korean film (The Quiet

Family), and directed by Takashi Miike, this film is part musical, comedy,

drama, and horror. It is about a family that runs a remote cabin, where the

clientele keep dying.

4. A Clockwork Orange: I remember disliking this the first time I saw it, my

opinion has clearly changed, but it still remains one strange film. Great use of

the old Ludwig Van, plus an anti-violence message.

5. Vanilla Sky: Cameron Crowe and Tom Cruise team up to deliver one strange film

of jealousy, sex, and science fiction. A thinking man's Total Recall.

6. Suicide Club: A film about a string of unexplainable suicides, including a

group of 54 school girls, and the cop investigating them takes a surreal turn

into the realm of the unexplainable at the end.

7. Naked Lunch: "Exterminate all rational thought." That would apply to most

films on this list. Based on the work of William S. Burroughs this film

incorporates drugs, bugs, and typewriters into surreal fantasy starring Peter

Weller and directed by David Cronenberg.

8. Pi: Darren Arronofsky's debut is a tale of a mathematician working to unlock

the secrets of the stock market while everything else falls around him and he is

pursued by stock brokers and religious zealots. Very strange.

9. Six String Samurai: What if Elvis lived? what of there was another World War

and Elvis ruled the last city, Las Vegas? What if he died and we need to find a

new King? Sound interesting?

10. Songs from the Second Floor: I have no idea how to explain this film from

Sweden, it is not to everyone's tastes but it does help to show the absurdity

that is all around us.

I love strange films, as evidenced by the list above. The more bizarre, the

better. These films push the boundaries of the film medium, and at times show

that a linear narrative is not necessarily needed to tell an insightful story.

Whoever believes a film must exist in a straightforward way has not experienced

all that the film medium has to offer. Please let me know what you think of

these films, and feel free to suggest others that you think may interest me.

Monday, April 16, 2007


Report: Black Men Mired In Social Crisis
NEW YORK, April 16, 2007(AP) Citing bleak data on incarceration, joblessness and AIDS, the National Urban League said Monday that problems facing black men represent America's most serious social crisis and proposed an aggressive campaign to provide them with more opportunities.

The 97-year-old black empowerment organization, in its annual "State of Black America" report, called for universal early-childhood education, more second-chance programs for school dropouts and ex-offenders, and expanded use of all-male schools emphasizing mentoring and longer class hours.

"Empowering black men to reach their full potential is the most serious economic and civil rights challenge we face today," said Urban League President Marc H. Morial. "Ensuring their future is critical, not just for the African-American community, but for the prosperity, health and well-being of the entire American family."

According to the report, African-American men are more than twice as likely to be unemployed as white males while earning 74 percent as much per year. They are nearly seven times more likely to be incarcerated, with average jail sentences about 10 months longer than those of white men, the report said.

In addition, it said, black males between 15 and 34 are nine times more likely to be killed by firearms and nearly eight times as likely to suffer from AIDS.

"I could rattle off the names of African-American men who have overcome the odds and have risen to national prominence," Morial said. "But for all the Barack Obamas, Tony Dungys and Colin Powells out there ... there are many more black men who face very limited opportunities and diminished expectations."

"It's not enough to have role models to give them hope," he added. "We need a public commitment in the form of concrete policy strategies to help lift them out of their state of underachievement and put them on equal footing with white men in this nation."

Obama, the Illinois senator who is a top contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, wrote the report's foreword.

"The crisis of the black male is our crisis," he wrote. "It is in our shared interest and in the interest of every American to stop ignoring these challenges and start finding the solutions that will work."

On several key measurements, the report found greater disparities between black and white men than between black and white women.

For example, it said unemployment for black men was 9.5 percent, compared to 4 percent for white men, while the jobless rate for black women was 8.5 percent, compared to 4.1 percent for white women.

In terms of annual median income, black men earned less than 75 percent of what white men did, $34,443 vs. $46,807. Black women made 87 percent of what white women made even though they earned $5,000 less than black men — $29,588 a year.

The report did highlight a few bright spots for blacks of both genders, for example in the improved readiness level of children entering elementary school.

However, the report cited a widening gap after elementary school as blacks begin to fall behind on standardized tests. In fourth grade, the report said, blacks perform at a level of 87 percent of whites; by the time they reach 12th grade, their scores are at 74 percent of whites.

By high school, blacks are more likely to drop out — 15 percent compared to 12 percent for whites. For black males, the percentage rises to 18 percent compared to 14 percent of white males, the report said.

In an essay accompanying the report, University of California, Berkeley, lecturer Christopher Knaus said the rising emphasis on standardized testing would not yield major improvements as long as heavily minority schools had the least experienced teachers and highest faculty turnover.

"The curricula in most public schools also fails to adequately engage black students," Knaus wrote. "Disinterested students who are labeled as problems or disruptive often become the victims of 'zero tolerance' policies. ... contributing to the school-to-prison pipeline, especially among black males."

The report suggested that all-male schools with a strong emphasis on mentoring could help keep black boys "focused on their education and away from distractions that could lead them down the wrong paths."

The Urban League also recommended increased federal support for a summer jobs program in cities nationwide, and stressed that any overall progress will need a boost from parents.

"They must continually talk to their children about how much better off they will be by graduating from high school and college," it said.

For more information visit the National Urban League Web site at

© MMVII The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

Islamic Fascism

Pearl honored with Holocaust victims
MIAMI BEACH (AP) — Daniel Pearl was added to the 30,000 names etched on the Holocaust Memorial Wall here on Sunday to honor the American journalist who was abducted and killed by terrorists in 2002.

Although Pearl's death and the Jews of the Holocaust were executed by people of different faith, language and agendas, there is a common thread of hatred, his father Judea Pearl told a crowd of hundreds as his son's name was unveiled as the first non-Holocaust victim to be remembered at the wall in Miami Beach.

"The forces of barbarity and evil are still active in our world. The Holocaust didn't finish in 1945," Judea Pearl said.

Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal's South Asia bureau chief, was abducted Jan. 23, 2002, while working on a story about Islamic militants in Karachi, Pakistan.

Four days later, the Journal and other media outlets received pictures of Pearl with a pistol to his head. A group calling itself the National Movement for the Restoration of Pakistani Sovereignty claimed responsibility for the kidnapping and demanded that suspected Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters be released from U.S. custody.

The journalist's body was found months later in a shallow ditch in a compound on the outskirts of Karachi. His throat had been slit.

Three Islamic militants are serving life sentences in Pakistan for the killing; a fourth was sentenced to death. A Pentagon transcript released last month revealed that suspected 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed confessed to personally beheading Pearl, among several attacks and plots he took credit for.

During the ceremony, famed violinist Ida Haendel played a song as Judea Pearl lit a candle.

He said he would always think of his son, a classically trained violinist, as "the journalist who is roaming the roads with a fiddle and a laptop spreading friendship and goodwill into the human faces behind the news."

Daniel Pearl's last words, "I am Jewish," are the title of a book his parents wrote in 2004. A movie starring Angelina Jolie based on the memoirs of Pearl's widow, Mariane, is scheduled to be released this year.

Daniel Pearl's parents also started a foundation that bears his name and aims to eradicate hatred.

"We have a unique weapon — the legacy of a person that earned respect on the east, west divide so we feel compelled to use that legacy as much as we can."

Members of Temple Emanu-El also lit candles and sang in honor of other survivors during the ceremony. Miami-Dade County is home to nearly 3,800 Holocaust survivors, according to the Greater Miami Jewish Federation.
Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Find this article at:

Thursday, April 12, 2007

So It Goes. (Kurt Vonnegut 1922 - 2007)

- 10 Zen Monkeys (a webzine) - -

When Kurt Vonnegut Met Sammy Davis

Posted By Destiny On April 12, 2007 @ 12:14 pm In All Articles, Pop Culture, Celebrity | No Comments

When Kurt Vonnegut published Slaughterhouse Five, he was 47. He’d struggled for 20 years to earn a living as an American writer, working as a public relations man for General Electric, an advertising copy writer, and even a car salesman. “All I wanted to do was support my family,” Vonnegut wrote in 1999. “I didn’t think I would amount to a hill of beans.”

But this forgotten period of his life also includes a haunting story about television, a World War II story, and Sammy Davis Jr.

With two children, “I needed more money than GE would pay me,” Vonnegut wrote in his introduction to [1] Bagombo Snuff Box: Uncollected Short Fiction. “I also wanted, if possible, more self-respect.” Vonnegut hoped to spend his life writing short stories for magazines, and began tapping his experiences in World War II — and in the world that followed. But in the 1950s the magazines publishing his fiction were exterminated by the ultimate juggernaut: television.

“You can’t fight progress,” Vonnegut wrote bitterly. “The best you can do is ignore it, until it finally takes your livelihood and self-respect away.” In 1958 his sister died — and then her husband a few days later — and the 36-year-old would consider abandoning writing altogether.

In another world, Sammy Davis Jr. was a rising star. Though the 32-year-old had yet to join Frank Sinatra’s Rat Pack, he was making a name for himself as an entertainer in Las Vegas and on Broadway. In a [2] 1989 biography, Sammy remembered asking his agency for a role in TV dramas, and being told a black actor would be too jarring for audiences in the south.

“Baby,” he replied, “have you any idea how jarring it must be for about five million colored kids who sit in front of their TV sets hour after hour and they almost never see anybody who looks like them? It’s like they and their families and their friends just plain don’t exist.”

Sammy’s genuine pain found echoes in one of Vonnegut’s stories. D.P. — published in [3] Welcome to the Monkey House — tells the story of the only black boy in a German orphanage. (”Had the children not been kept there…they might have wandered off the edges of the earth, searching for parents who had long ago stopped searching for them.”) When the boy spots a black American soldier, he mistakes him for his father.

Though television was killing his career, Vonnegut ended up as the co-author on this single teleplay, which was to appear in a showcase of half-hour dramas sponsored by his old employer: G.E. Theatre. The published story ends with the young boy explaining his newfound hopes to the other skeptical orphans.

“How do you now he wasn’t fooling you?”
“Because he cried when he left me.”

In the teleplay, the heart-wrenching scene is played out. The alienated soldier — an orphan himself — finds himself abandoning the boy, yelling “Go away! I’m not your father!

“I don’t need you!”

Then he realizes he can’t do it. He collapses to his knees, and sobs “I need you.”

And he promises he’ll be back.

Sammy remembers that “everybody on the set was crying.” Future President Ronald Reagan even wandered in — then the host of GE Theatre — and said warmly that “It’s going to be a wonderful episode.”

And according to Sammy’s biography, his Hollywood agent Sy thought it was a milestone for America. “Well, sweetheart, you’ve made television history. When they write the books about the tube, they’ve got to write that Sammy Davis Jr. was the first Negro actor to star in episodic television… You’ll have opened those doors for others to follow.” Sammy remembered that “It didn’t matter what as long as they broke out of it being just maids and butlers.”

But there was one problem. General Electric worried that nearly two-thirds of their products were sold “below the Mason-Dixon line,” according to Sammy’s agent. His biography remembers that painful conversation. “They say they will be ostracized by their white customers and dealers. So there’s no way we can use that show.

“The sponsor is the boss… GE paid for the show, and it’s GE’s right to bury it.”

The show finally aired — in a doomed time slot competing against Rock Hudson’s first television appearance ever. But surprisingly, it beat Hudson’s ratings in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles — and was only a half point behind nationwide. The reaction was surprisingly positive, and GE even cast Sammy in two more episodes. And somewhere, America began to change.

Vonnegut struggled through another 10 years of writing. In Bagombo Snuff Box he complained that when he published [4] Mother Night and [5] The Sirens of Titan, “I got for each of them what I used to get for a short story.”

But eight years before his death he’d look back on that time of his life for what it was — “a golden age of magazine fiction… a time before there was television, when an author might support a family by writing stories that satisfied uncritical readers of magazines, and earning thereby enough free time in which to write serious novels.

“This old man’s hope has to be that some of his earliest tales, for all their mildness and innocence and clumsiness, may, in these coarse times, still entertain.”

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Civil War - No Place to Fight Terrorism

The War on Islamist Fascism is a 4GenWar. Our approach to Iraq has been to pretend it is Normandy and the liberaytion of Europe. Iraqis aren't becoming democrats. They are becoming theocrats. This is the wrong war....Watcch these pages for the Right Way to Fight Islamo-Fascism...Henry_Allen

Army prosecuting more deserters
WASHINGTON (AP) — With the nation fighting two wars, the number of soldiers deserting has increased and the Army is stepping up prosecutions.

Army statistics released this week show the number of desertions rose in the four years before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on America prompted the Bush administration's war on terrorism. Desertions then fell for three years but they have been rising steadily again in the last three years as the increasingly unpopular campaign in Iraq has worn on.

ON DEADLINE:Marines claim Target kicked them out because they were thought to be recruiters

Even with the recent increases, less than 1% of the Army's active duty force of 507,000 soldiers desert, according to Army data. That compares with 3.4% of the 1971 force that fought the Vietnam war, Maj. Anne Edgecomb, an Army spokeswoman, said Tuesday.

And even with a sizable boost in the rate of prosecutions, the overwhelming majority of cases still are handled through administrative discharge. Some 5% of cases go to trial, Edgecomb said.

Junior enlisted soldiers are the most likely to desert, Army researchers say.

More than 60% of deserters over the past 1½ years had less than a year in service, Edgecomb said. More than 80% have less than three years of service.

"The three primary reasons deserters cite for their actions are dissatisfaction with military life, family problems and homesickness," she said.

The problem "tends to increase in magnitude during wartime" and the Army treats the offense more seriously during war, she said, because it can affect a soldier's unit and its mission.

"We prosecute for desertion much more heavily in a time of war than in a time of peace," said Paul Boyce, another Army spokesman.

Army statistics include the following:

• Desertions rose steadily from about 1,800 in budget year 1998 to about 4,400 in the budget year ended Sept. 30, 2001.

•After the Sept. 11 attacks, desertions trended down for three years. There were roughly 4,000 in fiscal year 2002, 2,600 in 2003, and 2,450 in 2004.

•Desertions rose in 2005 and 2006 and appear to be slightly higher again in the 2007 fiscal year that started Oct. 1. They went from approximately 2,700 in 2005 to 3,300 last year and are at about 1,700 for the first half of this budget year.

•Army statistics for prosecutions were impossible to match exactly against the number of desertions because deserters were counted by fiscal year and prosecutions by calendar year. But as an example of the increased rate of prosecutions in recent years, the Army said 167 soldiers were prosecuted in the calendar year started January 2002 against roughly 4,000 desertions counted in the fiscal year started October 2001. That compared with 59 prosecuted the previous year out of 4,400 desertions.

When a soldier is reporting missing or AWOL — absent without leave — the military attempts to find him or her. After 30 days of consecutive absence, the soldier is classified as a deserter, Edgecomb said.

When the soldier returns or is apprehended, a commander has discretion to prosecute the deserter through a court-martial, discharge, retain and rehabilitate, as well as apply a wide range of administrative punishments.

"Our primary course of action is to attempt to rehabilitate the soldier — reintegrate him/her back into their unit," Edgecomb said.

Administrative actions include counseling, a reprimand, forfeiture of pay, reduction in rank and involuntary discharge.
Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Find this article at:

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Iraq Battle(s) For an Iranian Colony?

Six U.S. Soldiers Killed In Iraq
BAGHDAD, April 8, 2007(CBS/AP) Six U.S. soldiers died in Iraq on Sunday, the U.S. military announced.

Three were killed by a roadside bomb during a patrol south of Baghdad, the military said. One soldier was wounded in that incident.

Another soldier died and three were wounded by a mortar or rocket attack in a separate incident south of the capital, the military said in another statement.

Two more soldiers died Sunday from wounds sustained in combat, the military said — one each in Diyala and Salahuddin provinces, both north of Baghdad.

Earlier, the military announced that four U.S. soldiers were killed Saturday in an explosion near their vehicle in Diyala. Another soldier was also wounded in the attack, and evacuated to a U.S. military hospital, a statement said.

The victims' names were withheld pending family notification.

At least 3,280 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count. The figure includes seven military civilians.

Violence in Iraq remained as relentless as the deepening debate in the United States about the way forward in the war four years after Marines and the Army's 3rd Infantry Division swept into the Iraqi capital 20 days into the American invasion.

In Other Developments:

# The powerful Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr ordered his militiamen on Sunday to redouble their battle to oust American forces and argued that Iraq's army and police should join him in defeating "your archenemy."

# Security remained so tenuous in the capital on the eve of the fourth anniversary of the U.S. capture of Baghdad that Iraq's military declared a 24-hour ban on all vehicles in the capital from 5 a.m. Monday. The government quickly reinstated Monday as a holiday, just a day after it had decreed that April 9 no longer would be a day off.

# The Senate will not stop paying for the Iraq war nor relent from insisting that President George W. Bush keep pressing the Baghdad government for a negotiated end to the violence, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan, said Sunday.

# Iran's foreign minister warned Sunday that cooperation with Iraq could deteriorate if five Iranian diplomats detained by U.S. troops in Iraq are not set free.

© MMVII, CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Les Vampires (1915) - Stacia Napierkowska

Another fragment....perhaps inspirational of the "Theatres des Vampires" in "Interview With The Vampire" Henry_Allen

Thursday, April 5, 2007


From Rolling Stone, discussion of E. Howard Hunt's "deathbed confession" re JFK assassination, thanks again to our friend Brad Steiger for calling this to our attention.. When Gerald Ford passed on, the Warren Commission passed into history. When Hunt passed on, the mystery of who killed John Kennedy deepened once again. I'm not much on conspiracy theories, but Hunt was a key "dirty tricks" player, and what he said at the end of his life needs to be considered. Henry_Allen


Back to The Last Confessions of E. Howard Hunt
The Last Confessions of E. Howard Hunt
He was the ultimate keeper of secrets, lurking in the shadows of American history. He toppled banana republics, planned the Bay of Pigs invasion and led the Watergate break-in. Now he would reveal what he'd always kept hidden: who killed JFK


>> Who assassinated JFK? The conversation continues in our politics blog, National Affairs Daily.

Once, when the old spymaster thought he was dying, his eldest son came to visit him at his home in Miami. The scourges recently had been constant and terrible: lupus, pneumonia, cancers of the jaw and prostate, gangrene, the amputation of his left leg. It was like something was eating him up. Long past were his years of heroic service to the country. In the CIA, he'd helped mastermind the violent removal of a duly elected leftist president in Guatemala and assisted in subterfuges that led to the murder of Che Guevara. But no longer could you see in him the suave, pipe-smoking, cocktail-party-loving clandestine operative whose Cold War exploits he himself had, almost obsessively, turned into novels, one of which, East of Farewell, the New York Times once called "the best sea story" of World War II. Diminished too were the old bad memories, of the Bay of Pigs debacle that derailed his CIA career for good, of the Watergate Hotel fiasco, of his first wife's death, of thirty-three months in U.S. prisons -- of, in fact, a furious lifetime mainly of failure, disappointment and pain. But his firstborn son -- he named him St. John; Saint, for short -- was by his side now. And he still had a secret or two left to share before it was all over.

They were in the living room, him in his wheelchair, watching Fox News at full volume, because his hearing had failed too. After a while, he had St. John wheel him into his bedroom and hoist him onto his bed. It smelled foul in there; he was incontinent; a few bottles of urine under the bed needed to be emptied; but he was beyond caring. He asked St. John to get him a diet root beer, a pad of paper and a pen.

Saint had come to Miami from Eureka, California, borrowing money to fly because he was broke. Though clean now, he had been a meth addict for twenty years, a meth dealer for ten of those years and a source of frustration and anger to his father for much of his life. There were a couple of days back in 1972, after the Watergate job, when the boy, then eighteen, had risen to the occasion. The two of them, father and son, had wiped fingerprints off a bunch of spy gear, and Saint had helped in other ways, too. But as a man, he had two felony convictions to his name, and they were for drugs. The old spymaster was a convicted felon too, of course. But that was different. He was E. Howard Hunt, a true American patriot, and he had earned his while serving his country. That the country repaid him with almost three years in prison was something he could never understand, if only because the orders that got him in such trouble came right from the top; as he once said, "I had always assumed, working for the CIA for so many years, that anything the White House wanted done was the law of the land."

Years had gone by when he and St. John hardly spoke. But then St. John came to him wanting to know if he had any information about the assassination of President Kennedy. Despite almost universal skepticism, his father had always maintained that he didn't. He swore to this during two government investigations. "I didn't have anything to do with the assassination, didn't know anything about it," he said during one of them. "I did my time for Watergate. I shouldn't have to do additional time and suffer additional losses for something I had nothing to do with."

But now, in August 2003, propped up in his sickbed, paper on his lap, pen in hand and son sitting next to him, he began to write down the names of men who had indeed participated in a plot to kill the president. He had lied during those two federal investigations. He knew something after all. He told St. John about his own involvement, too. It was explosive stuff, with the potential to reconfigure the JFK-assassination-theory landscape. And then he got better and went on to live for four more years.

They sure don't make White House bad guys the way they used to. Today you've got flabby-faced half-men like Karl Rove, with weakling names like "Scooter" Libby, blandly hacking their way through the constraints of the U.S. Constitution, while back then, in addition to Hunt, you had out-and-out thugs like G. Gordon Liddy, his Watergate co-conspirator and Nixon's dirty-tricks chief, who would hold his own hand over an open flame to prove what a real tough guy he was. It all seems a little nutty now, but in 1972 it was serious business. These guys meant to take the powers of the presidency and run amok. Hunt, an ex-CIA man who loved operating in the shadows and joined Nixon's Special Investigations Unit (a.k.a. "the Plumbers") as a $100-a-day consultant in 1971, specialized in political sabotage. Among his first assignments: forging cables linking the Kennedy administration to the assassination of South Vietnam's president. After that, he began sniffing around Ted Kennedy's dirty laundry, to see what he could dig up there. Being a former CIA man, he had no problem contemplating the use of firebombs and once thought about slathering LSD on the steering wheel of an unfriendly newspaperman's car, hoping it would leach into his skin and cause a fatal accident. But of all his various plots and subterfuges, in the end, only one of them mattered: the failed burglary at the Watergate Hotel, in Washington, D.C., in the spring of 1972.

The way it happened, Hunt enlisted some Cuban pals from his old Bay of Pigs days to fly up from Miami and bug the Democratic National Committee headquarters, which was located inside the Watergate. Also on the team were a couple of shady ex-government operators named James McCord and Frank Sturgis. The first attempt ended when the outfit's lock picker realized he'd brought the wrong tools. The next time, however, with Hunt stationed in a Howard Johnson's hotel room across the way, communicating with the burglars by walkie-talkie, the team gained entry into the office. Unfortunately, on the way into the building, they'd taped open an exit door to allow their escape, and when a night watchman found it, he called the cops. The burglars were arrested on the spot. One of them had E. Howard's phone number, at the White House, no less, in his address book. Following this lead, police arrested Hunt and charged him with burglary, conspiracy and wiretapping. Abandoned by his bosses at the White House, he soon began trying to extort money from them to help pay his mounting bills, as well as those of his fellow burglars, the deal being that if the White House paid, all those arrested would plead guilty and maintain silence about the extent of the White House's involvement.

That December, his wife, Dorothy, carrying $10,000 in $100 bills, was killed in a plane crash, foul play suspected but never proved. Two years later, impeachment imminent, Nixon resigned his presidency. And in 1973, E. Howard Hunt, the man who had unwittingly set all these events in motion, pleaded guilty and ultimately spent thirty-three months in prison. "I cannot escape feeling," he said at the time, "that the country I have served for my entire life and which directed me to carry out the Watergate entry is punishing me for doing the very things it trained and directed me to do."

After his release, Hunt moved to Miami, where he remarried, had two more children and spent three decades living a quiet, unexceptional life, steadfastly refusing to talk about Watergate, much less the Kennedy assassination. His connection to the JFK assassination came about almost serendipitously, when in 1974 a researcher stumbled across a photo of three tramps standing in Dallas' Dealey Plaza. It was taken on November 22nd, 1963, the day of Kennedy's shooting, and one of the tramps looked pretty much like E. Howard. In early inquiries, official and otherwise, he always denied any involvement. In later years, he'd offer a curt "No comment." And then, earlier this year, at the age of eighty-eight, he died -- though not before writing an autobiography, American Spy: My Secret History in the CIA, Watergate & Beyond, published last month. Not surprisingly, those things he wrote down about JFK's death and gave to his eldest son don't make an appearance in the book, at least not in any definitive way. E. Howard had apparently decided to take them to the grave. But St. John still has the memo -- "It has all this stuff in it," he says, "the chain of command, names, people, places, dates. He wrote it out to me directly, in his own handwriting, starting with the initials 'LBJ' " -- and he's decided it's time his father's last secrets finally see some light, for better or for worse.

Out in eureka, a few days before his father's death, St. John is driving through town in a beat-up mottled-brown '88 Cutlass Sierra. He is fifty-two. His hair is dark, worn long, and despite his decades as a drug addict, he's still looking good. He has a Wiccan girlfriend named Mona. He's also an accomplished and soulful guitar player, leaning heavily toward Eric Clapton; he can often be found playing in local haunts during open-mike nights and is working on putting a band together, perhaps to be called Saint John and the Sinners or, though less likely, the Konspirators. He's got a good sense of humor and a large sentimental streak. The last time he saw his father, in Miami, was a week ago.

"I sat by his bedside holding his hand for about ten hours the first day," St. John says somberly. "He hadn't been out of bed in ten weeks, had pneumonia twenty-seven times in the last sixteen months. He's such a tough old motherfucker, that guy. But he had all this fluid in his lungs, a death rattle, and I thought, 'Any minute now, this is it, his last breath, I'm looking at it right here.' A couple of times my stepmom, Laura, would say, 'Howard, who is this?' He'd look at me and her, and he didn't have a clue. Other times, he would quietly say, 'St. John.' He said he loved me and was grateful I was there."

At the moment, Saint doesn't have a job; his felonies have gotten in the way. He has to borrow money to put gas in his Cutlass. Beach chairs substitute for furniture in the tiny apartment where, until recently, he lived with an ex-girlfriend, herself a reformed meth addict, and two kids, one hers, one theirs. "I would've loved to have lived a normal life," he says. "I'm happy with who I am. I don't have any regrets. But all the shit that happened, the whole thing, it really spun me over."

And not only him but his siblings, too -- a brother, David, who has had his own problems with drugs, and two older sisters, Kevan and Lisa, who still hold their father responsible for the tragedy of their mom's death. Dorothy Hunt was staunchly loyal to her husband and, after his arrest, helped him with his plans to blackmail the White House. On December 8th, 1972, carrying $10,000 in what's regarded as extorted hush money and, some say, evidence that could have gotten Nixon impeached, she boarded United Airlines Flight 553 from Washington to Chicago. The plane crashed, killing forty-three people onboard, including Dorothy. The official explanation was pilot error, but St. John doesn't believe it. He thinks that the Nixon White House wanted to both get rid of his mother and send a message to his father. Nonetheless, he says he tries not to place blame.

"She got on that plane willingly and lovingly, because that's the kind of woman she was," he says. "They had lots of marital problems, but when it came down to it, she had his back, and she could hang in there with the big dogs. She was really pissed at Nixon, Liddy, all those guys, and she was saying, 'We're not going to let them hang you out to dry. We're going to get them. Those motherfuckers are going to pay.' So I've never held what happened against him. I had bitterness and resentment, but I always knew he did what he had to do given the circumstances."

And at times, he even seems to think of his dad with pride: "Did you hear that the character that Tom Cruise plays in the Mission: Impossible movies is named after him? Instead of Everette Hunt, they named him Ethan Hunt. I know he's been portrayed as kind of an inept, third-rate burglar, but burglary wasn't really his bag. My dad was a really good spy, maybe a great spy."

But then he starts talking about what it was like growing up the eldest son of Everette Howard Hunt, and a different picture emerges. "He loved the glamorous life, cocktail parties, nightclubbing, flirting, all that," Saint says. "He was unfaithful to my mom, but she stayed with him. He was a swinger. He thought of himself as a cool dude, suave, sophisticated, intellectual. He was Mr. Smooth. A man of danger. He was perfect for the CIA. He never felt guilt about anything."

In the early days of the cold war, the CIA's mandate was simple: to contain the spread of communism by whatever means necessary; it was tacitly given permission to go about its dirty business unfettered by oversight of any kind. For much of the Cold War, it was answerable to no one. And if you were lucky enough to become one of its agents, you had every right to consider yourself a member of an elite corps, a big swinging all-American dick like no other.

The middle-class son of a Hamburg, New York, attorney, E. Howard Hunt graduated from Brown University in 1940 with a bachelor's in English, joined the Navy during World War II, served in the North Atlantic on the destroyer Mayo, slipped and fell, took a medical discharge and wound up in China working under "Wild" Bill Donovan in the newly formed Office of Strategic Services. When the OSS was transformed into the CIA, Hunt jumped onboard. He loved action as much as he hated communism, and he soon began operating with a level of arrogance entirely typical of the CIA. He was instrumental, for instance, in planning the 1954 coup in Guatemala that overthrew the left-leaning, democratically elected president, Jacobo Arbenz, and ushered in forty years of military repression, which ultimately cost 200,000 Guatemalans their lives. Years later, when asked about the 200,000 deaths, E. Howard said, "Deaths? What deaths?" Like Saint says, he never felt guilt about anything: "He was a complete self-centered WASP who saw himself as this blue blood from upstate New York. 'I'm better than anybody because I'm white, Protestant and went to Brown, and since I'm in the CIA, I can do anything I want.' Jew, nigger, Polack, wop -- he used all those racial epithets. He was an elitist. He hated everybody."

In the early Fifties, his father could often be seen cruising around in a white Cadillac convertible; he loved that car. He also loved his cigars and his wine and his country clubs and being waited on by servants and having his children looked after by nannies. He was full of himself and full of the romantic, swashbuckling, freewheeling importance of his government mission. He had quite an imagination, too. When he wasn't off saving the world from Reds, he spent much of his time in front of a typewriter, hacking out espionage novels, some eighty in all, with titles such as The Violent Ones ("They killed by day, they loved by night") and I Came to Kill ("They wanted a tyrant liquidated, and cash could hire him to do it").

Wherever E. Howard was stationed -- he'd pop up Zelig-like in hot spots from Japan to Uruguay to Spain -- he and his family lived lavishly and well, all presumably to lend credence to his cover job as a high-ranking embassy official. One estate was as large as a city block, and one dining table as long as a telephone pole, with the parents sitting at distant opposite ends. Sadly, he treated his children the way he and the CIA treated the rest of the world. They were supposed to bend to his will and otherwise be invisible. God forbid during a meal one of them should speak or rattle a dish.

"Whenever I made a sound, he looked at me with those hateful, steely eyes of his, a look of utter contempt and disgust, like he could kill," St. John says. "He was a mean-spirited person and an extremely cruel father. I was his firstborn son, and I was born with a clubfoot and had to have operations. I suffered from petit-mal seizures. I was dyslexic and developed a stutter. For the superspy not to have a superson was the ultimate disappointment, like, 'Here's my idiot son with the clubfoot and glasses. Can we keep him in the closet, Dorothy?' "

Later, E. Howard moved the family to the last home it would ever occupy as a family, in Potomac, Maryland. It was called Witches Island. It was a rambling affair, with a horse paddock, a chicken coop, the Cold War bonus of a bomb shelter, and a fishing pond across the way. E. Howard wanted Saint to attend a top-flight prep school and one night took him to a dinner at St. Andrew's School, to try and get his son enrolled. In the middle of the meal, Saint leaned over to his dad and whispered, "Papa, I have to go to the bathroom." His father glared at him. Pretty soon Saint was banging his knees together under the table. "Sit still," his father hissed. Saint said, "Papa, I really have to go."

"I ended up pissing in my pants at the dinner," Saint says. "Can you imagine how humiliating that was? Unbelievable." He didn't get into St. Andrew's. He ended up settling for a lower-tier boarding school called St. James, near Hagerstown, Maryland. His second year there, in 1970, after being repeatedly molested by a teacher, he broke down and told his mother what was going on. She told his father. And rumor had it that E. Howard came up to St. James with a carload of guns to make the teacher disappear. "He was really, really pissed off," says Saint. "He wanted to kill." In any case, at the school, neither the teacher nor St. John was ever seen again.

That same year, his father retired from the CIA after being relegated to the backwaters for his role in the Bay of Pigs. He went to work as a writer for a PR firm. He was bored and missed the hands-on action of the CIA.The following year, however, his lawyer pal Chuck Colson, who was special counsel to Nixon, called him up with an invitation to join the president's Special Investigations Unit as a kind of dirty-tricks consultant. He signed on. He really thought he was going places.

Around the time of st. john's Miami visit in 2003 to talk to his ailing father about JFK, certain other people were also trying to get things out of E. Howard, including the actor Kevin Costner, who had played a JFK-assassination-obsessed DA in the Oliver Stone film JFK and had become somewhat obsessed himself. Costner said that he could arrange for E. Howard to make $5 million for telling the truth about what happened in Dallas. Unbeknown to St. John, however, Costner had already met with E. Howard once. That meeting didn't go very well. When Costner arrived at the house, he didn't ease into the subject. "So who killed Kennedy?" he blurted out. "I mean, who did shoot JFK, Mr. Hunt?"

E. Howard's mouth fell open, and he looked at his wife. "What did he say?"

"Howard," Laura said, "he wants to know who shot JFK."

And that ended that meeting, with E. Howard grumbling to himself about Costner, "What a numskull."

But then St. John got involved, and he knew better how to handle the situation. For one thing, he knew that his stepmother wanted to forget about the past. She didn't want to hear about Watergate or Kennedy. In fact, E. Howard swore to Laura that he knew nothing about JFK's assassination; it was one of her preconditions for marriage. Consequently, she and her sons often found themselves in conflict with St. John.

"Why can't you go back to California and leave well enough alone?" they asked him. "How can you do this? How dare you do this? He's in the last years of his life."

But Saint's attitude was, "This has nothing to do with you. This stuff is of historical significance and needs to come out, and if you're worried that it'll make him out to be a liar, everybody knows he's a liar already. Is this going to ruin the Hunt name? The Hunt name is already filled with ruination."

So when Saint arrived in Miami to talk to his dad, the two men spent a lot of time waiting for Laura to leave the house. Saint painted the living room and built a wheelchair ramp. In the mornings, he cooked breakfast. In the afternoons, he plopped a fishing hat on E. Howard's head and wheeled him around the neighborhood. They drank coffee together. And watched lots of Fox News. And when Laura finally left, they talked.

Afterward, another meeting was arranged with Costner, this time in Los Angeles, where the actor had fifty assassination-related questions all ready to go. (The actor declined comment for this article.) Though the $5 million figure was still floating around, all Costner wanted to pay E. Howard at this point was $100 a day for his time. There would be no advance. St. John called Costner.

"That's your offer? A hundred dollars? That's an insult. You're a cheapskate."

"Nobody calls me a cheapskate," said Costner. "What do you think I'm going to do, just hand over $5 million?"

"No. But the flight alone could kill him. He's deaf as a brick. He's pissing in a bag. He's got one leg. You want him to fly to Los Angeles and for $100 a day? Wow! What are we going to do with all that money?!"

"I can't talk to you anymore, St. John," Costner said. And that was the end of that, for good. It looked like what E. Howard had to say would never get out.

One evening in Eureka, over a barbecue meal, St. John explains how he first came to suspect that his father might somehow be involved in the Kennedy assassination. "Around 1975, I was in a phone booth in Maryland somewhere, when I saw a poster on a telephone pole about who killed JFK, and it had a picture of the three tramps. I saw that picture and I fucking -- like a cartoon character, my jaw dropped, my eyes popped out of my head, and smoke came out of my ears. It looks like my dad. There's nobody that has all those same facial features. People say it's not him. He's said it's not him. But I'm his son, and I've got a gut feeling."

He chews his sandwich. "And then, like an epiphany, I remember '63, and my dad being gone, and my mom telling me that he was on a business trip to Dallas. I've tried to convince myself that's some kind of false memory, that I'm just nuts, that it's something I heard years later. But, I mean, his alibi for that day is that he was at home with his family. I remember I was in the fifth grade. We were at recess. I was playing on the merry-go-round. We were called in and told to go home, because the president had been killed. And I remember going home. But I don't remember my dad being there. I have no recollection of him being there. And then he has this whole thing about shopping for Chinese food with my mother that day, so that they could cook a meal together." His father testified to this, in court, on more than one occasion, saying that he and his wife often cooked meals together.

St. John pauses and leans forward. "Well," he says, "I can tell you that's just the biggest load of crap in the fucking world. He was always looking at things like he was writing a novel; everything had to be just so glamorous and so exciting. He couldn't even be bothered with his children. That's not glamorous. James Bond doesn't have children. So my dad in the kitchen? Chopping vegetables with his wife? I'm so sorry, but that would never happen. Ever. That fucker never did jack-squat like that. Ever."

Not that it was all bad back then, in Potomac, at Witches Island. E. Howard played the trumpet, and his son was into music too, so sometimes the pair went down to Blues Alley, in Georgetown, to hear jazz. Back home, E. Howard would slap Benny Goodman's monster swing-jazz song "Sing, Sing, Sing" on the turntable, and the two would listen to it endlessly. And then, sometimes, during the stomping Harry James horn solo, E. Howard would jump to his feet, snapping his fingers like some cool cat, pull back his shirt sleeves, lick his lips and play the air trumpet for all he was worth. It was great stuff, and St. John loved it. "I would sit there in awe," he says. But the best was yet to come.

It was well past midnight on June 18th, 1972. Saint, eighteen years old, was asleep in his basement bedroom, surrounded by his Beatles and Playboy pinup posters, when he heard someone shouting, "You gotta wake up! You gotta wake up!"

When he opened his eyes, Saint saw his father as he'd never seen him before. E. Howard was dressed in his usual coat and tie, but everything was akimbo. He was a sweaty, disheveled mess. Saint didn't know what to think or what was going on.

"I don't need you to ask a lot of questions," his father said. "I need you to get your clothes on and come upstairs."

He disappeared into the darkness. Saint changed out of his pajamas. Upstairs, he found his father in the master bedroom, laboring over a big green suitcase jumble-filled with microphones, walkie-talkies, cameras, tripods, cords, wires, lots of weird stuff. His father started giving him instructions. Saint went to the kitchen and returned with Windex, paper towels and some rubber dishwashing gloves. Then, in silence, the two of them began wiping fingerprints off all the junk in the suitcase. After that, they loaded everything into E. Howard's Pontiac Firebird and drove over to a lock on the C&O Canal. E. Howard heaved the suitcase into the water, and it gurgled out of sight.

They didn't speak on the way home. St. John still didn't know what was going on. All he knew was that his dad had needed his help, and he'd given it, successfully.

The next day, dressed in one of his prep-school blazers, he drove to a Riggs Bank in Georgetown and met his father inside the safety-deposit-box cage. His father turned him around, lifted his blazer and shoved about $100,000 in cash down the back of his pants. The boy made it home without picking up a tail. Then his father had him get rid of a typewriter. Saint put the typewriter in a bag, hoofed it across the Witches Island property onto the neighboring spread and tossed it into the pond where he and his brother David used to go fishing.

"Don't ever tell anybody you've done these things," his father said later. "I could get in trouble. You could get in trouble. I'm sorry to have to put you in this position, but I really am grateful for your help."

"Of course, Papa," Saint said.

Everything he had done, he'd done because his father and his gang of pals had botched the break-in at the Watergate Hotel. Soon his mother would be killed in a plane crash, and his father would be sent to jail, and Nixon would resign, and his own life would fracture in unimaginable ways. But right now, standing there with his father and hearing those words of praise, he was the happiest he'd ever been.

Years later, when saint started trying to get his father to tell what he knew about JFK, he came to believe the information would be valuable. He both needed money and thought he was owed money, for what he'd been through. Also, like many a conspiracy nut before him, he was more than a little obsessed.

"After seeing that poster of the three tramps," he says, "I read two dozen books on the JFK assassination, and the more I read, the more I was unsure about what happened. I had all these questions and uncertainties. I mean, I was trying to sort out things that had touched me in a big way."

Touched him and turned him upside down, especially the death of his mother. He had been particularly close to her. She was part Native American and had sewed him a buckskin shirt that he used to wear like a badge of honor, along with a pair of moccasins. At the same time, Saint feels that he never got to know her. She told him that during World War II, she'd tracked Nazi money for the U.S. Treasury Department, and Saint believes that early in her marriage to his father, she may have been in the CIA herself, "a contract agent, not officially listed." But he isn't sure about any of it, really.

"In our family, everything was sort of like a mini-CIA," he says. "Nothing was ever talked about, so we grew up with all of these walls, walls around my father, walls around my mother, walls around us kids, to protect and insulate us. You grow up not knowing what really happened. Like, who was my mom, for Christ's sake? Was she a CIA agent? What was her life really like?" The one thing he does know is that when she died, so in large part did the Hunt family.

Once his father went to prison, Saint moved to Wisconsin, where he worked in a potato-processing plant and spent the rest of his time dropping acid. In 1975, he moved to the Oakland, California, area, started snorting coke and for five years drove a bakery truck. He was in a band and hoped to become a rock star, though touring alongside Buddy Guy was about the biggest thing that ever happened. Then he gave up coke and took up meth and a while later started dealing meth. Twenty years flew by. He had wild sexual escapades; he shacked up with two sisters -- "nymphs," he calls them. But mainly his life, like his father's, was a rolling series of misfortunes. He received insurance money after his mom died, and bought a house; a week later, it burned down in some drug-related fiasco. His brother David followed a similar path; leaving boarding school, he hooked up with Saint, and together they set about snorting and dealing away the years.

Finally, in 2001, on the heels of two drug busts, Saint decided to go straight. With his ex-girlfriend, their daughter and her son, he stayed in a series of shelters, then took them to live in Eureka, several hours north of Oakland. He's since earned a certificate in hotel management, but jobs don't last. And the questions and uncertainties about his father continue to circulate in his head.

"In some ways we turned out similarly," he says. "He was a spy, into secrets and covert activity. I became a drug dealer. What has to be more covert and secret than that? It's the same mind-set. We were just on opposite sides of the -- well, actually, in our case, I guess we weren't even on opposite sides of the law, were we?" That time in miami, with saint by his bed and disease eating away at him and him thinking he's six months away from death, E. Howard finally put pen to paper and started writing. Saint had been working toward this moment for a long while, and now it was going to happen. He got his father an A&W diet root beer, then sat down in the old man's wheelchair and waited.

E. Howard scribbled the initials "LBJ," standing for Kennedy's ambitious vice president, Lyndon Johnson. Under "LBJ," connected by a line, he wrote the name Cord Meyer. Meyer was a CIA agent whose wife had an affair with JFK; later she was murdered, a case that's never been solved. Next his father connected to Meyer's name the name Bill Harvey, another CIA agent; also connected to Meyer's name was the name David Morales, yet another CIA man and a well-known, particularly vicious black-op specialist. And then his father connected to Morales' name, with a line, the framed words "French Gunman Grassy Knoll."

So there it was, according to E. Howard Hunt. LBJ had Kennedy killed. It had long been speculated upon. But now E. Howard was saying that's the way it was. And that Lee Harvey Oswald wasn't the only shooter in Dallas. There was also, on the grassy knoll, a French gunman, presumably the Corsican Mafia assassin Lucien Sarti, who has figured prominently in other assassination theories.

"By the time he handed me the paper, I was in a state of shock," Saint says. "His whole life, to me and everybody else, he'd always professed to not know anything about any of it. But I knew this had to be the truth. If my dad was going to make anything up, he would have made something up about the Mafia, or Castro, or Khrushchev. He didn't like Johnson. But you don't falsely implicate your own country, for Christ's sake. My father is old-school, a dyed-in-the-wool patriot, and that's the last thing he would do."

Later that week, E. Howard also gave Saint two sheets of paper that contained a fuller narrative. It starts out with LBJ again, connecting him to Cord Meyer, then goes on: "Cord Meyer discusses a plot with [David Atlee] Phillips who brings in Wm. Harvey and Antonio Veciana. He meets with Oswald in Mexico City. . . . Then Veciana meets w/ Frank Sturgis in Miami and enlists David Morales in anticipation of killing JFK there. But LBJ changes itinerary to Dallas, citing personal reasons."

David Atlee Phillips, the CIA's Cuban operations chief in Miami at the time of JFK's death, knew E. Howard from the Guatemala-coup days. Veciana is a member of the Cuban exile community. Sturgis, like Saint's father, is supposed to have been one of the three tramps photographed in Dealey Plaza. Sturgis was also one of the Watergate plotters, and he is a man whom E. Howard, under oath, has repeatedly sworn to have not met until Watergate, so to Saint the mention of his name was big news.

In the next few paragraphs, E. Howard goes on to describe the extent of his own involvement. It revolves around a meeting he claims he attended, in 1963, with Morales and Sturgis. It takes place in a Miami hotel room. Here's what happens:

Morales leaves the room, at which point Sturgis makes reference to a "Big Event" and asks E. Howard, "Are you with us?"

E. Howard asks Sturgis what he's talking about.

Sturgis says, "Killing JFK."

E. Howard, "incredulous," says to Sturgis, "You seem to have everything you need. Why do you need me?" In the handwritten narrative, Sturgis' response is unclear, though what E. Howard says to Sturgis next isn't: He says he won't "get involved in anything involving Bill Harvey, who is an alcoholic psycho."

After that, the meeting ends. E. Howard goes back to his "normal" life and "like the rest of the country . . . is stunned by JFK's death and realizes how lucky he is not to have had a direct role."

After reading what his father had written, St. John was stunned too. His father had not only implicated LBJ, he'd also, with a few swift marks of a pen, put the lie to almost everything he'd sworn to, under oath, about his knowledge of the assassination. Saint had a million more questions. But his father was exhausted and needed to sleep, and then Saint had to leave town without finishing their talk, though a few weeks later he did receive in the mail a tape recording from his dad. E. Howard's voice on the cassette is weak and grasping, and he sometimes wanders down unrelated pathways. But he essentially remakes the same points he made in his handwritten narrative.

Shortly thereafter, Laura found out what had been going on, and with the help of E. Howard's attorney put an end to it. St. John and his father were kept apart. When they did see each other, they were never left alone. And they never got a chance to finish what they'd started. Instead, the old man set about writing his autobiography and turned his back on his son. He wrote him a letter in which he said that Saint's life had been nothing but "meaningless, self-serving instant gratification," that he had never amounted to anything and never would. He asked for his JFK memos back, and Saint returned them, though not before making copies.

There is no way to confirm Hunt's allegations -- all but one of the co-conspirators he named are long gone. St. John, for his part, believes his father. E. Howard was lucid when he made his confession. He was taking no serious medications, and he and his son were finally on good terms. If anything, St. John believes, his father was holding out on him, the old spy keeping a few secrets in reserve, just in case.

"Actually, there were probably dozens of plots to kill Kennedy, because everybody hated Kennedy but the public," Saint says. "The question is, which one of them worked? My dad has always said, 'Thank God one of them worked.' I think he knows a lot more than he told me. He claimed he backed out of the plot only so he could disclaim actual involvement. In a way, I feel like he only opened another can of worms." He takes a deep breath. "At a certain point, I'm just going to have to let it go."

Out in Eureka, Saint has been reading an advance copy of E. Howard's autobiography, American Spy. In it, his father looks at LBJ as only one possible person behind the JFK killing, and then only in the most halfhearted, couched-and-cloaked way. He brings up various other possibilities, too, then debunks each of them.

But of all the shadings and omissions in the book, the only one that truly upsets St. John has to do with the happiest moment in his life, that time in 1972, on the night of the Watergate burglary, when he helped his father dispose of the spy gear, then ran money for him and ditched the typewriter.

The way it unfolds in the book, St. John doesn't do anything for his dad. And it's E. Howard himself who dumps the typewriter.

"That's a complete lie," Saint says, almost shouting. "A total fabrication. I did that. I mean, he never took me aside and thanked me in any kind of deep emotional way. But I'm the one who helped him that night. Me! And he's robbing me of it. Why?"

Like so many other things, he will never know why, because the next day, on January 23rd, in the morning, in Miami, the old spymaster dies.

Later in the day, Saint started reading a few of the obituaries.

One starts off, "Sleazebag E. Howard Hunt is finally dead."

"Oh, God," Saint says and goes looking for how The New York Times handled his father's death. The obit reads, "Mr. Hunt was intelligent, erudite, suave and loyal to his friends. But the record shows that he mishandled many of the tasks he received from the CIA and the White House. He was 'totally self-absorbed, totally amoral and a danger to himself and anybody around him. . . .' "

"Wow," Saint says. "I don't know if I can read these things. I mean, that is one brutal obituary."

But the Times is right, of course. E. Howard was a danger to anybody around him, and any list of those in danger would always have to include, right at the top, his firstborn son, St. John.

>> Who assassinated JFK? The conversation continues in our politics blog, National Affairs Daily.

Posted Mar 21, 2007 1:15 PM