The mysterious case of Helric Fredou: Was it really a suicide?

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Isn’t it ironic, and odd, that a high-ranking French policeman, just newly placed in charge of the biggest investigation of his life, should suddenly kill himself the very night after the crime? I’m speaking here of the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris, and the police officer in question, Helric Fredou. According to Contrainjerencia, there are ample reasons to doubt official versions of the story, not only of the massacre itself, but also of the alleged suicide of the police chief leading up the investigation. And some of them come straight from the mouth of the late chief’s own sister:

French police commissioner Helric Fredou, who was placed in charge of the investigations over the Charlie Hebdo massacre, and found dead in the Commissariat of Limoges the night of that same day, was trying to make a “very urgent” phone call moments before his death, reveals local independent journalist Hicham Hamza.

“They took away his computers and personal mobile phone from us,” said Fredou’s sister to Hamza, in an interview on the day after the commissioner’s funeral. The interview was published on Friday. “They took everything. It shocked us, but they told us it was standard procedure.”

Fredou, whose name had not even been mentioned in several French dailies of record (but in the foreign press), was to have investigated somebody known to one of the victims, not named officially, but whom Hamza easily identified as Jeanette Bougrab, a high-level state functionary, and member of the right-wing “Union for a Popular Movement” (UMP).

Bougrab appeared in the days after the crime on various news reports as the companion of murdered cartoonist Stéphane Charbonnier, alias “Charb”, and made a series of emotional declarations of an islamophobic nature.

The relationship has however been denied by Laurent, the brother of the cartoonist, in a categorical manner, and by Parisian municipal council member Clémentine Autain, who had ties to “Charb”, and called Bougrab a “usurper”.

In his investigation, Hamza pointed out distinct elements who support doubts as to the existence of the relationship, such as discrepancies in the number of years that they had supposedly been together; previous declarations by Bougrab, a single woman, in which she said that her adopted daughter lamented “not having a father”; Charbonnier being solo at his last birthday party, and a long etcetera.

The supposed companion, whose family took up arms against the National Liberation Front of Algeria in defence of French colonialism in that North African land, is well known for her anti-Islamic diatribes and her membership in Zionist networks of great influence in French circles of power.

As well, the first French public figure who asserted a relationship between Charbonnier and Bougrab was journalist Caroline Fourest, known for spreading falsehoods of a defamatory nature about Islam, with her assertion that the assassins of Charlie Hebdo had forced a surviving employee to recite verses from the Koran — a lie refuted by the employee herself.

All these contradictions and political implications of the murder of Charbonnier were why Commissioner Fredou was investigating, according to Hamza. His death has barely been mentioned by the French press, strangely given the importance of the recent murders for French national security, and perhaps international security as well.

In the few hours of the investigation, said Fredou’s sister, “the day was very tense”, and police from the capital had been sent to Limoges, arriving at the Commissariat around 11:30 in the evening. Fredou “was supposed to redact a report, but there were frictions, I don’t know about what…” the sister explained.

After those frictions, the interviewee continued, “he told them he had to make a very urgent phone call, and when they saw that he hadn’t come back, a colleague went looking for him in his office, and found him dead.” The next day, “people came from Paris to tell us that he had committed suicide,” she said.

Informed of the death at 5:00 a.m., the family had to insist repeatedly before finally being allowed to see the body “at the end of the day”. Even though Fredou had shot himself in the head, according to the official report, “he had a bandage on his forehead. They had opened the side for the autopsy. The back of the head had nothing on it,” said Fredou’s sister.

Helric Fredou had found the bodies of suicides before. After one of them, his sister said, “he said to Mother: ‘I will never do anything like that to you’, that is, kill himself and leave her all alone.”

Translation mine.

So you can see that this is a highly improbable “suicide”. If Helric Fredou, who had attended the scene of several suicides, had promised his own mother that he would never inflict such a horror upon her, it is more than a little suspicious that he would be found dead in precisely such circumstances himself.

There is no reason to assume that the chief was so mentally unstable as to do it, either, according to Hicham Hamza’s own report. It’s a bit messy, being a rather rambling blog entry, but here are the key bits:

Wednesday, January 14, the day after the funeral for Helric Fredou, Panamza [Hamza, the blogger] contacted his sister, who prefers to remain unidentified, to clarify the implication of the police officer, vaguely evoked by the regional press, in the inquest relating to the Charlie Hebdo massacre. Principal extracts from the telephone call:

“Right away, I told myself it’s not possible, that someone blew him away, but we’re not in a movie”: the sister refuses to believe in the terrible possibility of a murder but continues to ask questions about the exact circumstances of the policeman’s death.

“No letter left behind, not even the badge on his desk”: Helric Fredou didn’t leave behind any letter explaining his act. At the same time, he didn’t put his police badge in evidence as he sometimes did with certain of his colleagues who were found dead of suicide.

“He was a calm person, with a great spirit of discernment, according to his trainer”: the sister underlined many times the cool-headedness of the policeman — held in high regard by his trainer because of his perspicacity — and the fact that he was neither violent nor impulsive.

“They took away his computers and his mobile phone, they took it all away from us, that shocked us but that’s the procedure, they told us”: on the afternoon of January 8, the police searched the home of the deceased, in the presence of his mother and sister, before taking away his informatic materials and personal smartphone.

“My mom, who was very attached to him, is devastated. She wants to know how he could have killed himself. He had a bandage on his forehead. On the side, he was trepanned because of the autopsy. On the back of the skull, there’s nothing”: Informed at 5 a.m. of the death, the sister reports having had to insist in order to see the corpse of the deceased. It’s only at the end of the day that she and her mother were authorized to see the body of Helric Fredou.

“My brother himself found two suicides, and he told Mom, ‘I’ll never play a trick like that on you,’ meaning to kill himself and leave her alone. He was not depressive”: In November 2013, Helric Fredou was in fact the police officer who discovered the body of his colleague, Christophe Rivieccio, dead in the same commissariat of Limoges.

“My brother was at home that night, and since he was on call, they called and he went to the commissariat around 11:30…the day was very tense, according to his colleagues…the Paris police were present that night…He had to redact a report, but there were some frictions, I don’t know why…He told them that he had to make a very urgent phone call and when they saw that he hadn’t come back, a colleague went to look for him in his office and found him dead”: This Wednesday night, some police officers went to perform security verifications around a family of the victim of the crime and were debriefed by Helric Fredou. The sister’s witness account brings in two troubling elements: “frictions” arose between the police officers concerning the report (which was never touched), which Fredou was to redact; in this tense context, the man was found dead some minutes after having told his colleagues that he had to immediately telephone someone unidentified.

“Some people from Paris came to tell us how that happened”: the sister underscores that the cadres of the national police were sent the next day to Limoges, expressly, and had to certify that it was a suicide.

Translation, again, mine.

Hamza goes on to say that he attempted to contact the Bougrab family, whom Fredou was investigating at the time of his death, but that the effort was wasted; the mother of Jeannette Bougrab answered the phone, but said only, “It’s none of my business, all that, go away, goodbye.”

He then recounts how Stéphane Charbonnier’s family denied all “relational engagement” between “Charb” and Jeannette Bougrab. Clémentine Autain, close to the clan, calls the former Fillon government secretary a “usurper”. Meanwhile, Bougrab has been all over the media, telling Paris-Match that she had been with “Charb” for three years, before correcting herself and then saying they had been together for “one year”. And on December 15 of last year, she had told Gala magazine that her daughter called Charb “Papa”, and that she dreamed of being married one day, so that her daughter would not have to suffer the ignominy of having a single mother anymore. She has been posing as a widow in all but name since Charb was shot.

And even before then, she seemed strangely prescient about how Charb would die. In her autobiography, published in January of 2013, she wrote:

“In view of the assaults of those who would like to bring back the penalization of blasphemy, I assert the right to make fun of the gods. Long live blasphemy! Long live the secular Republic!

“The latest guardians of secularism are named Caroline Fourest, Élisabeth Badinter, Charlie, that is Charlie Hebdo…Denouncing the heap of religious fundamentalisms, including the Catholic, they take risks for their own security. The life of Charb is in danger from now on. Many security agents assure his protection, since this geek in glasses has become a target of Islamists. An exit identical to that of Theo Van Gogh could be reserved for him: to be assassinated by a God-crazed man in the street.”

Here’s the book page in question:

bougrab-book-extract

And if there is any doubt about Bougrab’s right-wing sympathies, here she is in a video published on October 29 of last year, expressing support for Nicolas Sarkozy on the latter’s own YouTube channel:

Oh yeah, and Caroline Fourest, the name that popped up alongside Charb in Bougrab’s oddly prescient book, as well as claiming that Charb and Bougrab were a couple when they were not? Here she is, making some ugly islamophobic remarks of her own about the Charlie massacre:

“They killed children, they killed teddybears”? “It’s the September 11 of free thought”? Sounds like the kind of shit you’d hear on FUX Snooze. Little wonder she’s not a credible witness to the alleged relationship between Charb and Bougrab, but a very avid propagandist thereof.

Hamza wraps it up with a curious remark:

“It’s up to you, reader-citizen, to break the strange French omertà around the Fredou/Bougrab affair. Right now, nothing allows us to assert that the policeman was killed to shut him up about what he had unexpectedly discovered. Nevertheless, looking at the shadowy circumstances around his death, in a context of political hyper-exploitation of the crime, nothing at the same time authorizes us to draw the hypothesis of an expeditious murder disguised as a suicide for reasons of ‘depression’. A final troubling detail: A man today at the summit of the State has never publicly said a word of compassion about the subject of Helric Fredou, event though he was in regular contact with him in the recent past. From 2010 to 2012, the policeman was central commissioner of Cherbourg. At the same time, the the deputy mayor of the coastal town was none other than Bernard Cazeneuve, the current minister of the Interior, in charge of the inquest into the crime, and a discreet member of the pro-Israel movement.”

A discreet member…as opposed to Jeannette Bougrab, who has been anything BUT discreet about her right-wing, anti-Islam, and pro-Israeli sympathies. Curiouser and curiouser, especially in light of this McClatchy article, which affirms that the gunmen in the Charlie massacre had ties to a “former” officer of French intelligence, who allegedly defected to al-Qaida in Iraq, and that they appeared to have extensive and systematic military or paramilitary training. And France is currently at war with “Islamists” in Iraq and Syria, no doubt much to the pleasure of the right-wing Zionists of Israel…a war whose cause is very conveniently bolstered by the whole freedom-of-speech hullabaloo around Charlie.

No, you can’t draw any solid conclusions about the whole sordid affair just yet. Other than, of course, the blinding obvious: That this story bears watching a lot more closely, and with a very critical eye. But even just this very rudimentary, early bit of connecting the dots reveals a lot of extremely hinky things going on behind the scenes, n’est-ce pas?

Canada’s real terrorism problem

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This mosque in Cold Lake, Alberta, was spray-painted by xenophobic vandals. The town is home to an airbase from which CF-18 jet fighters recently departed en route to the war zone of Iraq. The people of Cold Lake have since banded together to clean up the graffiti while the police search for the perpetrators.

Oh, Canada. What’s happening to you?

You used to be such a nice place. Liberal. Socialist, even. And it worked out great for you while it lasted.

You used to be such a livable, lovable place. The country to the immediate south of us may have billed itself the Land of Opportunity, but when it came to real opportunities, we had them beat. Our social safety net ensured that no one got left too far behind by the ups and downs of the mixed economy.

Everyone who came here used to feel so welcome. We got immigrants from all over the world, and they helped make this the most diverse country on the planet. And the most multicultural. And the place where the most disparate people had a chance to coexist peacefully. From Vietnam War draft dodgers to Iraq War refugees, we’ve been enriched by the presence of people who were outcasts in their own lands. And the religious and ethnic clashes of the old country were left far behind, much to the relief and joy of all. Here, it didn’t matter who you were, what you were or where you came from; you were accepted. You were always at home.

And now I feel like a stranger in my own land, even though I was born here.

We seem to have caught terrorism-itis from south of the border. Everyone’s so paranoid now. Instead of waiting to learn what’s going on, we start jumping to false conclusions. The embarrassing truth leaks out too late every time.

Like this week. These past few days saw us “attacked” by two “terrorists” who, it turns out, were something else altogether. One was a paranoid schizophrenic; the other, a drug addict. But since both were Muslims, and chose to attack and kill soldiers of the Canadian army, with a confused mess of ISIL propaganda and madness roaring through their heads, they just automatically got labelled as terrorists. As if they had flown fully loaded passenger jets into the Peace Tower and the banking district of downtown Toronto on a suicide mission co-ordinated from a cave somewhere near the Pak-Afghan border.

The truth is stranger, and sadder, and nowhere near as dramatic as that.

In fact, the “terrorists” were not foreigners, as was initially reported/speculated. They were both native-born French-Canadians. And they both had mental problems that could easily have been treated. This tragedy was totally avoidable, and neither a war nor even changes to our nation’s security systems was necessary to avert it.

Don’t believe me? Let’s look at who these guys were, and how they acted.

Martin Couture-Rouleau was a convert to Islam; he converted only last year. He was not an immigrant. He was not even remotely an Arab, or Muslim by birth. His religious conversion appears to have arisen out of a growing heap of personal problems. Apparently he made enough radical-sounding noises that the RCMP was investigating him, and his passport was revoked, preventing him from travelling to Turkey (and presumably, from there, to Syria to join ISIL forces). He was alienated from his family, and everyone who knew him was bewildered by the recent changes to his personality. He was divorced, and his ex-wife was apparently frightened enough of him to seek sole custody of their child. It was not Islam that had made him that way, though; it was his own schizophrenia. His “radicalization” was concurrent with the worsening of his illness. And his own imam struggled in vain to dissuade him from supporting ISIL or taking up battle — or terrorism — on their behalf.

Michael Zehaf-Bibeau was also not an immigrant, although his father was one (from Libya), and his mother a deputy chair at the federal immigration department. At school he was simply known as Mike Bibeau, the big, gregarious good-time guy voted most likely to succeed, especially with the ladies. But drug addiction shortly after his graduation from high school put an end to all that. He was known to police, but only as a petty criminal and drug abuser. His parents are long divorced, and bewildered as to what has become of him. Like Martin Couture-Rouleau, he was alienated from his family; his mother said she hadn’t seen him in five years. In that time, he had fled to BC, looking in vain to escape his addiction (which had shifted from marijuana and PCP usage to crack cocaine). He tried everything from religion to prison to cure himself. He wasn’t jailed long enough to keep him away from the dealers, and the imam of the mosque where he broke in at night to sleep on the floor locked him out. His religious fervor was a direct outgrowth of his efforts to replace one drug with another. At the time of his final desperate acts, he was homeless and so isolated from humanity that even at the Ottawa homeless shelter where he’d taken refuge, he was an outsider.

Neither man was connected to the other, nor to any known terrorist groups. Both were entirely isolated, and more so thanks to their respective mental conditions.

Meanwhile, our social safety net has eroded. Mental health services have faced severe cutbacks in all provinces. People who should have been hospitalized, as much for their own safety as anyone else’s, are instead left to roam the street, helpless and untreated. A few years ago, we were horrified by a beheading on a Greyhound bus; the killer, in that case, was a schizophrenic too, and should have been hospitalized. Not until he’d killed and partially eaten a complete stranger in the thick of a psychotic episode did he finally get the help he needed. If by “help” one means psychiatric incarceration, that is.

Six years after Vince Weiguang Li began his treatment, our mental health system has not improved a whit. It is still chronically starved of funding and professionals. The mental hospitals we so desperately need are still closed, with no new ones opened to replace them. The few still remaining have waiting lists a mile long. Those who can’t afford private counselling and rehab are shit out of luck.

And worse, we no longer have a federal long-gun registry. That’s right; a crime-fighting tool born out of a terrorist attack in Montréal was scrapped by the same wonderful Conservative party that’s also behind all the other rips in our social safety net! The police are thus officially hamstrung. Who knows if we’ll ever find out how Mike Bibeau, who was legally prohibited from owning firearms due to his criminal and drug record, managed to get his hands on the rifle that enabled him to kill Nathan Cirillo, who was standing guard at the federal War Memorial?

Yeah, tell me the Conservatives are not the real terrorists in all this. They’re using the hysteria surrounding these events, even now, to push their own very anti-Canadian agenda. And the sad part is, too many people are all too happy to LET them.

Of course, salient facts like that have escaped the major media, or the myriads of know-nothings who pontificate in the comments sections of their websites. Most of them seem quite convinced that if we only shut our doors tightly enough, ramped up the security high enough, and went to war in enough foreign countries to “bomb them back to the Stone Age” and “teach them a good lesson”, the “terrorist” problem would be best addressed. Never mind that neither of these guys was a foreigner, and that both in fact were born right here.

Or they’re all full of self-righteous Islamophobia, oblivious to the fact that in both cases, imams actually tried to deter these guys from taking the criminal turns they did. And oblivious, too, to the fact that Canadian Muslims are right on the same page with all the rest of us in condemning such attacks, and terrorism in general.

And above all, they’re oblivious to the role that a too-easy access to guns, and a too-hard access to mental health care, played in this whole goddamn mess. They simply cannot and will not see those connections, even though it doesn’t take a brilliant sociologist to draw them.

Oh yeah, and that’s another thing: We’re not supposed to commit sociology in times of terrorism, according to none other than Stephen Fucking Harper himself. Yes, that’s right…the tough-talking macho PM, who bravely, bravely hid in a broom closet while his underlings barricaded the door with spears made from flag poles!

But hey. At least the parliamentary Sergeant-at-Arms, Kevin Vickers, proved that his role is not merely ceremonial, even though his costume may be. Like René Jalbert many years before him, he was the one who engaged a confused, deranged gunman hellbent on wreaking terror. Unlike Jalbert, though, he couldn’t talk the shooter out of it; he ended up having to kill him. “Terrorist” crisis ended, either way.

And all this without recourse to war.

Now the PM’s security detail has modified its protocol so that they can enter the Commons chamber and protect him at all times. That’s fine; at least it doesn’t unduly curtail anyone’s civil liberties. Not so fine, however, is the legislation the government apparently passed on the same day as Martin Couture-Rouleau ran down Patrice Vincent in a fit of psychosis. We’re now facing intrusive, unconstitutional online surveillance under the pretext of “crime prevention”! Yay!

So, now you know. And if this is the last post you see from me, you’ll know why. I’ll have been arrested for committing the supreme terrorist act of daring to think un-conservatively and sociologically, and tying together all the things they don’t want us to understand are related. If you think Martin Couture-Rouleau and Michael Zehaf-Bibeau were crazy (and they were, alas), you ain’t seen nothin’ . My own country just totally outclassed them in the losing-one’s-shit department.

And since it’s already at war in Iraq, too, it’s also outdone them in terms of real terrorism.

Oh look, another ignorant white woman has an opinion!

know-your-veils

So I was scrolling through my Facebook feed this morning, when up pops this. Yet another ignorant white woman who is strangely offended by Muslim women just being themselves and minding their own damn business. Let’s take her argument point by point so we can see how ridiculous it is, shall we?

The niqab is a ridiculous garment, adopted by a small (but growing) number of women and rejected by many mainstream Muslims. When I see someone wearing it, I’m torn between laughing at the absurdity and irritation with the ideology it represents. In secular countries, the notion that women have to cover their faces whenever they leave the house is rightly seen as weird, and runs counter to the principle of gender equality. Many brave women in the Middle East and Asia have died for the much more important right not to cover their faces, and I have little patience with women in this country who make a mockery of that struggle by trying to pretend they’re the ones suffering oppression.

If it’s so ridiculous and so little worn, Joan, why do you care? And you obviously do, since you feel compelled to point and laugh and be “irritated with the ideology it represents”. WHAT ideology might that be, hmmm?

And what is “right” about seeing a veiled woman as weird? I see someone’s cultural biases doing the talking for her here. Now that’s an offensive ideology.

As for the “gender equality” canard: I should also note that in some North African Muslim countries, the men cover their faces and the women don’t; ever hear of the Tuareg, Joan? And anyway, most Muslim women who veil do not cover their faces; you said so yourself. So why single out the few who do?

And if you want to talk brave, I think you might want to meet Qahera, who doesn’t need your silly directives to unveil, and who rightly takes offence at ignorant westerners trying to “rescue” her from an imagined “ideology”.

Or just refer to my post about Riham Said from yesterday. She doesn’t need your ideology either.

I’m not in favour of the French approach, which is an outright ban on the niqab and the burqa; I’m not keen on banning things and it risks creating martyrs. It makes more sense to treat the face-veil as a political statement and insist on our right to make one in return.

And yet, you feel compelled to rag on how “weird” it is. And to make political statements against it. So, you’re calling for discrimination and razzing instead of an outright ban? Bravo, Joan, what a brave and rational stance to take! I’m sure that will convince everyone!

Covering the face doesn’t make anyone a better human being and the “modesty” argument doesn’t wash; if you wear outlandish clothes, whether it’s a face-veil or fancy dress, of course people will stare.

What is this, an argument for staring? Did your mother not teach you any manners? A veil isn’t a “fancy dress” costume. Not even in not-so-great Britain, anymore.

And how do you know it’s only about “modesty”? You don’t. It may in fact be a statement about nationality or tribal allegiances, not religious belief or a fear of sexual assault. Different women from different regions wear different headgear to say “this is where I come from”. More on this later.

Nor does the niqab discourage violence; evidence from Egypt suggests that veiled women are slightly more likely to suffer sexual harassment, probably because men regard them as easier targets than women in Western clothes. Does anyone seriously believe that women are safer in Iraq, Afghanistan or Iran, where most women wear the veil (many of them against their will) in one form or another? Wearing the niqab or the burqa is self-defeating, exposing women and girls to more oppression rather than less.

Well, isn’t this a hot mess? I’ll gladly concede that there is no article of clothing that will ever really discourage sexual harassment, assault or violence. But the other side of this coin is that removing a veil just because it offends your delicate British sensibilities won’t make those women any safer, either. The only thing that will work is educating the men. And by that, I mean ALL men.

Plus, women in Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran don’t wear niqabs. Iraq is largely secular, and the women there usually wear either a hijab (which shows the face) or no veil at all. Afghanistan? Well, the burqa (which is even more concealing than a niqab, seeing as it has a mesh panel to cover the eyes) has been in fashion ever since we in the “enlightened” west (or at least, Ronald Fucking Reagan) saw fit to help them defeat godless communism by sending in the “Arab-Afghan mujahideen”, otherwise known as al-Qaida. Before that, Afghan women tended to dress a lot more like us:

afghan-women-1970s

As for Iran, they wear the chador there; again, a veil that leaves the face uncovered. And it’s not strictly required of all women, only those who are Shia Muslim.

Oh here, have this handy guide to all the different veils worn by women you know nothing about. Maybe it will help you to stop embarrassing yourself with this ignorant blather.

Where I think the state is entitled to intervene is when a woman’s decision to cover has negative consequences on others, including her daughters; face-covering should never be a component of school uniform, let alone compulsory. Then there’s the example of a courtroom: when someone is giving evidence, she should be subject to exactly the same rules as the rest of us. Vulnerable witnesses need to have their identities protected but as a general rule the judge, jury, defence and prosecution should be able to see witnesses’ faces. I wouldn’t expect to be allowed to appear in court in a balaclava, and the public good of open justice takes precedence over demands for special treatment on religious grounds.

I fail to see what “harm” it does to cover one’s face in public, or in a court of law. Where in the rules of evidence does it say that one must be bare-faced? This “pro-equality” argument is bullshit on the face of it (pun intended).

As for the NHS, I’m aghast at the prospect of being treated by a health professional in a niqab. Patients often have to discuss intimate matters with GPs and nurse-practitioners, from sexual health to domestic violence. If someone doesn’t trust me enough to let me see her face, I’m hardly going to feel comfortable about her carrying out an intimate procedure such as a cervical smear. Nor is it easy to imagine a man discussing the symptoms of prostate cancer with a health professional whose idea of “modesty” doesn’t allow her to expose her nose.

Well, Joan, if you’re so offended by veiled doctors or nurses, don’t use the NHS, then! Take your prejudices private, if they’re so important to you. You’re making an awful lot of assumptions about the hypothetical practitioner’s motive for wearing the veil. Have you ever actually been treated by somebody wearing one? And if so, has it impaired her ability to help you in any way? If not, you have no business complaining.

At one level, it’s hard to believe we’re having this debate.

I quite agree. But since you insisted on yattering ignorantly on about it, there you go. You got yourself a debate, lady! And you’re losing to cold hard fact. Sucks to be you.

Human rights law is clear about the right to manifest religion but it isn’t an absolute right, and can be limited when it conflicts with the rights of others.

Such as…your “right” not to have someone else’s Muslim-ness visible to your virgin eyes? That’s not a right, that’s a privilege. And your column reeks of it. Get over yourself, Joan.

The demand by a small number of Muslim women to cover their faces in all circumstances clearly impacts on the rights of others, and requires a robust response.

No, it doesn’t. And no, it doesn’t.

Secularism is not about forced suppression of religion, or at least it wasn’t the last time I looked. But hey. If a piece of fabric is really so offensive, Joan, maybe you should move to Québec. They just instituted a “Charter of Values” there that has a strangely subjective definition of secularism that, I suspect, would fall right in line with yours.

Never forget.

I will walk the streets again
in what was bloodied Santiago,
and in a beautiful liberated square
I will stop to weep for the absent.

I will come back from the burning desert
and come out of the woods and the lakes
and I will evoke, on a mountain in Santiago,
my brothers and sisters who died before.

I, united to those who do much and little,
to those who want a free country,
will fire the first bullets
sooner rather than later, without rest.

The books will come back, the songs
which murderers’ hands burned.
My people will be reborn from their ruin
and pay back their faults to the traitors.

A boy will play on a tree-lined street
and sing to his new friends,
and this song will be the song of the soil
to a life cut short in La Moneda.

I will walk the streets again
in what was bloodied Santiago,
and in a beautiful liberated square
I will stop to weep for the absent.

40 years ago today, 9-11 came to Chile with gunshots and a roar of jets over the presidential palace, La Moneda. The coup was launched from Viña del Mar, on the coast, with CIA and US military “assistance” to the fascist troops of Pinochet. But really, it was Pinochet and Co. helping the US in the end, using Chile as a laboratory for libertarian cuckoo economics enforced by fascism.

The idea that libertarianism is actually a form of fascism may be anathema to those who still naïvely and quaintly assume that it’s all about personal and economic freedom, but the facts are that Chile was on a true course toward freedom under the democratic socialist, Salvador Allende (the “life cut short in La Moneda”), and certain powers-that-be (and still are) in the United States of Amnesia couldn’t have that. There was dire talk of “ruin”, and of course, Milton Freedman’s “Chicago Boys” were only too happy to ruin the Chilean economy ahead of the coup — and destroy it utterly thereafter. THEY reduced it to the irreparable state it is still in today. Chileans cannot forget 9-11, because that is the day their democracy died, and they have yet to get it — and their sovereignty — all the way back.

If you wonder why the OTHER 9-11, the one the US is commemorating today, happened…this might just be a clue. It’s the imperialism, stupid. Other countries want to be free to make their own decisions, and other people deeply resent it when US-trained “experts” parachute in to fuck it all up on them. The OTHER 9-11, the one that happened in 2001, is the blowback from US interference in Afghanistan and the Middle East. What’s truly insane is that it’s still being used to justify wars in countries that have nothing to do with that day at all; the latest to get blamed is Syria, which is still on the warmongers’ radar. After all, there is still that arch-capitalist military-industrial complex to feed. And fascism is nothing but capitalism minus gloves…

It’s just like some people have never learned the lessons of history, isn’t it?

Daniel Cohn-Bendit and the German Greens’ pedophile problem

cohn-bendit-perv

“I stand for sex with children! How about you?”

Meet Daniel Cohn-Bendit. He’s a long-standing, high-ranking member of the German Green Party, as well as the Green faction chief in the Europarliament. And he’s also a major component of its Achilles’ heel: the pedophile contingent, which during the 1970s and ’80s was active in trying to wipe out two paragraphs of German criminal law, specifically those dealing with “sex” between adults and children. You’ll notice I put the word in quotation marks. There’s a good reason for that. You’ll see it soon enough, if you don’t already. Meanwhile, let’s talk a bit more about Herr Cohn-Bendit and the ever-spreading toxic stain he is.

For the past week or so there’s been hard talk about bombing Syria. Bashar al-Assad stands accused of using sarin gas on his own people. Evidence now points to the so-called Syrian rebels, who have al-Qaida ties and are financed and armed by the Saudis and the US. They are a most unsavory bunch. But since Bashar is the designated scapegoat in certain pro-war circles, that’s all been swept under the rug. And in a twist of very strange irony, one of those sweepers is Daniel Cohn-Bendit, who gave an interview to Der Spiegel in which he too beats the war drums, and rails against the “cheap anti-Americanism” of those opposed. It’s not the first time he’s done so, either; right there in the first lines of the interview, Cohn-Bendit shows himself to be the greenest warhawk in Germany:

SPIEGEL ONLINE: You were the first Green to call for western military action in the Yugoslavian war [over Kosovo]. Now the Syrian dictator, Assad, has very probably used chemical weapons against his own people. Can the west take that without a military response?

Cohn-Bendit: Assad has overstepped a symbolic boundary. That has to be avenged. But the reaction of the west must be embedded in a political strategy.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Are you against a punitive action that shows Assad that he has overstepped a red line?

Cohn-Bendit: A punitive action without political strategy would be wrong. But the west has to mobilize militarily. As a prerequisite — either for a military strike or to force a cease-fire and end the bloodshed.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Should Germany also take part in that militarily?

Cohn-Bendit: Yes, the federal government should participate in preparation for a military action with other EU countries.

Translation mine.

I find his phraseology extremely interesting: “overstepped a symbolic boundary”. They accuse Assad of genocide without concrete proof (and the hard evidence, embarrassingly, points the other way), so of course the boundary is merely “symbolic”. Meanwhile, in his own past, Daniel Cohn-Bendit repeatedly overstepped a very real boundary, and remains unpunished for it to this day.

“When a little girl of five or five and a half years old starts to undress you, that’s fantastic. It’s fantastic because it’s a game, an absolutely erotic-manic game.”

With this sentence on a French talk show in 1982, Daniel Cohn-Bendit wanted to provoke the public, in order to stand in the light he regarded so highly, that of the taboo-breaker. He didn’t quite succeed. None of the other guests in the program reacted with any recognizable upset, no one wanted to rein in the chubby-cheeked thug. Even in the press you never read any critical commentaries afterward. The public reacted quite similarly seven years before on the stunning, meanwhile famous-infamous passages from Cohn-Bendit’s “Le Grand Bazar” — not at all.

And why? Among French intellectuals, calls for punishment-free sex with children and adolescents fell on fertile ground. It was “another time”, as Le Monde wrote, somewhat shamefacedly, years later. Eve this reputable paper gave considerable leeway in the 1970s to the pedophilic circles, while the left-republican Libération attested to a “genuine social mission” in sex with children, as historian Anne-Claude Ambroise-Rendu noted in retrospect.

When, in January 1977, three men were facing trial over charges of sexual crimes against 13- and 14-year old children, various intellectuals, including Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Louis Aragon, Catherine Millet, André Glucksmann, Jack Lang, and Sarkozy’s future foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, declared solidarity with them. That was just “the times”, and thus, Cohn-Bendit too is trying to exculpate his then declarations: “The sexual debate knew nothing of sexual abuse.” The sexual-freedom impetus sailed in the years after 1968 in the lee of disappointment over the missing political revolution. So the prophets of fundamental change settled on self-reform, on pedagogy, on the emancipation of individuals from the pressures of a bygone, clerical and bigotry-soured class society. That was the jargon of the day. As always in times of deep political disappointment, the hopes fell on the not-yet-corrupted mindset of youth, now even that of children. Pedophilic affection advanced in the ferment of everyday upheaval, coexistence, and liberating love. So it was in France. Thus they experienced it, most particularly, in the Netherlands. And thus did a part of the German “New Left” also develop.

Translation mine.

Here’s the interview (not embeddable, sorry), in French with German subtitles, where Cohn-Bendit raves to his host, Paul Guth, about sex with children. He sounds pretty stoned, which stands to reason; he also brags that he ate hash brownies a short time before he went on air. (The Greens were also in favor of legalizing soft drugs.) Apparently the dope not only loosened his tongue, it got him to proudly reveal things most people would keep a deathly silence about, even if they were not personally ashamed of having done them. That is, most people who’ve actually perpetrated child sexual abuse. Not he! He seems to revel in having done not only that, but in bragging about it.

But here’s the thing: This man truly doesn’t see that what he did there WAS abuse, just because no physical force was involved. His definition of what’s abusive is remarkably narrow, and takes no account of what happens years down the line, when sexually abused children become emotionally disturbed adults. So convinced is he that what he did was not wrong that he even tried to get the laws against it struck off the books in the name of the Sexual Revolution.

And for a while there, it looked as if Germany might go his way. Alice Schwarzer, editor-in-chief and publisher of EMMA, Germany’s leading feminist magazine, knows the dark side of Daniel Cohn-Bendit all too well. She has been watching him and his ilk for decades now, presciently warning of the dangers of their plans, and she recounts:

It was the Greens who, at their second party congress in 1980, were already debating the striking-down of Paragraph 176, which levied punishment for sex with children under 14 years of age, as well as that of Paragraph 174, against sexual abuse of minor wards of the state.

[…]

On the basis of §176, which punished child sexual abuse with up to 10 years’ imprisonment, according to Der Spiegel, some 20-25,000 perpetrators a year were sentenced. Considering that this is just the tip of the iceberg — because most child victims are too confused, intimidated or dependent to fight back — then you get an idea of the magnitude of the crime.

Even non-pedophilic men — that is, those whose desire is not compulsively fixated on prepubescent children — were already frequenting the “kiddie stroll” of Zoo Station [in Berlin], or flying to Thailand or Mexico, in order to buy children even more cheaply there. The women at home had become just too inconvenient — and the children were not so available anymore.

Translation mine.

I caught the tail end of those “revolutionary” but in fact counter-revolutionary times when I started reading grown-up German magazines around age 12 or so. I even read Christiane F.’s now famous “Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo” (“We Children of Zoo Station”), a firsthand account of teenage prostitution and heroin addiction on the streets of West Berlin, published in two parts in the magazine Stern. (It was later republished in book form.) It was a harrowing read. A lot of the words were unfamiliar to me, but the meaning was clear enough. I was appalled that anyone would do such things to helpless children, especially girls not much older than I was. If I ever had to credit any cautionary tale with keeping me off drugs and out of trouble, that’s the one. (Amazingly, Christiane F. is still alive, and in 2008 she gave this interview at age 45. This despite a decades-long battle with addiction and HIV. She finally got off heroin in 1993, and she has a teenage son whom she credits with giving her the strength to do so. My hat is off to her; she is a survivor in the fullest sense of the word.)

The idea that anyone would want to normalize and legalize sex, and specifically commercialized sex, with children of any age, is appalling. The realization that more than one prominent German Green who did advocate for just that is still on the loose and sitting in the Europarliament? Disgusting. And the fact that this monster is squatting there, beating the drums for war against Syria? Well, let’s just say that even I don’t have a bad enough word for it in my extensive vocabulary. In no sense does Daniel Cohn-Bendit have any moral right to condemn other countries or their politicians. What he’s done in Germany, and to Germany, is bad enough without him dragging the country into yet another horrific war. And if the Greens care about being electable, they’d do well to jettison him…and all his fellow Old Greens who beat the drums for legalized pedophilia, back in “another time”.

A few random thoughts on the Manning verdict…and the Snowden case

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“I’ve been traumatized too much by reality to care about the consequences of shattering the fantasy.”
— Bradley Manning

It was a farce.

Really, what other conclusion can I draw when a military judge decides that Bradley Manning was not guilty of “aiding the enemy”, but still guilty on all counts of “espionage”? What is espionage if you’re not spying FOR someone — in other words, aiding an enemy? Such is the cognitive dissonance that seems to have taken hold of Col. Denise Lind, who presided over this utterly ludicrous case.

Of course, there were plenty of irregularities from the moment Manning was arrested. He was locked up in solitary confinement, physically tortured without striking a blow, and psychologically tortured using every technique in the book (and probably quite a few NOT in the book, too). The skinny little soldier was forced to “sleep” naked under a single rough blanket on chilly nights, and everything that could be done to break him down, mentally and physically, in the more than one thousand days between his arrest and his trial, was done without shame or compunction.

But even before that, Bradley Manning was tortured and tormented by the military and by his country. He was uncommonly bright in a land where averageness and anonymity are the standards. He didn’t conform to “masculine” norms. He came out as gay while DADT was still in effect. His small physical size didn’t help; it intensified his suffering. His barrackmates ragged him so relentlessly that on one occasion, he wet himself out of sheer emotional distress. His relationship with his boyfriend was fraught with long absences and infidelities, so there wasn’t enough support for him to draw strength from. His family were also far less supportive than they could have been. But when you come from Oklahoma — “the buckle of the Bible Belt” — it stands to reason that others will close ranks against you if you diverge in any way from the strict white, heterosexual, Christian norm. Isolation tormented Bradley Manning long before he ever landed up in the brig.

Thus, it’s no surprise that when he saw all the appalling things his own country’s military was doing, in Iraq and elsewhere, something in him just snapped.

Or maybe a better way of putting it would be that something in him just clicked.

Bradley Manning made the connections between his own suffering and that of the innocent Iraqis killed in the Collateral Murder video. He also made the connections between the sufferings of other countries and the skulduggeries of US diplomats and military attachés — CIA employees, actually — operating in them. All of it came together for him in a heap, and that is exactly how he dealt with it, burning all the incriminating data onto what had been a Lady Gaga CD and then sending it off to Wikileaks. As anguished and tormented as Bradley Manning was over just about everything, his mind was nonetheless clear enough to devise a clever, innovative and definitive solution to the entire mess: He became a whistleblower.

Certainly he exposed a lot of “classified” information that embarrassed and incriminated his government in every conceivable way. But there is a difference between revealing state secrets for the purpose of exposing state crimes, and espionage, which implies a direct advantage to a foreign (and enemy) power. What “enemy” benefited from all this previously secret knowledge? None, since all the damage in the leaked cables and Collateral Murder video had long been done. No US troops in any part of the world were exposed to enemy fire as a result of Bradley Manning’s revelations. No diplomatic installation came under attack either, and neither was a single US business interest placed in immediate jeopardy. Nothing terrible that the US was doing in any part of the world was at any greater risk than it already had been. The only thing that changed as a result of Manning’s “espionage” was that suddenly, all the betrayed, cheated and humiliated countries ever pissed on by US interests had documentary proof of their oppression in hand. Suddenly, what their ordinary citizens knew in their bones — and their politicians often railed against — was confirmed. Their one real enemy was exposed, and it was good old “benevolent” Uncle Sam. The troops who tossed candy to local kids from their tanks, the briefcase-toters of the IMF and World Bank, the suit-clad bringers of Coke and Marlboro and what have you — these smiling pretend-friends were the real enemy. They weren’t there to give the Third World — or the Second, or even the rest of the First — an equalizing hand up. They were there to crush them, to subject them to an undying US capitalist hegemony. All the resources and wealth that could be sucked out of any place you could name, would end up in one and the same place, while local miseries deepened and the call for more “foreign aid” intensified. It was the sweetest scam ever, the ultimate vicious circle, and it seemed manifestly destined to keep turning forever. E pluribus unum, with a vengeance.

And then little Bradley Manning came along and threw a monkey wrench into the wheel.

And the Star Chamber of the US military called it espionage, convicted him, and will sentence him — not to death, as that would provoke too much outcry at home, but to over a century in prison. Which amounts to life without parole, unless some future president sees fit to pardon him.

But who would have the wisdom, or the courage, to do that, if the US government is already firmly in the pocket of not only the Military-Industrial Complex, but all major industries? Under capitalism, democracy is but a mask, a pacifier, a means of keeping the people powerless while selling them the illusion of “empowerment”. There is no such thing as a government by, of and for the people. There is only a government by, of and for the money. And the consumer selection, as far as candidates goes, is dismal. Will it be Fascism, or Fascism Lite? Sorry, no substitutions. You cannot have democracy, nor can you have justice. All courts are kangaroo, and all trials are show. The nail that sticks up gets hammered down. Forever and ever, amen.

Which brings me to Edward Snowden. This is the same thing that awaits him, albeit in civilian form, should the former NSA employee ever decide to return to the United States of Amnesia. One can’t really blame him for deciding to stick it out in Russia for the time being, even to the extent of learning the language. When the former Soviet Union is a greater bastion of freedom than one’s own country (which still brashly prints “Liberty” on all its coins!), you know you’re dealing with a world that has gone through the Looking Glass. Up is down, black is white, wrong is right, day is night, truth is shite. When the “freedom-loving” capitalists have the old “communist” Stasi beat for internal espionage, what else can an agent do who has seen it from within, and decided that he’s had enough?

Oh sure, the US government has promised not to execute him. Just as they won’t execute Bradley Manning. I’m sure that’s a great comfort to everyone, knowing that he’ll still face the torments of the damned if he ever falls back into US hands. Just like Bradley Manning did when he was captured. How many days do you suppose Edward Snowden would go untried after he is captured? Place your bets, ladies ‘n’ gentlemen…I’m going to wager at least 1,000.

And if you don’t think he’s going to suffer crazy-making levels of scrutiny and intrusion into his private life, just look at how much of that has already happened, and then multiply it by the number of days he spends in jail before trial. It happened to Daniel Ellsberg, whose sessions with his shrink weren’t even off limits, 40-odd years ago. It happened to Bradley Manning.

And there is a reason why these guys are being treated this way: They are meant as examples to the rest of us. The message is this: Don’t protest. Don’t blow the whistle. Don’t you dare complain, or expose what you know, or terrible things will befall you. Be good, be compliant, keep your head down, and be thankful it hasn’t happened to you…YET.

But that’s the reason these guys blew the whistle: It could happen to all of us, someday, if things continue in this way. Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers because young men were being sent to unwinnable wars willy-nilly, and he wanted that to stop. Bradley Manning leaked Collateral Murder because innocent Iraqis were being killed in cold blood by psychopaths in helicopters who probably got medals for their contract hit-man jobs. And he wanted that to stop. Edward Snowden leaked the NSA’s long-standing cyberspying program because it affects every Internet user, everywhere, and effectively robs us all of our last vestige of online privacy…and by extension, safety and mental security. It doesn’t just target criminals or terror supsects; it targets EVERYONE, treating everyone as a potential criminal. And he wanted that to stop.

All that any whistleblower anywhere wants, is for “that” to stop. But it won’t stop unless we all work together to make it stop. We can no longer afford the luxury of complacency, of leaving the fantasy of “liberty” in place while ignoring the crushing reality of oppression. The plutocratic purveyors of the fantasy would rather we be too apathetic, too overworked, and too scared to protest. But in the past, downtrodden, overworked, scared people still marched, sat in, and freedom-rode for civil rights. Women died and went to prison for the vote. Soldiers, sailors and air-force pilots banded together with civilians to stop the Vietnam war. Individual whistleblowers are easy to isolate, persecute and make into negative examples, but mass protest means that the authorities are outnumbered.

We already know what to do about all this. The only question is, WHEN?

Clip ‘n’ Save: Why are we in Afghanistan?

RED ALERT: International fascists to meet in Argentina

warning-fascism

From Aporrea, a denunciation of what are sure to be nasty things to come:

Our editorial desk has received a denunciation and alert regarding a no-good meeting which will take place in two Argentine cities, and which will involve the most reactionary right-wingers from this zone and from Spain. The alert reads as follows:

MEETING OF REACTIONARIES AND PUTSCHISTS

Between April 8 and 12, the cities of Rosario and Buenos Aires will once again receive visitors who are personae non gratae to those of us who think, work and yearn for the emancipation of the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean.

The oft-repeated names of the international right-wing, which will reunite the biggest exponents of anti-Cuban and anti-Bolivarian discourse, will come together in our land to attack the Media Law, Latin American unity, and the popular political experiences taking place in the region.

The Peruvians, Mario and Alvaro Vargas Llosa (publicists of neoliberalism and fierce opponents of every form of popular power); the Spaniards, José María Aznar (ex-president, supporter of the invasion of Iraq and the coup d’état against Chávez in April 2002) and Esperanza Aguirre (president of the fascist Partido Popular in Madrid); the Chileans, Joaquín Lavín (Pinochet’s dauphin) and Cristian Larroulet (secretary-general to Sebastián Piñera); the Uruguayan, Luis Alberto Lacalle (ex-president); the Bolivian, Jorge Quiroga (ex-president, accused of narcotrafficking and violations of human rights, opponent of Evo Morales); the Venezuelans, Marcel Granier (president of the TV channel RCTV, supported and pushed for the coup against Chávez in 2002, which was the reason why five years later he did not receive a licence renewal for the station) and María Corina Machado (deputy of the Venezuelan national assembly, opposition putschist); Carlos Alberto Montaner (Cuban-American writer, linked for decades to the CIA), as well as the Cuban, Yoani Sánchez, agent recruited to serve the interests of the United states under the guise of an innocent blogger, whom Wikileaks has singled out for her close relations with US diplomats in Cuba, as well as being regional vice-president of the IAPA (an organization of newspaper owners with headquarters in Miami). All of these sinister personages have been convoked by the Freedom Foundation (created in Rosario in 1988 by a group of businessmen, professionals and intellectuals, all fierce defenders of neoliberalism), the Fundación Pensar (“Idea factory of the PRO”, as the Macri supporters call it) and FAES (created in 1989 and closely linked to the right-wing Partido Popular of Spain.)

These undesirable visitors will come to vomit their fiercely McCarthyite discourse, support the criminal blockade against the people of Cuba, defame once more the revolutionary and dignified trajectory of the recently deceased Comandante Hugo Chávez Frías, plot against the governments who belong to the ALBA, denounce the “politicization” of UNASUR and CELAC, and go on recommending the neoliberal economic formulae dictated by the IMF, which are starving our people and leading Europe off a cliff, and justifying the political, economic and military offensive which imperialism continues to develop all over the continent.

Regarding Argentina, they will not miss the opportunity to rail against the Media Law, in defence of the corporate policies and postulates of the press owners’ syndicate which is the IAPA, and to support the proposals of the right-wing oligarchy headed by the Rural Society and their partners of the PRO.

Joining these sordid visitors and their continent-destabilizing preachments, is a star of conspiratory entrapment, launched by the US State Department and the CIA for their media operations against Cuba, the blogger Yoani Sánchez. With her and her defamatory discourse on Cuban reality and the incontestable achievements of the Cuban Socialist Revolution, they will try to close the circle of lies, insults, provocations and threats thrown by these discredited prophets of intolerance.

In the face of this meeting of the international right wing and their local hosts from the Argentine right wing, we the undersigned:

— Repudiate the presence of these lugubrious messengers of capitalism and their destructive politics against the people and nations of Latin America and the Caribbean

— Denounce the campaign of siege and destabilization which this group of individuals and the entities they represent (and who finance them) come to visit with impunity upon the governments and peoples of the continent who have opted for an independent, progressive and confrontational course against the interventionist politics of the United States and their European allies

— Extend our solidarity to those who, for having denounced terrorist plans against Cuba organized by the mafias of Miami, are today unjustly imprisoned in the United States, as is the case with the five Cuban patriots, political prisoners in the US for more than 14 years

— Advocate for a deeper integration of Latin America, and for extending emancipatory proposals to all the countries of the continent

— Call upon the citizenry to close ranks in order to prevent the campaigns we have denounced here from developing with impunity. For this, the best recourse the people have is their mobilization and organzation, along with their growing awareness, to head off at the pass those who are trying to drag us back to the hell of neoliberalism and submission to the dictates of North American imperialism.

Translation mine.

The denunciation comes courtesy of an Argentine committee in support of the Cuban Five, who are no doubt following all of these lugubrious (I love that word!) imperialists. Watch this space come April 8-12, kiddies, I’ll be following them too.

Iraq, ten years later: Rumsfeld edition

I don’t know if Rummy tweeted this himself, or if he had a flunkie do it for him. But I rather hope he did it himself, just to see the outpouring of, er, AFFECTION that followed:

rummy-10-yrs-later

The Petraeus scandal widens

Meet another possible participant in the Petraeus affair…one whose strange behavior came to light in the course of the FBI’s investigation into some other strange behavior:

US general John Allen, chief of the NATO mission in Afghanistan, is being investigated for sending “inappropriate” e-mails to Jill Kelley, the same woman who received threatening messages from Paula Broadwell, the alleged mistress of ex-CIA chief David Petraeus, according to sources at the Pentagon.

This revelation comes a few hours after FBI agents searched Broadwell’s home. Petraeus had to step down due to his extramarital affair. Now the Petraeus scandal has touched the man who was to be chief of the NATO mission in Afghanistan, who was found in the course of the investigation to have exchanged numerous e-mails with Jill Kelley, described as a family friend of Petraeus.

General John Allen, 58, was assigned to the supreme command of the allied forces in Afghanistan starting next spring. Allen was to appear at a Senate confirmation hearing on Thursday, but the White House has suspended his nomination.

The investigation has been confirmed by the US Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, who announced early Tuesday morning on board a flight to Perth, Australia, that he ordered the investigation of the US’s troops in Afghanistan, and that the inspector general of the Pentagon was going through some 20,000 to 30,000 pages of documents, many of them e-mails, according to the New York Times.

Panetta read a communication to the journalists who were also travelling with him to the Australia-US summit, stating that he had been informed by the FBI on Sunday of the investigations surrounding the general and his relations with the woman said to be a victim of cyber-stalking by General Petraeus’s biographer-mistress.

Asked by reporters whether the FBI had decided upon a criminal investigation, the defence secretary said that “that will be up to the FBI to decide”, although he didn’t rule out a possible connection to the Petraeus scandal.

Panetta said that the general, who, like Jill Kelley, is married, denied having behaved inappropriately, and added that he “deserves due process”, also emphasizing his successful leadership in the Afghan war.

Meanwhile, at 9:00 p.m. on Monday, a group of FBI agents entered the home of Paula Broadwell in Charlotte, North Carolina. They inspected the home over the course of two hours, then left the premises without recording any of what had transpired during the search.

The scandal blew open when the FBI began to investigate some menacing e-mails allegedly sent by Broadwell to Jill Kelley, a Washington socialite and family friend of Petraeus.

Kelley and her husband, Scott, sent out a press release stating that they have been friends of the Petraeus family for the past five years, and asking that their privacy be respected. Sources of CNN described Kelley as an “innocent victim”. After the scandal broke, Petraeus was forced on Friday to go before the media to acknowledge that he had had a love affair with Broadwell, a 40-year old “journalist” who had written his biography, and to tender his resignation.

Translation mine.

Suddenly, we have a pretty good idea of why Jill Kelley lawyered up with a very high-powered attorney yesterday. I guess this answers Gawker’s question! If Jill Kelley has been carrying on with a general — not Petraeus, but another commander in the Afghan war, this one much more recent, and tapped to head the entire NATO mission come next spring — it would explain a lot. There is a lot more at stake here than just some titillating extramarital hanky-panky; we are now looking at more than one possible very high-level national security breach. At the very least, this means two generals will be under investigation, and an exhaustive search of their e-mail correspondence, both personal and professional, is in order. Might as well inspect them all, say I…and do a radical rethink of why the CIA and the US military have so much power to begin with, while you’re at it. All this military hagiography is surely NOT good for the country.

Now, the only thing I still wonder is who was the FBI agent who sent shirtless pics of himself to the glamorous Mrs. Kelley, who looks like she could be a cousin of the Kardashians (albeit a much more tastefully dressed one.) Josh Marshall says he makes Petraeus look like the sanest of the bunch, and I’m inclined to agree. Hey, who’s to say we can’t enjoy the theatricality of this whole spy circus a bit? There’s gonna be plenty of serious shit surrounding the Benghazi débâcle before long. Might as well enjoy the comic relief while we can get it, kiddies…

PS: The plot thickens. Perhaps we should call our new soap opera As the Pentagon Turns? Also, oops!

PPS: And more thickening! NPR reports that Paula Broadwell is NOT the actual author of All (Up) In (My Vagina), the hagiography of Fmr. Gen. Petraeus. That honor goes to a WaHoPo columnist, Vernon Loeb. Which begs the question: Just exactly what WAS she doing the whole time she was with the general? Clearly not just compiling research files, ha ha.

PPPS: And back to Jill Kelley. Think I should wank-list her for not understanding what “honorary” means?