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A READER ASKS: "WHAT ABOUT BUSH'S CARPET-OF-BOMBS THREAT?"
What standards of evidence should we demand?
[Posted 15 July 2002]
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Dear Emperor's Clothes,

Your argument about oil completely contradicts what I have seen a hundred times, namely that the Bush administration outright threatened to bomb the Taliban unless they came around and accepted an oil pipeline, or you say it was a gas pipeline. These are highly documented quotes. I saved this one from an email in March, four months ago.

"In Afghanistan, the hidden agenda is oil. The Bush Administration held a series of negotiations with the Taliban in early 2001 regarding the trans-Afghan pipeline project. 'At one moment during one of the negotiations, U.S. representatives told the Taliban, 'either you accept our offer of a carpet of gold, or we bury you under a carpet of bombs'". And this is exactly what is happening today in Afghanistan."

This is highly documented. Are you saying it didn't happen?

Jeffrey Carter
Canada

***

Dear Jeffrey,

The problem is the "carpet of bombs" quote is *not* highly documented. Like a lot of the urban legend-type material cluttering the discussion of 9-11, it is not documented at all. (At least not in the English language.) It has just been repeated a lot.

If we reject this undocumented quote it doesn't mean we have to support the official story about 9-11. It means we have to avoid weak, sensationalist arguments. Demand solid evidence. Let the other side be known for its baloney.

Now, whoever sent you the "carpet of bombs" quote apparently forgot to identify the source. It comes from an apparent interview with Jean-Charles Brisard and Guillaume Dasquie, authors of "FORBIDDEN TRUTH."

The interview was apparently conducted by one Julio Godoy right after "FORBIDDEN TRUTH" was published in French.

I write "apparently" because Godoy is casual with details. In the article where he cites the supposed "carpet of bombs" quote, he never confirms that he interviewed Brisard and Dasquie. One must surmise that he did so from the following sentence:

"'At one moment during the negotiations, the U.S. representatives told the Taliban, 'either you accept our offer of a carpet of gold, or we bury you under a carpet of bombs'," Brisard said in an interview in Paris." http://www.truthout.org/docs_01/11.17A.Oil.Taliban.htm

That's it: "in an interview in Paris." No details. So I say Godoy 'apparently' interviewed Dasquie and Brisard.

Godoy presents no evidence to back up the 'carpet-of -bombs' statement. He doesn't tell us where Brisard supposedly learned of this amazing remark. He just presents it and moves on. Nevertheless, if you go to www.google.com and enter "carpet of bombs" you will find over 1000 citations. Everybody repeated Godoy's assertion, but virtually nobody asked for evidence.

Why? Who is Julio Godoy? Why should we believe him? And assuming he is accurately quoting Brisard, then - who is Brisard? Why should we believe *him*?

Godoy describes Brisard as follows:

"Brisard was until the late 1990s director of economic analysis and strategy for Vivendi, a French company. He also worked for French secret services, and wrote for them in 1997 a report on the now famous Al Qaeda network, headed by bin Laden."

'Director of economic analysis and strategy' sounds very high class. 'Vivendi' apparently means 'Vivendi Universal,' a major publisher that seems to be especially big in...computer games. http://www.vivendiuniversalpublishing.com/english_version/games.html

So we have a former computer game and publishing company executive who says he's a French Secret Agent.

[Note: when I wrote this I underestimated the scope of Vivendi Universal. It is a huge conglomerate, which makes the vagueness of Godoy's description of Brisard all the odder. or more on this, see
http://emperors-clothes.com/letters/geopolitics.htm#2 ]

Hmmm.

Shouldn't we be skeptical? And even if it's true, even if Mr. Brisard is a French spook, how would that enhance his credibility? Intelligence services are known for spreading disinformation in the interest of national policy. They are *not* known for disseminating the truth. If Brisard really is a French spook that's all the less reason to trust him.

As for Dasquie, Godoy writes, "Dasquie is an investigative journalist and publisher of Intelligence Online, a respected newsletter on diplomacy, economic analysis and strategy, available through the Internet."

Again, who knows if he is reliable? Let me also say that when I see adjectives like "respected" I get suspicious. I really don't care whether people respect Dasquie or not. I want to see some evidence to support what he says.

Ok, let's take a moment and do a preliminary CREDIBILITY SURVEY on the "Carpet of bombs" quote:

AGAINST CREDIBILITY

1) No documentation. Why should we believe it?

2) The quote is consistent with what Brisard and Dasquie are trying to prove. That makes the failure to document a red flag. A cardinal rule in journalism is that if you attack someone (and Brisard and Dasquie are definitely attacking Bush) and you claim to have a damning quote from them, then you have to somehow substantiate your claim. Why? For the obvious reason that it's in your interest to lie.

3) Dasquie and Brisard gave this (apparent) interview right after their book hit the stores. Apparently the carpet of bombs quote was not in the first French edition.

Why not?

Doesn't that suggest they "remembered" it after the book was published just in time to put it in an interview, which was, after all, intended to sell books?

FOR CREDIBILITY

1) "They're anti-Bush and so am I."
-- My comment: BAD REASON! Being anti-Bush is not a test of truth.

2) "The carpet-of-bombs quote shows people that what the US is doing in Afghanistan is wrong."
-- My comment: If the quote is fabricated then we'd be spreading a lie. Moreover, I think the Brisard "quote" has been used mainly to sell those who are already opposed to the war on the "it's-all-about-oil" argument. If the quote is phony, maybe the oil argument is false as well.

3) "By attacking Brisard's credibility you are undermining our side."
-- My comment: We have to be toughest with those who claim to speak for "our side." Don't we have enough problems criticizing the most powerful empire in history without using foolish, unsupported - and, by the way, easily discredited - arguments? If the carpet-of-bombs quote is not credible then it's a Trojan horse and we strengthen "our side" by rejecting it.

4) "What if we trust Brisard and Dasquie?"
--My comment: What if.

I found nothing in the Godoy article to make me trust Godoy, let alone Dasquie and Brisard. (I'll call them D & B)

D & B had an English-language interview with Salon.com in February. This gives us a chance to judge their credibility. http://www.salon.com/politics/feature/2002/02/08/forbidden/print.html

If in the interview D & B showed they know the facts *and* backed up their "carpet-of-bombs" quote, that would stand in their favor.

If not, why trust them?

I won't go through the whole Salon interview. Just a few points.

First, remarkably, Dasquie and Brisard never mention the "carpet of bombs."

They don't even claim the Bush people spoke to the Taliban about pipelines!

Consider this exchange:

"Salon: In your book, you allege that the Bush administration was negotiating with the Taliban last year over a proposed Central Asian oil pipeline through Afghanistan. Which Bush official conducted those talks? "

Brisard: [Assistant Secretary of State] Christina Rocca, in August 2001 in Pakistan, explicitly discussed the oil interest, not the pipeline.

[End Brisard reply]

My comment: They discussed "the oil interest" - not pipelines? Afghanistan is not a big oil producer. How did Rocca and the Taliban talk about oil without talking about pipelines?

At this point Salon prods Brisard, asking, "Did you ever speak with Rocca?"

Brisard answers at great length. What he actually says is, "No."

Salon continues, directing D & B towards the "it's-for-oil" argument:

"Salon: Do you allege that she mentioned oil explicitly?"

This is answered by both authors. Saving Dasquie's answer for later, here's Brisard:

"Brisard: We believe that when [Rocca] went to Pakistan in 2001 she was there to speak about oil, and unfortunately the Osama bin Laden case was just a technical part of the negotiations. I'm not sure about the pipeline specifically, but we make it clear she was there to speak about oil. There are witnesses, including the Pakistani foreign minister."

[END BRISARD'S REPLY]

Now first of all, while a number of media sources report that Ms. Rocca met with the Taliban Ambassador, Abdul Salam Zaeef, on August 2, 2001, none of them report that the two sides spoke about oil.

Moreover, consider what Brisard has said: "We believe...she was there to speak about oil."

These guys are like mist; when you try to take them firmly in hand, they disappear. "We believe...she was there to speak bout oil." What does that mean? What happened to "Either you accept our offer of a carpet of gold [that is, an oil pipeline] or we bury you under a carpet of bombs'"?

Salon entitled the interview, "Bush, oil and the Taliban," with the subtitle, "Two French authors allege that before Sept. 11, the White House put oil interests ahead of national security." That's quite definite, but consider the following exchange:

"Salon: Is there anything in the American press about your book you would like to correct?

"Brisard: The main error is to say that the U.S. preferred oil to fighting against al-Qaida. That oversimplifies it."

[END BRISARD'S REPLY]

Huh? Isn't that precisely what Brisard is saying?

I have found that whenever one pins one of the "it's-all-about oil" people to the wall they deny they're saying "it's-about- oil" and then, in the next breath they say..."it's about oil."

Now let us look at Dasquie's reply. To refresh your memory, the question was:

"Salon: Do you allege that she [Assistant Secretary Rocca] mentioned oil explicitly?"

And here is Dasquie's 'reply':

"Dasquie: Madeleine Albright was the first to refuse to negotiate with the Taliban in 1997. Before that, from 1994 to '97, Clinton did negotiate with the Taliban. We describe the meeting of Rocca and some Taliban leaders in Islamabad in August 2001. There are documents to support it. And at the same time in Washington there are lots of meetings of the energy policy task force and lots of oil company representatives around Dick Cheney. The task force's conclusion is that Central Asia oil is a very important goal. And at the same time people are negotiating with the Taliban for the first time since 1994. [End Dasquie.]

[END DASQUIE'S REPLY]

Two points.

First, Dasquie did not answer the question.

Second, there must be a typo here. Dasquie says the US stopped talking to the Taliban in 1997 under Clinton and started again in 2001 under Bush. But his concluding sentence, "People are [as of Feb. 2001] negotiating with the Taliban for the first time since 1994," only makes sense if you change "1994" to "1997."

Ok, then. Is Dasquie correct? Did the US stop talking to the Taliban under Clinton, in 1997, and only resume under Big Oil Bush?

If he is wrong, if in fact the US never stopped talking to the Taliban, then we know this guy is shooting wild. Making statements without prior knowledge...of the facts.

I did some research. I checked news articles from 1998 to 2000.

I found hundreds that mentioned talks involving the Taliban and US officials.

Below are excerpts from four reports, one from 1998, two from 1999 and one from 2000.

By the way, last October we posted the transcript of a July 12th, 2000 congressional hearing in which Congressman Dana Rohrabacher said:

"At a time when the Taliban were vulnerable, the top person of this administration, Mr. Inderfurth, and Bill Richardson, personally went to Afghanistan and convinced the anti-Taliban forces not to go on the offensive and, furthermore, convinced all of the anti-Taliban forces, their supporters, to disarm them and to cease their flow of support for the anti-Taliban forces."

[END ROHRABACHER QUOTE]

Note that Rohrabacher refers to Mr. Inderfurth as "the top person of this administration" for Afghanistan.

Karl Inderfurth was brought into the US State Department as Assistant Secretary of State at the end of 1997. Thus Rohrabacher's charge would only make sense if he is talking about the period between January 1998 and July 12th, 2000 (when the congressional hearing took place).

Rohrabacher's testimony is consistent with our own conclusion that, whether under Clinton or Bush, the hidden goal has been, one way or another, to create a single, unified, NATO-dominated Islamic fundamentalist government in Afghanistan. To this end the US-Euro Empire has used threats, aid, treachery, the dangling carrot of a promise of wealth from an oil pipeline and all-out war.

One of the news reports below refers to a trip which Richardson and Inderfurth were about to make (and which they did in fact make) to Afghanistan. The purpose, supposedly, was to negotiate peace between the Taliban and the Northern Alliance. The time was April 1998. This is consistent with Rohrabacher's accusations.

This does not prove Rohrabacher is correct. Just that he *may* be correct. To make a better judgement about whether he *is* correct, please read the transcript of the July 12, 2000 Congressional hearing. In it, Rohrabacher debated Clinton administration representatives about relations with the Taliban. It is a most revealing argument. The transcript is posted, along with some comments by me, at http://emperors-clothes.com/misc/rohr.htm

The four excerpts are below. I will try to get them posted in full by July 16th. The link will be http://emperors-clothes.com/911backups/dasquie.htm

Regards,
Jared Israel
Emperor's Clothes www.tenc.net

***

APRIL 8, 1998, WEDNESDAY, BC CYCLE
UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL

In the highest-level U.S. visit to Afghanistan since the Communist coup more than two decades ago, American U.N. Representative Bill Richardson will visit the war-torn nation on a trip to south Asia that begins Friday. In 1975, then-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger was the last U.S. cabinet official to make the journey before Richardson, who will also stop in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Richardson will be joined on his mission, which U.S. officials say is an attempt to draw the Taliban militia and the coalition of forces in the north into preliminary peace talks, by Assistant Secretary of State Carl Inderfurth and White House aide Bruce Riedel.

SECTION: Washington News
LENGTH: 210 words HEADLINE: Richardson plans Afghan mission
DATELINE: WASHINGTON, April 8

*****

OCTOBER 29, 1999, FRIDAY
STATE DEPARTMENT BRIEFING

[Jamie Rubin press conference]

"Question: Can you tell us whether, in the meeting earlier this week with the Taliban, this scenario was one of the ideas they put forward?

"MR. RUBIN: They put forward a number of ideas, including the idea of a 'ulema,' which is a council of Islamic scholars, who makes a judgment under Islamic law. That doesn't meet the civilian justice that has been laid out in the Security Council resolution."

Federal News Service
REGULAR BRIEFING BRIEFER: JAMES RUBIN

*******

AUGUST 15, 1999, SUNDAY, BC CYCLE
UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL

"The United States and Afghanistan's ruling Taliban militia have been talking to each other despite tensions that have marked their relations ever since the Taliban appeared on the Afghan scene about five years ago. A spokesman for the U.S. embassy in Islamabad today says that recently the two sides discussed the possible extradition of Saudi dissident Osama bin Ladin to a third country. The Taliban's U.N. representative Abdul Hakeem Mujahid told NBC news the United States has been trying to convince the Taliban to deport binLadin...'The talks with Taliban are usually held in Islamabad, Washington or New York where the Taliban U.N. representative lives,' said the U.S. Embassy spokesman. 'The two sides have also held talks on the fringes of international conferences and seminars,' he said."

SECTION: International HEADLINE: US, Taliban talk frequently BYLINE: BY ANWAR IQBAL DATELINE: ISLAMABAD

*****

MARCH 4, 2000, SATURDAY
UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL

"Senior officials of Afghanistan's ruling Taliban militia are also expected to participate in the talks. Officials at Pakistan's ministry for foreign affairs say the talks are part of the so-called two-plus-six process, initiated by the United Nations with U.S. support. The United States and Russia participate in these talks as two guarantors while six countries that neighbor Afghanistan discuss various options to"end the fighting."

SECTION: GENERAL NEWS
HEADLINE: Taliban, foreign allies, foes meet
By ANWAR IQBAL ISLAMABAD

[END EXCERPTS]

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FURTHER READING :

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