The failure of the 9-11 commission to investigate the findings of the “Able Danger” team – which allegedly uncovered Mohamed Atta as an al-Qaida operative prior to the attacks – tops the list of the 10 most “spiked” or underreported stories of the last year, according to an annual WND survey.
Around the close of each year, most news organizations present their retrospective replays of what they consider to have been the top news stories in the previous 12 months.
However, the editors of WorldNetDaily always have found it more newsworthy to publish a compilation of the most important unreported or underreported news events of the year – to highlight perhaps for one last time major news stories that were undeservedly “spiked” by the establishment press.
WND Editor and CEO Joseph Farah has sponsored “Operation Spike” every year since 1988, and since founding WorldNetDaily in May 1997, he has continued the annual tradition.
Here, with our readers’ help, are WorldNetDaily editors’ picks for the 10 most underreported stories of the past year:
1. Failure of the 9-11 commission to investigate “Able Danger.” In November, former FBI chief Louis Freeh rebuked the 9-11 commission for ignoring revelations by “Able Danger,” a secret data-mining operation that allegedly named Mohamed Atta as an al-Qaida operative a year before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
The assertions made by the Able Danger team contradict government denials that U.S. agencies had any prior knowledge of Atta or any others eventually associated with the attacks.
According to reports, Able Danger had identified Atta, the lead attacker, and three others as probable members of an al-Qaida cell operating in the U.S. by mid-2000.
Last month, Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa., the vice chairman of the House Armed Services and Homeland Security Committees, said he expected Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to green light public hearings before Congress to disclose more information regarding prior knowledge of Islamist cells in the U.S. before 9-11.
2. Successes in rebuilding Iraq. The year began with President Bush congratulating Iraqis for defying terrorists and voting in their country’s first democratic election in more than 50 years.
But a dispatch by a Marine Corps Reserve commander, Lt. Col. Mark Smith, was emblematic of the frustration expressed by U.S. troops who insisted that contrary to the mainstream media and it’s emphasis on terrorist attacks, the U.S. is winning the war.
Last month, Iraq Interior Minister Bayan Jabir said terror attacks in the country decreased by 70 percent and no escapee has been arrested at Syrian borders for two weeks. The decrease is a big success, the minister noted, declaring that by the end of 2006 the Iraqi army could take over security.
In one of many examples of U.S troops helping rebuild Iraqi lives, the Utah Army National Guard’s 115th Maintenance Company from Draper, Utah, adopted two elementary schools in poor areas of Iraq to provide for basic needs for the students.
3. Cover-up of David Barrett’s probe of Clinton IRS and Henry Cisneros. Republican leaders joined with Democrats to squelch an independent counsel’s final report on Clinton-era abuse of the Internal Revenue Service and Justice Department – a document said to include damning evidence against the 42nd president and his administration.
More than 10 years ago, independent counsel David Barrett was charged with investigating former Clinton Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Henry Cisneros in relation to his lying to the FBI about tax fraud he committed trying to cover up payments to a mistress. Though Cisneros pleaded guilty in 1999, Barrett, in the course of his probe, found evidence of wrongdoing within the IRS and Justice Department tied to the Cisneros fraud.
Reportedly, Clinton team members tried to interfere with Barrett’s investigation, which has cost $21 million, including conducting surveillance of his office.
Clinton lawyer David Kendall allegedly tried to kill the report by gutting it with redactions. Eventually, Democratic Sen. Byron Dorgan of North Dakota inserted an amendment to block 120 pages of the 400-page report – those listing Clinton administration transgressions – in an appropriations bill that was signed into law in November.
Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, still is trying to force release of the full report.
4. The impact of illegal immigration on the U.S. and its security. At least 51 people from countries such as Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt, Syria and Pakistan who crossed the border illegally have been arrested on suspicion of terrorism since such tracking began in October 2004, according to Department of Homeland Security figures.
In November, defending President Bush’s “guest worker” program for illegal aliens, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said it’s not practical to deport the millions of foreigners who are in the country illegally, because the cost of identifying them and sending them back would be “billions and billions of dollars.”
In October, Chertoff promised to end the federal government’s “catch and release” policy, but an activist group that wants to build a high-tech barrier to secure the southern border called the move “too little, too late,” arguing the crackdown will only solve 25 percent of the problem. For every “Other than Mexican” illegal alien apprehended by border agents, experts estimate another three enter the country undetected.
In June, it was reported that of the 800,000 illegal aliens caught trying to sneak across the U.S.-Mexico border since October, more than 10 percent are from countries other than Mexico, posing serious national security issues.
Sen. John Kyl, R-Ariz., said the U.S. “has intelligence that tells us that al-Qaida specifically desires to bring people across our border.”
According to new Border Patrol numbers, a record 98,000 “other than Mexicans” had been apprehended in the previous eight months, an increase of 175 percent from the same time in 2004.
In May, the president of a labor organization representing Border Patrol employees and a Texas congressman criticized a House Homeland Security bill for failing to fund construction of new detention facilities to hold illegal border-crossers from countries other than Mexico, resulting in their automatic release pending a later hearing date.
In April, an analysis of the latest census data by the Federation for American Immigration Reform showed Texas’ illegal immigrant population cost the state’s taxpayers more than $4.7 billion per year for education, medical care and incarceration.
In March, the volunteer citizen group Minuteman Project began helping U.S. officials capture illegal aliens. President Bush referred to the group members as vigilantes, and the American Civil Liberties Union said it would monitor the activities of the volunteers.
A report in the spring issue of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons said the increasing number of illegal aliens is forcing the closure of hospitals, spreading previously vanquished diseases and threatening to destroy America’s health-care system.
According to the study, 84 California hospitals were closing their doors as a direct result of the rising number of illegal aliens and their non-reimbursed tax on the system. While politicians often mention there are more than 40 million without health insurance in this country, the report estimated that at least 25 percent are illegal immigrants. The figure could be as high as 50 percent.
In January, an analysis of census data indicated that the presence of illegal aliens in California cost the state’s taxpayers more than $10.5 billion per year for education, medical care and incarceration.
A business analyst who studied the impact of the nation’s underground economy said there could be 20 million illegal aliens in the U.S. today. Robert Justich, a senior managing director at Bear Stearns Asset Management in New York, said the underground economy of illegal aliens working in the U.S. is costing the federal government hundreds of billions of dollars in unpaid income taxes and could lead to a higher impact on taxpayers if President Bush’s amnesty proposal is passed into law.
5.The truth about Terri Schiavo and her death. Major media organizations painted the pitched battle over the life of Terri Schiavo as a clear-cut debate between pro-life and right-to-die advocates, bankrolled by big money activist organizations on both sides. But the case of the 41-year-old brain-injured Florida woman was anything but clear cut.
Among the doubts was whether the removal of her feeding tube on March 18, which amounted to slow death by dehydration and starvation, reflected her wishes and whether she was in a “persistent vegetative state” as claimed by her husband.
Disputing the findings of the county medical examiner, a neurosurgeon who examined Schiavo before her death says the autopsy report confirms she was aware of what was going on around her.
Dr. William Hammesfahr, known as a pioneer in approaches to helping the brain injured, said to ignore the facts would “allow future Terri Schiavos to die needlessly.”
“The record must be set straight,” he said. “As we noted in the press, there was no heart attack, or evident reason for this to have happened (and certainly not of Terri’s making). Unlike the constant drumbeat from the husband, his attorneys, and his doctors, the brain tissue was not dissolved, with a head of just spinal fluid. In fact, large areas were ‘relatively preserved.’”
6. Sandy Berger’s slap on the wrist for stealing classified documents. In September, President Clinton’s former national security adviser, Sandy Berger, avoided prison time and paid a fine of just $50,000 for stealing classified documents from the National Archives.
The criminal investigation of Berger – accused of pocketing highly classified terrorism documents prior to the Sept. 11 Commission hearings – virtually disappeared from the media after it first was reported in July 2004.
The after-action review of the millennium celebration taken by Berger conflicts with his testimony before the 9-11 commission, prompting some Republicans to charge he stole the documents to protect the Clinton administration.
7. The fact that WMDs were found in Iraq. While members of the U.S. Senate are suggesting once again that no weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq, Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin reviewed the major discoveries, including more than 1.7 tons of enriched uranium.
A former intelligence analyst currently working as a civilian contractor recently said he will unveil publicly next month what he believes to be recordings of Saddam Hussein’s office meetings discussing his program of developing weapons of mass destruction.
The highly confidential audio was overlooked when it was found in a warehouse along with many other untranslated Iraqi intelligence files, according to the contractor.
A 2004 report asserted key claims by the intelligence community widely judged in the media and by critics of President Bush as having been false turned out to have been true after all, but the news received little attention from the major media. In virtually every case – chemical, biological, nuclear and ballistic missiles – the United States has found the weapons and the programs that the Iraqi dictator successfully concealed for 12 years from U.N. weapons inspectors.
Charles Duelfer, an adviser to the CIA, did not rule out Saddam’s transfer of Iraqi missiles and weapons of mass destruction to Syria. Duelfer agreed that a large amount of material had been transferred by Iraq to Syria before the war begin in March 2003.
8. Atrocities of radical Islam. Along with the front-page news of attacks in Western nations, radical Muslims continue to wage organized jihad worldwide in places such as Israel, Sudan, Indonesia, Nigeria, Chechnya and the Philippines as well as carry out frequent attacks on non-Muslims in Pakistan, Bangladesh and other countries.
Three weeks earlier, three churches, a school, a convent and Christian homes were attacked in Pakistan’s worst outbreak of anti-Christian violence since 2002. Islamic leaders reportedly used loudspeakers urging Muslims to rise up and eliminate Christians.
In October, fearing a repeat of the recent riots against the Coptic Church in Alexandria, Egypt, which left four dead, more than 80 wounded and seven churches defaced, leaders of the Coptic church in the United States called on the U.S. government and the United Nations to take immediate action to stop the bloodshed and destruction of churches.
In the U.S., a fatwa, or religious ruling, issued by American Islamic leaders against “terrorism and extremism” was judged as “bogus” by a leading analyst. Organizers included the Fiqh Council of North America. But in a 1995 speech, the head of the Fiqh Council, Muzamil Siddiqi, praised suicide bombers, saying, “Those who die on the part of justice are alive, and their place is with the Lord, and they receive the highest position, because this is the highest honor.” The decree also failed to condemn the radical ideology that has spawned Islamic terrorism and did not renounce or acknowledge the existence of an Islamic jihadist culture that has permeated mosques and young Muslims around the world. It also did not condemn by name any Islamic group or leader.”
At the United Nations, representatives of Islamic countries blocked an attempt to have the world body condemn killing in the name of religion. The Muslim members said they saw it as an attack on Islam. The text referred to decisions by high-ranking Muslim clerics to confirm that those who carry out suicide bombings remain Muslims and cannot be treated as apostates.
In March, four armed, Muslim assailants opened fire on Christian worshippers during an Easter service in a Pakistani village, killing one and injuring six others.
9. Islam’s impact on French riots. The mainstream media downplayed the Islamic connection to unrest in France that began Oct. 27 with thousands of mostly French Muslims in impoverished Paris suburbs engaging in violent clashes with police as they torched cars and buildings. After 20 nights, officials gave a count of 8,973 vehicles burned, 2,888 arrests and 126 officers injured.
Analysts pointed to many factors behind the riots – including poverty, France’s immigration and integration policies and French attitudes toward minorities. But some, including frequent Fox News contributor Daniel Pipes, saw a connection to the Islamist goal of gaining a foothold in Europe in its global jihad.
However, even Fox News was accused of altering its coverage to accommodate politically correct thinking. A Saudi prince who owns shares of the network claimed he persuaded Fox News chief Rupert Murdoch to change a screen banner during a broadcast that identified the unrest as “Muslim riots.”
10. Good news about the economy. In the wake of the 2000-02 stock market plunge, the 9-11 terrorist attacks and skyrocketing energy prices, the economy has rebounded in a non-inflationary “Bush boom,” fueled, many economists agree, by tax cuts.
The U.S. Labor Department reported the unemployment rate stood at 4.9 percent for December and the economy added about 2 million jobs in 2005, roughly the same as the previous year. The number of workers filing new claims for unemployment aid recently plunged to the lowest level in more than five years.
Meanwhile, the nation’s industrial output rose by 0.6 percent last month following gains of 0.8 percent in November and 1 percent in October amid recovery in production of Gulf Coast oil.
The U.S. budget surplus was $10.98 billion in December – double the expected amount – despite record outlays, as gross corporate tax receipts reached a new high.
On Wall Street, the Dow closed in on 11,000 as the year ended and later surpassed the mark for the first time since June 2001.
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