Saudi Arabia doesn’t officially recognize Israel, but its hackers are reportedly using Israeli spyware to target dissidents in foreign countries

Saudi Arabia doesn’t officially recognize Israel, but its hackers are reportedly using Israeli spyware to target dissidents in foreign countries

By Caitlin Foster,

Pegasus, the invasive spyware developed by the Israeli company NSO Group, uses “exploit links” to infiltrate targets’ phones and retrieve data.

Canadian research laboratory Citizen Lab says its uncovered forensic evidence that Saudi Arabian operators used Israeli technology to spy on dissidents in foreign countries.

In a report published in early October, lab researchers outlined how they discovered the NSO group’s spyware on the cell phone of Omar Abdulaziz, an outspoken critic of Saudi Arabia who is currently living in Canada. The research group has been keeping tabs on Pegasus since 2016, when it initially exposed the spyware and connected it to the Israeli cyber company NSO Group.

The spyware is activated when its target clicks on an “exploit link.” Usually sent via text message, the link allows spyware operators to exploit a wide range of data and activity, including emails, messages, and contact lists. Operators can even capture activity, including conversations, using the phone’s camera.

Abdulaziz, who is attending McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, received a text message with a fake package tracking link in the summer of 2018. Citizen Lab, which had been keeping tabs on Pegasus operators and activity, discovered the link through his use of the university’s wifi network.

The Canadian asylee has been a sharp critic of Saudi Arabia; he runs a satirical YouTube channel dedicated to airing his grievances over the kingdom’s human rights record and helps students apply for asylum. In August 2018, Abdulaziz’s brother and several friends were arrested — in what he says was an attempt to silence him.

Citizen Lab discovered the spyware operating on the university’s network and identified its Saudi-based operator. An initial hypothesis — that the operator would be exploiting a Saudi dissident — led them to Abdulaziz.

The lab has so far identified 36 Pegasus operators in 45 countries. Saudi Arabia is one of the nations using the technology to target civil society. In its reports, Citizen Lab refers to the Saudi-based operator as “Kingdom.”

Vladimir Putin makes his WWE debut at ‘Extreme Rules’

Vladimir Putin makes his WWE debut at ‘Extreme Rules’

By Marissa Payne

May 5, 2014

(Alexei Druzhinin/RIA Novosti/Kremlin/Reuters)

WWE’s “Extreme Rules” pay-per-view proved to be, well, extreme. Kane, aka “the devil’s favorite demon,” fell through a table lit on fire, and Bray Wyatt introduced “Little Johnny,” a creepster of a kid with the electronically altered voice of man. But the most extreme bit that happened during Sunday’s three-hour broadcast may have been when Russia President Vladimir Putin’s face splashed across the Titantron.

Did I just mark out when Lana dedicated this match to #Putin ? Why yes I did @WrestlingInc #WWE #wweextremerules

— Matt McDonald (@Matt_McDonald_) May 5, 2014

Was this CNN or the WWE Network? Who cares. It was awesome. This next-level geopolitical trolling came from Lana, “the Ravishing Russian,” who dedicated the match of her client, the giant Bulgarian Rusev, to the much-maligned Russian president. She used the kind of melodramatic language that makes pro wrestling more than a display of athleticism, but a full theatrical production.

The above clip is hard to hear, but here’s what Lana, embodied by American model and actress C.J. Perry, said:

“Tonight we dedicate this match to the man that makes fools out of all you Americans; tonight we dedicate this match to the man that I respect more than any other man; He is my role model; he is my idol — the president of Russia!”

That’s when Putin’s expressionless, larger-than-life visage appeared and Big-Brothered the arena, which echoed with an impressive chorus of boos. That heat would continue as Rusev, now a resident of Russia, according to the story line, went on to crush his opponents, R-Truth and Xavier Woods.

The match, however, won’t be what this night will be remembered for. It’s Putin, the WWE’s best new heel.

But while most agree the bit worked fabulously, some are saying the WWE went too far using Putin for boo-bait. These detractors point to the ongoing situation in Ukraine, which has world leaders worrying about Russian military aggression, as well as Putin’s deplorable record when it comes to Russia’s gay community, as evidence that Putin is not to be played with.

@WWE How can you mention V.V.Putin in storyline, when he’s the world aggressor? It’s not politically correct right now.

— MarinaEva (@lediamondmarina) May 5, 2014

Isabelle “Izzy” Gryphon


@WWE What the hell is wrong with you ? Even mentioning Putin on a WWE show, who has anti-gay laws in place ! So much for “No H8t”…

12:45 AM – May 5, 2014


See Isabelle “Izzy” Gryphon’s other Tweets

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Chris Lacey


I guess WWE didn’t think about the Ukraine trouble when praising Vladermir Putin and that goes well with #beastar #ExtremeRules

7:43 AM – May 5, 2014

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What do you think of Putin’s cameo?

FBI informant in terror stings owned limo in deadly crash, state source confirms


FBI informant in terror stings owned limo in deadly crash, state source confirms


WILTON — The owner of the limousine that crashed in Schoharie, killing 18 people on board and two pedestrians, is a former FBI informant who testified in two high-profile terrorism cases, a state official confirmed Monday.

Shahed “Malik” Hussain owns Prestige Limousine in Wilton, the official said. The limousine company is being scrutinized as federal and state investigators try to determine what caused the crash.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Monday said the limo involved in Saturday’s crash at the intersection of routes 30A and 30 had failed a state Department of Transportation inspection last month and should not have been on the road.

The driver did not have a proper license to operate the vehicle, the governor added.

Prestige Limousine shares a business address with the Crest Inn Suites & Cottages in Wilton, a motel that has been owned by Hussain for about a decade.

Hussain and his wife previously lived at the motel but the manager, Arnie Cornett, on Monday said they were no longer living there when he moved in about 18 months ago. Public records indicate Hussain still owns the motel and continues to operate the limo company.

A state official said Hussain owns the business but the limo service might be operated by a son.

At the time, Hussain owned and operated a Getty gas station on South Pearl Street in Albany. He also worked as a translator for the state Department of Motor Vehicles, and had routinely accepted bribes of several hundred dollars each to help immigrants, who in some cases couldn’t drive well, pass written exams they couldn’t understand, according to court records.

Following his arrest in December 2001, and while facing the prospect of a long prison term and eventual deportation to his native Pakistan, Hussain agreed to become an informant for the FBI.
Hussain had emigrated to the U.S. in 1993 and still held a green card at the time he went to work for the FBI, which credited him with helping arrest more than a dozen people, including the people involved in the DMV scandal and a member of an Afghani-based heroin trafficking ring.

But it was Hussain’s work as an informant in a controversial counter-terrorism sting in Albany that thrust him into the spotlight. He worked in an undercover role, posing as an arms dealer, to help federal authorities snare two immigrants with no criminal backgrounds at the time: Yassin Aref, an Iraqi refugee and imam of a Central Avenue mosque, and Mohammed Hussain, a Bangladeshi immigrant who owned a pizza shop.

Aref and Mohammed Hussain were both arrested in 2004 and accused of laundering money in connection with a fictitious terror plot set up by the FBI’s informant.

They were convicted in 2006 and both sentenced to 15 years in federal prison. Aref was recently released from prison and is being held in custody pending his deportation to Iraq.

The attorneys for Aref and Mohammed Hussain, Terence L. Kindlon and Kevin Luibrand, respectively, had harsh words for the informant who helped convict their clients.

During the Albany trial, there was testimony that the informant’s recorded conversations with the Albany targets were in Urdu. The informant would then translate those conversations for FBI agents, who later learned that the translations were not always accurate, according to the defense team. In addition, a wired listening device the informant wore during the sting failed during one of his most critical exchanges with Aref and was not taped — but rather offered as evidence through the recollection of an FBI agent and the informant.

Kindlon once called Hussain a “confidence man” who could not be trusted.

In May 2009, Hussain the informant resurfaced as an FBI informant when four men from Newburgh were charged with conspiring to plant explosives outside the Riverdale Jewish Center and Riverdale Temple in New York City. As in the Albany case, Shahed Hussain posed as a wealthy businessman and befriended the men before implicating them in a terror plot.

The four Newburgh men, Laguerre Payen, James Cromitie, Onta Williams and David Williams, were convicted but the FBI’s use of Shahed Hussain drew harsh criticism and raised entrapment questions.

Three years later, in 2012, Hussain again took part in an undercover FBI sting, this time targeting a then-34-year-old man, Khalifah Al-Akili, who lived near Pittsburgh. Khalifah Al-Akili told the Times Union in an interview that year that the FBI had used in an apparent attempt to test Al-Akili’s interest in jihad and anti-American views.

Al-Akili, who was later convicted of a firearms charge, said he was approached by Hussain, who went by the name “Mohammed,” and another man, who used the name “Shareef,” when they turned up in his neighborhood and repeatedly made attempts to get close to Al-Akili. But Al-Akili said he quickly figured out Hussain’s identity as an FBI informant. He said the men were “too obvious” and requested receipts even for small items they purchased like coffee and donuts.

In addition, he said, a cell phone number Hussain had given him was the same number used by Hussain during the 2009 counterterrorism investigation against the four Newburgh men. Al-Akili said he found the number and its connection to that case through a simple Internet search using Google.

Although Hussain’s undercover work had exposed his residency in Wilton, he never left the area and for years had lived a quiet life at the hardscrabble motel along Route 9 a few miles north of Saratoga Springs.

Cornett, the motel’s manager, said they occasionally receive mail there related to the limo company, but that Hussain kept the vehicles at another location.

Several years ago, Hussain tangled with the town of Wilton for running his limo business out of the back of the hotel without a permit. Town officials asked that he keep the vehicles in Latham, where they had previously been stored when not in use.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration records on Prestige Limousine show that the company had two drivers and three vehicles.

A total of five inspections were done of the company’s vehicles over the past 25 months, and four were taken out of service as a result, which is a rate of 80 percent failure. The national average is 20 percent.

Trump commemorates 9/11 anniversary at Flight 93 memorial


Last Updated Sep 11, 2018 11:23 AM EDT

President Trump marked the 17th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on American soil by remembering the victims and heroes of Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

“Today, we mourn their loss, we share their story, and we commemorate their incredible valor,” Mr. Trump said Tuesday of the Americans who died on that fateful flight 17 years ago.

“Your tears are not shed alone, for they are shared grief with an entire nation,” the president added.

An open field in the rural area of Pennsylvania was the final resting place for passengers aboard United Airlines Flight 93 that September morning after three planes had already been flown into the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. Passengers and crew stormed the cockpit after realizing their plane was being used in the next attack. It crashed in the open area killing all on board.

A new monument added to the 2,200-acre memorial in honor of the heroes aboard that flight was dedicated on Sunday.

Mr. Trump said the field is now a “monument to American defiance.”

“America’s future is not written by our enemies,” he said. “America’s future is written by our heroes. As long as this monument stands, as long as this memorial endures, brave patriots will rise up in America’s hours of need and they, too, will fight back.”

Mr. Trump largely stuck to his prepared remarks Tuesday, although earlier in the day he blasted the Justice Department and Russia probe in tweets.

Klimkin says Russia doesn’t propose swapping Sentsov for Bout, Yaroshenko, Butina( see Nicolas Cage movie Lord of war)

Klimkin says Russia doesn’t propose swapping Sentsov for Bout, Yaroshenko, Butina

By Interfax-Ukraine. Published Oct. 2 at 10:47 am

Ukrainian film director Oleg Sentsov looks on inside a defendants’ cage during a hearing at a military court in the city of Rostov-on-Don on July 27, 2015.

Photo by AFP / Sergei Venyavsky

Russia has not initiated negotiations on a possible exchange of Ukrainian film director Oleh Sentsov for Russian citizens Viktor Bout and Konstantin Yaroshenko, who have been convicted in the United States, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin said.

“If at any moment they want [to start negotiations on Sentsov’s release], I will certainly communicate with them. But they have not said it either to us or the Americans at this point,” Klimkin told the ATR television channel on October 1.

Klimkin also said that as far as he is concerned, any option leading to Sentsov’s release will do.

“As for any talks with the U.S. sidelining Ukraine, as it is formulated there, the U.S. won’t do so. I discussed both the issue of political prisoners and the issue of hostages’ release at my numerous meetings in New York. There is 100 percent certainty about that,” he said.

Such information is not accidental, Klimkin said.

The Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported, citing its source, that the main condition for Sentsov’s return to Ukraine is the extradition to Russia of Viktor Bout and Konstantin Yaroshenko, as well as Maria Butina, who has been arrested in the U.S.

Russian presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov on October 1 denied having any knowledge of the alleged plans to exchange Sentsov, who has been convicted of terrorism in Russia, for Bout, Yaroshenko and Butina.

9/11 Hoax Archive

by Illarion Bykov and Jared Israel
[Posted 14 November 2001]
Dedicated to the firemen of New York.

Andrews Air Force Base is a huge military installation just 10 miles from the Pentagon.

On 11 September there were two entire squadrons of combat-ready fighter jets at Andrews. Their job was to protect the skies over Washington D.C. They failed to do their job. Despite over one hour’s advance warning of a terrorist attack in progress, not a single Andrews fighter tried to protect the city.

The FAA, NORAD and the military have cooperative procedures by which fighter jets automatically intercept commercial aircraft under emergency conditions. These procedures were not followed.

Air Force officials and others have tried to explain away the failures:

“Air Force Lt. Col. Vic Warzinski, another Pentagon spokesman, [said]: ‘The Pentagon was simply not aware that this aircraft was coming our way, and I doubt prior to Tuesday’s event, anyone would have expected anything like that here.'”
–‘Newsday,’ 23 September, 2001

Using information from the mass media and official Websites, we will show that this is lie.

Some of what happened on 9-11, such as planes flying into buildings, is unusual. But most of what happened, such as commercial jets flying off-course, transponder failures and possible hijackings, are common emergencies. We will show that these emergencies are routinely handled with expert efficiency based on clear rules.

The crash of the first hijacked jet into the World Trade Center made it clear the United States was faced with an extraordinary situation. This should have intensified the emergency responses of the air safety and defense systems.

The whole country was aware. For example, at 9:06 AM the NY Police broadcast:

” ‘This was a terrorist attack. Notify the Pentagon.'”
–‘Daily News‘ (New York) 12 September 2001 (1)

‘American Forces Press Service’ reported that ordinary people working at the Pentagon worried they could be next:

“‘We were watching the World Trade Center on the television,’ said a Navy officer. ‘When the second plane deliberately dove into the tower, someone said, ‘The World Trade Center is one of the most recognizable symbols of America. We’re sitting in a close second.'”
–‘DEFENSELINK News‘, Sept. 13, 2001 (2)

U.S. air safety and air defense emergency systems are activated in response to problems every day. On 9-11 they failed despite, not because of, the extreme nature of the emergency. This could only happen if individuals in high positions worked in a coordinated way to make them fail.

Such operatives would almost surely have failed if they tried to disrupt and abort routine protection systems without top-level support. The failure of the emergency systems would be noticed immediately. Moreover, given the catastrophic nature of the attacks, the highest military authorities would be alerted. Acting on their own, the operatives could expect that their orders would be countermanded and that they themselves would be arrested.

The sabotage of routine protective systems, controlled by strict hierarchies, would never have been contemplated let alone attempted absent the involvement of the supreme U.S. military command. This includes at least U.S. President George Bush, U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and the then-Acting Head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Air Force General Richard B. Myers.

In the following summary of evidence we will demonstrate probable cause for charging the above-named persons with treason for complicity in the murders of thousands of people whom they had sworn to protect.

The summary of evidence covers the following areas:

* Andrews Air Force Base and the myth of ‘no available planes;’

* The air safety/air defense systems and the myth that they were not prepared;

* The actions of George Bush on 9-11 that clearly violated his positive legal and constitutional obligations and demonstrated consciousness of guilt;

* The testimony of General Richard B. Myers at Senate hearings on his nomination as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In these hearings, the contents of which were reported accurately by one lone journalist, General Myers attempted to cover up what had happened 9-11 when he was Acting Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. He offered three mutually contradictory cover stories and demonstrated consciousness of guilt;

The cover story floated by CBS evening news, September 14th.
Until that time, officials reported that no planes had been ‘scrambled’ to intercept the hijacked planes. But following Gen. Myers disastrous Senate testimony, CBS broadcast an improved version of 9-11. In the new script, fighter jets from Otis and Langley Air Force Bases did try, but failed, to intercept the hijacked planes. This is now presented as the official NORAD story and has been repeated uncritically by media and government officials alike. We will demonstrate that this cover story is both weak and incriminating.

SECTION ONE: Why did no fighter jets ‘scramble’ to protect Washington D.C.?


As noted, Andrews Air Force base is 10 miles from the Pentagon. The media has mainly avoided talking about Andrews. An exception is ‘USA Today,’ the second-highest circulation newspaper in America. On one day it published two contradictory stories to explain the failure to scramble jets from Andrews prior to the Pentagon crash:


“Andrews Air Force Base, home to Air Force One, is only 15 miles [sic!] away from the Pentagon, but it had no fighters assigned to it. Defense officials won’t say whether that has changed.”
–‘USA TODAY,’ 17 September 2001 (3)


“The District of Columbia National Guard maintained fighter planes at Andrews Air Force Base, only about 15 miles [sic!] from the Pentagon, but those planes were not on alert and not deployed.”
–‘USA TODAY‘ September 17, 2001 (4)

Both stories are false.

Only one newspaper told the truth. That was the ‘San Diego Union-Tribune’:

“Air defense around Washington is provided mainly by fighter planes from Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland near the District of Columbia border. The D.C. Air National Guard is also based there and equipped with F-16 fighter planes, a National Guard spokesman said.

“But the fighters took to the skies over Washington only after the devastating attack on the Pentagon…”
–‘San Diego Union-Tribune‘ 12 September 2001. (5)

Andrews Air Force Base is a huge installation. It hosts two ‘combat-ready’ squadrons:

* the 121st Fighter Squadron (FS-121) of the 113th Fighter Wing (FW-113), equipped with F-16 fighters;

* the 321st Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA-321) of the 49th Marine Air Group, Detachment A (MAG-49 Det-A), equipped F/A-18 fighters.

These squadrons are served by hundreds of full-time personnel.


“…as part of its dual mission, the 113th provides capable and ready response forces for the District of Columbia in the event of a natural disaster or civil emergency. Members also assist local and federal law enforcement agencies in combating drug trafficking in the District of Colombia. [They] are full partners with the active Air Force”
DC Military (6)


“In the best tradition of the Marine Corps, a ‘few good men and women’ support two combat-ready reserve units at Andrews AFB.

“Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 321, a Marine Corps Reserve squadron, flies the sophisticated F/A-18 Hornet. Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 49, Detachment A, provides maintenance and supply functions necessary to maintain a force in readiness. ”
DC Military (6)

So Andrews AFB had at least two ‘combat-ready’ squadrons.

The above quotes are from, a private Website authorized by the military to provide information for members of the armed forces. We discovered it 24 September. A month later we found that the address had been changed and the Andrews information posted in the smallest type size. Similarly, the official Andrews AFB Website has been ‘down’ since mid-September. Fortunately, it can be accessed by going to and entering .

On the Andrews main page, front and center there is a direct link to DC Military. The information on the Andrews Website confirms the information on DC military. We urge everyone to check these links and download the pages as soon as possible because they may be moved or removed yet again. For Andrews, go to www.archive.organd then enter

Our research has been carried out mainly by volunteers. Newspapers and TV news departments have full-time research staffs. The important media have bureaus in Washington DC, just a few miles from the Andrews airbase. Why haven’t newspapers and TV news programs reported the truth: that Andrews job was to protect DC?

This failure is especially striking because some media did report that fighters scrambled from Andrews, but only after the Pentagon was hit. Thus they were aware that Andrews was supposed to defend D.C.:

For example:

” Within minutes of the attack American forces around the world were put on one of their highest states of alert – Defcon 3, just two notches short of all-out war – and F-16s from Andrews Air Force Base were in the air over Washington DC.”
–‘Sunday Telegraph,’ (London), 14 September 2001 (7)


“WASHINGTON – …an audible gasp went up from the rear of the audience as a large black plume of smoke arose from the Pentagon. Terrorism suddenly was at the doorstep and clearly visible through the big glass windows overlooking the Potomac River. Overhead, fighter jets scrambled from Andrews Air Force Base and other installations and cross-crossed the skies…

“A thick plume of smoke was climbing out of the hollow center of the Pentagon. Everyone on the train understood what had happened moments before.”
–‘Denver Post,’ 11 September 2001 (8)


“It was after the attack on the Pentagon that the Air Force then decided to scramble F-16s out of the DC National Guard Andrews Air Force Base to fly cover, a–a protective cover over Washington, DC.”
–NBC Nightly News, (6:30 PM ET) 11 September 11 2001 (9)

The media should have demanded to know the truth about why fighter jets assigned to protect Washington didn’t scramble an hour BEFORE the Pentagon was hit.

Besides fighters, tanker planes and AWACS were also readily available.(An AWACS is a flying communication center equipped with radar which can scan at least 250 miles. This is almost the full distance from the West-Virginia/Ohio/Kentucky border, where American Air Flight 77 turned around before flying back to DC.) Both General Myers and Vice President Cheney admit that these planes did not go into the air over Washington until after the Pentagon was hit.

Here is General Myers, testifying 13th September:

“When it became clear what the threat was, we did scramble fighter aircraft, AWACS, radar aircraft and tanker aircraft to begin to establish orbits in case other aircraft showed up in the FAA system that were hijacked.”
–Gen. Richard B. Myers at Senate confirmation hearing 13 September 2001 (10)

And Richard Cheney on ‘Meet the Press:

“VICE PRES. CHENEY: Well, the–I suppose the toughest decision was this question of whether or not we would intercept incoming commercial aircraft.

“MR. RUSSERT: And you decided?’

“VICE PRES. CHENEY: We decided to do it. We’d, in effect, put a flying combat air patrol up over the city; F-16s with an AWACS, which is an airborne radar system, and tanker support so they could stay up a long time.” –NBC, ‘Meet the Press‘ (10:00 AM ET) 16 September 2001 (11)

As we shall see, Mr. Cheney’s statement that “the toughest decision was this question of whether or not we would intercept incoming commercial aircraft” is a lie. Publicly available FAA documents prove that fighter jets routinely intercept commercial aircraft under certain designated circumstances without requiring or asking for approval from the White House.

Summary of evidence is CONTINUED IN PART II


(1) ‘Daily News’ (New York), 12 September 2001, Wednesday, NEWS SECTION; Pg. 24: ‘THE TRAGIC TIMELINE The sad events of the day.’
the full text is available at:

(2) ‘DEFENSELINK News,’ “It Was Business as Usual, Then ‘Boom'” By Jim Garamone, ‘American Forces Press Service,’ Sept. 13, 2001
Backup at

(3) ‘USA TODAY,’ 17 September 2001, Pg. 5A, “Military now a presence on home front,” by Andrea Stone. Web version is at:
Backup at:

(4) ‘USA TODAY,’ September 17, 2001 Monday, FINAL EDITION, Pg. 5A, “Shoot-down order issued on morning of chaos,” by Jonathan Weisman, WASHINGTON
Web version is at:
Backup at

(5) ‘San Diego Union-Tribune,’ 12 September 2001. Homepage at: Article at:
Backup at:

(6) Current link is:
Backup at :

(7) ‘Sunday Telegraph,’ (London), 14 September 2001
Article at:
Backup at:

(8) ‘Denver Post,’ 11 September 2001
To view this article on the Web, search for Article ID: 1075896 on:
Or look at backup at:

(9) ‘NBC Nightly News,’ “Attack on America,” (6:30 PM ET) 11 September 11 2001, “Tuesday President Bush returns to White House on Marine One,” Anchor: Tom Brokaw, Jim Miklaszewski reporting.
See transcript at:

(10) Gen. Richard B. Myers at Senate confirmation hearing 13 September 2001
Full text at:
This particular quotation was also reprinted by many mainstream media sources.

(11) ‘NBC, Meet the Press’ (10:00 AM ET) Sunday 16 September 2001.
Full transcript at:
Backup transcript at:

Part 1, Section 2 of ‘GUILTY FOR 9-11: BUSH, RUMSFELD, MYERS’
by Illarion Bykov and Jared Israel
[Posted 20 November 2001]
[Updated 21 November 2001]

Dedicated to the firemen of New York.

In Part 1, Section 1 we demonstrated that Andrews Air Force base, 10 miles from the Pentagon, had combat-ready fighter squadrons on September 11th. Why didn’t jets scramble from Andrews until after the Pentagon was hit?
(To read Part 1, Section 1, go to: )


On Sunday, September 16th, Vice-President Richard Cheney was interviewed on NBC TV’s ‘MEET THE PRESS.’ During that interview he created the impression that the military would have needed presidential authorization to scramble fighter jets to intercept American Airlines Flight 77 before it hit the Pentagon.

Mr. Cheney did not present this lie in a straightforward manner.

Instead he did two things. First, he avoided discussing the failure to intercept Flight 77. Instead he talked only about the choices Mr. Bush supposedly made after the Pentagon was hit.

Second, he took it for granted that presidential approval was required to intercept a commercial jet, as if this were an accepted fact. Then based on this false foundation, he emitted a fog of emotional misinformation to confuse the millions of Americans who wanted to know: why didn’t jet fighters scramble to intercept Flight 77 before it crashed into the Pentagon? Doesn’t the U.S. have radar and an Air Force anymore?

It is common for officials attempting to cover-up a capital crime to put the blame on a subordinate. However Mr. Cheney used a different approach on ‘MEET THE PRESS.’ Relying on his skills in public deception, Cheney tried to create the impression that nothing improper had occurred, that faced with horrendous choices a brave President had done the right thing.

But as soon as one sees through this verbiage, one realizes Mr. Cheney has actually placed the responsibility for the failure to intercept American Flight 77 on George W. Bush.

Here is the relevant excerpt from ‘MEET THE PRESS’:

“MR. RUSSERT: What’s the most important decision you think he made during the course of the day?

“VICE PRES. CHENEY: Well, the–I suppose the toughest decision was this question of whether or not we would intercept incoming commercial aircraft.

“MR. RUSSERT: And you decided?

“VICE PRES. CHENEY: We decided to do it. We’d, in effect, put a flying combat air patrol up over the city; F-16s with an AWACS, which is an airborne radar system, and tanker support so they could stay up a long time…

“It doesn’t do any good to put up a combat air patrol if you don’t give them instructions to act, if, in fact, they feel it’s appropriate.

“MR. RUSSERT: So if the United States government became aware that a hijacked commercial airline[r] was destined for the White House or the Capitol, we would take the plane down?

“VICE PRES. CHENEY: Yes. The president made the decision…that if the plane would not divert…as a last resort, our pilots were authorized to take them out. Now, people say, you know, that’s a horrendous decision to make. Well, it is. You’ve got an airplane full of American citizens, civilians, captured by…terrorists, headed and are you going to, in fact, shoot it down, obviously, and kill all those Americans on board?

“…It’s a presidential-level decision, and the president made, I think, exactly the right call in this case, to say, “I wished we’d had combat air patrol up over New York.”
–NBC, ‘Meet the Press‘ 16 September 2001 (1)

* * *

Note that Mr. Cheney has performed a sleight of hand here.

First he says, “the toughest decision was…whether we would intercept incoming commercial aircraft.”

Later he says, “The president made the decision… that if the plane would not divert as a last resort, our pilots were authorized to take them out…” that is, “shoot it down.”

But “intercept”: and “shoot it down” do not mean the same thing.


  • “in·ter·cept (în´ter-sèpt¹verbtransitive

“1. a. To stop, deflect, or interrupt the progress or intended course of”
–‘American Heritage Dictionary


  • “shoot·down (sh¡t¹doun´noun

    “Destruction of a flying aircraft by a missile attack or gunfire.”
    –‘American Heritage Dictionary

Mr. Cheney deliberately confused these terms to stop people from asking: why weren’t any of the hijacked planes intercepted?

Since “stopping, deflecting, or interrupting the progress or intended course of” a hijacked airplane does not necessarily involve violence, there could be no moral obstacle to scrambling fighter jets to intercept Flight 77. Therefore Mr. Cheney shifted quickly to the morally charged question of whether to shoot down “an airplane full of American citizens”. By creating this emotional link between interception (not necessarily violent) and shooting down a commercial jet (very violent), Cheney hoped to create sympathy for a President forced to make this “horrendous” choice: to intercept or not to intercept.

Note that Cheney is speaking only of the period after Flight 77 hit the Pentagon. By confusing the issues of “intercepting” vs. “shooting down” AFTER the Pentagon was hit, Cheney was trying to get his listeners to forget the real issue: that nothing had been done BEFORE the Pentagon was hit.

Mr. Cheney attempted to hide the jump from “intercept” to “shoot down” by means of the following connecting sentence:

“It doesn’t do any good to put up a combat air patrol if you don’t give them instructions to act, if, in fact, they feel it’s appropriate.”

This is disinformation. Mr. Cheney was treating his viewers like fools.

First, as anyone with a computer and basic knowledge of the Internet can find out, Air Traffic Controllers request military jets to intercept commercial aircraft on a routine basis. Sometimes the purpose is to tell a commercial pilot that his plane has gone off course; other times the interceptor goes up in order to observe the situation directly – for instance, to see who is flying the plane. None of this requires presidential approval.

Second, military interceptors (or ‘escorts’) already have clear “instructions to act.” These instructions can be read online in detailed manuals from the FAA and the Department of Defense. The instructions cover everything from minor emergencies to hijackings. If a problem is serious, high-ranking military officers from the National Military Command Center (NMCC) in the Pentagon can take charge.

Let us consider the procedures used in intercepting commercial aircraft.

An Air Traffic Controller (ATC) may request military jets to intercept (or ‘escort’) a commercial aircraft in response to any serious problem which the Air Traffic Controller cannot solve through radio contact. Perhaps the most common problem is that a commercial jet has deviated from its authorized flight path.

Every commercial jet is required to follow IFR, or Instrument Flight Rules. IFR requires pilots to file a flight plan with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) before takeoff.
(FAA Order 7400.2E 14-1-2(2)

“Commercial flights fly according to predefined flight plans. These flight plans are intended to provide quick routes that take advantage of favorable winds while avoiding the routes traveled by other aircraft. The usual flight plan is a series of three connected routes: a standard instrument departure (SID) route, an en route path, and a standard instrument arrival (STAR). Each route consists of a sequence of geographic points, or fixes, which, when connected, form a trajectory from the point of departure to the point of arrival.”
–‘Direct-To Requirements‘ by G. Dennis & E. Torlak (3)

If a plane deviates from its flight plan, for example if it makes the wrong turn at one of its ‘fixes,’ an Air Traffic Controller (ATC) contacts the pilot. If the ATC cannot make contact, he or she will request an escort – that is, a military jet – to scramble and check out the situation. This is called ‘interception.’

As you can see, interception is not necessarily an aggressive act. Usually it is requested because routine communication has become impossible.

For example, when the Lear jet chartered by Payne Stewart, the famous golf pro, went off course, and the pilot did not respond by radio, the FAA immediately contacted the military:

“Several Air Force and Air National Guard fighter jets, plus an AWACS radar control plane, helped the Federal Aviation Administration track the runaway Learjet and estimate when it would run out of fuel.”
–‘CNN,’ 26 October 1999 (4)

The FAA online manual describes how an escort (i.e., a fighter jet) might communicate with a commercial airliner which fails to respond to radio contact. The FAA has a chart entitled:

“Signals initiated by intercepting aircraft and responses by intercepted aircraft.”

According to the chart, which is available on-line, if a commercial jet is intercepted in daytime, the escort fighter jet may communicate by:

“…Rocking wings from a position slightly above and ahead of, and normally to the left of, the intercepted aircraft…”

This conveys the message, “You have been intercepted.” The commercial jet should respond by rocking its wings, indicating it will comply.

The escort then makes a

“slow level turn, normally to the left, on to the desired heading [direction].”

The commercial jet is supposed to respond by following the escort.
(FAA ‘AIM’ 5-6-4(5)

When a commercial jet deviates from its approved flight path, it creates a potentially deadly hazard: it could collide with another jet. It is therefore reassuring that the FAA has an exacting standard for what constitutes an emergency:

“Consider that an aircraft emergency exists … when: …There is unexpected loss of radar contact and radio communications with any …aircraft.”
–FAA Order 7110.65M 10-2-5 (6)



“If … you are in doubt that a situation constitutes an emergency or potential emergency, handle it as though it were an emergency.”
–FAA Order 7110.65M 10-1-1-c (7)

A high-ranking FAA official – called an Air Defense Liaison Officer (ADLO) – is stationed in the headquarters of NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command. The purpose: to help the FAA and the military work together to handle emergencies as quickly as possible. (8) Escorts are usually scrambled from NORAD bases, such as the Otis Air Force Base on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, or the air base at Langley, Virginia. But not always:

“Normally, NORAD escort aircraft will take the required action. However, for the purpose of these procedures, the term “escort aircraft” applies to any military aircraft assigned to the escort mission. ”
–FAA Order 7610.4J 7-1-2 (9)

Thus when Payne Stewart’s Lear jet went off course:

“First, a fighter jet from Tyndall, Fla., was diverted from a routine training flight to check out the Learjet. Two F-16s from another Florida base then picked up the chase, later handing it over to two Air National Guard F-16s from Oklahoma, which handed it over to two F-16s from Fargo, North Dakota.”
–‘ABC News,’ 25 October 1999 (10)

During a serious emergency, or if there is any possibility that a hijacking has occurred:

“The escort service will be requested by the FAA hijack coordinator by direct contact with the National Military Command Center (NMCC).”
–FAA Order 7610.4J 7-1-2 (9)

A Defense Department manual makes the same point:

“In the event of a hijacking, the NMCC will be notified by the most expeditious means by the FAA. The NMCC will, with the exception of immediate responses,…forward requests for DOD [Department of Defense] assistance to the Secretary of Defense for approval.”
–CJCSI 3610.01A, 1 June 2001 (11)

Located in the Pentagon, the NMCC can tap into radar stations and thus monitor dangerous emergencies and hijackings. For example, during the Payne Stewart incident:

“…officers on the Joint Chiefs were monitoring the Learjet on radar screens inside the Pentagon’s National Military Command Center.”
–‘CNN,’ 26 October 1999 (4)

When dealing with potentially hostile situations, escorts can adopt more aggressive behavior:

“Small Private Plane Ordered to Land in Vicinity of Bush Ranch

“A small private plane flying unauthorized in the vicinity of President Bush’s ranch near Crawford was ordered by the military to land Thursday, a sheriff’s deputy said….

“The Federal Aviation Administration declared that the plane was unauthorized and ordered its occupants detained, Plemons said. At that point military officials, flying in two jets beside the plane, got on the pilot’s radio frequency and ordered the Cessna to land…

“The plane landed on a private landing strip near State Highway 6, about eight miles from the Bush ranch near Crawford….

“In [a second incident, in] Wood County, Sheriff’s senior Dispatcher Rodney Mize said a private plane was forced down by two military pilots in A-10 Warthog jets about 11:30 a.m. The jets flew one above and one below until the private plane’s pilot landed at Wisener Field near Mineola.”
–‘AP,’ 13 September 2001 (12)

The ‘Boston Globe’ reported that:

“[Marine Corps Major Mike] Snyder, the NORAD spokesman, said its fighters routinely intercept aircraft.

“When planes are intercepted, they typically are handled with a graduated response. The approaching fighter may rock its wingtips to attract the pilot’s attention, or make a pass in front of the aircraft. Eventually, it can fire tracer rounds in the airplane’s path, or, under certain circumstances, down it with a missile.”
–‘Boston Globe,’ 15 September 2001 (13)

Now, let us return to Mr. Cheney and his interview on ‘MEET THE PRESS.’

As you will recall, he said:

“It doesn’t do any good to put up a combat air patrol if you don’t give them instructions to act, if, in fact, they feel it’s appropriate.”

Mr. Cheney is attempting to misinform by pretending that intercept pilots need ‘instructions’ from the President, when he knows perfectly well that clear instructions and a whole organizational network exist to handle intercept emergencies.

Moreover, Mr. Cheney’s implicit argument – that there is no point in sending up an escort unless the pilot has clearance to shoot down a commercial jet – is absurd. Why would such a decision have to be made in advance of scrambling the escort? Even if an airliner has been taken over by a terrorist with a suicide mission, how could Mr. Cheney, Mr. Bush or anyone else other than God Himself possibly predict how the hijacker would respond to an intercept by military jets? Even if a hijacker were ready to die for the glory of crashing into the Pentagon, does that mean he would also be ready to die for the glory of ignoring a military pilot’s order to land?

So even if the military had no authority to shoot down Flight 77, why not send up escorts planes? Isn’t that in fact how police and the military routinely handle hijack situations – by mobilizing a potentially overwhelming force in the hope of getting the hijacker to surrender?

Why, as Mr. Cheney claims, would there have been “no point” in trying this tactic in the case of Flight 77? Weren’t many human lives at stake? Isn’t that “a point”?


What about the rest of Mr. Cheney’s remarks, his contention that only President Bush could authorize the military to actually shoot down a hijacked plane? In all probability this is true. But as we shall see in a later section, this comment, as well as other things Mr. Cheney said on ‘MEET THE PRESS,’ will prove damning to George W. Bush when he goes on trial for treason.

Summary of evidence is CONTINUED IN PART 1, SECTION 3


For a map of Washington showing the distance from Andrews Air Force base to the Pentagon go to:

(1) ‘NBC, Meet the Press’ (10:00 AM ET) Sunday 16 September 2001.
Full transcript at:
Backup transcript at:

(2) Regarding rules governing IFR requirements, see FAA Order 7400.2E ‘Procedures for Handling Airspace Matters,’ Effective Date: December 7, 2000 (Includes Change 1, effective July 7, 2001), Chapter 14-1-2.
Full text posted at:

(3) For a clear and detailed description of flight plans, fixes, and Air Traffic Control, see: ‘Direct-To Requirements’ by Gregory Dennis and Emina Torlak at:

(4) ‘CNN,’ 26 October 1999 “Pentagon never considered downing Stewart’s Learjet,” Web posted at: 8:27 p.m. EDT (0027 GMT)
Full text posted at:
Backup at:

(5) FAA ‘Aeronautical Information Manual: Official Guide to Basic Flight Information and Air Traffic Control (ATC) Procedures,’ (Includes Change 3 Effective: July 12, 2001) Chapter 5-6-4 “Interception Signals”
Full text posted at:

(6) FAA Order 7110.65M ‘Air Traffic Control’ (Includes Change 3 Effective: July 12, 2001), Chapter 10-2-5 “Emergency Situations”
Full text posted at:

(7) FAA Order 7110.65M ‘Air Traffic Control’ (Includes Change 3 Effective: July 12, 2001), Chapter 10-1-1 “Emergency Determinations”
Full text posted at:

(8) FAA Order 7610.4J ‘Special Military Operations’ (Effective Date: November 3, 1998; Includes: Change 1, effective July 3, 2000; Change 2, effective July 12, 2001), Chapter 4, Section 5, “Air Defense Liaison Officers (ADLO’s)”
Full text posted at:

(9) FAA Order 7610.4J ‘Special Military Operations’ (Effective Date: November 3, 1998; Includes: Change 1, effective July 3, 2000; Change 2, effective July 12, 2001), Chapter 7, Section 1-2, “Escort of Hijacked Aircraft: Requests for Service”
Full text posted at:

(10) ‘ABCNews,’ 25 October 1999 “Runaway Plane Crashes in S.D.; Golfer, at Least Four Others Killed,” by Geraldine Sealey
Full text posted at:
Backup at:

(11) ‘Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Instruction 3610.01A,’ 1 June 2001, “Aircraft Piracy (Hijacking) and Destruction of Derelict Airborne Objects,” 4.Policy (page 1)
PDF available at:
Backup at:

(12) ‘The Associated Press State & Local Wire’ 13 September 2001, Thursday, BC cycle, “Small private plane ordered to land in vicinity of Bush ranch”
Full text posted at:

(13) ‘The Boston Globe,’ Saturday 15 September 2001 Third Edition Page A1, “Facing Terror Attack’s Aftermath: Otis Fighter Jets Scrambled Too Late to Halt The Attacks” by Glen Johnson.
Full text posted at:

9-ll: Nothing Urgent
by George Szamuely
Research & documentation by Illarion Bykov and Jared Israel
[Posted 9 January 2002]

On the morning of September 11, the present Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Richard B. Myers, was having a routine meeting on Capitol Hill with Senator Max Cleland. Just before the meeting began,

“While in an outer office, he said, he saw a television report that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. ‘They thought it was a small plane or something like that,’ Myers said. So the two men went ahead with the office call.”
–‘American Forces Press Service‘ 23 October 2001 (1)

The meeting went on for some time. While the two men chatted away, a second hijacked jet plowed into the World Trade Center’s south tower and a third one into the Pentagon. And still they went on with their meeting.

“Meanwhile, the second World Trade Center tower was hit by another jet. ‘Nobody informed us of that,’ Myers said. ‘But when we came out, that was obvious. Then, right at that time, somebody said the Pentagon had been hit.’

“Somebody thrust a cell phone in Myers’ hand. Gen. Ralph Eberhart, commander of U.S. Space Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command was on the other end of the line ‘talking about what was happening and the actions he was going to take.’
–‘American Forces Press Service‘ 23 October 2001 (1)

Meanwhile, in Florida, it is clear from the public record that by the time President Bush left his hotel he knew about the attack on the first WTC tower. John Cochran, who was covering the President’s trip to Sarasota told , told Peter Jennings on ABC TV:

“He [the President] got out of his hotel suite this morning, was about to leave, reporters saw the White House chief of staff, Andy Card, whisper into his ear. The reporter said to the president, ‘Do you know what’s going on in New York?’ He said he did, and he said he will have something about it later.”
–‘ABC News‘ Special Report 11 September 2001 (2)

And then he went to an elementary school in Sarasota to read to children for half an hour.

No urgency. Why should there be? Who could possibly have realized then the calamitous nature of the events of September 11? Besides in one of the planes, the hijackers had switched the transponders off. So how could anyone know what was going on? Yet September 11 was not so unprecedented. Passenger jet hijackings have happened before, and the US government has prepared detailed plans to handle them. On September 11 these plans were ignored in their entirety.

According to the ‘New York Times,’ air traffic controllers knew at 8:20 a.m.:

“that American Airlines Flight 11, bound from Boston to Los Angeles, had probably been hijacked. When the first news report was made at 8:45 a.m. that a plane might have hit the World Trade Center, they knew it was Flight 11.”(3)

There was little ambiguity on the matter. The pilot had pushed a button on the aircraft yoke that allowed controllers to hear the hijacker giving orders.

Here are the FAA regulations concerning hijackings:

“The FAA hijack coordinator…on duty at Washington headquarters will request the military to provide an escort aircraft for a confirmed hijacked aircraft…The escort service will be requested by the FAA hijack coordinator by direct contact with the National Military Command Center (NMCC).” (4)

Here are the instructions issued by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on June 1, 2001:

“In the event of a hijacking, the NMCC will be notified by the most expeditious means by the FAA. The NMCC will…forward requests for DOD assistance to the Secretary of Defense for approval.” (5)

In addition, Vice President Cheney told Meet the Press on Sept. 16 that only the president has the authority to order the shooting down of a civilian airliner. “And you have to ask yourself,” Cheney said, “‘If we had had combat air patrol up over New York and we’d had the opportunity to take out the two aircraft that hit the World Trade Center, would we have been justified in doing that?’ I think absolutely we would have…. It’s a presidential-level decision, and the president made, I think, exactly the right call in this case, to say, ‘I wished we’d had combat air patrol up over New York.’” (6)

The U.S. is supposed to scramble military aircraft the moment a hijacking is confirmed. Yet Myers continues to chat on Capitol Hill, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld works undisturbed in his Pentagon office and the president reads to schoolchildren. Myers’ first statement to the Senate Armed Services Committee on Sept. 13, that no fighter planes had been launched until after the Pentagon was hit, was therefore scarcely surprising. Senators were a little incredulous. And the day before, Dan Rather asked on CBS News:

“These hijacked aircraft were in the air for quite a while…Why doesn’t the Pentagon have the kind of protection that they can get a fighter-interceptor aircraft up, and if someone is going to plow an aircraft into the Pentagon, that we have at least some…line of defense?” (7)

Good question. Clearly another, more comforting, story was needed and on the evening of Friday September 14 CBS launched it:

“CBS News has learned the FAA alerted US Air defense units of a possible hijacking at 8:38 Tuesday morning, and six minutes later, at 8:44, two F-15s received a scramble order at Otis Air Force Base on Cape Cod. But two minutes later, at 8:46, American Airlines Flight 11, the first hijacked jet, slammed into the World Trade Center. Six minutes later, at 8:52, the F-15s were airborne and began racing towards New York City, but the fighters were still 70 miles away when the second hijacked jet, United Airlines Flight 175, hit the second Trade Center tower. Shortly after that blast, the F-15s reached Manhattan and began flying air cover missions over the city.

“But to the south, a new danger and a new response. At 9:30, three F-16s were launched out of Langley Air Force base in Virginia, 150 miles south of Washington. But just seven minutes later, at 9:37, American Airlines Flight 77 hit the Pentagon. The F-16s arrived in Washington just before 10:00 and began flying cover over the nation’s capital.” (8)

This story, which has now, with slight modifications, become the “official” NORAD version, raises more questions than it answers.

F-15s have a cruising speed of 577-mph, (9) while F-16s have a cruising speed of 570-mph. (10) . Both planes can fly much faster, though there is a rapid drop in fuel economy.

According to CBS, three F-16s scrambled from Langley at 9:30 and arrived in Washington at 10:00. The distance from Langley Air Force Base to the Pentagon is 129 miles – not 150, as CBS stated. If these F-16s took half an hour to get to Washington they were flying at 4.4 miles per minute, 258 mph. That’s less than half their cruising speed. It’s a fifth of the maximum speed for these F-16s, 1500-mph.

Talk about a lack of urgency!

And since Washington, D.C. is little more than 200 miles from New York, the two F-15 fighters from Otis would have had time to get to DC, intercept Flight 77 and grab a breakfast on the way.

And then of course, there is the small matter of Andrews Air Force Base. It is, after all, but ten miles from the Pentagon. As Matthew Wald wrote in the New York Times on September 15th:

“During the hour or so that American Airlines Flight 77 was under the control of hijackers, up to the moment it struck the west side of the Pentagon, military officials in a command center on the east side of the building were urgently talking to law enforcement and air traffic control officials about what to do.” (11)

Why didn’t they order planes from Andrews put in the air to protect Washington D.C. and to intercept American Flight 77 long before it reached the U.S. capital?

(1) ‘American Forces Press Service’ 23 October 2001 “Myers and Sept. 11: ‘We Hadn’t Thought About This'” by Sergeant 1st Class Kathleen T. Rhem, USA. Full text posted at:
backup at:

(2) ‘ABC News’ Special Report: “Planes crash into World Trade Center” (8:53 AM ET) Tuesday 11 September 2001
To see the quotation in the full transcript, go to:

(3) ‘New York Times’ Saturday 15 September 2001 “AFTER THE ATTACKS: SKY RULES; Pentagon Tracked Deadly Jet But Found No Way to Stop It” by Matthew L. Wald
Full text with quotation is at:

(4) FAA Order 7610.4J ‘Special Military Operations’ (Effective Date: November 3, 1998; Includes: Change 1, effective July 3, 2000; Change 2, effective July 12, 2001), Chapter 7, Section 1-2, “Escort of Hijacked Aircraft: Requests for Service”
Full text posted at:

(5) ‘Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Instruction 3610.01A,’ 1 June 2001, “Aircraft Piracy (Hijacking) and Destruction of Derelict Airborne Objects,” 4.Policy (page 1)
PDF available at:
Backup at:

(6)’NBC, Meet the Press’ (10:00 AM ET) Sunday 16 September 2001.
Full transcript at:
Backup transcript at:

(7) CBS News Special Report (12:00 Noon PM ET) – September 12, 2001 “Aftermath of and investigation into attacks on World Trade Center and the Pentagon at

(8) To read the new cover story floated by CBS on 14 September go to

(9) Website of the 88th Communications Group, Wright-Patterson AFB OH,

(10) From ‘Popular Mechanics’ Website, ‘The Weapons Of Enduring Freedom,’ at

(11) ‘Pentagon Tracked Deadly Jet but Found No Way to Stop It,’ ‘New York Times,’ September 15, 2001, Section A; Page 1; Column 1

The Long Decline of DKE, Brett Kavanaugh’s Fraternity at Yale

The Long Decline of DKE, Brett Kavanaugh’s Fraternity at Yale

Eren Orbey

Last week, after Christine Blasey Ford went public with an allegation that Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a party in high school, the Yale Daily News published an old photograph that directed scrutiny to the Supreme Court nominee’s college years. In the black-and-white image, two brothers of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity march across Yale’s campus in an initiation rite, one of them carrying a flag fashioned from women’s lingerie.

At the time of the shot, Kavanaugh, who does not appear in the image, was a sophomore in the fraternity. Another man who was a member of DKE at the time told the student paper, on Wednesday, that his brothers had obtained the underwear “consensually.” But several female classmates suggested otherwise, saying that members of DKE often attempted to ransack their rooms during class time. “They were loud, entitled, pushy, and creepy,” one alumna tweeted. “They didn’t care what we thought.” On Sunday, the portrait of Kavanaugh’s time at Yale came into sharper focus, when The New Yorker reported that Democrats are investigating a new allegation against him by a college classmate, Deborah Ramirez, who claims that, when they were both Yale freshmen and inebriated at a dorm-room party, Kavanaugh exposed himself and thrust his penis in her face. (Kavanaugh has denied both her allegation and Ford’s.)

DKE, usually pronounced as a single syllable, rhyming with “reek,” was founded at Yale in 1844. It is one of the oldest fraternities in the nation, with chapters on more than fifty college campuses. Since Kavanaugh’s time at Yale (where he also belonged to an all-male secret society, Truth and Courage, which was popularly known as Tit and Clit), the prevalence of Greek life on the campus has declined, but DKE, sometimes described as the “white football frat,” has maintained a reputation for aggressively loutish antics. “When we had a mixer with them, they didn’t even want to talk to us,” a classmate who is in a sorority told me recently. “They just wanted to pour beers on each other’s heads.”

I am currently a senior at Yale. When my class arrived, in the fall of 2015, DKE was a dormant presence on campus. It operated mostly outside university bounds because of penalties it had incurred after a now infamous incident five years prior, when a pack of pledges thronged the freshman residential quadrangle to shout an initiation chant: “No means yes, yes means anal.” (Also: “Fucking sluts!” and “I fuck dead women and fill them with my semen.”) Soon after, sixteen students and alumnae filed a complaint with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. The Yale College Executive Committee convened for months, and then issued a five-year ban on the fraternity, forbidding it from conducting activities on campus or using university e-mail to advertise events. To many students, the length of the sanctions seemed harsh. Yale’s administration generally prefers to adjudicate disciplinary infractions as individual cases rather than holding entire student groups accountable. Jonathan Holloway, who was then the dean of the college, told the Yale Daily News that he hoped a five-year ban at a four-year university could help DKE to “flush institutional memory and culture out.”

In the years since Yale lifted the restrictions on DKE, in 2016, the fraternity has experienced a turbulent return to campus life. In January, Business Insider published detailed accounts from two female undergraduates who alleged that they had been assaulted by DKE brothers. One of the accused was a former president of the fraternity, who, in 2016, told the student paper that DKE members of his generation had “played an important part in the cultural shift” that had occurred since the 2010 incident. (He was eventually expelled from the fraternity and suspended from Yale, for “penetration without consent”; in a statement to the Yale Daily News at the time, he said of the victim, “Though I deny many of the claims made, I respect this person and hope that she can find the same peace that I hope to find.”) Further investigation by the Daily News uncovered eight more women who alleged sexual misconduct by DKE brothers between 2014 and 2017. (None of these women filed formal Title IX complaints.)

As the university prepared an investigation into DKE’s transgressions, the Yale chapter of the fraternity released a set of guidelines designed to foster a “safer and more welcoming environment.” They would deputize co-ed bouncers and so-called sober monitors to maintain safety standards at gatherings. Water coolers would remain filled. Three-second pauses between songs would better allow guests to “avoid uncomfortable interactions.” At the same time, DKE quieted down. Few female sports teams, and fewer sororities, agreed to mix with them. The fraternity refrained from advertising parties, seeming to sense that it might have trouble attracting guests, though it continued to host an annual celebration known as Tang, a raucous and muddy affair held after classes ended each spring. This past year, hundreds of students signalled on Facebook their plans to attend, but similar numbers gravitated toward a rival event hosted by Engender, a student group that advocates for greater inclusion in fraternities. Engender brainstormed a hashtag—#boycottDKE—and sent activists to distribute safety flyers outside the fraternity’s houses. “In the wake of campus conversations about supporting survivors and denouncing sexual misconduct, partying is political,” the group wrote on a Facebook page for the event.

This summer, DKE lost its lease on the pair of buildings it has occupied for more than two decades. The fraternity’s real-estate manager, himself an alumnus of Yale, told the student paper that the decision not to renew was a consequence of years of disruptive behavior and complaints of misconduct. Many current students cheer, and others lament, that “DKE is dead.” (In an e-mail, Doug Lanpher, DKE’s national executive director, told me, “We do not tolerate sexual misconduct in any form. Any member who is found responsible for violating Title IX rules on sexual misconduct is immediately removed from the chapter.”) The demise of DKE on Yale’s campus is just one sign that the “horseplay” typical of fraternity life has become increasingly incompatible with many of the values—of safety, equality, inclusion—toward which most modern universities strive. Many of my peers, though suspicious of DKE, find it no more hostile than other fraternities at Yale. In 2015, for instance, Sigma Alpha Epsilon (since rebranded as Leo), faced accusations of turning away students of color from a party and repeatedly shouting, “White girls only.” That fraternity, much like DKE, had previously been banned from campus as a punishment for violating the university’s sexual-misconduct policy at an initiation ceremony and then trying to impede the resulting investigation.

On Monday, some classes at the Yale Law School were cancelled to allow students to protest Kavanaugh’s nomination. Hundreds of law students travelled to D.C. Others remained in New Haven to mount a local demonstration. For many, the topic feels personal: one of the law school’s top professors, Amy Chua, has been accused of coaching female students on their appearances to help them win clerkships with Kavanaugh. (Chua has called the claims “100% false.”) Her husband and colleague at the law school, Jed Rubenfeld, is the subject of an ongoing internal investigation at Yale, whose details are confidential. (“For some years, I have contended with personal attacks and false allegations in reaction to my writing on difficult and controversial but important topics in the law,” Rubenfeld told the Guardian. “I have reason to suspect I am now facing more of the same.”) By the afternoon, a dozen or so demonstrators still lingered in the law school’s main hall, wearing black as a sign of solidarity and drinking coffee from paper cups. “I would say that this community feels very strongly that Kavanaugh should not be confirmed under these circumstances,” one told me.

Among undergraduates, reactions have been more subdued. “People here grapple constantly with this place’s legacy of untouchable rich white dudes from prep school,” Alexa Derman, a senior, told me. When the news reveals that one such dude “might have been a creep at Yale,” she added, “it doesn’t shatter any illusions.” On Monday, an open letter from alumnae who stand in support of Ramirez—and Ford—began to circulate online. “We are coming forward as women of Yale because we have a shared experience of the environment that shaped not only Judge Kavanaugh’s life and career, but our own,” it said.

During her freshman year, Derman lived one floor above the suite where Ramirez alleges that Kavanaugh exposed himself. “I know the layout of that room,” she said. “It’s really strange. It feels almost so close that I don’t want to touch it. And, obviously, it makes you wonder, What would people say about me? Will people say I’m credible in twenty years, if something happens?” On Sunday, Derman wrote on Twitter that it’s easy to forget, in an “insular” place such as Yale, that, when students who behave badly graduate, “they don’t disappear but instead become part of the fabric of society, & a certain type ascends & ascends.” It’s “been unbearable at times to watch men I know have hurt my friends ascend within clubs to leadership,” she continued, adding, “How will we feel seeing which of them rise in their fields, our fields, invincible & untouchable?”

Brett Kavanaugh, like many men of his generation, is a product of an era in which fraternities were incubators of ambition. Five American Presidents, including the Yale alumni George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush, once belonged to DKE. (In the satirical biopic “W.,” about the life of the younger Bush, the head of the fraternity is shown telling incoming freshmen, during a beer-drenched initiation ritual, “Delta Kappa brothers are men of honor, decency, and God-given character. That, along with our family fortunes, is why we rule the world.”) This reality, too, may be changing. Two years ago, Harvard made the historic and controversial decision to penalize single-gender social clubs and Greek organizations by banning their members from serving as the captains of athletic teams, leading official student groups, or receiving the university’s endorsement for top postgraduate fellowships such as the Marshall and Rhodes. Yale’s college dean, Marvin Chun, has established a committee to advise him on the regulation of campus social life, but has so far taken no similar steps. (“We have students who say we should be like Harvard, and we have many students who say we should not be like Harvard,” Chun told the Yale Daily News, earlier this year. “I have not formed an opinion strongly. I’m in listening mode.” In an e-mail on Tuesday, Chun told me, “We haven’t reached any decisions regarding Yale’s policies.”) Some of my classmates who are in DKE, particularly the seniors, now distance themselves from the fraternity, admitting that being a member is a “bad look.” It is not hard to imagine a future in which membership in such a community—even one that purports to champion, as DKE does, “the gentleman, the scholar, and the jolly good fellow”—is not an asset but a liability. We will find out this week, as the Kavanaugh hearings proceed, how near that future might be.