U.S. Politics

Why Obama’s Legacy Is His Foreign Policy

Why Obama’s Legacy Is His Foreign Policy

From L-R, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, French President Francois Hollande, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, U.S. President Barack Obama, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, European Council President Donald Tusk, and British Prime Minister David Cameron visit Ise Grand Shrine in Ise, Mie prefecture, Japan, May 26, 2016, ahead of the first session of the G7 summit meetings. REUTERS/Nicolas Datiche/Pool


Secretary of State John Kerry outlined the Obama administration’s detailed vision for the future of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process on December 28. His speech provoked a negative response from Israel for the criticisms of Netanyahu’s government, but the central point of Kerry’s speech was his concern over the peace process. Kerry declared that the two-state solution is in serious jeopardy almost a quarter of a century after the Oslo Process began, and forcefully argued that it offers the only path to peace.

The potentially landmark speech comes as the relationship between the Obama and Netanyahu administrations is—not for the first time—under great stress, especially following Washington’s decision to abstain last month from a U.N. resolution condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Kerry defended that decision asserting that the Obama team has done more for Israel than any other administration, yet acted as it did to try to preserve the viability of the two-state solution.

The roadmap of principles outlined by Kerry, which President-elect Donald Trump condemned, comes shortly before he leaves office on January 20. Despite this coming at the end of his tenure, he hopes to put a marker in the ground that helps shape the debate, internationally, about the peace process, and consolidates the Obama administration ’s foreign policy legacy.

Like Obama, previous presidents have often seen foreign policy as a fundamental part of the legacy they wish to build. For instance, after the trauma of the 2001 terrorist attacks, President George W. Bush sought to spread his democracy and freedom agenda across the Middle East, which included the toppling of Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi regime.

President Bill Clinton was the last president to devote significant time to securing a comprehensive peace deal between the Israelis and Palestinians. And he came relatively close to securing a breakthrough deal in 2000 at the Camp David Summit, but compromise ultimately proved elusive.

That Obama is looking to foreign policy to establish a legacy reflects, in part, the fact that since his re-election in 2012, he has achieved relatively little high profile domestic policy success. For instance, his gun control bill and immigration reform were defeated by the Senate and Supreme Court, and a long-term federal budgetary “grand bargain” with Congress collapsed.

Many re-elected presidents in the post-war era, just like Obama, have found it difficult to acquire momentum behind a significant new domestic agenda. In part, this is because the party of re-elected presidents, as with the Democrats now, often holds a weaker position in Congress in second terms of office.

Thus Dwight Eisenhower in 1956, Richard Nixon in 1972 and Bill Clinton in 1996 were all re-elected alongside Congresses where both the House of Representatives and Senate were controlled by their partisan opponents. This dynamic means domestic policy initiative in Washington—if it exists at all—can edge back to Congress.

This overall political context means Obama has placed ever increasing emphasis on foreign policy (which Congress has less latitude over), as Tuesday’s Arab-Israeli speech by Kerry exemplified. This international orientation has been especially marked as the U.S. economic recovery has built up steam.

Laying down the potential foundations for a future Israeli-Palestinian peace deal is only one key area in which Obama is looking to define his legacy. Also in the Middle East, among his key—if intensely controversial—foreign policy accomplishments is the final, historic nuclear deal with Iran. The agreement between Tehran and the so-called P5+1 (United States, China, Russia, United Kingdom, France plus Germany) was a major victory for Kerry and Obama, albeit one that the incoming Trump administration may now seek to unwind in 2017.

The landmark deal has long-term potential not only in forging a lasting rapprochement with Iran. It also holds possibility, ultimately, to help transform the wider geopolitics of the Middle East, and help consolidate Obama’s broader desire to enhance global nuclear security. In this policy area, as well as pushing inter-state nuclear diplomacy with countries such as Iran and Russia, Obama has created the Nuclear Security Summit process to counter nuclear terrorism, which he has described as the “most immediate and extreme threat to global security.”

Turning to the Americas, the Obama team has sought to reset relations with Cuba whose revolutionary leader Fidel Castro died in November 2016. In December 2014, the two countries announced they would restore diplomatic relations, and Obama became the first U.S. president to visit the country in almost 90 years in March, announcing a new suite of measures that further eroded the bilateral sanctions regime introduced during the Cold War era.

Perhaps Obama’s biggest regret on the foreign front will be the lack of progress in his plans to pivot U.S. policy toward the Asia-Pacific. Particularly notable is the failure of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement between the United States and 11 countries in the Americas and Asia-Pacific (Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam) that collectively account for about 40 percent of global gross domestic product. With this agreement, Obama had wanted to “lock-in” his re-orientation of U.S. international policy toward the region and other markets in the Americas, allowing the country to help write what U.S. officials have called “the rules of the road” for the 21st century world economy.

Yet, with Donald Trump’s election, the deal now looks dead in the water, and the Obama team has not even tried to secure congressional approval for the deal this year. Most likely, the initiative is now over and Chinese-led trade deals such as the proposed Free Trade Area of Asia Pacific may now emerge into the vacuum, as well as the planned Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

Taken overall, Obama’s legacy will rest heavily on foreign affairs given that he has struggled to secure major domestic policy momentum in his second term. He scored important international successes with the Iran deal and his Cuba initiative, but this is tempered by failure to advance the Asia-Pacific pivot more fully. Moreover, much of his legacy now risks being rolled back, at least partially, by the incoming Trump team with its potentially very different agenda to Obama’s.

Andrew Hammond
Posted with permission from Newsweek

U.S. Politics

10 things you need to know today: February 3, 2015

Kayana Szymczak/Getty Images

The Week

1.Second snowstorm hits already snow-covered Northeast
Boston authorities postponed a victory celebration for the New England Patriots after their Super Bowl victory, moving it from Tuesday to Wednesday due to a record breaking winter storm. The second blizzard to hit the Northeast in a week dumped another foot of snow on Boston, which was blanketed with two feet of snow last week, the most snow ever to fall on the city in seven days. The storm has been linked to at least 10 deaths, and forced the cancellation of 2,900 flights in Chicago, Newark, Boston, and New York.

Source: Reuters

2.Paul and Christie criticized for vaccine remarks
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, both potential 2016 GOP presidential candidates, faced criticism from medical experts on Monday after suggesting some child vaccinations should be made voluntary. Paul said some vaccines have caused “profound mental disorders.” Christie said parents need “some measure of choice” although, with a U.S. measles outbreak surpassing 100 cases, a spokesman said Christie believes “there is no question kids should be vaccinated” for measles. CDC director Tom Frieden said not vaccinating endangers other children.

Source: Fox News, The Washington Post

3.Obama sets new rules on NSA data mining
The Obama administration on Tuesday will announce new rules about how U.S. intelligence agencies manage the data they collect. The National Security Agency and other spy agencies will have to delete private information they collect about Americans that has no intelligence value, and do the same for foreigners after five years, The New York Timesreports. Obama will also begin a regular, formal White House assessment of NSA spying on foreign leaders.

Source: The New York Times

4.Obama releases his proposed $4 trillion budget
President Obama on Monday unveiled the specifics of a $4 trillion proposed budget that would roll back blanket spending cuts, raise taxes on wealthy Americans, and extend tax benefits to the middle class. “These proposals will put more money in middle-class pockets, raise wages, and bring more high-paying jobs to America,” Obama said in a statement. The budget covers the 2016 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. The blueprint is largely a symbolic statement of the president’s priorities, as Congress will make significant changes to it over the coming months.

Source: The Associated Press

5.Google reportedly is developing an Uber rival
Google invested $258 million in Uber in August 2013, and put more money in the next year, but now the internet search giant reportedly is preparing to compete with Uber by starting its own ride-hailing service, possibly linked to its driverless car project. A person close to Uber’s board said David Drummond, Google’s chief legal officer and an Uber board member, informed fellow Uber board members of the possibility. Uber leaders reportedly have seen a prototype app being used by Google employees.

Source: Bloomberg

6.Cuba publishes first photos of Fidel Castro since August
Cuba on Monday released the first photos of former president Fidel Castro seen since August. With Cuba’s communist government and the Obama administration attempting to renew diplomatic relations cut off in the Cold War, rumors have surfaced that Castro, 88, was dead or near death. Last week, Cuba released a letter attributed to Castro in which he said he didn’t trust the U.S. but advocated a “peaceful resolution to conflicts.” The photos, published in the official Granma newspaper, showed Castro in a meeting with a youth leader.

Source: The Washington Post

7.Bus firebombing kills seven in Bangladesh
Attackers hit a packed bus with gasoline-bombs in Bangladesh on Tuesday, killing at least seven people and injuring 16 others. The local police chief blamed the bombing on opposition activists, but they denied responsibility. At least 53 people have died in political violence, mostly vehicle firebombings, since the opposition launched a nationwide transportation strike in early January in a bid to force Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to resign.

Source: The Associated Press

8.Suge Knight charged with murder
Former rap mogul Marion “Suge” Knight was charged with murder and attempted murder on Monday for allegedly running over two men with his truck, killing one and injuring the other. His $2.2 million bail was revoked because authorities considered him a possible flight risk. Police said Knight argued with the men on the set of Straight Outta Compton, a film about the group N.W.A., and later ran them over. Knight’s lawyer said he accidentally ran over the victims while trying to get away from two men trying to attack him.

Source: Los Angeles Times

9. Charles Manson’s marriage license expires with no wedding
Eighty-year-old mass murderer Charles Manson’s marriage license is set to expire on Thursday without a wedding. Manson and his fiancee, 26-year-old Afton Elaine Burton, missed their last chance to marry over the weekend — weddings are not performed on weekdays at the California prison where Manson is incarcerated. Burton, who uses the nickname Star, intends to get another 90-day license and proceed with the wedding plan, according to a source in contact with her.

Source: The Associated Press

10.Revenge-porn site creator convicted of extortion
A California court on Monday convicted revenge-porn site founder Kevin Bollaert, 28, on identity theft and extortion charges. He faces up to 20 years in prison. Bollaert set up one website, YouGotPosted.com, where women’s former husbands and boyfriends posted nude photos of them, and he established another website, ChangeMyReputation.com, where victims could pay up to $350 to get the photos taken down. “This is essentially 21st century blackmail,” Deputy Attorney General Tawnya Austin told jurors last week.

Source: NBC 7 San Diego, The Washington Post

Cuban President Raul Castro · President Barack Obama

Obama-Castro redux: Image of a handshake, but a speech with a backhanded slap

President Obama shakes hands with Raul Castro at the memorial service for Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg South Africa. | Getty Images

The Twitter-verse other social media and right-wing blogs are abuzz over the handshake President Obama extended to Cuban Prime Minister Raul Castro.

Right-wing politicians are the most vociferous of the lot.  It’s funny though because at least Mr. Castro accepted the gratuitous handshake.  Some GOP pols have expressed their disdain of simply being in the same room with the POTUS.

Miami Herald

We are inevitably drawn to pictures over words, to the image and not the meaning, the shadow and not the substance.

So the abiding takeaway of President Obama’s appearance and tribute to Nelson Mandela today, for some, might not be what the president said but what he did: Shake hands with Cuban president/strongman Raul Castro.

If that’s all that some people talk about, they missed the speech and its meanings. It’s a sad commentary on how some would rather see what they want to see rather than also listen to what was said.

Obama’s tribute was one of the most-inspiring speeches from a U.S. president in years. Picking a great quote is almost impossible because there are so many:

It took a man like Madiba to free not just the prisoner, but the jailor as well…

“I’m not a saint,” he said, “unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.”…

In the arc of his life, we see a man who earned his place in history through struggle and shrewdness;  persistence and faith.  He tells us what’s possible not just in the pages of dusty history books, but in our own lives as well.

Tucked in all of this, however, was a focused backhanded slap against repressive regimes like the one Castro presides over:

Around the world today, men and women are still imprisoned for their political beliefs; and are still persecuted for what they look like, or how they worship, or who they love.

We, too, must act on behalf of justice. We, too, must act on behalf of peace. There are too many of us who happily embrace Madiba’s legacy of racial reconciliation, but passionately resist even modest reforms that would challenge chronic poverty and growing inequality. There are too many leaders who claim solidarity with Madiba’s struggle for freedom, but do not tolerate dissent from their own people. And there are too many of us who stand on the sidelines, comfortable in complacency or cynicism when our voices must be heard.

But many aren’t talking about any of this.

Most didn’t hear the speech broadcast in the U.S. this morning. They won’t read it. And there’s a far better chance they’ll see the photo or video of the handshake. Twitter is abuzz. The partisans have donned their armor of lazy talking points, hoisted their tired 140-character standards of dysfunction.

A few have noted the president “bowed” to Castro. It’s a function of the president being so much taller than the little dictator, and being decorous at an event on the world stage. The encounter just didn’t look like an act of obeisance by Obama.

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t talk about the handshake. That doesn’t mean Obama shouldn’t have said more to Castro or criticize him face to face when he had a chance. But we should consider the text of the speech as well.

There’s some historical significance to the greeting, as CNN points out, but reporter Christiane Amanpour’s reaction was as instructive as it was over-wrought: “Castro! He’s shaking hands with Raul Castro!”


What’s the president of the United States supposed to do — snub another world leader at the funeral of a great world figure who was friends with that other world leader?That wouldn’t be very Mandela of Obama.Republican Sen. Marco Rubio on ABC steered clear of overtly criticizing, but said “If he was going to shake his hand …he should have asked him about those basic freedoms Mandela was associated with that are denied in Cuba.”Later Tuesday, Miami Republican Rep. Ileana Ros Lehtinen was more outraged. During a House hearing on a possible nuclear deal with Iran, Ros-Lehtinen criticized the deal and then transitioned to Cuba, telling Secretary of State John Kerry that, when Obama shook the “bloody hand” of Raul Castro it was a “propaganda coup” for the dictator”Today is about honoring Nelson Mandela,” Kerry said. “We didn’t choose who was there.”Ros-Lehtinen: Is Castro upholding human rights?

Kerry: “No. Absolutely not.”

To be clear: The Cuban leader attended the memorial because, of the few shortcomings in Mandela’s praiseworthy life, he was a friend of the Castros.

The great South African leader never forcefully advocated for freedom in the spy-state of an island of Cuba. Gays are beaten there. Even rappers are imprisoned. An American, Alan Gross, is unfairly jailed and held as collateral in a spy-vs-spy tit-for-tat.

So how could Castro be a friend to Mandela? He and brother Fidel Castro, along with the Soviet Union, were loyal to Mandela and the cause of South African freedom when the U.S. wasn’t. That was a stain on our nation’s history and it was writ large in Miami when the city, fueled by justifiably angry Cuban exiles, unjustifiably snubbed Mandela’s visit in 1990.

But today, there’s a greater understanding of the greatness of Mandela, even here and in the exile community. Mauricio Claver-Carone said it best on his Capitol Hill Cubans blog where he noted that Mandela essentially repudiated the Castros through his actions.

Obama, in his speech, hit on similar notes. And the president puzzled over the greatness of Mandela and how we can continue his work.

The questions we face today – how to promote equality and justice; to uphold freedom and human rights; to end conflict and sectarian war – do not have easy answers.

Should Obama have said something more to Castro in those few moments of a handshake? Perhaps. Would it have made a difference? Probably not.

It’s not easy to defend this president for problems at home and abroad. But at least Obama is challenging us and himself to be better. Chances are, we’ll all come up short. We already are.

Continue reading speech here…

U.S. Politics

Arizona Tea Party Leader Scraps ‘Be Mein’ Hitler Valentines

We’re still sorting out the crazies…

TPM Livewire

Stephen Viramontes, the interim state director of the tea party group FreedomWorks in Arizona, canceled plans to distribute Valentine’s Day cards to lawmakers featuring various dictators who opposed anti-union legislation — but not before tweeting about the cards, the Arizona Capitol Times reports.

Viramontes deleted those tweets, but not before the Times published them.

Viramontes explained who would be getting the cards in a second tweet, which was also deleted. “All those needing some help in supporting and passing #PaycheckProtection,” he wrote.

According to the Capitol Times, other cards featured Fidel Castro, Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong as well as Karl Marx and Leon Trotsky. Viramontes told the Times that FreedomWorks is planning a big push for legislation that will limit the ability of public sector unions to collect money from their members for use in political efforts.

This ill-fated Valentine’s Day stint comes on the same day that Mother Jones reported that FreedomWorks executives in Washington, D.C. made a video — which they almost showed at a tea party conference — in which a fake panda performs oral sex on a woman impersonating then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

U.S. Politics

Piers Morgan, radio host who wants him deported face off


The man who wants Piers Morgan deported for advocating gun control faced off with the CNN host on Morgan’s show Monday night, denouncing Morgan as “a hatchet man of the New World Order” and warning of a new American revolution.

Radio talk show host Alex Jones backed a petition on the White House website calling on Morgan, a British citizen, to be deported “for his effort to undermine the Bill of Rights and for exploiting his position as a national network television host to stage attacks against the rights of American citizens.”

“We did (this) to point out that this is globalism, and the megabanks that control the planet and brag they have taken over in Bloomberg, AP, Reuters, you name it — brag they’re going to get our guns as well,” said Jones, who said his show is carried on 140 U.S. stations. “They have taken everybody’s guns but the Swiss and the American people. When they get our guns, they can have their world tyranny while the government buys 1.6 billion bullets, armored vehicles, tanks, helicopters. Predator drones, armed, now in U.S. skies, being used to arrest people in North Dakota.”

Morgan has been outspoken in calling for restrictions of semi-automatic rifles like the kind used in last year’s mass killings in Newtown, Connecticut, and Aurora, Colorado. But Jones said the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of a right to bear arms “isn’t there for duck hunting. It’s there to protect us from tyrannical government and street thugs.”

“Hitler took the guns. Stalin took the guns. Mao took the guns. Fidel Castro took the guns. Hugo Chavez took the guns. And I’m here to tell you, 1776 will commence again if you try to take our firearms,” Jones shouted.

“You’re a very loud man. You make a loud noise,” Morgan said at another point, as he attempted to quiz Jones about the comparative difference in firearm homicides between the United States and the United Kingdom, where 35 people were killed in shootings in 2012, compared to more than 11,000 in the United States.

Jones replied that Britain was “a total police state.”

“England has a lot lower gun crime rate, because you took all the guns,” Jones said. “But you’ve got hordes of people burning down cities and beating old ladies’ brains out every day.”

U.S. Politics

Friday Blog Round Up:10-19-2012

Playing For Laughs
Video highlights of Romney and Obama at the Alfred E. Smith dinner in NYC. Watch .

The Day In 100 Seconds
Bubba and The Boss on the trail… Full size version .

Castro Suffers Massive Stroke
Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and his state of heal..

Understanding Romneynomics
Personal awesomeness to the rescue.

Obama Reinforces His Firewall
“As Mitt Romney gains ground in crucial states like Florida and Virginia, President O..

Suspect in Benghazi Attack Scoffs at U.S.
Days after President Obama vowed to apprehend those behind the Sept. 11 attack on Ame..

Video: Poll check: early word on early voting
Rachel Maddow surveys the latest polls across the country, noting that President Oba..

Arrested vote fraud suspect worked for RNC
Colin Small, who says he’s an employee of the RNC, is accused of destroying completed

TPM Electoral Scoreboard Obama 259, Romney 237
TPM Electoral Scoreboard moves to Obama 259, Romney 237 as Iowa slips from Toss-Up t..

Declared ‘miracle’ by Catholic Church, Jake Finkbonner t..
The seventh-grader whose recovery from a deadly bacterial infection was deemed a mir..

GOP Hypocrisy · GOP Whine

GOP ‘Appalled’ Over Obama Granting Castro’s Daughter Visa, Ignores Trips Under Bush

Another case of Obama Derangement Syndrome

Think Progress

When the State Department granted the head of Cuba’s National Center for Sex Education, Mariela Castro Espín, a visa to chair a panel on LGBT issues at the Latin American Studies Association in San Francisco later this week, the Republican response was as obvious as the Cuban LGBT activist’s relations to the Caribbean island’s Communist dictators. Her father is Cuban President Raúl Castro, her uncle is revolutionary leader and longtime dictator Fidel Castro, and the Republicans were “appalled.”

“The State Department needs to wake up from its delusional love fest with the dictators in Havana,” said right-wing House Foreign Affairs chair Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL). Republican Members of Congress released web videos and organized conference callsdenouncing the visa as “outrageous.”

Even presumptive GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney got in on the action, releasing a statement accusing the Obama administration of “a slap in the face to all those brave individuals in Cuba who are enduring relentless persecution.”

Ros-Lehtinen and Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), David Rivera (R-FL) and Albio Sires (R-NJ)  wrote a strongly-worded letter to the State Department saying:

The administration’s appalling decision to allow regime agents into the U.S. directly contradicts Congressional intent and longstanding U.S. foreign policy.

If it’s “longstanding U.S. foreign policy” to deny Mariela Castro a visa to enter the U.S., someone forgot to tell President George W. Bush. The Bush administration granted Castro not one but three visas to enter the U.S. in 2001 and 2002. State Department spokesman William Ostick  told the Miami Herald:

Mariela Castro visited once in 2001 and twice in 2002. I can’t discuss her visas specifically, but you can assume she needed one to travel.

An Obama surrogate, Freddy Balsera, told the Herald:

In fact, the top State Department Official in charge of Latin America at the time was a Cuban American. Where was their criticism then? Nowhere, because ultimately this is all about politics for them.

A ThinkProgress search of the Lexis Nexis news database for Mariela Castro’s name during 2001 and 2002 returned no results relevant to her trips to the U.S.

Former attendees at the Latin American Studies Association (LASA) said that Cuba has long been a presence at LASA conferences. This year, the State Department accepted 60 visas, denied 11, and is still processing 6.  A State spokesman said visas couldn’t be rejected simply because “we don’t like you.”

LASA’s president  told the Associated Press that Castro’s appearance at the conference was “an academic issue, not a political issue,” and that she’d answered a call for papers like any other conference speaker.


Marco Rubio says Social Security and Medicare made Americans weak

Photo of Marco Rubio taken on April 14, 2008 i...
Image via Wikipedia

Marco Rubio is a Tea Party darling and they are looking forward to him becoming the VP pick to whatever GOP nominee wins the nomination at their convention.  Thus, Rubio has to tow the party line.

Daily Kos

These programs actually weakened us as a people. You see, almost forever, it was institutions in society that assumed the role of taking care of one another. If someone was sick in your family, you took care of them. If a neighbor met misfortune, you took care of them. You saved for your retirement and your future because you had to. We took these things upon ourselves in our communities, our families, and our homes, and our churches and our synagogues. But all that changed when the government began to assume those responsibilities. All of a sudden, for an increasing number of people in our nation, it was no longer necessary to worry about saving for security because that was the government’s job.

Yeah, exactly. And if Marco Rubio’s grandfather had known about those programs, and how they were weakening us as a people, he’d never have fled to America from Fidel Castro’s Cuba. Or at least he’d have waited until we had a president wise enough to understand that an America without sick and poor seniors is a weak America. A president like Rick Perry.

Related articles


9/11 Conspiracy Theories Rife In Muslim World

September 11, 2001 attacks in New York City: V...
Image via Wikipedia

Huffington Post

About a week ago, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared to the United Nations that most people in the world believe the United States was behind the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

To many people in the West, the statement was ludicrous, almost laughable if it weren’t so incendiary. And surveys show that a majority of the world does not in fact believe that the U.S. orchestrated the attacks.

However, the belief persists strongly among a minority, even with U.S. allies like Turkey or in the U.S. itself. And it cannot be dismissed because it reflects a gulf in politics and perception, especially between the West and many Muslims.

“That theory might be true,” said Ugur Tezer, a 48-year-old businessman who sells floor tiles in the Turkish capital, Ankara. “When I first heard about the attack I thought, ‘Osama,’ but then I thought the U.S. might have done it to suppress the rise of Muslims.”

Compassion for the United States swept the globe right after the attacks, but conspiracy theories were circulating even then. It wasn’t al-Qaida, they said, but the United States or Israel that downed the towers. Weeks after the strikes, at the United Nations, President George W. Bush urged the world not to tolerate “outrageous conspiracy theories” that deflected blame from the culprits.

However, the subsequent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan provided fodder for the damning claim that the U.S. killed its own citizens, supposedly to justify military action in the Middle East and to protect Israel. A 2006 survey by the Pew Global Attitudes Project found that significant majorities in Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan and Turkey – all among the most moderate nations in the Islamic world – said they did not believe Arabs carried out the attacks.

Two years later, a poll of 17 nations by WorldPublicOpinion.org, an international research project, found majorities in nine of them believed al-Qaida was behind the attacks. However, the U.S. government was blamed by 36 percent of Turks and 27 percent of Palestinians.

Such beliefs have currency even in the United States. In 2006, a Scripps Howard poll of 1,010 Americans found 36 percent thought it somewhat or very likely that U.S. officials either participated in the attacks or took no action to stop them.

Those who say the attacks might have been an “inside job” usually share antipathy toward the U.S. government, and often a maverick sensibility. Besides Ahmadinejad, high-profile doubters include Cuba’s Fidel Castro and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Former Minnesota governor and pro wrestler Jesse Ventura has questioned the official account. Conspiracy theorists have heckled former President Bill Clinton and other prominent Americans during speeches.

Osama Bin-Laden

Fidel Castro: Osama Bin Laden Is A US Agent

I have no doubt that Castro’s statement will be dismissed as some “old washed-out commie nut-job” trying to get attention.  However, as I read the following article, it sounded pretty plausible to me. 

In fact, it’s not the first time I’ve heard, seen or read this “theory” about Osama Bin-Laden.

CBS News World

(AP)  HAVANA (AP) – Fidel Castro says al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden is a bought-and-paid-for CIA agent who always popped up when former President George W. Bush needed to scare the world, arguing that documents recently posted on the Internet prove it.

“Any time Bush would stir up fear and make a big speech, bin Laden would appear threatening people with a story about what he was going to do,” Castro told state media during a meeting with a Lithuanian-born writer known for advancing conspiracy theories about world domination. “Bush never lacked for bin Laden’s support. He was a subordinate.”

Castro said documents posted on WikiLeaks.org – a website that recently released thousands of pages of classified documents from the Afghan war – “effectively proved he was a CIA agent.” He did not elaborate.

The comments, published in the Communist Party daily Granma on Friday, were the latest in a series of provocative statements by the 84-year-old revolutionary, who has emerged from seclusion to warn that the planet is on the brink of nuclear war.

Castro even predicted the global conflict would mean cancellation of the final rounds of the World Cup last month in South Africa. He later apologized for jumping the gun. Last week, he began highlighting the work of Daniel Estulin, who wrote a trilogy of books highlighting the Bilderberg Club, whose prominent members meet once a year behind closed doors.

The secretive nature of the meetings and prominence of some members – including former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, senior U.S. and European officials, and major international business and media executives – have led some to speculate that it operates as a kind of global government, controlling not only international politics and economics, but even culture.

During the meeting, Estulin told Castro that the real voice of bin Laden was last heard in late 2001, not long after the Sept. 11 attacks. He said the person heard making warnings about terror attacks after that was a “bad actor.”

Castro stepped down due to ill health in 2006 – first temporarily, then permanently – and handed power over to his younger brother Raul. He has remained head of the Cuban Communist party but stayed out of view for four years after falling sick before returning to the spotlight in July.

Castro did take exception with one of Estulin’s major theses: that the human race must move to another habitable planet or face extinction.

Castro said it would be better to fix things on Earth then abandon the planet altogether.

“Humanity ought to take care of itself if it wants to live thousands more years,” Castro told the writer.