Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Sayonara Francoist Vermin!

Lets get something straight here, I've been reading some notes on the newspapers and listening to some interviews regarding the terrorist acts in Madrid last week and the dismissal of the PP during Sunday election and people are saying that the Spaniards allowed the terrorist to win by disposing of Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar and his daufine Mariano Rajoy.

Rubbish, the Francoist junta lost because in the last four years they have been conducting themselves like a bunch of arrogant brutes, and their actions after the bombings exposed them in their true colors.

And those colors are ugly to say the least, trying to blame Basque nationalism for the bombings they went to the extreme of pressuring the spineless fellas at the UN High Council to blame ETA for the attacks, something that the UN has never done before, Ana Palacio, the regime's Foreign Minister ordered the Spanish ambassadors to stick to the official version, Angel Acebes went to the extreme of fooling the German intelligence agency by claiming that the explosives used were the ones that ETA uses when in reality they were different.

Aznar himself telephoned newspaper's directors to make sure that they would also stick to the official version, free press my ass.

Aznar and the other PP officials tried to profit from the sorrow of the Spanish public, they did it so blatantly that enough was enough, and they expelled them the way every single pseudo-democratic government most be expelled, vote by vote, without violence.

Sayonara futhermockers!

Spain Campaigned to Pin Blame on ETA
Wed Mar 17, 8:04 AM ET Add Top Stories - to My Yahoo!

By Keith B. Richburg, Washington Post Foreign Service

MADRID, March 16 -- In the first frantic hours after coordinated bomb blasts ripped through several packed commuter trains Thursday morning, the government of outgoing Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar undertook an intense campaign to convince the Spanish public and world opinion-makers that the Basque separatist group ETA had carried out the attacks, which killed 201 people and wounded more than 1,500.

Beginning immediately after the blasts, Aznar and other officials telephoned journalists, stressing ETA's responsibility and dismissing speculation that Islamic extremists might be involved. Spanish diplomats pushed a hastily drafted resolution blaming ETA through the U.N. Security Council. At an afternoon news conference, when a reporter suggested the possibility of an al Qaeda connection, the interior minister, Angel Acebes, angrily denounced it as "a miserable attempt to disrupt information and confuse people."

"There is no doubt that ETA is responsible," Acebes said.

Within days, that assertion was in tatters, and with it the reputation and fortunes of the ruling party. Suspicion that the government manipulated information -- blaming ETA in order to divert any possible link between the bombings and Aznar's unpopular support for the war in Iraq (news - web sites) -- helped fuel the upset victory of the Socialist Workers' Party in Sunday's elections. By then, Islamic extremists linked to al Qaeda had become the focus of the investigation.

Government officials insist that they never misled the public, and that they released in a timely manner all the information and evidence they had gathered. "We told the truth at all times to the Spanish people," Acebes said on Monday.

In retrospect, however, there were signs that the government was at least selective in releasing information about possible culprits. By 11 a.m. Thursday, police had already discovered an abandoned white van in Alcala de Henares -- a town where the bombed trains passed through -- containing seven detonators and a cassette tape with verses of the Koran recited in Arabic, officials said later. Sources familiar with Spanish intelligence services said the CNI, the National Intelligence Center, had suspected al Qaeda from the beginning.

The existence of a potential link to Islamic radicals was not revealed to the public until just before King Juan Carlos spoke on national television at 8:30 p.m.

Significantly, Spanish observers said, the king, in his solemn address, expressed confidence that "the criminals will be put in prison," but never mentioned ETA or any other possible culprit. Asked whether the king was satisfied with the way the government had handled information, the palace declined to respond, citing its customary refusal to comment on government matters.

The first bomb went off at 7:39 a.m., on a jam-packed commuter train at the Atocha station in central Madrid. By 7:42, 10 bombs had exploded -- seven at Atocha, two at nearby El Pozo station and one at Santa Eugenia. Although the initial figures put the death toll at about 20, authorities knew the number would rise dramatically and that this would be the worst terrorist attack in Spanish history.

That was when officials began their campaign to pin the blame on ETA, which the Aznar government has pursued vigorously and successfully.

The government had good reason to suspect ETA, whose initials in Basque stand for Basque Homeland and Freedom. The group has killed hundreds of civilians in terrorist attacks stretching back decades. Police reported on Christmas Eve having thwarted an ETA plot to set off two bombs at a Madrid train station. On Feb. 29, police arrested two ETA members near Madrid as they drove a van packed with a half-ton of explosives.

Immediately after Thursday's bombings, Foreign Minister Ana Palacio telephoned her British counterpart, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, to say that it was ETA, according to a British official, who added, "We had no independent evidence of our own that the Spanish were wrong." Less than two hours later, Straw was on television saying, "It looks to be an ETA terrorist outrage, and that is the information we've received from Madrid."

At the same time, the Spanish Foreign Ministry was sending instructions to its embassies, saying diplomats "should use any opportunity to confirm ETA's responsibility for these brutal attacks," according to a copy of the letter published in the Spanish daily El Pais. Spanish officials have confirmed that the instructions went out, but said they were only for "guidance."

Meanwhile, Arnaldo Otegi, head of the banned Batasuna party, which Aznar's government alleges to be ETA's political wing, condemned the attack, which experts on the Basque situation said was unusual. Otegi's condemnation was given wide coverage on radio stations outside Madrid. Between noon and 2 p.m. Thursday, Catalan radio was airing discussion programs exploring the possibility of al Qaeda involvement. On one Catalan station, 91.0 FM, Otegi said in an interview that the attacks were carried out by "the Arab resistance, possibly in retaliation for the Spanish presence in Iraq."

But in Madrid, radio stations were referring to "the ETA attacks" and carried none of the discussion about whether others might have been involved.

Managing the coverage of the disaster became a priority for the government, which contacted both the Spanish and international news media, stressing the official line that the bombings were the work of ETA.

El Pais, which was preparing a special edition on the attacks, received several calls directly from Aznar, its reporters confirmed. The editor of the Catalan-based paper El Periodico said Aznar called twice. Aznar "courteously cautioned me not to be mistaken. ETA was responsible," the editor, Antonio Franco, wrote in an editorial Tuesday. At a news conference on Friday, Aznar said he had called several newspapers, saying he wanted to explain the government's view.

The government spokesman's office at Moncloa, the prime minister's office, also placed calls to at least 10 foreign correspondents during the day, according to Steven Adolf, a Dutch reporter for NRC Handelsblatt and president of the foreign correspondents club here. Most of the calls were identical, journalists said.

Henk Boom, another Dutch journalist, said he received a call from a spokeswoman at about 5 p.m. "She said she was told to tell foreign correspondents that there was one official version -- that ETA was responsible for the attacks, and only ETA," he said.

Reading from a text, the spokeswoman gave three reasons why ETA was the culprit, Boom said: No one had asserted responsibility, which followed ETA's style of not making claims for at least a week; the type of explosive was similar to that normally used by ETA; and there was no call beforehand warning of the attacks, another characteristic of ETA -- a point some journalists have disputed.

By Thursday night, with the announcement of the discovery of the van with the Arabic tape and the claim of responsibility on behalf of al Qaeda in a London Arabic-language newspaper, public doubt began to set in. The morning newspapers Friday ran side-by-side articles comparing the possibilities of al Qaeda and ETA involvement.

By Friday night, police found new leads -- the discovery of a sports bag containing undetonated explosives and a mobile telephone. At a news conference, however, Acebes continued to insist ETA was the main suspect. "How is it that after 30 years of attacks, they are not going to be the prime suspects?" Acebes said. Still, he said, "We haven't closed off any line of investigation."

At the makeshift shrines set up to honor the victims, young people gathering to light candles and lay flowers were starting to voice skepticism about the ETA claim.

On Saturday night -- hours before the polls opened -- the government announced the arrests of three Moroccans and two Indians, and the discovery of a videotape from a purported al Qaeda official asserting responsibility for the attacks. Thousands of Spaniards responded by taking to the streets, banging pots and pans in protests and denouncing the government.

That voter anger swept the Socialists back to power for the first time in eight years.

Special correspondents Pamela Rolfe and Robert Scarcia contributed to this report.

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