Conspiracies and Other Theories
                         April 3, 2001
                         © 2001 The Daily Brew

                         The official story is that there was a "collision" between a
                         U.S. Navy EP-3E Aries II surveillance plane and one of two
                         Chinese naval F-8 fighter jets that scrambled to intercept it.

                         The surveillance plane was then reported to have been
                         "forced" to make an "emergency landing" on a southern
                         Chinese air base on China's Hainan Island.

                         U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman Mary Ellen
                         Countryman said the United States considered the mishap
                         an "accident."  The head of the U.S. Pacific Command,
                         Adm. Dennis Blair, said the crash was probably caused by
                         the fighter bumping into the U.S. plane and had been an
                         accident waiting to happen because of the ``aggressive''
                         tactics of Chinese pilots.

                         Of course, not everyone agrees.

                         Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer has indicated
                         that there was "no question" in the mind of Zhang Wannian,
                         vice chairman of China's Central Military Commission, that
                         the collision was a deliberate act.

                         The Chinese may have good reasons for their suspicions.

                         Despite Washington's denials, a report in the British
                         Observer newspaper October 17, 1999 provided damning
                         evidence that NATO deliberately bombed the Chinese embassy
                         in Belgrade on May 7, during its campaign against Serbia.

                         The report cited senior military and intelligence sources in
                         Europe and the US stating that the embassy was bombed
                         after its NATO electronic intelligence (Elint) discovered it
                         was being used to transmit Yugoslav army communications.

                         Supportive evidence was provided by three other NATO
                         officers—a flight controller operating in Naples, an
                         intelligence officer monitoring Yugoslav radio traffic from
                         Macedonia. and a senior headquarters officer in Brussels.

                         All three said they knew in April that the Chinese embassy
                         was acting as a rebroadcast station for the Yugoslav army.
                         The intelligence officer based in Macedonia said: "NATO
                         had been hunting the radio transmitters in Belgrade. When
                         the President's [Milosevic] residence was bombed on 23
                         April, the signals disappeared for 24 hours. When they came
                         on the air again, we discovered they came from the embassy

                         Other evidence strongly supported the Observer's findings.
                         The Chinese embassy had been housed at its location during
                         the bombing for four years.  The site was clearly marked on
                         tourist maps that are on sale internationally, including in the
                         English language. The embassy was well known to many
                         journalists, diplomats and other visitors to Belgrade. Its
                         address is listed in the Belgrade telephone directory.  To
                         believe it was an accident is to believe that it went
                         unchecked through an exhaustive target selection,
                         verification and authorization process.

                         Is the Bush Administration's version of more recent events
                         trustworthy?  Is this most recent flare up in U.S.-Sino
                         relations the result of an accident?  Or perhaps, are other
                         forces at work that might support China's contention that this
                         incident was deliberate?

                         If the Bush Administration's version of events is accurate, the
                         collision was sufficiently violent to knock the Chinese F-8
                         fighter jet from the sky, but insufficient to down the Navy plane.
                         After the collision, the EP-3E would have had to have been sufficiently
                         airworthy to make the 70 mile flight to China's Hainan Island, but
                         insufficiently airworthy to make the 800 mile return trip to the Kadena
                         Air Base in Okinawa, Japan, or to closer US air bases in the Philippines,
                         some 400 miles away.

                         Given the flight characteristics of the two aircraft, such a
                         scenario is plausible, but unlikely.  Most aircraft do not fare
                         well in mid-air collisions.  Still, the Navy's EP-3E Aries II
                         aircraft is a low-wing reconnaissance aircraft outfitted with
                         four Allison T56-A-14 turboprop engines.  It is designed to
                         fly 12-hour missions and more than 3,000 miles.  Compared
                         to the Chinese F-8s, it was undoubtedly moving at a glacial
                         pace.  Despite the fact that it had a full compliment of 24
                         numbered seating positions on board during Saturday's flight,
                         if any aircraft could survive the impact and maintain airworthiness,
                         it was the EP-3E.  What is less clear is why did it land in China?

                         While the collision occurred in what has been described as
                         international airspace, the Navy plane undoubtedly violated
                         Chinese airspace upon landing.  And while it would be
                         difficult to fault the pilot for seeking the nearest airstrip
                         possible after the collision, it cannot have escaped his mind
                         that he had just downed a Chinese fighter aircraft while
                         spying on the Chinese military.  Under those circumstances,
                         no one could have faulted the pilot for seeking a US base at
                         which to land.  Regardless of the pilot's preference, it is
                         difficult to imagine that the decision to land in China was not
                         made in consultation with, at a minimum, Navy officials both
                         at the Pentagon and at Pacific Command headquarters in
                         Hawaii.  It is easy to envision these communications reaching
                         into the White House.  For the plane to have made the 70
                         mile flight to Hainan Island, it's basic airworthiness was
                         unquestionably intact.  While a 70 mile flight is not terribly
                         long, it is certainly long enough to make contact with
                         headquarters, particularly for a sophisticated reconnaissance
                         aircraft designed to provide a real-time assessment of the
                         tactical posture of potentially unfriendly military forces to the
                         National Command.   So undoubtedly, the decision to make
                         the landing in China, with a full understanding of the political
                         consequences, was deliberate.

                         What were those political consequences?  Rather than allow
                         the Chinese the opportunity to save face, Bush immediately
                         began the heated rhetoric.  "The first step should be immediate
                         access by our embassy personnel to our crew members," Bush told
                         reporters outside the White House Oval Office.  "I am troubled by
                         the lack of a timely Chinese response to our request for this access.
                         Failure for the Chinese government to react promptly to our request is
                         inconsistent with standard diplomatic practice and with the express
                         desire of both our countries for better relations,'' Bush said.

                         What Bush omitted was the fact that the proposed U.S. sale
                         of billions of dollars of sophisticated weaponry to Taiwan,
                         which China considers a breakaway province, was also
                         inconsistent with the express desire of both our countries for
                         better relations.  Perhaps this incident was intended to provide
                         political cover to allow Bush to push these sales through, to the
                         immense financial benefit of Bush's campaign contributors.

                         As reported in the Washington Post, the rhetoric from right
                         wing Members of Congress was even more blunt.  Sen.
                         Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.), chairman of the Select
                         Committee on Intelligence, said Beijing's stance confirmed
                         the belief held by many Americans that "China is not our
                         strategic partner, and never was."  Rep. Henry J. Hyde
                         (R-Ill.), chairman of the House International Relations
                         Committee was even more explicit. "Are we to assume that
                         all of these individuals are now considered hostages? I don't
                         know, and I certainly hope not. But if they are, the Beijing
                         government is terribly mistaken if it believes these actions
                         will influence the U.S. decision -- due later this month -- to
                         permit the sale of defensive weapons to Taiwan."

                         Would the Bush Administration stage an international
                         incident to shape public opinion in support of their foreign
                         policy plans?  Before you throw the question out as a crazy
                         conspiracy, answer these:  Did Bush's father arrange for the
                         Iranian Government to hold onto US hostages to influence a
                         US presidential election 20 years ago?  Did Karl Rove
                         arrange for a debate tape to be sent to the Gore headquarters
                         to to influence a US presidential election 20 weeks ago?

                         Saturday's mid-air collision occurred just outside the Gulf of
                         Tonkin, where in 1964 another Texan who arrived in the
                         White House having never won an election, President Johnson,
                         used a skirmish involving the USS Maddox and USS Turner Joy
                         as a pretext for launching air strikes against North Vietnam,
                         beginning what came to be known as the Vietnam War.

                         Those who will not learn from history are condemned to repeat it.

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