Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Did NATO Massacre Libyan Religious Leaders?

Did NATO Massacre Libyan Religious Leaders? by Thomas C. Mountain via Counterpunch

According to the charges made by Moussa Ibrahim, on Friday, May 13, over 150 of Libya’s most senior Imams gathered in Brega to hold a peace conference on how to end the fighting in Libya. Brega was chosen for the site because it is the closest government held town to the rebel-held stronghold of Benghazi and the Imams planned to send a delegation to Benghazi with a peace proposal following the conference.

Early during the evening of Friday, May 13, NATO forces bombed the conference site, killing at least ten and hospitalizing over 40 Imams. Libyan television showed the site, which was clearly demolished. Moussa Ibrahim described it as the oil industry’s temporary residential complex or guest quarters and later provided the Google Earth coordinates for viewers to confirm the location.

Statements were made by two Imams who had driven through the night from the Brega site to Tripoli for the press conference to condemn the NATO bombing of their brethren.

Is NATO so desperate for war to remove Ghaddafi that they deliberately bombed a peace conference of the nation's religious leaders? NATO claims that this 'guest housing' at a Libyan oil facility was really a 'command and control center'.

Does this photo (from Google Earth) look like 'guest housing for the oil industry', or mysterious 'bunker'?  Hint, housing is usually above the ground, while a 'bunker' is usually beneath the ground.

Sky News, aka Rupert Murdoch's equivalent to Fox News in Britain, has a very strange article where their correspondent, who admits he stays in his hotel room in Tripoli and never leaves, says he's exchanged emails with a Dutch engineer who claims to have build a bunker at this site.  The story uses a image from Google earth of this site, but it has two 'pins' shown in the map.  The misleading impression is that the image shows the bunker, which is the question I leave to the reader in this image above.

What the image on Sky News really indicates is just that the location supposedly given by this mysterious 'Dutch engineer' happens to be close to the location given by the Libya government as the site of this atrocity.  Of course, anyone can 'give' coordinates, so the fact that the two pins in the Sky News image are close together is meaningless BS spun from Rupert Murdoch's lair.

BTW, I'm giving you a much larger image than Sky News, which made their image so small that its hard to see much besides the two 'pins' that they themselves create.  The coordinates come from another image from the Sky News story which purports to show the exact note given to them by the Libyan government with the coordinates for the site where the religious leaders were bombed by NATO.  If anyone has another source for these coordinates, I'd appreciate a comment with a lead, as I hate using a Rupert Murdoch source unconfirmed.

The question is, does this look like a bunker to you?  Or, does it look like the sort of meeting room/housing type of facility at which 150 religious leaders might gather had to hold a meeting?  I think this looks like the sort of meeting room/guest housing facility that its claimed to be, and I don't see anything in these images to support the strange Fox/Sky report of a mysterious engineer claiming to have built a bunker here.

The Libyan government claimed the bombed building was also near a mosque and a clinic.  I can't verify a clinic from these satelite photos, but the golden dome of a mosque a block away is obvious in this rotated view from Google Earth.  And the mosque appears to be in a central area surrounded by housing, so I can easily believe that in a planned community built for oil workers, a clinic would also be in the same central area.

Someone in Google Earth has posted an image of the mosque.
The overall area in Google Earth appears just as its described by the Libyans. It appears to be an oil facility, with refineries and storage tanks and an area marked as a Pipe and Valve facility.  This area appears to be housing for workers.  Why on earth would anyone build a bunker there is left a mystery from Google Earth?  

There is a separate area of buildings and parked vehicles as a part of the oil complex that might be a guess for where the HQ buildings for the complex might be located.  I'm not quite sure why Exxon would have spent the money on a bunker in the 1980's, but one might guess that the bunker might be located near the HQ building complex.  Its hard to imagine Exxon making the bunker convenient for the Imams at the local mosque, while making their executives run half a mile from the HQ to get there.

I've more to say about this Sky News story, but I put this in the comments as this piece is already long on the front page.


Samson said...

Its also a bit odd that an engineer who worked on a project in 1988 would in 2011 have the exact coordinates in Latitude and Longitude, down to the fraction of a second, to lead directly to a building. Today, with GPS technology a common tool in construction, it would be much more believable. But not in 1988.

GPS in existed in 1988, but it was only used to establish control points. A typical facility like this would have been built on a 'local grid'. Ie, some surveyor would have hammered something like a railroad spike in the ground and called that point 10,000 X - 10,000 Y and all plans would give coordinates for other structures relative to this grid. There might have been one or two major control points with GPS measurements to establish Lat/Long on them, if anyone was interested. But, very few construction companies and engineers were interested since the local grid was sufficient to place and locate anything. So, I'd be very surprised that any plans from the era would indicate the exact GPS coords of any building or bunker, and I'd be equally surprised that some engineer who worked on the project over 20 years ago can magically come up with Lat/Long for the bunker down to the fraction of a second.

Samson said...

The more I think about this, the more flabbergasted I am that an engineer who built something in 1988 could produce exact GPS coordinates for it in 2011, and do so within the news cycle turnaround time for this story.

I worked land surveying and construction in the US in the 1988, and if you asked me the Lat/Long coordinates for anything I built, I'd give you my best 'You must be frackin crazy' look.

Most plans were hand-drawn in 1988. This was the very early days of CAD, and it wasn't widely accepted yet. For any construction project, our 'records' from 1988 would likely consist of a rolled up set of blueprints and manilla folders full of either our hand-calculations or of printouts from the DOS and UNIX based computational tools we might have used.

Even if the engineer was still working for the same company, which is unlikely in this age of mergers, acquisitions, layoffs and cutbacks, the files from a project in 1988 would be in some musty off-site storage facility.

If there were any computer files, they would not likely be on any company server. At the time, we used tiny hard drives, so projects were quickly removed from out computers and put on 'floppy disks' or tape backup. If you found a 20 year old copy of either, it would likely be unreadable by today's systems. Does your computer have a 5 1/4 inch floppy drive?

And, even if you read the storage media, you'd find files for some ancient CAD or comutation software system that likely doesn't exist today. To give you an idea how ancient these would be, Microsoft Windows didn't exist in 1988, so we are talking about data files from some old DOS program.

So, just how exactly did this mysterious Dutch engineer come up with the GPS coordinates for a 'bunker' that he claims to have built in 1988? And be able to do such so very quickly that he can get it to Sky/Fox News in the time to respond to this story? At the very best he'd be having to dig through two decades old folders and files at some off-site storage facility.

And, even then, as I explained above, there's very little reason for the exact GPS coordinates of this bunker to ever have been put on a set of plans or to ever have been computed by any engineer or technician.