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Hurricane Charley

Bush Administration Applies Major Pressure on Israel to Leave Covenant Land; While Hurricane Charley and Other News Intensified

By Bill Koenig ' August 23, 2004

Recent pressure by Bush Administration officials to divide Israel's covenant land and evict Jews from Judea, Samaria and Gaza settlements appears to have ignited an extraordinary chain of events during the first two weeks of August that culminated in the powerful devastation wrought on the West coast of Florida by Hurricane Charley. These events, as laid out in chronological order below and mapped against the growing swirling mass of what would become 'Charley,' demonstrate the mighty hand of God's judgment that may well have been stayed given a different decision on Israel.

As I have documented many times before and in my new book, 'Eye to Eye ' Facing the Consequences of Dividing Israel,' when US Presidents and/or their administrations apply major pressure on Israel to divide her land major record-setting catastrophes or significant events occur the same day or within 24 to 48 hours. As the land and property of Israel is at risk so is the land and property of the nation applying the pressure on Israel to divide her covenant land.

Moreover, history has shown us the greater the application of pressure on Israel the greater the intensity of the corresponding catastrophes and/or events as we have recently observed from August 1 to August 13, 2004.

I have also documented in my book there are 'periods of disruption' ranging from two weeks to twelve weeks that occur in the United States when the Bush Administration is actively involved in the peace process. We have experienced yet another 'disruptive period' the last few weeks.

Additionally, since the Quartet Road Map was delivered on April 30, 2003, when President Bush and/or his top staff applied pressure on Israel to divide her land the problems in Iraq increased substantially and the terror warnings in the United States increased in intensity and seriousness. When the Bush Administration is not pressuring Israel the situations calm down and there are no major corresponding catastrophes and/or events.

Bush Administration Pressured Israel

In the two weeks leading up to Hurricane Charley (and Tropical Storm Bonnie), the Bush Administration was applying major pressure on Israel to leave their covenant land.

Enormous pressure was being exerted on Israel specifically on August 1-2, and August 7-8, and to a lesser extent during the weekdays of the first two weeks of August by the Bush Administration's Elliott Abrams (from Condoleezza Rice's office), US Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer and via statements from the US State Department and White House spokespersons.

Israel was strongly reminded during this time period that the removal of security roadblocks was one of four commitments they made to the American government.

The other three commitments (that were urged by the Bush Administration) were evacuating illegal outposts (I prefer calling them unauthorized outposts), limiting settlement construction to built-up areas, and unfreezing hundreds of millions of shekels in Palestinian Authority tax money.

Even worse, the Bush Administration has been putting significant pressure on Israel to complete the evacuation of unauthorized outposts by the November US elections, which could produce catastrophes or major events that could cost President Gorge W. Bush his re-election as similar business did his father, President George H.W. Bush in 1992.

Two Weeks of Significant News

The following events also occurred from August 1-13, at the same time the Bush Administration was pressuring Israel: a national terror alert was announced for New York City, Washington D.C., and Newark, August 1; there were new security roadblocks established in Washington D.C. beginning August 2, that are similar to the occasional roadblocks in Jerusalem; the Iraq conflict with Al Sadr worsened and became a major problem beginning August 5 and has continued; U.S. intelligence officials said a high-profile political assassination, triggered by the public release of a new message from Osama bin Laden, will lead off the next major al Qaeda terrorist attack, according to an August 11 Washington Times article; and Hurricane Charley began developing as a depression August 9, intensified into a tropical storm August 10, and then became a hurricane August 11, and pummeled Florida August 13.

Presidential Ironies

The August 13, 2004, hurricane disaster had many ironies for the president. President Bush's brother Jeb is the Governor of Florida, the state devastated by Hurricane Charley.

On Tuesday, August 10, President Bush selected Congressman Porter Goss as his nominee to be the director of the CIA. Eighty hours later, Hurricane Charley smashes ashore in Goss's hometown of Sanibel Island and then Punta Gorda, Florida. As a matter of fact, the hurricane hit Goss's Congressional district at 145 mph causing an estimated $3 billion in property damage. This past Wednesday, Sanibel Island was reopened to permanent residents for the first time since it was evacuated before the hurricane.

President Bush and his brother Governor Jeb Bush toured by helicopter Charlotte and Lee Counties (Porter Goss's Congressional District) on Sunday.

There was even a mobile home parallel. While Israel was being asked to evacuate at least 23 settlement outposts, 25 counties in Florida were declared disaster areas. The Bush Administration was applying enormous pressure on Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to 'force' the evacuation of the unauthorized settlement outposts of Judea and Samaria, which consists of many Jews who live in mobile homes, while at the same time Florida had 10,000 homes destroyed, 16,000 homes with major damage, which included many mobile homes. In Polk County, the county with the most mobile homes in Florida, a total of 3,663 mobile homes sustained major damage and 6,365 had minor damage. (Sharon's disengagement plan calls for unilateral uprooting of all 21 Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip and four others in northern Samaria, for a total of 25 authorized settlements.)

Thousands of people were also 'forced' to evacuate their homes.

Moreover, the US government will have to assist in financial and medical aide, and new housing and support in Florida. The US government, the Florida State government, US insurance companies and individual property owners are expected to pay in excess of $15 billion to repair the damages from Hurricane Charley.

Hurricane Charley's Sudden Intensification and Course Change

'There was a sudden intensification and a veering to the right of track, and we're all trying to work out why,' said Mark Saunders, a tropical storm expert from Benfield Hazard Centre at University College London, UK.

According to AP, Hurricane Charley's 145-mph (233-kph) winds took forecasters by surprise and showed just how shaky a science it still is to predict a storm's intensity -- even with all the latest satellite and radar technology.

Charley quickly grew from a Category 2 to a Category 4 storm Friday and its course took a sharp turn to the right, which put it about 115 kilometers (70 miles) south of the originally projected bull's-eye.

With so much media focus on Tampa and St. Petersburg, many residents in and around Punta Gorda were caught unprepared. The hurricane left at least 17 people dead in its wake -- a wake that might not have been nearly as big if the storm had stuck to its original path and struck the big evacuated cities farther up the coast.

Meteorologists are still examining the data from Hurricane Charley, but the killer storm that slammed into Florida on August 13 made two things clear: Hurricanes can still surprise forecasters, and the rest of the 2004 hurricane season probably is going to be quite active.

Meteorologist Steve Lyons of the Weather Channel said all of the factors that aided Hurricane Charley's rapid intensification'including very warm water in the Gulf of Mexico and minimal upper-level winds (known as wind shear) that would have hindered its development'were in place soon after the sun came up on August 13.

In Florida, some 2,300 people stayed in shelters, and Federal Emergency Management Agency director Michael Brown said 11,000 have already applied for disaster aid. Federal officials received 20,000 catastrophic housing requests '10,000 on Monday alone.

The Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation estimates that Charley is directly responsible for putting 48,000 out of work in 25 counties, including Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte counties. The 48,000 lost-jobs estimate grows to about 120,000 when indirectly affected workers, such as vendors who used to supply these damaged or destroyed businesses, are factored in.

Major US Pressure Being Applied on Israel to Leave Settlements

During the week of August 8-13, American ambassador to Israel Dan Kurtzer was close to reaching an agreement with Baruch Spiegel, the defense minister's adviser, on how many outposts must be evacuated, (according to the defense establishment, 23 illegal outposts have been established in the West Bank since March 2001).

There is much irony in President Bush's words below, think of the settlers in Judea and Samaria as you read the 'highlighted words' of President Bush.

'You know the job of the federal government and the state government is to surge resources as quickly as possible to disaster areas. And that's exactly what's happening now. We choppered over and saw the devastation of this area. A lot of people's lives are turned upside down. We've got ice and water moving in, trailers for people to live in are moving in. The state is providing security so that people can have peace of mind that their neighborhoods will be safe. There's a lot of compassion moving in the area, the Red Cross is here.'

President Bush was asked, 'Can you tell us about some of the people who you spoke with and what they told you?'

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I've got -- you know, these good folks here, this is this man's house here. His parents were uprooted from where they were living. They came here to spend the night. And that's what you're beginning to see. You're beginning to see neighbors helping neighbors. A lot of people who have been dislocated are staying with a friend or a neighbor. You know, out of these catastrophes the spirit of America really shines, and that spirit is neighbor helping neighbor. So that's the lesson here.

The fellow down the street came out okay; he had taken precautions necessary. Nearly everybody here that I've talked to had evacuated, as the state asked them to do and, therefore, the loss of life was minimized -- still, too many people lost their lives, but, nevertheless, it was not as significant as it could have been. We're here, obviously, in a residential neighborhood where people's lives have been destroyed. They're beginning to worry about insurance claims and the state is organized to handle insurance claims. The key is just to make sure that they expedite the services, which are available as quickly as possible.

Governor Jeb Bush stated on Saturday, "Our worst fears have come true."

As usual, there were several events converging at the same time Israel was being significantly pressured--the terror warnings in the United States were elevated, the situation in Iraq worsened significantly, a Governor of a US state acknowledged a gay affair, a U.S. District Court judge ruled on August 10 that Harris County, Texas had 10 days to remove a Bible from a monument outside its civil courts building, and the land and property of America was pummeled by one of the largest weather disasters in U.S. history.

Also, in Israel Sharon's Likud Party voted against his disengagement plan and he defiantly stated he would not stop his plan being implemented. The pro-Israel lobby has told Sharon that President Bush has taken a big risk politically by endorsing his disengagement plan and that he better implement his disengagement plan or see US-Israel relations dramatically impacted.

To purchase 'Eye to Eye ' Facing the Consequences of Dividing Israel,' please click here.

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Chronology from August 1 ' 23, 2004

Sunday ' Monday, August 1-2: Israel was heading for a major showdown with the U.S. over the dismantling of illegal outpost settlements and new settlement construction.

Sunday ' Monday, August 1-2: Major terror warnings for New York City Washington. D.C, and Newark

Monday, August 2: Washington D.C. sets up security checkpoints

Tuesday, August 3: The White House defends the increased terror warning stating that it was not politically motivated

Tuesday, August 3: The season's second tropical depression forms in the tropical Atlantic east of the Lesser Antilles and is quickly nearing storm status while aiming for the far eastern islands. A Tropical storm warning is up for St. Lucia. The U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico are under a tropical storm watch, as are those in Guadeloupe, Martinique, Dominica, St. Maarten, Saba and St. Eustatius. (Tropical Storm Bonnie)

Wednesday, August 4: Intelligence found in Pakistan suggests that suspected al Qaeda operatives in that country contacted an individual or individuals in the United States in the past few months, according to two senior U.S. government sources. The officials would not characterize the nature of the communication. But the sources said other information from Pakistan has prompted investigations in the United States to uncover whether there are any individuals or terrorist cells plotting an attack on U.S. soil.

Wednesday, August 4: All watches and warnings are discontinued as the poorly organized depression is downgraded to a tropical wave. At 5 p.m. EDT, the center of Tropical Depression Two is near latitude 13.5 north, longitude 63.5 (Bonnie)

Thursday, August 5: Radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr militants began battling U.S. troops from Najaf's vast cemetery and revered Imam Ali Shrine, when a two-month old cease-fire broke down.

Thursday, August 5: The remnants of Tropical Depression Two are generating showers and thunderstorms over much of Hispaniola and extending southward over the Caribbean Sea for a few hundred miles. (Bonnie)

Friday, August 6: The wave extends from Haiti and Southeastern Cuba south across the central Caribbean and continues to produce disorganized showers and thunderstorms. (Bonnie)

Saturday and Sunday, August 7-8: U.S. stands firm on its demand that Israel's illegal outposts must be removed, American Middle East envoy Elliott Abrams clarified in his talks with officials in Israel. Abrams works for Condoleeza Rice.

Saturday, August 7: Shower activity associated with the remnants of Tropical Depression Two in the western Caribbean diminishes. (Bonnie)

Sunday, August 8: The remnants become an area of cloudiness and a few showers over the northwestern Caribbean Sea just to the south of western Cuba. (Bonnie)

Monday, August 9: State Department Spokesman Adam Ereli calls on Israel to fulfill settlement commitments

Monday, August 9: A tropical depression begins to form in the Caribbean Sea (this depression develops into Hurricane Charley)

Monday, August 9: The season's second tropical storm forms in the southern Gulf of Mexico from the remnants of Tropical Depression Two. At 5 p.m. EDT, the center of Tropical Storm Bonnie is near latitude 23.2 north, longitude 88.7 west, or about 410 miles south of the mouth of the Mississippi River. Bonnie is moving northwest near 12 mph. Maximum sustained winds are near 45 mph with higher gusts. Tropical storm force winds extend up to 30 miles from the center.

Tuesday, August 10: President Bush Nominates Congressman Porter Goss to be Director of the CIA (Goss' Congressional District took the hardest hit from Hurricane Charlie three days later). According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Bush chose Goss in large part for his proven loyalty. Goss has been one of Bush's most adept allies in Congress since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. He was instrumental in cajoling civil libertarians in the House into holding their noses and passing aspects of the U.S.A. Patriot Act that they wanted removed, including broadened phone-tapping and search powers. JTA also stated, Goss even turned on his beloved CIA for Bush, making a 180-degree turn on his assessment of Tenet this year, when Bush's campaign needed to distance the president from the intelligence failures of Sept. 11 and the lead-up to the Iraq War.

Tuesday, August 10: Tropical Storm Charley becomes a depression in the southern Caribbean, prompts a tropical storm warning for Jamaica and the southwest peninsula of Haiti.

Tuesday, August 10: A tropical storm watch is issued for northwest Florida from the Alabama state line east to the Suwanee River as a weakening Bonnie slowly moves north. Bonnie is centered about 295 miles south-southwest of the mouth of the Mississippi River at 11 p.m. EDT and is heading north around 5 mph. Bonnie has maximum sustained winds near 45 mph, but it's a small system with tropical storm force winds extending only 30 miles from the center. (Bonnie)

Wednesday, August 11: Bonnie is near hurricane strength as it tracks toward the already-wet Florida Panhandle. Bonnie is forecast to hit the state early Thursday, at least 12 hours earlier than Hurricane Charley. The rare prospect of back-to-back hurricanes striking Florida within a day causes Gov. Jeb Bush to declare a state of emergency, some schools and government offices to close and forecasters to warn residents to prepare for the worst. Most of northwest Florida is under a hurricane warning or watch.

Wednesday, August 11: U.S. commends Israel for removal of 100 IDF roadblocks. U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer is close to reaching an agreement with Baruch Spiegel, the Israel defense minister's adviser, on how many settlement outposts must be evacuated. Israel was reminded that the removal of roadblocks was one of four commitments they made to the American government. The other three are evacuating illegal outposts, limiting settlement construction to built-up areas, and unfreezing hundreds of millions of shekels in Palestinian Authority tax money.

Wednesday, August 11: Hurricane Charley grows into a hurricane headed for Jamaica, the Cayman Islands and western Cuba, prompting officials to order visitors to leave the Florida Keys. Tropical Storm Bonnie approaches hurricane strength in the Gulf of Mexico and heads toward the already-wet Florida Panhandle.

Wednesday, August 11: U.S. intelligence officials say a high-profile political assassination, triggered by the public release of a new message from Osama bin Laden, will lead off the next major al Qaeda terrorist attack, The Washington Times learned

Thursday, August 12: Tropical Storm Bonnie quietly makes landfall at the fishing town of Apalachicola at mid-morning without causing any major damage.

Thursday, August 12: Israel's Vice Prime Minister Ehud Olmert calls on more Israeli settlements to be evacuated beyond the four in Gaza, Sharon is furious by Olmert's statements a few days away from a crucial Likud Party vote on his disengagement plan.

Thursday, August 12: Hurricane Charley grows into a powerful Category 2 storm and pounds western Cuba while sending a flood of evacuees from the Keys and the Gulf Coast. An estimated 800,000 residents and tourists in the projected path of Charley are told to get out of the way. The Tampa and St. Petersburg area have a major evacuation. MacDill Air Force Base, on a peninsula in Tampa Bay, was ordered evacuated with only essential personnel remaining. MacDill is home to U.S. Central Command, the nerve center of the war in Iraq Friday, August 13: Israeli Defense Force (IDF) Chief says Golan Heights not needed

Friday, August 13: Hurricane Charley punches through Charlotte Harbor with estimated 145-mph winds, swamping low areas with a 13- to 15-foot storm surge. The Category 4 hurricane sweeps ashore in an area of nearly 1 million residents. Speeding northeast at 22 mph, Charley continues on a rapid track toward Daytona Beach. It reaches the Atlantic Ocean shortly after midnight. Predicted to hit Tampa Bay as a Category 3 storm, Charley skirted the Florida Keys early Friday, headed north, suddenly jogged east and quickly intensified before riding in over Sanibel Island at about 3:45 p.m., more than 100 miles south of Tampa. President Bush declares a state of emergency in Florida, granting Gov. Jeb Bush's request for emergency relief money for Charlotte, Lee, Manatee and Sarasota counties.

Saturday, August 14: "Our worst fears have come true," says Governor Jeb Bush, who surveyed the devastation by helicopter. The hardest-hit areas appear to be Punta Gorda and Port Charlotte in Charlotte County. Residents left homeless by Hurricane Charlie's 145-mph winds dig through their ravaged homes, sweeping up shattered glass and rescuing what they can as President Bush promises rapid delivery of disaster aid.

Sunday, August 15: One million people remain without power and 2,300 stay in emergency shelters. President Bush surveys the devastation in Florida, where the storm caused an estimate $15 billion in damage and killed at least 19 people. FEMA says the state has requested catastrophic housing for 10,000 people, and more than 4,000 National Guard troops have been activated. Monday, August 16: USA Today reports Al-Qaeda allies are believed to be scouting U.S. targets, and the terror organization are using non-Arab recruits to avoid detection, U.S. law enforcement and intelligence officials say.

Tuesday, August 17: The United States declined to comment on Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's approval of 1,000 new homes in Jewish settlements in the West Bank. "We are studying the details regarding the tenders that have been issued by the government of Israel," State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli said at a news briefing.

Wednesday, August 18: An aide to Muqtada al-Sadr says the cleric has agreed to a peace plan for Najaf, but wants to negotiate how it is implemented. The official in Baghdad says the Shiite leader wants to ensure his fighters won't be arrested. The official said al-Sadr has other minor conditions. Al-Sadr has made contradictory statements in the past and a previous truce collapsed earlier this month.

Thursday, August 19: Condoleeza Rice Calls for Israel to Halt Settlement Expansion

Thursday, August 19: Sharon leaves for vacation on his Negev ranch, to ponder future after Likud party voted against approving his disengagement plan. "When he comes back from his vacation, you will see Sharon proceed with full force toward bringing about unilateral disengagement and a national unity government," a Sharon associate said. "He will respect the results of the Likud convention, but he will do what is right for Israel. The five-vote margin that voted down Sharon's proposal will not decide the future of the state."

Thursday, August 19: Officials: Jewish Extremists Plotting Violence

Thursday, August 19: Iran threatens strike against U.S., Israel: Official warns of pre-emptive attack on enemies if imminent danger sensed

Thursday, August 19: Iran missiles sharpen aim with U.S. technology: Chinese give 'ecstatic' Tehran GPS system it got during Clinton years

Friday, August 20: Early elections again in Israel? Sharon defiant as Shimon Peres scraps coalition talks

Saturday, August 21: The N.Y. Times stated on Saturday, the Bush administration, in a move to lend political support to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel at a time of political turmoil, has modified a longstanding policy and signaled that Israel may expand the population of at least some settlements in the West Bank, U.S. and Israeli officials say. "What we have asked of the Israeli government is to let us know what it is that they are doing," Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, said Thursday in answer to a question at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington. An administration official, amplifying Rice's comment, said a decision had been made this week not to compound Sharon's political troubles as he is battling hardliners in his own Likud coalition who are revolting against his proposal to pull settlements out of Gaza. Secretary of State Colin Powell is scheduled to meet next week with members of the Quartet, who are expected to criticize the US acquiescence.

Some U.S. officials acknowledged, in addition, that President George W. Bush, in his own tough re-election battle, would be loath to criticize Israel right now. The new U.S. statements, an administration official said, reflects "a covert policy decision toward accepting natural growth" of some settlements, despite repeated past statements.

Sunday, August 22: Palestinians, backed by the Arab League, accused the United States on Sunday of destroying the Middle East peace process after Washington signaled it could accept some growth of Israeli settlements. "I do not believe that America says now that settlements can be expanded. This thwarts and destroys the peace process," Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurie told reporters.

Palestinians, who fear uprooting the Gaza settlers is a cover for strengthening Israel's hold on bigger West Bank enclaves, said the United States was tearing up its own peace "road map" -- a blueprint for a Palestinian state that has been stalled by violence.

"For the United States to take such positions ... can only damage the peace process, if it exists, and damage the whole situation and make it more difficult," Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa told reporters in Cairo. Bonnie and Charley chronologies taken from reports by The Associated Press and The Palm Beach Post.

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