Wednesday, August 30, 2006

International Mystery: Tokyo Takedown--Chapter V: Does Anybody Have A Clue??

(IMPORTANT: Due to a labeling error, readers of the previous installments of Bill Prendergast in: "International Mystery: Tokyo Takedown" may have read some episodes out of sequence. Episode Two (“The Mists Begin To Clear”) was accidentally misidentified as Episode One. Episode One had no title, which was the cause of the confusion. If it had a title, it probably would have been something like “Caught From Behind” or “Where The Hell Am I?” We apologize for any inconvenience to the readership, and urge those remaining to read the episodes in there proper sequence and order. You can still read them below on this blog in the original sequence. It’s much better than “Snakes On A Plane” which I saw today at a local multiplex theater; “Snakes On A Plane” is an obvious ripoff of an original screenplay I wrote years ago called “Vibrators On A Plane,” only they changed it to “snakes” instead of “vibrators.” (I’m going to sue them.) Anyway, if you want to catch up with the story, start with the first part, then continue on to the second part, and keep going until you get to this part. If you really enjoy this thrilling series, why not send a check in for any amount you feel is fair? It cost me seven bucks to see “Snakes On A Plane”; I feel Bill Prendergast in “International Mystery: Tokyo Takedown” is twice as good as “Snakes On A Plane”. You do the math.)
(THE STORY SO FAR: Just after he files a piece exposing Congressional candidate Michele Bachmann's Republican campaign staff as a bunch of "chickenhawks" American journalist-for-hire Bill Prendergast is struck unconscious and wakes up in Japan--more specifically, in Tokyo, the vast metropolis that is the capital of that Far Eastern archipelago. Outside the local Starbucks Prendergast spots his arch-enemy: international terrorist Osama bin Laden. (Though the Bush Administration has just closed the government bureau charged with finding bin Laden, Prendergast has continued his own four year search for the murderous mastermind, with just as much success and far less cost to the taxpayer.) Before Prendergast can kill bin Laden he is struck on the head again and wakes up in a Tokyo back alley. Upon regaining consciousness, he hops into a nearby rickshaw to give chase, but the rickshaw driver is an asshole who can’t understand the simplest directions and cons Prendergast into eating at a local tourist rip-off lunch counter instead. Once there, Prendergast receives a death threat in the form of a herring placed in his bowl of noodles, but he ignores it—to his regret, because shortly afterwards he is attacked by a ninja on his way to the men’s bathroom. Prendergast quickly disposes of the assassin, but succumbs to jet lag and wakes up in a back alley again. And it is here we rejoin our story:)

I was alive, but no closer to my quarry than before. Japan is a land of mystery, I thought, as I scratched my stomach and studied the beautiful garden that opened up before me.

But was Japan to be a garden of beauty—or perhaps… a garden of DEATH? It didn’t matter; and what happened to me didn’t matter, for that matter—what mattered was, finding and killing bin Laden. If I didn’t find him and kill him, this pretense of searching for bin Laden was nothing more than a bunch of hideously expensive fucking around. And we’d already had quite enough of that from the Bush White House.

But how to find him? There’s a hell of a lot of people in Japan, in case you hadn’t noticed. I knew I’d have to get some informants, some contacts—preferably ones who spoke Japanese. And English, that was important, too. Because I don’t speak Japanese—and if my contacts didn’t speak English and I didn’t speak Japanese...What would be the point?

You have to think things out like that if you plan to stay alive in my game. But I wouldn’t have stayed alive five minutes if it hadn’t been for this man:

I can’t tell you his name, but I can tell you that he and dozens of men just like him have my silent thanks and those of people the free world over. It was this man and his chopsticks that picked up the only clue left to bin Laden’s whereabouts—a discarded cigarette butt that led me to the next link in the chain—this man:

Yes, it is a man. My last contact in Tokyo, trying to pass himself off as a teenage girl in Tokyo’s Shinjuku district. Worst disguise I’ve ever seen. But it gave me hope: from here things could only get better.

Once again, events proved me wrong. Things went rapidly downhill after that transvestite. For one thing, I assumed the waitress in this picture was another guy trying to pull the same sort of dress-up stunt--because in Japan, things are not always what they seem. But sometimes they are what they seem—this girl really did turn out to be a girl, and not only that, she was the chef’s daughter, and did she give me hell for calling her a transvestite! My accusations were deemed entirely inappropriate by the management. I had to apologize profusely and cash more than one traveler’s check before the hotel restaurant would return my passport.

Actually, with hindsight, she looks more feminine than most women I know in Minnesota; and she’s kind of cute, for that matter. I don’t know why I kept insisting she was really a man; it didn’t have anything to do with the case anyway. I guess I was all keyed up from the trip and the bin Laden thing and getting hit in the back of the head and waking up in an alley so many times. I mean, for Christ’s sake, I’d just flown five thousand miles, give me a break. Anyway, she was pissed. Sure, she’s smiling in the photo, but you have to remember: this is a land where people smile before they kill. That’s something I never forgot, and that’s why I’m still here to tell the tale.
Or am I? Because moments later:

That’s right, I found myself unconscious in that same back alley again. Somebody had blackjacked me; I can’t be sure, but I assume it was that waitress. And they had told me that fifteen per cent would be enough…


Sunday, August 27, 2006

International Mystery, Part III: Japan--Land of the Rising...SKULL of DEATH?

(IMPORTANT: If you've missed any of the previous installments of Bill Prendergast in: "International Mystery: Tokyo Takedown", you can still read them below on this blog, in the original sequence. Start with Part One, continue on to Part Two, etc.)
(THE STORY SO FAR: American journalist-for-hire Bill Prendergast finishes a piece exposing Congressional candidate Michele Bachmann's Republican campaign staff as a bunch of "chickenhawks" (supposed supporters of the war in Iraq who are eligible for combat duty but won't volunteer for military service to take the place of soldiers who've already done two or three tours of duty over there.) Prendergast mysteriously lapses into unconsciousness and awakes in a strange foreign land where very few people speak English, and those who do, speak it with an atrocious accent.
He quickly deduces that he has somehow been transported to Japan--more specifically, to Tokyo, the vast metropolis that is the capital of that Far Eastern archipelago. Attempting to "orient" himself, Prendergast turns to go into a nearby Starbucks--and spots his arch-enemy: international terrorist Osama bin Laden. (Though the Bush Administration has just closed the government bureau charged with finding bin Laden, Prendergast continues his own four year search for the murderous mastermind, with just as much success and far less cost to the taxpayer.)
Before Prendergast can strike out and snap the bastard's neck, he is struck from behind and regains consciousness in some forgotten back alley. We now rejoin the story...)

They'd made one mistake...They hadn't killed me. But the question now was: what was my next move? I improvised a native disguise, hopped into a cab, and began to think things over.

The answer was obvious: I had to find bin Laden again. This was the closest I'd gotten to him in years, and I wasn't about to give up the scent now. I hopped in the next rickshaw and told the driver to take me to the nearest hotel favored by terrorists. But I'd picked the wrong rickshaw--this guy was clearly more interested in mugging for the camera than in following a few simple instructions.

Instead of taking me to bin Laden, he steered me into his brother's noodle shop with a long story about how all the terrorists ate there. There was nothing to do but sit down and order--and when my soba noodles arrived (FINALLY) I was confronted with this:

A pickled herring, laid neatly across the top of the bowl. An old Yakuza message: "Keep messing here around in the Orient, white man, and you'll sleep with the herring." Needless to say, I sent it back.
Now the trail was getting colder than that kipper. So I took a room at the nearest reasonably priced ryokan, slipped into my after-dinner kimono, and headed for the hot baths, hoping to pick up a few clues from some naked Japanese businessmen--when suddenly:

Ninja! Japanese assassins, masters of stealth. If I hadn't been on my guard, I would have ended up as part of that night's sukiyaki special. But a squeaky floorboard tipped me off--I spun around on my heels and taught him a lesson, adding a new word to this thug's English vocabulary: "Ass-kicking!" Sayonara, punk.

Not that it did me much good. Three hours later I woke up in that same back alley again, can you believe it? Jet lag, this time. I would just have to lay there until my biological clock caught up with Tokyo time. Then--watch out, Osama.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

International Mystery, Part II: My Head Still Hurts...

The mists...the mists in my head, beginning to clear...that landscape--strange, foreign, yet somehow familiar...but where? Where?

Now a city--a big city--a gigantic metropolis, an endless night of neon, traffic, headlights...those Japanese? Those people...Japanese? Then I must be...somewhere in...Japan...

Yes, Japan...I remember her...the girl...the beautiful girl...what was her name?

Shirley? No, it couldn't have been Shirley, don't be an to think, got to remember...Tokyo, yes, that was it! Tokyo! Some how, some way, I got to Tokyo--and I was in Tokyo when saw her there, out on the street, and then I turned around and saw--OH, SWEET JESUS!

At last! The rat bastard I'd been trailing for four years, long after the Bush administration had given up--I reach out to strike, snap his neck like a dry twig, and then--UGH! What was that? A blow? From behind? On the back of my heaaaaad...Duh...

And I woke up in a back alley...that's all I can remember...

For now...


Thursday, August 24, 2006

International Mystery: head...

What the--


Where am I? What happened--Where is this place...

Head throbbing--temples pounding--it's like a dozen dropouts from OverEaters Anonymous are River-dancing on my head...

Double-vision, but eyes beginning to clear now... Home. I'm...home.

Somehow. But how did I get here? Last thing I remember--what was the last thing I can remember before I blacked out?

I'd just filed that story about how none of the Bachmann campaign staff was volunteering to serve in Iraq or Afghanistan; how they were a bunch of chickenhawks running for Congress--then--a sharp pain in the back of the head--then nothingness...oblivion...

Got to work this to figure out what happened after I blacked out...

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Sixth District Congressional Race: Bachmann Raising the Next Brood of Chicken Hawks?

There are three "name" candidates running for the Sixth District Congressional seat here in Minnesota--State Senator Michele Bachmann (Republican), Patty Wetterling (DFL) and John Binkowski (Independence Party.) Wetterling and Binkowski have gone on record opposing the war in Iraq. Bachmann is the only major candidate in this race who openly supports the President's current Iraq policy, right?

Well...not necessarily...

On August 7, 2006, I called the three candidates and asked them questions about their position on the Iraq war and whether members of their campaign staff had served in the US Armed Forces.

I spoke to Independence Party candidate John Binkowski by telephone. He indicated that he supported a pullout of US troops from Iraq as soon as possible. He also told me that his campaign manager’s wife was serving in the US military.

I called Patty Wetterling’s campaign office and put similar questions to a campaign volunteer. She said that she would have someone call back with the answers.

Finally I called Bachmann campaign headquarters and asked to speak to someone about Senator Bachmann’s views on the war in Iraq. I was connected to Andy Parrish, who is Senator Bachmann’s campaign manager.

This was the most interesting phone call. I had always assumed that Senator Bachmann was a supporter of the President’s Iraq war policy, but her campaign manager would not confirm this over the telephone.

I asked Mr. Parrish if it was true that Senator Bachmann supports the President on the war in Iraq. Mr. Parrish said that the answer to this question was on the campaign website. When I asked him if he knew personally what the Senator’s stand was on the Iraq war, he once again directed me to the campaign website.

I asked Mr. Parrish whether any members of the Bachmann campaign staff had volunteered for or done active military duty in Iraq. He said he would rather not answer that, since it was a question about the campaign staff. He indicated that he would rather not answer on behalf of the campaign staff.

I asked him if any members of the Bachmann campaign staff were veterans of foreign wars. Once again, he indicated that he would not answer a question about the campaign staff.

I asked him if he’d ever volunteered to serve in the American armed forces and he said that he’d rather not say, that this was a personal question that he’d rather not answer.

I asked Mr. Parrish his age. I told Mr. Parrish that I had been informed by the local army recruiting office that the Army accepts volunteers between the ages of seventeen and forty-two to serve in Iraq. I asked him how many members of the Bachmann campaign personnel are between the ages of seventeen and forty-two?

He said that I would have to ask them that. Mr. Parrish told me that I might ask Bachmann staff members at public events and Bachmann appearances.

I asked him whether it would help if I came down to Bachmann campaign headquarters and asked staff members for answers to these questions in person. Mr. Parrish said that he didn’t know, but he added that he kept busy and the campaign staff kept busy.

After I hung up, I took Mr. Parrish’s suggestion and I went to the Bachmann campaign website to get the answer to one of my questions (“Does Senator Bachmann support the President on the war in Iraq?”). Unfortunately, the information there is not very clear and did not answer the question I put to Mr. Parrish. On her campaign website, Bachmann writes: “…we must remain continually vigilant and ready with a broad based strategy that includes military action when necessary but also enhanced overseas intelligence capabilities, strengthened coalitions with willing partners and more effective and efficient homeland security.”

If this is Bachmann's entire word on the subject, I don't see how her postion differs from that of most Democrats. She doesn’t say whether (if elected to Congress) she would use her office to support a continued US presence in Iraq, as recommended by the President. Bachmann’s reluctance to express open support for the President’s war policy surprised me, since she has been courting and receiving the help of prominent and vociferous Iraq war advocates (Dick Cheney and Karl Rove, for example.)

I don't doubt that Bachmann's a hawk (she's recommended keeping the nuclear option on the table when it comes to dealing with Iran.) What surprised me is that she that she's so non-committal about the subject on her website. To summarize: I asked her campaign manager for a position statement on the war in Iraq; he referred me to her website--and her policy statement doesn't include any support for continuing the war in Iraq.

It's also surprising that Bachmann's campaign staff doesn't want to talk about their military service, or lack of same. If they support the war and our troops, you would think that some of these young people (between ages seventeen and forty two) would be champing at the bit to get over there; take the place of some Army Reserve member or regular GI who's already done a tour of duty--or two or three.

Surely staying here at home to campaign for a candidate is not the best way these people can support the American mission in Iraq. Perhaps medical conditions prevent Bachmann's team from volunteering for duty in our Armed Forces. We will probably never know why they are still here, since Mr. Parrish is reluctant to comment on the facts.

And if (as her campaign manager asserted) Bachmann's website is her official position on this issue--why are these people campaigning for a candidate who DOESN'T express official and explicit support for the President's war policy in Iraq? Bachmann expresses explicit support for the President's "tax cuts" on her website--where is her explicit support for the President's war policy?

An email was sent to Mr. Parrish and to the Bachmann campaign so that they could confirm or deny the accuracy of the information I obtained during my telephone interview with Mr. Parrish. They haven't written back. If the Bachmann campaign ever writes back to clarify Mr. Parrish’s remarks, correct any inaccuracy, or clarify her official position on the war, I will post these corrections and clarifications on this blog.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

National: One Million Dick Cheney Fans Can't Be Wrong

Despite image, Cheney a GOP rock star
By NANCY BENAC, Associated Press Writer
08 05 06

TAMPA, Fla. - An anticipatory buzz fills the room. Six crisp American flags, erect as soldiers, line the dais. More than an hour before the vice president's arrival, the GOP faithful stand at the ready.

Never mind that Dick Cheney is favorably regarded by only about a third of Americans. To this crowd, in this place (a GOP fundraiser), he is a rock star…

The flashes of thousands of instamatics burst through the dark stadium like tiny exploding stars, catching the highlights on Dick Cheney’s sequined jumpsuit. The blue haired women who mobbed the front rows screamed orgasmically as he wiggled through the closing number of his set, one of his all-time greatest GOP hits (“Go Fuck Yourself, Senator Leahy.”) As the final chords rang out, Cheney did a few of his hottest “karate moves” and tossed a sweat-soaked scarf into the crowd. One woman fainted.

Then the stage went black, and the crowd of donors (averaged yearly income in that room: $300,000) howled for more. He’d worked them up into a frenzy again; they wouldn’t go home even Cheney himself ordered them to.

Screw ‘em, thought Cheney, as his posse and the security men led him through the winding corridors beneath the stage to his waiting limo. They got enough outta me for one night. He could hear the booming voice of the announcer, muffled by the steel and concrete of the stadium above: “Dick Cheney has left the building…Dick Cheney has left the building…”

Back at the hotel suite. Cheney sat down heavily on the sofa, too tired to change out of his jumpsuit. He ignored the men crowding around him—all his so-called “friends"--and started poppin’ open a few containers of pills. Damn noisy: his boys, his hangers-on, “The Mendacious Mafia,” the press called ’em—dronin’ on, tellin’ him how great the show was tonight, slobberin’ all over him, tellin’ him how great the country was doin’ under his leadership, tellin’ him he was still the King.

Popping pills; pills to help him sleep, pills to wake him up, pills to get his heart started, pills to keep it from stopping if he accidentally shot someone. The lights had been dimmed but he kept his sunglasses on anyway; the big dark silver wrap-around shades. The light hurt his eyes, these days. He was gettin’ old.

“Why donch’yall just stop kissin’ my ass and get the hell outta here?” he snapped—and the boys shut up, just like that. There was some mumbling: “Okay, Dick—“ “Whatever you say, Dick”--as they filed out of the suite, nodding dumbly. The King wanted to be alone tonight and the King’s word was law.

He slumped back on the couch and flipped on the remote control, the TV. I used to be able to put this crap over, Cheney thought to himself as he reached for another deep-fried peanut butter sandwich. All them damn liberal critics said we were through after that number about the Abu Ghraib prison scandal (“Jailhouse Iraq”) Some of ‘em said that was so bad it was gonna drive him and his posse right out of the business. But that was nothin’ but a lotta BS, man. Scandal my ass—his rich conservative audience didn’t care if a few no-name sand-coons got tortured over there--and it was the rich conservatives that mattered. To them I’m still the King. And that’s all she wrote, boy.

But I’m getting’ old, man. Back in the day I could go all night, doin’ mah thang for them clowns. But now I’m old; I look fat in this goddamn outfit and I know it.

They were sayin’ he was outta style, man. His latest effort (“A Hunka-Hunka Burnin’ Blood”) was a number about how many terrorists we were killing in Iraq. It had charted strong at first but faded real quick after the press pointed out that most of the people killed were actually civilians.

His old fans still thought he was God, but he was losin’ the mainstream, the big audience. Younger Republican stars who’d once have bent over backwards to kiss his ass didn’t even want their pitcher taken with him no more—money, that’s all they wanted outta him. “You just bring along a big ol’ sack a money, Dickie boy, and then get the hell outta my district, and don’t let the door hit you in the ass—sorry, man, but you know, elections comin’ up. Don’t want “the King” hangin’ round no more.”

Ungrateful little sons-a-bitches. Makin’ billions outta the war, billions in pork for their districts, billions in sky-high oil prices. Turned the whole dang economy ‘round with that war, danged economy wouldn’t be shit now without that war—MY war, thought Cheney, angrily. What right they got to say I’m through? What right they got to say Cheney’s a fat, sick old has-been; big drag on the party? Who else can turn on the big money donors like the King? Huh?

He felt the old rage welling up in him; the pills couldn’t dull it tonight. He toyed with the pistol in his hand as he slouched back in the couch and stared, watching the latest casualty figgers from Iraq roll up on the TV. He stared at the numbers, but they didn’t really register. Pills and them deep-fried peanut butter sandwiches startin’ to kick in; feels good. Yeahhh...

He pointed the pistol at the TV screen, aimed carefully, and fired.

The screen exploded; obliterated.

A moment later, the hotel room was dark and silent as a tomb.

Yeahhh, thought Cheney...and his upper lip curled back into the sneer known the world over.

Friday, August 04, 2006

International: Civil War In Iraq? You're Kidding Me!

08 03 06 Top generals see threat of Iraq civil war
Thu Aug 3, 12:48 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Iraq is caught in the worst sectarian violence yet seen and faces the threat of civil war, two of the United States' senior generals said on Thursday, three years after the U.S. invasion...

Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace, the most senior U.S. military officer, also said there was a "possibility" of civil war in Iraq, where the violence has claimed about 100 lives a day. Asked whether he would have seen a chance of civil war a year ago, He replied, "No, sir."

So General Pace didn’t see it coming? It “took him by surprise,” did it? This “chance of civil war in Iraq” thing blindsided him, eh?

Then I guess he wasn’t reading my column in the Stillwater Gazette a few years back. Too bad; he would have found out that there was a very HIGH probability of a civil war in Iraq. Too bad; the whole mess could have been avoided if he’d been reading Prendergast, unpaid boy columnist for the Stillwater Gazette. You guys at the Pentagon shoulda subscribed when we sent you that little card in the mail, general.

And it's not like I'm claiming that I had any “privileged secret information” or even any special gift for analysis of the geopolitical calculus of the Middle East. Not me. When I predicted that this Iraq adventure was going to degenerate into a bloody, seemingly endless mess I was merely relying on well-established history; well-established principles of foreign policy.

You see—the reason that the first Bush administration didn’t topple Saddam after the first Gulf was the possibility of a civil war in Iraq. Saddam was and is an evil prick, but his bloody regime held that nation together the same way that that evil prick Tito held the former Yugoslavia together.

Bush the First knew or was told that if he removed Saddam, the state of Iraq was likely to be plunged into bloody civil war--and there was only one nation in the world that would benefit from that scenario: the Shi’ite fundamentalist theocracy of Iran, deadly enemy of the United States and Saddam’s regime. Overthrowing Saddam’s regime would have been the same as throwing everything between Jordan and India to the Iranians—so Bush the First let him stay in power. Bush the First encouraged Iraq’s Kurdish population to rebel, to aid the cause of the Allies—and then cynically abandoned them--because he knew that if Saddam was toppled there’d be civil war and Iran would end up in control of the entire region.

Things were the same under Clinton—wall up Saddam, was the policy; cage him inside his own country, lay on the sanctions, order airstrikes to keep him and his generals weak and fearful. Keep him from rebuilding his military, from rebuilding his air force—but for God’s sake, don’t take him out; the world needs him as a hedge against Iran! If anyone was so stupid as to remove Saddam, by God, the whole country would be plunged into a bloody civil war; Arab versus Shi’ite, Shi’ite versus Arab, and all against the Kurds.

This was the wisdom; so it was written, and so it was done. The Roman and British Empires, during their greatest days, would have played the same strategy to keep foreign enemies weak.

But Bush the Second, the choice of America’s conservatives, did not heed the wisdom. The American conservatives howled for Saddam’s overthrow, heedless of the consequences to the people of Iraq and the people of America. It is as if American conservatives deliberately ignored every established principle of hegemony, every lesson of history, every expert on the region, every dictate of common sense, wisdom and experience… But why? Why would they ignore all that? Why are we stuck in Iraq, about to make some kind of sad, bloody Keystone Kops effort to police a murderous civil war, a war that everyone (except conservative “experts”) knew was sure to come if Saddam was overthrown?

I will give you the answer in an upcoming column. It will astound you. But for now, let’s ponder what it would take to get America’s conservatives to openly acknowledge that Iraq has in fact degenerated into civil war.

Blue versus grey uniforms, is my guess. That must be what they are waiting for, before they will admit the reality of civil war over there. It would probably take another twelve-part hit documentary by Ken Burns, with celebrities reading excerpts from soldier’s letters, the camera panning over still photographs and daguerreotypes to sound of lonely harmonica and violin, funded by grants from Exxon and shown on PBS, marketed for home viewing in VHS and DVD format—before they acknowledge that there is a civil war going on in Iraq.

Or maybe they’re waiting for the Franklin mint to issue commemorative coins before they admit there’s a civil war over there; maybe it would take “the Iraqi Civil War chess sets” to convince them. Maybe they won’t admit it’s a civil war until there are numerous groups of “Iraqi Civil War Re-Enactment” hobbyists re-staging key battles over here.

But I have no idea what it would take to convince American conservatives that their obscene bungling of our foreign policy caused a civil war in Iraq. They will never admit that.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Bachmann: Hey! I Think I Know That Guy!

One of our readers ran a photo of Michele Bachmann through the facial recognition/celebrity look-alike website and sent the results in here. The computer thinks Senator Bachmann looks like Ben Stiller.

I submitted a more feminine looking photo the Senator to the same site and this resulted in two Desperate Housewives and Pamela Anderson. This, of course, is not the “image” the campaign is trying to establish for the Senator—but I guess the moral of the story is that the results all depend on which photo you send in. In other words, this so-called “facial recognition” computer doesn’t know its digital ass from its digital elbow.

Another enormous, expensive waste of our valuable time. But here was the big surprise: while I was looking on La Bachmann’s website for a suitable photo to submit to that “facial genius” computer, I stumbled across this picture:

That’s him! That’s him to the left of Michele there; that looks like the guy I saw videotaping protesters demonstrating against Karl Rove and Bachmann in Stillwater! At least I think that’s him, it sure looks like the mystery man. If you are interested, you can compare the above picture of him with the ones further down this web page.

As you recall: I was present at the demonstration when I saw the guy in the photos below videotaping the protesters from inside the Water Street Inn. When he stepped outside to get better shots of them, I approached him and asked him who he was and whether he was with the Bachmann campaign and why he was taping the demonstrators. He looked like he was with the Bachmann event people (suit and tie; admitted to the building in advance of Rove’s arrival)and he didn’t seem interested in videotaping anything else except images of the demonstrators. He wouldn’t answer any of my questions at the time and it was clear that he didn’t want to speak to me.

So as one of our readers suggested, I called Bachmann campaign headquarters to find out who he was and whether he was indeed associated with the campaign. Other readers had suggested that he was Luke Hellier, a Student for Bachmann now on the campaign payroll.

I asked to speak to “Luke Hellier, please.” The guy who answered the phone said Luke was out of town. I asked if Luke was the guy who was videotaping protesters at the Rove event; the guy on the phone said he didn’t know. I asked him who would know, and he gave me the email address of another campaign staff member, Andy Parrish. So I wrote to Mr. Parrish and asked all about taping the demonstrators, whether it was Luke Hellier doing the videotaping, whether he’d been instructed to do this, etc.

But so far Mr. Parrish hasn’t written me back. Do you think he will ever get back to me about this matter? Luke Hellier hasn't; I emailed him, too.