A -The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, September 27, 2006
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The Sago Mine near Tallmansville, W.Va., in v
March, just after miners returned to resume coal
production more than two months after an explo-
sion killed 12 of their co-workers.
Acquaintances say disaster
haunted two men who oversaw
MORGANTOWN, WVa. (AP) - Two miners whose
jobs included watching over safety at the Sago Mine before
the deadly explosion last January committed suicide in the
Neither man had been blamed for the disaster thatkilled
12 of their comrades, and neither one's family has defini-
tively linked the suicides to the accident. But those who
knew the men say there is little doubt the tragedy haunted
"'m not sure anybody ever gets over it," said Vickie
Boni, the ex-wife of one of them. "You live with it every
Both men were working at the Sago Mine on the day of
the blast and had been questioned by investigators along
with dozens of other witnesses. One former co-worker
said at least one of the men felt investigators were treating
him as if he had done something wrong.
John Nelson Boni, whose job that day was to maintain
water pumps, shot himself Saturday at his home in Volga,
State Police said.
William Lee "Flea" Chisolm, the 47-year-old dispatch-
er responsible for monitoring carbon monoxide alarms
and communicating with crews underground that morn-
ing, shot himself at his Belington home Aug. 29, authori-
ties said yesterday.
State and federal mine-safety agencies have not deter-
mined the cause of the Jan. 2 blast. But a spokeswomen for
both agencies said that both men had been thoroughly inter-
viewed and there had been no plans to talk with them again.
Mine owner International Coal Group has said it
believes a lightning bolt somehow ignited methane gas
that had accumulated naturally in a sealed-off section of
Boni, who was certified as a fireboss and occasion-
ally conducted pre-shift inspections to ensure the safety
of incoming crews, told investigators he had detected low
levels of methane in that area five days earlier and reported
his findings to a supervisor, who was not alarmed.
As for Chisholm, he told investigators that a carbon
monoxide alarm had sounded about 20 minutes before
the explosion. Following ICG procedure, he alerted a crew
inside the mine and asked it to verify the alarm because
the system that had a history of malfunctions.
NEWS IN BRIEFK
Bush orders part of intel report opened
President Bush said yesterday that critics who believe the Iraq war has worsened
terrorism are naive, and he ordered the partial declassification of a high-level intel-
ligence analysis that has stirred heated election-season argument on the subject.
Ata White House news conference, Bush acknowledged that the fighting in Iraq
has been used as a recruitment tool for extremists - one finding of the intelligence
assessment that suggests the Iraq war has nourished terrorists' ranks.
But he rejected any suggestion that the war was a mistake. "I think it's naive. I
think it's a mistake for people to believe that going on the offense against people
that want to do harm to the American people makes us less safe," Bush said, stand-
ing alongside Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
Many Democrats have argued that the U.S. needs to chart a new course to stabi-
lize Iraqi society and eventually shift American military forces away.
After three days of criticism concerning leaked portions of the intelligence anal-
ysis, Bush asked National Intelligence Director John Negroponte to declassify key
judgments of the 30-page assessment from the nation's top analysts who are spread
across 16 different spy agencies.
Former Enron exec gets six years in prison
Andrew Fastow, the mastermind behind financial schemes that doomed
Enron Corp., was sentenced yesterday to six years in prison for his role in the
energy company's stunning collapse by a judge who felt he deserved leniency.
Fastow, the former chief financial officer who cooperated with prosecu-
tors in other cases related to Enron's 2001 implosion, had agreed to serve a
maximum 10-year term when he pleaded guilty in 2004.
But the judge said he deserved a lighter sentence because Fastow has been
persecuted after Enron's failure and because his family has suffered enough.
Fastow's wife already has served a year for her role in the scandal.
"Prosecution is necessary, but persecution was not," said U.S. District
Judge Kenneth Hoyt. "These factors call for mercy"
Blair defines his legacy in last Labour address
Prime Minister Tony Blair, in his final address to his governing Labour
Party, said yesterday that being the United States's strongest ally can be
difficult but it is crucial to stay close to Washington in the fight against
The man who walked on stage in Manchester looked far different then
the fresh-faced 41-year-old who took over the party in 1994. His hair is shot
with gray, and the lines on his face are more pronounced - reflecting a
turbulent 12 years that have seen British troops sent into battle in Iraq and
Afghanistan, and suicide terror attacks on British soil.
Venezuela to issue diplomatic protest to U.S.
President Hugo Chavez said yesterday that Venezuela will summon the
U.S. ambassador to issue a diplomatic protest because the foreign minister
was temporarily detained by authorities at a New York airport.
Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro says authorities at John F. Kennedy Inter-
national Airport attempted to frisk and handcuff him Saturday as he tried to
catch a flight after attending a U.N. General Assembly session.
"We're going to put out a protest note, and the U.S. ambassador in Venezu-
ela will be called," Chavez told reporters. "And in that protest note, it says 'If
that happens again, we would be obligated to give at least equal treatment to
- Compiledfrom Daily wire reports
Due to an editing error, a story on yesterday's front page (DeVos joins debate on
evolution) said Gov. Jennifer Granholm opposes the teaching of evolution in science
classes. Granholm is against the teaching of intelligent design, not evolution.-
Please report any error in the Daily to firstname.lastname@example.org.
False rumors in bin Laden hunt
After five years,
terrorist still hiding
behind false leads
(AP) - He was blown up in
the caves of Tora Bora. He was
on dialysis and dying of kidney
disease. He was in the hands of
Pakistani intelligence and about
to be turned over to the United
Rumors of Osama bin Laden's
death or capture go back years,
and they have always proved
greatly exaggerated. The latest
came Saturday, when a leaked
French intelligence document
citing a "usually reliable" source
said the Saudi secret service was
convinced the 52-year-old al-
Qaida terror chief had died of
typhoid last month in Pakistan.
Officials from Riyadh to Paris
to Washington rushed to insist
they had nothing to substantiate
the report, but not before news
of it reached every corner of the
globe and renewed the debate
about why the world's largest
dragnet has failed to get its man.
"There has been a grave failure
five years after 9/11 that the true
leaders of the attacks are still free,
and that they are still alive," said
Rohan Gunaratna, head of terror-
ism research at Singapore's Institute
of Defense and Strategic Studies.
Gunaratna cited comments
by bin Laden's no. 2, Ayman al-
Zawahri, released on the fifth
anniversary of the attacks, as
evidence the French report was
"Ayman al-Zawahri issued a
statement on Sept. 11 in which he
specifically refers to Osama bin
Laden being alive," Gunaratna says.
"There is no reason for al-Zawahri
to lie, since he wants to keep his
credibility within the movement."
A Pakistani counterterrorism
official with intimate knowledge
of the hunt also dismissed the
French report, saying nothing
was known about bin Laden's
health or location. He spoke on
condition of anonymity, citing the
sensitivity of the matter.
The denial was echoed by a
purported spokesman for the Tal-
iban, the former Afghan regime
that sheltered bin Laden after the
9/I1 attacks. He also asked not to
The French report is not the first
to allude to bin Laden suffering
from a life-threatening illness.
For years, intelligence services
took seriously assessments that
bin Laden might be suffering
from kidney disease, and there
were even reports he was forced
to lug a dialysis machine from
one mountain hideout to another.
But in 2003, Amer Aziz, bin
Laden's former doctor in Afghan-
istan, shot down the reports. He
told The Associated Press he
gave bin Laden a complete physi-
cal in 1999, and saw him again
in November 2001 while he was
on the run from U.S. forces, and
found no sign of illness on either
"If you are The lack o
you have a the terror4
special look. I
didn't see any 2004 has f
of that," Aziz
told a reporter muddied t]
at his office in
stan following his release from
The latest video featuring fresh
footage of bin Laden came out in
2004, just before the U.S. presi-
dential elections. In it he appeared
healthy and relaxed, particularly
for a man who was believed to be
hiding in the rugged mountains
between Pakistan and Afghani-
stan, or possibly in Afghanistan
itself, in the remote, forested
eastern province of Nuristan.
The U.S. has conducted hun-
dreds of search-and-seizure oper-
ations in the region but has been
stonewalled by an increasingly
unfriendly local population.
A number of audiotapes of the
terror leader have come out since
the 2004 video, the latest in June,
and a video that featured what
appears to be older footage of bin
Laden was released in September.
The lack of film of the terror
chief since 2004 has further mud-
died the waters. His decision to
appear only on tape could be his
way of heightening his mystique,
or denying his pursuers visu-
als that might reveal his where-
abouts. Or it could be an effort to
hide his state of health.
Paul Wilkinson of the Centre
for the Study of Terrorism and
Political Violence at the Univer-
sity of St. Andrews in Scotland
said the latest report of bin Lad-
en's death could prompt his inner
circle to advise him to deliver
proof he is alive and healthy.
He speculated that the French
report may have been leaked to
shake the branches and illicit just
such a response from the terror
leader, giving the intelligence
community a chance to home in
on "chatter" among terrorists.
"It does create psychologi-
cal pressure on the people and
operatives" close to bin Laden,
Wilkinson said. "There will be
an expectation that he make some
sort of appearance."
f film of of false hope
chief since close calls
urther uted to the
aura that bin
he waters. Ladenenjoys
ers. They have also added to the
frustration of those charged with
bringing him to justice.
In 1998, following the bombing
of two U.S. embassies in Africa,
the U.S. launched 62 Tomahawk
cruise missiles at two al-Qaida
training camps in Afghanistan.
It was believed bin Laden was at
one of them meeting with several
of his top men, but left shortly
before the missiles struck.
Following the Sept. 11 attacks
and the fall of the Taliban, Afghan
militiamen fighting on behalf of the
United States felt certain they had
surrounded bin Laden at Tora Bora.
Villagers reported seeing him
hike into the mountains, and
accounts of devastating airstrikes
on the caves prompted rumors
that bin Laden was dead.
In the end, one of the Afghan
warlords the United States was
relying on for ground operations
betrayed the others, Afghan fight-
ers told the Associated Press, and
bin Laden escaped into Pakistan.
In 2003, Pakistani forces raided
the village of Lattaka, near the
border with Afghanistan, on
intelligence that bin Laden might
be hiding there.