The Command Post
Global Recon

June 29, 2004

Amnesty International: Syria torturing children

JERUSALEM POST: Amnesty International: Syria torturing children

The rights watchdog Amnesty International has accused the Syrian authorities of torturing more than 20 children who have been detained since Kurdish riots in March.

Also Tuesday, the London-based group condemned what it called the unfair trial of seven Kurds convicted in a Syrian State Security Court on Sunday of separatist agitation and belonging to a secret organization.

Amnesty said it was “gravely concerned” about reports that Kurdish children arrested during clashes in March have been tortured and held incommunicado for months.

“The organization has received the names of more than 20 children, aged between 14 and 17 years, who have reportedly been subjected to various types of torture, leaving scars on their bodies and leading to serious injuries, including broken noses, perforated ear drums and infected wounds,” Amnesty said in a statement sent by e-mail to The Associated Press in Beirut.

There was no comment from the Syrian government, which almost invariably ignores questions about security matters.

Amnesty said more than 20 children are still in detention.

Posted by Laurence Simon at 02:48 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

UPDATE: 24 Dead in UN Helicopter Crash

MSNBC is reporting:

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone - A U.N. helicopter flying from this west African capital to a provincial city crashed Tuesday, killing all 24 people on board, a U.N. spokesman said.

The helicopter carried 21 passengers and three crew, said U.N. spokesman Daniel Adekera. It was headed to the western city of Kailahun.

Ground controllers lost radio contact with the aircraft and sent a search mission seven minutes later, Daniel said.

Posted by Jeff M at 12:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

U.S. Expels 2 Guards at Iran U.N. Mission

AP: U.S. Expels 2 Guards at Iran U.N. Mission

The U.S. government has expelled two Iranian security guards at Iran’s U.N. Mission, citing activities “incompatible with their stated duties,” a U.S. official said Tuesday.

The language is reserved for cases involving espionage.

The Iranians were caught on three occasions taking photos of infrastructure, transport systems and New York City landmarks, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. The first incident was in June 2002 and the second was in November 2003; after they were stopped recently while taking photographs, the government asked them to leave the country, the official said.

The pair left the United States in the last few days, the official said.

Posted by Laurence Simon at 12:10 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

MSNBC: UN Helicopter Disappears in Sierra Leone

MSNBC TV is reporting that a UN helicopter with 12 people on board has disappeared in Sierra Leon. More later…

Posted by Jeff M at 11:49 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Security a Top Concern for Newspapers Covering Olympics

EDITOR AND PUBLISHER: Security a Top Concern for Newspapers Covering Olympics

With the 2004 Olympic Summer Games in Greece just weeks away, sports editors at several of the nation’s top newspapers face security issues and other potential problems in addition to executing their regular coverage, which will often focus on local athletes.

“We’re all greatly concerned about security problems,” says Emilio Garcia-Ruiz, assistant managing editor for sports at The Washington Post. “I think that’s on the mind of every sports editor in the country.” The Post is looking to its foreign desk reporters, who have had experience covering the war in Iraq, to offer guidance.

The San Francisco Chronicle has similar plans. “Several papers in the Bay Area will most likely get together to bring in people who have traveled in volatile parts of the world to give their advice,” says Glenn Schwarz, sports editor for the Chronicle. He’s also concerned about long security lines at the site, and how “it won’t be as easy for reporters to go from venue to venue as it has been in past Games.”

Posted by Laurence Simon at 11:02 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

June 25, 2004

Explosives found near Istanbul Airport

Reuters reports:

Turkish authorities discovered a vehicle full of explosives in the parking lot of Istanbul international airport Friday, local television station CNN Turk said.
Turkey’s largest city is on edge before a NATO summit to be attended by President Bush and more than 40 other world leaders.

A bomb explosion killed four people, including the bomber, and wounded 21 others Thursday in Istanbul. Authorities have blamed left-wing extremists for the attack.

Cross-Posted at Backcountry Conservative.

Posted by Jeff Quinton at 02:03 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

June 24, 2004

N. Korea Threatens to Test Nuclear Weapon

AP: N. Korea Threatens to Test Nuclear Weapon

North Korea told the United States on Thursday that it would test a nuclear weapon unless Washington accepted Pyongyang’s proposal for a freeze on its atomic program, a senior administration official said.

Vice Foreign Minister Kim Gye Gwan spoke with Assistant Secretary of State James A. Kelly in a 2 1/2-hour private discussion in China, where a six-nation conference is being held on the long-running impasse over Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions.

The United States has been insisting on complete disarmament by the communist state and submitted a proposal to the conference on Wednesday outlining the benefits North Korea could receive if it complies.

The senior administration official said the North Korean threat suggested that the Beijing discussions were headed toward failure. The conference ends on Friday with the issuance of a communique.

There was no indication of when North Korea might carry out its reported threat to test. The United States is uncertain as to how many weapons North Korea possesses, but thinks it has at least one or two with the potential for several more.

Posted by Laurence Simon at 06:09 PM | Comments (37) | TrackBack

British Sailors Released

The Foreign Office confirmed Thursday Iran released eight British sailors seized Monday for entering Iranian territorial waters.

A Foreign Office spokesman told UPI the eight Royal Navy sailors were handed over to British diplomats based in Iran.

The spokesman noted the government did not decide yet whether to repatriate the sailors or return them back to Iraq, noting that London is dealing with the issue step by step.

Posted by Michele at 02:24 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Bombs Rock Turkey

A bomb exploded on an Istanbul bus Thursday, killing at least four people and wounding 14, and another bomb went off in front of the Ankara hotel where President Bush is to stay before Monday’s NATO summit, wounding three.

Police said they suspected far-left Marxists in both attacks, the latest in a series of blasts — most of them small, without casualties — ahead of the NATO gathering. Bush arrives in Ankara on Saturday night to meet with Turkish leaders before heading to the summit in Istanbul.

Posted by Michele at 02:20 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

N. Korea Considers Freezing Nuke Program

AP: N. Korea Considers Freezing Nuke Program

North Korea demanded massive energy aid Thursday at six-nation talks where Washington insisted that the North give up nuclear weapons development, Japanese news reports said.

The North wants the equivalent of 2,000 megawatts of power per year — an estimated one-fourth of its current total consumption — in exchange for freezing work on its nuclear program, the Kyodo News agency reported, citing diplomatic sources on the second day of talks in the Chinese capital. In the United States, a megawatt can supply power to about 1,000 homes.

It was unclear whether Washington would even discuss such a request since the United States says the North must commit to dismantling the program, not just freezing development.

Posted by Laurence Simon at 01:55 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

June 23, 2004

Randinho's Latin America Briefing: June 23/04

Winds of Change.NET Regional Briefings run on Tuesdays & Wednesdays, and sometimes Fridays too. This Regional Briefing focuses on Latin America, courtesy of Randy Paul.

TOP TOPIC

  • The good news is that there will be a referendum in Venezuela and it will be on August 15, in advance of the deadline of August 19 that would have simply provided fo Hugo Chávez’s Vice-President to take his place for the remainder of the term. The bad news is that Chávez is busy packing the courts - especially the Supreme Court - with his cronies. Not content to merely have control of the executive branch and the congress, Chávez is now seeking control of the courts, thereby eliminating any separation of power and assuring judicial compliance with his regime.

Other Topics Include: More on Venezuela; Referendum question; Chavez & Pinochet - peas in a pod; Colombia’s FARC & AUC violence continues; Movement toward peace from the other leftist guerillas in the ELN; Worrisome vigilante violence in Bolivia; Brazil’s WTO victory on cotton subsidies is confirmed; OAS member nations agree to address corruption; Augusto Pinochet opens his mouth. Will he pay the consequences?

Read The Rest…

Posted by Winds of Change at 12:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

U.S. Offers Carrot, N.Korea Says Drop the Stick

REUTERS: U.S. Offers Carrot, N.Korea Says Drop the Stick

The United States offered a proposal on Wednesday to try to resolve the North Korean nuclear crisis at six-party talks in Beijing while an entrenched Pyongyang urged Washington to soften its stance.

Chief negotiators from the six parties opened discussions on the 20-month nuclear crisis at the exclusive Diaoyutai State Guesthouse as Japan warned that the credibility of the talks would be on the line if no progress was made.

Progress in two previous rounds has been glacial, and few expect major breakthroughs despite the U.S. proposal, which the New York Times said contained incentives for the North to abandon its nuclear weapons program.

“We are prepared for serious discussion and we have a proposal to offer,” U.S. Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly said in an opening statement. Kelly gave no details.

“A focus on the common objective, and practical and effective means to attain it, will lead in a very positive direction with new political, economic and diplomatic possibilities,” he said.

Posted by Laurence Simon at 10:48 AM | Comments (22) | TrackBack

Report: Iran Releases British Hostages

Iran’s Foreign Ministry says Iran has released eight British sailors detained for illegally entering Iranian waters, according to The Associated Press news agency.

“The eight British sailors, including six soldiers and two ranking military officials, have been released,” a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman told AP.

Posted by Michele at 07:19 AM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

June 22, 2004

Tehran to Prosecute British Sailors

Tehran will prosecute eight British sailors and Marines for allegedly entering Iranian waters aboard three military patrol boats, according to Iranian state-run television.

British officials are demanding access to the men, who were detained in the Shatt-al-Arab waterway on Monday as they were delivering a patrol boat to the new Iraqi Riverine Patrol Service. The waterway, the outlet of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers into the Persian Gulf, runs along the southern border between Iran and Iraq.

Posted by Michele at 09:38 AM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

June 21, 2004

Khamenei Says Tehran Not Seeking Nukes

AP: Khamenei Says Tehran Not Seeking Nukes

Iran’s supreme leader said Monday his country was not seeking nuclear weapons, but he vowed that Tehran won’t give up its program to enrich uranium for fuel in nuclear reactors.

“If Europeans and others are really worried that we may acquire nuclear weapons, we assure them that we are not seeking to produce such weapons,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in his first remarks since Friday’s rebuke of Iran’s nuclear activities by a U.N. atomic watchdog agency.

“But if they are unhappy about Iran’s access to the outstanding nuclear technology and want to stop this trend, I tell them they should be assured that the Iranian nation won’t give in on this,” he told a gathering of university officials.

Posted by Laurence Simon at 10:45 AM | Comments (15) | TrackBack

Iran: British vessels confiscated

CNN: Iran: British vessels confiscated

Iran has confiscated three British vessels that had crossed into Iran’s territorial waters and arrested eight sailors aboard the ships, according to Iranian state television.

The Iranian government confiscated weapons and maps from the ships on Monday as well, the Arabic language Al-Alam television reported.

“Iranian forces confiscated the ships and eight military personnel on board,” the report said.

Al-Alam said crew members were carrying maps and weapons, The Associated Press reported.

It also said the ships were confiscated at about 11 a.m. between the Bahmanshir and Arvand rivers, which would put them in the Shatt-al-Arab waterway east of the Iraqi city of Faw, AP reported.

The broadcast gave no further details.

Posted by Laurence Simon at 09:28 AM | Comments (46) | TrackBack

June 20, 2004

Report: Israel operating hundreds of agents in northern Iraq

HAARETZ: Report: Israel operating hundreds of agents in northern Iraq

Israel operates hundreds of agents in the Kurdish areas in northern Iraq, according to a report published in the upcoming issue of The New Yorker magazine.

In an interview to CNN on Sunday, reporter Seymour Hersh said that hundreds of Israelis, some of them Mossad agents, are operating in the region in order to collect information on Iran’s nuclear program and monitor events in Syria.

According to the report, Israel in the past has had many ties with the Kurds, which with the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime are currently being renewed.

Posted by Laurence Simon at 03:52 PM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

India, Pakistan to Set Up Nuclear Hotline

REUTERS: India, Pakistan to Set Up Nuclear Hotline

India and Pakistan renewed a ban on nuclear test blasts on Sunday and agreed to set up a hotline between their foreign ministries after unprecedented talks on reducing the risk of nuclear war on the subcontinent.

During two days of meetings both sides — who came close to war over Kashmir two years ago — also agreed to work on formalizing arrangements to notify each other before missile tests.

Pakistani Foreign Ministry official Masood Khan, in New Delhi for the talks, said “significant progress” had been made.

“The spirit right now in the nuclear realm is to transcend beyond rhetoric and do something substantive and concrete,” he told reporters.

Posted by Laurence Simon at 12:13 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 19, 2004

Ballistic Missile Defence Down Under

From the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

Australia will formally commit to the United States missile defence program, known as “Son of Star Wars”, next month when it signs the controversial memorandum of understanding in America next month.

Defence Minister Robert Hill says under the agreement Australia will cooperate with the United States on research into missile defence over 25 years.

Mr Hill says one of the first projects will include investigating the potential of Australia’s ‘over the horizon’ radar technology in missile defence.

Australia’s new air warfare naval destroyers will be equipped with radars that can also detect ballistic missiles, which could provide early warning of an attack.

The Labor Party has signalled it will end or renegotiate the agreement if it wins government.

Posted by Alan Brain at 07:57 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

June 18, 2004

Philippines Fails Anew To Get OIC 'Observer' Seat


From Islam Online:
The Philippines failed anew in its long-time bid to become an official member of the Organization of Islamic Conference as an observer, the Filipino Foreign Minister confirmed.

Delia Albert, who was invited by the Turkish government to attend the31 st Session of Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers, said Thursday, June17 , the governmentís bid for an observerís seat was not taken up in the meeting.

Securing an observer seat and the goodwill of the Conference is deemed crucial for the Philippine government in its efforts to end the protracted strife in Mindanao, and bring to a successful conclusion its peace negotiations with the MILF, a group fighting to reclaim the land it says belongs to the Filipino Muslims but was illegally annexed to the Philippine territory.

Only three states have so far been accepted as OIC observers. These are Bosnia and Herzegovina , Central African Republic and the Kingdom of Thailand.
Posted by Willie Galang at 12:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 17, 2004

Darfur, Sudan: Genocide Watch

Gary Farber’s home blog is Amygdala.

Nicholas Kristof continues in Sudan.

I suggest that President Bush invite to the White House a real expert, Magboula Muhammad Khattar, a 24-year-old widow huddled under a tree here.

The world has acquiesced shamefully in the Darfur genocide, perhaps because 320,000 deaths this year (a best-case projection from the U.S. Agency for International Development) seems like one more boring statistic. So listen to Ms. Khattar’s story, multiply it by hundreds of thousands, and let’s see if we still want to look the other way.

.”

A full update from a number of articles follows:

Read The Rest…

Posted by Winds of Change at 02:55 PM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

Turkish WMD teams on stand-by during Olympics

JERUSALEM POST: Turkish WMD teams on stand-by during Olympics

(I didn’t realize that WMD was a Summer Games event.)

Turkey will have two chemical, biological and nuclear teams on standby in case they’re needed by neighboring Greece during this summer’s Olympic Games.

Turkey’s foreign ministry said in a statement Wednesday that the dispatch was part of a NATO request from Greece. The announcement came amid security concerns during the Aug. 13-29 games.

“It has been decided to have ready in Turkey two nuclear, biological and chemical decontamination teams, one provided by the (military) and the other by the Interior Ministry, to be dispatched to Greece if deemed necessary during the Olympic Games,” the statement said.

(Now that Libya has bowed out, Turkey just needs to beat Iran, North Korea and Syria for the Gold. Al-Qaeda isn’t a state, it’s a terrorist organization, so it can’t compete in the Summer Games… well, except for that Palestine team.)

Posted by Laurence Simon at 12:02 PM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

June 15, 2004

AfricaPundit's Regional Briefing: June 16/04

Winds of Change.NET Regional Briefings run on Tuesdays & Wednesdays, and sometimes Fridays too. This Regional Briefing focuses on Africa, courtesy of AfricaPundit.

TOP TOPICS

  • But a plot to assassinate the Saudi Crown Prince, allegedly hatched by Qaddafi, should cool the burgeoning US-Libya relationship…or should cause some people to have second thoughts. Winds of Change has more.
  • A failed coup attempt in the Congo raised new questions about the stability of Joseph Kabila’s government. Mostly Africa has more

Other Topics Today Include: Sudan; Violence and vaccines in Nigeria; African solidarity watch; African trade and development; Zimbabwe arms deal; French quagmire and more.

Read The Rest…

Posted by Winds of Change at 11:35 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Christianity Changing China

China’s rise onto the global stage is one of the geopolitical issues that will define the 21st century, and the kind of country China becomes matters a great deal. The current regime is promoting attitudes that could easily morph into something akin to fascism (xenophobic nationalism + dictatorial government + ‘thwarted destiny’). In contrast, religions like Falun Dafa and Christianity offer something else:

“Moreover, embracing Christianity brings Chinese seekers into a mindset that replaces traditional Chinese nationalism and xenophobia with the community of believers. Under Communism the central relationship is between the individual and his master, the state. Replacing this threatened, isolated understanding of the self is one of the crucial tasks in renewing a society that has suffered through totalitarianism. Even non-Christians should welcome the spread of Christianity in China as an extraordinarily good sign for that country’s renewal. (Aikman also argues that Christianization has the potential to transform China from an antagonist of the United States into an ally.)”

This is a very quiet story - and a very big one. Eve Tushnet has the details.

My fellow Winds of Change.NET writer Dan Darling has relayed the phrase “The Constantinization of China” to describe the strong upsurge in Christian belief there, and what it may portend. This is a story worth keeping a long-term eye on.

Posted by Winds of Change at 10:41 AM | Comments (21) | TrackBack

June 12, 2004

Iran: "Accept Us As Part of the Nuclear Club"

Here is the story:

Toughening its stance in advance of a meeting of the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency, Iran on Saturday said it would reject international restrictions on its nuclear program and challenged the world to accept Tehran as a member of the “nuclear club.”

Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi rejected further outside influence on Tehran’s nuclear ambitions two days before the International Atomic Energy Agency board of governors meets to discuss Iran’s highly controversial program.

“We won’t accept any new obligations,” Kharrazi said. “Iran has a high technical capability and has to be recognized by the international community as a member of the nuclear club. This is an irreversible path.”

Iran has repeatedly insisted its nuclear program is geared toward generating electricity, not making weapons, but the United States and its allies say Tehran has a secret nuclear weapons program. The IAEA has wrestled with the dilemma for more than a year.

Iran has already suspended uranium enrichment and stopped building centrifuges. It has also allowed IAEA inspections of its nuclear facilities without prior notice, part of the additional protocol to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty that still must be approved by parliament.

Kharrazi insisted that Iran would not give up its development of the nuclear fuel cycle, the steps for processing and enriching uranium necessary for both nuclear energy and nuclear weapons. Iran says it has achieved the full cycle, but is not now enriching uranium.

Posted by Pejman at 10:17 PM | Comments (28) | TrackBack

One American Killed, Another Taken Hostage in Saudi Arabia

CNN:

A group called the Falluja Squadron in the Arab Peninsula claimed Saturday to have kidnapped an American engineer in the Saudi capital.

The U.S. Embassy in Riyadh confirmed only that the man is missing.

The group also took responsibility for killing another U.S. citizen in the city. Earlier, the U.S. Embassy confirmed that a man shot dead in a drive-by shooting was an American.

AP is reporting that al Qaeda is taking responsibility for the kidnapping and killing:

A purported al-Qaida statement posted on an Islamic Web site late Saturday claimed the terror group had killed one American and kidnapped another in Riyadh. It threatened to treat the captive as U.S. troops treated Iraqi prisoners

.

ABC (Australia):

In a statement posted on Sawt al Jihad Islamist web site, Al Qaeda militants identify the kidnapped American as Paul Marshal Johnson from New Jersey - born on May 8, 1955 - and a specialist in Apache helicopters.

“The Mujahidoun were able in the same operation to kill another American working as a manager in the military sector,” said the statement signed by the “Al Qaeda Organisation in the Arabian Peninsula”.

“They stalked him and then killed him inside his home,” it said.

Reuters:

In its statement, the group displayed a copy of the passport of the American it snatched, his Saudi driving licence as well as his business card which showed he worked for Lockheed Martin as a systems engineer and site manager.

It said he was one of four top engineers specialising in developing Apache helicopters.

“It is not a secret that these planes have long been used by the Americans and their Zionist allies and the apostates in killing Muslims, terrorising and displacing them in Palestine, Afghanistan and Iraq,” the statement said

.

Most of the reports say that the slaying was a revenge act for Abu Grhaib.

Posted by Michele at 09:51 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

June 11, 2004

Eyes on Korea Report: June 11/04

Winds of Change.NET Regional Briefings run on Tuesdays & Wednesdays, and sometimes Fridays too. Today’s Regional Briefing focuses on Korea, courtesy of Robert Koehler in Seoul.

TOP TOPIC

  • Well, John Kerry finally outlined his ideas concerning North Korea. Among them — direct talks between the U.S. and North Korea and discussions on a “broad agenda that includes reducing troop levels on the Korean peninsula, replacing the armistice that ended the Korean War and even reunifying North and South Korea.” NKzone has a couple of posts on this that are definitely worth checking out. I discuss this, too, as does the Flying Yangban, Seeing Eye Blog and FreeKorea
  • International weapons inspectors are of the opinion the the DPRK sold nuclear materials to Libya in 2001. This is probably untrue, as the North Koreans had sworn that they would never sell nuclear materials abroad. Selig Harrison said so.

On Tap This Month

South Korea-U.S. alliance in turmoil, China thows down the gauntlet, Pyongyang peddling uranium, John Kerry on North Korea, intra-Korean military talks, tiger traps, dumplings you wouldn’t want to eat and much, much more!

Read The Rest…

Posted by Winds of Change at 11:02 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

PRC News China Report: June 11/04

Winds of Change.NET Regional Briefings run on Tuesdays & Wednesdays, and sometimes Fridays too. Today’s Regional Briefing focuses on China, courtesy of Adam Morris in Tianjin.

Top Stories this Month:

Tiananmen Square’s Fifteenth Anniversary passes without protest but not without comment, Blockage of Wikipedia, publicly-available information documenting job discrimination, more promised reform, and Chief Executive of Hong Kong’s political plight.

Read the Rest…

Posted by Winds of Change at 11:01 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Reagan Funeral Schedule for Today

For the interested:

10:30 a.m. ET — Departure ceremony at U.S. Capitol

10:45 a.m. — Motorcade departs Capitol

11:15 a.m. — Motorcade arrives at Washington National Cathedral

11:30 a.m. — National funeral service at Washington National Cathedral. Eulogists are President George W. Bush, former President George H.W. Bush, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. Readers are Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and Rabbi Harold Kushner

1:15 p.m. — Departure ceremony at National Cathedral

1:45 p.m. — Motorcade departs National Cathedral

2:15 p.m. — Departure ceremony at Andrews Air Force Base

4:45 p.m. — Aircraft arrives at Naval Air Station, Point Mugu

5:15 p.m. — Motorcade departs air station

6 p.m. — Motorcade arrives at Reagan Library

6:15 p.m. — Private burial service at Reagan Library

[via AP]

Posted by Michele at 07:16 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

June 10, 2004

Qaddafi May Have Wanted Saudi Prince Killed

Intelligence chiefs for Libyan leader Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi ordered a covert operation to assassinate the ruler of Saudi Arabia last year and throw the oil-rich kingdom into disarray, Fox News confirmed Thursday.

The CIA and FBI are investigating the possible plot.

Abdurahman Alamoudi, an American Muslim leader now in jail in Alexandria, Va., and Col. Mohamed Ismael, a Libyan intelligence officer in Saudi custody, have given separate statements to American and Saudi officials outlining the plot, the New York Times first reported Thursday.

U.S. officials confirmed the supposed plot to kill Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah to Fox News. The United States has launched an investigation into the plan, which apparently was hatched at the same time Qaddafi was renouncing terrorism and negotiating the lifting of sanctions.

Officials said the accusations are one reason the United States has not removed Libya from the State Department’s list of nations that support terrorism.

Posted by Michele at 01:13 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

At Least 20 Killed in Pakistan Clashes (And other Pakistan News)

Pakistani forces traded sporadic gunfire with militants overnight Thursday in a tribal region near the Afghan border known as an al-Qaida hideout, a day after heavy fighting killed at least 20 gunmen, officials said.

The clashes follow weeks of failed efforts to get militants in South Waziristan to surrender peacefully since an army counterterrorism offensive in March that left 120 people dead.

Army spokesman Maj. Gen. Shaukat Sultan said troops and militants exchanged intermittent gunfire through the night, but the situation was calm on Thursday morning.

Brig. Mahmood Shah, chief of security for Pakistan’s tribal regions, said foreigners and local tribesmen had been holed up in four fortress-like houses in the Ghat Ghar area, about 25 miles from the Afghan frontier.

More: 24 Killed in al Qaeda/Pak clash
Pakistan Commander Escapes Attack

Pakistan airporst on hijack alert
Defense Ministry claims U.S. violated Pakistan airspace

Posted by Michele at 10:16 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

June 09, 2004

Panic at the Capitol Bldg

Breaking News : U.S. Capitol Being Evacuated as unidentified aircraft triggers restricted airspace over DC...developing story…people told to remove shoes and run for their lives.

44:49 PM EDT: All Clear…according to MSNBC a plane veered off it’s normal course on approach to National Airport. Situation returned to normal.

Posted by Feste at 04:45 PM | Comments (18) | TrackBack

June 06, 2004

World, Leaders React to Reagan's Death

President George W. Bush: “He always told us that for America the best is yet to come. … We comfort ourselves by telling ourselves that the same is true for him. … We know a shining city is waiting for him.”

Former President George H.W. Bush: “The most I learned from him was his adherence to principle and to fight for them. … He used the term ‘evil empire’ and all his critics were ringing their hands, saying he doesn’t know how to conduct foreign affairs … sure enough peace happened on his watch.”

Former President Gerald Ford: “Betty and I are deeply saddened by the passing of our longtime friend, President Reagan. Ronald Reagan was an excellent leader of our nation during challenging times at home and abroad. We extend our deepest condolences and prayers to Nancy and his family.”

Former President Bill Clinton: “Hillary and I will always remember President Ronald Reagan for the way he personified the indomitable optimism of the American people, and for keeping America at the forefront of the fight for freedom for people everywhere. It is fitting that a piece of the Berlin Wall adorns the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington.”

Sen. John Kerry: “I think he had a sense of idealism and a sense of optimism of the possibilities about our country that define leadership. We will miss him, no matter what party, no matter what our beliefs. He was a leader, and we’ll miss him.”

Sen. Kerry will be suspending “overtly political” campaigning in the coming days while the nation mourns Reagan.

Moamar Ghadafi (always good for an interesting quote): “I express my deep regret because Reagan died before facing justice for his ugly crime that he committed in 1986 against the Libyan children.”

Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov : “Bulgaria will remember the significant contribution of Ronald Reagan for the propagation of freedom and democracy, which lead to the fall of the Berlin wall. Your husband will stay in the world’s history with his irreconcilability towards totalitarianism and violation of human rights. The world will remember Ronald Reagan for his strive for abolishing of the global war threat and for strengthening of international security.”

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev: “I deem Ronald Reagan a great president, with whom the Soviet leadership was able to launch a very difficult but important dialogue.”

Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani: “I’ve studied him more than any other man in modern politics. … He changed the direction of the world on the strength of his convictions.”

Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle: “America has lost an icon. Ronald Reagan’s leadership will inspire Americans for generations to come. His patriotism and devotion to our country will never be forgotten.”

Actor Danny Glover: “We all know Reagan’s legacy, from the Iran-Contra affair to the funding of the Nicaraguan military in which over 200,000 people died. The groundwork for the move steadily to the right happened with the Reagan administration. People want to elevate him to some mythic level; they have their own reason for doing that.”

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair : At home, his vision and leadership restored national self-confidence and brought some significant changes to US politics. Abroad, the negotiations of arms control agreements in his second term and his statesmanlike pursuit of more stable relations with the Soviet Union helped bring about the end of the Cold War.

French President Jacques Chirac: A great statesman who through the strength of his convictions and his commitment to democracy will leave a deep mark in history.

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi : The foundation of the Japan-US alliance that now serves as a driving force to solve international issues with other countries was built during President Reagan’s era.

Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin : His wit, warmth and unique capacity to communicate helped to make him one of the most influential figures in the second half of the 20th Century

Posted by Michele at 10:20 AM | Comments (35) | TrackBack

President Reagan Funeral Plans

From Fox:

The body of former President Ronald Reagan will be flown to Washington on Monday or Tuesday, and will lie in state for two days in the Capitol Building before a state funeral is held at the National Cathedral.

On Sunday or Monday morning, the body will will be taken to the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, where it will lie in repose for 24 hours.

Public viewing will begin at the library following a short ceremony for the family.

On Monday or Tuesday morning, the body will be flown to Washington to lie in state at the Capitol. Following the state funeral, the body will return to Pt. Mugu Naval Air Station in California.

It will be escorted back to the Library for a final ceremony on Thursday or Friday, and then there will be a sunset burial.

Posted by Michele at 10:08 AM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

June 05, 2004

President Reagan Dies

Fox News is reporting President Reagan has passed away.

UPDATE: The Associated Press reports:

Ronald Reagan , the cheerful crusader who devoted his presidency to winning the Cold War, trying to scale back government and making people believe it was “morning again in America,” died Saturday after a long twilight struggle with Alzheimer’s disease, a family friend said. He was 93.

He died at his home in California, according to the friend, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The friend said the family has turned to making funeral arrangements. A formal statement was expected later.

The White House was told his health had taken a turn for the worse in the last several days.

Five years after leaving office, the nation’s 40th president told the world in November 1994 that he had been diagnosed with the early stages of Alzheimer’s, an incurable illness that destroys brain cells. He said he had begun “the journey that will lead me into the sunset of my life.”

Reagan body was expected to be taken to his presidential library and museum in Simi Valley, Calif., and then flown to Washington to lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda. His funeral was expected to be at the National Cathedral, an event likely to draw world leaders. The body was to be returned to California for a sunset burial at his library.

Reagan lived longer than any U.S. president, spending his last decade in the shrouded seclusion wrought by his disease, tended by his wife, Nancy, whom he called Mommy, and the select few closest to him. Now, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton (news - web sites) are the surviving ex-presidents.

[. . .]

Over two terms, from 1981 to 1989, Reagan reshaped the Republican Party in his conservative image, fixed his eye on the demise of the Soviet Union and Eastern European communism and tripled the national debt to $3 trillion in his singleminded competition with the other superpower.

Taking office at age 69, Reagan had already lived a career outside Washington, one that spanned work as a radio sports announcer, an actor, a television performer, a spokesman for the General Electric Co., and a two-term governor of California.

At the time of his retirement, his very name suggested a populist brand of conservative politics that still inspires the Republican Party.

He declared at the outset, “Government is not the solution, it’s the problem,” although reducing that government proved harder to do in reality than in his rhetoric.

[. . .]

At 69, Reagan was the oldest man ever elected president when he was chosen on Nov. 4, 1980, by an unexpectedly large margin over incumbent Democrat Jimmy Carter.

Near-tragedy struck on his 70th day as president. On March 30, 1981, Reagan was leaving a Washington hotel after addressing labor leaders when a young drifter, John Hinckley, fired six shots at him. A bullet lodged an inch from Reagan’s heart, but he recovered.

Four years later he was re-elected by an even greater margin, carrying 49 of the 50 states in defeating Democrat Walter F. Mondale, Carter’s vice president.

Reuters:

Former U.S. President Ronald Reagan, who forged a conservative revolution that transformed American politics, died on Saturday after a decade-long battle with Alzheimer’s disease, U.S. media reported. He was 93.

From Caifornia Yankee.

Posted by Dan Spencer at 04:52 PM | Comments (92) | TrackBack

June 04, 2004

Second Top Official To Quit CIA

“A second top CIA official is to retire from his post, less than a day after the surprise resignation of the agency’s director George Tenet.

James Pavitt, deputy director for operations, who was in charge of the agency’s spies, is said to have made the decision some weeks ago.

The CIA says Mr Pavitt’s decision was unconnected with Mr Tenet’s departure.

But analysts say the move will mean more upheaval at a critical time for the agency.”

(BBC)

Posted by Billy Beck at 02:32 AM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

June 03, 2004

WaPo's Q&A about Tenet

The Washington Post has a transcript of an online chat/Q&A session with Associate Editor Robert G. Kaiser on the topic of Tenet’s resignation. It puts to bed at least one rumor that’s been circulating since the story made headlines this morning.

Salt Lake City, Utah: How long will it take Director Tenet to write a book, joining the likes of Paul O’Neill and Richard Clarke? And considering O’Neill and Clarke weren’t too kind in their assessments of Pres. Bush and the administration, how do you suspect Tenet will portray the Bush Administration?

Robert G. Kaiser : Many questions like this this morning. I don’t think there is any chance that Tenet can write a book that could be out before the election. For one important thing, anything he writes will have to be cleared by the CIA, under an agreement he and all CIA employees have to sign. So don’t expect a blockbuster from him any time soon.

If and when he does write a book, I suspect its purpose will be to defend himself. It could be a long book.

Read the rest of the transcript here.

Posted by Michele at 02:53 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

New TCP Poll

George Tenet: Failure or Fall Guy? Over in the right-hand column ….

Posted by Alan at 01:51 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

Senate Intelligence Committee Report May Have Prompted Tenet Resignation

Tenet’s resignation may have been prompted by the findings of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on pre-war intelligence failures. ABCNews reports the findings in the not yet released report on pre-war intelligence failures are “devastating” for Tenet. According to ABC:

Democratic sources confirm Tenet was losing support among Democrats because of the conclusions reached by this report. One Republican source predicted Wednesday Tenet might resign before it is released. The report is currently being declassified by the CIA and is expected to be made public on June 17.

From California Yankee

Posted by Dan Spencer at 12:17 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

CIA Director George Tenet Resigns

All that’s out right now is this at Fox:

CIA Director George Tenet submitted his letter of resignation Thursday, President Bush announced.

Bush said he met with Tenet on Wednesday night in the White House. Tenet said he was resigning for personal reasons.

Update:

CNN:

Bush said Tenet had done “a superb job for the American people.”

“He has been a strong and able leader at the agency,” Bush said.

“He has been a strong leader in the war on terror and I will miss him.”

Tenet will leave the position in mid-July Bush said

WaPo has more:

Bush said that deputy, John McLaughlin, will temporarily lead America’s premier spy agency until a successor is found. Among possible successors is House Intelligence Committee Chairman Porter Goss, R-Fla., a former CIA agent and McLaughlin

.

AP:


Tenet had been under fire for months in connection with intelligence failures related to the U.S.-led war against Iraq, specifically assertions the United States made about Saddam Hussein’s purported possession of weapons of mass destruction, and with respect to the threat from the al-Qaida terrorist network.

In May, a panel investigating the Sept. 11 attacks released statements harshly criticizing the CIA for failing to fully appreciate the threat posed by al-Qaida before the terrorist hijackings. Tenet told the panel the intelligence-gathering flaws exposed by the attacks will take five years to correct.

During his seven years at the CIA, speculation at times has swirled around whether Tenet would retire or be forced out, peaking after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 and surging again after the flawed intelligence estimates about Iraq’s fighting capability.

Even when his political capital appeared to be tanking, Tenet managed to hang on with what some say was a fierce loyalty to Bush and the CIA personnel. A likable, chummy personality, also helped keep him above water.

Conventional wisdom had been that Tenet, who was appointed by President Bill Clinton, did not plan to stay on next year, no matter who won the White House. Tenet has been on the job since July 1997, an unusually lengthy tenure in a particularly taxing era for the intelligence community that he heads.

[I realize some of these quotes are from same wires stories, but I’m culling quickly without time for scrutinizing]

Posted by Michele at 10:56 AM | Comments (21) | TrackBack

Flash -- Tenet To Resign

Cable news outlets are now reporting that George Tenet will resign as Director of the CIA “for personal reasons”. President Bush announcing now that Tenet will serve until mid-July.

Posted by Billy Beck at 10:33 AM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

The FCPA & Kazakh Oil

The case of the United States vs. James Giffen, in which Mr. Giffen is accused of paying $78 million in bribes to Kazkhstan’s President & Prime Minister in exchange for oil contracts, could cause shifts in the flow of Kazakh oil.

The most important casualty of a Giffen trial could end up being US-Kazakhstani relations. There are already indications that the case has damaged bilateral ties. In comments broadcast May 14, Nazarbayev characterized the charges against Giffen as “acts of provocation.” Some observers suggest that Nazarbayev views the case as an attempt by the US government to somehow punish him.

A chilling of US-Kazakhstani relations has potentially far-reaching ramifications for Kazakhstan’s energy-export agenda. Until recently, Astana viewed the United States as its key energy development partner. Now, it appears as though Nazarbayev is determined to diversify his export options, in particular exploring closer economic ties with Russia and China.

“My guess is this will be problematic for the Americans,” said the expert on Kazakhstan’s economy. “I believe Nazarbayev is looking to China, talking about a pipeline to Iran, and going about trying to fortify himself [against pressure] from the United States.”

Posted by Nathan Hamm at 10:27 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 01, 2004

Four Million Thank Yous

Tonight we passed four million unique visits to Command Post since March 20th, 2003:

4mil.jpg

If we could track each person down and send a thank you note, we would. Since we can’t, thanks for your loyalty and you support, and as always, thank you for reading The Post.

On to the next million!

Posted by Alan at 09:46 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

We Do Requests

We were asked in an email today:

Yours and Michele’s creation has introduced a lot of people to the world of Blogging. I was wondering if y’all might ever have the patience to sit through a “Ask the Command Post” Thread.

We do. And while we normally avoid anything that might smell of self-promotion, if you really DO have questions we (probably) have answers. We’re doing this on the Op-Ed page … so go there to learn more and ask that burning question. (Like, for example, “Is Michele hot?” She is, by the way.)

Posted by Alan at 02:31 PM | TrackBack

ElBaradei: Too early to tell if Iran making nukes

JERUSALEM POST: ElBaradei: Too early to tell if Iran making nukes

The chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency said Tuesday his agency has not found proof to date of a concrete link between Iran’s nuclear activities and its military program, but said it was premature to make a judgment.

Mohammed ElBaradei, the IAEA director general who addressed a NATO Parliamentary Assembly meeting in the Slovak capital, said there was still some work to do regarding Iran.

Agency experts were still probing into whether “the Iranian program has been designated exclusively for peaceful purposes or has a military dimension,” ElBaradei said. He added, “We haven’t seen a concrete proof of a link to the military program, but as I said it’s premature to make a judgment.”

Posted by Laurence Simon at 10:31 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack