The Command Post
Iraq
July 30, 2004
My Assessment of the Kerry Convention Speech While He Gives It



Presidential nominee John Kerry salutes during the Democratic National Convention at the FleetCenter in Boston, Thursday, July 29, 2004. Via CBS News. (Photo: AP)

The beginning: “I’m John Kerry and I’m reporting for duty.” Ahem. We get it, OK? You served in Vietnam. We get it. Sheez. This beginning was lame.

I agree with Andrew Sullivan. When Kerry said, “I was born in the West Wing,” this was a bit much too. How many times do you think he’s used that lame line in his life? About a million? I think that may be right.

He thanks the WWII generation for their service. I can’t help but wonder why he is so reluctant to give support to American military campaigns now. Sure, it’s easy to support U.S. miliary actions 60 years after they’re successful. Supporting them when the fighting is actually happening creates a little more credibility, I think. What would his Air Force Dad have thought of partisans during WWII who said, “Roosevelt Lied, People Died”? Not much I think.

Next followed some cheap shots about Bush misleading us into war, Cheney letting polluters write national energy law, and John Ashcroft eroding Constitutional freedoms. All punch-list items in any DNC speech I suppose.

He says “There’s nothing more pessimistic than saying America can’t do better [on the economy].” A rather lame formulation - and of couse the Republicans never said that. Whoops - I suppose I’m not supposed to expect logic or honesty if they get in the way of a good line. But it was a lame line anway.

He accepts the nomination. Shouldn’t the whole sad affair end now? I guess not.

He says kind words about John Edwards and Theresa Heinz Kerry. Is it just me? Every time I see Theresa on camera she seems to be acting a little weird. It’s kind of like she’s trying to act normal but doesn’t quite make it.

He says kind words about Cleland. I like Cleland although I disagree with his politics. I can’t help but think that Kerry’s using the gravely injured Cleland as a poster boy to remind us of Kerry’s military service for the umpteenth time. (I get the feeling that Kerry considered coming out on stage in his dress military uniform, but his advisors talked him out of it with a little difficulty and a lot of nervous laughter). I think that Kerry’s use of Cleland is kind of cheap and tawdry. But I guess Cleland is a big boy. I suppose he’s OK with being used that way.

“Saying there are weapons of mass distruction in Iraq doesn’t make it so.” Well no duh. But, of course, Kerry said the same thing about WMD. I guess he’s only seeking the vote of people who can’t use Google. Sheez.

In the next section he says he will only send soldiers into battle to protect the American people or vital American interests. This is the right formulation, but his phrasing makes this seem to be an implicit rejection of Bush’s pre-emption policy.

Next he tosses in something about “getting the terrorists before they get us” - so it’s unclear - maybe he’s for a pre-emption policy, after all.

He says to the armed forces, “Help IS on the way.” The fact that he voted against every major weapon system during his Senate career gives this line little credibility. Maybe he means help is on the way to America’s enemies. (Well this would make his record and this statement consistent). OK - sorry - I’m was trying to be logical again.

He says he’ll implement all the recommendations of the 9-11 Commission. Cheap, easy, feel-good, no-thought-required, cheers.

“When Americans speak their minds … that’s not a challenge to patriotism … that’s the heart and soul of patriotism.” This is perhaps the favorite straw-man of the modern Democratic Party. Whenever you disagree with them on substance, they say, “You’re tring to censor me!” Um - no - we’re just disagreeing with you. That requires a substantive response - not a debate trick. I think most people see through this.

Kerry next equates “family values” with government programs. This is classic Democratic thinking … which was soundly rejected in the Reagan-Carter election of 1980 - over 20 years ago. I suppose I should be glad they’re trotting out this failed pitch yet again. It hasn’t worked for over 20 years. I don’t see any reason why it’ll work now.

I shouldn’t tell them this, I suppose - but if they haven’t got it yet, I don’t think they will. Newsflash to Dems: most Americans between the coasts equate family values with families doing things on their own without government help or interference - NOT with government programs.

The next section of the speech is a series of riffs based on the theme “help is on the way.” It’s kind of lame and predictable. Also, after hearing Laura Ingraham play clips of Robert Byrd repeating this tired phrase over and over again, this part just seems like an echo of the increasingly untethered-from-reality Robert Byrd.

Here’s the economic plan: incentives, investment, close tax loopholes, fair playing field in world trade, return to fiscal responsibility (cut deficit in half in 4 years), pay as you go for gov’t spending. “What we won’t do:” raise taxes on the middle class. Kerry pledges to cut taxes on the middle-class and small businesses, but to raise taxes on people who make over $200,000 per year. That sounds nice, but I’m pretty sure those numbers won’t add up (the rich already pay most taxes anyway).

The health care plan: cut down on fraud and abuse. Medicare will negotiate lower drug prices. He pledges that health care is a “right for all Americans.” I hate to be a, you know, conservative - but that’s just wrong. The right formulation, of course, is that I have no legal duty to pay for my neighbor’s doctor visits. Sorry - but it’s true.

He directs words to George W. Bush: Let’s be optimists, let’s respect one another, let’s never misuse the Constitution for political reasons. Nice - but didn’t Kerry just violate all of those pledges immediatly above? Oh, right - nobody remembers that far back.

He sees us as “one America.” He should coordiante better with John Edwards for consistency.

Nitpick: During the speech, his chin was shiny. I suppose it was just perspiration - but it kind of seemed like spittle.

Next he goes through a a riff using the phrase “what if” over and over again. This just seems formulaic. First “help is on the way” - and then “what if” - as speech-making building blocks. The substance of the speech almost seems to be secondary to the speech-making structure.

“The sun is rising” and then “our best days are still to come,” are the phrases closing the speech, before the obligatory “God bless the United States of America.” The first two phrases seem to be an attempt to latch onto Reaganesqe optimism. Kerry doesn’t seem to really believe it like Reagan, though.

Overall rating: long on formulaic paragraphs, short on substance. I give it a C: standard politico fare.

The complete text of the John Forbes Kerry Democratic National Convention speech is here. Jeff Jacoby’s analysis of the speech is available here and here.

I intend this to be my last blog post for the foreseeable future. I think I need a break like my friends Rodger and Rachel. Best wishes to the blogosphere - it is truly an expression of what all of us Americans value - freedom.

The link to the nikita demosthenes post is here. See, also, Red State.

July 29, 2004
The 9/11 Commission & Nuclear Terrorism

JK: The aftermarth of the 9/11 Commission needs to step beyond the beyond the petty partisanship that both Gary Farber and “Sgt. John Stryker” have written about here. In response, I committed Winds of Change.NET to follow-ups that would feature intelligent, non-partisan commentary from both sides of the aisle. Amitai Etzioni is a professor, blogger and founder of The Communitarian Network, a very interesting liberal/centrist group. This open letter was circulated to network members for commentary, and is reproduced here with permission.

He argues that “The focus on past experience — which has other sources, but which is further fostered by the Commission’s hearings — drives the government and the public to focus on two fronts in the war against terrorism while grossly neglecting the third and most important front.”

Dear Mr. Kean,

As a sociologist who has studied American society for the last 40 years, I am deeply concerned about the impact of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States on the public, federal agencies, and the White House. The cumulative and considerable effect seems to be to encourage one and all to better prepare themselves against the kind of attacks that we had faced in the past rather than focusing on the greatest dangers that we next face. The 9-11 Commission hearings so far indicate that the Commission presumes a symmetry between what we lacked last time — for instance, open communication between the CIA and FBI and domestic spying of the kind MI-5 provides in the UK — and what we need to parry major new attacks. Thus, the Commission unwittingly is contributing to a malaise that military historians have long studied: fighting the last war rather than preparing for the next one.

Read the Rest…

July 28, 2004
Atrios of Eschaton is Revealed

Atrios - the lefty blogger at “Eschaton” that all the “progressives” love to read - is revealed. He’s a foot-soldier in the Vast Left Wing Conspiracy led by George Soros and David Brock.



CBS News: “Billionaire Bankrolls Bush Bashers.” George Soros provides funds to far left organizations like Media Matters - which bashes Bush while it pays the bills for Duncan Black. Duncan Black writes as the anonymous “Atrios” at the heavily-read Bush-bashing weblog “Eschaton.”

Via JustOneMinute:

- - - - - - -

Who Is Duncan Black?

Not the economic historian (but we wonder…).

I’m talking about the Duncan B. Black formerly known as Atrios.

I can’t say I care, but…

It turns out that Mr. Black works at Media Matters, the new David Brock media watchdog group, which is kind of interesting - he is doing paid media commentary on one site, and a lot of anonymous media criticism on the other… and I’m still not that concerned. Yes, there is the potential for a self-serving echo-chamber effect, but what else is new in the willd, wild blogosphere. Maybe I would care if I could take the Brock group seriously.

- - - - - - -

And from Instapundit:

- - - - - - -

I PROMISED HIM THAT I WOULDN‘T OUT HIM a long time ago, but now Atrios has been unmasked as a guy named Duncan Black who, among other things, works for David Brock’s Soros-funded Media Matters operation. Nothing wrong with that, but if I were working for, say, Richard Mellon Scaife, I think somebody — like, say, Duncan Black — would be making something of it.

- - - - - - -

As CBS News has reported, Media Matters is just one of the hard-left organizations funded by billionaire leftist George Soros.

George Soros provides funds to far left organizations like Media Matters - which bashes Bush while it pays the bills for Duncan Black. Duncan Black writes as the anonymous “Atrios” at the heavily-read Bush-bashing weblog “Eschaton.”

Geroge Soros has funded other hard-left organizations like MoveOn.org - to which he recently gave $2.5 million.

The link to the nikita demosthenes post is here.

Armed Liberal: Revised Thoughts About The War

Well, the comments to my two posts below confirm that one shouldn’t blog under the influence of dextromethorphan - cold tablets and la grippe make for fuzzy thinking in my case, it appears.

So let me clarify a few things.

First, I do think we’re at war. But it’s not the traditional ‘mobilize the nation’ kind of war, it’s a war that will, sadly, be long-lasting, relatively low-intensity, and messy. Because it’s that kind of a war, many of the historic responses to a more intensely focussed, limited in time war - like those to World War II - aren’t appropriate.

They aren’t appropriate for two reasons; because they won’t do much good, and because by themselves, they won’t help us win.

Read The Rest…

Tarek Heggy: The Saudis' Choice

Saudi Arabia and the Inevitable Choice
by Tarek Heggy of Cairo, Egypt [column archive]

Following a lecture I had given at the Department of the Middle Eastern Studies at one of the top world universities, I was told by one of the professors: “In most academic circles here in the US, we take it for granted that the Arabs’ hatred of the West is the result of the intrusion of western powers into the lives of Arab peoples, beginning with the colonization of Algeria in 1830, Egypt in 1882, Morocco in 1912, and so on. But it’s quite clear that you see things quite differently?”

I replied, “It’s not that simple. There are several sides to the issue and what you just said lumps them all together in the same basket, as it were.”

Read The Rest…

July 27, 2004
The Dreaded "D" Word - Disinformation

One of my co-workers forwarded the e-mail I’m posting below. After reading it I did a little research and found that some of the factual information in it was outdated and the disinformation was too easily fact-checked. The e-mail points fingers at the Bush Administration, trying to paint a picture that is anything but accurate, something I’ll cover after you get a chance to read the e-mail as I received it.

The Dreaded “D” Word

The “D” word is out and, with the latest on-line report from Congress.org, it is spreading fast. The subject is the draft. The one run by the nation’s Selective Service System (SSS). The one that drafts America’s sons and daughters into the military to fight protracted wars.
We call it the “D” word because so few like to speak of it. In political campaigns it is taboo. It would even seem that this White House has forbidden military commanders from even mentioning the idea, even though existing forces are stretched far too thin and National Guard Reserves are serving on the front lines of battle, often with too little preparation.

And yet, twin bills have been introduced in the House and Senate that would reinstitute the draft in late spring of 2005, just months after the fall election. The bills, S. 89 and HR. 163, are part of legislation titled the Universal National Service Act of 2003, which intends “to provide for the common defense by requiring that all young persons (18-26) in the United States, including women, perform a period of military service or a period of civilian service in furtherance of the national defense and homeland security, and for other purposes.” According to Congress.org, the bills currently sit in the committee on armed services.

Here are a few interesting facts about the bills, cited by Congress.org:

The bills are sitting at the ready so a draft system would be set to go by June 2005.

$28 million has been added to the 2004 budget of the SSS to carry out the work needed to implement the draft.

The Pentagon has already begun a campaign to fill all 10,350 draft board positions and 11,070 appeals board slots nationwide.

Skirting active duty will be more difficult than in the Vietnam era for two primary reasons: There will be no educational deferments, and the U.S. and Canada signed a “smart border declaration” in December 2001 (did Sec. of Defense Donald Rumsfeld really plan this that far ahead?) that could be used to keep would-be draft dodgers from leaving the country. As for students already enrolled in college, underclassmen would only be able to postpone service until the end of their current semester. Seniors would have until the end of the academic year.

As said above, but with added emphasis here, women (ages 18-26) would be included in the draft.

Most of this information should not be shocking, except for a couple of things: It’s been kept awfully quiet, and, when questioned, the Bush administration and the military planners decline any notion they are about to reinstitute the draft.

Are such denials simply more lies coming from the Bush administration? Or, perhaps, they sincerely don’t think a military draft is needed or politically viable? Certainly, the latter is true - and that explains why nothing will be set in motion until after the election.
Reporter John Sutherland of The Guardian newspaper in London, offers some insights about the lack of general awareness by the American public and makes a few interesting points:

“All this (the twin bills) have been pushed ahead with an amazing lack of publicity,” he wrote in a recent column. “One can guess why. American newspapers are in a state of meltdown, distracted by war-reporting scandals at USA Today and the New York Times.

“The American public just wants the war to go away. One thing that would get their attention (but not their votes) would be their children being sent off to die in foreign lands. Best not disturb the electorate until after November, seems to be the thinking.”

“The strategic case for the draft is overwhelming. If, as Rumsfeld promises, Iraq turns out to be ‘a long, hard slog,’ who will do the slogging? If others follow the Spaniards, and Tony Blair goes, the U.S. may find itself a coalition of one. What then if something blows up in North Korea?”

Sutherland’s final point is a direct hit: “Panic stations, which is where Attorney General John Ashcroft placed America this summer (with his controversial and questionable warnings of likely terrorists attacks to strike U.S. soil again), serves two purposes. It distracts the electorate and, like any state of emergency, it sanctions tough measures, like the draft.”

It’s an issue, at the very least, that deserves public debate. Congress and the President should come clean on their intentions long before the November elections.

Angelo S. Lynn

Sounds ominous, doesn’t it? The Bush Administration is going to reinstitute the draft, according to Angelo S. Lynn. But there’s a couple of problems with Angelo’s conclusions and accusations.

First, the Bush Administration has nothing to do with the bills cited. Both bills were submitted and sponsored by Democrats, not Republicans.

The senate bill, S. 89 was submitted and sponsored by Senator Ernest Hollings (D-SC). As far as I can ascertain, he’s the sole sponsor. The bill was filed on January 7, 2003, read twice, and referred to committee, where it’s been ever since. If it’s been sitting in committee that long, to all intents and purposes it’s dead. There’s been no action on the bill in over 18 months, meaning the committee chair wants nothing to do with it. And since Ernest Hollings is retiring at the end of his term (this coming January), there will be no one else to try to push the bill through committee. It’s stillborn. To quote a famous line from a TV show I like: “It’s dead, Jim.” (Full text of the bill can be found here. The bill summary and status can be found here.)

The other bill, H.R. 163, was submitted and sponsored by Representative Charles Rangel (D-NY), filed on the same day as S. 89. The House bill has 15 co-sponsors, all Democrats. As far as I can tell, none of them are friends of the Bush Administration. The only movement on the bill took place about a month after it was filed. Since then, like S. 89, it’s languished in committee, going nowhere. (Text of the bill can be found here. The bill summary and status can be found here.)

If you recall, Charles Rangel called for reinstating the draft because he felt that the all-volunteer Armed Forces were racist, putting too many minorities in the front lines. This claim seems to make sense at first, until one looks closer and finds that his claim isn’t exactly true. As well, there have been those opining that Rangel’s bill is meant to do nothing more than stir up anti-military feelings within America.

While at one point the Pentagon was making arrangements for staffing draft boards, it appears that it may have been in anticipation of one of the two bills making it all the way through to the President’s desk for signature (assuming George Bush didn’t veto it out of hand). After all, the draft isn’t something that can be easily cranked up overnight. But once both bills stalled in committee, the Pentagon ceased its activities as they weren’t needed.

November 5, 2003 - In a notice posted on the [Defense Department’s] Defend America website, Americans over the age of 18 and with no criminal record are invited to “serve your community and the nation” by volunteering for the boards, which decide which recruits should be sent to war.

Thirty years have passed since the draft boards last exerted their hold on America, deciding which soldiers would be sent to Vietnam. After Congress ended the draft in 1973, they have become largely dormant.

However, recruitment for the boards suggests that in some parts of the Pentagon all options are being explored in response to concerns that the US military has been stretched too thin in its occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Although Pentagon officials denied any move to reinstitute the draft, the [Defense Department] website does not shirk at outlining the potential duties for a new crop of volunteers to the draft boards.

[…]

Pentagon officials were adamant that there were no plans to bring back the draft.

“That would require action from Congress and the president and they are not likely to do that unless there was something of the magnitude of the second world war that required it,” said Dan Amon, a spokesman for the Selective Service department.

So, is it likely that the draft will be instituted by the Bush Administration? In my opinion, no. Is the information I received in the e-mail accurate? While there are factual accuracies, the tone the e-mail is trying to set is false, pointing fingers at Bush for this action rather than at Congress, and specifically at the Democrats within Congress.

This e-mail was a slick bit of disinformation, trying to ‘place the blame’ on George Bush , but not on the actual perpetrators.

(Originally posted at Weekend Pundit)

Andrew Sullivan pulls a "slow-motion David Brock"



Andrew Sullivan: a “slow-motion David Brock”?

Andrew Sullivan, a great (if lately confused) blogger, has alas let one issue dominate all others. This, inevitably, has led to his fisking from the quite capable keyboards of VodkaPundit and Mark Steyn. (And, yes, I do like alliteration).

There’s a lot of good writing in the above links - between Michelle Malkin, VodkaPundit, and Mark Steyn. But Steyn still wins the flat-out funny conservative writer award (he’s in the same league with P.J. O‘Rourke - high praise) with riffs like this:

- - - - - - -

There’s a bumper sticker I see on a lot of Vermont cars these days: “BE PATRIOTIC VOTE GEORGE BUSH OUT”. The trouble is you can’t vote Bush out, you have to vote the other fellow in. And convention week marks the point when Americans begin to get to know the challenger the way they know the incumbent. I find it hard to believe that getting to know John F Kerry can possibly work to his advantage.

He was in Wisconsin the other day, pretending to be a regular guy, and was asked what kind of hunting he preferred. “I’d have to say deer,” said the senator. “I go out with my trusty 12-gauge double-barrel, crawl around on my stomach… That’s hunting.”

This caused huge hilarity among my New Hampshire neighbours. None of us has ever heard of anybody deer hunting by crawling around on his stomach, even in Massachusetts. The trick is to blend in with the woods and, given that John Kerry already looks like a forlorn tree in late fall, it’s hard to see why he’d give up his natural advantage in order to hunt horizontally.

Possibly his weird Vietnam nostalgia is getting out of control. Still, if I come across a guy in the woods in deer season inching through the undergrowth with a mouthful of bear scat, at least I’ll know who it is.

Conversely, if you’re a 14-point buck and get shot in the toe this autumn, you’ll know who to sue.

Crawling around on your stomach is a lousy way to hunt deer, but it’s proved a smart way to campaign for president. For months now, George W Bush has been up there getting fired on from all directions. Meanwhile, down in the scrub, John Kerry was crawling forward on his stomach, a stealth candidate advancing slowly, off the radar, prone alone.

Sadly, the stealth candidacy has come to an end. This week the real John F Kerry has to stand up, and, judging from the way those Senate and House candidates in tight races are staying away from the convention, a lot of bigshot Democrats aren’t too sure Americans are going to like what they see.

- - - - - - -

“…if I come across a guy in the woods in deer season inching through the undergrowth with a mouthful of bear scat, at least I’ll know who it is.” Tough to beat that.

Back on topic, the David Brock references above might be helped by a little background from places like this, this, and of course, this. In fairness, and because I don’t think Sullivan is nearly as bad as Brock, I should add this: I don’t think Sullivan is bald-faced dishonest like Brock - I just think the big pendulum swing from righty pundit to lefty pundit (now occuring on The Daily Dish in slow-motion real-time) has to leave a certain amount of credibility behind. (I mean - gee - he now has a donkey next to his blog title).

The link to the nikita demosthenes post is here.

UPDATE: The righty blogosphere strikes back!

Land of the Free. Home of the Brave. Stage of the Skank.



“Skankettes”?

Our “News from the Blogosphere” segment today focuses on our new word for the day. Today’s word: “Skankette.”

I suppose Michelle Malkin is right. Ana Marie Cox and Jessica Cutler are Skankettes. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

To provide that oh-so-fleeting quality that the network news anchors never quite get - context - Michelle Malkin has posted her entire Clare Booth Luce Institute speech, “Standing up to the ‘Girls Gone Wild’ culture,” which aired on C-SPAN2 yesterday, here.

But this IS still America - where nothing succeeds like skankiness:

- - - - - - -

MTV’s newest correspondent here is Ana Marie Cox, better known as the foulmouthed blogger Wonkette. She appeared with Colbert on “Sunday Today” and boldly told NBC’s Campbell Brown that young people get their news from “The Daily Show” and Web sites “because they think the real news is also fake.”

Colbert stuck to his position that “no one gives you fake news any faker than we do.”

It’s come to this.

Cox is considering segments on delegate fashion — such as the wearing of credentials as a carefully placed accessory — and the e-mailing addiction of those who (like her) are always tapping at what they call their CrackBerry.

“Fluffy stuff is important because politics shouldn’t be like eating your spinach,” Cox says, sitting on a bench in the FleetCenter hall. “I’m dessert. But politics is a full meal.”

Cox dismisses much programming aimed at the youth demographic as “either high-minded civility — you should vote because it’s important — or you should vote because Madonna does.”

Her wardrobe orders from MTV were “anything but a suit — don’t look like a grown-up.” Accordingly, she is wearing a white T-shirt, jeans, black jacket and Converse sneakers.

“If terrorists attack, I’ll be able to run out of the building,” Cox says. “Surviving a terrorist attack is the new black.”

- - - - - - -

I can’t help but wipe a tear from my eye. Everything is OK. After all, what is more quintessentially American than going from skank to celebrity? Madonna wrote a how-to catalogue on the subject with every over-the-top 1980’s bubble-gum pop-rock video.

In this great country it’s still possible - nay probable - that any average American (who happens to be a good-looking girl who can spice-up a tank top) can go from skank to star.

Land of the Free. Home of the Brave. Stage of the Skank.

This is (honestly) one of the many, many reasons I love the U.S. of A. Freedom isn’t always pretty. But, sometimes, it IS pretty - and kind of hot.

The link to the nikita demosthenes post is here.

Does this fit here? I don’t know. I post, you decide. Here’s a link to the Ann Coulter column that USA Today refused to run. (Personally I think it IS funny. They wanted an edgy, conservative, humorist. That’s what they got. Duh.) If I was a Democrat - and accordingly didn’t care about the logic or honesty of what I said - I would cry, “Censorship!” But, I’m not a Democrat, so I’ll just give you the link for your reading pleasure. (And - for that context thing again - here’s the Jonah Goldberg column that USA Today did publish). Enjoy.

UPDATE: The nikita demosthenes Word of the Day ripples through the blogosphere … as it were.

Bush didn't say it...but then again...

In the spirit of today’s convention sessions, the following Op/Ed page post is:

A. Timely…. as Ron Reagan gets ready to appeal to the nation tonight to lift the Bush ban on stem cell research.

Fair-minded… showing that Dems need not be strident nor inaccurate about Bush-bashing.

Remiscent …of Bill Clinton’s line last night: “Strength and Wisdom are NOT opposing values.

George Bush did NOT use the term “feces” for “fetus” in a speech in Tampa June 17 as supposedly reported by Newsweek. Dems all over Boston and the nation are getting this email:

NEWSWEEK reports that President Bush, appearing before a right-to-life rally in Tampa, Florida on June 17, stated: “We must always remember that all human beings begin life as a feces. A Feces is a living being in the eyes of God, who has endowed that feces with all of the rights and God-given blessings of any other human being.” The audience listened in disbelief as the President repeated his error at least a dozen times, before realizing that he had used the word ‘feces” when he meant to say “fetus.”

This is an urban legend, debunked at:

http://urbanlegends.about.com/library/bl_bush_feces_speech.htm

Newsweek never printed this story and Bush was not in Tampa on June 17. He was on June 16, according to the White House sked, but said nothing of the kind.

Keep this in mind while Ron Reagan speaks tonight. Bush does know the difference between the two words and may actually be capable of changing his mind on stem cell research.

Then again…

These “Bushisms” are not urban legends:

“I’m the master of low expectations.” — President Bush aboard Air Force One, June 4, 2003

“I’m also not very analytical. You know I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about myself, about why I do things.” — President Bush aboard Air Force One, June 4, 2003.

(The above Bushism are courtesy of Jacob Weisberg: http://slate.msn.com/id/76886/)

Bill Clinton may have been wrong last night. With Dubya, “strength and wisdom” just might be opposing values.

Cross-posted at www.ohiodems.org

Posted By at 12:44 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack
Europe Is Not Prepared

The more details come out of the investigation into the Madrid bombings of March 11 of this year, the more I am beginning to get the feeling that I’m walking around with a big target pinned to my back, while the government seems to be calling ‘over here!’ to our enemies. The first stages of paranoia? Mmm, maybe. I’ll try and explain, then you tell me if I’m sliding.

When Italian police arrested Rabei Osman Sayed Ahmed in Milan, considered to be one of the masterminds behind the Madrid attacks, they had been tapping his phone conversations for three months. The wealth of information about the planning and motivation of the attacks, is just starting to come out now. Yesterday, Spanish newspaper El Mundo (link in Spanish, local copy kept here)
published new details from the transcripts of Rabei Osman, aka ‘Muhammad the Egyptian’, in which at the end he mentions a weapon they devised, which looks like a blow dryer and would cause convulsions and high fever (translated, emphasis mine):

Rabei Osman El Sayed Ahmed, aka ‘Muhammad the Egyptian’, considered to be the brain behind the terrorist attacks of March 11, and arrested in Italy, said that “Madrid is a lesson to Europe, they need to break with the US” and praised the head of the Spanish government, Rodríguez Zapatero, “for valuing Arabs”

‘The Egyptian’ also called for a large-scale attack in Italy like in Madrid, he assured that Berlusconi is “a dictator” and that his government “will have the same ending as that of Aznar”, for following “the American dog”, as he referred to George Bush.

[…]

“Madrid is a lesson to Europe, which must understand that they need to break with the Americans. The Berlusconi government is following the same methods as the dog (referring to Bush) and I hope that God will eliminate this government of Berlusconi because it’s dictatorial and a destroyer of Islam. We hope that God will give them [Berlusconi government -ed.] a disaster, and that so Italy will have a disaster”, stated ‘the Egyptian’.

[…]

They’re slaves, now that the dog (Bush) comes [this was on the day of President Bush’s visit to Rome -ed.] they put all these controls in place which serve nothing, if we want to strike, we can. It’s Berlusconi’s fault, who is a great dictator”, states the terrorist. ‘The Egyptian’ adds that according to him, all countries that follow the US “will have the same fate as Aznar”.

He underlines that after the Madrid attacks, which caused 192 victims, “all the Arabs and all the Spanish went onto the streets, calling Aznar a murderer”.

Continuing his conversation, ‘the Egyptian’ has words of praise for the president of the Spanish government, stating that José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero “inmediately understood the importance of the Arabs, and his rise to power has opened a dialogue”.

He attacks Berlusconi again, and they are talking about if what happened in Madrid would take place in Italy, the blame would be on Berlusconi, “whoever follows this dog (Bush) will hurt himself”.

On the same day, but later, ‘the Egyptian’ returns to talk with his friends and he talks with them about a weapon, “in the shape of a hair dryer”, which “causes a lot of damage to your health”.

He adds that when this weapon, of which more details are lacking, starts to blow hot air, “it heats the temperature a couple of degrees, the body will start to suffer convulsions and it weakens [the target -ed.]and the (body) temperature starts to rise”.

My first instinct says Ricin, don’t know why, but it may also be Anthrax, but that tends to take longer to cause effect. I’m not a toxin expert here, but Ricin in powdered form, distributed by blow dryers?

Now, this is bad enough, but look at this recent Reuters report about the same terrorist. During his stay in Paris, he was directing the cell(s) in Madrid by phone, masking his calls by hacking into a local bank’s phone switch:

Prosecutors this month began a probe into a flurry of calls to Spain and Morocco from a bank in the Val-de-Marne area.

The calls increased significantly in the days before the attack and stopped a few hours before the bombs ripped through a series of commuter trains on March 11, killing 191 people, according to the daily newspaper Le Parisien.

Police have established that the calls were made by “phreaking” — a practice similar to hacking that bypasses the charging system.

The paper said Rabei Osman Ahmed es-Sayed, alias Mohamed the Egyptian, a suspect in the attacks who was arrested in Milan in June, spent several months in Val-de-Marne last year.

I tried this myself for a while, back in the eighties, but never got it to work, it is hard to do, even though the average techie will snuff at it. This is an enemy using low-end means in a counter-counter terrorist fashion, which absolutely worked.

There’s one tidbit of information more I wanted to share. This week it came to light in the local press here, that a second car was used to bring the terrorists to the train stations. It was detected in June, three months after the attacks. On the first day they found a minivan, with detonators and tapes with coranic verses. This time, the police were alerted by the rental company Hertz, who recovered a stolen car from the same spot where they found the minivan, and while cleaning it, they came across a box with clothes, and again tapes. DNA testing proved two persons had been in touch with the items, one a presumed cell leader who blew himself and six other terrorists up, when their hideout was stormed in a suburb of Madrid (they started tearing down the building yesterday), and the other one, well his DNA was found in the other car, but he remains at large.

And now the politicians are calling each other names, because the government decided to keep this under wraps until this week. Recall if you will the whole setup by the Socialists directly after the attacks, inmediately spreading rumors that Aznar’s government was lying, (leading exactly to all these Spaniards flooding the streets calling for Aznar’s head, to the joy of the terrorists we now know). The PP is fuming that they were forced to inmediately make everything public right after the first attack, while the Socialists are now claiming that they didn’t want to harm the ongoing investigation.

I said it right after the attacks, the real-time reporting of progress, by the Interior minister and heads of police, directly endangered the investigation itself, but the PP government felt itself cornered, defending against rumor mongering to which there really was no defense.

Meanwhile, there are intelligent and tech-savvy terrorist cells and at least one plotter of the Madrid attacks out there, and they’re working on some Doomsday Weapon.

So, am I being paranoid?

first published at Southern Watch.

July 25, 2004
One Hundred Days

Today marks the first one hundred days in office of Spain’s Socialist government.

Today also marks one hundred days until Election Day in the United States.

One hundred days ago, a free election in Spain was marred by terrorist attacks, just three days before, and the then opposition Socialist party jumped on it with demagogic fervor, to win. People were led on by emotions and fear. A regime was changed, instigated by terrorist action, followed up by politics.

One hundred days from now, the American People will choose their President, who will have to see them through the tough road ahead in the War on Terror. Will it be George W. Bush? Will it be John F. Kerry?

An attempted attack may be in the works, it may not be. Will the American People see preparations to avert one, as prudent or politics?

And in the case of a successful attack, will the American People cower, or will they prove the world they will not allow to be tread upon? Will the next President lead his nation, or return to politics, spurred on by cognitive dissonance among terrorized voters?

From afar, freedom-loving people everywhere are silently hoping and praying. One hundred days.

via Southern Watch.

July 23, 2004
Peace Through Courts

Haaretz carries an amazing report of EU’s foreign policy chief Javier Solana to Israel, where both prime minister Ariel Sharon and foreign minister Silvan Shalom warned him that because of the EU’s vote at the UN last Wednesday condemming Israel’s separation fence, they don’t see how the EU could take an impartial stance.

“Israel has an interest in integrating the international community, especially Europe, in a [peace] process with the Palestinians,” Sharon told Solana, according to a statement issued by his office. “But without a radical change in the European position, especially in relation to Israel’s security and its need to defend itself, that will be difficult to do.”

Shalom was even blunter, delivering his message at a joint press conference in Tel Aviv, with Solana standing alongside. “I find myself challenged to convince the Israeli people that the European Union is a [diplomatic] partner we can trust,” he said.

But Solana did not seem alarmed. “We will be involved whether you want us or not,” the EU foreign policy chief told Shalom.

It’s no secret that without the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to meddle in, there’s not a whole lot of ‘EU foreign policy’ left for Solana.

Solana defended the EU’s support for the resolution, which called on Israel to comply with the advisory opinion issued by the International Court of Justice in The Hague. The ICJ said that Israel should dismantle the fence throughout the West Bank and compensate the Palestinians.

“The United Nations and international institutions such as the International Court of Justice are in our view important components in the campaign to attain peace and security around the world,” Solana said. “A majority of 150 states supported the court’s decision. We know what you think about the UN, but you can’t stop us from honoring the decisions of the ICJ or the General Assembly. We will continue to support the UN in the future.”

Note how every island state, dictatorship and other undemocratic entity with a seat at the UN’s table does get counted this time by Solana. The EU will continue to support the UN in the future, taking itself two steps back from the world’s stage of the coming fifty years than closer to it, in my opinion. Rather than changing course now, the EU’s desparatation to cling to this idea of a self-fulfilling prophecy of World Peace through courts and the UN will drive them more and more towards alignment with this and the next generation’s bad guys.

First published at Southern Watch.

Kerry Bunts Softball

The media is playing a very dangerous game in their continued softball handling and spoon feeding of John Kerry on foreign policy issues. This partisan setup question on Iran lobbed to John Kerry by Tom Brokaw is so condesending that it makes my hair hurt.


Brokaw: …in moving through that part of the world. There’s strong evidence that Iran is in pursuit of a nuclear weapon at some stage. There’s also strong evidence that it’s now meddling in Iraq. So was President Bush wrong to characterize it as part of the Axis of Evil? Iran?

Kerry: I think that the term Axis of Evil is a misapplied term, frankly. Historically and in terms of the president. Iran is a problem. Iran in fact was a greater problem than Iraq at the time that the president started the war in Iraq. North Korea was a greater problem than Iraq at that time the president started the war in Iraq.

I believe this administration has ignored some of the things we could have done with respect to Iran. Look at what the British, French and Germans did with respect to their initiative. The United States should be leading that initiative, Tom.

The United States of America should have long ago offered the following deal. If Iran is serious about not pursuing nuclear weapons, we’ll supply you with the nuclear power and we’ll contain the nuclear material that’s created as a result. And therefore you get your power if it’s really only for peaceful purposes. We also could have pursued a far more aggressive and thoughtful counter-proliferation effort on nuclear and chemical and biological weapons internationally than this administration has.

So I believe the president took the license given him in Afghanistan to fight al-Qaida. And frankly has ignored some of the most critical challenges to the security of our country. I will provide a greater security — to the United States by pursuing more aggressively those opportunities than this administration has.

Iran sits atop one ofthe world’s largest reserves of gas and oil, it has no need for nuclear power to generate electricty. Why Kerry would parrot such a useless meme is puzzling and insulting to informed voters. One also wonders how Kerry will get France on board given that Clinton had little success, even after pandering to France’s oil and gas interests.

“French Scoff at U.S. Protest Over Gas Deal With Iran”

The French government warned the United States on Monday not to
retaliate, but the Clinton administration vowed to “take whatever action
is appropriate under the law.”

A spokesman for the European Union in Brussels said any American
retaliation would be “illegal and unacceptable.”

The exchanges underscored the marked divergence between Europe
and the United States over how to approach Iran. They also revealed
the recurrent French irritation — intermittently shared by other
European nations — at what is sometimes seen as an American attempt
to impose its policies in the post-Cold-War world.

Defending the contract signed with the National Iranian Oil Company,
Jacques Rummelhardt, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, said Monday
that it was “compatible with our policy toward Iran.” He described the
French policy as based on frank political exchange and the conviction
that “it is counterproductive to impose restrictions on the development
of commerce with Iran.”

In April of 1998 Lee Hamilton opined:


Second, the policy of “dual containment” of Iran and Iraq is not working, and is not sustainable. Seven years after the Gulf War, friends and allies have little enthusiasm for open-ended U.N. sanctions against Iraq. At least with Iraq, the international community agreed to impose those sanctions. On Iran, there is no such basis for agreement, and no prospect that we can persuade our allies to accept broad-based sanctions. No country in the world has followed the U.S. lead in sanctioning Iran.

Our efforts to isolate and contain Iran have not only been unsuccessful, they have been counterproductive. They have caused great strains with our allies in Europe, and our Arab friends in the Gulf.

Key Arab states boycotted the U.S.-backed economic summit in Qatar, but all Arab states attended the Islamic summit in Iran. The Saudis sent no one to the Qatar meeting, but they just hosted former President Rafsanjani for two weeks in the Kingdom. Our policy is not isolating Iran—it is isolating the United States.

Third, the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act is harmful to U.S. interests. Given the politics of an election year, it was easy in the summer of 1996 for the Congress to vote to impose sanctions on foreign companies that invest in the energy sectors of Iran and Libya. ILSA passed the House on a unanimous, recorded vote—including mine. I supported the bill with many reservations, which I explained at the time, and I now believe that my vote was a mistake. The administration also had strong reservations about this sanctions bill. It secured some improvements, but the bill was still bad. In a political season, the president signed the bill into law. Now he is struggling mightily to avoid applying it.

Because of last September’s announced investment in Iran’s South Pars gas field—involving the French firm Total, the Russian firm Gazprom, and the Malaysian firm Petronas—the president now confronts a series of unacceptable choices. If he decides to impose sanctions on these firms, he takes an enormous gamble. A decision to sanction will:


  • Create a huge fight with our European allies;
  • Undermine the already difficult effort to maintain international support for U.S. policy toward Iraq;
  • Weaken international support for efforts to contain Iran;
  • Harm our efforts to draw Iran’s democratically elected president into a dialogue;
  • Jeopardize our ongoing efforts to persuade Russia to shut down missile cooperation with Iran;
  • Make it more difficult to gain access to Caspian oil;
  • Force the European Union to take disputes on ILSA and Helms-Burton back to the World Trade Organization, threatening the integrity of that vital organization; and
  • Provoke retaliation against U.S. exports and investment—costing U.S. jobs.

But, if the U.S. decides to impose and waive sanctions, the costs are also high:


  • The president would face a firestorm of public criticism, especially from the Congress;
  • Even if waived, the impact of sanctions on U.S. relations with the EU and Iran would be almost as harmful;
  • An improvement in policy toward Iran would be even more difficult than it is; and
  • U.S. energy firms would complain bitterly. Foreign competitors would be allowed to go forward with investments in Iran, while U.S. firms could not.

Right now, the administration is carrying out the most rational policy: to study the question, and to do nothing. But the job of the president is to carry out the law, and ILSA puts him—and keeps him—in a terrible box. In our effort to isolate and sanction Iran, we are harming a wide range of other U.S. interests. Our current policy toward Iran is deeply flawed.

Deeply flawed indeed, Albright’s waiver of the ILSA signaled that the US was not serious in containing Iran and gained us little in the way of support from our European allies, as France continues to run interference for Iran’s Atomic Ayatollahs.

Kerry voted to extend the toothless ILSA in July 2001, but how will he enact real sanctions against Iran, and it’s client states such as France, without deepening the rift betwen the EU and the US?

Kerry’s vague response is not satisfactory in the dangerous waters we find ourselves treading since 9/11. Kerry cannot finesse foreign policy issues, such as Iran and North Korea with sound bites. In this election voters must have a clear understanding of his policy and intended implementation. Should Kerry be elected, he must hit the ground running, as the 9/11 commission report proves, we can no longer gamble on a President-elect’s learning curve.

Are Bloggers At Conventions Deluding Themselves?

Are bloggers at conventions deluding themselves into thinking they’re “real” journalists because they’ll be out in the fray, reporting from the field?

Are they in fact “the sizzle, not the steak” and nothing but glorified “Internet gossips,” journalistic wannabes who use dirty language, name call, don’t care about accuracy and in some cases even take money to express certain opinions?

To hear Alex S. Jones explain the bloggers’ unique role in the two upcoming conventions that is indeed the case. Jones is director of the Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. And he seemingly doesn’t think much of bloggers.

But before we get to his truly remarkable and strangely disdainful commentary in the Los Angeles Times Op-Ed section — revealingly titled “Bloggers Are the Sizzle, Not the Steak
Convention seats do not turn Internet gossips into journalists” — here’s a view of what is really at the heart of his criticisms:

In every profession there is a certain amount of dues paying. As someone who worked in the news media as a freelance, a fulltime contributor overseas, and on the staffs of two chain-owned newspapers, I can attest that there are certain hoops the journalistic establishment expects those who will be blessed with a forum to comment must jump through.

I always tell people about when, a few years after I left journalism school, I was in Spain writing for the Chicago Daily News, the Christian Science Monitor and other publications. A major news magazine hired me to help them out on legwork and sidebars on the last few months of the Franco regime. By then I had written for some two years in India and five months in Spain. One of the magazine’s big correspondents looked at me and said: “That’s a good story you wrote. But you can’t cover this if you haven’t covered City Hall.”

I almost said “What do you mean I can’t cover this? I AM COVERING IT NOW..” (Today I would say it). But he was resentful that I hadn’t gone through “the system” yet. That’s what Jones is basically suggesting about bloggers at conventions:

Bloggers will be covering the conventions WITHOUT jumping through the hoops. Without the editors (for better or for worse). Without being under the corporate pecking order which may entail advancing through layers of political gamesmanship. Without having gone through the organizational advancement required to be given a prominent forum to comment on big issues. And with freedom — and an instant audience not provided for by a big corporation.

So there’s lots of RESENTMENT on the part of some because bloggers (perceived as nobodies without journalistic status) are doing it, not through the normal channels…and they will HAVE AN AUDIENCE. Writes Jones:

The Democrats and the Republicans are inviting a limited number of bloggers — those witty, candid, irreverent, passionate, shrewd and outrageous Internet chroniclers — to their 2004 conventions. It’s a gesture of respect for the growing influence of the blogosphere, and if ever there were events ideally suited to bloggers, the heavily scripted and tensionless conventions top the list.

But make no mistake, this moment of blogging legitimization — and temporary press credentials — doesn’t turn bloggers into journalists.

Political conventions have become festivals of faux harmony and candidate image-building, which makes them marvelous targets for blogging’s candor, intelligence and righteous wrath.

However, bloggers, with few exceptions, don’t add reporting to the personal views they post online, and they see journalism as bound by norms and standards that they reject. That encourages these common attributes of the blogosphere: vulgarity, scorching insults, bitter denunciations, one-sided arguments, erroneous assertions and the array of qualities that might be expected from a blustering know-it-all in a bar.

He notes that the “mainstream media” has cut back on its coverage and that there could actually be a big audience for blog provided convention news, then adds:

Presumably many Americans, especially young ones, will look for something with more spice and feistiness, which means they may well be looking at blogs and no doubt adding their own kibitzing via the medium’s famed interactivity. This can be fun, and it can also be important. It was political bloggers and their fans who insulted and harassed and eventually embarrassed the major media into paying attention to the comments suggesting racism that Mississippi’s Sen. Trent Lott made at South Carolina Sen. Strom Thurmond’s 100th birthday party. Media coverage forced Lott’s resignation as Republican leader in the Senate, but it was bloggers who badgered the media until they did their job.

Journalists increasingly read blogs to pick up tips. Blogs have become a network of capillaries that feed the nation’s veins of information. For that reason, blogging’s freewheeling, unfettered style makes it a juicy target for manipulation.

In these early days, blogging still has the charm of guileless transparency, which in the blogosphere means that everyone — no matter how cranky or hysterical — is presumed to be speaking his or her mind with sincerity. It is this air of conviction that makes bloggers such potent advocates.

However, if history is any indicator, such earnestness will attract those who would exploit it, and they include some canny, inventive people. There is already talk of bloggers who would consider publishing items for cash and commercial blogs that tout products.

Oh really??? Where has THAT been a widespread practice? How many bloggers are taking money from parties or candidates for tailor-made posts? Is there an isolated case? Is this a practice that is widespread or even moderately-spread? Baloney.

That statement suggests Jones basically does not like to see bloggers getting the status of journalists who had to jump through the hoops of journalism schools, go through the “dues paying” at the tiny newspapers and magazines, and work (or brown nose) their way up the corporate ladder to get a shot at covering the conventions — and expressing opinions, whether they be of the right or the left.

Indeed, he increases his criticism of bloggers as his piece progresses:

Blogging is especially amenable to introducing negative information into the news stream and for circulating rumors as fact. Blogging’s fact-checking apparatus is just the built-in truth squad of those who read the blog and howl loudly if they wish to dispute some assertion. It is, in a sense, a place where everyone has his own truth.
With the status conferred by convention credentials, blogging has arrived as an engaging, important new player in the information carnival. But should blogging displace traditional reporting and journalism, as some in the blogosphere predict it will, then the steak will have been swapped for the sizzle. It’s better to have both.

That’s a cop-out ending that is supposed to ease the bite of previous assertions. But it certainly appears as if Jones is annoyed that bloggers are being given the status of “mainstream” journalists at the convention — and that he wants to make sure that a distinction is clearly maintained.

In one sense he’s right: the rules of journalistic confirmation, printing of rumors, etc. don’t apply to and are basically not followed by some bloggers. But the diversity of perspective, the infusion of non-group-think-media reporting (there’s LESS DANGER of Pack Blogging at the convention than Pack Journalism), and writers who have not been whipped into shape by corporate organizations (of the left and right) will be a welcome development.

The same as degree-holding, corporate journalists? No. Deserving of the same attentive reading? Most assuredly YES.

FOOTNOTE: I’m not writing this because I’m covering the conventions. I won’t (I’ll be doing family shows in Wyoming during the Democratic convention and probably be in Connecticut during the Republican one).

Courage Versus Hate

It was Courage versus Hate….from the moment they stormed the cockpit to the second they brought down the plane.

Some in the Arab world will make the case that hate won — that Al Qaeda’s merciless terrorists, after murdering the pilots, brought down Flight 93 before the rebelling passengers could get to them. But, in reality, Courage won — because the passengers weren’t going to take it and signalled in that instant that the days of passive passengers trusting thugs who take over their airplanes were definitely over.

The bipartisan 911 Commission report contains a chilling account of what went on board on that plane. It’s a story for the ages.

But it won’t need the impact of ages: as soon as you read it you realize that in that moment when the passengers rebelled, the terrorists job became that much more difficult forever more. You can read it all here but we offer these key highlights from a New York Times report:

——(After Captain and passengers knew about the other hijackings and got warnings about possible attempts to enter the cockpit..JG)Two minutes later, the hijackers attacked Captain Dahl and his first officer.

Unlike the three other hijackings, Flight 93 continued transmitting over the radio during the struggle in the cockpit. The captain or first officer declared “Mayday,” and 35 seconds later, one of them shouted, “Hey, get out of here get out of here get out of here.” Later, passengers reported seeing two bodies outside the cockpit, injured or dead, probably the pilots….

—-A lot of the passengers used cell phones to call the ground.

—They were stormed by the passengers. And they knew it. And they knew they were losing…so:

At three seconds after 10 a.m., Mr. Jarrah is heard on the cockpit voice recorder saying: “Is that it? Shall we finish it off?”

But another hijacker responds: “No. Not yet. When they all come, we finish it off.”

The voice recorder captured sounds of continued fighting, and Mr. Jarrah pitched the plane up and then down. A passenger is heard to say, “In the cockpit. If we don’t we’ll die!”

Then a passenger yelled “Roll it!” Some aviation experts have speculated that this was a reference to a food cart, being used as a battering ram.

Mr. Jarrah “stopped the violent maneuvers” at 10:01:00, according to the report, and said, “Allah is the greatest! Allah is the greatest!”

“He then asked another hijacker in the cockpit, `Is that it? I mean, shall we put it down?’ to which the other replied, `Yes, put it in it, and pull it down.’ “

Eighty seconds later, a hijacker is heard to say, “Pull it down! Pull it down!”

“The hijackers remained at the controls but must have judged that the passengers were only seconds from overcoming them,” according to the report, which seems to indicate that the hijackers themselves crashed the plane. “With the sounds of the passenger counterattack continuing, the aircraft plowed into an empty field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, at 580 miles per hour, about 20 minutes’ flying time from Washington, D.C,” according to the report

.

So there you have it: hijackers consumed with hatred for the West and the United States, determined to use an airplane as guided missle, in control of a plane after murdering the pilots and seeking their own and the passengers’ deaths. Courageous passengers of all backgrounds and sexes, not sitting back and taking it. THOSE PASSENGERS launched the war against terrorism…in that plane.

In the end, the hijackers — knowing they would lose control of the plane — in their final contemptuous act thinking they would “win” by crashing it into the ground and killing everyone. So they aimed the plane down. And when it was over, the passengers’ souls ascended and the terrorists souls descended into eternal damnation.

And the story of Flight 93 lives on in history.

Europe's Eternal Jew

Over at Spanish blog HispaLibertas, Manel writes on an interesting commentary by a former Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden, Per Ahlmark. I found a copy of his commentary in English, which shows that not all Swedes are neutered Germans. Ahlmark writes on the rise of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism (if you care to make that distinction) and the linkeage he sees with the also rising and rabid anti-Americanism. Steven den Beste wrote on this subject before, and I added some thoughts of my own here.

Ahlmark opines that the rise of anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism alike, is formed by a kind of blindness, combined with a strange mixture of alienation, guilt, and fear toward both Israel and America

Millions of Europeans resist seeing Israel as a country fighting for its survival. Israel cannot afford to lose one major war, as it would mean the end of the Jewish democratic state. But huge numbers of Europeans believe that something is fundamentally wrong with the Israelis: they never compromise; they prefer using military means to solve political problems.

Something similar is at work in the European attitude to the US. Look at Europe, many Europeans say, we have eradicated wars, dangerous nationalism, and dictatorships. We created a peaceful European Union. We do not wage war; we negotiate. We do not exhaust our resources on weapons. The rest of the planet should learn from us how to live together without terrorizing each other.

It is sadly true. It is frustrating discussing with an average European on the matter, and moreso if you hold up the theory that their lack of experience or remembrance (for Eastern Europeans luckily, this is far less the case) to ever having to fight for their freedom and democracies, makes them out of touch with the realities of this world. Inevitably it gets greeted by looks of utter disbelief, leaving you inmediately discarded as a war-loving right-wing nut. Ahlmark addresses this sentiment as follows, and explains how it is fictional:

As a Swede, I have heard such pacific boasting all my life: that neutral Sweden is a moral superpower. Now this bragging has become the EU’s ideology. We are the moral continent. Call this the “Swedenization” of Europe.

Yes, today’s EU is a miracle for a continent where two modern totalitarian movements - Communism and Nazism - unleashed rivers of blood. But what Europe forgets is how those ideologies were overcome. Without the US Army, Western Europe would not have been liberated in 1945. Without the Marshall Plan and NATO, it would not have taken off economically. Without the policy of containment under America’s security umbrella, the Red Army would have strangled the dream of freedom in Eastern Europe, or brought European unity, but under a flag with red stars.

To deal with the threat of terrorism, and other world events where freedom is pitted against totalitarianism, Europeans have constructed their own world, Ahlmark notes.

Instead of supporting those who fight international terrorism, many Europeans try to blame the spread of terrorism on Israel and the US. This is a new European illusion. Spain’s latter day appeasement à la Munich arises from this thinking.

It explains why Europe seeks to align its policies with this illusion, more and more openly calling for the ‘War on Terror’ to be seen as a judicial affair, with more attention to root causes. The same is happening in Spain as official government policy, just recently.

To explain the roots of all this, Ahlmark turns to British writer Ian Buruma, who claims that Europe’s anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism stem from guilt and fear, leading to ‘fat guts’ at home and pacifism abroad. He sees the visible merger of the two in the term ‘neocon’, something I absolutely subscribe to and I resent the term fully because of it.

The two world wars led to such catastrophic carnage that “never again” was interpreted as “welfare at home, non-intervention abroad.” The problem with this concept is that it could only survive under the protection of American might.

Extreme anti-Americanism and anti-Zionism are actually merging. The so-called peace poster “Hitler Had Two Sons: Bush and Sharon,” displayed in European anti-war rallies, combines trivialization of Nazism with demonization of both the victims of Nazism and those who defeated Nazism.

Much of this grows from a subconscious European guilt related to the Holocaust. Now the Holocaust’s victims - and their children and grandchildren - are supposedly doing to others what was done to them. By equating the murderer and the victim, we wash our hands.

This pattern of anti-Zionism and anti-Americanism returns again and again. “The ugly Israeli” and “the ugly American” seem to be of the same family. “The ugly Jew” becomes the instrumental part of this defamation when so-called neoconservatives are blamed both for American militarism and Israeli brutalities and then selectively named: Wolfowitz, Perle, Abrams, Kristol, etc. This is a new version of the old myth that Jews rule the US.

Europe needs to stop and take a close look at where it is heading. It needs to revisit the idea that ‘History is over’, and the concept of ‘Just War’. It needs to accept its history, and understand that its reaction to it has been flawed, setting Europeans up to repeat it, rather than avoid making the same mistakes ever again.

As for the US’ part, they need to get tough with Europe. I guess that’s why I’m in favor of replacing NATO with new, purpose-oriented alliances with separate European nations. Like a parent that after fifty years decides it’s time for Junior to move out of the basement and get a life of his own, The US need to push Europe out into the real world. Junior won’t move out by himself.

Winds Of Change
just now posted on the same subject, which makes for a good accompanying read.

First published at Southern Watch.

John Kerry Didn't Support The Troops In His Post-Vietnam Days

The most underreported and unexplored story of the entire presidential campaign has been John Kerry’s time as an anti-war protester. Here’s a guy who is selling himself to the American public as Sgt. York reincarnated and yet the same press which spent weeks hyperventilating over the unsupported & insubstantial “George Bush AWOL” story has shown scant interest in digging into Kerry’s Post-Vietnam days.

However, there are a plethora of great angles for front-page stories out there. Kerry spoke from the back of the same pick-up truck as hated anti-war protester Jane Fonda, Kerry was present at a VVAW meeting where they “discussed and voted (against) an assassination plot against pro-war U.S. senators”, Kerry’s first Purple Heart turned out to be an accidentally self-inflicted scratch that was fixed with a band-aid which is particularly significant since his three purple hearts got him out of Vietnam and into the anti-war movement well before his tour of duty should have ended, all of Kerry’s former commanding officers think he’s unfit to be President, Kerry claimed that he committed atrocities in Vietnam, etc, etc, etc.

If Kerry were a Republican instead of a Democrat — which would mean that the press would really go after him on this stuff instead of burying it — all the baggage from his time as a Vietnam War protester would be enough to torpedo his campaign.

Think I’m exaggerating?

Well, imagine what would happen if Kerry’s war record got the scrutiny it deserved. Think about what a month of articles featuring devastating quotes, like the ones compiled by groups like Swift Boat Veterans For Truth, would do to the Kerry campaign if they regularly appeared on the front pages of the “A list” papers like the New York Times, the WAPO, USA Today, & the Chicago Tribune…

“In 1971, when John Kerry spoke out to America, labeling all Vietnam veterans as thugs and murderers, I was shocked and almost brought to my knees, because even though I had served at the same time and same unit, I had never witnessed or participated in any of the events that the Senator had accused us of. I strongly believe that the statements made by the Senator were not only false and inaccurate, but extremely harmful to the United States’ efforts in Southeast Asia and the rest of the world. Tragically, some veterans, scorned by the antiwar movement and their allies, retreated to a life of despair and suicide. Two of my crewmates were among them. For that there is no forgiveness.”Richard O’Mara

“I served in Vietnam as a boat officer from June of 1968 to July of 1969. My service was three months in Coastal Division 13 out of Cat Lo, and nine months with Coastal Division 11 based in An Thoi. John Kerry was in An Thoi the same time I was. I’m here today to express the anger I have harbored for over 33 years, about being accused with my fellow shipmates of war atrocities. All I can say is when I leave here today, I’m going down to the Wall to tell my two crew members it’s not true, and that they and the other 49 Swiftees who are on the Wall were then and are still now the best.”Robert Brant

“In a whole year that I spent patrolling, I didn’t see anything like a war crime, an atrocity, anything like that. Time and again I saw American fighting men put themselves in graver danger trying to avoid… collateral damage. When John Kerry returned to the country, he was sworn in front of Congress. And then he told my family — my parents, my sister, my brother, my neighbors — he told everyone I knew and everyone I’d ever know that I and my comrades had committed unspeakable atrocities.”David Wallace

“I served with these guys. I went on missions with them, and these men served honorably. Up and down the chain of command there was no acquiescence to atrocities. It was not condoned, it did not happen, and it was not reported to me verbally or in writing by any of these men including Lt.(jg) Kerry. In 1971, ‘72, for almost 18 months, he stood before the television audiences and claimed that the 500,000 men and women in Vietnam, and in combat, were all villains — there were no heroes. In 2004, one hero from the Vietnam War has appeared, running for President of the United States and Commander-in-Chief. It just galls one to think about it.”Captain George Elliott, USN (retired)

“(Kerry) encouraged our enemies to rebuild and hang on when they were near defeat, as they were after the tet offensive in 1968. Did you know our POWs had John Kerry’s words quoted to them by their interrogators?”Retired U.S. Navy SEAL captain with service in Vietnam, John Bailey

“John Kerry’s recent admissions caused me to realize that I was most likely in Vietnam dodging enemy rockets on the very day he met in Paris with Madame Binh, the representative of the Viet Cong to the Paris Peace Conference. John Kerry returned to the U.S. to become a national spokesperson for the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, a radical fringe of the antiwar movement, an organization set upon propagating the myth of war crimes through demonstrably false assertions. Who was the last American POW to die languishing in a North Vietnamese prison forced to listen to the recorded voice of John Kerry disgracing their service by his dishonest testimony before the Senate?”John O’Neil in May, 2004

The fact that John Kerry, a man who trashed the military so badly in his testimony before Congress that the Vietnamese played Kerry’s words to our POWs in an effort to break their will, is now portraying himself as a champion of the military who can be trusted to lead America because of his Vietnam war experience, is practically beyond belief. As Mark Steyn once said of Kerry, “He spent the Seventies playing Jane Fonda and he now wants to run as John Wayne.”

If Kerry wants to play up his combat time and his medals, I have no complaints. He did put his life in danger, he did win medals, and he deserves credit for that. But, there were a lot of soldiers who fought in the Vietnam war who fit that description and Kerry smeared their good names, trashed their reputations, and stood shoulder to shoulder with anti-war protesters who thought our soldiers were human garbage. As far as I’m concerned that in and of itself makes John Kerry unfit to be the President of the United States.

July 22, 2004
The 9/11 Report: Will You Be An American?

Gary Farber’s home blog is Amygdala.

Transcript here of the press conference of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, better known as “the 9/11 Commission.”

Will you listen, or will you be partisan?

GOVERNOR KEAN: As we said at the outset, we look back so that we can look forward.

Our goal is to prevent future attacks. Every expert with whom we spoke told us an attack of even greater magnitude is now possible and even probable. We do not have the luxury of time. We must prepare and we must act.

Read The Rest…

Bias in Boston Globe

Media Research Center has a great bias alert today regarding the coverage of the Sandy Berger investigation, particularly regarding the shift of coverage from what Berger did and what the investigation reveals to the timing of the leak.

This article in this morning’s Boston Globe caught my eye:

The article is subtitled “Kerry tries to deflect Republican attacks” where it might just as easily subtitled “Republicans try to deflect Kerry attacks” or “Republicans and Democrats trade attacks.”

The author consistantly spins the language of the article to imply that Kerry and his advisors are innocents being baraged by Republican attacks, while a careful reader might pick up on the fact that many of the attacks by Republicans are responses to attacks on the President by Kerry or Kerry advisors and surrogates.

The article begins by repeating a Kerry claim that the White House leaked the Berger investigation. The author doesn’t mention until the tenth paragraph that Kerry has offered no proof at all for his allegation, apart from the fact that several high-level Repubicans had lunch together beforehand. I’ve heard several high-level Democrats will meet next week in Boston. Will the author consider that meeting “proof” that every attack by every person who attends the DNC is part of a coordinated effort conceived by Kerry, for which Kerry is responsible?

It continues: “President Bush, meanwhile, used the White House bully pulpit yesterday to elevate the Berger controversy to ‘a very serious matter,’ prompting Democratic outcry that the president was hyping an ongoing criminal inquiry into Berger’s actions to deflect attention from an independent commission’s report on the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which is expected to be released today.”

Without having the context, you might think the President went out of his way to make a statement about the investigation, and that this statement was part of some action on the part of Bush playing up this scandal. In fact, Bush did not bring this topic up — it was the first question asked by a reporter at an unrelated, routine press availablity with a foreign leader:

“Q Thank you, Mr. President. President Clinton suggested that perhaps politics was behind the disclosure of the Sandy Berger investigation. Do you have anything to say about that? And, also, when did you learn about this probe?

PRESIDENT BUSH: I’m not going to comment on this matter. This is a serious matter, and it will be fully investigated by the Justice Department.

Q When did you learn, sir, if I may?

PRESIDENT BUSH: I’m not going to comment on it. It’s a very serious matter. It will be fully investigated by the Justice Department.”

The author might easily have rewritten the paragraph to reflect that Democrats has already begun making allegations of a political timing to the leak, and Bush, when asked about the Democrat attacks, said “This is a serious matter, and it will be fully investigated…” rather than implying that attacks began with Republicans and Democrats were merely answering these attacks. The author never mentions that Bush didn’t initiate the topic. It hardly seems like use of the “bully pulpit” to promote a story.

The article goes on to recap and quote Kerry campaign advisors attacking Republicans for allegedly attacking Kerry campaign advisors. For example, there is a laughable paragraph from Joe Wilson:

“‘The Republicans are trying to tar me as a surrogate to John Kerry, just like they’re trying to tar Sandy Berger, because they can’t beat Kerry on the issues,’ said former ambassador Joseph Wilson, who is involved in a dispute with the Senate Intelligence Committee about his investigation of Iraq’s prewar nuclear weapons program. ‘Right now, I’m a member of Kerry’s foreign policy advisory group, but I’m spending most of my time fighting against the Bush camp.’”

No mention is made of the unanimous, bi-partisan findings of the Senate Intelligence Committee, or the Bulter Report, both of which would put Wilson’s allegations in their proper light. If Wilson was “tarred”, it was a bi-partisan, even international, effort.

The author later states: “Another chief target is a close Kerry friend and campaign surrogate, former senator Max Cleland, who drew Republican attacks Monday. Cleland said President Bush had ‘flat out lied’ about why he the United States went to war in Iraq and argued that Bush chose to topple Hussein ‘because he concluded his daddy was a failed president’ for not ousting Hussein in the first Gulf War.”

The author doesn’t even bother to mention what attacks the White House or Republicans allegedly made on Cleland, even though he details Cleland’s allegations. Do these attacks even exist? How can the reader weigh those attacks against Cleland’s attacks without knowing what they are? Despite the wording of the intro sentence, it’s fairly clear that whatever “attacks” on Cleland are being made are in response to Cleland calling Bush a liar, something one might reasonable be expected to respond to. The paragraph would more properly state that Republicans are responding to Cleland’s attacks, and if it were trying to be fair, restate or quote Cleland’s attacks and the Republican counterattack.

The author repeats his Republicans-are-the-agressors theme in the next paragraph:

“The Bush campaign shifted into full attack mode against Whoopi Goldberg, Chevy Chase, and other performers after a Kerry fund-raiser this month at which Bush was attacked as a ‘thug’ and Goldberg made a sexual pun about the president. Republicans have been pressing cable talk-show hosts, newspaper columnists, and other members of the media to hold Kerry accountable for the words and actions of surrogates.”

Really? It’s deeply shocking that the White House might respond when the President is called a killer or a liar? The author might have stated that Kerry supporters made a number of crude, vicious, and inflammatory statements, and that the Republicans pressed the media to hold Kerry responsible for statements made by his supporters at a fundraiser in his honor. Readers could judge for themselves whether Kerry ought to be held accountable for the language used if he choses not to condemn them. Alas, it would not have perpetuated the author’s attempt to prove that an Kerry is under an unprovoked assault, but it would have had the virtue of being the truth.

July 21, 2004
Perspective

To (some of) My fellow Americans:

Do you enjoy living in this country? Do you appreciate all it gives you? Or do you spend your time complaining about every last thing?

Do you think this country is fascist and run by an evil cartel? Do you gripe about having to pay high taxes on your property or your luxury goods? Do you piss and moan about the crushing of dissent and the making of a police state?

How would you like to live like this?

Rapes are still occurring. People do not feel safe leaving the camps to go out and forage for food. The situation remains very, very serious, and first and foremost the security has to be dealt with.”

That’s Colin Powell talking about the ethnic cleansing going on in Sudan. You know what struck me the most about that quote? The word forage. Imagine having to forage for food for your family.

Let’s move on:

In 1988, the people of Burma revolted against the country’s military rulers. It was one year prior to the widely-telecast Tiananmen Square uprising in neighboring China. Both uprisings were met with bloody crackdown by the respective regimes in Burma and China.

***

In 1988, within minutes, Burmese security forces machine-gunned down over 300 peaceful protestors including students, school children, monks and other citizens in an Upper Burma city of Sagaing. Subsequently, the troops bulldozed the dead and the wounded from the streets of Sagaing, threw them onto army trucks and dumped them into the Irrawaddy or the Nile of Burma.

And more:

Since its announcement of a ‘roadmap’ to democracy in August 2003, Burma’s ruling military has been engaged in a nationwide crackdown on Burma’s democrats. A new report by Alternative Asean Network on Burma (Altsean) reveals that the crackdown includes: the sentencing to death of journalists, the shooting of political prisoners and the arrest, imprisonment and torture of pro-democracy activists.

Not getting the point yet? Let’s try Iran.

The Islamic republic regime executed publicly a third individual in less than two days. This new victim of the Mullahcracy’s repressive policies was named “Moosa Noori” and was hanged in the central square of the western City of Dehloran.

Here, try this photo on for size. There’s a few more here.

Are you someone who likes to protest? Try protesting in Cuba:

At the risk of being taken from their homes by force, at the risk of being brutally interrogated, at the risk of being encarcerated like their husbands and family members, twenty-two wives, mothers and sisters organized a protest in Cuba this past Father’s Day.

Yes, they risked their lives to protest. See, in some countries protests are illegal. In some countries, freedom does not exist. In some countries, dissent is really crushed, along with your hopes, spirit and probably a few limbs.

In some countries, there are no inalienable rights. There is no freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom to come and go as you please.

In America, you have rights and freedoms and cry wolf as you may, you are not being oppressed.

Go read about Sudan. Women are being raped, some many times a day. Rape is used as a political tool there, condoned by the government as a form of coercion. Thousands of children are starving to death every single day. A race is being ravaged.

Now stand here and try to tell me that our government is oppressing you. Go ahead, try to tell me that they’re shutting you up or keeping you down. Have they ever sent a group of men to your house to slaughter your children in front of you because you dared to speak out? No, they haven’t.

Go read about Iran. When was the last time you went to an anti-Bush protest and some of the protesters were rounded up and hung right in front of you?

Go read about Burma. Have your protestations ever been met by a hail of machine gun bullets?

No to all of the above. To you, a grave crime against humanity occurs when Whoopi Goldberg loses her Slimfast ads because the owners of the company decided that she no longer was a good representative of their product. She spoke out against the president, against his administration, made jokes about him and she lost an ad contract. She didn’t lose her life. She isn’t in jail. Her family hasn’t been wiped out. Try some perspective.

The Dixie Chicks dissented and made the cover of Entertainment Weekly the next month.

That’s America for you. Fascist land of dictatorship, oppression, stifling of dissent and a police state.

Get some perspective, people. And stop taking your country for granted.

I look forward to facing the protesters in front of Madison Square Garden next month at the RNC. It will be a wonderful reminder of how great our country is, and how free we are.

The Barrier

(Cross-posted from AEBrain, the Blog)

I confess I was moderately surprised when Australia voted not to censure Israel in the UN for putting up the protective barrier. I expected - or rather hoped - that we would abstain, but feared that we’d go along with the majority out of a misplaced respect for the International Court of Justice. I’m glad I was wrong.

The inimitable and inestimable Tim Blair has a rogue’s gallery of who voted Yes, and who voted No. In the comments section, you’ll also find the roll call of the absent and the abstentions.
So why did we do it? Here’s the Official Line :

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer says Australia does not approve of the barrier’s path but says the court was not the right place to raise the issue.

“We believe that taking this matter of the security barrier to the International Court of Justice was the wrong decision,” he said.

“The second thing is that Israel must find ways of defending itself against terrorists and it isn’t reasonable to tell the Israelis that they can’t erect a security barrier to protect the people of Israel from suicide homicide bombers.”

Mr Downer added: “I have always been opposed to this case being taken to the court of justice because the court of justice does not have the jurisdiction to make a determination on this matter.

“It can only give an advisory opinion and it’s created a political controversy surrounding the court of justice and I regret that.”

I happen to agree with him on every single point (and there are lots of points). Anyone with Internet access can see that while the number of attempted suicide bombings has risen exponentially, the number of successful ones has dropped to almost none. But there’s a bit more to it than that.

First, the Israeli Supreme Court found that parts of the Barrier caused undue hardship to local Palestinians : so the Israelis are already spending over$15 Million Aussie Dollars making the neccessary mods. There is already a functioning system for review and modification for the future (the barrier is less than 1/3 complete) to avoid un-neccessary injustice.

Secondly, and most contentiously, there’s the matter of the placement as a de-facto border between two states, Israel and Palestine, mainly on disputed territory. Here’s the Israeli view :

The former “Green Line” was the armistice line between Israel and Jordan during the years 1949-1967. It was not the final border between the countries which was to be determined in peace negotiations. The “Green Line” ceased to exist following the Arab threat to Israel’s existence in the spring of 1967 which led to the Six Day War in June of that year. The drafters of UN Security Council Resolution 242 in November 1967 recognized that the pre-June 1967 lines were not secure.

While the final border between Israel and the Palestinians has to be determined in negotiations, the route of the anti-terrorism fence is determined solely by the immediate and pressing need to save Israeli lives by preventing Palestinian terrorists from reaching the Israeli populations. Thus, the fence is being built wherever this can be achieved most effectively. To put it arbitrarily anywhere else, such as along the pre-June 1967 lines, would have nothing to do with security and, therefore, nothing to do with the purpose of the fence.

Planned Barrier PositionAlthough the Barrier (‘Fence’ as the Israelis call it, ‘Wall’ as the ICJ calls it - it’s 3% concrete, 97% wire) is inside the ‘Green Line’ for a few hundred metres, that’s less than 1%. The question is, have the Palestinians forfeited any rights to the ‘benefit of the doubt’? And have the Israelis earned it, regardless of their de-facto military superiority? I’d have to say, yes, and yes. Although the Barrier is outside the ‘Green Line’, it’s not far from it, it cuts through non-urban land, and is no huge Land Grab. Anyone else would have put it along the border with the bit of Palestine that was given to the Arabs, namely, Jordan. And should the Palestinians ever really make a sincere effort for Peace, then such a barrier would be redundant, and could be dispensed with. It’s likely it will become the de-facto border, but it’s not certain. That’s up to the Palestinians.

Thirdly, there’s a small matter of blatant hypocracy.

From the Monday Morning of Lebanon :

But in Kashmir itself, India is taking measures which, if they do not lead to war, are raising angry feelings in a sensitive spot. It is building a “wall of separation” to divide the Indian-controlled from the Pakistani-controlled parts of the territory.
An Indian army captain says that, when completed, the wall will protect his people from attacks by Muslim extremists.
Once the thousand-kilometer high-tech fence is finished, militants will no longer be able to infiltrate his side of the disputed territory and kill his soldiers and civilians, he says.
On the other side of the barrier, anguished Muslim villagers protest that it is taking their land and cutting them off from their loved ones.
As the World Court was about to rule on Israel’s separation barrier in the West Bank, the arguments, so regularly rehearsed, certainly sounded familiar.

India voted “Yes” to condemn.

Then there’s the little matter of the Saudi-Yemen er, fence? From the Grauniad :

The head of Saudi Arabia’s border guard, Talal Anqawi, told an Arab newspaper last week that the barrier was being constructed inside Saudi territory but did not specify the exact location. He also dismissed comparisons with Israel’s West Bank barrier, which has sparked international condemnation.

“What is being constructed inside our borders with Yemen is a sort of screen … which aims to prevent infiltration and smuggling,” he said. “It does not resemble a wall in any way.”

The Grauniad doesn’t say whether he was able to say it with a straight face, as the border between Yemen and Saudi has been the subject of contention (and several wars) since the two countries were founded. Saudi voted “Yes” to condemn, of course.

Finally there’s this little graphic, which I think on its own provides a full and complete justification. Although I would have preferred a less racist labelling (there’s a lot of Bedouin in the IDF, and it’s insulting to them), it’s the way that Hamas and Co think, so after some consideration, I’ve left it as the original artist intended.
Arab vs Jew Prams
I’d like to give credit to the artist, but I downloaded it ages ago, and can’t find the original site

July 20, 2004
Guest Editorial: Comparing Bush and Hitler

The following was written by Mike Borrelli and appears here with permission of the author.

To say that comparing the President of the United States of America to
Adolf Hitler is disturbing would be one of the greatest understatements one could make. The are certainly actions that both did, such as being elected to run the executive branch of the US and Germany, respectively, but if that is the intention of the comparison, one could just as easily compare President Bush to Nelson Mandela or former President Lincoln. Therefore it is evident that the comparison is meant to be something more sinister.

Pravda recently wrote that President Bush’s actions in Iraq were extremely similar to the attrocities
committed by Hitler’s armies
.

The slaughter of innocent civilians is there, the torture
chambers are there, the targeting of civilian homes with Weapons of Mass Destruction is there, the murder of kids is there, the rape of countless innocent women is there.

Closer to home, and in a case very familiar to many, individuals
contributed ads to a MoveOn.org contest which displayed images of Hitler and Bush side by side. And finally, attending any “anti-war protest”, the posters comparing not only Bush to Hitler, but other members of the current administration to high ranking Nazis are common.

The reaction to these, and similar actions is as disturbing as the actions themselves. Rather than castigation, the free Internet encyclopedia Wikipedia entry on the Sturmabteilung,
more commonly known as the “brown shirts”, has been updated to add:

Today, the term “Brown Shirts” has become part of every day langugage as a term to describe the extreme rank and file of right wing organizations. It can also mean an individual of a right wing organization who is seen as very narrow-minded and excessively loyal.

I would like to show how dissimilar President Bush and his sdministration are to the Nazis, while reminding those who pretend to see similarities between the two of the true horror that the Nazis created.

Election

Hitler’s rise to power was directly related to the economic situation in Germany. There was a story about a man carrying a laundry basket full of money to get a loaf of bread. On his way to the store someone came up, grabbed the basket, dumped the money out, and took off.

The problem was that after World War I, the victors in Europe placed
almost exclusive blame for the war on Germany. When the Great Depression hit the world, it hit Germany especially hard. The German people were looking for a scapegoat to blame their troubles on, and the young man of Adolf Hitler provided that to them.

The Jews, he argued, were to blame for Germany’s plight. Being a
charismatic speaker, he quickly won support for the Nazi party across
Germany by telling the Germans what they wanted to hear.

In comparison, President Bush also began as a little known figure when he entered the Republican primaries in late 1999. The United States was, at least on the surface, flying high and the main issues raised in the election were abortion rights and tax-cuts.

Enabling Act

A month after taking office as German Chancellor a fire broke out at the Reichstag, the German seat of power. Once again the Nazis were quick to point the finger, but this time they pointed to the German socialist party. The Nazis argued that new laws had to be enacted to quell the “distress” of the German people. In fact, they called the new act, “Law for Removing the Distress of the People and the Reich,” and it would get rid of the democratic process in Germany and established Hitler as a dictator.

The law passed after Hitler had been in office for less than three months.

If something would be compared to the Enabling Act, as it came to be known as, it would be the USA PATRIOT Act, as both were passed after significant events inside the respective countries.

“Significant events” is a bit like comparing a model airplane and a jet fighter. Sure, both of them fly, but that’s about where the similarities end.

The fire at the Reichstag was deliberately set by the Nazis in a bid to secure more power. In contrast, the attacks of September 11, 2001 were committed by international terrorists to kill as many innocent people as possible.

The Enabling Act made Hitler a dictator, and the USA PATRIOT Act augmented US Law to allow more flexibility in an attempt to stop terrorist, who can blend in to society and, as has been shown, show no concern for even their own lives.

Original Concentration Camps

The original concentration camps were setup as large prisons to hold
political prisoners of Hitler and the Nazi party. Prisoners of the camp were subjected to “harsh military style drills, random beatings and sometimes torture.”

There are a very few who will suggest that the detentions at Guantanamo Bay, or the actions at Abu Ghraib are similar to these camps, but this is simply not the case.

The prisoners at both of these centers were arrested on the battlefield and are being held in detention. Those at Guantanamo Bay have been granted the legal rights to sue to challenge their status as an enemy combatant.

Even the prisoners who were abused cannot be compared rationally to those abused by the Nazis. A few soldiers, and most everything written has reinforced that it was a few individuals and not a condoned act of the Defense Department, tortured a small number of prisoners by making them become humiliated.

There has never been a report of a prisoner being beaten to death at
either of the detention centers.

With that in mind, it’s quite clear that there is nothing comparable to this in the Bush administration.

Night of the Long Knives

Upset with the Sturmabteilung’s (SA) behavior, Hitler gathered the more disciplined Shutzstaffel (SS) from their ranks, lead by Heinrich Himmler. After a month of discussions the SS orchestrated a weekend attack on a the Reich List of Unwanted Persons, mainly SA members and other political opponents.

Between Saturday June 30 and Sunday July 1, between 200 and 1,000,
according to various estimates, people were killed, many of whom were not on the list.

Two weeks later Hitler gave a speech to the Reichstag in which he announced:

If anyone reproaches me and asks why I did not resort to the regular courts of justice, then all I can say is this: In this hour I was responsible for the fate of the German people, and thereby I became the supreme judge of the German people.

It was no secret that this time the revolution would have to be bloody; when we spoke of it we called it ‘The Night of the Long Knives.’ Everyone must know for all future time that if he raises his hand to strike the State, then certain death is his lot.

It is quite clear that there is no similar situation that has existed in the Bush administration.

Nuremberg Race Laws

In an effort to protect the “purity” of German blood, the Nuremberg laws were passed, the first two of which were “The Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honor” and “The Reich Citizenship Law”.

The Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honor made it
illegal for a Jew to marry or have sexual relations with an Aryan, and The Reich Citizenship Law removed citizenship from German Jews, making them “subjects” of Hitler.

It is quite clear that no similar law or bill has existed during the Bush administration.

The Night of Broken Glass

On the night of November 9, 1938, a coordinated attack on German Jews was carried out.

During the attack, in which mobs rampaged through homes, beat and
otherwise brutalized Jews and destroyed synagogues. 7,500 Jewish
businesses were destroyed, 267 synagogues were burned, destroying 177 of them, and 91 Jews were killed while firefighters stood by and prevented the flames from destroying non-Jewish property.

25,000 Jewish men were loaded onto trains and transported to concentration camps where they were tortured and randomly selected to be beaten to death.

Following the attacks, more stringent laws were passed that forbid Jews from interacting with Germans by disallowing them the use of public transportation, schools and even hospitals.

Hermann Göring, a high ranking Nazi stated at a meeting discussing the
economic impact of the attacks and distribution of insurance monies said:

“I shall close the meeting with these words, German Jewry
shall, as punishment for their abominable crimes, et cetera, have to make a contribution for one billion marks. That will work. The swine won’t commit another murder. Incidentally, I would like to say that I would not like to be a Jew in Germany.

Very few may argue that attacks did occur on Muslims in the United States following the attacks. These two events are so dissimilar that comparing them would require a great perversion of the more recent events and the slightest glance at the past. Any attacks on Muslims were done by individuals who were arrested and charged, the victims were not held responsible, and the attacks were not systematically staged.

No event during the Bush administration is similar to The Night of Broken Glass.

War

>From September 1, 1938 to April 30, 1945, Germany ravaged Europe in an attempt to conquer the world to fulfill Hitler’s twisted thirst for power.

Beginning with the assumption of Austria and Czechoslovakia into Germany, and continuing with the German’s conquering Poland, Holland, Belgium, Norway, France, Hungary, Romania, Yugoslavia and Greece. Massive battles are waged in Africa, the Middle-East and Russia, and huge air raids were carried out frequently over England.

The United States invaded and removed the Taliban regime from Afghanistan and is working with NATO and the UN to setup free elections later this year. The US also invaded Iraq after it failed to meet its obligations to the United Nations Security Council for over 10 years. Sovereignty has been handed over and the Iraqi people are working toward free elections in early 2005.

To suggest that there is even the slightest similarity between the wars waged by Hitler, in which carpet bombing was the norm and the concept of non-combatant was ignored, and the two wars waged by the US in which precision guided weapons were used to minimize civilian casualties, would be another great perversion of history.

There are no similarities to the wars of Adolf Hitler and President Bush.

Euthanasia

Beginning in October of 1939 Hitler began a program of “mercy killings” for “life unworthy of life.” The program, which began by focusing on newborns and requiring midwives to fill out paperwork to show if a child was showing signs of mental retardation, physical deformities or a host of other symptoms. A panel of three doctors would examine the documents, but never meet with the child, and decide whether to euthanize the child. If the three voted that the child should be killed it was either executed by lethal injection or starvation.

The program spread quickly, and a whole host of new reasons for euthanasia were supplied:

Patients had to be reported if they suffered from
schizophrenia, epilepsy, senile disorders, therapy resistant paralysis and syphilitic diseases, retardation, encephalitis, Huntington’s chorea and other neurological conditions, also those who had been continuously in institutions for at least 5 years, or were criminally insane, or did not posses German citizenship or were not of German or related blood, including Jews, Negroes, and Gypsies.

This program lead to the first use of gas chambers disguised as showers. The victims were executed by pumping in carbon monoxide into the hermetically sealed rooms. After the executions, massive pyres were lit to dispose of the bodies, and loved ones were told that their relative had died from pneumonia or some other medical reason.

In the United States under the Bush administration, fierce arguments are fought over the funding of Social Security, funding for education and other social programs. Across America we pour resources into special education to help children who are unlucky enough to be born with physical or mental ailments, and all children born in the US or her territories are granted citizenship with all of the benefits that entails.

Hitler’s Final Solution

It began by requiring Jews to wear gold stars. Millions of Jews from
Germany and across the Germany occupied areas were sent by boxcar to
concentration camps. These camps were not merely prisons, as the first were, but were created as factories of death.

It seems important to note that the death camps featured gas chambers,
which were used as above at first, and later on with Zyclon-B and
crematoriums known as “the ovens”.

Auschwitz-Birkenau is the most famous of the death camps, as is the one in which the following was written:

At Auschwitz children were often killed upon arrival. Children born in the camp were generally killed on the spot. Near the end of the war, in order to cut expenses and save gas, cost-accountant considerations led to an order to place living children directly into the ovens or throw them into open burning pits.

This systematic execution of Jews, gypsies, homosexuals and POWs is the centerpiece of Hitler’s legacy. This Holocaust saw the death of between 4,194,200 and 6,271,500 people, not including those killed in the actual fighting on his side or on the side of those trying to remove him from power.

This is the equivalent of executing one out of every 100 Americans, or everyone from South Carolina, if the lowest of the estimates is used.

Hitler sought out to create a pure Aryan race by systematic extermination of individuals who he judged to be “life unworthy of life.” He sent his armies into his neighboring countries and forced his rule over them so that he could control the world.

If we are to believe everything that Mr. Moore said, including his
opinions and sometimes twisted logic, President Bush sat in a room for 7 minutes while the country was attacked, his administration had contact with the family of the person who perpetrated the attacks, and he used some weak intelligence to overthrow a dictator.

Oh, and he suggested amending the Constitution to define marriage as a
union between one man and one woman. Hitler just slaughtered homosexuals.

Please, someone tell me how these two men are anything like one another.

I can only wonder if the individuals who liken, even on a very casual
level, a similarity between President Bush and Adolf Hitler choose to
overlook these events or if they have truly forgotten. I also wonder
which of those two would be worse.

It is often said that those who forget past mistakes are doomed to repeat them, and the World War II and the Holocaust are two grave mistakes that we cannot allow to happen again.

Source: The
History Place: World War II in Europe

Mike Borrelli writes for Poliblog.

Kerry Suspected in Pants Scandal?

I’m Almost Like a Journalist Today

From Hog on Ice.

I have been cleared to reveal the following info. I’m not allowed to say where I got it.

I have a reader who is involved with the government’s efforts to fight terror, and he has connections who tell him the big suspicion is that Berger took things he thought would help Kerry in the Presidential campaign. Also, the grapevine says not all of the documents taken were copies. Furthermore, I am told that an FBI agent described Berger as “a total asshole” who is not as cooperative as he claims.

Also, I am told that an effort is being made—either by the press or the Kerry/Berger camp; it’s not very clear—to mount a sound bite campaign to put the matter to rest. The idea is to make it look like sloppiness, because the truth is that it was deliberate. And I am told that this scandal is much more serious than we have heard so far.

Supposedly, Berger may have absconded with documents containing information on our efforts to keep our ports and airports safe. Let me remind you, one of our biggest fears is that a nuclear weapon will be smuggled in on a ship and detonated in a harbor. Such as New York Harbor. It’s my understanding that we use certain types of technology to try to detect radioactive materials in ships and vehicles. All we need is for terrorists to find out what the technology is and how to beat it.

Worse, the documents may reveal areas in which we are still vulnerable. A roadmap for terrorists.

Finally, I am told that Fox’s version of the story, while not quite right, is closest to the truth.

Knock me over with a feather.

It’s a very bad thing if a former NSA and a Senator conspired to violate our national security in order to win an election. Much, much worse than wiretapping DNC headquarters, where no information of any importance has ever been known to exist. In other words, much, much worse than Watergate, in terms of the danger it poses to the U.S.

But very good for George Bush.

Picture the situation. Kerry and his handlers and interns and PR goons, zipping around doing all the things you have to do to keep a campaign going, and all the while, there are documents lying around which may contain crucial information about our efforts to guard our ports and airports.

That’s just great.

Now if we can just get Teresa to punch a nun in the face.

Why Conservatives Should Vote For Bush

Some of you are probably asking yourselves some obvious questions. Namely,

“Why is Hawkins writing a column encouraging conservatives to vote for George Bush? It’s not like they’re going to vote for Kerry right?”

That sort of sentiment is often expressed and it is in part, true. Most conservatives would rather put a “I Love Michael Moore” tattoo on their arm than pull the lever for the Massachusetts liberal and the left-wing trial lawyer in November. However, if conservatives are less than enthused about getting George Bush back into office, what they may do is sleep in, watch TV, take a long lunch, basically anything under the sun rather than showing up on November 2nd and pulling the lever in a voting booth for George Bush.

But that my fellow conservatives, would be a serious mistake.

Some of you may disagree and can probably reel off a litany of George Bush’s grievous sins against his conservative base. There are steel & lumber tariffs, rampant spending including pouring money into the much despised National Endowment of the Arts, signing Campaign Finance Reform, the bloated Medicare Prescription Drug Bill, his willingness to sign the Assault Weapon Ban, & his immigration plan.

Ok, first of all…wait, do you need some time to blow off some steam before we go on? I’ll wait….no, it’s fine, trust me, I understand. I’ve thrashed Bush for all of these things myself, so I certainly can’t blame anyone else for doing the same thing.

However, when I think back to all of these disappointing decisions that Bush has made, I always view them in light of one very pertinent question,

“On which of those issues would John Kerry better represent my interests as a conservative?”

The answer is always, “None of them”. Think about it…wouldn’t John Kerry sign the Assault Weapons Ban too? Kerry would have signed Campaign Finance Reform as well, right? What about the Medicare Prescription Drug Bill? Heck, the Democrats favored a BIGGER package than Bush did. You may not like Bush’s immigration plan, but Kerry is openly promising to put America’s illegal immigrants on the “path to citizenship” in his first 100 days. So what would you gain by having Kerry in office?

The only plausible reason I’ve heard conservatives give for voting for Kerry would be controlling spending via divided government. The theory being that the Republican controlled House and Senate would oppose every new spending proposal Kerry sent down the pike in an effort to deny him political victories. I used to buy into that idea myself — until I watched Republicans in the Senate and the House go hog wild for the last four years spending our tax dollars at every opportunity.

Also, remember that triangulation, the art of stealing the opposing parties issues to deny them political victories, has now been fully accepted by the GOP. What that means is that if John Kerry were to propose “Hillarycare Redux,” this time it’s entirely possible GOP in Congress would look to implement a smaller version of it, instead of just fighting to kill it outright as they did in the nineties. In other words, there are no guarantees that divided government would produce the blessed gridlock P.J. O‘Rourke envisioned when he said,

“The mystery of government is not how Washington works but how to make it stop”.

Moreover, we should remember that W. has delivered the goods for conservatives on more than a few issues. First and foremost, how about the tax cuts? You think we would have seen those under a John Kerry presidency? More importantly, do you think we’d KEEP THEM if John Kerry became President?

How about the Partial Birth Abortion Ban that is now law or Bush’s support of the Federal Marriage Act, our only chance to stop left-wing judges from running roughshod over the will of the American people and imposing gay marriage? What about Kyoto and the International Criminal Court? Any conservatives sorry that Bush had no interest in those treaties? Then there’s Reagan’s dream of a nuclear missile defense that is finally being implemented, albeit it in a rudimentary form, this year thanks to George Bush.

Hasn’t the Patriot Act torn down the ‘wall’ between the CIA & FBI that helped make us vulnerable to terrorism? Hands up, who misses the Taliban? What about Saddam Hussein? Anyone sorry Libya got out of the WMD & terrorism business or that Bush helped break up a worldwide nuclear weapons ring operating out of Pakistan? How about the 2/3rds of Al-Qaeda’s leadership we’ve eliminated or the 3000 Al-Qaeda foot soldiers that have been captured or killed? George Bush stepped up to the plate and made those things happen.

Furthermore, you should never, never, never, forget about judges. Because liberalism is so unpopular, the Democrats count on getting activist liberal judges to implement their agenda over the protests of the voters (perfect example: gay marriage in Massachusetts). Because the Senate Republicans have wimped out, the Dems have managed to block a number of Bush’s judges, but Bush has gotten 198 of them through and given that 7 of the 9 Supreme Court Justices will crack 70 by 2008, it’s entirely possible that the winner of this election could significantly change the balance of the Supreme Court. Who would you rather see picking 3 or 4 new Supreme Court Justices over the next four years: George W. Bush, an imperfect conservative or John F. Kerry, one of the most liberal members of the Senate?

On top of that, we live in a dangerous world. Iran is racing towards nuclear weapons. If the only way to stop the “Death to America” mullahs in Iran from getting nukes is a bombing run, would we want George Bush or John Kerry to make that call? What about North Korea? Do we want George Bush, a man they know will use force if necessary, to negotiate with them to get rid of their nuclear weapons, or do we want a “Jimmy Carteresque” figure like Kerry dealing with them? In a world where Al-Qaeda wants to strike in the US with weapons of mass destruction, can we trust that a dove like John Kerry is up to stopping them from making an attack that would make 9/11 look like a trip to summer camp?

If we conservatives stay at home in November and allow a man to get in office who thinks that winning medals in Vietnam more than 35 years ago makes him qualified to be our next Commander and Chief despite his horrible record on defense issues, then we’re practically begging for more 9/11 style bloodbaths on American soil. The War on Terror is serious business and our country desperately needs George Bush to lead the fight for the next four years.

Last but not least, remember that there is no such thing as a perfect candidate. Yes, it would be fantastic if we had a combination of Victor Davis Hanson, Sean Hannity, & James Lileks running for President…but, we don’t. Instead we have two men contending to be our next chief executive. One of them is a man who isn’t ideal, but does for the most part serve conservative interests. The other choice is a politician who flips and flops, but in the end has a voting record at odds with almost everything conservatives believe in. So there may not be a flawless choice on the ballot for conservatives, but there is a clear choice and it’s vitally important that we make it at the ballot box on November 2nd.

July 19, 2004
Which Side Are We On Anyway?

[Picture not available. Please go over to the original post to see the accompanying photo.]

Look at this photo. Just look at it. Some sports hero advertising the latest isotone drink? A flamenco dancer’s album cover? The latest contestant in the Spanish version of Idols?

Wrong. This is Hamed Abderrahman Ahmed, fresh out of Guantanamo and recently released on a €3000 bail by Judge Garzón, after he ensured to him in an interview that he denounced terrorism. And if he gave him that look, who could have said no?

Disgusting, I keep seeking a decent expression of the revulsion I felt reading this interview in El Mundo newspaper (in Spanish, local copy kept here) with the unlawful combattant picked up by the Pakistani army in November 2001. We reported on his release here, mentioning back then that the press seemed to be celebrating, rather than reporting facts.

And that seems to be true, reading the interview in El Mundo. Writer Juan Carlos de la Cal interviews the man on route to his home in Spanish Ceuta, the Spanish enclave in Morocco from which Abderrahman hails, making every effort to ‘humanize’ the ‘Spanish Taliban’ as he’s known in the press.

Hamed Abderraman Ahmed, Hamido para su familia, tenía 26 años cuando bajó el empinado callejón por el que se llega a su estrecha casa, en el laberíntico centro de la barriada ceutí del Príncipe.Era una soleada mañana de junio de 2001, víspera de San Pedro para los cristianos. Bajó la mirada al despedirse de su enfermo padre. Contuvo las lágrimas cuando besó a su madre. Esbozó una forzada sonrisa cuando acarició las cabezas de algunos de sus sobrinos.

Hamed Abderrahman Ahmed, Hamido to his family, was 26 years when he went down the steep alley which led to his small house, in the labyrinth of the Ceuta Principe quarter. It was a sunny morning of June of 2001, the eve of San Pedro to the Christians. He lowered his head while saying goodbye to his sick father. He held back his tears when he kissed his mother. He forced a smile while caressing the heads of some of his nephews.

And it goes on like this. Ahmed tells of his journey from Madrid to Afghanistan, and the reporter interjects that he flew out of Madrid to Tehran on July 4, the American national holiday, which ‘surprised Ahmed’.

No tenía ningún contacto ni nadie me organizó el viaje. En Ceuta conocí a algunas personas que habían estado en la zona y que me dieron algunos consejos. Nada más. Desde el mismo aeropuerto de Teherán cogí un taxi para la frontera que me costó muy barato: unas 1.500 pesetas por un trayecto de un par de horas, casi como desde Málaga a Algeciras”. Hamido habla todavía en pesetas porque cuando se marchó el euro no existía.

I didn’t have any contact and nobody organized the trip. In Ceuta I knew some people who had been there [Afghanistan -V-Man] and they gave me some tips. Nothing else. From the same airport in Tehran I took a taxi to the border, which was very cheap: 1.500 pesetas [about 12 dollars -V-Man] for a trip of a couple of hours, about from Málaga to Algeciras”. Hamido still speaks of pesetas, because when he went, the Euro didn’t exist.

Note that the reporter calls him by his family-given first name, which he does for the entire interview. Habderrahman tells of his reception at the Afghanistan border, where he was welcomed by Taliban border guards, accustomed to receiving foreigners, and got him a taxi ride to Kandahar, where he stayed in a Madrassa, with other, mostly Asian, foreigners. He notes that the Taliban have brought peace to the country, and well, HE never minded the women in Burkas.

But he tells this, after the reporter’s insistence to his audience that ‘now comes the hard part’ of the interview:

Llega el momento de las preguntas incómodas. Aún con la presencia de su solvente abogado, no queremos entrar en juicios de valor.Hamido está especialmente sensibilizado sobre el tema. No olvidamos que estamos ante un hombre que ha sido interrogado cientos de veces por policías, militares y jueces de varias nacionalidades.

The moment comes of the uncomfortable questions. Still in the presence of his court appointed lawyer, we don’t want to pass value judgements. Hamido is very sensitive on the whole subject. We must not forget that we are before a man who has been interrogated hundreds of times by police, soldiers and judges of various nationalities.

Follows his description of 9/11, leaving Kandahar for the Pakistan border with a group of fellow students of the Madrassa he was at. On the Pakistan side of the border, they were picked up by the Pakistan army and after being detained for some time, handed over to US forces, who took him back, first to Kandahar, and then saw fit to move him on to Camp X-Ray at Guantanamo (you know, where all religious students were sent to).

He tells of the evil Americans guarding them, the humiliation, the horror of it all, down to the depression he suffered, yada yada yada. And then he gives us this little gem:

- ¿Es verdad que les dijo a los representantes consulares españoles que cuando le liberaran quería ir a luchar con los chechenos?

“Sí, pero lo dije siguiendo una consigna que funcionaba entre los prisioneros del campamento. Allí pensábamos que como los americanos son enemigos de los rusos, les iba a gustar esa relación”.

- Is it true that you told the representatives of the Spanish consulate that when they let you go, you wanted to go and fight with the Chechens?

“Yes, but I told them that following advice which was going around among the prisoners at the camp. There we thought that because the Americans were the enemies of the Russians, they would like that story”.

Sounds like lawyers talking to me. This guy is still under investigation for pertaining to Al Qaeda in Spain, and we have reporters from all over celebrating his freedom from the clutches of Evil America.

We have buried the dead of the Madrid bombings, and with it our heads it seems. We pulled out of Iraq, we are sanitizing terrorist suspects, Wahhabi mosques in our midst are treated as ‘moderate’, we insist upon prosecuting terrorists as criminals and we’ll do generally whatever it takes to show the Islamofacsists that we have learned our lesson, and please don’t bomb us again. Thereby converting Spain in precisely the type of target for any future ‘quick fix’ success they need to keep the Jihad going.

Remember, there’s Spanish troops in Afghanistan. And over the horizon is the never forgotten pain over the loss of Al Andalus.

First published at Southern Watch.

Transforming the Military: A SOF Pilot Speaks

JK: On July 9, 2004, Robin Burke published a must-read article on the transformations underway in America’s military and intelligence communities. It was good enough to make our all-time Best Of… category, and the outstanding discussions that Robin led made it even better. Helicopter pilot and Air Force Special Operations Command planning officer John Lance was invited to stitch some of his comment posts into a Guest Blog article.

My Thoughts On Military Transformation, Done Right
by John Lance

As an Air Force special operations guy since 1995, I might be able to shed some light on this whole ‘transformation of the military’ thing. ‘Transformation’ has turned into one of those buzzwords that comes along every couple of years, becomes the trendy new ‘in’ thing, then fades away to be replaced by a new one. 15 years ago, it was ‘Quality’, we were going to use TQM concepts to improve the military and use the ‘peace dividend’ wisely. 10 years ago, it was RMA, ‘Revolution in Military Affairs. 5 years ago, it was ‘Jointness’. Now, it’s ‘Transformation’ and everybody is jumping on the bandwagon.

I definitely think tech has a big role on the battlefield (hell, I’m a SOF helo pilot, I love having Blue Force Tracker, IDAS/MATT, DIRCM and all the other alphabet-soup toys on my Pave Low helicopter). I think the ‘conventional’ military would do well to emulate the way SOF does business. The problem that I see is one of prioritization. All of the money that should be used to ‘transform’ the most important piece of tech on the battlefield, communications, is being wasted on high-priced major weapons programs with huge cost overruns.

People always say you should criticize something if you don’t have a plan. Well, here’s my idea of what the military needs to concentrate on in order to ‘transform’ in the middle of a shooting war:

Read The Rest…

July 18, 2004
Iyad Allawi... and Alice Cooper

There’s a story going around that Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi had about 7 foreign jihadis lined up against the wall, and then personally shot them. Here are the details (and see comments) - though I should add that there are questions about this story.

Got all that? OK. Now go and read a couple of Iraqi bloggers. Read Alaa of the Mesopotaamian. Now read Hammorabi. Especially the part at the end. I’m not surprised that they’re angry about all the terrorists killing Iraqis - and I suspect they aren’t alone.

Frankly, the whole thing makes me think of… Alice Cooper.

July 16, 2004
International Court of Justice Decision Downplays Palestinian Terrorism



Israeli paramedics and religious volunteers remove body parts from a baby stroller at the scene of a suicide bombing at an outdoor mall in the city of Petach Tikvah near Tel Aviv Monday May 27, 2002. According to police, the bomber killed himself, a woman and a two-year-old girl, and wounded some 40 including several babies.



Israeli girl severely burned from Arab throwing Burning Molotov Cocktail into Cars.



The Peace Palace at the Hague was built between 1907 and 1913. It was a gift by Andrew Carnegie and it houses the International Court of Justice, the Academy of International Law and the Library of International Law.

The International Court of Justice in The Hague, The Netherlands, issued its advisory opinion on July 9, 2004, concerning the “Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.” The ICJ also provided a press release and a summary of the decision. The mailing address of the International Court of Justice is:

International Court of Justice
Peace Palace
2517 KJ The Hague
The Netherlands

Charles Krauthammer, in today’s Washington Post, commented on the absurdity and extra-jurisdictional nature of the ICJ’s ruling:

- - - - - - -

Among various principles invoked by the International Court of Justice in its highly publicized decision on Israel’s security fence is this one: It is a violation of international law for Jews to be living in the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem. If this sounds absurd to you — Jews have been inhabiting the Old City of Jerusalem since it became their capital 3,000 years ago — it is. And it shows the lengths to which the United Nations and its associate institutions, including this kangaroo court, will go to condemn Israel.

The court’s main business was to order Israel to tear down the security fence separating Israelis from Palestinians. The fence is only one-quarter built, and yet it has already resulted in an astonishing reduction in suicide attacks in Israel. In the past four months, two Israelis have died in suicide attacks, compared with 166 killed in the same time frame at the height of the terrorism.

But what are 164 dead Jews to this court? Israel finally finds a way to stop terrorism, and 14 eminences sitting in The Hague rule it illegal — in a 64-page opinion in which the word terrorism appears not once (except when citing Israeli claims).

- - - - - - -


What makes the travesty complete is that this denial of Israel’s right to defend itself because doing so might violate “humanitarian” rights was read in open court by the chief judge representing China, whose government massacred hundreds of its own citizens demonstrating peacefully in Tiananmen Square. Not since Libya was made chairman of the Commission on Human Rights has the U.N. system put on such a shameless display of hypocrisy.

Moreover, the court had no jurisdiction to take this case. It is a court of arbitration, which requires the consent of both parties. The Israelis, knowing the deck was stacked, refused to give it. Not only did the United States declare this issue outside the boundaries of this court, so did the European Union and Russia, hardly Zionist agents.

- - - - - - -

The court’s long account of the history of the conflict is equally corrupt. For example: In 1947, the United Nations partitioned Palestine into two states — one Jewish, one Arab. When the British pulled out and Israel proclaimed its independence, five Arab countries responded immediately by declaring war and invading Israel with the announced intention of destroying the newborn state. How does the court render this event? “[O]n 14 May 1948, Israel proclaimed its independence . . . armed conflict then broke out between Israel and a number of Arab States.” Broke out? As if three years after the Holocaust and almost entirely without weapons, a tiny country of 600,000 Jews had decided to make war on five Arab states with nearly 30 million people.

- - - - - - -

It must be noted that one of the signatories of this attempt to force Israel to tear down its most effective means of preventing the slaughter of innocent Jews was the judge from Germany. The work continues.

- - - - - - -

The United States and other western nations have rejected the ICJ ruling. Per Canada’s National Post:

- - - - - - -

Canada, the United States and other Western nations yesterday rejected a world court ruling that declared Israel’s 700-kilometre-long security fence in the West Bank illegal.

The “advisory opinion” from the International Court of Justice at The Hague, which carries no legal weight, drew praise from Palestinian and Arab spokesmen and condemnation from other countries that said the United Nations’ highest court had no mandate to rule on the issue.

Shimon Fogel, head of the Canada-Israel Committee, said the court allowed itself to be used by anti-Israeli groups and its ruling focused only on Palestinian grievances over the barrier.

“The world court was hijacked by the anti-Israel forces, who were using the court for their own narrow, partisan purposes,” he said. “They’re abusing the institution and undermining the credibility of the court.”

Mr. Fogel said the real goal of the legal effort was to further isolate Israel. “It’s of no practical value in advancing peace whatsoever … it’s going to be one more futile, meaningless gesture in a long line of futile, meaningless gestures.”

The International Court of Justice ruled 14-1 that the barrier, a network of electric fencing, barbed wire and concrete walls that is still under construction, violates international law and that parts of it should be torn down.

“The construction of such a wall accordingly constitutes breaches by Israel of various of its obligations under the applicable international humanitarian law and human rights instruments,” said presiding judge Shi Jiuyong, of China.

The court said the security fence “gravely infringes a number of rights of Palestinians residing in the occupied area” and called for Israel to pay compensation for damage caused by its construction, parts of which cut deep into Palestinian areas of the West Bank.

The only dissenting vote was cast by U.S. Judge Thomas Buergenthal, who wrote the court should have taken more note of Israel’s security concerns.

“The nature of these … [terrorist] attacks and their impact on Israel and its population are never really seriously examined by the court,” he wrote. “Without this examination the findings made are not legally well founded.”

Israel boycotted the world court’s hearings when they began last February and dismissed the final decision as “one-sided.”

“We believe this is a very dark day for the International Court of Justice,” Dan Gillerman, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, told reporters in New York. “We feel the court was taken for a ride and literally abused by the forces of evil.”

Israeli officials say the barrier has already prevented dozens of suicide bomb attacks.

In its ruling, the court referred to Israel as “an occupying power,” and urged the UN to take action to halt construction of the barrier, which Israel says is needed to limit access by Palestinian suicide bombers and gunmen.

- - - - - - -

Marie-Christine Lilkoff, a spokeswoman for Foreign Affairs, said yesterday Canada still questions “the utility of referring this matter to the ICJ.

GREAT BARRIERS IN HISTORY

THE WESTERN WALL OR ‘WAILING WALL

WHERE Jerusalem

BUILT BY Herod, king of Judea, in 20 BC.

WHY Originally part of a retaining wall, upon which Judaism’s Second Temple was constructed.

DIMENSIONS About 50 metres long and 18 metres high.

WHAT HAPPENED TO IT Judaism’s holiest site.

BERLIN WALL

WHERE Stretched across centre of Berlin, dividing the city in two. The wall was eventually extended along the border between East and West Germany.

BUILT BY The East German government in 1961.

WHY To keep democracy out.

DIMENSIONS Original barbed-wire barrier was later replaced with concrete wall about two metres high and nearly 1,400 kilometres long.

WHAT HAPPENED TO IT Torn down starting in 1989. A few sections remain as memorials.

THE GREAT WALL

WHERE Stretches across northern China, from the Gulf of Chihli to Gansu province.

BUILT BY Started by Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China, in 220 BC.

WHY To keep invaders out.

DIMENSIONS 2,400 kilometres long, about nine metres high.

WHAT HAPPENED TO IT Now one of China’s most popular tourist attractions.

HADRIAN’S WALL

WHERE Northeastern England, from Wallsend on the River Tyne to Bowness-on-Solway.

BUILT BY Emperor Hadrian.

WHY To keep the barbarians out.

DIMENSIONS 118 kilometres long, usually six metres high.

WHAT HAPPENED TO IT Popular tourist attraction.

Ran with fact box “Great Barriers in History” which has been appended to the story.

- - - - - - -

The link to the nikita demosthenes post is here.

USA Today: Kerry Absent on School Accountability

A USA Today editorial published Wednesday takes Kerry to task for skipping out on the accountability provisions of No Child Left Behind:

Bridget Dean, principal of Barrister Elementary School in Baltimore’s impoverished Pigtown neighborhood, has something to say to critics who claim the federal school-accountability law is too harsh and unfair to poor and minority students: You’re wrong.

Tough love, Dean says, is how Barrister catapulted off the state’s “watch list” of troubled schools. In two years, reading scores more than doubled, and math scores nearly doubled. Dean’s formula: Use curriculums proven by research and embrace unpopular testing that prods all students to learn. Dean credits the strategies of the federal No Child Left Behind law, which President Bush championed, for the success of her students.

… Kerry bashed the law during the primaries and complains that it is underfunded, though he voted for it and says he favors the tough accountability provisions at its core. But he hasn’t campaigned for a principle advanced by Bush and rejected by the NEA, reinforcing critics’ portrait of him as a waffler.

Continue reading…

Ronald Reagan, E.P.D.

I’m sitting here at the office surfing the web, checking various Cuba related sites as I do so often when I come across something that just completely nails me. Something that at the same time wrenches my stomach and pains my heart and touches my very core. I’m angry and sad and frustrated and hopeless and detached and proud and hopeful and brave all at the same time.

Last month, it seemed as if all of America mourned the loss of President Ronald Reagan. This country paid its solemn respects to a great man. Condolences accompanied tears for the one man many believe brought about the end of communism in Europe. Ceremonies, rites, flowers, salutes, services and prayers… it was an all encompassing display of admiration for our former President.

The whole world paid its respects. Letters of sympathy were written, world leaders flew in, speeches were read aloud and solidarity with the Reagan family was shown through visits and attendance to ceremonies and church services from people all over the globe.

Some countries and world leaders weren’t as sympathetic at the former President’s passing. Cuba’s remarks were: “He, who never should have been born, has died.” This statement makes today’s find on the net all that much more important.

This is a link to a letter of condolence for the Reagan family (pdf format) from Cuba. It has no fancy letterhead or graphics, no official government seals. It is made up of a cover page, one page of text, and six pages of signatures.

The letter is from the “Biblioteca Independiente Jesus Yanez Pelletier”, one of Cuba’s few remaining independent libraries. These “independent” libraries are nothing like the libraries we are accustomed to here in the U.S.. They consist usually of a small collection of banned books and are run out of private homes. There are no computers, no internet access, no card catalogues, no Dewey decimal system, just a few well worn and probably tattered books.

That’s one of the reasons this letter is all the more endearing. It comes from a place where there is a lack of everything. From a country so entrenched in the backward ideology that is communism that not even an old Smith Corona could be mustered to offer a typed letter to one of the world’s most revered leaders.

Here’s the text of the letter, roughly translated:

Cover page:

Independent Library Jesus Yanez Pelletier
Silvio Herrera Nuñez, Director
carme #324 & Esperanza Y Vives
La Habana Vieja, Havana

Condolences at the death of former President Ronald Reagan

R.I.P.

Text, page two:

I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Yes,” said the Spirit, “let them find rest from their labors, for their works accompany them.” Apocalypse 14:13

We the undersigned would like to offer our most deepest sympathies to the widow and family members of former President Ronald Reagan, and to the people of the United States, on the passing of this eminent man. To whom we are thankful for the disappearance of communism in all of Europe and for the democratization of all of those countries who lived under its misfortune.

We men and women who are lovers of liberty; representatives of political parties; independent libraries; religious authorities; members of civil and humanitarian organizations and family to political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, raise our eyes to God and offer our prayers for the eternal peace of Mr. Ronald Reagan, and we ask God to keep him near and shine on him His eternal light.

The just shall be in everlasting remembrance; he shall not fear the evil hearing.
Ps. 127. 3

It took over a month to clandestinely collect the 109 signatures found on this letter and then smuggle it out of Cuba to the US. These one-hundred nine men and women signed their name to this letter at great risk to themselves and their families. There must have been many whispered conversations, secret meetings and back channel communications. This hand written, smuggled note of respect, admiration and condolences for a former President of the United States could very well get each and every one of these people encarcerated, tortured, starved and even killed.

In Cuba, people are persecuted for much much less.

By: Val Prieto
Babalu Blog

Lance Armstrong Charges into 2nd Place in the Tour de France

Lance Armstrong charges into 2nd place as the Tour de France begins the brutal ascent of the Pyrennes.



In 2003, Lance Armstrong indelibly placed his mark on the world of sports by becoming only the fifth cyclist in history to win the Tour de France five times. Lance is now attempting an unprecedented sixth win - and has charged into second place after 12 days of hard racing.

Earlier today Lance Armstrong widened the gap between him and his main rival in the Tour de France, Jan Ullrich, on the 12th day of the Tour, ending in La Mongie. Jan Ullrich’s diary for his T-Mobile team is here. Armstrong left the bulk of the field behind in a final charge with Italian cyclist Ivan Basso.

Frenchman Thomas Voeckler toughed out the final ascent of the day to hold onto the yellow jersey for the seventh consecutive day. With his final push, Lance jumped from sixth place in the overall standings to second.

As the cyclists begin an even more brutal ascent into the Pyrennes tomorrow’s 13th day, ending in Lannemezan, Lance’s U.S. Postal team is setting the pace and paving the way for their star.

Lance is attempting his sixth consecutive victory in the Tour de France - an unprecedented feat.

The link to the nikita demosthenes post is here.

Summer Tourorism

This was in the news yesterday, but didn’t get around to posting on it. Spanish anti-terrorism judge Baltasár Garzon claims that there are about 100 Al Qaeda Cells inside Moroccan territory:

Madrid - Morocco - home to most of the suspects in the Madrid train bombing - is teeming with some 100 al-Qaeda-linked cells that are capable of suicide attacks and pose Europe’s biggest terrorist threat, Spain’s leading anti-terrorism judge testified on Thursday.

Each cell has five to 10 members, “so we are talking about 900 to 1 000 people who could be sought by police now in Morocco,” Judge Baltasar Garzon told lawmakers investigating the March 11 attacks, which killed 190 people. Garzon quoted police and intelligence data.

“In my opinion it is the gravest problem Europe faces today with this kind of terrorism,” Garzon said, noting that many of those groups are in northern Morocco, with members who speak perfect Spanish and are able to slip easily in and out of Spain.

Garzon has little positive to say about the EU’s attempts to fight islamic terrorism:

He also complained that European law enforcement bodies, intelligence services and courts lack a clearly defined strategy for fighting Islamic terrorism.

“At least I don’t know of one yet, despite all the efforts that are being made,” Garzon said.

Of course, this isn’t news, but it is reason for concern. The EU is more and more becoming like an example of cat herding, in my opinion. All good when you’re dealing with the size of bananas and fiscal harmonization, but the threat of terrorism looming over Europe is too important to fight by concensus, which always brings out the lowest common denominator, and usually two years late.

On the same note, Spain’s Southern Coast is the main transit point for Moroccans living throughout Europe, returning to their motherland for the summer vacation. Referred to in Spanish as Operación Paso de Estrecho (Operation Crossing of the Straight), between July and August every day more than fifty-thousand (50,000) Moroccans cross the Straight, with peaks to going over 100,000 a day. On this page (in Spanish) on the left side there is a pull down menu with which you can show the daily flow of cars, passengers etc. making the crossing. Operation Paso is renowned for its efficiency in getting as many across in as little time possible.

In 2003, more than 2,5 million Moroccans and more than 600,000 cars made the crossing by ferry, going to Morocco and coming back one month later. For this year, they’re expecting more than 2,8 millian Magreb-born immigrants to make the crossing.

Spain’s police forces have warned (link in Spanish) that the crossing may be taken advantage of to get terrorists across and into Europe. A total of 7,000 combined police forces have been allocated to oversee the crossings.

Which means that this summer, if Al Qaeda would like to smuggle in say, ten cells into Europe, each consisting of ten terrorists, making 100 terrorists, they can hide them between 2,5 million Moroccan tourists, which are watched over by 7,000 police officers along the entire southern coast of Spain.

Odds, anyone?

First published at Southern Watch

Valerie Plame should be "frog-marched" out of Langley

Valerie Plame should be “frog-marched” out of Langley as of yesterday - together with every other person in the approval chain that sent Joe Wilson as the U.S. investigator in Niger for Saddam’s uranium purchases.



For her next big decision: the enigmatic Valerie Plame Wilson ponders sending her house-husband Joe to North Korea to investigate “this crazy story” about Kim Jong-il and nukes

Joe Wilson may be a liar and a gadfly (to put it kindly). But it’s the CIA’s Valerie Plame who first dismissed the Niger-yellowcake report - and then sent her mendacious empty-suit husband on the important mission to investigate this potential Saddam Hussein uranium supplier.

Apparently when every other relatively-news-aware person, and every other serious national intelligence agency, was focusing on WMD, the CIA’s Ms. Plame was taking a stunningly lacksadaisacal approach to the WMD intelligence she was receiving.

The CIA - and especially the enigmatic Ms. Plame - are the ones that really have egg on their faces now that Joe Wilson’s fibs have been exposed.

The reporting I’ve seen indicates that Joes Wilson’s wife is not a foreign spy - she’s a desk jockey at Langley (with a cushy place in Georgetown) who’s responsible for … wait for it … tracking down WMD for our country! Why on earth did someone with that very important responsbility pre-judge the Niger-Iraq-yellowcake story as “this crazy story”? I mean, its only our national security and stuff - no biggie.

How many other WMD leads has Ms. Plame given short shrift? Do you know about any more “crazy” WMD leads, Val? Maybe you should go look at those files again. Does her high security clearance prevent her from getting fired for not giving a whit about national security risks for which she’s the responsbile agent?

It gets worse. Not only did Ms. Plame dismiss one of the key pieces of intelligence regarding Iraq potentially creating the Arab bomb - she successfuly recommended her gadfly husband to be the sole investigator to go check out the lead! How many millions of dollars go to the CIA for intelligence gathering each year? And yet the only person we have to send to Niger to see if Saddam is building a nuke is … the house husband of an agent at Langley?

What’s next? Will Valerie Plame send the family golden retriever to look for missle silos in North Korea?

And yet, Valerie Plame is not the director of the CIA. Although her recommendation of hubby Joe was obviously bone-headed, somebody (and probably more than one person) at CIA had to approve it. This is the real story that the mainstream press won’t touch with a ten foot pole. What heads should roll at Langley for entrusting our national security to the whims of the Wilson-Plame family travelogue?

If there are any real investigative reporters out there who aren’t already in the bag for Kerry (I know - that narrows it down quite a bit) then answer me this: what was the approval chain at CIA that entrused the Iraq-Niger-uranium invesigation to a house-husband from Georgetown? That whole supervisory chain should be frog-marched out of Langley - to use the colorful words of a colorful man - the house-husband 007 with a suitcase at-the-ready: Joe Wilson.

The link to the nikita demosthenes post is here.

July 14, 2004
No War On Terror, No Liberties Either

GAL, a three-letter acronym that can get any Spanish socialist up in a tizzy, and his back against the wall. Short for Grupos Antiterroristas de Liberación, or Anti-terrorist Liberation Groups, this was a shadowy death squad, funded and operated by the Spanish socialist government of Felipe Gonzalez between 1983 and 1987. Its aim was to deny safe haven to ETA terrorists, by kidnapping and killing them, inside Spain, and in the French part of Basque province.

During the late eighties the first GAL members were arrested when trying to hire killers, which led to an inquiry in 1994. Two years later, the socialists were ousted from government by a victory for the Popular Party. The socialists might have won still, as ETA was and continues to be much hated and Spaniards generally felt little if no compassion towards them, were it not that of the 23 extra-judicial killings, about one third had no relation with ETA. A fact that many say contributed to a revival in ETA’s support from Basque reactionaries. To this date, Gonzalez and his socialist PSOE party deny every direct involvement with GAL, which is commonly referred to as Spain’s ‘Dirty War’.

Now, twenty years later, Spain’s Attorney General, Candido Conde-Pumpido, is comparing the Bush Administration’s anti-terrorist politics with GAL. Speaking at Madrid’s Universidad Complutense, the attorney appointed by Zapatero stated:

As part of the summer courses of the Universidad Complutense, Conde-Pumpido stated that the United States have responded to the terrorist violence “with more violence and to throw out all legality”, like what “happened in Spain at the end of the seventies and the start of the eighties”. To Pumpido, who during those years was a magistrate in one of the provincial courts of San Sebastian [Basque Province -V-Man], this attitude, far from solving the problem, “created more terrorism”.

He then goes on to state that because of Spain’s experience with terrorism, the world, and specifically the United States, should take note of how to defeat terrorism:

The State Attorney General suggested that the experience of Spain in the fight against barbarism centers on three ideas. The first one is the acknowledgement that “the fight against terrorism is not to be seen as a war, because the terrorists aren’t combattants, they’re delinquents and criminals and the fight needs to be fought with legal proceedings and procedures”.

Secondly, he commented that our country provides a system, specialized in the prosecution of terrorism, the ‘Audiencia Nacional’. “A centralized system which carries an enormous number of advantages with it, which do not exist in other countries, and make them seek procedures outside the normal justice system, like for instance Guantanamo, because no systems exist like the Audiencia Nacional”, he explained.

The third point Conde-Pumpido mentioned, is the thesis that “you cannot respond to violence with violence”. “When Spain responded with violence things went bad for her in her fight against terrorism”, on the contrary, “nowadays we use the law, and only the law, but with maximum force, and we are further than ever in our fight against ETA’s terrorism”. The Attorney General expressed his conviction that “using the same proceedings we can defeat Islamic terrorism”.

To counter his arguments on how to fight terrorism, I sincerely do believe that we are fighting a war, which needs to be taken to the enemy, rather than serve them with legal papers after they strike, as President Bush has stated so many times.

How do you prosecute a terrorist organization, intent on the destruction of your civilization, hiding out in failed states which have no functioning legal system nor extradition treaties? How do you wait for the ‘criminal’ act to take place, when you know that the evidence may come in 2,000, 10,000 or in the case of the Madrid bombings, 191 dead innocent citizens?

The second point is truly a gift to respond to. Because it shows exactly the difference between European and American ways of dealing with terrorism, and by extent, personal freedoms. He speaks as the true bureaucrat, when there is a problem, we’ll make a law for it, and another and another, until we have such great laws that we can prosecute it from every angle, and convict without exception. And then pound his chest and have the whole world take note of the ‘advanced’ legal system they built, truly a model for the world.

The Audiencia Nacional was formed in 1976, right after the transition from Franco’s dictatorship, and was modeled after Franco’s Tribunal de Orden Publico (‘Tribunal of Public Order). Spain has a long history of these types of tribunals, going back to the civil war which ended 1882. The role of these tribunals has always been to actively investigate and prosecute (not separated, judges have wide-ranging investigative powers, can hold defendants for years without charges being brought, and ultimately judge them) terrorist or before the Audiencia Nacional’s founding, subversive elements.

The sad thing is, he doesn’t see it. He thinks the United States of America would embrace this type of tribunal when seeing it in action. Sure, it works wonders when you’re fighting terrorists, but doesn’t it leave a whole lot of power in the hands of the government? And doesn’t it take away a whole lot more rights from citizens?

His final point on which he bases his entire view of how to prosecute the War on Terror is a fallacy. He states that answering violence with violence is wrong, not because it would be wrong per sé to do so, but because the result in Spain has shown that terrorism flared up afterwards. He doesn’t realize that this was not a result of violence being dealt at the terrorists, but how it was dealt. With a government death squad. Therefore, his conclusion that violence can never be answered with violence is based on the premise that all government action to counter terrorism would be illegal and uncontrollable. Which, for an Attorney General, shows little confidence either in his democracy or his party.

To sum up, it is not the means with which the fight against terrorism is fought that creates more terrorism, as Spain’s highest prosecutor states, but rather as was in the case of Spain, setting loose an uncontrolable band of kidnappers and assasins, targeting who they thought were terrorist, without any recourse. A government attempting to do that, will see the public’s support disappear like snow before the Spanish sun, and give the terrorists legitimate ammunition to score public relations points.

And finally, I hope some liberal civil rights activists will read this post. You may worry about the Patriot Acts, I and II. Believe me, you can go up to Patriot Act XII and still have more civil liberties than the average European.

The article (in Spanish) can be found here, if it has moved to a paid archive, I kept a local transcript here.

First published at Southern Watch.

Law Proposed by British Home Secretary Would Criminalize Utterance of Churchill's Words



Sir Winston Churchill

Mark Steyn discussed in the July 13, 2004, Telegraph the proposal by British Home Secretary David Blunkett for a “religious hate” law - to shield Islam from criticism (there’s no First Amendment in Great Britain, folks). Beyond undermining the free debate of ideas about awkward subjects like violence perpetrated increasingly by narrow, radical, religious sects, the law would serve the additional lunacy of making recitation of some of Winston Churchill’s more prophetic words completely illegal in the United Kingdom. Or, as Mark Steyn puts it:

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That’s another reason the British Government should not be in the business of helping coercive lobby groups further stifle debate. Islam raises political questions that Judaism or Buddhism don’t - the suggestion, for example, that Muslim women should be exempt from the requirement to be photographed on national identity cards. Without Blunkett’s law, there’ll be the odd crusty type from the shires huffing on BBC phone-ins that if Muslim women think it’s insulting to be made to remove their hejab for ID cards, they should bloody well have thought about that before moving to Britain.

With Blunkett’s law, we’ll discuss such questions, if at all, between tightly imposed government constraints explicitly favouring one party to the dispute. I know which one of those options any self-respecting liberal democracy ought to prefer.

In The River War (1899) [scroll down the Amazon.com page for a review by Newt Gingrich], Winston Churchill’s account of the Sudanese campaign, there’s a memorable passage which I reproduce here while I’m still able to:

“How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property - either as a child, a wife, or a concubine - must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men.


“Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities. Thousands become the brave and loyal soldiers of the Queen: all know how to die. But the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytising faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science - the science against which it had vainly struggled - the civilisation of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilisation of ancient Rome.”

Is that grossly offensive to Muslims? Almost certainly. Is it also a rather shrewd and pertinent analysis by one of Britain’s most eminent leaders? I think so. If Blunkett bans the sentiments in that first sentence, the sentiments of the last will prove even more pertinent.

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Via Little Green Footballs.

The link to the nikita demosthenes post is here.

July 13, 2004
Could a Ditka Candidacy Help Bush in Illinois?



Former Chicago Bears football coach Mike Ditka is considering entering the Illinois U.S. Senate race on the Republican ticket

Iron Mike Ditka is considering a Senate run per AFP/Yahoo News:

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Former Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka, better known to his fans as the irascible “Iron Mike,” is mulling a run for public office — one in which his considerable name recognition would be a powerful asset.

“I’m getting excited about it,” Ditka said in an interview with a Chicago television network Monday.

The 65-year-old NFL Hall of Famer stressed that he was just evaluating the idea, but that was enough to rev up his many fans in this Midwestern state, some of whom have already established a “Draft Dikta” campaign.

“We need more signatures on the petition. We want to present them to him this week and we need your help,” read one entry made Monday on the “DraftDitka.com” website.

“Da Coach will do this if we push him!”

The people behind the website aim to collect 10,000 signatures to encourage Ditka to run, and say they have already passed the 6,000 mark.


Republican Party officials have not formally approached the 65-year-old about joining the race, but they are desperate to find a viable candidate to put on the ticket.

The previous candidate, millionaire banker Jack Ryan, quit the race late last month over a late-breaking sex scandal, and some Republicans who have been touted as possible replacements have reportedly balked at jumping into a campaign at this late stage.

Even before the sex rumpus, Ryan was trailing his Democratic rival Barack Obama by 20 points in the polls.

“Certainly, you wouldn’t have to spend five or six million dollars for people to get to know (his) name,” said Dennis Hastert, a US representative from Illinois and the most senior member of the state’s congressional delegation.

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The Washington Times has also reported on the story, indicating that Ditka supports George W. Bush in the 2004 Presidential race:

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He [Ditka] and his wife, Diana, have homes in Illinois and Florida, where she is registered. He has headlined GOP fundraisers, donated $1,500 to the Bush-Cheney ‘04 committee this year and introduced President George W. Bush at a rally.

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Could a Ditka run in Illinois give George W. Bush a fighting chance in Illinois? With Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in California, and a potential Ditka candidacy in Illinois, the Kerry-Edwards ticket many need to unexpectedly devote resources in usually Democratic-leaning California and Illinois.

The draft Ditka site is here.

The site for Democratic candidate Barack Obama is here.

The link to the nikita demosthenes post is here.

News Styling of the Fourth Estate - now with 75% fewer facts!

Events of the last few days are a prime example of not letting the facts get in the way of a good story. And they also serve up some great examples of pushing a thinly desguised agenda behind the fig leaf of ‘news coverage’.

Yeah, a lot of folks recognize this as the bleached bones of a horse that died quite some time ago - but it’s good to check in every now and again to do a progress check. And the report would have to be that a few news organizations out there are even paying scant attention to the pretext of objectivity in their ‘hard news’ pieces by labelling them as ‘news analysis’.

Coverage of the President’s remarks at Oak Ridge, and Senator Kerry’s remarks on the same day, are a perfect case in point.

Out of four major news outlets, CNN, MSNBC, The NY Times, and The Washington Post, none of them do little with the news except to piecemeal it for maximum juxtaposition value. Of the four, only one gives a link to the full text of the President’s remarks (pause)

The full text of the President’s remarks at Oak Ridge

(play)One gives the opportunity for you to pay them so you can watch the video of the speech (CNN), the other two just skip it entirely. None of them extract a listing of the instances the President uses to support his statements.

All four go out of their way to present the remarks as defensive of ‘damage’ - done either to the White House, or the CIA. All four float disembodied claims from both Bush and Kerry, virtually side by side, lending equal credence to both - despite the citation of the President to numerous specifics as a prelude to his conclusions.

A couple of the organizations throw in additional material from experts that question the free standing quotations picked from the President’s speech. There is no such examination provided of Senator Kerry’s remarks.

A more detailed look at this ‘coverage’ can be found here, and a closer examination of Senator Kerry’s statements on the issue of nuclear security may be found here. Yes, both articles draw conclusions - but they also provide you with some material to indicate where those conclusions come from.

July 12, 2004
Operation "Buy Hitchens a Drink!"

Have you read Christopher Hitchens before, and wanted to show your appreciation? Well, our secret agents of Department 13 1/2 have been hard at work, and now you can do just that... by buying Hitch a drink, on the blogosphere!

Truly a fitting salute to our favourite leftist contrarian.

Here's the drill. We have a PayPal button set up below. Donating $5-10 to this campaign won't save the world or anything grandiose - just help buy Christopher Hitchens some bottles of Johnny Walker Red (his libation of choice). These will be delivered to Mr. Hitchens, along with a note of appreciation and thanks from the Blogosphere that will include all of the contributing bloggers and readers. Delivery will be handled by the aforementioned secret agents - and yes, we really can do it.

Over to you, ladies and gentlemen....

Arab Holocaust

I came across an article, published on El Correo’s online OpEd page. I have kept a copy in the original language on my blog, as Spanish newspapers have a tendency to ask payment for access to their archives.

The El Correo newspaper lends its OpEd page to Adbel Haqq Salaberria, who is the spokesman for the Comunidad Islámica en España, which represents muslims in Spain. Mr. Salaberria speaks in this article of a seminar he attended, organized by a Basque cultural center, which dealt with current opinions among Arabs (No, I’m not going to use ‘the Arab Street’). They showed a movie, with in it an interview with the spiritual leader of Hezbollah, the Lebanese, Iranian-backed terrorist organization responsible for the 1983 bombings of the American embassy and Marine barracks in Beirut amongst other, killing over 300 US servicemen and women. Of course, a spiritual leader has nothing to do with all this. This view is not beholden to islamists, but can be considered commonplace in Europe, where until recently a distinction was made between Hamas and its self-proclaimed military wing, Izzedine Al Qassam. Only the latter was recognized as a terrorist organization in the EU, leaving Hamas free to travel around Europe in search of funds on behalf of the ‘social’ side of Hamas. Recall also the outrage in Europe over the targeted killing of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, Hamas’ ‘spiritual’ leader.

Read the article below, I’ve highlighted some sentences which I found disturbing.


Islamic Limits To Islam

During the last day of the excellent and successful seminar ‘Contemporary Arab Representations ’ organized by Arteleku in Donostia, we had the opportunity to witness the launch of a video titled ‘Voices of Current Arab Critical Thought’ directed and presented by Gema Martín Muñoz, Arab World Sociology professor at the Autonomous University of Madrid (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid), and Rafael Ortega, historian and specialist in the arab world. Among other important, interesting and hard to find testimonies, there is one which is especially significant. The Shi’a ayatolah Mohamed Hussein Fadlallah, spiritual leader of Hezbollah, considered a modern, ‘moderate’ reformist leader. According to Gema Martín Muñoz, who went to his residence in Beirut to hold the interview, his house is visited by a pilgrimage of Arab personalities, islamists and laymen, left or right, who respect him as a living symbol of the resistance of the Arab people. One needs to remember that Hezbollah succeeded in liberating Lebanon from Israeli occupation, a victory without precedents in more than half a century of Arab humiliation.

During the interview, the discourse used by this leader of the Pary of God was very grandiose and filled with friendly and reconciliatory words , above all towards Christianity. Words of tolerance for other beliefs, of friendship with the Sunni brothers especially in Iraq, of democracy and human rights, all come from the mouth of the man who, about twenty years ago, delivered a ‘fatwa’ which incited the Shi’a of Lebanon to organize the suicide attacks against the American embassy in Beirut and against an American control post in the Lebanese capital. Both attacks left hundreds dead and sped up the pull out of American troops deployed in Lebanon in 1983. Everything [he said -V-Man] seemed to be taken out of a script which could well have been written by Kofi Annan, and which included a condemnation of the March 11 attacks (in Madrid, V-Man). But then the hopeless situation of Palestine came up. In this matter, the reasoning was ,more or less, the following: What can the Palestinians do against the sophisticated weaponry of the Israeli army? They use the only thing they have, their body, and they throw themselves like bombs against an invader who deprives them of everything. They are not terrorists, they are martyrs. Granted, there are civilian dead. But the Palestinians aren’t after killing innocents but instead look to attack Israel’s security, and they are legitimate to do so.

Islam is not a political doctrine, something that can be shaped according to human conjuncture. It allows for some interpretation and there is diverse jurisprudence, but it has unavoidable issues and fixed borders. One of which is that the means are perfectly limited and only by using these established means, and no others, can the result sought after be reached. This brings us to two key issues when talking of suicides and the war strategies of some self-appointed Islamic groups, not just in Palestine, but in the terrible world war scenario of today: the issue of value of life, especially human life; and the issue of jihad, its requirements and limits.

To Islam, like with all Judeo-Christian traditions, life is a gift and a holy posession. A human being is just a Calif, meaning, a representative or caretaker of God on earth, who must be held accountable of his care. When sacrifying an animal, a muslim must do so in the name of God, out of respect for the owner of that life. The general norm is ‘Thou shalt not kill’. Taking one’s own life is also not permitted, which is why Islam does not condone suicide.

In relation to jihad a series of circumstances are necessary, which aren’t present in any known conflict. To start, it must be carried out in the name of Islam, and in defense of a territory in which Sharia is applied in full. An emir call for it, not the leader of a messianic political group, or the president of a banana republic. First, Islam must be offered to the adversaries, and if the renounce it, they are to be attacked. You may not kill the eldery, children or women, except if they take part in battle. You may not poison the waters, nor cut down trees, nor use fire. You may not fight an enemy which outnumbers the muslims by two to one, except for when the muslims have better weapons and are clearly better prepared. You must respect all pacts and safe-conducts you reach with the enemy. It is clear that the act of suicide or the killing of innocents isn’t contemplated. If you cannot fight, the jurisprudence advises to seek shelter in the closest muslim lands under the protection of an emir, or to remain under the yoke of the enemy, always and when permitted practicizing Islam and continuously inviting the invader to embrace Islam. A similar attitude, held by the Sufi brotherhoods of the eastern caliphate, converted the savage mongol invaders, of which was based another and powerful caliphate.

To an agnostic it may sound ridiculous when, in a hopeless situation, the only thing that is left to the believer is return to God. The true believer puts it in practice. What’s more, the muslims have an impregnable strength: their five pillars (faith, prayer, charity, fasting, pilgrimage). If muslims would dedicate themselves more to constructing the ‘House of Islam’ in stead of setting upon doing battle in the ‘House of War’, the help, which without a doubt they need to survive the holocaust they are suffering, would come without delay. This is compulsory belief for a muslim. The despair represents an absolute loss of faith and gives weight to powers foreign to God, which in turn is a very grave sin in our Sharia. The key to escape this prison is with the five pillars of our religion, abandoned in part to follow the road of modernist and reformist language, a false idol which demands our sons’ sacrifice and the corruption of our hearts with hate.

Yala al-Din Rumi, universally acclaimed master sufi, said on one occasion: “If any muslim should have doubts if what was promised and commanded by God was possible, he is a hypocrite. If he believes that what God has ordered him to do, is not possible to do, you should hit him hard with his head against a wall. Something clearly is not working in his his head. And if afterwards he still thinks it is impossible, you should hit him harder”.

I want to comment on a couple of things. First, it is unclear from the article whether he is quoting Fadlallah or giving his own opinion when he talks of suicide bombers. The way he writes of his experience, I fear it’s a mix of both, as is the case in more instances in the article. And then there’s that ‘To an agnostic it may sound ridiculous when, in a hopeless situation, the only thing that is left to the believer is return to God. The true believer puts it in practice.’ which can be explained in two ways, of which one would be horrifying.

I’m getting a bit tired of all those wise men rambling about how we in the West don’t know what Jihad is, then poffering some vague explanation (‘it’s something personal’, ‘only in self-defense’, ‘it’s something which has never happened before, because you’d know it if it would’ like he’s saying).

Oh, and did he really mention ‘Arab’ and ‘Holocaust’ in the same line?

The bold part in the semi-last paragraph (the last one is just, well, to quote Seinfeld, ‘it doesn’t help’) is just blatantly opposing integration of his communitiy in a Western society. And on top of that -but that might just be my paranoid eye, is he blaming us for ‘a false idol which demands our sons’ sacrifice and the corruption of our hearts with hate’ -suicide bombings?

If this man is representing muslims living in Spain, we have a bigger problem than I thought.

First published at Southern Watch

Threats

CBC: Sharon survives no-confidence votes

Earlier on Monday, he threatened to call an election if members of his party block his efforts to form a unity government with the opposition Labour Party.

Israel is the only nation in the Middle East in which the head of state threatens to call elections.

July 11, 2004
The Elephant in the Room

The Elephant in the Room: The CIA Needs More Human Intelligence After the Neglect of the Clinton Years.

The U.S. Senate needs to, at least partially, point the finger at itself regarding the intelligence failures that led up to 9-11. It doesn’t appear that they have done so in the recently released report of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

The U.S. Senate, other elected officials, the mainstream media, and the general public are missing (or ignoring) the big, obvious problem that eventually let to the 9-11 terrorist attack - despite all the hand-wringing from the 9-11 Commission and the Senate Intelligence Committee. The CIA needs more human intelligence (i.e., actual spies in actual foreign hotspots). This lack of human intelligence was largely caused by the severe neglect actual covert operatives experienced during the Clinton years.

Today the CIA spends too much time shuffling papers over Virginia desks and too little time talking to foreign contacts in less-than-plush environs. Or, as it was put by one young CIA agent recently: “Operations that include diarrhea as a way of life don’t happen.”

This lack of human intelligence may be one of the reasons (other than nepotism) that the CIA sent a gadfly like Joe Wilson on the important fact-finding mission in Niger, Africa re: Saddam’s attempts to buy yellowcake uranium. Or, in the inimitable words of Mark Steyn:

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Let’s weigh their [European intelligence agencies’ and the CIA’s] comparative interest in the [Niger-yellowcake uranium] story. The Financial Times revealed last week that one continental intelligence agency had had a uranium-smuggling operation involving Iraq under surveillance for three years. In return, the only primary investigation initiated by the most powerful nation on the face of the Earth was to send a narcissistic kook from a Saudi-funded think-tank on vacation for a week to sip mint tea with government stooges. He didn’t even bother filing a written report, and the ”Bush spurned my advice!” column he wrote for the Times reads like a bad travelogue: ”Through the haze, I could see camel caravans crossing the Niger river.” After that, the great narcissist somehow managed to make himself the center of the story — But hey, enough about Saddam’s nuclear ambitions; let’s talk about me.

- - - - - - -

This need for human intelligence was no secret. In March 2002, Massimo Calabresi and Romesh Ratnesar wrote in Time Magazine about the woeful state of CIA’s cover operatives:

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Since Sept. 11, no criticism of the CIA has been more damning than the fact that the agency’s legions of highly trained spooks were less successful at infiltrating al-Qaeda than was a Marin County, Calif., 19-year-old named John Walker Lindh.

- - - - - - -

The agency, a senior Administration official concedes, “got out of the human intelligence business in favor of technical collection” after the fall of the Soviet Union. Today the average overseas assignment for an agency spy-handler is three years, barely enough time to learn one’s way around, let alone penetrate a terror cell. And with the passing of the Soviet threat, many CIA officials lost interest in doing dirty human espionage—which means recruiting dangerous characters who can act as spies and infiltrate terror networks such as al-Qaeda’s. And even when informants were coaxed into cooperating, the CIA still required almost all “fully recruited” spies to take a polygraph test, something that scares off useful sources and in the past has failed to catch double agents. “We recruited a whole bunch of bad agents,” admits a senior intelligence official. “We wasted a lot of taxpayer money that way.”

The CIA is larded with Russian specialists left over from the cold war, even as the agency struggles to recruit and train officers with proficiency in other tongues. In last year’s graduating class of case officers, just 20% had usable skills in non-Romance languages. When the war in Afghanistan began, the CIA had only one Afghan analyst. As TIME reported last month, American intelligence agents in Kabul almost blew the chance to question a top-ranking Taliban minister, who may have had information on the hiding place of Mullah Omar. The spooks had yet to hire a Dari translator.

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The dearth of qualified intelligence officers on the ground in Afghanistan has forced the U.S. to count on unreliable sources, dramatically increasing the risk of military mistakes, impeding the hunt for al-Qaeda leaders and giving Omar, bin Laden and their henchmen time to slip away. “The U.S. is totally dependent on locals, who have their own agenda,” says an expert in the region. A senior intelligence official disputes the scope of the problem, telling TIME that “this institution has never produced better human intelligence than it does today—but that doesn’t mean that we don’t need to do more.”

Even when America sets its own agenda, there are serious problems. The U.S. spends more than 90% of its $35 billion annual intelligence budget on spying gadgetry rather than on gathering human intelligence, and most of that money goes not to the CIA but to spy agencies within the Department of Defense, such as the National Security Agency (which does eavesdropping and code breaking) and the National Reconnaissance Office (which flies imagery satellites). The priciest gadgets are not always the ones suited to fighting the terrorist threat. During the past five years, while the U.S. spent billions of dollars to build and launch about half a dozen radar-imaging spy satellites, the CIA and others built 60 Predator unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVS) at about $3 million apiece. The Predators, not the satellites, killed terrorists in Afghanistan.

High-tech surveillance can do little to track adversaries like the Sept. 11 hijackers, especially if they are in the U.S. legally and careful about what they say on the phone. So why does the CIA persist in spying the wrong way? Part of the answer lies in the culture of secrecy that arose during the cold war and continues to rule the agency’s hearts and minds. Today the secrets the CIA needs to pick up are often easily accessible—such as the travel plans of the Sept. 11 hijackers, two of whom managed to pay for their airline tickets with credit cards in their own names, even though the CIA had placed them on the terrorist watch list weeks before. Exploiting such “open sources” by combining them with newly discovered secrets is critical to fighting terrorists and others who hide in plain sight. And yet for years the agency discounted the value of open sources and let slip the quality of the intelligence analysts charged with studying them.

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Of course, years of CIA neglect during the Clinton Administration didn’t help. This was discussed after 9-11 by a retired CIA agent (scroll down to the Christopher Ruddy article of September 12, 2001):

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“Roger,” was a CIA spy in the Mideast.

I met him almost two years ago. Roger wanted to tell me why a gung-ho American quit the CIA in disgust.

Roger said the CIA was not interested in recruiting spies.

Clinton and company knew they could not just tell the CIA to stop recruiting spies. That would look stupid and embarrassing.

So they just changed the rules of how spies are recruited, raising the bar on requirements to such a high degree that the most valuable spies could never meet CIA standards and couldn’t work for us.

Previously, I wrote how Clinton effectively stopped the recruitment of Chinese nationals by demanding that only high-ranking embassy officials could be recruited – knowing this is almost impossible. Roger told me that. Roger reminded me again of this today.

He noted that Clinton policies reached their zenith under CIA Director John Deutch and his top assistant, Nora Slatkin. The pair ran Clinton’s CIA in the mid-1990s and implemented a “human rights scrub” policy.

Here’s how Roger described it in an e-mail Tuesday evening: “Deutch and Nora, Clinton’s anti-intelligence plants, implemented a universal ‘human rights scrub’ of all assets, virtually shutting down operations for 6 months to a year. This was after something happened in Central America (there was an American woman involved who was the common law wife of a commie who went missing there) that got a lot of bad press for the agency.

“After that, each asset had to be certified as being ‘clean for human rights violations.’

“What this did was to put off limits, in effect, terrorists, criminals, and anyone else who would have info on these kinds of people.”

Roger says the CIA, even under new leadership, has never recovered from the “Human Rights Scrub” policy.

Perhaps that was the intention.

But we, the American people, Congress, and honest media need to examine all of these issues, now and quickly. If we don’t, we risk even more grave dangers than those that we just lived through.

- - - - - - -

This neglect was largely caused, some have argued, by the view held by many on the left that terrorism is a problem caused by the United States, rather than by tyranny, lack of freedom, and accompanying lack of opportunity in most islamic regimes:

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During the Clinton years the idea that America was somehow responsible for global distress had become an all too familiar refrain among leftwing elites. It had particular resonance in the institutions that shaped American culture and policy—universities, the mainstream media and the Oval Office. In March 1998, two months after Monica Lewinsky became a White House thorn and a household name, Clinton embarked on a presidential hand-wringing expedition to Africa. With a large delegation of African-American leaders in tow, the President made a pilgrimage to Uganda to apologize for the crime of American slavery. The apology was offered despite the fact that no slaves had ever been imported to America from Uganda or any East African state; that slavery in Africa preceded any American involvement by a thousand years; that America and Britain were the two powers responsible for ending the slave trade; and that America had abolished slavery a hundred years before—at great human cost—while slavery persisted in Africa without African protest to the present day.

- - - - - - -

Indeed, President George W. Bush authorized an increase in spending on covert operatives prior to Septebmer 11, 2001 - to correct years of neglect under the Clinton Administration. Even Congressional Democrats like Bob Graham knew this was long overdue:

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SENATE SELECT COMMITTEE ON INTELLIGENCE AUTHORIZES INTELLIGENCE SPENDING FOR FISCAL YEAR 2002

Washington, D.C. – The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) today unanimously approved the Intelligence Authorization Bill for Fiscal Year 2002. The bill authorizes funding for intelligence activities and programs and contains legislative provisions related to intelligence.

The bill reflects the Committee’s attention to four priority areas to enhance the role of intelligence in our national security strategy: (1) revitalization of the National Security Agency (NSA); (2) correcting deficiencies in human intelligence; (3) addressing the imbalance between intelligence collection and analysis; and (4) rebuilding a robust research and development program for the Intelligence Community. The budget approved by the Committee today reflects an emphasis on these priority areas.

Chairman Graham said, “The funding increase for intelligence contained in this bill represents what must be the first installment of a multi-year effort to correct serious deficiencies that have developed over the past decade in the Intelligence Community. While the end of the Cold War warranted a reordering of national priorities, the continued decline in funding has left us with a diminished ability to address the emerging threats and technological challenges of the 21st Century. The Intelligence Community is our nation’s vital early warning system and we must support its mission to the fullest extent possible.”Vice Chairman Shelby stated, “I am pleased that the Committee unanimously supported the President’s request for intelligence spending. There is no question we must place our ability to collect intelligence around the world at the very top of our national security priorities. I believe that this legislation continues this Committee’s commitment to improving our ability to detect and defeat threats to our people and interests at home and abroad. [snip]

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This neglect of human intelligence resources had been discussed again and again:

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For one thing, we don’t hire enough spies. Every government review, every committee, every special panel ever assembled after a disaster has produced reports, wrapped in the blue ribbon of expertise, saying that our human intelligence networks are well under-strength for the demands of the world. Ambassador L. Paul Bremer, a former Coordinator for Counterterrorism here at State and the architect of yet another such study, has been speaking to this for the last several years. A few months before the September attacks the Atlantic Monthly ran a scorching report by a former CIA agent on his agency’s long-time lack of attention to Central Asia and Afghanistan. An equally gloomy report on our relevant human intelligence assets appeared in yesterday’s papers by the Agency’s inspector general of the 1990s period [Frederick Hitz].

We have foreign enemies who are not ladies and gentlemen but mass murderers. If we refuse to spy on them, and use the knowledge to disrupt their hostile transnational activities, then we lack intelligence in more ways than one. We love our liberal democracy, and we’ve been reading and hearing for so long that intelligence gathering is a form of evil that we don’t seem to want to prepare against greater evils, evils so great they can wreck lower Manhattan. At our Command & Staff College, we study Sun Tzu. He argues that a commander who will not spend the gold necessary to buy good human agents is “inhumane”—inhumane, because for lack of information his soldiers’ lives are jeopardized.

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In short, the 9-11 Commission, the Senate Intelligence Committee, the media, and the public, should really be looking at “How Clinton and Gore Turned a Blind Eye to Terrorism.”

That’s the elephant in the room. The mainstream media - and the Senate Intelligence Committee - don’t want to talk about it.

The link to the nikita demosthenes post is here.

Garry Trudeau Weighs In

Today’s Doonesbury (click to see full-sized) …

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July 10, 2004
Sometimes it's Just too Easy

John, You is my Man Now

From Hog on Ice.

Evidently, Whoopi Goldberg appeared at a Kerry fundraiser last night and repeatedly referred to John Edwards as “kid.” She said he looked like he was about eighteen years old. Meaning he would have been conceived at about the time Whoopi was making her last successful movie.

But Kerry defended him.

Said Kerry, “I have a man, Whoopi.”

At least he was nice enough to omit the phrase “unlike you.”

What fun is there in trying to turn Kerry and Edwards into the Ambiguously Gay Duo if they’re going to beat me to the punch?

At this rate, when they get into the White House, instead of Terror Alert Levels, they’ll be issuing Feng Shui Alert Levels.

WHITE HOUSE SPOKESPERSON CHRISTOPHER LOWELL: Thank you all for coming. I’m here to announce that we decided to go with teal wallpaper in the West Wing washrooms. And Helen, here’s a tip: red is not slimming. Yes? The reporter from The Advocate?

ADVOCATE GUY: The blintzes at the catering table are cold again.

LOWELL: Oh, honey, just have a biscotti.

Chevy Chase issued another sad reminder of his declining abilities. I used to think this guy was actually talented. Then he had a long string of really bad movies, and after that, there was his three-day-long foray as a late night talk show host. Do you remember that? Chase always had the pale, clammy, tremulous look of a tourist coping with a sudden attack of diarrhea. The flopsweat poured like rain.

CHEVY: We’re glad to have [looks at card] Fred Thumbelina as our guest tonight, fresh from a run at the Lake Tahoe Ramada Inn Rumpus Room…

FRED: That’s “Travalena.”

CHEVY: Oh, God. Oh, God. Sorry. There was [points] sweat on the…on the…

FRED: “Card.” Chevy, are you okay?

CHEVY: I…uh…I…[to booth] look, do you have to keep pointing that camera at me?

FRED: You’re the host.

CHEVY: Am I? I guess I am. And you’re not! [grins, waits…silence]

FRED: [helpfully] Ha ha! [coughs] Ha.

CHEVY: I’m almost positive I used to be funny. Wasn’t I funny? [to booth] Bernie, can I leave? I have a note from my wife.

FRED: Careful! When you shake you’re slinging sweat into my coffee.

CHEVY: I’m going to get up and fall down.

FRED: Guys, this is cruel. Can you just stop taping?

CHEVY: [walks out in front of desk, falls, looks around for response…silence] Look! I’m Gerald Ford! Gerald Ford! The President who used to fall down? [an egg strikes him]

FRED: [stands] I have to go do a bar mitzvah.

CHEVY: And now a message from the makers of Percocet. PAMPERS! PAMPERS!

[test pattern, tone]

Anyway, last night, Chase’s Sunday punch was, “This guy is as bright as an egg-timer.”

He gets invited to three things a year, he had weeks to prepare, and this was his ten o’clock song. How do you follow up a flop like that? I guess he’ll become a barker at a midget peep show.

I keep trying to make sense of it. Do egg timers have lights? Aren’t they usually little hourglasses?

Maybe Chevy has an illegal alien who times his eggs, and he’s not too swift. Maybe he meant, “This guy is as bright as my egg timer, Joaquin.”

Let me know if you figure it out.

Anyway, I really wish the Democrats would stop trying to help me. When reaming out moonbats ceases to be sport, I lose interest completely.

Bugging Out

Well, it looks like the Filipinos are pulling their token force from Iraq in the face of the latest kidnapping.

I wish them lots of luck when Abu Sayyaf starts kidnapping Filipino Christians from their homes and threatening to behead them if Arroyo doesn’t declare a separate state called The Islamic Republic of the Phillipines.

Heck, maybe Angelo dela Cruz will get kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf when he gets home. Now wouldn’t that be ironic?

Busted: Joe Wilson Lied! -Senate Intelligence Committee

The mainstream media is paying little attention to a bombshell in the just-released Senate Intelligence Report on pre-Iraq-war intelligence. The Senate Intelligence Committee basically found that Joe Wilson lied in the course of his histrionics about his trip to Niger, Africa - searching for yellowcake uranium sales to Iraq.

A complete copy of the Senate Intelligence Report, titled “Report on the U.S. Intelligence Community’s Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq” issued on July 7, 2004, is provided here.



Busted: Joe Wilson Lied! -Senate Intelligence Committee

As reported in the July 10, 2004, Washington Post:

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Wilson last year launched a public firestorm with his accusations that the administration had manipulated intelligence to build a case for war. He has said that his trip to Niger should have laid to rest any notion that Iraq sought uranium there and has said his findings were ignored by the White House.

Wilson’s assertions — both about what he found in Niger and what the Bush administration did with the information — were undermined yesterday in a bipartisan Senate intelligence committee report.

The panel found that Wilson’s report, rather than debunking intelligence about purported uranium sales to Iraq, as he has said, bolstered the case for most intelligence analysts. And contrary to Wilson’s assertions and even the government’s previous statements, the CIA did not tell the White House it had qualms about the reliability of the Africa intelligence that made its way into 16 fateful words in President Bush’s January 2003 State of the Union address.

Yesterday’s report said that whether Iraq sought to buy lightly enriched “yellowcake” uranium from Niger is one of the few bits of prewar intelligence that remains an open question. Much of the rest of the intelligence suggesting a buildup of weapons of mass destruction was unfounded, the report said.

The report turns a harsh spotlight on what Wilson has said about his role in gathering prewar intelligence, most pointedly by asserting that his wife, CIA employee Valerie Plame, recommended him.

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The report may bolster the rationale that administration officials provided the information not to intentionally expose an undercover CIA employee, but to call into question Wilson’s bona fides as an investigator into trafficking of weapons of mass destruction. To charge anyone with a crime, prosecutors need evidence that exposure of a covert officer was intentional.

The report states that a CIA official told the Senate committee that Plame “offered up” Wilson’s name for the Niger trip, then on Feb. 12, 2002, sent a memo to a deputy chief in the CIA’s Directorate of Operations saying her husband “has good relations with both the PM [prime minister] and the former Minister of Mines (not to mention lots of French contacts), both of whom could possibly shed light on this sort of activity.” The next day, the operations official cabled an overseas officer seeking concurrence with the idea of sending Wilson, the report said.

Wilson has asserted that his wife was not involved in the decision to send him to Niger.

“Valerie had nothing to do with the matter,” Wilson wrote in a memoir published this year. “She definitely had not proposed that I make the trip.”

Wilson stood by his assertion in an interview yesterday, saying Plame was not the person who made the decision to send him. Of her memo, he said: “I don’t see it as a recommendation to send me.”

The report said Plame told committee staffers that she relayed the CIA’s request to her husband, saying, “there’s this crazy report” about a purported deal for Niger to sell uranium to Iraq. The committee found Wilson had made an earlier trip to Niger in 1999 for the CIA, also at his wife’s suggestion.

The report also said Wilson provided misleading information to The Washington Post last June. He said then that he concluded the Niger intelligence was based on documents that had clearly been forged because “the dates were wrong and the names were wrong.”

“Committee staff asked how the former ambassador could have come to the conclusion that the ‘dates were wrong and the names were wrong’ when he had never seen the CIA reports and had no knowledge of what names and dates were in the reports,” the Senate panel said. Wilson told the panel he may have been confused and may have “misspoken” to reporters. The documents — purported sales agreements between Niger and Iraq — were not in U.S. hands until eight months after Wilson made his trip to Niger.

Wilson’s reports to the CIA added to the evidence that Iraq may have tried to buy uranium in Niger, although officials at the State Department remained highly skeptical, the report said.

Wilson said that a former prime minister of Niger, Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, was unaware of any sales contract with Iraq, but said that in June 1999 a businessman approached him, insisting that he meet with an Iraqi delegation to discuss “expanding commercial relations” between Niger and Iraq — which Mayaki interpreted to mean they wanted to discuss yellowcake sales. A report CIA officials drafted after debriefing Wilson said that “although the meeting took place, Mayaki let the matter drop due to UN sanctions on Iraq.”

According to the former Niger mining minister, Wilson told his CIA contacts, Iraq tried to buy 400 tons of uranium in 1998.

Still, it was the CIA that bore the brunt of the criticism of the Niger intelligence. The panel found that the CIA has not fully investigated possible efforts by Iraq to buy uranium in Niger to this day, citing reports from a foreign service and the U.S. Navy about uranium from Niger destined for Iraq and stored in a warehouse in Benin.

The agency did not examine forged documents that have been widely cited as a reason to dismiss the purported effort by Iraq until months after it obtained them. The panel said it still has “not published an assessment to clarify or correct its position on whether or not Iraq was trying to purchase uranium from Africa.”

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So - Wilson benefitted from a little nepotism. His wife got him an all-expenses-paid little excursion to Niger. And, to make it better, he got a chance to throw mud at the Bush Administration - which was clearly not liked by Mr. Wilson and Ms. Plame from the get-go. As the article makes clear, Ms. Plame had pre-judged the uranium sales story before she even sent her hubby - she pre-judged it as “this crazy report.”

In this context, if a “Senior Administration Official” let it be known that Wilson jetted off to Africa to sip sweet tea because his wife got him the gig … they were right to do so. The fact that Wilson’s wife got him the gig - and the fact that Wilson’s wife pre-judged the whole purpose of the trip as a “crazy report” - make it crystal clear that Wilson’s trip had little value (to put it mildly).

Indeed, as the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report made clear, Wilson’s trip was so lame that it had the unintended consequence (I’m sure much to Wilson’s and Plame’s horror) of bolstering the Adminsitration’s argument that Iraq had sought uranium in Africa.

The transparent fraud of Joe Wilson’s histrionics is now laid bare for all to see. Not surprisingly, it looks like tea sippin’ Joe still doesn’t quite get it.

This is a duplicate of the original post on the nikita demosthenes website.

July 09, 2004
The Importance Of Morocco

Yesterday, King Mohammed VI of Morocco visited the White House for a meeting with US President Bush. The importance the Bush administration gives to Morocco is shown by the recent Free Trade Agreement the US government signed with Morocco, the inclusion of the Moroccan armed forces in the upcoming NATO excercises MEDSHARK-Majestic Eagle ‘04 off the coast of Cap Draa, and finally but probably most importantly, the diplomatic support the US is lending Morocco in its dispute with Algeria over Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony until 1975, located between Morocco and Mauretania.

The Algerian-backed separation movement called Polisario calls for an independent state, and Algeria supports them, perhaps as ‘change’ for the resolvement of other standing conflicts with Morocco, perhaps out of fear of a bigger neighbor, even though since a cease fire between Polisario and Morocco in 1991, Western Sahara has been administered by Morocco. Since 1991 several attempts have been made to resolve the dispute, but conferences and decisions have been postponed throughout the nineties, until recently the region has been the focus of diplomacy again.

The reason for this of course is the War on Terror. Western Sahara counts about a quarter of a million inhabitants, mostly nomad farmers. An independent Western Sahara would be an ideal candidate for ‘failed state’ status, and would almost inmediately attract the attention of terrorist networks like Al Qaeda or their regional affiliate the GSPC. Morocco themselves have a big fight on their hands with the Al Qaeda-linked Moroccan Combatant Islamic Group, responsible for the 2003 Casablanca bombings, and suspected of involvement in the March 11 Madrid attacks, and these groups too could benefit from a new hiding place right under Morocco’s nose.

Recently, former Secretary of State James Baker resigned as the United Nation’s mediator in the Western Sahara dispute. I believe his stepping aside, perhaps under pressure of the Bush administration -but that’s just me thinking out loud, favors the Moroccans in their stance that Western Sahara is part of Morocco. Baker’s plans were continuously opposed by Rabat. It may also be possible that with the US’ renewed interest in Morocco, Baker felt he had to step aside to avoid a possible future conflict of interest, being a loyal Bush supporter. In any case, he cited health reasons.

In any case, this seems very solvable to me. Times have changed, and both Algeria and Morocco find themselves in hard fights with domestic and international terrorism. Both nations should be explained that like it or not, they’re on the same side of the fence, and need to accept the fact that an independent Western Sahara will bring the prospect of terrorist bases on either country’s borders. Of course, Morocco will have to accept that the indigenous people need their worries met too, so a federalist state seems the best solution, with local government ensuring own rule, but within the confines of a greater Morocco.

Viewing all this from Spain, one cannot but note the slightly bitter aftertaste all this is causing. Though officially the socialist government seems pleased with Morocco’s FTA-status with the US, it was mainly responding to opposition party PP’s comments that this was yet another sign that Spain was more and more being isolated by the US. But then again, the socialists seem happy to tag along France and Germany. As to Western Sahara, inmediately after Franco’s death in 1975, the new government of Spain pulled out of then-called Spanish Sahara, and left it to Mauretania and Morocco to occupy (does this sound familiar?) Its stance seems neutral as to the future of the territory, and it hasn’t shown the same involvement in its ex-colony as say Portugal with Timor. To me, it is more seen as an opportunity though to play the part of mediator, adding to its ‘special relationship’ with Northern Africa, which is useful within the EU.

One final piece of the puzzle will be the US naval station at Rota, in Southern Spain. As we will see in the coming years of the Zapatero government, indeed, we have seen it already with Spain’s refusal to send NATO’s newly formed rapid reaction force to Afghanistan, aping France’s position, his socialist government may become more and more anti-NATO, even though for now this is on hold because Zapatero feels compelled to support it because it is one of those ‘international institutions’ he so very much likes to prop up.

My suggestion to the Pentagon would be to make it easy on him, and move the Rota Naval station to Morocco, but in Western Sahara. Not only will this provide security to the local Saharians under Moroccan rule, it will also prove to the world that Western Sahara is part of Morocco. I’d hate to see them leave, but they’re a lot closer over there to the front in the War on Terror and states like Sudan, Congo and Ivory Coast. At the same time, Donald Rumsfeld can use the transfer as part of his ongoing efforts to restructure the military, building instead a new base more fit to confront the challenges ahead.

First published on Southern Watch

Michael Moore & 'Convenient Lies'

Pejman has a couple of interesting points to make about Michael Moore. “The Coleridge Party” discusses the “willing suspension of disbelief” as a political program:

“It’s not as if the lies in Moore’s film are well-hidden. The websites Moorelies.com and Mooreexposed.com keep a running commentary on Moore’s inability to coincide his facts with the truth…. No one believes for a moment that the cult of irresponsibility is confined to just one party, and conspiratorial whispers during the Clinton Administration that Bill Clinton had Vince Foster killed, or that the Clintons ran drugs, were just as shameful as the swallowing and parroting of Michael Moore’s alternative history by prominent Democrats. And it would come as no surprise if there are other prominent Democrats who are appalled by their party’s embrace of a mendacious filmmaker and his hate-filled message. But either their voices are being drowned out by other Democrats eager to grab hold of Fahrenheit 9/11 and use it as a political tool — no matter what the cost to honest discourse — or they are not stepping forward in the first place to try to inject some semblance of sanity in their party.”

Exhibit A - Kevin “Calpundit” Drum:

Read The Rest…

July 08, 2004
Michael Moore, Hezbollah Heartthrob

Many people are familiar with recent reports that Hezbollah is involved in the distribution of Michael Moore’s new film in parts of the Middle East. Clifford May has a great op-ed at Townhall today that revisits this subject, and the fact that Moore’s partners in distribution seem to have no problem with the fact that terrorism-related want to distribute the film:

“In terms of marketing,” Screendaily.com announces, Mr. Moore “is getting a boost from organizations related to Hezbollah.”

Yes, that Hezbollah: the Syrian- and Iranian-backed terrorist group that pioneered suicide bombings against Americans more than 20 years ago in Beirut, the terrorist group second only to al Qaeda in number of Americans murdered, the terrorist group that now operates against the US in Iraq, the terrorist group Richard Armitage, deputy secretary of state, dubbed the “A-Team of terrorists” — more skilled and cunning than almost any other.

“We can’t go against these organizations,” explains Gianluca Chacra, the managing director of Front Row Entertainment, the UAE-based firm releasing Moore’s flick in the Middle East.

Mr. Chacra added: “Having the support of such an entity in Lebanon is quite significant for that market and not at all controversial. I think it’s quite natural.”

… Mr. Moore is becoming as famous in Beirut as he is in Beverly Hills. “He is considered an Arab supporter,” notes Mr. Chacra. Perhaps that’s because Mr. Moore fuels the fires of suspicion, prejudice and hatred that burn in the fabled “Arab street.” For example, Mr. Moore says that the U.S. “is known for bringing sadness and misery to places around the globe. …It’s all part of the same ball of wax, right? The oil companies, Israel, Halliburton.”

Why isn’t Moore making some effort to distance himself from this? He’s already had one chance — what’s taking so long?

Edwards and his Trial Lawyer Friends

Walter Olson has a terrific Op/Ed at the NY Sun in which he discusses Edwards’ trial lawyer affiliation. He raises two interesting points. First, the Edwards selection brings with it a very successful fund-raising scheme involving bundled donations from large law firms. The draw back to accepting this money is that there have been accusations of lower level staff members’ donations being reimbursed by the firm, which would violate election law.

Second, Edwards’ rhetoric would indicate that he is not opposed to some version of tort reform per se. Perhaps, its the paradox of the American system resurfacing; only a trial lawyer can pass tort reform. Just tremember Clinton and welfare reform.

Update: More from Bainbridge

Michael Moore Agrees With Doug Feith, and Other Ironies

Dan Darling writes:

“Against my better judgement, I went to go see “Fahrenheight 9/11” over the weekend. While “Spider Man 2” was by far superior on any number of counts and I think that there’s been more than enough discussion of the film in blogosphere in general and here on Winds of Change in particular, there was just one point of the film that I found deliciously ironic on so many levels:

Michael Moore basically agrees with many of the controversial conclusions of under secretary of defense for policy Douglas J. Feith, whose Counter Terrorism Evaluation Group is the source of one of Moore’s key (though erroneously framed) premises - namely that a sizeable chunk of the Saudi royal family and key members of the Saudi business establishment, including members of the Bin Laden Group, were in cahoots with al-Qaeda.”

Quite a few people believe that, including many people outside Moore’s reality distortion zone. The rest of the article covers the links between Saudi Arabia & al-Qaeda, intelligence analysis in general, how Washington politics affects intel assessments, and recent intel re: Iran and Iraqi WMD.

Read the Rest…

July 07, 2004
Registered Comments Now Active Op-Ed

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John Kerry's Bizarre Abortion Views

For those few of you who are unfamiliar with the divisive debate about abortion, let me fill in some of the details for you. You see, for the most part, the argument revolves around when life begins.

Those of us who are staunchly opposed to abortion believe life begins at conception. So for us, in effect, there is no significant moral difference between aborting a fetus that was conceived five minutes ago and taking a baby out of his cradle and smashing his head with a rock. In both cases, an innocent human life has been savagely ended.

On the other hand, abortion advocates will tell you that life begins at some arbitrarily defined point — birth, the third trimester, when the baby can survive outside of the womb, something along those lines. Up until that point, they will tell you that the baby is simply a lump of flesh, a parasite, a pile of goo, etc, etc, anything but a human life. Therefore, they’ll tell you that it doesn’t matter if you abort the fetus because no human life is being lost.

Trying to mix those positions doesn’t work very well.

For example, if I told you that I believed that life began when the mother gave birth to the child, but that I still opposed abortion, you’d be left be scratching your head. Why wouldn’t I support getting rid of a mass of non-viable tissue? Would I feel the same way about let’s say a tumor or liposuction? In other words, being anti-abortion without believing that life begins at conception would seem to be an intellectually inconsistent position.

Then there are the amoral few who believe that life begins at conception, yet still support abortion. Off the top of my head, I can only think of only three people who apparently hold that position: Murderess Susan Smith, “The Father of the Animal Rights Movement,” Peter Singer, who’s openly pro-infanticide, and the Democrat’s candidate for President, John Kerry. On Sunday, JFK said,

“I don’t like abortion. I believe life does begin at conception. But I can’t take my Catholic belief, my article of faith, and legislate it on a Protestant or a Jew or an atheist…who doesn’t share it. We have separation of church and state in the United States of America.”

This is a bizarre & unbelievable take on the abortion issue. As I’ve said before,

“Simply put, conservatives believe life begins at conception. Since that’s what conservatives believe, then it logically follows that conservatives believe an abortion is nothing less than the murder of a baby. And what type of degenerate would you have to be to believe that abortion is infanticide and yet still support it?

Well, what sort of degenerate is John Kerry? How is it that he can believe that every abortion ends an innocent human life and yet regularly receive a 100% rating on his voting record from pro-abortion groups like NARAL and Planned Parenthood?

Moreover, John Kerry’s attempt to play the “separation of church and state” card doesn’t wash. Trying to claim that you believe life begins at conception while almost unconditionally support abortion for others is like saying you wouldn’t ever drown your own children in a bathtub, but have no problem with other people doing it.

In other words, you don’t have to be a religious zealot in order to favor passing laws against what you view as infanticide, you only need to have a sense of common decency. That’s something that Senator Kerry sadly seems to lack.

July 06, 2004
Profiles In Terrorism

I picked up an interesting article in the Washington Times, from Hannah K. Strange of UPI. She interviews Marc Sageman, who wrote “Understanding Terror Networks,” and teaches at the University of Pennsylvania. He’s also a counterterrorism adviser to the U.S. government.

In the interview, Sageman tells us that it’s a myth to believe that terrorists are poor, fanatically religious and would carry a huge chip on their shoulders. He bases his findings on research which involved studying 400 members of terrorist networks from North Africa, the Middle East, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Of this sample, he said, 75 percent come from upper- or middle-class backgrounds, and most also from “caring, intact” families. Sixty percent were college educated and 75 percent could be considered professional or semi-professional. Seventy percent were married, and most had children.
Only half came from a religious background, and a large group raised in North Africa or France grew up in entirely secular communities, which, Dr. Sageman said, “refutes the notion of culture,” often cited as a factor encouraging terrorism.
He rejected the idea of terrorists as “inherently evil.”
“None of these guys, really, are evil — though their acts definitely were.” Neither are they mentally ill, he said. Of those studied, he said, only 1 percent had hints of psychological disorders — the same as the world base rate.
“Most of [them] were the elite of the country,” he said.
Many were sent abroad to study, became lonely and isolated from their communities and cultures, and sought friends among people like themselves. They often found them in groups based around mosques, even if they had little previous interest in religion, Dr. Sageman added.
Seventy percent joined a jihad — “holy war” — group while away from their country of origin, he said, and a further 20 percent were second-generation immigrants. Sixty-eight percent had friends in the jihad, or joined as groups. An additional 20 percent had close relatives who were already members.

His remarks on Salafism are interesting, Northern Africa is home to many followers. Overlooked by many is the notion that Salafists are in fact followers of Wahhabism, since Wahhabists detest to be called as such. Explains Khaled Abou El Fadl, Distinguished Fellow in Islamic Law at the UCLA School of Law: (quoted from a different article)

But Wahhabism did not spread in the modern Muslim world under its own banner. Even the term “Wahhabism” is considered derogatory by its adherents, since Wahhabis prefer to see themselves as the representatives of Islamic orthodoxy. To them, Wahhabism is not a school of thought within Islam, but is Islam. The fact that Wahhabism rejected a label gave it a diffuse quality, making many of its doctrines and methodologies eminently transferable. Wahhabi thought exercised its greatest influence not under its own label, but under the rubric of Salafism. In their literature, Wahhabi clerics have consistently described themselves as Salafis, and not Wahhabis.

Sagem seems to disagree, from reading his interpretation of Salafism:

Salafi, “the re-creation of the practices of the devout ancestors,” as Dr. Sageman last year told the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, is inherently a peaceful social movement, with about 30 million followers worldwide.
Dr. Sageman pointed out that more than half of the terrorists in his sample worshipped at only 10 mosques worldwide.
Salafis generally advocate the formation of a model Islamic society “based on fairness and justice” by nonviolent means. But there is a violent strand, he said.
This violent group develops what he called “in-group love and out-group hate.” It sees those standing in the way of the true Islamic community as “infidels,” who, according to distorted interpretations of the Koran, can justifiably be killed.
Targets include Arab leaders viewed as oppressive or corrupt, such as the Saudi royal family, and, particularly in the case of networks such as al Qaeda, the “far enemy,” Dr. Sageman said, meaning those Western countries seen to be aiding such leaders, chiefly the United States.

The considerably mild tone in Sagem’s description of Salafism can be related to his final verdict on the War on Terror. According to him, we will never to win with weapons and intelligence, but we more or less brought it on ourselves, so we need to engage in a war of ideas.

Therefore, Dr. Sageman said, it is “almost trivial to arrest terrorists acting right now, against preventing the next generation.” Though we must, he said, “eliminate the immediate and present threat to the U.S. and the West, much of our focus needs to be on the war of ideas. “Our military options have run out,” he said.
“We have to stop shooting ourselves in the foot,” Dr. Sageman said.
“Much of the [present] anger is because of the run-up to Iraq, the occupation of Iraq. … The way we’ve handled the Israel-Palestine issue has not played well in the Muslim world. We need to appear much fairer and just in our dealings with both sides than we have been in the last few years.”

So, in the end, it’s the ‘Root Causes’ caravan again. Rather than to seek blame with us, it is Islam that needs to reform itself, and weed out the sects that preach a return to 11th century beliefs, and seek the spread of their religion by killing its opponents. We can and will help in this process where possible, but in the end it’s up to muslims everywhere to challenge these clerics, and to ensure that others don’t fall prey to them by looking at the early warning signals Sagem writes about.

First published at Southern Watch.

July 05, 2004
Sadaam Tells (Not Quite) All

So why DID Sadaam Hussein invade Kuwait? And what about locking up his son Uday for murder?

According to the political editor of England’s Sun newspaper, answers to these questions were provided when the former Iraq dictator was grilled in captivity. Some tidbits from the article by Trevor Kavanagh:

—WHY HE ATTACKED KUWAIT IN 1990:”The tyrant admitted he attacked Iraq’s neighbour to keep his troops occupied and stave off a military coup.” Makes sense to us. Foreign policies are not always sparked by foreign events but can reflect domestic political pressures. In a dictatorship, they take a different form.

—HOW HE JUDGED THE REALISTIC CHANCES FOR WAR: Very poorly:” He let slip he was SURPRISED the Coalition launched the attack to liberate the country last year. The deposed dictator said he had been counting on United Nations’ bickering over Weapons of Mass Destruction to save him.” Sadaam again proved himself The Master of Miscalculation.

—HIS PROBLEMS WITH HIS LATE SON UDAY: Well, they were the kinds of problems any father could have with a son:

He said his psychopathic son Uday, 40, bludgeoned an innocent man to death — for playing music too loudly. The despot threw his unstable son into solitary confinement as punishment.

But Uday is also understood to have beaten Saddam’s valet and food taster to death in 1988 for introducing a new lover to his father. And he tortured Iraqi footballers for failing to win international competitions.

Maybe his son was just “acting out.”

In any event, the article says Sadaam was very careful not to say anything that might incriminate him. But if his comments are true we know this: he was not half as smart as we — and Washington policymakers — thought. His judgement was (ahem) flawed………

Is John Kerry About To Pick Dick Gephardt For Veep?

Speculation continues to mount over who John Kerry will pick for Vice President. And the speculation-game clock is running down — since Kerry will announce his Veep choice before the Democratic convention later this month.

If Kerry intends to pick a Vice President who will add a new-blood image to his ticket, the two names being floated could not be more contradictory. And he seems to like the word “former.” The two biggest names floated are soon-to-be-former North Carolina Senator John Edwards and former Speaker of the House Dick Gephardt. Really.

Edwards may have his downside, but he was a fresh face and during the primaries seemed to have “it” — that rare quality that only a few policos have, where voters truly seem to LIKE them and are turned on by them. And Gephardt may have his upside, but he has that frequent characteristic many politicos have, where he served in Washington so long his name is not only synonomous with the name of the capitol but he has a political face so old it needs a consultant’s face-lift.

Edwards would be (for better or worse) new blood. Gephardt to all but partisans embodies a certain word that’s used in New York to describe a taxi. Actually, that word has many definitions:

” drudge..(NOT THAT ONE)…machine politician, ward-heeler, a politician who belongs to a small clique that controls a political party for private rather than public ends….a mediocre and disdained writer….a tool as a hoe or pick or mattock….cab…. taxi, taxicab….a car driven by a person whose job is to take passengers where they want to go in exchange for money.. jade, nag, plug…an old or over-worked horse…a horse kept for hire…a saddle horse used for transportation rather than sport etc.

You guessed correctly, kids! The word is “hack.”

But, non-Democrats (including independent swing voters such as your truly) are asking, how could a campaign and candidate that have shown all the excitement of a plate of cold, unsugared oatmeal even contemplate such a thing? And how could it be considered a plus. Easily:

—Archpundit reports this:”Just got some scuttlebutt, top Gephardt aide Joyce Aboussie has been sent a private plane to join Dick Gephardt for….one can only assume the announcement that Dick Gephardt will be the next Vice President Nominee for the Democratic Party. “

—Political Wire reports this:”Update: For what it’s worth, I’ve been getting a lot of whispers in recent days that Kerry has settled on Rep. Dick Gephardt as his running mate. Some of the sources are fairly credible, but none of them are Kerry himself. So I guess we’ll still have to wait.”

—Oliver Willis writes this:”I’m obviously going to support the ticket, but I’ll be quite disappointed if this turns out to be true. Then again, whoever it is will be better than Cheney….And for those of you with dirty minds out there, the ticket will be ‘John & Dick’”.

—Kos writes this:

….Gephardt might not the most exciting choice, but he gives the Republicans zero ammunition. And that fits in nicely within Kerry’s strategy…Kerry’s team is operating under the C.W. assumption (correctly, IMHO) that a reelection battle is a referendum on the incumbent. Hence, they are fully expecting Bush to do himself in, leaving Kerry as the only alternative by the time November runs around. It may not be an exciting strategy, but a sound one nevertheless. Gephardt as veep would be a natural extension of that strategy.

QandO points to yet another Gephardt-is-it-indicator, this time in The Note, and writes:”For the life of me, I just don’t get it. Whatever credibility Gephardt may have after a career in the House, most Americans will never know it. Hell, most American’t can’t name the Secretary of State at any given time, so they’re certainly not familiar with Dick Gephardt’s long history of……well, whatever Dick Gephardt has done….I can’t imagine a less charismatic character on the bottom of Kerry’s ticket. I haven’t even seen a Democrat who can muster up an ounce of excitement over the prospect of Dick Gephardt in the White House.”

If this is a continuation of the apparent anti-Bush strategy — which is more like Thomas E. Dewey running against Harry Truman and taking bland stands counting on anti-incumbancy to win the election — then Kerry is making a huge mistake.

NOTHING can be taken for granted, and if Gephardt is indeed chosen it would make the phrase “uninspiring choice” a classic understatement.

UPDATE:
Talon News reports that Kerry will make a “surprise” announcement within a few days. Then it speculates on Edwards but hedges its bet by mentioning a slew of candidates including Gephard and, of course at the bottom of the piece, Hillary Clinton. At this point there has been so much speculation on all of the Vice Presidential candidates that the only surprise would be if Kerry picked The Moderate Voice (and he is booked through the summer).

—Archpundit gives a thoughtful argument here on why Gephardt could be a good pick. Even so, we firmly believe it would be a mistake; a Kerry-Gephardt ticket would be The Sleep Eze ticket.

—CNN quotes a Democratic source saying Kerry has made his decision and will announce it shortly.

—Ezra Klein also makes an excellent case for Gephardt. Some excerpts:

There’s a lot of speculation around that Gephardt is the choice. I, honestly, am kind of expecting him to be the guy, if only because Kerry and him genuinely like each other and political egos are big enough that few nominees recognize they need help. Now, it should come as no surprise to anyone that Gephardt is not my first, second, or even fifth choice. He’s too much of a protectionist, has too long a House record and really upset me by undercutting opposition to the Iraq War. That said, I think Gephardt’s got a few things to recommend him.

He then outlines them extensively and, from a political standpoint, convincingly. So we use the dreaded phrase: Read the whole thing. He concludes:

Do I love Gephardt? No. But he’s been a loyal Democrat and a fighter for progressive values for decades. He represents a wing of this party all too often forgotten post-Clinton, we could do worse than showing them that the Democratic Party still believes in their interests.

Pejmanesque also believes it’s going to be Gephardt (she signed up for the Gephardt email notification and nothing came. I did too and all I got was an “enlargement” spam…)

Max Stoller: “The despair among progressives at the potential choice of Gephardt is interesting, mostly because of what it suggests about progressives. Why is Kerry the only candidate that matters? Why does any agenda have to be pushed by the President?” (Of course, we don’t belong to a party: our fear is that Gephardt on the ticket will mean we’ll have to spend a lot more money at Starbucks buying double shots of expresso).

The Polishing Of Al Qaeda

Much how I hate to push down all those nice 4th of July pictures, it’s my first post to the Op-Ed pages of the Command Post, where I’m hoping to share some views with you all from Madrid, Spain, which is where I live. Most posts appear on my blog Southern Watch as well (unshameless plug, last time I promise), which deals mostly with the War on Terror, and how it affects Spain and Northern Africa. Because I follow the Spanish and North African press, some links to articles will lead to Spanish or French articles.

I’m not a big fan of conspiracy theories, but with regards to Spain’s socialist government’s and the liberal press’ handling of the March 11 attacks, I keep having this feeling that something is very wrong here. It’s like they want to forget, move on, hoping (and in many cases believing) that the Madrid bombings were somehow a deserved payback for Spain’s support of the liberation of Iraq, so Spain can now be considered safe from Islamist terror. These are things almost impossible to say out loud over here.

Recently, one hundred days passed since the bombings, without any official rememberance ceremony. On the contrary, on June 9, Madrid City Council revealed a replacement for the spontaneous memorials erected at the targeted stations, replacing candles, notes and flowers with a cold, sterile video wall and a website, on which pictures of the now cleaned up memorials are displayed. The reason for this? Station and railway workers were having a hard time dealing with the memorials day after day, and it kept them from recovering. These railway workers must have endured all this stress at least, say, 50 days, before asking for the removal? And knowing a bit more about organized labor here, I can very well imagine a labor union (which are all in some way linked to the socialist party) pushing for this on behalf of the government? But that’s when my rational side usually stops me from endulging in more conspiring.

But I digress, although it helps introducing what I really wanted to write about, namely the ‘polishing up’ of Al Qaeda. Ever so softly, it seems the agenda set by the press (the US as the true enemy of peace), the government (you can’t shoot your way out of any situation, you need to talk and work together) seems to evoke a reenforcing response by the other. Today it struck me for the first time, seeing references made here and in El Periódico to “Al Qaeda’s military wing” I’m mentioning El Periódico specifically, because it also carries an interview with Diaa Rechuan, quoted as an ‘expert on pacifist and violent Islamism’, who works at the ‘prestigious’ Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies in Egypt.

The Al-Ahram Centre is the research center of the Al-Ahram group of newspapers, state-owned and widely known for its open anti-semitism. For a good starting point on what Al-Ahram stands for, check out this MEMRI special report on the newspaper, and the anti-semitic and anti-american cartoons that grace its pages.

Because I had no link, I’ve pasted (and translated) the interview below. Remember, this is a respectable Spanish newspaper passing this on as an ‘expert opinion’

Al Qaeda no es una red sino sólo un modelo, asegura un experto

La red terrorista Al Qaeda no existe como tal, se ha convertido en un modelo que multitud de grupos terroristas utilizan según su conveniencia, y ni siquiera en Irak está presente, según cree uno de los mayores expertos del mundo.

Diaa Rechuan, experto en islamismo pacífico y violento en el prestigioso Centro Al Ahram de Estudios Estratégicos, ha explicado a Efe que Al Qaeda se está convirtiendo “en una especie de MacDonald’s, una marca o franquicia que muchos se quieren atribuir y para lo que no hace falta más que un requisito: extender el terror en nombre del islam”.

Después del 11-S

Al Qaeda nació probablemente después del 11 de septiembre del 2001, no antes, y ahora está operativa solo en Afganistán, Pakistán, el centro de Asia, el este de África y algún lugar de la Península Arábiga, pero carece de mando central operativo y Osama bin Laden ya solo actúa como inspirador, pues su capacidad de reunión y reclutamiento es nula, según Rechuan.

El hombre que Estados Unidos considera jefe de Al Qaeda en Irak, el jordano Abu Musab al Zarqaui, probablemente no tiene nada que ver con Al Qaeda, pues los ataques antishiís que se le atribuyen —como los del pasado marzo en Bagdad y Kerbala, con 143 muertos— no entran dentro del estilo de Al Qaeda, asegura el experto.

Explica que Al Qaeda sigue siempre una política constante: atacar a los que considera “infieles” y a sus aliados, pero no a una multitud de shiís en una mezquita, pese a que Bin Laden y sus hombres, todos ellos sunís, no profesen ninguna simpatía por el shiísmo.

Rechuan tiene sus dudas de que Zarqaui, por el que EEUU ofrece una recompensa de 25 millones de dólares, sea en realidad tan importante como Washington dice que es, y asegura que ha sido el secretario de Estado, Colin Powell, el que ha hecho famoso a Zarqaui.

Dudas de su relación con el 11-M

También duda de que Al Qaeda haya tenido algo que ver en el atentado del pasado 11 de marzo en Madrid, pues significaría un fallo estrepitoso de los servicios de seguridad españoles, fallo que sería más comprensible si se tratara de un grupo que actuaba por su cuenta y riesgo.

Advierte este experto de que Al Qaeda no desmiente su participación en atentados que se le atribuyen siempre que éstos cumplan con ‘un patrón común’: golpear a los infieles o a sus aliados, pues así se va engrosando el mito del “terror global”.

Sin embargo, sí ha desmentido su vinculación con los atentados antishiís, recuerda.

Al Qaeda is no network but just a model, assures an expert

The terrorist network Al Qaeda doesn’t exist as such, it has converted into a model which multiple terrorist groups use it to fit its purposes, and isn’t even present in Iraq, so thinks one of the biggest experts in the world.

Diaa Rechuan, expert in pacifist and violent islamism at the prestigious Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies, explained to Efe [Spanish news agency -VM] that Al Qaeda is changing itself in “a type of McDonald’s, a brand or franchise to which much is attributed, and for which the only prerequisite is to spread terror in the name of Islam”.

After 9/11

Al Qaeda was probably conceived after September 11, 2001, not before, and now it operates only in Afghanistan, Pakistan, the center of Asia, the east of Africa and someplace on the Arabian peninsula, but lacks a central operational command and Osama Bin Laden now just acts as inspiration, since his capacity to meet and recruit are zero, according to Rechuan.

The man the United States consider the head of Al Qaeda in Irak, the Jordan Abu Musab al Zarqawi, probably has nothing to do with Al Qaeda, since the anti-Shi’a attacks they attribute to him —like the ones last March in Baghdad and Kerbala, with 143 dead— have nothing to do with the style of Al Qaeda, assures the expert.

He explains that Al Qaeda always follows a constant policy: attack those they consider “infidels” and their allies, but not a congregation of Shi’a in a mosque, in spite that Bin Laden and his men, all of them Sunnis, hold no sympathy whatsoever towards Shi’a muslims.

Rechuan has his doubst that Zarqawi, for whom the US offers a reward of 25 million dollars, in reality is as important as Washington makes him to be, and assures that it was Secretary of State Colin Powell, who made Zarqawi famous.

Doubts over his relation to March 11

He also doubts that Al Qaeda had anything to do with the attack on March 11 in Madrid, since it would mean an enormous failure on part of the Spanish security services, a failure which would be more understandable if it were dealing with a group which operated on its own.

The expert notes that Al Qaeda will not deny its involvement in attacks they attribute to them, and that these attacks are always carried out with a similar pattern hit the infidels or their allies, since this is how the myth of “global terror” grows.

However, remember that they have denied their involvement in the anti-shi’a attacks.

So what you have read either puts the whole world on its head, because Al Qaeda doesn’t really exist, and is just being used as an excuse to go after Islam, or this is Revisionism in its more refined form, with El Periódico helping to erase the image of an Al Qaeda plotting attacks and planning the downfall of the Western world, and replacing it with individual groups claiming to be Al Qaeda but really not having any link whatsoever. Which might lead to someone claiming that all these ‘separate’ groups, once stripped of the Al Qaeda brand, have legitimate worries and can at least be heard out. And that we should look beyond Al Qaeda, the terrorist ‘cry for help’ and address their root causes.

The idiocy of stating that Al Qaeda was formed after 9/11 is just beyond words, look here for an accurate overview of its history, which you’ll appreciate starts around 1988.

Rechuan then jumps on Al-Zarqawi’s non-relation with Al Qaeda as proof that Al Qaeda doesn’t exist. As we’ve explained before here, in the intercepted memo from Al-Zarqawi to Bin Laden he clearly speaks of his own organization Al Tawhid (which is widely known to be intent of the overthrow of the Jordan house of Hussein, and not as Rechuan states ‘made famous by Colin Powell’).

Finally, but most importantly perhaps to the interview’s aims, Rechuan states that Al Qaeda could not have been involved in the Madrid attacks, because it would mean an enormous intelligence failure. El Periódico’s printing this blatant nonsense just makes me wonder where the Spanish are heading for. Its use of a ‘military wing of Al Qaeda’ when threats are made, and then stripping Al Qaeda of its threat by letting Al-Ahram’s revisionists explain to us ‘what really happened’, it all just leaves me wondering if there somehow could be some concerted action going on, designed to make us all think that we’re safe.

Which of course, we are not.

July 04, 2004
American Images





Stairway evacuation, north tower, World Trade Center. The building occupants file downstairs as firefighters head up the stairwell in the World Trade Center.





Two women watch in horror as the towers burn.





By Spc. Sean Kimmons. June 25, 2004. Soldiers of the 25th Infantry Division’s Task Force 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, re-enlist before heading out of Kirkuk Air Base for their second Najaf mission recently. The 21 Soldiers received the Selective Reenlistment Bonus, which allows each of them to earn up to a $1,000 tax-free bonus. Task Force 1-14 Infantry has completed a tactical movement to Najaf and began a detailed relief in place with the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment. This photo appeared on www.army.mil.



By Sgt. April Johnson. June 29, 2004. Spc. Joshua Burgess, right, and Sgt. Edwardo Colon-Gonzolez pass out school supplies to Iraqi children in a small village west of Bayji, Iraq. The Soldiers are assigned to Company B, 1st Battalion, 4th Cavalry Regiment. The unit’s Soldiers are helping to improve the quality of life of Iraqi people. The unit is deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. This photo appeared on www.army.mil.



By Staff Sgt. David Gillespie. June 25, 2004. Spc. Elizabeth Jarry shows an Iraqi girl proper tooth-brushing techniques during a 13th Corps Support Command Medical Civil Action Project in Bakr Village, Iraq. Jarry is a dental technician from the 118th Medical Battalion, Connecticut Army National Guard, operating from Logistical Supply Area Anaconda in Balad, Iraq, during Operation Iraqi Freedom. This photo appeared on www.army.mil.



By Department of Defense. June 16, 2004. A Soldier is welcomed home by family members in Asheville, N.C., after more than 15 months deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The Soldier is assigned to the 210th Military Police Company, North Carolina Army National Guard. This photo appeared on www.army.mil.



By Tom Mani. May 28, 2004. Soldiers of the Fife and Drum Corps, 3rd U.S. Infantry, The Old Guard, place flags in Arlington National Cemetery for Memorial Day weekend. Each year, Soldiers and other service members honor those who have served before them by placing flags on the gravesites. This photo appeared on www.army.mil.



By Staff Sgt. Klaus Baesu. August 20, 2003. Sgt. Angelica Lopez, provides vehicle security while her team performs a foot patrol in Tikrit, Iraq. Soldiers of the 401st Military Police Company are conducting routine night patrols in an effort to eradicate subversive elements. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Klaus Baesu. This photo appeared on www.army.mil.



Lance Cpl. Gabriel J. Otoole, a rifleman with Company F, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, sees Iraqis in his operational zone every day during patrols. He said their attitude hasn’t changed since the transfer of sovereignty in Baghdad. Marines are well received in the towns because of their continuing dedication to help the Iraqi people, not because of a change of government. (USMC photo by Cpl. Shawn C. Rhodes). Photo by: Cpl. Shawn C. Rhodes.



Marines with 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, patrol the Wusbin Valley during Operation Bama in the Surobi district, of Afghanistan, May 28, 2004. Operation Bama is a 15-kilometer patrol and the battalion’s first major operation. DoD photo by Lance Cpl. John E. Lawson Jr., U.S. Marine Corps. Photo by: LANCE CPL. JOHN E. LAWSON JR., COMBAT CORRESPONDENT



An F-15E Strike Eagle from the 494th FS (Fighter Squadron), RAF (Royal Air Force) Lakenheath, in-flight on a combat sortie in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom on April 22, 2004. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Aaron Allmon II). Photo by: SSGT AARON D. ALLMON II, CHARLESTON AFB S.C.

This is a dupliate of the original post at the nikita demosthenes website.

Confirmation Is Needed On Terrorism Act Internet Claims

Was 24-year-old Marine corporal Wassef Ali Hassoun killed by the Al Qaeda group that snatched him or not? As we warned in a post on news bulletins yesterday on another site, reports weren’t confirmed yet — and the case seems shakier today.

Yesterday reports surfaced that a statement appeared on Islamic websites saying he had been beheaded and — as become the unfortunate custom now — proof would be soon seen via a video on the Internet. His family in Utah went into seculsion but hadn’t gotten any official word, his relatives in Lebanon said they hadn’t any official confirmation, and U.S. military officials couldn’t confirm it but were trying to get solid information. You can find full details of yesterdays events plus an extensive roundup of blog reaction by going to my post on Dean’s World. News reports from yesterday can be found here and here.

But now there are reports that he may not have been killed — notably, a report from the group itself on its own website.

Yet, in the meantime the Lebanese government is confirming the killing.

Which leads us to say what we said in our postings on Dean’s World yesterday and even underlined it: it is not confirmed yet. Total confirmation for the press and Internet sites will be when the U.S. military, via its sources, proof of a body, or analysis of a video, confirms it.

In this day of news in real time, a breaking story like this definitely should be noted…but it should also be noted if confirmation is not complete. And — as we said yesterday and say again on Independence Day — it is not complete.

The statement issued yesterday could be from a faction of the group or not even from the group. Or it could even entail timing of the release of info if he has indeed been killed. But we don’t have confirmation on any of this —- just as his fate remains unconfirmed this July 4th morning.

THE TWO KEY STORIES:
—The group itself denies it:

An Iraqi militant group denied on Sunday that it had killed an abducted U.S. marine.
On its own Web site the Army of Ansar al-Sunna branded as false a statement in its name, which appeared on two Islamic Web sites Saturday, announcing that 24-year-old corporal Wassef Ali Hassoun, of Lebanese origin, had been beheaded.

“This statement that claimed to be from us has no basis in truth … and we have an official Web site through which we publish statements,” Ansar said in a statement posted on a new Internet address for the group. Its previous site appeared to have been shut down.

However, the group said it believed that killing “such filth brings one closer to God.”

In other words: the statements issued in its name was not — this statement says — an official statement issued in its name. Does this mean someone jumped the gun — or that there is in fact hope that their Muslim hostage will be released as a way to solidify its ties with the Muslim world?

Lebanese officials confirm it:

Lebanese Foreign Ministry sources say they can confirm the death of a US marine whom Islamic militants said they had beheaded.

There was no immediate confirmation from the US military. “We don’t have anything and the marines don’t have anything,” a military spokesman said.

Lebanon’s consul in Baghdad, Hassan Hijazi, told the ministry on Saturday that Corporal Wassef Ali Hassoun, an American of Lebanese origin, had been killed, the Foreign Ministry sources said.

Mr Hijazi did not know when the killing took place and the sources did not explain how he had confirmed the death of Corporal Hassoun, who has been missing for a fortnight.

Confirmation of news is more important than ever in the Age of the Internet. Any hacker can get on a website and post something that seems to come from the website. People can also falsify statements and info they sent to sites (and blogs) because confirmation of facts is routinely not done.

The same goes for weblogs: how many stories, articles and think pieces to all of us who have weblogs post where we assume the source material we’re discussing is factual? In this case, it entails politics, and a life — and it’s more grave.

But no person or media outlet can confirm every single fact…there’s an element of trust.

In the case of terrrorist act news, we give the exact same advisory we gave yesterday: nothing is truly confirmed until the U.S. military announces its determination on the fate of it’s employee.

But if the NEW (puported) statement from the (purported) group is indeed correct, the case that their hostage has indeed been killed seems shakier.

Independence for All

lib04.jpg

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. —That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, —That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

The photo in the banner above is one I took of a building that stands next to the spot where the World Trade Center towers used to stand. I use this photo today not only because it shows Lady Liberty, standing tall and proud. I use it because the place where it stands represents a time in my life when I stopped taking my country and its freedoms for granted.

When I was very young, I understood very well what the Fourth of July meant. My mother would often read to us from the constitution on that day. In later years, she would force us to watch 1776, a surprisingly moving and entertaining musical about Independence Day. The advent of the VCR meant she could play the movie at whim. Which meant that all day long, every July fourth, we would grudgingly sing along with mom:

Commitment!

The croakers all say we’ll rue the day
There’ll be hell to pay in fiery purgatory
Through all the gloom, through all the gloom
I see the rays of ravishing light and glory!

I felt pride in my country then. At some point, I’m not sure when, that pride waned.

In later years the Fourth was more about having parties - it was my grandfather’s birthday and each subsequent year brought a bigger, better and louder family gathering. We watched baseball instead of 1776. We craned our necks in the evening gasping over beautiful fireworks, never giving thought to what those fireworks were supposed to be a celebration of.

Now that I’ve renewed my relationship with my country, I no longer take for granted the freedom I enjoy as an American. I am thankful every day that I live in a place that affords me the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as well as the right to complain loudly if I should feel those rights are being taken away. I don’t feel that way at all, but the idea that I could go down to Washington, D.C., stand in front of the White House and berate my president if I felt like and not be put to death for it is something that I cherish.

Those of you reading this who are Americans, take stock of what you have. Your day is filled with choices. Your life is filled with choices. You can be or not be whatever you want. You can practice any religion you desire, or no religion at all. You can come and go freely. You choose your own destiny.

It’s not the same around the world. There are countries where the people have to fight every day to try to gain just a tiny fraction of the freedoms that we so often take for granted.

Our forefathers stood up to tyranny and look how we have reaped the benefits of that. We should stand shoulder to shoulder with anyone else who wants to stand up to tyranny.

In Iran, they are doing just that. And while today is America’s Independence Day, a day to celebrate liberty, in order to ensure that our liberties always exist, that our flag will always still be there, we must stand side by side with those in other countries who are fighting for their own liberties.

We have 228 years of freedom behind us. There are countries, like Iran, with zero years of freedom. While we live free, they are oppressed. Yet, like our founding fathers before us, the freedom fighters of Iran are rising up against tyranny. They are risking their lives to speak out and fight for their basic rights.

What good is our freedom if it is only ours? Regimes that oppress their own people would also oppress us, given the chance. To fight for the people of those countries is to fight for your own country as well. We are all humans and deserve the basic dignities that come with liberty. There is no dignity in a country run by cruel mullahs. Life is not sacred to them. Neither is freedom. But it is to us, and we have the freedom to support those who are fighting for those things.

I want to share my Independence Day with the people of Iran. I want to take this day, a day in which I celebrate my freedom, to stand side by side with those who have the guts to take on the tyrants.

We cannot sit around and wait for the bureaucracies of the world to bring freedom to WE THE PEOPLE, so we must join forces and unite with all who believe in freedom. When freedom is in danger, it matters little what political leanings or perspectives we hold. We are all human beings and so together we must show our strength through unity and defeat the Islamofascist Terrorists and the regimes who sponsor them as they work hard to divide us.

Roger Simon (who is the force behind this post) says:

This is not a Democrat/Republican/left/right issue, but about basic human rights. All of us should want to help end a totalitarian regime. And let me emphasize one thing—these young people are not asking for US military assistance. They see that as counter-productive. What they want is the firm diplomatic and economic isolation of the Mullahs by the United States and other countries. They will do the rest. Let’s give them a hand!

July 9th (18 Tir) marks a symbolic movement against the evil regime in Iran. It is the rememberence of this day:

The Students Uprising of July 9th, 1999 was the first popular movement, which showed beyond doubt that killings of Foruhars and writers, not only did not stop the ones who want real change in Iran, but it has made them more determined, when seeing the reformist regime did not even work hard to protect its own friends, let alone guaranteeing the protection of real opposition, as one would expect of a real reformist regime.

The Students were vocal about their demands for change in Iran, and the regime was also very clear in its attack on them. The vigilantes attacked, killed, and wounded the students ,and many of the student leaders were arrested, but Khatami threatened the students to discontinue or get the stick, and some of the student leaders are still in Islamic Republic’s dungeons, have been forced to TV pseudo-confessions, and the like. But even the TV confessions have backfired on the regime, making its image more like that of Savak confessions of this regime’s predecessor, Shah’s regime, which Iranian people still remember.

I posted many links about 18 Tir last year, when the blogosphere came together in a big way to support the Iranian students. We need to do that again this year. There are many Iranian blogs now - they will know we are here, standing beside them.

Celebrate your own independence by vowing to help those who are seeking the same. Sign this petition to show your support. If possible, attend some of the U.S. rallies listed on that page. Read this site daily to keep with what is happening in Iran.

This will be an important week for those in Iran who are battiling for liberty. As we celebrate our own liberties and freedom today, we should take some time to remember those who do not have the things which we so often take for granted.

The ground of liberty is to be gained by inches, and we must be contented to secure what we can get from time to time and eternally press forward for what is yet to get. It takes time to persuade men to do even what is for their own good. - Thomas Jefferson

Our freedom is inextricably tied with the freedom of others. We must help all those who want to face the tyrants as our founding fathers did. In order to truly be secure in our freedom, we must make sure that others are also free. And we must, as a tribute to our forefathers who fought and died so we can live like this, help those who struggle to have what we have. If that means just showing support to anyone in any country that is willing to fight for basic human rights, we must do that.

I know you are probably wondering why I’ve chosen to take this American holiday and spend the time talking about Iran, but I see the two as sum parts of whole. Of course, I will do the usual celebrating today, with the requisite barbecue, fireworks, beer and baseball. But I will not take my freedom for granted and I will not forget that there are others who strive to have a day like this each year, a day to raise their glasses to liberty.

Happy Independence Day, Americans. Here is to the hope that someday we will celebrate as one with the rest of the world to mark a time of freedom and justice for all.

July 02, 2004
Publisher Revokes Hillary's Advance for Common Good

Publisher Revokes Hillary’s Advance for Common Good. (Humor).



“I recently discovered that I am partly Punjabi.”

If only life really worked like this

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(2004-07-01) — In the same week that Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY, told a San Francisco audience that future President John Forbes Kerry will take money away from wealthy Americans “on behalf of the common good”, the former First Lady’s publisher announced it would not pay the $5.3 million deferred advance it owes for her book Living History.

“To get the publishing industry, and our company in particular, back on track, we’re going to cut that short and not give it to you,” a spokesman for Simon and Shuster reportedly told Mrs. Clinton. “We’re going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good.”

- - - - - - -

Similar topic (kind of): my prediction for the Dem Veep sweepstakes: Sam Nunn. I, personally, think Sam Nunn would get Kerry many more southern votes (aka “NASCAR Dads”) than pretty-boy John Edwards. I think that, if Kerry picked Nunn, the GOP would go … “Oh crap.” I, of course, hope Kerry picks Ms. Sincere Punjabi Herself, Hillary “For the Common Good” Clinton.

Of course, a floor fight at the convention by the Deaniacs for the VP slot would be great fun too.

This is a duplicate of the original post on the nikita demosthenes website.

Damn Republicans

Mean-Spirited Conservatives at it Again

From Hog on Ice.

Look what I just found:

moorebabyeaterc.jpg

Padilla, Rasul, Hamdi: Wartime Cases Analysis

Bob Harmon is a former military policeman, and a California state Democratic Party official. He is currently Director of the Marin County, California ACLU. Bob comes highly recommended by Trent Telenko.

Stare decisis (stahr- ee di -si - cis) [Latin “to stand by things decided”] The doctrine of precedent, under which it is necessary to follow earlier judicial decisions when the same points arise again in litigation.
— Black’s Law Dictionary, 7th Ed.

The Supreme Court’s 3 major wartime are in, and they’re neither the “Worst Decision Since Dred Scott,” (Free Republic) nor a signal defeat for the Administration (www.aclu.org). It is worth looking at them, if only to see US wartime law as it has evolved. It continues to evolve here. None of this appears to be worth getting one’s briefs in a twist.

Each case starts with Who who the combatant is – US citizen or not? – what they were doing at the time of capture, and who is holding them and where, especially the latter. Habeas corpus means, basically “who’s got the body?” a legal query to a jailer as to “why are you holding this person?” It’s pretty fundamental: “We are heirs to a tradition given voice 800 years ago by Magna Carta, which, on the barons’ insistence, confined executive power by ‘the law of the land,’” wrote Justice Souter. It’s usually prompted when the prisoner is denied due process of law, something also explicit in the Constitution (5th and 14th Am.), the Great Charter, and even the Bible (At least for Roman citizens, “…it was not the custom of the Romans to give up anyone before the accused met the accusers face to face and had opportunity to make his defense concerning the charge laid against him.” — Acts 25:16).

The three cases were:

Read The Rest…

Michael Moore's Democratic Party

“(U)nhinged and creepy lunacy is spreading like a virus through the left and not just on the fringes. Snapping them out of it is nearly impossible. Reminding them of 9/11 doesn’t help, it’s already an irrelevant historical event to them that no longer has anything to do with what we’re doing today. They will generally admit that Saddam Hussein is dangerous, but their words have the hollow ring of a mental patient telling a doctor that, ‘I really don’t think I’m Jesus anymore so can you please take the straitjacket off?’ They’re so paranoid that Conservatives can never get through to them. In fact, just mentioning this editorial to them will probably cause them to start screaming, “police state, police state, police state” while they start looking for the brown shirts who they believe are about to haul them away to a FEMA internment camp.”John Hawkins

Little did I know back in October of 2002, when I wrote that, how thoroughly that “unhinged and creepy lunacy” would permeate the ranks of the Democratic Party. Back then, for the most part, I was talking about left-wing columnists and forums. But today, the Democratic elite, Congressmen, Senators, even John Kerry, the Democrat’s candidate for President, are all drifting deeper into the fever swamps of the left.

If you want evidence of this, you need look no further than the reaction to Michael Moore. Moore’s books sell like wildfire and his latest film, “Faherenheit 9/11,” spent a week at the top of the box office. Without question, Moore is talented, witty, and funny. He’s also a conspiracy nut who not only believes that we went to war with Afghanistan for oil, but that the US government is deliberately letting Osama Bin Laden run free. He has also claimed that there is no “terrorist threat in this country,” that Americans “are possibly the dumbest people on the planet,” and he has also compared the insurgents in Iraq, you know the ones that are sawing people’s heads off, to the Minutemen from the Revolutionary War. In short, Michael Moore is an America hating whack-job.

You’d think prominent Democrats wouldn’t want anything to do with Michael Moore, but au contraire, Moore is the belle of the Democratic ball!

During the Democratic primaries, Moore appeared on stage with one time front runner Wesley Clark, who was later mentioned by the press as a possible running mate for John Kerry.

Guests for an opening night screening of Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11” last week included Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin, Montana Sen. Max Baucus, South Carolina Sen. Ernest Hollings, Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow, Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, New York Rep. Charles Rangel, Washington Rep. Jim McDermott, & Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe. Afterwards, McAuliffe raved about the movie, replied in the affirmative when asked if it “was essentially fair and factually based,” and seemed to sign on to Moore’s bizarre claim that we invaded Afghanistan after 9/11 in order to put in an oil pipeline.

So if the creme de la creme of the Democratic Party are willing to appear with Michael Moore and endorse his movies, is it not fair for us to wonder if they endorse his other views? For example, does Charles Rangel believe that the people who decapitated Paul Johnson are comparable to the Minutemen who helped free this country from the British? Is it possible that Tom Daschle believes Americans are quite possibly the stupidest people on the planet? Could Tom Harkin think we’re allowing Osama Bin Laden to run free? Maybe they believe those things or maybe they don’t, but in any case, they certainly don’t mind associating with and endorsing someone who has put forth those ideas. What does that say about them?

Furthermore, what does the fact that John Kerry has chosen to link to the Democratic Underground from his website say about him? For those of you who are unfamiliar with the “DU,” it’s a left-wing website with very popular forums that is often quoted from by conservative bloggers and radio hosts because it’s such a cesspool of lunacy. If you’re looking for people who think Americans are just as bad as Al-Qaeda, the US Gov’t had Nick Berg killed, or just a little America trashing, there’s no better place on the internet to go than the Democratic Underground. Yet, the man who wants to be our next President feels that’s an appropriate web page to endorse via a link on his own site. How bizarre is that?

Moreover, examples of distinguished Democrats who’re expressing these sort of sentiments have become common. MoveOn.org, a powerful member of the “shadow Democratic Party” that has spent more than 17 million dollars on ads this campaign cycle, chose to post a web-ad on their front page that claimed Bush was another Hitler.

Congressman James Moran in effect said that “leaders of the Jewish community” were controlling whether or not we went to war in Iraq.

Washington Rep. Jim McDermott said the Bush administration knew where Saddam Hussein was, but waited until a political opportune time to capture him.

Then there’s Al Gore, who in his most recent public speech said,

“The (Bush) Administration works closely with a network of rapid response digital Brown Shirts who work to pressure reporters and their editors for undermining support for our troops.”

That’s right, the man who used to be the Vice President of the United States apparently views people who send emails to newspapers because they’re concerned about the troops as the moral equivalent of the street thugs who savagely beat and murdered Hitler’s political adversaries. It simply boggles the mind.

If the Democratic Party wants to treat the conspiracy theorists, America haters, and people who think Bush is another Hitler like one of their valued constituency groups, so be it, it’s a free country. But, if you roll around in the slop enough times with a bunch of pigs, at some point people have to start wondering if you’re doing it because you actually like the dirt and the smell. How many more trips to the pigpen can voters tolerate before start to seriously question whether the Democratic elite in Washington can be trusted to lead because they’re too far out of the mainstream?

Former Foreign Leader Publicly Supports Kerry

One of the many Foreign Leaders Senator Kerry said supported him has ‘gone public’.

Addressing a panel of higly respected international legal experts in a televised event, a former Foreign Leader spoke in highly critical terms about President Bush’s policies today.

As reported by Al Jazeera, and echoing Michael Moore’s remarks about a ‘Fictional Presidency’, he said that the trial of Saddam Hussein was

a play aimed at Bush’s chances of winning the US presidential elections.

According to The Australian he also said

This is all a theatre

and

The real criminal is Bush

The Former Leader, now retired, had, like George Soros, contributed substantial funds to a number of anti-war movements in the past, notably that of George Galloway. It was Mr Galloway who said of him :

I salute your courage, your strength, your indefatigability

Here’s what the Great Man himself had to say in an interview on the BBC with Tony Former Labour Cabinet Minister Tony Benn:

First of all we admire the development of the peace movement around the world in the last few years.

We pray to God to empower all those working against war and for the cause of peace and security based on just peace for all.

With words like that, who can possibly deny that he represents the ideals that the Bush=Hitler wing of the Democratic Party, Michael Moore, and the peace activists of ANSWER are striving for? It’s only his lack of native-born American status that prevents him from being the number one choice for Kerry’s Vice-Presidential running-mate. Never mind, he may well end up being President of France instead - he already has the political and financial connections.

July 01, 2004
Take the Enhanced Political Quiz

You may be surprised with the results.



The latest ranking of your humble blogger

Wow - I must be getting more libertarian with age. Or something.

Take the Enhanced Political Quiz - the results are somtimes surprising. (I think most people are more libertarian than they realize).

This version of the quiz was designed by the evil libertarian madman seen here (who also happens to be my old college roomate - a good friend).

This is a duplicate of the original post on the nikita demosthenes website.

Spy-Der-Man

The Alliance for Justice (an organization just a bit left of center) has launched a new online campaign, “Spy-der-man,” which they describe as “a satirical flash animation starring John Ashcroft as the intrusive super-villain.” Check it out here.

Posted By Alan at 05:31 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack
Michael Moore: you're no Ray Bradbury

Plus: the many lies of Fahrenheit 911.

Just a few of the Fahrenheit 911 big lies - big lies #1, #2, and #3 - are provided here.

And I even saw poor old Ray Bradbury on TV the other night complaining that low-life Michael Moore didn’t even get Bradbury’s permission before he ripped-off the title of Bradbury’s classic book, Fahrenheit 451.

Indeed, Moore’s movie cruelly mocks Bradbury’s classic work. Bradbury’s novel warned of a future world where censorship (book burning) is common-place. Moore uses the prestige of this classic title to spread lies - to mock freedom of speech itself - for his stark, narrow partisan propoganda. Disgusting.

I hope Ray Bradbury sues the obese jerk.

Even Richard Cohen - no mouthpiece for the right - says Moore’s movie is rubbish:

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Moore’s depiction of why Bush went to war is so silly and so incomprehensible that it is easily dismissed. As far as I can tell, it is a farrago of conspiracy theories. But nothing is said about multiple U.N. resolutions violated by Iraq or the depredations of Saddam Hussein. In fact, prewar Iraq is depicted as some sort of Arab folk festival — lots of happy, smiling, indigenous people. Was there no footage of a Kurdish village that had been gassed? This is obscenity by omission.

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Skip the movie. Read the book. Or this one (I like their new term for Moore’s genre: “crockumentary”).

This is a duplicate of the original post on the nikita demosthenes website.