Category ►►► Terrorist Attacks
August 8, 2013
Run Away, Run Away!
Well there's something on which we can all agree: When the resurgent al-Qaeda threatens a massive terrorist attack against the United States, we had better initiate a drastic response! And about time.
Alas, the "drastic response" Congress and the Barack H. Obama administration have in mind is for the United States to flee the MIddle East, shutting down all our embassies and consulates across all the hot spots threatened by al Qaeda -- a.k.a., the strong horse:
Sen. Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, said that more than 25 of the country’s embassies around the world are particularly vulnerable, according to a briefing senators recently received from Vice President Joseph R. Biden.
“We need to know and realize we’re living in an increasingly dangerous world, and this specific threat that we’ve been briefed on over and over again has reached a new level,” Mr. Durbin said.
The U.S. posts that will remain closed for the week include embassies and consulates in Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Yemen, Libya and Somalia.
I don't know how they missed Iraq, Dubai, Mexico, and the Cayman Islands; don't they deserve a panicked rout as well?
What exactly do they mean by saying our diplomatic missions will be "closed?" Does that mean they will be completely deserted? Left with an undefended skeleton crew? Turned over to native Mohammedans? Any way you slice it, it means that whatever level of "security" existed before the closure, it will necessarily be significantly degraded during the closure.
So let's think this through. By evacuating and shuttering the embassies, to whatever extent we do, we lower the risk of another Behghzai during closure; if all the top officials leave, none will be left to be slain by terrorists.
But on the other hand, by withdrawing all security and leaving the buildings defenseless (or defended by the natives who mostly dislike us anyway), al-Qaeda can roll over as many abandoned embassies and consulates as they please, even burning them to ashes. And then what? When President B.O. finally feels embolded enough to attempt to reoccupy said embassies -- where exactly will we go, if the physical structures have been razed? Any temporary or substitute diplomatic mission will of necessity be even less secure than the ones we will have given up.
(For that matter, al-Qaeda could leave the buildings intact, but booby-trap them, or bury huge bombs to be exploded after the boot-quaking Americans retuirn.)
So even if terrorists can't kill American embassy officials (or not right away), they nevertheless can force us out of that vital region: Our "temporary" vacation from the Middle East could turn into a permanent exodus back into Fortress America. And Paulite left-libertarians to the contrary notwithstanding, we cannot defend the homeland -- solely from within the homeland.
Without a forward deployment, without the capability of going on the offense against our enemies, without strongholds in every potential battleground, the vaunted "Fortress America" will crumble in the onslaught. We fight them in Yemen and Iraq so we don't have to fight them in Minneapolis and Los Angeles. If we withdraw within our own little fortress of solitude, the entire American homeland will become al-Qaeda's playground.
Funnily enough, the only senator speaking out against a cowards' march out of Arabia is the evil Republican "neocon," Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC, 92%):
Republicans and Democrats alike agreed that shutting down the embassies and consulates was the right move in light of the intelligence.
But Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, cautioned against allowing the United States to be driven out of the Middle East completely, as resurgent elements of the global al Qaeda network reconstitute themselves in the volatile region.
"Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, al Qaeda in Iraq, al-Nusra, all of them have one thing in common: They want to drive the West out of the Mideast and take over these Muslim countries and create an al Qaeda-type religious entity in the place of what exists today," Mr. Graham said on CNN’s "State of the Union." "So this is an effort to terrorize us, to drive us out of the Mideast."
Has it occurred to anyone in the present administration or in Congress -- other than Lindsay the Bold -- that instead of running, we might try using some of that standing military we seem to support?
Bill Kristol puts it all in a nuthouse:
Four years ago President Obama gave a much heralded speech as outreach to the Muslim world," Kristol said during a panel discussion. "And now, four years later we are closing embassies throughout the Muslim world. A year ago, the president said al-Qaida is on the run. And now we seem to be on the run.
Miss W. yet?
June 1, 2010
The Shape of Stings to Come
AP just can't bring itself to refer to either Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad as a terrorist organization. It's an open question, mustn't prejudge!
The strongest that the Associated Press can muster is to refer to Hamas "militants" and "fighters" from PIJ. And of course, the "news" agency uncritically repeats claims by Islamist Moslem nations and traditional Israel-haters in France that the Israelis violated "international law" with their "massacre" of innocents in the flotilla of "peace activists":
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan [of Turkey], an outspoken critic of Israel, told lawmakers Tuesday that the Israeli raid was an attack "on international law, the conscience of humanity and world peace."
"This bloody massacre by Israel on ships that were taking humanitarian aid to Gaza deserves every kind of curse," he said, demanding that Israel immediately halt its "inhumane" blockade of Gaza.
Turkey demanded that the U.S. condemn the raid. The White House has reacted cautiously, calling for disclosure of all the facts.
Timidly would be the better word.
Meanwhile, the United Nations Security Council voted to condemn the unspecified "use of force" and violent "acts;" the United States has veto authority within the Security Council, but the Barack H. Obama administration refused to exercise that right, instead pushing only for a wishy-washy, "on the one hand, on the other hand" statement that found guilt without deciding which side was guilty, or in what proportions:
“The Security Council deeply regrets the loss of life and injuries resulting from the use of force during the Israeli military operation in international waters against the convoy sailing to Gaza,” the statement said, adding that the 15-member body “in this context, condemns those acts which resulted in the loss” of lives.
The wording seemed designed to dilute demands for condemnation exclusively of Israel, which argues that its soldiers acted in self-defense in response to violent resistance to their interception of the vessels from passengers on board.
Unwilling to let the crisis go to waste, the Security Council also demanded -- with American acquiescence, probably passive -- that Israel essentially lift the blockade and allow the "sustained and regular flow of goods and people to Gaza":
“The Security Council requests the immediate release of the ships as well as the civilians held by Israel,” the United Nations statement said, calling for “a prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation conforming to international standards.”
It also said the situation in Gaza, under blockade by Israel, was “not sustainable” and called for a “sustained and regular flow of goods and people to Gaza, as well as unimpeded provision and distribution of humanitarian assistance throughout Gaza.”
On the broader Palestinian-Israeli confrontation, the Security Council renewed calls for a two-state solution and voiced concern that the raid on the flotilla took place while United States-sponsored so-called “proximity talks” were under way.
Presumably, the Israelis should allow any number of ships to pass directly to Gaza "unimpeded" for however long it takes for our "proximity talks" to bring about the desired "two-state solution." That is, so long as the Palestinians remain intransigent, Israel should not be allowed to defend itself; as soon as the Palestinians come to their senses and stop trying to exterminate all Jews, then Israel will be allowed to enforce its (then-unnecessary) blockade.
It's a position that makes perfect sense in the Era of Obamunism!
Two significant events occurred today: First, Egypt unexpectedly decided to lift its own land blockade of the border crossings between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, at least for a few days, allowing virtually unfettered movement of men and materials back and forth; there is no indication the Egyptian security officials are even making sure Iranian missiles are kept out of Gaza. They claim this is for humanitarian purposes, but I think it clear it's really designed to punish Israel.
Second, the peace activists of the religion of peace sent out another boat to try to run the blockade. Their plan should be clear by now:
- Three or four more "unarmed" vessels full of peaceniks (recreationally chanting "kill the Jews") will assail the blockade.
- Each attempt will provoke more "violence," other "massacres," more "raids." (And since when does enforcing a publicly announced blockade constitute a raid?)
- Every such use of "disproportionate force" will ratchet up world demand for an end to the blockade.
- Eventually (this part is mere wishful thinking on the part of Hamas and its sponsor, Iran -- I hope!) Israel will be forced by mounting world fury to withdraw its sea-based defense.
- Once that happens -- the next humanitarian aid ship to Gaza will transport thousands of advanced Scud missiles, the same type that Iran and Syria have been openly shipping to Hezbollah in recent months.
- Then all of Israel, including every major Israeli city, will fall within range of Hezbollah or Hamas missile attacks.
The U.N. should be pleased if Israel no longer commands disproportionate force but is matched by exterminationist terrorist organizations -- pardon me, I meant "militant" groups of "fighters." The endless series of complaints against Israel will have achieved their ultimate aim; when the inevitable, Iran-led, fourth holy war begins, no country will dare stand up for the Jews... lest Iran decide to seal off the Strait of Hormuz, blockading much of the world's oil.
Say -- perhaps StratFor's traditional conclusion that "doom is nigh" will turn out to be accurate after all!
Thank goodness we have such a strong Commander in Chief, such a great admirer of Israel; otherwise, we might have to worry that America may no longer exercise its veto authority in the UNSC to protect the Jewish state -- and might even join the world-wide movement to force Israel into a suicide-pact "peace treaty" with next-door neighbors who want nothing more than the obliteration of world Jewry and will not even take the most basic step of renouncing terrorism and jihad against Israel. We might pressure our beleagured, erstwhile ally into the existential error of "a treaty at any cost."
But I'm sure we can rely upon the strength of character and excellent primal instincts of President Barack Hussein Obama II to rescue us from such a fate. He saved us from health care, didn't he?
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
May 7, 2010
The Flying Fickle Finger of Guilt
I'm a little tired of seeing everything and everybody blamed for the failed intelligence, failed security, and failed prevention of the ultimately failed bombing that Faisal Shahzad failed to perpetrate... that is, blaming everybody except Barack H. Obama, of course. I come not to praise Obama, but to accuse him.
Here are a few facts:
According to a CBS story published Tuesday, May 4th at 2:41 PM, Shahzad was arrested "late Monday night." That would have to be Monday, May 3rd. The story includes the following sentence: "Shahzad... was later read his Miranda rights and continued to cooperate with authorities after that, [Deputy Director of the FBI John S.] Pistole said."
If Shahzad was arrested "late Monday night" and Mirandized prior to Tuesday afternoon, when the story was posted, that means the Feds questioned him less than one day before telling him he had the right to clam up and lawyer-up. This is insane, but hardly unprecedented; they did pretty much the same with the Undiebomber.
(It's irrelevant that Shahzad chose to keep on yapping; just as our counterterrorism strategy cannot be "hope the bombs fail to explode," our terrorist interrogation strategy cannot be "hope the detainees waive their Miranda rights.")
The supposed reason he was Mirandized so quickly was to make it easier for prosecutors to try the case. But that's hardly the most burning issue, is it? It's much more important to determine whether he acted alone, whether he had accomplices who might carry out further bombings -- successfully, this time -- and whether he was part of a large plot directed from Pakistan, by the Taliban, al-Qaeda, or some other international terrorist organization. Prosecution is far down the list of critical tasks, particularly if we can hold him in custody until we finish interrogating him, using enhanced techniques as necessary and legal.
In the case of a terrorist attack, safeguarding the country takes precedence over a criminal prosecution. The inverted priorities are stupid and incompetent.
In a segment on Hugh Hewitt's radio show, I heard some administration spokesman say that they couldn't hold Shahzad as an unlawful enemy combatant because "he is an American citizen.... We can't just hold an American citizen without charges indefinitely." But is he really an American citizen? Let's examine that a bit more thoroughly.
First of all, it was the Obama administration itself that made him a naturalized American citizen on April 17th, 2009. The president and his federal government clearly dropped the ball by not investigating Shahzad more thoroughly -- just as they did in the months leading up to the Fort Hood massacre last November.
But unlike natural-born citizenship, naturalization is not irrevocable.
In order for Shahzad to become naturalized, he must have filled out form N-400 Application for Naturalization from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Reading that form, I notice the following on page 7:
9. Have you ever been a member of or in any way associated (either directly or indirectly) with:
c. A terrorist organization?
10. Have you ever advocated (either directly or indirectly) the overthrow of any government by force or violence?
And on page 8:
D. Good Moral Character
15. Have you ever committed a crime or offense for which you were not arrested?
24. Have you ever lied to any U.S. government official to gain entry or admission into the United States?
Shahzad was naturalized in April of 2009; less than two months later, he flew to Peshawar, Pakistan, where he claimed to have undertaken explosives training.
Considering that he had flown to Pakistan many times in the last eleven years, it is a reasonable inference that he did not suddenly develop an interest in -- and contacts with -- terrorist training camps in Pakistan. The most reasonable interpretation of the facts suggests that Shahzad was already in contact with the Taliban and/or al-Qaeda and/or Lashkar-e-Taiba before last April.
If so, then Faisal Shahzad lied on his Application for Naturalization. Lying about a material fact in order to obtain citizenship makes the application fraudulent, which is grounds for administrative denaturalization.
In other words, the Obama administration had an excellent case for stripping Shahzad of his U.S. citizenship... after which he could be held as an unlawful enemy combatant and even transferred to the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility. So much for the risible claim that his "American citizenship" required the FBI to Mirandize him less than 24 hours after being captured.
Don't let's get buffaloed again: There was no reason at all to Mirandize Faisal Shahzad -- not within 24 hours, nor afterwards. Rather, President Obama should have directed the Justice Department to call an immediate immigration hearing to strip him of the shield of American citizenship precisely so that he could be held as an unlawful enemy combatant and interrogated for as long as it takes to extract all possible intelligence from him.
Anything less constitutes a dereliction of duty on the part of our (ugh) Commander in Chief. Ask not at whom the flying, fickle finger of guilt points; it points directly at B.O.
February 25, 2010
Why the Rush to Blame Mossad - Other Than Anti-Israel Paranoia?
The world still roils over the assassination of Hamas senior commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai; perhaps a better word would be "hyperventilates":
Last week, Israel's ambassador to Britain was called in for an official reprimand by the Foreign Office. In Dubai, Lt. Gen. Dahi Khalfan Tamim, the chief of police for the emirate, has said he is "99 percent" sure that operatives of the Israeli spy agency, Mossad, killed Mr. al-Mabhouh.
But I still haven't seen a single shred of evidence that Mossad, Israel's premier agency for intelligence, covert ops, and counter-terrorism, was behind the bizarre scheme... and several tantalizing bits indicating that they weren't:
- In general, the hit job was too elaborate, too complex, too Byzantine. Gas? Guns? Electrocutions? This is silly.
- The 26-member hit squad was far too large for the job; that scrum was almost guaranteed to be found out!
- The killers were clumsy enough to be caught on surveillance video, which seems very unlike the highly professional Mossad.
- They stole the identities of real Israeli citizens. Far from pointing the finger at Mossad, I believe this curious fact points firmly away from that agency; why would they intentionally implicate their own citizens?
And a new piece of intel I'd not seen until today: According to Dubai intelligence, one of the best in the Middle East, two of the assassins chose a peculiar refuge to flee after the hit:Nonetheless, some details have emerged that do not track with traditional Israeli intelligence tradecraft. The Dubai authorities this week said two of the operatives fled to Iran.
Let's do a little detecting. We need a suspect group that (a) kills Hamas members; (b) doesn't mind implicating Israel; and (c) has some sort of affinity with Iran. Hm... that's a toughie; unless, just possibly, the hit was actually carried out by Hezbollah.
- Hezbollah is fighting Hamas for control of Gaza and the West Bank; they have ample reason to want to assassinate al-Mabhouh.
- Hezbollah takes its cue from Iran, and no country on Earth hates Israel more than Iran. Killing al-Mabhouh -- and ensuring that Israel would get the blame in the international community, which is always eager to blame the Jews for everything bad in the world, anyway -- would send a tingle down Hassan Nasrallah's leg.
- Hezbollah is Iran's private terrorist group, which they send out to other countries and regions, notably Syria and the Palestinian Authority, to enforce Iran's will. It makes perfect sense for Hezbollah assassins to flee to Iran for sanctuary.
To my thoughts, all signs point to Hezbollah, not Mossad, as the author of this plot. It seems that even the Devil can do a good deed now and again, albeit for his own nefarious reasons.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
September 30, 2009
Withdrawing from Afghanistan, Plus Future Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. Pinch Me, I'm Dreaming
I just heard Bill Kristol on the Hugh Hewitt show dropping a couple of political bombshells:
- First, Kristol now believes for the first time that President Barack H. Obama is paving the groundwork for rejecting Gen. Stanley McChrystal's recommendation of a COIN strategy for Afghanistan, including increasing troop levels.
Note that it was the Obamacle Himself who appointed McChrystal to head up his present commands, International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and U.S. Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A), just three months ago; and he it was who ordered McChrystal to undertake a complete review of the Afghanistan policy.
I suspect Obama expected McChrystal to recommend declaring defeat and pulling out. But in response to Obama's order, McChrystal released a 66-page report to continuing Secretary of Defense Robert Gates that called for significantly increasing troop levels there and redeploying the force in a counterinsurgency mode, similar to Iraq.
Ever since, as several bloggers have argued (notably John Hinderaker at Power Line), Obama has acted like a man who deeply regrets having picked an actual fighting general in the first place -- and who wants to prepare the American people for the complete rejection of his own appointee's report, in favor of a phased withdrawal from "the war we should be fighting," as some guy named Barack Obama called it during the campaign (in contrast to Iraq, the war we were supposed to lose, one presumes).
- Second, and far more shocking, is some political intel that Kristol received from a person who is in "cose contact" with top Defense officials: That holdover George W. Bush Defense Secretary Bob Gates will be asked by Obama to step down at the end of the year... and that Obama plans to name former senator Chuck Hagel, who never met a war he didn't want us to withdraw from, as his new Secretary of Retreat and Defeat.
Hagel was an infantry grunt in Vietnam for two years, leaving shortly after the Tet Offensive; that experience seems to have colored his attitude towards all subsequent conflicts: He sometimes votes for them (as for example the Iraq war); but as soon as the going gets tough, Hagel demands an immediate and aggressive surrender.
- He was one of only four Republicans in July 2007 who voted in favor of cloture on a bill to force withdrawal from Iraq starting 120 days from that vote; the other three were Olympia Snowe (ME, 12%), Susan Collins (ME, 20%), and Gordon Smith of Oregon, liberals all.
- In railing against the Iraq COIN strategy of Gen. David Petraeus, Hagel called it "the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam, if it's carried out." (I don't recall Hagel ever issuing an apology, or even a statement, after the Petraeus strategy proved decisive in our victory in Iraq.)
Speaking about Israeli's incursion into Lebanon to stop Hezbollah's rocket attacks on their northern cities, Hagel blurted out:
"The sickening slaughter on both sides must end and it must end now.... President Bush must call for an immediate cease-fire. This madness must stop."...
"How do we realistically believe that a continuation of the systematic destruction of an American friend -- the country and people of Lebanon -- is going to enhance America's image and give us the trust and credibility to lead a lasting and sustained peace effort in the Middle East?" asked Hagel, the No. 2 Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Yes, the perfect man to defend America -- Barack Obama style. I can just picture the furious and manly letters of strong disapproval Hagel will shoot off whenever some dictator funds and gives safe haven to a terrorist group while they blow up another American embassy.
Currently, Chuck Hagel is Chairman of the Board of the Atlantic Council, a foreign-policy think tank cum policy advocacy group that appears to lean heavily towards diplomacy above everything -- talking loudly and forgetting to bring any stick at all, big or small. (E.g., its International Advisory Board is headed by Brent Scowcroft and includes Zbigniew Brzezinski, Richard Edelman, Lawrence H. Summers, and a huge inflation of bankers and CEOs of vast multinational corporations.)
Hagel replaced outgoing Chairman Jim Jones, who was tapped to serve as Obama's National Security Advisor; Jones was last seen offering what we called "the weirdest explanation to date for cancelling the long-range ballistic-missile defense system in Eastern Europe -- while simultaneously betraying our allies, Poland and the Czech Republic."
Since the Jim Jones appointment as security sock puppet worked out so well for Obama, it certainly seems plausible that he would go back to the same well to draw out a bucketful of Defense Secretary. Admittedly, Kristol just lost his father, Irving Kristol; but it was hardly the sort of shocking or unanticipated demise that might throw William Kristol into a blue funk and darken his normal optimism.
The threatened appointment of Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense would be catastrophic for the war efforts, all of them: Iraq, Afghanistan, the war against the Iran/al-Qaeda axis, intelligence gathering, interrogations, dealing with Pakistan, North Korea, China, Russia... and of course, Hagel would be a disaster for Israel, as he would almost certainly back Obama to the hilt in the latter's quest to force Israel back to the indefensible borders of the pre-Six Day War era. (In exchange for the Palestinian's promise that they might seriously consider deciding whether or not to recognize Israel sometime in the distant and not very likely future.)
Appointing Hagel would seriously diminish our ability to protect our allies or even defend ourselves, and in general would signal the end of American power and leadership in the world, at least for a while (say until 2013). Therefore, I conclude that Obama is already plotting to make the appointment.
I must also conclude that the Senate will swiftly approve the nominee; Hagel was once one of them... therefore, "comity of the Senate" and all that, Republicans will probably support him, though he rarely supported them while in that august body.
And there you have it, your recommended minimum daily allowance of political pessimism and national-defense despair.
Cross-posted (of course) to Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
August 20, 2009
Lockerbie Bomber Released... Is It Just I?
According to Scottish authorities, the poor chap has suffered enough:
Despite strenuous American opposition, the Scottish government on Thursday ordered the release on compassionate grounds [!] of the only person convicted in the Lockerbie bombing, permitting Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, a 57-year-old former Libyan intelligence agent, to return home after serving 8 years of a 27-year minimum sentence on charges of murdering 270 people [!!] in Britain’s worst terrorist episode.
Still protesting his innocence, and offering “sincere sympathy” to the families of those who died in the bombing, Mr. Megrahi was granted his freedom under the terms of Scottish laws permitting the early release of prisoners with less than three months to live.
...Is it just I? Or does anyone else think that Abdel Basset Ali al-Merahi having only three months to live makes him more likely, not less, to commit a suicide bombing -- sorry, act of "martyrdom?"
But at least the amnesty side has a strong, perhaps unarguable counterargument in favor of release:
[Kenny MacAskill, Minister of Justice in Scotland] continued: “In Scotland, we are a people who pride ourselves on our humanity. It is viewed as a defining characteristic of Scotland and the Scottish people. The perpetration of an atrocity and outrage cannot and should not be a basis for losing sight of who we are, the values we seek to uphold, and the faith and beliefs by which we seek to live.”
Mr. Megrahi “did not show his victims any comfort or compassion. They were not allowed to return to the bosom of their families to see out their lives, let alone their dying days. No compassion was shown by him to them.”
“But, that alone is not a reason for us to deny compassion to him and his family in his final days,” the official said.
“Our justice system demands that judgment be imposed but compassion be available. [Actually, it appears to demand that "compassion" trump justice. -- the Mgt.] Our beliefs dictate that justice be served, but mercy be shown. Compassion and mercy are about upholding the beliefs that we seek to live by, remaining true to our values as a people - no matter the severity of the provocation or the atrocity perpetrated,” he said.
This is the evil wrought by a compassion-based "justice" system: At the end of the day, according to Minister MacAskill, the horrific and premeditated murders of the 270 victims of the bombing were worth 11.5 days incarceration each; after that, "compassion" lurches forward to assert that, being sick, the convicted mass-murderer should be allowed to go home and be surrounded by his loved ones and comforted as he dies -- exiting, perhaps, not with a whimper but with a bang.
The self-emasculation of Europe in the name of "compassion" is a disturbing yet fascinating case study demonstrating why Professor Charles R. Kesler is right that "compassion is not a virtue":
At bottom, the whole notion that compassion was the virtue conservatives lacked or needed to cultivate to be respectable was highly dubious. The best that could be said was that the slogan may have conferred some marginal electoral advantages in 2000. At a deeper level, however, the prominence of compassion was in tension with Bush's avowal of the responsibility era and his pledge to bring dignity back to the presidency. Compassion is not a virtue, after all. As the name suggests, it's a form of passion, of "feeling with" others -- feeling their pain, usually; a specialty of the previous administration. Like every passion, it is neither good nor bad in itself; everything depends on what its object is and its fitness to that object. In practice, our compassion often goes out to whoever is moaning the loudest. That's why the classical political virtue is justice, not compassion, for compassion is often indiscriminate and misdirected.
(Hat tip to Scott Johnson at Power Line.)
The Kesler essay is astonishing, and we urgently need every Republican at least to read it; and every conservative -- and even non-conservative anti-liberals (such as myself) who nevertheless want to see a conservative resurgence -- should read it closely and absorb Kesler's most important take-away: That what the American conservative movement has lacked since the days of Ronald Reagan is a coherent, consistent ideology of conservatism that drives their policy decisions... and which they are willing to defend, even when those policy decisions are unpopular with some segments of the American polity.
As GW at Wolf Howling likes to say, "read the whole thing." It's a bit long, but it's time well spent.
Any consistent ideology of conservatism must be based upon personal responsibilty; each individual must accept personal responsibility and accountability for his decisions in life -- and every legitimate government must allow such personal responsibility. Individual justice (the rule of law) is just as integral a part of conservatism and republicanism as is Capitalism, for each demands that individuals take personal charge of their own lives and be judged accordingly. Thus, while a totalitarian tyranny is clearly illegitimate, so too is a "nanny state" that outlaws the consequences of failure (and therefore the fruits of success as well). The difference in illegitimacy is merely a matter of degree; the principle is the same.
I may seem to be taking a left turn here, but just bear with me. Rule twelve of Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals dictates the following tactic:
RULE 12: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it. Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy.
But the corollay of this rule -- for friendly forces -- is likewise true; here is my own formulation of the other side of the corrosive Alinsky coin:
And that is precisely what the New Left in Europe, America, and the rest of the West has done to Megrahi: They have insulated him from personal responsiblity for his horrific terrorist act because he is an ally, a fellow anti-American.
They do the same with Stalinist butcher Che Guevera, convicted cop-killer Mumia abu Jamal, and even with those "three members of the New Black Panther Party" who viciously intimidated voters trying to vote in Philadelphia in the 2008 election: Compassion trumps justice -- but ideology trumps compassion.
After all, the Obama administration showed no compassion for voters driven away from the polls by club-wielding "poll watchers," just as Justice [!] Minister MacAskill shows no compassion for the 270 victims of Megrahi's mass slaughter, or even their living families.
In that sense, Professor Kesler was slightly off target: Compassion, rather than being "indiscriminate," is often very discriminatory indeed, being offered only to members of one's own tribe (no matter how culpable) and denied every other victim, no matter how innocent and deserving. (He did write, "indiscriminate and misdirected;" but he could have been stronger and more explicit.)
Early releases of a vicious killer on grounds of "compassion" directly contradicts the principle of equal justice under law, a fundamental axiom of legitimate government; our protest to Scotland should begin and end with that point: Denying equal justice to a popular killer and to citizens of an unpopular country (the United States), Scotland, even the United Kingdom itself, are sinking to the same level as Libya, no morally better and no more legitimate; and the Scottish and British people should be deeply ashamed of their tainted government.
Some clearly are:
Conservative Party leader David Cameron said: "I think this is wrong and it's the product of some completely nonsensical thinking, in my view.
"This man was convicted of murdering 270 people, he showed no compassion to them, they weren't allowed to go home and die with their relatives in their own bed and I think this is a very bad decision."
...Even some left-liberals:
Scottish Labour criticised the decision to release Megrahi. Labour leader and MSP Iain Gray said: "If I was First Minister, Megrahi would not be going back to Libya. The decision to release him is wrong. He was convicted of the worst terrorist atrocity in our history, the mass murder of 270 people.
"While one can have sympathy for the family of a gravely ill prisoner, on balance our duty is to honour and respect the victims of Lockerbie and have compassion for them. The SNP's handling of this case has let down Scotland."
Let us hope that British subjects who care not only about their government's moral legitimacy but about the very survival of Western civilization exercise their personal responsibility to remove the current Labour government from power at the earliest opportunity and replace it with a strong Tory majority, as polls suggest will happen when Labour is finally forced to hold an election.
David Cameron has many faults -- he is certainly not what we in America would call "conservative" -- but at least he understands the fundamental distinction between of the virtue of justice and the chimera of compassion.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
July 16, 2008
NYT Wonders: Why Didn't Bush Invade Pakistan, As We All Urged?
The New York Times, in the first of an expected 632 installments, explains to us why al-Qaeda is much more powerful now than it was in 2000... and all because President George W. Bush neglected to do what the elite media now claim they repeatedly urged him to do: Send American "commandos" in "ground raids inside the tribal areas" of Pakistan, instead of fighting the thousands of open members of al-Qaeda in Iraq, in the country that al-Qaeda itself declared the core of their jihad.
I have never before been so convinced of the existence of alternative realities.
Here, on a nutshell, is how the Times perceives the buildup of Taliban and al-Qaeda forces in Pakistan to be Bush's fault:
After the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush committed the nation to a “war on terrorism” and made the destruction of Mr. bin Laden’s network the top priority of his presidency. But it is increasingly clear that the Bush administration will leave office with Al Qaeda having successfully relocated its base from Afghanistan to Pakistan’s tribal areas, where it has rebuilt much of its ability to attack from the region and broadcast its messages to militants across the world....
The story of how Al Qaeda, whose name is Arabic for “the base,” has gained a new haven is in part a story of American accommodation to President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan, whose advisers played down the terrorist threat. It is also a story of how the White House shifted its sights, beginning in 2002, from counterterrorism efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan to preparations for the war in Iraq.
This is a remarkable change of tone. The biggest Democratic rap on the Iraq invasion has always been that we acted on the basis of ambiguous intelligence, rather than waiting until we had achieved perfect knowledge of exactly what stockpiles of WMD Saddam Hussein had. But now, the New York Times whines that President Bush hasn't even yet sent massive numbers of Special Forces (SF) into our ally Pakistan... against its will, enflaming the very tribal areas where we would have to work, and possibly driving Pakistan further into the arms of Taliban-style radical Islamism. "What's the matter with that Bush guy, anyway?"
Maybe it's just I; but honestly, I can't quite recollect all those Times editorials urging us to violate Pakistan's sovereignty, sending in hundreds of SF even after the president of Pakistan had already rejected such operations... and all on the basis of disputed intelligence:
The militants’ flight [post Tora Bora from Afghanistan to Pakistan] did not go unnoticed by American intelligence agencies, which began to report beginning in the spring of 2002 that large numbers of foreigners appeared to be hiding in South Waziristan and neighboring North Waziristan.
But Gen. Ali Mohammad Jan Aurakzai, the commander of Pakistani forces in northwestern Pakistan, was skeptical. In an interview this year, General Aurakzai recalled that he regarded the warnings as “guesswork,” and said that his soldiers “found nothing,” even when they pushed into dozens of square miles of territory that neither Pakistani nor British forces had ever entered....
Former American intelligence officials said General Aurakzai’s sweeps were slow-moving and easily avoided by militants. Robert L. Grenier, the C.I.A. station chief in Islamabad from 1999 to 2002, said that General Aurakzai was dismissive of the reports because he and other Pakistani officials feared the kind of tribal uprising that could have been touched off by more intrusive military operations. “Aurakzai and others didn’t want to believe it because it would have been an inconvenient fact,” Mr. Grenier recalled.
So the same intelligence agencies that the Democrats -- led by the Times -- were busily hounding off the stage as serial exaggerators anent Iraq were also saying that al-Qaeda and the Taliban were massing in Pakistan, and the drive-by media were lapping it up. In more clinical terms, the Times now insists that we should have incorporated CIA intelligence about Pakistan, while at the same time rejecting CIA intelligence about Iraq.
So why, demands the elite media, didn't we simply set up SF bases in Pakistan and finish the job?
When American military officials proposed in 2002 that Special Operations forces be allowed to establish bases in the tribal areas, Pakistan flatly refused. Instead, a small number of “black” Special Operations forces -- Army Delta Force and Navy Seal units -- were allowed to accompany Pakistani forces on raids in the tribal areas in 2002 and early 2003.
That arrangement only angered both sides. American forces used to operating on their own felt that the Pakistanis were limiting their movements. And while Pakistani officials publicly denied the presence of Americans, local tribesmen spotted the Americans and protested.
Under pressure from Pakistan, the Bush administration decided in 2003 to end the American military presence on the ground.
Liberals attack Bush for "going it alone" against Iraq, ignoring what our allies said (though most agreed to join us). And then they castigate Bush for refusing to actually invade one of our most important allies, clumsily thrashing around in the barely controlled tribal areas without even the support of Pakistan itself. I think I need to lie down with a wet towel on my forehead.
Shouldn't Bush have just gone with the facts on the ground, as reported by the CIA stations in the region? Yet even the Times admits there were pitched battles about that very intelligence, fought between the CIA on the one hand, and the CIA on the other hand:
Along with the Afghan government, the C.I.A. officers in Afghanistan expressed alarm at what they saw as a growing threat from the tribal areas. But the C.I.A. officers in Pakistan played down the problem, to the extent that some colleagues in Kabul said their colleagues in Islamabad were “drinking the Kool-Aid,” as one former officer put it, by accepting Pakistani assurances that no one could control the tribal areas.
On several occasions, senior C.I.A. officials at agency headquarters had to intervene to dampen tensions between the dueling C.I.A. outposts.
Missing from this odd exhortation to destabilization is any recognition that Pakistan is special in any way. In fact, in one very big way: The New York Times completely ignores the fact that Pakistan is a nuclear nation. After 9/11, and possibly because of the successful attacks, which boosted the stock of radical Islamists everywhere ("strong horse"), the secularist president of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, was on the ropes. Any major incursion by the United States into Pakistan, particularly in the face of Musharraf's flat rejection of such American SF operations, would make it appear to Pakistanis that the United States was treating their country like a servant.
Such an infuriating image could well have toppled Musharraf; and as we're seeing today, with Musharraf weakened (even though not yet out of the picture), Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has begun making overtures to the Taliban. Given that reality, the sudden collapse of Musharraf due to American intervention in his country could have brought to absolute power those like Sharif and Benazir Bhutto who are distinctly more friendly to the Talian and al-Qaeda. In fact, it was Bhutto herself who gave the Taliban its "start-up" money in the early 1990s, thus materially helping create that insane, theocratic, terrorist government.
It's true, as the Times notes, that the Pentagon and some CIA executives wanted a big strike in Pakistan to capture Ayman Zawahiri, bin Laden's number-one deputy and spiritual mentor; but the only intelligence indicating Zawahiri was to be in Pakistan for a terrorist conference was flakey... and President Bush decided, in the end, to listen to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and back off the mission (which had already crept up to a 100-man strong military assault). Maybe it would have worked; but if it didn't -- if it killed a lot of tribals and failed to net Ayman Zawahiri -- it would have been a strategic catastrophe.
With such high stakes, we want people making the decision who are not simply military; we have civilian control of the armed forces precisely because the latter often don't consider the political implications of military action: Had the tribes in the tribal lands risen up and rebelled against Islamabad, we would have lost all intel and all access altogether.
The Times article includes no consideration of the danger that excessive meddling by the United States in Pakistan could drive the Pakistani government away from us, and possibly into cooperation with the Taliban and al-Qaeda. In fact, there is not even a single mention of the undisputed fact that Pakistan has demonstrated a nuclear weapons capability... and has a shameful history of transferring nuclear technology to very bad actors (via the A.Q. Khan network).
Too, the elite media's obsessive focus on bin Laden, the person, missed the point of the response to 9/11. Per Douglas Feith's book War and Decision, the focus was not on punishing Osama bin Laden or al-Qaeda but on protecting America from further attacks. The Pentagon and CIA pulled off this miracle by aggressively confronting the attackers, if possible before they even launched their operation, even if that meant preemptive war -- but only as a last resort, not (as the Times seems to want) as a first option -- at least where our allies are concerned.
Simply put, the Times is still arguing, for the thousandth wearying time, that instead of invading our enemy Iraq, we should have invaded our ally Pakistan.
The closing dig by the Times against the administration is illuminating:
Leading terrorism experts have warned that it is only a matter of time before a major terrorist attack planned in the mountains of Pakistan is carried out on American soil.
“The United States faces a threat from Al Qaeda today that is comparable to what it faced on Sept. 11, 2001,” said Seth Jones, a Pentagon consultant and a terrorism expert at the RAND Corporation.
“The base of operations has moved only a short distance, roughly the difference from New York to Philadelphia.”
What does Jones mean by saying America faces a threat "that is comparable to what it faced on Sept. 11, 2001?" We were successfully hit on 9/11 because we did not yet realize we were at war with the Iran/al-Qaeda axis... rather, that they were at war with us. But now we know; and now we have been acting as we should to prevent terrorist attacks on American soil, territories, or military forces. And except for within the hot-war zones themselves, we have been 100% successful. Nothing succeeds like success; the Bush administration must have been doing something right since 2001.
To equate this with our eight years of somnambulism from 1993 through the first eight months of 2001 is not only tendentiously wrong... it's actually laughable. The elimination of Gorelick's Wall alone, along with the other changes wrought by the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001, render us far less vulnerable today than we were on that dreadful day in September... and if Seth Jones doesn't know that, then he damn well should.
We're not perfectly secure; we never have been and never will be. And we may well need to step up our clandestine military activity in Pakistan. But if so, we must tread very softly; lest in our impatience at the pace we find ourselves sitting on a nuclear warhead, smoking a lit stick of dynamite.
June 11, 2007
Shades of the Cuban Missile Crisis
In January this year, terrorists pretending to be American troops got through Iraqi security in the Karbala Provincial Joint Coordination Center (Karbala JCC), managing to kill one US soldier and kidnap four. All four soldiers' bodies were eventually recovered; there was no sign of torture or post-mortem mutilation, which ruled out al-Qaeda.
The sophisticated nature of the operation clearly implied that perpatrators were Iranian Qods Force; but it seemed odd that they would kidnap soldiers from the center and then kill them, instead of either keeping them for interrogation and to try to trade for the al-Qods members we're holding -- or else just killing them outright at the Karbala JCC without attempting a difficult kidnapping.
But when Iranian forces directly kidnapped British sailors, all became clear: The first attempt was indeed intended to take American prisoners... but the Americans fought back; and the Iranians -- unable to transport them -- finally had to kill them. The Brits were a second-best choice; but they were more willing to give Iran the propaganda coup it so desperately wanted. And most important, the British sailors could be counted upon not to fight for their freedom, as Americans always do.
To paraphrase the Lord of the Rings, open war was upon us, whether we risk it or no.
Now, according to Bill Rogio, satellite imagery has discovered a mockup of the Karbala JCC inside Iran... conclusively proving that the murderous assault upon American soldiers was planned and carefully executed by the Revolutionary Guards and Qods Force and with full knowledge and approval of the ruling mullahs (reparagraphed for easier reading):
The January 20 attack the Karbala Provincial Joint Coordination Center by the Iranian backed Qazali Network, which resulted in the kidnapping and murder of five U.S. soldiers, has long been known to be a Iranian planned and sponsored strike.
While Iran has insulated itself with its cutouts in the Qazali Network, Multinational Forces Iraq has captured members of the network as well as found documentation which proved Iran's complicity in the attack.
And now it has satellite imagery as well. Aviation Week and Space Technology reported in the June 4 edition that Iran build a mockup of the Karbala Provincial Joint Coordination Center inside its borders, which was used to train the attackers. The "training center" was discovered by a U.S. spy satellite surveying Iran.
The Qazali Network exists -- existed -- within Iraq; a part of a larger, Iranian-controlled Iraqi network, Qazali was set up to receive money, arms, and training from Qods Force. But we have broken it since the Karbala JCC attack:
On May 19, Coalition forces killed Azhar al-Dulaimi during a raid in Baghdad's Sadr City. Dullaimi was described as the "mastermind" and "tactical commander" of the Karbala attack. In March, U.S. forces captured Qais Qazali, the network's leader, his brother Laith Qazali, and several other members.
Multinational Forces Iraq has been heavily targeting the Qazali Network's "secret terror cells" as well as those of the Sheibani Network. Coalition and Iraqi forces killed 26 members of this network and captured 71 since April 27, 2007. Three more members of the "secret cell" were captured and another killed today.
The Sheibani Network the overarching organization that receives support, weapons, advice and targeting from Iran's Qods Force. Senior members of the Qazali and Sheibani Networks are members of Iran's Qods Force.
We don't know for sure, of course; but it seems likely that these satellite pictures were part of the evidence that persuaded Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT, 75%D) to call for the Pentagon to draft plans to attack Iran:
"I think we've got to be prepared to take aggressive military action against the Iranians to stop them from killing Americans in Iraq," the Connecticut independent said during an appearance on CBS' "Face the Nation." "And to me, that would include a strike over the border into Iran, where we have good evidence that they have a base at which they are training these people coming back into Iraq to kill our soldiers."
There is no question but that Lieberman is right about one thing: We are currently in a hot war with Iran -- and we are fighting back hard against Iranian proxy forces in Iraq. The only question is whether we should expand the fight into Iran itself, giving the mullahs a taste of the whip themselves in their home turf.
Other Democrats still don't get it; they live in a perpetual September 10th world. But Lieberman has the right idea, and I wish we had him on our side:
New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who is running for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, said sanctions are the most effective tool against the Iranian regime.
"I would talk to them, but I would build an international coalition that would promote and push economic sanctions on them," he said during an appearance on CNN's "Late Edition." "Sanctions would work on Iran. They are susceptible to disinvestment policy. They are susceptible to cuts, economic sanctions in commodities."
Mr. Lieberman said he would leave any such strategy to military generals, but that it could be accomplished through an air campaign. He said failure to stand up to Iranian aggression would further weaken the U.S. position in Iraq and raise the likelihood of acts of domestic terrorism.
"We cannot let them get away with it," he said. "If we do, they'll take that as a sign of weakness on our part, and we will pay for it in Iraq and throughout the region and ultimately right here at home."
There is nothing wrong with economic sanctions and "disinvestment policy"... as an economic attack concommitent to a physical (air) attack.
Regardless of the risk -- such escalation would enrage the Iranians and might even serve to drive the Persian people closer to their mullah masters; Hezbollah could strike inside the United States; Iran could launch a massive attack against Israel -- we cannot sit idly by and allow a sovereign nation to attack the United States without directly retaliating.
So we support the rest of Lieberman's call as well... once again, we're forced to say, go, Joe!
June 4, 2007
What's In a Label? Everything, It Would Seem
In what AP calls "a stunning reversal for the Bush administration's attempts to try Guantanamo detainees in military court" -- but which rational observers would call "a shockingly thin example of dismissal by technicality" -- a military judge has dismissed murder charges against a detainee at Guantánamo Bay... because the military's combat status review tribunal only classified him as an "enemy combatant," rather than as an "unlawful enemy combatant":
A military judge on Monday dismissed terrorism-related charges against a prisoner charged with killing an American soldier in Afghanistan, in a stunning reversal for the Bush administration's attempts to try Guantanamo detainees in military court.
The chief of military defense attorneys at Guantanamo Bay, Marine Col. Dwight Sullivan, said the ruling in the case of Canadian detainee Omar Khadr could spell the end of the war-crimes trial system set up last year by Congress and President Bush after the Supreme Court threw out the previous system. The ruling immediately raised questions about whether the U.S. will have to further revise procedures for prosecuting prisoners, leading to major delays. [The original law was thrown out by the Supreme Court's Hamdan decision, but not because of any irregularities in the definition of "enemy combatant" or the operation of the status-review tribunals -- the Mgt.]
But Omar Khadr, who was 15 when he was captured after a deadly firefight in Afghanistan and who is now 20, will remain at the remote U.S. military base along with some 380 other men suspected of links to al-Qaida and the Taliban.
And why didn't they label Khadr an "unlawful enemy combatant?" Because the term wasn't available as a separate category under the original law.
However, the status-review tribunals used the same criteria for the designation of "enemy combatant" as they would now use for the designation "unlawful enemy combatant." The term has changed, but the definition is the same:
The judge, Army Col. Peter Brownback, said he had no choice but to throw the Khadr case out because he had been classified as an "enemy combatant" by a military panel years earlier -- and not as an "alien unlawful enemy combatant."
The Military Commissions Act, signed by Bush last year, specifiies that only those classified as "unlawful" enemy combatants can face war trials here, Brownback noted during the arraignment in a hilltop courtroom on this U.S. military base.
All 80 of the detainees who are slated for military tribunals have that same label; thus, military judges will almost certainly dismiss all the other cases as well on the same grounds. They won't even bother to hear any evidence -- as they did not in the Khadr case: They will simply declare they have no jurisdiction and dismiss the charges.
The chief defense attorney, Col. Sullivan, goes far beyond his duty to defend his clients; he says that this decision proves the entire system of military tribunals is "a system of justice that does not comport with American values" and that we should scrap the entire thing. If by "American values," he means really recent ones where decisions turned on "what the meaning of 'is' is," maybe he's right; if so, then the military too has lost its moral compass (as we already knew about the State Department and its ugly offspring, the CIA).
Here is the situation, from what I can determine:
- Under the recently enacted law, prisoners can only be tried at military tribunals if they are declared by a status-review tribunal to be "unlawful enemy combatants;"
- The status of "unlawful enemy combatant" requires a number of criteria: A, B, C, D;
- The earlier status-review tribunal determined that 80 of the 380 prisoners at Gitmo statisfied criteria A, B, C, and D; the other 300 or so did not;
- But they used the term "enemy combatant" for those 80 prisoners, per the law they operated under, rather than "unlawful enemy combatant." The current law had not yet been written, and the status-review tribunals had no crystal ball: They did not realize they would have to have used a different term, after the original law was thrown out and rewritten by Congress;
- ...Therefore, all the cases must be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction!
This is a perfect example of mistaking the map for the territory; it's like sitting down in a fancy restaurant -- and devouring the menu! The label itself is irrelevant; you can call them "sunshine needlepoint combatants," so long as you require the same criteria as for "unlawful enemy combatants."
The law says that only those persons who are qualified to be designated as unlawful enemy combatants can be tried; the clear intent and substance of the law is not affected by whether the earlier tribunal used the same words as the later-enacted law, but by whether they used the same standards... and Judge Brownback should jolly well understand that.
All he needed to do was check that the criteria used by the earlier tribunals to declare someone an "enemy combatant" are the same as those that used today to declare someone an "unlawful enemy combatant." Maybe this is the non-lawyer in me; but it was utterly clear to everyone, including the detainees, that the entire purpose of the status-review tribunal was to determine whether they were bad enough to warrant trial by a military tribunal.
The detainees knew exactly what that meant: They knew that if they were found to be "enemy combatants," they would be tried by a military court. Now the defense argues -- and the judge, Army Col. Peter Brownback, seems to have independently argued himself into believing -- that the trivial difference in words violates the rights of the detainees, because they didn't know they were in jeopardy of trial if found to be enemy combatants... which was the very term used at the time to designate those detainees eligible for trial!
The idea is that, if someone doesn't know a hearing can result in him having to stand trial, he might not put up a vigorous defense; thus, he might be tricked into allowing himself to be (more or less) "indicted" without a fight. But for God's sake, everybody knew that was the purpose of the status-review hearings. Everybody. Both the detainees and their military lawyers knew. The tribunal itself knew. Even the media knew. Nobody was caught by surprise here.
Here's the analogy:
Suppose Congress passed a law saying that everyone who committed murder on federal property would be indicted as a "federal murder defendant;" those so designated could be tried in federal court; and those so designated, during their actual trials, could only use attorneys from a specific list generated by the Department of Justice.
While the Supreme Court hears the inevitable challenge to this, 80 people are indicted by the Justice Department as "federal murder defendants."
But the Supreme Court strikes down the original law, saying defendants must be allowed counsel of their choice at their actual trials after being indicted. Congress rewrites the law, saying everyone who committed murder on federal property would be indicted as a "federal homicide defendant;" and those so designated, during their actual trials, could use any dadburned attorneys they want.
But then, when the first trial comes up, the judge dismisses the charges because the defendant was designated a "federal murder defendant," while the law only allows trial for "federal homicide defendants." That's totally different! Charges dismissed.
This is a perfect example of why normal people hate and despise trial lawyers as a class.
I have a thought. I realize this may be somewhat radical, even crazy, but...
The status-review tribunals almost certainly used, as their standard, the very criteria now required for "unlawful enemy combatants" -- that was, after all, the entire purpose of the status-review tribunals; and the fact that they only applied the "enemy combatant" label to 20% of the prisoners makes clear it was a pretty strict standard.
So why doesn't -- now don't come after me with pitchforks and torches! -- why doesn't President Bush, as Commander in Chief, simply direct the tribunals to look at the casefiles of each of the 80 prisoners determined to be "enemy combatants," check to see that the standards required for that designation match those required for the new designation of "unlawful enemy combatant," and then just change the stupid label?
Problem solved? Oh, no, of course not; it would have to go back to the Supreme Court, wouldn't it? After all, the burning question we face anent these men is what label was used -- not what criteria were used for that label.
I'm starting to agree with Chief Defense Attorney Sullivan (a colonel in the United States Marine Corps, sadly): "[this ruling is] the latest demonstration that this newest system just does not work." Evidently, not even the military itself can put terrorists on trial without getting tangled in absurdist definitions and technicalities that have no relevance to the actual charges... or to fighting terrorism and defending the United States.
December 14, 2006
In a magnanimous gesture sure to send Israelis to their knees in thanksgiving prayers, a three-justice panel of the Israeli Supreme Court has graciously decided to allow the Israeli Defense Force to continue suppressing terrorist attacks on Israel... subject to individual, case-by-case injunctions, of course:
The Israeli Supreme Court decided Thursday not to issue a blanket ban against the targeted killing of Palestinian militants, ruling that some of the killings were legal under international law.
The ruling gave legal legitimacy to a practice Israeli forces have routinely used against militants during the past six years of violence. The Israeli human rights organization B'tselem estimates that 339 Palestinians have been killed in the targeted operations over the past six years. Of those, 210 were the targets and the rest were bystanders. [Or, presumably, byriders in the same car as the targets.]
Thus, even taking the estimate of a "human rights organization," that means that 210 suicide bombers and suicide-bomber recruiters, trainers, and equipers -- enablers, let's call them -- are no longer with us; sadly, their practice of hiding among (relatively) innocent civilians means that 129 of the latter have also died.
Let's assume that a suicide bomber or bomber-enabler would otherwise have taken out an average of, oh, just five innocents: children in preschool, teens in a Sbarro's pizzeria, worshippers at a synogogue, Jew and Moslem, Arab and European -- that lot. That is probably a lowball guess, considering that some of the targets (such as several successive leaders of Hamas) would be responsible, all by themselves, for hundreds of murders.
Even so, that would mean that, due directly to the IDF's "targeted killing of Palestinian militants," over a thousand innocents were not splattered across the sidewalk like Jackson Pollack paintings.
A thousand innocent lives were spared; 129 somewhat innocent lives were taken (many of those non-targets killed by the Hellfire missile were nevertheless terrorists themselves traveling in the same car -- but who had not specifically been targeted; I would be surprised if even as much as 20% of the "collateral damage" comprised actual innocents). In the twisted and grotesque calculus that Islamic jihadism has forced upon the rest of the world... I'd say we got a bargain.
Yet evidently, the Israeli Supreme Court believes that it has the authority, the mandate, and the jurisdiction to decide what measures Israel may take to ensure its own existence, its own survival as a nation. Now, I realize that many "supreme" courts (including our own) like to imagine that they are the absolute final last say in all matters they choose to take up. To put it as gently and politely as I can, this is a load of oysters; oysters I said, and oysters I meant.
Suppose, for supposing's sake, that a United States Supreme Court consisting of nine Dennis Kuciniches were suddenly to rule -- never mind how unlikely this is, it's a hypothetical -- that the United States armed services did not have the authority to kill anyone, even in defense of the nation; and the Court therefore ordered the American military to stand down, disband, and destroy all their weapons of mass and individual destruction.
Would any president of the United States obey this ruling? Should he? Or should he take the Andy Jackson route and say, the Supreme Court has made its decision, now let's see them enforce it? I believe that I am in a solid majority of Americans who believe that, were the Court to descend into such utter madness, it would be the duty of the Commander in Chief to ignore their insane commands (and probably take them into protective custody to stave off a lynching).
We are not in so dire a circumstance and likely never will be; but the Israelis are. They live with exactly such an existential threat every day.
It would have been more fitting and proper for the Israeli Supreme Court to rule instead that they did not have jurisdiction to tell the elected prime minister and his cabinet how to fight a war for Israel's very existence and to stop the mass slaughter of Israeli citizens... which if allowed to continue unchecked would surely lead to mutiny, revolution, and possibly the destruction of Israel by Iran, Syria, Egypt, and even Jordan... nations who have attacked Israel before (the first by proxy) and could easily do so again, were the country to fly apart at the seams.
The arrogance of the judiciary -- we alone shall decide whether the Israeli Defense Force is allowed to defend the country! -- is absolutely breathtaking. Alas, like boiling the frog degree by degree, unnoticed and little remarked, we in the West have allowed courts to assume super powers and supernatural abilities far beyond those of mortal men; and far beyond what any rational constitutionalist would imagine be left to them.
The purpose of the courts is to resolve disputes and enforce criminal justice -- not to run the whole blooming country. They do not sit in loco parentis for the legislature and the commander in chief.
Were I the prime minister of Israel, I would announce coldly that I was glad the Israeli Supreme Court ruled as it did; but had it ruled that Israel could not target terrorists for assassination -- the only offensive tactic that has actually worked to dramatically curtail suicide bombings, even before the wall was built -- I, as chief executive and commander in chief of the IDF, would have told them to go boil an owl: that the survival of the nation would not be held hostage to a sub-panel of three wrinkley, amphibious ancients who believe it's still 1975, out of a pool of fourteen exalted creatures, each of whom believes the sun rises and sets for the sake of Warty Bliggens (each justice is his own toad, of course).
a little more
that warty bliggens
considers himself to be
the center of the same
the earth exists
to grow toadstools for him
to sit under
the sun to give him light
by day and the moon
and wheeling constellations
to make beautiful
the night for the sake of
to what act of yours
do you impute
this interest on the part
of the creator
of the universe
i asked him
why is it that you
are so greatly favored
said warty bliggens
what the universe
has done to deserve me
November 29, 2006
Intimidating Imams and Ludicrous Lawsuits
The story of the six Intimidating Imams, whose suspicious behavior caused them to be chucked off an airplane at Minneapolis St.Paul International Airport, is starting to smell more and more like a conspiracy...
At first, it just seemed that six obnoxious, insensitive, and clueless Imams, who did not understand the concept of TPO (time, place, and occasion), exhibited behavior that would worry almost anyone -- and then got upset about being questioned by the police. But the more details I read, the less I believe they were simply oblivious to the surroundings:
- They prayed loudly and as a group at the gate and made a point of criticizing the United States for everyone to hear before boarding;
- Three normal-sized Imams asked for seatbelt extenders. Rather than put them on, they placed the extenders -- which would make excellent weapons -- under their seats, within easy reach;
- Two of them then switched to unassigned first class seats, thus positioning the six around the cabin in a formation eerily reminiscent of the 911 hijackers.
The overtly (and deliberately) suspicious behavior of the Intimidating Imams cannot be dismissed as clueless; it was far too organized. They knew exactly what they were doing, and it was purposeful: the intention, made clear by their subsequent legal action, was to scare the crew and passengers enough to get kicked off the plane.
This gave them the perfect opportunity to raise a hue and cry about racism and racial profiling -- providing a cause of action to file a "civil-rights" lawsuit.
In fact, one of the Intimidating Imams has been involved in just such a lawsuit before:
Then there's the case of Muhammed al-Qudhaieen and Hamdan al-Shalawi, two Arizona college students removed from an America West flight after twice trying to open the cockpit. The FBI suspected it was a dry run for the 9/11 hijackings, according to the 9/11 Commission Report. One of the students had traveled to Afghanistan. Another became a material witness in the 9/11 investigation.
Even so, the pair filed racial-profiling suits against America West, now part of US Airways. Defending them was none other than the leader of the six imams kicked off the US Airways flight this week.
Turns out the students attended the Tucson, Ariz., mosque of Sheikh Omar Shahin, a Jordan native. Shahin has been the protesters' public face, even returning to the US Airways ticket counter at the Minneapolis airport to scold agents before the cameras.
The goal of the lawsuit is not simply to make money; it's much more sinister than that: the Intimidating Imams are trying to bully Americans into submitting to the "religion of peace" by manipulating our own cultural sensibilities, our legal system, and the incoming congressional majority Democrats.
Ultimately, the goal of such Islamists is to outlaw all criticism of Moslems or Islam itself, as in nearly all Islamic countries. But they intend to start by getting the incoming Congress to pass special legislation forbidding the "racial" or behavioral profiling of Moslems.
They figure they can use the appropriate code words and intimidate politically correct, weak-kneed Americans so much, they will be afraid to fight back. After all, it's worked in Europe.
In France, political correctness has gotten so ridiculous that the French media cannot even bring themselves to identify the gangs who burn a hundred cars a day (on a "relatively quiet day") as radical Moslems, not even after they seriously burned a young woman on a bus. Attacks on the police by Moslem youths during this "French intifada" have become so common that the police cannot even protect themselves, and instead are ceding swaths of territory to the intifada -- and essentially allowing those areas (some in Paris itself) to be governed under sharia law.
The same thing is starting to happen in Great Britain, though it's not so bad there yet. Dafydd will write about this in a subsequent post.
Nowadays, throughout much of Europe and nearly all the ummah, criticizing Islam, or even so much as speaking out against wearing the veil, can land you in 24-hour police protection... or the morgue. Militant Islamists are trying to bring this same war to America; let's not forget that the Intimidating Imams did not act out their little passion play in a vacuum... MSP is the same airport where Moslem taxi drivers have demanded they not be penalized for refusing to ferry passengers who are carrying alcohol; a cabbie of any other religion who refuses to carry a lawful fare is fined or even fired.
Four of six Intimidating Imams are now working hand-in-sock-puppet with the known Islamic terrorist-supporting organization CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations -- which now boasts its own member of Congress -- to bring their lawsuit. They are traveling around the country (who is sponsoring their travel?) and appearing on TV talk shows to promote their legal cause and disseminate anti-American propaganda. And the American media is lapping it up.
I don't have a transcript, but these are a couple of the tough, penetrating questions CNN’s Paula Zahn asked the Imams on her show:
- "How humiliating was this experience?"
- "Do you think, after 911, that Moslems have been unfairly targeted?"
Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX, 100%) has also chimed in, according to the Washington Times story above:
Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee, Texas Democrat, said the September 11 terrorist attacks "cannot be permitted to be used to justify racial profiling, harassment and discrimination of Muslim and Arab Americans."
"Understandably, the imams felt profiled, humiliated, and discriminated against by their treatment," she said.
So according to Jackson-Lee, not only can't we profile on racial or religious grounds -- we cannot even profile based upon suspicious behavior! (Maybe she thinks it's a case of "threatening while Moslem.")
Judging by the response of American liberals, one must say that Phase One of the Imam's strategy has worked. We're not yet in the dire situation of many European countries; but that can change almost overnight if we allow this nonsense to continue.
If we refuse even to profile suspicious behavior, then all the banning of liquids and X-Raying bags at the airport won’t do any good: nothing better indicates mal intent than threatening behavior.
We must realize we are at war -- war against radical Islamism and jihadism, as represented by these very Imams and their CAIRing sponsors. We cannot allow ourselves to be intimidated or bullied into submission. This is our country, these are our lives, and we must protect and defend them. Passengers and flight crews -- all Americans everywhere -- must be vigilant against such highly suspicious or odd behavior... it's our first and best defense against attack, something the Israelis discovered long ago.
There is one thing that radical Moslems don't understand: we Americans are the people who refuse to give up our guns. We are the people who say “I’d rather be judged by twelve than carried by six.” For the same reason, I’d rather be called a racist by reporting potential terrorists than keep my mouth shut from fear of offending someone's sensibilities -- and be blown up.
I sure hope all my fellow passengers feel the same.
July 21, 2006
A Tale of Two Madams and One Mister
No, not that kind of madam! I mean a pair of "Madam Secretaries of State," Madeleine Albright and Condoleezza Rice.
The first Madam Secretary, appointed by Bill Clinton for no reason other than to be the first president to appoint a woman as secretary of state, was an unmitigated disaster. Albright embraced Yassir Arafat, was bamboozled by Kim Jong-Il, tricked by Iran, cozened by Saddam, and turned a blind eye to Osama bin Laden while he and al-Qaeda prepared the most massive terrorist attack ever to occur on American soil. A magnificent and enviable record of failure and disachievement!
But let's contrast "Madam," as she insisted upon being called, with the other Madam Secretary, Condoleezza Rice. Here is Secretary Rice today, discussing her upcoming trip to the Middle East:
In her briefing for reporters on her trip, Rice said the United States was committed to ending the bloodshed, but didn't want to do it before certain conditions were met.
The United States has said all along that Hezbollah must first turn over the two Israeli soldiers and stop firing missiles into Israel.
"We do seek an end to the current violence, we seek it urgently. We also seek to address the root causes of that violence," she said. "A cease-fire would be a false promise if it simply returns us to the status quo."
Rice said that it was important to deal with the "root cause" of the violence, echoing what has been the U.S. position since last week.
And what is that "root cause?" Everybody uses the phrase, but each means a different thing. Most people in Europe and most Democrats in D.C., when they say "root cause of Mid-East violence," mean the presence of Jews in the ummah... which could easily be corrected.
If Israel would just do the manly thing and commit national suicide, then the world would think well of the Jews... briefly. But what does Condi mean by "root cause?"
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice ruled out a quick "false promise" cease-fire in the Middle East Friday and defended her decision not to meet with either Syrian or Hezbollah leaders in her upcoming visit to the region.
"Syria knows what it needs to do and Hezbollah is the source of the problem," Rice said at the State Department as she previewed her trip, which begins on Sunday with a first stop in Israel.
What a rare moment of truth and candor from the Department of State! Of course, with John Bolton at the U.N., such moments are starting to come as thick and as fast as oysters. How I'm going to miss this president when his term expires.
(Oh, and notice where her Mid-East trip begins: Israel. In the previous administration, it would have begun with a quick obeisance in Ramallah, some backhanding in Damascus, and an apology-trip to Sabra and Shatila, where Madam would have laid a wreath and danced a foxtrot with Sheikh Nasrallah.)
But here is my favorite statement, and why I still hope that someday, Dr. Condoleezza Rice changes her mind and decides to run for public office:
Resisting calls from the United Nations, Europe and the Arab world, she said an immediate ceasefire would produce a "false promise" that would allow Hizbollah to re-emerge in the future to attack Israel, the top U.S. ally in the region.
"An immediate ceasefire without political conditions does not make sense," she said.
"If you simply look for a ceasefire... we will be back here in six months again," she added. "What I won't do is go to some place and try to get a ceasefire that I know isn't going to last."
I've been scratching my brains for days now, wondering exactly what a "ceasefire" means when one party is a terrorist group. And for more clarity on that point, listen to Ambassador Bolton (it's from an press conference outside the UN Security Council in Foggy Bottom, New York City; I have paragraphed it, so I can refer to Bolton's specific points; via Power Line):
Well look, I think we could have a cessation of hostilities immediately if Hezbollah would stop terrorizing innocent civilians and give up the kidnapped Israeli soldiers. So that to the extent this crisis continues, the cause is Hezbollah.
How you get a ceasefire between one entity, which is a government of a democratically elected state on the one hand, and another entity on the other which is a terrorist gang, no one has yet explained.
The government of Israel, everybody says, has the right to exercise the right of self-defense, which even if there are criticisms of Israeli actions by some, they recognize the fundamental right to self-defense. That’s a legitimate right.
Are there any activities that Hezbollah engages in, militarily that are legitimate? I don’t think so. All of its activities are terrorist and all of them are illegitimate, so I don’t see the balance or the parallelism between the two sides and therefore I think it’s a very fundamental question: how a terrorist group agrees to a ceasefire.
This is like demanding a "ceasefire" between the United States government on the one hand -- and the Salvadoran drug gang Mara Salvatrucha. What the heck is that supposed to mean? Do they negotiate exactly how many kilos of cocaine MS-13 is allowed to smuggle into the country?
You know in a democratically elected government, the theory is that the people ultimately can hold the government accountable when it [agrees to] something and doesn’t live up to it.
How do you hold a terrorist group accountable? Who runs the terrorist group? Who makes the commitment that a terrorist group will abide by a ceasefire?
Say, that is a good question, isn't it? So how come nobody else seems to be asking it besides John and Condi? And here's another good question:
What does a terrorist group think a "ceasefire" is?
Does it really understand a ceasefire as a cessation of hostilities, to be followed by honest negotiation to settle the differences that led to the war in the first place? I think it more likely Hezbollah's understanding of ceasefire is "a pause to reload;" and the ceasefire will last as long as it takes for them to obtain replacements from Iran, through Syria, for all the missiles that Israel destroyed... maybe "six months," as Secretary Rice suggested.
Finally, Bolton finishes his answer with a nice summation of the main point:
These are - you can use the words “cessation of hostilities” or “truce” or "ceasefire.” Nobody has yet explained how a terrorist group and a democratic state come to a mutual ceasefire.
Those are all good questions, and here's another: if Israel were to ink such a ceasefire with Hezbollah... wouldn't that elevate the terrorist group to the level of a sovereign nation? What would be the next demand -- that Israel negotiate a trade agreement with Hezbollah? Perhaps an agreed-upon procedure for releasing Hezbollah killers promptly upon the kidnapping of future IDF soldiers, to avoid all the brouhaha in the future?
Or would Hezbollah be admitted to the United Nations (and probably invited to join the new UN Human Rights Council)?
Israelis should get on their knees and thank the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that at this critical turning point in their existence, their greatest ally has such clear-sighted and morally decent appointees running the United States Department of State. And Americans should thank whatever God we hold dear that we have an Israel that is finally willing to stand up to Hezbollah and Hamas: maybe President Bush can start listening to Israel, Condi, and John; then he himself can begin treating those Iranian-controlled terrorists the way he treats terrorists in al-Qaeda.
July 20, 2006
Who Pays For That Ticket to Ride Out of Lebanon?
After twenty-two years absence, the U.S. Marines have landed in Beirut to help evacuate American citizens who are stuck in the war zone. Not surprisingly, many evacuees are tired, shaken and angry... but rather than being angry at Hezbollah for starting a war of aggression along a peaceful border, many Americans in Lebanon seem angry at the United States for not dropping everything to mount a massive mission to rescue them.
I sympathize with all the innocent people being hurt or threatened in Lebanon; that's why we say "war is hell." But if foreigners decide to live or visit an unstable country like Lebanon -- especially south Lebanon, which has been under total Hezbollah control since the year 2000 -- and despite their own country’s warnings, then those people must bear primary responsibilities for their own lives.
But that's not how a bunch of very demanding Americans and other foreign civilians see it:
Shebbo, now in Cyprus, said she and her husband had struggled to get information from the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, and had found out about the boat from people in the United States. For four days, they inhaled the fumes from a bombed power plant two miles from where they had been staying.
Others echoed her complaints about the embassy.
"The guard was so rude and said there was no evacuation plan," said Michael Russo, 23, of Tucson, Ariz., of his visit to the embassy. "On Wednesday and Thursday, I asked them if there was a plan, and they looked at me like I was crazy."
They were probably wondering why on earth somebody would travel to southern Lebanon without having his own escape plan.
For many decades, Americans have been taught by the elite media that the federal government is responsible for everything that happens in America. Remember Hurricane Katrina and all the people that blamed President Bush and former FEMA Director Michael Brown -- but who gave a complete pass to Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco and New Orleans Mayor Ray "the Grand Nagus" Nagin?
Responsibility is always pushed upwards: it's not the state's job, call the feds; it's not the city's job, call the governor; don't protect yourself... call the city police to come protect you! But the farther removed "help" is from that individual in that place at that moment, the less helpful it will be. Reagan always got a big laugh out of his line, "I'm from the government, and I'm here to help you."
Having dealt with the American Embassy in Japan and the Japanese Consulate in the U.S., none of this surprises me. This is a screaming, hair-on-fire emergency... which means the embassy is even more overwhelmed than the Americans demanding evacuation. If embassy personnel act worse than usual, that may be unacceptable -- but it's comletely understandable. And it's not just our embassy:
Many Canadians in Larnaca and Beirut also expressed anger at their government's evacuation effort, either because of the long wait at the port or the lack of planning. About 1,600 were waiting in the hot sun at the Beirut port.
This has all happened before. Twenty years ago, around the time 241 U.S. Marines and 58 French paratroopers were killed by Hezbollah terrorists, the U.S. Government strongly urged all non-essential U.S. Citizens to get out of Lebanon and to call off any planned visit.
A number of westerners had already been kidnapped there; but despite all the dire warnings, a bunch more Americans (mostly journalists) rushed to Lebanon and immediately commenced being kidnapped themselves. Naturally, each and every one of them insisted that we lay aside all the more urgent business we had and send the entire Sixth Fleet to pluck away some guy from CBS... so he could wander straight back into Beirut again (it's Freedom of the Press!)
Obviously, if it's possible and not too damaging to our national goals, there is nothing wrong with the government helping Americans who find themselves in need of evacuation. But strangers in a strange land have no right to demand that this will always happen: when you travel to foreign countries, you assume the risk that something might happen to you.
You're not in the United States; you're in a separate sovereign nation. It's just like going to Singapore, committing a crime under Singaporese law -- and then demanding they not prosecute you because whatever you did isn't against the law in America (or maybe it is, but you don't get "caned" for it here).
Any traveler, regardless of where he is going, must have an emergency Get the Heck Out plan. The government is not always there to help, just like the cops can't always be there the moment you need them. Each individual must be resourceful, because he may be thrust upon his own resources.
A few years ago, I watched a documentary on TV about people who refused to be victims: they successfully escaped from dangerous situations, such as natural disasters and military coups in foreign countries. These people were mostly volunteer workers for non-governmental organizations -- the Peace Corps, religous missionary groups, Doctors Without Borders, and so forth.
They all came hoping for the best but prepared for the worst. None of them waited for somebody else to risk his own life to run help them, nor did they sit around in the dark, waiting for instructions. They individually found a way out for themselves and their companions.
What they had in common was that each had an escape plan going in. They had thought about the dangers and planned for them; when the worst happened, they followed their plans as best they could -- and they made it out alive when others dithered, waited for rescue -- and died.
So always bear it in mind: if you are unfortunate enough to get stuck, then unless the government sent you there in the first place, don't demand that somebody else save your bacon: you and only you are the one who assumed that risk... so pay for your own ticket, please.
July 15, 2006
Israeli Warship Hit By Chinese/Iranian Cruise Missile
This is exactly the danger the United States has been warning about ever since 9/11: that rogue states like Iran may begin transferring modern military weaponry to terrorist groups:
In another development, an Israeli military official claimed that Iranian Revolutionary Guards were involved on some level in a missile strike that badly damaged an Israeli naval boat off Lebanon’s capital Beirut on Friday, killing one Israeli sailor and leaving three missing.
The official said the exact role of the Revolutionary Guards was not clear, but the Iranian forces were working closely with Hezbollah in Lebanon, as they have for more than two decades.
Israel’s military initially said that the ship was hit by an unmanned drone aircraft packed with explosives. But the military revised its assessment on Saturday, saying the ship was hit by a radar-guided, C802 missile fired from the Lebanese shore. The missile came from Iran, the military said.
The C-802 -- a.k.a. Ying-Ji-802 or YJ-2, a.k.a. the SACCADE -- is a cruise missile developed by China from the earlier YJ-1 model; the YJ-2 has a turbojet rather than the rocket engine burning solid fuel, as used by the YJ-1.
The weight of the subsonic (0.9 Mach) Yingji-802 is reduced from 815 kilograms to 715 kilograms, but its range is increased from 42 kilometers to 120 kilometers. The 165 kg. (363 lb.) warhead is just as powerful as the earlier version. Since the missile has a small radar reflectivity and is only about five to seven meters above the sea surface when it attacks the target, and since its guidance equipment has strong anti-jamming capability, target ships have a very low success rate in intercepting the missile. The hit probability of the Yingji-802 is estimated to be as high as 98 percent. The Yingji-802 can be launched from airplanes, ships, submarines and land-based vehicles, and is considered along with the US "Harpoon" as among the best anti-ship missiles of the present-day world.
China was to have sold about 150 YJ-2s to Iran following the Gulf War; but when President Bill Clinton's chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Gen. John Shalikashivili, complained to the People's Liberation Army of China (a major Clinton campaign donor) that this was destabilizing, the PLA agreed to stop the sales after shipping only 75 of the missiles.
However, Chinese client state North Korea seems to have taken up the slack with Iran -- yet another Clintonian diplomatic success story:
In early 2000 it was reported that North Korea and Iran were jointly developing an advanced version of the C-802 cruise missile. These missiles initially acquired by Iran were not equipped with advanced systems, and the missiles acquired by Iran were rather outdated. Iran turned to North Korea for missile system technology, and the two countries are jointly developing an upgraded version with improved accuracy. ["N. Korea, Iran Jointly Develop Missile: Report" Korea Times February 17, 2000]
Yet another example of President George W. Bush's prescience in noting an "axis of evil" that included not only Iraq and Iran but also the Democratic People's Republic of Korea... a claim widely ridiculed by Democrats (and even some Republicans of the Henry Kissinger, Brent Scowcroft "realist" school of thought) shortly after Bush's 2002 State of the Union Address.
The reported missile-technology cooperation between North Korea and Iran occurred before 9/11... in fact, before George W. Bush was even elected. The "Axis of Evil" exists and predates Bush; he was simply the first to recognize it.
If Israel is indeed correct that their ship was struck by an Iranian C-802, and there is no reason to doubt either their accuracy or their veracity, then that raises a profound question, none of whose answers bode well: who fired the missile?
There are only two possibilities:
Hezbollah fired the missile, which means that Iran has transferred some of its precious ASCMs (anti-ship cruise missiles) to their pet terrorist group.
I find it unlikely in the extreme that Iran would do that if they only have 75 -- 15 of which are attached to patrol boats; if this is the case, then that lends some credence to the story that China actually sold far more YJ-2s to Iran than it ever admitted, or they've manufactured many more themselves;
- Iran itself fired the missile, either from a Revolutionary Guard missile battery in Lebanon, equipped with Chinese-supplied YJ-2s, or perhaps from indigenous Iranian YJ-2 knock-offs which North Korea helped them develop. In this case, Iran has openly entered into war with Israel, and Israel must respond in kind.
The latter instance puts us on the horns of a pickle: if Israel retaliates against Iran, the mullahcracy will still blame us, since they believe Israel is our sock puppet which would not act without orders from America. This is preposterous; Israel has many times done things we wish they wouldn't (not that an attack on Iran would necessarily fall into that category); but that is what Iran believes, so they will hold the United States responsible and attempt to retaliate against us the only way they can: by a massive terrorist attack.
If in fact Israel declares war on Iran and attacks them, I think it's best for us to grab the bull by the tail and look the facts in the face: if Iran will counterattack against us anyway, we may as well join with the Israelis and make a good job of the attack.
If we hurt Iran badly enough, they may be reluctant or even unable to transfer the large amounts of money, weaponry, and logistics necessary for Hezbollah to be able to pull off an effective terrorist attack. Cripple Iran's ability to use Hezbollah (or Hamas) as a proxy, and you cripple Iran's retaliatory capability... because they certainly will not initiate a missile exchange with a country that has thousands more missiles than they -- and a working ballistic missile defense to boot.
In an upcoming post, Sachi will discuss the amazing Arab reaction to the Israeli-Lebanon-Hezbollah-Hamas war; suffice to say Arab public opinion is up for grabs, unlike in times past, where the mere hint of involvement of Israel would send every Arab Moslem in the world into a frothing frenzy of Jew hatred. Perhaps the trick doesn't work anymore.
Given that new reality, now may be the time to resolve our Iranian problems... at least for a number of years, until they can reconstitute their WMD programs -- if a future president lets them.
March 17, 2006
Moussaoui Case - Shocking Allegation
In Salvaging Death From Life, we discussed the insane decision by Clinton-appointed Judge Leonie Brinkema to throw out the better half of the prosecution's case for the death penalty against Zacarias Moussaoui, on the grounds that a lawyer working for the Transportation Security Agency (TSA), Carla Martin, sent several FAA witnesses a transcript of the opening statements and the direct and/or cross examination of an FBI agent.
Now comes the rather shocking allegation that the entire transaction was a deliberate set-up whose purpose was to destroy the prosecutor's case.
As near as Big Lizards can figure out the agendas, here is what the AP story seems to say....
- The allegation comes from Robert Clifford and Gregory Joseph, lawyers for family members of victims of the 9/11 attack. The lawsuit filed by the family members claim that United Airlines and American Airlines could have prevented 9/11 by stopping the hijackers from getting on the planes with knives and boxcutters.
- The government also wants to prove that: if they can show that 9/11 could have been prevented if Moussaoui had told them about the knives and boxcutters, then Moussaoui should be put to death.
- Contrariwise, the lawyers for the airlines clearly want for their jury to believe that 9/11 could not possibly have been prevented; that it would have happened the way it did regardless of any attempt to prevent boxcutters from being carried onto the planes. That way, it wouldn't be the airlines' fault.
- And of course, Moussaoui's lawyers would also like to prove that, since then their client's lies would not have led to any deaths that wouldn't have occured otherwise. It wouldn't be Moussaoui's fault, either.
So the plaintiff's lawyers and the prosecutors both want to show that 9/11 could have been prevented; and the defense lawyers in both cases want to prove that it could not have been prevented.
According to the allegation, the airline lawyers read the prosecutor's opening statement and became very worried. If the prosecution proved its case, it would be very hard for the airlines to evade a judgment. So allegedly, the airline lawyers contacted Carla Martin of the TSA and told her to queer the case: she had to get the FAA witnesses to change their stories and say that no FAA order would have stopped any of the hijackers:
Because that government position could have "devastating" impact on the airlines' defense in the civil suit, American Airlines' lawyer forwarded the transcript to a United Airlines lawyer who forwarded it to Martin, Clifford and Joseph wrote. As proof, they cited March 7 e-mails that they provided to [U.S. District Judge Alvin] Hellerstein but which were not immediately available here. [Hellerstein is the judge hearing the civil case. -- the Mgt.]
"The TSA lawyer then forwarded the transcripts and sent multiple e-mails to government witnesses in a clear effort to shape their testimony in a manner that would be beneficial to the aviation defendants" in the civil suit, they wrote. [As we understand it, to shape the testimony to make it seem as if 9/11 could not have been prevented, which would also help Moussaoui's defense. -- the Mgt]
They then quoted a March 8 e-mail Martin sent to one of the government's Moussaoui witnesses that said:
"My friends Jeff Ellis and Chris Christenson, NY lawyers rep. UAL and AAL respectively in the 9/11 civil litigation, all of us aviation lawyers, were stunned by the opening. The opening has created a credibility gap that the defense can drive a truck through. There is no way anyone could say that the carriers could have prevented all short-bladed knives from going through. (Prosecutor) Dave (Novak) MUST elicit that from you and the airline witnesses on direct."
In other words, Martin's actions were a direct assault on the prosecution's case -- she intended to help the airlines -- hence Moussaoui -- and not the government.
Yet even so, when she was caught red-handed, Judge Brinkema's response was to finish what Carla Martin started: Brinkema's order destroys the government's case, prevents Moussaoui from receiving the death penalty, and incidentally helps the airlines defend against the lawsuit. At least, that is what the plaintiffs' attorneys claim.
Through her attorney, Martin denies the allegation; but she has not yet appeared to speak on her own behalf, nor has her attorney yet had a chance to formulate a response. The first question, of course, is whether there was any pre-existing relationship between the airlines and the TSA, or some personal or monetary arrangement between their respective attorneys, which was so deep that Martin would risk disbarment or even prison (for witness tampering), just to help the airlines out in their civil lawsuit. If such a connection emerges, then clearly, Brinkema's order should not stand.
In fact, if this is true, then there should be a mistrial: the penalty phase for Moussaoui should be moved to a different judge (preferably in a different venue) and retried... because clearly, the people of the United States were sandbagged, if this allegation is even partially accurate.
Nobody alleges that Brinkema was part of this scheme; but her obvious bias against the prosecution led her to blame the government for a set-up that seems to have been aimed squarely at destroying the prosecution's case.
If this is true, it's damned if you do, damned if you don't: if the scheme had succeeded, maybe they could have gotten the witnesses to destroy the government's case (if the witnesses were willing to commit perjury, which I doubt). But when it failed -- that, too, was used to destroy the government's case!
Again, bear in mind: these are allegations from an interested party in the case: the lawyers for the plaintiffs in the lawsuit against the airlines. They may be wrong, and Carla Martin may have had no contact with the airline attorneys. But it's hard to believe lawyers would make false allegations (and what, fake the e-mails?), when the deception would be revealed immediately -- and would destroy their own careers, if they were found to be misleading the court (either court). Unless some major contrary evidence is produced, I'm inclined to believe this charge.
If the judge does not reverse herself, especially in light of the new allegations, then I sure hope the prosecutors appeal up the chain, all the way to the Supreme Court, if they will take it: the death penalty for Moussaoui should not be held hostage to the understandable desire of United and American not to have to pay a huge judgment to survivors of the victims of 9/11.
March 16, 2006
Salvaging Death From Life
A day or two ago, a foolish lawyer in the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Carla Martin, "coached" witnesses in the Zacarias Moussaoui case death-penalty phase. The witnesses worked for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and prosecutors intended to call them to testify about defensive measures they would have taken, had the FAA only known that the 9/11 attacks were imminent... which (the government argues) they would have known if Moussaoui had told the truth to federal investigators when he agreed to cooperate.
So in retaliation for the hapless TSA lawyer violating that rule, the judge first considered ruling that the government couldn't see the death penalty against Moussaoui at all (?) -- and then finally ruled that they could seek it, but they weren't allowed to use their best evidence (!)
Sympathy for the Devil
The so-called "coaching" consisted of sending the witnesses transcripts of previous testimony, which the judge -- Clinton appointee Leonie Brinkema -- had specifically enjoined the government from doing. I suppose the presumption is that the witnesses would never have thought of saying they would have banned box cutters if they knew terrorists were going to hijack planes with box cutters... which is about the most preposterous presumption I've seen in this case.
The witnesses themselves (all of them) testified that nothing in the transcripts affected how they were going to testify -- which is kind of a no brainer: if Moussaoui had said "terrorists will use box-cutters to hijack airplanes and fly them into buildings," what do you think the FAA would have done?
In fact, several of the witnesses testified that they had not even read the attached transcripts. Yet they still are being banned from testifying. Can't trust those tricksie FAA folks!
I'm not a lawyer... and in this case, I think that gives me a clearer view of the absurdity of this: the death penalty is designed to protect the people of the United States, not to aid lawyers at the Transportation Security Agency. So if one of the latter screws up, why is Brinkema punishing the rest of us?
This is insane... but of course, she was appointed by Bill Clinton in 1993 and confirmed while the Democrats still controlled the Senate. I suspect they would have confirmed a hamster, if Clinton had assured them it would be anti-death penalty and pro-abortion.
In desperation, the prosecutors are trying to undo the damage. They have filed a motion begging the judge to let them call someone else from the FAA to testify to what the other witnesses would have testified, or something else to indicate that Moussaoui's specific information about 9/11 would have resulted in some useful reaction from the FAA that would have saved at least one victim. But I suspect that Brinkema will rule against them -- presumably on the theory that the action by Carla Martin from the TSA taints all conceivable witnesses from the federal government, even if they have never even heard of her and couldn't pick her out of a lineup. Can't trust those tricksie witnesses for the prosecution!
I think Brinkema has had it in for the feds for some time. She had an earlier run-in that borders on the psycho-comical, in my opinion. From the first Fox News article:
Brinkema noted that last Thursday, Novak asked a question that she ruled out of order after the defense said the question should result in a mistrial. In that question, Novak suggested that Moussaoui might have had some responsibility to go back to the FBI, after he got a lawyer, and then confess his terrorist ties.
Great Scott! The prosecutor suggested that Moussaoui should have confessed to what he has been convicted of doing. It's an outrage. Stop the trial, set Moussaoui free! His right not to be made uncomfortable for being a terrorist who conspired to kill 3,000 Americans was brutally violated.
I don't see any of this as having any bearing on the case. All the prosecution need show is that Moussaoui's lies resulted in at least one death in the 9/11 attacks. Nothing about what was shown to the FAA witnesses alters what they were going to say -- unless you first presume they're liars who needed to know what lie to tell in order to perjure themselves. Is that Brinkema's base assumption?
She has consistently made rulings throughout this trial that make it clear she thinks of this as an ordinary criminal case -- like a carjacking or a residential burglary: she expressed enormous frustration that much of what the government knows about al-Qaeda was classified, and they refused to parade it through open court; she insisted that Moussaoui be allowed to have a conversation with Ramzi Binalshibh, without the slightest concern about what terrorist communications they might exchange. And now she deliberately cripples the prosecution's case for the death penalty simply because some jerk working at the TSA stupidly enclosed some transcripts in e-mails... as if that were a mitigating factor for Moussaoui's crime or retroactively made it less likely that his lies contributed to the deaths of at least one of the 2,967 human beings and 19 terrorists that bright fall morning.
This is utter nonsense... and a perfect illustration why we cannot try terrorists in civilian courts.
February 18, 2006
Our stringer, Friend Lee, who is literally a rabid tennis fan (we're getting him the series of injections next week), found a real jaw-dropper on YNet News. I'll let him tell it, with some nudzhing from the Big Lizards editorial ballboys.
India has had several excellent male tennis players, but Sania Mirza is its first female tennis star. She's front page news in India; in most of the rest of the world, she's only known to tennis fans.
Mirza is Muslim; and unfortunately, the Muslims in India are pressuring her very hard on several issues, interfering with her career in some respects, and certainly interfering with her peace of mind.
But now the Muslims have pressured her not to play doubles with an Israeli girl, and Mirza has given in.
According to the article that Friend Lee links, he is, if anything, understating what has happened to Mirza:
Indian female tennis player Sania Mirza, 19, who is ranked 39th in the world, announced that she would not play with Israeli up and coming tennis star Shahar Pe’er in the doubles tournament of the Bangalore Open for fear of violent protests by India’s Islamic community.
The two friends were prevented from cooperating in last month’s Australian Open for the same reason.
Mirza initially agreed to play with Pe’er in Bangalore, but later retracted, telling Pe’er “It’s best that we don’t play together this time to prevent protests against my cooperation with an Israeli. There is no reason to arouse their ire (Muslims).”
Mirza, a sports hero in her country, was recently chastised by Muslim groups in India for wearing a sleeveless top and a mini-skirt during her matches. Local Muslim groups claimed that her attire degrades Islam, and some even threatened to kill her.
What do they expect Mizra to play tennis in... a white burqa?
Let's sit back and let this one sink in. The Moslems in India are outraged that Mirza, a Moslem, would play doubles tennis with an "Israeli." But of course, India lies nowhere near Israel; they have never had a war with Israel; they have no conflict with Israel. Even during the Cold War, when India was allied with the Soviet Union, they did not have any specific conflict with Israel... and India, of course, is not even in the Middle East: it's in Southwest Asia.
So what possible reason could Indian Moslems have to demand an Indian Moslem tennis star not play doubles with an Israeli? The only one I can think of is that to Moslems, even in India, "Israeli" is just a code word for "Jew." When they say 'how dare you play doubles with an Israeli,' they are really saying 'how dare you play doubles with a Jew.'
The conflict between Israel, the Arab states, and the Palestinian non-state can be chalked up to propinquity and an evil history. But the reaction of Indian Moslems makes it brutally clear that the real, underlying problem is that Islam includes Jew-hatred as a core value... probably because the Jews were the first organized group of "People of the Book" to reject Mohammed's claim to be a prophet: seventh-century rabbis scoffed at the idea that Mohammed could be as ignorant of the Jewish Bible as he was if God were truly speaking through him.
By the way, I think we also must alert NOW and NARAL:
Last November Mirza stirred controversy when during a New Delhi conference she spoke of the importance of safe sex; Muslim groups in New Delhi and three other cities held rallies, with protesters carrying signs reading “Mirza is detached from Islam,” claiming she is “corrupting the youth in the country, especially the girls.”
Mirza, in an attempt to ease tensions, said in response “I want to make it clear that I am opposed to pre-marital sex. It is a major sin in Islam, and I believe God would not forgive for such an act.”
Got it? Not only is safe sex right out, but if a Moslem teenager slips and has premarital sex even one time, she is condemned to Hell forever with no hope of forgiveness or redemption.
How sad that so many people would believe in a religion that is more forgiving of mass murder than it is of a single, pre-marital quickie.
All else is commentary.
January 21, 2006
He Got One
A slightly belated but nevertheless hearty Yo Ho Ho to Dr. Rusty Shackleford at the Jawa Report for helping to capture and convict a would-be terrorist -- Mohammed Radwan Obeid, a Jordanian who fraudulently entered the United States and was (he claimed) trying to set up a terror cell that would carry out an attack that would make 9/11 feel like a "headache."
Because Dr. S. discussed Obeid and published his e-mail address (which Obeid had unwisely left in a plea for conspirators on a jihadi website), a reader began corresponding with Obeid and succeeded in gathering enough evidence to interest the FBI. Obeid eventually pled guilty to lying to investigators and will receive (we all hope) the maximum five years... before being deported back to Jordan.
Have some virtual champagne on Big Lizards, Rusty! And accept this laurel and hearty handshake for a job well done.
Oh, and happy blogiversary, too.
December 30, 2005
Peace Busting Out All Over "Palestine"
Near as I can make it out from this AP story, the withdrawal of the Israelis from Gaza has resulted in the complete collapse of all civil authority in that territory and the rise of pure tribalism as bad as any in sub-Saharan Africa... which is pretty much just what I predicted (only moreso) when I argued in favor of the Israeli withdrawal:
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) - Palestinian policemen went on a rampage over the killing of a colleague and seized the Gaza-Egypt border crossing for several hours Friday, forcing European monitors to flee in the latest sign of growing mayhem in the coastal strip.
The story is very poorly written, but it appears to be saying that yesterday, a "family" of Palestinians (read: tribe) launched an attack on the border-crossing police station to free one of their tribe members, who was being held on drug charges there. In the course of that assault, a member of the attacking tribe was killed. Today's renewed assault by the same tribe was in retaliation for that death: they demanded that whoever had had the temerity to return fire when they assaulted the station must be "executed."
It's the start of the Hutus and Tutsis all over again.
Here is what I predicted back when I was guest-blogging on Captain's Quarters back in August:
The argument -- and it's perfectly logical, as far as it goes -- is that by withdrawing the settlers and the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) which is primarily there to defend them with checkpoints, searches, and restrained shows of force, a power vacuum will be created. The Palestinian Authority will of course be too weak to maintain its power, so Hamas (and perhaps Hezbollah or Palestinian Islamic Jihad) will seize control instead. (Though Al-Qaeda has also now staked a claim to Gaza, and the strip may turn into a decidedly uncivil civil war instead of smoothly transitioning to Hamas.) [Boldface emphasis added]
Nevertheless, I argued at the time (and still maintain today) that there were sound military reasons for the pullout: removing the several thousand potential Israeli hostages -- and the IDF troops uselessly tied down doing nothing but guarding them -- would free up the Israelis to respond in a more military fashion to further provocations by the Palestinians... in particular, with air strikes, just as they would if they were attacked by, say, Egypt or Syria.
Here is what to look for to see if my prediction is coming true: once Israel pulls out, a major attempted attack by some terrorist group or groups is inevitable. Because of the security fence (the "wall"), that attack will probably be in the form of rockets, mortars, or artillery fired over the wall. If Israel responds with aerial bombing of significant targets within Gaza and the West Bank, that will tell us that the days of pussyfooting have passed. The Palestinian Arabs will wake up to a new reality, one in which Israel no longer pulls punches in response to mindless Arab terror. I absolutely believe this will create a much better situation than what we have now, with international terrorist groups having significantly less ability to launch attacks on Israel (or on us) from the Palestinian territory than they enjoy today.
But if Israel's only response is a targeted assassination of some Hamas official and a strongly worded letter of protest to Failed Palestinian Leader Mahmoud Abbas... well, then Israel would have surprised and saddened me.
Well, Israel did not disappoint me, and my prediction turned out to be accurate: the terrorists have launched several rocket attacks on northern Israel in recent weeks -- and indeed, the Israelis have in fact responded with air strikes, not simply against a single Hamas official here and there, but missile attacks on non-named militants in the act of setting up attacks on Israel, something they had ceased doing prior to exiting Gaza.
(They also launched a "targetted assassination" of a Palestinian Islamic Jihad member; I don't actually object to Israel going after named individuals, so long as they also use air strikes as part of a military strategy.) From the Chicago Tribune on December 15th:
Israeli missiles fired from the air ripped apart two cars in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, killing four Palestinian militants and wounding five other people, including an Islamic Jihad spokesman, the military and Palestinians said....
Late Wednesday and early Thursday, Israeli artillery and aircraft also pounded northern Gaza, where militants fired rockets at Israel. Two Palestinians were slightly wounded.
So here is the state of play in the Gaza Strip now:
- The ruling Fatah government is collapsing;
- Civil society there has degenerated into the war of all against all: not simply Fatah, Hamas, PIJ, and al-Qaeda duking it out for control, but down to level of tribal warfare over individual police stations;
- And Israel, freed from the fetters of being the occupying authority, has begun to respond to terrorist attacks from Gaza as it would to military attacks from a sovereign nation.
I see this as good news and likely to play out very much to the advantage of the civilized and against the interests of the barbaric terrorists over the next few years. It's time for the Palestinians to stop blaming Jews for everything that goes wrong in their lives, to grow up and accept responsibility for their own fate. I argue that the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza (and the impending withdrawal from the West Bank of the Jordan River) will force them to do exactly that -- or else be swept into the dustbin of history, along with Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.
December 5, 2005
Senator, Heal Thyself
The New York Times article on the commission report spends nearly as much time on the reaction by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), who sees the report as "a top-to-bottom indictment of the federal government's lack of resources, focus and expertise in fighting the domestic war on terror," as it does on any of the commissioners themselves. Schumer was especially scathing about the money spent by the Bush administration and the Republican Congress:
"The report is a top-to-bottom indictment of the federal government's lack of resources, focus and expertise in fighting the domestic war on terror," Mr. Schumer said. "New York State is particularly hurt by the terribly unfair and inefficient homeland security funding formula and the lack of a federal program for communications interoperability among first responders. We can and must do better."
But a lengthy investigation by the New York Daily News found that one of the the primary examples of "the distribution of Department of Homeland Security money based on politics rather than on potential risk" is the porkbarrel spending in New York State itself, involving both Republicans (Gov. George Pataki, Mayor Rudy Guiliani) and Democrats in the New York congressional delegation (Schumer included), and both federal and state agencies. Hat tip to the raptor-like eye (and haunting beauty) of the nigh-omniscient Michelle Malkin.
Some of the details uncovered by the NY Daily News of "emergency spending" enacted in New York are troubling indeed:
- Hundreds of millions to businesses that were not significantly affected by 9/11
- Millions more for projects already in development before 9/11, some that were already funded, others that were still awaiting funding
- "Huge contracts were given to companies and organizations linked to the very officials tasked with deciding how to spend the money — creating, at a minimum, the potential for multiple conflicts of interest."
- Huge bribes forked over to induce companies to stay in lower Manhattan... including companies that had never expressed any thought of leaving
- Eligibility rules made so porous that "virtually no one was ineligible"
In fact, the original figure for aid to New York -- $20 billion -- was pulled directly out of Charles Schumer's, er, hat:
The magic number of "$20 billion" that President Bush first said he would give New York was actually pulled from thin air, a figure born of politics and compassion rather than actuarial calculation and meaningful analysis.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) came up with the number in an effort to match the amount of emergency money being planned for anti-terrorism security across the country — legislation that made no specific mention of New York.
"To ask for more than $20 billion — more for New York than for all the military and the rest of the country — would seem excessive," Schumer told the Daily News. "But to ask for less than $20 billion would be derelict in my duties as a New York senator. So I figured, 'Let's match it, $20 billion for the rest and $20 billion for New York.'"
Schumer remembers Bush asking, "New York really needs $20 billion?"
"At least that, Mr. President," Schumer replied.
"You got it," said Bush. [Emphasis added]
So until Sen. Schumer leads an effort to crack down on porkbarrel spending in New York "based on politics rather than on potential risk," it's a bit thick for him to wag his finger about such unaccountable spending in the rest of the country.
Oh, wait -- Charles Schumer is being hypocritical? That's a story? As Emily Litella says...!
Commission, Heal Thyself
The 9/11 Commission, now under private funding, has met a final time to offer a "report card" on the actions taken by "the government" to safeguard American lives and property, infrastructure, and economic activity from further terrorist attacks. The report is being played by the mainstreamers as a scathing repudiation of Bush and the Republicans; and to some extent, it's clearly intended as such: the commissioners, including the Republican members, seem to have gone out of their way at the press conference and in interviews to imply absolute inactivity and inertia, complete incompetence, and a total lack of concern, while offering virtually no examples of such malfeasance in the actual document itself.
Alack, the 9/11 Commission, drunk on its own vision of absolute moral authority and intellectual superiority, has fallen into hectoring and preening, like a nagging starlet who has detailed suggestions for running the entire movie studio -- and flies into a rage when you don't jump to obey. Thank goodness this will be the last such report from them.
The final report is very long on general handwaving but quite short on specifics; nor does it recognize the difference between recommending that something should be done and actually offering a plan how to do it (for example, developing a bioletric entry-exit screening system for all of our airports and seaports); nor does the report discriminate between suggestions that actually might improve our security -- such as checked bag and cargo screening -- and administrative or organizational changes that merely reflect the commissioners' preferences for how the org-charts should look.
For a good example of this last, one of the D grades is for Intelligence oversight reform:
The House and Senate have taken limited positive steps, including the creation of oversight subcommittees. However, the ability of the intelligence committees to perform oversight of the intelligence agencies and account for their performance is still undermined by the power of the Defense Appropriations subcommittees and Armed Services committees.
First, this clearly has nothing to do with President Bush, who has zero influence over the structure of congressional committees. Second, it's difficult to imagine a more savage catfight than that between the chairs and ranking members of various committees over the distribution of oversight power. Third, this is another "move the boxes around" type of "reform," similar to the creation of the Department of Homeland Security: in itself, shifting "oversight" of intelligence agencies from one House or Senate committee to another does absolutely nothing to improve either the intelligence itself or the analysis of it.
The commissioners have no suggestions for resolving -- indeed, do not even seem to be aware of -- the structural political barriers blocking some of their vague suggested reforms. Under new missions for CIA Director, one of only two recommendations to receive a grade of "incomplete," we read:
Reforms are underway at the CIA, especially of human intelligence operations. But their outcome is yet to be seen. If the CIA is to remain an effective arm of national power, Congress and CIA leadership need to be committed to accelerating the pace of reforms, and must address morale and personnel issues.
Yeah, that would be nice, wouldn't it? But taking into consideration that the president and the Republicans cannot even seem to stop top CIA officials from leaking critical classified information designed to damage President Bush and thwart any attempt to reform the CIA's mission or methods -- and given the support of congressional Democrats for just such behavior -- how exactly are these "new missions" to be carried out by Porter Goss? The Democrats on the Commission missed an excellent opportunity to chastise their own party for enabling such destructive behavior.
If the commission had gotten specific here with suggestions, based upon expert evaluations from current or former directors of intelligence agencies in other countries (Mossad, MI5), exactly how the CIA could be reformed, giving such specific reforms the same sort of momentum that forced the creation of the DHS itself, that would have been helpful. But as it stands, this directive is vague to the point of vapidity, coming across as one of those "all right, then nobody gets the toy!" generic shouts by a harried parent who cannot take the time to determine which kid is actually causing the problem.
I remain unimpressed. Some recommendations are good and fairly specific: standardize secure identifications, homeland airspace defense, international broadcasting; the recommendation under that last header is clear and specific:
Budgets for international broadcasting to the Arab and Muslim world and U.S.-sponsored broadcasting hours have increased dramatically, and audience shares are growing. But we need to move beyond audience size, expose listeners to new ideas and accurate information about the U.S. and its policies, and measure the impact and influence of these ideas.
But other recommendations, especially those under the Nonproliferation and Foreign Policy subheads, are almost aggressively silly.
Maximum effort by U.S. government to secure WMD (D) Countering the greatest threat to America’s security is still not the top national security priority of the President and the Congress....
Support reform in Saudi Arabia (D)
Saudi authorities have taken initial steps but need to do much more to regulate charities and control the flow of funds to extremist groups, and to promote tolerance and moderation. A U.S.-Saudi strategic dialogue to address topics including reform and exchange programs has just started; there are no results to report....
Coalition strategy against Islamist terrorism (C)
Components of a common strategy are evident on a bilateral basis, and multilateral policies exist in some areas. But no permanent contact group of leading governments has yet been established to coordinate a coalition counterterrorism strategy.
Coalition standards for terrorist detention (F)
The U.S. has not engaged in a common coalition approach to developing standards for detention and prosecution of captured terrorists. Indeed, U.S. treatment of detainees has elicited broad criticism, and makes it harder to build the necessary alliances to cooperate effectively with partners in a global war on terror.
First, our "treatment of detainees has elicited broad criticism" based primarily upon deliberate lies and malicious slanders spread by the terrorists and their supporters themselves, which are seized upon by our supposed allies in order to thwart our aggressive response to such terrorism -- and trumpeted by news agencies eager to see the defeat of Bush and the Republican Congress.
The reason that "no permanent contact group of leading governments has yet been established to coordinate a coalition counterterrorism strategy" is that there is no agreement among Western nations how to counter terrorism in the first place: we favor forward engagement of the terrorists; the Europeans primarily want to treat terrorism as a police issue and pretend the danger is just overblown. The American president and Congress cannot compel France to take terrorism more seriously; nor can we stop Belgium and the Netherlands from treating the "rights" of terrorists as more important than securing Western democracy itself from attack.
The idea that it's up to the United States to reform Saudi Arabia is simply laughable. Were it not for the insanity of al-Qaeda and its affilliates, who lauched a series of attacks on the kingdom and have openly called for regicide and revolution, Saudi Arabia would still be allied with them... and would be doing nothing. What leverage does the Commission imagine we have over that terrorist haven wallowing in the world's largest oil reserves? Do they think our allies (and for that matter, all of the billion Moslems in the world) would possibly sit still for an American invasion of Saudi Arabia -- including conquering Mecca itself? There are some things we simply have little effect upon, Commissioners. This is one of them.
And finally, the commissioners' demand that they be allowed to determine "the top national security priority of the President and the Congress" demonstrates less of a commitment to securing the country than the feeding of an already rather colossal ego. Nobody elected any of these commissioners to run national security; that job belongs to George Bush... along with the authority to determine whether WMD proliferation or some other challenge should be the top priority of American foreign and military policy.
Besides, since every action against terrorism can be defined as preventing the proliferation of WMD to terrorists -- dead terrorists can't shoot chemical weapons against us -- this "recommendation" is really little more than generalized petulance at not being considered the chief advisory panel to the president, supplanting the cabinet, the National Security Council, and Congress.
I believe the 9/11 Commission has some good recommendations; but they are not the last word on what America needs to do to reduce (it cannot be ended) the threat from terrorist attack upon the homeland... and they certainly should not be taken as the ultimate authority on exactly how such lofty goals should be carried out. Congress and the president need to stop kow-towing to Chairman Keane and Vice Chairman Lee Hamilton and actually subject the Commission reports -- including this one -- to decide which recommendations actually make sense, and which should be rejected or placed upon the back burner.
There is some worthwhile stuff in the final report of the 9/11 Commission; but they need a good editor.
December 2, 2005
It's said that the oldest chess pieces ever found were pulled out of an excavation in Persia. So perhaps Iran will understand the most recent move of their sworn deadly enemy, Israel.
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel carried out a successful test of its missile-interceptor system on Friday when an Arrow II missile downed an incoming rocket designed to simulate an Iranian Shahab-3, the defense ministry said.
The test, the latest in a series, came a day after Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said Israel could not accept the emergence of a nuclear-armed Iran, though he steered clear of threatening military action against the Islamic Republic.
But wait, we're getting ahead of ourselves. What does it mean, saying that Iran's "sworn, deadly enemy" is Israel? Let's jump in the Way-Back machine all the way back to a couple of weeks ago. Arnold Beichman wrote this commentary for the Washington Times:
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, elected last August, described openly the other day why Iran needed a nuclear weapon in announcing "Israel must be wiped off the map." Mr. Ahmadinejad spoke for the Iranian government when he called for Israel's destruction. In fact, Iranian Foreign Minister Manoucher Mottaki told the state-run television "the comments expressed by the president are the declared and specific policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran."
Not even in the worst days of the Cold War did anybody propose the United States or the Soviet Union be "wiped off the map." Mr. Ahmadinejad's genocidal sloganeering has been condemned by the U.N. Security Council, the State Department, both houses of Congress, French President Jacques Chirac, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the European Union, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Australia, Russia and others.
Iran has made such hysterical and chilling threats before. In 2001, the "moderate" former president of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, when he was chairman of the Expediency Discernment Council (and possibly second in power after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamanei), said something similar:
If one day, the Islamic world is also equipped with weapons like those that Israel possesses now, then the imperialists' strategy will reach a standstill because the use of even one nuclear bomb inside Israel will destroy everything [in Israel] while it will merely harm the Islamic world.
So it's actually quite reasonable for Israel to assume they're Target Number One in Iran's book of nations to wipe off the map when they get nuclear weapons.
But having nukes is not the same as being able to use them; and in fact the latter is not as easy as one would think. There are only a few ways to get a warhead into an enemy country:
- You can drive or carry it in overland; this typically requires a coterminous border. Iran-on-the-Persian-Gulf, however, is on the other side of the Middle East from Israel-on-the-Mediterranean. They are separated by about 1,000 miles as the missile flies, but more like 2,000-3,000 miles across the winding, tortuous roadways of that region of the world. Iran would either have to push north through Turkey, then down through Syria; or through a little piece of Iraq down into Kuwait, then into Saudi Arabia for a couple thousand miles to Jordan, then across Jordan into Israel; or else right through the heart of Iraq and the 150,000 Coalition troops, to Jordan, to Israel. None of these is a happy prospect.
- You can put it on a boat and float it to your target. In this case, however, that would entail a journey of many thousands of miles all the way around the Arabian Peninsula, through the Suez Canal, and then to an Israeli port -- which is probably very heavily guarded.
- You can fly it on a plane. I suspect, however, that Mosad would already know it was coming and would have cancelled all air travel that originated in Iran -- or wherever they transported the warhead to; Israel is very thorough when their existence is at stake.
- But the easiest of all is to put the warhead on a missile and fire it at your enemy.
From the Reuters piece linked above:
The Shahab-3, which Iran says has a range of 2,000 km (1,250 miles), is seen by Israel as the main weapon which would be used to target its territory.
Clearly, Iran has been planning on the last: the mere fact that they have been developing the Shahab 3 (and negotiating with North Korea for the advanced technology of the Taep’o-dong 2) tells us that would be preferred delivery route. But in that case, the joint US-Israeli development of the Arrow ("Khetz" in Israel) is a decisive countermove to Iran's entire nuclear program: it does to Iran what the Strategic Defense Initiative did to the Soviet Union.
The Iranian nuclear threat is dissapating even as Iran rushes to complete a nuke or two; what is the point for Iran, stuck off in a corner of the world, to develop a warhead that it cannot deliver?
In other words, checkmate, "the king is no more" -- which, as it happens, is the title of this post... in Persian.
November 28, 2005
Zarqawi: Planting IEDs or Pushing Up Daisies?
We're still waiting for final word on whether any of the bodies found after the gunfight we discussed here more than a week ago was that of Musab Zarqawi. Last we heard, the Pentagon was testing the DNA... but we haven't heard any results.
Do any of you readers have any more recent information? A definitive answer? You'd think we would have heard one way or the other by now.
November 22, 2005
This past October 4th, as Ramadan began across the Middle East, Arabs were watching a the first of a thirty-episode television series titled "Al-Hour Al-Ayn," Arabic for "Beautiful Maidens" -- a reference to the 72 sloe-eyed virgins that supposedly await martyrs in Paradise. But what is significant about this series is its message:
DAMASCUS, Syria - A new television series being broadcast around the Middle East tells the story of Arabs living in residential compounds in Saudi Arabia and the militant Islamists who want to blow them up so they can collect their rewards in heaven - 72 beautiful virgins.
The show's message -- terrorism is giving Islam a bad name, and Muslims are suffering because of the actions of a few. [Emphasis added]
Considering the fact that the Syrian government is one of the primary terrorism-sponsoring states, this program, produced out of a studio in Damascus, is quite remarkable. But the way al-Qaeda terrorists have been operating, it was also inevitable.
The letter believed to have been writtin by Ayman Zawahiri to Musab Zaqarwi warned Zarqawi that his senseless slaughter of Moslems was alienating the militant-Islamist movement from Moslem society. This alienation appears to be spreading from country to country, a pandemic of sudden road-to-Damascus revelations in Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq, Libya, Qatar, Yemen, and many others.
Recently, Moslem societies have started openly rejecting the jihadis. The attack on the Radisson SAS Hotel (killing many members of a wedding party), the Grand Hyatt Hotel, and the Days Inn, all in Amman, Jordan, created a firestorm of rage against Zarqawi and his terrorist organization, al-Qaeda In Iraq -- and against terrorism in general. Zarqawi's own al-Khalayleh tribe in Jordan went so far as to sever all ties with him and denounce terrorism.
"If my son was a terrorist, I wouldn't hesitate to kill him," family member Mousa al-Khalayleh said during Friday's rally, claiming he spoke on behalf of the tribe. "This is the slogan raised by the tribe as of this moment."
Sunday's message was similar to one sent last year by some members of al-Zarqawi's clan to [King] Abdullah [of Jordan]. That message, which contained fewer signatories, severed links with the terrorist for claiming a failed plot in April 2004 that targeted the Amman headquarters of Jordan's intelligence agency, the prime minister's office and the U.S. Embassy.
The reactions of the terrorists and their supporters to the Syrian-produced television show being broadcast on a Saudi satellite station are likewise predictable and tiresome. A Saudi entertainment Journalist, interviewed on CNN today (sorry no link), said that actors were "receiving death threats."
The critics are demanding the Saudi-owned and Dubai-based Middle East Broadcasting Corporation, a popular Arabic satellite television station that bought the show and broadcasts it across the region, cancel it.
Others lambasted its Syrian Muslim director and producer, Najdat Anzour, as an infidel for tarnishing the image of Islam. But still others have praised the groundbreaking series.
But after a daily dose of such death threats for years now, how threatening can such threats still be?
During Ramadan, devout Moslems fast during the day; but that means they stay home at night, gorge themselves on food, and watch TV. Many new television series debut during Ramadan, then repeat throughout the year. Millions of Arab families have already watched the series. The anti-terrorism program is being broadcast throughout the Moslem countries of the Middle East via satellite and is also being broadcast on local television in Syria and Lebanon.
I'm sure that as months pass, the memory of the Jordanian hotel bombings will fade (as the memory of 9/11 has faded for many here in America). Then many Arabs will lose some of their hatred of terrorists, especially if the jihadis refrain from attacking Moslem targets. But every time something like this happens, a few million more Moslems cross the Rubicon, finally and permanently rejecting the whole "holy war" model for the bombings and killings.
At some point, the Islamists will be on the run and without friends and safety, even in Riyadh, Damascus, and Baghdad; the civilized world will have won the global war on terrorism.
A few months ago, I (Sachi) watched a documentary about Saudi TV news. In it, a producer talking with his staff members said "terrorism is evil." A young staffer responded, "that is your opinion." The producer snapped back: "No! that is the truth!"
Truth indeed. Militant Islamism is not only the enemy of the entire free world; it has foolishly made itself an enemy to Moslems as well. The sooner the Moslem world figures this out and loudly rejects the jihad message, the better this world will be for everyone.
November 17, 2005
Filibuster Against PATRIOTism?
That's the implication from a bipartisan group of six senators who are so upset that we keep paying more attention to protecting the American people against terrorism than we do to protecting the sacred civil liberties of terrorists that they now threaten to "block" legislation making parts of the USA PATRIOT Act permanent and extending the rest for seven years. I don't know what else they could mean by blocking legislation, unless they plan to undertake the poor-man's filibuster: making amendment after frivolous amendment to try to delay the debate.
Either way, it makes those advocating surrender in the war on terrorism (see below) look particularly oafish: they're saying we should drop the military attacks on terrorism and focus on law enforcement at precisely the same time other Democrats (and even some moderate Republicans) are demanding that we drop many of the provisions that allow law enforcement officers to successfully prosecute terrorism in the first place!
The six senators are Larry Craig (R-ID), John Sununu (R-NH), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Russ Feingold (D-WI), and Ken Salazar (D-CO). Sununu, Murkowsi, and Salazar were not yet in the Senate when the original PATRIOT Act was enacted in October 2001. Of those senators who were, Craig and Durbin voted in favor of it, while Feingold voted against it. Evidently, Craig and Durbin now believe the war is over, we've won (or perhaps lost), thus there is little reason allowing the act to continue. At least, that is what I deduce from today's threat.
I think I should lie down: my brain is starting to reel from all the political epicycles on this one. It seems pretty straightforward to me: there are still bad guys desperately trying to infiltrate America so they can set off bombs in a Galleria, or perhaps in a middle school; and the major subpoena and wiretap powers granted to terrorism investigations by the Patriot Act, the part lefties whine about, were already allowed when investigating drug gangs, the Mafia, and foreign spies.
This should be a no-brainer: nobody has shown any violation of civil liberties from use of this act; the Patriot Act should simply be made permanent, all of it. Yet evidently, simplicity is not a virtue to these complex and nuanced senators. And shame on the three Republicans for aping the Left's habit of attacking the president instead of arguing their case before the Ameican people.
November 15, 2005
The Killer Arg
Apologies in advance; I can only post my own speculation and opinion here, sans any supportive links. You just gotta take my word for it!
On this increasingly infantile argument by the Democrats that "Bush lied us into the war" because he said Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, and we supposedly "failed to find any WMD" -- the killer argument here doesn't even need evidence.
Every explosive in Saddam Hussein's arsenal was a "weapon of mass destruction." Every artillery shell, every rocket, every missile of whatever range; each could be used -- and had been used in the past -- to butcher masses of innocent people. I don't know who first said it, but it's again so obvious it needs no specific citation: Hussein was himself a weapon of mass destruction.
So we thought it was "two minutes to midnight" when we attacked him, and it turned out to be maybe twenty minutes to midnight. He wasn't as far along as we thought in developing the really nasty stuff... chemical weapons, biological weapons, nukes. So the hell what? How does this affect the moral question?
Ramsey Clark, former LBJ attorney general and current pain-in-the-neck traitor to the United States, makes the absurd argument that when America fights a war, and the casualty ratio is lopsidedly in our favor, that constittutes a war crime; we have to suffer and bleed just as much as the enemy, or we're morally guilty. Take my word for it; this is pretty much the definitional example of being "stuck on stupid," in Lt. Gen. Russel Honore's memorable phrase. I prefer the tack taken by Gen. George S. Patton, in the words of Francis Ford Copolla's screenplay to the movie Patton: "No poor bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country."
Broaden it out: it means you take your advantages where you find them. We had no obligation to wait until Hussein was just about to deploy Anthrax and VX rockets, just so we didn't have too great an advantage. The morality of a war isn't determined by how many casualties you suffer: the war is either righteous or it is wrong; it is either worth the risk or it is not; and we have a moral obligation to our soldiers to reduce the risk as far as we possibly can... yes, even by attacking before politely giving the enemy time to kill more American soldiers.
So long as we labored under the delusion that nobody was targeting the United States especially, we could get away with ignoring Hussein: he shot at our planes, we took out his fire-control radar.
But 9/11 changed everything. It became as obvious as the smirk on Howard Dean's lips that we were targetted, that Osama bin Laden was deadly serious when he publicly declared war on us some years ago. And that meant the rules had changed: by the basic law of war, we had the right to defend ourselves, including taking pre-emptive action (which Iraq was not, by the way) against allies of our enemy who posed a specific and credible threat to America or her interests.
The existence of WMDs was irrelevant to the larger moral question; it was just a way to explain the situation to people at the U.N. who don't understand moral arguments, having long since abandoned the belief in right and wrong. What mattered was the intent... and even the Democrats (even today!) admit that Hussein intended to develop any chemical, biological, or nuclear weapon he could. No "lie," no "manipulation," no trick: Hussein had the intent and the means, he had the al-Qaeda contacts and the hatred, he was rolling in petrodollars, and "his brain was squirming like a toad."
Maybe he hid them; maybe he was just trying to develop them. Who the hell cares?
Saddam Hussein became a dead man walking the moment the second plane plowed into the second tower. He should have picked better friends.
He could no longer be coddled; he could no longer be tolerated; like John Dillinger, he was too wild to live. We had a moral obligation to America and to the rest of the free world to take the bastard out. Since we're humane folks, we decided to invade and put our own troops at risk, rather than bomb Iraq into rubble and then bounce the rubble, killing hundreds of thousands of relatively innocent civilians. But that was just us being nice.
We suddenly realized Hussein posed an existential threat to the America we grew up in... therefore, after we took care of the Taliban, we moved his name to the top of the list. We attacked at the end of March 2003, and he was ousted a few weeks later.
All else is dicta.
November 10, 2005
Mosquitos Trapped in Amber
We already know that the Moslem immigrants in France were not allowed to assimilate into the French society. But it is not so well known that the French children of Moslem immigrants are still ensnared in government housing projects, echoing in France what happened for decades in the United States. They are mosquitos trapped in amber, struggling against the sticky sap that binds them in place.
The projects were built in the 1960's as a part of modern urban planning. At first, poor working-class Frenchmen and immigrants lived side by side. As the French economy improved, job opportunities soon opened up for the native French; but for a variety of reasons, they were not equally open to the immigrants, especially Moslems from North and Central Africa.
A home-buying program of the 1980s allowed most of the native French to move out of the projects; but without jobs, few Moslems qualified. Soon they were left behind; with no jobs, no future, and (most important) no sense of being part of society, many Moslem youths turned to crime, probably for the same reason disaffected and alienated youth do here: impulse, boredom, bad example, and a deep feeling of "apartness."
The police instituted a crackdown in the projects in 1983; that police reaction led to a riot. This is very similar to what is happening today across much of france: rootless young Moslems, alienated from a society they have seen only via interaction with police, riot in response to a crackdown on real crimes.
"There's nothing to do, and frustrations have added up until in the end it has become like a bomb that they carry inside," said Azzouz Camen, 44, at a small snack bar he owns between the neighborhood's apartment blocks and a gleaming new mosque.
Most of us have the impression that the inaction of the spineless French police has greatly contributed to the crime surge in the region. However, the residents see just the opposite, overly aggressive police tactics, as the real cause. Both could be true simultaneously, as France lurches from crackdown to appeasement. From this angle, it's hard to see who is more right.
It really doesn't matter anyway; today's rioters don't care whether their lifelong belief about the crackdown was accurate then or now... they believe it, and it drives their actions. You can't argue someone out of his basic belief system. Especially when, like the French, you don't have any basic beliefs of your own.
The riot of twenty-two years ago was put down very heavy-handedly... and I think it became a part of the mythology of the current rioters as they grew up: they would hear much about the supposed gallantry of the protesters and the (still evident) brutality of the French police, and that would alienate them even more from the society inside of which they live.
Nothing permanent came from that riot in 1983:
[Harlem] Désir emerged as a leader from that unrest and helped organize a march for equal rights that started in the immigrant neighborhoods outside Lyon and ended in Paris.
The press dubbed it the March of the Beurs, using the immigrants' slang word for Arab, and France's left-leaning intelligentsia embraced the cause, seeing in it an echo of the United States' civil rights movement. President François Mitterrand received some of the marchers at Élysée Palace and euphoria swept through the country's children of immigrants. They had stood up and been heard.
However, the government response to the problem turned out to be merely cosmetic with no substance. They repainted projects and assigned a few social workers to "help" youths. But they did nothing to assimilate the immigrants into the general population.
As things grew steadily worse, crime in and from the projects grew. An effort by the last Socialist administration helped improve things a bit by putting police officers on the beat in the neighborhoods and providing money to create jobs for young residents. But both programs ended after Jacques Chirac became president [in 1995].
His tough interior minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, replaced the police on the beat with officers from an anti-crime brigade who cover several towns at a time. Their aggressive tactics have won almost universal scorn in the projects and created an air of hostility that has precipitated the current violence.
Chirac's response to this problem was to keep the immigrants in the projects and lock the door. Assimilation is farthest from his mind. His tactics reminds of a Japanese saying: "put a lid on a smelly pot." All the while Moslem jihadis were recruiting potential terrorists in the projects.
France has been ignoring the probelm for too long. If you cut some segments of the population off from the rest of the society, tragedy is inevitable. They should have known this would happen. This is not to excuse the rioters, just to note that when you light a fuse, you shouldn't wonder that a bomb explodes.
Many people in the world have the wrong impression that the United States suffers from an unusually high rate of racial discrimination. I always tell people from other countries that you hear about our racial problems only because we are willing to face them. We heard nothing about the racial tension growing in Europe, but that does not mean there was none; it only meant they never had guts to face the reality.
If you ignore reality long enough, it will bite you in the face like a swarm of hungry mosquitos bursting free of their amber prisons. Well, Europe, are you ready to face the reality now?
November 8, 2005
With Friends Like These...
Reading about the arrests of seventeen terrorist suspects in Australia -- suspects who appeared on the verge of executing massive bombings of the train system there until Prime Minister John Howard pushed sweeping anti-terrorism detention and investigation laws through parliament and used them to break up the plot -- I was struck by the concluding sentence of the AP story.
After discussing the plot and the arrests, Mike Corder's story ends on the familiar-to-the-point-of-satire dodge of the terrorism apologists:
Opponents say Howard's strong support for the U.S.-led strikes on Iraq and decision to send troops there and to Afghanistan have made it inevitable Australia will be attacked.
I find this claim increasingly surreal... given this, the other big international story of the last two weeks!
The French must be thinking, With friends like these....
November 6, 2005
The headline is scary -- Police Find Bomb-Making Factory in Paris -- but the guts of the article tell us that both more and less than meet the eye are going on in France.
First, the bad news: clearly, the riot is getting more organized, more violent, and of course, spreading far beyong the flashpoint of Clichy-sous-Bois. The rioters are no longer just rampaging Moslem youths; they are rampaging Moslems with an organized plan and a goal: to be "let alone," which is to say, to be allowed to create a sharia-based "bantustan" in the heart of Western Europe, where they and they alone are the law.
The good news is that the "bombs" they're talking about are Molotov Cocktails, and the makers were juveniles... just relatively organized juveniles. But what they are not is as important as what they are: the fact that they're still using improvised incendiaries (it's easy to make a Molotov Cocktail), rather than an explosive ordnance like a modified mine or artillery shell, shows that the order in these riots arises out of chaos, not out of an international terrorist organiztion like al-Qaeda or the Muslim Brotherhood. Clearly, some Moslem immigrants in France are members of one or both of these organizations, but the unsophisticated nature of the weapons this "factory" was manufacturing demonstrate that it's not a jihad just yet... though it might well be an "intifada" by now.
It also shows that much of the worst violence, the gasoline bombs, may very well be a "crime of opportunity": alienated young Moslems are looking for a way to express rage and satisfy their violent tendencies, and suddenly somebody hands them the perfect means of doing so: a ready-made Molotov Cocktail. There may have been no more planning about what they would bomb and why than there is in a typical gang fight.
The third shoe, which has not yet dropped, is that if French inaction continues (I mean a lack of effective action to end the rioting), the French "intifada" may well turn into the French jihad. As we take note of what is happening in France and Belgium, Denmark and the Netherlands, so too are the real terrorists taking note: they see these spasms of ill-directed rage nevertheless shaking a once mighty nation to its core, and they surely will try to move in and take over, inciting terrorist acts so horrible that there would be no going back.
There is still time to avert this, but France must slap itself awake from the nightmare of apathy and hostility to Western virtues. Little Nemo must awaken from Slumberland. France stands at a crossroads, and the rest of us stand alongside her; we don't know which way the coin will land because it's still spinning... but very quickly, we shall know whether it's heads -- or tails.
October 25, 2005
Fightin' Room With a (New) View
Scott at Power Line has much more on the attempted attack on the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad; their frequent correspondent Major E. has an eyewitness account, and he states that it was clearly a failed attempt at a much larger and more sinister operation than merely setting off some bombs:
The number of terrorists involved and the follow-on small arms attacks make it clear that the overall goal was to use suicide vehicle bombs to breach the security perimeter, then take over the hotel and hold the international guests as hostages. Instead, they failed to achieve those objectives and the attackers were killed.
(SmallTownVeteran is also on top of this story.)
Yes, this wasn't just a failed terrorist attack: it was an attempt to pull off another Beslan Massacre, except instead of children, the hostages would be a bunch of journalists (no jokes, please).
Major E. has a truly insightful pair of paragraphs about the dilemma the Commander-in-Chief faces trying to get more public support for the war (emphasis mine):
Many Americans seem to know the bad news from last year, but not the good news from last week. While I am glad that the public knows that many gave life and limb for Fallujah, I am saddened that so few know the incredibly positive result of that sacrifice. There is so much good happening in Iraq in terms of rebuilding the society and offering the people the priceless opportunity of freedom and democracy, yet so little of the good is being reported in the media. I hope those reading this will make the connection between the sacrifice of the troops and the ever-expanding freedom of the Iraqi people.
Every American deserves to know that the sacrifice made on the streets of Fallujah by US servicemembers last year is what made possible last week the jubilant dancing of Iraqis waving their ink-stained fingers after they had cast the first vote of their lives. The Iraqi people know and appreciate what we have done for them, and I hope that the American people will come to know it more and more as well.
All this by way of introduction to my next post....
NOW Will Ya Gimmie Some Fightin' Room?
Uh oh, Zarqawi's in for it now. The mainstream media thirsts for his blood.
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Suicide bombers including one in a cement truck packed with explosives launched a dramatic attack Monday against the Palestine Hotel, where many foreign journalists are based, sending up a giant cloud of smoke and debris over central Baghdad. American troops and journalists escaped without serious injury but at least a half-dozen passers-by were killed....
The cement truck was the last of three vehicles trying to break through the wall outside the hotel. The first car drove up to the wall and exploded, blasting out a section of the concrete. According to the U.S. military, the second car was headed for the fresh breach in the wall but exploded near the 14th Ramadan Mosque when it was engaged by civilian security forces.
Within minutes, the truck made it through the breach but apparently became stuck on a road between the Palestine and the neighboring Sheraton hotel. The truck rocked back and forth and then blew up after a U.S. soldier opened fire on it. Had the truck traveled 20 or 30 yards farther and blown up at the hotel entrance, it could have killed many people inside the Palestine.
So after "a U.S. soldier" saved the lives of countless precious and vital journalists in the Palestine Hotel, do you think they'll start cutting the troops some slack on the endlessly manufactured torture/murder/stealing-Iraqi-oil stories? Or will this be another case of "no good deed goes unpunished?"
For some perverse reason, I'm fascinated by the description of the journalists inside the hotel:
There was minor damage to the hotel, which was last hit in an insurgent rocket attack on Oct. 7, 2004. Moments before the second blast, journalists, photographers and technicians were walking up and down hazy corridors in a state of confusion, urging each other to remain calm, put on flak jackets, and to stay away from windows. Thicker clouds of smoke filled the far end of one hallway, with many people coughing and waving their hands.
The second explosion shook the building momentarily. Confusion and panic again set in, with those inside debating whether to exit, but all eventually deciding to stay in the corridor and sit propped against walls, most in flak jackets. Sounds resembling gunshots could be heard outside.
Strips of floorboards were strewn about and air vents were blown in.
"The impact pushed us forward in our chairs," he said.
He noted that the journalists at the Palestine often can hear the distant blast of other attacks. "But I've never felt blasts as strong or as loud as the ones Monday," [AP journalist Thomas] Wagner said.
Did I misread? Is Wagner actually shocked that blasts right next to his location are louder and stronger than distant blasts? All right; so now he knows what the soldiers and Marines must go through every day. What will he do with that information? Will it change how he and his cohorts report the war?
Our newfound allies will surely fight like demons, swinging their cameras and flinging 3/4-inch tape cassettes at future terrorists.
"These appalling attacks are fresh reminders of the myriad dangerous [sic] facing those who continue to report from Iraq," [the Committee to Protect Journalists] Executive Director Ann Cooper said....
"By attacking the Hotel Palestine, which is commonly known to be home to many foreign journalists, those behind this cowardly attack sought to deliberately target the Western media," the press freedom organization [Reporters Without Borders] stated.
We may have entered uncharted waters here: this could be the very first time the press has condemned a suicide bombing in Iraq. The world is topsy-turvy.
October 22, 2005
Zarqawi's Golden Parachute
Am I the only one who thinks like this? I hope not....
AP is carrying an item titled U.S.: Zarqawi's Terror Network Growing. The first thing that pops into the reader's head, of course, is that US officials are claiming that there are now more terrorists, that we're losing the war (I'm certain that was just the idea they intended to convey). The article claims no such thing, however, only that Musab Zarqawi is expanding his influence and contacts into other terrorist groups in other countries.
WASHINGTON (AP) - U.S. intelligence officials say Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has expanded his terrorism campaign in Iraq to extremists in two dozen terror groups scattered across almost 40 countries, creating a network that rivals Osama bin Laden's....
In figures not made public before, counterterrorism officials say that Zarqawi's network of contacts has grown dramatically since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 and now includes associates in nearly 40 countries in the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Europe.
Those Muslim extremists are members of at least 24 groups, from Hezbollah in Lebanon to much smaller organizations in Indonesia.
Since this is the Associated Press, there is the obligatory swipe at President Bush and Secretary Rumsfeld, albeit subtlely:
He also is helped, said one U.S. intelligence official, by the fact that there is not a large, constant American military presence in Anbar, but rather pockets of forces that are bolstered during operations. Iraq's largely Shiite security forces do not want to go to the Sunni-dominated area, either.
Translation: an anonymous "intelligence official" says We're losing! We're history, man! Bush should have sent in a million soldiers, like we have argued all along -- except for the time we were arguing he shouldn't have gone in at all!
Naturally, those interviewed in the article, when they express an opinion at all, opine that this means his strength is growing.
In interviews, U.S. government officials said the threat to U.S. interests from al-Zarqawi compared with that from bin Laden, whom al-Zarqawi pledged his loyalty to one year ago....
Al-Zarqawi is now seen as the top general who is putting in place al-Qaida's long campaign to establish an Islamic society throughout the Middle East, with Iraq at its heart....
The persistence of their attacks and subsequent media exposure have made al-Zarqawi the public face of al-Qaida and the broader insurgency. He has become so central to al-Qaida's operations that some evidence suggests he is providing money to bin Laden.
But I have own theory, probably idiosyncratic: I think Zarqawi is setting up bolt holes, international affiliations to whom he can flee when he inevitably has to bug out of Iraq... just as Osama bin Laden and his cronies fled to Taliban-controlled Afghanistan when they were booted from Sudan. I suspect that Zarwawi, a streetwise thug who has murdered his way to being capo di tutti capos of the biggest mob in the Arab Middle East, sees the noose tightening around his neck, and he is preparing to escape to some other country... probably simply abandoning all his followers in Iraq except for his closest cadre.
But then, I always was an optimist. We shall soon see.
The 800 Pound Gorelick
I'm quite reluctant to run with this, considering the source -- actually, considering both the original and the reporting sources! -- but what the heck. Consider yourselves duly cautioned: objects in the mirror may be farther than they appear.
Newsmax.com alleges that Congressman Curt Weldon (R-PA) now alleges that the staffer who actually blocked the 9/11 Commission from hearing testimony about Able Danger was none other than Dieter Snell, one of the chief investigating lawyers on the commission and a former prosecutor of Ramzi Yousef for the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993 -- and that Snell, according to Weldon, was "the lead staffer for Jamie Gorelick." It's this last part that is a new claim, a supposed direct connection between Snell and Gorelick... and that is the part I cannot independently verify.
(I am guessing this is why Captain Ed has not yet commented on this: he is waiting for some verification of the central claim.)
It has been known for some time that it was Snell who did not pass along Navy Captain Scott Philpot's testimony to the commission; for example, consider these two postings on National Review Online's blog the Corner, two posts the same day (August 20th, 2005) by Andrew McCarthy:
This is a troublesome story, we don’t know all the facts, and I happen to know and be fond of Dieter Snell--the Commission staffer who did the interview of the naval intel officer [Scott Philpot] -- so if Snell found him unpersuasive, that carries a lot of weight with me. ("WANT TO REPHRASE THAT?," at 4:52 am)
As I've noted with respect to the former, we don't know enough about what happened, and the fact that someone as able as commission staffer Dieter Snell appears to have rejected the naval officer's information gives me cause for pause. ("THE POINT IS TRAINING AND FOCUS, NOT ASSOCIATIVE MEMORY," at 10:45 am)
But Weldon now claims that Dietrich Dieter Snell was "the lead staffer for Jamie Gorelick." Alas, I cannot find any definitive evidence that Snell was specifically working for Gorelick, as opposed simply to being the lead investigative staffer (or one of the leads) for the commission as a whole. Also, I'm not sure how much weight to give this even if true: I can't find any connection between Gorelick and Snell prior to the 9/11 Commission. If that is correct, then the mere fact that he was appointed her staffer -- if he actually was, that is -- wouldn't mean he would necessarily collaborate with her on some deep conspiracy to keep Able Danger out of the public eye in order to hide the damage caused by what I called "Jamie Gorelick's wall of separation between intelligence and law enforcement" back on Captain's Quarters.
Until I see much stronger evidence of some prior connection between Snell and Gorelick than the mere fact that he was an investigator on the commission that she (and many others) sat on, I'm not going to believe in a conspiracy arising between the two... despite the fact that Rep. Weldon has been right more often than wrong on this issue.
Commenters with knowledge of this specific question -- the actual connection, if any, between Snell and Gorelick -- are urged to share.
September 25, 2005
Israel Drops the Other Shoe
Earlier today (from Saturday to Sunday Israeli time), Israel launched a large series of air raids against Hamas and several other terrorist organizations, including the Popular Front For the Liberation of Palestine and the Popular Resistance Committees; the PFLP is connected to Syria (and Russia and China) and has its headquarters in Damascus. I don't know whether the AP story means the PFLP or the PFLP-General Command; they split in 1968.
The Popular Resistance Committees is a very new terrorist group (born in 2000), full of "young Turks" (sorry, I couldn't resist!) trying to muscle their way up the brutality ladder.
From the Associated Press story by Ibrahim Barzak:
Israel launched a "crushing" retaliation Saturday against Hamas in Gaza with deadly airstrikes, troops massed at the border and a planned ground incursion after militants fired 35 rockets at Israeli towns - their first major attack since the Gaza pullout.
Israeli aircraft pounded suspected weapons facilities and other militant targets throughout the Gaza Strip late Saturday and early Sunday, wounding at least 19 people, Palestinian officials said. Earlier, Israeli aircraft fired missiles at cars carrying militants in Gaza City, killing two Hamas militants.
In the West Bank, the military arrested 207 wanted Palestinian men overnight, most of them members of the Hamas and Islamic Jihad movements.
More is coming: Israel plans a ground invasion of Gaza soon -- in other words, reacting just as they would if Egypt or Syria or Jordan were to attack: with a full-blown military response:
Security officials said that "Operation First Rain" would include artillery fire, air strikes and other targeted attacks. The operation will grow in intensity, leading up to a ground operation in several days unless the Palestinian security takes action to halt the rocket attacks or Hamas ends the attacks itself.
This is precisely the sort of action I anticipated and that justifies Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's policy of unilateral withdawl. The Palestinians demanded to be treated as any other nation. Well, there is an old expression: be careful what you wish for... you may get it.
This will be fascinating to watch as it evolves; how far along the road to folly and self-destruction will Hamas and other militant groups journey before the Palestinian people decide they've had enough of fighting Israel -- and losing?
September 24, 2005
Israel Raises the Pot In Gaza
According to the Associated Press, Israel has responded to Hamas's rocket attack from northern Gaza by calling up thousands of troops, deploying them to the border, launching air strikes on Hamas bomb-making factories, and vowing a "crushing" response still forthcoming.
"We have to make it clear to the Palestinians that Israel will not let the recent events pass without a response," Mofaz said in a statement, referring to the Hamas rocket fire. "The response needs to be crushing."
The overnight rocket barrage by Hamas was the first since Israel pulled out of Gaza nearly two weeks ago. Israel has said it will show "zero tolerance" for attacks after the withdrawal.
Mofaz decided to deploy troops on Israel's border with Gaza after meeting his security chiefs, an official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the meeting. Thousands of soldiers received call-up notices, and their leaves were canceled.
This is precisely the response that would have been impossible prior to the pullout: it was politically repugnant, even within Israel, to launch air strikes on a territory that Israel occupied. But now that they have withdrawn, and the Palestinian Authority is officially alien territory -- and now that there are no Jewish settlers in Gaza to serve as potential hostages -- Israel has begun to respond to the attacks they way they would to any other "nation" attacking them. The gloves are off.
Israel has, of course, used attacks from the air before:
Mofaz also said Israel might resume targeted killings of Palestinian militants. During more than four years of Israeli-Palestinian fighting, scores of militants were killed in targeted attacks, most by missiles fired from Israeli aircraft.
But they have generally shied away from actual aerial bombing of territories they were currently occupying: for example, in the wildly exaggerated "massacre" in Jenin, the Israelis deliberately eschewed aerial bombing in favor of more dangerous house-to-house searches, precisely in order to avoid the moral and political opprobrium that would come from bombing territory they were occupying and killing civilians legally under their protection.
We'll see over the next few weeks whether Israel has truly turned a corner in their response to Palestinian terrorism, or whether Ariel Sharon is all yarmulke and no goats.
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