« August 2005 | October 2005 »

September 1, 2005

Able Danger: Hearing Will Be Public

Arlen Specter raised the ante yesterday when announcing the scheduling of the hearing he will conduct with the Judiciary Commitee on the Able Danger project. The September 14th hearing into the datamining effort and its identification of Mohammed Atta and three other 9/11 hijackers as potential terrorist threats will be conducted publicly: The Senate Judiciary Committee announced Wednesday that it was investigating reports from two military officers that a highly classified Pentagon intelligence program identified the Sept. 11 ringleader as a potential terrorist more than a year before the attacks. The committee's chairman, Senator Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania, said in an interview that he was scheduling a public hearing on Sept. 14 "to get to the bottom of this" and that the military officers "appear to have credibility." The senator said his staff had confirmed reports from the two officers that employees of the intelligence program tried to contact...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Katrina: Will We See A New New Orleans?

Today's Washington Post looks at the catastrophe that Katrina has created in New Orleans and the prognosis for its recovery -- and the message appears relentlessly negative. It bolsters the President's warning yesterday that the recovery will take years and a great deal of national effort to accomplish, and calls for a debate on exactly how to rebuild New Orleans: First they have to pump the flooded city dry, and that will take a minimum of 30 days. Then they will have to flush the drinking water system, making sure they don't recycle the contaminants. Figure another month for that. The electricians will have to watch out for snakes in the water, wild animals and feral dogs. It will be a good idea to wear hip boots and take care of cuts and scrapes before the toxic slush turns them into festering sores. The power grid might be up in...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Terrorism Defined (Stupidly)

The Guardian (UK) reports that the Israeli defence ministry has decided that taking a gun on a bus and mowing down several civilians as a form of political action doesn't qualify as terrorism. Does that sound strange in a country that suffers more terrorist attacks than any other? It should, and the explanation only makes it stranger: Four Arab Israelis shot dead by a soldier opposed to the closure of the Gaza Strip settlements are not victims of "terror" because their killer was Jewish, Israel's defence ministry has ruled, and so their families are not entitled to the usual compensation for life. The ministry concluded that the law only recognises terrorism as committed by "organisations hostile to Israel" even though the prime minister, Ariel Sharon, described the killings by Private Eden Nathan Zaada, 19, as "a despicable act by a bloodthirsty terrorist." He shot dead four people on a bus...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Gaza Pullout Gets Diplomatic Results

Israel's pullout of the Gaza Strip has resulted in a new and important diplomatic development, the AP reports this morning. Pakistan has publicly met with the Israelis at a bilateral meeting sponsored by Turkey, and the two nations appear headed towards diplomatic recognition: The foreign ministers of Israel and Pakistan, a Muslim country that has long taken a hard line against the Jewish state, met publicly for the first time Thursday, a diplomatic breakthrough that follows Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. The meeting in Istanbul was at the initiative of Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, and was expected to be followed by confidence building measures, such as a relaxation of Pakistan's ban against travel to the Jewish state, an Israeli official said, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the subject. ... Pakistan was encouraged by Israel's evacuation of Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip, which...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

"Stop The Worship Of The Gods Of War!"

What kind of protest would feature the above exhortation? Has an outbreak of sacrifice to the ancient Greek gods of Apollo and Mars occurred in the heartland of America? Not exactly, no. Anti-war groups are using this as a rallying cry to converge on Naval Air Station Brunswick in Maine on the day before the anniversary of 9/11 to protest a free air show by the Blue Angels, the Navy's crack aviator squadron (via The Corner): On Sat., Sept. 10th, Maine Veterans for Peace will be joined by other major peace and justice groups (see list of co-sponsors below) in a massive protest: . to protest the false god idolatry of the Blue Angels Air Show, whose "ooh-&-aah"performances have one purpose: to promote badly-lagging military recruitment to protest the obscene waste of American tax dollars to stage these Blue Angels' multi-million dollar extravaganzas . to protest Bush's immoral, monomaniacal Iraq...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

US Pushing For UN Sanctions On Iran

Finally, it appears that the US has run out of patience with the EU-3 and wants to step up the pressure on Teheran to stop its nuclear program. Not only has the US called for the UN Security Council to take action, but we picked up a surprising ally, at least for the moment: The Bush administration is trying to rally other nations to agree to impose U.N. sanctions on Iran to force it to negotiate an end to its nuclear programs. ... Britain, France and Germany, negotiating in behalf of the European Union and with U.S. support, has offered Iran economic incentives to stop converting uranium into fuel that could be used for nuclear weapons. The United States, has offered Iran spare parts for commercial aircraft and a help in becoming a member of the World Trade Organization. But with the talks stalemated, the administration clearly is losing patience....

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Katrina Aid: CQ Chooses Catholic Charities (Updates!)

The blogosphere will spend its efforts tomorrow on promoting disaster relief for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, an idea first floated by Hugh Hewitt and getting promoted by Instapundit and NZ Bear today. Instapundit lists plenty of fine charities for your donation efforts, and selecting one to sponsor makes for a difficult decision. I chose Catholic Charities for a couple of reasons. First, the Catholic Church has many connections to the local communities in that region and can get the funds and material to the victims that much quicker. Second, I believe they do good work at a minimum of overhead, allowing for a better rate of donations to relief than possible with some other agencies. Lastly, as a Catholic, I believe that this kind of effort needs encouragement from its congregation in order to ensure that the Church fulfills its mission to the world. Regardless of where you decide...

Continue reading "Katrina Aid: CQ Chooses Catholic Charities (Updates!)" »

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Katrina Aid: More Ways The Blogs Have Stepped Up

I will be on the Hugh Hewitt show in a few minutes to discuss the blogosphere's efforts to get relief to the victims of Hurricane Katrina... I hope you had a chance to listen to the segment. I wound up paired with James Lileks and Michael Medved, both of whom I much admire, and Michael had a lot of encouragement and praise for the blogosphere. Hugh made sure we all had a chance to talk, except uncharacteristically for James Lileks, who gave the phone to Michael. During the day, many reports of perfectly awful news stories, but I'm not going to focus on that now. We need to focus on getting help to the victims as fast as possible. I understand the media impulse of "if it bleeds, it leads," but we don't need to follow that impulse here. I got a couple of e-mails today showing how the blogosphere...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Thank You, Mr. President

I normally have plenty of reasons to thank our current President, George Bush, and few reasons to thank either of the two who preceded him. However, tonight I offer praise to Bill Clinton, who took CNN's Suzanne Malveaux to task for playing partisan politics with the Katrina relief efforts and trying to embarrass his partner and new friend, George H. W. Bush (h/t: AJ Strata): MALVEAUX: Let me ask you this: There are some people at the New Orleans Convention Center who say that they have been living like animals -- no food, no water, no power. And they are the ones who are saying: Where are the buses? Where are the planes? Why did it take three days to see a real federal response here? Mr. Bush, you, whether it's fair or not, had gone through some administration criticism about your handling of Hurricane Andrew. G.H.W. BUSH: I sure...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Able Danger: Pentagon Finds Three More Witnesses

The naysayers of the 9/11 Commission took another blow to their credibility today when the Pentagon announced that three more Able Danger team members remember the identification of Mohammed Atta and three other 9/11 hijackers a year before their terrorist attack. A briefing today gave the Pentagon a chance to reverse itself from a week ago, when spokesman Larry Di Rita strongly suggested that the two career officers who had come forward at risk of their careers either had faulty memories or ulterior motives: Pentagon officials said Thursday they have found three more people who recall an intelligence chart that identified Sept. 11 mastermind Mohamed Atta as a terrorist one year before the attacks on New York and Washington. But they have been unable to find the chart or other evidence that it existed. Last month, two military officers, Army Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer and Navy Capt. Scott Philpott, went...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

September 2, 2005

Failed Levee Recently Upgraded

Several stories about supposed failures of the Bush administration to foresee the catastrophic failure of the New Orleans levee system have gotten published in the last two days, but one in the New York Times buries an uncomfortable fact midway through its report. Despite not getting the full federal budget money requested for levee engineering Louisiana requested, it turns out that the levees had indeed been improved and strengthened in targeted portions -- and that the main failure occurred in an upgraded section: The 17th Street levee that gave way and led to the flooding of New Orleans was part of an intricate, aging system of barriers and pumps that was so chronically underfinanced that senior regional officials of the Army Corps of Engineers complained about it publicly for years. Often leading the chorus was Alfred C. Naomi, a senior project manager for the corps and a 30-year veteran of...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Katrina: Rebuilding On An Unimaginable Scale

Hugh Hewitt reminds us in his column at the Weekly Standard that we may not yet realize the scope of the task that faces us in New Orleans. We have rebuilt parts of cities after natural disasters in the past, but Hurricane Katrina has created a singular event, one which moves far past the task of simply recreating housing and commercial buildings. How does one re-create a living community? Before long, however, the extreme needs will be met and the long-term rebuilding will get underway. At that point it will become much less obvious how ordinary Americans can help. When terrorists struck on September 11, the carnage was huge and the loss of life staggering, but an entire community was not wiped out. With this disaster, America confronts for the first time the daunting reconstruction of complex social and political organizations. It is a task which may be beyond the...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Able Danger: The Shaffer Interview

Several CQ readers sent me a link to a lengthy interview with LTC Tony Shaffer in the upcoming issue of Government Security News. Although hardly exclusive, the Pentagon's latest revelation of three more corroborating witnesses lends a lot more credence to Shaffer's testimony, and the broad reach of this interview will provide a touchstone for those who watch the upcoming hearings to see whether Congress really intends on a full investigation. The interview starts off with a summation of its highlights, which allows readers to understand the scope of the discussion. Among the revelations in the summary is a CIA refusal to cooperate based on turf-protecting attitudes and an explanation of how Able Danger used information from mosques to identify relationships between potential terrorists: After briefing the CIAs representative stationed at SOCOM headquarters, and explaining that Able Danger would not be competing with the CIAs own separate mission to find...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Katrina: Focus (Update)

I will have plenty to say later on about the madness of the coverage and the political debate surrounding Hurricane Katrina and flood aid, but I won't be drawn into it now, not by ridiculous rappers who spew garbage on prime-time network TV nor by the asinine and biased reporting that presumes that the federal government has all responsibility for the citizens of a city, rather than the city itself or the state in which it resides. For now, we need to focus on the task at hand, which is to get food, water, and shelter for the victims of Katrina and start planning on how to pull New Orleans out of the muck, literally and figuratively. Donate to Catholic Charities or another worthy organization. Volunteer your time and labor. Pray, pray, pray. Those activities provide positive and constructive methods of coping with the catastrophe and result in actual benefit...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

UNSCAM Probe Nets Another Russian

Reuters and the AP report on the second US arrest resulting from probes into the UN Oil-For-Food financial scandal. Police arrested Vladimir Kuznetsov after Kofi Annan withdrew his diplomatic immunity earlier today, joining Alexander Yakovlev in the klink for money laundering and bribery: Vladimir Kuznetsov, a Russian Foreign Ministry official and the elected chairman of the U.N. General Assembly's budget advisory committee, was taken into custody by the FBI, Russian and U.S. officials said. Kuznetsov later appeared in federal district court in khaki shorts and a green shirt and pleaded innocent. The court offered to release him only if he could post a $1.5 million bond co-signed by three financially worthy parties and secured by $500,000 in properties and cash. Even if released, he would remain under house arrest with an electronic monitoring device. The arrest was only the latest scandal plaguing the world body following allegations of corruption and...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

September 3, 2005

Congress Takes Five Days To Act, Criticizes 'Bureaucracy'

In what would be seen as irony under less-deadly circumstances, Congress took the opportunity to carp at the federal response to Hurricane Katrina after passing a $10.5B funding bill five days after the destruction of New Orleans. The New York Times reports that members of both parties criticized the relief efforts while promising hearings into supposed bureaucratic inertia: Members of Congress from both parties acknowledged on Friday that the federal response to Hurricane Katrina had fallen far short and promised hearings into what had gone wrong. ... Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee, the majority leader, who plans to go to the New Orleans area this weekend, said he had asked the committee that oversees the Federal Emergency Management Agency to convene hearings so that "any lessons learned during this experience are brought to the forefront so that we may continue to be more effective in responding to any future disaster."...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

WaPo On Katrina: It Starts Locally

Not all media outlets have forgotten about the responsibility of local governments to take care of its citizens. Today's editorial in the Washington Post not only reminds its readers that local authorities provide the first line of defense for its most vulnerable citizens: But if blame is to be laid and lessons are to be drawn, one point stands out as irrefutable: Emergency planners must focus much more on the fate of that part of the population that -- for reasons of poverty, infirmity, distrust of officialdom, lack of transportation or lack of information -- cannot be counted on to leave their homes after an evacuation order. Tragically, authorities in New Orleans were aware of this problem. Certainly the numbers were known. Shirley Laska, an environmental and disaster sociologist at the University of New Orleans, had only recently calculated that some 57,000 New Orleans Parish households, or approximately 125,000 people,...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Hamas: Nobody Does Terror Like We Do

Now that the Israelis have pulled out of Gaza, the politics of the region will hinge on who gets the most credit for their withdrawal. Hamas has started the competition by revealing their once-secretive military wing and claiming credit for a long string of terrorist activity, apparently believing that this will bolster their popularity among the Palestinian people: Hamas' secretive military wing emerged from hiding Saturday, naming commanders and detailing how they attacked Israelis as part of a competition with the Palestinian Authority over who will get credit for Israel's pullout from Gaza. ... On Saturday, a defiant Hamas delivered a new challenge to Abbas, who has come under increasing international pressure to disarm the group after the Israeli pullout, but is reluctant to do so. On its Web site, the Hamas military wing, Izzedine al Qassam, laid bare its command structure for the first time, posting names of seven...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Six Degrees Of Kim Coates

The Northern Alliance Radio Network will broadcast live from the Minnesota State Fair today and tomorrow, from noon to 3 pm. We'll be at AM 1280 The Patriot's booth on the south side of the fairgrounds, just across from the horticulture building. If you're not at the Fair or even in the Twin Cities, you can still catch us on The Patriot's webstream. We'll talk politics, but we have a lot of other events scheduled for these two broadcasts. Last week, James Lileks joined us for an hour, always one of the highlights of our State Fair broadcasts. James and I share a love of film, but even more specifically, we both drive our spouses insane with an appreciation for really bad movies. James and I talked a bit about this curious predilection, and I've been thinking about it since then. I believe I may have found the key to...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

William Rehnquist Dies At Home

Chief Justice of the Supreme Court William Rehnquist passed away tonight at his Virginia home (via e-mail from King at SCSU Scholars): Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist died Saturday evening at his home in suburban Virginia, said Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg. A statement from the spokeswoman said he was surrounded by his three children when he died in Arlington. "The Chief Justice battled thyroid cancer since being diagnosed last October and continued to perform his dues on the court until a precipitous decline in his health the last couple of days," she said. Anyone following his activities for the past several months will not find themselves surprised by his passing. He showed no inclination to retire after 34 years on the Court, the final 19 as Chief Justice. His illness made retirement rather pointless, which he apparently sensed; what kind of retirement would he have had? Instead, he tried...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

September 4, 2005

Katrina: Why Didn't Nagin Follow His Own Plan?

Mark Tapscott, one of the best crossover bloggers and a fierce researcher, turned up an interesting document yesterday: the New Orleans comprehensive hurricane disaster plan. The plan exists on line and has a high level of detail, and yet the Exempt Media has given no coverage of its contents. The most obvious reason is that it shows that New Orleans and the state of Louisiana didn't follow their own plan. For example, the plan has this to say about the responsibility for evacuations: The safe evacuation of threatened populations when endangered by a major catastrophic event is one of the principle reasons for developing a Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan. The thorough identification of at-risk populations, transportation and sheltering resources, evacuation routes and potential bottlenecks and choke points, and the establishment of the management team that will coordinate not only the evacuation but which will monitor and direct the sheltering and...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Katrina: Not Just New Orleans

Mississippians have largely fallen off the media's radar screens as the unfolding tragedy in New Orleans holds the nation's attention. However, the scale of Katrina's devastation goes much farther than the jewel of the Delta, and its victims have heard enough about the specific tragedies of New Orleans: Mississippi hurricane survivors looked around Saturday and wondered just how long it would take to get food, clean water and shelter. And they were more than angry at the federal government and the national news media. Richard Gibbs was disgusted by reports of looting in New Orleans and upset at the lack of attention hurricane victims in his state were getting. "I say burn the bridges and let 'em all rot there," he said. "We're suffering over here too, but we're not killing each other. We've got to help each other. We need gas and food and water and medical supplies." The...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Katrina: More Race, No Class

Jason DeParle gives his assessment of the true story of the destruction of the Gulf coast -- the race card. His editorial in the New York Times doesn't wait for any scholarly analysis or dispassionate research for his conclusions to meet the Paper of Record's standards for publication, either: THE white people got out. Most of them, anyway. If television and newspaper images can be deemed a statistical sample, it was mostly black people who were left behind. Poor black people, growing more hungry, sick and frightened by the hour as faraway officials counseled patience and warned that rescues take time. What a shocked world saw exposed in New Orleans last week wasn't just a broken levee. It was a cleavage of race and class, at once familiar and startlingly new, laid bare in a setting where they suddenly amounted to matters of life and death. Hydrology joined sociology throughout...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Katrina: Dry Run Taught New Orleans Nothing

Marc from Cranial Cavity notes that the issues of evacuation had come to light before in New Orleans, almost exactly a year ago, in the advance of Hurrican Ivan through the Gulf. This report demonstrates that the problem experienced this week in The Big Easy did not arise from ignorance or a failure of imagination, but directly from incompetence in the city administration and specifically by Mayor Ray Nagin: Those who had the money to flee Hurricane Ivan ran into hours-long traffic jams. Those too poor to leave the city had to find their own shelter - a policy that was eventually reversed, but only a few hours before the deadly storm struck land. New Orleans dodged the knockout punch many feared from the hurricane, but the storm exposed what some say are significant flaws in the Big Easy's civil disaster plans. Much of New Orleans is below sea level,...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

The Final NARN Show At The 2005 Fair

We will broadcast our final show at the Minnesota State Fair this afternoon from noon to 3 pm CT at the Patriot booth. Unfortunately, our local storms knocked out power to the tower, but Internet users can listen to our web stream at AM 1280 The Patriot. Tune in there, and join us as we discuss Able Danger, Hurricane Katrina, flood aid, the death of William Rehnquist, and much much more. Call in at 651-289-4488!...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

September 5, 2005

Movie Review: The Constant Gardener (Spoilers!)

I decided to take a break from all of the storm-related blogging I'd been doing this weekend, as well as the NARN shows that occupied all of the last two weekends, and take the First Mate out to dinner and a movie this evening. We don't see too many first-run movies; the excellent The Great Raid was the last we saw before tonight. I hoped for an extension of the winning streak with The Constant Gardener, about which I had read nothing. However, with Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz in the leads and a solid supporting cast, and a story by John Le Carr, the prospects looked good for another good film. Boy, did I miss that bet by a mile. Here There Be Spoilers. Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Pass. The Constant Gardener takes a clichd and hackneyed plot about eeeevil pharmaceutical companies and chops it into an almost-unintelligible...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Egypt Bans Poll Monitors

In a setback to the momentum of democracy in the Middle East, the Mubarak regime has banned independent poll monitors from its upcoming presidential elections. The first-ever multiparty campaign had appeared to give Egyptians some hope of a fair poll -- and still might -- but with Mubarak supplying the only certification, the results will certainly come under fire: Egypt's electoral commission says it will not allow independent groups to monitor Wednesday's presidential election, defying a court ruling. The commission said only supervisors, candidates and their representatives would be allowed in polling stations. The decision has fuelled fears of vote rigging in the country's first multi-candidate presidential poll. Mubarak and the Egyptian government might claim that the fact of having the elections at all shows a commitment to democratization and the rule of law. The pressure placed on his regime for reform, especially that of Condoleezza Rice which immediately preceded...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Roberts Gets Chief Justice Nod, Delay In Hearings

In a bold but strategically sound move, George Bush nominated John Roberts as the new Chief Justice of the Supreme Court just ahead of his confirmation hearings to the bench itself. This additional nomination prompted an immediate but short delay for those hearings, most likely in respect for the passing and funeral of the late Chief Justice, William Rehnquist: President George W. Bush nominated appeals court judge John Roberts on Monday to replace the late William Rehnquist as U.S. chief justice of the Supreme Court. "Judge Roberts has earned the nation's confidence, and I'm pleased to announce that I will nominate him to serve as the 17th chief justice of the Supreme Court," Bush said in the Oval Office with Roberts at his side. Bush urged the Senate to move quickly to confirm the 50-year-old conservative in time for the October 3 start of the new term of the Supreme...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Leaky Limousine Liberals

King Banaian at SCSU Scholars points out one humorous story to come from the Hurricane Katrina story, assuming it doesn't turn out to be apocryphal. According to Agence France-Presse, Sean Penn took a boat to New Orleans to "rescue children", but found out that heroics require a minimum of preparation: Efforts by Hollywood actor Sean Penn to aid New Orleans victims stranded by Hurricane Katrina foundered badly yesterday, when the boat he was piloting to launch a rescue attempt sprang a leak. Penn had planned to rescue children waylaid by Katrina's flood waters, but apparently forgot to plug a hole in the bottom of the vessel, which began taking water within seconds of its launch. ... When the boat's motor failed to start, those aboard were forced to use paddles to propel themselves down the flooded New Orleans street. People will tend to give Penn credit for trying to help,...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Janice Rogers Brown For Supreme Court

I will not predict who George Bush will nominate to fill the open seat on the Supreme Court, now that he has selected John Roberts to succeed the late William Rehnquist as Chief Justice. He has many fine jurists from which to choose, including Michael Luttig, Michael McConnell, and Edith Hollan Jones, the latter of which I strongly suspect will get onto Bush's short list this time around. However, if I had a voice at the White House on this selection, I would suggest Justice Janice Rogers Brown. Janice Rogers Brown has just taken her place on the DC Circuit court, the same appellate bench from which Roberts served prior to his nomination. However, unlike Roberts, she served for several years on a state Supreme Court, that of the nation's most populous state, California. Her background gives her near-impeccable conservative status while presenting enough flexibility for libertarian leanings. Rather than...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Islamists Conduct Pogrom Against Christians In West Bank

The city of Taiba, long a center for Christians in the West Bank, came under attack from Islamist terrorists last night as well as other Christian villages nearby. Shouting Muslim slogans such as Allahu akbar!, torched houses and businesses and drove Christians from their beds, all because one nearby Muslim family murdered their daughter for allegedly having an affair with a Christian man (h/t: Lkrut33): Efforts were under way on Sunday to calm the situation in this Christian village east of Ramallah after an attack by hundreds of Muslim men from nearby villages left many houses and vehicles torched. The incident began on Saturday night and lasted until early Sunday, when Palestinian Authority security forces interfered to disperse the attackers. Residents said several houses were looted and many families were forced to flee to Ramallah and other Christian villages, although no one was injured. The attack on the village of...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

September 6, 2005

Next Battlefield, The O'Connor Replacement (Part Two)

It may sound odd to discuss how George Bush plans on replacing retiring Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. We all watched him announce O'Connor's replacement almost two months ago, John Roberts. The President's transition of Roberts to the Rehnquist seat, however, puts the political debate on how best to honor O'Connor's legacy best back on the front burner. As I note above, that debate will no longer involve Roberts. The decision to remove Roberts from O'Connor's seat accomplishes that, as well as opens the door for O'Connor to rejoin the court temporarily while Bush and the Senate work through the process of nominating and confirming her successor. No one has heard whether O'Connor actually plans on honoring that offer, by the way, although Chuck Schumer and the New York Times certainly hope for it. One of the Washington Post reports on the Roberts shift gives an insight into what...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Roberts Promotion Gets Media Results

The largely-unexpected move to have John Roberts replace William Rehnquist rather than Sandra Day O'Connor raised a few eyebrows this weekend. George Bush had an opportunity to elevate one of the sitting justices on the Supreme Court, and the debate seemed to focus on whether he would pick Antonin Scalia or get really bold and choose Clarence Thomas as the first African-American Chief Justice. Instead of leaving that pot to boil, Bush acted quickly to shift Roberts to Rehnquist's slot, ending the speculation and reducing the number of confirmation hearings required to return the court to normalcy. For such a solid and untouchable nominee, Roberts has undergone considerable and mostly hysterical scrutiny in the media. His hearings promised to provide plenty of fireworks before his elevation to Chief Justice, and some wondered if the move wouldn't allow moderate Democrats an opportunity to withdraw their previously-stated support for his confirmation. However,...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Katrina: The Memes Die Last

The notion that the federal government has primary authority over cities and states, an error that any high-school graduate should recognize, has slowly begun to fade from media coverage of Hurricane Katrina. In its place comes dawning realization of the massive failure of Louisiana and New Orleans to initiate their own disaster plans and to use their available assets to maintain control in New Orleans. On CNN yesterday, even Mayor Ray Nagin now recalls his civics classes, although he still hasn't done much to take responsibility for his own failures to follow his own detailed emergency response plan: S. O'BRIEN: What has Secretary Chertoff promised you? What has Donald Rumsfeld given you and promised you? NAGIN: Look, I've gotten promises to -- I can't stand anymore promises. I don't want to hear anymore promises. I want to see stuff done. And that's why I'm so happy that the president came...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Dafydd: Leaky Limousine Liberals, part deux

Yesterday, Captain Ed directed our gaze to the pathetic cry for attention by Hollywood star and professional vonts Sean Penn, who pretended to participate in the rescue of Katrina victims... in a tiny boat, just about big enough for three people. Which is what it already carried, counting Penn and two "unidentified members of his entourage," one of them a photographer along to record the historic moment for posterity. (King Banaian brought our attention to the former Mr. Madonna's valuable contribution to the Hurricane Katrina rescue effort.) According to Agence France-Presse: Efforts by Penn to aid New Orleans victims stranded by Hurricane Katrina foundered badly Sunday, when the boat he was piloting to launch a rescue attempt sprang a leak. Penn had planned to rescue children waylaid by Katrina's flood waters, but apparently forgot to plug a hole in the bottom of the vessel, which began taking water within seconds...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

On My Desk: Weekly Standard's New Book

I just received a new book in the mail from the folks at the Weekly Standard, The Weekly Standard - A Reader: 1995 - 2005. Edited by William Kristol, it provides a number of the highlights published by the highly-respected conservative magazine over the past ten years. Writers like P.J. O'Rourke, John Podhoretz (one of my favorites), David Gelernter, Christopher Hitchens, Fred Barnes, and many more find themselves well represented in the book's 500+ pages. Some of these articles will read like long-lost friends, while others will provide fresh perspectives on new topics. I suspect that in the same way that reading out-of-date magazines in medical offices occasionally gives one a perspective on new and pressing issues, this new book will provide a similar experience in most of its essays. Since we at CQ are all about full disclosure, I should point out that I received a review copy for...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Will A Katrina Probe Turn Into A Smear Campaign?

The Senate Homeland Security Committee announced earlier today that they would start an investigation into the comprehensive response to Hurricane Katrina, how flood aid got delivered, and why crucial hours and days passed seemingly without any significant efforts made to reach pockets of survivors in New Orleans. If handled properly, such an investigation can help clear the air and lower the venom surrounding the debate over the response and the responsibility for its shortfalls. It also holds a clear possibility to allow malicious actors to subvert it into an election-year vehicle to score partisan cheap shots: The Republican senator leading a Senate investigation into the government's response to Hurricane Katrina said on Tuesday it was "woefully inadequate" and it had raised doubts about the U.S. ability to cope with a terrorist attack. Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, spoke as lawmakers prepared to provide a second round of emergency money...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

California Legislature Confirms Its Lack Of Connection To Voters

The California legislature became the first elected body in the US to approve gay marriage, passing the bill in the Assembly 41-35 and setting up a conundrum for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The bill defies a vote from five years ago, when Californians overwhelmingly voted to approve a measure which specified that marriage should remain between one man and one woman: The bill's supporters compared the legislation to earlier civil rights campaigns, including efforts to eradicate slavery and give women the right to vote. "Do what we know is in our hearts," said the bill's sponsor, San Francisco Democrat Mark Leno. "Make sure all California families will have the same protection under the law." ... But opponents repeatedly cited the public's vote five years ago to approve Proposition 22, an initiative put on the ballot by gay marriage opponents to keep California from recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states or...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

September 7, 2005

Air America: Al Franken, Lying Liar

Michelle Malkin and Brian Maloney continue their groundbreaking series on the Air America financial scandal, this time taking direct aim at the netlet's number-one asset: Al Franken. It turns out that Franken has lied to his listeners about his ignorance of the heavy debts that Evan Montvel Cohen rang up in an attempt to float Air America and during the asset sale that now appears to have been a fraudulent conveyance. How do we know this? Michelle and Brian have turned up an agreement with Franken's signature -- an agreement that made Franken a key player in the series of transactions that resulted in the fraudulent conveyance: Along with the network's current management and shell-game-playing owners, Al Franken has gotten a pass, even from some conservative commentators who have claimed that it's unfair to blame the liberal radio network's financial and legal entanglements on its on-air talent. Those claims are...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Katrina Rescuer Finds Himself In The Doghouse

One would think that a commander of a military helicopter crew that showed the compassion and quick thinking to use their supply run to New Orleans to rescue a handful of people would have received a commendation for his quick thinking. If so, one does not know the military, as the New York Times proves this morning. When they give orders, the military expects its officers to obey them: Two Navy helicopter pilots and their crews returned from New Orleans on Aug. 30 expecting to be greeted as lifesavers after ferrying more than 100 hurricane victims to safety. Instead, their superiors chided the pilots, Lt. David Shand and Lt. Matt Udkow, at a meeting the next morning for rescuing civilians when their assignment that day had been to deliver food and water to military installations along the Gulf Coast. "I felt it was a great day because we resupplied the...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Volcker Report: UN Needs Better Oversight After Massive Fraud

The Volcker Commission's report on the Oil-for-Food Program (OFF) will castigate the UN for allowing billions of dollars to flow into Saddam's pockets through its incompetence and corruption, sources throughout the media report today. It lets Kofi Annan off the hook, at least for now, but specifically points out the sweetheart deals that his son got for the little amount of work he performed, calling into question the connection between that and the Secretary-General's performance. The Washington Post tells its readers that Annan says Saddam made him do it: Volcker's new report will sharply criticize Annan's oversight of the oil program as lax, citing "serious instances of illicit, unethical, and corrupt behavior" by U.N. officials under his watch. The report will draw attention to administrative shortcomings by the nine U.N. humanitarian agencies, including the U.N. Development Program and Habitat, the main housing agency. It also will accuse the 15-nation Security...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Hollywood's Great Constant

My new Weekly Standard column, "Hollywood's Great Constant", talks about the odd relationship between the film industry and reality. No, it doesn't address Barbra Streisand and her politics, but the films themselves and how they address reality -- and the reactions of the film critics to the presentation of fact and fiction. I note the critical spanking given to The Great Raid for its realistic and harrowing depiction of the brutal treatment given POWs and Filipinos during Japanese occupation, and compare it to the critics who celebrated the farcical distortions present in The Constant Gardener: One might argue that The Constant Gardener should be forgiven its sins, since it is a work of fiction. Many film critics shun this line of argument. Over 90 percent of critics give it positive reviews and their approbation ties directly to their perception of The Constant Gardiner as a film which addresses reality, not...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Katrina: ABC Notices The New Orleans Emergency Plan

At least one major media outlet has finally noticed that New Orleans had an emergency response plan for hurricances and evacuations that somehow never got implemented. ABC News yesterday asked why Mayor Ray Nagin not only did not follow the plan, but actively sent non-evacuees to a site that had no preparations to handle them: New Orleans' own comprehensive emergency plan raises the specter of "having large numbers of people stranded" and promises "the city will utilize all available resources to quickly and safely evacuate threatened areas." "Special arrangements will be made to evacuate persons unable to transport themselves," the plan states. When Hurricane Katrina hit, however, that plan was not followed completely. Instead of sending city buses to evacuate those who could not make it out on their own, people in New Orleans were told to go to the Superdome and the Convention Center, where no one...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Arnold Announces Permanent Retirement From Hollywood

The Governator will probably fulfill the prophecy of being unable to return home with his announcement today that he will veto the historic bill passed by the California Legislature last night legalizing gay marriage. The resultant fallout will enrage the liberal community, especially in Hollywood, where Arnold used to work: Schwarzenegger said the legislation, given final approval Tuesday by lawmakers, would conflict with the intent of voters when they approved a ballot initiative five years ago. Proposition 22 prevents California from recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states or countries. "We cannot have a system where the people vote and the Legislature derails that vote," the governor's press secretary, Margita Thompson, said in a statement. "Out of respect for the will of the people, the governor will veto (the bill)." Despite his promised veto, Schwarzenegger "believes gay couples are entitled to full protection under the law and should not be...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

New Orleans And Louisiana Blocking Aid To Refugees In City

Hugh Hewitt had Fox News reporter Major Garrett on his show tonight (transcript at Radioblogger) to explain his breaking story that Governor Kathleen Blanco and Mayor Ray Nagin have blocked aid from reaching the victims of Hurricane Katrina and the flooding that buried New Orleans. Blanco and Nagin apparently did not want to encourage people to stay in New Orleans, even though neither one did anything to assist them to leave during the mandatory evacuation: HH: You just broke a pretty big story. I was watching up on the corner television in my studio, and it's headlined that the Red Cross was blocked from delivering supplies to the Superdome, Major Garrett. Tell us what you found out. MG: Well, the Red Cross, Hugh, had pre-positioned a literal vanguard of trucks with water, food, blankets and hygiene items. They're not really big into medical response items, but those are the three...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

September 8, 2005

Roberts Too Successful For Post

Richard Cohen at the Washington Post writes a column that should embarrass him to have under his byline at some later date. He tries in a weak way to argue against the confirmation of Roberts by pointing out his many successes -- and then wishes that Bush had nominated someone with a demonstrated track record of incompetence instead. It takes failure, in Cohen's estimation, to really know the people: I sometimes think the best thing that ever happened to me was, at the time, the worst: I flunked out of college. I did so for the usual reasons -- painfully bored with school and distracted by life itself -- and so I went to work for an insurance company while I plowed ahead at night school. From there I went into the Army, emerging with a storehouse of anecdotes. In retrospect, I learned more by failing than I ever would...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Sunnis Join The Political Process

After getting burned by a badly-advised boycott of the first free elections in Iraq for decades, the Sunnis have apparently decided not to repeat their mistake from last January. The Washington Post reports that Sunni voter registration has skyrocketed in Iraq, as the nation debates the current proposition for its new, permanent constitution: Voter registration soared in some Sunni Arab parts of Iraq as Sunnis mobilized to try to vote down a draft constitution they believe will divide the country, according to figures released Wednesday at the close of registration for the Oct. 15 referendum. ... The surge in voter registration in the heavily Sunni west signaled the minority's belated entry into the country's political process. Most Sunnis stood on the sidelines of the Jan. 30 national elections that seated the transitional government, which was charged with drafting the constitution. As a result, Sunnis were left with diminished political leverage...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

London Times: Annan Not Fit For UN Leadership

In a scathing editorial after the Volcker Report gained wide dissemination yesterday, the London Times tells its readers that the United Nations would do better under different leadership. Meanwhile, the London Telegraph reports that the current leadership defiantly vows to stay at Turtle Bay: THE United Nations would be better off without Kofi Annan. That seems an inevitable conclusion from reading the latest, most comprehensive report and most damning report into the corruption of the oil-for-food programme. The report, by Paul Volcker, the former Chairman of the Federal Reserve, undermines the Secretary-Generals claim to either diplomatic or administrative competence. Before next weeks highly charged summit in New York, the UNs 60th anniversary, it greatly weakens his position. ... The report says that Annans sins were those of omission not commission. It finds no smoking gun. ... But the omissions were enormous, allowing Saddam Hussein to manipulate the programme to try...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Girding For Battle

Be sure to read John Hinderaker's excellent column in today's Daily Standard, "Preparing for World War III". When John and I debated the various possibilities for Bush to consider for Chief Justice, neither one of us contemplated the elevation of Roberts to the position. John notes that this changes the dynamic considerably, improving Roberts' confirmation chances to a near-lock while deferring a very ugly battle to the next nominee: Substituting Roberts for O'Connor would have been a significant upgrade, from a conservative point of view. Replacing Rehnquist with Roberts, on the other hand, is good to the extent that it likely represents another 30 years of conservative service on the court, but it will not effect a short-term change in the balance of power. In that sense, the key appointment has always been O'Connor's successor. And for that appointment, Roberts had turned out to be an inspired choice. The Senate...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Dafydd: On the Lighter (Ectoplasmic) Side...

If you want to take a break from the grim news out of the Southeast, try this one from Orlando, Florida: a husband-and-wife pair of restauranteurs, Christopher and Yoko Chung, are trying to break their lease to move into a renovated building because, they claim, the building is "haunted." Landlord Sues Restaurateurs Over Ghosts AP wire Sep 8, 1:54 PM (ET) Subcontractors who worked there and other people have reported seeing ghosts or other apparitions, said Lynn Franklin, attorney for the restaurant owners. "It's very serious," Franklin said Thursday. "A lot of people are corroborating having seen incidents in this location." Would this be shortly after a trip to Walt Disney World's Haunted Mansion? Perhaps the ghost followed them home! "I asked them if these were good ghosts or bad ghosts, and if they were good ghosts why it was a problem," said David Simmons, an attorney representing the building's...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Salvation Army Confirms Louisiana Gov't Kept Them Out Of New Orleans

Hugh Hewitt and Duane "Generalissimo" Patterson follow up with Fox's Major Garrett this evening on Garrett's blockbuster report last night that the Louisiana DHS ordered the Red Cross not to enter New Orleans. Tonight the story expands, as Garrett now reports that the Salvation Army confirmed that the state officials kept them away from the victims as well: HH: And what did the Salvation Army tell you? MG: The Salvation Army basically said look. We...first of all, both agencies also want to let people know that they've served the needs of thousands of people who got out, and who got out just a little bit to high ground, north of New Orleans. But they couldn't get in to meet those needs. They asked to get in. They were prepared with their...the Salvation Army has these ever-familiar portable kitchen canteens, is what they call them. They can actually make food, produce...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Feds Finding Something Amiss In Minneapolis?

Federal authorities appear to be conducting two different investigations into Twin Cities politics, as they launched raids at a city councilman's home and the offices of a key player in an earlier bribery scandal. However, an alert CQ reader whose name I will withhold for the moment found a connection between the two which may indicate that the FBI has uncovered something larger than a repeat of the Brian Herron case. Local ABC affiliate KSTP has a terse statement: [Dean] Zimmermann is a member of the Green party and a first-term council member. He wasn't available for comment, but his campaign manager, Lauren Maker, said the agents spent three hours at Zimmermann's home. Maker said the agents told her the affidavit attached to the search warrant was sealed, so she couldn't explain the purpose of the search. Because of redistricting, Zimmermann is in the same ward as council vice president...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

September 9, 2005

Able Danger Foxtrot IV: Weldon's Timeline

UPI continued its reporting on Able Danger and the response to it by the Pentagon in a wire report that saw little media replay. Stratasphere and Just One Minute must have their antennae finely tuned to have discovered this at M&C, and while the report does not do much to move the story forward, it provides a couple of interesting details. First, Rep. Curt Weldon wants to know why the Pentagon destroyed the material relating to Able Danger. Up to last week, we had not determined with any certainty than the material no longer exists but that the Pentagon couldn't find it. The Pentagon finally acknowledged that it had shredded the data as part of a normal process used for classified material that had no further use, but Weldon says he doesn't buy that: The congressman who first made public claims that a secret Pentagon data mining project linked the...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Democrats Use Katrina Criticism For Political Fundraising

Hurricane Katrina has apparently given Democrats, desperate for an electoral victory after three successive cycles of losses at the national level, a new definition of flood aid. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee used an advertisement demanding the firing of the head of FEMA as an opportunity for people to donate to the DSCC in order to provide aid ... to Democratic politicians: A new Democratic effort to whip up indignation about the Bush administration's handling of Hurricane Katrina also tried to raise money for Democratic candidates. Sen. Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat and the head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, issued an appeal Thursday urging people to sign an online petition to fire the Federal Emergency Management Agency's director over his handling of the Katrina response. After an inquiry from the Associated Press, the DSCC quickly pulled down the page and said they would give the Red Cross...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

The Syrian Safety Valve

The BBC reports that Syrian forces attacked Islamist militants in the northeastern part of its country, killing one and wounding a number of others, coming on the heels of an earlier battle which killed five Islamist terrorists. The area where the fighting took place appears near to where Iraqi and American forces complain of unfettered border-crossing of terrorists into Iraq, but that apparently did not play into Syria's calculations as much as self-preservation: Syrian security forces have clashed with Islamist militants in Hasaka, north-eastern Syria, killing one and detaining two others, reports say. ... The incident came days after Syrian forces killed five alleged members of the militant group Jund al-Sham in a gun battle in the north-west. The authorities accuse the group of planning bomb attacks in Damascus. The group's activities have been monitored by security forces since it said it had carried out a bomb attack on the...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Taiba Pogrom Part Of Long-Term Persecution

The pogrom at Taiba, where Islamists chased frightened Christians from their homes and burned buildings to the ground two days ago, came as part of a concerted effort by Muslim extremists to drive Christians out of the Holy Land, the Telegraph reports this morning. Christian leaders who expressed frustration over broken promises from Yasser Arafat now say that current Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas won't even return their calls: Christians in the Holy Land have handed a dossier detailing incidents of violence and intimidation by Muslim extremists to Church leaders in Jerusalem, one of whom said it was time for Christians to "raise our voices" against the sectarian violence. The dossier includes 93 alleged incidents of abuse by an "Islamic fundamentalist mafia" against Palestinian Christians, who accused the Palestinian Authority of doing nothing to stop the attacks. The dossier also includes a list of 140 cases of apparent land theft, in...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Clueless Memorial Design, Take 2

The designers of the Flight 93 memorial at the impact site unveiled their effort yesterday. In what seems to be a typical case of cluelessness among memorial designers, the site will prominently feature the religious symbol of the attackers themselves (via Michelle Malkin): Some might argue that the design's most prominent feature is a coincidence, but the title of it argues against that interpretation: It will serve as a living tribute. With each wind, each breeze, a set of chimes housed in a 93-foot tower will create a different song in memory of the 40 people who sacrificed their lives trying to save the lives of others. Four years after United Airlines Flight 93 crashed into a reclaimed strip mine near Shanksville, Somerset County, on Sept. 11, 2001, the design that will serve as the national memorial was unveiled here yesterday in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Hall of Flags....

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Zimmerman Following In Herron's Footsteps? (Update!)

Dean Zimmerman took Brian Herron's spot on the Minneapolis City Council after the arrest and conviction of the latter on federal bribery charges. Now the Strib and the AP confirm that federal agents have their eyes on Zimmerman for the same kind of behavior, apparently having caught him in a sting operation assisted by an anonymous local developer: A City Council member is being investigated for allegedly accepting bribes from a developer in exchange for help with zoning permits, according to court documents filed Friday. Councilman Dean Zimmermann, a Green Party member seeking his second term, is accused of accepting thousands of dollars from the developer, who was working in cooperation with the FBI. One payment was to help with attorney fees owed by Zimmermann, according to the document. Other payments were for the councilman's re-election campaign, the document said. The exchanges between Zimmermann and the developer were recorded on...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

September 10, 2005

Exempt Media Begins To Understand Federalism

The Washington Post has started to ask the same questions as Fox News and ABC did earlier this week in an analysis of the response to Hurricane Katrina. Robert Pierre reports in a piece titled in part, "Assessing Leadership", that Mayor Ray Nagin now faces many questions about his role in the fumbled disaster response -- and that his own underlings say that the answers will expose him as an incompetent: Mayor C. Ray Nagin created many new friends and probably as many enemies for his decision to pointedly chastise both Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco (D) and the Bush administration for talking too much and working too little. Now, however, difficult questions are being directed at the mayor. ... Around the world, particularly in places where Bush is unpopular, Nagin is now recognized for refusing to back down against Bush. But with federal forces providing security in a largely...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Gonzalez Charm Offensive Begins

It looks like the White House wants to push Attorney General Alberto Gonzales as the likely replacement for Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court. Today's Washington Post analysis clearly indicates that a significant effort has begun to support Gonzalez' credentials as a conservative despite the fears of the GOP base, which unexpectedly and firmly rejected Gonzalez: Supporters of Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales have launched a campaign to rebut criticism that he is not reliably conservative enough to serve on the Supreme Court, a move likely to intensify a rift within Republican circles over one of President Bush's closest confidants. The group of former Gonzales aides and other Republicans still in the Bush administration -- most of whom are close to top White House officials -- are coordinating with one another, sharpening common lines of argument, then circulating these points on Capitol Hill, in conservative circles and with reporters,...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Flight 93 Memorial Intended To Offend

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette continues its coverage of the Flight 93 memorial in today's edition by noting that a number of people have seen a connection to the Crescent of Embrace at the heart of the memorial and its obvious Islamic symbolism. Paula Reed Ward reports that "online bloggers" started the controversy, which those involved in the design called "disgusting and repellent" (via Michelle Malkin): There's a growing outcry that one element of the newly chosen Flight 93 National Memorial represents Islam and is a slap in the face to the passengers and crew members who died on the hijacked plane four years ago. The winning design, announced Wednesday in Washington, D.C., includes what is called the "Crescent of Embrace." That element of the project calls for two rows of red maple trees to be planted around a bowl-shaped piece of land adjacent to the crash site. The trees, according to...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Egyptians Send No-Confidence Message To Mubarak

In its first multiparty elections, Egypt hoped to secure international legitimacy for the continued reign of Hosni Mubarak, who up to now had never had to campaign for office against any opposition. Mubarak earlier had abruptly ordered an amendment to the Constitution requiring that other parties have access to the ballot, a recognition that democratization in the region will prove ultimately triumphant. Mubarak hoped to ride that wave while working quietly to set the process up to guarantee the endorsement of the electorate. It's safe to say that he failed in almost every respect. Not only did his banning of international observers make it clear to the world that he had no intention of running a clean and fair election, the remarkably low turnout has left Mubarak with no standing for a mandate at all: Less than a fifth of the electorate voted for the incumbent Hosni Mubarak in Egypt's...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Shake Down The Thunder!

The Fighting Irish of Notre Dame have exploded out of the gate to start the 2005 season. First they trounced Pitt on the road 42-21, and today convincingly beat #3 Michigan, 17-10. The Irish never trailed against the highly-regarded Wolverines and led by two touchdowns until the final three minutes: Charlie Weis' college coaching career is off to a big start. No. 20 Notre Dame stunned No. 3 Michigan on Saturday, making Weis 2-0 as a college coach. The former New England Patriots assistant outfoxed Dave Wannstedt's Pittsburgh Panthers last week and had the Irish well-prepared to face the rival Wolverines. It was the first time since 1918 that a first-year Notre Dame coach opened with back-to-back road wins. Brady Quinn ran a ball-control offense, completing 19 of 30 for 147 yards, or 4.7 yards per completion. He spread the wealth, connecting most often with running back Darius Walker, who...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Katrina: Incompetence Distilled

The New York Times has a feature story in its Sunday edition that supposedly looks at the frustration of coordinating the local, state, and federal responses to Hurricane Katrina. However, the article by a crew of Times writers instead inadvertently encapsulates the incompetence of Louisiana's governor Kathleen Blanco and New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin, in a single anecdote that also calls into question the ability of the four reporters to properly investigate their subject matter. The scene: three days after Katrina's landfall, and a day after the levees broke. The place: Baton Rouge. The setting: the state's command center for emergency response. The governor of Louisiana was "blistering mad." It was the third night after Hurricane Katrina drowned New Orleans, and Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco needed buses to rescue thousands of people from the fetid Superdome and convention center. But only a fraction of the 500 vehicles promised by federal...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

September 11, 2005

Louisiana Failed To Follow A Flawed Plan: Florida

Today's Palm Beach Post takes a look at the Katrina response from a Floridian point of view, one that has plenty of experience with hurricane devastation and response. The verdict of Florida's emergency response officials is that not only did Louisiana fail to properly plan and train for an eminently forseeable disaster, but it also failed to follow the flawed plan it had (h/t: CQ reader Barnestormer): One thing Florida knows is hurricanes. Florida emergency planners criticized and even rebuked their counterparts -- or what passes for emergency planners -- in those states for their handling of Hurricane Katrina. Gov. Jeb Bush, the head of Florida AHCA and the head of Florida wildlife (which is responsible for all search and rescue) all said they made offers of aid to Mississippi and Louisiana the day before Katrina hit but were rebuffed. After the storm, they said they've had to not only...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

FEMA Response Not The Issue

Jack Kelly writes about the widely-reviled FEMA response to Hurricane Katrina in today's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and wonders why people consider it so poor. Looking at the historic response to disaster from the federal government, FEMA actually improved its rate of transferring assets to the affected area, he argues -- especially when one considers that the disaster area comprises an area the size of Great Britain: Journalists who are long on opinions and short on knowledge have no idea what is involved in moving hundreds of tons of relief supplies into an area the size of England in which power lines are down, telecommunications are out, no gasoline is available, bridges are damaged, roads and airports are covered with debris, and apparently have little interest in finding out. So they libel as a "national disgrace" the most monumental and successful disaster relief operation in world history. I write this column a...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Reimagining The UN

James Traub provides a thought-provoking analysis of the systemic problems of the United Nations in today's New York Times, and what might be done to ameliorate them. Traub notes that John Bolton might have disrupted the so-called reform effort at the UN by insisting on real reform, but that the US hardly stands alone among nations that put their national interests above the UN: If U.N. reform falters this week, or if only a few noncontroversial measures pass, the blame is bound to fall on the Bush administration and its confrontational ambassador, John Bolton. It's true that Bolton has shattered a great deal of crockery since arriving in Turtle Bay last month, loudly disparaging the laboriously assembled reform package and then submitting a new version with 750 amendments, as well as making common cause with the Chinese to block Security Council expansion. And it's true as well that the United...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

WaPo Gives Roberts A More Balanced Perspective

A funny thing happened after Bush shifted John Roberts to William Rehnquist's seat rather than Sandra Day O'Connor's after the death of the Chief Justice: the Washington Post suddenly began to treat Roberts more rationally. After early stories insinuating that Roberts was a closet racist, the Post now publishes more balanced and neutral reporting on Roberts' background. Today's Post survey of Roberts leading up to his confirmation hearings this week actually shows Roberts in a mostly positive light, as a man willing to go out of his way to connect to the nuts and bolts of the cases he argued: "It's helpful for someone who's going to be a judge to have dealt with ordinary people," says Peter B. Edelman, a Georgetown law professor and former Clinton administration official who opposes Roberts's nomination. "Institutionally, it's better for the court to have as many people with real-life experience as possible." Then...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Could 9/11 Happen Again?

The United States extensively revamped airport security after 9/11, intending on taking away commercial airliners as weapons of opportunity for al-Qaeda terrorists. In the four years since the attacks, we have yet to see another attempt to hijack flights in the US to use as guided missiles for massive suicide attacks. We believe that we have successfully blocked that modus operandi for the future, forcing terrorists to try something else instead. A new book by Annie Jacobsen, Terror in the Skies: Why 9/11 Could Happen Again arrived in the mail on Friday, which may cause us to rethink our sense of security. Jacobsen originally wrote about this in Women's Wall Street last year, shortly after the flight which she claims experienced a dry-run at another hijacking attempt, or possibly a "probe", a mission to test response and gather intelligence about potential defensive in-flight measures. At the time, I remained a...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Flight 93 - The Flight That Fought Back

I just finished watching Flight 93: The Flight That Fought Back. This well-made docu-drama recalls immediately the fear and dread that we all felt on 9/11, making excellent use of real recordings, interviews, and recreations to piece together a credible narrative of the last 30 minutes or so of the lives of 40 American heroes. I want to thank Ask Jeeves for sponsoring the commercial-free presentation of the film. Both the First Mate and I had tears streaming down our faces during the more personal moments that the families chose to share with the nation. I also want to thank the Discovery Channel for their presentation of this film on the fourth anniversary of 9/11, especially given what the broadcast networks decided to put on the air tonight. I won't bother to link to any of them, but one network ran repeats, another ran a four-year-old heist movie; not one...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Remembering 9/11: The Pentagon

Note: This post will ride second all day long. Keep scrolling for new posts. When the First Mate and I went to the Pentagon this past Fourth of July, we got a wonderful guided tour from a CQ reader who gave up half of his holiday to take us through the entire building. The Pentagon has so much history and so many fascinating stories, but by far the most moving portion came at the beginning of the tour. The Pentagon has a memorial to the lives that ended on 9/11/01, as the third attack plane plowed into the very place where we now stood. I wrote about this during our vacation, but I want to share with you all of the pictures I took of the memorial. This image actually comes from another memorial inside the Pentagon, one that lists the name of the dead from the US Navy. My...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Remembering 9/11

Note: This entry will ride on top all day. Keep scrolling to see new posts. Last year I wrote my remembrance of my personal 9/11 story, one I think that duplicates what most people experienced on that day. On the fourth anniversary of the worst attack on American soil since the Civil War, I think I'd like to focus on the post-9/11 experience -- how it changed me and how it continues to do so. Prior to 9/11, politics played a small role in my life. While I followed the news and had my opinions, I rarely involved myself in political issues. In younger days, I eventually learned that politics quickly transformed into a kind of bloodsport that didn't have any appeal to me. I preferred quiet conversation, and that required me to remain silent even when others around me openly expressed their own opinions. Oddly enough for those who...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

September 12, 2005

Der Spiegel Takes Liberties With Poverty Stats

The German magazine Der Spiegel provides an inept analysis of American economics and politics in today's hack job on Hurricane Katrina. The article starts off with a twisted take on poverty statistics: America is not only licking its wounds, but also confronting underlying race problems revealed by the floodwaters. Just how racially imbalanced is the world's richest country? Poverty under the Bush administration has climbed by 12 percent. ... On the same day the levees broke, Charles Nelson of the US Census Bureau in Washington presented the most recent report on income and poverty in the United States. The numbers and graphs he unveiled offered an appalling insight into the USA. The number of those in America living in poverty climbed by 1.1 million to fully 37 million people - the fourth jump in a row. While the official number of US poor dropped steadily during Bill Clinton's presidency, it...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Gray Lady Shrieking Over ID Requirement

Leave it to the Gray Lady to start shrieking over a state requiring the same level of identification it takes to cash a check as it will to cast a vote. Georgia passed a law requiring that voters present a state ID in order to identify themselves at polling booths for elections, a common-sense manner of avoiding the kind of voter fraud that Milwaukee experienced in the last presidential election. Despite the fact that Georgia will offer the IDs for free to indigent citizens, the New York Times still finds itself screaming about "poll taxes": In 1966, the Supreme Court held that the poll tax was unconstitutional. Nearly 40 years later, Georgia is still charging people to vote, this time with a new voter ID law that requires many people without driver's licenses - a group that is disproportionately poor, black and elderly - to pay $20 or more for...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Brownstein Tries Humor At Joke Newspaper

Ronald Brownstein must have intended his latest political analysis for The Onion, the satirical newspaper best known for its interviews with the 9/11 hijackers from their new residences in Hell. Instead, he found it published by his usual joke newspaper, the Los Angeles Times, which buried a news report of an explicit al-Qaeda threat in its back pages this weekend. Brownstein indulges in wishful thinking from the Left by spending an entire article detailing why he thinks Bush might consider appointing a Democrat to the Supreme Court: A Bush gesture to Democrats "would be seen as panic or that he is willing to offer us up," says veteran conservative strategist Jeff Bell. But Bush may find such discontent an acceptable cost for reaching out beyond his core coalition to independent and moderate voters who have soured on him so much in recent surveys that independent pollster John Zogby says...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

No Great Surprise

To no one's great surprise, Michael Brown resigned as head of FEMA this afternoon. Brown, who got publicly rebuked by his recall to Washington last week, apparently knows how to take a hint: The White House picked a top FEMA official with three decades of firefighting experience to be FEMA's new director, senior administration sources said Monday. R. David Paulison, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agencys emergency preparedness force, will lead the beleaguered agency, according to three administration sources who spoke on condition of anonymity because the announcement had not yet been made. Bush's decision followed FEMA Director Mike Brown's announcement that he was resigning in the best interest of the agency and best interest of the president, three days after losing his on-site command of the Hurricane Katrina relief effort. No one seriously thought that Brown would continue as head of FEMA after the past two weeks. No...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

A Sad Coda

Last month, we cheered as a comatose Susan Rollin Torres gave birth to Susan Anne Catherine Torres, the child that she would never see with living eyes as cancer doomed her. Unfortunately, little Susan Anne could not overcome her premature birth, and died today while undergoing emergency surgery for a perforated intestine. The Torres family could use our prayers tonight....

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

A Fine Performance Amid The Bloviating

Lifes but a walking shadow, a poor player, That struts and frets upon the stage, And then is heard no more. It is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing. When Shakespeare wrote this passage of Macbeth, he assigned it to the eponymous Scotsman mulling over his rebellion. He could well have written it about the opening of a Congressional committee hearing, where the gathered politicians each have a chance to pontificate for endless hours, or at least what seem like endless hours, talking about almost everything that comes to mind. Unfortunately, most of it has no bearing on the actual matter at hand. Today's opening to the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on John Roberts' confirmation to the Supreme Court provided an excellent example. Almost from beginning to end, the bloviating reminded listeners why the Senate has produced so few Presidents but so many...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

September 13, 2005

WaPo Analysis Misses Roberts' Eloquence

Dan Balz at the Washington Post provides an uneven analysis of the first day of the Roberts confirmation hearing. While he correctly notes that the Democrats turned down the heat for the start, he fails to note at all Roberts' eloquence and charm. He also puts too much stock in the moderate tone taken by most Democrats for their opening remarks: The first day of confirmation hearings for Judge John G. Roberts Jr. to become the 17th chief justice of the United States proved to be a tepid opening to what once was billed as a battle of monumental proportions between left and right. There may yet be some of the fireworks that were predicted when the first of two Supreme Court vacancies opened up two months ago -- particularly this morning, when members of the Senate Judiciary Committee begin to question Roberts. But with Roberts's confirmation seemingly assured, some...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Tick Tock, Bashar

America has sent a strong signal to the Assad regime in Damascus that our patience has almost run out on their unwillingness or inability to stop the flow of Islamofascist terrorists into Iraq. The New York Times notes the diplomatic shot across Syria's bow from the US envoy to Iraq, Zalmay Khalizad: Mr. Khalilzad, in remarks to reporters in Washington, made it clear that the United States believed that Syria was providing assistance to insurgents operating in Iraq and that such help might have increased. Government-controlled Syrian newspapers "glorify the terrorists as resistance fighters," he said. Syrian authorities "allow youngsters misguided by Al Qaeda - from Saudi Arabia, from Yemen, from North Africa - to fly into Damascus International Airport," attend training camps and then cross into Iraq, he contended. ... "Our patience is running out," said the ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad. This pressure comes at a bad time for the...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Iraqi Forces Training Faster Than Expected?

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani surprised Washington and the press corps with his suggestion that Iraqi security forces have rebounded well enough that the US could consider a significant withdrawal by year's end, perhaps a drawdown by as much as one-third if all goes well. That statement might unsettle such critics of the administration such as Joe Biden, who claimed that the US bungled the training of Iraqi troops and as recently as January insisted that Iraq only had 4,000 trained soldiers: Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said in an interview yesterday that the United States could withdraw as many as 50,000 troops by the end of the year, declaring there are enough Iraqi forces trained and ready to begin assuming control in cities throughout the country. After the White House and Pentagon were contacted for comment, however, a senior adviser to Talabani called The Washington Post to say Talabani did not...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Will New Orleans Death Toll Escalate?

CQ reader Pajamaguy points to this Washington Post report about the gruesome discovery of 45 bodies found at a New Orleans hospital that appear to have been abandoned patients that drowned in the flood. While that story may well wind up as one of the most disturbing -- who would have left 45 helpless people to die? -- the Post buries the lead past the jump. Only 279 deaths have been confirmed, and it doesn't appear at this point that the toll will escalate much further: The city braced for more grim discoveries as the receding waters allowed search parties to reach isolated buildings. But the death toll -- 279 for Louisiana -- was still far below the initial prediction of the city's mayor that 10,000 perished. "It's hot. It smells. But most of the houses we are looking at are empty," Oregon National Guard Staff Sgt. James Lindseth, 33,...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Fabled Danger?

Reason's Paul Sperry tries to do his best to rebut the Able Danger story about two weeks after the Pentagon not only stopped debunking it but also admitted finding three additional witnesses that corroborate Col. Tony Shaffer, Captain Scott Phillpott, and J.D. Smith. Normally, I'd have taken some time to rebut such a silly and poorly conceived article, but in this case it would only detract from the effort already expended by AJ Strata: Accuracy is not one of Mr. Sperrys strong suits. There were something like 60 possible terrorists in the final version of the chart, with about one third having photographs. And there were at least two versions of the chart: the one supporting the study publish around April 2000 and the one published at the end of the program around February 2001. As we said, a good fisking uses the authors own words to rebutt his own...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Farrakhan Craters On Katrina

Louis Farrakhan brought his normal measured rationality to the issues surrounding the devastation tonight in Charlotte, North Carolina. He told his audience, gathered to raise relief funds for the victims of Katrina and the subsequent flooding in New Orleans, that evidence showed that the levee had been blown up to kill black people and keep whites alive (h/t: CQ reader Rick S): He had harsh words for FEMA too. But that was just the warm up. Farrakhan also shared his thoughts on how the levee breached in the first place. "I heard from a very reliable source who saw a 25 foot deep crater under the levee breach. It may have been blown up to destroy the black part of town and keep the white part dry," Farrakhan said. Gilton Balanos lived in the very neighborhood Farrakhan was talking about. "I think that's ludicrous," Balanos said. "When this happened we...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

LA Congressman Hires Starving Guardsman Movers

While thouands of New Orleans residents waited for rescue from Hurricane Katrina's devastation and the rising flood waters from the levee breaks, a Louisiana Congressman tied up National Guard resources for over an hour so he could retrieve his belongings from his house in the beleaguered city. ABC News reports tonight that Guardsman tell them of the use of their time and resources on September 2nd to work as personal movers for Rep. William Jefferson (via The Anchoress and CQ reader Alicia G): Military sources tells ABC News that Jefferson, an eight-term Democratic congressman, asked the National Guard that night to take him on a tour of the flooded portions of his congressional district. A 5-ton military truck and a half dozen military police were dispatched. Lt. Col. Pete Schneider of the Louisiana National Guard tells ABC News that during the tour, Jefferson asked that the truck take him to...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Waiting For Hef's Call

Earlier today, Kurt from Writing History dropped me an e-mail informing me that CQ had won recognition from a major national magazine as one of the top five "winning political blogs", certainly an honor considering the quality of writing across the blogosphere. However, when the magazine that honored me turned out to be Playboy, I have to admit that I didn't quite know how to respond. First, I am certainly grateful to the editors at Playboy for selecting CQ for such an honor. While I haven't indulged myself in reading the magazine for many years, the publication has always had a sterling literary reputation, apart from its more controversial, er, photography. My first efforts at creative writing regularly got sent to their fiction editors, as Playboy paid top dollar for short stories in the market. At the time, I recall that they offered $2,000 for any submissions that got published,...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

September 14, 2005

Get Dead Soon!

The terror rumor mill has spit out yet another Osama-is-sick announcement, although this one comes from a named source, Reuters reports. The London Arabic newspaper quotes an American colonel in Kabul as stating that the US knows that Osama bin Laden has urgently sought medical attention recently, although he declined to say how he knew or what kind of health problems the terror leader might have: Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden is in poor health and is seeking medical attention, the London-based Arabic newspaper al-Hayat said on Wednesday, quoting a U.S. officer in Afghanistan. "Osama bin Laden is trying to obtain medical attention," Colonel Don McGraw, director of operations at the Combined Forces Command in Kabul, told a group of British reporters, including one from al-Hayat, it said. "He (McGraw) refused to say what the Qaeda leader is suffering from or whether it is the same kidney disease which...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Day 2: Men Behaving Badly

The Democrats got their chances yesterday to play hardball with John Roberts during his confirmation hearing at the Judiciary Committee, but mostly got shelled as Roberts hit their curveballs out of the park. The Republicans mostly tossed change-ups, although Arlen Specter unexpectedly threw heat on Roe v Wade. Two of the most partisan among them got called for balks on a number of occasions by commitee chair Arlen Specter, who had to scold Ted Kennedy and Joe Biden for cutting off Roberts' answers. When Biden started whining about Roberts eating up his time with detailed answers, Specter rather forcefully reminded Biden that there was no crying in baseball. Can we finally dispense with the baseball analogies now? Yesterday's performance by John Roberts continued to show his mastery of the panel-interrogation form that he knows so well from his 39 appearances at the Supreme Court. As I watched a significant portion...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

The Point Of War Monuments

Michelle Malkin writes about the proposed Flight 93 memorial to the heroism of the 40 civilians who fought the first battle of the War on Terror and beat the terrorists in her weekly Townhall column today. She takes on the pacifist tone of the entire memorial as well as the Islamic symbolism in its most prominent feature, the Crescent of Embrace, which immediately created a firestorm of controversy: These were Americans who refused to sit down and be quiet and allow Islamic terrorists unfettered control over the flight stick of history. These were doers, not hand-wringers, who engaged in a violent and valiant struggle against evil. I remind you of all this because the official Flight 93 memorial unveiled last week is now embroiled in overdue public controversy. Funded with a mix of public money and private cash (including a $500,000 grant from Teresa Heinz's far-left Heinz Endowments), the winning...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Great Moments In Palestinian Self-Government

Yasser Arafat once replied to a question about his ubiquitous costume of battle fatigues that if the world gave him a state, he would wear a suit. He wanted to convince the world that the Palestinians would transform themselves into a stable, self-governing electorate once they ceased living under Israeli rule. They have their chance in Gaza, but unfortunately for those who bet millions on Arafat's predictions, the Palestinians show little evidence of desiring stability or self-government at all, including the so-called Palestinian Authority: Palestinians looted dozens of greenhouses on Tuesday, walking off with irrigation hoses, water pumps and plastic sheeting in a blow to fledgling efforts to reconstruct the Gaza Strip. American Jewish donors had bought more than 3,000 greenhouses from Israeli settlers in Gaza for $14 million last month and transferred them to the Palestinian Authority. Former World Bank President James Wolfensohn, who brokered the deal, put up...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

I Pledge Allegiance To The Flag And So Become Unconstitutional

A federal judge ruled today that requiring schoolchildren to recite the Pledge of Allegiance violates the Constitution, a decision that comes in an odd and coincidental juxtaposition with the confirmation hearing of Supreme Court nominee John Roberts. US District Court Judge Lawrence Karlton sided with activist Michael Newdow, whom the Supreme Court decided lacked standing to bring this issue before, by claiming his case remained precedential: A federal judge declared the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools unconstitutional Wednesday, a decision that could put the divisive issue on track for another round of Supreme Court arguments. The case was brought by the same atheist whose previous battle against the words "under God" was rejected last year by the Supreme Court on procedural grounds. U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton ruled that the pledge's reference to one nation "under God" violates school children's right to be "free from a...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Flight 93 Memorial Will Be Modified

Our feedback has apparently caused some second thoughts on behalf of the Flight 93 memorial board and its selected designer, Paul Murdoch. Murdoch has agreed to consider modifications to his design that will address the concerns of his critics, probably by renaming the Crescent of Embrace: The architect of the memorial to a plane downed in western Pennsylvania on Sept. 11, 2001, said Wednesday he would work to satisfy critics who complained that it honors terrorists with its crescent-shaped design. Designer Paul Murdoch said he is "somewhat optimistic" that the spirit of the design could be maintained. "It's a disappointment there is a misinterpretation and a simplistic distortion of this, but if that is a public concern, then that is something we will look to resolve in a way that keeps the essential qualities," Murdoch, 48, of Los Angeles, said in a telephone interview. ... "We called it a 'crescent'...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

More Great Moments In Palestinian Self-Government

In another splendid example of the status of the Palestinian society and their readiness to join the circle of nations, their security forces stood by and watched as the terrorist group Hamas blew a hole in the wall separating Egypt and Gaza in broad daylight. The attack allowed Palestinians to stream into the Sinai despite Egypt's denial of a breach at the border: Hamas militants have destroyed a section of a concrete barrier erected along the Gaza-Egypt border. Palestinian and Egyptian troops have been trying to shore up the barrier to stop Palestinians crossing into Egypt after the withdrawal of Israeli troops. In chaotic scenes, thousands of Palestinians have streamed over the border in the last few days without undergoing official checks. Despite this, Egypt says that its Gaza border is officially closed. Militants from Hamas cleared an area before setting off explosives that blew away a section of the...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

September 15, 2005

Air America: More Than One Connection To Gloria Wise

When the news first broke about Air America's executive Evan Cohen using his paid position at the nonprofit Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club to funnel government funds into his liberal radio netlet, people found it strange that Cohen worked both jobs at the same time, drawing significant salaries at each. It turns out that Cohen had company, as Michelle Malkin and Brian Maloney report in their latest installment on the scandal that threatens to derail Air America: What Air America has failed to disclose is that at least one other of its officials held a key job at Gloria Wise. Yesterday, we confirmed with Martta Rose of Rubenstein Public Relations, which is representing the Boys & Girls Club branch, that Air America's Vice President of Finance, Sinohe Terrero, worked at the inner-city charity as finance director from 2000-2002 under Cohen. Though he left Gloria Wise for Air America before...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

'Toxic' Flood Another Example Of Katrina Hysteria

The Washington Post debunks another part of the media hysteria that has surrounded the Hurricane Katrina devastation -- the myth of the supertoxic flood. We have heard over and over how the raw sewage and chemical brew unleashed by the levee break made the flood so toxic that mere skin exposure put people at extraordinary risk for major illnesses. Test, however, show nothing unusual about the flood water: Early tests on the floodwater that covered most of this city do not suggest it will leave a permanent toxic residue or render residential areas uninhabitable for more than a short time, officials of both state and federal environmental agencies said yesterday. The pollution consists primarily of fecal matter and slightly elevated concentrations of metals such as lead and chromium that were in the city's soil before Hurricane Katrina. There are also trace amounts of many petroleum-based chemicals and some pesticides. Despite...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Able Danger: More Denial From Commission

Despite the discovery of five eyewitnesses to the Able Danger project who now insist that Mohammed Atta and other 9/11 hijackers got identified as potential al-Qaeda terrorists over a year before the deadly terrorist attacks, the 9/11 Commission has publicly asserted that the program did not produce any such analysis. This came as part of their public response to the performance of FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security to Hurrican Katrina (via Strata-Sphere): Former members of the Sept. 11 commission on Wednesday dismissed assertions that a Pentagon intelligence unit identified lead hijacker Mohamed Atta as an member of al-Qaida long before the 2001 attacks. ... [Commission co-chair Thomas] Kean said the recollections of the intelligence officers cannot be verified by any document. "Bluntly, it just didn't happen and that's the conclusion of all 10 of us," said a former commissioner, ex-Sen. Slade Gorton, R-Wash. Exactly how the ten commissioners...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Day 3: The Democrats Read Their Reviews

Yesterday's grilling of Supreme Court nominee John Roberts continued the contentiousness of the previous day, when most of the first round of questioning took place. However, for the most part the panel's more rabid Democrats scaled back their open derision for Roberts and allowed him time to answer questions in between their monologues. That doesn't mean that Democrats got more satisfaction from the answers, as the Washington Post notes: Democrats' frustration boiled over several times during the eight hours of questioning, as Roberts repeatedly declined to discuss his personal or judicial views on matters that he said could come before the court someday. Senators implored him to speak from the heart, but Roberts told them time and again that he would be guided by "the rule of law." "We are rolling the dice with you, Judge," Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) said. "It's kind of interesting, this Kabuki dance...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Day 3 Analysis: Who Is That Masked Man?

One of the ethical mandates that any nominee to a judicial appointment must meet is to answer questions in such a way as to avoid any appearance of making commitments to rule in a certain way on any one issue. That preserves the independence of the judiciary as well as the individual jurists, who must approach their cases free of political encumbrances. The founders gave lifetime appointments to federal jurists with this latitude and political independence in mind; otherwise, the bench would fill up with political hacks, and the positions then would require votes and preset terms. The fact that we have calls for that now indeed shows that our politicians have succeeded in their attempts to pervert the process by demanding answers to such questions and openly asking about partisan leanings during hearings. Have they succeeded in transforming Roberts into a known political quantity? Not according to these competing...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Dafydd: One Quick Roberts Prediction

One fast prediction, and I'll update this post when the vote occurs to either take a bow or eat my words! I predict the vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee is going to end up with all in favor, Republican and Democrat alike, with only one dissent: Ted Kennedy. Well, what do you all think? UPDATE later that same day: I think I need an explanatory update even before the vote. I don't predict they'll vote for Roberts because he's won them over; my prediction is that they see the mene mene on the wall -- and they'll vote for him in order to give themselves some credibility for mounting a filibuster against the O'Connor replacement. I base the prediction on the fact that both Biden and Schumer have already given interviews in which they praised Roberts to the skies and said he was about the best nominee of either...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Bush Speech: Better Late Than Never

I missed the live broadcast of George Bush's speech on Hurricane Katrina this evening from New Orleans, attending a board meeting of a local non-profit and having dinner with good friends. When I came home, I went right to the computer and watched it with the First Mate via stream on CNN before I read any other commentary, and while I heard it late, I welcomed the tone and the messages. In fact, I view his speech in exactly the same way. Bush did a marvelous job of touching on the despair, the heroism, the personal stories that touch hearts and motivate us to greater efforts, as well as the policy decisions that will spring from Katrina's aftermath. Unfortunately, this speech came about a week late. He may well undo the political damage done by the massive confusion of the first few days in the weeks and months ahead if...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

September 16, 2005

Will Only Saints Come Marching Back?

George Bush's uplifting speech, designed to inspire the confidence of the people most affected by the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, may have less effect than he hopes. He delivered it well and introduced intelligent plans for renewal, but half of the New Orleans evacuees appear to have decided not to go back regardless of the circumstances, according to the Washington Post: Fewer than half of all New Orleans evacuees living in emergency shelters here said they will move back home, while two-thirds of those who want to relocate planned to settle permanently in the Houston area, according to a survey by The Washington Post, the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health. The wide-ranging poll found that these survivors of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath remain physically and emotionally battered but unbroken. They praised God and the U.S. Coast Guard for saving them, but two...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Qatar Latest Arab Country To Greet Israel

Israel's withdrawal continues to pay diplomatic dividends. Yesterday, the two American allies held high-level meetings between their foreign ministers in public, making the emirate the third Arab nation in two weeks to extend some diplomatic recognition to the Israelis: In a space of just two weeks, Qatar, Pakistan and Indonesia have all held high-level public meetings with Israel a rare event for Muslim countries. The president of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, who had long taken an especially hardline stand against the Jewish state, even shook hands and exchanged pleasantries with Israel's prime minister, Ariel Sharon, in front of a host of delegates to the world summit. Arab countries like Qatar are encouraging efforts to renew and expand peacemaking as a way to ease the Palestinian conflict and to blunt the influence of Islamic militants, who are using discontent about the Palestinians and the war in Iraq to stir up unrest...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Confirmation Analysis: A Boomerang Borking

Now that the smoke has cleared on what many forecast as the Mother of All Political Battles -- the Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings on the nomination of John Roberts to the Supreme Court -- we can see exactly who won and who lost. Despite their initial misgivings about taking Roberts head-on, the Democrats decided to go all out in an attempt to Bork Roberts as a civil-rights Neanderthal with no heart ... and they failed miserably. For evidence of this, one need look no further than the editorial pages of the Washington Post, which notes that Roberts not only kept his cool under fire, but provided rebuttal after rebuttal to the out-of-context attacks on the Democrats: IN HIS TESTIMONY before the Senate Judiciary Committee over the past two days, Judge John G. Roberts Jr. shed important light on his views and likely approach if confirmed as the Supreme Court's chief...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

A Quiet Day, A Few Notes

Sorry for the quiet day. I have had a long week at work and have had a number of projects keeping me busy -- and to top it off, I had to wrap them up before I took a week off. Today and this evening turned out to be difficult for blogging, but I may still have some energy left this evening. To top it off, someone sent me a huge unsolicited attachment, twice, and filled up my mailbox. If you sent me mail that bounced back today, I have the fixed the problem now. This next week should be more fun. I'm taking a vacation to visit Toronto. Assuming that the RCMP does not arrest me, I will speak at the University of Toronto on Tuesday evening as part of a panel discussion on journalism and blogging. The First Mate and I will spend a few days sightseeing in...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

September 17, 2005

Big Lizards In The Blogosphere

Dafydd ab Hugh, novelist and guest-blogger extraordinaire, has finally launched his own blogsite, Big Lizards. Dafydd has written numerous comments both supportive and critical of me at CQ, and his excellent writing led me to invite him to join me as a guest blogger for an open-ended run. Dafydd posted over fifty essays the past two months here at CQ, all of them provocative and intelligent, and I've thoroughly enjoyed his contributions to our site. Now we will all have a single point of reference for Dafydd's insights, and much more than that. Big Lizards intends on offering a multimedia experience based on the blogosphere model, and Dafydd has done a fine job in designing the site to represent his writing and talent. Make sure you visit Big Lizards and blogroll it!...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Saudi Women To Vote, Hold Office

The Saudi kingdom has begun to offer elections at the local level in order to move towards moderation and limited democracy for the past several months. However, in a major shift for the highly repressive Wahhabist society, the monarchy has apparently demanded suffrage for women as well as men and will insist that women not only vote but become eligible as officers in an important trade organization: Saudi women will be able to fully participate in an election for the first time in this ultraconservative Islamic kingdom, after the government ordered a local chamber of commerce to allow female voters and candidates. The Jiddah Trade and Industry Chamber had rejected the nominations of 10 businesswomen to run for the chamber's governing board. Trade Minister Hashem bin Abdullah Yamani overruled this decision, a Saudi official said Friday. ... The minister made his decision on Tuesday after receiving petitions from businesswomen asking...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

The Governator Will Be Back

Arnold Schwarzenegger has decided to run for a full term as California's governor despite sagging poll numbers. In a suprisingly early announcement, Arnold told a San Diego audience that he had no intention of leaving his reforms unfinished: The announcement came at the end of a public forum here, after a carefully screened crowd questioned him about his efforts to revamp California's schools and its budget process. No one, however, asked him about his plans for next year, when his term expires, even though his appearance had been heavily promoted as the place for announcing his re-election bid. So he asked himself if he would run. "Of course, I'm going to finish the job," he said. "I'm a follow-through guy." "I'm not in there for three years," Mr. Schwarzenegger added. "I'm in there for seven years. Yes, I will run again." The crowd inside the auditorium applauded, as protesters outside...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Louisiana DHS Officials Under Indictment As Levees Broke

One of the events that any inquest into Hurricane Katrina and its devastation must explain why the state and local agencies did not follow their own emergency plans or put all their assets in the field. The response appeared sluggish and confused, and the emergency operations plans approved by the state and on which the federal government relied never got implemented. Now the Los Angeles Times reports that several officials of the Louisiana state Department of Homeland Security had already been indicted on charges of misappropriation of government funds, waste, and mismanagement. FEMA had sent millions of dollars to Louisiana to help them prepare for an event like Katrina, but no one knows what happened to the cash: Senior officials in Louisiana's emergency planning agency already were awaiting trial over allegations stemming from a federal investigation into waste, mismanagement and missing funds when Hurricane Katrina struck. And federal auditors are...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

France To Iran: Export Nukes!

Reminding us all once again that the French have strange ideas about partnership and alliances, the Chirac government signaled to the Teheran mullahcracy that they would have no problem with Iran exporting nuclear technology to other Islamic nations: A French Foreign Ministry spokesman said yesterday that Paris would not object to Mr. Ahmadinejad's suggestion that Iran share its nuclear energy technology with other Islamic countries, as long as the Iranian program fully adhered to the international treaty against nuclear proliferation. That comment came after Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other U.S. officials said the idea of Iran sharing nuclear technology with anyone only underscored the dangers of Tehran's nuclear ambitions. Has France gone completely insane? The entire point of non-proliferation is to ensure that nuclear technology does not wind up in the hands of those who would use it for military purposes. Given that most of the Islamic nations...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Able Danger: Closed Hearings?

AJ Strata notes that the Senate Judiciary Committee has come under pressure from the Pentagon to close its Able Danger hearings to the public, just when it has finally acknowledged finding three additional witnesses that corroborate the identification of Mohammed Atta and three other 9/11 hijackers over a year before the attacks. Why would the Pentagon want the hearings closed? Curt Weldon apparently knows one reason: Witnesses from the Pentagon are expected to testify at that hearing; that's why they want it classified. FOX News has learned that committee Chairman Arlen Specter's office is vigorously resisting the request. Some former Able Danger analysts and Rep. Curt Weldon (search) say the formerly clandestine intelligence unit identified Mohammed Atta (search) and three other of the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers one year before the attacks that left over 3,000 people dead. They also claim that their repeated requests to turn over the information...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

An 'Irregularity' On Flight 17 (Update: Nothing But Us Birds)

See update below. A tip came to several bloggers tonight about an alleged attack on a domestic flight in the US, one that had not yet been reported in the media. Little Green Footballs posted the first notice of the rumors earlier today, but Michelle Malkin has spoken with the airline involved, America West. The tipster told us that a surface-to-air missile had been fired at a flight earlier this week (Thursday, as it turns out) coming out of New York, but had missed. The shot presumably came from the swamps of New Jersey nearby JFK. Phil Gee, an associate manager of media relations, told Michelle that the captain reported an "irregularity" but continued his flight uneventfully to Phoenix. The FBI interrogated all passengers and crew, but Gee would not say whether anyone reported seeing a missile. "Nothing is confirmed," Michelle reports as his response. America West denies one element...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

September 18, 2005

Iraq Parliament Approves Constitution

Tiring of unending demands for change from its Sunni minority, the Iraqi National Assembly approved the proposed constitution with a few added amendments intended on attracting Sunnis despite the intransigence of their representatives: Iraq's parliament signed off on revisions to the country's draft constitution Sunday as a leading lawmaker declared that acceptance of the new charter was a matter for the people, not the parliament. Hussain al-Shahristani, deputy National Assembly speaker, said the new text was given to the United Nations, which will print 5 million copies and distribute them to Iraqis before the Oct. 15 national referendum on the new basic law. The original draft was not voted on by parliament, and al-Shahristani did not call for legislative approval of the amendments. "The vote on this ... is the right of the people, not their representatives," he said. The changes to the document included an apparent bow to demands...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Look Who Endorsed John Roberts!

After a strange campaign on its news pages against the nomination of John Roberts, the Washington Post editorial board issued a strong endorsement of his confirmation as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court today. JOHN G. ROBERTS JR. should be confirmed as chief justice of the United States. He is overwhelmingly well-qualified, possesses an unusually keen legal mind and practices a collegiality of the type an effective chief justice must have. He shows every sign of commitment to restraint and impartiality. Nominees of comparable quality have, after rigorous hearings, been confirmed nearly unanimously. We hope Judge Roberts will similarly be approved by a large bipartisan vote. Why did this come as such a surprise? Perhaps because of the history of the paper's coverage of John Roberts during most of the pre-hearing period. Instead of focusing on his record as a jurist, where he has written over fifty opinions in two...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

German Exit Polling Shows Race Too Close To Call

A number of bloggers have followed the lead of the news media in declaring Gerhard Schroeder the loser in German elections today, but based on the exit polling, it's hard to make that case just yet. The latest AP numbers show a margin that falls inside the margin of error, a result that a couple of weeks ago seemed unlikely: Exit polls showed conservative challenger Angela Merkel's party leading in German parliamentary elections Sunday, but falling short of the majority she needs to form a center-right coalition even as voters ousted Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's government. Still, Merkel claimed her party had received a mandate from voters to form a new coalition government, and she would talk to all parties with the exception of a small left-wing group as she tried to become Germany's first female chancellor. "What is important now is to form a stable government for the people in...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Stalemate In The Bundestag

As I predicted earlier today, the election in Germany has produced no clear winner. Instead, the Bundestag will have five parties represented, and neither Angela Merkel nor Gerhard Schroeder have a clear path to the Chancellery as a result: As Sunday turned to Monday in Berlin, preliminary election results gave little indication as to who might be Germany's next chancellor. According to the results, released by German news agency DPA, Chancellor Gerhard Schrder's Social Democrats (SPD) received 34.3 percent. Conservative challenger Angela Merkel, chancellor candidate for the so-called "Union" -- made up of the Christian Democrats (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party the Christian Social Union (CSU) -- got 35.2 percent of the vote. An unofficial forecast by German public broadcaster ZDF predicted that Merkel's Union would thus have 224 seats in the Bundestag, Germany's parliament, against 221 seats for Schrder's Social Democrats. Another forecast made by public TV station...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

North Korea Gives Up Its Nuclear Program

In a stunning foreign-policy victory for the Bush administration, North Korea has publicly agreed to forego its nuclear weapons program entirely without getting a nuclear reactor from the West in return. The six-nation talks just released its first-ever joint statement announcing the agreement: North Korea pledged to drop its nuclear weapons development and rejoin international arms treaties in a unanimous agreement Monday at six-party arms talks. The agreement was the first-ever joint statement after more than two years of negotiations. The North "promised to drop all nuclear weapons and current nuclear programs and to get back to the (Nuclear) Nonproliferation Treaty as soon as possible and to accept inspections" by the International Atomic Energy Agency, according to the agreement by the six countries at the talks. "All six parties emphasized that to realize the inspectable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is the target of the six-party talks," the statement said....

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

September 19, 2005

Don't Be Shy -- Tell Us What You Really Think

After a devastating electoral defeat caused Mark Latham to resign as leader of the Australian Labor Party, he took some time to reflect on the issues that caused his downfall. Apparently, as much of the Australian public also determined, Latham hung out with the wrong people. Now he has published a book that does what it can to reduce the credibility of the remaining Laborites and to vent Latham's spleen on his former colleagues: The Latham Diaries is a 429-page tome packed with such vitriol that it has caused disarray within his party and left many of its key figures shocked at the scale of his betrayal. Few escape his venom, particularly Kim Beazley, who replaced Mr Latham as Labor leader after his overwhelming defeat by John Howard in last Octobers general election. Mr Latham accuses Mr Beazley of waging a six-year campaign to undermine him. Beazley has been successful...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Media Just Discovers That New Orleans Was Poor

One of the points George Bush made in his speech that garnered both praise and criticism was his acknowledgement that the enduring poverty of New Orleans caused the poor to suffer more proportionally in the flooding of the city in Hurricane Katrina's aftermath. Bush proposed a number of efforts to rebuild the city in such a way that the poor get an opportunity for renewed economic engagement and ownership of their homes and businesses. His recognition of the problems of poverty, race, and class won Bush some applause from the media, but most of them wondered why it took a hurricane before he addressed the problem. Howard Kurtz, however, notes that the media hardly has room to squawk about the poverty issue. The two premier East Coast newspapers have barely written 1,000 words in a decade about poverty in the Big Easy, and a cover story on Newsweek has local...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Afghanistan Elections A Smashing Success

The Afghanis have conducted yet another successful election, with millions of its citizens casting votes despite the threats of violence from former Taliban remnants. In fact, security held up well for the voting, with only a few isolated incidents of violence: Afghans embraced democracy by the millions yesterday, with voters undaunted by weeks of violence and threats of terrorist attacks to cast ballots for the first elected parliament in decades. The vote went smoothly, with only a handful of incidents involving gunfire or militant attacks at the 6,200 polling stations. "We are going to vote for the people who will do something for the country, not just for us," said Yosof Khan, dressed in the traditional loose-fitting garb and turban donned by members of his nomadic Kuchi tribe for centuries. Mr. Khan gestured to a throng of bearded men who nodded in agreement outside tents pitched amid desolate mountain peaks...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Journalists, Pollsters Missed German Electoral Meltdown

Angela Merkel may not be the only casualty of the latest round of German elections. German journalists and pollsters who proclaimed the inevitability of her win at the expense of Gerhard Schroeder now wonder how they missed the story so badly: This was the election outcome no one expected. Not the CDU's politicians, not the pollsters and not the journalists. At shortly before 6 p.m. local time, the representatives of the various media got together on the second floor of CDU headquarters in Berlin's Adenauer building. Here, the party set up a buffet for guests in one of its conference rooms, but by early evening, most had lost their appetites. Already, everyone was predicting that the black and yellow (CDU and the liberal Free Democratic Party, or FDP) coalition would fail to capture a majority. Some were already predicting that the CDU would only garner 35 percent of the vote....

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Winging To Toronto

The First Mate and I will wing our way to Toronto this morning to visit Canada for her first time and my second. I will speak at a journalism conference on Tuesday night, but we decided to spend the week in the city to see some of the nation about which I wrote so extensively this past spring and summer. Canadian politics has quieted down some since the Gomery inquiry stopped hearing witnesses, and I'm hoping to reconnect to Canadian story lines while I'm visiting. I'll be blogging from Toronto and other points in the area as we do some sightseeing and getting some needed R&R. Perhaps we'll run into a couple of CQ fans along the way. If you see a middle-aged guy with a navy blue captain's hat, that just might be me! UPDATE: It's 3:30 pm in Toronto, and no one's arrested me yet. I must be...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Steal Big, Risk Little

The first sentencing from the Adscam political scandal came from the Quebec Superior Court this afternoon, and the lesson the court taught Paul Coffin apparently amounts to audacity pays. Despite pleading guilty to 15 counts of fraud and the theft of over $1.5 million in Sponsorship Programme funds, Coffin will not serve a single day in prison: Advertising executive Paul Coffin was sentenced Monday to a conditional sentence of two years less a day, to be served in the community, for defrauding Canadian taxpayers of $1.5-million. Coffin pleaded guilty earlier this year to 15 fraud charges. Justice Jean-Guy Boilard of Quebec Superior Court said he allowed Mr. Coffin to avoid jail after considering his clean record, his repayment of $1 million to the federal government and his remorse. Mr. Coffin is genuinely contrite but unfortunately he cannot turn the clock back, Judge Boilard said. Am I missing something? If my...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Liberals Back To 2000? Not Quite

A new Leger survey shows that the Liberal Party has fully recovered the standing it held in 2000, when it sailed to a majority government, despite the damage done this spring by the Adscam scandal. Martin has gained strength in Western Canada, a troubling development for the opposition Tories, whose numbers dropped by eleven points since their peak in the spring: The federal Liberals had the support of 40 per cent of respondents in a new poll - virtually the same level of backing they received in rolling to their majority government in 2000. The Leger Marketing survey, conducted Sept. 6-11, pegged Conservative support at 24 per cent, while the NDP stood at 15 per cent and the Bloc Quebecois at 13 per cent. ... Marois said the poll revealed strong growth for the Liberals in Western Canada, including a jump of 16 percentage points in Alberta in two months...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

September 20, 2005

Air America: Goodfriend Says Piquant Strongarmed Him

The New York Sun's David Lombino continues to put his cross-town rivals to shame in covering the scandal at Air America. Today, he reveals that David Goodfriend has submitted an affadavit in the Metro lawsuit seeking $1.5 million in back fees from Piquant that states the former executive objected to the "fraudulent conveyance" of Progress Media's asset sale to Piquant, and received threats from Air America owners as a result: A Clinton administration official who served as a top executive of Air America, the politically liberal radio network, says he was "sickened" to his core by the thought that the network was funded by money taken from a Bronx Boys & Girls Club. The former White House official, David Goodfriend, said that Air America's investors created a new company soon after discovering the transfers. They were motivated, he said, in part by a desire to avoid the $875,000 liability to...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Never Forget Simon Wiesenthal, 1909-2005

Simon Wiesenthal, the man most responsible for forcing the world to confront the horrors of the Holocaust and living the pledge, "Never forget!", has passed away in his sleep. Wiesenthal was 96 years old, or about 60 years older than the Nazi animals who once held him captive planned: Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre which continues his work, said: "Simon Wiesenthal was the conscience of the Holocaust. "When the Holocaust ended in 1945 and the whole world went home to forget, he alone remained behind to remember. He did not forget. "He became the permanent representative of the victims, determined to bring the perpetrators of history's greatest crime to justice. It was a job no one else wanted. "The task was overwhelming. The cause had few friends. The Allies were already focused on the Cold War, the survivors were rebuilding their shattered lives and Simon Wiesenthal...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

North Korea Tosses In Late Demand

The path will never go easy with the Kim regime in Pyongyang. The US already knows this, but now the Chinese have had a taste of it after making the official announcement of an agreement on disarmament with the North Koreans, only to have Kim Jong-Il publicly add a demand for a nuclear reactor afterwards: North Korea insisted Tuesday it won't dismantle its nuclear weapons program until the U.S. gives it civilian nuclear reactors, casting doubt on a disarmament agreement reached a day earlier during international talks. Washington reiterated its rejection of the reactor demand and joined China in urging North Korea to stick to the agreement announced Monday in which it pledged to abandon all its nuclear programs in exchange for economic aid and security assurances. North Korea's new demands underlined its unpredictable nature and deflated some optimism from the Beijing agreement, the first since negotiations began in August...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Gray Lady Gives Grudging Credit On North Korea

On the week where the Paper of Record hid its editorial columnists behind the $50 firewall that virtually ensures they will go unread, its editorial board also admits to victory for the Bush administration for its insistence on their policy for North Korea: For years now, foreign policy insiders have pointed to North Korea as the ultimate nightmare, the ongoing worst-case scenario for an international crisis: a closed, hostile and paranoid dictatorship with an aggressive nuclear weapons program. Very few people could envision a successful outcome. And yet North Korea agreed this week to dismantle its nuclear weapons program, return to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, abide by the treaty's safeguards and admit international inspectors. Diplomacy, it seems, does work after all. The agreement signed yesterday, if faithfully carried out, is a huge win for the United States as well as a fair deal for North Korea. Its achievement became possible...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

FBI Porn Squad: The Gonzales-For-SCOTUS Trojan Horse?

Today's Washington Post reports on a new priority given to the FBI by the Department of Justice and its chief, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Instead of counterterrorism, the FBI will now focus on adult porn as a threat to families, using its resources to pick cases that could meet the community-standards threshold of obscenity for prosecution: Early last month, the bureau's Washington Field Office began recruiting for a new anti-obscenity squad. Attached to the job posting was a July 29 Electronic Communication from FBI headquarters to all 56 field offices, describing the initiative as "one of the top priorities" of Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and, by extension, of "the Director." That would be FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III. ... Federal obscenity prosecutions, which have been out of style since Attorney General Edwin Meese III in the Reagan administration made pornography a signature issue in the 1980s, do "encounter...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Can We Look For Experience Over Expedience?

Count me among the many bloggers who have a bout of head-scratching over the appointment of Julie Myers to head the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency within the DHS. Since the GOP base has become increasingly restless anyway about the Bush administration's lack of focus on the southern border, one would hope that the President would at least have appointed someone who had experience and knowledge of the subject matter for him or herself, even if the topic does not interest Bush -- perhaps especially if the topic does not interest him. Apparently not. Instead, the White House proposes to put a 36-year-old bureaucrat with no immigration experience, no experience leading any organization this size, and whose last assignment consisted of being Bush's HR specialist. What gives? And get this -- for an HR specialist, she appears oddly ignorant of nepotism issues. She just married Michael Chertoff's chief of staff,...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Reid To Senate: Partisanship Wins Over Substance

Confirming that the Senate Democratic leadership plans to offer nothing but knee-jerk opposition to judicial appointments from the Bush administration, Harry Reid today announced that he will vote to oppose the confirmation of John Roberts to the Supreme Court: Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid announced his opposition to Chief Justice-nominee John Roberts on Tuesday, voicing doubts about Roberts' commitment to civil rights and accusing the Bush administration of stonewalling requests for documents that might shed light on his views. ... "I have reluctantly concluded that this nominee has not satisfied the high burden that would justify my voting for his confirmation based on the current record," the Nevada Democrat said on the Senate floor. Reid did signal that he will oppose any effort to filibuster the confirmation or to delay the vote, an improvement over the past two sessions of Congress but still far short of the recognition given Clinton's...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Able Danger: Pentagon Spikes Witnesses While Shaffer Reveals New Source

The New York Times reports this evening that the Pentagon has blocked its military witnesses from testifying on Able Danger at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings tomorrow. Senator Arlen Specter registered his surprise but plans on holding the hearings anyway (h/t: AJ Strata): The Pentagon said today that it had blocked a group of military officers and intelligence analysts from testifying at an open Congressional hearing about a highly classified military intelligence program that, the officers have said, identified a ringleader of the Sept. 11 attacks as a potential terrorist more than a year before the attacks. The announcement came a day before the officers and intelligence analysts had been scheduled to testify about the program, known as Able Danger, at a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee. ... Mr. Specter said his staff had talked to all five of the potential witnesses and found that "credibility has been established"...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

September 21, 2005

Hillary 'Endorses' Blaming Bush For 9/11 Terrorism

One of the lessons a politician learns is to be careful what she autographs. According to the New York Sun, Hillary "endorsed" a protest placard that blamed George Bush for the 9/11 attacks: Mrs. Clinton concluded her remarks yesterday by saying, "We are better than this," and lamenting the "disgraceful treatment of the people left behind in the Gulf Coast." While departing the event, she was asked to "endorse" a sign held by a demonstrator blaming President Bush for the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the Iraq war, and the devastation wrought by Katrina. Mrs. Clinton autographed the poster. I doubt that Mrs. Clinton did this completely out of oversight, either. While she has made strides in reinventing herself as a Democratc moderate, helped in no small measure by her political party marching over a radical-Left cliff over the past few years, she needs to stay connected to that...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Dem Dirty Tricks In Maryland?

Maryland Democrats opposing Michael Steele's possible run for the Senate seat opened up by the retirement of Paul Sarbanes apparently got hold of his credit report, a violation of privacy laws. Two staffers have resigned, and the FBI apparently will investigate the campaign: The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee said Tuesday that two of its employees obtained the credit report of Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, a potential Republican challenger next year for the Senate seat being vacated by Democrat Paul Sarbanes. Phil Singer, spokesman for the committee, said in a statement issued in Washington that the two employees have resigned. He said the credit report was not used or disseminated to anyone, and the incident was reported to the U.S. attorney's office. "While the DSCC did not authorize the employees to access Mr. Steele's credit report, we regret that this incident occurred and apologize to Mr. Steele," the statement said....

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Levee Failure Unexpected: Louisiana Engineers

Contrary to the media narrative of the past several weeks, the levee failure that flooded New Orleans should not have occurred with the storm surge that accompanied Hurricane Katrina. In fact, the debris pattern shows that the waters never overtopped the levees but that the levees collapsed before they met the thresholds of stress for which they were designed, according to state experts who have inspected the gaps: Louisiana's top hurricane experts have rejected the official explanations for the floodwall collapses that inundated much of New Orleans, concluding that Hurricane Katrina's storm surges were much smaller than authorities have suggested and that the city's flood- protection system should have kept most of the city dry. The Army Corps of Engineers has said that Katrina was just too massive for a system that was not intended to protect the city from a storm greater than a Category 3 hurricane, and that...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Signifying Nothing

My recap of the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on the confirmation of John Roberts appears in the Daily Standard, "The Sound And The Fury". It points out that the Democrats have reduced their credibility on judicial appointments to almost nil, thanks to a clueless effort to outargue one of the foremost legal scholars during the nationally televised debate: FROM THE FIRST DAY, the strategy of the opposition was clear: get Roberts to refuse to answer questions about specific cases and paint him as unresponsive. Unfortunately for the Democrats, Roberts had prepared several candidates for hearings such as these. He refused to say how he would rule when presented with specific cases and hypotheticals based on issues that will probably come before the Court--but each time he explained in detail why he could not answer, and then instead talked about the process he would use to approach cases such as those...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

The Captain Gets High

As many of you already know, I have blogged this week from Canada, appearing at a conference hosted by the Canadian Journalism Foundation last night at the University of Toronto. I had the pleasure of joining Andrew Coyne on stage, along with Jesse Hirsh and Julian Porter, to discuss whether bloggers are "shamans or shams". Afterwards, I met a number of fine Canadian bloggers for the first time -- RightGirl, Wonder Woman, Stephen Taylor, Brent Colbert, Bob Tarantino and Greg Staples of Blogging Tories, and John from Newsbeat1. Here's a shot of all of us at the conference: The conference itself provoked a wide-ranging Q&A. In fact, we overran our time, but none of us noticed it -- I know I had a great time answering everyone's questions. Canadians have a marvelous sense of hospitality and grace, and even those who had no inclination to support an American right-wing blogger...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Dividing The Dems

In a bit of a surprise, Senator Pat Leahy announced his qualified support for the confirmation of John Roberts to the Supreme Court. Not only does Leahy join a handful of his caucus members for the final vote, but his committee vote ensures some bipartisanship on Judiciary that has recently lacked any at all: Chief Justice-nominee John Roberts, his confirmation secure, picked up support from fractured Senate Democrats on Wednesday as President Bush met lawmakers to discuss a second vacancy on the Supreme Court. The Senate Judiciary Committee's senior Democrat, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, announced his endorsement shortly after leaving the White House. That guaranteed bipartisan backing for Roberts in Thursday's scheduled vote by the committee. But Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, liberal stalwarts Barbara Boxer of California and Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, former presidential candidate John Kerry of Massachusetts and New Jersey Sens. Jon Corzine and Frank Lautenberg all...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

September 22, 2005

Able Danger: Hide In Plain Sight?

The Pentagon has decided to play games with the Able Danger story, virtually confirming the worst suspicions of just about everybody by first acknowledging that five of its team members recall identifying Mohammed Atta as a potential AQ terrorist a year prior to the attacks, and then forbidding these five witnesses from telling the Senate Judiciary Committee about the program. The only thing that Donald Rumsfeld has accomplished with this strategy is to introduce real bipartisanship to the Judiciary Committee, which broadly scolded the DoD for pulling the witnesses from the hearing at the last minute: The complaints came after the Pentagon blocked several witnesses from testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee at a public hearing on Wednesday. The only testimony provided by the Defense Department came from a senior official who would say only that he did not know whether the claims were true. Five men and women in...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Just When South Dakota Looked Safe ...

Look who might stage a comeback attempt in politics -- the former obstructionist and Senate Minority Leader, Tom Daschle. According to the AP, Daschle has quietly organized a new political-action committee and will start making policy speeches, the first in Iowa: Former Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle's interest in public office isn't necessarily latent: he has set up a new political action committee and plans a Jefferson-Jackson Day speech in the politically pivotal state of Iowa. ... Steve Hildebrand, director of the new committee and Daschle's former campaign manager, said the well-known Democrat from South Dakota "is not going to rule out opportunities to play important roles in public service." "It could be president, it could be vice president, it could be something else," Hildebrand said. "It could be nothing." He said Daschle's Iowa speech, scheduled for the state party's annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner Nov. 5, will probably be his most...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Air America: Blanche DuBois Returns

Brian Maloney extends the excellent blog-coverage that he and Michelle Malkin have provided on the Air America financial scandal. Today he looks at the desperation strategy that Air America has adopted -- begging for cash from its listeners: Resembling an online PBS or NPR pledge drive, the site offered paltry "benefits" for cash "gifts" to the liberal talk network. Is Air America unintentionally a not-for-profit enterprise? For $50, they'll send three "official" bumper stickers, while $100 gets a "stylish" tote bag thrown in. The sucker who has everything might choose the $250 version, including the above and an on-air thanks from one of Air America's talk hosts. Tote BagAnother option: send "any amount", for which they'll be "grateful". Only you can prevent the next Boys & Girls Club financial raid. Send a buck, save midnight basketball in the Bronx. In fact, they're selling NPR-class 'memberships' at AAR. What do you...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Schumer Staffers Get Free Vacation For Privacy Violation

Senator Chuck Schumer, who runs the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, has long decried the potential for identity theft and the loss of privacy in the marketplace. In April of this year, Schumer introduced legislation to create an entire new bureaucracy for "data merchants", the Schumer-Nelson ID Theft Prevention Bill. What penalties does the Schumer-Nelson bill prescribe for violations? A thousand dollars per violation, for starters, and repeated violations probably would get escalated. So what did Schumer and the DSCC do with two staffers that got caught with Lt. Governor Michael Steele's (R-MD) credit report? Apparently gave them a two-month vacation with pay, according to the New York Post: Phil Singer, a spokesman for the Schumer-headed Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said two staffers were instantly suspended with pay in July after admitting they obtained the credit report of Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, who is running for Senate. Sources...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Feinstein Goes No On Roberts

Dianne Feinstein will vote against confirming John Roberts to the Supreme Court in today's Judiciary Committee tally and again in the full Senate, she announced. Roberts failed to convince her that he would meet her abortion-rights litmus test and therefore lost her support: Feinstein, the committee's only woman, said her vote was decided after Roberts refused to fully answer her and other Democrats' questions in his confirmation hearing last week. "I knew as little about what Judge Roberts really thought about issues after the hearings as I did before the hearing. This makes it very hard for me," said Feinstein, an abortion rights supporter. "I cannot in good conscious cast a 'yea' vote. I will cast a 'no' vote," she said. That may play well in California, but it underscores that the Democrats play politics with the Supreme Court, and not the GOP. The President did not nominate a litmus-test...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Speaking Of The Usual Suspects

The groups that will gather in Washington DC for a major anti-war protest this weekend have financial ties to major leftist fundraisers like George Soros and Theresa Heinz Kerry, and beyond them to communist organizations and radical left-wing groups, the Washington Times reports today. The conduits for the rallies appear to be the ubiquitous front groups International ANSWER and the UPJ: The groups gathering in Washington this weekend to protest President Bush and the war in Iraq have ties to radical left-wing groups and communist organizations and have enjoyed the support of the left's biggest financial supporter, George Soros. ... The leaders of ANSWER, founded three days after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, are connected to the Workers World Party, a Marxist group that has expressed support for such dictators as North Korea's Kim Jong-il, Yugoslavia's Slobodan Milosevic and Iraq's Saddam Hussein. The latter two have been ousted from...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Rita Weakens To A 4, Galveston Emptied, Houston Braces For Impact

The Duke of DeLand has family fleeing the Galveston area; his daughter, son-in-law, and two beautiful grandchildren (as a grandparent, I know they're all beautiful) have taken to secondary roads to get out of the storm path. Pray for them and keep up with their progress at his website.

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

September 23, 2005

Articulate Means Racist?

I wasn't aware that "articulate" constituted some sort of racist smear, but apparently Oliver Willis writes his weblog to set us all straight. When I wrote that Michael Steele, Maryland's lieutenant governor, had that particular quality, it must have made Oliver rather angry. Paying a compliment to an African-American in his mind means that one assumes the rest of the population lacks the quality noted in the one. Fortunately, here in the sane world, paying one person a compliment doesn't denigrate anyone else, because most of the people here understand that good qualities such as articulation don't amount to some strange zero-sum game. The rest of us recognize that when someone else gets complimented, only the small and terribly insecure believe it has anything to do with themselves and anyone else. Politics has many inarticulate boobs in office and out; all one has to do to understand this is to...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Sistani Backs Constitution

The most influential of Shi'ite religious leaders in Iraq urged his countrymen to vote in support of the newly proposed constitution next month when the plebescite will take place. Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani gathered his aides and ordered them to campaign on his behalf to get people to the polls to vote "yes" on the referendum: Two officials in the Shiite Muslim hierarchy in Najaf said Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani called senior aides together and told them to promote a "yes" vote among the faithful during the Oct. 15 national referendum on the constitution. ... In Amman, Jordan, about 150 Iraqi Sunni clerics and tribal leaders called for the rejection of the constituion, warning the charter would lead to the fragmentation of Iraq. The local leaders from Iraq's insurgency-torn Anbar province, the country's Sunni heartland, met for a a three-day conference in the Jordanian capital for security reasons. Having Sistani on...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Terror Arrest In Manchester?

London police had to Taser a suspect at Manchester's airport after attempting to detain him following suspicious activity with a mysterious package: A man has been arrested under terror laws at Manchester Airport after the discovery of a suspect package. Greater Manchester Police used a Taser gun after the suspect resisted arrest. ... Police had been called to the airport at about 8.30am after a man was seen acting suspiciously on the airport apron close to stand 26. "Police attempted to arrest the men who struggled with officers. A Taser was then used to detain the man," police said in a statement. "The army bomb disposal unit were called to examine the package which was found on the apron...." The London Telegraph reports that the police will treat this as a terror investigation. More details will likely come later today....

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Able Danger Foxtrot V: The Pentagon Backstep

The Pentagon has reversed itself -- again -- in the Able Danger soap opera playing out in Washington DC. After agreeing to provide witnesses to the Senate Judiciary Committee, then forbidding them to testify on the eve of the hearings, the Pentagon now says it will allow all five Able Danger team members to provide public testimony on October 5th about the program: The Defense Department on Friday reversed its earlier decision to bar key witnesses from testifying about just how much information the U.S. government had on the Sept. 11 hijackers before they led the attacks that killed 3,000 people. The Senate Judiciary Committee has therefore scheduled a second hearing for next week on the formerly secret Pentagon intelligence unit called "Able Danger". ... The Senate Judiciary Committee said in a statement Friday that the Pentagon now will allow five witnesses to testify. Among those are Army Lt. Col....

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Able Danger Foxtrot VI: The Pentagon Backstep Redux

Earlier today, the Senate Judiciary Committee announced that it had an agreement with the Pentagon to allow the five witnesses to testify in open hearings on the Able Danger project and its identification of the four lead hijackers of the 9/11 attacks. Now the AP reports that the Pentagon may yet block that testimony again, and that the only certainty at this point is continued uncertainty: On Friday, the Senate committee announced the Pentagon had reversed its position and would allow the five witnesses to testify at a new public hearing scheduled for October 5. The Pentagon denied anything had changed, despite behind-the-scenes negotiations to reach a solution agreeable to both sides. "Our position has not changed," Defense spokesman Bryan Whitman told Reuters. "This is a classified program and there are still aspects of it that are not appropriate for an open hearing. And that's what we have told the...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

September 24, 2005

Hamas Blows Its Load, Israel Blows Its Top

Hamas learned yesterday and this morning that it plays a dangerous game with damgerous weapons. During a triumphal celebration of the end of the Israeli occupation in Gaza, a number of their homemade Katyusha rockets exploded, killing 15 and wounding 80 in the crowd, mostly children. Hamas and their partners, Islamic Jihad, also lobbed a few over the border into Israel, which caused Israel to mobilize its ground forces and promise a "crushing response". First, the New York Times reported on the explosions at the Hamas rally: A pickup truck carrying rockets exploded on Friday at a large Hamas rally as the group paraded its weapons through a densely packed refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. At least 15 people were killed and dozens were wounded, Palestinian medical officials said. The powerful blast sent a plume of white smoke into the sky and unleashed pandemonium in the sprawling Jabaliya refugee...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Frist Has Some Explaining To Do

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist faces a serious investigation into his finances after apparently directing the sale of stock while his assets supposedly remained in a blind trust -- and dumping family-business stock just before the bottom dropped out. Today's Page One story in the Washington Post reports that Frist specifically ordered the divestiture of family shares of the family business: Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is facing questions from the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission about his sale of stock in his family's hospital company one month before its price fell sharply. The Tennessee lawmaker, who is the Senate's top Republican and a likely candidate for president in 2008, ordered his portfolio managers in June to sell his family's shares in HCA Inc., the nation's largest hospital chain, which was founded by Frist's father and brother. A month later, the stock's price dropped 9 percent in...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Even The Vatican Has Leaks

A leaked diary from a Catholic cardinal who took part in the conclave that elected Joseph Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI demonstrates that secrets have a short shelf life in modern society. Under threat of excommunication, cardinals have always kept the machinations of such conclaves as quiet as the grave. That changed with the election of the second-straight non-Italian pope after 450 years of Italian hegemony over the Church, and an Italian cardinal appears to be the source: A cardinal has broken his vow of secrecy and released his diary describing the conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI, revealing in an exceedingly rare account that a cardinal from Argentina was the main challenger and almost blocked Benedict's election. Excerpts of the diary, published Friday, show Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger led in each of the four ballots cast in the Sistine Chapel during the mystery-shrouded April 18-19 conclave. But, in a surprise,...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Who Is Dr. Preisser?

Dr. Eileen Preisser has come up several times in the past few days as a key analyst in the Able Danger project. Originally unnamed in Col. Tony Shaffer's assertions of the determinations of the project, he said that a female PhD reminded him that Mohammed Atta and three of the other 9/11 hijackers had been identified from their data-mining as potential al-Qaeda operatives within the US over a year prior to the attacks. This week, Shaffer supplied the name that had remained elusive until now. So who is Eileen Preisser? Currently, she works within the Department of Homeland Security, or did at least in 2002 as the head of the group preparing first responders to terrorist attacks. She described herself as a cross between Xena, Warrior Princess and Joan of Arc. She has also been described as the director of the DoD's Homeland Defense Technology Center and a key advocate...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

September 25, 2005

Palestinians Discover Self-Delusion Not Contagious

The Palestinians acted surprised when Israel responded to the launching of dozens of Katyusha rockets at their cities by bombing Gaza and arresting hundreds of Hamas terrorists, an act that the Palestinian Authority refuses to contemplate. As the Israeli response to the Palestinian provocation became clear, the PA proved its disconnection from reality by warning that the cease-fire might not hold if Israel didn't stop its retaliation: Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has ordered "unrestricted" military strikes against Palestinian militants after rocket attacks from Gaza. Overnight Israeli aircraft launched a series of air raids, injuring several people, and arrested more than 200 suspected militants in the West Bank. Israel has also taken the unprecedented step of posting artillery pieces on the border with Gaza, and practice-firing. Palestinians warned the moves could force a ceasefire to collapse. As I wrote yesterday, the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza brought an entirely new set...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Why, Some Of His Best Friends Are Terrorists

Mayors in any country tend towards the colorful and radical. They usually cannot sustain their political base for any higher office, but their antics entertain enough of the locals to ensure re-election to citywide office. We have politicians such as Marion Berry in the United States. In London, the British have the ongoing spectacle of Red Ken Livingstone. Today the Washington Times reports that Red Ken has given a nuanced look at the humanity of terrorists, reminding us that they are people too, after all: Acts of terrorism are sometimes justified, London Mayor Ken Livingstone said last week. There is often no other way to fight oppression than using "the assassin's bullet or the assassin's bomb," he added. Speaking at a London press conference on Thursday, Mr. Livingstone -- called "Red Ken" for his outspoken and often controversial political views -- said he has known terrorists he viewed as "courageous...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Hadley Denies Weldon's Claims In An Able Danger Sideshow

Rep. Curt Weldon's credibility may have taken a minor hit in yesterday's Washington Post with a rather passive denial from National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley that Weldon gave Hadley a chart showing Mohammed Atta as a member of al-Qaeda either before or after 9/11. Weldon claimed in his book that he gave Hadley a copy of a chart two weeks after the attacks, produced in 2000 by the Able Danger team showing the Atta connection and explaining the data-mining project to Hadley. According to the Post, Hadley gave this response yesterday: But a spokesman for Hadley, who has previously declined to comment on Weldon's claims, said yesterday that a search of National Security Council files produced no such documents identifying Atta and that Hadley was not given such a chart by Weldon. "Mr. Hadley does not recall any chart bearing the name or photo of Mohamed Atta," said the spokesman,...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Frist's Smoke And Fire

Stephen Bainbridge and Power Line have done excellent work in examining the charges of insider trading that have prompted an investigation of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. That should surprise no one, of course; Stephen and Paul Mirengoff have outstanding legal minds and a wealth of knowledge on the regulations surrounding stock trading. However, both Stephen and Paul miss two aspects of this story. The first involves a separate legal question in my original post, but not referenced in either of their responses. The AP reported separately from the Washington Post that Bill Frist knew that he owned the HCA stock despite the trust supposedly being blind. His trustees informed him by letter that they had purchased a significant amount of the stock two weeks before he told people that he had no idea what kind of assets he had in that portfolio: Frist, asked in a television interview in...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

GunScam - The Next Canadian Scandal

The Winnipeg Sun reports that the Conservatives in Canada await more than just one report next winter that could alter the trajectory of Canadian politics. While Judge Gomery writes his report on the Sponsorship Programme, the auditor general has quietly performed her investigation into the controversial gun registry that the Liberal Party imposed on its citizens, and the results could produce some uncomfortable moments of its own for the Grits and the Martin government: Critics of the gun registry are eagerly awaiting Auditor General Sheila Fraser's "Canadian Firearms Program" audit which is scheduled to be released in February -- if we're not in the midst of a federal election campaign. Fraser isn't doing interviews about the audit, which has been underway for months. The last time her office attempted to look into gun registry spending was 2002 and the results were explosive. In fact, her team was forced to abandon...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Hamas: Oops. Our Bad.

The BBC reports that Hamas has cried "Uncle!" in its first-ever outright war against Israel after two days of one-sided fighting. Hamas now says it will refrain from launching rockets out of Gaza after watching the IDF pound Gaza in an unprecedented show of force, with the Israelis no longer handcuffed by the standards of occupation: The Palestinian militant organisation Hamas has announced an end to rocket attacks on Israel from the Gaza Strip. At least 30 rockets have been fired at Israel in recent days, following Israel's withdrawal from Gaza earlier this month. In response to the rockets, Israel resumed its policy of targeting militant leaders in air strikes. On Sunday, an Israeli missile strike killed two Islamic Jihad militants, including a top commander. At a cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon ordered "unrestricted" strikes against Palestinian militants. ... Overnight on Saturday, Israeli forces launched air strikes against alleged...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

September 26, 2005

Spanish 9/11 Trial Nears Its End

Spanish authorities expect a verdict soon in their prosecution of three alleged 9/11 conspirators, in a case that has received scant attention in the American media -- and even less from the 9/11 Commission report. Twenty-four defendants will find out whether a panel of Spanish judges will rule that they gave material support to Mohammed Atta and Ramzi Binalshibh in the run-up to the 9/11 attacks: Three men accused of helping to plot the Sept. 11 attacks waited to learn their fate Monday as Europe's biggest trial of alleged al-Qaida members neared its finale. ... Binalshibh is alleged to have met in the Tarragona region of northeast Spain in July 2001 with Mohamed Atta, believed to be one of the suicide pilots, for a last-minute planning session. The lead suspect in the Spanish trial, alleged al-Qaida cell leader Imad Yarkas, 42, a Syrian-born Spaniard, is accused of having set up...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Poland's Conservatives Sweep Into Power

For the first time since joining the EU, the Polish Left has collapsed, with Polish conservatives winning a sweeping victory in parliamentary elections yesterday. The former leading political party, the Democratic Left Alliance that descended from the former Communists that ran Poland during the Soviet era, dropped from 41% in the previous election to 11% yesterday, not even qualifying as the official opposition: Voters in Poland's parliamentary elections shunned the nation's scandal-prone government of ex-communists to embrace two center-right parties that have promised tax cuts and clean government, partial results showed Monday. The conservative Law and Justice Party had nearly 27 percent of vote in Sunday's parliamentary election with 60 percent of ballots counted. The free-market Civic Platform had 24. The two parties, made up of former activists in the Solidarity movement, say they will form a coalition enabling them to claim more than 270 seats in parliament's 460-member lower...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Broussard's Holy Grail Moment

Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard has apparently decided that the best defense is to be really offensive. Tim Russert and Meet the Press invited Broussard back on the NBC show yesterday to get an update on the status of its recovery from Hurricane Katrina. Russert also wanted to get Broussard's explanation for his earlier contention that the federal government allowed an associate's mother to drown rather than rescue her from a nursing home when it turned out that she had drowned a week earlier -- and that Broussard had lied about what his associate told him. Russert played his words back to him: Mr. Broussard: Sir, they were told, like me, every single day, "The cavalry is coming." On the federal level, "The cavalry is coming. The cavalry's coming. The cavalry's coming." The guy who runs this building I'm in, emergency management, he's responsible for everything. His mother was trapped...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Scandals Shall Come, Moral Relativism Shall Follow?

One of the more blog-conscious members of the mainstream media comes from the Philadelphia Inquirer. Frank Wilson, the book editor of the Inquirer, has not only encouraged bloggers in general (and myself in particular), he now has his own blog -- Books, Inq. Frank loves books, but he also has a deep and abiding Catholic faith and writes provocatively and passionately about it. Today, Frank reviews the issue that has faced the Catholic Church over the past decade and more, sexual abuse, in light of a new grand jury report on the crimes and abuses from the Philadelphia diocese. He writes that the report makes the Starr Report on Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky "seem wholesome by comparison". But what disturbs Frank more than the crimes committed by the priests is the excusing of sin by the Church as mental disorders, waiving any spiritual responsibility for these crimes from both...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

September 27, 2005

Courage!, Say The Cowards

Just when we thought the anchorman model for news broadcasts had died out, leave it to al-Qaeda to bring it back on the Internet. The Washington Post reports this morning that al-Qaeda has begun its own news program, bypassing such outlets as al-Jazeera and al-Arabiya, which edited its copy in the past, and going out directly to the world on an Internet stream: An Internet video newscast called the Voice of the Caliphate was broadcast for the first time on Monday, purporting to be a production of al Qaeda and featuring an anchorman who wore a black ski mask and an ammunition belt. The anchorman, who said the report would appear once a week, presented news about the Gaza Strip and Iraq and expressed happiness about recent hurricanes in the United States. A copy of the Koran, the Muslim holy book, was placed by his right hand and a rifle...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Zarqawi Losing More Aides

Iraqi terror mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi lost another key aide this weekend with the death of Abu Azzam, the US confirmed last night. Abu Azzam died in an American raid on a Haditha safehouse: A man believed to be al Qaeda's No. 2 operative in Iraq has been killed, a U.S. Defense Department official confirmed to CNN. Abu Azzam was a "significant" figure in the al Qaeda network in Iraq, the official said. ... Just last week, U.S. and Iraqi officials announced that two men described as top al Qaeda leaders in the northern city of Mosul were captured during a September 5 raid. One of those captured in that raid was said to be responsible for supervising and directing the day-to-day operations of the group, and was responsible for numerous attacks against Iraqi security and coalition forces. Officials hailed the capture as a blow to al Qaeda's operation in...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Spanish Verdicts Contradict 9/11 Commission But Disappoint Prosecutors

I wrote yesterday before the Spanish trial judges announced their decision on their only 9/11 trial that the verdict had the possibility of demonstrating the invalidity of the conclusions reached by the 9/11 Commission. The Spanish court did just that, convicting two of the three major figures before the court with belonging to the 9/11 conspiracy -- but then confused the issue by letting them off the hook for the actual deaths that conspiracy caused. The Washington Post tried to make sense of the verdicts reached: A Spanish court on Monday convicted and sentenced a Syrian-born man to 27 years in prison for conspiring with al Qaeda and the hijackers who carried out the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States. Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas, alias Abu Dahdah, was one of 18 found guilty among 24 defendants on charges of cooperating with al Qaeda. ... Prosecutors presented evidence that...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Roberts -- In With A Whimper

The massive effort to derail the John Roberts nomination will end, in the words of TS Eliot, not with a bang but a whimper on Thursday. The New York Times reports that debate opened in the full Senate yesterday and that the Democrats did not attempt to fight cloture, allowing Bill Frist and the GOP to schedule the vote for 11:30 AM on the 29th, as predicted last week: There were no surprises as the floor deliberations on Judge Roberts began, and Republicans and Democrats alike agreed that a vote should come no later than Thursday. Lawmakers restated their reasoning on the nomination and emphasized the import and unique opportunity of voting on the lifetime appointment of a chief justice. ... With Republicans solidly backing Judge Roberts and Democrats divided, he has easily surpassed the threshold for confirmation. And Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader, on Monday eliminated...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

The New, Improved Ruffini Straw Poll!

Patrick Ruffini has a new straw poll for blog readers to cast their votes for their Presidential preferences in the 2008 race. We had a lot of fun tracking the results from Patrick's last poll, which could display results by referring blog. CQ readers surprised me by selecting Rudy Giuliani in August, 40%-25% over George Allen, at the time my undisclosed choice in the poll. Patrick now has a way to use Technorati tags to give even further breakdowns in the results. None of this is scientific, of course, but it's a lot of fun. Give it a whirl, using the above link, and we'll see where CQ readers fall this time....

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Arkin Denies What Pentagon Already Admits

A number of people e-mailed me today about the blog entry at the Washington Post by William Arkin regarding Able Danger and the nature of the material it developed. Arkin claims that Able Danger never found any connection to Mohammed Atta, never amounted to an intelligence operation, and got shut down for spying on American citizens. Arkin, a defense analyst, writes: The Pentagon is hiding something. But its not what Weldon thinks. First, to debunk the myths: # As best as I can determine, having spent tens of hours talking to military sources involved with the issue, intelligence analysts did not identify anyone prior to 9/11, Mohammed Atta included, as a suspect in any upcoming terrorist attack. # It is not even clear that a "Mohammed Atta" was identified, let alone that it is the same Atta who died on 9/11. # No military lawyers prevented intelligence sleuths from passing...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

September 28, 2005

When Johnny Met Cindy

Ever in search of ways to endear himself to the national media, John McCain met with so-called "Peace Mom" Cindy Sheehan, who returned the favor by calling McCain a "warmonger": Peace mom Cindy Sheehan didn't change her opposition to the war in Iraq after meeting Tuesday with one of its supporters, Sen. John McCain, a Vietnam veteran whom she called "a warmonger." ... "He is a warmonger, and I'm not," Sheehan said after meeting with McCain. "I believe this war is not keeping America safer."... Sheehan and McCain had met once before, shortly after the funeral of her son. Sheehan said Tuesday that McCain told her then that her son's death was "like his buddies in Vietnam" and that he feared their deaths were "for nothing." McCain, however, denied he made such a statement. McCain later told reporters that he had been misled into believing that her delegation included some...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

DNC Supports Race Baiting, Paper Of Record Misses It Entirely (Update)

When Charlie Rangel called George Bush "our Bull Connor", I didn't pay much attention to the comment. Rangel, after all, often issues ridiculous and deplorable statements, and the notion that anyone can compare the firehose-directing, dog-siccing racist of Birmingham with the President who has put African-Americans into such jobs as Secretary of State -- twice -- shows more than just a little disconnect from reality. It demonstrates a full-blown schizophrenia and paranoia that Rangel all too often vents in his scratchy voice. A paranoid Rangel doesn't amount to news. Having the DNC back him up, as the New York Sun reports, is another matter entirely (subscription may be required): The Democratic National Committee yesterday refused to distance itself from Rep. Charles Rangel's comparison of President Bush to an infamous Southern segregationist, Theophilus "Bull" Connor, remarks the Republican National Committee identified as "hate speech" and urged the DNC to repudiate. ......

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

A Battle Only Postponed

ersailWhen fourteen Senators gathered to congratulate themselves on hijacking the leadership of the upper chamber on judicial confirmations last spring, they proclaimed that they had, in Robert Byrd's words, "saved the Republic" by avoiding a rule change on filibusters -- a parliamentary manuever for which Byrd himself changed rules on four separate occasions. Despite the opportunity to get the matter resolved by the full Senate while working on lower-level judicial appointments, the Gang of 14 instead imposed the Memorandum of Understanding on both sides, with the seven GOP Senators essentially ceding some legitimacy to filibustering judicial nominees on ideological bases. That will now come back to haunt them, as the Democrats get ready to crank up another filibuster regardless, it seems, of who the President nominates to replace Sandra Day O'Connor. As I predicted, the vaunted MoU turned out to be nothing more than a Versailles Treaty, a simple postponement...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

It Takes A Thief ...

In my Weekly Standard column today, I note the lack of media interest in the scandal that Hugh Hewitt dubbed "Chuckaquiddick". Senator Chuck Schumer runs the DSCC, which we found out last week had fraudulently obtained the credit report of Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele -- and had kept it quiet for over two months. I write that what this scandal needs is Congressional hearings, chaired by an expert on data privacy: Where would we find experts on data privacy in Congress to hold this hearing? For starters, we would need senators and congressmen like--well, like Chuck Schumer. Schumer, after all, co-authored and sponsored the Schumer-Nelson ID Theft Prevention Bill, introduced in April of this year to discourage the kind of actions that Barge and Weiner took on Schumer's behalf. At the time, Schumer himself said the following, a prescient warning about how someone's personal information could be abused: [O]ur...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

DeLay Indicted By Partisan DA

A Travis County, Texas grand jury indicted House Majority Leader Tom DeLay on a single charge of conspiracy to violate state campaign-finance laws earlier today, a long-awaited result of a years-long investigation by Travis County DA Ronnie Earle. The indictment will force DeLay to step down from his leadership position until either a trial or a dismissal. Roy Blunt will take over most of his responsibilities temporarily, with some falling to David Dreier and Eric Cantor: The indictment accuses DeLay of criminally conspiring to inject illegal corporate contributions into 2002 state elections that helped the Republican Party reorder the congressional map in Texas and cement its control of the House of Representatives in Washington. The four-page indictment alleged for the first time that DeLay himself participated in a conspiracy with others to funnel corporate money into the 2002 state election "with the intent that a felony be committed." In the...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Movie Review: Serenity

The distribution partners for the new film Serenity, the sequel to the short-lived television series Firefly, have decided to embrace the blogosphere in order to promote its movie. They asked bloggers to set up pre-release screenings across America (or to attend previously scheduled screenings) for free as long as the bloggers agreed to write about the film on their blogs. They did not demand or even suggest that the blog reviews be positive or encouraging, just to write something. One might assume that Universal might have taken this approach for one of two reasons. The first motive that occurred to me was that the studio did not have confidence that Serenity would score with traditional critics and wanted to bypass them, which would indicate a poor effort. The other option was that the studio didn't have confidence that a sci-fi film based on a failed TV series qould find an...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Not One Dime For Porkers: A Convergence

I have been watching the Porkbusters campaign championed by Instapundit, NZ Bear, Michelle Malkin, and others with a wistful sense of admiration and regret. Normally I would love to dive into the federal budget and find the pork, but due to work obligations, family issues, and other investigations I'm pursuing at the moment on the blog, I simply don't have the time. Those who have worked hard to make this effort have done a tremendous job in identifying billions of dollars in federal spending on foolishness and waste. My good friend Mark Tapscott of the Heritage Foundation called me today and asked me why I had not yet blogged about Porkbusters. I told him that without having much to contribute that I didn't want to distract from the effort made by other bloggers. He suggested that I could assist the program by expanding the Not One Dime More effort to...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

September 29, 2005

Has Schroeder Seen The Light Yet?

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder may have changed his mind about a grand coalition between his SDP and the party that barely supplanted its plurality position in the last election, Angela Merkel's Christian Democrat/CSU alliance. Previously dismissive of any arrangement for power sharing between the two top votegetters in the last election, Schroeder has apparently agreed to consider a lesser post than Chancellor in a belatd recognition of the reality of the vote count: Emerging from the talks, the chancellor said he was confident the two parties could work together in government. "I believe we can - we will - succeed in bringing together a stable coalition that will last for four years and bring Germany further down the path of reform," he said. Mrs Merkel described the talks as serious and constructive. She said she was "pleasantly surprised" by Mr Schrder's willingness to discuss "serious themes". Schroeder yesterday told the...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Pataki Nixes Controversial Freedom Center At Ground Zero

Governor George Pataki, buoyed by a late alliance with Hillary Clinton on the issue of the memorial, has ordered the removal of the controversial International Freedom Center from Ground Zero. The 9/11 memorial site had generated a storm of heated debate about the appropriate manner or remembrance for the thousands of dead from the worst foreign attack on American soil, and some had grave concerns that the IFC would amount to little more than a rationalization of the terrorists' actions. In response, the IFC has declared itself defunct, refusing any other site as inappropritae: Governor Pataki pulled the plug yesterday on the International Freedom Center, the museum planned for ground zero that aimed to weave the events of September 11 into a historical movement toward freedom around the globe. The governor asked the state agency in charge of the site, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, to work with the freedom...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Color The WaPo Editorial Board ... Skeptical

The indictment of Tom DeLay by DA Ronnie Earle has split the blogosphere into predictable battle lines, with liberal bloggers celebrating the indictment and conservatives, such as myself, pointing out the long history of partisanship that Earle has displayed in his pursuit of DeLay. Lost in the shuffle, for the most part, is the indictment itself. Apart from the arguable partisanship, the argument for a criminal indictment on the basis of the kinds of transactions alleged appears very weak, as even the Washington Post acknowledges: Nonetheless, at least on the evidence presented so far, the indictment of Mr. DeLay by a state prosecutor in Texas gives us pause. The charge concerns the activities of Texans for a Republican Majority (TRMPAC), a political action committee created by Mr. DeLay and his aides to orchestrate the GOP's takeover of the Texas legislature in 2002. The issue is whether Mr. DeLay and his...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Will Paul Martin And Autumn Leaves Begin To Fall?

The Globe & Mail reports that Tory polling shows the Liberal lead eroding once again, and with the NDP pulling out of the temporary alliance that kept the Martin government in power last May, autumn might see more than just leaves fall. The NDP fired the first shot yesterday, as Ed Broadbent scolded the Liberals for reneging on electoral reform and indicating that it didn't need to wait for the full Gomery report to come out next year to act: Talk of a snap fall election is creeping into the political chatter on Parliament Hill as the NDP strikes a harder tone toward the Liberals and the Conservatives say their internal polling has them within four percentage points of the Liberals. Veteran NDP MP Ed Broadbent accused the Liberals during Question Period yesterday of backing down on a promise to launch consultations this fall on electoral reform. "Is this not...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Judy Miller Scoots From Jail

Judith Miller, the New York Times reporter who went to jail rather than reveal her source only to endure the scorn of her colleagues for supposedly not reporting critically enough on the Iraq War, has now left prison and named Scooter Libby as her source on the Plame case. Miller spent three months in jail before finally calling Dick Cheney's longtime aide to verify that he had waived their confidentiality agreement: After nearly three months behind bars, New York Times reporter Judith Miller was released Thursday after agreeing to testify in the investigation into the disclosure of the identity of a covert CIA officer. Miller left the federal detention center in Alexandria, Va., after reaching an agreement with Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald. She will appear before a grand jury investigating the case Friday morning. "My source has now voluntarily and personally released me from my promise of confidentiality regarding our...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Now The Real Swearing Begins

John Roberts won confirmation to the Supreme Court as Chief Justice on a strong but hardly unanimous vote in the Senate, 78-22. Half of the Senate Democrats voted against his confirmation, including the arguable front-runner for the 2008, Hillary Clinton; half of them voted to confirm him, including most of the red-state Democrats like Robert Byrd (WV), Bill Nelson (FL), Ben Nelson (NE), and Kent Conrad (ND). The politics finally ended when Roberts went to the White House to take the oath of office in time for his first official day on the job next Monday. However, that only starts the swearing, as both sides prepare for a nastier battle the second time around: "The pivotal appointment is the next one," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who opposed Roberts. "The comparison obviously is with O'Connor," she said, in contrast to the reliably conservative Rehnquist. Asked how much she feared that...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Quick Notes

A couple of quick notes before I go to bed and get a little shut-eye... John Hinderaker sent me an e-mail earlier tonight that Sean Hannity quoted my Daily Standard article on the Chuck Schumer/DSCC scandal on his radio show tonight. Glad to hear it! ... Don't forget to keep voting at Patrick Ruffini's straw poll for the 2008 presidential election. So far, we've had 351 voters come from this site, and 40% have gone for Rudy Giuliani. I've been pretty dismissive of Giuliani's chances, although I admire him greatly. Perhaps this shows that Rudy might really represent the rank-and-file of the GOP. ... The Anchoress has been blogging up a storm recently -- be sure to keep up with her excellent output!...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

September 30, 2005

AIPAC Central Figure Pleas Out, Will Testify

The central figure in the AIPAC espionage scandal has accepted a plea bargain and will testify against the operatives that passed classified intelligence to Israel, according to the Washington Post and the New York Times today. Lawrence Franklin has all but signed the paperwork, his attorney said, and the Post's sources confirm his agreement to testify against his co-conspirators: A Defense Department analyst charged with passing government secrets to two employees of an influential pro-Israel lobbying group plans to plead guilty at a hearing next week, court officials announced yesterday. Lawrence A. Franklin, 58, will enter his plea in U.S. District Court in Alexandria on Wednesday, the court said. Sources familiar with the case said Franklin is expected to plead guilty to conspiracy and possibly to other counts. He also is planning to resume his cooperation with prosecutors, they said. ... If Franklin enters a plea, it will be a...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Private Property Rights Making Comeback From Extinction?

Over the past thirty years, private property rights have steadily retreated in the face of an unprecedented hunt by environmentalists and grasping government agencies. Starting with the Nixon-era Endangered Species Act and reaching its nadir in the recent Kelo Supreme Court decision, owners of property have found their rights to hold and develop their property as they see fit increasingly restricted. Now, however, with the public outrage over Kelo still reverberating through political circles, Congress may finally push back on behalf of private property rights. On a mostly party-line vote, the House approved important restrictions on the application of the Endangered Species Act that requires the government to reimburse owners for the loss of any commercial value to their property under ESA enforcement, and not just only if all commercial value is lost: The House passed legislation yesterday that could greatly expand private-property rights under the Endangered Species Act, the...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Able Danger: Strip Tease

Col. Tony Shaffer has had his security clearances revoked by the DoD and have officially notified his attorney of the circumstances surrounding the revocation. Although it does not technically affect his membership in the Army reserve, the action effectively ends the career of the former DIA liaison to the Able Danger project. Shaffer cannot pursue his specialties within the Army or DoD without security clearances. So what led to the revocation of Shaffer's clearance -- his whistleblowing to Congress or his interviews with the press on Able Danger? No, that would look too direct. The Pentagon gave this list of incidents to Mark Zaid, Shaffer's attorney, who then released it to the press: Shaffer says he received a Bronze Star medal for work on a classified operation in Afghanistan in 2003. According to papers provided by Zaid, the military is now questioning whether he deserved it, including challenging whether at...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

'Several' RCMP Investigations Ongoing In Canadian Government

Newsbeat1 notes an interesting admission by a minister in the Candian governennt, run now by the Liberals, at least until scandal finally overtakes them. Scott Brison, the Minister of Public Works, appeared rattled enough during yesterday's Q&A period to admit that the RCMP has 'several' investigations into government malfeasance active at once in attempting to explain why the Mounties took dozens of boxes of materials out of his office this week: Mr. Jason Kenney (Calgary Southeast, CPC): Mr. Speaker, yesterday, in response to a question from me about the apparent seizure of documents from the Department of Public Works, the minister said, I am informed that last week the RCMP contacted Public Works [which] provided an invoice to the RCMP.... Is it the position of the minister that the invoice ran over 100 boxes long? Is it not true and will he not confirm that over 100 boxes of information...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

Pork -- It's What Eats Your Lunch

One of the benefits of the Not One Dime For Porkers campaign applies to the politicians and not to the electorate whose money disappears into these waste-laden programs. Sometimes, when politicians dig into half-baked pork, they find it quite damaging to their political health. Take Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, for example. After making arrangements for a series of federal grants to a Nevada church, Reid now may suffer a bit of indigestion from the fraudulent use of the money: The money that led to the indictment this week of two Las Vegas pastors and the wife of one of them came from federal grants arranged by Sen. Harry Reid in September 2001, a Reid spokeswoman said Wednesday. Moving to distance Reid from a possible scandal, aide Tessa Hafen said the senator sought the money on behalf of a nonprofit social services agency and not for the churches or persons...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »

So Who Was Miller Protecting?

The more that I think about the denouement of Judith Miller's three-month stay in prison, the less sense it makes. It didn't sound right to me last night when word leaked that I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby had given her a personal assurance that she could name him as her source, even though he had repeatedly waived any confidentiality agreement before she went to jail. Now, having read some of the comments by her attorney Bob Bennett, it makes no sense at all. Power Line notes that Bennett blames Libby for not speaking up sooner and letting Miller off the hook: Miller's lawyer Bob Bennett is way out of line as he makes the rounds of the talk shows suggesting that Scooter Libby should have called Judith Miller earlier to personally assure her that she had his permission to testify. For example, he told Wolf Blitzer: Mr. Libby knew where Judy...

« August 2005 | October 2005 »