« June 2006 | August 2006 »

July 1, 2006

Do Political Leaders Make Legitimate Targets Of War?

Israel's threat to assassinate Hamas PM Ismail Haniyeh if the terrorist group does not return Gilad Shalit unharmed has created an international uproar. Many pundits and diplomats have scolded Israel for escalating a conflict unnecessarily and issuing a threat they see as illegitimate. However, just as with some Americans almost five years after 9/11, people seem almost deliberately taking the warning out of its larger context. First, the facts as reported by The Australian (via Hot Air): ISRAEL last night threatened to assassinate Palestinian Prime Minister Ismael Haniyeh if Hamas militants did not release a captured Israeli soldier unharmed. The unprecedented warning was delivered to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in a letter as Israel debated a deal offered by Hamas to free Corporal Gilad Shalit. It came as Israeli military officials readied a second invasion force for a huge offensive into Gaza. Not much in the way of confirmation has...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Why The UN Is Useless, Part 86d

The new Human Rights Council has already shown that it fits right into the political and cultural viewpoint of the General Assembly. It voted yesterday to dedicate itself to the deliberate targeting of the one nation it sees as the largest human-rights problem in the world -- Israel: The new UN Human Rights Council voted Friday to make a review of alleged human rights abuses by Israel a permanent feature of every council session. The resolution, which was sponsored by Islamic countries, was passed by a vote of 29-12, with five abstentions. It effectively revives a practice of the UN's dissolved Human Rights Commission, which also reviewed alleged Israeli abuses every time it met. Israel protested Friday's vote, calling it a perpetuation of "the old infamous habits" of the widely discredited commission. The resolution requires UN investigators to report at each council session "on the Israeli human rights violations in...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Ronnie Earle Gets Some Comeuppance

A federal judge issued a little-noticed ruling that spells trouble for Travis County DA Ronnie Earle and his obsession with Tom DeLay. Dryly calling Earle's efforts "innovative", Judge Mike Lynch ruled that political groups broke no state laws against political coordination, one of the keystones of Earle's efforts to indict DeLay (h/t: CQ reader Gregg G): A state district judge dealt a crippling blow Thursday to the nearly four-year prosecution of the Texas Association of Business, throwing out a felony indictment against the state's largest business organization. District Judge Mike Lynch ruled that 2002 pre-election ads produced by the group did not expressly advocate the election or defeat of Texas legislative candidates. Travis County prosecutors had said the group broke state election law by using corporate money to support candidates. Lynch's ruling put in doubt two other similar indictments pending against the organization by also discounting prosecutors' alternative theory that...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Fox Poll Shows Bush Solidifying The Base

A new poll by Fox News shows Bush gaining support, especially from his base, in the wake of the Democrats' attempts to force a withdrawal from Iraq. His overall job approval has held steady at 41%, up from the low 30s before the retreat/withdrawal/redeployment strategies of the Democrats took center stage. The good news for the White House does not end there: President Bush’s job rating is holding ground as 41 percent of Americans say they approve of his performance and 50 percent disapprove. Earlier this month, soon after terrorist leader Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi was killed by a U.S. airstrike, Bush hit 40 percent for the first time in months. His current approval rating is 8 percentage points higher than his record low of 33 percent earlier this year (April 18-19). The partisan divide is evident throughout many of the poll results, including the president’s job rating: most Republicans (79...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Osama: Baghdad Is The Center Of The War

Osama bin Laden apparently has a different take on the global war on terror than many in Congress. While we have heard arguments about how Iraq provided nothing more than a diversion, the gaining strength of the new representative Iraqi government has convinced Osama of the critical need to stop it. In his Internet address to the faithful jihadis, Osama urges them to put all of their efforts to pull down the new democracy in Southwest Asia lest his entire life's work collapse: Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden urged Iraqi militants in an Internet message Saturday to continue fighting the U.S.-led coalition in Baghdad, or else "all the capitals in the region will fall to the crusaders." ... The message urged militants in Iraq to continue their fight. "Stay steadfast and don't leave Baghdad, otherwise all the capitals in the region will fall to the crusaders," said the message. "Your...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Israel Follows Through On Threat

According to an MS-NBC report, the Israelis have made good on their threat to target Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in the war that the Palestinians touched off by kidnapping an Israeli soldier on Israeli land. The IDF bombed the Hamas Prime Minister's offices earlier, according to witnesses who saw the attack (h/t Michael van der Galien, also of TMV): An Israeli helicopter gunship fired at least one missile at the Gaza City office of Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh early on Sunday, witnesses said. They said Haniyeh, a top Hamas official, was not believed to be in the office at the time. On Saturday, Palestinian militants holding an Israeli soldier issued a new set of demands, calling for the release of 1,000 prisoners and a halt to Israel’s military offensive in Gaza. But Israel rejected them. Meanwhile, the Palestinian deputy minister of prisoner affairs, Ziad Abu Aen, said mediators had...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Janes: North Korea To Launch Taepodong-2

In the wake of the escalation from Hamas in Gaza this week, the North Korean standoff has received less attention of late. However, Jane's Defense Weeky reports that the Kim Jong-Il regime still intends to launch its Taepodong-2 missile. At least JDW thinks it's a TD2, because according to Joseph Bermudez, no one's still quite sure what they have on the launch pad: For the past six weeks, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, or North Korea) has been preparing to launch what appears to be a prototype Taepo Dong 2 ballistic missile. ... As of the last week in June, it appeared that the Taepo Dong 2 was fuelled and prepared for launch on the command of leader Kim Jong-il, but three questions remain: Is it a ballistic missile or an SLV carrying a second North Korean satellite? Why has it not been launched? Will it ultimately be...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

July 2, 2006

Pakistan To Establish Diplomatic Ties With Israel: Expatriates

The war on terror has taken some interesting turns, but none quite as intriguing as having one of the original Islamist states establishing diplomatic relations with Israel. In the wake of two missives from Osama bin Laden, likely from a hideout in Waziristan, the Pakistanis intend on establishing relations with the so-called Zionists: Full diplomatic relations between Israel and Pakistan will be established in a short period of time, a group of Pakistani expatriates living in the US predicted last week during a visit to Jerusalem. An eight-member delegation from the American Muslim Peace Initiative came to Israel as guests of the American Jewish Congress's Council for World Jewry, which has been working to improve ties between Israel and the 160 million Muslims of Pakistan. The two organizations were instrumental in bringing about an historic meeting between the foreign ministers of Israel and Pakistan last year in Istanbul and a...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Maryland Primary Has Democrats Split On Race

The Washington Post reports that the Maryland race to replace the retiring Paul Sarbanes has split the Democratic Party on race. Referring to the candidates' "ethnicity", the Post's new poll shows that Kweisi Mfume and Benjamin Cardin have polarized Maryland's Democratic base: Former NAACP president Kweisi Mfume leads U.S. Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin in what is shaping up to be a racially polarized Democratic Senate primary in Maryland, even as roughly a third of the electorate has not settled on a candidate, according to a new Washington Post poll. For the first time in Maryland history, both major parties have the potential to nominate an African American, and the poll suggests that the hopes of all of the major candidates will depend on their ability to cross racial boundaries for support. As they stand, the racial divisions are stark: In the primary, Mfume, who is black, gets 72 percent of...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Zarqawi Buried In Secret

The Iraqi government announced that it has buried Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in or near Baghdad in a secret location and will not return his body to his family. The Jordanian government had bloked his return, but his family as well as Osama bin Laden had demanded that the Americans turn his remains over so that he could be buried near his family in Zarqa: Mouwafak al-Rubaie would not say when the Jordanian-born militant, who was killed June 7 in a U.S. airstrike northeast of Baghdad, was buried, or give any specifics on the location of the grave. The U.S. military confirmed the burial but declined to give details. "The remains of Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi were turned over to the appropriate government of Iraq officials and buried in accordance with Muslim customs and traditions," the military said in an e-mailed statement. "Anything further than that would be addressed by the Iraqi...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Mosque Raided In Pittsburgh's North Side

The FBI raided a North Side mosque in Pittsburgh on Friday as part of an unspecified "criminal investigation". The residence that served as both a Koranic school and a mosque is not a part of the mainstream Islamic Council of Greater Pittsburgh, the Post-Gazette reports (via Anthony at Irishspy): The raid began around noon when authorities shut down the intersection of Boyle and Hemlock streets, residents said. The activity centered around a three-story green house located in the 1300 block of Boyle Street. It is home to the Sankore Institute and Light of Age Mosque, which doubles as a school for people seeking to learn the Koran and Islamic religious teachings. FBI spokesman Jeff Killeen confirmed that the FBI was at the home. Mr. Killeen referred questions to Margaret Philbin, the U.S. attorney's spokeswoman, who said that the FBI executed a search warrant at the home yesterday morning or afternoon....

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Iraqis Put Saddam's Family On Most Wanted List

Apparently the new Iraqi government has received enough intel on insurgent financing to trace some of it back to the wife and daughter of Saddam Hussein. At a press conference, the Iraqi national security advisor unveiled their new most-wanted list, and the two women occupy slots 16 and 17: Saddam Hussein's wife and eldest daughter are among 41 people on the Iraqi government's most wanted list, along with the new leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, a top official announced Sunday. ... Al-Rubaie told reporters the government was releasing the most wanted list "so that our people can know their enemies." Saddam's wife, Sajida Khairallah Tulfah, was No. 17, just behind the ousted leader's eldest daughter, Raghad. Sajida is believed to be in Qatar, and Raghad lives in Jordan, where she was given refuge by King Abdullah II. The Jordanians deny that Raghad has participated in any actions supporting terrorists or...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Hamas To Target Schools, Hospitals

Hamas has threatened to retaliate for Israel's response to ongoing Palestinian provocations by committing war crimes. The spokesman for the putative political party's terrorist wing stated that Hamas will attack schools and hospitals unless Israel unconditionally removes itself from Gaza: Hamas's armed wing, Izaddin al-Kassam, on Sunday threatened to attack infrastructure facilities inside Israel, including schools, hospitals and universities. The threat, the first of its kind since Hamas won the parliamentary election last January, was issued in response to continued Israeli military strikes in the Gaza Strip. "If they continue with these attacks, we will strike at targets in Zionist territory that we have not struck until now," said the organization's spokesman. The latest threat came as Egypt continued its efforts to resolve the crisis. This comes as no surprise from the Palestinians. One must remember that even the political wing of Hamas applauded an attack on a Tel Aviv...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Congress Will Override Supreme Court On Tribunals

Congress appears ready to overrule the Supreme Court and establish military tribunals for detainess in the war on terror, allowing for the most efficient process possible to determine the culpability of terrorists captured in the act. Senators from both parties have determined that the Supreme Court has forced them to act to keep al-Qaeda operatives from exploiting the civil court system: The US Congress is ready to craft legislation to prosecute Guantanamo war-on-terror prisoners after the government's plan for military trials was rejected by the Supreme Court, top senators said. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham told the Fox News Sunday television program that Congress could conceivably pass a new law allowing the government to try the prisoners by military commissions by September. ... Democratic Senator Jack Reed told Fox News that the minority Democrats are likely to cooperate with Republicans and the White House to pass the legislation enabling detainee trials....

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

July 3, 2006

Hong Kong Wants Democracy

The return of Hong Kong to Chinese sovereignty in 1997 gave the communist regime control over one of the most productive areas of the Pacific Rim, a move that some rued as a step backwards for freedom in the region as well as an economic boost to an oppressive government. Six years later, the fires of freedom have not dimmed in the former British colony, although the world hardly notices it any more. The Times of London reports in a two-paragraph blurb that an annual freedom march drew more participants than authorites expected: Pressure in Hong Kong for direct elections remains strong, newspapers said, after the annual democracy march drew a larger-than-expected turnout of at least 28,000. The fourth march marked the handover to China in 1997, under an agreement granting the territory Western-style freedoms. The marches began in 2003 after China tried to pass a national security law. Other...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Israel: No Negotiations For Return Of Shalit

Israel has rejected a deadline from the Palestinian terrorists holding their abducted soldier, Gilad Shalit, and refused to release any prisoners from their jails in exchange for his return. The terrorists had demanded the release occur by 6 am Tuesday, which sets the stage for a further escalation: "We will not conduct any negotiations on the release of prisoners," Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Monday, officially rejecting an ultimatum released Monday morning by the kidnappers of IDF Cpl. Gilad Shalit that set a 6:00 a.m. Tuesday deadline for the release of Palestinian prisoners. "Israel will not give in to extortion by the Palestinian Authority and the Hamas government, which are led by murderous terrorist organizations ... The PA bears full responsibility for the welfare of Gilad Shalit and for returning him safe and sound to Israel," Olmert continued. ... Meanwhile, IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz said during...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Zarqawi's Little Black Book

One of the key physical devices for active intel in any terrorist takedown is the cellphone. The data we recover off of these leads us to a number of other active terrorist cells, as well as point the NSA to new potential nodes in the AQ network. CNN reports that the cell phone recovered from Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's corpse gave us plenty of intel, some of it leading to key members of the new Iraqi government: Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had the phone numbers of senior Iraqi officials stored in his cell phone, according to an Iraqi legislator. Waiel Abdul-Latif, a member of former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's party, said Monday that authorities found the numbers after al-Zarqawi, leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, was killed in a U.S. air strike on June 7. Abdul-Latif did not give names of the officials. But he said they included ministry employees and members...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Public Openness Reaches The New York Times

The New York Times reports today on the burgeoning bipartisan demand for full disclosure on federal spending via public, searchable databases that would expose pork to the maximum public scrutiny. Jason DeParle reports that while both the Left and the Right have different motivations, both see a fully searchable database for the federal budget as a promise of more accountability in governance: Exasperated by his party's failure to cut government spending, Senator Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma, is seeking cyberhelp. Mr. Coburn wants to create a public database, searchable over the Internet, that would list most government contracts and grants — exposing hundreds of billions in annual spending to instant desktop view. ... On the right, support for the plan reflects an old concern about spending and a new faith in the power of blogs. Supporters picture a citizen army of e-watchdogs, greatly increasing the influence of antispending groups in...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Mobile Labs Could Not Have Produced Hydrogen As Described, Prologue

I have written several times about the issue of the mobile laboratories in Iraq and the subsequent conventional wisdom that they served as hydrogen generators for weather balloons instead of WMD production facilities. In April, I pointed out that the hydrogen theory came as a minority opinion within the CIA/DIA teams that reviewed the two labs captured by the Coalition. One month later, Joseph Shahda translated a key memo showing that the Iraqis spent $33 million on the mobile labs in September 2002, while America decided to take military action against the Iraqis, and that the same agency that controlled Iraq's WMD programs (the Military Industrialization Committee) arranged to purchase these facilities. One key point (besides the memo) that undermines the argument for a civil hydrogen production facility is the ease in which the Iraqis could already produce and store hydrogen. Oil refining creates hydrogen in fairly large quantities as...

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« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Lieberman Starts His Independent Bid (Updated)

Senator Joe Lieberman has begun his preparations for re-election as an independent, in case Ned Lamont beats him in the primary. The Hartford Courant reports that Lieberman announced his intention to collect signatures ahead of the August 8th primary, a necessary step given Connecticut's August 9th deadline for submissions: Lieberman, 64, a three-term senator whose outspoken support of the war in Iraq has brought months of grief and inspired a strong primary challenge from Greenwich businessman Ned Lamont, announced his decision this afternoon at a brief press conference at the State Capitol. "I've been a proud, loyal and progressive Democrat since John F. Kennedy inspired my generation of Americans into public service and I will stay a Democrat, whether I am the Democraitic party's nominee or a petitioning Democratic candidate on the November ballot," Lieberman said. He added that he would, even if re-elected as a petitioning candidate, remain a...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Two Women Enter, One Woman Leave

When two scribes go to war ... Whenever I bet on a fight ... ... I always bet on the fighter wearing the largest earrings. Check out Michelle's steely-eyed stare, too. Ana Marie appears unnerved -- never a good sign before Michael Buffer says, "Let's get ready to ruuuuuuuuuummmmm-bulllllllllllllll!!" I hope for both their sakes that the referee is the guy with the cigar, and not the guy who has to re-read his placard in order to remember what it said. At least Stogie Man has the good sense to notice the two good-looking women right in front of him. UPDATE: I linked to Wonkette earlier, but should have linked to Ana's new site instead. Hat tip to Alex at Damned Machines for the correction....

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Court Grants Stay On San Diego Cross

Justice Anthony Kennedy has granted a temporary stay on the removal of a controversial war monument featuring a 29-foot cross atop Mount Soledad. This appears to indicate a renewed interest in the case on behalf of the Supreme Court, which refused to intervene three years ago: The Supreme Court intervened Monday to stop, at least for now, the removal of a large cross from city property in southern California. A lower court judge had ordered the city of San Diego to remove the cross or be fined $5,000 a day. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, acting for the high court, issued a stay while supporters of the cross continue their legal fight. Lawyers for San Diegans for the Mount Soledad National War Memorial said in an appeal that they wanted to avoid the "destruction of this national treasure." And attorneys for the city said the cross was part of a broader...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

The Deadline Passes In Gaza

The deadline for Israel to acquiesce to Palestinian demands for the release of Gilad Shalit has come and gone -- and the "Army of Islam" has announced that no further announcements on Shalit will be forthcoming: The deadline made by Cpl. Gilad Shalit's captors on Monday, stating that they would kill the soldier at 6:00 a.m., came and went Tuesday without concrete word or new information. Army Radio reported, however, that an armed group in Gaza, "the Army of Islam," announced nearly one half hour after the deadline passed "from now on no new information would be given," regarding Shalit. According to government officials, Israel would continue its ongoing military operation against Hamas as if there were no ultimatum, and has warned key international players that the military action will be escalated if Shalit is killed. ... "If, God forbid, they should hurt the soldier, our operations will be far...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

July 4, 2006

Mobile Labs Could Not Have Produced Hydrogen As Described, Part I

In Part I of ChemicalConsultant's analysis of the mobile weapons laboratories, he calls into question the CIA's calculations of the production capability of the facilities described. In his calculations, he posits that these mobile facilities could not have produced the hydrogen necessary for the mission the CIA claims. 1. The reaction to produce hydrogen gas from aluminum, sodium hydroxide is: 2Al(s) +2NaOH (aq) +6H2O-> 2Na+ (aq) + 2[Al(OH)4]- +3H2 (g) This means that it takes 80 grams of NaOH (molecular weight about 40) to make 6 grams of H2 (molecular weight about 2) and uses 54 grams of Al (atomic weight about 27) in the process. On a kilogram basis, 1 kg NaOH makes 6/80 = 0.075 kg or 75 g H2 and uses 54/80 = 0.675 kg or 675 g Al. My reference is www.webelements.com/webelements/elements/text/Al/chem.html. 2. According to the Fast Facts link on the website of a major hydrogen...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Palestinians Pledge To End Negotiations But Keep Shalit Alive

The "Army of Islam" that holds abducted IDF soldier Gilad Shalit has declared an end to negotiations for his release, but at the same time pledges to keep him alive in keeping with the teachings of Islam -- if he is still alive: Palestinians holding an Israeli soldier said this morning that they had ended negotiations on his fate after Israel ignored an ultimatum to begin releasing prisoners. The Hamas-led militants holding Corporal Gilad Shalit had said that if Israel had not begun releasing some of the 1,500 prisoners by 6am today it would "bear the consequences". A spokesman for the Army of Islam, one of Cpl Shalit's abductors, said they had "decided to freeze all contacts and close the files of this soldier" but added: "We will not kill the soldier, if he is still alive." Israeli and Palestinian officials believe the soldier is still alive and negotiations are...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Bin Laden Unit Closes At CIA

Reflecting a different approach to the war on terror, the CIA has closed its Alec Station unit that dedicated itself to the capture of Osama bin Laden, the New York Times reports today. The unit had focused entirely on Osama for over a decade, long before the 9/11 attacks and even the al-Qaeda chief's infamous fatwa against the United States: The Central Intelligence Agency has closed a unit that for a decade had the mission of hunting Osama bin Laden and his top lieutenants, intelligence officials confirmed Monday. The unit, known as Alec Station, was disbanded late last year and its analysts reassigned within the C.I.A. Counterterrorist Center, the officials said. The decision is a milestone for the agency, which formed the unit before Osama bin Laden became a household name and bolstered its ranks after the Sept. 11 attacks, when President Bush pledged to bring Mr. bin Laden to...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Whither Lieberman In The Caucus?

Tom Maguire at Just One Minute picked up the same news report as I did on Joe Lieberman's decision to run as an independent. The anger from the Democratic base has pushed him into making that decision by giving their support to Ned Lamont, supposedly for being outside the mainstream of Democrats, especially on the war. However, Tom points to the Poole analyses for the past three sessions of Congress -- and the Democratic base seems somewhat misinformed. In the 109th Congress, for instance, Lieberman's position finds him the 17th most conservative Democrat out of a caucus of 44 -- hardly an extremist among Senators. Lieberman occupies the 16th most conservative slot in his caucus in the 108th Congress. In the 107th, Lieberman came in at almost the dead center, at #20. Joe Biden and Joe Lieberman have almost identical scores in the last two sessions, and Harry Reid has...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

A Look Back At A DC 4th

Last year, we were honored to have been given a private tour of the Pentagon by a CQ reader assigned there. In honor of this year's Independence Day, I would like to remind CQ readers of the tour and what it meant to us. We wish you happiness and an appreciation of the gift of freedom on this Fourth of July. When I first announced my trip to Washington, DC, I received many kind offers from local readers for assistance and pointers. One of the kindest offers came from a CQ reader, who wishes to remain anonymous, who gave me and my family a chance to tour the Pentagon on July 4th. Needless to say, we gratefully accepted this offer, and early this morning we started out our celebration of Independence Day by meeting him for the tour. He started us off in the west wing, the portion of the...

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« June 2006 | August 2006 »

A Parade Of Celebration

We just returned from the annual Independence Day Parade here in Eagan, and we had a wonderful time with our daughter-in-law's family, who have a tradition of serving brunch before the parade. We had the perfect day for a parade -- sunny but not too hot, a cool breeze, and a spot in the shade. The FM had to use her wheelchair to get to the spot on the route as she is still on oxygen. and I needed a folding chair because my back can't take sitting on the ground, but other than that, it was a fine traditional celebration of our independence. The festivities started with Old Glory (click on images to enlarge): It had real heroes on display. Here we have our local fire department: And although you can't see him in this picture, we have Jared Swyter, a returning soldier from Iraq, who was adopted by...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Salem Communications Launches The New Townhall

Salem Communications launches its mission of conservative media convergence at the new Townhall today. The site looks gorgeous, and it has content aplenty to keep people abreast of the latest news, views, and radio show topics and guests. They have included a number of podcasts, including our shows of the Northern Alliance Radio Network. I plan on returning to the studio this weekend, so be sure to check out the podcast if you don't get the chance to listen to our Internet stream. They already have an archive of our latest shows, so take some time to listen when you get the chance. In fact, be sure to explore all of the facets of the new site. It brings viewers all they can want from conservative media and much, much more. UPDATE: Speaking of launches, congratulations to the fine folks at NASA for an excellent launch of the Space Shuttle...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

North Korea Launches Missiles, Fails Miserably

North Korea attempted to launch three missiles this afternoon after sitting on the one Taepodong-2 ICBM for the last few weeks. Unfortunately for Kim Jong-Il, the arrows he shot into the air fell to ground -- and we know where: North Korea launched a long-range missile Wednesday that may be capable of reaching the United States but it failed after 35 or 40 seconds, two State Department officials said. The missile was one of at least three that were fired. The two others were short-range missiles. All landed in the Sea of Japan, said the Japanese government, which was unable to confirm that they included a long-range missile. The officials in Washington, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the long-range missile was the Taepodong-2, North Korea's most advanced missile with a range of up to 9,320 miles. The launch came after weeks of speculation that the North was preparing...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Iraqi Insurgents Want To Fight Foreign Terrorists

The Iraqi government will consider a request by the native insurgents negotiating for a national reconciliation to take up arms against the al-Qaeda network in Iraq. The eleven groups want the Iraqis to outfit them with weapons, claiming that they have the intel to wipe out the foreign terrorists: Iraq's government is studying a request from some local insurgent leaders to supply them with weapons so they can turn on the heavily armed foreign fighters who were once their allies, according to two Iraqi lawmakers. Leaders claiming to represent about 11 insurgent groups asked for weapons to fight foreign al-Qaeda elements in Iraq, said Haider al-Ibadi, a Shiite lawmaker and member of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's Dawa Party. "They want to take part in the war against terrorists," said al-Ibadi, who supports the proposal. "They claim they could wipe out the terrorists and work with the government." AQI seems to...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

July 5, 2006

Mobile Labs Could Not Have Produced Hydrogen As Described, Part II

In Part II of ChemicalConsultant's analysis, he addresses the residue left in the mobile labs and the quality of hydrogen assumed in the CIA's explanation of the hydrogen production explanation. 5. I am surprised that both the Iraqi and “Russian” systems use an excess of aluminum instead of an excess of sodium hydroxide. Since the product sodium aluminate is soluble in water at the amount of water used (see the Handbook of Chemistry and Physics), there would be almost no residue if there were an excess of sodium hydroxide relative to aluminum. There is no explanation why so much aluminum would be used, especially when using excess sodium hydroxide would mean that the tank would only need to be washed out, instead of removing an alleged residue. Once it became apparent that the trailers were in danger of being captured, I think the Iraqis put the described residue in the...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Israeli Cabinet Approves Deeper Gaza Incursion, Buffer Zone

After Hamas fired a longer-range Kassam rocket that hit the city of Ashkelon, the Israeli cabinet has decided to respond to this escalation by pushing the Palestinians farther away. The IDF will deepen their northern incursion into Gaza and start leveling residential structures in their rocket-staging area, intending to set up a permanent buffer zone: The Security Cabinet approved a deeper military incursion into the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, following the Kassam that demonstrated a new, longer rage by landing in an Ashkelon school on Tuesday night. The IDF has been given the green light to enter residential areas, but will not reoccupy the Gaza Strip, an official at the meeting said. A buffer zone will be created in the northern part of the Strip. ... Defense Minister Amir Peretz ordered the IDF to increase its activities in the Gaza Strip as part of "Operation Summer Rains." Peretz stressed that...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

North Korea Tests Seventh Missile

As Monty Python once said, here comes another one: North Korea test-fired another missile Wednesday, intensifying the furor ignited when the reclusive regime launched at least six missiles, including a long-range Taepodong, earlier in the day. CNN reports that this missile landed in the Sea of Japan like the first six did. The tests have all come on the same day for Japan and North Korea, and that day is just about over now. That may be the last of them, or we may see another grouping like we did last night. The UN Security Council meets this morning to discuss the situation based on a request from Japan. The UNSC may be forced to take some action as the provocation here is too overt to ignore. Japan and the US would like to see even tougher economic sanctions on the Kim regime, but up to now Russia and China...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Teddy Picks An Interesting Deadline

Ted Kennedy decided to take another judicial nominee to task for membership in a club that excludes women by drawing a strange deadline for political-correctness epiphanies. In his written questionnaire to Jerome Holmes, nominated to the appellate court, the Senator wants to know why Holmes failed to resign before February 2nd of this year: "What is your reason for failing to resign from the club any earlier than February 2, 2006?" Mr. Kennedy demanded in writing of Oklahoma lawyer Jerome A. Holmes, nominated to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Documents provided to the Senate Judiciary Committee and obtained by The Washington Times show that Mr. Holmes belonged to the Men's Dinner Club of Oklahoma City but quit after expressing interest in becoming a federal judge. Mr. Holmes told the committee in writing that he never perceived the dining club to harbor any bias toward women but he resigned...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

A Brief Aside On Mobile Labs

George at Seixon has followed my posts about the mobile laboratories that the CIA and the Iraqi Survey Group now insist were designed for hydrogen production. I'll post Part III of ChemicalConsultant's critique of that analysis later tonight, but George has a few pertinent questions of his own. Besides the fact that Iraq's oil refineries could have produced all the high-quality hydrogen needed for any meteorological needs, George points out that the Iraqis had already bought several mobile production facilities abroad, and at a much lower cost: The simplest question one could have asked would be whether or not Iraq was able to easily obtain hydrogen generators rather than having to fabricate their own. Many have scoffed at this question, claiming that Iraq was so bogged down with sanctions that they probably had to make do with DIY solutions. A lazy assumption will often lead to a wrongheaded conclusion, and...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Ken Lay Can't Cheat Death

Former Enron chief Ken Lay died suddenly today of a massive coronary at age 64. Lay had been scheduled for sentencing in October, but the convicted fraudster found out that cheating death takes a little more savvy than cheating stockholders: Pastor Steve Wende of First United Methodist Church of Houston, said in a statement that church member Lay died unexpectedly of a "massive coronary.'' Wende said Lay and his wife, Linda, were in Aspen, Colo., for the week "and his death was totally unexpected. Apparently, his heart simply gave out.'' The Lays owned property in Colorado, the only state outside the Southern District of Texas, which includes Houston, where he was allowed to go before that sentencing. ... According to a statement from the Pitkin County Sheriff's Office, deputies and an ambulance had been sent to Lay's Old Snowmass home at 1:41 a.m. for a medical emergency. Lay was then...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

More Dishonesty At The Gray Lady

Today's editorial on the North Korean crisis at the New York Times sounds eminently reasonable, at least at first. The editors manage to place blame for the missile standoff where it belongs -- on Pyongyang and the Kim regime. However, the Times manages to blame the current cessation of talks on the Bush administration for what it sees as a technicality: Everyone's long-term interest lies in reanimating the diplomacy that has sputtered to a halt over an unrelated banking dispute. The Bush administration should have moved many months ago to overcome that obstacle. But now it is North Korea that has clearly put itself in the wrong. Washington should obviously not reward that bad faith by abruptly rushing back to the bargaining table. But reviving those talks in a more considered way would serve America's own best interests. Notice that the Times doesn't bother to explain this "unrelated banking dispute"....

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Lieberman Gets A Little Help From His Friends

What would you do if I sang out of tune? Would you stand up and walk out on me? Just as Ringo Starr got by with a little help from his friends, so Joe Lieberman hopes to do with a big assist from key members of his caucus. Some heavy hitters on the Left will come to Connecticut to rally support for Lieberman in the primary: Sens. Joe Biden of Delaware, Barbara Boxer of California and Ken Salazar of Colorado plan to campaign in Connecticut for Lieberman between now and the Aug. 8 primary. Their goal is to reassure the party faithful of the three-term senator's loyalty to Democratic causes, including women's issues, labor and the environment. "It will be a reminder to voters of the work he's done on progressive issues," Lieberman spokeswoman Marion Steinfels said Wednesday. "Some of his colleagues wanted to come here and campaign for him...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

MT Ate The Greatest Immigration Post Ever

An hour ago, I wrote perhaps the greatest single post on immigration ever seen in the blogosphere. Unfortunately, Movable Type ate the danged thing, and so my brilliance will have to go unrecognized, alas. I'm sure you'll all take my word for it .... right? Hello? At any rate, the New York Times reported that George Bush may demonstrate some flexibility on a borders-first approach to immigration reform. Bush called a plan to compromise between the House and Senate plans by Mike Pence "very intriguing," according to a White House aide in charge of legislative affairs: Republicans both inside and outside the White House say Mr. Bush, who has long insisted on comprehensive reform, is now open to a so-called enforcement-first approach that would put new border security programs in place before creating a guest worker program or path to citizenship for people living in the United States illegally. "He...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

The Vatican Discards Appeasement Policy Towards Muslim Nations

The Vatican has begun to dismantle the policy of appeasing Muslim governments that oppress Christian minorities, an approach that reached its zenith when Pope John Paul the Great kissed the Qu'ran. The Vatican will instead insist on protecting Christian minorities in the ummah as Islamists increasingly targets them for abuse and worse: 'Enough now with this turning the other cheek! It's our duty to protect ourselves." Thus spoke Monsignor Velasio De Paolis, secretary of the Vatican's supreme court, referring to Muslims. Explaining his apparent rejection of Jesus' admonition to his followers to "turn the other cheek," De Paolis noted that "The West has had relations with the Arab countries for half a century...and has not been able to get the slightest concession on human rights." De Paolis is hardly alone in his thinking; indeed, the Catholic Church is undergoing a dramatic shift from a decades-old policy to protect Catholics living...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Cindy Sheehan: I'd Rather Live Under Hugo Chavez Than George Bush

Cindy Sheehan continues to embarrass all of the politicians who hitched their wagons to her star when she spent last summer haranguing George Bush for a second meeting with him to protest her son's death in Iraq. When she restricted herself strictly to bashing Bush on the war, the Democrats loved her, turning her into a national celebrity. However, when she used that attention into a platform for a radical leftist agenda, the same politicians who feted her suddenly caught a case of collective amnesia. And for good reason, as it turns out. Her latest foolish and embarrassing stunt came today when she embraced Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez and declared that she would rather live under his rule than that of the duly elected President of her native country. That wasn't all she had to say, either: O'Donnell: Would you rather live under Hugo Chavez than President George Bush? Sheehan:...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

July 6, 2006

Mobile Labs Could Not Have Produced Hydrogen As Described, Part III, And Rebuttal

In the final installment of ChemicalConsultant's analysis, he addresses the engineering of the mobile labs in relation to the hydrogen production explanation, as well as the folly of using these facilities instead of simply buying trucks to transport prefilled containers of hydrogen. He also provides a rebuttal to comments made in the thread for Part I. 8. A bank of 5 Air Storage Cylinders is reported in the Major Components of the Trailers section. These serve no purpose for making hydrogen, although Annex D suggests that perhaps they were used as a source of sparging gas (see Comment and Assessment, Aeration and stirring). The investigators do point out that the sparging tube is too short to reach the alleged reaction liquid. Even if the tube were long enough, the air would dilute the hydrogen produced. Also mentioned in the Major Components section are two feed tanks. If the trailers were...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Taliban Man Denied Admission To Yale Degree Program

Sayed Ramatullah Hashemi will not get a degree from Yale, Hot Air reports in a blogospheric scoop later confirmed by the New York Times. The former ambassador-at-large for the oppressive Taliban regime in Afghanistan found out that Yale decided that they had endured enough embarrassment over their decision to allow Hashemi to enroll at the Ivy League school at all, and barred him from entering a degree-granting program after a cascade of criticism and protest: A student at Yale University who was once a roving ambassador for the Taliban regime in Afghanistan has been denied admission to a degree-granting program at Yale, one of the student's financial supporters said yesterday. The student, Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi, apparently can continue to take courses at the university as an untraditional student in a non-degree program, as he did during the past academic year, said Tatiana Maxwell, the president of the International Education Foundation,...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

North Korea Continue Provocation Despite Incompetence

Sometimes one has to admire tenacity in the face of ongoing embarrassment. North Korea continue to threaten more missile launches despite the spectacular failure of the one Taepodong-2 missile two days ago. The Bush administration responded by noting that the missiles have shown themselves as no threat to the US and refuses to give in to extortion: The Bush administration on Thursday dismissed North Korea’s threat to test-fire more missiles and pressed for international efforts to get the secretive communist regime to “cease and desist” such actions. “We’re certainly not going to overreact ... to these wild statements out of Pyongyang and North Korea,” said Undersecretary R. Nicholas Burns. “We’ve seen them before.” The North Korean Foreign Ministry, in a statement carried by the state-run Korean Central News Agency, insisted that the communist state had the right to missile tests and argued the weapons were needed for defense. ... The...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

France: Gitmo Detainees Provide Needed Intel

The French government has found itself in the uncomfortable position of defending Guantanamo Bay's prison after a court discovered that their investigators interrogated detainees at the American detention center. Reuters reports that government lawyers argued that their interrogation helped to prevent terrorist attacks on France: Responding to the report that French intelligence agents had interviewed six men on trial in France for links with a network plotting terrorist attacks while they were held at Guantanamo, the French Foreign Ministry said it had made no secret of three visits to the camp between 2002-2004. "These missions, which were of an administrative nature, were aimed at identifying precisely French citizens who might have been at Guantanamo and at assessing their situation in a general manner," it said in a statement dated Wednesday. It added that the aim was also to gather information needed to allow France to prevent terrorism and that representatives...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

NY Court Upholds Judicial Restraint

The highest state court in New York turned back an attempt to force the Empire State to recognize same-sex marriage via judicial fiat, ruling that the issue belongs to the legislature and not the courts: New York's highest court today turned back an attempt by gay and lesbian couples to win equal treatment under New York State's marriage law, saying that the state constitution "does not compel recognition of marriages between members of the same sex." ... The majority opinion agreed with lawyers for New York City and New York State that there was a rational basis — grounded in the stability of the family as a child-rearing institution — for limiting marriage to a union of one man and one woman. But it left open the possibility that the state Legislature could decide to allow same-sex marriages. "We hold that the New York Constitution does not compel recognition of...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Does Captured Document Tie Saddam To Taliban?

Ray Robison presents another interesting translation of a captured document at Fox News that has some buzzing about another link between Saddam Hussein and terrorism. Robison produces a manual written for Arabs fighting in Afghanistan for the Taliban that covers strategy and tactics for disguise and deception, fairly obviously written for soldiers working to defeat the Northern Alliance and avoid Western intelligence agencies: An Arab regime, possibly Iraq, supplied how-to manuals for Arab operatives working throughout Afghanistan before 9/11, and provided military assistance to the Taliban and Al Qaeda. That's the most likely conclusion drawn from an apparent training manual unearthed in captured Iraqi government computer files translated and analyzed exclusively for Fox News, and made public for the first time. ... The training manual warns, in stark how-to terms, of the dangers of "information leaks," and instructs Arab operatives inside Afghanistan to dress like Afghan tribesmen, to avoid being...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

The Pork Poll, Or Have You Seen Elvis Lately?

The Sunlight Foundation has a new poll for blog readers across the political spectrum. Several of us, including Instapundit and Truth Laid Bear, will post this poll ourselves and collect data from our readers. It's not meant to be scientific but rather a bit of temperature-taking, as well as a little fun for everyone. Take a moment and fill it out so we can see where CQ readers stand on the issue: Written by Micah Sifry on July 6, 2006 - 9:21am. In the wake of scandals involving lobbyists like Jack Abramoff and Congressmen like Tom DeLay (R-TX), Bob Ney (R-OH), William Jefferson (D-LA), and Alan Mollahan (D-WV), do you think Congress is doing enough to clean itself up?: Yes No I don't know Which do you think will happen first? The current leadership of Congress will push for real ethics and lobbying reforms, or Elvis will be sighted?: Congressional...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Two Must Read Posts

I'm taking a couple of hours off -- my back's hurting again, and I'm a little tapped out, but I'd like to point readers to a couple of must-read posts. First, be sure to read all of The Anchoress' birthday greeting to George Bush. It's a repost, but it's brilliant. Don't miss it. Second, Meryl Yourish takes sides in the conflict between Western values of life, liberty, and the rule of law, and the forces of Islamofascism that threatens all of it. She's a Zionist, and she explains her declaration in a brilliant post. Michael van der Galien points it out from The Moderate Voice. Back later, with batteries recharged....

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Governator Will Be Back?

Supposedly written off after a disastrous special election torpedoed his referendums, Arnold Schwarzenegger appears ready to utter his famous movie line to Californians this November. New polling shows that the Governator has moved out of a virtual tie with Democratic challenger Phil Angelides to a seven-point lead, all of which came from undecided voters: The former movie star moved further ahead of State Treasurer Phil Angelides -- who won the Democratic nomination for governor in March -- with a 44 percent to 37 percent lead in the Survey and Policy Research Institute's June 26-30 poll. That was up from a 40 percent to 37 percent margin in March. The survey attributed Schwarzenegger's surge to his decision to send California national guard troops to the Mexican border in the fight against illegal immigrants, as well as the adoption of a compromise state budget. Initially, Schwarzenegger had captured the imagination of Californians...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Larry King-George Bush Liveblog

8:00 CT - Liveblogging the interview. King starts off by getting Bush to admit that turning 60 is "traumatic". 8:01 - North Korea. Bush knew the missiles were "teed up", but says that seven launches took him by surprise. Says he's talked to the other parties in the multilateral talks and they all agree that a strong response is needed. 8:03 - Bush says no to bilateral talks: "We tried that before and it didn't work." He insists on the multilateral approach. Bush tells King that the US has taken the lead, and this is why the multilateral talks have existed at all. 8:05 - Laura Bush scores a couple of points by telling King that they spent the time watching the shuttle launch instead of Kim's fireworks. 8:06 - King asked Bush if Iraq was a diplomatic failure. Classic Bush response: "Well, yeah, after seventeen failed UN resolutions." He...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

AP: North Korea Targeted Hawaiian Waters

According to an AP report, North Korea wanted to use its Taepodong-2 missile to hit the waters around Hawaii, apparently to send a message to the US. The Japanese newspaper Sankei reported that Kim Jong-Il wanted to protest economic sanctions: North Korea targeted waters near Hawaii when it fired a long-range missile this week, a Japanese newspaper reported Friday. The long-range Taepodong-2 was part of a barrage of seven missiles test-fired by North Korea on Wednesday. They all fell harmlessly into the Sea of Japan, but South Korean officials said the long-range missile had malfunctioned, suggesting it was intended for a more remote target. Japan's conservative mainstream daily Sankei said that Japanese and US defense officials have concluded that the Taepodong-2 had targeted US state of Hawaii in the Pacific Ocean, after analyzing data collected from their intelligence equipment. The newspaper quoted unidentified Japanese and US government officials. The officials...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Iraqi Rosters In 2002 Show Interesting Department Names

The latest document release from the captured IIS files, this time with full translations, show some interesting behind-the-scenes nomenclature in the Iraqi government. For instance, Project Harmony document BIAP-2003-002728.pdf is a roster of night workers that got transmitted to the IIS Finance Department -- and some of the assignments appear to indicate ongoing WMD programs in Iraq: Names of branch night workers on 28/12/2002 to the Finance Department: Missiles branch 1. Brigadeer General Sidaad Jasem 2. Amer Jaseb Operation branch 1. Liieutenant Colonel Riad Fawzy Biology dept. 1. ahmed Abid Al Hasan 2. Safaa Katai Nuclear dept. 1. Natek Ibrahim 2. Mohammad Fawzy Import dept. 1. Riad Abid Sadaa Chemical dept. 1.Ahmed Mohammad Fakhry Notary dept. 1. Moustafa Abid Alkader 2. Naser Abdulla 3. Safaa Abid Alatif Machine dept. 1.Khaleel Kazem 2. Abas Majid 3. Ibrahim Ali 4. Asil Salem 5. Mohanad Moufak 6. Dyah 7. Ali Jasem 8. Amjed...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Project Harmony Documents Show Chemical 'Projects' In 2003

The translated documents from the captured IIS files have even more information on Saddam Hussein's activity in WMD research and development. BIAP-2003-003057.pdf has the agenda from a January 21, 2003 meeting that involves chemical projects scheduled for implementation in the coming year: Members of the Chemical Projects Implementation Authority Below is the 10th session agenda for the Chemical Projects Implementation Authority held on January 21, 2003 at 0900. 1. To review work progress for the month of December for each project as of December 31, 2002 according to the approved schedules and it’s indexes. 2. Discuss the implementation plan for the year 2003’s projects, to suggest the [amount of money to] allocate, and to set out detailed plans to accomplish this. 3. The status of the importation orders. 4. The status of manufactured equipment. Signed Dr. ‘Alla Abbas Hussein Chief, Chemical Projects Implementation Authority Below is a table listing bids...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Saddam And Anthrax Operations

In yet another document captured by the Coalition from the files of the IIS, we have yet another piece of evidence that Saddam Hussein continued his pursuit of WMD. In document BIAP-2003-004552.pdf, we have a short memorandum announcing a transfer to a biological weapons program: CENTER OF MANAGEMENT AND LAW / PRESIDENT For that, we order Dr. Hazem Anwar Alnasery, assigned to the Health Department Center, and Dr Mothny Abas, president of the Central Health Testing Department, to be members of the Anthrax Operation Room. This order will not cancel the previous order assigned to Dr. Mostafa Fathee, president of the Central Health Testing Department and president of the Health Research Institute. Thanks. Signed Zohir Saeed Abd Elsalam 10/13/2002 The "Anthrax Operation Room" sounds pretty ominous. El-Salem wrote this memo in October 2002, so this is not a case of pre-Gulf War mischief. Abas got assigned to anthrax operations while...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

July 7, 2006

Holland Tunnel Target Of Zarqawi Network (Updated)

The New York Daily News reports that terrorists planned to detonate a large explosive device in the Holland Tunnel, flooding Manhattan's financial district and causing a disaster on the scale of New Orleans. The FBI discovered the plot while monitoring Internet communications, leading to the arrest of at least one terrorist in Beirut and got leads pointing towards the involvement of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi before he assumed room temperature: The FBI has uncovered what officials consider a serious plot by jihadists to bomb the Holland Tunnel in hopes of causing a torrent of water to deluge lower Manhattan, the Daily News has learned. The terrorists sought to drown the Financial District as New Orleans was by Hurricane Katrina, sources said. They also wanted to attack subways and other tunnels. Counterterrorism officials are alarmed by the "lone wolf" terror plot because they allegedly got a pledge of financial and tactical support...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Sadr City In The Crosshairs

It looks like the Iraqis and Americans have decided to focus on one of the toughest tasks in cleaning up Baghdad: Sadr City. The Shi'ite enclave has spawned militias loosely organized around the Mahdi Army of Moqtada al-Sadr, long a provocation for the majority Sunni population of greater Baghdad and a threat to the authority of the new federal government. Today Iraqi forces, backed by American support, captured two major leaders of militia efforts, including one who ran weapons from Syria: Iraqi forces backed by U.S. aircraft battled militants in a Shiite stronghold of eastern Baghdad early Friday, killing or wounding more than 30 fighters and capturing an extremist leader who was the target of the raid, Iraqi and U.S. officials said. In another operation, Iraqi troops backed by U.S. soldiers arrested a top regional commander of a Shiite militia near Hillah, a U.S. statement said. The moves appeared part...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Japan Insists On Sanctions

Despite earlier reports that Japan would back away from demanding sanctions against North Korea for its missile launches this week, the new draft circulated by Japan retains its demands for economic sanctions in defiance of Russian and Chinese opposition: Japan circulated a new draft Security Council resolution Friday that retains the threat of sanctions against North Korea, ignoring Chinese and Russian concerns of inflaming tensions with the isolated communist nation. No other details have yet come out about this development, but apparently Japan has not backed down from its demand for tangible consequences for Kim's fireworks display. UPDATE: The AP has updated the story with more details. The draft declares that the UNSC will "take those steps necessary" to keep Pyongyang from acquiring material that could be used in their missile program. Given that the North Koreans just launched seven of them and plan to launch a few more, the...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Dr. Germ Analyzes Aircraft BW Attack Requirements In 2002

For those who continue to reject evidence of Saddam Hussein's pursuit of WMD programs, the document released yesterday by the FMSO DocEx project makes it a much more difficult proposition. Document CMPC-2003-004346 reveals that Dr. Rehab Rasheed Taha, otherwise known as Dr. Germ, prepared an analysis in 2002 of how to spread biological weapons material using an aircraft as the medium, and how far they had advanced on the application: In the name of God, most Merciful, most Compassionate THE BIOLOGICAL COMMITTEE DECISION An appendage to the Biological Committee Decision, on 10 March 2002, subsequent to the biological activity combined list review, that was received after the delegate’s return from Moscow, and in reference to the concluded meeting convened on 10 April 2002, [when] the (GRL) draft list study was completed. – The Biological Section is evaluating what is shown in the third revised attachment for the continuous observation and...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

One Year Ago: The London Bombings

Today marks the first anniversary of the Islamist attack on London's transportation systems, killing dozens and injuring many more. At the time our family were in Washington DC on vacation, wondering whether terrorists would try coordinated attacks in DC or New York City at the same time. We spent extra time around the television, watching the terrible aftermath of the attacks. At the time, I wrote: If AQ thinks that they can frighten Blair and the British out of the war on terror by bombing London, I believe they are quite mistaken. Another lunatic used terror on Londoners on a much more massive scale for years at a stretch, thinking that the same kind of attacks would panic the British into surrendering, or at least into withdrawing from the conflict. The Blitz did neither. It hardened British resolve to stamp out the cancerous philosophy of fascism and to destroy the...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Iraqi Documents: Our Friends, The Russians (Updated And Bunped)

One of the reasons that the DoD may have sat on the captured IIS files without translating or releasing them, some speculate, was that the contents may embarrass some of our allies in the overall war on terror. One document released yesterday seems to support that analysis. According to document CMPC-2003-000878, the Russians gave more active support to Saddam prior to the March 2003 invasion than previously known -- and they used Syria as a conduit for their materiel: Bulletproof Vests from Russia Thirteen thousand vests were imported from Russia by request from the Presidential Command Office; they were all turned over to Qusai Saddam Hussein eight days before the war. Three Russian experts came with the vests, and the deal had been financed through a wealthy man in al-Kut (180 km south of Baghdad). [The suits] were bought for 250 dollars and then sold to Qusai Saddam Hussein for...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

ABC: AQ Planned 5th Anniversary Celebration

According to a new ABC News report, the conspiracy revealed earlier today to target the PATH trains intended on carrying out their attack on September 11th, 2006. The al-Qaeda-connected terrorists planned on giving New Yorkers a reminder on the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks -- and it may still be in motion: Federal law enforcement officials tell ABC News a plot designed to use 15 to 20 suicide bombers on one commuter train as close to Sept. 11 as possible was well underway. ... "This is a plot that would have involved martyrdom, explosives and certain of the tubes that connect New Jersey with lower Manhattan," said Mark Mershon, Assistant Director-in-Charge of the FBI New York Field Office. "We're not discussing the modality behind that." But law enforcement officials say the plotters had already accessed detailed blueprints and drawings of the PATH tunnels, available on the internet. And like...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Saddam's Idea Of Diplomatic Pouches

Another DocEx document has a strange take on diplomacy under Saddam Hussein's brutal regime. A top-secret roster of Iraqi Intelligence Service projects for 2003 shows some interesting, inventive, and disturbing initiatives that only the American invasion stopped. From CMPC-2003-005745.pdf: Use of diplomatic briefcases as an explosive device that can not be detected using an X Ray device Sabotaging airplane fuel Development of a research project for self igniting chemical mixtures to be used in acts of sabotage Project for camouflaging a long range explosive device using a stick [or crutch] If Saddam had remained in power, the IIS would have developed these murder systems for the state of Iraq. What purpose would an exploding diplomatic briefcase serve other than assassination or terrorism? Self-igniting chemical explosives are only useful for the same purposes, and probably violated the UN resolutions regarding chemical weapons. And can anyone imagine a rational state disguising its...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Iraqi Documents: Kuwaiti POWs Used As Human Shields

This story has been reported before, but the captured IIS documents contains the actual orders from Qusai Hussein directing the Republican Guard to take Kuwaiti prisoners illegally held for twelve years and use them as human shields at strategic locations. Document CMPC-2003-012666.pdf shows the brutal callousness that became the hallmark of the Hussein family: Presidential Office/ Special Office The Secretary: Re / Kuwaiti POW’s Regarding the execution of Mr. President, Commander Saddam Hussein’s (God protect him) orders, according to the decision of the Revolutionary Command Council on Friday, March 4, 2003. Transfer all Kuwaiti POW’s / a total of 448 captured Kuwaitis who are located at the Al-Nida Al-Agher Prison and the Intelligence / General Center and Kazema Prison in Al-Kazema, to make them human shields at all locations that are expected to be attacked by the American aggressors. Put them in communication locations and essential ministries, radio and television,...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Hamdi Mahmoud Made Some People Nervous

The month prior to the American invasion of Iraq, the Times of London broke the news that one of Saddam's bodyguards had defected to the West and had given the Mossad a file that showed where Saddam Hussein kept his WMD (Times link not available). Abu Hamdi Mahmoud provided what looked like a smoking gun to the UNMOVIC team: The bodyguard, Abu Hamdi Mahmoud, had provided Israeli intelligence with a list of sites, the newspaper said, as he was debriefed at a high-security Israeli base. It quoted William Tierney, a former UN weapons inspector who has continued to gather information on Saddam’s arsenal, as saying Mahmoud’s information was "the smoking gun" that has so far proved so elusive for both the UN weapons inspectors and US intelligence. "Once the inspectors go to where Mahmoud has pointed them, then it’s all over for Saddam," Mr Tierney said. The newspaper said Mahmoud...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Iraqi Documents: UNMOVIC Knew Of Renewed WMD Efforts (Updated And Bumped)

Continuing my review of the many documents released from the DocEx files over the last two days, I found yet another interesting piece of information regarding Saddam Hussein's pursuit of WMD. In a summary of a larger document, the translators found that Iraq had restarted its processing of castor-bean extraction, from which ricin can be developed -- and that UNMOVIC discovered it in December 2002. From CMPC-2003-003766-HT.pdf, with line breaks and emphases mine: Ricin toxin is found in the bean of the castor plant. UNMOVIC inspections since December 2002 have verified that the bombed caster oil extraction plant at Fallujah III has been reconstructed on a larger scale. Undeclared BW agents, there are a number of microorganisms and toxins that have been developed as BW agents by several countries, including Bacillus anthracis (anthrax), Clostridium bottalinum toxin, Yersinia pestis (plague), Francisella tularensis (tularemia), Brucella species (Brucellosis) Coxiella burnetti (Q fever) and...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

July 8, 2006

No Hudna For Haniyeh

The Israeli government has rejected a call for a cease-fire from Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas PM that has yet to produce the israeli soldier his organization abducted in a border raid that killed two other IDF troops. Israel insists that no negotiations for cessation of its Gaza incursion can begin until Hamas returns Gilad Shalit: The Hamas-led Palestinian government called for a cease-fire in its violent two-week standoff with Israel but stopped short Saturday of offering to release an Israeli soldier held by Hamas militants. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert rejected the proposal by Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. Olmert will not agree to a truce until Hamas releases the soldier, officials in Olmert's office said. ... Israel's two-week military campaign, prompted by the abduction of Cpl. Gilad Shalit has put the Hamas government under growing pressure. Israel has arrested several Palestinian Cabinet ministers and Hamas lawmakers. On Saturday, Haniyeh...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Rudy Running?

Robert Novak hears the talk around the campfire, and the chatter says that Rudy Giuliani, America's Mayor, will run for the presidency in 2008. Novak says that the road will be difficult for one of the nation's most admired men: Well-connected public figures report that they have been told recently by Rudolph Giuliani that, as of now, he intends to run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008. The former mayor of New York was on top of last month's national Gallup poll measuring presidential preferences by registered Republicans, with 29 percent. Sen. John McCain's 24 percent was second, with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich third at 8 percent. National polls all year have shown Giuliani running either first or second to McCain, with the rest of the presidential possibilities far behind. Republican insiders respond to these numbers by saying rank-and-file GOP voters will abandon Giuliani once they realize his...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Northern Alliance Radio Today

I will join the Northern Alliance Radio Network today via telephone, rather than in studio as normal. I still cannot sit up in a normal chair long enough to do the radio show, and Mitch and King have been gracious enough to allow me to do my part from the recliner. You can listen to the show on AM 1280 The Patriot, either on the radio if you're in the Twin Cities, or on the Internet stream if not. You can also catch the Internet stream at the new Townhall site. We'll be discussing the terror attacks, the DocEx documents that I've reviewed the last couple of days, the Jeff Goldstein/Deb Frisch kerfuffle, and much more. Be sure to call in at 651-289-4488 to join the conversation! UPDATE: Forgot to post the time! We're on now (1:15 PM CT) and will be on until 3 PM CT....

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Attacking Bloggers' Children? Despicable (Updated)

Jeff Goldstein, who has always been a friend to CQ from its earliest days, has found himself and his family the target of some despicable threats, apparently from an academic at the University of Arizona. This series of e-mails allegedly came from Deb Frisch, a professor of psychology at Arizona with some history of on-line histrionics: "I’d like to hear more about your “tyke” by the way. Girl? Boy? Toddler? Teen? Are you still married to the woman you ephed to give birth to the tyke? Tell all, bro!" *** "[...] as I said elsewhere, if I woke up tomorrow and learned that someone else had shot you and your “tyke” it wouldn’t slow me down one iota. You aren’t “human” to me." *** " Ooh. Two year old boy. Sounds hot. You live in Colorado, I see. Hope no one Jon-Benets your baby. Are you still married to the...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Kudlow Overplays A Winning Hand

Larry Kudlow takes issue with the media for underreporting and distorting the Bush administration's record on the economy in his Townhall column today. Kudlow has an excellent point, as media outleys have all but ignored the Bush economic engine and the tax cuts that fuelled it. Unfortunately, Kudlow distorts it himself in an attempt to gild the lily: Did you know that just over the past 11 quarters, dating back to the June 2003 Bush tax cuts, America has increased the size of its entire economy by 20 percent? In less than three years, the U.S. economic pie has expanded by $2.2 trillion, an output add-on that is roughly the same size as the total Chinese economy, and much larger than the total economic size of nations like India, Mexico, Ireland and Belgium. This is an extraordinary fact, although you may be reading it here first. Most in the mainstream...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Bush Tries Economic Leverage With Putin

George Bush has decided to create the necessary economic leverage to generate international consensus on Iran. The White House has concluded a deal on nuclear power for Russia predicated on Russian commitments to remain firm on Iran's nuclear ambitions: President Bush will pursue a nuclear cooperation agreement when he meets Russian leader Vladimir Putin next week during a summit of industrialized nations in St. Petersburg, the White House said Saturday. But any agreement would be conditioned on Russia helping to pressure Iran to give up its alleged desire to develop nuclear weapons, said Frederick Jones, spokesman for Bush's National Security Council. "We have made clear to the Russians that for an agreement on peaceful nuclear cooperation to go forward, we will need Russia's active cooperation in blocking Iran's attempt to obtain nuclear weapons," Jones said. This issue has percolated between Washington and Moscow since the 1990s, when the Clinton administration...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Now Annan Wakes Up

Kofi Annan wants Israel to stop its Gaza incursion and turn the power back on for their enemies to regroup: UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has demanded that Israel take urgent action to prevent a humanitarian disaster in the Gaza Strip. ... Mr Annan called on Israel to restore supplies of food and fuel and to repair a power plant hit in an air strike. ... Mr Annan urged Israel to lift restrictions on the movement of basic goods such as foodstuffs into Gaza. So Kofi now wants the Israelis to stop everything because the Palestinians attacked them? How about Kofi asking the Palestinians to quit shooting rockets into Sderot and hand back Gilad Shalit? Oh, I forgot -- this is the UN....

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Will Stone Screw Up 9/11?

When Oliver Stone first announced that he would make a film about the events of 9/11, many expressed concern and even outrage over the prospect. Stone has made a habit of both politicizing his movies and increasingly relying on strange cinematographic effects to distract from the subject matter. Any Given Sunday probably provides the best example in his later work of the latter criticism; my IMDB review can be read here. The Observer reports that Stone finds himself the center of criticism once again -- but for reasons that have nothing to do with politics or competence: Despite Stone's insistence that his days of deliberate provocation are behind him, World Trade Center, which opens in US cinemas next month and in the UK on 29 September, has divided the public, critics and academics ahead of its release. The film, which stars Nicolas Cage as John McLoughlin, one of two New...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

July 9, 2006

Tom Maguire Destroys The Times And The Post

I had looked forward to blogging about two stories this morning on a letter sent to the White House by House Intelligence Committee Chairman by the New York Times and the Washington Post. In the letter, Peter Hoekstra complains that the Bush administration has not kept his committee briefed on national-security strategies and operations in the manner prescribed by law, and he wants a better accounting from the intel community. Interestingly enough, this came up at the same time that General Michael Hayden's nomination for CIA Director came to the Senate, along with the nomination of Stephen Kappes for DDO. In fact, the Times never mentioned one of the themes of Hoekstra's letter and his frustration with the intel community more than the White House. Now, I had a full head of steam on talking about this, but the always-excellent Tom Maguire beat me to it -- and it's hard...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Er, What Resumé? (Updated)

Leave it to Newsweek to burnish the reputation of a single-term politician with no legislative record whatsoever to report that the presidential candidate has a "retooled resumé". John Edwards has hit the presidential campaign trail again, making him perhaps the only politician in US history to have twice as many runs at the presidency as terms in any electoral office: It's Friday night in Iowa and an old politician is trying some new tricks. John Edwards is back—back, with the familiar deep drawl, dark tan and honeyed hair. Gone, though, are the old catchphrases—"two Americas" and "hope is on the way." In their place: a long meditation on America's moral obligation to confront the plight of its poor. "Thirty-seven million of our people, worried about feeding and clothing their children," he said to his audience. "Aren't we better than that?" It's not the stuff of great sound bites, but it's...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Can The US Get Sanctions On Pyongyang?

Nicholas Burns, the Undersecretary of State, told Meet The Press that the US has enough support on the Security Council to get sanctions applied to North Korea as long as China doesn't issue a veto. However, Lindsay Graham warned that the US would start consider modifying its relationship to Beijing if the Chinese don't start applying its leverage to rein in Kim Jong-Il: The Bush administration on Sunday said it had the votes in the U.N. Security Council to impose sanctions against North Korea's nuclear missile program and urged China to use its influence to get Pyongyang back to the negotiating table. "We think we've got the votes to pass that," Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns said on NBC's "Meet the Press" television program. ... Burns said the United States did not have any assurances from China it would not use its veto of U.N. sanctions. "I don't think we've...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Will Comedy Central Let South Park Out Of The Closet?

Ever since South Park aired its "Trapped In The Closet" episode last November, the masters at Comedy Central and its parent company Viacom have kept the Scientology-bashing entry off the air. The episode created even more controversy when Isaac Hayes, the voice of Chef, quit the show in protest over the entry months after it originally appeared on Comedy Central. Now, however, the Viacom subsidiary may be forced to change its policy after the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences intervened in an unexpected manner: One of the Emmy nominees for best animated program is the episode of “South Park” that’s said to have angered Tom Cruise and Isaac Hayes. The episode called “Trapped in the Closet” implies that Cruise is gay and makes fun of Scientology. Cruise’s fellow Scientologist Isaac Hayes reportedly quit because he was upset with the episode. And when it came time to rerun it, Cruise...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Presidential Pardons And Presidential Connections

Another of Bill Clinton's presidential pardons has been shown to have financial connections to the Clinton family. The Washington Times reports that Anthony Rodham, Hillary Clinton's brother, got six-figure "loans" on which he never made payments from a company whose owners got pardoned for bank fraud: Anthony D. Rodham, one of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's two brothers, got the loans from United Shows of America Inc. after its owners obtained the presidential pardon in March 2000 over the objections of the Justice Department. Michael E. Collins, trustee for United Shows, filed papers in Alexandria bankruptcy court seeking the return of $107,000 plus $46,034 in interest from Mr. Rodham, 51, for the loans he received from the carnival company, which went bankrupt in 2002. Mr. Rodham "received the benefit of the loans without making any repayment," reads a related document filed last year in bankruptcy court in Nashville, Tenn. ... According...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

This Race Brought To You By Texas Democrats

Thanks to an ill-considered lawsuit by Texas Democrats, Tom DeLay may wind up running for office to regain the seat he just resigned in Congress: A source close to the ex-Congressman tells TIME that DeLay is planning an aggressive campaign to retake the House seat he quit in June if an appeals court lets stand a ruling by a federal judge last week that his name must stay on November's ballot—even though he has moved to Virginia. "If it isn't overturned, Katy bar the door!" says a G.O.P. official. "Guess he'll have to fire up the engines on the campaign and let 'er rip." The Democrats sued to keep DeLay's name on the Texas ballot after his resignation, reversing the stance they took with Frank Lautenberg after Robert Torricelli had to resign for ethics violations. Back then, in 2002, the Democrats sued to get Torricelli's name off the ballot, claiming...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Understanding The Palestinian Death Wish

Barry Rubin attempts to explain to Westerners the reasons why our efforts to deal with the Palestinians on a rational basis have no hope of success. The West offers incentives that have no traction in the Palestinian culture, Rubin tells us, and until we learn that we will never discover that the Palestinians fight because they cannot accept reality: The things many in the West think motivates Palestinians - getting a state, ending the occupation - are of no interest in their own right. Indeed, the only way to maintain the pretense is a combination of amnesia and abandoning of the kind of rational analysis used to view any other political situation in the world. ... HERE ARE the basic points for understanding Palestinian politics: There are hardly any moderate Palestinians in public life and even those few generally keep their mouths shut, or echo the militant majority. With few...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

July 10, 2006

Saddam's Lawyers Boycott Closing Arguments

Closing arguments began today in the trial of Saddam Hussein and six other regime officials, where the defendants face 148 counts of murder and other assorted crimes for the Dujail wipeout. Only one defendant and attorney attended the session, as the rest boycotted over supposed security concerns, including Saddam himself: The defense began closing arguments in the trial of Saddam Hussein on Monday, but most of the lawyers boycotted the court because of the slaying last month of an attorney for the former Iraqi leader. ... The lawyers for Saddam and three of his top co-defendants were not present, and one of them told The Associated Press that they were boycotting the court until better security was put in place and other demands were met. "Everyone is afraid," Najib al-Nueimi said from Qatar. "We will not attend until our conditions are met." He said that besides better security, the defense...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Japan Considers Pre-Emption

North Korea may have awoken the Japanese military impulse, this time in self-defense, with its missile launches. The Chief Cabinet Secretary announced that Tokyo would rethink the common interpretation of its constitution that restricts Japanese military action to self-defense in terms of a pre-emptive strike on any missiles Pyongyang stages in the future: Japan said Monday it was considering whether a pre-emptive strike on the North's missile bases would violate its constitution, signaling a hardening stance ahead of a possible U.N. Security Council vote on Tokyo's proposal for sanctions against the regime. Japan was badly rattled by North Korea's missile tests last week, and several government officials openly discussed whether the country ought to take steps to better defend itself, including setting up the legal framework to allow Tokyo to launch a pre-emptive strike against Northern missile sites. "If we accept that there is no other option to prevent an...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

The Butcher Of Beslan Bites It

The man who proudly proclaimed his responsibility for an atrocity that saw hundreds of Russian children murdered assumed room temperature earlier today. Chechen "warlord" (terrorist) Shamil Besayev died in a battle between his forces and the Russians in nearby Ingushetia: FSB chief Nikolai Patrushev said on Monday that Basayev, who claimed responsibility for the 2004 Beslan school attack in which 331 people, half of them children, were killed, was planning an attack to coincide with Russia hosting the G8 summit of world leaders this weekend. CNN's Matthew Chance said the killing was a massive victory for the security services and a huge blow for the rebel leadership. Basayev, together with other Chechen fighters, was killed in Ingushetia, a region neighboring Chechnya, where rebels are battling for independence. The CNN report includes a pretty good review of Basayev's career as a terrorist. He also claimed responsibility for a seizure of a...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Hoekstra Scolds White House On Transparency

Pete Hoekstra, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, confirmed yesterday that his committee got briefed on a "significant" intelligence program only after a whistleblower revealed its outlines to Congress. The New York Times reports on Hoekstra's revelations: The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said Sunday that the Bush administration briefed the panel on a "significant" intelligence program only after a government whistle-blower alerted him to its existence and he pressed President Bush for details. The chairman, Representative Peter Hoekstra, Republican of Michigan, wrote in a May 18 letter to Mr. Bush, first disclosed publicly on Saturday by The New York Times, that the administration's failure to notify his committee of this program and others could be a "violation of law." Mr. Hoekstra expanded on his concerns in a television appearance on Sunday, saying that when the administration withholds information from Congress, "I take it very, very seriously." ......

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Can Someone Put Adults In Charge Of Security?

Let's play a game, like Cops and Robbers but somewhat less complicated. (I never could memorize the Miranda rights declaration when I was a kid, and all my friends got released on technicalities.) We'll call this game Airport Security, where if you screw it up, a few hundred people can die a terrifying death. In this game, you're the security professional, and this is what you see: [A] man with a Middle Eastern name and a ticket for a Delta Airlines flight to Atlanta shook his head when screeners asked if he had a laptop computer in his baggage, but an X-ray machine operator detected a laptop. A search of the man's baggage revealed a clock with a 9-volt battery taped to it and a copy of the Quran, the report said. A screener examined the man's shoes and determined that the "entire soles of both shoes were gutted out."...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Gray Lady's Editors Continue Spinning For North Korea

The editorial board at the New York Times has published yet another editorial in which they strip the context from the diplomatic stalemate between North Korea and the rest of the six-party talks. At least they have begun to concede that the UN has nothing to offer in a confrontation between rational nations and a nutcase dictatorship: The United Nations Security Council certainly should register international condemnation of last week's North Korean missile launches. But if any serious progress is going to be made on this and the related North Korean nuclear issue, it will not be through Security Council resolutions or sanctions. There are only three countries with any real leverage — the United States, China and South Korea — and none are doing all they could to nudge North Korea onto a less provocative course. Until they do, Security Council resolutions will remain a largely symbolic sideshow. So...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Judge: Jefferson Raid Completely Legal

The FBI raid on William Jefferson's Congressional offices did not violate the law, a federal judge has ruled, and denied an effort by Congress to force the FBI to return materials that they had subpoenaed earlier. Judge Thomas Hogan rejected arguments that such efforts constituted an offense against the balance of power and accused Congress of trying to turn Capitol Hill into a "sanctuary": Chief U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan said members of Congress are not above the law. He rejected requests from lawmakers and Democratic Rep. William Jefferson to return material seized by the FBI in a May 20-21 search of Jefferson's office. In a 28-page opinion, Hogan dismissed arguments that the first-ever raid on a congressman's office violated the Constitution's protections against intimidation of elected officials. Jefferson's theory of legislative privilege "would have the effect of converting every congressional office into a taxpayer-subsidized sanctuary for crime," the...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

The Hillary-Gregory Connection To The Pardons

Yesterday I wrote about the obvious quid pro quo between Bill Clinton's presidential pardon of Edgar and Vonna Jo Gregory and the loans given to Hillary Clinton's brother, Anthony Rodham, starting two months later. Clinton pardoned the Gregorys in March 2000 for bank fraud convictions going back to 1982. Without that pardon, United Shows (owned by the Gregorys) could not procure state contracts for handling carnivals. In May 2000, United Shows started issuing a series of loans to Rodham that eventually totalled $107,000, loans for which they never demanded payment and which Rodham never paid on his own. It was not until United Shows went into receivership that the loans came to light, and the receiver filed claims against Rodham for repayment of the $107,000, plus another $46,000 in interest. United and the Gregorys never intended to demand repayment of the loans, which is why they never tried to collect...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Know Our Enemies

Rusty at My Pet Jawa has the latest in al-Qaeda PR -- a video of the two American soldiers captured and murdered by terrorist thugs in Iraq. Kristian Menchaca and Thomas Tucker fell victim to a sophisticated ambush by AQ operatives, and the Mujahedin Shura Council/AQI organization released the extremely graphic video that starts with Osama bin Laden's picture and shifts to a long overview of their desecrated bodies. The terrorists decaptitated one, and both show obvious signs of torture and mutilation. CQ readers should conisder whether to follow the link. In truth, I hesitated to do so earlier when I saw the post at Hot Air. In the end, I decided to watch the video as well as see the photographs, because I believe that we need to see who our enemies are in this war. We have shaded our eyes after 9/11 and even before that, allowing network...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Le Parti, C'est Moi, or It's My Party And I Can Cry If I Want To

I've made a point of defending Joe Lieberman's efforts to stand against the folly of the netroots in Connecticut, but he went a little far out on the limb today. When he filed papers to allow him to run as an independent, Lieberman made a rather silly mistake by creating his own political party in doing so: Lieberman also filed papers with the secretary of the state's office Monday to create a new party called Connecticut for Lieberman. Marion Steinfels, Lieberman's campaign spokeswoman, said the 25 people who signed on to help Lieberman form the Connecticut for Lieberman party will oversee the petition drive. ... Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz said Lieberman will be able to secure a higher position on the November ballot by creating a new party rather than petitioning his way on as an individual. Bysiewicz said Lieberman would be fifth on the ballot under the...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

July 11, 2006

A Day For Anniversaries

Most CQ readers know how influential Hugh Hewitt has been not to conservative bloggers in general, but specifically to me and to my success in conservative opinion journalism. He has been a tremendous mentor and a good friend to me and to my compatriots in blogging here in Minnesota. Founding the new Townhall for Salem Communications is just the latest proof of Hugh as a visionary. Yesterday, I had the honor of an invitation to appear on his show on the same segment as Claudia Rosett and wish him a happy 6th anniversary for his radio show -- and 24th wedding anniversary to the Fetching Mrs. Hewitt. It's my honor and privilege to thank him again for all he has done for me personally, as well as blogging and conservatism in general. Addendum: He's not the only one with an anniversary. Best wishes to a great friend and a lovely...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

We Know The Truth -- And That's The Problem

Hamas PM Ismail Haniyeh writes at the end of a long and deception-filled screed in today's Washington Post that "[i]f Americans only knew the truth," we would stop supporting Israel in the struggle between the Palestinians and the Israelis. Even the briefest skim over Haniyeh's column reveals that we will not get the truth from Hamas, as Haniyeh manages to hit all of the Hamas talking points while oddly neglecting to mention their part in escalating the conflict into open war in Gaza. Let's take this one piece at a time. He claims that the Palestinians are "besieged" by their occupiers: As Americans commemorated their annual celebration of independence from colonial occupation, rejoicing in their democratic institutions, we Palestinians were yet again besieged by our occupiers, who destroy our roads and buildings, our power stations and water plants, and who attack our very means of civil administration. Our homes and...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

GOP Heading For Schism? How About The Democrats?

EJ Dionne looks past the midterms to the next presidential cycle, and sees trouble ahead for the GOP. In his latest column, Dionne predicts that Republicans will find themselves foundering on the future direction of the party, a debate that Dionne says the GOP has mostly avoided since 1994: As it looks beyond the elections of 2006, a Republican Party known for ideological solidarity is on the cusp of a far more searching philosophical battle than are the Democrats, historically accustomed to bruising fights over the finer points of political theory. The coming Republican brawl reflects the fact that President Bush will leave office with no obvious heir, and Bushism as a political philosophy has yet to establish itself in the way that Reaganism did. Moreover, the four top candidates in most polls for the GOP's 2008 presidential nomination -- Sen. John McCain, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, Gov....

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Bombs Across India

It looks like al-Qaeda or an Islamofascist offshoot has decided to add another nation to its blood enemies. Instead of attacking Western targets, terrorists set off a wave of bombings across India today, attacking civilian transportation in several cities and killing scores of people: Suspected Islamist militants killed seven people, six of them tourists, on Tuesday in a series of grenade attacks in Srinagar, police said, the most concerted targeting of civilians in months. In the bloodiest strike, a grenade was thrown inside a bus in Srinagar, near the city's famous mountain-ringed Dal Lake, killing the six holidaymakers and wounding seven. Four other people were also hurt. ... At least 40 people were killed in seven blasts on the suburban rail network in India's financial capital Mumbai on Tuesday, television channel CNN-IBN said, quoting police. India's Home Secretary said that no terrorist group had taken responsibility for the strikes, but...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Geneva Convention For All Detainees: Pentagon

The Finanical Times reports that the Department of Defense has issued a major policy change, explicitly applying the Geneva Convention to GWOT detainees for the first time. After the Supreme Court ruling in Hamdan, many expected the Bush administration to fight the court's interpretation of Article 3 in Congress, but apparently Bush has decided to concede the point: The White House confirmed on Tuesday that the Pentagon had decided, in a major policy shift, that all detainees held in US military custody around the world are entitled to protection under the Geneva Conventions. The FT has learned that Gordon England, deputy defence secretary, sent a memo to senior defence officials and military officers last Friday, telling them that Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions – which prohibits inhumane treatment of prisoners and requires certain basic legal rights at trial – would apply to all detainees held in US military...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Israel Plans Expansion Of Gaza Incursion

After Khaled Mashaal refused to release Gilad Shalit, the IDF soldier kidnapped in a Hamas border raid that touched off a military escalation in Gaza, the Israelis have ordered a "massive" expansion of the Gaza operation: IDF troops were gearing up Tuesday afternoon for a planned massive incursion into the Gaza Strip. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert gave the IDF a green light to re-enter Gaza in an effort to stop Kassam rocket attacks. Military sources said that the new incursion would involve naval, infantry, and air forces, which would operate in the Gaza Strip. Ehud Olmert refused to trade Palestinian prisoners for Shalit, saying that such a capitulation would have serious long-term repercussions for the state of Israel. That reinforces the change in policy apparently made by Olmert over the last few weeks. Israel has made several such swaps before, trading hundreds of Palestinian terrorists for a handful of Israeli...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

A Bush Comeback

Gallup reports that approval ratings for George Bush have staged a strong rally over the last nine weeks. In early May, Bush had only a 31% approval rating and a 65% disapproval rating. Now, however, his approval rating has reached 40% for the first time since February: President George W. Bush's job approval rating has edged up slightly higher in Gallup's latest poll, and is now at 40% for the first since early February. The July 6-9 poll finds 40% of Americans approving and 55% disapproving of the job Bush is doing as president. After averaging 42% approval in January and early February, Bush's ratings began to decline in mid-February, ultimately dropping to his administration's low point of 31% in early May. Since that time, Bush's approval ratings have shown a slow, gradual improvement. It sounds like a grudging admission from Gallup. Gaining nine points in as many weeks while...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Taking Some Time Out To Focus .... Literally

Just got back from an eye exam -- and I can't see worth a darn for now. Will post more and read e-mail later. (Man I hope I typed this correctly!) UPDATE, 10:00 PM: I got my eyes dilated this afternoon, and I'm just now getting to the point where I can read my e-mail if I use the largest text size display. It tuns out that I have a condition known as retinoschisis, in my case a pretty benign issue. On the edge of my retina (in both eyes, as it turns out), I have a bubble between a couple of the retinal layers. I've probably had it for decades, but it only got discovered at my last eye exam because of improving technology. According to the site, it's a disease mostly found in boys and young men. It's nowhere near as bad in my case as the information...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Novak: I Got Plame's Name From Who's Who

(Well, okay -- one last post. -- CE) Robert Novak has finally spoken out on his involvement in the investigation on the Valerie Plame leak case. In tomorrow's column, Novak explains that Plame's name came from a reference book, and that he used his contacts in the administration merely for passive confirmation. The Drudge Report saw the text, and printed excerpts (via Stop the ACLU): BOB NOVAK, My Leak Case Testimony: ‘I learned Valerie Plame’s name from Joe Wilson’s entry in ‘Who’s Who in America’… MORE Published reports that I took the Fifth Amendment, made a plea bargain with the prosecutors or was a prosecutorial target were all untrue… MORE… My primary source has not come forward to identify himself… Bill Harlow, the CIA public information officer who was my CIA source for the column confirming Mrs. Wilson’s identity. I learned Valerie Plame’s name from Joe Wilson’s entry in ‘Who’s...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

July 12, 2006

Hezbollah Finds Out Israelis Can Fight On Two Fronts

The terror group Hezbollah tried taking advantage of Israel's focus on Gaza and the fate of its kidnapped soldier, Gilad Shalit, by staging its own cross-border raid and abducting two more IDF soldiers. Israel made it clear that the Gaza operation would not prevent it from responding in the north, as Ehud Olmert warned Lebanon that it had committed an act of war against Israel: Seventeen days after IDF soldier Gilad Shalit was kidnapped in Gaza, a second front was opened on Israel's northern border Wednesday morning as Hizbullah, under cover of a barrage of Katyusha rockets and mortar shells, kidnapped two more army troops. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert declared the attack as an "act of war" and not terror. During a press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi Wednesday afternoon, he called it an unprovoked assault by a sovereign nation and held Lebanon, where Hizbullah has a minister...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

NYT Focuses On Gazans, But Not Sderot Or Ashkelon

Today's New York Times takes the time to report on the misery of the Gazans during the IDF incursion, painting a sympathetic picture of families displaced by the fighting. Steve Erlanger manages to portray the Palestinians in Gaza as victims of the Israelis while never mentioning the broader context of the conflict: Khairi Edbary and his family of eight normally share a tiny concrete house with his brother and his family of eight, with a raw dividing wall of concrete blocks providing a touch of privacy. These days, however, the house is almost empty. The Edbarys live on the eastern edge of the broken runway of what was once the Gaza airport, which has now been taken over by Israeli troops. Like many of the people here, mostly poor farmers, the Edbarys have heeded the Israeli call to evacuate their homes to escape the fighting and are sleeping in United...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Old Wine In New Bottles

Singapore, which has one of the strictest and regulated cultures among nations nominally considered "free", has declined to force bloggers to register with the government's media watchdog agency. Referring to blogging as "old wine in new bottles," Singapore determined that bloggers do little other than post their own thoughts to web pages, amd that represents no threat to public order: Singapore’s National Internet Advisory Committee has abandoned an idea to make it compulsory for bloggers to register with the media watchdog. The popularity of blogs or online journals prompted the committee to consider requiring their authors to register with Singapore’s Media Development Authority (MDA). Political and religious parties, Internet service providers, and online newspapers already come under this rule. The NIAC decided that bloggers who posted material "against the public and society interest" could get prosecuted under other laws, and that registration with the MDA amounted to a redundancy. The...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Pelosi Losing Grip On Caucus?

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has dreams of becoming the first woman to wield the Speaker's gavel if the Democrats can take control of the House in the mid-term elections. However, according to Roll Call, the Democratic caucus has increasingly lost interest in her, with participation in caucus meetings dropping below 25%: With attendance typically struggling to crack the 50-Member mark, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) is cracking the whip, demanding that her fellow Democrats attend three “crucial” Caucus meetings between now and the August recess — an order supplemented by a fellow leader’s hint that failure to cooperate could be detrimental to Members’ futures. In a “Dear Colleague” letter sent early Tuesday afternoon, Pelosi told Members that attendance will be taken at the weekly hour-long sessions this morning and each of the next two Wednesdays, with Democrats using the sessions to discuss their “New Direction” agenda. “These crucial...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Hezbollah: Israel Must Swap Prisoners For Soldiers

Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah in Lebanon, appeared at a press conference today to insist that Israel had to negotiate for the release of its prisoners, a plan that Nasrallah says Hezbollah planned over the past year. The terrorist leader appeared to blame the IDF for being ill-prepared for the attack, which allowed Hezbollah to capture the two soldiers: In a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, Hizbullah's spiritual leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, lauded the Hizbullah for the attack in which seven IDF soldiers were killed and two others kidnapped and warned Israel that the Hizbullah would only release the captives in exchange for security prisoners. "Our operation succeeded, we have results and honor," the sheikh declared. "We kept our promise to kidnap soldiers [to secure] the release of prisoners, and therefore are calling the attack 'Operation Promise Fulfilled'." The sheikh warned Israel not to attempt a rescue operation....

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Iranian Nuclear Crisis To Go To Security Council

The main powers of the UN Security Council have decided that the standoff over Iran's nuclear program should proceed to the UNSC for a resolution. Speaking for all five permanent members of the UNSC as well as the EU, the French Foreign Minister told the press that the Iranians had not taken negotiations seriously: World powers agreed Wednesday to send Iran back to the United Nation's Security Council for possible punishment, saying the clerical regime has given no sign it means to negotiate seriously over its disputed nuclear program. The United States and other permanent members of the powerful U.N. body said Iran has had long enough to say whether it will meet the world's terms to open bargaining that would give Tehran economic and energy incentives in exchange for giving up suspicious activities. "The Iranians have given no indication at all that they are ready to engage seriously on...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

USA Today And Its Freedom Of Disinformation Act

USA Today publishes an explosive story today alleging that the Bush administration wants to roll back the Freedom of Information Act. The new program will grant $1 million to the St. Mary's University law school to analyze various state laws on information access: The federal government will pay a Texas law school $1 million to do research aimed at rolling back the amount of sensitive data available to the press and public through freedom-of-information requests. Beginning this month, St. Mary's University School of Law in San Antonio will analyze recent state laws that place previously available information, such as site plans of power plants, beyond the reach of public inquiries. Jeffrey Addicott, a professor at the law school, said he will use that research to produce a national "model statute" that state legislatures and Congress could adopt to ensure that potentially dangerous information "stays out of the hands of the...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Chickens Come Home To Roost In Gaza

One of the most-sought Hamas leaders suffered major injuries in a bomb strike by the IDF in Gaza today. Mohammed Deif, who had coordinated suicide attacks in Israel by Hamas, will likely be a paraplegic if he survives the attack at all: A Hamas militant leader who has topped Israel's most-wanted list for a decade was badly wounded and underwent four hours of spinal surgery Wednesday after an Israeli F-16 warplane dropped a quarter-ton bomb that killed nine members of one family, security officials said. The top fugitive, Mohammed Deif, could end up paralyzed, Palestinian security officials said on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss his condition. Wednesday's blast marked the army's fourth attempt to kill Deif, held responsible for suicide bombings in Israel. In a 2002 missile strike, he lost an eye. ... Israel's air force targeted the two-story house of Nabil Abu Salmiyeh, a...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Egypt Blames Syria For Escalating Violence

Egyptian ruler Hosni Mubarak blames Syria and Bashar Assad for scotching a deal last week that could have resolved the crisis in Gaza. Egypt had worked out a deal with Israel and Hamas to trade prisoners for abducted soldier Gilad Shalit, but "outside pressure" caused Hamas to renege at the last moment: Syrian Vice President Farouk al-Sharaa denied his country had a role in either the Hamas or Hezbollah abductions. .. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak implicitly accused Damascus of wrecking his attempts to mediate a deal for the release of Cpt. Cpl. Gilad Shalit, snatched by Hamas-linked militants on June 25. Hamas was subjected to "counter-pressures by other parties, which I don't want to name but which cut the road in front of the Egyptian mediation and led to the failure of the deal after it was about to be concluded," Mubarak told Cairo's Al-Ahram Al-Massai newspaper. No one with...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Misdirected Outrage At A Democratic Mistake

A lot of people have found themselves offended by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's latest advertisement. The DCCC uses a brief shot of flag-draped coffins of dead American servicemen to argue that the country has "taken a turn for the worse." Some object to this as crass exploitation, calling it "disgusting", among other epithets. The DCCC certainly invites criticism with its use of that imagery, but we should be careful with our moral outrage. The Democrats have every right to campaign on a belief that the Iraq War has failed, all evidence to the contrary. Part of that argument involves the loss of American life, and like it or not, that is certainly a rational basis on which to argue the war's value. My objection to this does not come so much from their use of the imagery, but from their inability to provide a coherent argument about how to...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Comments And Trackbacks And E-Mail, Oh My!

I have received a few e-mails from readers that say the Typepad validation process has stopped working on the comments. I tried it at 6:50 PM CT and successfully posted a comment, so it may just be an intermittent problem. Keep trying -- it should be working shortly. This is as good a time as any to remind the CQ community of the policies on comments and trackbacks. Commenters here are valued guests, and as long as they can abide by the rather simple rules, then we will have no issues. I will delete posts that attempt to hijack a thread by changing the subject. I have a pretty wide definition of "subject" and usually allow almost any tangential debate to continue. When it strays, I will delete the comment and replace it with a reminder to follow the policy. If a commenter has to be reminded repeatedly to stay...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

NYT: China "Honest Broker"

Tomorrow's New York Times reports that China and Russia will offer a proposal for a Security Council resolution that stops short of making economic sanctions a requirement for UN member states. Warren Hoge and Joseph Kahn also manage to squeeze in a little bias at the end of their report that paints China as an "honest broker" for peace. First, though, the resolution comes with a Chinese pledge to veto Japan's proposal if this new effort fails to win support: China and Russia introduced a draft resolution on North Korea in the Security Council on Wednesday and asked the Council’s members to consider it in place of a Japanese-sponsored resolution, to which they both have objected, that would have allowed for military enforcement and sanctions. In offering the new measure, Wang Guangya, the Chinese ambassador, said he had instructions from his government to veto the Japanese resolution if it were...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

July 13, 2006

Trying New Fix For Typekey

CQ reader Jim,MtnViwCA sent me a fix for the Typekey process on comments. Let me know if this improves the comment performance, or if it makes it worse. If it's the former, he gets the credit, but I'll take the blame if not!...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Is Lebanon The Right Target?

No one can blame Israel for the years of frustration in dealing with Hezbollah terrorists in southern Lebanon. They have conducted border raids, shot missiles, and otherwise tried to provoke Israel into a response. This week, they took advantage of the Gaza engagement to attack Israel again -- or perhaps staged the attack in coordination with Hamas -- and Israel has finally responded in force. While Hezbollah fires more rockets into Northern Israel, Olmert has all but declared war on Lebanon: Israel intensified its attacks against Lebanon on Thursday, blasting Beirut's international airport and the southern part of the country in its heaviest air campaign against its neighbor in 24 years. Nearly three dozen civilians were killed, officials said. The strikes on the airport, which damaged three runways, came hours before Israel imposed an air and naval blockade on Lebanon to cut off supply routes to militants. ... In a...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Iraq Takes Over In Muthanna

The Iraqi government has taken over security responsibilities for the province of Muthanna, the first transition for the eventual handover of all security to the Iraqis. CENTCOM posts the announcement from Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and General George Casey: Iraq witnessed a historic event today with the transfer of security responsibility in Muthanna Province from the Multi-National Force - Iraq (MNF-I) to the Provincial Governor and civilian-controlled Iraqi Security Forces. The handover represents a milestone in the successful development of Iraq’s capability to govern and protect itself as a sovereign and democratic nation. Muthanna is the first of Iraq’s 18 provinces to be designated for such a transition. As Prime Minister Maliki announced on June 19, 2006, the joint decision between the Iraqi government and MNF-I to hand over security responsibility is the result of Muthanna’s demonstrated abilities to take the lead in managing its own security and governance duties at...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Anti-Missile Test 'Phenomenal'

The Army had a "phenomenal" success in the latest test of the American anti-ballistic missile defense system. Jason Gibbs reports for the Las Cruces Sun-News that a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile intercepted and destroyed a warhead and its contents: Hundreds of miles above southern New Mexico, it was a picture-perfect impact between two missiles. ... The pre-dawn art show was the result of the third of five tests planned at White Sands Missile Range to determine the effectiveness of THAAD — Terminal High Altitude Area Defense missile. And military officials said the test went better than they could have hoped. "This was phenomenal," said U.S. Army Col. Charles Driessnack, the project manager for the Missile Defense Agency's THAAD program. "It performed as expected." The test demonstrated the THAAD's ability to "completely destroy that warhead so that no chemical or nuclear residue would contaminate areas" below the explosion,...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

What Does The Lebanese Air Force And Hezbollah TV Have In Common?

They're both off the air: Israeli warplanes blasted runways at the two main army air bases in eastern and northern Lebanon near Syria's border on Thursday, police said, attacks that could draw the Lebanese army into Israel's war with Hizbullah guerrillas. Israeli jets dropped two bombs on the runway at the Rayak air base in the eastern Beka'a Valley, damaging it, police said. There were no reports of casualties or damage to aircraft. .... Planes later attacked the Qoleiat air base near the Syrian border in the north with four missiles, police said. The strikes on the country's two air bases virtually neutralize Lebanon's air force. The Jerusalem Post also shows a picture of an explosion at Al-Manar, the Hezbollah television channel, in an attempt to cut off all possible means of communication, especially propaganda broadcasts. The eradication of Lebanon's air force again calls into question the Israeli strategy. It...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Tribunals Out, Courts-Martial In: McCain

John McCain says the Bush administration has given up on military tribunals for captured terrorists and agreed to courts-martial instead, reversing course with Congress. The change would match the language of the Geneva Conventions for treatment of POWs, signalling a shift in detainee status as well: Citing recent meetings with Stephen Hadley, the president's national security adviser, and other top administration officials, McCain said the White House would not insist upon legislation authorizing military commissions established by the Pentagon. "At that time, I was under the impression that that was the administration's position," McCain said. "I hope that hadn't changed." Such a promise would contradict testimony heard earlier this week from administration officials, who told lawmakers that Congress should not turn to the Uniformed Code of Military Justice because it would grant terrorists too many freedoms and would be unpractical on the battlefield. In their testimony, officials representing the Defense...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Haifa Hit As Hezbollah Wants Iranian Escalation

The Israeli-Lebanon conflict appears to have escalated greatly in the last few hours. Rockets hit Haifa from Lebanon earlier for the first time, and Hezbollah now wants to involve Iran in the war they initiated: Two rockets have struck the Israeli city of Haifa, hours after a threat by the militant Lebanese group Hezbollah. Hezbollah denied firing any rockets at the northern port city. There were no reports of injuries or damage. Haifa, Israel's third largest city, is more than 30km (18 miles) from the Lebanese border and was thought to be out of Hezbollah's range. This represents a major escalation by Hezbollah, although one completely expected after the Israeli bombing of Beirut's airport, Lebanese air force bases, and Hezbollah's Al-Manar television station. However, Hezbollah has done something rather unexpected in attempting to move the captured Israeli soldiers to Iran: Israel has information that Hizbullah guerrillas who captured two Israeli...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Bush Agrees To FISA Oversight On NSA Program

Senator Arlen Specter says that the White House will support a bill that allows the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to rule on the constitutionality of the Terrorist Surveillance Program. The bill makes the submission to the FISA judges voluntary, and Bush agreed to approve the legislation and submit the program as long as it remains voluntary: The White House has conditionally agreed to a court review of its controversial eavesdropping program, Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter said Thursday. Specter said President Bush has agreed to sign legislation that would authorize the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to review the constitutionality of the National Security Agency's most high-profile monitoring operations. ... Specter said the legislation, which has not yet been made public, was the result of "tortuous" negotiations with the White House since June. "If the bill is not changed, the president will submit the Terrorist Surveillance Program to the Foreign...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Attention, Perjury Fans!

Valerie Wilson. née Valerie Plame, has filed a lawsuit against Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, and a cast of thousands for conspiring to ruin her career. The former CIA analyst who arranged for her husband to investigate claims that Saddam Hussein had tried to purchase uranium, and who subsequently leaked misleading information about his findings, wants monetary damage for her career losses: The CIA officer whose identity was leaked to reporters sued Vice President Dick Cheney, his former top aide and presidential adviser Karl Rove on Thursday, accusing them and other White House officials of conspiring to destroy her career. In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court, Valerie Plame and her husband, Joseph Wilson, a former U.S. ambassador, accused Cheney, Rove and I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby of revealing Plame's CIA identity in seeking revenge against Wilson for criticizing the Bush administration's motives in Iraq. ... The lawsuit accuses Cheney, Libby,...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Get A Call From Zed, Jan, Sam, And Damon

For CQ readers who love their daily dose of Day By Day, Chris Muir's excellent cartoon, he now has a clever new way to deliver his trenchant commentary directly to you. You can follow the exploits of the blogosphere's favorite foursome on your cell phone, starting immediately: SmashPhone, a mobile phone comic strip network, today announced it’s bringing Amy DeZeller’s Dating Amy and Chris Muir’s Day by Day comic strips to mobile phones everywhere. Viewers can access the SmashPhone Comic Strip Network through Verizon, Cingular, Sprint, T-Mobile and many other carriers. The comics are served by SmashPhone for free (although phone company data charges may apply). “I’m excited to be included by SmashPhone,” says Dating Amy author Amy DeZellar. “I think it's the first time a book has been promoted this way.” DeZellar is the author of the hilarious blog-turned-memoir Dating Amy that tracks DeZellar’s experiences dating fifty men over...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Disabiliblogging: The Clouds Part

We got some great news from the U of M on the First Mate's recovery this afternoon. She seems to be recovering her health across the board, which we suspected by watching her stamina and coloring improve greatly since her last release from the hospital. She has less need for the oxygen -- in fact, she may not need it at all, but we have to wait for another clinic visit to determine that. But the real news came from the lab reports. As you know, the FM has suffered from CMV and BK viral infections; the former can be deadly, and the latter killed her transplanted kidney. Today we heard that her viral load on CMV as dropped to 100, just above a "negative" result. It means that the antivirals have done their work. We also found out that the BK viral load results are negative, which means we...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Taking A Stroll Through The Garden Of Half-Truths

I've had a chance to review the lawsuit filed on behalf of Valerie Plame and Joe Wilson, and it has an amusing take on reality that I heartily recommend to all interested parties. Quite frankly, the defense will have a delightful time if this ever gets to court. This is one of those moments when one wonders what color the sky is in another's world. We can start on page 6 of the PDF file, where the plaintiffs lay out the facts of the case. Paragraph 18b starts us off down the primrose path (emphases mine): On May 6, 2003, the New York Times published a column by Nicholas Kristof which disputed the accuracy of the "sixteen words" in the State of the Union address. The column reported that, following a request from the Vice President's office for an investigation of allegations that Iraq sought to buy uranium from Niger,...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

When You Lose The Wahhabis ...

The terrorist braintrust at Hezbollah, and whoever else gives them counsel, apparently screwed up so badly that even other Arabs put the blame on them instead of the yahouds. The Jerusalem Post notes that the most conservative Islamic nation in the region publicly scolded Hezbollah for its "uncalculated adventures": In a significant move, Saudi Arabia, the Arab world's political heavyweight and economic powerhouse, accused Hizbullah guerrillas - without naming them - of "uncalculated adventures" that could precipitate a new Middle East crisis. A Saudi official quoted by the state Saudi Press Agency said the Lebanese Hizbullah's brazen capture of two Israeli soldiers was not legitimate. The kingdom "clearly announces that there has to be a differentiation between legitimate resistance (to Israel) and uncalculated adventures." The Saudi official said Hizbullah's actions could lead to "an extremely serious situation which could subject all Arab nations and its achievements to destruction." "The kingdom...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

July 14, 2006

Tapscott To Testify On Pork Database

Mark Tapscott, who has worked tirelessly against pork-barrel spending at his own blog, the Heritage Foundation, and now as editorial page editor at The Examiner, will testify in the Senate on July 18th on the impact of a proposed federal spending databse on journalism. The subcommittee on Financial Management, Government Information, and International Security ... needs a name change ... but also will hear testimony on Tom Coburn's bill creating an Internet database of all federal spending, searchable and open to all: Sen. Tom Coburn will convene a hearing July 18 of the Senate's Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information and International Security to "highlight the lack of transparency in federal spending decisions, as well as the merits of legislation to create a website disclosing the recipients of all federal funding." There will be two panels, with the first consisting of senators John McCain, R-AZ, and Barack Obama, D-IL,...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Hezbollah Gamble Coming Up Short

Anthony Shadid analyzes the Hezbollah attack on Israel and its capture of two IDF soldiers, and concludes that it just shot itself in the foot. Their unilateral decision to engage Israel militarily has probably done as much damage to Hezbollah in Lebanese politics as the assassination of Rafik Hariri did to the Syrian occupation: The radical Shiite movement Hezbollah and its leader, Hasan Nasrallah, hold an effective veto in Lebanese politics, and the group's military prowess has heartened its supporters at home and abroad in the Arab world. But that same force of arms has begun to endanger Hezbollah's long-term standing in a country where critics accuse it of dragging Lebanon into an unwinnable conflict the government neither chose nor wants to fight. "To a certain Arab audience and Arab elite, Nasrallah is a champion, but the price is high," said Walid Jumblatt, a member of parliament and leader of...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

NYT: Give Hezbollah What They Want

A curious column in the New York Times prescribes a hefty dose of everything that Hezbollah wants as the path to peace on Israel's northern border. Michael Young, the editor of Lebanon's Daily Star, gives a first-class analysis of the political blunder that Sheikh Nasrallah has committed in his attack on Israel, but then advises the Israelis to ensure that it pays off: Once the Israelis end their offensive, Hezbollah will regroup and continue to hold Lebanon hostage through its militia, arguably the most effective force in the country. Hamas leaders in Damascus will continue derailing any negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. And Syria will continue to eat away at Lebanese independence, reversing the gains of last year when hundreds of thousands of Lebanese marched against Syrian hegemony. It would be far smarter for Israel, and America, to profit from Hezbollah’s having perhaps overplayed its hand. The popular mood here...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Did Pakistani Intelligence Plan India Bombings?

Pakistan's intelligence service, the ISI, has long been rumored to have deep connections to Islamist radicals, including al-Qaeda and almost certainly helped prop up the Taliban during their years in power. Now the Hindustan Times reports that the ISI had some operational connection to the Mumbai bombings of 7/11, potentially broadening the scope of the conflict between Pakistan and India: Forty-eight hours after bombs ripped through Mumbai, the needle pointed to Pakistan. Intelligence agencies on Thursday confirmed that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) was the “mastermind” of the blasts that killed about 200 people. The Mumbai Police, meanwhile, identified the trio who planned and executed 11/7: Rahil, Zahibuddin Ansari and Faiyaz, linked to the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT) and the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). Of them, Rahil had reportedly made an abortive bid to trigger a blast at Byculla railway station on March 11 — the eve of the anniversary of...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

The Vatican Rag (Updated)

The Vatican finally issued a statement on the conflict in Lebanon, and Catholics around the world -- including yours truly -- will wish that the Holy See had remained quiet. Despite the attack on Israel by Hezbollah, a member of the Lebanese government, the Vatican blames Israel for defending itself militarily: The Vatican on Friday strongly deplored Israel's strikes on Lebanon, saying they were "an attack" on a sovereign and free nation. Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano said Pope Benedict and his aides were very worried that the developments in the Middle East risked degenerating into "a conflict with international repercussions." "In particular, the Holy See deplores right now the attack on Lebanon, a free and sovereign nation, and assures its closeness to these people who already have suffered so much to defend their independence," he told Vatican Radio. ... Sodano reserved his harshest words for Israel. "The...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Super-Size Fasting

Michelle Malkin has decided to join in Cindy Sheehan's "rolling fast". How's it working out? Morgan Spurlock could make a documentary. Michelle is a riot in this edition of The Vent. Enjoy -- and be sure to have your ice-cream floats handy....

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Israel Destroys Hezbollah HQ, But Nasrallah Escapes

Israel stepped up its attacks on Hezbollah targets throughout Lebanon this afternoon, destroying their headquarters in Beirut and again attacking Lebanon's airport. The IAF also bombed Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah's house, but the Hezbollah chief apparently escaped harm in both attacks: Hizbullah threatened to strike Haifa with improved Katyusha rockets on Friday evening after IAF warplanes destroyed the building housing the headquarters of the Hizbullah terror organization in south Beirut and organization head Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah's private home. In an urgent flash, the organization's al-Manar TV station said the building housing Hizbullah's leadership was destroyed. It did not elaborate, nor say whether there were any casualties. The report on the destruction of Nasrallah's home was announced by official Hizbullah media outlets. From televised reports, it appears that Nasrallah had gone to ground and was not at either location when Israel struck. The IAF continued its attacks on southern Beirut, where Hezbollah...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

The Unlikeliest Spy Against The Islamists

CQ reader jiHymas refers us to a fascinating account about the insider who nailed the Toronto 17, the Islamist terror cell that had attempted to purchase three tons of ammonium nitrate to conduct attacks on Canada's infrastructure. Meet Mubin Shaikh, a Muslim who campaigned for allowing sharia courts in Canada's Muslim communities and who supports the jihads in Afghanistan and Iraq. Yet this Canadian drew the line on attacks on his fellow citizens: This is the story of the 18th man, the civilian mole and devout Muslim paid by CSIS and the RCMP to infiltrate Mr. Ahmad's circle and thwart an alleged plot to blow up those targets. Over a series of discussions with The Globe and Mail, Mr. Shaikh detailed his motives for bringing down the alleged terrorist cell. Above all, violence in Canada in the name of Islam cannot be tolerated, said Mr. Shaikh, who says he has...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Talk About A Bad Draw!

Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame have run into a bit of bad luck in their lawsuit against Dick Cheney, Scooter Libby, Karl Rove, and ten random Republicans. CQ reader Denis K took a peek at the complaint and noticed something that I had missed earlier -- the judge assigned to the case. Wilson and Plame drew Judge John D. Bates -- and a quick glance at his rulings will no doubt have the Left fuming. For instance, Judge Bates ruled in January 2005 that Michael Newdow would suffer no harm if the President said a prayer at his inauguration. Newdow, most known for using his (non-custodial) child as a means to attack the Pledge of Allegiance, lost his bid to enact a prior restraint on the President's speech at his own inauguration simply because Newdow planned to attend. If that doesn't get the Democratic Underground in a fury, they may...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Me And My Moustache

More translated documents have been posted from the captured files of the Iraqi Intelligence Service, and one in particular contains a revealing look at the dictator himself. A speech handwritten by Saddam Hussein, apparently for the dedication of the Mother Of All Battles Mosque in May 2002, paints the picture of a man who wants to almost deify himself in the eyes of his people. For the occasion, he penned a paean to ... his moustache. No, I'm not kidding; here it is in its entirety (ellipsis in the original): Arabs, including you, across their long history, have made their mustaches a symbol of their commitment and a mark of their willingness to bear the responsibility of their sex; as the uniqueness of the mustache was a duty of men alone, in all that glorifies family, people, and nation… God has blessed us, and in us, he has blessed our...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Syrian Power Structure Bypassing Assad?

Syria made its official entry into the war breaking out between Israel and Hezbollah, pledging to come to the aid of Hezbollah and Lebanon if necessary to ensure Israel's defeat. However, the statement did not come from Bashar Assad, the ostensible leader of Syria, but from a meeting of the Ba'athist party's power brokers: Syria will support Hizbollah and Lebanon against Israel's attacks on the country, the ruling Baath Party said on Friday, defying the Jewish state and its chief ally Washington. "The Syrian people are ready to extend full support to the Lebanese people and their heroic resistance to remain steadfast and confront the barbaric Israeli aggression and its crimes," said a communiqu¿ from the party's national command issued after a meeting. It said Israel and the United States "are trying to wipe out Arab resistance in every land under occupation" and that President Bashar al-Assad was aware of...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

July 15, 2006

Nasrallah Bugging Out?

The Jerusalem Post reports that Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah and his merry band of stalwart defenders of Lebanon have decided to get the hell out of Beirut after the Israelis flattened their offices there. The move follows Nasrallah's call for "open war", and an Israeli response by hitting the Lebanese city of Triploi, north of Beirut: Hizbullah leaders and operatives were leaving Beirut on Saturday following a massive IAF strike on an 11-story building that served as the organization's command center, initial intelligence indicated. Channel 2 reported that the move appeared to be made under heavy security. Earlier Saturday, IAF jets attacked targets in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli, some 90 kilometers north of Beirut, marking the deepest Israel has struck inside Lebanon since the onset of Operation Just Rewards. The jets also hit bridges and gas stations in eastern and southern Lebanon, and dropped tens of thousands of fliers...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Israel Issues Ultimatum To Syria

Perhaps sensing a leadership vacuum in Damascus based on the odd report yesterday that Bashar Assad did not participate in a Ba'ath Party leadership conference, Israel has issued an ultimatum to Syria demanding the return of its soldiers and the end to Hezbollah activity along the border. If Syria does not comply within 72 hours, an Arabic newspaper reported, Israel will launch a major attack against Syria: The London-based Arabic language newspaper Al-Hayat reported Saturday that “Washington has information according to which Israel gave Damascus 72 hours to stop Hizbullah’s activity along the Lebanon-Israel border and bring about the release the two kidnapped IDF soldiers or it would launch an offensive with disastrous consequences.” The report said “a senior Pentagon source warned that should the Arab world and international community fail in the efforts to convince Syria to pressure Hizbullah into releasing the soldiers and halt the current escalation Israel...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

So Much For The DCCC Advertisement

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee finally withdrew the advertisement they released last week after a hailstorm of criticism that wound up including at least two of the candidates the DCCC intended to help. DCCC chair Rahm Emanuel had defended the use of flag-draped military coffins as a political argument, but the argument failed to overcome the criticism: Democrats pulled an Internet ad that showed flag-draped coffins Friday after Republicans and at least two Democrats demanded it be taken down on grounds the image was insensitive and not fit for a political commercial. The ad by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee called for a "new direction" and displayed a staccato of images, including war scenes, pollution and breached levees as well as a photograph of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay doctored to look like a police mug shot. ... Democrats had featured the video ad for nearly two weeks on...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Why The Sheriff Won't Patrol The Border

Sheriff's deputies in Hidalgo County, Texas, will not patrol the border, and for apparently good reason -- they're outgunned. Responding to a 911 call about a raid and a kidnapping, the deputies soon found themselves pinned down at the Rio Grande by automatic weapons fire: Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Trevino said 200 to 300 shots were fired from automatic weapons Wednesday night, but no one was injured on the U.S. side, and police didn't fire back. "This type of incident is a very good example of why I will not allow my deputies to patrol the river banks or the levees anywhere close to the river," he said. "We do have drug trafficking gangs, human trafficking gangs, that will not hesitate to fire at us." Trevino said the shooting appeared to have started in Tamaulipas, at a riverside ranch owned by a family from Donna. He said two brothers said...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Sadr Itching To Join Hezbollah

Moqtada al-Sadr, otherwise known as the man who brought a knife to a gunfight -- twice -- now wants to put his military genius to work on behalf of Hezbollah. Sadr threatened that his Mahdi Army would not sit on the sidelines while the Zionists attacked Islamists in Lebanon: The radical Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr said Friday that Iraqis would not “sit by with folded hands” while Israel struck at Lebanon, signaling a possible increase in attacks from his mercurial militia, the Mahdi Army. In a written statement, Mr. Sadr also said that he considered the United States culpable in the conflict unfolding in Lebanon, since America was the largest foreign ally of Israel. ... It is no surprise that Mr. Sadr should rise to Lebanon’s defense. Since 2004, he has transformed his organization into one similar to Hezbollah, the militant Shiite faction there. From its ragtag beginnings, Mr. Sadr’s...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Saddam's Subsidies To Terrorists

The newly-released translations of files captured in the invasion of Iraq reveal more about connections between Saddam Hussein and terrorism. The one file reviewed here yesterday that produced Saddam's "Ode To My Moustache Hairs", ISGP-2003-00014647, also contains more substantive information about his role in promoting terrrorism. On page 4 of the file, Iraq planned the announcement of direct payments to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers: Republic of Iraq The Presidency The Press Secretary Number: SS/4/58 Date: 3/4/2002 Mr. the Esteemed Chief of the Presidential Bureau Re: Order AT the meeting that took place on Monday 3/4/2002 with Mr. Faruq Qaddumi, the Foreign Minister of Palestine, the President ordered that $25,000 are to be given to the family of any person who takes part in a suicide mission in Palestine. H.E. also ordered that the Intifada martyrs are to be included in all salaries and benefits granted to the Umm-al-Ma`arik...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

A Strange Sense Of Urgency

In December 1998, President Bill Clinton ordered missile strikes on specific targets in Iraq after Saddam Hussein reneged on a promise to cooperate with UNSCOM inspections. The missiles targeted sites known or thought to have connections to Saddam's hidden efforts to continue his WMD development programs, including chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons. These strikes, the second in as many months, put an end to UN inspections until the US threatened an invasion almost exactly four years later. Clinton told the press on December 18th that the Pentagon had selected the targets carefully, especially the presidential sites. After the invasion toppled Saddam in 2003, however, conventional wisdom has it that Saddam had shelved all his WMD programs, and therefore these strikes must not have hit any R&D assets, but rather just constituted a headache for the dictator. However, at the same time that Clinton held his press conference, Saddam issued orders...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Sanctions For North Korea

The UN Security Council voted unanimously to impose sanctions on North Korea in response to its missile tests, forbidding the sale of any material with use for its rocket program. The Russians and Chinese agreed to the sanctions if references to Chapter VII were removed, preventing escalation to military action: The U.N. Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution Saturday condemning North Korea's recent missile tests and demanding that the reclusive communist nation suspend its ballistic missile program. The agreement was reached after a last-minute compromise between Japan, the United States and Britain, who wanted a tough statement, and Russia and China, who favored weaker language. North Korea vowed to continue missile launches "as part of its effort to bolster deterrent for self-defense in the future," said Pak Gil Yon, North Korea's U.N. ambassador. Does this have teeth? If followed by all UN member states as required, it means that North...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

The Saddam-Osama Connection

One of the documents released by the FMSO project contains the records of the Iraqi regime's early connections to Osama bin Laden, starting in 1994 and continuing at least through 1997. It comes in the middle of document ISGZ-2004-009247, a review of Iraqi Intelligence Service contacts in the region and summaries of the combined efforts that they produced. The review of their work with Saddam comes in section 2, discussing "The Reform And Advice Committee": 2. The Reform and Advice Committee: Headed by the Saudi Usamah Bin Ladin [UBL], who is a member of a wealthy Saudi family with his roots going back to Hadhramut [TC: An area now part of Yemen]. This family has a strong ties with the ruling family in Saudi. He is one of the leaders of the Afghan-Arabs, who volunteered for jihad in Afghanistan. After the expulsion of the Russians, he moved to live in...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Operation Blessed July

Another document released by the FMSO from the captured files of the Iraqi Intelligence Services shows that Uday Hussein, in 1999, ordered a series of bombings and assassinations in London, Iran, and in the autonomous areas of Iraq. Document ISGZ-2004-018948 shows a response from a Saddam Fedayeen operative to Uday himself outlining the plan, known as Operation Blessed July: In the name of God the most merciful, the most compassionate Respectful Mr. in charge of Fedayeen Saddam My respects and regards, Sir: Referral to your Excellency’s orders on the days of 20-25/05/1999, to start planning from now on to perform special operations (assassinations/ bombings) for the centers and the traitor symbols in the fields of (London/ Iran/ Self ruled areas) and for coordination with the Intelligence service to secure deliveries, accommodations, and target guidance. Also, I would like to indicate here (according to the first directed operational plan) the explanations...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

July 16, 2006

Israel Prepares Ground Offensive Into Lebanon

After a rocket attack on Haifa killed eight civilians and narrowly missed a fuel depot, the Israelis have decided to launch a ground offensive into Lebanon to take out Hezbollah rocket sites. They have mobilized a reserve infantry division for the new effort: The IDF on Sunday mobilized a reserve infantry division in preparation for a possible ground incursion into south Lebanon, The Jerusalem Post has learned. The move was intended as the beginning of a new effort to push Katyusha rocket launching cells away from the Israel-Lebanon border. The division was setting up command posts along the northern border, while tanks and armored personnel carriers were being transported northward. A senior IAF officer revealed to the Post on Sunday afternoon that the IDF was using bunker-buster bombs to strike at senior Hizbullah officials in hiding throughout Beirut and Lebanon. According to the officer, several of the bunker hideouts were...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

ChemicalConsultant's Answers

CQ's correspondent on the mobile laboratories, ChemicalConsultant, has sent a reply to the questions and the criticisms that he received on the earlier thread. That debate was one of the most intriguing we have had on CQ, and revealed a few of our regulars as having expertise in chemistry. i closed the earlier thread because it had dwindled down to a back-and-forth volley between two readers, but the debate remains as interesting as ever. ChemicalConsultant has a fairly technical argument, and it's above my pay grade, although my son would probably be able to make more sense of it. I'd love to get more of the scientific input that we saw in our earlier thread and put aside the more political aspects. RESPONSE ON ALUMINUM –NaOH CHEMISTRY In case the commenters on the Mobile Labs, etc, thread wondered what happened to ChemicalConsultant, well, I’m back. Part of my absence was...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

We Don't Need Help, But Where The Hell Is It?

Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah seems a bit confused after taking a beating from the Israeli military and provoking outrage from Lebanese politicians who resent Hezbollah's unilateral decision to commit an act of war. In a press conference earlier today, the terrorist chief said that Hezbollah needed no assistance to beat the Israelis -- but then complained that no Arab nation had come to his aid: In a recorded television speech on Sunday evening, Hizbullah head Hassan Nasrallah urged Arab states to come to the organization's aid. "Where are the Arab nations?" he asked, moments after declaring that Hizbullah wouldn't ask for help from anyone. Speaking to Lebanese civilians, many of whom have expressed anger at Hizbullah's Wednesday attack in which two Israeli soldiers were kidnapped and which triggered a massive Israeli aerial bombardment of Lebanese infrastructure, Nasrallah affirmed that all damage caused by IDF strikes would be repaired after the battle...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Chatting With Mark And Michelle

Yesterday turned out to be one of the hottest days of the year here in Minnesota, with temperatures hitting 99 degrees and enough humidity to make it feel like the world's biggest sauna. Of course, that didn't stop our radio station, AM 1280 The Patriot, from having its Patriot Picnic, a listener-appreciation day with free food and live radio broadcasts by the Northern Alliance Radio Network. Since I'm still recovering from my back surgery, my son drove me to the picnic and I brought a special folding chair to keep me comfortable for my two-hour appearance. You can hear it for yourselves at Townhall's podcasts. I felt fortunate to be there, because we had an opportunity to interview Mark Kennedy, the MN-06 Congressman running for Mark Dayton's open Senate seat this November. We kept Mark for the entire first hour, and if you've never heard Mark in a live interview,...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Iran Blinks

Apparently yesterday's vote in the UN Security Council made an impression on Iran. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's government has agreed to negotiate with the West on the basis of the incentive package proposed earlier and for which Condoleezza Rice wanted an answer last Wednesday: Iran said Sunday that Western incentives to halt its nuclear program were an "acceptable basis" for talks, and it is ready for detailed negotiations. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice responded that Iran should talk directly to negotiators if it wants to discuss the six-nation proposal. Frustrated world powers agreed Wednesday to send Iran to the U.N. Security Council for possible punishment, saying Tehran had given no sign it would bargain in earnest over its nuclear ambitions. Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told reporters in Tehran that, "We consider this package an appropriate basis, an acceptable basis (for talks). ... We can achieve acceptable results in this path[.]"...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

The Secret House Of The IIS

Among the new materials released from the captured archives of the IIS comes a memorandum that circulated among the highest levels of Iraq's spy agency. The director of the IIS had a series of communications regarding the purchase of a secret house in Iraq with which to house activities that the IIS wanted out of sight of UN inspectors. While the activity itself does not get described, the requirement of absolute secrecy for the project gets explicitly referenced in document CMPC-2003-015065 (emphases mine): Sir: Honorable Director of the Intelligence Service Subject: Allocation of a secret house In view of the forthcoming completion of the new computer project that is expected to be contracted out, and due to the fact that the said computer is considered among developed high-tech devices and import-banned materials and equipment according to the United Nations decisions, and for fear that the International Inspection Commission pays a...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

G8: We'll Restrain Israel When You Restrain Yourselves

The G8 released a statement on the Israeli-Hezbollah-Hamas conflict that attempts to restore some common sense to the global debate on the widening war. Responding to calls for a condemnation of Israel, the industrial powers instead tweaked those who complained about Israel acting in its defense: Group of Eight leaders on Sunday blamed extremists for an upsurge of Middle East violence and while accepting Israel's right to defend itself said the Jewish state should exercise "utmost restraint." Setting out conditions for an end to violence, G8 leaders in summit talks in Russia put the onus on Hizbollah militants to restore peace by releasing abducted Israelis and ending attacks on Israel. Then the Israeli offensive against Lebanon could end, said the statement. "These extremist elements and those that support them cannot be allowed to plunge the Middle East into chaos," said the text hammered out by the leaders of the world's...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Not All Lebanese Are Unhappy With Israel

Holly at TMV links to an interesting message up at The Lebanese Foundation for Peace, a site that lists its mission as "to promote a lasting peace between Lebanon, Israel, and Syria". Bridgett Gabriel sends a message to Israel that sounds somewhat different than one might expect: Thank You Israel For the millions of Christian Lebanese, driven out of our homeland, "Thank you Israel," is the sentiment echoing from around the world. The Lebanese Foundation for Peace, an international group of Lebanese Christians, made the following statement in a press release to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert concerning the latest Israeli attacks against Hezbollah: "We urge you to hit them hard and destroy their terror infrastructure. It is not [only] Israel who is fed up with this situation, but the majority of the silent Lebanese in Lebanon who are fed up with Hezbollah and are powerless to do anything out...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Another Example Of Iraqi Cooperation

Another of the FMSO documents shows the level of cooperation with UNSCOM weapons inspections that Saddam Hussein provided -- and also demonstrates that the Iraqis actively hid something from the UN. Document ISGZ-2004-028947-1 has orders from M6, the Iraqi Intelligence Service's Directorate of Internal Security. M6 integrated deeply with the Military Industrialization Commission (MIC), the bureau responsible for Saddam's WMD programs. These orders make clear that MIC leadership needed to purge their records of all material that could aid UNSCOM at discovering ... something: Republic of Iraq Intelligence Service Secret, Personal and Urgent (TC: foreign classification) Letter # M6/1/2/1488 Date 3/23/1997 To: General Managers & Top Officials Re: Instructions We noticed during the last inspection of the Agency location by UN team #182, that the team asked about specific acronyms of some of the Agency’s directorates and procedures. Their questions are aimed at determining the activities of these directorates and...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Training Accident Or Dry Run?

One of the fascinating aspects of a dictatorship's fall is the documentation it often leaves behind. Because of the strict discipline required by a tyrant, such regimes often obsessively document every action in order to ensure that people can have ready support to show that they have followed orders. The documentation can leave behind evidence of the regime's crimes, which is why a thorough review is necessary when such documentation can be salvaged. This appears to be the case with document IZSP-2003-00000592, which contains a report from one of Saddam Hussein's "chemical platoons": Chemical and Radiation Investigation Report From ; CHEMICAL PLATOON PLACE/ UR TIME/DATE; FEB/04/2002 To Base operation‘s room Map/ Base’ map Grid ( ) Information 1. AGENT’S TYPE USED - DISPERSED GAS 2. NO. OF CASUALTIES - N/A 3. NO. OF CONTAMINATED EQUIPEMENTS - N/A 4. DROP/FALL OF CHEMICAL AGENT ON THE GROUND - N/A 5. FRONT CONTAMINATON...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

July 17, 2006

A Brief History Of Iraqi Missile Units

Another document from the archives of the IIS gives a brief history of the Iraqi short-range missile program. This takes up a small part of document ISGP-2003-00040084, but it does have a fairly revealing description and timeline: Missile Units and their history in general This is a brief general history of Iraqi missiles and missile unit formation with timeline development over the time. 1. 1st Unit of ground to ground missiles was established August 1, 1974 with missile called Al-Ra’ad and received later Scud missile. The units at the time were stationed at Al-Hamawil and Al-Taji Area in their early development. 2. The first significant Iraqi missile commander in 1988 was General Hazim Abdulrazak Shihab but Iran-Iraq war was the 1st time Iraq used missile against enemy target since then Iraq has used to Israel an Allied forces. 3. The year 1991 was the first Iraq formed ground to ground...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Democrats Go Underground For Think-Tank Funding

The Internet Age and the rise of the blogosphere has forced a new openness in governance. The open-source communication method routinely strips secrecy and renders political processes transparent, and across the political spectrum, has demanded honesty and full disclosure from political operations. However, the Washington Post reports that Democratic efforts to establish leftist think tanks require secrecy in their funding, and moderate Democrats have started to object: An alliance of nearly a hundred of the nation's wealthiest donors is roiling Democratic political circles, directing more than $50 million in the past nine months to liberal think tanks and advocacy groups in what organizers say is the first installment of a long-term campaign to compete more aggressively against conservatives. A year after its founding, Democracy Alliance has followed up on its pledge to become a major power in the liberal movement. It has lavished millions on groups that have been willing...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Arabs Fear Iran More Than They Hate The Jews

The New York Times provides an interesting analysis regarding the surprising criticism coming from Arab capitals towards Hezbollah. Yesterday, its chief complained that the Arabs had not rallied around his organization while it fights the hated "Zionists". However, the Arabs understand that Hezbollah represents a non-Arab threat that presents a much bigger problem than Israel: With the battle between Israel and the Lebanese militia Hezbollah raging, key Arab governments have taken the rare step of blaming Hezbollah, underscoring in part their growing fear of influence by the group’s main sponsor, Iran. Saudi Arabia, with Jordan, Egypt and several Persian Gulf states, chastised Hezbollah for “unexpected, inappropriate and irresponsible acts” at an emergency Arab League summit meeting in Cairo on Saturday. ... The way some officials see it, Arab analysts said, Israel is the devil they know, but Iran is the growing threat. “There is a school of thought, led by...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Minnesota Poll No Surprise At All

The Star Tribune reports in this morning's edition that its Minnesota Poll shows Amy Klobuchar with a 19-point lead in the Senate race against current Republican Congressman Mark Kennedy. The Strib describes this as "surprising", but for those of us with experience in the atrocious polling done by the Strib, it comes as no surprise whatsoever: DFL Senate candidate Amy Klobuchar has opened up a strong early lead over GOP rival Mark Kennedy in a Minnesota Poll that shows Klobuchar with 50 percent of likely voters' support, compared with 31 percent for Kennedy. Much can change between now and November. But in what had widely been considered a close race, Klobuchar in midsummer has more support than Kennedy in nearly every demographic category: men, women, liberals, independents, lower- and upper-income Minnesotans, seniors, urban dwellers, suburbanites and outstaters. Kennedy is most popular with younger Minnesotans -- he leads Klobuchar 63 to...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Israeli Raids In Lebanon; Chirac Surrenders

The Israeli army crossed into Lebanon for a series of raids on Hezbollah positions this morning, pulling back across the border quickly when the operations were complete. The continuous volley of rockets at Israel's cities provided the impetus for the raids, with the IDF attempting to force Hezbollah to move their launchers farther away from the border: A government spokesman said Monday afternoon that IDF ground forces had briefly entered southern Lebanon to target Hizbullah bases along the border in order to push the terrorist group out of rocket-firing range. Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz declared that the IDF currently had much better alternatives than to launch a major ground incursion into Lebanon. In addition, the IDF has denied Lebanese news reports that an Israeli F-16 jet was downed near Beirut. Virtually all Lebanese news agencies were showing unclear video footage of what was claimed to be the...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

An International Force?

Tony Blair and Kofi Annan made headlines this morning when they called for the deployment of an international peacekeeping force to resolve the conflict between Israel, Hezbollah, and assumably Hamas. They provided no details of their proposal, but claimed that peace could not be achieved without intervention: In the face of the escalating violence, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Monday called for an international stabilization force to go to the Mideast to help end the cross-border attacks between Hezbollah and the Israeli military. The proposed international force would be the first step in what Annan and Blair said should be a series of actions that would stop the hostilities. "The only way we are going to get a cessation of hostilities is the deployment of an international force to stop the bombardment of Israel and get Israel to stop its attacks on Hezbollah," Blair...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

America's Stock Rises Among The Sunni -- As They See The Alternative

The New York Times reports on an interesting development among the Sunni in Iraq, who had bitterly opposed the American presence in their country. They have discovered mathematics and demographics -- and realized that the Shi'a outnumber them almost 3-1. This epiphany has led to a growing sentiment among the former ruling class of Iraq that the Americans may be the only thing standing between them and oblivion: As sectarian violence soars, many Sunni Arab political and religious leaders once staunchly opposed to the American presence here are now saying they need American troops to protect them from the rampages of Shiite militias and Shiite-run government forces. The pleas from the Sunni Arab leaders have been growing in intensity since an eruption of sectarian bloodletting in February, but they have reached a new pitch in recent days as Shiite militiamen have brazenly shot dead groups of Sunni civilians in broad...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Israel: Return Soldiers And Move Hezbollah Away From Border

Israeli PM Ehud Olmert has told Italy that Israel will accept a truce when Lebanon returns the soldiers captured by Hezbollah and clears the terrorists away from their shared border. The offer came as Italy attempted to craft some sort of compromise that will allow the fighting to stop, according to the AP (via It Shines For All): Israel would agree to a cease-fire in its six-day-old offensive against Hezbollah if the Lebanese guerrillas withdraw from the border area with Israel and release two captured Israeli soldiers, a senior official said Monday. The official, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the diplomacy, said Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had conveyed Israel's position to Italy's prime minister, who is trying to broker a cease-fire deal. Israel had previously demanded the full dismantling of Hezbollah as a condition for ending hostilities. However, the senior official said Israel would agree to...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Saddam's Shopping List (Updated)

The American translations of the captured IIS files sometimes contain summaries rather than direct translations of some of the douments. This usually happens when dealing with forms that contain more tables than text; the translators give the gist of the material, presumably allowing investigators to review the data and request specific translations where necessary. This gives less specificity to the translations, and as a rule I avoid commenting on them. Many of these summaries contain general references to chemicals, but nothing specific enough to call out for review. Document ISGQ-2003-00000847 appears to be an exception. This summarizes a number of memos calling for purchases of chemicals in 2002 and 2003 that appear on their face to be prohibited (emphases mine): Pages 41-43 contain a correspondence dated on 29 October 2002 from Dhu-al-Faqqar Plant to the Planning and Tracking Directorate including lists of the plant needs [for] the chemical materials for...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Choosy IIS Agents Choose ... CNN

Another document from the archives of the Iraqi Intelligence Service details the response plan from IIS headquarters in dealing with the discovery of a mass grave early in 2001. The burial site in the southern no-fly zone got the attention of the head of the IIS 5th Directorate, the Counterintelligence directorate, who sent a top-secret memo to the head of M4/1, Foreign Intelligence - Arab Nations. Document ISGQ-2004-00224003 lays out the Iraqi regime's strategy for damage control (emphases mine): Pages 3-5 contain a Secret memo signed on behalf of the Head of 5th Directorate (Translator Comment (TC): no name indicated) and sent from the Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) to the 1st Department of the 4th Directorate regarding information about mass graves in the Southern Area of Iraq, and the rituals and ceremonies to be made for the dead people. The memo was dated 07 February 2001, and contained the following...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Loose Lips Generate Paperwork, And Reveal Iraqi Malfeasance

Shortly before Saddam Hussein suspended all cooperation with the UNSCOM inspectors, in 1998 a surprise inspection at the Air Operations Directorate turned up a number of documents relating to "special" weapons -- the designation for WMD used by Iraqi forces. This caused the UN to declare a violation on the Iraqis, and touched off a massive internal investigation in Saddam's armed forces to find out who forgot to cleanse the files. The series of memos and statements in document IZSP-2003-00300856 shows that the Iraqis not only intended on making an example of the men who did such a poor job of purging the files, but that they actively hid materials that implicated Iraq in the hoarding of WMD. Like any investigation, one has to start out with the specifics of the crime (page 4): According to the Secret, Personal and Urgent letter of the Diwan of the Defense Ministry no....

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Foreign Intel Had Identified WMD Sites

In the last of the documents of this release, an undated memorandum from the director of the IIS to the Military Industrialization Commission (MIC) discusses counterintelligence information regarding an informant with knowledge of the locations for Iraqi WMD programs. Document ISGZ-2004-007589-HT-DHM2A directs the MIC to change the locations of their assets (emphases mine): We were informed by one of our sources working abroad, that foreign intelligence is working to obtain information about some military and scientific targets in the Country. The undercover source provided us with a map of the targets, for which he was assigned to gather information during his visit to the Country. For the purpose of pointing out the enemy’s interest, and to enable you to maneuver by changing the locations of these targets, in order to foil enemy’s plans, we hereby list the following: 1- He was presented with a map by the Foreign Intelligence, indicating...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Canada To Terrorists: Fly The Friendly Skies

Canadian officials may want to rethink their policies on flight security. The Toronto Sun reports that Canada will not block people from flying in, out, or within Canada just for the tiny little detail of belonging to a terrorist organization: Being a member of a terrorist organization won't necessarily land someone on Canada's no-fly list, The Canadian Press has learned. Proposed criteria would limit inclusion on the roster to those who pose "an immediate threat to aviation security," Transport Canada internal briefing notes say. Draft regulations, disclosed by a source familiar with details of the plan, confirm the no-fly list will be tightly focused and reviewed every 30 days to keep it up to date. "You cannot be put on the list on the sole basis that you're a member of a 'terrorist group,'" the source said. "In addition, you have to be a demonstrable threat to aviation safety." Even...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

If You Think American Politics Are Bad ...

In this hyperpartisan age, Americans sometimes feel that our political environment has descended as far as it could go. However, a certain segment of Dutch society intends to prove that we -- and the rest of the world -- still have the capability of shock: The Netherlands cemented its reputation as Europe's most socially liberal country today when a new political party formed by paedophiles was told it could contest this year's general election. A Dutch court rejected an attempt by anti-paedophile campaigners to ban the Brotherly Love, Freedom and Diversity party (PNVD), which wants to cut the age of consent from 16 to 12 and to legalise child pornography. "The freedom of expression, the freedom of assembly and the freedom of association should be seen as the foundations of the democratic rule of law and the PNVD is also entitled to these freedoms," the court in The Hague said...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

July 18, 2006

You Are A Fluke Of The Universe ...

... You have no right to be here ... Richard Cohen channels National Lampoon's "Deteriorata" in today's Washington Post opinion section in writing about Israel. He argues that since Israel's birth came out of the Holocaust and that many in the Muslim world refuse to acknowledge that genocide, Israel should "hunker down" and apparently allow terrorist groups to attack then without fear of reprisal: The greatest mistake Israel could make at the moment is to forget that Israel itself is a mistake. It is an honest mistake, a well-intentioned mistake, a mistake for which no one is culpable, but the idea of creating a nation of European Jews in an area of Arab Muslims (and some Christians) has produced a century of warfare and terrorism of the sort we are seeing now. Israel fights Hezbollah in the north and Hamas in the south, but its most formidable enemy is...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Now If Turkey Had Allowed Transit For The 4-ID

Turkey has objected to a warning given by the United States against cross-border action against the Kurdish terrorist group PKK, claiming a double standard for Turkey as opposed to Israel. The PKK have committed raids into Turkish territory, killing 15 Turkish security troops, and Istanbul wants to conduct a military operation -- much like Israel has done with Hezbollah in Lebanon: "We have repeatedly said that we believe that unilateral military action across the border with Iraq would be unwise," the US amabassador to Turkey, Ross Wilson, said in an interview with the NTV news channel. He was speaking after Ankara on Monday urged Washington and Baghdad to act against the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), whose militants have enjoyed safe haven in the mountains of northern Iraq, signalling that it is ready to take cross-border action if they fail to do so. ... Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan quickly...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

IDF: One More Week Needed

The Jerusalem Post notes that the IDF needs just one more week to render Hezbollah incapable of conducting missile attacks on Israel from southern Lebanon. Hezbollah attacks have dropped almost 75% over the past week, dropping from 150 a day to 40, and the IDF believes it can drop that number to zero: Forty to fifty percent of Hizbullah's military capability has been destroyed in the six days of the IDF counter-attack following last Wednesday's Hizbullah raid in northern Israel, The Jerusalem Post has learned. The IDF, it is understood, believes it needs another week or so minimum to achieve its military goals in terms of alleviating Hizbullah's capacity to threaten Israel. ... Meanwhile, Defense Minister Amir Peretz approved a call-up of three additional reserve battalions. The reservists are set to replace troops currently operating in the West Bank, allowing those soldiers to be deployed in the north, to assist...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Times To Reduce The Size Of Their Newspaper

The New York Times will reduce the size of its newspaper, trimming the news by 5%, and will close one of its printing facilities to save money, it announced today. The changes will result in the loss of 250 jobs: The New York Times is planning to reduce the size of the newspaper, making it narrower by one and a half inches, and to close its printing operation in Edison, N.J., company officials said yesterday. The changes, to go into effect in April 2008, will be accompanied by a phased-in redesign of the paper and will mean the loss of 250 production-related jobs. ... The reduction in the size of The Times will mean a loss of 5 percent of the space the paper devotes to news. If the paper only reduced the size of its pages, it would lose 11 percent of that space, but Bill Keller, the paper’s...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Pork Database Hearing: Live Blog

I'm watching the Senate hearing on the bill that Senator Tom Coburn has pushed to get a searchable database on federal funding. I got to it a little late -- Senator John McCain just started his testimony now 1:42 CT - He's quoting from today's Washington Post about a rancher who found himself stunned to be eligible for federal relef after the space shuttle Columbia disaster -- and those funds came from a drought fund! 1:46 - McCain finishes up by noting that the only reason to refuse this database is to admit that government has something to hide. McCain has certainly taken the right approach on this, but I'm not sure that his anecdotes really get to the heart of the problem. Perhaps it is impolite to mention it, but the real reason isn't to keep ranchers from getting drought funds they don't deserve, but to keep politicians from...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Minnesota Meltdown

The DFL has been sent reeling by the meltdown of party leader Matt Entenza, who withdrew from the Attorney General race after having spent the last week tapdancing about oppo research he'd run on a fellow DFL member and the current Attorney General, Mike Hatch. Both men had already received endorsement for the statewide offices for which they campaigned -- Hatch is the nominee to run against Governor Tim Pawlenty in his bid for re-election -- and the meltdown may kneecap the DFL in both races: Buffeted by questions about his credibility and by controversy over his wife's multimillion-dollar stock options from a health-care company, DFL endorsee Matt Entenza dropped out of the race for state attorney general Tuesday. The announcement, less than six hours before the deadline for filing for office, sent shock waves across the state's political landscape. And it threatened to create a multi-candidate internal DFL battle...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Oh, Yah, Sure, You Betcha

Chad at Fraters Libertas has a separated-at-birth suggestion that involves yours truly -- and connects me to Fargo. Hey, at least it wasn't Volcano .... er, wait .......

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Israel Enters Lebanon

It may not be the massive ground offensive that Israel has threatened, but a small force of IDF soldiers entered Lebanon earlier. Israel says the soldiers will search for weapons and tunnels near the border and do not expect to conduct offensive operations at this time: Israel declared Tuesday it was ready to fight Hezbollah guerrillas for several more weeks, raising doubts about international efforts to broker an immediate cease-fire in the fighting that has killed more than 260 people and displaced 500,000. The military said early Wednesday it sent some troops into southern Lebanon searching for tunnels and weapons. Despite the diplomatic activity, Israel is in no hurry to end its offensive, which it sees as a unique opportunity to crush Hezbollah. The Islamic militants appear to have steadily built up their military strength after Israel pulled its troops out of southern Lebanon in 2000. ... At daybreak Wednesday,...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

July 19, 2006

Hezbollah Ready To Crumble?

The Australian claims that Hezbollah has been sent reeling both by the Israeli military response and the lack of support from the Arab world, and that the terrorist group may agree to pull away from the Israeli border in exchange for a cease-fire. The terrorists have found out that their deterrent no longer works on an Israel fed up with constant border provocations: One week after the humiliation it suffered in a Hezbollah cross-border raid in which eight soldiers were killed and two captured, Israel senses one of its major military and political victories is within reach. The stunning campaign it has waged against Hezbollah has reportedly brought the militia to a point where it is willing to discuss Israel's major demand - that it pull back several kilometres from the Israeli border, perhaps to the Litani River. Reports from Beirut yesterday said that Hezbollah officials had declared readiness to...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Is This War Bush's Fault?

One of the stranger memes to arise in the last week is the notion that the Hezbollah-Israeli conflict is somehow the fault of George Bush. Howard Kurtz covers this in today's Media Notes, along with links to plenty of people willing to cast blame at the White House. The Post also has a separate report asserting that conservatives have erupted in anger against Bush's foreign policy, asserting that Bush has not taken the fight to America's enemies, or at least not enthusiastically enough, and that this has led Iran and Syria to test our responses via their Hezbollah proxies. Both of these points have no merit. How can one argue that George Bush has any responsibility for the outbreak of fighting between Hezbollah and Israel -- or Hamas and Israel, for that matter -- when the fighting between the groups has gone on continuously for decades? Hezbollah and Hamas have...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

A Golden Opportunity

Rather than look at the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict as a major disaster and a failure, Charles Krauthammer sees it -- correctly -- as a golden opportunity. In the Washington Post this morning, Krauthammer puts the conflict in its proper perspective, and shows why the US should not rush Israel into a cease-fire without having achieved its military objectives first: Every important party in the region and in the world, except the radical Islamists in Tehran and their clients in Damascus, wants Hezbollah disarmed and removed from south Lebanon so that it is no longer able to destabilize the peace of both Lebanon and the broader Middle East. ... Everyone agrees it must be done. But who to do it? No one. The Lebanese are too weak. The Europeans don't invade anyone. After its bitter experience of 20 years ago, the United States has a Lebanon allergy. And Israel could not act...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

McKinney Stumbles Into Runoff

Cynthia McKinney got a slap in the face from her constituents yesterday, failing to garner the 50% needed to avoid a primary runoff after political neophyte Hank Johnson fought his way to a virtual tie with the incumbent in yesterday's primaries. McKinney vowed to win the runoff on August 8th, but the majority of the vote in the three-way race appears to oppose her return to Congress: U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney is headed to a runoff against a relatively unknown challenger in a Democratic primary she was expected to win with ease. The controversial 4th District incumbent, accused of striking a Capitol Hill police officer last March, narrowly led former DeKalb County Commissioner Hank Johnson. ... Recognizing his daughter’s polarizing effect, former state representative Billy McKinney on Tuesday night discounted Johnson’s showing in the primary. “There’s a love and hate of Cynthia McKinney,” he said. “Mickey Mouse would get a...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Gallup Shows Rice Among Presidential Frontrunners

A new Gallup poll measures the viability of potential presidential candidates in 2008, and it contains a number of surprises. Gallup did not ask respondents to endorse one particular candidate but instead to indicate their acceptability or unacceptability as a potential party nominee. One name comes as a minor surprise for the Republicans: A recent Gallup Panel poll asked Republicans and Democrats whether they would find each of several possible contenders for their party's 2008 presidential nomination to be "acceptable" nominees. Unlike other nomination ballot questions that measure respondents' first choice from among a list of possible candidates, this question paints a broader picture of the level of potential support and opposition for each candidate. Hillary Clinton is the clear front-runner among Democrats when voters are asked to choose which one candidate they would prefer for the Democratic nomination for president, but the current poll finds Democrats are about equally...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Bush Casts First Veto On Embryonic Stem-Cell Funding

George Bush waited 2,006 days to cast the first veto of his presidency, and it comes on an issue for which he has threatened a veto for at least 2006 days. As Congress considered a bill authorizing federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research, Bush warned that he would not allow it to become law, and he made good on that promise this afternoon: President Bush today used the first veto of his presidency to stop legislation that would have lifted restrictions on federally funded human embryonic stem cell research. "This bill would support the taking of innocent human life in the hope of finding medical benefits for others," Bush, speaking at the White House, said after he followed through on his promise to veto the bill. "It crosses a moral boundary that our decent society needs to respect. So I vetoed it." ... The Senate voted 63 to 37 yesterday...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Baby Speaks!

Bashar Assad finally spoke his first words on the israeli-Hezbollah conflict after spending the last nine days missing in action. Assad, whose party started issuing foreign-policy statements in his absence last week at the outset of the hostilities, demanded a UN-brokered cease fire: Syrian President Bashar Assad spoke out on Wednesday for the first time since the outbreak of the war in the North and said a cease-fire was necessary in order to stop the Israeli attacks on Lebanon. The president made the statement in a telephone conversation with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. CNN Turk reported that Assad called on Erdogan to put pressure on Israel to stop its offensive in Lebanon. According to the report, Erdogan answered him that Turkey was trying to bring about a cease-fire and would continue to do so. Meanwhile, a UN envoy who visited Israel and Lebanon this week and met with...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

India Bans Blogs

In the wake of the recent terrorist attacks in Mumbai and elsewhere, India has decided to tighten Internet controls in an unprecedented squelching of free speech in the world's largest democracy. Indian officials have directed telecoms to start blocking certain web sites, including blog portals and individual blogs that they deem potentially offensive -- including two of CQ's friends: India's Internet regulators have started blocking several Web sites in a move that borrows a page from China, where government censors heavily restrict the flow of online information. India's Department of Telecommunications sent an order late last week to Internet-service providers to block several Web sites, according to a department spokesman. The spokesman, Rajesh Malhotra, declined to disclose the contents of the letter or discuss the order, saying it was a "confidential exchange of information between the department and the operators." Several telecom operators confirmed there were more than 15 sites...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

How Deeply Are Iran And Syria Involved In Lebanon?

According to two news reports over the last twenty-four hours, Iran and Syria have provided their Hezbollah proxies a lot more than just cheerleading. Ynet News reported last night that the IDF had intercepted missile shipments coming from Syria, and the New York Sun's Ira Stoll says that "hundreds" of Iranian troops have joined Hezbollah's missile brigades. First the Syrians: Although Hizbullah has suffered a harsh blow from Israeli air force strikes which took out a good percentage of their available weapons, Syria was continuing to smuggle arms into Lebanon to rearm the group, IDF Operations Branch Head Major General Gadi Eisenkot said during a press briefing Tuesday. Thus far, the IAF managed to intercept a number of trucks transporting rockets from Syria to Hizbullah, including trucks laden with the 220mm-diameter rockets with warheads like the one that hit the Haifa train depot Monday, claiming eight lives. Maj.-Gen. Eisenkot said...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Israeli Shock And Awe

Israel took a page from the American playbook this evening, dropping 23 tons of explosives on a bunker in southern Beirut where the IDF believes top Hezbollah leadership to be hiding. Preliminary bomb-damage assessment seems optimistic: IAF fighter jets dropped over 20 tons in bombs late Wednesday night on a Hizbullah bunker, possibly the hiding place of the group's leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, in the Burj al-Arjana refugee camp in southeast Beirut. It was still unclear who was in the bunker at the time and what their fate was, but IDF sources said the bunker was totally destroyed and that all that was left was a crater. The IDF obtained intelligence information late Wednesday night that Hizbullah leaders possibly including Nasrallah had taken refuge inside the bunker. A wave of aircraft immediately took to the air and dropped 23 tons of explosives on the bunker. IDF sources would not confirm...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Will Israel Rescue Joe Lieberman?

The ongoing battle in Connecticut's primary has taken a back seat to the war erupting between Israel and Hezbollah. However, the conflict may have its own impact on the Ned Lamont - Joe Lieberman race, as the AP reports, while the New York Times notes that Lamont has struggled to find more issues than just the war to attract voters: Pro-Israel groups, afraid of losing one of their staunchest supporters in Congress, are pouring money into beleaguered Sen. Joe Lieberman's campaign as he tries to fend off a tougher-than-expected primary challenge. ... Pro-Israel political action committees have donated to the Connecticut senator's campaign and have urged their national membership to give generously now and later, if Lieberman is forced to run as an unaffiliated candidate. "Joe Lieberman, without exception, no conditions ... is the No. 1 pro-Israel advocate and leader in Congress," said Mark Vogel, chairman of the National Action...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Comedy Central Grows A Pair

Ten days ago, I wrote about the conundrum faced by Comedy Central. The Emmy nominations came out that week, and the South Park episode "Trapped In The Closet" got picked for Best Animated Show. Unfortunately, Comedy Central had pulled the episode from the rotation after Isaac Hayes quit the show, complaining about the insensitivity of SP creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker towards his Scientology faith. Rumor has it that Tom Cruise, who gets mercilessly lampooned in the episode, pressured Comedy Central parent Viacom to pull "Trapped", allegedly threatening to stop promoting Mission Impossible 3. I wondered whether Comedy Central would return "Trapped" to the rotation after receiving the honor from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Tonight, "Trapped" made its triumphant return to Comedy Central's rotation. I'm watching it now, and it will be on again at 11 pm CT. If you haven't yet seen the episode, be...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Check The Temperature In Hades

George Bush will finally make an appearance at the NAACP national convention Thursday evening, after five years of snubs by the White House: After six years in office, President Bush has agreed to address the NAACP at its annual national convention in Washington, the White House announced yesterday. ... With the appearance, Bush will avoid becoming the first president since Warren G. Harding to snub the predominantly black organization throughout his term. The president's change of heart followed a change in the NAACP's leadership. Bruce Gordon, the new president, is a former telecommunications executive who is more moderate than his predecessors. "Yes, they have political disagreements," Snow said, but "Bruce Gordon . . . and the president have good relations." So why now? The civil-rights organization has been anything but civil to Bush. He addressed the national convention before being elected to the presidency, but the NAACP repaid him by...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

July 20, 2006

They Won't Just Go Away If Israel Capitulates

No one doubts that Fuad Saniora, Lebanon's Prime Minister, finds himself in a tough spot, and anyone who doesn't sympathize with his plight and that of Lebanon has a hard heart. Saniora and his fellow citizens have been victimized and held hostage by Hezbollah for three decades, and they do not have the wherewithal to free themselves, thanks to Syrian and Iranian support for the terrorist group. Now they find themselves once more to be the battleground for a proxy war, and their friends and families are caught in the crossfire, just as Hezbollah intends in order to pressure the Israelis to stop fighting back. All the Lebanese want is their freedom from Iran, Syria, and Israel, and to be left in peace. Saniora has my sympathy, but he still sounds like a victim of the Stockholm Syndrome. His solution today reverts back to the "give them what they want...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Saudi Fatwa Against Hezbollah

The Arab rejection of Hezbollah and the war they started continues to grow, and the outrage appears to have reached the Wahhabi in the streets. An influential Wahhabi sheikh has issued a fatwa that forbids Wahhabis from supporting Hezbollah in any way -- including the offering of prayers: One of Saudi Arabia's leading Wahhabi sheiks, Abdullah bin Jabreen has issued a strongly worded religious edict, or fatwa, declaring it unlawful to support, join or pray for Hezbollah, the Shiite militias lobbing missiles into northern Israel. The day after Hezbollah abducted two Israeli soldiers on July 12, Sheik Hamid al-Ali issued an informal statement titled "The Sharia position on what is going on." In it, the Kuwaiti based cleric condemned the imperial ambitions of Iran regarding Hezbollah's cross border raid. The surprising move demonstrates that Sunni Muslim fundamentalists in the Middle East are deeply divided over whether Moslems should support Hezbollah,...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Clinton Wears Out His Welcome

Remember the fanfare when Bill Clinton decided to house his offices in Harlem after the end of his presidency? The community turned out in droves to welcome the man that some called "the first black President," declaring that his decision to lease offices in the area would spark an economic resurgence. His decision and the $354,000 lease created headlines for weeks. Today, that decision has created different headlines. His formerly enthusiastic neighbors now blame him for the increasing gentrification of Harlem, raising rents and displacing the disadvantaged: Harlem residents gathered outside President Clinton's office yesterday to protest against the former president as a symbol of Harlem's gentrification and the displacement of its residents. The Harlem Tenants Council hosted the protest at 125th Street between Lenox and Park avenues that was attended by about 40 mostly elderly, African-American residents of the area. A HTC co-founder, Nellie Bailey, said the primary goal...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Harper Anklebiters Prefer Power Over Truth

Stephen Harper has steered a new course for Canada in both domestic and foreign policy after the debacle of Liberal rule, but that has some opponents unhappy about the loss of Canadian neutrality in the face of evil. After the Canadian PM declared support for Israel's right to defend itself against acts of war, two Canadian politicians bemoaned the loss of "honest broker" status that created: "We all want to encourage not just a ceasefire, but a resolution. And a resolution will only be achieved when everyone gets to the table and everyone admits that recognition of each other," Mr. Harper said, in a pointed reference to the refusal of Hezbollah and Hamas to recognize Israel's right to exist. "But I have to say this. I read in some papers somewhere that someone involved in this said, 'Well, Hezbollah will protect, Hezbollah will take care of us,' " the Prime...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Lieberman Slides Into Second

Joe-Mentum apears to have failed the former Democratic VP candidate in his upcoming primary. Ned Lamont has cruised into the lead despite worries over his single-issue campaign according to a new Quinnipiac poll, 51-47: Anti-war Connecticut U.S. Senate candidate Ned Lamont has surged to a razor-thin 51 - 47 percent lead over incumbent Sen. Joseph Lieberman among likely Democratic primary voters, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. This compares to a 55 - 40 percent lead for Sen. Lieberman among likely Democratic primary voters in a June 8 poll by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University. ... "Lamont has turned what looked like a blowout into a very close Democratic primary race," said Quinnipiac University Poll Director Douglas Schwartz, Ph.D. "Lamont is up, while Lieberman's Democratic support is dropping. More Democrats have a favorable opinion of Lamont, who was largely unknown last month, and see him as an acceptable...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Voinovich Has Another Mood Swing

Senator George Voinovich single-handedly derailed the confirmation of John Bolton to the post of UN ambassador, at one point crying on the floor of the Senate about the effect of Bolton's brand of diplomacy on his grandchildren. Grampa must have finally discovered that Bolton has no intentions of blowing up the world, and now very belatedly casts his support for Bolton's nomination: My observations are that while Bolton is not perfect, he has demonstrated his ability, especially in recent months, to work with others and follow the president's lead by working multilaterally. In recent weeks I have watched him react to the challenges involving North Korea, Iran and now the Middle East, speaking on behalf of the United States. I believe Bolton has been tempered and focused on speaking for the administration. He has referred regularly to "my instructions" from Washington, while also displaying his own clear and strong grasp...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Gillerman: 'It Will Take As Long As It Will Take'

Israel's ambassador to the UN gave no indication that Israel plans any cessation of its mission in southern Lebanon, at least not until Hezbollah has been incapacitated. In the wake of a UN Security Council session in which Kofi Annan lashed out at both Israel and Hezbollah, Gillerman made clear his disappointment that Annan could not bring himself to mention Iranian and Syrian support for the terrorist group: Israeli troops met fierce resistance from Hezbollah guerrillas Thursday as they crossed into Lebanon to seek tunnels and weapons for a second straight day, and Israel hinted at a full-scale invasion. Meanwhile, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan told the Security Council that "hostilities must stop" between Israel and Hezbollah. ... Annan also condemned Israel's "excessive use of force" against Lebanon. "There are serious obstacles to reaching a cease-fire or even to diminishing the violence quickly," Annan said. Reporting from the UN session remains...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Neutrality Is No Defense

The Swiss have learned that their traditional neutrality, which has kept them safe from centuries of European wars, will not have the same deterrent value in a war against Islamofascist terrorism. Their federal police have reversed previous assessments of the risk to the nation from terrorism and declared Switzerland a "jihadi field of operation": For centuries, this Alpine nation has successfully relied on a strict policy of political neutrality to insulate it from the wars, invasions and revolutions that have raged outside its borders. These days, a new threat has emerged: one from within. As they have elsewhere in Europe, Islamic radicals are making inroads in Switzerland. Last month, Swiss officials announced the arrests of a dozen suspects who allegedly conspired to shoot down an Israeli airliner flying from Geneva to Tel Aviv. In a related case, a North African man has been charged with organizing a plot from Swiss...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Israeli Journalists Leave IFJ

Accusing the International Federation of Journalists of "cowardice", the Israel Association of Journalists suspended its membership in the IFJ after it defended Hezbollah's Al-Manar television channel as a "free press" and condemned the IDF attack on their facilities. The IFJ said that the Israeli bombing of their broadcast facilities showed a "policy of using violence to silence the media": The Israel Association of Journalists decided on Thursday to suspend its membership in the International Federation of Journalists to protest the association's condemnation of Israel's attacks on Hizbullah's Al-Manar television network. In a strongly worded letter, the Israeli journalists accused IFJ general secretary Aidan White of "cowardice" for not retracting the organization's condemnation of Israel and said White deserved a "badge of shame" for calling the Hizbullah propaganda tool "free press." "Al Manar gets its budget from the same people firing upon us," said the Israeli representative on the IFJ executive,...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Nasrallah Speaks

He's baa-aaaack: Hizbullah leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, spoke for the first Thursday since the beginning of the week, saying Hizbullah's entire infrastructure and leadership hierarchy were still intact and functional. "I can confirm without exaggerating or using psychological warfare, that we have not been harmed," he said, referring to the strike. Al-Jazeera, which aired only excerpts of the interview, said it was taped earlier Thursday. The interviewer said the interview took place amid tight security precautions but did not say where. ... "Hizbullah has so far stood fast, absorbed the strike and has retaken the initiative and made the surprises that it had promised, and there are more surprises," he said, warning that a Hizbullah defeat would be "a defeat for the entire Islamic nation." Well, better luck next time, guys....

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

MST3K Fans, Take Heart -- Mike Nelson Returns!

For those fans of Mystery Science Theater 3000 who have had a gaping hole in their lives ever since it went off the air, good news has come our way. Mike Nelson, the creative genius behind MST3K and a good friend of the Northern Alliance -- and a really nice guy -- has launched a new project that promises to fill that gap, and more. Mike has launched the beta version of Rifftrax, a clever way to have an MST3K experience on demand. Mike will create podcasts that match up with our favorite films (meaning our favorite cheesefests), designed to be played along with a DVD that the viewer rents or buys. The site will eventually have downloads of many films, but right now Rifftrax users can download Mike's commentary for Roadhouse, a Patrick Swayze laugher that somehow included Ben Gazzara and Sam Elliot. (It also has Kelly Lynch, which...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

A New Venture At The Heritage Foundation

CQ readers know that I have a passion about spending and budgetary issues, especially regarding pork barrel projects and entitlement spending. I have worked hard to put myself in a position where I could have some influence on those processes and hopefully educate people about the waste and potential for fraud in the federal budget. Now I have an even better platform from which to pursue these goals. The Heritage Foundation has asked me to partner with them to blog on spending-related matters. I cannot tell you how gratified I am to be working with the experts at the premiere conservative think tank. I have appeared at a handful of Heritage Foundation events, and they have always treated me like a member of the team -- and now I can contribute as such. My work will appear on Heritage's blog, and it will draw heavily on the experts at Heritage...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Hamas: Uh, Dudes, We're Not With Hezbollah

The Jerusalem Post reports tonight that Ehud Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas have agreed in principle to meet in an attempt to resolve the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit and allow the Palestinians to disconnect their issues from the Hezbollah fighting. That apparently comes from Hamas as well, which has determined that association with the Iranian-backed terrorist group may be bad for their leaders' health: Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is "actively" planning for a long-delayed meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, sources close to EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said Thursday. The sources said that Solana was told of the preparations during his meeting with Olmert and senior members of his staff in Jerusalem on Wednesday. According to the sources, Egypt has stepped up efforts to forge an agreement for the release of Cpl. Gilad Shalit, which would be followed some time later by an Israeli release of Palestinian prisoners...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

July 21, 2006

Banished Islamofascist Begs For Britain's Protection

O, the irony! Omar Bakri fled the UK after spending years preaching hate from his London mosque, and got out just ahead of a British deportation order. The Home Secretary banned him from ever returning to Britain after Bakri left -- for Lebanon. Now that the Hezbollah lunatics he supports started a war they cannot handle, Bakri now demands that Britain allow him to return -- on humanitarian grounds! In the somewhat purple prose of the British tabloid, The Sun: EXILED preacher of hate Omar Bakri has begged the Royal Navy to rescue him from war-torn Beirut. The Muslim cleric who fled Britain last year, tried to board a ship full of women and children yesterday but was turned away. He also wrote to the British embassy asking to be allowed back on “humanitarian grounds”. In an email to officials, dole scrounger Bakri pleaded: “The current situation in Beirut left...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Israel Sets Up Humanitarian Aid Corridor To Lebanon

Israel approved the creation of a corridor between Lebanon and Cyprus for international organizations to deliver humanitarian aid to the Lebanese. This bolsters the efforts already under way by the UN and others to evacuate and give medical assistance to civilians under fire in the war: Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Amir Peretz and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni approved late Thursday the establishment of a "humanitarian corridor" between Lebanon and Cyprus in order to relieve the humanitarian crisis that was claimed to be present in Lebanon. Israel has been under great international pressure, especially by the United States and France, to provide for the relief of the Lebanese citizens' hardships following the massive campaign that has created a lot of damage in Lebanon. UN sources stated that the fighting in Lebanon had created half a million refugees, who were forced to leave their homes to evade IDF strikes. The...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Italy Arrests Four AQ-Linked Terrorists

The Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant reports that Italy has arrested four Algerian terrorists with ties to al-Qaeda. Italian security forces arrested the men in the Veneto region, but conducted numerous house searches in northern Italy as part of a larger investigation: ROME - De speciale antiterreureenheid van de Italiaanse politie heeft vrijdagochtend in de regio Veneto vier Algerijnse terreurverdachten opgepakt. Op tal van plaatsen zijn huiszoekingen verricht. De politie-actie strekte zich ook uit over de regio's Lombardia en Emilia-Romagna. De vier zouden deel uitmaken van een Italiaanse cel van de Salafistische Groep voor Prediking en Strijd (GSPC), die in verband wordt gebracht met Al Qa’ida. Ze worden verdacht van het financieren van terreur, het rekruteren van strijders en het regelen van valse identiteitspapieren en werkvergunningen. Get all that? Neither did I, but that's why I read Michael van der Galien's post at Liberty and Justice. The story has not hit...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Hamas Politicians Powerless In Gaza

According to a New York Times report this morning, the political wing of Hamas lost control of their terrorist wing after pursuing politics, and now no one except Khaled Mashaal in Damascus can control the Hamas bombthrowers. This paints a different picture than the common perception, and shows that political engagement with either Hamas or Fatah likely will produce no results at all: Despite its links to the Palestinian government, Palestinian and Israeli analysts say, the Qassam Brigades does not take orders from the governing leaders of Hamas. This is why, according to many accounts, the Hamas-led government itself was surprised by the Qassam Brigades’ attack against the Israeli military post in June. “They lost their position as leaders of Hamas when they joined the government,” said Abu Muhammad, a Qassam Brigades field commander in Jabaliya. “New leaders were named in the movement, and they are more senior than the...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

First Arrests In Mumbai Bombings

Indian authorities have made the first arrests in the series of bombings in Mumbai that killed almost 200 people on July 11th. Described as lower-level operatives, the security forces hope that their new suspects will lead them to the masterminds of the plot: Police in India have arrested three men in connection with a series of bombings that killed more than 180 people in the city of Mumbai (Bombay) last week. The police have detained more than 300 suspects but these are the first arrests in the case. Two of the men were detained on Thursday in the northern state of Bihar and the third later in Mumbai. ... The BBC's Zubair Ahmed in Mumbai says it is not clear how significant the arrests are. The three accused are suspected to have played minor roles in the blasts, but a senior police officer told the BBC that the arrests might...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Bill Clinton Has Lieberman's Back

No one should experience any shock over Bill Clinton's efforts to bolster the Democratic Leadership Council, the centrist caucus in the party, nor his campaigning for one of its founders. Yesterday's announcement that Bill Clinton would publicly support Joe Lieberman should have been a foregone conclusion: Former President Bill Clinton is slated to campaign on behalf of the three-term incumbent Monday in Waterbury, Lieberman's campaign spokeswoman said today. ... Clinton and Lieberman have known each other since Clinton worked on Lieberman's first campaign for state Senate in 1970, when Clinton attended Yale University in New Haven ... Clinton, in a recent speech at the Aspen Institute conference, defended Lieberman and his staunch support for the war in Iraq. He questioned why antiwar Democrats are seeking to oust a fellow Democrat, saying that instead of seeking to retire Republicans they were pursuing "the nuttiest strategy I ever heard in my life."...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Is America Ready To Win The Economic War In Viet Nam?

Being a native to and growing up in the Los Angeles area, the plight of the Vietnamese has always had some resonance with me. I can recall when thousands of “boat people” made their harrowing escape from their native country, survived barely-seaworthy craft, and endured modern pirates intent on stealing what little they had in order to finally arrive in the United States. Still sick with guilt over our abandonment of our allies in the south, we took them in, and many of them migrated to Orange County, close to where I lived at the time. I went to school with one young girl who took a French class despite her fluency in the language -- in order to learn English, a move that still impresses me to this day. The Vietnamese settled in an area of Garden Grove and Westminster known as Little Saigon, and for a while it...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Maybe He Should Just Get A Blog

ABC News reports that Islamist web sites have announced that Osama bin Laden will have a new message out in the next few hours or days. Apparently, Osama bin Watchin' CNN: A new Osama bin Laden message from al Qaeda's as-Sahab Institute for Media Production is to be released soon, according to IntelCenter, which monitors extremist websites. Sites have begun to advertise a new message. In his message, bin Laden will reportedly address events in Gaza and Lebanon. This message has been expected and is consistent with new efforts in 2006 by al Qaeda's senior leadership to be responsive in their messages to current developments. This impulse comes from a deep-seated need to prove to his followers that Osama bin Breathin'. Whenever Osama goes off the air for more than a few weeks, rumors start to fly that the al-Qaeda chieftain has kicked the bucket. In order to combat the...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

The Coming Invasion

Israel has moved several divisions to its northern border and a full-scale ground invasion appears imminent. The order has not yet been given, but it looks inevitable at this point: The IDF was gearing up for a large-scale ground incursion into Lebanon on Friday. Thousands of reservists were being mobilized to the North throughout Friday to beef up forces stationed in the area in preparation for a possible operation. In total, three to four ground divisions will be operating along the Lebanese front. Defense Minister Amir Peretz said on Friday that the defense establishment was evaluating the size of the force needed to conduct a large-scale operation in Lebanon. "We have no intention of being dragged into something that Hizbullah wants to drag us into," Peretz said. "Nevertheless, we will operate in every place that we find it necessary." On Friday afternoon, the IAF dropped leaflets over southern Lebanon all...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

A Change Of Implant

I spent an hour this afternoon in the company of one of the most interesting men in American politics: Karl Rove. He came to Minnesota to attend fundraisers for Michele Bachmann and Mark Kennedy and to meet with state Republican Party leaders to consult on the ongoing efforts. The White House called earlier this week to arrange a meeting with bloggers, and several of us managed to squeeze this unique opportunity into our busy schedules: Michael from Minnesota Democrats Exposed, Andy from Residual Forces, and Gary from Kennedy vs The Machine. Rove had just come from the Bachmann luncheon, where they raised $50,000 for her campaign. The Kennedy event comes later tonight. He mentioned how impressed he was with Michele and her family. She and her husband have managed professional careers and five children -- yet made time to provide a home for 23 foster children. He felt that both...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

I Hate Online Gambling Sites

One of my favorite aspects of Captain's Quarters is the trackbacks. I love the fact that the site can display all of the bloggers who have linked back to CQ in order to continue the debate. Readers can make quick jumps to read all of the arguments (and if they're using Firefox or the beta release of IE 7.0, they can open them up in tabs). I often browse through my trackbacks to see how others view my argument, and it makes me a better blogger. What I don't like about trackbacks -- what I absolutely hate about them -- is the trackback spam I have to weed out. Movable Type 3.2 does almost all of the hard work for me by using a complicated algorithm to identify potential junk trackbacks. It catches valid ones a little too often, but I approve those and they eventually appear on the posts,...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

July 22, 2006

Capitol Hill Blues

For the last several years, a trashy political version of the Weekly World News has made a number of salacious and lurid claims about key political figures, mostly George Bush. Capitol Hill Blue originated stories about Bush being addicted to drugs, falling off the wagon, and so on. The allegation that he had referred to the Constitution as "just a G******d piece of paper" came from one of their articles, as did the explosive, supposedly first-person account of Bush being briefed that the Niger claim was bogus before his State of the Union speech. (Interestingly, the Senate's Intelligence Committee later confirmed that the Niger story was true, but that didn't stop CHB.) What made these stories compelling was that they used sources who put their names on the record. CHB identified two of them: Terry Wilkinson, a former CIA advisor, and George Harleigh, a professor at Southern Illinois University who...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Nasrallah Runs Lebanon

Rick Moran of Right Wing Nuthouse sent me a link to an intriguing article in Lebanon's Daily Star, in which Sheikh Nasrallah explains quite clearly how Hezbollah now runs the Lebanese government. Nasrallah gave an interview in which he told A-Jazeera that he has assigned some tasks to government officials regarding international negotiations, and how the Lebanese government has entered into an agreement with Nasrallah to allow Hezbollah to operate at will against the Israelis. Nasrallah mentioned five points for his program (emphases mine): First, Nasrallah insisted on an exchange of prisoners, beginning with the longest-held Lebanese detainee, Samir Qantar. However, according to contacts with Israel, the Jewish state would never agree to release Qantar because he killed Israeli civilians. Second, Nasrallah said he did not care about Arab criticism of Hizbullah. Commenting on the issue, Nasrallah said, "We forgot them as if they [Arab states] do not exist," and...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Karl Rove, Checking Implants (Update: Caption Contest!)

Remember the scene from Blade Runner where Decker interrogates suspects to determine whether they're replicants? Well, it turns out that an implant check largely follows the same kind of procedures: KR: When you see a New York Times editoral, how does it make you feel? CQ: Sad, as though something once brilliant has died and still doesn't realize it ... like the network news programs. KR: It's working! Come on ... secretly you knew that this really happens, didn't you? Addendum: We kid, Karl, we kid. We kid because the implant told me to do so. UPDATE: Oh, let's have more fun at my expense. Let's make this a Caption Contest. Be sure to put your entries in the comments section -- no e-mail entries, please! -- and I'll pick a winner by Sunday night....

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Israelis Capture Maroun al-Ras

Israel conducted its first major incursion into Lebanon today, investing the town of Maroun al-Ras with 2,000 troops and tanks. The military operation coordinated ground forces, air, and naval assets and rapidly achieved its objective: Israeli tanks and hundreds of troops moved in and out of Lebanon on Saturday, taking over a village, entering a U.N. observation post and engaging Hezbollah militants by land, sea and air as part of the country's limited ground campaign. The soldiers — backed by artillery and tank fire — took control of the large village of Maroun al-Ras, military officials said on condition of anonymity. That included a group of Israeli tanks, bulldozers and personnel carriers that knocked down a border fence and entered the area Saturday afternoon. The equipment and about 25 soldiers raced past a U.N. outpost and headed into the village, where other Israeli soldiers already had control. Some of the...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Bolton Redux

The surprise reversal of Senator George Voinovich (R-OH) on John Bolton's performance at the UN prompted the White House to resubmit his nomination to the Senate for confirmation. With all of the trouble occurring in the Middle East and the ongoing failure of the UN to seriously reform itself, one would normally expect the Democrats to avoid the obvious political trap of obstructionism and allow the Senate to quietly confirm Bolton. However, Joe Biden has never let common sense dictate his actions, and he appears poised to snatch defeat from the jaws of apathy: Senate Republicans on Friday set a date for a confirmation hearing on John R. Bolton, who is serving as United States ambassador to the United Nations on a presidential appointment, as the White House renewed its effort to secure Senate approval of Mr. Bolton’s appointment. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee announced that it would hold a...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Northern Alliance Radio Today

Once again, the Northern Alliance Radio Network returns to the airwaves at AM 1280 The Patriot. The first half of the show features Chad and Brian from Fraters Libertas and John from Power Line at 11 am CT. Mitch joins me at 1 pm CT; King is traveling in Mongolia and will not be with us. We'll be talking about all of the events in the past week, including my vist with Karl Rove, which will cover information not included in my post from yesterday (as Hugh Hewitt surmised). Be sure to tune in, or catch the Internet stream at the station's web site or through Townhall's link. Call us and join the conversation at 651-289-4488!...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Lend-Lease Reappears In 2006

America has started to expedite the shipment of munitions to Israel, according to the New York Times, in order to maintain Israeli stocks as they continue to pound Hezbollah positions in Lebanon: The Bush administration is rushing a delivery of precision-guided bombs to Israel, which requested the expedited shipment last week after beginning its air campaign against Hezbollah targets in Lebanon, American officials said Friday. The decision to quickly ship the weapons to Israel was made with relatively little debate within the Bush administration, the officials said. Its disclosure threatens to anger Arab governments and others because of the appearance that the United States is actively aiding the Israeli bombing campaign in a way that could be compared to Iran’s efforts to arm and resupply Hezbollah. The munitions that the United States is sending to Israel are part of a multimillion-dollar arms sale package approved last year that Israel is...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Palestinians Reduce Number Of Israeli Fronts?

This development seems pretty strange, considering the opportunity for mischief the Palestinians have at the moment, but the major terrorist groups have announced a cease-fire in the territories: Palestinian factions agreed to a cessation of Qassam rocket launching at Israel from Gaza. The decision was reached following a Hamas initiative and in anticipated to come into play at midnight Saturday. That having been said, a number of militant groups already announced that they will not honor such an agreement. So far, Fox News has reported this on their radio feed and Ynet on the wires, but no other agency has broadcast any more details. If this turns out to be true, it's a major slap in the face to Hezbollah and to their Syrian patrons. It might signal a split among Hamas factions in the territories and the terrorist leadership in Damascus, which would absolutely want Israel to fight a...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Heritage Blog Arrival

I've begun posting at the Heritage Foundation Policy Blog, and have two new posts there on budgetary issues. The first post reviews a paper written by Brian Riedl and Baker Spring, showing that four years after the war, Congress still appropriates for the war as if they didn't know it existed. We need to stop funding war efforts through emergency appropriations, which as we saw this session, create too many opportunities for pork-barrel mischief. The second paper I highlighted at Heritage rethinks the entire process of attacking unnecessary spending. Brian Riedl and Michelle Muccio have an inspired idea about how to gain political clout through the bundling of spending reductions, gathering enough programs to jettison so that the sum of the expenditures excites enough passion to overwhelm the natural constituencies of the programs themselves. It sounds impossible, but Riedl and Muccio show how the BRAC process did just that --...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

A 'Continuum Of Civilianality'?

Alan Dershowitz has made a career out of his contrarian rhetoric. Usually a firebrand liberal, he caused a huge controversy -- and enjoyed it -- when he suggested after 9/11 that torture may have some necessity in the fight against Islamofascist terrorists. He continued challenging conventional wisdom today in a Los Angeles Times column that called into question the status of civilians in Lebanon and the Palestinian territories: THE NEWS IS filled these days with reports of civilian casualties, comparative civilian body counts and criticism of Israel, along with Hezbollah, for causing the deaths, injuries and "collective punishment" of civilians. But just who is a "civilian" in the age of terrorism, when militants don't wear uniforms, don't belong to regular armies and easily blend into civilian populations? We need a new vocabulary to reflect the realities of modern warfare. A new phrase should be introduced into the reporting and analysis...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

He's Not Ronery

That hot North Korean studmonkey, Kim Jong-Il, tied the knot with his secretary, according to a South Korean wire service. Kim's previous wife died two years ago, and Kim Ok has apparently filled the gap in the dictator's private life: North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has taken his former secretary as his new wife, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported on Sunday, citing sources familiar with the country. His wife Ko Yong-hi, the mother of two of Kim's three sons, died of breast cancer in August 2004, the agency said. "I heard Kim has been living together with a woman named Kim Ok, who was his secretary, since Ko Yong-hi died two years ago," Yonhap quoted a South Korean government source as saying. I have to believe it's all an American plot to calm the tensions on the Korean peninsula. The DoD probably thought Kim's fascination with missiles had some...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

July 23, 2006

Hamas Ready To Give In?

According to Haaretz, Hamas wants to cut its losses and get out of the current war. Reportedly unhappy with Hezbollah's amplification of Israeli rage, local Hamas leadership has agreed in principle to return Gilad Shalit now for consideration of future releases of Palestinian prisoners, and will agree to a mutual cease-fire to seal the deal: Senior Fatah sources in Gaza said on Saturday Hamas is ready to accept a deal that involves freeing abducted soldier Gilad Shalit, a joint cease-fire and an end to IDF actions in the Gaza Strip. What is not clear is whether Khaled Meshal, the Hamas leader in Damascus, will sanction the Egyptian-brokered deal. The initiative, proposed by Egypt and discussed by Palestinian leaders in Gaza in the last few days, consists of freeing Gilad Shalit, a joint cease-fire and the cessation of the IDF's assassinations in the Gaza Strip and freeing Palestinian prisoners later on....

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Can Syria Be Saved?

The Bush administration may try to rescue Syria from its ties to the Iranians, according to a New York Times report out today, in part by convincing them to quit supporting the Iranian proxy Hezbollah in Lebanon. Condoleezza Rice will meet with the Saudis to attempt such a strategy in the coming days, as the Saudis have just as much eagerness to rid the region of Hezbollah and Iranian influence in general: As Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice heads to Israel on Sunday, Bush administration officials say they recognize Syria is central to any plans to resolve the crisis in the Middle East, and they are seeking ways to peel Syria away from its alliance of convenience with Iran. In interviews, senior administration officials said they had no plans right now to resume direct talks with the Syrian government. President Bush recalled his ambassador to Syria, Margaret Scobey, after the...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Israel: We'll Take NATO

Israel has indicated that it will accept a new multinational screening force in Lebanon to keep Hezbollah off of Israel's border, but wants NATO-commanded forces for the task. Whether or not NATO -- and by extension the United States -- decides to take job is another question entirely: Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz said Sunday that Israel would accept a temporary international force, preferably headed by NATO, deployed along the Lebanese border to keep Hizbullah guerrillas away from Israel, according to officials in Peretz's office. "Israel's goal is to see the Lebanese army deployed along the border with Israel, but we understand that we are taking about a weak army and that in the midterm period Israel will have to accept a multinational force," he said according to his office. Peretz made the comments during a closed meeting with visiting German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. ... Israel has made clear...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Many Ways Of Saying 'No'

The veto record of George Bush -- an extraordinarily short one -- gets analyzed in the New York Times today, which points out that Bush has not vetoed bills before because he had little cause to do so. Instead, the Times focuses on the rather nuanced manner in which Bush has managed to avoid vetoing legislation from a Congress completely controlled by his own party: Franklin Delano Roosevelt rejected or failed to sign 635 bills during his 12 years in office, using his veto power to keep Congress — run by his fellow Democrats — subservient. Harry S. Truman vetoed 250 bills; Dwight D. Eisenhower, 181. Bill Clinton used one of 37 vetoes to reject a law banning a particular type of abortion. But until last week, when President Bush vetoed a bill to expand federally supported embryonic stem cell research, the incumbent president — a man who has taken...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

American Imperialism In Europe!

The evidence of American imperialism showed in Europe today, in Britain and France -- but in sports rather than politics. Tiger Woods won his second straight British Open, the first player to do so in over twenty years: Tiger Woods had an answer for everyone Sunday on another methodical march to victory in the British Open. One month after missing the cut for the first time in a major, Woods was ruthless as ever on the brown-baked links of Royal Liverpool, making three straight birdies to turn away a spirited challenge by Chris DiMarco and win golf's oldest championship for the second straight year. Unlike in previous victories, his challenger actually pressed him all the way to the end. He lost two strokes off a thiree-stroke lead on the back nine as DeMarco played an excellent round, but in the end Tiger pushed him away. The victory is Tiger's first...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

ACLU To Fred Phelps' Rescue

We have yet another reason to despise the American Civil Liberties Union. They have decided to act on behalf of the "Reverend" Fred Phelps and his gang of gay-baiting haters, claiming that a Missouri law that bans picketers at military funerals violates their right to free speech: A Kansas church group that protests at military funerals nationwide filed suit in federal court, saying a Missouri law banning such picketing infringes on religious freedom and free speech. The American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit Friday in the U.S. District Court in Jefferson City, Mo., on behalf of the fundamentalist Westboro Baptist Church, which has outraged mourning communities by picketing service members' funerals with signs condemning homosexuality. ... The law bans picketing and protests "in front of or about" any location where a funeral is held, from an hour before it begins until an hour after it ends. Offenders can face...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Not Learning To Quit While Behind

Dennis Hastert still hasn't learned when to quit. The House speaker told Fox News Sunday that he may appeal an order by a federal judge that allows the FBI to begin a review of records seized through a search warrant from Rep. William Jefferson's office: House Speaker Dennis Hastert said Sunday he may challenge a judge's order allowing FBI agents to examine documents seized at a Louisiana congressman's Capitol Hill office in a bribery probe. Hastert said he believed Rep. William Jefferson, D-La., was "in big trouble" and that the House would not be joining in support of Jefferson himself. But he said the House separately might seek to make clear its position that the Justice Department cannot randomly and wantonly search lawmakers' offices. "The gentleman from Louisiana is in big trouble, as far as I'm concerned. And we're not trying to protect him," said Hastert, R-Ill. "But there has...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

What Desperate People Do When They're Irrelevant

Keith Olbermann keeps solidifying his position as most overblown twerp on television. At a critic's breakfast yesterday, Olbermann fired off a Nazi salute while impersonating the man who trounces him in the ratings: MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann used a Saturday morning breakfast session at the Television Critics Association press tour to fire yet another shot at Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly, holding up an O’Reilly mask while raising his right arm in a Nazi salute to mock his on-air rival. “It’s just so much fun,” said the host of Countdown with Keith Olbermann when questioned about why he pursues his on-air rivalry with O’Reilly. I have never been an O'Reilly fan from the early days of "Inside Edition" to his current rise to the top at Fox. In my opinion, his show often displays all of the characteristics of how television makes politics unpleasant. It doesn't get as bad as the...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Arabs Pressuring Syria To Cut Hezbollah Support

The Arab nations continue to pursue a policy of opposition to Iranian dreams of hegemony in the Middle East, and have begun a campaign to pressure Bashar Assad into cutting off support for Hezbollah. Rather than unite behind the Persian power play, the Arabs appear to regard Teheran as a bigger threat than Israel: Mideast diplomats were pressing Syria to stop backing Hezbollah as the guerrillas fired more deadly rockets onto Israel's third-largest city Sunday. Israel faced tougher-than-expected ground battles and bombarded targets in southern Lebanon, hitting a convoy of refugees. ... With Israel and the United States saying a real cease-fire is not possible until Hezbollah is reined in, Arab heavyweights Egypt and Saudi Arabia were pushing Syria to end its support for the guerrillas, Arab diplomats in Cairo said. A loss of Syria's support would deeply weaken Hezbollah, though its other ally, Iran, gives it a large part...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Kosovo Talks Begin, Seven Years Later

Talks on the status of Kosovo, the breakaway Serbian province in its south, will finally begin in a few hours seven years after NATO intervention forced the Serbian army to withdraw: Formal talks to decide the future status of Kosovo begin in Vienna on Monday involving political leaders from Serbia and Kosovo itself. Kosovo, technically still part of Serbia, has been run by the international community since the end of the war in 1999. These are the most important talks over its future since Nato bombing forced the Serb army out in 1999. They are being brokered by United Nations Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaari. People claim that the Bush administration had no plan for Iraq, but we helped the Iraqis form a representative government and held three national elections in less than half the time that the United Nations has sat on Kosovo. After bombing the Serbian army and forcing...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

July 24, 2006

IDF: Hezbollah Running Out Of Missiles

Hezbollah has started to run low on munitions and morale, according to the IDF. Without secure lines of communication to Syria, the terrorists have been unable to resupply, and this has led jihadis in northern Lebanon to avoid joining the fight against Israel: IDF Military Intelligence (MI) believes the army has 10 days left before diplomatic pressure puts an end to Operation Change of Direction against Hizbullah, The Jerusalem Post learned on Sunday. In addition, MI - reflecting its latest strategic assessment - believes that the Islamist group has already been dealt a severe blow by the IDF operation launched 12 days ago, and that within a month it will run out of Katyusha rockets to fire at Israel. ... The unit has been able to recruit reserves, but MI has noticed that it has run into difficulty convincing members of the terror group who reside in northern Lebanon to...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Rice: Lebanon Must Assert Sovereignty

Condoleezza Rice made a surprise visit to Beirut this morning, meeting with Lebanese PM Fuad Saniora as war continued to hit close to the capital. Rice made clear that any resolution to the conflict had to remove Hezbollah missiles and terrorism from the southern border, and that Lebanon's government had to assume sovereignty over its territory: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met with Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora in Beirut on Monday in a show of support for that country's weakened democracy, which is struggling to contain the fighting between the Hezbollah militia and Israel. ... "If there is a cessation of hostilities, the government of Lebanon is going to have to be the party," she said. "Let's treat the government of Lebanon as the sovereign government that it is." That is the key point in all of the discussions regarding a cease-fire, and it expands on a point made...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

New, Improved John Kerry -- Now With Even Less Substance!

John Kerry's long battle with incoherence continues today, as the Detroit News reports. Kerry, trying to resurrect his presidential hopes, attacked George Bush for the war yesterday -- but this time he griped about the war in Lebanon, claiming it never would have happened had Kerry won the election: U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D- Mass., who was in town Sunday to help Gov. Jennifer Granholm campaign for her re-election bid, took time to take a jab at the Bush administration for its lack of leadership in the Israeli-Lebanon conflict. "If I was president, this wouldn't have happened," said Kerry during a noon stop at Honest John's bar and grill in Detroit's Cass Corridor. Bush has been so concentrated on the war in Iraq that other Middle East tension arose as a result, he said. "The president has been so absent on diplomacy when it comes to issues affecting the Middle...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Playing Dress-Up In Chicago With Radical Nostalgists

In what could literally become a blast from the past, the reorganized Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) will hold a national convention next month in Chicago. The meeting comes 37 years after the original SDS radicals created havoc on the streets of the city, especially their militant wing, The Weathermen: Students for a Democratic Society, the "New Left" organization whose numbers swelled on college campuses in the 1960s, has resurrected itself and is planning its first national convention in 37 years. Next week, on August 4-7, the reconstituted group returns to Chicago, the same city where SDS had its headquarters and where rioting erupted at the 1968 Democratic Party convention. "We're attempting to have a convention that is unifying, to heal the wounds of the last convention," an SDS New York regional coordinator, Thomas Good, 48, said. "Our radical ideas include health care for everyone and stopping torture as...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Note To CNN: Secrecy Is The Norm

CNN had a good article last night explaining why Randy "Duke" Cunningham could deliver so much pork to his partners in corruption -- he hid earmarks in classified appropriations bills for the intelligence budget. The report made much of the secrecy involved in black-box budgeting -- but said nothing about the normal operational secrecy of earmarks in every other facet of appropriations. In my lastest post at the Heritage Foundation's Policy Blog, I point that out -- and discuss the obvious solutions. Give it a read, and let me know what you think. Addendum: Don't forget to blogroll the Policy Blog, and you can get the RSS feed here....

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Specter Defends Himself -- Poorly

Senator Arlen Specter tried to convince people that his new FISA compromise bill with the White House amounts to, well, a compromise, instead of the surrender that it obviously is. Specter finds himself stuck between an unconstitutional incursion on wartime powers, and a program he calls a "festering sore" even as he guarantees its continuance: President Bush's electronic surveillance program has been a festering sore on our body politic since it was publicly disclosed last December. Civil libertarians, myself included, have insisted that the program must be subject to judicial review to ensure compliance with the Fourth Amendment. The president has insisted that he was acting lawfully within his constitutional responsibilities. On its face, the program seems contrary to the plain text of the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which regulates domestic national security wiretapping. The president argues, however, that his inherent constitutional powers supersede the statute. Without knowing...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Why The Chickenhawk Slur Makes No Sense

Jeff Jacoby puts an end to the "chickenhawk" slur in today's Boston Globe. He points out that, if the people who fling the insult actually believed what they say, they would have to abdicate on decisions regarding peace as well as war: You hear a fair amount of that from the antiwar crowd if, like me, you support a war but have never seen combat yourself. That makes you a ``chicken hawk" -- one of those, as Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, defending John Kerry from his critics, put it during the 2004 presidential campaign, who ``shriek like a hawk, but have the backbone of a chicken." Kerry himself often played that card. ``I'd like to know what it is Republicans who didn't serve in Vietnam have against those of us who did," he would sniff, casting himself as the victim of unmanly hypocrites who never wore the uniform,...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Nasrallah: Saniora Gov't Knew Of Abduction Operation

MEMRI has the transcript of an Al-Jazeera interview with Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah in which he states that the Lebanese government explicitly knew that Hezbollah would invade Israel and abduct Israeli soldiers. This undercuts the depiction of Lebanon as a helpless victim in some degree: Interviewer: "Did you inform them that you were about to abduct Israeli soldiers?" Hassan Nasrallah: "I told them that we must resolve the issue of the prisoners, and that the only way to resolve it is by abducting Israeli soldiers." Interviewer: "Did you say this clearly?" Hassan Nasrallah: "Yes, and nobody said to me: 'No, you are not allowed to abduct Israeli soldiers.' Even if they had told me not to... I'm not defending myself here. I said that we would abduct Israeli soldiers, in meetings with some of the main political leaders in the country. I don't want to mention names now, but when...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Tennessee's Ford Dynasty Transforms Into An Edsel

With Bill Frist retiring from the Senate after this year, the open seat allows Democrats an opportunity to close the gap on the GOP. The Tennessee Democrats have turned to Rep. Harold Ford Jr, who has held TN-09 for five terms following the eleven his father served in the same seat. The Democrats had to believe that Ford was the right man at the right time -- popular, strong political connections, charismatic, and an unabashed moderate. According to the latest data at Rasmussen, which has not been released as an article, the Democrats appear to have made a mistake. Ford not only has not captured the imagination of the Volunteer State, right now polls show him losing to all three Republicans vying for the nomination in head-to-head races. Ford badly trails the GOP favorite, Bob Corker, by 12 points. He trails the other two candidates within the margin of error...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Iraqi Intel Memo Describes Osama Connection

FMSO has translated a new set of documents from those captured in the fall of Saddam Hussein, and one of them seems very provocative indeed. A memo from the Afghan section of the Directorate of Counterintelligence (M5) to the head of M5 dated September 15th, 2001 relays information from an Afghani source that Taliban consul discussed the relationship between Osama, Iraq, and the Taliban. Document CMPC-2003-001488 had previously been translated by Iraqi blogger Omar at Iraq the Model for Pajamas Media last March, but now has been translated by the government: Office of the Presidency Intelligence Service M5/3/9/2 The Honorable Mr. General Director Manager M5 Subject: Information Our Afghani source numbered 11002 had provided us with the information on the denotation paper number -1- ) The Afghani Consul Ahmad Dahstani (the information on the denotation paper number (2)) had mentioned in front of him with the followings: 1. Osama Bin...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

July 25, 2006

Palestinians Want Out Of The War

It has become clear that the Palestinians in Gaza want to get out of the way of the border war Israel has in its north. All groups in Gaza have now agreed to stop fighting and return Gilad Shalit in exchange for a simple cessation of hostilities and the promise of future releases of prisoners: All groups in Gaza, including Hamas, would now accept a cease-fire deal with Israel which would include releasing Gilad Shalit, according to the Palestinian Agriculture Minister, who also heads the coordinating committee of Palestinian organizations there. Ibrahim Al-Naja said the factions were ready to stop the Qassam rocket fire if Israel's ceased all military moves against the Palestinian factions in Gaza. They are also ready to release Shalit in exchange for guaranteeing the future release of Palestinian prisoners. Hamas leaders did not confirm this report on Monday, but if it is true, then this is...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

We Haven't Changed The Paradigm At All

I find it very helpful to read columnists from across the political spectrum, and not just to find targets for fisking; sometime one needs an outsider's perspective to see a larger truth. In this case, E.J. Dionne provides that perspective, and the larger truth is that after a generation of demanding smaller federal government, Republicans -- especially Republican incumbents -- have not succeeded in changing the political paradigm of pork-barrel politics at all: Most people outside Virginia's Hampton Roads region have never heard of Craney Island -- and neither had Webb, an anti-politician whose career has taken him from the military to the Reagan administration to writing and now back to the Democratic Party. Allen asked: "Jim, what's your position on the proper use of Craney Island?" Webb replied, candidly: "I'm not sure where Craney Island is. Why don't you tell me?" No doubt feeling very pleased, Allen replied: "Craney...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

The Absurdity Of Proportionality

Richard Cohen makes amends for his last column, in which he called Israel a "mistake", by debunking the notion of proportional response to war. For some reason, the global community has taken this concept up as a cudgel with which to beat Israel in its fight against the Hezbollah terrorists who touched off the war, as if any war in human history has ever been deliberately fought within the bounds of "proportionality": The list of those who have accused Israel of not being in harmony with its enemies is long and, alas, distinguished. It includes, of course, the United Nations and its secretary general, Kofi Annan. It also includes a whole bunch of European newspapers whose editorial pages call for Israel to respond, it seems, with only one missile for every one tossed its way. Such neat proportion is a recipe for doom. The dire consequences of proportionality are so...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Rice: No Return To Status Quo Ante

Condoleezza Rice made it plain to Mahmoud Abbas that the United States would not accept a return to the status quo ante after the attacks on Israel by Hezbollah and Hamas this summer. Rice called for those who want to see a new Middle East to demand change, and that cease-fires would have to wait until a consensus for real change arrives: US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met Tuesday with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah following her earlier meeting with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. "It is time for a new Middle East," Rice said in the meeting. "It is time to say to those that don't want a different kind of Middle East that we will prevail. They will not." Rice admitted that the suffering of all innocent people in the region was disturbing, but nonetheless, did not call on Israel to stop its actions in Lebanon....

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Biggest Pork Item In History?

Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA) got Congress to pass his amendment to the Deep Water Energy Resources Act that had nothing to do with deep water or energy resources. Instead, HR 3496 earmarked $1.5 billion for the Washington DC Metro system, which operates above water in all senses except financially. The Heritage Foundation's Ronald Utt describes the amendment as "the biggest pork earmark in history", and it's headed for the Senate. I discuss this in my latest post at the Heritage Foundation. Most amazing, the earmark comes because the constituent cities and states involved have little interest in funding improvements to their own system -- so Davis decided to charge every man, woman, and child in America $5 to have someone else ride the bus or train in our nation's capital. Why, exactly, is this a federal problem? Davis has an explanation that will make you roll your eyes, and the...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Sweden Warned UN Of OFP Kickbacks, UN Shrugged

A new report from Sweden shows that the UN had full awareness of the Oil-For-Food program's corruption, but chose to do nothing about it. The Swedish Foreign Ministry released a statement that claims the Swedish delegation brought the kickbacks to the attention of the UN sanctions committee in 2000: An unidentified Swedish company informed the country's embassy in Amman, Jordan, in 2000 that Iraq was demanding 10 percent "fees" on all deals as a way to circumvent U.N. sanctions on Saddam's regime, according to a Swedish Foreign Ministry document published on the Web site of Swedish Radio. The document was sent from the embassy in Amman to the Foreign Ministry and Swedish delegation at the United Nations in December 2000, Swedish Radio said. The document stated clearly that the extra fees violated U.N. sanctions. But it was "clear that an open Swedish engagement in this issue would negatively affect other...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Survey USA Shows Strib's Polling Ineptness

Survey USA has just released its latest polling on Minnesota's statewide races, and the results look much closer to previous polling than the Minneapolis Star-Tribune's Minnesota Poll last week. The Strib's in-house poll showed Rep. Mark Kennedy (MN-06) trailing Amy Klobuchar by a whopping 19 points and losing in almost every imaginable demographic category, despite national polling showing the gap to be between three to eight points. Survey USA's results fall square in the middle of the national polls: 42% Kennedy (R) 47% Klobuchar (DFL) [Democrat-Farmer-Labor, the state's Democratic Party] 8% Fitzgerald (I) 4% Undecided Kennedy has a 15-point lead among men, a demographic that the MinnPoll showed him losing, and an 11-point lead in the 18-34 bracket, an unusual result for the GOP that did get reflected in the MinnPoll. Interestingly, 28% of self-described liberals support Kennedy over Klobuchar, almost identical to the proportion of self-described moderates. He also...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Israelis Take Out Hezbollah Commander

The Israelis hit a Hezbollah "war room" in southern Lebanon, killing five terrorists and their regional commander and discovering sophisticated equipment of interesting pedigree: As fighting in Maroun al-Ras came to a close on Tuesday, IDF troops killed five Hizbullah gunmen, including the movement's regional commander. Several IDF soldiers were lightly wounded in the clashes and were evacuated under fire. Earlier, Brigadier General of Division 91, Commander Gal Hirsch, revealed that troops operating in Bint Jbeil discovered war rooms with eavesdropping and surveillance equipment made by Iran, being used by Hizbullah against Israel. The IDF appears to be laying the groundwork for a large-scale invasion using ground troops and armor. They have taken two points with some strategic significance for Hezbollah, and in this particular case wiped out the command structure for Hezbollah in the area. Israel claims that it controls Bint Jbeil, another strategic point known as the capital...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Hanging With Eudora & The Little Admiral

Since the Little Admiral is spending the night with the First Mate and I, I decided to take the night off from blogging and watch a movie -- Finding Nemo, one of our favorites. At 4, she's still too skittish to watch the more intense scenes, but she loves the movie and all of the characters. It's one of our favorites as well, and all three of us had a wonderful time. I used the down time to install the latest version of Eudora to replace Outlook Express as my e-mail client. OE's junk mail tools kept malfunctioning, and for some reason hyperlinks would not launch web pages but opened directories on my hard drive instead. In previous years, I had used Eudora off and on, but that was at least three versions ago. Now Eudora is at version 7, and it has changed tremendously. I'm still fooling around with...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

One Last Salute To An American Hero

America lost one of its bravest and toughest sons today. Carl Brashear, the Navy's first black diver, died at age 75, leaving behind four children and a legend: Carl M. Brashear, the first black U.S. Navy diver who was portrayed by Cuba Gooding Jr. in the 2000 film "Men of Honor," died Tuesday. He was 75. Brashear died at the Naval Medical Center Portsmouth of respiratory and heart failure, the medical center said. Brashear retired from the Navy in 1979 after more than 30 years of service. He was the first Navy diver to be restored to full active duty as an amputee, the result of a leg injury he sustained during a salvage operation. "The African-American community lost a great leader today in Carl Brashear," Gooding said of the man he played alongside Robert DeNiro, who was Brashear's roughneck training officer in "Men of Honor." "His impact to us...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

July 26, 2006

New York Senators Backing Away From Bolton Filibuster

Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton both joined a filibuster against the confirmation of John Bolton as ambassador to the UN last year, having received some additional political cover by George Voinovich's tearful opposition. Now that the White House has resubmitted Bolton for confirmation after Voinovich's reversal, one might expect them to follow Joe Biden into a repeat of a Democratic filibuster. However, the New York Sun reports that both have come under pressure from constituents to support Bolton, enough so that they have refused to openly give their positions on his confirmation: As the Senate prepares to consider anew the nomination of John Bolton as United Nations ambassador, Senators Schumer and Clinton are facing increasing pressure from pro-Israel groups to renounce another Democratic filibuster in light of the escalating war in the Middle East. The Foreign Relations Committee is set to hold a hearing on the nomination tomorrow, and several...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Stop Helping Me!

I'm sure that will be the message from the Bob Casey campaign after they see Al-Jazeera's endorsement of the Democrat running against Rick Santorum for the Senate. Casey did not pursue this particular seal of approval, obviously, but the terror apologists' appeal to readers to "vote Democratic" doesn't portend a groundswell of support in any case: Sen. Rick Santorum (R., Pa.) remarks at the National Press Club on Wednesday July 19th 2006 calling for regime change in Iran and described "Islamic fascism" as the "great test" of this generation, as threatening to the United States as last century's German Nazism and Soviet communism was inappropriate. These prejudicial remarks were derogatory, and highly unbecoming for a member of US senate. The Senator rhetoric in a public forum demeans both himself and the party he represents, particularly at a time when entire Middle East is in turmoil. Muslim of Lehigh Valley strongly...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

The Transformation From Dove To Hawk

Today's Der Spiegel has a fascinating column from Zeev Avrahami, a former Israeli soldier turned peace activist after his required service ended. Avrahami discusses the generational attitudes of Israelis towards their vision of their nation's place in the world and how it affected the policies adopted by a series of governments. Avrahami concludes that his peace activism may have been misplaced after all, and the man he despised twenty years ago is now the man he misses: Every time war footage from Lebanon flickers across the flat screen television in my apartment on the 30th floor of a high-rise in mid-town Manhattan, I am overwhelmed by a deep feeling of sadness. When I scan through the news on the Internet each morning, I'm overtaken by anger. The result is confusion: I go to sleep at night thinking I am a dove and wake up in the morning to find out...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Israel Wants 2-KM Security Zone; France Surrenders On Behalf Of NATO

The Israelis have begun to discuss the details of an acceptable situation for a cease-fire, the AP reports, as Ehud Olmert has given the dimensions of the security zone Israel wants in southern Lebanon. He proposes a 2-kilometer buffer zone (1.2 miles) that would initially have an international military force patrolling to keep Hezbollah out of range of Israel's cities and towns: "We want a two-kilometer (1.2-mile) space from the border in which it will not be possible to fire rockets toward soldiers and civilians' houses and in which there will not be contact with military border patrols," Olmert was quoted as telling the committee. Israeli soldiers patrolled a "security zone" during Israel's 18-year occupation of south Lebanon, but Olmert indicated the new buffer zone would be different. "We do not have any intention of returning to the security zone but want to create an area where there will be...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

If You Though Al-Jazeera Was Nuts Before ....

Earlier today, I linked to an Al-Jazeera editorial that blamed Rick Santorum for speaking out against Islamic fascism, as if the problem came from Santorum's imagination instead of the festering fever-swamps of radical Islam. The editorial by Mohammed Khaku ran yesterday, but today's editorial takes Al-Jazeera from hysteria to paranoia: Nassrullah spoke through Al-Manar TV, which was also simultaneously aired by several other TV stations. He said that his information now is that the ongoing Israeli war on Lebanon was initially planned to start in September or October, using any excuse to start it at that time. Nassrullah added that the Hizbullah military operation, which resulted in killing some Israeli soldiers and capturing two of them disrupted the preparation for that war. Humiliating, as it was, to the Israeli arrogance of power and pretense of invincibility, Israeli leaders started their war prematurely, before completing their preparations, particularly in the aspects...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Democrats Abandoning Coleen Rowley?

When famed FBI whistleblower Coleen Rowley announced her candidacy against Rep. John Kline for Minnesota's second district, Democrats cheered her and swore to support her against the Republican incumbent. Unfortunately, Rowley has transformed from media darling to political incompetent, and now Roll Call reports that Democrats have quietly abandoned her to her own devices: National and Minnesota Democrats seem about ready to walk away from Coleen Rowley’s ill-fated campaign to unseat Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.) — just as her campaign manager recently did. Many in the party had hoped that Rowley's national fame — Time magazine named her Person of the Year in 2002 for being a whistle-blower at the FBI — would make her an exciting, appealing candidate in an otherwise Republican-leaning district. But now some state Democrats say Rowley's first run for political office is going so badly that they're turning their sights on damage control. "She's running...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

A Reminder Of Hezbollah's Track Record

Some still consider Israel's decision to respond with a limited war to Hezbollah's invasion, which killed eight and saw two IDF soldiers abducted by the terrorists, an unreasonable reaction to the scale of the provocation. People have forgotten that Hezbollah has not sat quietly in Lebanon and acted as a political party during the six years after Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon. Just eight months ago, Hezbollah fired off rockets at Israel: Rocket Attacks Don't Dent Sharon By Martin Sieff Dec 29, 2005 WASHINGTON, The latest wave of Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah rocket attacks on Israel suggest an ambitious tactical political agenda on the part of the attackers. With Israel deep in the throes of probably its most crucial general election in almost 29 years, terrorist groups are trying to directly influence the political process. The attacks certainly fulfill the warning of Israeli security chiefs that hostile Islamist groups would...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Harper Says UNIFIL Attack Not Deliberate, General Explains Why

Two figures of Canadian leadership came forward today in opposition to Kofi Annan's assertion that Israel deliberately targeted a UNIFIL position, resulting in four deaths, including one Canadian soldier. PM Stephen Harper told reporters that he thought the attack had been a mistake, and retired Major General Lewis MacKenzie told CBC that the Canadian soldier who was killed in the attack complained that Hezbollah exploited their position as a shield: “I certainly doubt that to be the case given that the government of Israel has been co-operating with us in our evacuation efforts and our attempts to move Canadian citizens out of Lebanon and also trying to keep our own troops that are on the ground involved in the evacuation out of harm's way,” Mr. Harper said. “I seriously doubt that but we obviously want to get information.” He said Ottawa now wants to know why the UN post was...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

The Nasrallah Blues

Haaretz reports that Israel has penetrated Hezbollah communications, and Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah has quite a different spin on events internally than externally. While issuing public statements full of bombast and dire predictions for Israelis, his private communications acknowledges the shock of Israeli military action has taken a toll on operational capability and morale: An Israel Defense Forces analysis of the messages transmitted by Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah to his men during the fighting in Lebanon reveals a slightly different tone from the one he took in three public television interviews in the same period and in an interview with the Lebanese newspaper A-Safir. ... Nasrallah admits that his organization is having morale problems and says his group will receive support and encouragement. He adds that not only Hezbollah, but also Israel, has been badly hit. He also complains frequently that the Arab states have deserted Hezbollah and the Lebanese...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

July 27, 2006

The Dean Of Divisiveness

In this ever-changing, mixed-up world, thank goodness that we have the constant of Howard Dean's mouth. Easily one of the most hypocritical political figures in the past generation, Dean decided to lecture America on "divisiveness". Of course, he blamed Republicans for it, within hours of comparing one GOP candidate to a mass-murdering dictator and calling a visiting dignitary anti-Semitic: Down with divisiveness was the message Wednesday delivered by Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean as he told a group of Florida business leaders that Republican policies of deceit and finger-pointing are tearing American apart. Great modeling for that anti-divisiveness campaign, Howie. The Republican agenda "is flag-burning and same-sex marriage and God knows what else," Dean said. "We need real change in this country. We're in trouble." And that would be .... less divisive? Actually, Dean was just cooling down from earlier statements, where he compared Katherine Harris to ... Joseph Stalin....

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Someone Makes An Honest Living At The UN

The New York Sun found someone who supports free-market economics and property rights at the United Nations. Unfortunately, Osman Osman put those principles to use in a drug-smuggling operation and got busted by the FBI: A U.N. employee used U.N. diplomatic pouches to smuggle illegal drugs as part of a ring that brought 25 tons of contraband into New York in the past year and a half, federal prosecutors and the FBI said yesterday. The shipments of khat — an illegal stimulant grown in East Africa — were received by a mail clerk employed by the United Nations, Osman Osman, who sent them across America, according to an indictment unsealed yesterday. Prosecutors say Mr. Osman, a Somali citizen who had been employed at the United Nations for 29 years, was an important cog in the largest khat trafficking enterprise America has known. Forty-four defendants were named in yesterday's indictment, and...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

General MacKenzie Responds To Annan At G&M

General Lewis MacKenzie told the CBC yesterday about communications from the Canadian soldier killed in the Israeli bombardment at their UNIFIL position, information that Kofi Annan could have used before leaping publicly to the conclusion that the IDF deliberately attacked the UN. Today he expands on his comments in the Globe & Mail in an article entitled, "Kofi's Rush To Judgement" (via Newsbeat1, one of the best aggregators in Canada): The blast on Tuesday claimed the lives of Major Paeta Derek Hess-von Kruedener, a Canadian serving with the UN Truce Supervision Organization mission in southern Lebanon, and three other UN soldiers. On July 18, Major Hess-von Kruedener had sent a number of his colleagues, including regimental officers such as myself, an e-mail describing what the situation was like at his location since the Israeli attacks began against Hezbollah in Lebanon. "Based on the intensity and volatility of this current situation...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Rolling Stoned On Iran

Rolling Stone's James Bamford has a new article on the crisis in Iran that fundamentally misrepresents one of his sources and mangles history so badly that one wonders when RS laid off its fact-checkers. I have been in touch with Michael Ledeen, whose extensive quotes appear throughout the article, and he has a number of issues with Bamford's article. Let's start with the factual errors as Micheal outlines them. Bamford writes: Weeks later, in December, a plane carrying Ledeen traveled to Rome with two other members of Feith's secret Pentagon unit: Larry Franklin and Harold Rhode, a protégé of Ledeen who has been called the "theoretician of the neocon movement." Ledeen told me that "They were certainly not on my flights in either direction. ... Only an ignoramus would call Harold a protege of mine. If anything, it was the other way around." Completing the rogues' gallery that assembled in...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

The Nasrallah Bug-Out

When the going gets tough, the tough get going ... to Damascus. Apparently unhappy with Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah's direction, Syrian intelligence has whisked the Hezbollah leader to Syria for a series of meetings. Coming as it does on the heels of Nasrallah's own admission of severe blows to his efforts, one has to wonder whether Nasrallah will return to Lebanon: Hizbullah head Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah is currently in Damascus, the Kuwait based a-Siasa newspaper reported Thursday. Nasrallah was apparently taken to Damascus by Syrian intelligence for a series of meetings. According to the report, Nasrallah is scheduled to meet with Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani and perhaps with Syrian President Bashar Assad. Nasrallah has to answer to his two major patrons, and the indications so far would be that the conversation will be "frank and open" -- diplo-speak for a butt-chewing. Commanders do not often leave a war theater...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Tour Winner Tests Positive For Excessive Testosterone

So much for American dominance at the Tour de France. It looks like Floyd Landis will get disqualified over a positive test for excessive testosterone. This result, if confirmed, would show that Landis juiced just before his remarkable comeback in Stage 17, the key to his victory: Tour de France champion Floyd Landis tested positive for high levels of testosterone during the race, his Phonak team said Thursday on its Web site. ... The Swiss-based Phonak team said it was notified by the UCI on Wednesday that Landis’ sample showed “an unusual level of testosterone/epitestosterone” when he was tested after stage 17 of the race last Thursday. Landis made a remarkable comeback in that Alpine stage, racing far ahead of the field for a solo win that moved him from 11th to third in the overall standings. He regained the leader’s yellow jersey two days later. The team and Landis...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Israel Calls Up 30,000 Reserves

Israel has made it clear that they will not soon scale down their attacks in southern Lebanon. The IDF called up 30,000 troops for training in the fight against Hezbollah: Israel's government on Thursday called up at least 30,000 troops to begin training for duty in the offensive against Hezbollah, and Lebanese officials estimated a civilian death toll as high as 600 with fighting in its third week. .... The high-level conference in Rome ended Wednesday with most European leaders urging an immediate cease-fire but the United States willing to give Israel more time to punish Hezbollah and ensure an international peacekeeping force for south Lebanon. "We received yesterday at the Rome conference permission from the world .... to continue the operation, this war, until Hezbollah won't be located in Lebanon and until it is disarmed," Israeli Justice Minister Haim Ramon told Israel's Army Radio. "Everyone understands that a victory...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Hamas Skims Off The Top

Remember all the sob stories Hamas plied about how the international sanctions on their group had Palestinians starving in the street? Journalists from around the world issued hysterical alarms about how cutting off salaries of Palestinian Authority civil servants would collapse the economy and cause untold human suffering? Apparently, all of that concern did not reach the upper levels of Hamas itself, which has skimmed the international aid it has received for salaries of senior officials: Some of the Arab League money recently transferred to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has been paid out to Hamas ministers this week, according to PA sources. ... The Arab League raised money to help the Palestinians in March but was unable to transfer it until earlier this month. America has pressured banks not to allow money to flow to the PA, lest they be held in violation of US anti-terror laws, which forbid...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

UN Report Reveals Uselessness of UNIFIL

The United Nations quietly released a report on the UNIFIL mission on July 20th covering events since the beginning of the year in southern Lebanon. The report reveals the uselessness of the UNIFIL mission as the UN itself details how Hezbollah held control of the territory and how the UN stood by as the terrorists dug into their positions. After a lengthy description of tit-for-tat provocations during the reporting period, the report describes the situation on the ground prior to the eruption of war earlier this month: 28. Control of the Blue Line and its vicinity appears to have remained for the most part with Hizbollah. During the reporting period, Hizbollah maintained and reinforced a visible presence in the area, with permanent observation posts, temporary checkpoints and patrols. It continued to carry out intensive construction works to strengthen and expand some of its fixed positions, install additional technical equipment, such...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Israel Rejects UN-Led Force In Lebanon

Israel's outspoken ambassador to the UN, Dan Gillerman, explicitly rejected the deployment of another United Nations-led force in southern Lebanon as part of any cease-fire initiative. Gillerman said that any force deployed to replace the Israelis would have to have more professional leadership than that offered by Turtle Bay: Israel's U.N. ambassador on Thursday ruled out major U.N. involvement in any potential international force in Lebanon, saying more professional and better-trained troops were needed for such a volatile situation. ... Gillerman was highly critical of the current U.N. peacekeeping force, deployed in a buffer Zone between Israel and Lebanon since 1978, saying its facilities had sometimes been used for cover by Hezbollah militants and that it had not done its job. "It has never been able to prevent any shelling of Israel, any terrorist attack, any kidnappings," he said. "They either didn't see or didn't know or didn't want to...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

July 28, 2006

McCain Abandoning Campaign Reform?

The New York Sun reports that presumed presidential candidate John McCain has quietly removed himself from campaign-finance reform efforts in Congress. After infuriating conservatives with his efforts to impose speech limits -- and with the mostly unsuccessful efforts to muzzle the blogosphere -- McCain's name no longer appears on a public-financing campaign bill that he had at one time co-authored: The quartet of lawmakers behind every major federal campaign finance restriction in the past decade is suddenly missing one of its members. The elided surnames of the four men, "McCain-Feingold-Shays-Meehan," have become synonymous with so-called campaign finance reform, but Senator McCain, a Republican of Arizona, is conspicuously absent from the latest effort. On Wednesday, Senator Feingold, a Democrat of Wisconsin, Rep. Martin Meehan, a Democrat of Massachusetts, and Rep. Christopher Shays, a Republican of Connecticut, introduced a bill to revive the crumbling system for public financing of presidential campaigns. The...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

McKinney Losing Big To Johnson

CQ readers may have been surprised to see an advertisement for a Democrat appearing on the site. However, Hank Johnson has made an extraordinarily large effort to expand his reach in the upcoming primary runoff for Cynthia McKinney's seat in Congress. That effort seems to have paid off for Johnson, as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Johnson has 25 points over the controversial incumbent with a little over a week to go before the election: A new poll by Insider Advantage shows challenger Hank Johnson with a hefty lead over incumbent Cynthia McKinney in the Democratic run-off for the 4th District congressional race. The poll shows Johnson leading McKinney, 46 to 21 percent, with a third of voters undecided. The survey recorded the responses of 489 likely voters and has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 5 percent. Run-offs are notorious for low turnout, which often makes telephone surveys unreliable....

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Christopher Teaches All The Wrong Lessons

Warren Christopher had two opportunities to influence foreign policy from the top. He served as Deputy Secretary of State for all of Jimmy Carter's term of office, and then as Secretary of State for Bill Clinton's first term. These periods will be best known, in terms of Islamists, as periods of American retreat. Christopher headed the negotiations that dragged the Iranian hostage crises to 444 days, as Carter refused to respond to an act of war with American strength and instead accepted the ongoing humiliation from Teheran. His tenure as Secretary of State comprised the Oslo fiasco, which bound Israel and created a protostate for Yasser Arafat, which he used to both enrich himself and launch multiple intifadas against the Israelis. One might think that a former diplomat with this kind of track record would refrain from offering advice on Middle East conflict. However, Christopher takes to the pages of...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

UN Acts Late In Removing Observers

The UN has finally started withdrawing its observers from the war zone in southern Lebanon, the AP reports this morning: The United Nations has decided to remove unarmed observers from their posts along the Israeli-Lebanese border, moving them in with the peacekeeping force in the area, a spokesman said Friday. The decision came after one of the posts of the observer force, known as UNTSO, was destroyed by an Israeli airstrike earlier this week, killing four. The press will no doubt spin this as the fault of the Israelis. However, the UN has known of Hezbollah's efforts to use the UNTSO bases as shields for their offensive operations for at least the last two weeks, if not longer. Their own report from July 20th, compiled by their own analysts, made this clear: 28. Control of the Blue Line and its vicinity appears to have remained for the most part with...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Making the CUT (Update: Pork Database Progress!)

My new post at the Heritage Foundation Policy Blog discusses a new effort by Rep. Steve King (R-IA) to give Congress the power to remove spending from an already-approved budget. King's proposal, Cut the Unnecessary Tab (CUT) resolution, would amend House rules to require a quarterly rescission bill to review all unspent federal monies. Any member could then offer an amendment to delete a particular line item, and each amendment would have to receive a recorded vote -- putting each Representative on record on the program involved. King's release describes the benefits: Everything Is On The Table • All appropriations spending is subject to review and rescission. During this spending reduction process, every single spending item would be up for reconsideration, and no Member of Congress could make excuses for failing to cut spending because the process would provide a record of their actions. All Savings Go to Deficit Reduction...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Pander Bears

Instead of the donkey as a party mascot, the Democrats may want to consider a more exotic animal. Peter Beinart has a suggestion -- the pander bear. Beinart scolds Democrats for mindless and ineffective pandering to the pro-Israeli crowd by demanding that Nouri al-Maliki make himself into a sock puppet for America when he came to address Congress: After years of struggling to define their own approach to post-Sept. 11 foreign policy, Democrats seem finally to have hit on one. It's called pandering. In those rare cases when George W. Bush shows genuine sensitivity to America's allies and propounds a broader, more enlightened view of the national interest, Democrats will make him pay. It's jingoism with a liberal face. The latest example came this week when Democratic senators and House members demanded that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki either retract his criticisms of Israel or forfeit his chance to address...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Draft Bill On Detainee Trials Outlines Procedures

The Washington Post reports on the initial drafts from the Bush administration for their proposal to Congress for authorized military tribunals for detainees in the war on terror. The tribunals will use the template from our criminal justice system, with necessary modifications in accordance with fighting an ongoing war. The result shows the problems with holding tribunals while hostilities continue, for both testimony and thresholds of evidence. Here are the parameters the White House will propose to Congress: Rationale The draft states that using the federal courts or existing military court-martial procedures to try suspects in the war on terrorism -- described formally as "alien enemy combatants" -- is "impracticable" because they are committed to destroying the country and abusing its legal processes. Routine trial procedures would not work, it states, because suspects cannot be given access to classified information or tried speedily. Service members involved in collecting evidence cannot...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Post-Invasion Intel Showed WMD Went To Syria

Among the captured documents of the Iraqi Intelligence Services is a memo written in Arabic that describes pre-war intel from an Iraqi source working in Syria. Dated July 13, the memo itself was written after the invasion, but it describes the movement of trucks from Iraq into Syria just before the American invasions. Document ISGQ-2005-00022470 has notations reading "DOD" that indicate the Pentagon has already reviewed the data: ISGQ-2005-00022470 PAGE (1) MR. HOGGER (KURDISH NAME) REGARDS, KINDLY REVIEW THOSE PAGES AND PLEASE FORWARD THEM TO MRS.MONA FOR FURTHER REVIEW AFTER TRANSLATION THANK YOU SIGNED ABO ABDULLAH JULY 13TH ======= PAGE (2) ESQUIRE, THE DIRECTOR OF COORDINATION AND FOLLOW UP OFFICE Reda (name) CA11 July.13th Subject: we have information about the location of Mass Destruction Weapons On Moharram 10th (Arabic calendar), prior to US/allied invasion to Iraq, fifty (50) Iraqi trucks entered Syria as convoys (or groups), I met some the...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Still Stoned

Michael Ledeen's colleagues at National Review join the chorus of laughter and derision inspired by James Bamford's ridiculous effort in Rolling Stone, spinning a conspiracy theory involving Michael and the Bush administration. I wrote about the silliness yesterday, and today Andrew McCarthy and Mark Levin take up Bamford's piece: In a screed Rolling Stone is passing off as journalism, James Bamford becomes the latest in a growing crowd of hacks to smear our friend Michael Ledeen. Up until now, the fiction recklessly spewed by disgruntled intelligence-community retirees and their media enablers — some of whom have conceded that the claim is based on zero evidence — has been that Michael had something to do with the forged Italian documents that, according to the Left’s narrative, were the basis for President Bush’s “lie” in the 2003 State of the Union Address that Saddam Hussein had obtained yellowcake uranium (for nuclear-weapons construction)...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Shooter In Seattle

A gunman killed at least one and injured five others in a Jewish center in Seattle today, and local reports say he did it for political purposes. Seattle's KING-5 television station reports that the man introduced himself as a Muslim before firing indiscriminately: One person has been killed and at least five others have been injured in a shooting at the Jewish Federation at 2031 Third Ave. in downtown Seattle. One suspect has been taken into custody. Police have taken one person into custody but there may be more suspects in or around the building. Sources told KING 5 the suspect is a Pakistani man with a criminal background. He is from the Tri-Cities but his citizenship is unknown. Officials are on the way to the Tri-Cities to interview his family. According to the Seattle Times, a man got through security at the Jewish Federation and told staff members, "I'm...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Has Hezbollah Folded?

Hezbollah politicians have agreed in principle with the Saniora government to an international military force to occupy Lebanon and, more importantly, to disarm the "guerillas" that touched off the war: Hezbollah politicians, while expressing reservations, have joined their critics in the government in agreeing to a peace package that includes strengthening an international force in south Lebanon and disarming the guerrillas, the government said. The agreement — reached after a heated six-hour Cabinet meeting — was the first time that Hezbollah has signed onto a proposal for ending the crisis that includes the deploying of international forces. The package falls short of American and Israeli demands in that it calls for an immediate cease-fire before working out details of a force and includes other conditions. The agreement has its pitfalls. It calls for a broad approach to resolve the war, including a final determination of Shebaa Farms, presumably in Lebanon's...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

July 29, 2006

They're Not With Us, Volume II

A week ago, Hamas went out of its way to disassociate itself with Hezbollah in Lebanon, leaking to the press that they understood the danger of linking its conflict with the Iranian/Syrian proxy in the north. Later, however, they floated an idea to team up with Hezbollah on prisoner swaps. Today, Mahmoud Abbas explicitly rejects that sentiment, announcing that they will not work with Hezbollah on negotiations: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Saturday his government has no intention of teaming up with Shi'ite Hizboullah on negotiating the release of Palestinian and Lebanese prisoners held by Israel. ... Hamas had raised the possibility this week of teaming up with Hizbullah to negotiate terms to release of Palestinian and Lebanese prisoners in Israel in exchange for the three IDF soldiers. But Abbas said the situations were too different to coordinate a release. "Our brothers in Lebanon have their own special case ......

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Iranians Don't Take The UN Resolution Seriously

Yesterday the UN Security Council unanimously approved a resolution demanding that Iran comply with a previous UNSC resolution to stop enriching uranium while talks proceed on the nuclear crisis. The consequences of the new resolution were indeed dire -- the UNSC might actually ... really ... pass another resolution: The five permanent members of the UN Security Council reached a deal yesterday on a resolution that would give Iran until the end of next month to suspend uranium enrichment or face the threat of sanctions. The latest draft is weaker than an initial proposal from Britain, France and Germany, with US backing. Although the earlier version would have made the threat of sanctions immediate if Iran did not comply, the new draft would essentially give Iran another chance to come around. That was a victory for Russia and China, arguing that the resolution was not an ultimatum but a new...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

McKinney Equates Security Stop With Bush-Merkel Neckrub

Cynthia McKinney has decided to go down swinging in the runoff for her primary seat. However, she's not swinging at Hank Johnson, the man trying (and so far succeeding) in squeezing her out of Congress. Instead, McKinney keeps trying to use Bush Derangement Syndrome as a lever with her constituents, and has attempted to explain away her assault on a police officer by claiming molestation -- and using Bush as an excuse: At Thursday's news conference, McKinney told reporters her altercation with a Capitol police officer in March had no effect on the primary election results and said the fallout was created by people who had a political agenda. "One of the things that the press was a party to was the ... spiraling of an incident," she said. McKinney likened her response — she allegedly struck an officer after he grabbed her from behind — to that of German...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Whistleblowing Does Not Mean Going To The Press

The Washington Post reports that a federal grand jury has issued a subpoena to Russell Tice, an officer in the National Security Agency whose employment was terminated after stories about classified programs began appearing in the press. The Department of Justice has tasked the panel with investigating possible violations of the Espionage Act, and Tice's admissions of contacts with journalists appears to be a good place to start: A federal grand jury in Alexandria is investigating unauthorized leaks of classified information and has issued a subpoena to a fired National Security Agency officer who has acknowledged talking with journalists about the agency's warrantless surveillance program, according to documents released yesterday. The 23-member grand jury is "conducting an investigation of possible violations of federal criminal laws involving unauthorized disclosure of classified information" under the Espionage Act and other statutes, according to a document accompanying the subpoena. The demand for testimony from...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Let Slip The Doves?

Events have moved quickly since last night, and Condoleezza Rice's return to the Middle East may result in a cease fire rather quickly. After Hezbollah indicated last night that they would be willing to eventually disarm as part of an overall settlement over the Israeli-Lebanese border issues, Rice called the offer a "positive step" -- and Israel has just stated that it will not insist on Hezbollah's disarmament as a prerequisite to a cease-fire: En route to a new round of Middle East negotiations, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Saturday that she was encouraged by Hezbollah's general agreement to disarm and accept an international force in Lebanon, which she called a "positive step" that also strengthens the Lebanese government in the illusive search for a cease-fire. "Obviously we are all trying to get to a cease-fire as quickly as possible, so I'll take this as a positive step," Rice...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Blog Wars, Minnesota Style

Fraters Libertas tells readers how we do blog wars here in the upper Midwest: we shoot each other and get the whole conflict behind us. Actually, Kevin at Eckernet has issued a challenge across the political spectrum of Gopherblogs: Ok, I hope to be putting together a Battle Royale of the Blogosphere on a field of combat. Yes, I'm trying to put together an Minnesota Blogosphere Paintball game. The particulars are yet to be decided (or even thought about) but for now I am trying to guage interest. Preferably I would like to have the teams be the Right side of the Blogosphere vs the Left side of the Blogosphere. So hopefully we can get enough interest from both sides. Gonna try to work in a charity in there as well. Not sure if I should just pick one or if the proceeds go to the charity of the victor's...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Northern Alliance Radio Today

The Northern Alliance Radio Network airs today, as it does every Saturday, starting at 11 am CT. Brian and Chad from Fraters Libertas and John from Power Line take the first two hours, and Mitch Berg from Shot in the Dark joins me at 1 pm CT. We'll be talking about all the week's events. At 2 pm CT we'll be talking with Michael Ledeen, who got smeared badly by what can be politely described as an incompetent analysis by James Bamford in the Rolling Stone. How many other magazines make the claim that Saddam Hussein went into hiding in December 2001 -- in Iran? You can listen to the show on AM 1280 The Patriot if you're in the Twin Cities, or on our Internet stream at the same website or on Townhall. Join the conversation by calling 651-289-4488! BUMP, 1:45 PM: Michael Ledeen coming up in 15 minutes...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Hezbollah Hiding Among Civilians

Some people have argued over the last two weeks that Hezbollah's reputation for hiding among civilians is either false or overblown. However, Australia's Herald-Sun newspaper published photographs that show Hezbollah firing positions within residential areas of Lebanon, confirming the terrorists' use of civilians as human shields (via AJ Strata): THIS is the picture that damns Hezbollah. It is one of several, smuggled from behind Lebanon's battle lines, showing that Hezbollah is waging war amid suburbia. The images, obtained exclusively by the Sunday Herald Sun, show Hezbollah using high-density residential areas as launch pads for rockets and heavy-calibre weapons. Dressed in civilian clothing so they can quickly disappear, the militants carrying automatic assault rifles and ride in on trucks mounted with cannon. The photographs, from the Christian area of Wadi Chahrour in the east of Beirut, were taken by a visiting journalist and smuggled out by a friend. The Herald-Sun site...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

IDF Preparing Ground Incursion, Setting Table For Int'l Forces

After successfully reducing Bint Jbeir and Maroun al-Ras, the IDF has amassed its forces at the border for more operations in southern Lebanon. With American diplomacy working towards an end to the fighting, the Israelis want to clear as much territory from Hezbollah as possible in the time remaining: The IDF wrapped up its operations in the southern Lebanese village of Bint Jbail on Saturday and withdrew most of its troops from the area. At the same time, the army was gearing up for a new ground incursion into Lebanon. Also Saturday night, the IAF struck a road along the Lebanese border with Syria that the IDF said was being used by Damascus to smuggle weapons to Hizbullah. It does not appear that Israel has contemplated an all-out occupation of the land south of the Litani. However, they do intend on trapping as many of Hezbollah's fighters between their airstrikes...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

July 30, 2006

The Qana Funeral

Israel attacked Hezbollah launching positions in the ancient city of Qana, resulting in the deaths of dozens of civilians. Ehud Olmert and his staff immediately expressed regret for the deaths, but pointed out that Hezbollah's positioning made this kind of collateral damage unavoidable: Olmert expressed deep regret for the harm inflicted on the civilians in Qana Sunday morning when at least 57 civilians - 37 of whom were children - were killed as the IAF fired missiles at a building in the southern Lebanese town. "I express deep regret, along with all of Israel and the IDF, for the civilian deaths in Qana," said Olmert. "Nothing could be further from our intentions and our interests than harming civilians - everyone understands that. When we do harm civilians, the whole world recognizes that it is an exceptional case that does not characterize us." "In contrast," Olmert said, "Hizbullah has launched rockets...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Palestinians: We're Not Hezbollah

The Palestinians in Gaza have begun to resent the linkage made between their conflict and that in Lebanon, the Washington Times reports. In their objections, they point out the key flaw in Hezbollah's claims of self-defense and resistance: As fighting between Israel and Hezbollah continues to rage in Lebanon and northern Israel, Palestinians find themselves at the margins of a regional conflict that has shifted attention away from their six-year uprising for the first time. The war between Israel with the radical Shi'ite Hezbollah also has highlighted the Hezbollah-Iran alliance as a major Middle East flash point that has overshadowed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. To the chagrin of many Palestinians, a resolution to the Gaza clashes often is linked to a cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hezbollah. "The Palestinians have to prove that they are not in the same basket and that they should not be punished for the Lebanese cause,"...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Gray Lady vs WaPo On Lieberman (Update)

With the Connecticut primary approaching, one could expect local newspapers to consider endorsements, even though papers do not usually endorse candidates until the general election. Having not one but two national newspapers outside of the contest endorse primary candidates is even more unusual -- but given the exposure of Connecticut's Senate race, it seems utterly predictable that the New York Times and the Washington Post would feel it necessary. The Gray Lady likes Ned Lamont, and that should come as no surprise, either. The one issue on which Lamont seeks to oust Joe Lieberman is the war in Iraq, which the Times has opposed from the beginning: This primary would never have happened absent Iraq. It’s true that Mr. Lieberman has fallen in love with his image as the nation’s moral compass. But if pomposity were a disqualification, the Senate would never be able to call a quorum. He has...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Webb Tangled

Virginia supposedly offered one of the brightest hopes for a Democratic takeaway in this year's Senate race. James Webb, a former Reagan official and a best-selling novelist, challenged potential Presidential aspirant and leading conservative George Allen, who has served as Governor and Senator in the state. Early polls showed Allen vulnerable to Webb, but the latest surveys show that Webb has dropped back rather dramatically: Republican Sen. George Allen has a 16-point lead over Democratic challenger Jim Webb in the latest independent statewide poll, published Sunday, but a fifth of the electorate is still undecided. ... Forty-eight percent backed Allen and 32 percent supported Webb in the Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc. survey of registered voters likely to vote in the Nov. 7 election. However, 20 percent of the 625 respondents surveyed statewide by telephone July 25-27 said they had not decided between Allen, a former governor seeking a second...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Israel Agrees To Temporary Suspension

In response to the outcry over the bombing in Qana, Israel has agreed to suspend aerial attacks on southern Lebanon for 48 hours, and also to suspend ground operations for 24 hours in order to allow humanitarian aid into and civilians out of the area: Israel agreed to a 48-hour suspension of aerial activity over southern Lebanon after its bombing of a Lebanese village on Sunday that killed a number of children. The suspension of over-flights was announced by State Department spokesman Adam Ereli. He said Israel has reserved the right to attack targets if it learns that attacks are being prepared against them. "The United States welcomes this decision and hopes that it will help relieve the suffering of the children and families of southern Lebanon," Ereli told reporters traveling with Rice. This is a smart move by the Israelis. It gives Hezbollah 24 hours to manuever, of course,...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Thanks For All That Death And Destruction

Fuad Saniora apparently wants to make it difficult for people to remain sympathetic to Lebanon, or perhaps he just has the worst case of Stockholm Syndrome since Patty Hearst. Whatever the reason, Saniora made it clear that he will not have the stomach for disarming Hezbollah as required by the UN Security Council as he praised their "defense" of Lebanon: Lebanese Prime Minister Fuoad Siniora expressed his 'gratitude' to Hizbullah and its leader Hassan Nasrallah for "sacrificing their lives for the country." During a press conference held in wake of the Qana village incident in which 55 Lebanese were killed, Siniora asked: "Is Israel's mission to wipe out the Lebanese? It seems they want to kill all of us. One of those killed today is a baby just one day old. With its aggression, Israel is encouraging extremism." ... Siniora repeatedly stressed his desire to reach a ceasefire, and called...

« June 2006 | August 2006 »

Adding Insanity To Insult

Mel Gibson made an ass out of himself this weekend, first by driving while drunk, and then by reportedly spewing anti-Semitic slurs while police officers took him into custody. As he said in his apology, Gibson's remarks were despicable, and regardless of his state of sobriety, he richly deserves his embarrassment for those actions and remarks. Some have said that his controversial film, The Passion of the Christ, should be re-evaluated in light of Gibson's alleged latent anti-Semitism. Of course, people are free to do so, although people didn't appear to be shy in reviewing the film on those terms during its release over two years ago. (My review can be found here.) Gibson invited those reconsidered evaluations with his remarks, as well as speculation on the motivation behind his upcoming work on the Holocaust. However, some people just cannot abide the fact that even stupid people have the right...