War on Terror Archives

October 4, 2003

Repayment? Non!

I report, you decide ... but this just feels right to me. (Winds of Change)...

October 5, 2003

Mr. Kay's Report

The Washington Post has an intelligent, measured editorial aboutDavid Kay's report. This is the best coverage yet that I've seen on the report from the major media, and it doesn't surprise me that the Post was the newspaper that got there first. It makes an important point that hasn't really gotten the attention it deserves: our prewar intelligence was faulty, not faked, but we'd better figure out how to get it fixed....

More from David Kay

Here's more from David Kay ... information that doesn't seem to be getting a lot of play elsewhere, but explains that we were right in going to war. "We now have three cases in which scientists have come forward with equipment, technology, diagrams, documents and, in this case, actual weapons material, reference strains and botulinum toxin that they were told to hide and that the U.N. didn't find," he said Sunday....

October 6, 2003

U.S. to overhaul Iraq, Afghan efforts

Well, it's about time this administration started taking some action to win the peace. So far, while the Bush team is making all the right moves overseas, they've done a piss-poor job communicating back home. They've allowed the I-ANSWER stooges to occupy all the bandwidth, although Instapundit points out that this is now changing, too. The memo, which outlines working groups to coordinate anti-terrorism efforts, economic development, political affairs in Iraq and the creation of clearer messages to the media, is “a recognition by everyone that we are in a different phase now”, Rice told the Times in an interview Sunday....

FBI Funded Hamas?

I'm wondering if someone shouldn't be losing their job over this story: While President Clinton was trying to broker an elusive peace between Israelis and Palestinians, the FBI was secretly funneling money to suspected Hamas figures to see if the militant group would use it for terrorist attacks, according to interviews and court documents...Several thousand dollars in U.S. money was sent to suspected terror supporters during the operation as the FBI tried to track the flow of cash through terror organizations, the FBI said in a rare acknowledgment of an undercover sting that never resulted in prosecutions. "This was done in conjunction with permission from the attorney general for an ongoing operation, and Israeli authorities were aware of it," the bureau said. One of the FBI's key operatives, who has had a falling out with the bureau, provided an account of the operation at a friend's closed immigration court proceeding....

The world's smallest violin ...

CNN.com - WTC bomber loses appeal - Oct. 6, 2003 I have nothing to add here....

October 7, 2003

Dionne's Take in the Post

I have to admit, at first this pissed me off, and it's still irritating me. However, it is worth a read, and Dionne is trying to introduce constructive criticism, which is encouraging. I think this is based on a couple of mistaken notion, however, chief among them that there actually was a post-9/11 consensus. Domestically, that may have been true -- maybe. If so, it was short-lived. Dionne is incorrect to say that the Afghanistan phase of the war received near-unanimous support, however. We were regaled with history lessons about how the British became lost in their Afghanistan entanglement, and how it was the Russian version of Vietnam in the 1980s. World reaction was decidedly more mixed. As Merde in France has repeatedly documented, French opinion was that we got what was coming to us, and our focus on Afghanistan should have been diplomatic rather than military, and our approach...

October 8, 2003

Chocolate HQ No More

The "chocolate makers" have dropped their plans to create a military organization outside of NATO. Apparently, France, Germany, Beligium, and that military powerhouse Luxembourg decided that their combined might would only challenge the Junior ROTC in Berkeley. Instead, they plan to create a military "planning" cell. Do these guys have any clue about how that sounds during a war on Al Qaeda? No, apparently not. (Via Merde in France)...

October 9, 2003

This boosts my confidence in air travel

I'm sure this all started with a directive that a certain percentage of all screeners had to pass their tests. From there, it's easy to get to this point. I mean, even if they weren't given most of the answers, how hard is it to answer questions like these: One question asked "How do threats get aboard an aircraft?" The possible answers were (a) In carry-on bags; (b) In checked-in bags; (c) In another person's bag; and (d) All of the above. The correct answer is (d). A second question asked why it is important to screen bags for improvised explosive devices (IEDs). A possible answer: "The ticking timer could worry other passengers." The right answer: "IEDs can cause loss of lives, property and aircraft." Chuck Schumer said that the questions "appear as if they were written by Jay Leno's gag writer," but that seems unduly harsh ... to Jay...

October 12, 2003

The Post gets it

The Washington Post proves that it is the leading voice in American politics in a well-written, thoughtful analysis of the Iraq front of the war on terror. The debate over intervention was fraught precisely because many people understood that Saddam Hussein was not an imminent danger. We argued nonetheless that the real risk lay in allowing him to defy repeated U.N. disarmament orders, including Resolution 1441, the "final opportunity" approved by unanimous Security Council vote. As noted endlessly in the blogosphere, and acknowledged in the Post's editorial in a more passive way, the Bush administration never argued that Saddam represented an "imminent" threat. In fact, in Bush's State of the Union speech earlier this year, and in the speech he delivered to the UN, he argued that the United States and the civilized world could not afford to wait until the threat was imminent. That was the whole "preemption" controversy....

October 13, 2003

Fisking the Whistleblower

Colleen Rowley, the FBI agent who blew the whistle on the bureau's lack of follow-up before 9/11 -- mostly due to political correctness concerns -- wrote a tedious and silly op-ed in Sunday's Star Tribune. James Lileks, who has a regular column and feature in the Strib (the Back Fence), fisks the hell out of Rowley. Rowley's article is another of those vague, unsupported complaints about how dissent is being stifled in John Ashcroft's America that seem to find themselves on the pages of major newspapers on almost a weekly basis. It would be delicious satire if these idiots actually had a sense of humor. (via Instapundit)...

October 14, 2003

Like Father, Like Son

Osama's son plays an increasignly important role in al-Qaeda, according to today's Washington Post, and is being protected by Iran: Saad bin Laden, one of Osama bin Laden's oldest sons, has emerged in recent months as part of the upper echelon of the al Qaeda network, a small group of leaders that is managing the terrorist organization from Iran, according to U.S., European and Arab officials. The younger bin Laden speaks English and is computer literate, two rare qualities among al-Qaeda, and so his influence is even more pervasive than his family name would indicate. Saudi Arabia wants him extradited from Iran, but negotiations have gone nowhere: Similarly, Saudi Arabia, which in recent years has tried to thaw relations with its larger and more powerful neighbor across the Persian Gulf, is trying, unsuccessfully, to persuade Iran to extradite Saad bin Laden and others suspected in the Riyadh bombing. Saudi officials...

Unofficial diplomacy reaches agreement -- but who will implement it?

Negotiators from outside the governments of both Israel and the Palestinian Authority reached a peace agreement, but one with no weight whatsoever as Israel strongly denounced the effort: Coming at a time when Middle East peace prospects are at a low ebb, the 50-page draft agreement was reached during the weekend in Jordan by the two delegations, which include current Parliament members and former cabinet members from both sides. But the proposal has no official blessing, and the Israeli government immediately denounced it, calling it irresponsible freelance diplomacy. "The public rejected these same political figures," Limor Livnat, Israel's education minister, said of the Israeli delegation, led by left-wing politicians. "In no democratic country would this be acceptable." The Palestinian Authority did not immediately comment, though the Palestinian team included senior political figures with close ties to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Put into terms that we might relate to, it would...

Someone finally bothered to ask the Iraqis

With all of the debate about how long we should be staying in Iraq, and the UN demanding that we leave so that the Iraqis can take care of themselves, Gallup cut out the middlemen and just asked the Iraqis what they want. A novel approach, to be sure, but one that the UN apparently never bothered to try. The Gallup poll found that 71 percent of the capital city's residents felt U.S. troops should not leave in the next few months. Just 26 percent felt the troops should leave that soon. Bear in mind that Baghdad is part of the Sunni Triangle, where you could expect to find significant hostility to the US presence that eliminated the Sunni minority's hold on power (to the extent it was Sunni-based, anyway). Gallup's polling did not include areas outside the Sunni Triangle, where you would expect approval for the US occupation to...

We're Winning, part 37b

The AP reports that the coalition has captured another senior terrorist in Iraq, this time from Ansar al-Islam, which is tied to al-Qaeda: The arrest of Aso Hawleri, also known as Asad Muhammad Hasan, late last week in the northern city of Mosul has not been announced. Larry Di Rita, chief spokesman for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, told reporters, "I'm not in a position to confirm" Hawleri's capture. Hawleri was taken by soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division, said a defense official, who discussed the matter on condition of anonymity. The officials said Hawleri is thought to be the third-ranking official in Ansar al-Islam, most of whose fighters were believed to have fled their stronghold in northern Iraq before U.S. forces invaded in March. U.S. and Kurdish forces destroyed the group's main base in the early weeks of the war. Ansar al-Islam claimed responsibility for the car bombing in...

October 15, 2003

Gaza blast kills 3 Americans

Breaking news: a bomb attack in the Gaza Strip has killed at least 3 American officials who were apparently touring to monitor progress on the peace process. [Saeb] Erakat offered his condolences and condemned the attack. "These people were here to help us," Erakat insisted, saying an attack on what he described as U.S. monitors was not in the interest of the Palestinian people. "I don't think this was a deliberate attack against the Americans." Obviously, some of the "Palestinian people" felt it was in their interest to attack Americans. Would that be the Hamas-led "Palestinian people"? The Islamic Jihad "Palestinian people"? Or the al-Fatah "Palestinian people" who report to Yasser Arafat and blow people up as a sideline? "We offer to have an immediate, joint Palestinian-American investigation committee to investigate the matter," Erakat said. Perhaps we should have a US delegation meet up with Erekat and Arafat. I nominate...

UN Security Council Caves

There is no other way to describe this but as a diplomatic victory for the Bush administration: France, Russia and Germany on Tuesday dropped their demands that the United States grant the United Nations a central role in Iraq's reconstruction and yield power to a provisional Iraqi government in the coming months. The move constituted a major retreat by the Security Council's chief antiwar advocates, and signaled their renewed willingness to consider the merits of a U.S. resolution aimed at conferring greater international legitimacy on its military occupation of Iraq. If passed, the new Security Council resolution would effectively reject the obstructionism of Kofi Annan and the French. Jacques Chirac seems to have gotten the message that France, if the US ceased negotiating, would be revealed as a pretender to real power. The Bush administration refused to incorporate the French, Russian and German demands for a timetable for the transfer...

More on the Gaza bombing

Via Oxblog, more on the bombing from Haaretz: The blast went off around 10:15 A.M. Wednesday as a three-car U.S. diplomatic convoy drove near a gas station on the outskirts of the town of Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip, along the main north-south road. Both the militant Islamic Jihad and Hamas movements denied responsibility for the attack. Witnesses at the scene said a silver Cherokee jeep used by American diplomats was completely destroyed by the blast. Parts of the vehicle were strewn in a 30-meter radius around a crater created by the explosion. If Islamic Jihad and Hamas are denying responsibility, what about the al-Aksa Martyrs Brigade, a division of Yasser Arafat's al-Fatah faction? They've been known to plant bombs as well. My guess is that, unlike other attacks in the area, no one will be in a rush to claim this one as their own. As Oxblog...

October 16, 2003

The Responsibility Gap

The Washington Post excoriates Democrats for their irresponsibility regarding the rebuilding of Iraq and their intransigence in supporting proper funding: But political pressure doesn't excuse irresponsibility, and what's emerging in the Democratic Party is a gaping responsibility gap...On the wrong side is the rest of the Democratic field. Sens. John F. Kerry (Mass.) and John Edwards (N.C.) say they won't vote for the funding because Mr. Bush hasn't come up with enough of a long-term plan or done enough to get allies on board. This righteous position may make them, or their voters, feel better, but the security of U.S. troops and the long-term interests of both Iraq and the United States still depend on improving Iraqi daily life. The candidates do not seem to realize that the rebuilding of Iraq is crucial to the overall effort to eliminate terrorism, and that trying to do it on the cheap will...

$5000 and France's Sympathy

The Dissident Frogman, an excellent bilingual blog, has an outstanding post about what's happening in Iraq, and how little of this gets out via the traditional, "independent" media: At the risk of repeating myself, I heard almost daily on France-Info's broadcast: "Yet another US casualty in Iraq." The Coalition is wiping out Saddam's SS and the Al-Qaeda skuzzballs by the hundreds. I never heard : "Yet another hundred of SS and terrorist skuzzballs eliminated in Iraq." The Coalition has completed 13,000 reconstruction projects, including 1,500 schools as of October the first -- and I'll assume this number includes the 330 that were rebuilt by the 101st Airborne with Saddam's money -- and "the teachers earn from 12 to 25 times their former salaries." I never heard: "Yet another school rebuilt and reopened in Iraq." There are 240 hospitals and more than 1200 clinics open, a pharmaceutical distribution that has gone...

October 17, 2003

The LA Times Unleashes Another Firestorm

As if it hadn't been burned enough with the 'get-Arnold' campaign John Carroll waged the past few weeks, the LA Times has demonstrated atrocious journalistic standards in its editorial section yesterday. The story concerns General Jerry Boykin, the man in charge of finding al-Qaeda leaders and Saddam Hussein, and the man Rumsfeld just nominated as deputy undersecretary of Defense for intelligence. General Boykin is a fervent Christian who feels God is calling the US to fight against Satan, and who regularly shares this opinion with others, when asked to do so. For instance, according to William Arkin, the Times' military affairs analyst, Boykin has been quoted as follows: In June of 2002, Jerry Boykin stepped to the pulpit at the First Baptist Church of Broken Arrow, Okla., and described a set of photographs he had taken of Mogadishu, Somalia, from an Army helicopter in 1993. The photographs were taken shortly...

You can add me to the list

Instapundit directed me to a Balloon Juice post about the Senate conversion of $10 billion in Iraqi reconstruction into a loan. A loan. Iraq currently struggles under almost $200 billion in debt, most of it to France and Germany for Saddam's military hardware. Prior to this, the Bush administration had been working towards agreements to retire some or all of this debt, efforts which may or may not have ever been successful. They would have allowed the Iraqi people to avoid shouldering the cost of their own prison and bleeding themselves dry to pay back Saddam's enablers and co-conspirators. The 51 senators who committed this embarrassment have made this nightmare a certainty now. Not only that, but now they will have to pay for their own liberation, after 12 years of being starved almost into genocide by the Western nations, ahead of investing in their own indepedence, their own security,...

Who voted for this idiotic amendment?

Votes > Roll Call Vote" href="http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=108&session=1&vote=00389">Find out who voted for oppressing the Iraqis and undermining our efforts to get their debts forgiven....

Oh, please

In the middle of this story about General Boykin apologizing for offending Muslims, a Saudi official makes the following statement: Asked about the general’s church comments, Adel al-Jubeir, the foreign affairs adviser to Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, told reporters Friday: “If true, outrageous. I thought they were insensitive. I thought they were unbecoming of a senior military official, and certainly unbecoming of a senior government official.” Of course, there has been no comment forthcoming, other than participating in a standing ovation, for these comments from a Prime Minister of an Islamic nation: Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Thursday told a summit of Islamic leaders that "Jews rule the world by proxy" and the world's 1.3 billion Muslims should unite, using nonviolent means for a "final victory." ... The prime minister, who has turned his country into the world's 17th-ranked trading nation during his 22 years in power, said Jews...

October 18, 2003

Saudis may be feeling the crosshairs

Recent public statements seem to indicate that the Saudis may increasingly be specifically targeted in the war on terror, as the FBI starts talking about the Saudis more as suspects than allies: John Pistole, assistant director of the FBI's counterterrorism division, told a Senate hearing recently that the bureau has raised concerns with the Saudi government that paying legal bills and bond for Saudis being questioned in the terror probe could influence their testimony. ``To us, that is tantamount to buying off a witness, if you will. So that gives us concern if the government is supplying money for defense counsel,'' Pistole said. A year ago, this probably would have been buried ... the fact that the FBI has started talking about this tells me that the Saudis aren't cooperating as much as the government would like. If more stories such as this start popping up in the news, it...

A reply to Roger Simon

I read an excellent and, as advertised, depressing short essay by Roger Simon titled Could It Be More Depressing? I wrote this back in response. As a 40-year-old man who has studied 20th century history, I had always felt that the world in general had learned its lesson about anti-Semitism, and while general hatred of Jews may exist, it mainly existed in repressive Muslim societies. One of the benefits of liberating Iraq would therefore have been an opportunity for Arabs and Jews to work together in a mutually beneficial relationship, as a model for the region that could transform the Middle East. Unfortunately, while the radicalization of some moderate Muslims was to be expected, the Western response to anti-Semitic actions and speech has left me profoundly disappointed. Jacques Chirac blocks an EU resolution protesting Mahathir's remarks, while France convulses with more anti-Semitic violence than its seen since WWII. American media...

The Three Faces of the Democrats (or Four)

David Brooks has an excellent editorial in today's New York Times regarding the reconstruction loan. He separates the Democrats into three groups, and suggests a fourth for a man who's in a class all to himself: First, there are the Nancy Pelosi Democrats. These Democrats voted against Paul Bremer's $87 billion plan for the reconstruction of Iraq. ... Their hatred for Bush is so dense, it's hard for them to see through it to the consequences of their vote. ... Saddam Hussein would be jubilant in Pelosi's Iraq. He has long argued that America is a decadent country that will buckle at the first sign of trouble. If the Pelosi Democrats had won yesterday's vote, the Saddam Doctrine would be enshrined in every terrorist cave and dictator's palace around the world: kill some Americans and watch the empire buckle. The second group would be the Evan Bayh Democrats, who would...

Forgive the Iraqi Debt

Some facts about the massive amount of debt facing the Iraqi people underscore the despicable nature of the Senate decision to convert reconstruction funds to further debt: Iraq's overall financial burden, according to the CSIS figures, is $383 billion. Based on these figures, Iraq's financial obligations are 14 times its estimated annual gross domestic product (GDP) of $27 billion--a staggering $16,000 per person. Measured by the debt-to-GDP ratio, Iraq's financial burden is over 25 times greater than Brazil's or Argentina's, making Iraq the developing world's most indebted nation. Bear in mind that all of this debt was accumulated under the auspices of Saddam Hussein, a great deal of it was accumulated during the sanctions, and a lot of it is owed to Arab nations. These governments, who have protested the war by loudly proclaiming brotherhood with the Iraqis, have been curiously silent on debt forgiveness for their brethren. (Also, as...

Fence-Mending, Syrian Style?

The AP attempts to explain Syria's UN vote supporting the latest resolution on Iraq: The Syrian vote was "to ease the atmosphere with America and to be in harmony with the European position," said Syrian analyst Jad al-Karim Al-Jubai. He added the U.N. vote could win Syria support from Europe in the event of a confrontation with Israel and the United States. Syria, whose army is considered weak in the face of advanced Israeli weaponry, has not responded with force to the Israeli air raid on what Israel said was a Palestinian militant base. Syria complained to the U.N. Security Council, where any response is stalled because of the threat of an American veto. Al-Jubai said Syria did not seek a military confrontation with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (news - web sites), and "went to the United States primarily to circumvent the possibility of military escalation" by Israel. Syria,...

Annan Won't Send U.N. Staff Back to Iraq

What a surprise -- Kofi Annan won't send more staff to Iraq: A day after the U.N. Security Council unanimously adopted the U.S.-backed resolution, spokesman Fred Eckhard said Secretary-General Kofi Annan isn't prepared under current conditions to send back more than 500 international staffers who were ordered to leave after the bombings in August and September. "The security situation does not permit us to send any additional staff into Iraq," Eckhard said. What do you think of the UN's service to the Iraqis so far? After one bombing -- to which they were vulnerable because they hired former [heh] Baathists as security guards for their compound -- the UN mission packed up and went home. The terrorists chased Kofi Annan out of Iraq once before, and yet we still hear protests that we should let the UN run the reconstruction. And now they won't come back because of the "security...

October 19, 2003

Demosophia: Totalitarianism 3.0

Demosophia has written a series of essays this weekend that put today's struggle against "terrorism" in a historical context, and comes to a conclusion that many of us already understand: We are not fighting a "War on Terrorism," as some now call it. That's a misnomer, because suicide terrorism is not a movement, but simply a method that has always been one of the favorites of totalitarianism either seeking power, or on the verge of losing it. What we are involved in now is but the most recent stage in a war against Liberalism's ancient enemy. And it is far from won. Demosophia doesn't stop there. He predicts that the new conflict between traditional Liberalism and Totalitarianism 3.0 will create new political divisions and obscure or eliminate the old. In this there is ample precedent, at least in British politics. Prior to World War I, the Labor movement was a...

Poll: Majority of Palestinians Back Suicide Bombing

Once again, I have to ask the question: is it a smart idea to bestow sovereignty onto the Palestinians? Seventy-five percent of Palestinians support the suicide bombing at an Israeli restaurant two weeks ago in which 21 people, including four children, were killed, a Palestinian survey showed Sunday. The survey by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, which questioned 1,318 respondents in the West Bank and Gaza Strip (news - web sites), also showed that 85 percent of Palestinians support a "mutual cessation of violence by both sides." The poll found considerable anti-American feeling among Palestinians. Just over 95 percent of respondents said the United States was "not sincere" when it says it seeks to establish a Palestinian state alongside Israel. Unfortunately, I think we are all too sincere about the two-state solution, which after all is mandated by UN resolutions which we supported, or at least allowed...

Uh ... You're Welcome, I Think

Jacques Chirac has locked up that all-important Psychotic World Leader endorsement: MALAYSIAN Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has thanked French President Jacques Chirac for blocking a European Union declaration condemning his comments last week that Jews "rule the world by proxy," news reports said today. Chirac, backed by Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis, stopped the EU from ending a summit on Friday with a harshly worded statement deploring Mahathir's speech, which also included suggestions that Jews get "others to fight and die for them." Lest we forget, Chirac is the head of state of the European nation that leads the West in anti-semitic violence. Guess he knows on which side his bread is buttered. I guess we all do. The report quotes University of Paris Professor of French Literature, Eric Marty, who wrote in LeMonde, "There has been no voice of political authority ready to say simply that there is nothing...

Who pays Joseph Wilson?

Remember Joseph Wilson? He's the one who has been screaming that top Bush officials outed his wife as a CIA covert agent. But according to Joel Mowbray, Wilson may be more connected than is known to anti-war partisans -- specifically the Saudis: The Middle East Institute, officially on the Saudi payroll, receives $200,000 of its annual $1.5 million budget from the Saudi government, and an unknown amount from Saudi individuals — often a meaningless distinction since most of the ‘‘individuals'' with money to donate are members of the royal family, which constitutes the government. MEI's chairman is Wyche Fowler, who was ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 1996 to 2001, and its president is Ned Walker, who has served as both deputy chief of mission in Riyadh and ambassador to Saudi Arabia. Also at MEI: David Mack, former ambassador to the United Arab Emirates and deputy assistant secretary for NEA; Richard...

October 20, 2003

Fareed Zakaria Loses It

Fareed Zakaria wrote an impassioned but wrong-headed essay for MS-NBC calling for the Bush Administration to fire General Jerry Boykin over the story that the LA Times gave NBC late last week: President Bush’s commission on public diplomacy recently noted that in nine Muslim and Arab nations only 12 percent of respondents surveyed believed that “Americans respect Arab/Islamic values.” Such attitudes, the commission argued, create a toxic atmosphere of anti-Americanism that cripples U.S. foreign policy and helps terrorists. To address the problem the commission suggested a major reorganization of the American government, hundreds of millions of dollars of funding and the creation of a new cabinet position. I have a simpler, more urgent suggestion: fire William Boykin. Zakaria, a writer whose work I respect, starts this essay off with the ludicrous suggestion that the only reason that Muslims and Arabs have an overwhelmingly negative view of Americans is that we...

Never forget ... what?

A very intriguing Michael Ramirez cartoon about our short attention spans....

October 21, 2003

Brian Mulroney: Replace the UN

Brian Mulroney, Canada's Prime Minister from 1984 to 1993, writes in support of US action in Iraq and the need to reform the UN: Although the reality of pre-emptive action is new, so was the terrorist strike on America. What is also new is the suggestion that Security Council approval is--and has been--a sacrosanct precondition to action against a hostile state. The historical record is to the contrary. In any event, I would never have agreed to subcontract Canada's international security decisions and our national interest to 15 members of the Security Council. This would be a surrender of national sovereignty to which I'd never consent. Mulroney strikes at the heart of the anti-war argument of requiring the UN to agree to action: it is tantamount to surrendering our sovereignty and foreign policy to Britain, France, China, and Russia. Agreement at the UN Security Council would have been wonderful, but...

October 23, 2003

Senate: White House didn't pressure CIA on Iraq findings

I assume the apologies will be forthcoming: A Senate investigation has found no evidence that the Bush administration pressured CIA analysts to tailor their intelligence to suit the White House's views on the threat posed by Iraq. ... However, no current intelligence analysts came forward to the committee to back up that charge. And the White House says the intelligence it received on Iraq was unbiased and accurate. "None (of the analysts) have indicated any intimidation," said Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. As QandO observes, we still need to find out why our intelligence data was off, and how we can improve it in the future. Maybe now that the finger-pointing and screeching can come to a close, we can move forward in that area....

What Would Winston Churchill Do?

Strange Women Lying in Ponds returns from vacation with an insightful post about Churchill as the hinge of history in the 20th century: It is perhaps easy to view Churchill's staunch leadership through WWII as an inevitability; as a case of the right man being in the right place at the right time, etc. This is Churchill the Noble, the Invincible, given moral authority by his role as leader of an island nation that was Europe's last bulwark against the successful establishment of a Nazi empire throughout the Continent. Here he is a symbol of courage under fire, of a morally ascendant Great Britain defying an evil and militarily superior invader. The irony is that, had history turned out as Churchill would have liked, this image of him never would have come to pass. SWLIP reminds us that in order to avoiding repeating history, we have to know and understand...

Iraqi official says limited German, French help won't be forgotten - Oct. 23, 2003

A free Iraq fires a warning shot acrossFrench and German bows: Ayad Allawi, the current head of Iraq's U.S.-appointed governing council, said he hoped German and French officials would reconsider their decision not to boost their contributions beyond funds already pledged through the European Union. "As far as Germany and France are concerned, really, this was a regrettable position they had," Allawi said. "I don't think the Iraqis are going to forget easily that in the hour of need, those countries wanted to neglect Iraq." Oddly enough, it turns out to be the same countries that wanted to continue to leave Iraqis oppressed and tortured in Saddam's grip, and the same countries who funneled billions of dollars in cash and equipment to sustain their prison. Who'd a-thunk it? (via QandO)...

Syria -- Ruthlessly Secular?

That this article can run in the New York Times without a hint of irony is simply unbelievable: Two decades after Syria ruthlessly uprooted militant Islam, killing an estimated 10,000 people, this most secular of Arab states is experiencing a dramatic religious resurgence. ... The widespread sense that the faith is being singled out for attack by Washington has invigorated that appeal, at a time when the violence fomented by radicals had tarnished political Islam. In Syria, some experts attribute the sudden openness of the phenomenon to a far more local fear. The hasty collapse of the Baath government next door in Iraq stunned Syria's rulers, particularly the fact that most Iraqis reacted to the American onslaught as if they were bored spectators. Maybe Neil MacFarquhar has been living under a rock for the past 20 years, but Syria hasn't been "ruthlessly secular" -- Syria has been a major sponsor...

October 25, 2003

Critical security report means U.N. must change its ways, Annan says

Instead of blaming the US, a UN panel scolds the UN for security mistakes that led to the bombing of their facility in Iraq: The panel, chaired by former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, issued a report Wednesday citing extensive security failures before the Aug. 19 truck bombing that killed 22 people, including top U.N. envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello, and injured more than 150 others. ... The panel criticized the United Nations for shunning protection from U.S.-led coalition forces and for ignoring "credible information on imminent bomb attacks." Kofi hasn't quite smelled the coffee yet: But Annan -- speaking to reporters after returning from a donors conference for Iraq in Madrid -- sidestepped a question on whether he deserved blame for the security failures cited by the U.N.-appointed panel, saying he needed more time to study the report. I wonder if the report itself mentioned that employing Saddam's former security...

Chickens Coming Home to Roost Again

The British government has warned travelers to expect a fresh set of terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia: Britain raised its warning Friday against travel to Saudi Arabia, saying terrorist attacks were imminent. "We advise British nationals against all but essential travel to Saudi Arabia. We believe that terrorists may be in the final phases of planning attacks," the Foreign Office warning said. The US isn't issuing any specific warnings: A U.S. counter-terrorism official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said American authorities were unaware of any recent intelligence that would lead to new alerts in Saudi Arabia. Instead, U.S. officials have received a steady stream of information in recent months suggesting Al Qaeda operatives in the kingdom were close to mounting an attack....

Is This News?

The Post, inexplicably, links to this two-month-old story on its main web page: Abu Shanab was killed Thursday along with two bodyguards when an Israeli military aircraft fired three to six missiles at his car on a crowded street in central Gaza City. About 30 bystanders were injured in the attack, Palestinian hospital authorities said. I gathered this was not a breaking news story when I read this: Senior Israeli military officials warned that they would continue targeting Palestinian militant leaders if the government of Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas did not move aggressively to arrest them, confiscate their arms, destroy their weapons workshops and dismantle their organizations. Oddly, if you replace Abbas with Qurei in this story, you wouldn't be able to tell this story was written August 22. By the time you read this, the Post will likely have corrected its web site, but it was strange to see...

Kofi Unclear on the Subject

This article on the highly critical report on UN security failures in Iraq, which led to the bombings in August and September and UN's complete retreat, contains a very revealing quote from Kofi Annan: The panel criticized the United Nations for shunning protection from U.S.-led coalition forces — the only source of security in Iraq — and for ignoring "credible information on imminent bomb attacks in the area." It also accused the United Nations of violating its own security rules. Annan said the United Nations' security system worked well for the past 50 years. "But the world has changed, and we will have to change our way of doing business to be able to protect our staff around the world," he said. Hasn't that been President Bush's argument all along -- that the security arrangements that kept the peace for 50 years won't work now and must be adapted to...

Bombing brought into focus the need for a fence

Oddly enough, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune printed this heartfelt and common-sense essay on the necessity of a security fence between the Israelis and the Palestinians: In fact, it is easier to pass from the West Bank to Israel than from the United States to Canada simply because there is no border, not even a white picket fence. The Israeli public finds this lack of a border troubling, to say the least, especially because fenced areas in the Palestinian territories have been surprisingly quiet. The Gaza Strip is a case in point: No suicide bomber has ever come out of the Gaza Strip because the entire area is fenced. People who oppose the building of the fence, especially here in the US, do not really understand the political implications or the motivation for the fence: For all its faults, Sharon's government didn't want to create this border. By building this fence the...

Germany's Schroeder and SPD in Political Free Fall - Anti-Americanism Backfiring

22% ... that's Gray Davis territory, isn't it?

October 26, 2003

The Myth Of David Broder's "Myth"

David Broder gets ridiculous in his op-ed piece in today's Post: When the Democracy Corps team asked whether voters in those three states wanted a Democratic nominee "who opposed the Iraq war from the beginning" or one "who supported military action against Saddam Hussein but was critical of Bush for failing to win international support for the war," voters in all three states chose the second alternative. Dean's position was preferred by only 35 percent of the likely voters in the New Hampshire Democratic primary -- fewer than supported it in Iowa or South Carolina -- while 58 percent chose the alternative. The myth behind this poll is that there is absolutely no practical difference between these two positions; the first is equal to the second. France (and Germany) would never have supported military action against its client-state, Saddam's Iraq. Chirac explicitly said so in February, sticking a knife into...

Hamas Says It's Ready to Renew Talks

I'll bet they are: Hamas said Sunday it is ready to talk to the Palestinian prime minister about halting attacks on Israelis, even though the Islamic militant group participated in a deadly attack on a Jewish settlement in the Gaza Strip two days earlier. ... Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia, who took office on Oct. 5, has repeatedly said that he wants to reach a cease-fire in hopes of ending more than three years of fighting between Israel and the Palestinians. Israel has said, however, it will not begin negotiations until all Palestinian security forces are placed under one command and begin cracking down on militants. Until the Palestinian Authority agrees to consolidate all security forces under a single government control -- in other words, no Fatah, no al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, etc -- and start taking police and/or military action against terrorist groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad, Israel won't...

October 27, 2003

Why we fight, part 42d

Over 40 people died in four separate attacks overnight in Baghdad, including one particularly despicable attack using a Red Crescent vehicle: Brig. Gen. Mark Hertling of the U.S. Army confirmed that the attack on the Red Cross compound was a suicide bombing. "Initial indicators, and we're trying to confirm this, but we have eyewitnesses that say that the truck was, in fact, a Red Cross-Red Crescent truck, carrying the explosives -- like a panel van, a little bit larger," Hertling said. ... Red Cross officials vowed to continue their work in Iraq despite the attack. Good for them -- they do good work and are neutral in all conflicts. Normally this would keep them from being targeted in armed conflict, but as the UN has learned, no respect is given for neutrality: "Maybe it was an illusion to think people would understand after 23 years that we are unbiased. I...

Hezbollah Shells Israeli Positions

Iran and Syria cranked up the proxy war in Lebanon again as Hezbollah attacked Israeli positions for the first time in two months: Lebanese security officials said Hezbollah forces unleashed a volley of rockets and mortar shells at the Israeli military outposts of Roueissat el-Alam, al-Samaka and Ramtha inside the Chebaa Farms area. Hezbollah said in a statement in Beirut that its guerrillas attacked the three Israeli positions with rockets, scoring "direct hits." ... Israeli military officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Israeli fighter jets attacked Hezbollah targets in response to the attacks on the Chebaa Farms army outposts. "The jets hit several Hezbollah points," the officials said. Western nations talk about asymmetrical warfare as if the concept has just been realized in the past couple of years. Israel has been fighting asymmetrical warfare like this for decades. Note when the pious Hezbollah militants chose to stage this attack:...

October 28, 2003

A Message from the Front

I am lucky enough to know an individual who has given service to his country for decades, and is now putting his life on the line for us in Iraq. He's included me along with several of his friends and family on a broadcast e-mail list, where he periodically updates us on progress from his perspective. I'm going to modify just a couple of items in here to protect his privacy, but otherwise leave this unedited. Because of its length, you'll need to click the link below to read it. I find his courage and his faith humbling in the extreme, especially since I know what a fine human being he is. May we have faith in him and his comrades in the same measure....

Continue reading "A Message from the Front" »

The Left is Dazed and confused about Iraq

Michelle Goldberg tweaks the noses of her compatriots on the left for absolute incoherence and foolishness on Iraq: "We've made a giant mess," said Johnson, a handsome man who wore his long snowy hair in a ponytail and had a sparkling stud in one ear. "I would hate for the Bush administration to halfway fix things and then leave, and then blame the Iraqis if things go wrong. Once you go to somebody's house and break all the windows, don't you owe them new windows?" Why, then, was he marching at an End the Occupation rally? "I don't agree with all the people here, believe you me," he said. But his own sign? He glanced at it, startled, and explained that someone had handed it to him. "I didn't even look at it," he said. "I was just waving it." If there is a more damning anecdote regarding the knee-jerk...

October 29, 2003

Army files charges regarding interrogation tactics

The Army charged a colonel with assault during an interrogation of an Iraqi detainee: Lt. Col. Allen B. West says he did not physically abuse the detainee, but used psychological pressure by twice firing his service weapon away from the Iraqi. After the shots were fired, the detainee, an Iraqi police officer, gave up the information on a planned attack around the northern Iraqi town of Saba al Boor. But the Army is taking a dim view of the interrogation tactic. An Army official at the Pentagon confirmed to The Washington Times yesterday that Col. West has been charged with one count of aggravated assault. A military source said an Article 32 hearing has been scheduled in Iraq that could lead to the Army court-martialing Col. West and sending him to prison for a maximum term of eight years. Col. West's defense is that the Iraqi was never in any...

CNN Can't Understand Linear Time

In an article on a proposed new cease-fire, CNN doesn't seem to understand simple concepts of time and causality: In a previous cease-fire -- declared unilaterally by Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades -- the militant offshoot of Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement -- ended August 21. The groups, all of three of which have been declared terrorist groups by the U.S. State Department, declared the seven-week-old cease-fire over after a senior Hamas leader was killed in an Israeli missile attack. The Israeli attack followed a terrorist bus bombing in Jerusalem that killed 20 people. Both Hamas and Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the bus bombing. So Hamas and Islamic Jihad declared the cease-fire over after the Israelis killed a senior Hamas leader. But the Israelis killed him after the bus bombing that killed 20 Israeli civilians, and that bombing was done by ... Hamas...

Just a reminder ...

If you haven't yet had a chance to read it, I highly recommend this post from 10/28. It's an e-mail from a friend of mine serving in Iraq. It's long and detailed but highlights the successes of our mission there, as opposed to the litany of the real setbacks we hear about in the media to the exclusion of anything else....

October 30, 2003

UN Bugs Out of Baghdad

The UN ... the organization that supposedly holds all international prestige in dealing with terrorism and liberation ... is bugging out of Baghdad: International organizations continued their exodus from Iraq, with the United Nations announcing it was withdrawing staff from Baghdad following this week's string of car bombings in the capital and attacks against coalition troops. ... The U.N. decision to pull its remaining international staff out of Baghdad was announced on Wednesday, two days after a deadly suicide car bombing at the Baghdad headquarters of the Red Cross. "We have asked our staff in Baghdad to come out temporarily for consultations with a team from headquarters on the future of our operations, in particular security arrangements that we would need to take to operate in Iraq," U.N. spokeswoman Marie Okabe said. She said it was not an "evacuation" and staff in the north would remain. Saddam's Fedayeen have scored...

Andrew Sullivan: The Myth of the Easy Aftermath

Read this post from Andrew Sullivan on the latest meme from the media -- that Bush promised us an easy aftermath in Iraq. For those of us who paid attention to what Bush said, this is a ridiculous idea, but it's getting play lately. I won't excerpt Sullivan's post, as it's just easier to read the whole thing there. It's good....

Let's see how long this will last

American military commanders are using confiscated Hussein funds to speed the reconstruction of Iraq: The speed and ease with which reconstruction money is being handed out by the military here contrasts sharply with the delays and controversy surrounding the handling of major reconstruction funds by the Pentagon and U.S. Agency for International Development. The fact that the money comes from seized Iraqi assets, the Saddam Hussein regime's overseas bank accounts and cash stockpiles found in palaces and the walls of government buildings in Iraq has provided a fortuitous loophole. Since the money was not appropriated by Congress, officials of the U.S.-led occupation government in Iraq believe that it does not have to be disbursed under the usual contracting regulations. The money for most military projects in Iraq goes through something called the commander's emergency response program. About $100 million has been allocated so far and the 101st Airborne Division, which...

Even A Broken Clock Is Right Twice a Day

Normally, I'd say that anyone who has to make a public statement like this has a blinding grasp of the obvious ... but seeing as how he's French: A U.S. pullout from Iraq (news - web sites) would be "catastrophic," French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin said Thursday, urging countries to take a strong united stance to stabilize Iraq. ... When asked whether he could envision the United States pulling out of Iraq, de Villepin responded, "Obviously, a pullout from Iraq today would be catastrophic and would absolutely not correspond to the demands of the situation.["] De Villepin managed to say all this without his characteristic statements about unilateralism or demands that the UN be put in charge. Seeing as how the UN is high-tailing it out of Baghdad, that may be too ridiculous even for the French. (Hard to believe.)...

Well, that didn't take long

Remember that post I wrote about ten hours ago or so about the discretionary fund available to American commanders in Iraq? Well, fugeddaboutit. Instapundit reports that the program has been canceled: Yes, it was the most powerful tool commanders have had. But as of now, it has been cut off. LTG Sanchez has informed all the resource managers this past week that the funding is done and there will be no more. All of our humanitarian projects we had going are now stopped and some projects (including those in the troubled Sadr City) are put on hold. Given the utter disorganization of CPA, the battalion commanders here were making a significant impact. We fixed schools, sewage, markets, and got trash picked up. We put thousands of people to work. Now it's over, at one of the most critical times in this fight. Everyone on the line is dumbfounded over this...

November 1, 2003

Why Would They Blow Up My House with My Own Explosives?

In my mind, this Palestinian woman is lucky to be alive: A Palestinian woman expresses her anger after Israeli Defence Forces detonated an explosive belt they found in her house, destroying the ground and first floor of the building, in the village of Hizmeh near Jerusalem(AFP/Atta Hussein). The link will take you to the picture; there is no corresponding story, just the caption, which I've quoted in full. Power Line has a few pertinent thoughts on this, and I'll add my own: I think the Israelis need to detonate ALL confiscated explosives in the dwellings they find them. Perhaps that will send a message to the 75% of Palestinians who think that bombing Israeli civilians is a peachy idea. Maybe that will impress upon them that they have a personal stake in stopping the terrorism and getting rid of the leadership that's keeping them destitute and dislocated. One last thought...

We're Still Answering

I don't know how I missed this, but this is just another outstanding entry by Chris Muir. The sickos called 9-11, and we're still answering. Way to go, Chris!...

November 2, 2003

The Strib blindly follows the NY Times's lead

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune exercises little or no editorial control when purchasing fallacious stories from the NY Times: Two decades after Syria ruthlessly uprooted militant Islam, killing an estimated 10,000 people, this most secular of Arab states is experiencing a dramatic religious resurgence. Ruthlessly uprooted militant Islam? Really? Who's been hosting Islamic Jihad and Hamas for the past 20 years or so? Who's been co-sponsoring Hezb' Allah with Iran for 20 years? Read the entire article and see whether any of these groups, or Syria's support for them, are even mentioned in passing. This is an atrocious piece of writing, and for the Strib to republish it demonstrates their commitment to left-wing memes and mediocrity in general. This was my original post when this story first ran in the NY Times....

Muslim Troops' Loyalty a Delicate Question

The Washington Post published a thoughtful and balanced piece on whether Muslim troops can remain loyal to the US: Military sociologist Charles Moskos is traveling to Iraq this month to poll troops about morale issues. He plans to ask whether Muslim soldiers seem to have their hearts in fighting fellow Muslims, and whether the troops trust Muslims in their ranks. "I'll ask, 'How do you feel about having a Muslim in your tent?' " Moskos said. A black Christian Army chaplain based in this country said some of her fellow soldiers feel "tension" with Muslims in their units, many of whom are also black. "They say, . . . 'Can we really trust them?' " In past wars, this concern over disloyalty in a diverse military has come up again and again. Most famously, the Japanese formed a unit to themselves in World War II and became the most decorated...

One Mideast State May Be Future of Israel

Make no mistake about it: European anti-Israel sentiment is directly linked to centuries-old European anti-Semitism, and they're falling back on their old tropes of the secret Jewish conspiracy behind all the world's woes. Israel was founded as a way for Jews to escape the "gentle" clutches of genocidal Europeans, and now the same Europeans, less than 60 years removed from the gas chambers of Auschwitz, are ready to ethnically cleanse Asia Minor of the same Jews they failed to kill in Europe.

November 3, 2003

The Franco-American War, Part 42

Gregory Djerejian at the Belgravia Dispatch has a spot-on analysis of today's Washington Post article on Tariq Aziz and France's role in ensuring war was the only option: Aziz has told interrogators that French and Russian intermediaries repeatedly assured Hussein during late 2002 and early this year that they would block a U.S.-led war through delays and vetoes at the U.N. Security Council. Later, according to Aziz, Hussein concluded after private talks with French and Russian contacts that the United States would probably wage a long air war first, as it had done in previous conflicts. By hunkering down and putting up a stiff defense, he might buy enough time to win a cease-fire brokered by Paris and Moscow. Djerejian asks: And, it begs the question, is this the behaviour of an "ally"? If, on the cusp of a conflict, where the U.S. has amassed some 200,000 troops on the...

Does French Sweat Smell Like Perfume?

Buried deep within the Washington Post is this bit of very good news (via Power Line): The CIA has seized an extensive cache of files from the former Iraqi Intelligence Service....The records would stretch 9 1/2 miles if laid end to end, the officials said. They contain not only the names of nearly every Iraqi intelligence officer, but also the names of their paid foreign agents, written agent reports, evaluations of agent credentials, and documentary evidence of payments made to buy influence in the Arab world and elsewhere, the officials said. It's time for many luminaries on the world stage to start coughing nervously and updating their resumes. This not only promises to embarrass international figures, but will completely undermine domestic arguments that Bush could have worked harder to get more international support. My guess is that the list is heavy on French and German names: The officials declined to...

New Terror Attack Warnings from DEBKAfile

Posting messages in a forum where prior notice of attacks have been revealed before, Islamofascists have stated that several US cities will be attacked in the near future: A new message was posted in the last few hours by the Jeddah-based al-Qaeda-linked Al-Islah (Reform) society calling on Muslims to flee New York, Washington and Los Angeles in advance of major al Qaeda attacks in those cities. ... “The Jews rule the Pentagon by remote control and (are the cause) of Muslims being killed in every corner of the world. The United States should therefore expect more blows.” The message is signed on behalf of the al Bayan (The Threat) movement by “your warrior brother, Abul Hassan al Khadrami”. So far, nothing has been reported on CNN's web site. DEBKAfile gives background information on the forum and the history of al Khadrami. (via Little Green Footballs)...

November 4, 2003

WTF? The Incoherent Post

The Washington Post, whose editorial pages are generally clear-thinking on the war even when critical of the Bush administration, descends into self-contradictory babble in today's ultimately pointless second editorial: TWO MONTHS after the Bush administration embarked on an effort to attract greater international support for its mission in Iraq, it faces the latest surge of violence on the ground from a position that is more isolated than ever. Did I miss something? Has someone withdrawn from the established Coalition? Didn't Bush just get a unanimous resolution from the Security Council affirming the Coalition's mission in Iraq, something that the Clinton administration never did in the Balkans (where, by the way, we still have troops)? How is the Bush administration "isolated", let alone more isolated than ever? Rather than look for further help from India, Pakistan or Russia, or even NATO allies, the Bush administration has abruptly embraced a new strategy...

November 7, 2003

Josh Chafetz Wins the Day at Oxford

Josh Chafetz reprints his speech on OxBlog from the Oxford debate on the Iraq War, in which he participated yesterday: I must begin with a word of apology for my lack of preparation. Not only was I just asked yesterday to speak, but I was also laboring under the apparent misapprehension that we would be addressing the resolution that "This House believes that we are losing the Peace." Yet I find that the honorable gentleman who has just spoken in the affirmative [Jeremy Corbyn, MP] has talked about the war - about Vietnam, oil, Mr. Bush, Mr. Blair, international law, weapons of mass destruction, sanctions, and so on. While these are all issues worthy of serious discussion, I must confess to being somewhat baffled at how these normative questions bear on the empirical resolution that I was told we were to debate. Read the entire speech. It reminds us of...

November 8, 2003

Progress in Iraq

Reuters reports that US forces have captured 12 terrorists involved in the rocket attack on the Baghdad hotel last month: In overnight raids U.S. troops captured 12 people suspected of involvement in a deadly attack last month on a Baghdad hotel where U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz was staying, a top commander said Saturday. The suspects appeared to have links to the former regime of ousted president Saddam Hussein, said Brigadier General Martin Dempsey, commander of the U.S. Army's 1st Armored Division. I doubt that this will get a lot of play here, since it's Saturday and most people aren't watching the news. [What's your excuse? -- I have no life, that's why. Oh, and the First Mate is sick today, and Notre Dame is playing.] "Based on multiple sources who provided human intelligence, the 2nd Brigade of the 1st Armored Division conducted a raid overnight in western Baghdad...

Britain tried to spy on ally: report

I find it odd indeed that very little notice has been taken of this story from London's Sunday Times (reported by AFP): Britain's internal security service MI5 sought in 2001 to plant eavesdropping devices inside the walls of a London embassy belonging to one of its main allies, London's Sunday Times newspaper reported. ... "For four months from September 2001, MI5 infiltrated the embassy, stole codes used by embassy staff for sending secret messages, and planned to plant listening devices and remove documents," the Sunday Times said. The question is which one of Britain's "main allies" MI-5 penetrated. The composition of the Coalition limits the possible targets. The Sunday Times is enjoined from releasing that information, but offered tantalizing clues. This is from Cronaca, who had access to the original article: The Official Secrets Act prevents The Sunday Times from identifying the country concerned, but its leader has visited Tony...

November 9, 2003

North Korea Has the Bomb: CIA

You can thank the obstructive diplomacy of Jimmy Carter for this new analysis: The CIA has told Congress that it believes North Korea has mastered the technology of turning its nuclear fuel into functioning weapons, without having to prove their effectiveness through nuclear tests. The report goes beyond previous public CIA statements that North Korea built one or two weapons in the early 1990s -- a figure many intelligence experts believe has risen in the past few months. Carter insisted on a diplomatic solution that allowed North Korea simply to affirm that it wasn't pursuing nuclear weapons in exchange for all sorts of technical assistance. Even at the time when he was pursuing that fruitless policy, Kim Jong-Il already had a device or two and now can build as many as they like, while starving their people or herding them into labor camps. It's yet another reminder of the feckless...

Losing Faith?

The US government appears to be losing faith in the Iraqi Governing Council and may be considering alternatives: Increasingly alarmed by the failure of Iraq's Governing Council to take decisive action, the Bush administration is developing possible alternatives to the council to ensure that the United States can turn over political power at the same time and pace that troops are withdrawn, according to senior U.S. officials here and in Baghdad. The United States is deeply frustrated with its hand-picked council members because they have spent more time on their own political or economic interests than in planning for Iraq's political future, especially selecting a committee to write a new constitution, the officials added. "We're unhappy with all of them. They're not acting as a legislative or governing body, and we need to get moving," said a well-placed U.S. official who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "They just don't...

Further thoughts on the very quiet MI-5 scandal

I've updated my post on the MI-5 scandal in Britain that's been handled very, very quietly. I hope I'm just being paranoid. I don't think so....

November 10, 2003

Even If It Succeeds, It Fails

It's difficult to understand Israel's thinking when it commits to lopsided prisoner swaps with terrorist groups: About 400 Palestinians and several dozen prisoners from Lebanon, Syria, Morocco, Sudan and Libya would be released in exchange for Israeli businessman Elhanan Tannenbaum and the bodies of three Israeli soldiers, all captured in October 2000. I have always believed that negotiating with terrorists on this basis is a sure way to incentivize them to continue their operations, especially in 400-1 ratios. The plan may fail anyway, as there is strong disagreement over terms: However, Nasrallah has said the deal would not go through without Samir Kantar, a Palestinian from Lebanon. Kantar stormed an apartment in the northern Israeli city of Nahariya in 1979, killing a man and his daughter. Another daughter died when her mother smothered her while trying to hide. ... Mohammed Fneish, a Hezbollah legislator, said the group would try to...

November 11, 2003

Why the UN Can't Handle Iraq

Blackfive (The Paratrooper of Love) has a good post about the Srebrenica massacre in 1995 and why putting the UN in charge of Iraq is suicidal. He excerpts two articles from the Chicago Sun-Times and the Sydney Morning Herald, detailing the lawsuit being filed against the UN and the Dutch. He titles it, "Clark Would Bring In the UN," but in fairness it should be titled, "Every Democrat Running for President Would Bring In the UN." Blackfive has a good blog, too -- check it out. (via Instapundit)...

John Nerdahl, You're My Hero

The Strib published a counterpoint to its one-note, relentless campaign targeting President Bush from West Point graduateJohn Nerdahl: So the reasons for confronting Iraq was never just about WMD, Saddam's threat to the United States or his tyrannical regime. It's almost laughable that Saddam's overthrow is somehow illegitimate because, as the Star Tribune editorial noted, our nation is not equally willing to invade other tyrannical countries like Zimbabwe or Burma. Or that being in Iraq is somehow not about combating terrorism. Or that we are witnessing another Vietnam. Where is your intellectual honesty, objectivity and reasoned perspective? Your underlying motivation to get President Bush becomes obvious as you continue to obsess and "wring your hands" over such irrelevant and absurd analogies. Three cheers for Nerdahl for taking his argument directly to the source -- and at least one cheer for the Strib for printing it. As much as I disagree...

November 12, 2003

One More Time

If you haven't yet done so, be sure to drop by Electric Venom and let Venomous Kate know how much you appreciate the sacrifice that her and her husband are making for his defense of our freedoms. Her husband is about to be shipped out but is in limbo at the moment, and Kate's feeling the stress. Multiply that by all of the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines who put their lives on the line every day for us, and think about how awe-inspiring it is that the best of our young men and women are compelled to sacrifice so much to keep us from harm. Just drop by and say thank you. She can use the support....

November 14, 2003

Our Greatest Ally

Tony Blair gives an interview to the muscularly-named Stryker McGuire and demonstrates why America is blessed to count Blair and the British as our friends and allies. MS-NBC published some excerpts: Blair on leadership in the face of popular dissent: Firstly, on the really big issues, you owe people your leadership. There is no point in doing a job like this unless you do that. I believe passionately in the cause to which I have committed myself. ... There is a resurgent anti-Americanism. Now I happen to think that is wrong and misguided, but it is our job to go out there and show it is misguided, which is why I think it is important that President Bush is coming. Blair on progress and the seeming lack of it against terror: There is a stage at which when you begin to fight back, the conflict can sometimes seem even more...

November 15, 2003

Case Closed: The Most Important Story of the War, So Far

The Senate Intelligence Commitee has evidence, much of it developed during the Clinton administration, that Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein have been working together for over a decade. I'm not going to excerpt it; read the whole thing. Then, ask yourself this: When did Rockefeller's staff write that partisan memo, and if it was after October 27, why do you think the Democrats are suddenly desperate to make the Bush administration look like it's lying? Maybe because this information (and more on its way from the Iraqi Intelligence Service's files) will pull the rug out from under anti-war candidates like Howard Dean and John Kerry?...

November 16, 2003

BuzzMachine Goes On the Offensive

Jeff Jarvis at BuzzMachine takes on anti-Americanism and makes a no-apologies stand against it: Pardon me, but I'm going to take a very dangerous and contrarian and by some views shrill, right-wing, illiberal stance and I'll take your barbs and the Guardian's with pride: I'm pro-American. Let me say that again, because I am one and because I was attacked and damned near killed because I am one (and yes, that matters): I am pro-American. This quote came from a previous Jarvis post, but he builds on this thought and expands on it: Let's be very clear: Just as anti-Semitism led directly to the Holocaust, anti-Americanism led directly to September 11th. Demonizing the people of this country made it acceptable to some and a goal for some to see fanatics murder thousands of us, just as demonizing Jews made it acceptable for fanatics to murder millions of them. I'm not...

November 17, 2003

Creative Thinking By Coalition Leadership

Today's Washington Post carries a story about creative thinking in opposition to the insurgency emanating from the Tikrit area and how it's allowed the Coalition to gather better intelligence, as well as more cooperation from local Iraqis: Frustrated by a persistent insurgency, the U.S. military has surrounded ousted president Saddam Hussein's birthplace with concertina wire, issued identification cards to all male residents and begun controlling access to this wealthy enclave of Hussein relatives on the outskirts of Tikrit. In order to pass through the wire and military checkpoints, all males have to present their ID cards. No card, no access, either in or out of Auja. The result is a much clearer picture of the town's residents, mostly wealthy Hussein backers and family, and better face-to-face contact with more sympathetic Iraqi leaders around the area. It avoided the intrusive and dangerous door-to-door searches that would have otherwise been necessary to...

A Challenge to the Blogosphere

So my challenge is this: Link to a different argument in the WS article each day and put your own thoughts on it in your blog. Skeptical? Good! Post about that. Because whether this memo is true or false, either way it is a huge story and deserves much more press than it's currently receiving. Keep going every day until we start to get some firm answers about the veracity and reliability of this data.

November 18, 2003

Challenge, Chapter 2: Osama's Peace with Saddam

Blogosphere Challenge, Part 2: Osama's Peace with Saddam. One of the constant themes of the anti-war media blitz was that Osama and Saddam were enemies due to Saddam's secularism (or skin-deep Islamism prior to the first Gulf War) and Osama's fanatical Islamist beliefs.

UN Buggers Out -- Again

The UN, which purports to be the only agency that can restore democracy to war-torn areas, is abandoning its efforts in Afghanistan after the death of a French aid worker: The U.N. refugee agency began pulling foreign staff out of large swaths of southern and eastern Afghanistan (news - web sites) on Tuesday in the wake of the killing of a French worker, a decision that could affect tens of thousands of Afghan returnees. ... The withdrawal of international staff follows a series of attacks on the United Nations in recent days, including the drive-by killing of Bettina Goislard, a 29-year-old UNHCR worker, as she traveled through a bazaar in a clearly marked U.N. vehicle in the city of Ghazni, 60 miles southwest of the capital. That same day saw a bomb attack on a U.N. vehicle in eastern Paktia province. And on Nov. 11, a car bomb exploded outside...

Slate Picks Up the Scent

Slate (no friend of the Bush administration) has picked up the story of the Hayes memo and the Saddam/al-Qaeda connection in two articles today; the first revisits the thread of the Prague-Mohammed Atta visit, and the second deals directly with the apathy of the press regarding the Feith memo. (via Croooow Blog) Edward Jay Epstein retraces the investigation into Mohammed Atta's travels prior to 9/11, specifically the Czech intelligence report -- never repudiated by the Czechs -- that Atta met with Iraqi officials known to be IIS operatives: The reason there had been joint Czech-American interest in the case traced back to the December 1998 when al-Ani's predecessor at the Iraq Embassy, Jabir Salim, defected from his post. In his debriefings, Salim said that he had been supplied with $150,000 by Baghdad to prepare a car-bombing of an American target, the Prague headquarters of Radio Free Europe. (This bombing never...

November 19, 2003

Challenge, Chapter 3: Independent Confirmation from the IIS

Taking a further look into Stephen Hayes' report on the Feith memo, we can see that Osama and Saddam spent the years between their initial rapprochement and the 1998 embassy bombings building the relationship between al-Qaeda and the Iraqi Intelligence Services (IIS). In 1998, as tension was building between Saddam and UNSCOM, Iraq's upper echelons were escalating contacts with the terrorist group: IN ADDITION TO THE CONTACTS CLUSTERED in the mid-1990s, intelligence reports detail a flurry of activities in early 1998 and again in December 1998. A "former senior Iraqi intelligence officer" reported that "the Iraqi intelligence service station in Pakistan was Baghdad's point of contact with al Qaeda. He also said bin Laden visited Baghdad in Jan. 1998 and met with Tariq Aziz." 11. According to sensitive reporting, Saddam personally sent Faruq Hijazi, IIS deputy director and later Iraqi ambassador to Turkey, to meet with bin Laden at least...

A Taste of Defeatism at the LA Times

LA Times publishes a featured analysis today that reviews al-Qaeda's effectiveness and strategy in the wake of 9/11. Not surprisingly for the LA Times, it focuses on the negative: "Al Qaeda as an ideology is now stronger than Al Qaeda as an organization," said Mustafa Alani of the Royal United Services Institute for Defense and Security Studies in London. "What we are witnessing now is a major shift in Al Qaeda's strategy. I believe it is successful. Now they are not on the defensive. They are on the offensive." Large-scale terrorist groups never go on the defensive, unless you get them all trapped in a building, SLA-style. By their nature, they operate as distributed networks. This was true even prior to 9/11. It's not as if the entire group arrived in Kenya and Tanzania to bomb our embassies; they operate in cells. A U.S.-led assault on Al Qaeda has left...

A Little Perspective from The Politburo Diktat

There may be some in the blogosphere who are foolish enough to underestimate the Politburo Diktat, but not me, and this post is one reason why. The Commissar makes a point about commitment to victory by using a particularly apt historical analogy: Da, Comrade, Great Patriotic War. That was war. Commissar not understand Americans. Are they at war? Did enemies kill 3,000 citizens in one morning? How does America want to win war? Sit around campfire, on Peace Rug, sing Kumbaya? In Great Patriotic War, Soviet Union lost 20 million in four years of war. 5 million a year. 400,000 a month. 13,000 per day. 500 per hour. Comrades, by this scale, America has been at war in Iraq for about one hour. Now you talk "exit strategy?" Read the entire post. The Commissar has a terrific blog, both in content and style. And no, I'm not sucking up to...

November 20, 2003

Challenge, Chapter 4: Stephen Hayes Responds

Stepping away from the first Weekly Standard article for today, Stephen Hayes writes a powerful rebuttal to both the Pentagon non-response response and the naysayers in the mainstream media using it to justify their inaction (via Power Line): IF THE INTELLIGENCE REPORTING in the memo was left out of earlier "finished intelligence products" because the reporting is inaccurate, it seems odd that it would form the basis of briefings given to the secretary of Defense, the director of Central Intelligence, and the vice president. And it would be stranger still to include such intelligence in a memo to a Senate panel investigating the potential misuse of intelligence. If, on the other hand, the information in the Feith memo is accurate, it changes everything. An operational relationship between Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, as detailed in the memo, would represent a threat the United States could not afford to ignore....

Turks In The Crosshairs Again

Blasts rocked Istanbul in another twin set of bombings this morning, killing at least 15 and injuring hundreds in attacks aimed at British interests: Two blasts have rocked Istanbul, killing at least 15 people and devastating both the HSBC Bank headquarters and British consulate in an apparent suicide attack the government has linked to Islamist militants. Turkish television, quoting city health officials, said that besides the 15 killed, 320 people were injured. Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said the strikes on Thursday bore "all the hallmarks of the international terrorism operations practised by al Qaeda and associated organisations". While Turkey has strong Western connections and is the only Islamic democracy operating in the Middle East, it is ruled by an Islamist party at the moment, making Turkey an odd target, especially since Turkey refused to militarily support the Coalition, inflicting an embarrassing diplomatic setback to George Bush just weeks after Bush...

UN Details al-Qaeda Threat

The UN, which has consistently been AWOL in the war on terror, reports on al-Qaeda capabilities: Some members of al Qaeda most likely possess portable surface-to-air missiles and may use them to target military transport planes, a U.N. report says. The threat was among several findings detailed in the report by the United Nations' al Qaeda and Taliban Sanctions Committee which also cited a shifting of the terror network's strategy, a move towards "softer" targets and a warning the group was working towards a biological or chemical attack. Gee, I wonder where they might have gotten chemical or biological weapons?? The report also identifies Iraq as "fertile ground" for al Qaeda, which receives the "funds it needs from charities, deep pocket donors, and business and criminal activities, including the drug trade." Iraq was fertile ground for al-Qaeda, as British and American intelligence knew for years. The report will be published...

November 21, 2003

Challenge, Chapter 5: Mainstream Media Gets Interested, But To What Purpose?

Finally, some of the mainstream media has taken an interest in the Feith memo, as reported by Stephen Hayes in the Weekly Standard. Unfortunately, Newsweek's Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball wrote a report that seemed to care more about the fact that the Weekly Standard is owned by Rupert Murdoch than in the evidence at hand. Here's the second paragraph: CASE CLOSED blared the headline in a Weekly Standard cover story last Saturday that purported to have unearthed the U.S. government’s “secret evidence of cooperation” between Saddam and bin Laden. Fred Barnes, the magazine’s executive editor, touted the magazine’s scoop the next day in a roundtable chat on “Fox News Sunday.” (Both the Standard and Fox News Channel are owned by the conservative media baron Rupert Murdoch.) [bold emphasis mine -- CE] “These are hard facts, and I’d like to see you refute any one of them,” he told a...

November 22, 2003

Challenge, Chapter 6: Post-9/11 Connections

Continuing on the Blogosphere Challenge on the Feith memo, the last part deals with Iraqi/al-Qaeda connections after 9/11, which would be the biggest impetus for America to include Saddam's removal as an integral part of the war on terror. Hayes continues: Several reports indicate that the relationship between Saddam and bin Laden continued, even after the September 11 attacks: 31. An Oct. 2002 . . . report said al Qaeda and Iraq reached a secret agreement whereby Iraq would provide safe haven to al Qaeda members and provide them with money and weapons. The agreement reportedly prompted a large number of al Qaeda members to head to Iraq. The report also said that al Qaeda members involved in a fraudulent passport network for al Qaeda had been directed to procure 90 Iraqi and Syrian passports for al Qaeda personnel. The analysis that accompanies that report indicates that the report fits...

November 23, 2003

Challenge, Chapter 7: Differences and Motivations

Hayes, in the summary of his original article on the Feith memo, makes the following observation: CRITICS OF THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION have complained that Iraq-al Qaeda connections are a fantasy, trumped up by the warmongers at the White House to fit their preconceived notions about international terror; that links between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden have been routinely "exaggerated" for political purposes; that hawks "cherry-picked" bits of intelligence and tendentiously presented these to the American public. The Bush Administration has not been the only target for this criticism. Rupert Murdoch's Fox News (the Weekly Standard is also owned by Murdoch) was the subject of a rather notorious study that purported to show that its viewers tended to be extraordinarily misinformed on the war on terror. One of the points that claimed to demonstrate the ignorance of Fox News viewers was the result that around 70% of them thought that...

November 24, 2003

Palestinian Toys Sending US Message: Do We Hear It?

Someone please explain to me again why we want to give sovereignty to people who produce children's toys such as these:...

Challenge, Chapter 8: The End, The Beginning

In the final paragraphs of his Weekly Standard article, Stephen Hayes notes that the Feith memo really just skims the surface of the contacts between Saddam's Iraq and al-Qaeda. Hayes notes another possible connection: The memo contains only one paragraph on Ahmed Hikmat Shakir, the Iraqi facilitator who escorted two September 11 hijackers through customs in Kuala Lumpur. ... Other intelligence reports indicate that Shakir whisked not one but two September 11 hijackers--Khalid al Midhar and Nawaq al Hamzi--through the passport and customs process upon their arrival in Kuala Lumpur on January 5, 2000. Shakir then traveled with the hijackers to the Kuala Lumpur Hotel where they met with Ramzi bin al Shibh, one of the masterminds of the September 11 plot. The meeting lasted three days. Shakir returned to work on January 9 and January 10, and never again. In this case, the US has intelligence reports of Iraq...

November 27, 2003

Chickenhawk? I Think Not

President George Bush flew into a hot zone in order to spend Thanksgiving in Iraq: President Bush made a Thanksgiving Day visit to Baghdad, appearing before delighted soldiers taken completely by surprise. After appearing before some U.S. troops in Baghdad and the Iraqi Governing Council, Bush left Baghdad at about 8 p.m. Iraq time, or noon EST. Air Force One stayed on the ground for just two-and-a-half hours, the White House said. I can't tell you how outstanding it is to see a commander-in-chief spending a family holiday with the troops that he has, wisely or foolishly, put into harm's way. Obviously, this visit could not be announced to either the troops or the press before it was made. Here's how the troops found out: Iraq's U.S. civil administrator L. Paul Bremer told the soldiers he wanted the most senior person in the room to read the president's Thanksgiving proclamation...

November 29, 2003

From the Soldier's Perspective

Andrew Sullivan posts this e-mail from a soldier at the Thanksgiving celebration in Baghdad where President Bush made his appearance: Mr. Sullivan, I was present for the surprise visit by the President. It was truly wonderful to be there, and my buddies and I really are grateful that President Bush would take a real risk to come see u. He flew about 12 hours to spend 2 hours with us, he served food to the troops, but he never got a chance to eat himself, at least not until he got on the plane, I'd imagine. For 2 hours, the President walked amongst us, not a receiving line where we came to him, stiff and formal, but coming to us, reading our names on our uniforms and greeting us by name. He looked me in the eye when he shook my hand, he joked with some, whispered to others, spoke...

November 30, 2003

Still A Distraction?

It amazes me, but some people insist that military action in Iraq is a distraction from the war on terror. News stories like this tend to disprove it: American forces have captured three members of Osama bin Laden (news - web sites)'s terrorist network in northern Iraq (news - web sites), a U.S. military commander told The Associated Press on Sunday. If confirmed, it would be the first disclosed detention of al-Qaida militants in Iraq. About 10 members of Ansar al-Islam — an Islamic group U.S. officials believe has al-Qaida links in northern Iraq — also have been arrested by U.S. troops in the past seven months, said Col. Joe Anderson, commander of the 2nd Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division. There are two explanations for al-Qaeda to be in Iraq. One: they were there all along, as our intelligence indicated, or they are coming to Iraq to fight American...

December 1, 2003

We Told You So, Part 47-B

Glenn at Instapundit directed readers to this extremely interesting story at the New York Times: For two years before the American invasion of Iraq, Mr. Hussein's sons, generals and front companies were engaged in lengthy negotiations with North Korea, according to computer files discovered by international inspectors and the accounts of Bush administration officials. The officials now say they believe that those negotiations — mostly conducted in neighboring Syria, apparently with the knowledge of the Syrian government — were not merely to buy a few North Korean missiles. Instead, the goal was to obtain a full production line to manufacture, under an Iraqi flag, the North Korean missile system, which would be capable of hitting American allies and bases around the region, according to the Bush administration officials. So much for Saddam not being a threat to America and its interests! And would we have found out about this without...

Why Is This Man Smiling?

Every time this idiot involves himself in international politics, I thank God he only served as President for four years. While appearing in Geneva, Jimmy Carter managed to blame Bush for Mideast violence, blame Jews for their own destruction, and argue for rewarding terrorism with territory, all in one speech (from the Jerusalem Post, via Power Line): Former US President Jimmy Carter unleashed a fierce attack against the Israeli and American governments in his speech at the Geneva Initiative's ceremony in Switzerland. ... In Geneva, Carter said Israel's settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and the security fence are the main obstacles to peace. He called repeatedly for the return of Palestinian refugees to the territories, beyond what is called for in the Geneva Initiative. ... Carter said that is of equal importance that Palestinians renounce violence against Israeli citizens, but he said this must happen in exchange...

USS Clueless Captures the Philosophy of America at War

Steven den Beste at USS Clueless captures my thinking exactly, in explaining to an Iranian about why and how America goes to war: It's not a question of my nation making a decision whether people will die. Islamic militants made that decision. America's only decision now is who will die, and where and when. If we stand by idly and passively, then it will be Americans who die, whenever and wherever the Islamic extremists choose to kill them, probably in huge numbers. We don't consider that acceptable. That's surrender. That's not going to happen. Instead, we're attempting to take control of events, in hopes that we can minimize the total number of deaths caused by this war. That's why we've embarked on the highly risky and unprecedented strategy we're following. If we were only concerned with minimizing American casualties and if we didn't care about anyone else, then every major...

December 3, 2003

Hoagland Crystallizes the Iraqi 'Insurgency'

Jim Hoagland, in today's Washington Post, deflates the myth of popular insurgency in Iraq with the reality of the motives of this gang of thugs, using an entertaining metaphor: Think of the worst divorce case you have ever heard about, and then imagine the embittered ex-spouses armed with Kalashnikovs and bombs instead of legal motions over alimony and property, and you get some sense of what Iraq's Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds are going through right now. Other motives are also involved. Those so inclined can emphasize the religious fanaticism of the jihadists who have taken the battlefield in Iraq or the Arab fervor stirred by foreign occupation. I grant that both exist, and come back to the fundamental force of this counterrevolution: The warring Arab Sunnis of Iraq want the money. And they want to regain the privilege of dominating the country's other population groups. Hoagland underscores the mercenary/power motivation...

December 5, 2003

Christopher Hitchens Scolds the Anti-War Left

Christopher Hitchens, a liberal in the classic sense, has been a supporter of the war on terror and the Iraq war all along. As he has done during the run-up and aftermath of the war, Hitchens takes the left to task for its obtuseness: The truly annoying thing that I find when I am arguing with opponents of the regime-change policy in Iraq is their dogged literal-mindedness. "Your side said that coalition troops would be greeted with 'sweets and flowers!' " Well, I have seen them with my own eyes being ecstatically welcomed in several places. "But were there actual sweets and flowers?" Literal interpretations of predictions seem to be a one-way street, as Hitchens notes in his closing: There were predictions made by the peaceniks, too, that haven't come literally true, or true at all. There has been no refugee exodus, for example, of the kind they promised. No...

December 6, 2003

Yo, Al -- Ed & Pete Wanna Have a Word Wit' Ya

I heard about this editorial in yesterday's New York Post and it certainly tells a different story about the Patriot Act than our erstwhile Democratic presidential candidates, and a certain ex-Vice President as well. Ed Koch, former Democratic mayor of New York City, and Rep. Peter King (R) of New York wrote: THE brutal attacks of 9/11 brought home to the American people what should have been clear to our nation's leaders years before that fateful day: We are at war with Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda and their radical Islamic terrorist allies throughout the world and within our borders. It is a war that threatens our national survival. Yet, listening to an increasingly shrill chorus of political voices, Americans could almost conclude that the real threat to our country comes not from bin Laden and al Qaeda but John Ashcroft and the Patriot Act. It seems like a wide...

December 9, 2003

Grover Norquist and Frank Gaffney, Grudge Match?

Hugh Hewitt moderated a debate this evening that was a lot more illuminating than that of the Democrats. Hewitt hosted Frank Gaffney and Grover Norquist, the latter of which was one of the subjects of the former's article in FrontPage.com's new article, A Troubling Influence. The article delineates in great detail the extent of the influence that radical Islamists have had on conservative circles, including but not exclusive to Grover Norquist. I haven't read the article in detail -- I plan to do so over the next day or so -- but I had read stories about the article and I was familiar with the general themes. The accusations are deeply disturbing. As Power Line capsulizes it: The thesis of Gaffney's article is that Norquist has worked on behalf of, and together with, an American fifth column of Islamists and Islamist organizations. According to Gaffney, Norquist has successfully sought to...

December 10, 2003

Al-Qaeda Suspect Arrested in Minneapolis

A suspected associate of Zacharias Moussaoui, and apparently he's talking: Authorities in Minneapolis on Tuesday arrested and jailed a man suspected of associating with the Al-Qaida terrorist network and having knowledge of some of the activities of Zacarias Moussaoui, a law enforcement official said. The official said the detainee has confirmed some of investigators' suspicions about Moussaoui, who was arrested while learning to fly a Boeing 747 jet at an Eagan flight school two years ago and now is the subject of the only U.S. prosecution related to the Sept. 11 terror attacks. The jailed man, whose name was withheld, has described Moussaoui's activities at an Al-Qaida training camp in Afghanistan several years ago, the official said. So far, the arrest has been kept pretty lo-profile. The suspect's name does not appear on the list of prisoners being held at the Minneapolis jail, and his arraignment proceedings were sealed. We...

Axis of Weasels Aren't Preferred Providers

Surprise, surprise! The Defense Department doesn't want to contract with French, German, or Russian companies in the rebuilding of Iraq: France, Germany, Russia and China -- countries that strongly opposed the U.S.-led war in Iraq -- are not on a Defense Department list of countries eligible to compete for $18.6 billion worth of contracts for the reconstruction of Iraq. Countries that either participated in the Coalition effort in the war or supported it -- including Britain, Australia, Spain, Italy, Poland, Turkey and Japan -- are on the list, which was in a memo posted on the Pentagon Web site Tuesday. Be prepared to hear a whole lot of blathering from leading Democrats on this issue for the next few weeks, demanding that the Bush administration quit insulting our "friends" and to quit making the list unilateral. However, if they do, the Bush administration can point out that 63 countries are...

December 11, 2003

Would You Buy a Used Car from This Man? Or This One Either?

Yasser Arafat hinted at recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, according to a transcription of an interview with Henry Siegman, which this article describes as an "American Jewish activist": Israel would receive sovereignty over the Western Wall — a remnant of the Second Temple compound — and the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, "because we recognize and respect the Jewish religion and the Jewish historical attachment to Palestine," according to the transcript. Asked about Israel as a Jewish state, Arafat said that it was up to Israel to define itself, as long as it was democratic and guaranteed the rights of minorities. Arafat included the reference to democracy and the rights of minorities to appeal to American and EU audiences, but left unspoken the tripping point of refugee return, through which Arafat hopes to establish a Palestinian primacy in Israel. Dore Gold, a Sharon adviser, makes this...

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Politburo Diktat: Thomas Friedman, Arafat Mouthpiece?

The Commissar writes an open letter to Ariel Sharon, warning of the same tactic that Yasser Arafat is pushing by stealth, but that Thomas Friedman appears to espouse openly -- the "one-state" solution: To start, watch out for a certain reporter/worldbeater, friend of Saudi royals, ... da, the anti-zhid himself, Thomas Friedman. ... He and that Palestinian hottie, Diana Butto, are chatting, oh-so-earnestly, about "one state solution." Da! What if Palestinians say, "No problem. Israel exists. From Jordan to Mediterranean. All of historical Palestine. Is good country. We fly Star of David flag over our homes. NOW GIVE US VOTE." What will happen then? Do you think America would allow the Palestinians to exist within a Greater Israel without a vote? Of course not, and we shouldn't. But what will that lead to? It leads to the overthrow of Israel as we know it, replaced by yet another Arab thugocracy...

December 12, 2003

Now the UN is Bugging Out of Afghanistan

During this entire political campaign, we have been told over and over by the Democratic presidential candidates that Bush's failure to allow the UN to control the reconstruction of Iraq dooms the post-war to failure. The US does not have enough legitimacy, according to the Democrats, to implement a peaceful and successful rebuilding of a nation. However, the UN has proven yet again that they are not capable of doing the job -- now they want to abandon Afghanistan, where they are in charge: The United Nations may be forced to abandon its two-year effort to stabilize Afghanistan because of rising violence blamed on the resurgent Taliban, its top official here warned Friday in an interview with The Associated Press. ... "Countries that are committed to supporting Afghanistan cannot kid themselves and cannot go on expecting us to work in unacceptable security conditions," Brahimi said. "They seem to think that...

Saudis Scold the Axis of Weasels

President Bush got support for his Iraqi rebuilding contract policy from an unusual source earlier today: Countries that opposed the U.S. decision to invade Iraq (news - web sites) have no right to protest U.S. initiatives restricting reconstruction contracts to allies, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the ambassador of Saudi Arabia to the United States, said Friday. Bandar said he thought it was "amazing" that war opponents now "feel they have a right to share in the pie" of reconstruction contracts. He said even more dangerous than terrorists themselves are those who say they condemn terrorism but don't actively fight it. There is a well-known saying in diplomatic circles that states, "Those who wish to join the feast must help to set the table." Had the Axis merely sat on the sidelines and not gotten involved -- like Canada -- that would be bad enough. But France, Germany, and Russia actively...

December 13, 2003

Underwhelming Irony

Walter Mondale and Zbigniew Brezinski, Vice President and national security advisor during the Carter administration, appeared in the Twin Cities yesterday to speak at Macalaster College, along with William Perry, Secretary of Defense in the Clinton administration. With this line-up, you wouldn't expect a Bush love-in, and you'd be correct: Former Vice President Walter Mondale accused President Bush on Friday of forcing democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan "at bayonet point" — an approach creating more enemies for the United States than friends and doing little to prevent terrorism. The administration's policies are at odds with six decades of foreign policy through Democratic and Republican administrations aimed at forming international coalitions to address national security problems, Mondale said. ... "I cannot understand why the current administration believes that throwing all this out the window — to be replaced by what I see to be their radical, unilateral, go-it-alone, in-your-face approach —...

December 14, 2003

The Biggest Story Before the Capture

Before I flipped on the news and found out about Saddam Hussein's capture, I was preparing to write a post about a new article in the Telegraph regarding a hard connection between Iraq and 9/11: Iraq's coalition government claims that it has uncovered documentary proof that Mohammed Atta, the al-Qaeda mastermind of the September 11 attacks against the US, was trained in Baghdad by Abu Nidal, the notorious Palestinian terrorist. Details of Atta's visit to the Iraqi capital in the summer of 2001, just weeks before he launched the most devastating terrorist attack in US history, are contained in a top secret memo written to Saddam Hussein, the then Iraqi president, by Tahir Jalil Habbush al-Tikriti, the former head of the Iraqi Intelligence Service. ... In the memo, Habbush reports that Atta "displayed extraordinary effort" and demonstrated his ability to lead the team that would be "responsible for attacking the...

A Silly Lord of the Rings Analogy for Today

Today's capture reminded me of a scene from Tolkien, although it's not the Lord of the Rings, it's from The Silmarillion. I suppose it may be a bit silly to use this as a reference to Saddam Hussein, but it sounds oddly familiar to his capture. This passage comes from the chapter titled Of The Voyage of Earendil and describes the capture of Morgoth, who was Sauron's leader during the First Age of Middle Earth: ... and all of the pits of Morgoth were broken and unroofed, and the might of the Valar descended into the deeps of the earth. There Morgoth stood at last at bay, and yet unvaliant. He fled into the deepest of his mines, and sued for peace and pardon; but his feet were hewn from under him, and he was hurled upon his face. Then he was bound with the chain Angainor which he had...

The Post Buries Saddam-9/11 Connection

Power Line has an important post on the Telegraph story regarding the training of Mohammed Atta by the Iraqi Intelligence Service, and why the story is not getting any attention from major US media outlets. In order to understand why the Washington Post, for example, does not appear anxious to look into this claim, Hindrocket notes the following exchange during an on-line chat this morning: Annapolis, Md.: Will the Post be looking into the story reported by the Telegraph about connections between Abu Nidal, Mohammad Atta and Saddam Hussein? Very likely to be untrue, but would be immensely significant if true. And there's no mention on the Post's Web site about it yet. Robert G. Kaiser: If we put every rumor and story in the British press (not to mention many others around the world) on the Web site, you'd be dizzy--and no wiser. The Post does not print other...

December 15, 2003

Afghans Start Constitutional Convention

Afghans today took a dramatic step towards building a peaceful, modern democratic society by starting a consitutional convention: A landmark constitutional convention began in Afghanistan on Sunday with solemn prayers, the songs of children and a stirring speech by the nation's former king, who echoed the aspirations of his war-weary countrymen with a call for unity and peace. Some 500 delegates -- from village mullahs to Western-educated exiles -- were gathered at a huge tent in Afghanistan's battle-scarred capital, Kabul, to hammer out a new constitution in a traditional loya jirga, or grand council. The meeting, which is expected to take several weeks, is being conducted under tight security, as Taliban terrorists are still a threat. Even the delegates are being searched prior to entry. One of the interesting issues the loya jirga must confront is womens' rights in a new Afghanistan. Women under Taliban rule were notoriously oppressed, unable...

Power Line Rebuts Mondale

Power Line's essay is a grim reminder of the dark days in modern American history when defeatists held power and America was in full retreat in global politics. While the post-office careers of both Mondale and Carter demonstrate the forgiveness that makes America great, it also demonstrates the historical amnesia that constantly puts America in danger.

Alterman: Dazed and Confused

Eric Alterman seems to have a lot of trouble with reality these days. Over at Altercation, he speculates on the "real" cause of the war in Iraq: I wonder if we went to war in part the way we did because Powell was too sick to mount a fight and did not have the courage to resign. It’s just a hypothesis, but you know, the course of the early Cold War had a great deal to do with FDR’s various secret maladies. Just a thought…. Well, yes, it's just a thought, but it's a stupid, malicious thought, and not terribly well-connected, either. FDR was President, and so the "secret malady" theory at least has some sense to it. (If you're not familiar with this quasi-conspiracy meme, FDR was dying while he negotiated with Churchill and Stalin regarding postwar Europe and seriously dropped the ball due to failing stamina and intellect....

December 16, 2003

Mark Steyn: Put Nihilism to Good Use

Mark Steyn, in another brilliant column, serves up a damning indictment of the creaky and increasingly sclerotic United Nations: For months the naysayers have demanded the Americans turn over more power to the Iraqis. Okay, let's start by turning Saddam over to the Iraqis. Whoa, not so fast. The same folks who insisted there was no evidence Saddam was a threat to any countries other than his own and the invasion was an unwarranted interference in Iraqi internal affairs are now saying that Saddam can't be left to the Iraqi people, he has to be turned over to an international tribunal. You can forget about that. The one consistent feature of the post-9/11 era is the comprehensive failure of the international order. The French use their Security Council veto to protect Saddam. The EU subsidises Palestinian terrorism. The International Atomic Energy Agency provides cover for Iran's nuclear ambitions. The UN...

Still Falling ...

Perhaps coincidentally -- or perhaps not -- US forces rouded up 78 "insurgents" in an extended raid Monday night and Tuesday morning: American soldiers arrested a rebel leader and 78 other people during a raid north of Baghdad, the U.S. military said Tuesday. ... At 4:30 a.m. Tuesday morning, troops from the U.S. Army's 4th Infantry Division arrested Qais Hattam, described as the No. 5 fugitive on the division's list of "high value targets," said Capt. Gaven Gregory of the 4th Infantry's 3rd Brigade. I suspect that as Saddam's interrogation continues and the materials found on him are evaluated, we will see more and more of these operations. During that period, the "insurgents" will be forced to speed up missions, making more and more mistakes and allowing us to either kill or capture them in greater numbers. Keep your eyes open....

Getting Tough Works with Both Friends and Enemies

Despite his would-be Presidential opponents' dire warnings, Bush's get-tough policy with the Axis of Weasels appears to be bearing fruit for the Iraqi people: U.S. special envoy James A. Baker III won German and French agreement Tuesday to work for Iraqi debt relief, but Washington did not say whether it would lift the ban on firms from those nations bidding for lucrative reconstruction projects in Iraq ... "Germany and the United States, like France, are ready not only for debt restructuring but also for substantial debt forgiveness toward Iraq," German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's spokesman Bela Anda said in a statement after talks with Baker. The German statement indicated that the United States also was prepared to relieve debt, and that levels would be decided by the Paris Club of creditor nations. ... France, keen to carve a role in aiding Iraq, said Monday the Paris Club could strike a debt...

December 18, 2003

Kofi Annan Wants More Substantial Role for MIA UN

Kofi Annan today demanded a larger and more specifically delineated role in the reconstruction of Iraq, and requested a meeting with both the Iraqi Governing Council and the Coalition: Annan, clearly frustrated that Iraqi Governing Council or the U.S.-led coalition running the country have not given him specific answers, said it was time to sit down with representatives from both bodies. "It has to be a three-way conversation," the secretary-general said. "Once we have that, I will make a judgment." Make a judgment on what? Annan won't even allow a UN presence in Iraq because he claims that the Baghdad area is too dangerous for UN personnel. Before anyone takes the UN seriously, they will have to demonstrate some backbone in dealing with security issues in Iraq. The last thing the Iraqis and the Coalition needs is to hand over authority to the UN and then watch them bug out...

December 19, 2003

Strib Catches Dean Madness

Today's editorial in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune asserts that, as Dean says, America is no safer after the capture of Saddam Hussein: We don't have a dog in the Democratic presidential fight, but we do know that front-runner Howard Dean, like him or not, is getting beaten up unfairly for telling an unpleasant truth: The capture of Saddam Hussein hasn't made America safer. It was an excellent piece of work, it may make Iraqis safer, and it may help protect American forces in Iraq. But the capture does nothing directly to secure the United States from the danger posed by terrorism. That's because the war on terrorism has nothing to do with Iraq. Saddam was an ogre who can legitimately be charged with crimes against humanity, genocide and assorted other nasty behaviors. But there's no evidence he was an international terrorist, and that's not likely to change no matter how many...

We? We??

Strange women lying in ponds may be no basis for a system of government, but Strange Women Lying In Ponds is a great basis for blogging. Brant takes on the inimitable (we hope) Robert Fisk, in his strangest column on the war to date: We have captured Saddam. We have destroyed the beast. The nightmare years are over. If only we could have got rid of this man 15 years ago -- 20 years ago -- how warm would be our welcome in Iraq today. But we didn't. In large part, Fisk can thank himself for that. 15 years ago, would Fisk have supported American military action against Saddam? If you have read his dispatches on this war, writing constantly about the supposed military setbacks the Coalition kept suffering in that three-week sacking of Iraq, how the bombs kept killing children in the streets of Baghdad (without even considering the...

Saddam's Capture Didn't Make US Safer?

In yet another breakthrough based on materials found with Saddam Hussein, ABC News reports that Coalition intelligence services have identified moles working for Saddam within the Coalition Provisional Authority: Among the documents found in Saddam's briefcase when he was captured last weekend was a list of names of Iraqis who have been working with the United States — either in the Iraqi security forces or the Coalition Provisional Authority — and are feeding information to the insurgents, a U.S. official told ABCNEWS. "We were badly infiltrated," said the official, adding that finding the list of names is a "gold mine." Would someone at the Minneapolis Star-Tribune like to send a reporter to cover this and inform their editorial board of this development? (via Politburo Diktat)...

This Is Why Saddam's Capture Makes Us Safer

Despite the blatherings of our local broadsheet, the Iraq war and the capture of Saddam Hussein paid off in a spectacular way today: Libya has tried to develop weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles in the past, but has agreed to dismantle the programs, President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Friday in simultaneous televised speeches. Bush said Libya's leader, Col. Moammar Gadhafi, had "agreed to immediately and unconditionally allow inspectors from international organizations to enter Libya. "These inspectors will render an accounting of all nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs and will help oversee their elimination," Bush said. Gadhafi approached US and British officials in March to discuss the disarmament of Libya. Does anyone remember what was going on in March? And does anyone want to hazard a guess as to why Libya approached Bush and Blair, rather than the UN? It's because with the Anglo-American...

December 20, 2003

Former Saddam Officials Targeted by Vigilantes

It was just a matter of time before this started happening: Iraqi sources with contacts among former and current security officials estimate that about 50 senior figures in Hussein's intelligence, military intelligence and internal security organizations have been gunned down in recent months. There has been an even larger toll among neighborhood party officials, such as Taee, who are blamed for having informed on the local community during Hussein's rule, these sources said. Neither the morgue nor officers in Iraq's new police force -- who concede they have little interest in probing these deaths -- have tallied the figures. But the phenomenon is citywide, according to a survey of police stations, with numbers varying widely from one district to another. It is difficult to blame the victims of Saddam's regime for taking matters into their own hands after 35 years of brutal oppression. After all, one way to make sure...

Recognition Comes Slowly but Surely

Media recognition of the stunning diplomatic victory of Bush and Blair -- and even Gadhafi -- in Libya's trilateral disarmament agreement yesterday comes slow. Most of the major newspapers covered it as a news story, although both local Twin Cities newspapers buried it. Editorial boards mostly ignored it, with a couple of major exceptions. For instance, the Daily Telegraph in the UK had no problem proclaiming it as a major vindication of the Bush/Blair global strategy in the War on Terror: The stick has been applied, now a carrot must be offered as an incentive to other rogue nations, like Iraq. As for Mr Bush and Mr Blair, with Saddam captured and Libya tamed, it cannot be denied they have had brilliant end to a difficult year. The world is gradually becoming a safer place. Both their approval ratings should reflect that. The title of this piece is "A Safer...

December 21, 2003

Washington Post Gets It

Gaddafi chose Bush and Blair not because he has some love for the Anglo-American alliance, but because he understood that defying them put him in mortal danger. And while it is true that Gaddafi has been trying to rehabilitate his image since Lockerbie, the development of his WMD program -- in conjunction with Iran and North Korea -- demonstrates his intentions of wielding doomsday power over North Africa and the Middle East. Iraq and Saddam Hussein's downfall changed all the equations, and while Gaddafi may be the first to understand it, he will not be the last.

Dominoes Continue Falling

The capture of Saddam Hussein continues to accrue benefits to the Coalition: Acting on intelligence gleaned from the capture of Saddam Hussein (news - web sites), U.S. troops rounded up dozens of suspected rebels during two days of raids in towns where loyalty to the deposed president remains strong, officials said Sunday. Two Iraqis were killed. Smashing down doors, troops went house to house in Fallujah, a center of resistance west of Baghdad, early Sunday. Troops of the Army's 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment blockaded Rawah, near the western border with Syria, for a sweep dubbed Operation Santa Claws, the U.S. Army told Associated Press Television News. The continuing nature of these operations indicates a snowball effect from intelligence gleaned from the documents captured along with Saddam, if not directly from Saddam himself. His documents clearly gave the Coalition a good idea of the insurgency leadership structure and identification of these...

December 23, 2003

Le Spin, C'est Nous

The French have discovered that looking in from the outside on the Libya deal makes them appear less than dominant in foreign affairs: Dominique de Villepin, the foreign minister, took his hat off to London and Washington's "exemplary" diplomatic efforts over the past few months that led to the Libyan leader Col Gaddafi's surprise announcement on Friday, calling it a victory for "the entire international community". But he was forced to admit in Le Figaro that France knew nothing of the nine months of secret negotiations. "We were not kept informed," M de Villepin said. His disclosure underlined the continuing mistrust in relations between the English-speaking powers and France, which made much of its opposition to war in Iraq. It seems that even the French are starting to see that its obstinacy in opposing all things American may have cost it an inordinate amount of influence on world affairs: Even...

Dominoes Continue Falling

US forces continued apprehending Iraqi insurgents by the dozens after Saddam Hussein's capture today, including several leadership figures: U.S. soldiers arrested dozens of rebel suspects Tuesday, including several associates of a former aide to Saddam Hussein who is believed to have a leading role in Iraq's insurgency. A U.S. task force in Baqouba, 30 miles northwest of Baghdad, arrested five Iraqis, including one suspected of recruiting guerrillas, said Maj. Josselyn Aberle of the 4th Infantry Division. ... In an earlier raid in Baqouba, U.S. troops detained a former Iraqi army colonel suspected of recruiting ex-Iraqi soldiers to fight the U.S. military. ... Near Fallujah, to the west of Baghdad, a military statement said troops captured "26 enemy personnel including two former Iraqi generals and an Iraqi Special Forces colonel." More evidence, I suppose, of how Saddam's capture has not made America any safer....

Code Orange: Translation by Zygote Design

Many people express their confusion over the meanings of the Homeland Security Alerts. Like any good blogger, Zygote-Design is here to help with a handy translation of Tom Ridge's text: Your awareness and vigilance can help tremendously, so please use your common sense and report suspicious packages, vehicles, or activities to local law enforcement. Normal person translation: Enjoy your Christmas holiday but everything you encounter could kill you. Packages of death, vehicles of death and even activities of death. Merry Christmas from all of us here at the Department of Homeland Security who will be whisked away to an impenetrable mountain fortress at the slightest hint of trouble while you die en masse in the streets of your concrete graveyards. Being in the government is cool. Sheesh ... for a man who just found out that his wife is having a boy, Zygote sure can be cynical! Be sure to...

Russo-American Mission Retrieves Stranded Nuclear Fuel

Remember how a few of the Democrats complained recently about Bush's lack of attention to nuclear material that had not been tracked after the fall of the Soviet Union? Somehow, this story won't make them very happy: A Russo-American team of nuclear specialists backed by armed security units swooped into a shuttered Bulgarian reactor and seized 37 pounds of highly enriched uranium, in a secret operation intended to forestall nuclear terrorism, U.S. officials said Tuesday. ... It was the third time since last year that U.S. and Russian authorities have teamed up to retrieve highly enriched uranium from Soviet-era facilities. U.S. authorities have begun stepping up such joint operations with the Russians. In August 2002, a team from the two countries retrieved 100 pounds of weapons-grade uranium from an aging reactor in Yugoslavia. The second uranium seizure took place three months ago, when 30 pounds was removed from Romania. It...

December 24, 2003

Libyan Agreement vs The Carter Deal in North Korea

I wanted to write a brilliant column rebutting the buzz that Libya's deal was in essence no better than we had with North Korea in 1994 and would wind up being as large a failure as Carter's "trust us" capitulation proved. Even Frank Gaffney seemed pretty skeptical last night on Hugh Hewitt's show. However, before I had a chance to do my research [IOW, open up a can of Diet Rite Red Raspberry and opine madly], I found this brilliant post by Jon at QandO: Needless to say, the Agreed Framework was not the success we'd hoped it would be. In the end, it amounted to a deal whereby our side agreed to provide North Korea with sizable concessions, while North Korea agreed to pretend they weren't working on a nuclear weapons program. Fortunately, we appear to have learned from the Agreed Framework. The deal with Libya succeeds in exactly...

Someone Heard Something

In France, there are travelers who are likely highly annoyed to be kept from being home at Christmas -- but may be lucky to be alive: The French government has canceled three Air France flights to Los Angeles, California, because of fears of a possible terrorist attack, the French Interior Ministry said Wednesday. Air France flights 68 and 70 from Paris to Los Angeles and Flight 382 to Los Angeles via Cincinnati, Ohio, were listed as canceled Wednesday afternoon. The decision came after consultation between U.S. and French authorities, a senior U.S. official said. News of the cancellations came as U.S. officials said a high volume of good-quality intelligence indicated that the al Qaeda terrorist network wants to attack the United States during the Christmas holiday. No one will know for sure if these flights had been compromised by terrorists unless authorities were lucky or well-informed enough to capture specific...

December 26, 2003

David Fromkin: Be Careful What You Wish For

David Fromkin, who wrote a terrific book on Middle Eastern history over the past century titled "A Peace to End All Peace" (on my book list on the left, and you should buy it), wrote an article for today's Los Angeles Times which intends to warn the US about repeating Britain's mistakes in Iraq: When the war ended, in 1918, the victorious British found themselves in possession, among other things, of the three Ottoman provinces that were later merged to form a single unitary state that was to be called Iraq. In 1918 and 1919, its hour of triumph, the British Empire garrisoned the Middle East with an army of a million men. No other significant military force in the region could dispute Britain's mastery. Iraq's future seemingly was for Britain to determine. It is from Britain's experience in that respect that Americans entering the year 2004 have so much...

Why the Dominoes Fall

The Washington Post explains in more detail why the capture of Saddam Hussein has started to cripple the insurgency, and how American strategy had already impacted the insurgency even before that: Senior U.S. officers said they were surprised to discover -- clue by clue over six months -- that the upper and middle ranks of the resistance were filled by members of five extended families from a few villages within a 12-mile radius of the volatile city of Tikrit along the Tigris River. Top operatives drawn from these families organized the resistance network, dispatching information to individual cells and supervising financial channels, the officers said. They also protected Hussein and passed information to and from the former president while he was on the run. At the heart of this tightly woven network is Auja, Hussein's birthplace, which U.S. commanders say is the intelligence and communications hub of the insurgency. The...

December 27, 2003

LA Times: Applaud the Non-Event

The Los Angeles Times published an editorial today which reminds us that good intelligence and pre-emption can keep terrorist strikes from appearing, and that the lack of hard evidence of a terrorist mission does not mean one did not exist: Most national security intelligence is elusive, a connecting of dots — intercepted telephone calls, overheard conversations, confessions by people who know fragments of a plan. The result may be an unprovable negative: an event that does not occur. Thus it was when U.S. officials warned French counterparts about hints that an Air France plane would be used to attack Los Angeles on or around Christmas. The French heeded American requests and canceled six flights, and Los Angeles celebrated a peaceful holiday. Some inconvenience resulted, but how could security personnel have failed to act? The use of commercial airliners as bombs to kill thousands of people on 9/11 demands that credible...

Was The Vatican Al-Qaeda's Target?

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi told reporters that al-Qaeda's Christmas Eve target was not Los Angeles, but the Vatican: Terrorists planned to attack the Vatican with a hijacked plane on Christmas Day, Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi said in a newspaper interview published Saturday. ... "A hijacked plane into the Vatican," Berlusconi is quoted as saying. "An attack from the sky, is that clear? The threat of terrorism is very high in this instant. I passed Christmas Eve in Rome to deal with the situation. Now I feel calm. It will pass." He added, "It isn't fatalism, but the knowledge of having our guard up. If they organized this, they will not pull it off." Of course, Islamofascists could consider the Vatican as the center of the Crusader world, but if so, it shows a stubborn defiance of history and common sense. The Vatican's direct influence on warmaking has declined considerably...

Stiffing the Poles

Poland has long had my admiration. Before France threw in with the colonies, Polish lovers of freedom allied itself with our Founding Fathers -- names like Kosciusko should be as much a part of our national lexicon as Lafayette -- and despite being overrun and torn apart for centuries, Poland has always retained a burning love of freedom and self-determination. Earlier this week, Ralph Peters wrote an excellent column about this aspect of Polish history, and the unfortunate treatment they are receiving from the US after giving us the best of their support: But the Poles never gave up their belief in their country - or in freedom. During our own revolution, our first allies were Polish freedom fighters such as Casimir Pulaski and Tadeusz Kosciusko. (Paris only joined the fight when it looked like we might win. And France intervened to spite Britain, not to help us.) Throughout the...

December 28, 2003

Rushing Towards Disaster?

The insurgency in Iraq and global pressure to end the civil occupation are forcing the Coalition to abandon key goals in order to meet a summer deadline to transfer sovereignty back to the Iraqis, according to the Washington Post: The United States has backed away from several of its more ambitious initiatives to transform Iraq's economy, political system and security forces as attacks on U.S. troops have escalated and the timetable for ending the civil occupation has accelerated. Plans to privatize state-owned businesses -- a key part of a larger Bush administration goal to replace the socialist economy of deposed president Saddam Hussein with a free-market system -- have been dropped over the past few months. So too has a demand that Iraqis write a constitution before a transfer of sovereignty. With the administration's plans tempered by time and threat, the U.S. administrator of Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, and his...

December 30, 2003

LA Times: Syria Undermined Iraq Sanctions, Armed Saddam

The Los Angeles Times translated reams of documents seized after the fall of Saddam Hussein and reports that Syria ran extensive smuggling operations on behalf of the Iraqi dictator's regime, designed to undermine UN sanctions: A Syrian trading company with close ties to the ruling regime smuggled weapons and military hardware to Saddam Hussein between 2000 and 2003, helping Syria become the main channel for illicit arms transfers to Iraq despite a stringent U.N. embargo, documents recovered in Iraq show. The private company, called SES International Corp., is headed by a cousin of Syria's autocratic leader, Bashar Assad, and is controlled by other members of Assad's Baath Party and Alawite clan. Syria's government assisted SES in importing at least one shipment destined for Iraq's military, the Iraqi documents indicate, and Western intelligence reports allege that senior Syrian officials were involved in other illicit transfers. Iraqi records show that SES signed...

December 31, 2003

LA Times: Part 2 of Iraq's Violations of Arms Embargo

The Los Angeles Times concludes its two-part series on documents discovered in Baghdad which clearly delineate how the international community assisted Saddam Hussein in avoiding the effects of the UN-imposed arms embargo. Today's installment focuses on Polish arms dealers and how they evaded their own government to sell military hardware to Iraq, via (as in yesterday's article) Syria: Desperate for missile technology in the summer of 2001, Iraq's arms brokers and spies homed in on the military scrap yards of this former Soviet Bloc nation. They operated out of this town, scavenging and assembling decades-old parts that were shipped to Syria, then trucked across deserts and mountains toward Baghdad. Documents were forged and lies were told in an elaborate network built to evade United Nations sanctions. The shipment of up to 380 missile engines from Poland was critical to Saddam Hussein's covert program to extend the range of his new...

January 1, 2004

International Flight Cancellations Due to Intelligence

The US, in cancelling at least one of the several international flights grounded during the holiday, acted on specific intelligence and not just names from passenger manifests, national security sources told the AP: U.S. authorities were acting on intelligence information — and not just suspicious passenger names — when they boarded a British Airways jet on New Year's Eve at nearby Dulles International Airport, a national security official said Thursday. Meanwhile, the security concerns affected the same British Airways scheduled flight again on Thursday, when the airline canceled one of its three daily flights from Heathrow Airport to Washington. Thursday's decision was based on security advice from the British government, a spokesman for the airline said. I think terrorist groups were either trying very hard to make a statement over the holidays, or they were engaging in a counter-intelligence mission to uncover spies and moles within their organizations. Regardless of...

January 3, 2004

Secret Case Before the Supreme Court?

The California Yankee notified me of a notable development: the US Supreme Court has agreed to consider an appeal of a case that, up to now, doesn't appear to exist. California Yankee provides plenty of background on the case, discussing what is known and what isn't, and why this case involving a Muslim illegally in the US should cause us concern. Take a look at this; it certainly looks like a problem to me....

January 4, 2004

A Giant Step For Freedom

After teetering on the brink of collapse, the loya jirga in Afghanistan has almost miraculously reached agreement on a new constitution, giving men and women equal rights and striking a balance between a strong presidency and Parliamentary oversight: Just a day after warning that the meeting, or loya jirga, was heading toward a humiliating failure, chairman Sibghatullah Mujaddedi announced that last-ditch diplomacy had secured a deal. ... The charter was amended to grant official status to northern minority languages where they are most commonly spoken, an issue which had brought the meeting close to collapse. ... After the new draft was circulated, the 502 delegates gathered under a giant tent in the Afghan capital rose from their chairs, standing in silence for about 30 seconds to signal their support for the new charter. Is it perfect? Not really; Islamist factions insisted and received provisions for Afghanistan to be an Islamic...

January 6, 2004

Don't Let The Cabin Door Hit You On The Way Out

Two international air carriers insist that they will not comply with US requirements to have armed sky marshals on board designated flights: The decisions by South African Airways and Thomas Cook Airlines, the charter flight arm of Europe’s second biggest travel firm, deepened a dispute over a move Washington sees as essential to outwitting al-Qaida and other extremist groups. ... German-owned Thomas Cook Airlines, which flies to Orlando, Fla., from Britain and also flies through U.S. airspace to the Caribbean, ruled out using marshals in any circumstances. “Thomas Cook Airlines has not changed its policy that if presented with a sky marshal on any of our routes, the flight would be canceled,” it said in a statement. South African Airways, which has 28 return flights a week to Atlanta and New York, also said it would not for the time being meet U.S. demands. Without trying to sound too jingoistic...

Israel and Libya: Together Again For The First Time?

The Jerusalem Post is reporting in its latest edition that diplomatic talks have quietly begun between Israel and Libya aimed at normalizing relations (may require free registration): Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom's bureau chief, Ron Prosor, met with a Libyan representative in Paris two weeks ago to talk about opening a dialogue between the two countries, Channel 2 reported Tuesday night. ... Kuwati newspaper A-Siyasa, meanwhile, reported Tuesday that a high-ranking Israeli delegation is expected to visit Libya in the near future with the aim of laying the ground for the signing of a peace agreement. According to the paper, Israeli and Libyan officials met last Friday in Vienna in the presence of a senior American diplomat and agreed to send an Israeli delegation to Libya in the near future. If true -- and the Kuwaiti newspaper seems to be confirming it -- this could be a blockbuster development for a...

Saudi Arrested with Firecrackers in Boston Airport

German air security seems questionable after a Saudi man was arrested after arriving in Boston with firecrackers in his carry-on luggage: A Saudi man was charged yesterday for having firecrackers in carry-on luggage on a plane from Germany to Boston amid United States warnings of a possible attack bigger than the September 11, 2001, hijacked plane strikes. US officials in Boston said that Essam Mohammed Almohandis, 33, of Riyadh had "three small firecracker-type explosive or incendiary devices" in his carry-on luggage on a Lufthansa flight from Frankfurt on Sunday. The Saudi first told authorities that the tubes in his bag were "artist's crayons," then claimed not to know what the devices were and said that his wife had packed his bag. He is being held for arraignment and faces 10 years in prison. What could the man have done with firecrackers? Depending on the size of the charge, he could...

January 8, 2004

Blog Update: Iraq War Casualties Website

A new reader of CQ in San Diego sent me an e-mail that asked if I had a link to a website that had updated casualty counts. I didn't, but it seems to me that I should -- so, in the Battleships section, I've added a link to this site at Lunaville. The data appears correct and the sources are solid....

January 9, 2004

Qureia: We Want One Middle-East State

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia threatened Israel with the bomb -- the population bomb, that is: Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia said Thursday that if Israel unilaterally imposed a new boundary with Palestinian areas he would respond by pushing for a single Arab-Jewish state — a move that could spell disaster for Israel. A single country including Gaza, the West Bank and Israel would mean that the Jewish state would soon have an Arab majority. That would force Israel to choose between giving Palestinians the right to vote and risk losing the country’s Jewish character, or becoming a minority-ruled country like apartheid South Africa. Of course, this has always been the idea behind the Palestinian offensive against the existence of Israel. The Palestinians have a higher birth rate and at some point will outnumber the Israelis. When that happens, all they need to do is recognize Israel not as...

January 10, 2004

Danes Find Liquid-Filled Mortars in Iraq

If it does turn out to be chemical or biological weaponry, however, it won't make a bit of difference if it dates back to the Iran-Iraq War of the 80s. The UN resolutions required Iraq to account for and destroy all nuclear, chemical, and biological weaponry, not just those created after 1991. These mortars, if proved to be WMDs, would prove that Iraq continued to possess and hide prohibited weaponry in defiance of the UN.

Bush Planned Iraq Invasion -- So What?

In a 60 Minutes interview to be aired tomorrow, former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill alleges that the Bush administration planned the invasion of Iraq in early 2001: "From the very beginning, there was a conviction that Saddam Hussein was a bad person and that he needed to go," O'Neill told CBS, according to excerpts released Saturday by the network. "For me, the notion of pre-emption, that the U.S. has the unilateral right to do whatever we decide to do, is a really huge leap." ... In the book, O'Neill is quoted as saying he was surprised that no one in a National Security Council meeting asked why Iraq should be invaded. "It was all about finding a way to do it. That was the tone of it. The president saying 'Go find me a way to do this,'" O'Neill said. Of course, this being an election year, Democrats have something...

January 12, 2004

Sympathy For The Devils

I'm puzzled by this piece in tomorrow's Washington Post that tells the story of former Ba'athists in Iraq and how difficult life has become, now that their privileges have been revoked: Less than a year ago, Ismael Mohammed Juwara lived high in the food chain of President Saddam Hussein's Iraq. He was a secret policeman feared and respected among his comrades and in his hometown, enjoying a cornucopia of privileges from the government. ... Now, as he scrapes out a living by selling diesel fuel illegally, he is a pariah in the new Iraq. "We were on top of the system. We had dreams," said Juwara, a former member of the Mukhabarat, the intelligence service that reported directly to the now-deposed president. "Now we are the losers. We lost our positions, our status, the security of our families, stability. Curse the Americans. Curse them." The entire article consists of several...

January 15, 2004

Oh, Those Training Camps!

It's amazing what you find when you start looking around the home ... dustbunnies, missing socks, and terrorist training camps: Saudi authorities have discovered a number of camps outside Saudi cities used for training al-Qaida militants to carry out terror operations, an Interior Ministry official said Thursday. Two militant figures killed in terror sweeps last year — Turki Nasser al-Dandani and Yosif Salih Fahd Ala'yeeri — commanded the camps, the official told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. More camp leaders are being sought, the official said. The Saudis, who at first kept minimizing Saudi involvement in 9/11 and al-Qaeda, changed their tune dramatically last May when al-Qaeda killed dozens of Saudis in a car-bomb attack. Since that time, they've been motivated to actually look around for the terrorists. I imagine that they were shocked, shocked! to find terrorist infrastructure right there in the heart of radicall Wahhabi country....

January 18, 2004

Memo to Telegraph: It's Not All Carrot, No Stick

The Daily Telegraph, normally a sensible if not terribly supportive newspaper, gets itself curiously confused on the meaning of diplomacy: The capture by the United States of thousands of centrifuges on board a German-owned vessel, the BBC China, en route to Libya has raised suspicions in Washington and London that Col Gaddafi offered to abandon his weapons programme after threats from America, rather than the lengthy British and American diplomacy vaunted by Tony Blair. The Telegraph story focuses more on the refusal of Foreign Secretary Jack Straw to answer questions about the seizure, but its recitation of a false tautology is a little disappointing. Gaddafi responded to both threats and promises, because that's what diplomacy entails. If the Telegraph feels that diplomacy is only showering money and compliments on other nations that express desires to kill you by, say, bombing your airlines and nightclubs frequented by your military personnel, then...

January 21, 2004

Le Taliban, C'est Nous

Does anyone remember the stories of Taliban-led Afghanistan, where kites were outlawed and officials roamed the streets looking for men with no beards? Apparently the French remember them all to well and are about to adopt some of the same tactics: France’s plan to bar religious symbols from state schools took a further confusing turn by Wednesday after the education minister said a proposed ban on Muslim veils could also outlaw beards and bandannas if they were judged to be a sign of faith. ... Education Minister Luc Ferry made the surprising statement about disciplining bearded students on Tuesday in a National Assembly legal committee hearing about the draft law on the ban due to be debated next month. Discussing the plan to remove Islamic headscarves from state schools, he told a communist deputy who asked about a pupil with a beard, “As soon as it becomes a religious sign...

9/11: An Iranian Operation?

A German trial of an alleged al-Qaeda accomplice was halted when a surprise witness implicated the Islamic government of Iran in the 9/11 attack on the United States: On what had been the eve of his widely expected acquittal, the trial of the second person charged by German authorities as an accomplice of the Sept. 11 hijackers was thrown into turmoil Wednesday after prosecutors disclosed the existence of a surprise witness purporting to link Iran to the hijackings. The mysterious witness, who goes by the name Hamid Reza Zakeri and claims to have been a longtime member of the Iranian intelligence service, is said to have told German investigators that the Sept. 11 plot represented what one termed a "joint venture" between the terrorist group al-Qaida and the Iranian government. German authorities are skeptical of this assertion, according to the article, saying that the two-year delay in relating this connection...

Dead Scientist Believed Iraq Had WMDs

Months after the suicide of a British government scientist threw into doubt Anglo-American claims of WMD possession by the Iraqis and touched off accusations of a murder conspiracy to silence the analyst, the BBC admits that it has an unbroadcast interview with the late David Kelly in which he insists that Iraq had WMDs and posed an immediate threat: The weapons expert slashed his wrists near his home in Oxfordshire, southern England, in July 2003 after being exposed as the source of a claim by a BBC reporter that the prime minister's team inflated the threat posed by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, to justify war. One week before senior judge Lord Hutton delivers his report on Kelly's death -- a judgment that could be critical of ministers -- the BBC said it would broadcast later Wednesday an interview it recorded with Kelly in October 2002, which it has never shown....

January 22, 2004

UK: Anti-War Demonstrators Caused Materiel Shortages in Iraq

Anti-war demonstrators claiming to "support the troops" despite their protests may have trouble explaining this report from the UK's Black Watch: The commanding officer of the Black Watch yesterday blamed the Government's reluctance to be seen preparing for war for equipment shortages suffered by troops in Iraq. While careful to make clear that the Government's decision to wait until the last minute was understandable, Lt Col Cowan said it was partly forced on it by anti-war feeling among its own backbenchers. "As a result, many items of equipment were not available in the right numbers, in the right place, in the right working order at the time they should have been and I think that is widely acknowledged," he said. London, you may remember, hosted several large anti-war demonstrations in the run-up to the war in Iraq. Due to a certain lack of intestinal fortitude among members of Tony Blair's...

January 23, 2004

US Battles Al-Qaeda Cell in Fallujah

The US has discovered an al-Qaeda cell in the troublesome city of Fallujah, and is rounding up as many of its members as it can find: The U.S. military is fighting to uproot a suspected cell of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terror network in the staunchly anti-American town of Fallujah, a military official said Thursday. Two Egyptians and an Iraqi, all believed to be couriers among al-Qaida terrorists and financiers, were arrested Sunday in a Fallujah apartment building where slogans supporting bin Laden were written across a wall in sheep's blood. Capt. Scott Kirkpatrick, of the Army's 10th Mountain Division, who led the raid, said the men were found with al-Qaida literature and photos of bin Laden, believed to be the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that killed roughly 3,000 people. Kirkpatrick said the U.S. military doesn't know how big the al-Qaida cell in Fallujah is, "but...

Power Line: Battle of the Mosque

Big Trunk from Power Line has an outstanding post based on a report of a little-known Marine battle in Baghdad. If you don't get goose bumps thinking about the heart and courage of these Marines, check for a pulse. You may be dead.

US Captures Key Al-Qaeda Figure

US forces in Iraq captured a key al-Qaeda associate and a leader in Ansaar al-Islam and the Iraqi insurgency: U.S. forces in Iraq captured a leader of the insurgency who is believed to be a close associate of Abu Musab Zarqawi, described by some as a key link between al-Qaida and Saddam Hussein, a senior American official said in Washington on Friday. U.S. troops captured Husam al-Yemeni Thursday, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. He is described by U.S. officials as a top member of the al-Qaida linked Ansar al-Islam group and the leader of an insurgency cell in Fallujah, west of Baghdad. As in earlier events, US forces gave no details of the capture, nor have they made an official statement, but this looks like a fairly significant win for the Coalition. They've been battling an insurgency cell for a while in Fallujah, and capturing its leader,...

French Intelligence: Al-Qaeda Severely Damaged, Not Destroyed

The head of French intelligence substantiated George Bush's State of the Union contention that al-Qaeda has been significantly damaged but remains a threat against American and Western interests: The al-Qaida network has been severely destabilized but not destroyed by the war on terror and still represents a "very motivated and very dangerous" threat, the head of France's domestic intelligence agency said Friday. ... Bousquet de Florian said it "has been destabilized to a large extent" but "retains a capacity to carry out operations." "Very apparently," November's suicide bombings in Istanbul, Turkey, were, if not ordered by al-Qaida, then "validated by the heads of al-Qaida or by Osama bin Laden himself," he said, referring to the terror network's fugitive leader. Despite losing leaders, fighters, training camps and financing to the war on terror, al-Qaida "remains a structure that is very motivated and very dangerous," said Bousquet de Florian. President Bush warned...

January 26, 2004

CIA and FBI Missed Clues to 9/11 Hijackers: Panel

The LA Times reports that the federal 9/11 commission has concluded that the CIA and FBI missed opportunities to recognize the hijackers as a threat: Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the suspected mastermind of the Sept. 11 plot, obtained a visa to come to the United States just weeks before the attacks despite being under a federal terrorism indictment, a report by the federal commission investigating the attacks revealed Monday. As many as eight of the hijackers entered the United States with doctored passports that contained "clues to their association" with al-Qaida that should have been caught by immigration authorities, commission investigators said. The newly disclosed findings challenge previous claims by top CIA and FBI officials that the hijackers' records and paperwork were so clean that they could not have aroused suspicion. The commissioners heard testimony all day on improvements made to the security system of the US, including technological as well...

January 28, 2004

Our Friends, The French

UPI and the UK Independent report that official Iraqi government documents show that Saddam Hussein engaged in a series of bribes of high-ranking European officials: Documents from Saddam Hussein's oil ministry reveal he used oil to bribe top French officials into opposing the imminent U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. The oil ministry papers, described by the independent Baghdad newspaper al-Mada, are apparently authentic and will become the basis of an official investigation by the new Iraqi Governing Council, the Independent reported Wednesday. "I think the list is true," Naseer Chaderji, a governing council member, said. "I will demand an investigation. These people must be prosecuted." If true, these documents would explode the Presidential race. Democrats consistently attack Bush for "unilateralism" and, in John Kerry's words, building an "illegitimate" coalition because the French opposed the US. Chirac even reversed course and stabbed Colin Powell in the back by reneging on an agreement...

January 29, 2004

What Happened To The Left?

Dissent Magazine published an excellent essay on the moral abdication of the Left in the fight against fascism. It's written by a Leftist who is dismayed by his sudden isolation: "And yet," I insisted, "if good-hearted people like you would only open your left-wing eyes, you would see clearly enough that the Baath Party is very nearly a classic fascist movement, and so is the radical Islamist movement, in a somewhat different fashion-two strands of a single impulse, which happens to be Europe's fascist and totalitarian legacy to the modern Muslim world. If only people like you would wake up, you would see that war against the radical Islamist and Baathist movements, in Afghanistan exactly as in Iraq, is war against fascism." I grew still more heated. "What a tragedy that you don't see this! It's a tragedy for the Afghanis and the Iraqis, who need more help than they...

January 30, 2004

ABC: Saddam's List

ABC News reports further on the list of global government officials on Saddam's bribe list: All of the contracts were awarded from late 1997 until the U.S.-led war in March 2003. They were conducted under the aegis of the United Nations' oil-for-food program, which was designed to allow Iraq to sell oil in exchange for humanitarian goods. The document was discovered several weeks ago in the files of the Iraqi Oil Ministry in Baghdad. According to a copy obtained by ABCNEWS, some 270 prominent individuals, political parties or corporations in 47 countries were on a list of those given Iraq oil contracts instantly worth millions of dollars. These bribes worked by assigning barrels of oil to people at a rate 50 cents below the market value as a commodity, which allowed the recipients to sell the oil to legitimate brokers for a a profit, without ever touching a barrel themselves....

Al-Qaeda: Fighting On

A message purportedly from al-Qaeda states that they are still valiantly hanging on in their struggle to remain deadly: Al-Qaeda vowed in its Thursday statement to continue fighting the Saudi government and its Western supporters, swearing to "take revenge on anyone who fights the faith and its people, or stands as a line of defence for the Crusader forces". ... The alleged al-Qaeda statement, a copy of which was emailed to The Associated Press today, also said government forces detained one of its members, Khaled al-Juwaiser al-Farraj, and that al-Farraj's father was wounded in a shootout with security forces, but that the rest of the group escaped. The Interior Ministry, said, however, that al-Farraj's father was killed - but not by security agents. This statement followed either (a) a deadly shootout with Saudi security forces, or (b) an ambush on them by al-Qaeda, depending on who's doing the talking. It...

January 31, 2004

Congress: No Evidence CIA Slanted Iraq Intelligence

Despite the shrill rhetoric emanating from the Democratic primaries and certain broadsheets, two Congressional investigations have concluded that no one pressured intelligence agencies to slant their data to support the Administration's casus belli: Congressional and CIA investigations into the prewar intelligence on Iraq's weapons and links to terrorism have found no evidence that CIA analysts colored their judgment because of perceived or actual political pressure from White House officials, according to intelligence officials and congressional officials from both parties. Richard J. Kerr, a former deputy CIA director who is leading the CIA's review of its prewar Iraq assessment, said an examination of the secret analytical work done by CIA analysts showed that it remained consistent over many years. "There was pressure and a lot of debate, and people should have a lot of debate, that's quite legitimate," Kerr said. "But the bottom line is, over a period of several years,"...

More Canceled Flights

Several international flights to the US have been canceled for the weekend: British Airways and Air France on Saturday announced the cancellation of seven flights to and from the United States because of security concerns. BA canceled four flights between Heathrow Airport and Washington on Sunday and Monday and one from Heathrow to Miami on Sunday. Air France canceled two Paris-to-Washington flights. There seems to be less information forthcoming on these cancellations than the ones over Christmas, and that's probably a good thing. The spectacular attention those received may have exposed intelligence assets and scared off the terrorists. Let's hope that security agencies have better luck this time around....

February 2, 2004

Blair, Bush Nominated for Nobel

Norwegian legislator Jan Simonsen has nominated George Bush and Tony Blair for the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts to remove Saddam Hussein: Even though the five-member Norwegian awards committee keeps the nomination list secret, those making the nominations often announce their candidate. Norwegian lawmaker Jan Simonsen has nominated Bush and Blair several years in a row. Simonsen wrote that by removing Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, they lessened the chance of a war. Look for this nomination to fail. Two years ago, the Nobel committee gave the award to Jimmy Carter for his work on the treaty with North Korea ... the one that allowed the Kim Jung-Il regime to arm itself with nuclear weapons, thanks to the toothless agreement that Carter championed. They also famously gave one to Yasser Arafat, the godfather of terrorism, for showing up in Oslo and not agreeing to much and eventually reneging on the...

Germany Repents?

Germany, whose Chancellor acted as though he was married to French President Jacques Chirac, now regrets its diplomatic breach with Britain and the US and will start distancing itself from French foreign policy: Germany is seeking to distance itself from France's tight embrace and realign itself more closely to Britain and America, senior German officials signalled yesterday. They said the row with Washington over Iraq had been "catastrophic" for Berlin and Chancellor Gerhard Schröder had become "a prisoner" of President Jacques Chirac's campaign to oppose the war to topple Saddam Hussein last year. After two years of standing so close to France that the two leaders literally stood in for one another at EU conferences, the Germans have belatedly discovered the world doesn't love the French. Now that the Chirac administration is buried in scandal and especially since Germany found out that French opposition to the war in Iraq had...

February 3, 2004

Deadly Ricin Found: New Terrorist Attack

Just in case anyone thought that the war on terror had ended, reality intruded overnight as the deadly poison ricin was found in the Senate complex: Following the discovery of the deadly toxin ricin in the mailroom of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, much of the Senate complex will be shut down Tuesday, the Senate Web site said. "The Capitol will be open for essential personnel only. All tours will be canceled until further notice. Senate office buildings will be closed today. This includes the Hart, Dirksen, and Russell Senate Office Buildings," according to a statement on the Web page. Tests on a white powdery substance found in the mailroom indicate the presence of ricin, U.S. Capitol Police Chief Terrance Gainer and Frist said late Monday. Frist said he considers the incident a "terrorist activity." Of eight tests conducted throughout the day, six were positive for the toxin, with a...

February 6, 2004

Walk Right In, Sit Right Down

In the middle of a winter punctuated with flight cancellations and delays due to heightened fears of terrorist attacks, the LAX security detail allowed a known felon to stroll past security and lodge himself onto an airplane without a ticket: Airport cameras captured it all: On a busy morning at Los Angeles International Airport last month, a convicted felon wearing a sweatshirt, sunglasses and gloves strolled unnoticed past two security checkpoints in Terminal 5 and walked onto a jumbo jet without a ticket. Kareem Thomas, a 19-year-old Decatur, Ga., resident on probation for burglary, was discovered hiding in an airplane restroom by passengers and was apprehended by police before takeoff. Thomas was unarmed and passed through the airport's metal detectors along with other travelers. But the ease with which he boarded the Jan. 15 Delta Airlines Flight 1972 to Atlanta — particularly at a time of heightened security at the...

February 7, 2004

America's "Victim" Enjoyed Guantanamo

The Telegraph will disappoint many America-haters in the UK and around the world tomorrow by publishing the account of a teenager who spent 14 months at the controversial detention center in Guantanamo, where critics accuse the US of cruel treatment of its inmates: An Afghan boy whose 14-month detention by US authorities as a terrorist suspect in Cuba prompted an outcry from human rights campaigners said yesterday that he enjoyed his time in the camp. Mohammed Ismail Agha, 15, who until last week was held at the US military base in Guantanamo Bay, said that he was treated very well and particularly enjoyed learning to speak English. Oh, the horror! But if your fragile psyche can handle it, Agha details the tortures he survived at Camp Delta: "At first I was unhappy . . . For two or three days [after I arrived in Cuba] I was confused but later...

February 9, 2004

The Arab League Discovers Humor

The Arab League, of all things, issued a report this morning critical of the US-led coalition's administration of Iraq -- on human-rights grounds: Violations of human rights and international law by U.S.-led forces in Iraq have embittered the populace, an Arab League report obtained Monday said. ... "It (the treatment of Iraqis) is not in conformity with relevant international legal rules or with human rights documents in general," said the report obtained by Reuters. The report quoted some Iraqis who were critical of Arab indifference toward their plight under the brutal rule of former President Saddam Hussein and said a change in methods by U.S.-led occupation forces could ease tensions. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black! Perhaps our response should be, "When you can announce these reports filled with your concern over human-rights abuses from the door of synagogues and Christian churches, then we will listen to your...

Best Damn War Analogy, Period

I have to hand it to Jon at QandO. In response to Joseph Wilson's tired assertion that Bush opened up an "unnecessary second front" on the war on terror by invading Iraq, Jon uses this analogy: You know, I once bought pesticide to deal with the fleas that had found my dog. I had two choices. 1: I could spray the entire can at the dog. or: 2: I could spray the dog...and other areas in which the fleas lived. I guess I should have chosen the first. Instead I opened an "unnecessary second front" on the fleas. Worked, too, but I'm sure that's just a coincidence. Joseph Wilson kills every last flea on his dog, every time he sprays him down. ......which is about once every two weeks, since all the fleas just go elsewhere for a while. Perhaps there's a parallel there, but let's not think about it...

February 10, 2004

We're Winning, Part 178a

The "resistance" in Afghanistan is running out of steam, according to the commander of NATO forces in the country: The armed resistance against U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan is dwindling despite claims by the al-Qaida terror network that it has launched a renewed campaign in the country, NATO's military commander said. U.S. Marine Gen. James L. Jones said there are fewer than 1,000 fighters of the ousted Taliban regime and their al-Qaida allies in Afghanistan. "The level of the threat ... is quite a bit lower than I had thought," Jones said late Monday as he returned from a one-day visit to Afghanistan. ... Coalition commanders believe "the opposition is running out of energy," Jones said. This is despite the winter snows that hamper Coalition patrols. The approval of the new Afghani constitution has created a new political situation in Afghanistan, one that will exclude the Taliban as more and more...

February 12, 2004

Powell: "You Don't Know What You're Talking About"

The normally even-tempered Secretary of State, Colin Powell, became angry at a Congressional hearing and scolded a Congressman and a staffer: Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, a retired four-star general known for his even temperament, paused yesterday during a congressional hearing to berate a Hill staffer for shaking his head as Powell offered a defense of his prewar statements on Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction. The public scolding came after Powell had already endured a number of attacks by Democrats on the administration's Iraq policy during an appearance before the House International Relations Committee. He had just snapped at a member of Congress who had casually declared President Bush "AWOL" from the Vietnam War. The staffer, who sat behind the panel members, was shaking his head at Powell's testimony, a rude gesture by any stretch of the imagination, and after grinding his teeth throughout the angry and accusatory...

Osama's Navy?

The British believe that al-Qaeda has up to 15 ships that they will use for terror attacks, possibly against Parliament, just off the Thames in London (via Drudge): A private memo sent to police chiefs by the Met's marine unit is headlined: Next Terror Attack Waterborne? Ship insurer Lloyd's of London is said to be helping MI6 and the CIA trace vessels bought by al-Qaeda from a Greek shipping magnate with links to bin Laden. The memo states shipping agents have been asked to help in the search. The report by the Met - which says it obtained its intelligence from maritime agencies - states: "Al-Qaeda has reportedly taken possession of 15 ships, forming what could be described as the first terrorist navy. The ships fly the flags of Yemen and Somalia where they are registered - and are capable of carrying lethal cargoes of chemicals or a dirty bomb."...

February 15, 2004

Score One for the Iraqi Police

The new Iraqi police force have captured their first important fugitive, the Four of Spades in the US deck of cards: Mohammed Zimam Abdul-Razaq -- the four of spades in the military's "deck of cards" of 55 most-wanted Iraqis -- was arrested at one of his homes in western Baghdad, Deputy Interior Minister Ahmed Kadhum Ibrahim told journalists. Abdul-Razaq sat next to the Iraqi official wearing a traditional black robe. Ibrahim said he did not resist arrest. ... While presenting Abdul-Razaq to reporters, Ibrahim appealed to the top Iraqi fugitive, Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, to surrender, promising he would be treated with dignity. Al-Douri is the former vice chairman of the ruling Revolutionary Command Council. This couldn't come at a better time, as the Iraqi police have weathered a series of attacks, culiminating in yesterday's daring raid on an Iraqi police jail that freed dozens of insurgents and killed over 20...

February 16, 2004

Terry Waite: Still Crazy After All These Years

One of the early direct victims of Islamofascist terror, Terry Waite, has returned to Beirut, where he was kidnapped and held for five years before being released in 1992. Unfortunately, his experiences and the passage of time has not dimmed the almost legendary naivete that caused Waite to become a hostage in the first place: Self-knowledge has never been, even his friends acknowledge, his greatest virtue. He went to Lebanon in 1987, the year he was kidnapped, as the envoy of the Archbishop of Canterbury after successfully negotiating the release of British hostages in Iran and Libya. At the time he naively believed, to the alarm of some colleagues in Lambeth Palace, that his status as church representative would keep him safe. The article in the Independent goes on to blame his association with Oliver North for the kidnapping by Islamic "militants", as the paper calls them. I recall when...

February 17, 2004

Arafat -- Keep The Graft Rolling

Yasser Arafat continues to defy efforts to reform the Palestinian Authority, now by blocking a basic reform intended on reducing the levels of corruption in Palestinian security forces: Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat is preventing his prime minister from carrying out a key financial reform, and the dispute is threatening to hold up much-needed foreign aid, Cabinet ministers said Tuesday. ... The argument between Arafat and Qureia broke out after the Palestinian Cabinet decided Saturday to pay members of the security forces through deposits to their bank accounts, Cabinet ministers said. Currently, security officers are given lump sums of cash and then distribute the money to their employees an invitation to corruption. Qureia needed the Cabinet decision ahead of a trip to European capitals this week, ministers said on condition of anonymity. Qureia knew European leaders would ask him about the issue and might condition further aid on the reform,...

February 18, 2004

NBC: Kerry Unwittingly Assisted Chinese Spy

Yesterday afternoon, NBC reported that John Kerry provided material assistance to Liu Chaoying [spelled differently throughout the article], an arms dealer and espionage agent for China, in exchange for campaign contributions: In 1996, Senator John Kerry was locked in a hard-fought and close reelection campaign with Massachusetts Governor William Weld. Kerry was the policy wonk, noted for his expertise in international crime, arms and drug dealing, and intelligence. ... [Johnny] Chung gave $10,000 to Kerry's campaign -- most of it illegally -- hosted a fund-raising party in Beverly Hills, and threw in an extra $10,000 to honor Kerry at a Democratic Senate Campaign Committee event. Kerry eventually returned all the Chung money. In return, Kerry opened a door for a friend of Chung: Liu Chaoying. So the man who claims he opposes special interests and claims he can't be bought certainly seems available for rent when necessary. While helping contributors...

February 19, 2004

After All That ...

After a highly-publicized effort to inject itself into the question of power transfer in Iraq, the UN has determined that the US was right all along and that direct elections will not be possible in the near future: U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan will endorse the U.S. position that direct elections cannot be held in Iraq before the United States hands over political power to Iraqis on June 30, senior U.N. officials said Wednesday. But Annan, scheduled to brief the Security Council and other U.N. members Thursday, will delay for at least another week his recommendations on the sensitive question of how to choose a provisional government, officials said. Annan's decision is a major boost for the Bush administration, which has struggled to address the demand of Iraq's leading cleric that direct elections be used to select an interim government, rather than the complex system of regional caucuses that the...

February 20, 2004

Israelis to Evacuate More Settlements

Israel's deputy Foreign Minister, Ehud Olmert, said that Israel is not only preparing to evacuate all Gaza Strip settlements but also a number of West Bank settlements as well: Israel will seek to retain major settlement blocs in the West Bank, but will dismantle Jewish settlements close to Palestinian towns and villages "wherever possible," the deputy prime minister said Friday. ... Olmert said that as part of a West Bank withdrawal, "the major settlement blocs have to stay under our control." "The Americans understand this ... the argument is over all those areas where the Jewish settlements are mixed in with the Palestinian population in a way that causes confrontation and damage to both sides," he said. It's difficult to determine whether this represents a reluctant acknowledgement of a difficult, if not impossible, tactical and political situation or a unilateral surrender to terrorism. Yasser Arafat has waged a war of...

Libya Able To Create Weapons-Grade Plutonium

Far from taking advantage of Bush's need for a PR win and surrendering a useless WMD program, the UN has discovered that Libya successfully manufactured small amounts of weapons-grade plutonium: Libya succeeded in making weapons-grade plutonium before announcing it would abandon its efforts to build a nuclear bomb, United Nations inspectors said yesterday. ... Libya's nuclear experiments included the separation of plutonium, albeit "in very small quantities", it said. Anyone doubting Libya's earlier intentions now? If we had not shown the fortitude necessary to chase Saddam into a hole in the ground -- and then drag him out of it -- Ghadafi would still deny the existence of his programs and wait the West out on sanctions. Only after we demonstrated that our passive security policy had passed unmourned into history did Ghadafi calculate his risk-to-benefit ratio and come clean with the West. Only after we showed that we finally...

February 21, 2004

Scott Ritter: Bribed?

Scott Ritter, the former weapons inspector who took on the Clinton Administration's lack of action against Iraq and then mysteriously started singing a different tune in 2002, may have had good reasons for his change of heart -- 400,000 of them, approximately, as Jon at QandO notes: MEMRI is reporting on the alleged documents revealing who was in the pay of Saddam Hussein. ... It's well-known that Iraq was actively subverting the Food-for-Oil sanctions by exporting oil to to tune of 200-400,000b/day to neighboring nations like Syria. However, if his end-arounds included political pay-offs, it will require diplomatic consequences....and possibly legal consequences. Case in point: Shaker Al-Khaffaji (7 million barrels) advanced $400,000 to Scott Ritter, former U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq. Ritter produced a documentary purporting to tell the true story of the weapons inspections, which in his telling were corrupted by sinister U.S. manipulation. [47] Again, let me state:...

February 23, 2004

Washington Times and UK Telegraph: We're Closing In

The UK Telegraph and the Washington Times report that Task Force 121 is on its way to Afghanistan to hunt for "high-value targets": Telegraph: The top-secret US commando team that spearheaded the capture of Saddam Hussein is heading for Afghanistan in the latest sign that the hunt for Osama bin Laden is coming to a head. Battle-hardened units from Task Force 121 are being shifted as intelligence reports increase on the possible whereabouts of the terrorist leader, according to an article in the Washington Times by a reporter known for his access to the special forces. Most of the "high-value targets" from Saddam's regime have been caught or killed, Pentagon officials told the paper. "Iraq has become more of a policing problem than a hunt for high-value Iraqis. Afghanistan is the place where 121 can do more." Times: The new task force to hunt bin Laden in the Afghanistan area...

February 24, 2004

Libya Backtracking on Lockerbie Responsibility

With all of the recent good news coming from Tripoli's cooperation in eliminating its WMD programs, it's a bit disappointing to see them retreating from the positions that allowed them entry to the West in the first place: Libya's prime minister, Shokri Ghanem, appeared to backtrack today over the country's admissions of responsibility for the murder of WPC Yvonne Fletcher and the Lockerbie bombing. In a switch from the more concilatory tone of the country's foreign minister earlier this month, Dr Ghanem said that the police officer's death was now "settled" and that Libya had paid compensation to the Lockerbie relatives to "buy peace" and an end to sanctions. "We thought it was easier for us to buy peace and this is why we agreed to compensation," he told the BBC Radio 4's Today programme. Last year, Libya had finally concluded a two-decade battle for compensation and justice for the...

February 26, 2004

Probably Not Eligible For Early Release

The Telegraph has an exclusive interview with a female Palestinian terrorist, a wanna-be suicide bomber who got caught by Israeli security forces before she detonated her explosives. To say she's not remorseful is an understatement: "Yes, I will do it again if I can," said Obeida Khalil, 27. "When I put the suicide explosives belt on I felt very happy, very content. I was angry when they caught me because I was not able to be a martyr. I wanted to be the first female martyr and to kill as many Israeli soldiers as possible. I chose the bus station because my brother blew himself up there." Khalil claimed that she became a suicide bomber to avenge the death of her fiance, who was killed by an Israeli helicopter attack earlier. However, it's not as though his death put that thought into her head, as she says in the very...

February 28, 2004

Iranians: Great Candidates for MoveOn.Org

The new hard-line Iranian government apparently wants to play a role in the Presidential election by emulating the global-conspiracy nuts at MoveOn.org and International Answer. Iranian state radio claims that the US and Pakistan captured Osama bin Laden "a long time ago," and is holding him secretly until the right moment for the Bush campaign: Pentagon and Pakistani officials on Saturday denied an Iranian state radio report that Osama bin Laden was captured in Pakistan's border region with Afghanistan "a long time ago." ... The report was carried by Iran radio's external Pashtun service, which is designed for listeners in Afghanistan and Pakistan where the language is widely spoken. Iran state radio's main news channel the Farsi-language service for Iranian listeners did not carry the bin Laden report. Iran state television also did not carry the report. ... The director of Iran radio's Pashtun service, Asheq Hossein, said...

March 1, 2004

Better Late Than Never

The Iraqi Governing Council has finally agreed on a transitional constitution, two days past an American deadline but with broad agreement on its contents: Besides a comprehensive bill of rights, including protections for free speech, religious expression, assembly and due process, it also spells out the executive branch. Under the terms of the document, Iraq will have a president with two deputies, a prime minister and a cabinet. ... The document "strikes a balance between the role of Islam and the bill of individual rights and democratic principles," the official said. It also contains a "goal" of having the Iraqi Parliament consist of at least 25% women, although this is not a quota. The documents attempts to establish individual rights as the basis of government, including freedom of religion, and aspires to be not only historic for Iraq but for the entire region, one official said. The new constitution still...

US, Pakistan Agree on Osama Hunt

Reports have surfaced claiming that Pakistan has finally agreed to allow US troops to operate on Pakistani soil in the upcoming Special Ops spring offensive on al Qaeda (via Drudge): Thousands of U.S. troops will be deployed in a tribal area of northwest Pakistan in return for Washington's support of President Pervez Musharraf's pardon of the Pakistani scientist who this month admitted leaking nuclear arms secrets to Iran, Libya and North Korea, investigative reporter Seymour Hersh wrote in the issue [of the New Yorker] that goes on sale on Monday. Musharraf came under fire earlier for his breathtaking pardon of the man responsible for nuclear proliferation to the "Axis of Evil" and seemingly everyone else. The Bush administration leveraged that into a sweeping deal which Musharraf publicly claimed he'd never allow. And without being able to freely operate on both sides of the border, we wouldn't be likely to get...

March 2, 2004

Politburo Diktat: The AWOL Media

The Commissar notes a story that has escaped attention from the ever-vigiliant mainstream media: Comrades, February has ended, and evil Amerikan forces lost 23 soldiers in Iraq. To date, MiniTruth has employed appropriate full media blackout on this development. ... As far as Commissar has been able to Google, there are no reports of February casualties in this context. Therefore, Commissar will award new dacha, Hero of Soviet Union medal, and bolshoi linkage to any comrade identifying traitorous, counter-revolutionary mention of low February casualties in any mainstream MiniTruth media. Full blackout, comrades; enemy bombers overhead! Jay Reding also notes that this has received no media coverage whatsoever. Why not? When we sustained a (relatively) high rate of casualties in November, it's all we heard about from the mainstream news media. Gee ... you don't suppose they've got an agenda, do you?? Try Googling it yourself, or use the search engines...

March 5, 2004

Libya: 44,000 Pounds of Mustard Gas

George Bush's alliance with Tony Blair in using force to unseat Saddam Hussein continued to bear fruit as Libya revealed the extent of their chemical weapons programs at the Hague earlier today: Libya acknowledged stockpiling 44,000 pounds of mustard gas and disclosed the location of a production plant in a declaration submitted Friday to the world's chemical weapons watchdog. Libyan Col. Mohamed Abu Al Huda handed over 14 file cartons disclosing Libya's chemical weapons programs to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, said general director Rogelio Pfirter. ... Libya also declared thousands of tons of precursors that could be used to make sarin nerve gas, and two storage facilities, Pfirter said. The production and storage facilities were near Tripoli and in the south of the country, Pfirter said. Even Moammar Gaddafi acknowledges that the military action by the Anglo-American Coalition, which included support from over thirty other nations,...

Why We Can't Trust the French

The Italians are learning how trustworthy the French are as allies against terrorism: The Left-wing intelligentsia of Paris have manned the barricades to defend an Italian terrorist turned novelist who is fighting extradition to serve a sentence for political killings in the late 1970s. Cesare Battisti, 49, was convicted by a Milan court in absentia in 1988 of four murders, several attempted murders and robberies while leader of a group called the Armed Proletarians for Communism. ... The terrorist's lawyers claim that the refusal is a legal precedent which still protects their client. The government's lawyers say the decision was political rather than legal and is therefore reversible. Just as when the French decided to block the extradition of Ira Einhorn, the hippie murderer, the French literati are more interested in giving aid and comfort to a murder and a terrorist than in cooperating with their Italian neighbors and supposed...

March 8, 2004

Better Late Than Never

Iraq took another step in its long journey to freedom with the signing of its new, interim constitution -- a signing delayed by a demonstration of power by a leading Shi'ite cleric: Members of Iraq's Governing Council signed a landmark interim constitution Monday after resolving a political impasse sparked by objections from the country's most powerful cleric. The signing was a key step in U.S. plans to hand over power to the Iraqis by July 1. ... The charter which includes a 13-article bill of rights, enshrines Islam as one of the bases of law and outlines the shape of a parliament and presidency as well as a federal structure for the country. It will remain in effect until a permanent constitution is approved by a national referendum planned for late 2005. Originally scheduled to be signed last Friday, the Shi'ite members of Iraq's Governing Council suddenly boycotted at...

March 9, 2004

Tenet Explains It Again, Uses Smaller Words This Time

George Tenet appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee to explain to them -- again -- that the intelligence on Iraq was the same that the Senate had seen when they voted for an official policy of regime change in 1998, and that Bush just happened to have the stones that the previous administration and the nation lacked before 9/11. I'd go into detail, but Jon at QandO deals with it succinctly and humorously. Make sure you read everything Jon and McQ are writing at QandO while you're there -- definitely one of the outstanding blogs, especially for those with libertarian views or leanings....

March 11, 2004

Pray for Spain

The Spaniards were brutally attacked this afternoon by terrorists, using coordinated bombings that occurred almost simultaneously, that has left almost 200 people dead and more than 1,400 injured: Spanish government officials pinned the blame on the Basque separatist group ETA for Thursday's blasts in Madrid that killed at least 192 people, but investigators were also exploring a lead with Arabic and Islamic links. The brazen morning rush-hour terror strikes at city train stations also wounded at least 1,400. It's far too early to know who committed these cowardly attacks and why, but thus far ETA has denied responsibility when it normally claims credit, and an al-Qaeda-affiliated group has announced that they committed the bombings: A U.S. official cautioned it was "still too early to say" whether the bombings were the work of ETA or other terror groups, including al Qaeda. Referring to a statement claiming responsibility and attributed to a...

Reviewing al-Qaeda's Claim of Responsibility

While we don't know for sure whether the claim of responsibility from al-Qaeda for today's bombing in Spain is genuine or a sick attempt at PR, the statement itself is useful for focusing us on the true nature of our enemies: The five-page e-mail claim, signed by the shadowy Brigade of Abu Hafs al-Masri, was received at the paper's London offices. It said the brigade's "death squad" had penetrated "one of the pillars of the crusade alliance, Spain," and carried out what it called Operation Death Trains. "This is part of settling old accounts with Spain, the crusader, and America's ally in its war against Islam," the claim said. ... "When we attacked the Italian troops in Nasiriyah and sent you and America's agents an ultimatum to withdraw from the anti-Islam alliance, you did not understand the the message. Now we have made it clear and hope that this time...

March 12, 2004

Krauthammer Pounds Le Monde Editor

In today's Washington Post, Charles Krauthammer fisks a Wall Street Journal editorial by Jean-Marie Colombani, the editor of the French magazine Le Monde: Colombani glories in Europe's post-Sept. 11 "solidarity" with America: "Let us remember here the involvement of French and German soldiers, among other European nationalities, in the operations launched in Afghanistan to . . . free the Afghans." Come again? The French arrived in Mazar-e Sharif after it fell, or as military analyst Jay Leno put it, "to serve as advisers to the Taliban on how to surrender properly." Afghanistan was liberated by America acting practically unilaterally, with an even smaller coalition than it had in Iraq -- Britain and Australia, with the rest of the world holding America's coat. But then came Iraq. "The problem was not so much the war itself, but the fact that it was launched without U.N. approval," Colombani explains. Rubbish. The Kosovo...

The Nobility of the Insurgency

Somewhat lost in the shuffle of the news from Spain is this story from the New York Times, which demonstrates the depravity of the former Ba'athists who terrorize the new Iraq: A day after two American civilians and their Iraqi translator were killed in a roadside ambush, two Iraqi washerwomen working for American forces were attacked by masked gunmen and shot to death, police officials said Thursday. Maj. Riyadh Kadhem Jawad of the Iraqi police said the women, who cleaned and ironed clothes for American soldiers in the southern city of Basra, were driving home Wednesday night in a taxi when four gunmen surrounded their car, ordered the taxi driver out and then shot the women. The Ba'athists deliberately targeted the women, eschewing the car that the driver offered to the gunmen thinking they were robbing him. Each woman was shot five times, or as the driver put it, "five...

March 13, 2004

Al-Qaeda Claims Responsibility for Madrid Bombings

Reuters reports that Spanish authorities have found a videotape of a Moroccan spokesman for al-Qaeda, taking responsibility for the Madrid rail bombings, according to the Spanish Interior Minister: "It's a claim made by a man in Arabic with a Moroccan accent. He makes the declaration in the name of someone who says he is the military spokesman of al-Qaida in Europe," he told reporters. This story is breaking just now, but it seems to confirm what we suspected all along....

March 14, 2004

UN Acknowledges Oil-For-Food Scandal, Finally

The UN has belatedly acknowledged the rampant corruption and abject failure of its administration of the Iraq oil-for-food program, finally agreeing to investigate more than six weeks after the list of payoffs from Saddam Hussein was published: The United Nations has bowed to international pressure to investigate allegations of corruption surrounding its oil-for-food programme, under which Iraqi oil was sold on behalf of Saddam Hussein's regime. The move follows claims that UN officials were caught up in a reward system set up by Saddam, which apparently granted proceeds from the sale of million of barrels of oil to friendly politicians, officials and businessmen around the world. And why this sudden desire to set things straight? The new Iraqi government seems intent on finding where the money went, and have hired some big guns to hunt it down -- which may wind up embarassing more than the people currently on the...

Power Line Says It All ...

... in two posts this afternoon. Rather than doing an analysis on my own and elliptically winding up at the same place, I'll just refer you to these two excellent pieces by the Rocket Man First, my colleague dissects the news from Spain that shows the Socialists making enormous gains in today's elections, possibly winning a majority over the Conservatives, probably as a result of the Madrid bombings. Rocket Man expresses his disappointment in the Spaniard's failure to rise to the occasion, instead allowing al-Qaeda the victory they intended -- and wonders whether Americans may wind up doing the exact same thing: News reports are conflicting; some exit polls show the Socialists winning, others show Aznar's Popular Party suffering major losses, but clinging to a slight majority. Whatever the result turns out to be, it seems that al Qaeda's goal of influencing the Spanish election in favor of the Socialist...

New Afghan Offensive Gets Results

The Telegraph reports in tomorrow's edition that the new US offensive on al-Qaeda and Taliban holdouts in Afghanistan has already reaped rewards -- three top Taliban commanders have been taken out of the action as well as a dozen Taliban fighters, the latter in the most permanent way possible: Three Taliban commanders have been arrested and 12 of the movement's fighters killed as the American military launched an operation in southern Afghanistan aimed at capturing militants, including Osama bin Laden. The leaders were captured in Zabul, a lawless province in the south where remnants of the ousted regime are fighting for control by bribing and intimidating the local population. Spring is coming to the mountains of Afghanistan -- and so are the US armed forces....

March 15, 2004

Spain Bugs Out

In what can very accurately be termed the first surrender in the war on terror, the new Spanish government has explicitly stated that Spain will withdraw from the anti-terror Coalition and will immediately withdraw its troops from Iraq as soon as it takes office: Pulling a major ally from the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq, Spain's prime minister-elect will withdraw Spanish troops from Iraq in the coming months, a Socialist Party spokesman said. ... "Today, the Spanish people have spoken, and they said they want a government of change," he said in a victory speech. The surprise victor in national elections vowed that fighting terrorism would be his first priority as he sets about creating an administration "that will work for peace." As if al-Qaeda is interested in "peace", unless by peace you mean the reconquest of Andalusia. Looks like they're off to a great start. It's not too far off...

Violets Are Blue, Roses Are Red, You Were A Monster and Now You're Dead

US officials announced the death of senior al-Qaeda leader Kahlid Ali Hajj, also known as "The Poet", in a shootout in Saudi Arabia: A senior al Qaeda leader -- described as the group's "chief of operations in the Arabian Peninsula" -- was killed in a shootout in Saudi Arabia, U.S. officials told CNN on Monday. A U.S. counterterrorism official called the death "very significant, and a major blow to al Qaeda." The man was identified as Abu Hazim al-Sha'ir, also known as Kahlid Ali Hajj. He was also nicknamed "the poet," officials said. "This was a very significant senior al Qaeda figure in Saudi Arabia," the counterterrorism official said. So much of this war goes on behind the scenes, it often appears that nothing is happening, leading to charges of complacency or distraction, especially in regard to Iraq. People tend to forget that the fighting continues on many fronts, some...

Ripples of Madrid Felt Down Under

The impact of the Madrid bombings are being felt all throughout the Coalition. Now Australia has gotten a case of the jitters, and the Aussie leftists are questioning John Howard's support of the US in the war on terror following an intelligence report stating that Australia is at risk because of their foreign policy: A senior FBI counter-terrorism expert today confirmed that a terrorist attack on Australia was inevitable, and the nation was clearly more of a target because of its alliance to the US. The assessment of the FBI's executive assistant director of counter terrorism John Pistole backs comments by Australian Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty that, if Islamic extremists were behind the Madrid bombings, it was likely because of Spain's pro-US position on Iraq. Howard stirred up a hornet's nest by denying the specific attraction of al-Qaeda to US allies in response to Keelty's initial assertion of terrorist...

March 16, 2004

A Tale of Two Editorials

This morning, I read two editorials, one from the local Star-Tribune and the other from the Washington Post, the former demonstrating the Left's lack of coherence, logic, and vision on the war on terror, and the latter which gets it right. The Strib manages to encapsulate the effort on the Left that I predicted last night -- to use the Madrid bombing as an excuse to retreat from the war and to blame the Bush administration for the bombing by insinuation: But the Spanish -- along with most other peoples of the world -- never did believe that invading Iraq was a necessary or constructive action. Only 1 in 10 supported their government's decision to join with the United States and Britain in carrying out the invasion. Al-Qaida or someone operating in its name has now driven a large wedge into that seam of dissension. Full of rage, bitterness and...

March 17, 2004

Dean Acknowledges Al-Qaeda/Iraq Connection

... or at least that's what can be taken from Howard Dean's comments during a conference call defending his former adversary in the primaries, John Kerry. Dean made these remarks: "The president was the one who dragged our troops to Iraq, which apparently has been a factor in the death of 200 Spaniards over the weekend." After thinking about the implications of blaming George Bush for a bombing that killed 200 people, the ever-classy Dean later issued a "clarification", a uniquely Democratic mechanism in which a candidate retracts their stupidity while trying to make it sound like genius: "Let me be clear, there is no justification for terrorism. Today I was simply repeating what those who have claimed responsibility for the bombings in Spain said was the reason they carried out that despicable act." Dean also offered the excuse that he was merely repeating what was said on al-Qaeda's tape,...

March 18, 2004

Pakistanis Have "High-Value" AQ Target Surrounded

CNN reports that the Pakistani Army has surrounded a "high-value" al-Qaeda target being protected by 200 or more AQ fighters, and quotes sources that the target may be #2 man Ayman al-Zawahiri: Pakistani forces have surrounded what may be a "high-value" al Qaeda target in Pakistan near the border with Afghanistan, President Pervez Musharraf told CNN. "We feel that there may be a high-value target," Musharraf told CNN. "I can't say who." Two Pakistani government sources told CNN that intelligence indicates the surrounded figure is Ayman al-Zawahiri, al Qaeda's number two leader. This is the second significant engagement for the Pakistanis this week; Monday's action resulted in 24 AQ fighters dead and another 18 captured. Presumably, the interrogation of those prisoners had some influence on today's battle. More later ... (via Citizen Smash)...

March 19, 2004

Arabs Blame Powell for Arab Terrorism

In a surreal moment earlier today, Arab journalists walked out of a Baghdad press conference with Secretary of State Colin Powell to protest the death of two Iraqi reporters and the lack of security in Iraq: One Arab journalist stood up as soon as Powell walked into the room at the Baghdad convention center and read a statement saying that after one year of "U.S. occupation," Americans cannot provide security in Iraq. "We demand an open investigation in front of the mass media," the Arab journalist said. "We also demand that security be guaranteed to journalists" working in Iraq, he said. Seconds later, more than 20 journalists walked out of the room. Thus continueth the process by which those who try to provide security are continually blamed for the actions of those who defy it. Does it strike anyone else as ridiculous to blame the policeman for the burglar, especially...

March 20, 2004

Tory Leader Strongly Supports Blair on Terror

Today's Telegraph notes the strong bipartisan support for the UK's approach on the war on terror. Michael Howard, the Conservative Party leader, had been suspected of trying to exploit Tony Blair's vulnerability on Iraq for political gain, but in a speech to News Corporation executives in Cancun, Howard not only fully supported Blair but also blasted the Spanish Socialists for "moral cowardice": Michael Howard accused the new Spanish government of "moral cowardice" in the face of Islamist terrorism last night as he vowed to match Tony Blair's tough line against the threat of al-Qa'eda. ... "Countries cannot insulate themselves from terrorist attack by opting out of the war on terror," he said. "We cannot buy ourselves immunity by changing our foreign policy. Apart from the moral cowardice of that position, it can never work in practice." In a speech to executives of Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation in Cancun, Mr Howard...

Jack Straw to Spain: No Guts, No Glory

In another article in today's London Telegraph, Jack Straw lays a smackdown on Spain equal to that of Michael Howard, noting that the Brits are "made of sterner stuff": Mr Straw said the reason why many Spaniards changed their vote to the anti-war Socialists in last weekend's election was unclear. Were there to be a terrorist attack here, he said, the British electorate would not be "blackmailed" by al-Qa'eda. "They are made of sterner stuff than that." Translation, as provided by the ever-excellent Strange Women Lying in Ponds: "Mr. Straw says that the Brits have more cojones than you." Mr. Straw, Britain's Foreign Secretary, also had some harsh words for the previous American administration, noting that intelligence had been gathered at the time of the first World Trade Center attack that al-Qaeda had been involved and were planning on continuing their campaign against America and the West. Straw insists that...

March 21, 2004

Why The Law-Enforcement Approach Doesn't Work

The AP reports on the legal front of the war on terror -- and the news is not looking good: The post-Sept. 11 war against terrorism is suffering as much in the courts as in the streets with several legal setbacks involving suspected 20 members and other groups around the world. The biggest reversal came in Germany when a court threw out the only conviction of a Sept. 11 suspect. But other cases have been hindered, too, including against a militant Indonesian cleric and Zacarias Moussaoui, the only alleged Sept. 11 conspirator charged in the United States. The U.S. reluctance to let witnesses in custody testify and the sheer complexity of cross-border investigations are mostly to blame. The article goes on to define the lunacy of treating al-Qaeda terrorists as defendants in civilian courts. In order to defeat al-Qaeda, Western nations need to stop the terrorists before they strike --...

The High-Water Mark for Islamists?

Islamists suffered an unexpected setback in Malaysia, where they wound up on the wrong end of an electoral landslide that put moderates firmly in control of the world's largest Muslim nation: Malaysia's ruling moderates have won an unexpected landslide victory over the fundamentalist Islamic opposition in Sunday's elections. The results are being seen as a personal endorsement for Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and a setback for Islamic hardliners. Voters were choosing 219 members of paliament and 505 state assembly members. Abdullah's National Party has so far taken almost 90 percent of parliament's seats giving the prime minister a mandate for change. Abdullah, who took over from longtime leader Mahathir Mohamad in October, was always expected to win, but the margin was a surprise. While we hear the worries on the left that George Bush is radicalizing Muslims around the world, we're seeing the opposite: Iran negotiating compliance on non-proliferation,...

Sheik Yassin Killed in Gaza

Israeli military forces killed Sheik Ahmed Yassin, the "spiritual leader" of the Hamas terrorist group, in a raid on his Gaza City neighborhood: Witnesses said Israeli helicopters fired three missiles at Yassin and two bodyguards as they left the mosque, killing them instantly. Hamas officials confirmed that he had been killed. Yussef Haddad, 35, a taxi driver, said he saw the missiles hit and kill Yassin and the bodyguards. "Their bodies were shattered," he said. Yassin was by far the most senior Palestinian militant killed in more than three years of Israeli-Palestinian fighting. Predictably, hundreds of Palestinians called for revenge. But here's the problem -- over 75% already support the indiscriminate killing of Israeli citizens that this "spiritual" leader directed, so calling for revenge is nothing but a redundancy. The Israelis literally have nothing to lose anymore by targeting senior terrorist leadership, since none of them have ever given any...

March 22, 2004

Iraqi Militias to Disband

The Anglo-American led Coalition administration in Baghdad is close to reaching a deal to disarm two of the largest Iraq militias, absorbing them into a centrally-controlled security apparatus and defusing one of the biggest obstacles to domestic stability: Leaders of Iraq's two largest militias have provisionally agreed to dissolve their forces, according to senior U.S. and Iraqi officials. The move is a major boost to a U.S. campaign to prevent civil war by eliminating armed groups before sovereignty is handed over to an interim Iraqi government on June 30, the officials said. Members of the two forces -- the Shiite Muslim Badr Organization and the Kurdish pesh merga -- will be offered a chance to work in Iraq's new security services or claim substantial retirement benefits as incentives to disarm and disband. Members of smaller militias will also be allowed to apply for positions with the new security services, but...

Bummer of a Birthmark, Yasser

Now that Israel has signaled to the Palestinians that it's tired of negotiating with people who want nothing less than their extermination by executing the leader of Hamas, another leader in the Palestinian Authority has realized that he might be next: The missile strike that killed Yassin may have shaken Arafat in more ways than one. The killing sparked huge demonstrations throughout the West Bank and Gaza, showing just how formidable a rival Hamas has become to Arafat's Palestinian Authority. ... After Yassin's killing, Arafat expressed concern he, too, might be targeted. "Arafat feels he is threatened, and we feel he's threatened because when they target Sheik Yassin, they are not far from Arafat," said Palestinian Communications Minister Azzam Ahmed. Well, the reason he may be targeted is that Ahmed is more correct than I suspect he wants to be: Arafat is little different from Yassin in his terrorist tactics....

March 23, 2004

Israel Signals The End of One-Sided Negotiations

Israel has clearly signaled its refusal to take part in any more meaningless negotiations, announcing that it intends to kill the leadership of any organization that targets its citizens, including the Palestinian Authority: With tension between Israelis and Palestinians at intense levels following the assassination of Hamas founder Sheik Ahmed Yassin (search), an Israeli security official on Tuesday said they will continue the targeted killings of the entire Hamas leadership without waiting for the terror group to strike again. ... Israel's army chief also suggested Tuesday that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah could eventually be assassinated by Israel. "I think that their (Arafat's and Nasrallah's) responses yesterday show that they understand that it is nearing them," Yaalon said. "In the long term, I hope that this will be a sign to all those who choose to hurt us that this will be their end," Yaalon said....

Telegraph Can't See Past the Wheelchair

A foolish and ignorant editorial in the normally sensible London Telegraph had me seeing red, and led to a sharp exchange at NRO's The Corner, where they're having trouble analogizing Sheik Yassin. The Corner's Andrew Stuttaford posted this quote with the admonition that the US needed to be saying the same thing: Whatever Yassin's death was meant to achieve, its symbolism is disastrous for Israel. Did Mr Sharon and his advisers consider how the spectacle of helicopter gunships rocketing an old man in a wheelchair outside his mosque would appear to the world? Did they intend to turn this merchant of death into a victim - the Palestinian equivalent of Leon Klinghoffer? Of course, this equation of Yassin with Klinghoffer is nothing less than repulsive. Just to remind everyone, Leon Klinghoffer was executed by Palestinian terrorists (aligned with Yassin, if not working directly with him) in the 1980s while taking...

Just For The Record

I know that this has been commented on in the blogosphere, but I feel the need to make it clear here as well. There seems to be a lot of blather from the Left about how Bush somehow didn't do enough in eight months to eliminate al-Qaeda; Richard Clarke claims that Bush should have attacked al-Qaeda in Afghanistan prior to 9/11 to prevent AQ terrorism from reaching American soil. However, when Bush took action against Saddam's Iraq -- who, after all, tried to assassinate a former President, was involved in the first World Trade Center bombing, had been shooting at our aircraft in the no-fly zone, and was harboring Abu Abbas, among others -- in order to make sure Saddam couldn't perpetrate an act of terrorism against the US, the Left has done nothing but scream at him ever since. Hmmm. Also, as a somewhat related note, do you notice...

How We Will Win in the Middle East

Tomorrow's New York Times analyzes the Kurdish uprising in Syria that has spread over the past few weeks, and determines that the cause of the unrest originates with the Iraqi Kurds -- and their newfound freedoms in a liberated Iraq: Kurdish Syrians, 2 million of Syria's 17 million people, say that watching rights for Kurds being enshrined in a new if temporary constitution next door in Iraq finally pushed them to take to the streets to demand greater recognition. In their wake is a toll of blackened government buildings, schools, grain silos and vehicles across a remote swath of the north. "What happened did not come out of a void," says Bishar Ahmed, a 30-year-old Kurd whose cramped stationery shop sits right next to a cluster of blackened buildings in Malikiya. "The pressure has been building for nearly 50 years. They consider us foreigners; we have no rights as citizens."...

March 24, 2004

Surprise! The Appeasers Aren't Safe, Either

Germany learned a lesson last night about the fate of all appeasers, and fortunately for them may have learned it the easy way -- this time: German President Johannes Rau canceled a trip to Djibouti Tuesday after receiving threats that Islamic terrorists were planning to try and assassinate him, his office said. Rau had planned on wrapping up a three-nation African tour in the tiny country on the Horn of Africa on Wednesday, where he was to meet with German naval troops patrolling the Indian Ocean coast as part of the U.S.-led war on terror. Germany, of course, offered up a very public Nein! when asked to support the Anglo-American proposal to topple Saddam Hussein for its twelve-year nose-thumbing of UNSC demands for compliance to 1991 cease-fire terms. Gerhard Schroeder hitched his wagon to Jacques Chirac and Dominique de Villepin in joining the Axis of Weasels, although Germany never went...

Bush Clarifies Position on Yassin, Israel

George Bush clarified his position on Israel after a press release from the White House left some doubt as to the administration's position on the fate of terrorists: President Bush yesterday defended Israel's "right to defend herself from terror," one day after a spokesman said the administration was "deeply troubled" by the assassination of Sheik Ahmed Yassin and concerned it could derail efforts to jump-start the peace process. Bush made his remarks to reporters shortly before the U.N. Security Council began a debate on the Israeli action and as a group of Israeli officials met with White House officials to discuss Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plan to unilaterally separate from the Palestinians. Bush announced that next week a team of senior U.S. officials will likely make their third trip to Israel in two months to continue discussions on the Sharon plan. What peace process? You cannot have a peace...

Reason: Administration Critics On Iraq Missing The Point

Michael Young, the opinion editor of the Daily Star in Lebanon, published a thoughtful column on the debate over Iraq in Reason today, reminding his readers about the overall strategy of Bush's approach to terror and why Iraq is central to its success: The last pillar, however, was the most interesting, and went to the heart of the strategy adopted by Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, Cheney, and, ultimately, Bush. By intervening in the relationship between the brutish Iraqi regime and its long-suffering subjects, the US adopted a policy of enforced democratization. As far as the Bush administration was concerned, a democratic Iraq at the heart of the Arab world could become a liberal beacon in the region, prompting demands for openness and real reform inside neighboring states. Ridiculous you say? The Syrian regime, faced in the past two weeks with protests by individuals seeking greater freedom and a revolt by disgruntled Kurds,...

March 25, 2004

Maybe The Wrong Kerr(e)y Is Running For President

The 9/11 Commission has been mostly a dog-and-pony show for venting a lot of rage and frustration and for generating a lot of partisan blame-throwing for supposed security lapses that led to the deaths of 3,000 Americans in the worst attack on American soil ever. It's one of those political exercises that you know is obligatory, under the circumstances of its time, but the public aspect of it will only serve to reward grandstanding and the press that covers it. A great example of this is the griping by members of the commission and the press about NSA Director Condoleezza Rice's insistence on testifying in private. If the point of this process is for the panel to make a determination of how we can avoid another 9/11, then private testimony from someone who is actively pursuing terrorists shouldn't keep the commission from doing its job. But when commissioners like former...

Now the Carrot

Tony Blair has taken the lead in working the diplomacy front of the war on terror by taking a politically risky trip to Libya and welcoming Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi back into the international fold: Tony Blair has shaken hands and is the middle of his controversial meeting with Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. Thursday's Tripoli talks follows Libya's decision last December to renounce weapons of mass destruction. Mr Blair's visit has been criticised by some politicians and received a mixed response from relatives of the victims of the Lockerbie bombing. No doubt, many issues separate Libya from the West, both specific (the Fletcher murder case) and general (Libya's human-rights record). However, if we are to convince rogue states like Libya to cough up their WMDs and to fight terrorism, the West has to provide some positive incentives for that transition. Libya also demonstrates that the West doesn't have imperial ambitions...

Rich Lowry Dissects Richard Clarke

Rich Lowry, in today's New York Post, takes apart Richard Clarke and outlines why Clarke has sacrificed his credibility for thirty pieces of silver (via Instapundit): DEAN Acheson famously titled his memoir of his years as secretary of state after World War II "Present at the Creation." Anyone close to Richard Clarke these last few days could write a memoir called "Present at the Self-Immolation." Rarely has a former public servant with such a sterling reputation shot it all away so quickly. ... For evidence of this, look no further than Clarke's August 2002 briefing for reporters while he was still at the National Security Council. ... In his 2002 briefing, Clarke said that the Bush administration decided in "mid-January" 2001 to continue with existing Clinton policy while deciding whether or not to pursue more aggressive ideas that had been rejected throughout the Clinton administration. Nowhere does this appear in...

We Keep Them Running

US and Afghan officials told the press today that the new spring offensive in the mountainous border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan -- which isn't even fully underway yet -- has impacted al-Qaeda's ability to mount their own offensive and has forced them into spending their time on the run: Al-Qaida and Taliban fighters, increasingly pursued by American and Pakistani forces, are on the run or hunkering down rather than mounting a threatened spring offensive of their own, U.S. and Afghan officials say. ... "We're doing a great deal to disrupt operations," the spokesman, Lt. Col. Bryan Hilferty, said in Kabul. "The absence of violence against the Afghan people generally shows how well we're doing." With spring "we would expect stepped-up activities against the Afghan people and aid agencies and that's one of the things Mountain Storm is designed to prevent," Hilferty said. Spokesmen for the Taliban militia, the...

March 26, 2004

Clarke's Story Contines to Crumble

Richard Clarke's testimony to the 9/11 Commission and his new book continues to be contradicted by stubborn facts, this time in today's Boston Globe: FBI officials vehemently denied yesterday recent assertions by former White House terrorism czar Richard A. Clarke that the FBI learned in December 1999 that terrorists had been slipping into Boston on liquefied natural gas tankers from Algeria, yet failed to notify local authorities. We did thoroughly investigate that LNG tanker situation and came to the conclusion they were not being used to transport terrorists into our country, said Kenneth Kaiser, the special agentin-charge of the FBIs Boston office. We didnt brief the mayor that there was an Al Qaeda cell here, because there wasnt one. According to Kaiser, the FBI was investigating the thwarted 1999 millennium plot to blow up Los Angeles International Airport when it learned that several people being questioned in Boston had entered...

March 28, 2004

Syria May Be Getting the Message Now

The Australian reports today that Syria, long a haven for Islamic terrorists and a sister dictatorship to Saddam's own Ba'ath regime in Iraq, has approached the Australian government to intercede on its behalf to improve its relations with the US (via Instapundit): SYRIA has appealed to Australia to use its close ties with Washington to help the Arab nation shake off its reputation as a terrorist haven and repair its relations with the US. Secret talks between the two nations have been under way for months but have become more urgent as rogue nations reconsider their role in allowing terrorists to thrive, in light of the US determination to take pre-emptive military action. ... Syria's Melbourne-based honorary consul, Antonios Zyrabi, confirmed to The Weekend Australian last night that Syria wanted Australia to help it come in from the diplomatic cold. As I noted earlier, Syria has been rocked in recent...

March 29, 2004

UN Shifts Blame on Baghdad Bombing in August

The UN finally released its official report on the August bombing of the Baghdad UN headquarters, and Kofi Annan has cashiered the chief security specialist and reprimanded two others: The UN secretary general has asked for security coordinator Tun Myat to quit after a scathing report on last year's bomb attack on the UN's HQ in Baghdad. But Kofi Annan refused an offer to resign from his deputy Louise Frechette, his spokesman Fred Eckhard told reporters at the United Nations. ... The report suggests that UN officials failed to ask searching questions before deciding to return UN staff to Baghdad, under heavy international pressure. The report was particularly critical of two UN officials in Baghdad, accusing them of "a dereliction of duty" and "a lethargy that is bordering on gross negligence" for failing to shield the office windows with blast-resistant film. The report also blamed the deceased special envoy Sergio...

Al-Qaeda Intelligence Chief Dead?

Pakistan's recent military offensive may have been more successful than first thought -- according to radio intercepts, their intelligence chief, a mysterious man known only as Abdullah, may have been killed: The radio transmissions disclosed that a man named Abdullah had been killed and that the death caused a great deal of distress among the al-Qaida forces, a Pakistani intelligence official said on condition of anonymity. "He was a very important person for al-Qaida," the official said. He added that interrogations of suspected al-Qaida members led the Pakistanis to believe that Abdullah was the group's top intelligence official. US intelligence officials confirmed that an Abdullah was indeed considered to be the top intelligence official, but they are careful to remain noncommittal on whether the Abdullah reportedly killed is the same man. If so, the death combined with the dispersal of what remained of the AQ brigade that the Pakistanis attacked...

March 30, 2004

Brits, Filipinos Score Victories Against Terrorism

Twelve terrorists are in custody in the UK and the Phillipines today as major terrorist operations have been disrupted. In the Phillipines, four Abu Sayyaf Islamic terrorists were arrested and eighty pounds of explosives confiscated: The Philippine president, Gloria Arroyo, today said that a terrorist attack on the scale of the Madrid bombings had been averted with the arrest of four Abu Sayyaf members and the seizure of 36kg (80lb) of explosives. The suspects, who allegedly trained with Jemaah Islamiyah, south-east Asia's al-Qaida-linked terrorist network, had planned to bomb trains and shopping malls in Manila, Ms Arroyo said. ... One of the arrested men, Redendo Cain Dellosa, had claimed responsibility for a February 27 explosion on a passenger ferry in which more than 100 people were killed, Ms Arroyo added, although no official conclusion about the cause of the blast had yet been reached. Dellosa is said to have trained...

Did Clarke's Team Keep the FBI In The Dark?

Dueling statements by members of former counterterrorism "czar" Richard Clarke's team andthe FBI leave the impression that they didn't tell the FBI everything that they needed to know about terrorist activities in the US, calling into question Clarke's contention that the FBI failed to aggressively pursue terrorism: The nation's former deputy counterterrorism czar said yesterday that Al Qaeda operatives trained in Afghanistan came through Boston Harbor on liquid natural gas tankers from Algeria and that officials considered Boston a "logistical hub" for the terror network's activities in New England before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. "The LNG tanker was an underground railroad for these guys to come into the country illegally," he said. "Were a majority just looking to come to the US and start over again? I think that's a safe bet. What we don't know is what percentage had other motives." Cressey's description of what counterterrorism officials...

QandO Review of 9/11 Commission

My laptop has gone in for repairs, so I'm not able to comment too much on the news this morning -- or even receive e-mail, for that matter. While I'm working on that issue, please make sure you take a look at QandO today on the 9/11 Commission and its reports. McQ is all over the data contained in the reports, pointing out the fallacy of Clintonian prioritization of terrorism, especially in regards Osama and the Taliban. He's done some eye-opening work. Don't forget that the Captain's Caption Contest finishes up at 6 pm CT today, and Jon from QandO will be our guest judge. In the meantime, if you've sent me e-mail, I will eventually get it ... but it may take a bit, so your patience is very much appreciated!...

The Uzbek-Guantanamo Connection Keeping The Lid On Terrorism: BBC

US detainment at the Guantanamo military camp has received more than its share of abuse, especially from the BBC, as an affront to "international law". However, deep within a story about the latest violence in Uzbekistan, the BBC itself shows that the Guantanamo policy has kept terrorism from spreading in Central Asia. First, the report shows that the Uzbek secular dictatorship gets results in its battle with terrorism: Uzbekistan says 20 suspected militants have blown themselves up during a fierce gun battle with special forces in the capital, Tashkent. ... Witnesses said four armed militants entered a house, which was then surrounded by the security forces. An interior ministry statement read out on television said 20 militants blew themselves up with home-made explosives after being surrounded. Three policemen were killed and five were injured. Uzbek authorities blame a long-standing Islamic group, Hizb ut-Tahrir, for the violence, but its London representatives...

No WMDs -- Semicolon

For the past few months, the American public has accepted as established fact that Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction, thanks in part to the David Kay report, which held out little hope of finding any WMD caches in Iraq. However, the finality of the WMD status may not be as cut-and-dried as Americans imagine, as the current weapons inspector keeps finding more references to them in his ongoing investigation: In prepared testimony, the CIA's new chief Iraq weapons inspector said he does not rule out finding weapons of mass destruction, adding "we regularly receive reports, some quite intriguing and credible, about concealed caches" of weapons. ... Duelfer is testifying Tuesday behind closed doors before the Senate Armed Services and Intelligence committees. His comments contrast with those of his predecessor, David Kay, who has said he does not expect that any weapons of mass destruction will be found in...

March 31, 2004

Don't Run

In an effort to invoke the ghosts of Somalia, Iraq' "insurgents" have mutilated the bodies of five Americans and dragged them through the streets of Fallujah, dismembering them and hanging them from a bridge in the heart of the Sunni Triangle: Jubilant residents dragged the charred corpses of four foreign contractors including at least one American through the streets Wednesday and hanged them from the bridge spanning the Euphrates River. Five American soldiers died in a roadside bombing nearby. ... Associated Press Television News pictures showed one man beating a charred corpse with a metal pole. Others tied a yellow rope to a body, hooked it to a car and dragged it down the main street of town. Two blackened and mangled corpses were hung from a green iron bridge across the Euphrates. "The people of Fallujah hanged some of the bodies on the old bridge like slaughtered...

The EU's Slow Surrender to Islamic Anti-Semitism

The European Union, faced with a growing and increasingly restive Muslim population from centuries of colonialism and proximity to the Middle East, consistently refuses to face the problems caused by this community. In its latest report on anti-Semitism, the EU has rewritten its conclusions to avoid offending Islamist groups: A study released by the EU's racism and xenophobia monitoring centre astounded experts by concluding that the wave of anti-Jewish persecution over the last two years stemmed from neo-Nazi or other racist groups. "The largest group of the perpetrators of anti-Semitic activities appears to be young, disaffected white Europeans," said a summary released to the European Parliament . "A further source of anti-Semitism in some countries was young Muslims of North African or Asian extraction. "Traditionally, anti-Semitic groups on the extreme Right played a part in stirring opinion," it added. The headline findings contradict the body of the report. This says...

April 1, 2004

Muslim Cooperation in the UK

Two stories from the London Telegraph show how the war on terror has divided the Muslim community -- and how imams and other leaders of Islam continue to demonstrate their disloyalty to their nation and their insistence that the only law worthy of recognition is Islam. The first article looks at the reaction of the families of the eight Muslims arrested in the UK after months of surveillance, netting a half-ton of explosives and preventing a large-scale terrorist attack: Britain's most prominent Muslim leader last night demanded a crackdown on "rogue" Islamic preachers, blaming them for brainwashing young men with sermons promoting holy war against the West. Iqbal Sacranie, the secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain, was backed by the families of some of the eight men arrested in Tuesday's anti-terrorism raids in south-east England. ... People such as Omar Bakri Mohammed, the leader of Al-Muhajiroun, which campaigns for...

Iraqi Scientist: I Saw the WMDs

The Australian newspaper, The Age, features an interview with a scientist formerly in Saddam's employ who insists that Iraq maintained stockpiles of WMDs, at least until he was arrested and almost executed in 1998 (via Drudge): For seven years, before he was tortured and sentenced to death, Rashid (not his real name) worked at the top of Iraq's scientific establishment. He says he regularly met Saddam Hussein and his cousin and strongman deputy prime minister Abdul Tawab Huweish. After the Gulf War he was put in charge of a taskforce code named "Al Babel" to develop stealth technology to make aircraft and missiles undetectable on radar. Rashid, who now lives in Melbourne, also claims to have had access as a trusted insider to secret underground bunkers where chemical weapons were stored. "Saddam gave me access to everything, he was so desperate to perfect the stealth technology," he says. Now Rashid's...

April 3, 2004

BBC: Spanish Suspect Islamists in Rail Bomb

While I initially held off on commenting on the Spanish rail bombs discovered this week, it's becoming more apparent -- at least to the Spanish -- that radical Islamofascists have targeted Spain despite their appeasement: The explosives found on a high-speed rail track on Friday were of the same type and brand used in the Madrid train blasts, Spain has confirmed. But Spanish Interior Minister Angel Acebes said it was still too soon to draw any conclusions about who planted the unexploded device. ... Several newspapers reported on Saturday that the Spanish embassy in Egypt had recently received a letter signed by the Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades threatening to attack Spanish embassies and Spanish interests in north Africa and the southern and eastern Mediterranean region. The letter warned that the attacks would go ahead unless Spain withdrew its troops from Iraq and Afghanistan within four weeks, El Mundo reported. ......

April 4, 2004

Guardian: Bush, Blair Agreed on Iraq War 9/20/01

Tomorrow's UK Guardian/Observer reports that George Bush and Tony Blair reached a personal accord nine days after 9/11 to go to war in Iraq, in a story that's bound to have electoral impact on both sides of the Atlantic: According to Sir Christopher Meyer, the former British Ambassador to Washington, who was at the dinner when Blair became the first foreign leader to visit America after 11 September, Blair told Bush he should not get distracted from the war on terror's initial goal - dealing with the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. Bush, claims Meyer, replied by saying: 'I agree with you, Tony. We must deal with this first. But when we have dealt with Afghanistan, we must come back to Iraq.' Regime change was already US policy. It was clear, Meyer says, 'that when we did come back to Iraq it wouldn't be to discuss smarter sanctions'. Elsewhere in...

April 6, 2004

Sami al-Arian: Snitch for Feds?

The case against former professor Sami al-Arian turned a bit more strange yesterday when the US government revealed in a court motion that al-Arian had briefly worked as an FBI informant: Federal prosecutors say a former professor accused of financing terrorism was briefly an FBI informant, according to court documents. The disclosure came in the government's response to efforts by lawyers for Sami Al-Arian to obtain the taped conversations the former University of South Florida professor had with congressmen and top aides in the Bush and Clinton administrations. His status as an informant, apparently confirmed by both sides now in these court motions, raises some uncomfortable questions for the FBI and some government officials. First, Congress will want to know why the FBI felt it necessary to tape conversations between their members and al-Arian. Did the FBI suspect one or more of them of aiding and abetting terrorist organizations? Next,...

Washington Times: No Mention of AQ in Clinton Wrap-Up

The Washington Times has unearthed the final national security report from the Clinton administration to Congress, written in December 2000, and has discovered that it never mentions al-Qaeda and only mentions Osama bin Laden four times (via Drudge): The final policy paper on national security that President Clinton submitted to Congress 45,000 words long makes no mention of al Qaeda and refers to Osama bin Laden by name just four times. The scarce references to bin Laden and his terror network undercut claims by former White House terrorism analyst Richard A. Clarke that the Clinton administration considered al Qaeda an "urgent" threat, while President Bush's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, "ignored" it. The Clinton document, titled "A National Security Strategy for a Global Age," is dated December 2000 and is the final official assessment of national security policy and strategy by the Clinton team. The document is publicly...

Clinton Report: Identifying the Threats

During the day today, I will be reviewing the national-security report that the outgoing Clinton administration submitted to Congress in December 2000, when certain members of his team claim that they handed the incoming Bush administration a comprehensive strategy to deal with terrorism. In fact, their report belies the notion that anyone took al-Qaeda as a specific threat, and it demonstrates that they focused on state-on-state threats much more seriously -- as could reasonably be expected, under the circumstances. For instance, in the first section of the report, under the subheading Responding to Threats and Crises, the report addresses the major themes of international threats against the United States, and its first statement regards unfriendly states: The persistence of major interstate conflict has required us to maintain the means for countering potential regional aggressors. Long-standing tensions and territorial division on the Korean peninsula and territorial ambitions in the Persian Gulf...

Clinton Report: Pre-emption and Reorganization?

Before the 9/11 Commission questioned Richard Clarke, who as the terrorism "czar" of the Clinton administration prepared this national-security report to Congress, opposition to George Bush from both former members of the prior administration and some members of Congress focused on Bush's strategy of pre-emption -- stopping threats militarily before they became "imminent". Vast amount of energy and debate has gone into whether Bush declared Iraq an imminent threat explicitly (he didn't) or implicitly. Based on this, Bush's opponents have declared the military action in Iraq a violation of international law. However, this report to Congress clearly indicated that the previous administration felt differently. For instance, under the subheading Preparing for an Uncertain Future, the administration made the following suggestions: In addition, preventative diplomacy, often undergirded by the deterrence of our full military capabilities, may help contain or resolve problems before they erupt into crises or contingency operations. You can...

Clinton Report: Protecting the Homeland

Another interesting subsection of Part 2 of the Clinton national-security report is titled Protecting the Homeland. Remember when George Bush was criticized for using the term "homeland" in national security planning? Pundits associated the word with Nazi Germany and claimed that it promoted a "sacred earth" notion that went against everything that American principles represented. Apparently, we know now where that term originated. Under that heading, the report details the strategy for protecting US territory in this order: 1. National Missile Defense 2. Countering Foreign Intelligence Collection 3. Combating Terrorism 4. Domestic Preparedness Against WMDs 5. Critical Infrastructure Protection 6. National Security Emergency Preparedness 7. Fighting Drug Trafficking and Other Int'l Crime Again, national missile defense appears to be the primary concern of the Clinton administration's national-security strategy, while terrorism is addressed third, after NMD and foreign espionage. In fact, it was Bill Clinton who made it our national policy...

Clinton Report: Regional Priorities

Section 3 of the national-security report submitted to Congress in December 2000 deals with regional issues and strategies for confronting them individually as well as integrating approaches across regions. Interestingly, for an administration that Richard Clarke said was focused on al-Qaeda as the greatest threat to American security, the report leaves the two regions most closely associated with Islamofascist terror to last. The structure of Section 3 is shown in the table of contents: Europe and Eurasia East Asia and the Pacific The Western Hemisphere Middle East, North Africa, Southwest and South Asia Sub-Saharan Africa The first topic takes up over a third of Section 3 and covers a number of different state-on-state or ethnic-centered conflicts, mostly in Southeastern Europe, and reviews the Balkans in depth. After talking about the primary goal of the European strategy was to accomplish the complete integration of Europe into a democratic organization of nations,...

Clinton Report: Its Conclusions and Mine

Perhaps the most striking feature of the December 2000 national-security report's conclusion is its banality. It starts out by mouthing platitudes about how the world holds the US in high regard, relying on us as a "catalyst of coalitions" -- as if forming coalitions alone have any merit without an indication as to whether they contribute to success, or mire us in paralysis of endless debate and resolution issuance. Nothing specific about terrorism or even missile defence or any other strategic policy discussed in the report makes it into the conclusion. Instead, it closes with a recommendation to remain engaged globally and a warning to avoid our isolationist impulses, for our own good as well as that of the world. It makes an oddly bureaucratic, bland ending to what actually is an interesting and well-written report. The report represents Clinton foreign-policy objectives fairly well -- and that's why this report...

April 7, 2004

NYT: Sadr's Forces Bring Knives To a Gunfight

Thanks to some rather unfortunate circumstances, a New York Times reporter and photographer got an unplanned up-close-and-personal look at Moktada al-Sadr's militia, which has started an insurrection challenging American and Iraqi authority in Kufa. The quality of military discipline left journalist John Burns a bit shy of impressed: If Moktada al-Sadr has chosen a grand mosque in this Euphrates River town for a last stand against American troops, as many of his militiamen have claimed in recent days, he appears to be relying more on the will of God than anything like military discipline to protect him. Many hundreds of militiamen in the black outfits of Mr. Sadr's Mahdi Army were visible on Tuesday on roads approaching the golden-domed mosque and inside the sprawling compound leading to the inner sanctuary. But they seemed unmarshaled, at least to the layman's eye more milling about than militant. Burns and his photographer...

9/11 Commission "Reconsidering" Clarke Testimony: Washington Times

Thanks to the Washington Times' publication of the national-security report submitted to Congress in December 2000 by the Clinton administration, the Times reports that the 9/11 Commission will be "reconsidering" testimony from former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke, whose claim that al-Qaeda was the previous administration's top focus was undercut by the report's anemic approach to terror (via Power Line): The September 11 commission will look at the discrepancy between the testimony of Richard A. Clarke that the Clinton administration considered the threat of al Qaeda "urgent" and its final national-security report to Congress, which gave the terror organization scant mention. Al Felzenberg, spokesman for the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks on the United States, said commission members are familiar with an article in yesterday's editions of The Washington Times, which showed that President Clinton's final public document on national security never referred to al Qaeda by name and mentioned Osama...

April 8, 2004

The Folly of "Peacekeepers"

Over the past twenty years or so, we have seen the emergence of a new philosophy of military deployment called "peacekeeping". The theory is that if you can negotiate a cessation of open hostilities, you can inject soldiers from a third party or outside coalition to keep people separated long enough to reach a peaceful accommodation. This notion sprngs from a serious misreading of the military standoffs in Korea and Cold War Europe, and in almost every instance it's been used, it has led to either disaster or quagmire. Governments that send troops to be "peacekeepers" inevitably sell this idea to their constituencies like this: Coalition governments could tell their nervous publics that the troops were in Iraq on humanitarian missions repairing roads, digging wells, providing security and generally helping a shattered people recover from decades of war and tyranny. ... Japan's government sold the mission to a skeptical...

Not One Dollar to Arafat

You have to admire the chutzpah of the Palestinians. After killing three of our envoys in Gaza last year and chanting "Death to America" on any occasion they can find, they turn around and hit us up for cash: The Palestinians expect a large aid package from the United States and other donor countries to help rebuild the Gaza Strip after an Israeli withdrawal, the Palestinian foreign minister said Thursday. ... In the event of a Gaza withdrawal, "the Americans should be ready with the World Bank and other donors to make massive economic support for the Palestinian Authority," Shaath said in interview with Israel Radio. He did not give a sum. The Palestinians, already heavily dependent on international aid, are hoping for more money to help rebuild an economy shattered in more than three years of fighting with Israel. Shaath said the funds were needed for "relief, reconstruction, economic...

April 9, 2004

Hostaging: What It Reveals About the Enemy

The world reacted in disgust and anger yesterday when Islamofascist insurgents released video of helpless Japanese civilians kidnapped by the "Mujahideen Brigades" that was broadcast by al-Jazeera, naturally: Iraqi gunmen took three Japanese civilians captive yesterday and threatened to burn them alive unless Tokyo withdrew its forces, sharply raising the stakes in the uprising that has swept central and southern Iraq. As coalition troops fought house-to-house to subdue the town of Fallujah, having earlier lost control of several towns, the insurgents opened up a new front with a rash of kidnappings. First and foremost, the act of kidnapping civilians and holding them hostage should be recognized for what it is: desperation. Yes, the uprising caught Coalition troops by surprise, mostly if not entirely second-line units. However, that's not who the terrorists will be facing now, and they know it. That's why the city elders in Fallujah are trying to negotiate...

April 10, 2004

CNN: PDB Contained No Actionable Items

Although CNN's headline, "Key document warned of possible al Qaeda scenarios," and its lead paragraph imply something else, the August 6th PDB in fact contains no items regarding hijackers using planes as missiles, nor does it sketch any scenarios that went unresponded: CNN confirmed highlights of the classified August 6, 2001 presidential daily briefing, or PDB, which is expected to be declassified and released in the next several days. ... Sources aware of the PDB say much of the intelligence is uncorroborated, and none of it is related to the eventual September 11 terrorist plot [emph mine]. To get that last nugget of information that I bolded, you have to read down to the penultimate paragraph. Prior to that, CNN emphasizes al-Qaeda's intent to strike the US -- but who would be surprised to learn that Islamofascists who had already blown up two of our embassies, committed a suicide attack...

The Reign of Spain Stayed Mainly Off The Plane

According to the Miami Herald (via Drudge), the Crown Prince of Spain and his fiance were furious at the prospect of going through airport-screening procedures at Miami International Airport and may turn their search into an diplomatic breach between Spain and the US: Members of the prince's entourage called the required inspection of their private belongings an ''insult'' and ''humiliating'' -- sparking a diplomatic flap that has the United States and Spain on the brink of a protocol war. Crowning it off, Iberia Airlines, the prince's carrier of choice, is suggesting it might pull out of the airport, according to two sources close to the international incident. ... ''We're your allies!'' one member of the royal delegation shouted in Spanish to inspectors at a particularly tense moment. But according to Lauren Stover, spokeswoman for the Transportation Security Administration in Miami, the screeners were only doing their jobs. The mandates of...

August 6, 2001 PDB Declassified

What in God's name in this report gave any specific warning that coordinated hijackings would turn planes into guided missiles? Nothing. There is absolutely nothing in this PDB that could have prevented 9/11, and Ben-Veniste and Kerrey knew it -- because they had already read it. Why did Ben-Veniste and Kerrey demand its declassification? Because they thought they wouldn't get it, and wanted to suggest that the Bush administration was covering up something. Ben-Veniste and Kerrey bluffed, and today their bluff got called. Game over. They've been exposed as political hacks, and should withdraw immediately from the commission, or else the commission should disband.

April 12, 2004

Guardian: It's Israel's Fault

Once again, the London Guardian doesn't miss a chance to blame Israel for the rotten state of the Middle East, including the thugocracies at work in the 22 Arab nations surrounding it. Brian Whitaker casts the Israeli-Palestinian war as the central culprit in maintaining oppressive regimes in the area: For more than a generation, one issue has dominated political discourse in the Middle East. It has spawned militant and terrorist groups of almost every hue, from nationalist to Islamist. It has impeded peaceful change and modernisation in the region, and it has helped to keep authoritarian regimes in power. The Arab-Israeli conflict has not only blighted the Middle East but also provided a smokescreen for that malaise, diverting the attention of Arabs from their internal problems and providing an excuse for tired governments to survive well beyond their sell-by date. "We have emergency laws, we have control by the security...

April 13, 2004

Why al-Sadr Was Inevitable

A statement by Iraqi Shi'ite clerics this morning demonstrates clearly why the Coalition and the Iraqi Governing Council would eventually be forced to deal with al-Sadr or another radical cleric eventually -- and why we may be fortunate that al-Sadr wound up as the opponent: In a statement issued Monday after a meeting with radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, the clerics and members of the country's religious authority also cautioned the coalition against doing battle in the holy city of Najaf -- and warned against any attempt to kill al-Sadr. "The current crisis in Iraq has risen to a level that is beyond any political groups, including the Governing Council, and it is now an issue that is between the religious authority and the coalition forces," the statement said. "Those who have brought on this crisis must pay for what they have done." Shi'ite clerics have forced the issue of the...

Jamie Gorelick: Part of the Solution, or the Problem?

Former deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick has been one of the more partisan members of the 9/11 Commission, clashing sharply with Condoleezza Rice during her public testimony, although not as rudely as her colleagues Richard Ben-Veniste and Bob Kerrey. Gorelick has been particularly critical of statements regarding the collection of intelligence and the failure to "connect the dots" by national-security agencies and the NSC themselves. However, as Andrew McCarthy points out in today's National Review Online, Gorelick is no disinterested observer to the structural problems between the FBI's efforts at coordinated intelligence with law-enforcement investigations into terrorists: For those of us who were in the trenches of the struggle against militant Islam beginning in the early 1990s, it is jarring to hear, of all people, Jamie Gorelick now a member of the 9/11 Commission hectoring government officials about their asserted failure to perceive how essential it is that...

Zarqawi in Fallujah?

An Australian news website reports that Abu al-Zarqawi, the al-Qaeda operations chief reportedly behind part of the Iraqi insurgency, may be trapped in Fallujah (via Instapundit): THE alleged mastermind of the al-Qaeda operations in Iraq, Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi, is believed to be in the city of Fallujah, which is under US marine siege, a senior coalition spokesman said today. "Zarqawi is believed to be in Fallujah or nearby," said Dan Senor. Remind me again -- why is Iraq a "distraction" from the war on terror?...

April 14, 2004

Media: Dances With Gorelick

Walter Branigin filed a report yesterday at the Washington Post on the testimony of John Ashcroft at the 9/11 Commission, as well as that of Louis Freeh, Thomas Pickard, and Janet Reno. Imagine my surprise when the Post managed to miss the most intriguing part of Ashcroft's testimony -- that commissioner Jamie Gorelick had played an integral part in defending the flawed structure that stymied counterterrorism efforts for a decade and more: For nearly a decade before the Sept. 11 attacks, he said, "our government had blinded itself to its enemies." He said U.S. covert action authorities were "crippled" in their ability to go after bin Laden by "a battery of lawyers" in the government who insisted that the United States should try to capture him before taking any lethal action. Branigin never even mentions Gorelick by name, let alone discuss her memo to the FBI instructing them that their...

Sensenbrenner Calls for Gorelick Resignation

Kathryn Jean Lopez at The Corner notes that Congressman James Sensenbrenner has called for the resignation of 9/11 Commissioner Jamie Gorelick: Yesterday, a 1995 memo written by 9/11 Commission Member Jamie Gorelick, in her former role as the second in command at the Justice Department, revealed her actions in establishing the heightened 'wall' prohibiting the sharing of intelligence information and criminal information. Scrutiny of this policy lies at the heart of the Commission's work. Ms. Gorelick has an inherent conflict of interest as the author of this memo and as a government official at the center of the events in questions. Thus, I believe the Commission's work and independence will be fatally damaged by the continued participation of Ms. Gorelick as a Commissioner. Reluctantly, I have come to the conclusion that Ms. Gorelick should resign from this Commission. "The Commission's Guidelines on Recusals state, 'Commissioners and staff will recuse themselves...

April 15, 2004

Osama Sues for Peace?

Something tells me that this will turn out to be a fake, but the Arab television network Al-Arabiya aired a new audio tape reportedly by Osama bin Laden himself offering European nations a "truce" if they leave Muslims alone: In a recording broadcast on Arab satellite networks Thursday, a man who identified himself as Osama bin Laden offered a "truce" to European countries that do not attack Muslims, saying it would begin when their soldiers leave Islamic nations. ... "I announce a truce with the European countries that do not attack Muslim countries," the taped message said as the stations showed an old, still picture of al-Qaida leader. ... This truce, the message said, was to deny "the war mongers" further opportunities and because polls have shown that "most of the European peoples want reconciliation" with the Islamic world. As a Tory leader in Britain remarked, the tape (if authentic)...

LA Times: Iraqi Economy Rebounding

Proving that major media outlets can ignore news for only so long, the Los Angeles Times notes in a featured Mark Magnier article that the Iraqi economy shows signs of a strong rebound and the Iraqi middle class is gathering strength: Wedged between the reports of murder and mayhem, the headline in the local paper was eye-catching: "Should you change your wallpaper for lighter tones?" it asked. "Do it once and you'll see the results." ... Slowly but surely, ordinary Iraqis are redoing floors, hanging curtains, buying new pictures and feathering their nests after years of doing without. Furniture and upholstery sellers are reporting strong demand, as are lighting firms, building contractors and plant stores. "I've been in this business a long time," said Muthana Fahawi, a carpet merchant for 25 years in Baghdad's Karada neighborhood. "Anyone who says the economy isn't improving isn't telling the truth. You can feel...

A Contractor Tells About His Mission

One of my friends is a Special Forces veteran who has spent decades in active service and the reserves. He took some time off to work as a security contractor with a company whose name has been in the news. After the horrible deaths and mutilations of four contractors in Fallujah, my friend sent out a long e-mail detailing his experiences in Iraq in order to set our minds at ease about his mission and the work the US is doing in Iraq. I asked him to allow me to share his experiences with you, and after a few day's delay, he gave me permission to do so as long as I edited out the pictures (for the privacy of his colleagues) and removed any references that would disclose his identity, to protect his family and himself. Please read this very long post in order to learn for yourselves exactly...

Continue reading "A Contractor Tells About His Mission" »

April 17, 2004

Israel Kills Hamas Leader of the Month

Something tells me that the Employee of the Month award at Hamas won't be nearly as popular as it was before ... Israel, obviously undeterred from the protests following the killing of Hamas founder Sheik Yassin last month, has successfully carried out a targeted killing of his successor, Abdel Aziz Rantisi: An Israeli missile strike killed Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi as he rode in his car Saturday evening, hospital officials said. Rantisi's son Mohammed and a bodyguard were also killed in the attack. The militant Hamas leader was one of Israel's top targets after it assassinated Hamas founder Sheik Ahmed Yassin in an airstrike last month. Rantisi's car was hit with missiles Saturday evening on the road outside his home, leaving only the burned, destroyed vehicle. After the explosion, Israeli helicopters were heard in the area. Undoubtedly, this action will once again provoke outrage from a wide collection of...

April 18, 2004

Hamas Cancels Its Inaugural Ball

After seeing its founder killed by Israel and his replacement likewise killed less than a month later, Hamas has decided that discretion may be the better part of terrorism: Hamas secretly appointed a new Gaza Strip chief early Sunday, but refused to reveal his identity after Israel assassinated two Hamas leaders in less than a month. Unfortunately, not all of the Hamas leadership has read the memo on secrecy quite yet: "Hamas will move ahead and will continue the resistance march," said local Hamas leader Ahmad Sahar, a friend of Rantisi's. ... "Yesterday they said that they killed Rantisi to weaken Hamas. They are dreaming. Every time a martyr falls, Hamas is strengthened," Ismail Haniyeh, a Hamas leader, told more than 70,000 mourners gathered at the city's largest mosque for the funeral. Sounds like the Israelis have two more names that they can add to the probable nominees for the...

Gorelick Swings, and Misses

Beleaguered 9/11 Commission member Jamie Gorelick, whose memo strengthening the so-called "wall" between intelligence-gathering and law-enforcement efforts caused a sensation in the commission hearings last week, writes a defense in today's Washington Post that mostly misses the mark: The commission investigating the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has a critical dual mission to fulfill -- to help our nation understand how the worst assault on our homeland since Pearl Harbor could have occurred and to outline reforms to prevent new acts of terrorism. Under the leadership of former governor Tom Kean and former congressman Lee Hamilton, the commission has acted with professionalism and skill. Its hearings and the reports it has released have been highly informative, if often disturbing. Sept. 11 united this country in shock and grief; the lessons from it must be learned in a spirit of unity, not of partisan rancor. First off, this lead paragraph contains...

Another Grandstand Tour?

Jesse Jackson wants to insert himself into the hostage strategy currently being employed by the desperate Islamofascists operating in Iraq, continuing his self-aggrandizing world tour and threatening to legitimize the al-Sadr and Fallujah terrorists: American civil rights leader the Rev. Jesse Jackson said Sunday that he has "had prayer" with the wife of Thomas Hamill, an American contractor abducted in Iraq, and promised his family he would try to win his freedom. ... "If I knew who was holding them, I would appeal to them directly," Jackson said. "We've already begun to make some back-channel contacts to them." He said he was willing to travel to Iraq to negotiate for the hostages, but only "if I know with whom to talk and know where to go." Jackson, whose political influence has waned severely over the past few years thanks to personal difficulties, obviously wants to put himself back into the...

April 19, 2004

Washington Times: Gorelick Not Playing By the Rules

In today's Washington Times, Charles Hurt notes that 9/11 Commissioner Jamie Gorelick has not played by the rules set forth in her defense by both herself and commission chair Thomas Kean -- that she must recuse herself when discussion of events arises that personally involves her (via Drudge): Former acting FBI Director Thomas J. Pickard told the September 11 commission in a private interview earlier this year that he was surprised that Jamie S. Gorelick is serving on the panel because she had played a key role in setting the very counterterrorism policies being investigated. According to a summary of that interview obtained by The Washington Times, Mr. Pickard said Ms. Gorelick who was No. 2 in the Clinton Justice Department under Attorney General Janet Reno resisted efforts by the FBI to expand the counterterrorism effort beyond simple law enforcement tactics and agencies. ... But in that open,...

Al-Sadr: Muchas Gracias, Amigos

As promised, Spain's new Prime Minister Jose Zapatero has pulled out the Spanish contingent of soldiers from Iraq, resulting in high praise from a likely source: Radical Islamic cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has welcomed Spain's decision to withdraw its troops from Iraq "in the shortest time possible," as U.S. officials braced for more possible pullouts. According to a spokesman in the Iraqi city of Najaf, the Shiite cleric praised Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's decision Sunday to pull Spain's 1,400-plus troops from Iraq. Al-Sadr also is asking that people from all coalition countries put pressure on their governments to follow Spain and recall their forces, spokesman Fuad al-Turfi said. Why is Moqtada smiling? Because the Spanish troops belong to a Polish-led multinational force based in the Najaf area -- coincidentally, just where al-Sadr has been hiding out from Coalition forces looking to capture him and stamp out his insurgency. Spain's...

April 20, 2004

US to Consider Lowering Airport Security?

US airport security, after having been tightened up in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, may be loosened up again in order to allow airport retail businesses to recapture their lost revenue streams: Pittsburgh International could become the nation's first major airport allowed to abandon the federal government's post-Sept. 11 rule that lets only ticketed passengers proceed past security checkpoints to the gate. If successful, the test might become a model for other airports. Pittsburgh is a candidate for the experiment for two reasons: It has a centralized security checkpoint, in one terminal, and it has a 100-store shopping mall that has suffered a drop in business because it can be reached only by ticketed passengers. If successful, I would imagine that Minneapolis-St. Paul airport might be next in line, as our airport has a similar configuration and a substantial retail presence. However, I can't think of a dumber security...

Thanks For The Help

Iraqi insurgents attempted a prison break in Baghdad today, shelling a compound where American forces hold several thousand Iraqis suspected of being part of Saddam's Ba'ath regime and/or the post-liberation insurgency. Unfortunately, the Gang That Can't Shell Straight wound up causing over a hundred casualties -- entirely in the inmate population: Guerrillas fired a barrage of mortar rounds at Baghdad's largest prison Tuesday, killing 22 prisoners in an attack a U.S. general said may have been an attempt to spark an uprising against their American guards. ... Ninety-two prisoners were wounded in the mortar attack on the U.S.-run Abu Ghraib prison, 25 of them seriously, said Col. Jill Morgenthaler, a U.S. military spokeswoman. "This isn't the first time that we have seen this kind of attack. We don't know if they are trying to inspire an uprising or a prison break," Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt told The Associated Press. All...

The CPA Memo: We Need To Take Forceful Action

The Village Voice published an article earlier today based on an e-mail from the Coalition Provisional Authority which was forwarded to them. The memo, which dates back to March, foresaw civil war if the CPA and the US did not start exerting its authority in Iraq, and specifically mentions a renegade cleric named Moqtada al-Sadr. The Voice, typically, takes the small mention of civil war and explodes it into the entire point of the memo. The subhead of the article, in fact, reads "A Coalition memo reveals that even true believers see the seeds of civil war in the occupation of Iraq". However, in reading the actual memo, the author points not to an inevitable civil war but instead to the numerous opportunities surrounding the CPA to improve its performance and its position with the Iraqis, the vast majority of which want to see the US succeed. The anonymous writer...

April 21, 2004

London Telegraph: Americans More Phlegmatic Than Media Suggest

The London Telegraph has reviewed the results of two polls, one by CNN/USA Today and the other by Gallup/ABC/Washington Post, and reports that American determination regarding Iraq has been underestimated, as has support for George Bush: In a boost for President George W Bush, opinion polls yesterday showed that the American public strongly backs a continued presence in Iraq, even though they believe the effort there is in trouble. Though 59 per cent of Americans believe the US is "bogged down", two thirds said troops should remain until order is restored, even if that means more casualties. ... The polls refute the belief that ordinary Americans have no stomach for casualties or are oblivious to the problems facing coalition forces. Although our national media continues to operate from hysteria mode, making numerous Tet analogies every time someone shoots a gun off in the Sunni triangle, Americans as a whole understand...

ABC: Oil-For-Food Corruption at Highest Levels

ABC News continues its excellent series on the United Nations Oil-For-Food program, which descended into a massive scam that netted Saddam Hussein -- supposedly the target of the sanctions that prompted the program -- more than $10 billion, and apparently lined the pockets of many others at the UN (via Instapundit): At least three senior United Nations officials are suspected of taking multi-million dollar bribes from the Saddam Hussein regime, U.S. and European intelligence sources tell ABCNEWS. One year after his fall, U.S. officials say they have evidence, some in cash, that Saddam diverted to his personal bank accounts approximately $5 billion from the United Nations Oil-for-Food program. This story has bounced around for a while since January, when ABC produced a list of people, some of whom ran the program and some of whom actively blocked UN enforcement of resolutions against Iraq. What ABC has now is independent evidence...

WaPo: Kerry Goes Wobbly

The Washington Post editorial board noticed a not-so-subtle shift in John Kerry's policy statements on Iraq. John Kerry has abandoned the goal of building a democracy in Iraq for mere "stability" to give expedient cover to a fast American retreat: "WE NEED A reasonable plan and a specific timetable for self-government" in Iraq, Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) said in December. "That means completing the tasks of security and democracy in the country -- not cutting and running in order to claim a false success." On another occasion, he said: "It would be a disaster and a disgraceful betrayal of principle to speed up the process simply to lay the groundwork for a politically expedient withdrawal of American troops." Contrast that with what Mr. Kerry told reporters last week: "With respect to getting our troops out, the measure is the stability of Iraq. [Democracy] shouldn't be the measure of when...

Everything You Need To Know About UNSCAM

Claudia Rosett wrote a lengthy and detailed explanation for today's Commentary website which takes readers on a well-written tour of the disaster that the UN Oil for Food program became. Rosett, who has been tenacious in her investigative reporting on this subject for the Wall Street Journal, collects the sorry mess into a coherent and chronological narrative that lays out the scandal in devastating fashion (via Hugh Hewitt): The tale has been all very interesting, and all very complicated. For those who look yearningly to the UN for answers to the worlds problems, it has provoked, perhaps, some introspection about the pardonable corruption that threatens even the most selfless undertakings. For those who believe the UN can do nothing right, Oil-for-Food, whatever it was about, is a delicious vindication that everyone and everything at the world organization is crooked, the institution a fiasco, and politicians who support it fit for...

April 22, 2004

Bummer Of A Birthmark, Yasser (Part II)

The Israeli get-tough policy on terrorist leadership apparently has made its point -- Yasser Arafat, at least, has learned that the Israelis mean business: Yasser Arafat forced 20 fugitives hiding in his West Bank headquarters to leave the premises early Thursday, fearing the Israeli army would invade the complex to grab them, one of the departing fugitives said. The fugitives, all members of the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade, a militant group linked to Arafat's Fatah faction, have been hiding from the army in Arafat's headquarters for months. Israel has repeatedly demanded they be kicked out. Israel has complained about Arafat's sheltering of al-Aqsa terrorists ever since he holed up in his Ramallah compound, but had always refused to give up his protection of his organization's men. AAMB, after all, belongs to Arafat's own Fatah faction of the PLO. However, after the elimination of Sheik Yassin and Abdel-Aziz Rantisi, Arafat has...

Funny You Should Ask That

I'm speechless: A crow sitting on a utility pole triggered the third power failure in 10 days at Los Angeles International Airport, prompting security experts to ask whether the electrical grid serving the airport area is vulnerable to sabotage. Uh, gee ... ya think?...

Spirit Of America

Rather than rewrite the moving explanation of Spirit of America, I'm going to just repost it here. You can donate here. I already have! US Marines seek to equip seven (7) television stations serving local communities within Al Anbar Province, Iraq. The Province includes the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi. These stations will offer information that is more accurate and balanced than existing alternatives. The goal is to improve understanding between Americans and Iraqis, build trust and reduce tensions. Current TV news in Iraq often carries negative, highly-biased accounts of the U.S. presence. Unanswered, its effect is to stoke resentment and encourage conflict. The Marines seek to ensure the Iraqi people have access to better, more balanced information. By equipping local television stations and providing the ability to generate news and programming, the Marines will create a viable news alternative - one owned and operated by local Iraqi citizens. The...

April 23, 2004

Pat Tillman, American Patriot, KIA

I was in an office meeting most of this morning, and only got back to my desk at lunchtime. By that point, I had received several e-mails from friends around the blogosphere telling me that Pat Tillman had been killed in action in Afghanistan. After 9/11, Tillman left a multimillion-dollar contract with the NFL's Arizona Cardinals, and all the potential endorsement contracts and all of the adulation, in order to fulfill his dream of serving his country in the Army Rangers while he was still young enough to enlist: Tillman, who was serving with the 75th Ranger Regiment, was involved in a search-and-destroy mission in southeastern Afghanistan along the border with Pakistan, military officials told Fox News. The unit was acting on intelligence about possible Taliban or Al Qaeda fighters when a firefight erupted. Tillman was the only Ranger killed in his unit, although military officials said two other U.S....

Sessions: "A Problem With Confidence" in 9/11 Commission

CNN reports that Senator Jeff Sessions (R) has become the first Senator to publicly call for Jamie Gorelick to resign her seat on the 9/11 Commission due to the conflict-of-interest issues revolving around her role in barring intelligence and law-enforcement agents from sharing information: Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, called on Gorelick to resign, becoming the first senator to do so. He told CNN that such a move would help the commission salvage its credibility. "We have a little bit of a problem now with confidence in that commission," said Sessions. "For her to continue to play a key role in it when she herself really should be one of the people being reviewed is difficult for me to swallow." Gorelick, meanwhile, adamantly insists that she will not resign her seat, and so far has the backing of the Republican chair of the commission, Thomas Kean. However, ever since the release...

April 27, 2004

Washington Post: Congress Fumbled on Intelligence

While the 9/11 Commission has publicly played a game of Pin The Blame On The Elephant, Dana Priest at the Washington Post puts together a devastating look at Congress' role in ignoring security threats and undermining the systems designed to detect them and protect the US: In the fall of 2002, as Congress debated waging war in Iraq, copies of a 92-page assessment of Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction sat in two vaults on Capitol Hill, each protected by armed security guards and available to any member who showed up in person, without staff. But only a few ever did. No more than six senators and a handful of House members read beyond the five-page National Intelligence Estimate executive summary, according to several congressional aides responsible for safeguarding the classified material. ... Committee members acknowledge in hindsight that they presided over damaging cuts in the CIA's operational budget over...

WMD Not Missing At All

Ever since the David Kay interim report was released in December stating Kay's pessimism about ever finding actual weapons and chemical/biological agents, conventional wisdom has held that Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction -- and in fact that our intelligence and that of most of the world was so faulty that we all missed Saddam's disarmament after the first Gulf War. Little attention has been given to the rest of Kay's report, which clearly laid out that Saddam had been in material violation of UNSC Resolution 1441 and the other sixteen which preceded it by hiding and maintaining the activities and systems which could quickly reconstitute WMD programs as soon as the heat was off. Now Kenneth Timmerman has provided a second look at the WMD question, informing us that WMD has indeed been found in Iraq -- even though our national media apparently prefers to stick with the...

April 28, 2004

Whither the Hero?

Reader Limpet6 e-mailed me a link to a fine article, originally from the Naval Institute, on the attention paid to victims at the expense of heroes in the war on terror. Captain Roger Lee Crossland, a SEAL reserve officer, notes that in previous conflicts Americans knew the heores of the age as household names: In earlier times, the American public could recite names such as Boatswains Mate Reuben James, Lieutenant William Cushing, Colonel Joshua Chamberlain, Sergeant Alvin York, Mess Attendant Dorie Miller, and Sergeant Audie Murphy as easily as they could their own home addresses. The individual heroes of the armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, however, generally are unknown. Deluged by lengthy, detailed stories of the extreme efforts taken by terrorists, we have heard little of the extreme efforts taken by members of the U.S. armed forces. In his article, Captain Crossland places the blame for this point at...

April 29, 2004

Fallujah As Microcosm of the War on Terror

For 24 days, the US Marine Corps has surrounded Fallujah, the center of a nagging insurgency that made headlines when their successful ambush of four contractors turned into a macabre party, with people literally tearing the bodies to pieces in front of reporters and photographers. However, the US has been reluctant to move past siege status for a number of reasons, as this Los Angeles Times article states: The plans have been laid, the troops are positioned, and all is ready for a massive Marine assault on Fallouja and with it the long-dreaded prospect of major urban warfare in Iraq. "We got the last unit in place today. We're tightening the noose," Col. John Toolan declared with grim satisfaction, standing on the roof of the Marine command post at the edge of the volatile Sunni Muslim city on Wednesday as occasional hostile rounds zinged overhead and American tanks rumbled...

Insurgency Led By Saddam Remnants: Pentagon

The New York Times confirms that Pentagon analysts have concluded that the apparatus of the Saddam Hussein regime has financed, advised, and even led the insurgencies inside Iraq. In fact, intelligence shows that the insurgencies are the result of pre-war planning, as many had suspected: A Pentagon intelligence report has concluded that many bombings against Americans and their allies in Iraq, and the more sophisticated of the guerrilla attacks in Falluja, are organized and often carried out by members of Saddam Hussein's secret service, who planned for the insurgency even before the fall of Baghdad. The report states that Iraqi officers of the "Special Operations and Antiterrorism Branch," known within Mr. Hussein's government as M-14, are responsible for planning roadway improvised explosive devices and some of the larger car bombs that have killed Iraqis, Americans and other foreigners. The attacks have sown chaos and fear across Iraq. In addition, suicide...

Coincidence?

The BBC reports that US analysis shows international terror attacks declined last year and the number of civilian deaths at a 30-year low: US government figures suggest that terrorist attacks have fallen to the lowest level for more than 30 years. The annual report records a slight fall in the number of international attacks last year and a dramatic decrease in the number of victims. The report says that less than half the number of people lost their lives in such attacks last year compared with the year before. Attacks in Iraq have not been counted as terrorist attacks, primarily due to the targeting of military assets rather than civilians. Cofer Black, the State Department spokesman, credited improved international cooperation against terrorism, especially crediting Saudi Arabia. Malaysia also received praise for its cooperation, as CNN reports, and progress noted in both Libya and the Sudan. The State Department reports that...

April 30, 2004

It's Not Just Bombs and Bullets

The New York Times shines a light on a little-mentioned facet of the Bush adminsitration's approach to combating terrorism. While wars and captures understandably occupy the headlines, the strategy also works towards building stronger relationships with Muslims in areas where we can provide humanitarian assistance: From remote Siyu, investigators say, the bombing of a Mombasa hotel that catered to Israeli tourists, and the simultaneous failed attempt to shoot down an Israeli-chartered airliner, were planned in 2002. The well is one of many public works projects being undertaken by the American military throughout the Horn of Africa aimed at changing the locals' view of a country many of them had learned to hate. "The war on terrorism is not necessarily a shooting war," said Maj. W. Brice Finney, commander of theArmy's 412th Civil Affairs Battalion. Still, these are good deeds with a strategic edge. The main purpose is to monitor the...

Becoming What You Oppose

The new nation of Macedonia, eager to prove its anti-terror chops on the world stage, made much of stopping a terrorist cell in its capitol city of Skopje, killing seven Pakistanis identified as terrorists conspiring to attack embassies and diplomats throughout the country. However, prompted by US intelligence agencies that remained skeptical of the plot, Macedonian authorities have discovered that several police officers and a businessman smuggled the Pakistanis into Macedonia to act as clay pigeons: Macedonian police gunned down seven innocent immigrants, then claimed they were terrorists, in a killing staged to show they were participating in the U.S.-led campaign against terrorism, authorities said Friday. Police spokeswoman Mirjana Konteska told reporters that six people, including three former police commanders, two special police officers and a businessman, have been charged by police with murder. ... She described a meticulous plan to promote Macedonia as a player in the fight against...

May 1, 2004

Religion of Peace, Part 37b

The governor of Nigerian province Zamfara State has implemented Shari'a law, and in the continuing rollout of the strict Islamic practice, has ordered all churches to be demolished in accordance with the Qu'ran: Speaking at the launch in Gusau, the state capital, Governor Sani disclosed that time was ripe for full implementation of the programme as enshrined in the Holy Quran. He added that his government would soon embark on demolition of all places of worship of unbelievers in the state, in line with Islamic injunction to fight them wherever they are found. With respect to being a religion of peace, it would appear that Islam offers only the peace of dhimmitude for those who don't convert. As Islamofascism spreads, this is the attitude towards human rights and freedom we can expect to encounter. (via The Corner)...

May 2, 2004

Hamill Escapes

The American contractor held hostage by Iraqi insurgents escaped from captivity, found an American convoy, and led them back to his captors, according to the AP: American hostage Thomas Hamill, kidnapped three weeks ago in an insurgent attack on his convoy, was found by U.S. forces Sunday south of Tikrit after he apparently escaped from his captors, the U.S. military said. An official said he was in good health. Hamill, 43, of Macon, Miss., was discovered when he approached a U.S. patrol from the 2nd Battalion 108th Infantry, part of the New York National Guard, in the town of Balad, 35 miles south of Tikrit, a spokesman for U.S. troops in Tikrit said. ... Hamill identified himself to the troops, then led the patrol to the house where he had been held captive. The unit surrounded the house and captured two Iraqis with an automatic weapon, said the military spokesman,...

Sharon Plan Defeated By Own Party

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon may face the end of his career now that his high-stakes gamble on withdrawal from Gaza has apparently backfired: TV polls indicated Sunday that the ruling Likud Party overwhelmingly rejected Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's proposal to withdraw from the Gaza Strip and four small West Bank settlements. ... The telephone polls, conducted by Israel's three main TV stations, gave opponents a large lead of between 12 and 24 percentage points. A survey by Channel 2 had the smallest lead for opponents, with 56 percent against the plan and 44 percent in favor. On Channel 10, the poll indicated 58 had voted against and 42 percent in favor. The greatest gap was given by Channel 1, with 62 percent against and 38 percent in favor. In a stunning defeat, Sharon could not even secure a bare majority of his own party for his policy of disengagement...

May 3, 2004

Pakistan: Let's All Just Get Along

The BBC reports that the American military commander in Afghanistan is worried that the Pakistanis have gone somewhat wobbly in the war on terror, especially against al-Qaeda. The Pakistanis appear reluctant to actually capture "militants", as the BBC calls them, instead asking for pledges to renounce terrorism: The commander of US forces in Afghanistan has expressed concern at Pakistan's strategy against foreign al-Qaeda and Taleban fighters. Lieutenant-General David Barno said Pakistan must eliminate a "significant number" of militants along the border. "There are foreign fighters in those tribal areas who will have to be killed or captured," he said. Pakistan says foreign fighters can stay in the region if they renounce terrorism and live peacefully. ... On Friday, Pakistan extended a deadline for foreign militants to give themselves up to authorities after no one surrendered. Even apart from the war on terror, when a sovereign state tolerates the existence of...

A Marine's Plea

Hugh Hewitt posted this at his site, and I think it's required reading for anyone who thinks that the overwrought oracles of doom about Iraq that dominate the mainstream news media have no effect on the troops they claim to support. Pass this around, and make sure people understand it. Yes, it's just one Marine's opinion, but he's the one that's out there on the line. We shouldn't let him down. Hello Everyone, I am taking time to ask you all for your help. First off, I'd like to say that this is not a political message. I'm not concerned about domestic politics right now. We have much bigger things to deal with, and we need your help. It seems that despite the tremendous and heroic efforts of the men and women serving here in Iraq to bring much needed peace and stability to this region, we are losing the...

May 5, 2004

Rumsfeld Fails the First Commandment of the Subordinate

According to a report on CNN posted less than an hour ago, George Bush has expressed his severe displeasure to Donald Rumsfeld for not informing him of the nature and scope of abuse allegations prior to the President learning of both from media reports: President Bush told Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on Wednesday that he was "not satisfied" at the way he received information about charges that Iraqi prisoners had been abused by U.S. soldiers at Abu Ghraib prison, a senior administration official told CNN. At a private Oval Office meeting, Bush complained about learning of the existence of photographs showing Iraqi prisoners being humiliated and degraded from media accounts, the official said. "He was not happy, and he let Secretary Rumsfeld know about it," the official said. Bush also voiced concern that he was not kept up to speed on important information about the scope of the problem...

May 6, 2004

Zapatero Refuses to Quit Digging

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Zapatero ignores the proverb that instructs those who find themselves in a hole to quit digging. The New York Times reports in tomorrow's paper that Zapatero insists that Spain remains a loyal ally of the United States, even while he informs the Times that he has backtracked even from the appeasement stance he took when he was first elected: Spain's new prime minister said on Thursday that he would never send Spanish soldiers back to Iraq, even if foreign troops there were put under the authority of the United Nations or NATO. "Spanish troops have spent time there and have completed their mission in Iraq," said Prime Minister Jos Luis Rodrguez Zapatero. "There's no point in them going back." This contradicts Zapatero's claim that he only opposed having Spanish troops in Iraq due to the lack of a UN Security Council resolution governing the Coalition Provisional...

May 7, 2004

Washington Post/ABC Poll: Let Rummy Stay On

The numbers are in, and they indicate that the Democrats overplayed their hand, and badly. According to a new Washington Post/ABC poll, majorities of Republicans, independents, and Democrats reject forcing Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld from office during wartime due to the actions of soldiers in the field: Seven in 10 Americans said Rumsfeld should not be forced to quit, a view held by majorities of Republicans, Democrats and self-described political independents. The survey comes a day after President Bush gave Rumsfeld a vote of confidence, and as Rumsfeld faced stiff questioning by members of Congress enraged that they were kept in the dark about abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad. ... Republicans and Democrats largely agree on the seriousness of the allegations, the scope of the problem and the future of the secretary of defense, but differ dramatically when it comes to Bush's role in the process...

Minnesotans Owe You An Apology

I just heard the exchange between Minnesota Senator Mark Dayton, Donald Rumsfeld, and General Richard Myers at the Senate hearings regarding the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. The transcript of the exchange has to be either read or heard to be believed. The worst of it -- but not all of it -- revolved around Myers' request to CBS to delay the publication of the pictures until the hot spots where troops were taking fire, and could conceivably be captured, until after they had pacified those areas. Dayton became hysterical at the notion that the military might ask the media to assist them in keeping American troops as safe as possible, under the circumstances: DAYTON: Mr. Secretary, is that standard procedure for the military command of this country to try to suppress a news report at the highest level? MYERS: It didn't -- let me just -- Senator...

May 8, 2004

Brooks: Ctrl-Alt-Del

David Brooks gets uncharacteristically hysterical in today's New York Times op-ed piece, but in his wildly pessimistic viewpoint he does score one important point regarding international relations and the role of the UN. In order to get there, though, you have to wade through a lot of hair-shirt rhetoric: It's pretty clear we're passing through another pivot point in American foreign policy. A year ago, we were the dominant nation in a unipolar world. Today, we're a shellshocked hegemon. We still face a world of threats, but we're much less confident about our own power. We still know we can roll over hostile armies, but we cannot roll over problems. We get dragged down into them. We can topple tyrants, but we don't seem to be very good at administering nations. Our intelligence agencies have made horrible mistakes. Our diplomacy vis--vis Western Europe has been inept. We have a military...

Bush to Arafat: No Rush

George Bush made it clear that in order to proceed to a two-state solution in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the Palestinians need to stop terrorism and begin complying with the road map, starting with security issues. Otherwise, the timetables will be adjusted accordingly, according to the BBC: US President George W Bush has said the deadline for setting up a Palestinian state has slipped due to violence and a change of Palestinian leaders. "I think the timetable of 2005 is not as realistic as it was two years ago," Mr Bush told Egypt's al-Ahram daily. ... Mr Bush said the US remained committed to the internationally-accepted peace plan for the Middle East - the roadmap, and would underline this with a letter to Mr Qurei. "Well, 2005 may be hard, since 2005 is right around the corner. I readily concede the date has slipped some, primarily because violence...

NYT: Abandon Ship

Roger Cohen signals our surrender in tomorrow's New York Times, arguing that the Abu Ghraib scandal has so damaged our credibility that our best option is to pull up stakes and crawl back home: A military defeat is a damaging thing, and Iraq remains a tense battleground. But a moral one may be more devastating and more enduring for a power like the United States that has long held that its actions are driven, at least in part, by the desire to be a force for good with a liberating mission for all humanity. It is precisely such a rout of the American idea that now confronts the United States in Iraq. The world is asking what sort of liberation is represented by an American woman holding a prone, naked Iraqi man on a leash in Saddam Hussein's Abu Ghraib prison, of all places. No matter that the offenders represent...

May 9, 2004

Marines Making Friends In Fallujah

After over a month of bad news, especially in Abu Ghraib, Fallujah and Najaf, Americans have been fed a steady diet of our troops under fire and under suspicion. Today's Los Angeles Times looks at another aspect of our troops on the front lines by reporting on Marine efforts to build relationships with the people of the area around Fallujah: When the Marines in mid-March assumed responsibility for much of Al Anbar province from the Army's 82nd Airborne Division, they hoped to emphasize the first part of the 1st Marine Division's motto, "No better friend." Instead they found themselves emphasizing the second part, "No worse enemy." Now they're attempting a new beginning. ... Accompanied by Navy corpsmen and a chaplain, the Marines spent much of the day handing out toys, candy, crackers, backpacks and soccer balls to eager children in this farming village adjacent to Fallouja. For adults, the Americans...

NATO Won't Go To Iraq: LA Times

The Los Angeles Times reports more news on the efforts to internationalize the efforts in Iraq, this time with NATO. According to Paul Richter, diplomats and defense officials tied to NATO will not consider joining the Anglo-American efforts until, oddly enough, after the US presidential election: The Western military alliance had expected to announce at a June summit that it would accept a role in the country, perhaps by leading the international division now patrolling south-central Iraq. But amid continuing bloodshed and strong public opposition to the occupation in many nations, allies want to delay any major commitment until after the U.S. presidential election in November, officials say. NATO suffers from the same disease that has crippled the UN -- namely, the reluctance to commit troops to anyplace where they might take fire. Unsurprisingly so, as the same member-nations that decry the lack of international input in Iraq are the...

Post: Tougher Interrogation Techniques OK'd By Pentagon

Dana Priest and Joe Stephens report in today's Washington Post that the Pentagon approved a list of tough interrogation techniques designed to extract intelligence from reluctant detainees at Guantanamo, in Afghanistan and Iraq. However, given the nature of the threat, the approval process and techniques employed seem reasonable: In April 2003, the Defense Department approved interrogation techniques for use at the Guantanamo Bay prison that permit reversing the normal sleep patterns of detainees and exposing them to heat, cold and "sensory assault," including loud music and bright lights, according to defense officials. The classified list of about 20 techniques was approved at the highest levels of the Pentagon and the Justice Department, and represents the first publicly known documentation of an official policy permitting interrogators to use physically and psychologically stressful methods during questioning. The use of any of these techniques requires the approval of senior Pentagon officials -- and...

Smash: Troops' E-Mail Not Going Away

One of the most effective and relentless advocates for our men and women on the front lines, Citizen Smash, notes a hoax floating around the blogosphere based on a misunderstanding. Rumors are swirling that the military wants to cut off Internet access to troops in Iraq, but the truth is a bit more complex -- and for those of us who sometimes take the pragmatic approach to "borrowing" bandwidth, all too familiar: A POST by milblogger Ginmar has sparked a rumor that the military is planning to cut off Internet access to all GIs in Iraq. At the very least, KBR is not allowing any private computers on their system for the next ninety days. There might be one other option, but if you don't hear from me for a while... Several bloggers have picked up on this story, and speculation is rampant on why the military is asking KBR...

May 10, 2004

Sharon Tries Again

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon refuses to give up on his plan to withdraw from Gaza, again announcing plans to submit a modified version which has yet to be seen. John Ward Anderson reports in today's Washington Post that Sharon's cabinet reacted strongly -- in both directions -- once the subject aired itself in his weekly cabinet meeting: Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told cabinet ministers Sunday that he was devising a new plan to withdraw Israeli troops and Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip and expected to present it to the government in about three weeks, the officials and their aides said. Sharon's announcement reportedly set off fireworks in the weekly cabinet session between ministers who threatened to leave the government if the Gaza settlements were not evacuated and those who have vowed to quit if they are. Either scenario could lead to the collapse of Sharon's four-party coalition...

Victor Davis Hanson Explains It All

Victor Davis Hanson may wind up as the leading intellectual voice behind the war on Islamofascist terror. In today's lengthy essay on OpinionJournal, Hanson relates the historical context of our current conflicts and the debilitating philosophies that brought us, finally, to this pass: The 20th century should have taught the citizens of liberal democracies the catastrophic consequences of placating tyrants. British and French restraint over the occupation of the Rhineland, the Anschluss, the absorption of the Czech Sudetenland, and the incorporation of Bohemia and Moravia did not win gratitude but rather Hitler's contempt for their weakness. Fifty million dead, the Holocaust and the near destruction of European civilization were the wages of "appeasement"--a term that early-1930s liberals proudly embraced as far more enlightened than the old idea of "deterrence" and "military readiness." ... Most important, military deterrence and the willingness to use force against evil in its infancy usually end...

May 11, 2004

Shi'a to Sadr: Drop Dead

Reuters reports that far from leading a popular uprising against the infidel Anglo-American armies, the Shi'ite general population and religious leaders have begun counterdemonstrating to push Moqtada al-Sadr and his dwindling militiamen out of the holy city of Najaf: Hundreds of people marched in Najaf on Tuesday calling on rebel Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr to pull his militia out of the Iraqi holy city. Witnesses said they marched to the central shrine area of the city before dispersing peacefully. Some Sadr gunmen fired in the air toward the end of the march, but most marchers had dispersed by then. The demonstration, organized by Sadr's political foes, followed a smaller one on Monday and reflected increasing pressure from Shi'ite elders on Sadr to move his men out of the city as U.S.-led forces tighten their noose around it. The al-Sadr militia have been reduced in number from continuing pressure by Coalition...

Waziristan to Osama: Drop Dead

More good news, this time from Pakistan, where Pervez Musharraf has united the tribes in South Waziristan in the mission to find, capture, and/or kill al-Qaeda 'militants', as the BBC calls them: Tribesmen in the South Waziristan region of Pakistan say they will raise a force of 1,800 armed men to capture suspected al-Qaeda militants. The force would be the biggest armed militia - or Lashkar - so far raised for such a purpose. The decision to form it was made by the Ahmedzai Wazir tribe in the main town of Wana, 400 km southwest of Peshawar. It is the first time that all the clans and sub-clans of the region have unified against al-Qaeda. Musharraf has not won much popularity with his campaign against al-Qaeda in the western border regions of Pakistan. The tribes have felt pushed around and under attack themselves as Musharraf's army has campaigned against "foreigners",...

Americans In Iraq: The Contractors Connect With Iraqis As Well

Glenn at Instapundit points out that Sissy Willis has a photo up showing the oppression of the Iraqi people by the American military. Since we're back on that subject lately, I thought I'd show you how those evil contractors also continue to pursue their hatred of Iraqis: The contractor shown is a friend of mine who currently works in Iraq, and this photo was taken, I believe, in March. I've blurred the face, with no particular skill as you can see, based on some of the reactions I received to his e-mail that I posted last month after the Fallujah murder of the four American contractors there. Some people just want to vent hatred towards anyone who doesn't believe that surrender brings peace....

Mylroie: More Evidence of Saddam-9/11 Ties

Laurie Mylroie writes in today's Front Page that the Czechs have further confirmation of contacts between the Iraqi Intelligence Services (IIS) and Mohammed Atta, one of the leaders of the 9/11 plot that killed 3,000 Americans and launched the war on terror: Important new information has come from Edward Jay Epstein about Mohammed Attas contacts with Iraqi intelligence. The Czechs have long maintained that Atta, leader of the 9/11 hijackers in the United States, met with Ahmed al-Ani, an Iraqi intelligence official, posted to the Iraqi embassy in Prague. As Epstein now reports, Czech authorities have discovered that al-Anis appointment calendar shows a scheduled meeting on April 8, 2001 with a "Hamburg student." That is exactly what the Czechs had been saying since shortly after 9/11: Atta, a long-time student at Germanys Hamburg-Harburg Technical University, met with al-Ani on April 8, 2001. Indeed, when Atta earlier applied for a visa...

Get The Picture Now?

I abhor the illegal abuses that occurred in Abu Ghraib prison by a few American servicepeople. Their arrest and courts-martial please me no end, and anyone who participated in such un-American and inhumane treatment should get the punishment they richly deserve. But before anyone starts drawing equivalencies between those actions in Abu Ghraib and the terrorists we fight, try this on for size first: A video posted Tuesday on an Islamic militant Web site appeared to show a group affiliated with al-Qaida beheading an American in Iraq, saying the death was revenge for the prisoner-abuse scandal. The video showed five men wearing headscarves and black ski masks, standing over a bound man in an orange jumpsuit who identified himself as an American from Philadelphia. After reading a statement, the men were seen pulling the man to his side and cutting off his head with a large knife. They then held...