Kerry Flip-Flops Within The Same Speech On OBL

CNN reports that John Kerry waited all of about 15 nanoseconds to use the new Osama bin Laden videotape to boost his political fortunes, even after he claimed that all Americans were united in their determination to defeat terrorism:

Reacting to a new videotape of Osama bin Laden tossed into the closing days of a hard-fought presidential campaign, Sen. John Kerry renewed his claim that President Bush allowed the terrorist mastermind to escape in fall 2001.
In a satellite interview with Milwaukee TV station WISN, Kerry said, “I regret that when George Bush had the opportunity in Afghanistan at Tora Bora, he didn’t choose to use American forces to hunt down and kill Osama bin Laden.”
“He outsourced the job to Afghan warlords. I would never have done that. I think it was an enormous mistake, and we’re paying the price for that today,” he said.

This came after he tried to strike the right note in the same interview, a tone of national unity in the face of a fresh threat from a foreign power:

Kerry also gave a message of national unity during his interview with WISN.
“All of us in the country are completely united — Democrat, Republican, there’s no such thing. There’s just Americans,” he said.

I’m not suggesting that John Kerry shelve his campaign in the face of the OBL videotape. Doing so only gives the Islamofascist mass murderer a political victory. However, Kerry should have stuck to the facts instead of promoting what is, at best, mere speculation about bin Laden’s whereabouts in December 2001. He also should quit promoting that intellectually lazy “outsourcing” line that has been proven false and misleading. The statement is also wildly hypocritical considering that his major policy stance in Iraq is to attempt to “outsource” the democratization of the newly liberated Iraqis to the UN, guided by the famous democracies of Syria and China, and the paragons of virtue that are France and Russia.
In engaging in rank demagoguery and using OBL’s threats as an explicit inspiration, he makes bin Laden a legitimate voice in the election — exactly what OBL intended. His empty assertions that he would have poured men and materials into Tora Bora based on hazy intelligence on one man’s whereabouts, and into an area in which the US military had lukewarm expertise, instead of our partners whose intimate knowledge of the terrain and quite frankly were expendable while we kept our options open, shows the shallowness of his understanding of military strategy — as well as the falsity of his oft-stated emphasis on building alliances.
Georbe Bush called him to task for his outburst tonight:

Speaking at a rally in Columbus, Ohio, hours later, Bush blasted Kerry’s comments.
“Unfortunately, my opponent tonight continued to say things he knows are not true, accusing our military of passing up a chance to get Osama bin Laden in Tora Bora,” Bush said. “It is the worst kind of Monday morning quarterbacking. It is especially shameful in the light of a new tape from America’s enemy.”
Earlier this week, Bush accused Kerry of making a “wild claim” that amounted to “unjustified criticism of our military commanders in the field.”

Bush needs to keep up the pressure on Kerry for his reliance on the appearance of America’s enemies to make his case for the presidency. We knew where Hitler was in 1944, too, and Hirohito as well. Did Wendell Wilkie hold press conferences blaming Roosevelt for their continued existence in order to convince voters of his qualifications as commander in chief? No. Wilkie had what Kerry does not — a love of country that outstripped his personal ambitions, and the class to understand that Hitler and Hirohito were the enemy, while Roosevelt was merely Wilkie’s opponent. It’s a lesson that the Left in this country still hasn’t learned, and hopefully American voters will teach them that lesson on Tuesday.
UPDATE: Read this post by Jeff Jarvis, a thinking liberal and a patriot even though we often disagree. He catches the Left in full meltdown:

BILL MAHER UPDATE: Maher tonight says the tape won’t affect the election. “Americans know: Osama bin Laden does not pick our President. The Supreme Court does.”
Maher says some of the stuff in the bin Laden tape “I swear to God could have come out of the Democratic National Committee or a Kerry speech.” Maher starts to read; Gen Wes Clark interrupts — sensibly — and doesn’t want to seem by silence to be agreeing with that. Maher reads some of bin Laden’s statements and the audience — amazingly — applauds! Maher: “Sometimes you can agree with an evil person. I mean, Hitler was a vegetarian.” What the F has become of us? A studio audience is applauding a mass murderer?
It gets worse. Gen. Wes says: “If George Bush had done his job before 9/11 we never would have had the strikes of 9/11.” Man, I’m glad I never supported him. It ain’t that simple, General.
Maher: “I don’t know why the Republicans get a mulligan on 9/11. The Democrats wouldn’t have.” Oh, crap.

I stopped watching Bill Maher when he called American military pilots cowards for bombing Yugoslavia and said that the 9/11 terrorists were courageous by comparison. It’s good to know that my choice is as valid now as it is then. As for General Clark, keep in mind that the mastermind of that same Yugoslavian campaign has been stumping hard for Kerry and likely would have a significant appointment in a Kerry administration. Is this the kind of man we want as a Secretary of Defense?

Scripps Howard Presents Ludicrous Analysis Of OBL Tape’s Effect

Lisa Hoffman at Scripps Howard News Service attempts to write a balanced view of the effects that the new Osama bin Laden missive will have on our upcoming election. Reprinted by the Minneapolis Star Tribune for tomorrow’s paper, Hoffman’s analysis emphasizes that Islamic terrorists feel that George Bush has been “good for business”, and winds up in left field:

In fact, critics of the war in Iraq and other U.S. foreign policies say, the Bush tenure has actually been a boon for bin Laden.
Those bent on global Islamic holy war see the U.S. president as the personification of arrogance and imperialism – a tailor-made poster boy for recruiting jihadis across the globe. Just because they vilify him doesn’t mean they want him evicted from the White House.
“If you ask them if they are better off now than they were four years ago, (Islamic extremists) would say the past four years have been very good,” said Joseph Cirincione, senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington. “There isn’t an Islamic fundamentalist alive who wouldn’t say (Bush) has been big for business.”

Trying to figure out who OBL prefers in our election is a fool’s errand, and apparently Scripps Howard found a fool to write this so-called analysis as well as a few for resources. Asking the CEIP for an objective outlook would be equivalent to asking Michael Moore for an unbiased review of the campaign. Cirincione belongs to that class of idiots who think that Islamic fundamentalism began on 9/10/2001 and has been caused by George Bush.
Al Qaeda had launched several large-scale attacks on America and others during the 1990s while no one lifted a finger to stop them. They had a complex and effective financing network funnelling hundreds of millions of dollars to them. They had one nation, Afghanistan, which openly supported and sheltered them and had implemented their idea of governing on 24 million unfortunate Afghanis. They operated with impunity in scores of countries, including ours, and attacked at whim.
Three years after 9/11, we’ve captured or killed most of their leadership and a large number of their associates, negating Cirincione’s supposed boon for recruitment. We’ve dismantled a large part of their financial network, cutting of a large part of their income. We removed the Taliban, liberating Afghanistan and allowing them to get rid of oppressive, radical Islamist totalitarianism in favor of a democratic government. We cut Southwest Asia in two by toppling Saddam Hussein, eliminating a transit point between Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, and Syria, Lebanon, and the West Bank. We convinced Pervez Musharraf to fight the Islamists, making their former safe haven of Pakistan a dangerous place for them to live.
Is this how Bush has been big for Islamist business?
Osama doesn’t care who gets elected, or if he does, it is a secondary consideration. He’s more interested in intimidating Americans as a whole and leveraging our fear into a foreign-policy change that cuts off our alliance with Israel and a general withdrawal from the ummah. OBL ‘prefers’ Kerry only in the sense that OBL is a member of the Anyone But Bush contingent.
The new tape has positive and negative effects on both candidates, as I wrote earlie, and those probably cancel each other out. It helps Kerry in proving that OBL is still alive, and Bush because it reminds people that we are under attack and have to quit pretending that the war is over, or that it amounts to nothing more than an organized crime ring. Both sides will make of that what they will this weekend. However, to offer an analysis that pretends the last four years have been wonderful for Islamofascists stretches credibility far past the breaking point, and both Scripps Howard and the Strib should be embarassed to publish it.

Osama Weighs In

Just in time for the election’s final stretch, Al Jazeera aired a new Osama bin Laden videotaped statement warning Americans that we will face more “Manhattans” unless we abandon Israel and bug out of Southwest Asia:

Osama bin Laden, addressing the American public four days ahead of presidential elections, said in a video aired Friday that the United States can avoid another Sept. 11 attack if it stops threatening the security of Muslims.
Reading a statement, the al Qaeda leader refrained from threats of new attacks and instead appealed to Americans.
“Your security is not in the hands of Kerry, Bush or al Qaeda. Your security is in your own hands,” bin Laden said, referring to the president and his Democratic opponent. “Each state that does not mess with our security, has naturally guaranteed its own security.”
Admitting for the first time that he ordered the Sept. 11 attacks, bin Laden said he did so because of injustices against the Lebanese and Palestinians by Israel and the United States.

If nothing else, the tape demonstrates that Osama was alive at least this spring, when Kerry became the presumptive Democratic nominee. It also should put to rest all of the idiotic conspiracy theories about 9/11 being a Zionist/CIA/Freemason Reichstag fire; OBL admitted that AQ planned and carried out the attacks. Now, perhaps, Islamic nations will rethink their complicity in allowing radicalism like al-Qaeda to flourish rather than spread stupid rumors about the Jews.
Osama has been watching some American entertainment during his long hiatus from the spotlight. He did his best Michael Moore impression during his statement:

Bin Laden suggested Bush was slow to react to the Sept. 11 attacks, giving the hijackers more time than they expected. At the time of the attacks, the president was listening to schoolchildren in Florida reading a book.
“It never occurred to us that the commander-in-chief of the American armed forces would leave 50,000 of his citizens in the two towers to face these horrors alone,” he said, referring to the number of people who worked at the World Trade Center.
“It appeared to him (Bush) that a little girl’s talk about her goat and its butting was more important than the planes and their butting of the skyscrapers. That gave us three times the required time to carry out the operations, thank God,” he said.

I hope that Michael Moore appreciates his new fan.
This portends something unpleasant. That makes two videotaped “warnings” to the US, which may signal some action upcoming in the immediate future. Al-Jazeera only played one minute of the video statement, probably to minimize the possibility of inadvertently broadcasting any coded messages to remote cells. Since Madrid, we’ve expected to see some action from AQ to rattle us or affect the election, and it may be that the tapes are all they have — but of course, we don’t know that.
As for the effect the tape will have on the election, I think it will be negligible. It reminds people that OBL is still alive, which hurts Bush; on the other hand, it reminds people that we’re at war and very much at risk, which hurts Kerry, who wants to minimize that focus as he trails Bush badly on the issue of terrorism. Partisans will play it both ways, while undecideds probably will resist allowing OBL to exercise influence on their vote.
For my part, I think we need to fight those who would use violence to intimidate us and dictate our foreign policy. That means we need to continue our forward strategy of engaging terrorists where they operate rather than wait for them to come here. OBL advertisements for Michael Moore movies won’t change my mind or shake my resolve.

Harkin Embarasses Iowa

Senator Tom Harkin took on an additional role this afternoon when he appeared on behalf of John Kerry in Vinton, IA. According to the Cedar Valley Times, Harkin imparted a message from A Higher Authority when he spoke to a huge crowd of Iowa Democrats (via Drudge):

Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin says John Kerry has been gaining in the polls every day since Oct. 21, and George Bush has been going down every day.
“That’s how God wants it to be,” Harkin told a group of about 25 people at the Benton County Headquarters in Vinton on Thursday afternoon.
Harkin was touring the state to stump for Kerry and Democratic legislative candidates. He appeared in Benton County on behalf of Mt. Auburn Mayor Dawn Pettengill, who is running against incumbent Republican Dell Hanson for the Iowa House District 39 seat.

God’s newest employee either needs a bit more training, or The Lord God Of Hosts needs to have a chat with his HR department, as Harkin issued this ringing endorsement of Pettengill:

After encouraging the party faithful to get out the vote for Kerry, Harkin turned his attention to the Iowa Legislature, which he called an “albatross around the neck” of Gov. Tom Vilsack, whom he referred to as the “best governor in the United States.”
“This is the worst legislature I’ve seen since the 1950s,” Harkin said.
Harkin didn’t remember the name of Pettengill’s opponent, but told the group, “he has to go.”

Oh, come on! Harkin can’t remember the name of the opponent of the candidate he’s endorsing? Maybe all those close, personal chats with God just overwhelmed his memory. Maybe Harkin can check and see if the Vikings will make the spread on Sunday, too.

John Kerry Gets Desperate

I can’t find any other explanation for John Kerry’s primal-scream campaigning in Orlando this afternoon except for desperation as the election blessedly winds down to its final hours. Reuters reports that Kerry went “off script” and told America that anyone not voting for him must be unconscious:

Kerry also blasted Bush on the economy, taxes, jobs and health care, saying the Republican incumbent had “walked away from the basic bargain” that Americans who worked hard should have the chance to get ahead and chosen his powerful friends over the middle class.
“Wake up America, wake up. … You have a choice,” he said. “This election is a choice between four more years of tax giveaways for millionaires along with a higher tax burden on the middle class.”

Somehow I think that telling people they’re asleep is not the best way to make them like you.

Blog Notes, E-Day Minus 4

I’ll be hospiblogging again today as the First Mate has to undergo a minor surgical procedure. I’ve finally managed to get my first cup of coffee down, a Starbucks blend of Mexican Whoopee or some such. (Since when did coffee come with such pedigrees?) I’ll be hijacking wireless connections during the morning as I can.
With four days left to the election, I wanted to let everyone know what plans I have for Election Day. I will be at work on the day job, but afterwards I will join the Northern Alliance to provide live updates on AM 1280 The Patriot in the Twin Cities, starting at 8 pm CT. We’ll be cutting in on Hugh Hewitt’s live, marathon Election Night broadcast at the commercial breaks, updating our listeners on election news in the Upper Midwest. We’ll stay live until the presidential race has been determined or 3 am, one or the other. Of course, I will be live-blogging the election all night long, so if you stay up, make sure you keep checking back.
If you’ve been following the Al Qaqaa story, make sure you keep up with both Kerry Spot and the Truth Laid Bear. They’re both doing yeoman work on this story, such as it is.
Speaking of yeoman work, how about the fill-in crew over at Instapundit? It’s no surprise that it takes three people to replace Glenn Reynolds, but the three that have — Michael Totten, Ann Althouse, and Megan McArdle — have done a great job in filling the Professor’s shoes. Glenn can relax when he’s on vacation.
More later …
Addendum: Okay, the FM just went into the procedure room, and I’m sitting in the waiting room next to a giant Charlie Brown statue.
One more note — I will be posting the Caption Contest a little later on today, and we will close it out when the polls close on Tuesday night. If anyone wants to guest judge while we’re live blogging the election results, drop me an e-mail and let me know.
UPDATE: The First Mate is home from the hospital, and everything went very well indeed. I think we’re done with the “procedures” for a few months, anyway.
I will be appearing on Kevin McCullough’s show in a few minutes, so if you’re in the tri-state area, tune in!

Pentagon Destroyed Ammunition And Kerry’s Credibility

CNN is showing a Pentagon briefing with an Army officer who is describing how the explosives at Al Qaqaa were destroyed in June 2003 after having captured it in April 2003. I’ll have more as the story breaks.
UPDATE: Does the Pentagon’s press conference answer the questions? Some of them, I think. First, Kerry was all wrong when he said that the Al Qaqaa site and its weapons were abandoned by the Army. By 13 April, the Army had loaded up 250 tons of explosive ordinance, including plastic explosive which could have been the RDX. The major said that the materials hauled off included crates and barrels such as those shown in the ABC video. However, ABC reported that the video was shot on 18 April, meaning that the weapons it showed were left behind, if the dates are correct.
At any rate, no one ignored warnings about Al Qaqaa, and the Army was well aware of the importance of the site. The area had been secured by the 3ID and 101st Airborne and remained pacified, making the notion that looters carted off many tons of materials extremely suspect.

IAEA Seals In ABC Report Don’t Match Missing Explosives

Alert CQ reader Boaz B. noticed a detail in the ABC video that apparently has escaped the notice of their reporters and editors. According to the shot shown here, the IAEA seal on the cache found by the soldiers and filmed by the embedded crew did not match the inventory for HMX and RDX stored at Al Qaqaa:

If you review the pictures on the KSTP web site that has the ABC video everyone is using you can see a very clear picture of a seal with its number (#144322). The PDF document of the UN inspections available show the numbers of the seals and none of them have that number. Therefore, it is clear that the bunkers that ABC videoed were not the ones that held the HMX the UN inspected.

Here’s a picture of the relevant page of the PDF, which I don’t have a link to at the moment:

This demonstrates that the news crew didn’t have any idea what they videotaped, and whatever it was, it wasn’t the HMX or RDX at Al-Qaqaa. I’d like to find out exactly what was under seal #144322; if anyone has an indexed IAEA inventory, let’s find out.
UPDATE: Instapundit says that the seal pictured was one of many at the Al Qaqaa complex, so it’s entire possible that this means little or nothing. More as it develops.
UPDATE II: Looking at the IAEA report from its inspection on January 14, 2003, this seal did not cover any of the IAEA materials at Al Qaqaa. Here are the seal numbers that were used to keep the HMX and RDX under wraps:
None of these numbers are even close in sequence to the number shown in the ABC report. Moreover, on page 3 of the report, the IAEA concludes that Al Qaqaa only contains 3,080 kilograms of RDX, or around 3 tons. The amount of HMX noted at the time was 194,741 kg, or about 214 tons. PETN comes in at 3500 kg, or 4 tons. Where does the IAEA come up with 377 tons of material at Al Qaqaa?
I note that some are saying that the picture of the seal is a stock photograph [confirmed, thanks to NZ Bear]. It’s an incredibly misleading placement for this story, and it’s not labeled as such. Having it as part of their story without mentioning where it originated certainly leaves the reader with the impression that it was photographed at the site contemporaneous to the video.
UPDATE III: During the replay of the video shown by ABC, I saw one seal that ended in either ’86’ or ’66’, which wouldn’t match the IAEA report from January 2003.

Guardian Reviews Impact Of Blogs

I missed this a couple of days ago when it first appeared, but Simon Jeffery wrote a balanced look at blogs earlier this week at the Guardian (UK). Simon was kind enough to mention me and CQ after we traded e-mail last week — and after we both took shots at each other on our blogs. Simon turns out to be a rather nice guy and an interesting correspondent, and his article presents a fair introduction to those who may not be very familiar with the blogosphere.
Simon has this to say about my analysis of blogging:

Edward Morrissey, who runs the pro-Bush Captain’s Quarters – by no means the largest – is now logging 840,000 visits a month (up from 30,000 in January) to his daily Democrat-bashing.
Recent entries include the latest theft or defacement of a Bush campaign sign and the lyrics of a satirical song about John Kerry, Mekong Delta Blues, written by contacts in Minneapolis: “When I was first elected / My daddy told me son, / You gotta raise their taxes / And take away their guns.”
Mr Morrissey argues that the lack of a British-style national press in the United States catering for readers across the political spectrum creates a natural audience for blogs.
He said: “American voters live primarily in cities and suburbs with easy access to only one print newspaper. They get only one point of view.”

Daily Democrat-bashing? Hey, that’s a fair analysis of what I’ve written here, although it may be a bit jarring to see it expressed that way. After all, I’m dedicated to truth, justice, and the Blogosphere Way. (Y’all can stop laughing now.) Simon also includes input from Markos Moulitsas at the Daily Kos for good balance. In fact, the only quibble I have with the entire article is Simon’s description of Andrew Sullivan as relatively non-partisan. Sullivan’s been partisan all along; he just switched sides, that’s all.
Give the entire article a read. In fact, even though I usually strongly disagree with the Guardian, it presents well-written articles and make no secret of their political viewpoint, two qualities which lift them above most American dailies. It should be on your daily review list, at least.

Post Gets The Weapons Story Context Correct

The Washington Post injects some context and not a little sanity into the hyperventilation coming from the Kerry campaign and the left on Al Qaqaa. In fact, Bradley Graham and Thomas Ricks point out what I posted last Tuesday about the amount of explosives in question, and the fact that HMX and RDX pose little increased risk over the other explosives left over in Iraq:

U.S. military commanders estimated last fall that Iraqi military sites contained 650,000 to 1 million tons of explosives, artillery shells, aviation bombs and other ammunition. The Bush administration cited official figures this week showing about 400,000 tons destroyed or in the process of being eliminated. That leaves the whereabouts of more than 250,000 tons unknown.
Against that background, this week’s assertions by Sen. John F. Kerry’s campaign about the few hundred tons said to have vanished from Iraq’s Qaqaa facility have struck some defense experts as exaggerated.
“There is something truly absurd about focusing on 377 tons of rather ordinary explosives, regardless of what actually happened at al Qaqaa,” Anthony H. Cordesman, a senior analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, wrote in an assessment yesterday. “The munitions at al Qaqaa were at most around 0.06 percent of the total.”

Not only does the amount in question (the total remains in serious doubt) at Al Qaqaa pale into insignificance against the amounts confiscated and destroyed already by the US, it turns out that the explosives themselves were not uncommon in the massive munitions hoarded by Saddam during the arms embargo that John Kerry believes kept Hussein in his box:

Whatever the case, the military significance of the loss, in a country awash with far larger amounts of munitions, is open to question.
The most powerful of the three explosives — HMX — can be used in a trigger for nuclear devices, which is why it was placed under IAEA seal. But HMX is obtainable elsewhere, and the chief U.S. weapons investigator in Iraq, Charles A. Duelfer, has acknowledged that the Iraqi stockpile posed no particular concern in this regard.

In short, this is a non-story. No one wants to see weapons and munitions disappear, regardless of who was in charge at the time. However, the notion that having 0.06% of the total amount of explosive ordinance in Iraq outside of our control somehow represents a larger danger than having 100% of the bombs and explosives under Saddam Hussein’s control is not only ludicrous on its face, it shows why those who insist on that interpretation cannot be trusted with safeguarding our national security. One web site, which I cannot remember, said the missing 380 tons equated to 700,000 Lockerbies. The same web site didn’t bother to mention that had we not acted, we would have left Saddam with the capability of 1,166,900,000 Lockerbies.
The reaction from John Kerry and the hysterics on the Left has been educational. Either they believe that the 3ID and 101st Airborne were incompetent and did not search Al Qaqaa despite the 3ID’s insistence that they did and contemporaneous reporting showing the discovery of suspicious materials during their search, or they have cynically seized upon the shoddy and screechy reporting by the NY Times and CBS as a lever to grab power. In both cases, they want us to believe that America was better off leaving all of this material in Saddam’s hands, material that they’ve said for over a year didn’t warrant military action, and now claim that Western civilization hangs in the balance because 0.06% of it may have gone missing.
Either they are complete fools or rank opportunists. Take your pick. Neither promises to keep us safe from the people who want nothing more than to kill large numbers of us at the first opportunity.