Shari’a: The Borg Of Jurisprudence

The Archbishop of Canterbury has endorsed the adoption of shari’a in Britain, calling it “inevitable”. Most of the British beg to differ, and Rowan Williams now finds himself at the center of a multicultural meltdown:

The Archbishop of Canterbury was embroiled in a fierce political and religious row last night after he called for aspects of Islamic sharia law to be adopted in Britain.
Dr Rowan Williams said that it “seems inevitable” that elements of the Muslim law, such as divorce proceedings, would be incorporated into British legislation.
His comments were immediately attacked by Downing Street, religious groups and MPs from all sides. The head of the equality watchdog denounced his claims while several high-profile Muslims also criticised Dr Williams.

The Archbishop forgot that Britain operates under a representative government, not a theocracy. The adoption of shari’a would obliterate that system and place the UK under the thumb of imams — a prospect that even British Muslims find distasteful. Khalid Mahmood, a Muslim MP for Labour, noted that Muslims around the world fight to free themselves from such systems, and wondered aloud whether Williams knows what shari’a actually entails.
It’s not the first time a member of the clergy has suggested appeasement and surrender for a strategy against expansion of radical Islam. The endorsement of these strategies by the leader of the Anglican Church is especially disheartening, however. That the leader of a worldwide sect of Christianity thinks of shari’a as “inevitable” should prompt questions about his fitness for that office.

Osama, Ayman, Or Joe Camel?

Which target got a million-dollar missile in the rear yesterday? ABC News reports that Pakistani officials believe they killed someone high up the al-Qaeda food chain with a missile strike yesterday, but they’re not saying who it might be. Hopes have been raised in the past, but usually have wound up either killing lower-level figures or, as George Bush famously noted, a camel and a ten-dollar tent:

Pakistani intelligence sources say they believe a “high-value” al Qaeda target was killed in a missile strike yesterday in the country’s tribal region bordering Afghanistan.
U.S. officials said there was no indication that the target was Osama bin Laden or his deputy Ayman al Zawahri, but one senior official told the strike was aimed at one particular figure.
“We don’t know whether we got him yet, we are sorting through it,” the official said, indicating the intended target was a top leader of the terror group.

The Pakistanis may also be aiming at Baitullah Mehsud, a particular thorn in their side. He reportedly masterminded the assassination of Benazir Bhutto and may have sent the ill-fated mission to Europe for the transportation system attacks, which got foiled by Western intelligence services. The capture of those men could have given the Pakistanis a good idea where to find Mehsud.
Last week, reports emerged that Osama bin Laden had begun writing personal notes to Taliban and AQ leaders in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Those communications could have tipped off the coalition against AQ as well. Ayman al-Zawahiri’s more frequent communiques to the West could also have left him vulnerable. We know who it wasn’t; despite the outrage Adam Gadahn generates among Americans, the traitor isn’t considered a high-value target by anyone other than Adam Gadahn.
We’ve been through these reports before. Most of the time, they turn out to be nothing. We’ll hope that they took out a top level AQ or Taliban leader, but we’ll wait for confirmation before celebrating.

When Pervez Met Ehud

Did they or didn’t they? That may sound like a question from a paparazzi magazine, but in diplomatic circles, it could mean life or death. After a chance encounter in the lobby of a Parisian hotel, Pervez Musharraf and Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak reportedly held a second, 20-minute meeting to discuss fears of an Iranian nuclear-weapons program:

Pakistan’s president held a rare and secret meeting with Israel’s defense minister in a Paris hotel last week, and the Iranian nuclear program figured high on the agenda, Israeli defense officials said Monday.
The two states have no diplomatic ties, and their officials rarely meet. But Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak saw each other by chance at the Hotel Raphael in Paris on Jan. 22, where they both were staying, the officials said. They then held a scheduled 20-minute meeting the following day, the officials said. …
Barak and Musharraf discussed the possibility that Iran would develop nuclear weapons, the Israeli officials said. Iran and Israel are bitter enemies, and Israel — along with the U.S. and much of the international community — is concerned that Iran’s nuclear program is designed to produce weapons. Iran claims it intends to produce energy.
Nuclear-armed Pakistan, which has close political and economic ties with Iran, has repeatedly said Iran has a right to develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes and that the issue of Iran’s nuclear plans must be resolved by diplomatic means.
At the meeting, Barak also expressed concern that instability in Pakistan could put the country’s nuclear arsenal in the hands of Muslim extremists, but Musharraf assured Barak that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons were safe, the officials said.

The Israelis won’t confirm the meeting, and for good reason. Musharraf has enough problems at home. If this meeting got confirmed by either party, it would set off a fury in Pakistan, providing the radical Islamists with even more momentum.
If true, it does demonstrate at least one reason that the US has tried to remain supportive of Musharraf. Not many Muslim leaders would agree to meet with Israel at all, especially not a head of state, and even more with a minister of inferior rank. Barak is a former Prime Minister and therefore has a little more standing, but the fact that Musharraf would enter into even informal talks with an Israeli minister shows that he could help normalize the relationship between Israel and the Muslim world — if Musharraf survives long enough to do so.
That assumes he met with Barak a second time. Like the breathless social reports from slick fan magazines, we’ll have to leave this to everyone’s imaginations without any other confirmation. And for Musharraf’s sake, the deniability should probably remain.

Osama’s Pen Pals

Nothing brightens the day of the average psychotic terrorist leader than to get a handwritten letter from his idol, Osama bin Laden. According to Newsweek, Osama’s been lettering, sending a few personal missives to terrorist leaders in al-Qaeda and the Taliban. His pen-pal activity intends to keep morale high among the troops, and may indicate that his morale has improved as well:

Osama Bin Laden appears to be reasserting his influence among the Afghan and Pakistani tribal leaders upon whom he’s depending for survival. Since December, the Qaeda chief has personally penned at least five brief letters, written in Arabic on white stationery, to the region’s militant commanders. For the Taliban’s Mullah Mansoor Dadullah, the latest correspondence is the second he’s received this year from the “Sheik,” as bin Laden is known among jihadis. The first was a letter of condolence after the death of Dadullah’s notoriously brutal elder brother, a senior Taliban figure who was killed by Coalition forces in May 2007. An Afghan Taliban official said Mansoor was thrilled to receive the notes. “For the first time the Sheik is … reaching out to individual fighters rather than just broadcasting an audio or videotaped message,” says the official, who requested anonymity for security reasons. “It’s like a reward for a job well done.”
According to the Taliban source, bin Laden’s letter-writing campaign was inspired by ramped-up military activities on both sides of the rugged border. “He sees the tide turning in his favor.” Bin Laden’s main point, said the Taliban official, who has seen one of the notes, is that he is “satisfied with the effort and progress of the resistance against Jews and Christians.” The holy war against infidels, bin Laden added, is not his personal fight but that of all Muslims. “Jews and Christians,” he wrote, “have a long history of opposing any Islamic government that is trying to establish a truly Islamic state based on Sharia law.”

And Osama’s gang has a long history of killing lots of Muslims as a means of opposing Jews and Christians. They have killed more Muslims over the past five years than anyone else in the world. Their bloody handiwork has been on display in nations around the world, and no more so than in Iraq, where they attempted to start a sectarian war between Sunnis and Shi’ites and killed tens of thousands in the process. They have done the same in Pakistan, Turkey, Morocco, Algeria, and other Muslim countries.
Now Osama wants to reach out and touch the hearts of his bloody lunatics. How would a letter from Osama begin? “Dear brother in murder: How are you? Have you killed any infidels today? What glorious work! Oh, and how terrible it is that your particularly murderous brother died the other day. You have my sympathies.”
Does anyone else see the laughable irony of Osama sending a sympathy card?
The underlying question of Osama’s existence appears answered. If he feels comfortable enough to send out personal notes, he must sense a reduced danger from communications in general. It might eventually give us an opening to discovering his location. We need to press Pervez Musharraf for more cooperation in finding and targeting Osama and sending a note of our own.

Terror Plot Foiled

Arrests in Spain stopped a string of terrorist bombings across Europe, according to Australia’s Daily Telegraph. At least the fourteen men arrested plotted to hit transportation centers in Spain, Portugal, France, and Germany, an operation that would have been credited to al-Qaeda and Pakistani warlord Baitullah Mehsud, the man behind the assassination of Benazir Bhutto:

A GROUP of alleged Islamist extremists were planning a wave of suicide attacks across Europe before they were detained in Barcelona last weekend.
The group intended to carry out three attacks in Spain and one each in Portugal, France and Germany, an unnamed man who infiltrated the group told top-selling daily El Pais.
The report comes one day after Spanish judicial sources said that three of the six members of the group, who allegedly planned to blow themselves up, were still at large.
The preferred targets were public transportation networks, especially metro systems because of the difficulty which emergency services would have in reaching the injured there, according to the newspaper.
The attacks would be claimed in the name of al-Qaeda by Islamist warlord Baitullah Mehsud from Pakistan’s tribal region of South Waziristan.

What do Spain, Portugal, France, and Germany have in common? None of them belong to our fighting coalition in Iraq. None of them contribute combat troops to the hot zones in Afghanistan, either. In fact, only Spain among these nations ever did contribute combat troops, in Iraq, and they withdrew them after the bombings in Madrid in March 2004. It seems that retreat didn’t keep the jihadis from targeting Spain again.
This shows — again — that appeasement and retreat does not sate the bloodthirstiness of radical Islamist terrorists. It only makes them more confident of their ability to cow their opponents into concessions. They want to continue murdering non-Muslims (and Muslims) until they can triumph over the West and take their ordained place as our masters in the worldwide Caliphate.
They will not surrender, but they think we will. They have already identified the nations most likely to do so and continue targeting them for murder.

Telecom Immunity Moves Forward In The Senate

The Bush administration won a legislative victory yesterday when the FISA bill that excluded immunity for telecommunications companies that cooperated with the NSA failed spectacularly in the Senate, leaving the path open to the immunity approach endorsed by the White House. The version without telecom immunity only garnered 36 votes in the upper chamber despite the Democrats’ endorsement of it. Twelve of their members joined 48 Republicans in voting against it:

The Senate signaled in a key vote yesterday that it supports giving some of the nation’s largest telephone companies immunity from dozens of privacy lawsuits related to a federal domestic eavesdropping program initiated after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
In a lopsided 60 to 36 vote — with 12 Democrats joining Republicans in the majority — the Senate rejected a version of the proposed legislation sponsored by Democrats on the Judiciary Committee. That bill omitted immunity for the telecommunications firms involved in warrantless eavesdropping.
The move kept alive a competing proposal, from Democrats and Republicans on the Senate intelligence committee, that would give the companies the legal protections they seek. It also underscored the deep divisions among Democrats on the surveillance issue. A measure passed by House Democrats would offer no immunity for the companies.
The vote marked a notable victory for the White House, which has pushed hard for telecom immunity.

The House has its own version in process which looks similar to the failed Senate approach. The robust rejection of the Democratic efforts to allow for unlimited lawsuits against the telecoms makes it clear that the House version has no chance of ever becoming law. They can hem and haw and stamp their feet, but the Democrats not only don’t have the votes to overcome a cloture call in the Senate, they don’t even have the votes to come close to a majority.
The Democrats have begun the second session of the 110th Congress much as they spent the first: in disarray. They put themselves on deadline for FISA reform by putting a silly six-month sunset on the last bill. Instead of working this out in the intervening time, they have waited until those six months have almost expired before finally getting around to a vote.
This puts them in the same position as they found themselves in May on funding the Iraq war. They have run out of time. A failure to extend the FISA legislation passed in August will mean that the NSA will have to stop collecting some data in real time, putting the nation at risk. That means that the House Democrats can’t afford to stall the Senate into compliance. Their own deadline forces them into action — and that gives a veto threat as well as strong Senate rejection all the more leverage.
The leadership of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid have led their party into another trap of their own making. It portends another long, disappointing, and embarrassing year for the pair — essentially a replay of 2007, but with heightened scrutiny in an election year. If they wanted to make Bush look more relevant and more clever, they couldn’t come up with a better strategy.

Israel, Home Of The WOPR

Doesn’t anyone remember the movie War Games? Apparently not in Israel, where they have decided to research “thinking machines” as a controlling mechanism for a missile defense system. Faster than anyone can say Cyberdyne, the system would respond to a catastrophic attack by ensuring the death of Israel’s attackers, even if the human beings at the controls get incapacitated:

Israel has been hit in recent years by thousands and thousands of rockets, mortar shells, and missiles. And that could be just a preview of the onslaught Iran may one day unleash. So Israeli military leaders have begun early planning for a new, robotic defense system, armed with enough artificial intelligence that it “could take over completely” from flesh-and-blood operators. “It will be designed for… autonomous operations,’ Brig. Gen. Daniel Milo, commander of Israel’s air defense forces, tells Defense News‘ Barbara Opall-Rome. And in the event of a “doomsday” strike, Opall-Rome notes, the system could handle “attacks that exceed physiological limits of human command.”
How do you say “Skynet” in Hebrew, again?
Israel already uses a blend of Arrow and Patriot interceptors to handle incoming rockets and missiles. This new command-and-control program would be “superimposed over all those defenses” — and over new ones to come.

Why not? What could possibly go wrong? If the inevitable cyborg takeover occurs, we just need to ensure that we have Summer Glau protecting the Last Hope Of Mankind. As long as it isn’t Edward Furlong, we should be just fine.

The Bin Laden Peace Initiative

It’s not what you’d think. One of Osama bin Laden’s sons — a former member of al-Qaeda — has gone public in urging his father to end his terrorism and focus on peace. Omar says more and more Muslims agree:

Omar bin Laden has a message for his father, Osama: “Find another way.”
The son of the most-wanted man in the world spoke Sunday to CNN in a quiet, middle-class suburb about an hour outside Cairo, Egypt.
Omar bin Laden, who works as a contractor, said he is talking publicly because he wants an end to the violence his father has inspired — violence that has killed innocent civilians in a spate of attacks around the world, including those of September 11, 2001. …
He said that’s not just his own message, but one that a friend of his father’s and other Muslims have expressed to him. “They too say … my father should change [his] way,” he said.

Osama won’t be likely to heed the call, at least not from his son. They haven’t spoken since 2000, when Omar rejected AQ and left Afghanistan, although with Osama’s blessing. Omar also doesn’t consider him a terrorist, but a hero who helped free Afghanistan from Soviet domination — but says the tactics used then can’t apply now.
Will this make a difference? Perhaps. Having one of his sons publicly call for moderate Muslims to step up and demand an end to violent jihad at least provides a counterweight against the more bloodthirsty extremists. Omar’s rejection seems rather tepid, though maybe necessarily so in order to gain more momentum.
If the rest of the Muslim world took the same approach, it might make a big difference. (via AJ Strata)

Former Congressman An Al-Qaeda Fundraiser?

The war on terror has brought many strange stories to the fore, but perhaps none so strange as the indictment of Mark Deli Siljander, a former Michigan Congressman indicted for helping to shift funds to Islamist terrorists. Siljander represented the Islamic American Relief Agency and took $50,000 in fees later determined to have been stolen from USAID, and helped get it funds that federal investigators say went to the Taliban:

A former congressman and delegate to the United Nations was indicted Wednesday as part of a terrorist fundraising ring that allegedly sent more than $130,000 to an al Qaeda and Taliban supporter who has threatened U.S. and international troops in Afghanistan.
The former Republican congressman from Michigan, Mark Deli Siljander, was charged with money laundering, conspiracy and obstructing justice for allegedly lying about lobbying senators on behalf of an Islamic charity that authorities said was secretly sending funds to terrorists.
A 42-count indictment, unsealed in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Missouri, accuses the Islamic American Relief Agency of paying Siljander $50,000 for the lobbying — money that turned out to be stolen from the U.S. Agency for International Development. …
The indictment charges IARA with sending approximately $130,000 to help Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, whom the United States has designated as a global terrorist. The money, sent to bank accounts in Peshawar, Pakistan in 2003 and 2004, was masked as donations to an orphanage located in buildings that Hekmatyar owned.

If this turns out to be true, what a betrayal this represents. Siljander represented the US at the United Nations during the Reagan administration. As a Congressman, he not only had access to power and influence, but he himself served as a symbol of the representative government that we herald as the antithesis of the terrorism Siljander allegedly funded.
Mind-boggling. Embarrassing. Infuriating — if true.
Debbie Schlussel used to work for Siljander, and suffice it to say, she’s shocked. She believes that money troubles could have driven Siljander to front for radical Islamist terrorists, if the indictment proves to be true. If so, then the outrage is even worse, maybe similar to the notorious John Walker case. Be sure to read all of Debbie’s post.

Did The Buck Stop With Rodriguez?

The videotapes containing interrogations of al-Qaeda terrorists, including depictions of waterboarding, got destroyed because the man who ordered the action believed he had “implicit support” to do so from the CIA, according to his lawyer. Jose Rodriguez acted on requests from the CIA station chief in Bangkok to resolve the status of the tapes before the chief’s retirement. After consultations with CIA lawyers and other officials in the agency, Rodriguez believed he could act to destroy the tapes and all of the evidence they contained:

In late 2005, the retiring CIA station chief in Bangkok sent a classified cable to his superiors in Langley asking if he could destroy videotapes recorded at a secret CIA prison in Thailand that in part portrayed intelligence officers using simulated drowning to extract information from suspected al-Qaeda members.
The tapes had been sitting in the station chief’s safe, in the U.S. Embassy compound, for nearly three years. Although those involved in the interrogations had pushed for the tapes’ destruction in those years and a secret debate about it had twice reached the White House, CIA officials had not acted on those requests. This time was different.
The CIA had a new director and an acting general counsel, neither of whom sought to block the destruction of the tapes, according to agency officials. The station chief was insistent because he was retiring and wanted to resolve the matter before he left, the officials said. And in November 2005, a published report that detailed a secret CIA prison system provoked an international outcry.
Those three circumstances pushed the CIA’s then-director of clandestine operations, Jose A. Rodriguez Jr., to act against the earlier advice of at least five senior CIA and White House officials, who had counseled the agency since 2003 that the tapes should be preserved. Rodriguez consulted CIA lawyers and officials, who told him that he had the legal right to order the destruction. In his view, he received their implicit support to do so, according to his attorney, Robert S. Bennett.

Implicit support? That’s an interesting term to use when defending someone over a potentially criminal act. Bennett’s construction appears to concede that Rodriguez never sought approval for his actions, or at least never got explicit approval for the destruction of the tapes. It makes it sound like Rodriguez made the decision and that the responsibility ends at his desk.
If this is the best that Rodriguez can do, don’t expect him to get immunity soon. Congress and the Department of Justice won’t grant immunity unless they have a probability of going higher up the food chain at the CIA. This statement essentially concedes that on the question of the destruction of the tapes, at least, no one can go any higher than Rodriguez — which will certainly disappoint those who wanted the scandal to reach into the Oval Office, or at least Blair House.
However, another question exists. The CIA materially misrepresented the facts when it denied having any recordings of interrogations to the court in the Zacarias Moussaoui case, and potentially to Congress as well when it began looking into waterboarding as an interrogation practice. That is where the obstruction of justice claims rest, and Rodriguez’ statement indicates that plenty of people at the CIA knew about those tapes — including its legal counsel. On that question, the DoJ may want Rodriguez’ cooperation, and may have to pay for it with immunity, or at least a plea bargain.