Franks: Even Muslim Nations Warned Of WMD Attacks

Matt Drudge reports on an interview which will appear tomorrow in Parade Magazine with General Tommy Franks, who led the effort in Afghanistan and Iraq. Franks talked with Parade to promote his new book, American Soldier, and has a few surprises for readers:

* The biggest surprise for him was that they’ve found no weapons of mass destruction (WMD), the “reason we went to war.” He says multiple Middle Eastern leaders, including Jordan’s King Abdullah and Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak, told Franks that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. In January 2003, Mubarak said point blank to Franks, “Saddam has WMD – biologicals, actually-and he will use them on your troops.”
* Franks singles out White House Counter-terrorism Czar Richard Clarke as never providing him with “a single page of actionable intelligence” and of engaging in mostly wishful thinking. Franks also believes the U.S. invested too much in electronic spy surveillance and not enough in spies. “We can’t send a Princeton-educated New York lawyer to infiltrate al-Qaeda. To get information, we have to marry the devil or at least employ him. You have to deal.”

Franks also thinks that the world is “far safer” with Saddam in custody and out of power, and he believes that the US should stick it out in Iraq for at least five years. It may not play well during a presidential election, but the Iraqis will not be able to provide effective security for quite some time to come, and we cannot afford to leave Iraq to return to chaos. Franks claims “disappointment” with the Iraqi response to the fall of the Ba’athists. He though Iraqis would seize the moment and rise to the occasion, taking it upon themselves to secure vital functions. Instead, they chose to loot and pillage in the aftermath of Saddam’s fall, and Franks understandably does not much trust them now.
The charge against Richard Clarke is intriguing, because it’s the second time in two weeks that the long-term counterterrorism apparatchik has come under fire for his job performance. The 9/11 Commission noted that Clarke blew the cover on an operation in the late 1990s that might have allowed the CIA to capture or kill Osama bin Laden, by warning the United Arab Emirates to get its diplomat out of the camp where Osama held court. Now Franks, who was in the best position to know, says that Clarke couldn’t come up with anything actionable, a damning statement of his effectiveness across two wars.
It’s certainly a much different portrait of Clarke than we got in March, especially from Viacom, the parent of CBS, when both were shilling his book shamelessly. I doubt they’ll be as interested in Franks at 60 Minutes, unless HarperCollins happens to be another Viacom subsidiary.

Northern Alliance — Live Streaming To The World!

Tomorrow marks two big firsts for the Northern Alliance Radio Network — our first live remote and our launch of Internet streaming! (It requires IE 6.0 to work …)
Yes, for the first time, people around the world will be able to hear the Northern Alliance show live. We’ve promised it for months, and thanks to the Minnesota Taxpayer’s League, it’s finally here. We’ll be appearing live at The Estates At Diamond Bluff, which has sponsored the First Annual Patriot Picnic, where we’ll hopefully get lots of audience participation. I know the Fraters guys have something special cooked up for the third hour, especially, so if you’re in the area, come on by! The food and soft drinks are free. If you’re elsewhere, be sure to tune in!
UPDATE: Hey, a time would be nice, wouldn’t it? Sorry — it’s noon to 3 PM, Central Time.
BUMP: It’s today at noon, CT — be sure to tune in using the link on this post!
UPDATE II: I got a number of messages saying that the stream kept cutting out. I’m not sure why. We were doing our first remote and the problem may have been in the studio, or perhaps we had too many people trying to access the feed. We’ll pass it along to the streaming service and ask them to check it out on their end. In the meantime, we had a great time at the Estates of Diamond Bluff, and what a gorgeous view we had on the Mississippi! We even saw a trio of golden eagles flying overhead late in the day, and I’ve never even seen one before. The Fraters Libertas gang did a great job in Hour 3 with the Name The Newsmaker game, and finally, the crowd was outstanding. I can’t wait for the rebroadcast on the stream, which starts Monday at 3 pm and cycles every six hours.
UPDATE III: Chumley Wonderbar has pictures of the event at Plastic Hallway! None of me. Hmmph. The Little Admiral made it into one, though …

Bipartisan Opposition To Key 9/11 Proposal

The 9/11 Commission recommendations took a surprise hit from bipartisan criticism of a key component — a centralized intelligence center under the control of the White House. Not only has the Bush Administration quietly opposed it, but now key senators from both parties have voiced their concerns. Even the ACLU appears to back Bush:

The White House and senators from both parties raised objections yesterday to one of the key reforms recommended by the Sept. 11 commission, even as the panel’s leaders warned that the nation would remain at greater risk of terrorist attack unless the changes are enacted quickly.
The criticisms from Capitol Hill and the Bush administration represent the first significant challenge to a central recommendation of the Sept. 11 commission, which argues in its 567-page final report that a single intelligence director should work out of the president’s office to coordinate the war on terrorism.
During the first congressional hearing on the issue yesterday, several GOP and Democratic lawmakers raised concerns about that idea, saying that placing an intelligence director and a national counterterrorism center inside the Executive Office of the President could increase the potential for misuse of information and could threaten the independence of U.S. intelligence analysts.
At the White House, where officials are formulating their own package of reform proposals, a senior official, speaking on background to reporters, indicated that the administration will oppose any such arrangement. The official said Bush “wants to protect intelligence agencies from any undue influence” and “ensure that intelligence analysts maintain their autonomy.”

One of the criticisms of the Bush administration’s handling of the intelligence from Iraq was the pressure supposedly put on analysts to overstate the threat from Saddam Hussein. That turned out to be false, as the SSCI report explicitly stated. However, pushing all of the nation’s intelligence services under one person reporting directly to the President does seem to make such an occurrence more possible, if not more likely. In this regard, competition between the agencies may benefit the President as it forces more opinions to the table.
Several lawmakers suggested that the location of the center, at least, be changed from inside the White House to somewhere more neutral, a middle ground between Congress and the Executive, but so far the commission insists that its recommendations be accepted in total. Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton have both expressed concern that any delay in implementing the changes formulated by the commission will unnecessarily leave America vulnerable to a new attack. However, the panel’s mandate was to review the data and make recommendations to Congress and the White House, not a complete bypass of the legislative process. No one elected them to pass laws, and it’s entirely appropriate for lawmakers to debate the wisdom of the panel’s product, especially when Congress has expressed so much concern in the past over the autonomy of intelligence analysts.
Oddly, the Bush administration has led the opposition to the expansion of executive influence. Although they have done so quietly, the White House has repeatedly both praised the work of the commission and stated that its recommendations would be carefully considered. The Kerry campaign has attempted to leap in front of the commission’s bandwagon, criticizing Bush for not submitting the recommendations without thinking. It’s a strange position for a Democrat to criticize a Republican for attempting to limit executive control, and it’s made even stranger by support for Bush coming from partisans like the ACLU and Carl Levin:

While many of the panel’s proposals have proved popular, its call to place the war on terrorism more firmly under presidential control has produced an odd alliance of detractors inside and outside the intelligence community. In addition to spurring opposition from the Bush White House — which has zealously guarded executive power during its tenure — the idea has prompted criticism from some Democrats and from the American Civil Liberties Union.
“If we act hastily to appease partisan pressures, we could create a surveillance society with an intelligence czar in the hip pocket of the president,” Anthony D. Romero, the ACLU’s executive director, said in a statement yesterday.
Some of the sharpest questioning about the intelligence-director proposal came from Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.), who sits on the governmental affairs, intelligence and armed services committees, all of which will play major roles in crafting reform legislation in the Senate. Levin told Kean and Hamilton that “a top priority of reform must be greater independence and objectivity of intelligence analysis” that is “not tainted by the policies of whatever administration is in power.”
“How does putting the director even closer to the policymaker do anything other than to make this problem even more difficult?” Levin asked at one point.

One point should be crystal clear to the American public: the commission’s recommendations are not the Word of God handed down from Mount Sinai. They reflect a good effort by a group of people who had some expertise, and a few with axes to grind. Their recommendations are worthy of serious review and contemplation, but not all of them will work the way the commission intended, and some are completely counterproductive — such as adding two layers of bureaucracy between the President and the intelligence analysts. Congress and the Bush administration should not be pressured into blindly giving the commission a carte blanche, and candidates who want to be viewed as serious thinkers should not propose to abdicate their responsibility to investigate the long-term effects of the panel’s recommendations.

Maybe John Edwards Could Represent Him

John Kerry followed up a fairly successful acceptance speech at the nominating convention with a stupendously silly statement on Friday that again reveals the nature of the Democrat’s thinking on terrorism. Rather than calculating the value of interrogating Osama bin Laden or the security requirements that would necessitate a military tribunal for his disposition, Kerry instead proposes to put Osama on public trial — several times:

John Kerry said Friday he would put Osama bin Laden on trial in U.S. courts rather than an international tribunal to ensure the “fastest, surest route” to a murder conviction if the terrorist mastermind is captured while he is president.
“I want him tried for murder in New York City, and in Virginia and in Pennsylvania,” where planes hijacked by al-Qaida operatives crashed Sept. 11, 2001, Kerry said in his first interview as the Democratic presidential nominee.

So Kerry wants to create the traveling Osama Bin Laden Road Show and Legal Circus, complete with Johnnie Cochran for the defense and Judge Lance Ito expressing his pain at anyone who impugns his wife’s integrity. We all want to see intelligence and military officials forced into revealing surveillance techniques and covert operatives in order to assure bin Laden’s right to a fair trial. Kerry wants to do this three times, maybe more, plus then have the appeals process grind on for several years afterward, all giving bin Laden himself a perfect platform from which to preach his murderous homilies to an enraptured world. Geraldo can have the first exclusive interview, and Fox will have Greta van Susteren prattle on ad nauseum regarding proper court procedures.
Is Kerry on another planet? Unfortunately, no. Statements like these clearly demonstrate that Kerry wishes to hearken back to the failed policies of the past, when presidents treated terrorists like criminals and agonized over legal strategies to incarcerate them, having first abandoned the death penalty in order to have suspects extradited. Suggesting that Osama get tried in criminal court shows Kerry to be a 9/10 candidate.

The Captain Sails Into San Diego

For CQ readers in Southern California, you get a sneak peek (or soundbite) of Captain Ed ahead of tomorrow’s Northern Alliance launch of its live Internet stream tonight at 6:30 PM. I have been asked to appear on Stacy Taylor’s radio program on KOGO. Stacy wants to talk about bloggers, the Democratic convention, and John Kerry’s acceptance speech.
This call surprised me somewhat — I haven’t met Stacy Taylor or spoken with him before, and I’m not sure where they found me. I’m happy they did, and I hope San Diego gets its money’s worth from my segment. If you get a chance to listen, drop a comment on this post and let me know what you thought of it.
UPDATE: It was fun, and Stacy was a gracious host to both myself and TalkLeft’s Jeralynn Merritt, who talked over both of us. I’d have been more combative, but frankly, I’m too tired to start sniping at people. Jeralynn certainly had an interesting point of view, but it would have been nice if she had let me finish answering the questions I was asked before disagreeing.

The Arabian Rumor Mill: US Got Zarqawi

We’ve been down this road before, but what the hell — Arab newsline Al-Bawaba reports that Abu Musab Zarqawi has been captured along the Syrian-Iraqi border:

Reports in Kuwait on Friday said a man assumed to be Al Qaeda leader in Iraq, Abu Musab Zarqawi has been captured near the Syrian border.
Zarqawi, whose Tawhid and Jihad group has claimed responsibility for numerous attacks in Iraq, was captured during a joint operation by US forces and Iraqi police, Al Siyasah newspaper, quoting informed Iraqi sources, said Friday.
The US and Iraqi investigators are trying to identify the captive and has sent his DNA sample for testing, the unconfirmed report indicated.

So far, that’s all we have on the capture, but I suspect that an announcement one way or the other will be made within a few hours. If it turns out to be correct, you can expect to hear a lot more about “July surprises”, as if we just started looking for these guys after the Independence Day parades.

Minnesota DFL Upholds Midwestern Values

Well, you can’t say that the Minnesota delegation to the Democratic convention did anything to hurt the reputation of Midwesterners, although they may have reinforced a couple of stereotypes while in Beantown. The Star-Tribune’s Kevin Duchschere reports that the Party apparatchiks were hardly party animals:

Boston is one of the nation’s most historic cities — and it’s apparently gone largely unseen by members of the Minnesota delegation.
Unlike at other recent national conventions, it seems that most of them spent their time attending campaign training workshops, interest-group caucuses and forums, DFL spokesman Bill Amberg said.
“The stakes are sky-high and people are amazingly focused,” he said. “Half the delegates come back to the hotel, have a beer and go to bed.”

Probably at 8 pm, because Lord knows, those cows ain’t gonna milk themselves.

Transgendering: No Evidence It Works

The London Guardian, normally a booster of liberal thought, reports this morning that British scientists warn that transgendering — the act of surgically changing the sex of a person — has no evidence of efficacy and that up to one-fifth of all sex-change patients commit suicide:

There is no conclusive evidence that sex change operations improve the lives of transsexuals, with many people remaining severely distressed and even suicidal after the operation, according to a medical review conducted exclusively for the Guardian.
The review of more than 100 international medical studies of post-operative transsexuals by the University of Birmingham’s aggressive research intelligence facility (Arif) found no robust scientific evidence that gender reassignment surgery is clinically effective.
It found no evaluation of whether other options, such as long-term counselling, might help transsexual patients or whether their gender confusion might lessen over time without treatment. The potential complications of taking sex changing hormones and undergoing genital surgery, which include deep vein thrombosis and incontinence respectively, were not thoroughly investigated either.

One physician disputed the report by saying that one-fifth of untreated transsexuals commit suicide anyway. However, all that demonstrates, according to the data uncovered by this review, is that the surgical option has no overall benefit on psychological states. If one-fifth commit suicide without surgery, and one-fifth commit suicide after surgery, and all of the available information shows that patients still remain deeply unhappy after the operation even if they’re not suicidal, any reasonable scientist would conclude that the procedure was ineffective.
Ah, but that’s the real issue: reason has little to do with transgendering issues. For the last 40-odd years, the psychiatric and medical communities have dispensed with reason and embraced political correctness, as our guest on the Northern Alliance Radio Network, Steven Rhoades, detailed in his book on gender politics, Taking Sex Differences Seriously. In other words, the Arif review determined that politics has trumped science in transgendering, and that research has been carefully tailored to meet predetermined results. It’s so bad that some call proper research models “unethical,” which would only be true if they withheld proven medical treatment from a control group:

Urological surgeon James Bellringer, who has performed more than 200 sex changes over the past four years, claimed that trying to carry out research that involves studying a control group of transsexual patients who were denied hormones and surgery would be unethical.
Mr Bellringer, who works at the main NHS gender identity clinic at Charing Cross hospital in west London, said: “I don’t think that any research that denied transsexual patients treatment would get past an ethics committee. There’s no other treatment that works. You either have an operation or suffer a miserable life. A fifth of those who don’t get treatment commit suicide.”

Why the problem in allowing the scientific method to determine the efficacy of transgendering? The GLBT lobby has become poweful beyond its numbers in terms of media and academic influence, and any notion that transsexualism is anything other than a plumbing problem begs the conclusion that the problem has a significant psychological component, rather than physiological. Apparently, the possibility of that conclusion has kept researchers from doing an honest job of evaluating these procedures. It’s time to insist on proper studies based on science and not political correctness.

The Main Event

OK, I may be taking most of the evening off, but I’m not going to miss a chance to live-blog this. Kerry just hugged a bunch of guys who look like they prefer handshakes, and now he’s thanking the crowd. Here we go (all times CT):
9:12 – I’m reporting for duty? With a salute? Out of uniform? That was lame …
9:14 – So far, he’s no Barack Obama. He’s home. We get it.
9:15 – Cute joke about the West Wing. Made me smile.
9:15 – “Trees as the cathedral of nature”. Hug a cathedral today.
9:18 – Those of you who had the 6-minute square in the Jack Kennedy reference pool just won the kitty. So far, not too bad. He’s got some energy and a bit of humor, although he just hit the trust and credibility meme.
9:21 – Now he’s going senatorial … “I will have a [blah blah blah]” … that style may work in the Senate, but it sounds like a haughty lecture. He learned nothing from Obama or even Edwards. He’s not talking with people, or even to people, but at people …
9:23 – A bit better now, especially when he talked about the 90’s and balancing the budget. Oh, and for all of you conspiracy theorists, Kerry just accepted the nomination, so no fake-out for bigger bucks forthcoming …
9:25 – “This son of a millworker is ready to succeed” … as opposed to “That son of a bitch knocked me down.” Well, he’s nuanced …
9:28 – Not bad, really, so far. Long on theme, short on anything specific, other than the reflexive Bush hatred. Now he’s evoking 9/11, something that his party will scream at when Bush does it…
9:29 – He wishes that there were no Democrats and Republicans? Fighting a war on the cheap?? This, from the guy who voted against the funding for the troops? Oh, please. Take two steps backwards…
9:30 – “We only go to war because we have to.” After twelve years of failed containment, I suppose this means Kerry would have waited until the sanctions utterly collapsed, Saddam re-armed, and actually did catastrophic damage before doing anything about him …
9:33 – “Conduct terrorist operations … er, anti-terrorist operations.” Paging Dr. Freud to lingerie …
9:35 – “Strength is more than just tough words.” Something we learned the hard way while we tried to ignore the terrorist attacks on American assets all during the 1990s, mostly with the foreign-policy team Kerry uses for his campaign …
9:36 – Sounds like Kerry has a good plan for homeland security. Too bad he wasn’t in the Senate where he could have introduced legislation to push that plan ahead. Oh, wait …
9:40 – Enron made its way into Kerry’s speech, followed by drug companies.
9:42 – “Help is on the way” – now it’s help? Last night it was “hope.” No wonder they have trouble staying on message.
9:44 – He’s getting better at his delivery as he goes along. He’s talking a bit faster, but still mostly delivers in a stentorian monotone…
9:50 – Wow, we’re going to fit all the moonbat theories in tonight, throwing in the Saudi royal family. Once again, great, let’s not rely on them. Why did you oppose broader drilling in the US, then?
9:52 – Kerry’s got a nerve — implying that Bush sells out to the Saudis and then, one minute later, urging him to take the high road! Now he talks about eliminating division! You gotta be kidding me!
9:54 – And now he makes a point of saying that he doesn’t wear his religion on his sleeve. Way to be a uniter and keep that positive message going, pal. Bush hatred keeps him going and going and going …
9:57 – Wound up his speech by getting wound up. Obviously the crowd loved it; he pretty much fed them the red meat they wanted and managed to get shots in at Bush despite the Kerry/Edwards insistence on maintaining a positive tone. Most of where Kerry defined himself relied on comparing himself to Bush, a sure sign that Kerry fears his ideas only stand up in opposition, not in leadership.
So endeth the convention. It remains to be seen whether Kerry did anything except excite the base with the four days that made up his fourth introduction to the US. I predict that in seven days, he’ll still be tracking even at best with Bush.

I’m Still Here, But ….

I apologize for the significant downtime today. Big issues, hardware changes, and other things (not health related). May do some blogging later, but am definitely watching the convention on C-SPAN.
Be sure to keep up with Power Line tonight for great convention coverage. Hope to be back with you later.