One Down

US and Iraqi forces completed their liberation of Samarra from the control of terrorist forces, having seized all government and Muslim facilities and have embarked on door-to-door searches for weapons and stragglers, the AP reports:

Iraqi security forces patrolled the streets, and U.S. troops went door to door searching for weapons and fighters Sunday after the military claimed success in wresting control of Samarra from Sunni insurgents in fierce fighting. …
U.S. commanders have praised the performance of Iraqi security forces in the offensive in Samarra, 60 miles northwest of Baghdad, calling the assault a successful first step in a major push to wrest key areas from insurgents before January elections.
As the gunfire subsided, Samarra residents emerged from their homes on Sunday to survey the damage and bury the dead. At the main hospital, bodies in black plastic bags were loaded on a truck to be taken to the cemetery.
The military says 125 rebels have been killed and 88 captured since the operation started early Friday.

Iraq’s Interior Minister Falah al-Naqib remarked that the Samarra operation shows that the Iraqis have demonstrated their ability to move from defensive missions to offensive. It also shows that Iraqi forces have the will to fight against Iraqi terrorists as well as foreigners who have come into Iraq to derail their move towards free elections in January. Many people have questioned whether the new Iraqi security forces could follow an order to attack; that question has been answered.
While some residents of Samarra complained bitterly about the military operation and collateral casualties, others acknowledged the relief from the oppression of the Islamofascist rule under which they lived. The next order of business for the interim government and the US in Samarra will be to ensure the swift restoral of services to its residents, including electricity, sewage, and civilian law enforcement. Water supplies have been restored already, and the faster everything else comes back on line, the more secure the victory will be.
Next up will either be Fallujah or Sadr City in Baghdad, and I’d lay bets on Fallujah. First, Fallujah can be isolated, where Sadr City is pretty tightly integrated into Baghdad and presents more of a military challenge. And make no mistake — the US and the Iraqis no longer see any diplomatic solutions to the so-called insurgency. Peace accords in all three areas held for little time and no gain, and with elections around the corner, no one wants to see terrorists controlling any territory.
The coalition has sent the message in Samarra that sieges are no longer in the strategic playbook, either. US forces continued softening up Fallujah by air in preparation for a Samarra-style full incursion, and last night hit a major weapons depot, causing 45 minutes of secondary explosions. Since these forces use precision weapons, such a bulls-eye shows an increased intelligence capability in Fallujah since the April siege. The population of Fallujah may or may not be sympathetic as a whole to the Ba’athist remnants and Islamofascist lunatics holding the city in their grip, but obviously some people would be very happy to see them gone — and the Iraqis and Americans have found them useful for their operations.

Quick Hits

It’s been a long day, meeting with the Northern Alliance after our radio show. A few links before I fall asleep …
Hugh Hewitt is inviting people to a virtual symposium on John Kerry’s proposed ban on bunker-busting nukes, as well as his idea about sending nuclear fuel to Iran to see what they do with it. Follow the links …
CQ reader Retired Military points out an interesting error on an absentee ballot in Michigan. Note which ticket the printing error affects. RM says he’s confirmed that this only occurred in one county …
Fox News apologized for a lame gag item that got posted to its website earlier from reporter Carl Cameron with a number of faked Kerry quotes in it. I can’t work up a great deal of outrage over this, since Fox acknowledged Cameron’s fubar immediately, apologized, and pulled the article. However, the faked quotes in the article should cause Fox to reconsider Cameron’s assignment to the Kerry campaign. The appearance of hostility renders him somewhat less than credible. If you think that’s a bit harsh, just think how you’d feel if it was reversed …
The Anchoress, who earlier credited CQ as one of her inspirations, really needs your prayers and your comments. A beloved family member is “dying by inches,” in her words, and she’s written a powerful and moving post about the agony of watching someone you love slip away slowly.
That’s all I can do tonight. More tomorrow.
ADD: INDC Journal has reviewed the tape of the first debate, and has detected a violation of the rules by John Kerry. I’m inclined to chalk it up in much the same way as the push-off by the Arizona Cardinals receiver that ended the Viking’s season in 2003; the game’s in the books now. However, I’ll be in favor of strip-searching the candidate at the next debate as a delayed penalty ….

NY Times Reruns The Golden Oldies

Tomorrow’s New York Times runs a 10,000-word article about prewar intelligence on Iraq’s nuclear program being called a “smoking gun”, “persuasive”, with predictions of “significant impact”. I agree, although not on the Bush campaign, as Barry Ritholtz suggests. I believe it will have significant impact on the New York Times, because as Tom Maguire and CQ reader Michael K note, the Washington Post ran an article fourteen months ago that tells the exact same story.
At issue is the national-security assessment of aluminum tubes sought by Saddam Hussein in 2000 from China. The administration determined that the type and size of the tubes indicated that they were to be used in a nuclear centrifuge. Now we know that was not the case, especially after the testimony and evidence of Dr. Mahdi Obeidi, but at the time the West had not been in Iraq for two years and had little information on the state of Saddam’s programs. The Times article suggests that the Bush Administration deliberately chose the worst-case scenario rather than the more likely explanation that the tubes were meant for rocket production.
Unfortunately, so did the Post in August 2003, hardly making this a revelation. Not only that, but the Times article even uses the same source to produce the same story. Consider this from the Post:

His name was Joe, from the U.S. government. He carried 40 classified slides and a message from the Bush administration.
An engineer-turned-CIA analyst, Joe had helped build the U.S. government case that Iraq posed a nuclear threat. He landed in Vienna on Jan. 22 and drove to the U.S. diplomatic mission downtown. In a conference room 32 floors above the Danube River, he told United Nations nuclear inspectors they were making a serious mistake.
At issue was Iraq’s efforts to buy high-strength aluminum tubes. The U.S. government said those tubes were for centrifuges to enrich uranium for a nuclear bomb. But the IAEA, the world’s nuclear watchdog, had uncovered strong evidence that Iraq was using them for conventional rockets.
Joe described the rocket story as a transparent Iraqi lie. According to people familiar with his presentation, which circulated before and afterward among government and outside specialists, Joe said the specialized aluminum in the tubes was “overspecified,” “inappropriate” and “excessively strong.” No one, he told the inspectors, would waste the costly alloy on a rocket.
In fact, there was just such a rocket. According to knowledgeable U.S. and overseas sources, experts from U.S. national laboratories reported in December to the Energy Department and U.S. intelligence analysts that Iraq was manufacturing copies of the Italian-made Medusa 81. Not only the Medusa’s alloy, but also its dimensions, to the fraction of a millimeter, matched the disputed aluminum tubes.

And then there’s this from tomorrow’s Times:

According to a 511-page report on flawed prewar intelligence by the Senate Intelligence Committee, the agencies learned in early 2001 of a plan by Iraq to buy 60,000 high-strength aluminum tubes from Hong Kong.
The tubes were made from 7075-T6 aluminum, an extremely hard alloy that made them potentially suitable as rotors in a uranium centrifuge. Properly designed, such tubes are strong enough to spin at the terrific speeds needed to convert uranium gas into enriched uranium, an essential ingredient of an atomic bomb. For this reason, international rules prohibited Iraq from importing certain sizes of 7075-T6 aluminum tubes; it was also why a new C.I.A. analyst named Joe quickly sounded the alarm.
At the C.I.A.’s request, The Times agreed to use only Joe’s first name; the agency said publishing his full name could hinder his ability to operate overseas.

It’s good to know that the Times stays on top of the news. Either that, or David Barstow must be their editor in charge of reprints.

Does This Mean The Palestinians Passed The Global Test?

UN officials are investigating a video showing Palestinians loading suspicious, elongated objects into UN ambulances after Israel released the images and accused UN personnel of collaborating with the terrorists:

UN officials said Saturday they are investigating a claim by the Israeli military that Palestinian terrorists transported a rocket in a vehicle with UN markings, but accused Israel of having made false allegations in the past.
On Friday, the IDF released video footage taken from an unmanned aircraft, or drone, flying over the Jebalya refugee camp. The blurred black-and-white video showed three men walking toward the U.N. vehicle, including one who carried an elongated object. The army said the object was a rocket.

Don’t expect too much from this investigation, however. As the above indicates, the UN “investigator” assigned to the case has started out his probe by assuming the Israelis are a bunch of liars:

“This won’t be the first time false allegations have been made against us. Everyone who has seen the footage has told me the object looks more like a folded-up stretcher than anything else. Especially since it was being carried with one hand. A Kassam rocket would be too heavy for a man to carry with one hand.
“Unless we are talking about Goliath, (he) could hardly carry a Kassam rocket as a light object in one hand,” Hansen told The Associated Press.
According to the IDF website, the Kassam rocket is about 2 meters long and weighs on average 5.5 KG (about 12 pounds).
“This is not the first time that we have allegations that turn out to be false or rather (are) based on very, very insufficient evidence,” he said.

Twelve pounds is too heavy for one man to carry with one hand? No wonder the UN is so useless; nobody does any heavy lifting. I’ve seen and held gurneys, and I’d venture a guess that a typical model would be at least the same weight as a Kassam rocket. You would expect the UN to know that, but then, you’d also expect an investigator to investigate rather than demagogue.
It hardly speaks to the UN’s supposed impartiality that after being presented with video evidence that Palestinians are using UN vehicles to transport weaponry, or at least appear to be doing something illegal with their ambulances, the first statement from the person they assign to the investigation blames the messenger for bringing it to their attention.
My attempts to view the video have not been very successful, but I’ve linked it anyway, in case the server response improves later on. (hat tip: CQ reader Amelia)

People Who Can’t Think For Themselves Can’t Tell Time, Either

The Washington Post has an unusual editorial in today’s edition pointing out the efforts of DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe to hijack their Letters section for unpaid advertising. You have to read this to believe it, but apparently some of the mindless sheep he’s driving can’t tell time:

WE RECEIVED THE following letter from a woman in Yonkers, N.Y.: “Dear editor: This debate made it clear: John Kerry is a leader we can trust to tell us the truth when it comes to our nation’s security. George Bush has had his chance; I’m ready for a new direction.”
Cogent, succinct, personal — everything we look for in a letter. So why are we writing about it here, instead of publishing it in the columns to the right? Unfortunately, the letter, perfect in every other way, arrived in our electronic in-box Thursday afternoon, four hours and 14 minutes before debate moderator Jim Lehrer posed his first question. …
Democratic National Committee Chairman Terence R. McAuliffe, for example, sent e-mails to supporters saying, “Immediately after the debate, go online and write a letter to the editor of your local paper. If you feel John Kerry commanded the debate and had a clear plan for fixing the mess in Iraq, put it in your letter. If you feel George Bush dodged tough questions on Iraq and didn’t level with voters, put it in your letter.” In 2000, “Republicans stole the post-debate spin,” Mr. McAuliffe said, and an avalanche of letters would help prevent a recurrence.

For a party that seems hopelessly stuck on the 2000 election and whose candidate keeps demonstrating a September 10th cluelessness about national security, I suppose that living four hours and 14 minutes in the future represents an improvement for that Democrat.

Another Perspective On Freed Hostages

CQ (and more famously Power Line) reader Dafydd ab Hugh posted an interesting take in our comments on the two Italian hostages who were released unharmed, only to proclaim their captors’ cause on their return. He makes an interesting connection between the Two Simonas and the Japanese hostages that were released earlier this year. In case anyone misses it there, I’m posting them here:

My wife was born and raised in Japan, and she at first was very upset about the Japanese “hostages” in Iraq. Sachi lives here in America (she’s a US citizen), and she got on some Japanese bulletin boards, trying to find out what was going on.
She was startled to find that nobody on those boards seemed particularly sympathetic; and that was when she found out that the Japanese had already by and large concluded that the “kidnapping” was in fact a set-up: the Japanese who were taken were actually huge supporters of the insurgency, many were Moslems, and all had previously argued that the war itself was illegal and that Saddam should be put back in power (with an apology and reparations from America).
This was right after Japan had sent troops to Iraq to help rebuild the waterworks, and it shortly became clear, especially after the “hostages” returned, that Japanese Moslems had cooked up a scheme to try to intimidate the Koizumi government into pulling out of Iraq. Koizumi refused the bait and stood firm — and lo and behold, the “hostages” were all released unharmed at the very time when Zarqawi had just started beheading hostages whose countries didn’t roll over quickly enough.
I think there is a very strong liklihood that this is exactly what happened in the case of the Two Simonas. I suspect they are both secret converts to Islam, that they supported the insurgents long before they were “seized,” that they never were in any danger, that the whole shebang was a set-up from the beginning. Now they’re lauding their supposed kidnappers and attacking Italy, America, and the coalition.
It would be nice to see Berlusconi quietly begin probing the backgrounds of the Two Simonas. If they’re clean, no harm, no foul: just keep the investigation to yourself, Sylvio. But if you strike paydirt, trumpet it to the skies. In Japan, the outpouring of sympathy by nearly everyone for the hostages has been replaced with anger and derision. If the Italian gals pulled the same sort of stunt, public opinion of them could turn on a dime.

I’d say looking into their backgrounds would be a good idea. The British and Dutch may already be taking that approach with hostage Kenneth Bigley, whose heartbreaking videos have caused a political firestorm in the UK for Tony Blair:

Dutch intelligence officers raided the home of Kenneth Bigley’s brother last night. An intelligence officer from the Foreign Office is understood to have accompanied them to Paul Bigley’s home in Amsterdam. The raid came amid claims that the British hostage was free to roam his kidnappers’ home in Iraq and was “caged” only for terrorist videos.
Paul Bigley’s computer was seized and he was interrogated about his alleged contact with the Tawhid and Jihad group, which yesterday claimed responsibility for Thursday’s killing of at least 35 children in Baghdad.

The al-Zarqawi gang have proven adept at publicity. It wouldn’t surprise anyone terribly that they might be good at infiltrating sympathetic Western groups, especially the kind that send aid workers operating under NGO umbrellas to Iraq for independent rebuilding efforts.
UPDATE: And just as I was posting this, Agence France-Presse reported that the Dutch denied that they “raided” Paul Bigley’s home, but that Bigley cooperated with British investigators:

“There was no raid, no coercive measures were taken. Paul Bigley agreed to talk to the British police who had summoned him through us,” said Wim de Bruin, a spokesman for the national prosecutors’ office, told AFP. He added that Paul Bigley had helped British police with their inquiries into his brother Ken Bigley’s abduction in Iraq. …
The Dutch spokesman said he could not confirm if Bigley’s computer had been seized, but added that if British had taken anything, “it was done with the consent of Mr Bigley.”

At the end of the report, Paul Bigley told AFP that he was “almost 100% certain” that Internet reports of his brother’s release were authentic, and certainly if Kenneth Bigley is being held against his will in any way, that would be tremendous news. It seems like a bit of a coincidence that he would be released so soon after the raid or non-raid, whichever version you believe.

Italians Pay Million-Dollar Ransom For Islam Converts?

If the rumors are true and the Italians paid $1 million for the return of the “Two Simonas”, they likely will ask for a refund now that the two women have started giving interviews after their return to Italy. The two women have turned into mouthpieces for the Islamofascists who terrorized them:

Italy’s adoration of the “two Simonas”, the women aid workers abducted in Iraq, began to sour yesterday, as the extent of their sympathy for the Iraqi fight against the allied occupation became clear.
Simona Pari, Simona Torretta and Lello Rienzi talk to the press
In their first big interviews given since their release in return for a reported $1 million ransom on Tuesday, Simona Pari and Simona Torretta, both 29, gave their backing to insurgents opposing the allied forces. …
“If you ask me about terrorism, I’ll tell you that there is terrorism and there is resistance. The resistance struggle of people against an occupying force is guaranteed by international law.”

No wonder the Islamists let them go; it sounds like they graduated magna cum laude from the al-Zarqawi Institute. Not only did they lecture the world on the “resistance” fighters, but had the nerve to crassly thank the Italian Islamic community — and their captors, in Arabic, on Al-Jazeera — for their release before bothering to acknowledge the Italian government or their Red Cross representatives. Simona Torretta even announced that she’s studying Islam, but assures her Catholic countrymen that she’s not going to convert … for now.
Hope Berlusconi thinks he got his money’s worth.

Typekey Update!

I just heard back from Laura at Six Apart about the Typekey frustrations:

You recently reported problems logging in with TypeKey on some weblogs and sites. Our technicians have made some changes on our servers. Their testing suggests that these changes have resolved the login problems. We would appreciate it if you could do some testing as well to see if you continue to experience the problems.
If you do, please contact us again with the following information:
1) What exactly happens when you attempt to sign in with TypeKey to post a comment?
2) What browser and operating system are you using?
Thank you.
Laura
Six Apart, Ltd

I tried this earlier tonight and it appears to be working properly. Feel free to test on this post to check it out.

Lipscomb: Kerry Wrote After-Action Report For Bronze Star

Thomas Lipscomb writes a fascinating article about his clever piece of detective work which demonstrates that John Kerry wrote the after-action report that led to his Bronze Star for an engagement that almost all witnesses claim never involved enemy fire. Lipscomb uncovered a 35-year-old operations order which narrows down the source of the story Kerry denies inventing:

A faded 35-year-old operations order recovered from the Naval Historical Center in Washington bears directly on the ongoing dispute between Sen. John Kerry and the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth about who wrote the key after-action report that ended Kerry’s service in Vietnam. The report appears in the official Navy records and is posted on Kerry’s presidential campaign Web site.
The report details Kerry’s participation in a naval operation on the Bay Hap River on March 13, 1969, in such glowing terms that he was awarded a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star for pulling Special Forces officer James Rassmann out of the water while under heavy enemy fire. This third Purple Heart allowed Kerry to cut short his Vietnam tour after only four months.

Lipscomb reviews the action in the report and how it clashes with the memory of everyone except Rassmann and Kerry’s crew. It talks about three miles of sustained enemy fire on both banks, something that Roy Hoffman says not only didn’t occur that day, but never occurred under his command in Viet Nam. Larry Thurlow, who commanded the task force that day, insists that had they been met with that kind of withering enemy fire, he would have called in air support.
But Lipscomb puts on the gumshoes when he looks into the mysterious designation of the author given in the report: TE 194.5.4.4/1. This is not a random series of numbers, nor is it a geographical designation. The sequence refers to the command structure of Kerry’s unit, or “task element” (TE).
194: Adm. Elmo Zumwalt, Commander of all Navy forces in Vietnam
5: Adm. Roy Hoffman, Commander of all Swift boats
4: Cmdr. Adrian Lonsdale
4: Cptn. George Elliot, CO of Kerry’s base at An Thoi
The ‘/1’ indicates that someone other than Elliot sent the report, and the ‘TE’ would have been ‘CTE’ had it been Thurlow, who commanded the task element that day. That leads to only three other officers, and Lipscomb traces their whereabouts:

According to a Navy communications expert, Chief Petty Officer Troy Jenkins, who has examined the message traffic, the report in question was sent from the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Spencer, Lonsdale’s command ship, at 11:20 that night.
Only three of the officers on the mission that day were on the Spencer, John Kerry, Dick Pease and Donald Droz. Droz took the wounded from the mine explosion to be examined and treated at the Spencer, including the third officer, the severely wounded Dick Pease. Since the Spencer had no helipad for the evacuation of the wounded, Droz then had to return to the USS Washtenaw County, stationed about 25 nautical miles away, leaving only Kerry aboard the Spencer at the time the message was sent at 11:20 p.m.
Could Droz have somehow written the report? Lonsdale says command precedence of days in swift boat service alone rules this out. “According to the command procedure I set down, Kerry would have been the only logical candidate. Kerry had been in Vietnam since November. Droz just arrived at An Thoi in February.” Thurlow adds, “I never liked the paperwork anyway. I was happy to have Kerry write them up.”
And there is another factor. Thurlow ordered Droz to take care of the wounded after the action on the Bay Hap. Droz had ferried them 40 miles out to the Spencer and now had to take them 25 miles back to the USS Washtenaw County. Moving wounded on and off a 327-foot cutter from a 50-foot swift boat on the open sea was not something Droz was likely to leave unsupervised long enough to dash off a report. Kerry had no duties other than reporting to the sick bay, where according to his doctor he was seen at 7 that night. And he spent the night on the Spencer.

The Kerry campaign has always denied that Kerry wrote the after-action report that won him the Bronze Star. It looks like Lipscomb has demonstrated that Kerry’s denials have been less than truthful. (via Instapundit)

Don Hewitt: No Such Thing As Anti-War War Hero

Don Hewitt, the creator of the original 60 Minutes who recently got pushed out by CBS, spoke out in a South Dakota radio interview on Rathergate and the election:

The creator of “60 Minutes,” Don Hewitt, said Thursday he would not have done the story on President Bush’s National Guard service that got CBS anchor Dan Rather in so much hot water. …
“I never would have done the story,” said Hewitt, who retired in June as the show’s executive producer after 36 years. “I would have been very wary injecting myself into a campaign. You’ve got to be very careful that you’re not perceived as doing the job that one of the two candidates should be doing himself.”

Hewitt told the audience that the problem with running a gotcha story like that during an election is that it has to be perfect to be successful; one mistake, and “you’re dead.” But that’s not all Hewitt found to criticize about Mary Mapes’ obsession with the National Guard angle. Hewitt dismissed it as old news that had been given enough attention during the 2000 election, comments that call into question not just the story itself and Mapes’ production judgement but also the editorial judgement of CBS News — which points the finger at Dan Rather, its managing editor.
The AP also notes that Hewitt doesn’t think much of John Kerry’s campaign strategy, either:

Hewitt added that it was “stupid” for Kerry to have injected his Vietnam service into the presidential race, which opened the door for anti-Kerry groups such as Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. Not only have previous presidential candidate war veterans avoided such talk, but Kerry had followed up his Vietnam service by becoming an outspoken opponent of the war, he said.
“You can’t play war hero if it’s about a war where you threw your medals away,” Hewitt said.

Absolutely correct. I am surprised to hear that from Don Hewitt. I’m not surprised that the mainstream media ignored both ends of this story. (via Drudge)