Able Danger: Chart Existed In 2002

Newsmax reports that a chart shown at a Heritage Foundation event in May 2002 by Curt Weldon came from the Able Danger program, and that the classified version of it would have shown Atta in the picture (h/t: CQ reader Ginetta):

A third of the way through his May 23, 2002 address on data fusion techniques, the video shows Rep. Weldon unfurling a copy of the now missing document and displaying it to the Heritage audience.
“This is the unclassified chart that was done by the Special Forces Command briefing center one year before 9/11,” he explains. “It is the complete architecture of al Qaeda and pan-Islamic extremism. It gives all the linkages. It gives all the capabilities. . . .”
Though Weldon never mentions Able Danger or Atta by name – and the video never zooms in on the chart to the point where Atta’s photo is identifiable – it’s clear from Weldon comments that the chart is the same one currently being sought.

Actually, that last part may not be completely accurate. Weldon makes clear in the video (which those with Real Player can see at this link) that the chart represents the unclassified data from the “Special Forces” program that generated it. He tells the audience that the classified version, designed for a special briefing for the Joint Chiefs, contained the complete look at al-Qaeda and their connections, one year prior to 9/11.
Weldon also says in this video, at around the 33-minute mark when the chart makes its appearance, that the unit responsible for the chart prepared a three-hour brief for General Hugh Shelton that included recommendations for an attack on five AQ cells identified by this “Special Forces” program (Able Danger was a Special Operations Command program). Weldon’s contact, probably Col. Tony Shaffer, told Weldon that the briefing got reduced to a one-hour presentation and did not include any recommendations for action.
Weldon says that he demanded the full three-hour brief after he discovered it. He spoke to General Holland, commander of SOCOM, who agreed to give him what they could, but some of the data remained classified as it held some value for the Afghanistan operation. Even the reduced brief, Weldon says, caused him grave concern that someone had deliberately watered down the brief for Shelton to avoid taking real action. Weldon then forcefully states that 9/11 should have been avoided, and would have been had the intelligence community not “dropped the ball”.
None of this makes it into the 9/11 Commission report, of course.
Addendum: What does this mean? I think Weldon didn’t know about the Atta connection in 2002; otherwise, as this video makes clear, he would have blown it wide open then. I believe that may have been the portion of the briefing (and the chart) that was withheld at a higher level of clearance. It would make sense that Shaffer would have tried to work through his chain of command, and then through the Commission, before breaking the clearance on the data and bringing it to Weldon. I think Weldon may have sat on it a while, gathering more people willing to talk, until he felt he had enough corroboration for the facts to come out this month.
Clearly, though, Weldon knew that SOCOM had a good idea about what and where Al-Qaeda was far before 9/11 and had opportunities to destroy or disrupt them. A predilection towards inertia would be the most charitable reason to assign the lack of action he describes.
UPDATE: Did Newsmax get this from Laura Rozen and fail to attribute it? It looks that way. Tom Maguire points that out in the comments, as well as provides a link to a floor speech Weldon gave in Congress that is essentially the same as the video, minus the chart.

Bloggers Spearhead Egyptian Opposition

In a country where opposition historically brought oppression, even a moderate loosening of the autocratic controls on dissent has not kept an underground movement from forming in the blogosphere. Egypt has allowed for multi-party elections for the first time in decades and has even permitted some limited criticisms and demonstrations against Hosni Mubarak. However, in the growing Egyptian blogging community, the gloves come off and the real criticisms flow freely:

Baheyya is Egyptian, pillories President Hosni Mubarak and heaps scorn on his regime daily. But this fiery dissident who says aloud what others don’t dare to think has no face: Baheyya is a blog.
In an Egyptian presidential campaign that has failed to generate much enthusiasm, one of the hottest debates is taking place online in the country’s burgeoning political blogosphere.
“In every normal election, people have their eyes trained on the result: who wins, who loses, and how things will change. In this election, however, we all know Hosni Mubarak is going to ‘win’ barring some miraculous deus ex machina,” writes Baheyya. …
Her identity is shrouded in mystery and the subject of much speculation among the blogging community but her diatribes have earned a cult albeit restricted following.
In a country where most major newspapers are state-owned or affiliated to a party, the Internet is offering an unprecedented freedom and platform for an increasingly bold opposition to the regime.

The blogosphere offers enough anonymity for those who want it so that they can speak freely about their political frustrations. So far, this has not resulted in the kind of recriminations seen against Iranian bloggers, but the Iranians hardly have wanted to give the impression that they want free and open elections anyway. Mubarak faces more pressure along those lines, and he appears genuinely interested in some change. His effort to push for multi-party elections surprised people earlier this year, when it was widely considered an effort to get in front of a democratization wave while maintaining his power and legitimacy.
The result of Mubarak’s changes have disappointed some who hoped for a more complete transformation of Egyptian politics. After so many years of political repression, it could be that the electorate does not trust Mubarak to remain true to his word not to retaliate against criticism. The campaign appears to reflect that reluctance; no great debates have taken place, and even the demonstrations that have occurred do not seem very noteworthy or effective. Only in the anonymity of the blogosphere have Egyptians allowed themselves the luxury of free political speech — but whether people have read their on-line protests is another question entirely.
In this case, we hope the revolution will indeed be blogged.

Sunnis Gamble And Lose On Constitution

Despite two extensions and the outreach effort that allowed outsized representation on the drafting committee, in the end the Sunnis would not show enough flexibility to complete an agreement on the new Iraqi constitution. The National Assembly has decided to exercise democracy over consensus and send the draft to a vote, a decision that threatens once again to marginalize the Sunnis unless they participate in the electoral process:

Iraqi leaders completed a draft of a permanent constitution Sunday after three months of negotiations that left Sunni Arabs unsatisfied, setting up a potentially divisive nationwide referendum on the document to be held by Oct. 15.
Members of the committee that convened in May to write the document ended their official duties by signing the draft and sending it to the National Assembly, where it was read aloud to members. Some Sunnis, who had unsuccessfully sought the elimination of a clause allowing power to be devolved from the central government to autonomous regions, walked out while the draft was read.

The Kurds and Shiites attempted to compromise with the Sunnis, even going as far as an offer to reinstate the Ba’ath Party, minus any support for Saddam and his propaganda. They offered to postpone any motions for federalism, keeping the concept but not exercising it until the next Assembly could get elected, save for the Kurds’ hard-fought autonomy. In return, the Sunnis submitted a new list of demands in the final hours, demonstrating their bad faith and determination to sink any agreement that did not restore them to power.
The American ambassador said he thinks most of the Sunnis supported the document but could not afford to say so. Zalmay Khalizad noted that the Sunnis have come under strong pressure from the terrorist groups to oppose any constitution that sets Iraq up as a democracy and that the politicians fear assassination if they do or say anything positive. Perhaps this could turn out to be true. Voter registration is up in the Sunni areas, ostensibly to defeat the draft referendum — but it could lead to a popular revolt against the violence that has mostly marred Sunni areas, and the constitution might get enough of the vote to pass.
On the other hand, the Guardian reports that the Sunnis have asked other Arab nations to step in and block the draft from going to the voters, along with the UN and other international organizations. That end-run around democracy will not please their fellow Iraqis in the Kurdish and Shi’ite territories. The Kurds especially will resent Arab League interference, especially since they’ve run their own democracy in the north for over a decade while the Arab League tried to force the Coalition to leave Iraq to Saddam during the entire time since Gulf War I. No one in either group trusts the UN to do anything beneficial for anyone but the Sunni complainers, either, but the likelihood of UN action will remain nil with the US and UK pushing for a vote.
We won’t know the results of that vote until mid-October, and we can expect plenty of campaigning in Central Iraq to convince the Sunni rank and file that this deal will be the best they can get. Had they voted in the last election, they could have had their own representatives in the negotiations to tell them that. Hopefully Sunni voters will have seen the idiocy of their boycott and what they lost as a result, and will not make the same mistake twice.

Fritz Hollings Connected Iraq To 9/11

Perhaps Senator Fritz Hollings cannot claim to have first connected Iraq to 9/11, but he did point out for the record an odd literary coincidence in a speech on the Senate floor on September 12, 2002, the day after the first anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Hollings entered an editorial into the Congressional record from the Iraqi newspaper Al-Nasiriyah, which he noted appears curious for its eerily prescient language:

America says, admitting just like a bird in the midst of a tornado, that Bin Ladin is behind the bombing of its destroyer in Aden. The fearful series of events continues for America and the terror within America gets to the point that the Governor of Texas increases the amount of the award, just as the stubbornness of the other man and his challenge increases. This challenge makes it such that one of his grandchildren comes from Jeddah traveling on the official Saudi Arabia airlines and celebrates with him the marriage of one of the daughters of his companions. Bin Ladin has become a puzzle and a proof also, of the inability of the American federalism and the C.I.A. to uncover the man and uncover his nest. The most advanced organizations of the world cannot find the man and continues to go in cycles in illusion and presuppositions. They still hope that he could come out from his nest one day, they hope that he would come out from his hiding hole and one day they will point at him their missiles and he will join Guevara, Hassan Abu Salama, Kamal Nasser, Kanafani and others. The man responds with a thin smile and replies to the correspondent from Al Jazeera that he will continue to be the obsession and worry of America and the Jews, and that even that night he will practice and work on an exercise called “How Do You Bomb the White House.” And because they know that he can get there, they have started to go through their nightmares on their beds and the leaders have had to wear their bulletproof vests.
Meanwhile America has started to pressure the Taliban movement so that it would hand them Bin Ladin, while he continues to smile and still thinks seriously, with the seriousness of the Bedouin of the desert about the way he will try to bomb the Pentagon after he destroys the White House …..
The phenomenon of Bin Ladin is a healthy phenomenon in the Arab spirit. It is a decision and a determination that the stolen Arab self has come to realize after it got bored with promises of its rulers: After it disgusted itself from their abomination and their corruption, the man had to carry the book of God and the Kalashnikov and write on some off white paper “If you are unable to drive off the Marines from the Kaaba, I will do so.” It seems that they will be going away because the revolutionary Bin Ladin is insisting very convincingly that he will strike America on the arm that is already hurting. That the man will not be swayed by the plant leaves of Whitman nor by the “Adventures of Indiana Jones” and will curse the memory of Frank Sinatra every time he hears his songs.

In one editorial, two months before the attack, al-Nasiriyah — a state-run newspaper for the Saddam regime — managed to name all three attack targets for 9/11. They said that bin Laden had spent his time trying to work out how to bomb the White House, which would happen shortly before destroying the Pentagon. Then, in typically flowery Arabic fashion, the author claims that Americans will “curse the memory of Frank Sinatra”, an odd reference — unless one remembers that “New York, New York” remains Sinatra’s signature song. In the event, the attack followed precisely this plan, except in reverse order: the World Trade Center went first, then the Pentagon, and the White House would likely have followed if the heroes of Flight 93 had not caused the terrorists to down the plane in Pennsylvania.
Even beyond that, the fawning tone and obvious support for Osama bin Laden in one of Saddam’s newspapers belies any suggestion that the two could not find common ground for operations against their common enemy. Saddam wanted Iraqis to stand behind Osama and al-Qaeda and cheer on their attacks on the US. The author states: “This new awareness of the image that Bin Ladin has become gives shape to the resting areas and stops for every Arab revolutionary. It is the subject of our admiration here in Iraq because it shares with us in a unified manner our resisting stand, and just as he fixes his gaze on the Al Aqsa we greet him.”
Let’s take another look at the timeline to see where July 21, 2001 fits into it. At that point, Mohammed Atta has just met with Ramzi Binalshibh in Madrid, discussing the need to set a date for the attacks. Binalshibh claims that Atta did not do so at that meeting, but Binalshibh provides the only evidence of Atta’s demurral. Five days later, Hamid Zakeri would walk into an American embassy and tell the CIA that Osama bin Laden would launch a massive attack the US on September 11, and that the attack would involve six pilots — an attack about which he learned through his Iranian contacts.
It certainly seems that Binalshibh has created quite a disinformation campaign, and that American officials appeared determined to swallow it. In case you wondered, the 9/11 Commission makes no mention of the Iraqi predictions in its final report, to no one’s great surprise.
UPDATE: The Hollings link came from a Thomas search, which apparently didn’t deliver a permanent URL. I didn’t notice it at the time. It han also be found here. I’ll try to find a permanent Thomas URL.
UPDATE II: The relevant pages of the Congressional Record can be found in these two PDF files.

A Parting Gift For The Israelis

If people expected that the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, during which they used armed force to send their citizens back into Israel in order to leave the territory to the Palestinians, would result in a gesture commensurate with the Palestinian desire for peace, today’s news confirms this. A Palestinian bomber wounded 21 Israeli civilians in Beersheba, near Gaza, in a suicide-bomb attack on a bus this morning:

Twenty-one people were wounded Sunday, two seriously, in a suicide bombing at a central bus station in the southern Israeli town of Beersheba, Israeli officials said. …
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast, which took place three days after Israeli troops killed five Palestinians. The Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad has vowed retribution for that incident. …
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas condemned what he called a “terrorist attack” and called for “calm and restraint in spite of the Israeli provocations, the most recent being the killing of five Palestinians,” in a statement carried by Wafa, the official news agency of the Palestinian Authority.

Able Danger: Are We Looking In The Right Direction?

CQ reader Ginetta sent me a message earlier today regarding some further Able Danger dots that she had connected. She read Countdown to Crisis by Kenneth Timmerman (a book which I have but have not yet read), a book which focuses on the nascent nuclear threat from Iran. However, after reading about Able Danger here at CQ and the numerous questions it raises about our understanding of al-Qaeda, Ginetta noticed that a passage at the beginning of Chapter 24 might connect Able Danger not just to al-Qaeda but to Iran as well.
Recall that Captain Scott Phillpott went to the 9/11 Commission about a week before Philip Zelikow wrote the report to again inform the staffers about the identification of Mohammed Atta in early 2000, and being turned away. In what seems to be a strange coincidence, Kenneth Timmerman describes a commotion among the Commission staff at exactly the same time. First comes this passage in the prologue:

A treasure trove of documents that 9/11 Commission staffers discovery by chance just one week before the commission report was scheduled for printing in July 2004 bears out the stories I had been hearing from multiple defectors. The clue to the existence of those documents, produced by the CIA and the National Security Agency, was contained in a single dense report, buried beneath a mountain of highly classified intelligence data, where Agency officials obviously hoped it would never be found. The report summarized what the US intelligence community knew about Iran’s pre-9/11 connection to Osama bin Laden and is disclosed for the first time in chapter 24 of this book. Because of the arrogance and willful blindness of our nation’s top intelligence officers, America’s leaders were misled about the threat from Iran before it was too late.

At the beginning of Chapter 24 (page 268), Timmerman paints the picture more clearly:

One week before the 9/11 Commission was scheduled to send its final report to the printers in July 2004, Philip D. Zelikow, the Commission’s staff director, gathered members together for an unusual briefing.
Commission staff members had discovered a document from a U.S. intelligence agency that described in detail Iran’s ties to al-Qaeda, he said. It had been buried at the bottom of a huge stack of highly classified documents on other subjects that had been delivered to a special high-security reading room in an undisclosed location in Washington, DC.
The document was a summary of raw intelligence reports gathered through intercepts and other means, and was uncovered when staff readers — on detail from different intelligence agencies — were turning over rocks before the report went to the printer, just to make sure no worm crawled out. When the chief analyst scanned through the references at the end, he whistled quietly. “There’s trouble in River City,” he recalls thinking. It footnoted seventy-five distinct source documents, labeled from capital A to sss.

More to come later as I continue to check this out. I have the book open now and will continue to check out this rather unsettling coincidence of timing.

Ellsworth Saved, Thune Ascendant

Success has many fathers, while failure is an orphan. That proverb sounded particularly inapt in South Dakota yesterday when the Base Re-Alignment and Closure Commission announced that Ellsworth Air Force Base would be removed from the list of military facilities facing closure or significant reductions. Everyone knew that in this case, success and failure only had one father — the man who unseated the Senate’s Democratic leader on the promise to keep it open:

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) sat tense, crouched and glowering as the base-closing commission delivered its verdict about Ellsworth Air Force Base in the ballroom of a Crystal City hotel yesterday, then leapt up gleefully when the bomber base’s death sentence was commuted.
The 44-year-old’s political career may have been spared as well.
Last fall, Thune unseated Senate Minority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.) in part by claiming that a Republican tight with the White House would have a better chance of saving the perennially impaired Ellsworth, a Cold War arsenal in the middle of the prairie. So it was potentially calamitous for Thune back home in May when the Pentagon put Ellsworth on the list of closure recommendations for the independent Base Realignment and Closure commission.
Thune, a former House member whose status as the Daschle slayer has made him a popular speaker before GOP groups, had long told the White House that losing Ellsworth — South Dakota’s largest employer after the state government — was the one issue that could make him a one-term senator.

Part of the political issue facing Thune came from the efforts by both men in the Senate campaign to cast themselves as the Savior of Ellsworth. Certainly some politics have gone into these BRAC decisions, but not to the extent that most people feared. To the extent politics plays, both men would have had influence, Thune as a politician close to Bush, and Daschle as a politician with plenty of clout in his role as Minority Leader. The final vote, however, provided a bit of irony for both men — at 8-1, the decision had less to do with partisanship than with the objective facts regarding the value of Ellsworth, both to the nation and to South Dakota.
The result for this exercise, however, will be nothing less than a political bonanza for Thune. He barely edged Daschle in a state that saw Bush thump Kerry by 21 points. That reflected South Dakota’s reluctance to change horses at any time, midstream or on either bank, especially given Daschle’s considerable influence on behalf of their state. Now that he has delivered on Ellsworth, he will command a much higher standing in future elections; in fact, he should bury the next challenger the Democrats put up against him. The GOP may also now blow out Tim Johnson in 2008, who barely squeaked by Thune in 2002 with Daschle’s help.
Thune may well have cut himself some national chops as well. He went toe-to-toe with the White House over Ellsworth, positioning himself to the right on other issues to threaten the White House agenda if Ellsworth closed. Most notoriously, he withdrew his support of John Bolton, but considering his staunch support of judicial nominees and his reliable conservativism, his independence might get him some thought for a national role in 2012 if he wins re-election in the preceding cycle.
The Democrats in South Dakota, however, have to know that they just lost their last fulcrum on statewide power. The Ellsworth closing would have provided their only rescue in the deeply conservative Plains state. That 21-point Bush win will begin to show up in House and Senate races for the foreseeable future. Does Thune get the credit for all of that as well? Perhaps he shouldn’t, but half of politics is just being there when good things happen.

Able Danger: Mixed Wires And Chinese Fried Rice

As people often say, you just can’t make this stuff up. A couple of revelations today on Able Danger not only give more background on the secret data-mining project and the failure to use its information to stop Mohammed Atta a year before 9/11, they also tend to confirm that it indeed qualified as a government-run program. First, AJ Strata points readers to the Norristown Times-Herald, where Shaffer vents a bit of frustration at the Senate Judiciary Committee:

Though the original chart has not been unearthed, several other facsimiles have been recreated showing the terrorist links. Shaffer said about 20 boxes full of documents existed on “Able Danger” when he was involved. The Pentagon’s Office of General Counsel is ultimately responsible for legal decisions, he said, and he believes getting hold of the legal papers on “Able Danger” is paramount to resolving the controversy.
“If I could have one (set of) documents, I would ask for the lawyers’ notes,” he said.
In Specter’s letter to the FBI director, the chairman requested Mangum’s correspondence with Shaffer, who attempted to arrange meetings at the FBI, according to the letter. The document request asks for “e-mail communication, notes, phone message slips, memos or any other supporting documentation” relevant to “Able Danger.” The letter also requested an interview with Mangum.
In June, Shaffer said he tried to “broker” a working arrangement between Special Operations and the FBI for the operation, but the effort failed. After reading the letter Thursday, Shaffer said the text was at odds with what he told the committee.
“They got it wrong,” he said.
Shaffer claimed he directed the committee to ask for information from an agency other than the FBI, which he refused to identify for The Times Herald.”This (request) isn’t going to get (the committee) the information they’re looking for,” he said.

Tom Maguire believes that this points to a credibility problem for Shaffer, arguing that this means a second government committee misunderstood Shaffer and that the pattern reveals more about Shaffer than government committees. He wonders if Shaffer made himself clear in either briefing, a good point when dealing with people who work in intel and have to speak carefully but precisely about their information.
However, I think Tom misses the point, and so did the committee; the problem in cancelling the meeting came from the General Counsel of the Pentagon, not the FBI. If Judiciary wants to talk to Xanthig Mangum at the FBI to confirm Shaffer’s assertions that he tried to connect with them, as a means to test Shaffer’s credibility, that sounds like a good idea. If they want to call Mangum to find out why the FBI failed to meet with the Able Danger team, then they’re way off base. Shaffer has made it clear since the beginning that the Pentagon refused to allow him to meet with the FBI, not that the FBI refused to meet with him. My guess is that the “other agency” he suggested for legal papers is the Pentagon legal staff, and possibly the OIPR, which gives legal advice to the Pentagon on intel sharing.
The Times-Herald also reports that Able Danger worked at Fort Belvoir at the Land Information Warfare Asssistance Center, where half the staff remained unaware of Able Danger’s mission. Only a dozen people knew of the Able Danger mission to identify potential terrorists through open-source datamining. So far, three of those twelve have stepped forward publicly to confirm that Able Danger ID’d Atta — a pretty healthy percentage. The third source, however, has even more information about the Army’s datamining in today’s New York Post reagrding another effort to identify potential espionage agents from the same data sources — and how it caused Able Danger to come to a screeching halt (via the excellent John Podhoretz):

Cyber-sleuths working for a Pentagon intelligence unit that reportedly identified some of the 9/11 hijackers before the attack were fired by military officials, after they mistakenly pinpointed Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other prominent Americans as potential security risks, The Post has learned. …
Sources said the private contractors, using sophisticated computer software that sifts through massive amounts of raw data to establish patterns, came up with a chart of Chinese strategic and business connections in the U.S.
The program wrongly tagged Rice, who at the time was an adviser to then-candidate George W. Bush, and former Defense Secretary William Perry by linking their associations at Stanford, along with their contacts with Chinese leaders, sources said.
The program also spat out scores of names of other former government officials with legitimate ties to China, as well as prominent American businessmen. There was no suggestion that Rice or any of the others had done anything wrong.

And here we have the dark side of data mining, of course; it comes up with connections free of any context, which investigators must apply themselves in each case. When these names poppep up on a chart, the Clinton appointees must have choked on their beverages, especially given the generally hostile attitude towards intel work that pervaded the administration. Their experimental project had just produced documentation that, if leaked, strongly suggested that the administration had started spying on their political opponents using military resources to smear them.
With visions of Watergate dancing in their heads, they followed their first instincts — fire everyone involved and pretend the program never existed. When J.D. Smith got the axe, the colonel who fired him let him know that Smith’s charts had effectively ended the colonel’s military career.
This would also explain why the data and documentation no longer exists at the Pentagon, and why the military has shown such reluctance to make definitive statements about the program. It might also explain why the lawyers at the Pentagon refused to allow any use of the material. The attorneys might have been afraid that if Able Danger material had to be used in court (that *$&%^# law-enforcement approach to terrorism!), the Pentagon might have had to disclose the rest of the connections made through these efforts — which would not just embarrass the Clinton Administration, but would also certainly destroy Al Gore’s presidential campaign if it came out before the election.
How would the Republicans have reacted to this news, after all? Would we have welcomed this as a positive development in identifying terrorists prior to 9/11 — or a Big Brotheresque gross infringement on personal privacy despite its open sourcing? I can guarantee anyone that had the Rice/Perry points been disclosed, the howls of “Watergate!” (“Datagate”?) would have made the impeachment of Clinton look like a subcommittee hearing on agricultural subsidies. Only the context of 9/11 makes that understandable at all.
The more details that come out about Able Danger, the more solid it begins to look. Now we even have the normal government FUBARs and resultant CYAs to accompany it. All that’s missing are the $8,000 mousepads.
UPDATE: Welcome, Instapundit readers, and happy birthday to Glenn! For those of you who haven’t followed much of the Able Danger story to this point, select the ‘9/11 Commission’ category or click here for all my posts on the subject.

Ruffini Calls Me Out

Patrick Ruffini has wrapped up his highly successful and intriguing presidential straw poll, designed to not only determine the front-running Republicans in the blogosphere but to break down the demographics in several categories. Readers can see the results at this post, and use the drop-down boxes to see the breakdowns. Patrick even compares the results based on blogger endorsements, noting that I had withheld mine and asking me for it now.
The win for Rudy Giuliani surprised me, given the less-than-centrist nature of the blogosphere. I love Rudy; he showed the world in the hours, days, and weeks after 9/11 that Americans would not allow themselves to be defeated. His grit, determination, and courage inspired all of us. He’s great on the stump, too, one of the best speakers we have in politics on either side. But that’s the problem with Rudy — he’s on either side in too many categories. For a party already grumbling about the lack of conservatism from the current GOP president, the pro-choice, pro-gay rights, Rockefeller-Republican Giuliani doesn’t make much sense. He could win handily in the general election, but he’d never get there.
In his way, Giuliani would be the Joe Lieberman of the GOP: the guy who could have won if his party had nominated him. The key is that the GOP have other great candidates on the bench.
CQ readers and the overall vote selected my early choice for the nomination as the #2 man. George Allen has sterling conservative credentials, and has served as both a Senator and a Governor, giving him a broad resume. He also has good rapport with an audience and a bit more amiability than Giuliani, who can come across as cold and angry at times. Allen also has good name recognition. Allen makes the best case for the top slot, including his status as a Southerner. Mike Huckabee would also be a good selection, although his name recognition doesn’t come close to Allen’s.
I wasn’t disappointed at all in John McCain’s showing. At one time, the Arizona “maverick” might have captured the imagination of the GOP base, but not after his series of defections. His two accomplishments, the BCRA and the Memorandum that stopped the filibuster fight, did not endear him at all to the base — and this poll reflects that very well.
Be sure to check out all of Patrick’s fine work. I especially liked the “fantasy” candidates idea, and the numbers there prove especially intriguing.

The Mom-He-Hit-Me-Back Accusation

Mahmoud Abbas accused Israel of destabilizing the shaky cease-fire that has more or less accompanied the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip with a strike against a leader of Islamic Jihad, the New York Times reports. Oddly, Abbas fails to mention that the strike followed rocket attacks on Israel in both the north and the south:

The Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, accused Israel on Thursday of undermining peace efforts with an undercover military raid in the West Bank city of Tulkarm in which five Palestinians were killed.
Israel said all five were “armed wanted terrorists,” including an Islamic Jihad leader who had orchestrated two suicide bombings, but Palestinians said three of the dead were unarmed teenagers.
Israel’s evacuation of Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip and part of the West Bank improved the atmosphere recently, but a series of violent incidents has prompted renewed recriminations. On Wednesday night a 21-year-old Jewish seminary student from Britain, Shmuel Matt, was stabbed to death in Old City of Jerusalem, while on Thursday rocket fire hit northern and southern Israel.
Mr. Abbas used unusually sharp language in describing Israel’s incursion into Tulkarm shortly before midnight on Wednesday.
“At a time when the Palestinian Authority is trying to maintain calm, this murder intentionally seeks to renew the vicious cycle of violence,” he said in a statement. But he also urged Palestinians “not to respond to provocations by Israel, so as not to give it a pretext to escalate its aggression.”

As I predicted before the Gaza withdrawal, the supposed cease-fire gave Abbas and the other terrorists in the West Bank and Gaza the opportunity to run the triangle offense. Two of the three major terrorist groups — in this case, Fatah and Hamas — agree to a cease fire with Israel with much public fanfare. The third, Islamic Jihad here, continues to stage attacks until Israel gets fed up and finally responds. Then everyone, and I mean everyone, gets to blame the Israelis for breaking the cease-fire.
This pattern is as foolish as it is predictable. The Palestinians in their current organization will never partner for any kind of peace with Israel, except the peace they want that would come from watching the Jews drown in the Mediterranean. Pretending that Abbas represents any other effort only enables the further entrenchment of the terrorist impulse in the West Bank and Gaza. The Palestinians want total war to claim all of the territory between the Jordan and the Mediterranean for themselves, and they have given no indication that they will settle for anything less.