From Dafydd: Captain Ed’s Gitmo Project, Tribunal Set 28

Posted by Dafydd
Captain Ed has been collecting victims to review — I’m sorry, requesting volunteers to review the unclassified case files of various detainee tribunal hearings. He wants us to determine if there is good reason in these files to still be holding these people in Guantanamo Bay, or whether it appears as though a miscarriage of military justice has occurred.
This post will be cross-posted to Big Lizards; abandon all hope, ye who enter here.
The first point to make — and it’s a biggie — is that we only get to see the unclassified information. The tribunals are also given access to classified evidence from the case files. Clearly, the most damning evidence would most likely be present only in the classified evidence, as that is where all the intel from American and Coalition agents, witness identifications, and classified documentary evidence is kept.
So I cannot really answer whether any of these detainees is wrongly held; I can only give a partial answer there. I can, however, state if I think there is good reason, even in the unclassified evidence, to continue to hold that detainee.
So it’s a little one-sided, but there’s nothing I can do about that.
Set 28 of the tribunal hearings comprises six distinct detainee cases. Some are identified by name, but as this is irrelevant, I’ll just refer to them by the order in which they appear in the pdf. Here are my quick summaries and first-impression conclusions (from the 52-page pdf):

  1. The first detainee admits he served with the Taliban, but he says they drafted him. Other than this allegation, I found nothing in the unclassified section that would justify continued detention.
  2. This detainee admits he obtained a fake Chadian passport with a false name. He is accused of consorting with known al-Qaeda agents and engaging in military operations against the United States and the Coalition. If these charges are well sourced (the evidence would be in the classified section), then certainly he should be held.
  3. This one was captured in Pakistan in the company of known al-Qaeda agents. He was wearing a Casio F-91W watch, which is commonly used by al-Qaeda in timing devices used for explosives. He is also accused of taking training at the al-Qaeda run Khalden Camp.

    He gave evasive and contradictory answers during questioning. For example, he claims he “flew” from Saudi Arabia to Pakistan, but the trip took him a week. He says he went to get medical treatment for his back; he says his back is hurt by cold weather. And he claims to have emigrated from Saudi Arabia to Pakistan because the weather in Pakistan is “warmer.” There is ample reason, even in the unclassified section, to hold this detainee.

  4. There is nothing even alleged in the unclassified portion that would justify holding this one.
  5. This one stayed for months in a camp run by a known al-Qaeda front organization, but he says he didn’t notice. He was IDed as an al-Qaeda agent. He gave inconsistent answers during questioning: for example, he said that while in Yemen, he decided he wanted to go to Europe as a political refugee, because of the way North Yemens treated South Yemens… so he toddled off to Pakistan. I am looking at a map of the Middle East, and by golly, Yemen to Pakistan appears to be travel in the opposite direction from Europe.

    He admits he illegally entered Iran. There is plenty of reason to hold this detainee.

  6. The last case is a detainee accused of being a commander in Hezb-i-Islami, under the warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. When the accusation was read to the detainee, he claimed that HIG was fighting on the side of the Northern Alliance against the Taliban. But when I looked them up, it turns out they were actually allied with Mullah Omar and the Taliban, and they are still fighting against American soldiers today. I’m suspicious that this was an attempt at disinformation by the detainee.

    He was also IDed as an al-Qaeda member; and he was so evasive during questioning that even I felt like slapping him around some. For example, he couldn’t or wouldn’t answer the question of whether he was in the Taliban until the fifth time he was asked. He was asked what documents he had with him, and he went into a Vinnie Barbarino routine: where? with you. in my pockets? yes, in your pockets. Where? This guy should absolutely be held; he has something he’s hiding, in my opinion.

And that’s it. I’m not sure how useful all this will be, but I’ve done my bit for “the cause.” (“Cause” Captain Ed asked me to, that’s what cause!)

Dafydd: One Quick Roberts Prediction

One fast prediction, and I’ll update this post when the vote occurs to either take a bow or eat my words!
I predict the vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee is going to end up with all in favor, Republican and Democrat alike, with only one dissent: Ted Kennedy.
Well, what do you all think?
UPDATE later that same day: I think I need an explanatory update even before the vote. I don’t predict they’ll vote for Roberts because he’s won them over; my prediction is that they see the mene mene on the wall — and they’ll vote for him in order to give themselves some credibility for mounting a filibuster against the O’Connor replacement. I base the prediction on the fact that both Biden and Schumer have already given interviews in which they praised Roberts to the skies and said he was about the best nominee of either party they’ve ever seen come before the J-Com.
I just don’t think they would say that much — and then vote against the guy. They would look worse than partisan; they would look like weirdos.
The reason I gave them Kennedy is that I think he’ll be too iconoclastic (or perhaps too inebriated) even to notice that the rest are voting for Roberts.
Again, I’m just talking about the Judiciary Committee. It will be a different matter on the floor, but I think Roberts will get 75 to 80 votes there.

Dafydd: Leaky Limousine Liberals, part deux

Yesterday, Captain Ed directed our gaze to the pathetic cry for attention by Hollywood star and professional vonts Sean Penn, who pretended to participate in the rescue of Katrina victims… in a tiny boat, just about big enough for three people. Which is what it already carried, counting Penn and two “unidentified members of his entourage,” one of them a photographer along to record the historic moment for posterity. (King Banaian brought our attention to the former Mr. Madonna’s valuable contribution to the Hurricane Katrina rescue effort.)
According to Agence France-Presse:

Efforts by Penn to aid New Orleans victims stranded by Hurricane Katrina foundered badly Sunday, when the boat he was piloting to launch a rescue attempt sprang a leak. Penn had planned to rescue children waylaid by Katrina’s flood waters, but apparently forgot to plug a hole in the bottom of the vessel, which began taking water within seconds of its launch.

(Where was Penn going to put the expected rescuees?)
Today, as Paul Harvey would have said, we get “the rest of the story.”
From This Is London (emphasis added, as if you needed any help to spot the duncetude):

Oscar-winning Hollywood actor Sean Penn, who has been assisting rescue efforts in New Orleans, said the US government did not “seem to be inclined to help”.
“We were pulling drowning people out of the water, it’s the ultimate distress and human suffering … dead bodies,” he told GMTV.
Penn said he had spent nine hours on Monday searching the water for people and during all that time he saw just three boats carrying US officials.
“There are people that are dying right now and I mean babies and old people and everybody in between – they’re dying. There are people dying and (the US government are) not putting the boats in the water, I think that’s criminal negligence. I don’t think anybody ever anticipated the criminal negligence of the Bush administration in this situation.”

As Morey Amsterdam said, sometimes, you look at them and wonder. Other times, you just look.
My first thought upon reading that Penn “saw just three boats carrying US officials” while he floundered and foundered was to wonder why it took three boats to rescue the oaf. I also wondered whether Penn’s nose stretched like Pinnochio as he spun this creepy and psychotic fantasy about “pulling drowning people out of the water” (unless he meant his own photographer, who might have toppled over trying to get the perfect publicity shot.
Captain Ed called it smack on the nose:

Penn wanted to show up the government response by claiming that performing a rescue was not a difficult task, and that while FEMA and the National Guard took too long to get it done, a Hollywood celebrity could just rent a boat and tool around at will, picking up children and taking pictures for the Exempt Media to publish.

But Ed misunderestimated the cosmic extent of Penn’s chutzpah, failing to anticipate that the superannuated enfant terrible would go right ahead with his deception notwithstanding having been caught in the act of fabrication… and even in the face of photographs proving his mendacity!
Oh well; “Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.”
UPDATE: Several commenters, notably MattJ, noted that after Penn’s embarassing collapse above, he found some other boat and went out and rescued a few people (only one is named). MattJ links to an article in the New York Daily News.
They miss the point. Had Penn really wanted to help, there is a lot he could have done that would actually have helped. For example, he could have done what many other celebrities are doing: raise money for food, water, medicine, and other relief efforts.
He could have rented trucks or buses, had them driven to some staging area outside the flood zone, and turned them over to FEMA or some state agency. Or he could have just donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the relief effort; he certainly has more liquid capital than Sachi and I, and we gave more than we could really afford (we contributed to United Jewish Communities; if anyone knows whether they do a good job, please comment here — we’re about to donate more, and I want to make sure it’s being spent effectively).
But the goofy and useless way that Penn chose to carry out his “rescues” — accompanied, nobody now denies, by his “personal photographer” — makes it brutally clear to all that he had only two real purposes: first and foremost, to satisfy his own narcissism; and secondarily, to advance the urgent task of hating George W. Bush. The needs of actual victims took a back seat to these to psychotic goals; just for one example, leaving the photographer behind would have allowed him to take another doctor, a real rescuer, or even just twenty more gallons of fresh water.
I stand by everything I wrote above… even if Penn’s photo-op went somewhat better in Take 2.

Dafydd: the Tragedy of Hysteria

This is truly stunning: more people were just killed by a lemming-like panic on a bridge in Baghdad than have been slain in any suicide bombing in Iraq (and far more than were killed by Hurricane Katrina).
Sometimes, you just don’t know what to say.
UPDATE: Alas, the estimated death toll from Hurricane Katrina has been raised dramatically; estimates vary, but it will likely be significantly greater than thought yesterday. There is enough tragedy to go all around, and then some.

Dafydd: the Great Wall of FISA

Several previous posts here have discussed Jamie Gorelick’s wall of separation between intelligence and law enforcement, enunciated by her now-infamous 1995 memo to U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White, FBI Director Louis Freeh, Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division Jo Ann Harris, and Justice Department Counsel for Intelligence Richard Scruggs, who also ran the Office of Intelligence Policy and Review.
As the OIPR may well have played a role in preventing the intelligence on Mohammed Atta and three other eventual 9/11 hijackers from reaching the FBI, and as this may be related to Bill Clinton’s China problem (as a number of commenters on past Able-Danger posts here have suggested), it’s worth taking a look at this agency and its chief counsel in 2000, Frances Fargo Townsend.


The counsel for intelligence at the Justice Department is also general counsel for the Office of Intelligence Policy and Review at the Department of Justice; Scruggs held this position in 1995 (though not in 2000). The OIPR is tasked with advising the attorney general on “all matters relating to the national security activities of the United States,” according to their website, as well as advising “the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Defense and State Departments, concerning questions of law, regulation, and guidelines as well as the legality of domestic and overseas intelligence operations.”
The OIPR’s primary, day-to-day task is to serve as the gatekeeper to the FISA court on behalf of the FBI and other investigators at the Justice Department. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 established guidelines for obtaining wiretaps, clandestine searches, and other investigative tools in cases involving national security, where intelligence agencies and law enforcement agencies might have to cooperate and in which classified materials that cannot be revealed in open court may be involved. The act also established the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, commonly called the FISA court, which would meet in secret to consider applications for FISA warrants from the Justice Department; those warrants routinely passed through the OIPR, which rewrote them, could demand more information from the requesting group (often the FBI) — and ultimately had to decide whether to send them on as formal applications to the FISA court or reject them entirely without the court even seeing them.
In August 2002, Accuracy In Media (AIM) wrote a report about the May 21, 2002 letter by FBI Special Agent Coleen Rowley to FBI Director Robert Mueller, complaining about the roadblocks thrown up by the FBI and the Justice Department in Rowley’s 2001 investigation of Zacarias Moussaoui. AIM pinpointed the blame on the OIPR, which had repeatedly refused to attempt to obtain a warrant from the FISA court to search Moussaoui’s computer and other possessions. In that report, AIM detailed some of the history of the OIPR and chronicled its role in building the wall of separation, starting even before Jamie Gorelick moved to Justice.
(Curiously, Rowley, a lifelong Democrat, went down to Camp Cindy a couple of weeks ago to protest in support of Cindy Crawford’s call for immediate and unconditional surrender to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. So it goes.)
The OIPR had long been a valuable asset to the Justice Department in obtaining warrants from the FISA court.

From 1984 to October 1993, Mary C. Lawton was the Justice Department’s Counsel for Intelligence, in charge of the OIPR, the critical node in the FISA process. During her tenure, she occasionally rejected efforts by the FBI to obtain FISA warrants, but once an application left her office it was never turned down by the FISA court. Lawton also permitted the FBI to work with Justice’s Criminal Division to ensure that it did nothing that would hinder any eventual prosecution. A former agent who worked with her says Lawton had a razor-sharp legal mind, particularly with regard to national security. Agents knew that once she approved it, the final application would sail through the FISA court.

But in 1993, Lawton died. This conveniently allowed Janet Reno to appoint Richard Scruggs, who she had brought to Washington from the U.S. Attorney’s office in Miami, as the Justice Department’s counsel for intelligence (hence general counsel for the OIPR).
Scruggs had no background whatsoever in national security, no connections with the FBI’s National Security Division, and no ties to the Criminal Division at Justice. I believe he was appointed to be a cat’s paw for Reno (a year later, Reno brought Jamie Gorelick over from the DoD to be her Deputy Attorney General, the second most powerful position in the department — I think for similar reasons). In 1993 — two years before Gorelick’s Wall — Scruggs himself added another layer to the FISA wall, refusing more often, and with flimsier reasons, to allow intelligence agencies to transfer data to criminal investigators.

The Chinese Connection

According to the AIM report,

Simultaneously [with the appointment of Scruggs in 1993], Director Freeh was dismantling the FBI’s counterintelligence capabilities. The China section was especially hard hit. Experienced China counterintelligence specialists like Ray Wickman and T. Van Majors had retired or sought reassignment to field offices. Consequently, the National Security Division lost the expertise built up over the years of working with OIPR and preparing FISA applications.
Scruggs was criticized by Ronald Kessler in his book The Bureau: The Secret History of the FBI, for using this issue as a pretext to increase his status with Reno and expand his staff and budget. Scruggs erected barriers between the FBI and Justice’s Criminal Division and threatened to reject automatically any FBI attempt to obtain a FISA warrant should the Bureau violate his rules. In this fashion, the FBI was deprived of advice and assistance from the Justice Department’s Criminal Division in espionage or terrorist cases. [emphasis added]

It is now generally conceded that the People’s Republic of China (which I hereafter call Red China, because I’m an old fogey who doesn’t like changing terms of long usage and perfect clarity) established a spy network of stunning breadth during the Clinton administration, primarily focusing on obtaining our most up-to-date nuclear technology and strategy. Of more controversy is why: the Right asserts, and the Left hotly denies that Clinton himself turned a blind eye to Chinese espionage because of the very large campaign contributions funneled into the Clinton war chest by the Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) and various intelligence agencies of Red China; the last estimate I saw indicated that the PLA eventually donated as much as $4 million to Clinton’s campaign and library funds and to the Democratic National Committee, channeled through various cutouts, including Maria Hsia, Johnny Chung, John Huang, and Charlie Trie.
The United States also changed its foreign policy with respect to Red China in several ways favorable to them during this period; for example, retracting our promise to defend Taiwan in the event of an attack by Red China, granting technology-transfer waivers to Loral Space and Communications and Hughes Electronic Corp. to share state-of-the-art launch technology with Red China, and attempting to sell the former U.S. Naval Base at Long Beach to COSCO, the China Ocean Shipping Company — a well-known front for the PLA. Much of this is detailed in Edward Timperlake and William C. Triplett II’s excellent book the Year of the Rat: How Bill Clinton Compromised U.S. Security for Chinese Cash, as well as in Bill Gertz’s Betrayal : How the Clinton Administration Undermined American Security. Each person can draw his own conclusions about any connection between these events.
But how does any of this relate to the wall of separation at Justice that prevented transmitting Able Danger intelligence to the FBI in 2000?
Starting in 1993, the FBI began investigating what they believed to be one of the most effective and damaging Chinese spies in the country: Dr. Wen Ho Lee, working on nuclear technology at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Lee was eventually charged with fifty-nine counts; but the case was botched, and all but one of the charges were dropped. Lee pled guilty to one count of “unlawfully retaining national defense information” and was sentenced to time served.
In 1997, the FBI wanted to search Wen Ho Lee’s computer accounts at Los Alamos, both those for classified information that he had access to and also his personal office computer, which was unsecured: the FBI believed that Lee was transferring highly classified technical documents from the classified computer to the unsecured, web-connected computer — whence, the government eventually alleged, the Red Chinese snatched them. None of this was proven at trial; in fact, at least some of the information seems not to have been accessible by Lee. But the FBI believed they needed to inspect Lee’s computers and wiretap his phone, and they sent a Letterhead Memorandum up the chain at Justice requesting a FISA warrant… which the OIPR had to decide whether or not to turn into a formal application to the FISA court.
In 1996 or 1997, Scruggs, a protege of Attorney General Janet Reno, left that position and was replaced by an interim acting counsel, Gerald Schroeder. It was Schroeder who rejected the FBI’s request, refusing to pass it along to the FISA court.
Under Scruggs, the OIPR had significantly expanded the wall of separation; after Scruggs left, Schroeder refused even to relay an FBI request for a FISA warrant to the FISA court to investigate potential Red Chinese espionage of critical nuclear technology. At this very same time, President Clinton was under investigation by members of Congress for cozying up to Red China in exchange for campaign cash… and Janet Reno was frantically stonewalling demands that she appoint a special counsel to investigate Clinton’s China connections.
There is no proof that Reno’s attempts to stifle investigation into Red Chinese penetration of the White House influenced the decision by the acting counsel for intelligence at the Department of Justice (who heads the OIPR) to put a lid on the investigation of suspected Red Chinese spy Wen Ho Lee. But certainly it was — I can’t resist — another brick in the wall of separation. By this point, it had become terribly difficult for OIPR to approve any connection at all between intelligence and law enforcement. As the AIM report put it:

Although OIPR attorney Dave Ryan prepared the application, the key player in the rejection was Allan Kornblum, OIPR’s Deputy Counsel for Operations. He testified that he was shocked when he first read the Bureau’s draft, but he then proceeded to throw up a series of ever-higher obstacles to OIPR’s approval….
The Senate report concludes that Kornblum was applying a standard appropriate to establishing guilt in a courtroom, but not to establishing probable cause to obtain a FISA warrant. Kornblum is viewed as an experienced career attorney, but one more “political” and “attuned to the front office” than his colleagues. In this case, Kornblum may have been playing to Schroeder’s “very restrictive definition of probable cause.”

Another way to put it is that by 1997, the OIPR had become gun-shy about any interaction at all between intelligence and law enforcement. On FISA warrants, it became more important to the OIPR under Schroeder to maintain its near perfect record of not being rejected by the court than it was to get vital intelligence to investigators and prosecutors. But vigorous enforcement of the wall seeped from the OIPR through every department, every field office, and every agent and employee of the Justice Department.
The stage had been set for the colossal failure of Able Danger.

Frances Fargo Townsend

Acting Counsel for Intelligence Schroeder left in 1998, and was replaced by the soon-to-be controversial Frances Fargo Townsend. Townsend — a Republican and former deputy to Rudolph Giuliani in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New York City, but a very close friend of Attorney General Janet Reno nevertheless — was elevated to that position at Reno’s request; since Townsend was also the protege of then FBI Director Louis Freeh (another recipient of Gorelick’s memo), she was a shoe-in for the job heading OIPR.
U.S. News and World Report profiled Townsend last December. Although they did not discuss Able Danger, they did report on the feeling among nearly all of Townsend’s critics that she was too enamored of that wall of separation, and that she was just as conservative in applying for wiretapping and surveillance warrants from the FISA court as Schroeder and Scruggs had been.

Townsend found herself in the middle of that debate over how much of a “wall” should exist between intelligence-gatherers and prosecutors, and her tenure at OIPR remains controversial today. Many FBI agents say Townsend was crucial in obtaining FISA wiretaps, especially during the period of heightened terrorism concerns around the new millennium. But many prosecutors felt that Townsend was less than helpful in making sure the FBI shared wiretap data with lawyers at Main Justice when there was evidence of criminal activity. Townsend believed that the FISA court and its chief judge at the time, Royce Lamberth, would refuse to approve search warrants and wiretaps if they believed too much information sharing was going on and if prosecutors were controlling or directing the intelligence-gathering efforts….
Both the Government Accountability Office and the 9/11 commission have blamed OIPR in part for the government’s intelligence failures before the terrorist attacks. Sources say that OIPR’s narrow interpretation of FISA led to misunderstandings and overly cautious behavior by the FBI. As a result, in July and August of 2001, FBI intelligence analysts prohibited their own criminal-case agents from searching for two men on the government’s terrorist watch list who they knew had entered the United States. The men later proved to be two of the 19 hijackers.

In fact, under Townsend, the control by OIPR of all connections between intelligence and law enforcement became nearly absolute through what can only be called political extortion:

The 9/11 commission said OIPR had become the “sole gatekeeper” of FISA intelligence by arguing that “its position reflected the concerns” of Judge Lamberth. “The office threatened that if it could not regulate the flow of information to criminal prosecutors, it would no longer present the FBI’s warrant requests to the FISA court,” the report said. “The information flow withered.” [emphasis added]

And of course, less than three years into Townsend’s tenure, the Pentagon’s Able Danger team requested permission from the Department of Defense’s general counsel to share with the FBI intelligence information about an al-Qaeda cell in Brooklyn, a cell that included Mohammed Atta and three other soon-to-be 9/11 hijackers. Again, there is no absolute proof that the DoD lawyers contacted the OIPR; but that would be the regular source they would use to get Justice Department advice on the legality of such sharing. And assuming they did, the decision would ultimately fall to Frances Fargo Townsend: she would have to make the call.
Her personal history, as well as that of her office under two previous general counsels, and of the entire Justice Department under Janet Reno, makes perfectly clear that Townsend’s natural inclination under such circumstances would be to “just say no.” Indeed, by that time, the DoD lawyers (possibly still operating under Jamie Gorelick’s own tenure as general counsel for the Defense Department and her later memo at Justice) might not even have bothered asking, since they already knew what the answer would be.
Thus, in the end, the Able Danger catastrophe, like death and taxes, was predestined.

The Great Wall of China

Critics of the almost obsessive focus on Jamie Gorelick’s role in the Able Danger fiasco, which may have prevented the breakup of Mohammed Atta’s al-Qaeda cell in Brooklyn and the quashing of the 9/11 attacks, are right in one sense: Gorelick was not alone. Gorelick’s mentor, Janet Reno, had other agents: Richard Scruggs, Gerald Schroeder, and Frances Townsend were all close associates of the attorney general; and Louis Freeh became close to Reno, as well. All followed the same trail blazed by the boss, President William Jefferson Clinton.
All six of these individuals (seven, counting the president himself) were true believers in building that wall higher and higher. I suspect that OIPR’s fear of being rejected by the FISA court and Clinton’s well-known loathing of defense and disdain for intelligence gathering in general combined into a “perfect storm.” The intelligence side would simply not even be allowed to talk to the criminal investigation side. The wall of separation became a veritable Great Wall of China, completely segregating intelligence gathering at the CIA, DIA, Naval Intelligence, the National Security Divison of the FBI, and yes, the Able Danger data-mining operation from the criminal investigators and prosecutors under the Department of Justice — including the FBI. Everybody on both sides of the wall contributed another brick or two.
That same Great Wall also imprisoned the federal criminal-justice system itself: they were isolated, sequestered, and kept in the dark about the great and terrible events swirling around the country (and the world) from 1993 right up to when the hammer fell on September 11th… and even beyond, until Congress enacted the USA PATRIOT Act a month later.
In another sense, though, the critics are dead wrong: it is worth focusing on Gorelick because she wrote the clearest (though not the first) directive expanding the Great Wall — and because she was subsequently foisted upon the 9/11 Commission by the Democrats in a crass and blatant (and ultimately successful) attempt to ensure that none of this would come out in the commission’s final report.
In this case, success may not have a thousand fathers, but it surely has at least seven progenitors.

Sachi: So Who Does Cindy Sheehan Speak For?

Ever since Cindy Sheehan started protesting in Crawford Texas, the mainstream media has been portraying her as the voice of grieving mothers. She has absolute moral authority, as Maureen Dowd of New York Times, puts it.
Newspaper articles and television shows claimed that a flock of people, including parents who lost children in Iraq, had gathered in Crawford, Texas to show their support for Sheehan. According to AP, “By Thursday, about 50 people had joined her cause, pitching tents in muddy, shallow ditches and hanging anti-war banners; two dozen others have sent flowers.” On CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees, the announcer said “Within days, the numbers grew along this Texas roadside. Other parents who had lost sons and daughters to the war, seasoned antiwar protesters, … all made Cindy’s cause their own.”
Surprisingly though, neither of these two sources showed any grieving mother (or father) who supported Sheehan.
Don’t get me wrong. She has plenty of supporters in Camp Casey, as they call it. One man, Trucker Craig Delaney, altered his route from California to Texas, just to be with her; he just isn’t a grieving parent. In fact, the only grieving person CNN could find at all was a young woman who lost her soldier pen-pal in Iraq.
Even on Military Families Speak Out, a website dedicated to military families who oppose the war, I could not find a single article naming any parent who lost a child in Iraq and who supports Sheehan, despite many stories about her on the site.
The only exception to the rule so far is today’s Minneapolis Star Tribune, which featured two grieving mothers who supported Sheehan… along with ten who do not, even if they are not necessarily pro-war. “I was not in favor of the war…but my son was a gung-ho soldier, so I back him and all of our troops in Iraq and everywhere,” said Norma Benson, who lost her son Sgt. First Class Michael A. Benson only a few days ago. Out of twelve mothers featured here, only two emphatically support Sheehan, one of whom is Minnesota state senator Becky Lourey of the Democratic Farmer Labor Party, a well known Bush critic whose son, Army Chief Warrant Officer Matt Lourey, died last May.
By contrast, I have heard and read many comments from parents of fallen heroes who support the president and our war effort from, e.g., Cherenkoff and the Wall Street Journal.
Clearly, Cindy Sheehan does not represent most greiving mothers, let alone have “absolute” “moral authority” in this matter. The recent survey taken by Rasmussen confirms this point: “Among those with family members who have served in the military, Sheehan is viewed favorably by 31% and unfavorably by 48%.” the study said.
It seems I am not the only one who is having a hard time locating grieving mothers who support Cindy Sheehan’s anti-war protest. Dana Millbank, hardly a right-winger, reports that was quite open about their deception:

“We’re also asking that you bring pictures of children,” requested, and it didn’t matter “whether or not you have a child serving in the military.”

There must be many grieving families who oppose the war, but they evidently choose to grieve differently than does Sheehan. At least they have not made their presence known in Crawford, Texas.
(Posted by Sachi, Dafydd’s wife.)

Dafydd: She Does Not Speak For Them

Please note: this post is by Dafydd ab Hugh, not by Captain Ed. I speak only for myself, as we all should; I don’t know how the Captain feels about this. Just bear it in mind.
Whenever anyone has the temerity to object to anything Cindy Sheehan says, no matter how objectively bizarre, unAmerican, and repugnant it may be, the usual suspects jump on chairs, pull up their skirts, and howl that criticism of any kind against Mrs. Sheehan is forbidden unless you, too, have lost a child in the Iraq War. This is one of the weasel clauses (number four, in fact) noted by Tom Bevan over on Real Clear Politics that are used to stifle opposition to the Left’s opposition.
(The actual permalink is here; but at the moment, you get a server error. It’s the top item in the regular Commentary page, but eventually, you should use the permalink. When they get around to fixing it. Whenever that is.)
Get ready for a shock: it turns out there actually are other grieving parents whose children made the ultimate sacrifice for our country and were every bit as heroic as Casey Sheehan. And many of these other voices do not share Cindy Sheehan’s hatred for the country her son loved so much. In a poignant and moving piece published in the Wall Street Journal, She Does Not Speak for Me, Ronald R. Griffin, himself just such a parent of an American hero of the Iraq War, speaks for himself; and he also allows other mothers, fathers, and wives to speak with their own voices, not Cindy Sheehan’s, about their own sons and daughters — what they believed in, and what they ultimately laid down their lives to defend.
I cannot fully understand Cindy Sheehan’s pain, and I do not pretend to be able to do so. But these parents understand exactly, having suffered the same staggering blow. And their own courage under what must be the most horrible thing a parent could ever have to do, to bury his child, is as awe-inspiring as the sacrifice of the soldiers themselves.
I think the soldiers, sailors, aviators, and Marines would be the very first to point out that sometimes, dying is the easy part; it can be infinitely harder to have to go on living without someone you loved from long before he was born, one you expected to outlive you by decades.
But all of these surviving parents agree that the first thing, the very first thing they must do to make some peace with a grief that will be eternal is to honor the very ideals for which their children willingly risked death: honor, duty, justice, and above all else, freedom — the freedom that America, more than any other nation, has represented for over two hundred years.
There really are things worth fighting for; and some ideas and ideals are even worth dying for. Anyone who does not understand this, whether through grief-induced amnesia or because he never knew it in the first place, has lost far more than a child.

Dafydd: An Atta By Any Other Name

The Able Danger argument du jour is whether the group actually had Mohammed Atta’s name, or whether they had “merely” identified his al-Qaeda cell in Brooklyn… as if that makes all the difference.
Oh, well, if they didn’t have his actual name, then busting up the cell and arresting everyone wouldn’t have made any difference, right?
That cell contained not only Atta but several other eventual 9/11 hijackers. If the FBI had gotten the information, they would — one hopes — have surveilled the cell and eventually broken it up. Atta would have either been captured with the rest or forced to flee with a manhunt on his heels; he likely would have used one of his many aliases to flee the country. He may have been caught, or he may have ended up in Iraq.
Because of the cell structure of al-Qaeda, the other hijackers left in the United States would not only not be able to carry on the attack, they probably didn’t even know what their mission was. There is evidence that many of them still didn’t know even during the hijacking that they were going to fly the planes into buildings. Without Atta, the attack would have been aborted; and the intelligence gained from breaking up Atta’s cell in 2000 would probably have included details about the 9/11 plan itself, making any future attempt nearly impossible.
Of course, this is speculation; maybe it would only have postponed the attack for a few years. But the point is that this scenario plays out whether or not Able Danger gave the FBI Mohammed Atta’s actual name. The important datum was the cell information — not the name of one particular member. (Likely, Atta’s name would have bubbled up in the course of the FBI investigation anyway, since he was already known.) Gorelick’s Wall prevented the FBI from learning about the cell at all.
And one final point. Sen. Slade Gorton was on Michael Medved yesterday, and he sought (what a shock!) to exonerate fellow 9/11 commissioner Jamie Gorelick. He argued that we can’t blame her policy for the Able Danger scandal (Dangergate?) because her wall of separation of intelligence and law enforcement “only applied to the Justice Department”… and it was DoD lawyers who made the call not to allow Able Danger to brief the FBI. There, she’s off the hook!
This is a real eye-roller. Gorton has been around Washington for what, twenty years? One would expect that by now, he would understand how it all works. And the first rule of any administration is that when the president says “jump,” you act like the Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras Countybefore the buckshot.
Clinton picked Reno. Reno (and Hillary Clinton) picked Gorelick. Gorelick erected a wall of separation at Justice… and that tells everyone else in the administration everything he needs to know. Bill Cohen and certainly the DoD lawyers “don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.” They know what’s happening over at Justice, and what, obviously, the president wants them to do.
Come on, Sen. Gorton… how hick do you think we are? The president cries out “who will rid me of these meddlesome intelligence agencies?” and four cabinet members rush forth with swords in their hands.

Dafydd: Bride of Imminent Domain

Sometimes, you almost have to laugh. But it’s a nervous sort of laugh, like when your next-door neighbor launches into a tirade about the interstellar aliens who have taken over all the PTAs in the county.
It seems… well, I’ll let Jonathan O’Connell of the Fairfield County Weekly have the floor:

The U.S. Supreme Court recently found that the [City of New London’s] original seizure of private property was constitutional under the principal of eminent domain, and now New London is claiming that the affected homeowners were living on city land for the duration of the lawsuit and owe back rent. It’s a new definition of chutzpah: Confiscate land and charge back rent for the years the owners fought confiscation.

Not only that, but according to O’Connell, the New London Development Corporation (NLDC) is offering compensation for homeowners at the real-estate appraisals of the year 2000! Since there has been a considerable rise in the value of real estate in the last five years, this means that the residents will not only lose their homes, not only be charged rent for the time they were fighting this bizarre interpretation of the Takings clause (now embraced by a slim majority of the Court), but they will probably be paid less in compensation than they are assessed in rent… and far too little to buy a new house to replace the one seized.
Oh, did I remember to mention that the article claims that the NLDC also insists that all rent collected from tennants of the people who thought they were the owners of their own property actually belongs to the City of New London, and must also be forked over, forthwith? This, too, could amount to tens of thousands of dollars that the hapless home(less)owners now owe the city… for having had the temerity to object to being treated like Mediaeval serfs, ousted at will by the local lord.
These erstwhile owners are in the process of having their lives utterly destroyed by the city in which most were born.
And thank God for Anthony Kennedy! If it weren’t for him, these poor saps might have had to shuffle on through life laden down with all these, you know, dwelling places and such.
I’m not exaggerating about the devastation, by the way. One defendant, Matt Dery, owes the NLDC, according to its own estimate, $6100 per month, or $73,200 per year that he dared to try to hang onto the house he lived in and the house his mother was born in and lived in all of her life. It comes to over $300,000. He lost his home, his mother’s home and two other buildings; and he may well end up owing the city a fortune, rather than the other way around.
I actually hope it will turn out this is all a mistake (perhaps a nightmare), that O’Connell just misunderstood. I have seen this in several blogs; but so far, it has not been picked up by any MSM outlet (the source I use appears to be an activist webzine that localizes for different areas). I’m not sure if that means it isn’t true… or if it’s just one of those stories that breaks first somewhere other than the New York Times or the Washington Post.
If it turns out not to be true, I will be happier to correct a post than I ever have been before (which would actually be easy, since I normally hate having to correct a mistake!) Barring that, I hope the NLDC comes to its senses and realizes that a city (or even it’s quasi-public strongarm corporation) should not be in the business of bulldozing its citizens for a purpose so ignoble: simple unbridled greed.
But until one of these two saving graces eventuates, I would have to agree with O’Connell’s conclusion:

Susette Kelo, who owns a single-family house with her husband, learned she would owe in the ballpark of 57 grand. “I’d leave here broke,” says Kelo. “I wouldn’t have a home or any money to get one. I could probably get a large-size refrigerator box and live under the bridge.”

States cannot outlaw this barbaric and despicable abuse of power soon enough. Faster, please.
UPDATE 16:35 17 August 2005: USA Today now carries an editorial supporting the O’Connell story; but it clearly uses O’Connell as its main source, and I don’t see any corroborative reporting other than that. (The quotation from Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell does not specifically refer to the rent issue but only the eviction itself.) So I still want to see independent corroboration. Anybody out there find any independent reporting on this issue in the MSM? (Hat Tip: Patterico’s Pontifications, which mentioned the USA Today editorial in an update to a post from yesterday; also, SpaceNeedleBoy posted a comment here noting the editorial around the same time I posted this update.)

Dafydd: Contiguationness

I think I think too much.
Or maybe everyone else thinks too little. For instance, John “Hindrocket” Hinderaker of Power Line (and the new news and blogs blog Power Line News — check it out!) added a codicil to a post by Scott “Big Trunk” Johnson (or is that Scott “Big Johnson” Trunk?). The post was about the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) voting to condemn the Israeli security fence, presumably on the grounds that it might give Israel some security. John added more information which included the following statement from the ELCA:

This Churchwide Strategy for ELCA Engagement in Israel and Palestine… describes the fragile hope for a just and peaceful solution that is growing in the region following the recent Palestinian elections. It also expresses a sense of urgency, calling for strong and concerted action so that: 1) the possibility of secure, contiguous, and viable Israeli and Palestinian states is not eroded by the placement of the separation wall and Israeli settlements in the occupied territories….

I have been hearing for years now the demand by Palestinians and their buddies in America and Europe that the Palestinian land be “contiguous.” Contiguous, of course, means “connecting without a break,” as in the contiguous forty-eight states of the continental United States.
What the Palestinians mean by a “contiguous” state of Palestine is that they want to be able to walk from Ramallah in the West Bank to the beach in Gaza City without ever having to set foot inside the hated Zionist Entity.
But nearly everyone — even the Lutherans — agrees that Israel needs contiguity as well, so that Ariel Sharon can waddle from Nazareth in the north to the Negev Desert in the south without ever having to learn Arabic to order some matzoh ball soup.
Here is where I’m having a difficult time. Take a look at this map of Israel and the territories. What is wrong with this picture?
The most obvious problem is that the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are inconveniently in two lumps, east and west, separated by Israel. But the only way to make Gaza and the West Bank contiguous would be to add a Palestinian corridor connecting the two… say, from Gaza City to Hebron. And of course, if you do that, then Israel is sliced in two, north and south, losing all that great contiguity stuff.
Thinking topologically, the problem is solvable. For example, Israel could create a V-shaped corridor that rolls down the southwestern border between Israel and Egypt (from Gaza to Elat), then bends sharply upward past En Yavah and Hazeva (can you tell I’m just reading off the map?) to the Dead Sea, then bending around the western shore to just touch the West Bank at En Gedi. It could be about ten feet wide, which wouldn’t take too much land from the Israelis but would still leave plenty of room for columns of trekking Palestinians to pass each other, provided they all marched in single file.
But I’m not exactly sure that the Egyptians would appreciate seeing their border with the Palestinians increase from about forty feet, or however wide the Gaza Strip is, to a solid 140 miles; the Egyptians don’t tend to like the Palestinians very much, which is why Egypt refused to take back Gaza when Israel tried to practically give it away (such a deal!) And the Jordanians, despite being mostly Palestinian themselves, as far as the British were concerned, don’t want such a large border with the West-Bank Palestinians either… the East-Bank Palestinians having always looked down upon the West-Bank Palestinians as country bumpkins who don’t even know how to throw a good gunfire-in-the-air celebration.
The alternative route to connect the West Bank and Gaza, up north past Syria and down south past Lebanon, is right out: Hezbollah has already staked out that territory, and they wouldn’t cotton to any rival gangs horning in on their racket. Besides, the Golan Heights would require significant hiking skills, unless they built a chair-lift.
Of course, we live in a three-dimensional world, not on a 2-D map. Let’s not forget the possibility of a really, really long bridge arching up from the West Bank, rising gently to a thousand feet or so (escalators can relieve the Palestinians of the necessity of learning how to mount that chair-lift) then drifting back down to ground level inside Gaza. But here, the Israelis would surely object, worrying that fun-loving Palestinian youths might lean over the railing and drop brickabats or burning bags of doggie-dirt on the heads of unsuspecting tourists.
The penultimate possibility is a tunnel underneath Israel, connecting the two pieces of the new state of Palestine. The Palestinians have much recent experience with tunnels, having dug one from Gaza into Egypt not too long ago. But the danger is that, in their excitement at contiguizing their new state, they may overshoot the Gaza Strip, which is quite narrow, and tunnel all the way into the Mediterranean Sea. The resulting gush of water could turn the Jordan River into the Jordan Swamp, and the Palestinians would lose a fortune on all the sand-colored camouflage they’ve prepared (for hunting purposes only, of course).
This leaves only one solution that would be acceptable to Israeli and Palestinian alike; it involves remembering that we not only live in 3-D but in particular on the surface of a sphere: the Palestinians could build a land bridge east from the West Bank all the way around the Earth to Gaza. But as this is the only option — the final solution, one might say, to the contiguity problem — then they had better get cracking: at that latitude, and deducting the 70 miles or so from the west edge of Gaza to the east border of the West Bank, they still have another 21,496 miles to go… and they haven’t even poured the first hundred yards of concrete yet.
I hope you see my point: with just a little bit of thought and creativity, even such a seemingly impossible condition as mutual contiguity can be solved. At least in theory; the rest is just engineering details.