Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.) said he wants Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III to appear "up here to tell us how they reached the conclusion" to conduct the raid, which Sensenbrenner called "profoundly disturbing" on constitutional grounds. The chairman also said that his committee "will be working promptly" to draft legislation that would clearly prohibit wide-ranging searches of lawmakers' offices by federal officials pursuing criminal cases.
Justice Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse reiterated the agency's defense of the search as legal and necessary. He cautioned that Gonzales would not be able to go into detail about the Jefferson probe if he were to testify.
As part of its response to Jefferson's lawsuit, the government offered to provide a "filter team" -- to be made up of an FBI agent and two Justice Department lawyers not part of the investigation -- which would allow Jefferson to examine all the seized materials. If Jefferson thought legislative materials were "privileged" and unrelated to the criminal investigation but the government disagreed, a judge would be the final arbiter, under the proposal.
The Justice Department's court filing and Sensenbrenner's comments -- made during a hearing in which constitutional scholars sharply criticized the May 20 raid -- ran counter to recent efforts by President Bush and key lawmakers to calm down talk of a constitutional standoff. Bush last week ordered the seized materials to be sealed for 45 days, allowing time for tempers to cool and for lawyers and elected officials to confer.
But Sensenbrenner and several committee colleagues yesterday described the FBI's weekend search of Jefferson's office in the Rayburn House Office Building as an arrogant, unnecessary breach of tradition and vital constitutional protections. The FBI had several other ways to compel Jefferson to surrender specific items, they said. The copying of Jefferson's computer hard drive, they said, was akin to rifling through every file cabinet, including files dealing with matters unrelated to the alleged crimes.
The Constitution says House and Senate members "shall not be questioned . . . for any Speech or Debate in either House." Bruce Fein, one of the constitutional lawyers who testified yesterday, said that "when it comes to documents, the only way you can search is to read everything. And when you read everything, you encroach on the 'Speech or Debate' clause."
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
The story that Iran might require infidels to wear a special article of clothing is said to be a hoax. But, in this 1979 photo, Ahmadinejad (center right), the current president of Iran, escorts a U.S. hostage who does appear to be wearing something that the others aren't.
Helen Thomas calls new Bush aide 'contemptible,' tangles with Tony Snow
Tue May 30 2006 13:34:41 ET
Helen Thomas, doyenne of the White House press corps, tangles with Tony Snow at today's briefing over President Bush's appointment of Karl Zinmeister as domestic policy adviser:
QUESTION: Why did the president pick a man who is so contemptible of the public servants in Washington to be his domestic adviser, saying, People in Washington are morally repugnant, cheating, shifty human beings. Why did he...
SNOW: Apparently an opinion that's...
QUESTION: Why would he pick such a man to be a domestic adviser?
SNOW: You meant contemptuous as opposed to contemptible I think.
QUESTION: Pure contempt.
SNOW: I'm not sure it's pure contempt. I know Karl Zinsmeister pretty well and he is somebody who expresses himself with a certain amount of piquancy. You're perhaps familiar with that, aren't you, Helen? (LAUGHTER) And so, as a consequence from time to time, he's going to say -- he'll have some sharp elbows.
QUESTION: His attitude toward public servants...
SNOW: I don't think it is his attitude toward public servants. It may have been toward the press. Just kidding. (LAUGHTER) No, look if, you look at the bulk of what Karl Zinsmeister has done at the American Enterprise and elsewhere, I think you're going to find somebody who's done some pretty meaty and interesting research on a variety of topics. The reason he's being brought in is that he's...
QUESTION: Do you agree with his assessment?
SNOW: I'm not going to -- it is one sentence the guy wrote. And perhaps you may recall -- yes?
QUESTION: Arrogant, morally repugnant, cheating, shifty.
SNOW: That's a lot in one sentence, isn't it? He just packed it right in.
Monday, May 29, 2006
May 29, 2006
The U.S. Senate should have focused less on forging “paths to citizenship” and more on blocking paths to the great American gravy train.
Its supporters describe the immigration bill the Senate passed last night as “sweeping” and “comprehensive” – which means its amnesty provisions remained intact. The bill passed by a 62-36 vote (see the vote tally here).
In addition to a “path to citizenship” – which, when applied to at least 11 million illegal immigrants, is less a path than a superhighway – the bill includes a Guest Worker Program for 200,000 people a year, who can then apply for a Green Card. As Sen. Jeff Sessions has said, “[T]here is nothing ‘temporary’ about the new guest worker program created by this bill.” Moreover, the Associated Press reported, “A new program for 1.5 million temporary agricultural workers also survived.” They can also apply for a Green Card. In theory, “only” 650,000 aliens a year will be granted permanent resident status, or 13 million in 20 years – more than the population of Illinois.
This bill doubles the amount of legal immigration, while reorienting our employment visas, for the first time, toward unskilled laborers. (The National Academy of Sciences found each “migrant” with less than a high school education costs the United States $90,000, and that immigrants only begin to “contribute to our economy” if they have a post-secondary education.)
But our economy will contribute to them. In addition to millions of dollars U.S. taxpayers spend for the welfare, education, health care, and incarceration of illegals, the Senate assures aliens will receive all the money they “contributed” to Social Security – even if they stole someone’s identity in the process. They’ll also be eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit. In all, this “comprehensive” reform could cost $54 billion within a decade. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-PA, surmised, “[It] certainly is possible that it will bust the budget.”
The Terrorist Amnesty We Dodged
All that can be said of the Senate bill is that it could have been worse. Patrick Leahy wanted to add an amendment – SA 4117 – that would allow some of those deemed guilty of providing terrorists with aid and comfort to immigrate; 19 senators supported the measure, including Minority Leader Harry Reid, John Kerry, Russ Feingold, Ted Kennedy, Barack Obama, Joe Lieberman, and three Republicans.
An amendment introduced by Dianne Feinstein would have granted blanket amnesty to all illegals. According to the roll call, more than one-third of the U.S. Senate – including Republican Senator Lincoln Chafee – believes in full amnesty.
A Steel Lining
To secure these massive changes to our body politic, the Senate included some measures to protect our border – the only part of their bill supported by large majorities of the American people. Employers caught hiring illegals could be fined up to $20,000 per illegal, with jail time as a possibility after numerous convicted offenses – which is an improvement from the current amnesty program employers seem to enjoy. The illegals granted amnesty will pay $3,250 in fines, plus back taxes. A subsequent amendment rendered a provision making English our national language – a measure that takes on some urgency in the face of an influx of 30-60 million Spanish-speaking immigrants over the next two decades – was rendered purely symbolic.
Most important in the bill is a 370 mile border fence – roughly half of what the House agreed to last December. The Washington Times revealed, “Immediately before the final vote yesterday, conservatives suffered what they viewed as one final insult. Buried in a 125-page last-minute amendment was a requirement that local, state and federal officials in the U.S. consult with their Mexican counterparts before they can start building the fence.”
The Senate adds 500 additional miles of vehicle barriers...which will assure illegals in those locations do not cross in vehicles. Ronny Dodson, sheriff of Brewster County, Texas, told Fox News illegals have developed ingenious methods of avoiding detection, like hiding. “Someone could hear me coming for miles if I was in a vehicle – he could just lie down and no one would see him,” Dodson said. The federales graciously granted Sheriff Dodson 40 Border Patrol agents to patrol a county six-times the size of Rhode Island.
The Senate amnesty bill pledges to hire 1,000 Border Patrol agents this year, with a goal of 14,000 new agents by 2011. And if the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act has taught me anything, it’s that the Senate never misses its projected goals.
Based on experience, even this is utopian fantasy. In the past, Bush has called for 2,000 new Border Patrol agents – only to authorize one-tenth that many. Border Patrol actually increased more under President Clinton than Bush-43. Yet this assurance, in addition to whatever National Guardsmen Bush stations at the border, is supposed to allay the nation’s concerns while the Senate sticks up for the Business Roundtable.
Elsewhere, the bill makes clear enforcement is not a Senate priority. Russ Feingold and Sen. Sam Brownback – who continues to undermine his already longshot presidential candidacy – successfully moved to allow activist judges to stay deportations essentially at will.
More politically savvy politicians voted another way. Ten of the 15 Republican senators up for re-election this year voted no, including those considered most vulnerable: Rick Santorum, Conrad Burns, and Jim Talent. (Ohio’s Mike DeWine continues to bait his state’s conservative base.) Three of the four Democrats who voted no also face re-election this fall, including vulnerable Maria Stabenow and Ben Nelson. Even House members are reacting. Rep. Jack Kingston, R-GA, wisely noted, “We don't want ‘Republican’ and ‘amnesty’ in the same sentence.”
It won’t be if the House has its way. The Conference Committee will have to iron out the differences between the Senate amnesty bill and the House’s all-enforcement bill, passed last December. The House, which by design is constitutionally and ideologically closer to the American people, has pledged to stand firmly against any amnesty in committee. Perhaps no bill whatever will result – which, contrary to Tony Snow, would not be received by Americans less favorably than amnesty. Or perhaps the two will coalesce along the lines of a bill introduced by conservative leader Rep. Mike Pence, R-IN. It includes a guest worker program – but unlike his Senate colleagues, Pence “gets it” on border enforcement. He recently noted, in 2005 alone, more than 200 illegals detained by Border Patrol came from the Middle East, “countries such as Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and others.” His plan would require workers to leave the country before receiving a biometric worker ID card – and would provide no “path to citizenship” for those blazing the trail north for economic reasons. After a specified period, the illegals would be required to leave the country. Supporters hail this as “free market deportation.” If such a provision could be combined with genuine border security and an enforceable exit-date for guest workers, it would be a tremendous step forward. But enforcement, not amnesty, must be the order of the day.
This Senate bill will comprehensively change our country and alter the dynamics of our workforce. Perhaps the House will comprehensively overhaul the Senate bill. Otherwise, the Republican Congress will soon experience a “sweeping” of another kind.
Ben Johnson is Managing Editor of FrontPage Magazine and author of the book 57 Varieties of Radical Causes: Teresa Heinz Kerry's Charitable Giving.
May 26, 2006
California Appeals Court Rules Bloggers Are Journalists
In what the EFF called a "major victory" for bloggers and citizen journalists, The Sixth Appellate Court of the Court of Appeal of the State of California rejected Apple Computer's attempt to force disclosure of sources by two blogs (AppleInsider and PowerPage.org) by ruling that bloggers and citizen journalists are entitled to the same legal protections as journalists working for corporate media entities. Specifically, the bloggers were entitled to protection under the California reporter's shield law.
The Media Bloggers Association filed an amicus brief supporting AppleInsider and PowerPage.org with the Center for Internet & Society at Stanford University in April, 2005.
In it's unanimous ruling, Justice Conrad Rushing of the 6th District Court of Appeal wrote:
We decline the implicit invitation to embroil ourselves in questions of what constitutes "legitimate journalis[m]." The shield law is intended to protect the gathering and dissemination of news, and that is what petitioners did here. We can think of no workable test or principle that would distinguish "legitimate" from "illegitimate" news. Any attempt by courts to draw such a distinction would imperil a fundamental purpose of the First Amendment, which is to identify the best, most important, and most valuable ideas not by any sociological or economic formula, rule of law, or process of government, but through the rough and tumble competition of the memetic marketplace.
"We are pleased that by ruling as it did, the California courts have discarded the obsolete notion that practicing journalism is somehow a function of 'sociological or economic formula'," said MBA President Robert Cox. "Bloggers who practice journalism are journalists. Period."
Sunday, May 28, 2006
This issue is paramount. Congress can NOT be allowed to be immune from the same laws that apply to you and I. One of the first things Newt did back in 94 was pass a Bill that forced Congress to have to follow the laws that it passed for the rest of us. So this whole above the law shit is nothing new.....
Congress Isn't Above the Law
And bribery isn't "speech or debate."
BY ROBERT F. TURNER
Sunday, May 28, 2006 12:01 a.m. EDT
How strong is the case against Louisiana's Rep. William Jefferson?
According to numerous press accounts, after videotaping Mr. Jefferson receiving a $100,000 bribe from an FBI informant, the government executed a search warrant of his home and found $90,000 of that money hidden in his freezer. In another case, a Kentucky businessman pleaded guilty to paying Mr. Jefferson $400,000 in bribes for official favors; and one of the congressman's key staff members has already entered a guilty plea to aiding and abetting the bribery of a public official.
Based upon such compelling evidence and Mr. Jefferson's refusal to comply with a subpoena to surrender key documents for eight months, a federal judge issued the search warrant that was executed in the congressman's Capitol Hill office last weekend. The FBI took exceptional measures to ensure that no privileged documents would be surrendered to investigators, with any close calls being made by a federal judge.
One might expect that others in Congress would be grateful that a scoundrel in their midst has apparently been caught red-handed. But there is obviously a more fundamental issue here, as House Speaker Dennis Hastert quickly joined forces with Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, not to commend the FBI for its outstanding work, but to vehemently denounce its actions on the theory that members of Congress are above the law.
Specifically, they accused the FBI of violating the constitutional principle of separation of powers and the "Speech or Debate" clause of the Constitution. House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner has scheduled hearings for Tuesday on this "profoundly disturbing constitutional question."
The "Speech or Debate" clause is contained in Article I, Section 6, which provides that members of Congress "shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place." The provision was designed to protect legislators from civil law suits and unwarranted harassment by the executive branch, such as charges of defamation stemming from criticisms of the president during congressional debate.
Put simply, only Congress can inquire into the motives or content of votes, speeches or other official legislative acts.
But as the Supreme Court observed in the 1972 case of U.S. v. Brewster, the clause was never intended to immunize corrupt legislators who violate felony bribery statutes--laws that have expressly applied to members of Congress for more than 150 years. In Brewster, the court noted the clause was not written "to make Members of Congress super-citizens, immune from criminal responsibility," adding: "Taking a bribe is, obviously, no part of the legislative process or function; it is not a legislative act. It is not, by any conceivable interpretation, an act performed as a part of or even incidental to the role of a legislator."
Such behavior is therefore not protected by the Constitution. The purpose of the Speech or Debate Clause was to protect the integrity of the legislative process, and the court noted that bribery, "perhaps even more than Executive power," would "gravely undermine legislative integrity and defeat the right of the public to honest representation."
A dozen years ago, I testified before the House Committee on Administration on this same basic issue. Newt Gingrich and other reformers were trying to bring Congress under the same ethics laws it had imposed upon the rest of the country, and some indignant legislators seemed confident that the laws were not supposed to apply to them. The hearing was held in a small room in a part of the Capitol Building off-limits to the public, with exactly enough chairs for members, staff and the three witnesses.
Two members of the public who managed to make their way to the room were turned away on the grounds that there was "no room" for public observers.
Critics of the Gingrich proposal did not hear what they wanted. Some seemed genuinely shocked when I informed them that, in Federalist No. 57, James Madison noted one of the constraints in the Constitution to prevent legislators from enacting "oppressive measures" was that "they can make no law which will not have its full operation on themselves and their friends, as well as on the great mass of the society."
It is increasingly rare to find a spirit of bipartisanship in Congress these days. So a display of the spirit would have been a good thing to see--especially in a time of war--but for the fact that the issue now uniting Republican and Democratic leaders is an outrageous assertion that members of Congress are above the law, and that the Constitution immunizes legislators who betray their public trust in return for bribes from investigation by the executive branch.
In light of the attitudes held by so many of our legislators, it is no wonder three times as many Americans disapprove of Congress's job-performance as approve, according to a recent Gallup Poll. Those are Congress's lowest numbers since the Democrats were last in power a dozen years ago.
According to Gallup, 83% of Americans view congressional corruption as a serious problem. There is an election coming up in five months, and legislators who wish to survive it might wish to step back and permit the FBI to do its job.
Mr. Turner is a co-founder of the Center for National Security Law at the University of Virginia School of Law and a professor on the university's general faculty.
Saturday, May 27, 2006
May 24, 2006, 24 minutes past 12 noon, the Afghan Parliament, led by Yunis Qanooni, the man whose life Jack saved, fired Chief Judge Shinwari leader of the Afghan Supreme Court and the most powerful judge in Afghanistan. Shinwari had been the major stumbling block in the Task Force Saber 7 case. Shinwari had insisted that Jack sign a statement against Yunis Qanooni and several Northern Alliance Generals who were allied with the US. Shinwari had three times overruled judges and stopped Jack’s release. Shinwari was a close friend of US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad who, with US citizen Ahmad Ali Jalali, had ordered the arrest of Jack and his men in 2004. All three of them, Khalilzad, Jalali, and Shinwari, had extensive links to the Taliban and al-Qaida terrorists (yes, US Ambassador Khalilzad had twice brought the Taliban in American pre-9/11 in the hopes of securing formal recognition for their terrorist government. Five days ago, feeling Parliament pressure, Shinwari signed a release order for Jack and his team. But Shinwari never sent it to the Ministry of Justice. Northern Alliance justice Mohammed Yasin was confirmed as the new Chief of the Supreme Court in a new fast vote today at the Parliament. This could have huge implications for Jack and Task Force Saber.
Anyone notice the increased incidents of the Taliban engaging Coalition forces in southern Afghanistan this past week? Did any journalist happen to point out that this was happening in Karzai’s birth place, Kandahar?
Kandahar, Helmand and Uruzgan are the southern provinces worst hit by the insurgency. In the past year, Uruzgan’s largely inaccessible mountains have been the site of some of the heaviest fighting, but militants suffered high losses in battles with coalition forces, and the violence there had subsided in recent months.
Listen to this ridiculous reporting coming out of the Tribune again. Karzai, according to the Tribune, apparently went to visit Kandahar and terrorists fled (lol). Pamela Constable reports that people were running from the fighting in Kandahar:
2,000 and 3,000 people had escaped from the continuing combat in the Panjwayi district of Kandahar province, fearful both of attacks by Taliban forces and further assaults by U.S. warplanes, which killed at least 15 civilians Monday when they strafed village compounds where Taliban fighters had taken shelter.
Nice touch about the warplanes killing civilians. And Karzai, the touted ‘humanitarian’ that he is, according to the Tribune, visited a hospital for the wounded in a hospital:
Karzai arrived in the city on a U.S. military helicopter and visited a hospital where many victims of Monday’s air assault were being treated.
Aww…we should be impressed with his hospital visit using the US military to get him there, heh? Never do they comment that Kandahar is Karzai’s birthplace and never do they mention that Karzai is a Pashtun, which is synonymous with the Taliban.
Karzai was accompanied on the visit by Army Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry, the senior U.S. military officer in Afghanistan. In an earlier statement in the capital, Karzai said he had told Eikenberry at a meeting to make “every effort” to ensure civilian safety in the fight against Taliban and other insurgents.
He might start with NOT releasing and giving money to the Taliban when they release 200 or so of them every month from Pulacharke…but then they’ve “forgiven” the Taliban even though the Taliban is actively fighting and killing coalition forces.
What side is Karzai ON and why is an American puppet in Afghanistan’s government giving amnesty to terrorists?
This is what the press should be asking.
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Victory or Defeat? I Choose Victory!
Hand in the air if you are getting tired of all the Bush bashing, GOP trashing? And that's from the folks on OUR side. Well it's past time to put a cork in that whine and get on the victory train. The battle for congress is on and the stakes are too high to throw another advantage to the folks who would toss out what's left of our GOP platform their first day in power. So suck it up and get on board for V I C T O R Y! Point Five is calling the faithful home with his invitation to "Join the Victory Wing of the Republican Party."
Fri. 26 May 2006
Iran FocusTehran, Iran, May 26 – More than 100 radical Islamists affiliated to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) gathered on Thursday in Tehran’s most famous cemetery vowing to blow themselves up in suicide attacks to kill Americans, Britons, and Israelis.The “martyrdom-seeking volunteers”, most of whom had covered their faces with a chafieh, issued a warning to Washington that they would blow up United States interests around the world if Iran’s nuclear installations came under attack.Mohammad-Ali Samadi, spokesman for the Headquarters to Commemorate the Martyrs of the Global Islamic Movement, a government-orchestrated campaign to recruit suicide bombers, repeated a claim made earlier in the week that more than 55,000 “volunteers for martyrdom-seeking operations” had been registered so far by the organisation, which also calls itself “Estesh’hadioun”, or martyrdom-seekers.A huge banner was displayed at the event, depicting the coffins of American and British troops in Iraq.In February, the group launched a new recruitment drive for suicide bombers in Tehran to fight against “Global Blasphemy”.The group was set up by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards in 2004. Those who join have three choices: To carry out suicide attacks against “the infidels occupying Iraq”, against Israel, or against Salman Rushdie.
Friday, May 26, 2006
By David Ignatius
Friday, May 26, 2006;
"Only connect." That was the trademark line of E.M. Forster's great novel "Howards End." And it's a useful injunction in thinking about U.S. strategy toward Iran and the wider conflicts between the West and the Muslim world.
We are in the early stages of what the Centcom commander, Gen. John Abizaid, calls "the first war of globalization, between openness and closed societies." One key to winning that war, Abizaid told a small group of reporters at the Pentagon yesterday, is to expand openness and connection. He called al-Qaeda "the military arm of the closed order." The same could be said of the extremist mullahs in Tehran who are pushing for nuclear weapons.
America's best strategy is to play to its strengths -- which are the open exchange of ideas, backed up by unmatched military power. The need for connection is especially clear in the case of Iran, which in isolation has remained frozen in revolutionary zealotry like an exotic fruit in aspic. Yet some in the Bush administration cling to the idea that isolation is a good thing and that connectivity will somehow weaken the West's position. (That's pure bullshit. First of all to have an open exchange you have to have 2 parties that want to exchange. The Islamofacists only want to exchange our souls/lives for Allahs blessings. Via our deaths.) That ignores the obvious lesson of the past 40 years, which is that isolation has usually failed (as in the cases of Cuba and North Korea), while connectivity has usually succeeded (as in the cases of the Soviet Union and China). (Several GREAT Examples the Soviets which due to their Isolation crumbled and after we opened full relations with them, their society has degenerated into a Mafia based dictatorship that is restricting more and more of its citizens freedoms everyday. China on the other hand since getting favored nations status and being given missle guidance technology by the Clintonistas in exchange for campaign money, has done nothing except build its military at a rate of 100Billion dollars a year with a heavy investment in offensive weapons systems. Even though no one is threatining them. N Korea is another example of what happens when you give a lunatic what they want. Once again the Clintonistas gave them what they wanted a nuclear reactor and OH big surprise they built a bomb. Cuba is a good example no one engaged them and they stayed a nice little isolated Island whose citizens flee from on a daily baisis.)
A telling example was the decision to engage the Soviet Union in 1973 through the Conference for Security and Cooperation in Europe. At the time, some conservatives argued that it was a dangerous concession that the Soviets might interpret as a symbol of weakness. But the CSCE provided a crucial forum for dissidents in Russia and Eastern Europe, and with astonishing speed the mighty edifice of Soviet power began to crumble. (NONSENSE it was Ronald Reagan and Star Wars that brought the Soviets to their knees. They reached critical mass on military spending and their communist regime collapsed) Similar warnings about showing weakness in the face of an aggressive adversary were voiced when President Richard Nixon went to China in February 1972. (and other than an immense trade deficit what did that gain us except a temporary 2nd front threat to Russia, which was Nixons whole purpose in opening relations with China)
I cite this Cold War history because the moment has come for America to attempt to engage revolutionary Iran. (Except that you CITE IT completly WRONG) The invitation for such a dialogue came this month in a letter to President Bush from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad -- a man whose rabble-rousing, Israel-baiting career gave him the credentials, if that's the right word, to break a 27-year Iranian taboo on contacts with the Great Satan.
Ahmadinejad's letter clearly had the backing of Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. (Yeah if you read the Letter it could be summed up as a request to convert to Islam or DIE) In the American context, that's like having the support of Vice President Cheney for a peace feeler. (because we all KNOW Cheyney is as nutty as the Mullahs) My own Iranian sources say there is broad consensus in Tehran that it is time for talks with the United States. (tap this mans phone) "Iran wants to start discussions the same way the Chinese wanted discussions" with Nixon, (yeah give us technology so we can kill you) an Iranian businessman named Ali Ettefagh told me in an e-mail this week. "Great Satan doesn't sell anymore. More than half the population was not born 27 years ago, and the broken record does not play well." The Iranian offer of dialogue, he says, "ought to be taken as an opportunity, if only to air out grievances and amplify differences." (missiles will do that even better)
I suspect Iran wants dialogue now partly because it perceives America's position in Iraq as weak and its own as strong. That may be true, but so what? (except it's not true except in the minds of the american press.) Washington should still take yes for an answer. The United States and its European allies this week are crafting a package that, one hopes, will include everything the Iranian people could want -- except nuclear weapons. (but thats all they want except the time to build them themselves) The bundle of goodies should stress connectivity -- more air travel to Iran, (more planes to hijack) more scholarships for students, (the implanting of suicide bombers in our schools) more exchanges, (only if its bullets) Iranian membership in the World Trade Organization. (yeah so they can lobby to take oil off the dollar and move it to the Euro and destroy our economy) The mullahs may well reject these incentives as threatening, but that's the point. Their retrograde theocracy can't last long in an open world. (yeah they'll just give up and walk away singing Kuhmbiah) This very week, about 40 police officers were injured in a clash with demonstrators at two Tehran universities. One of the hand-lettered protest signs captured in an Iranian photo said: "This is not a seminary, it is a university." (and if that student was caught they would have been hung like several other protestors were last month)
Karim Sadjadpour, an Iranian analyst with the International Crisis Group, noted in Senate testimony last week that opinion polls show 75 percent of Iranians favor relations with the United States. "Embarking on a comprehensive dialogue with Iran would provide the U.S. with the opportunity to match its rhetorical commitment to Iranian democracy and human rights with action," Sadjadpour said. He's right. (what is this reporter basing this analysis on besides his pipe dreams?)
There's no guarantee that a policy of engagement will work. (no shit its guaranteed to fail) The Iranian regime's desire to acquire nuclear weapons may be so unyielding that Tehran and Washington will remain on a collision course. But America and its allies will be in a stronger position for responding to Iranian calls for dialogue. (no they won't, by then they would have their bomb. Which is the only reason they want to talk, to buy them more time) Openness isn't a concession by America, it's a strategic weapon.
Did this week mark the first return steps to bipartisan sanity in the war on terror? The Senate Intelligence Committee approved Gen. Michael Hayden to run the CIA by a 12-3 vote. And by helpful coincidence, the Supreme Court decided 9-0 in Brigham City v. Stuart that the police can make a warrantless entry into a home in which people are in imminent danger of physical harm. As we all are now.
For awhile after 9/11 the war on terror was a serious national enterprise. Then it entered a twilight zone between the reality of terrorist killing and the abstractions of our domestic politics. The subject became a kind of political video game in which political partisans--the press, the pols, the bureaucracies--attempt to splatter each other. The best-selling version of the game has been Warrantless Wiretaps, introduced for political playstations by the New York Times.
The Times reported in December that President Bush had authorized a "secret" National Security Agency program run by Gen. Hayden to monitor international phone calls related to al Qaeda. Like most video games, the story line of Warrantless Wiretaps is crudely simple: President Bush sits at a console of electronic surveillance programs and tries to demolish "our most basic civil liberties," eviscerate the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and trample the Constitution's Fourth Amendment. The person who has scored the most points playing Warrantless Wiretaps is GOP Sen. Arlen Specter, just ahead of Democratic presidential gamer Sen. Russ Feingold. The rest of the country has shown little interest in Washington's new game. In opinion polls about the NSA's surveillance programs, strong majorities essentially say, So what?
Something approximating "So what?" was the Supreme Court's answer this week to the proposition that the police might sometimes enter a home to prevent mayhem without a search warrant. Indeed Justice John Paul Stevens called it "an odd flyspeck of a case."
But it was a Fourth Amendment case. And we have little choice other than to apply the same Constitution to flyspecks and national tragedies, to brawling drunks in a Utah kitchen and al Qaeda agents plotting the next 9/11. Chief Justice John Roberts's opinion in Brigham is in fact a nice summary of the Court's thinking on the exceptions to requiring search warrants, what he called the Fourth Amendment's "ultimate touchstone" of "reasonableness." With apologies to Chief Justice Roberts for this legal leap, I am going to cross-apply the Fourth Amendment citations in the Court's no-brainer Brigham decision to the post-9/11 war on terror in the U.S.
"Reasonableness" was the benchmark most people were looking for amid the rancor over the warrantless wiretaps. Simply, are the anti-terror taps reasonable or not?
The Supreme Court's purpose in Brigham was to clear up confusions among lower courts about "the appropriate Fourth Amendment standard governing warrantless entry by law enforcement in an emergency situation." I'd call the terror war an emergency. Brigham said the Court has held that officers can make a warrantless entry "onto private property" to fight a fire, investigate its cause, prevent the imminent destruction of evidence, and engage in pursuit of a fleeing suspect. Al Qaeda qualifies as all four. Yet another precedent cited for "obviating the requirement of a warrant" is "the need to protect or preserve life." That sounds like the point of the war on terror, but some may disagree.
Because the kitchen fight had already began, "the officers had an objectively reasonable basis for believing . . . that the violence in the kitchen was just beginning." Osama bin Laden has recently broadcast a "reasonable basis" to believe the violence is "just beginning." The Court said, "Nothing in the Fourth Amendment required them to wait until another blow rendered someone unconscious, semiconscious or worse before entering." To stop the next al Qaeda attack, do we need a stricter test than we allow for kitchen fights?
In a final burst of Fourth Amendment common sense, the Court said, "The role of a peace officer includes preventing violence and restoring order, not simply rendering first aid to casualties." This is what the ranting over Homeland Security's inadequacies has been about--preventing violence before the casualties begin. That is the purpose of recording these calls at the moment they sound dangerous, not after we've made paper submissions to a court.
In a helpful June 2002 essay on all this for the Yale Law Journal, "Local Policing after the Terror," William J. Stuntz, a Fourth Amendment specialist at Harvard Law School, argued that increasing legal authority for the police was appropriate in the post-9/11 world. The problem with Big Brotherism, he says, is not the surveillance itself but that they might use the information to "punish you for ordinary behavior." To avoid tying the war on terror in legalistic knots, he proposes that we forbid public disclosure of any information gathered in anti-terror searches "where the search tactic is secret and potentially invasive." Then restrict use of that information only for prosecutions of the most serious crimes.
This sounds like 9/11 policy for adults, in contrast to Washington's "shocked" reaction to the anti-terror surveillance programs. We began by saying the 12-3 Hayden vote was cause for hope. Small cause.
Daniel Henninger is deputy editor of The Wall Street Journal's editorial page.
Thursday, May 25, 2006
The Amnesty Bill created in the Senate is an open attack on ALL Americans and if it doesn't get destroyed in Conference by the House the Dems have just won control of at least the House if not the Senate and there is a good possibility they'll take both. Because there is NO reason for conservatives to support these assholes.
The OUTRAGE that Congress is showing over this other ass who GOT CAUGHT ON TAPE, let me repeat that GOT CAUGHT ON TAPE taking $100,000 BRIBE. Is to say the LEAST offensive. Who do these people think they are? Diplomats at the UN? It is NOT Jeffersons office it's your and my office. ALL of their offices are mine and yours. For The People, By The People, and Of the People. THOSE OFFICES ARE OURS ON LOAN TO THE IDIOTS WE CHOOSE TO ELECT!. Fuck Congress they are NOT above the LAW. No One is using their office to intimidate another Branch of government and if they are its two branches against ONE. They went to a JUDGE and got a WARRANT. Let me repeat why This ass GOT CAUGHT ON TAPE, let me repeat that GOT CAUGHT ON TAPE taking $100,000 BRIBE. and they're going to make a fuss?
From AP: Some lawmakers wary of fight over FBI raid.
Some lawmakers are warning of a voter backlash against members of Congress "trying to protect their own" if party leaders keep escalating a constitutional dispute over the FBI's raid of a representative's office.
Yet not long after House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi demanded on Wednesday the bureau return documents it took, White House aides were in talks with Hastert's staff about the possible transfer of the material, perhaps to the House ethics committee, according to several Republican officials. [See article below for latest.] ...
The confrontational approach by Hastert, R-Ill., and Pelosi, D-Calif., did not sit well with some colleagues.
"Criticizing the executive and judicial branches of our government for fully investigating a member of Congress suspected of criminal wrongdoing sends the wrong message and reflects poorly upon all of Congress," Rep. Barbara Cubin (news, bio, voting record), R-Wyo., said in a statement. "They should not expect their congressional offices to be treated as a safe haven."
A GOP colleague, Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana, said the public "will come to one conclusion: that congressional leaders are trying to protect their own from valid investigations."
While some lawmakers contended the executive branch overstepped its authority, Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada has declined to condemn the search.
"I'm not going to beat up on the FBI," said Reid, a frequent critic of the White House's use of executive power.
Their voices were in the minority on Capitol Hill in the wake of the 15-hour search during which agents collected evidence against Jefferson, an eight-term Democrat.
Historians said it was the first such search of a congressman's quarters in the more than two centuries since the first Congress convened.
Meanwhile, from CNN: Bush orders documents seized in Capitol Hill search sealed.
President Bush stepped into the Justice Department's constitutional confrontation with Congress on Thursday and ordered that documents seized in an FBI raid on a congressman's office be sealed for 45 days.
The president directed that no one involved in the investigation have access to the documents taken last weekend from the office of Rep. William Jefferson, D-Louisiana, and that they remain in the custody of the solicitor general.
Bush's move was described as an attempt to cool off a heated confrontation between his administration and leaders of the House and Senate.
(This cartoon was based on a suggestion by David Walz.)
Posted by Forkum
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
I just saw the Hildabeast on C-SPAN saying she is proposing a New Energy Bill. It will increase our development of alternative fuels. How is she going to do it? Simple cut all tax breaks to oil companies and place a 10% Tax on all Oil Company Profits....
The immigration bill before Congress has some of the most serious consequences for the future of this country. Yet it is not being discussed seriously by most politicians or most of the media. Instead, it is being discussed in a series of glib talking points that insult our intelligence.
Some of the most momentous consequences -- a major increase in the number of immigrants admitted legally -- are not even being discussed at all by those who wrote the Senate bill, though Senator Jeff Sessions has uncovered those provisions in the bill and brought them out into the light of day.
How many times have we heard that illegal aliens are taking "jobs that Americans won't do"? Just what specifically are those jobs?
Even in occupations where illegals are concentrated, such as agriculture, cleaning, construction, and food preparation, the great majority of the work is still being done by people who are not illegal aliens.
The highest concentration of illegals is in agriculture, where they are 24 percent of the people employed. That means three-quarters of the people are not illegal aliens. But when will the glib phrase-mongers stop telling us that the illegals are simply taking "jobs that Americans won't do"?
Another insult to our intelligence is that amnesty is not amnesty if you call it something else. The fact that illegals will have to fulfill certain requirements to become American citizens is supposed to mean that this is not amnesty.
But let's do what the spinmeisters hope we will never do -- stop and think. Amnesty is overlooking ("forgetting," as in amnesia) the violation of the law committed by those who have crossed our borders illegally.
The fact that there are requirements for getting American citizenship is a separate issue entirely. Illegal aliens who do not choose to seek American citizenship are under no more jeopardy than before. They have de facto amnesty.
Yet another insult to our intelligence is saying that, since we cannot find and deport 12 million people, the only choice left is to find some way to make them legal.
There is probably no category of law-breakers -- from counterfeiters to burglars or from jay-walkers to murderers -- who can all be found and arrested. But no one suggests that we must therefore make what they have done legal.
Such an argument would suggest that there is nothing in between 100 percent effective law enforcement and zero percent effective law enforcement.
The reverse twist on this argument is that suddenly taking 12 million people out of the labor force would disrupt the economy. No one has ever said -- or probably even dreamed -- that we could suddenly find all 12 million illegal immigrants at once and send them all home immediately. This is another straw man argument.
The real question is what we do with whatever illegal aliens we do find. Right now, there are various communities around the country where local officials have a policy of forbidding the police from reporting illegal immigrants to federal authorities.
Why are people who are so gung ho for punishing employers so utterly silent about needing to punish government officials who openly and deliberately violate federal laws?
Employers, after all, are not in the business of law enforcement.
If some guy who runs a hardware store or a dry cleaning business hires someone who shows some forged documents, why should the employer be fined for not being able to tell the difference, when government officials who can tell the difference are not doing anything -- or are even actively obstructing federal laws?
Putting unarmed national guardsmen on the border is another cosmetic move, a placebo instead of real medicine. The excuse is that it is not possible to train more than 1,500 border patrol agents a year. Meanwhile, we have trained well over 200,000 Iraqi security forces while guerilla warfare raged around them.
You can put a million people on the border and it will mean nothing if those who are caught are simply turned loose and sent back to try again tomorrow -- or perhaps later the same day.
Monday, May 22, 2006
FEDS FEAR STRIKE AMID NUKE SHOWDOWN
By NILES LATHEM Post Correspondent
May 22, 2006 -- WASHINGTON - The Hezbollah terror group - one of the most dangerous in the world - may be planning to activate sleeper cells in New York and other big cities to stage an attack as the nuclear showdown with Iran heats up, sources told The Post.
The FBI and Justice Department have launched urgent new probes in New York and other cities targeting members of the Lebanese terror group.
Law-enforcement and intelligence officials told The Post that about a dozen hard-core supporters of Hezbollah have been identified in recent weeks as operating in the New York area.
Sources said the activities of these New York-based operatives are being monitored by FBI counterterrorism agents as part of a nationwide effort to prevent a possible terror strike if the confrontation with Iran over its nuclear program spins out of control.
Additional law-enforcement attention is being centered on the Iranian Mission to the United Nations, where there have already been three episodes in the last four years in which diplomats and security guards have been expelled for casing and photographing New York City subways and other potential targets.
The nationwide effort to neutralize Hezbollah sleepers in the United States, being spearheaded by the FBI and Justice Department's counterterrorism divisions, was triggered in January in response to alarming reports that Iran's fanatical president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, met with leaders of Hezbollah and other terror groups during a visit to Syria.
Among those attending the meetings, according to reliable reports, was Hezbollah's chief operational planner, Imad Mugniyah - considered one of the most dangerous terrorists in the world - who is responsible for the bombings of the 1983 U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut and who, more recently, provided Iraqi guerrillas with sophisticated explosive devices.
U.S. officials stressed there is no intelligence information pointing to an imminent attack by Hezbollah.
But officials said they have detected increased activity by Hezbollah operatives - including more heated rhetoric by its leaders and in Internet chat rooms as the U.S.-Iran diplomatic showdown heats up.
"Hezbollah is a group that the U.S. has to be concerned about in the current climate. Hezbollah is already coming under heavy pressure by the Cedar Revolution in Lebanon, and Ahmadinejad is under pressure on the nuclear issue," said Walid Phares, an outside terror expert who has briefed law-enforcement officials on Hezbollah in recent weeks.
"They are well funded, very well organized, and we assume that their penetration of the U.S. is deeper than al Qaeda's. It is only rational for the U.S. to think in pre-emptive ways. An attack here is clearly in the realm of the possible," Phares added.
A U.S. counterterrorism official called the latest effort a "major undertaking," with separate probes also under way in Los Angeles, Boston and Detroit.
Hezbollah has so far limited its activities in the United States to fund-raising and criminal enterprises. The FBI has already taken down two major rings, one in Charlotte, N.C., and one in Detroit, in which members were smuggling cigarettes, Viagra and baby formula, and kicking profits back to Hezbollah.
By DAVID ESPO,
AP Special Correspondent
WASHINGTON - The Senate, eager to stanch the flow of illegal immigrants, signaled overwhelming support Monday for President Bush's plan to dispatch National Guard troops to states along the Mexican border.
No tour of duty could last longer than 21 days and troops would be excluded from "search, seizure, arrest or similar activity." They would support the Border Patrol, which has primary responsibility for intercepting illegal immigrants.
The vote was 83-10 on an amendment by Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., to authorize governors to order their states' National Guard units to perform annual duty training in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona or California. Administration officials have said Bush has the authority needed to deploy the Guard, making the vote a largely symbolic show of support.
The agreement came as the Senate debated the most far-reaching immigration bill in two decades. The measure would strengthen border enforcement, create a new guest worker program and provide an eventual opening for citizenship to many of the millions of men and women already in the country illegally.
After more than a week of debate, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., set the stage for a test vote on Wednesday, a move designed to bring the bill to a final vote by week's end. Supporters will need 60 votes to prevail, a level that appears likely given the ability of the legislation's supporters to control the proceedings on the Senate floor thus far.
In contrast to the Guard-related provision, a proposal to assure identical wage floors for two groups of immigrant farm workers sparked a spirited debate.
Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., said farm workers who hold temporary visas should be paid along the same lines as up to 1.5 million future agriculture laborers under a new program envisioned in the legislation.
He said both groups should be paid whichever was higher, the minimum wage or the prevailing wage — a calculation that takes into account skill, experience and the geographical area where the job exists. "The workers (in the two groups) are mostly the same," Chambliss said, adding that most come from Mexico and are in the United States to earn money to support their families.
"Should they not be treated the same? I believe they should," he said.
Critics argued that Chambliss' proposal would result in a reduction in already low wages. "They'll be treated the same, but they'll be treated shabbily," said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass. Other critics, including Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, said Chambliss' proposal would change a carefully negotiated compromise between farmers and groups advocating on behalf of migrant workers.
But Chambliss, who chairs the Senate Agriculture Committee, told Kennedy and others that when it came to 40,000 temporary workers already in the country, "you're reducing their wages immediately."
The amendment was sidetracked on a vote of 50-43.
NATIONAL SECURITY DEPT.
Issue of 2006-05-29
A few days before the start of the confirmation hearings for General Michael Hayden, who has been nominated by President Bush to be the head of the C.I.A., I spoke to an official of the National Security Agency who recently retired. (really whats his name?) The official joined the N.S.A. in the mid-nineteen-seventies, soon after contentious congressional hearings that redefined the relationship between national security and the public’s right to privacy. (ah the Ghost of Nixon) The hearings, which revealed that, among other abuses, the N.S.A. had illegally intercepted telegrams to and from the United States, led to the passage of the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, to protect citizens from unlawful surveillance. (an un-costitutional court setup to restrict Presidential power WHOSE SOLE PURPOSE is to prevent a President from using the Intelligence community against his POLITICAL opponents. Not to restrict him in times of WAR) “When I first came in, I heard from all my elders that ‘we’ll never be able to collect intelligence again,’” the former official said. “They’d whine, ‘Why do we have to report to oversight committees?’ ” But, over the next few years, he told me, the agency did find a way to operate within the law. “We built a system that protected national security and left people able to go home at night without worrying whether what they did that day was appropriate or legal.” (babblings from Seelesses own mind)
After the attacks of September 11, 2001, it was clear that the intelligence community needed to get more aggressive and improve its performance. The Administration, deciding on a quick fix, returned to the tactic that got intelligence agencies in trouble thirty years ago: intercepting large numbers of electronic communications made by Americans. The N.S.A.’s carefully constructed rules were set aside. (thats not what the problem was 30yrs ago, 30 years ago a President used these tools to go after his political opponents NOT to find TERRORISTS. Much like Clinton did the same thing with the IRS when he was President to go after his political opponents. I didn't read you being upset with that Seeless)
Last December, the Times reported that the N.S.A. was listening in on calls between people (terrorists) in the United States and people (terrorists) in other countries, and a few weeks ago USA Today reported that the agency was collecting information on millions of private domestic calls. A security consultant working with a major telecommunications carrier told me (another source without a name) that his client set up a top-secret high-speed circuit between its main computer complex and Quantico, Virginia, the site of a government-intelligence computer center. This link provided direct access to the carrier’s network core—the critical area of its system, where all its data are stored. “What the companies are doing is worse than turning over records,” the consultant said. “They’re providing total access to all the data.”
“This is not about getting a cardboard box of monthly phone bills in alphabetical order,” a former senior intelligence official said. (Seelesses lack of computer knowledge and data storage is showing) The Administration’s goal after September 11th was to find suspected terrorists and target them for capture or, in some cases, air strikes. “The N.S.A. is getting real-time actionable intelligence,” the former official said.
The N.S.A. also programmed computers to map the connections between telephone numbers in the United States and suspect numbers abroad, sometimes focussing on a geographic area, rather than on a specific person—for example, a region of Pakistan. Such calls often triggered a process, known as “chaining,” in which subsequent calls to and from the American number were monitored and linked. The way it worked, one high-level Bush Administration intelligence official told me, (another un-named source) was for the agency “to take the first number out to two, three, or more levels of separation, and see if one of them comes back”—if, say, someone down the chain was also calling the original, suspect number. As the chain grew longer, more and more Americans inevitably were drawn in. (no more and more TERRORISTS are identified)
FISA requires the government to get a warrant from a special court if it wants to eavesdrop on calls made or received by Americans. (It is generally legal for the government to wiretap a call if it is purely foreign.) The legal implications of chaining are less clear. Two people who worked on the N.S.A. call-tracking program told me they believed that, in its early stages, it did not violate the law. (it has never violated the law FISA has said that themselves but once again facts don't count to Seeless) “We were not listening to an individual’s conversation,” a defense contractor said. “We were gathering data on the incidence of calls made to and from his phone by people associated with him and others.” Similarly, the Administration intelligence official said that no warrant was needed, because “there’s no personal identifier involved, other than the metadata from a call being placed.”
But the point, obviously, was to identify terrorists. “After you hit something, you have to figure out what to do with it,” the Administration intelligence official told me. The next step, theoretically, could have been to get a suspect’s name and go to the fisa court for a warrant to listen in. (which they have done) One problem, however, was the volume and the ambiguity of the data that had already been generated. (“There’s too many calls and not enough judges in the world,” the former senior intelligence official said.) (your un-named source is then as stupid as you are Seeless) The agency would also have had to reveal how far it had gone, and how many Americans were involved. And there was a risk that the court could shut down the program. (no because they are tracking TERRORISTS)
Instead, the N.S.A. began, in some cases, to eavesdrop on callers (often using computers to listen for key words) (its called DATA mining) or to investigate them using traditional police methods. A government consultant told me (another un-named source) that tens of thousands of Americans had had their calls monitored in one way or the other. “In the old days, you needed probable cause to listen in,” the consultant explained. (NEVER in time of WAR but thats irrelevant) “But you could not listen in to generate probable cause. What they’re doing is a violation of the spirit of the law.” (not true) One C.I.A. officer told me (another un-named source) that the Administration, by not approaching the FISA court early on, had made it much harder to go to the court later.
The Administration intelligence official acknowledged that the implications of the program had not been fully thought out. (which one of your un-named sources was this again?) “There’s a lot that needs to be looked at,” he said. “We are in a technology age. We need to tweak fisa, and we need to reconsider how we handle privacy issues.”
Marc Rotenberg, (my god he actually named someone) the executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, believes that if the White House had gone to Congress after September 11th and asked for the necessary changes in FISA “it would have got them.” He told me, “The N.S.A. had a lot of latitude under FISA to get the data it needed. I think the White House purposefully ignored the law, because the President did not want to do the monitoring under FISA. There is a strong commitment inside the intelligence community to obey the law, and the community is getting dragged into the mud on this.” (yes because of course this is all illegal)
General Hayden, who as the head of the N.S.A. supervised the intercept program, is seen by many as a competent professional who was too quick to follow orders without asking enough questions. As one senior congressional staff aide said, (another un-named source) “The concern is that the Administration says, ‘We’re going to do this,’ and he does it—even if he knows better.” (yes he is a military robot what else could he do) Former Democratic Senator Bob Kerrey, who was a member of the 9/11 Commission, had a harsher assessment. Kerrey criticized Hayden for his suggestion, after the Times exposé, that the N.S.A.’s wiretap program could have prevented the attacks of 9/11. “That’s patently false and an indication that he’s willing to politicize intelligence and use false information to help the President,” Kerrey said. (a discredited commision that was designed to cover up the Gorelick Wall)
Hayden’s public confirmation hearing last week before the Senate Intelligence Committee was unlike the tough-minded House and Senate investigations of three decades ago, (drats they weren't the Watergate hearings) and added little to what is known about the wiretap program. (what enough hasn't been leaked to totally destroy it and put our lives in danger for you Seeless) One unexamined issue was the effectiveness of the N.S.A. program. (yes they should tell us the names of the TERRORISTS that they are watching in our country so you can print them and they can get away) “The vast majority of what we did with the intelligence was ill-focussed and not productive,” a Pentagon consultant told me. (another un-named source) “It’s intelligence in real time, but you have to know where you’re looking and what you’re after.”
On May 11th, President Bush, responding to the USA Today story, said, “If Al Qaeda or their associates are making calls into the United States, or out of the United States, we want to know what they are saying.” That is valid, and a well-conceived, properly supervised intercept program would be an important asset. (it is properly supervised by the people we elected to do just that you ASSHOLE) “Nobody disputes the value of the tool,” the former senior intelligence official told me. “It’s the unresolved tension between the operators saying, ‘Here’s what we can build,’ and the legal people saying, ‘Just because you can build it doesn’t mean you can use it.’ ” It’s a tension that the President and his advisers have not even begun to come to terms with. (no it's a tool to catch TERRORISTS and it was working how damaged and how vulnerable to attack due to the espionage perpatrated by the press has yet to be known)
— Seymour M. Hersh (ASSHOLE EXTRAODINAIRE)
Sunday, May 21, 2006
EBOLA FEARS AS BRIT DIES
Woman collapses on packed flight
By Stephen Moyes
A WOMAN is feared to have died from ebola after taking ill on a plane home from Africa yesterday.
Passengers and crew on the flight to Heathrow are understood to be panicking that they have contracted the contagious virus.
They helped the Briton when she was vomiting and bleeding. Some even shared their drinks with her.
Last night, tests were being run to confirm whether she had the haemorraghic fever.
The 38-year-old was on Virgin Atlantic flight VS602 from Johannesburg. It is understood she worked at an embassy in Lesotho.
She had visited a doctor before the flight complaining of flu symptoms and was told she could fly.
But during the trip, she suffered a fit that knocked her unconcious.
Cabin crew and passengers passed her drinks and did all they could to help. At around 3am, she started to vomit heavily and began bleeding.
When the Airbus A340-600, carrying 249 passengers and 18 crew, touched down at 7am she was rushed to nearby Hillingdon Hospital.
Hospital staff treated her as if she had ebola as her symptoms matched those of the virus. She died in hospital.
Cabin crew who came into contact with the woman have been told to monitor their health over the next week.
A hospital spokesman said: "A patient was brought to our accident and emergency department on May 19 after falling ill on a flight to Heathrow.
"As a precautionary measure, the patient was initially treated as if infectious. Tests are still ongoing to establish the nature of the illness."
A Virgin spokeswoman said: "We can confirm that a female passenger taken ill on flight VS602 subsequently died at Hillingdon Hospital.
"Virgin Atlantic would like to extend our sympathies to the family and friends of the passenger."
One cabin crew member said: "Those people who came into contact with the dead woman are terrified at what might have been caught."
The virus is transmitted by direct contact with infected body fluids. (like vomit) There is limited evidence of human-to-human airborne transmission.
Saudis jump aboard Florida school bus
Police try to determine intent: '1 of the guys was wearing shorts with a black trench coat'
Posted: May 21, 200612:58 p.m. Eastern
TAMPA, Fla. – Local and federal authorities are trying to determine the real reason two Saudi men jumped aboard a local school bus on Friday, alarming students as well as education officials.
Mana Saleh Almanajam, 23, and Shaker Mohsen Alsidran, 20, were immediately taken into custody when the bus arrived at Wharton High School, and they are being charged with trespassing on school property, and are held without bail.
"Both defendants gave several versions of the reason they took a school bus to a high school," Hillsborough County sheriff's spokesman J.D. Callaway told the Tampa Tribune, noting the pair seemed cagey and evasive as they answered questions. "They said they wanted to go to Wharton to look around, and then they said they wanted to go there to have some fun, and then they said they wanted to enroll in the English classes there."
"We're not sure if this was a situation of them just being new to this country, or if they were confused or what it was," he continued. "We were unsure as to exactly what the final reason was, but it did cause great concern for the students on the bus and for us. One of the guys was wearing shorts with a black trench coat."
If Arnold Schwarzenegger had migrated to Mexico instead of the United States, he couldn't be a governor. If Argentina native Sergio Villanueva, firefighter hero of the Sept. 11 attacks, had moved to Tecate instead of New York, he wouldn't have been allowed on the force.
Even as Mexico presses the United States to grant unrestricted citizenship to millions of undocumented Mexican migrants, its officials at times calling U.S. policies "xenophobic," Mexico places daunting limitations on anyone born outside its territory.
In the United States, only two posts — the presidency and vice presidency — are reserved for the native born.
In Mexico, non-natives are banned from those and thousands of other jobs, even if they are legal, naturalized citizens.
Foreign-born Mexicans can't hold seats in either house of the congress. They're also banned from state legislatures, the Supreme Court and all governorships. Many states ban foreign-born Mexicans from spots on town councils. And Mexico's Constitution reserves almost all federal posts, and any position in the military and merchant marine, for "native-born Mexicans."
Recently the Mexican government has gone even further. Since at least 2003, it has encouraged cities to ban non-natives from such local jobs as firefighters, police and judges.
Mexico's Interior Department — which recommended the bans as part of "model" city statutes it distributed to local officials — could cite no basis for extending the bans to local posts.
Filing: Tape Shows Lawmaker Taking Money
May 21 4:35 PM US/Eastern
By MATTHEW BARAKAT
Associated Press Writer
A congressman under investigation for bribery was caught on videotape accepting $100,000 in $100 bills from an FBI informant whose conversations with the lawmaker also were recorded, according to a court document released Sunday. Agents later found the cash hidden in his freezer.
At one audiotaped meeting, Rep. William Jefferson, D-La., chuckles about writing in code to keep secret what the government contends was his corrupt role in getting his children a cut of a communications company's deal for work in Africa.
A Quagmire, A Civil War:
You know how al l the left wing do-gooders, are constantly saying that they could do "it better" (whatever it is). Well one of their pet projects has long been the plight of the Palestinians. Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton both lavished praise, attention and huge amounts of US taxpayer dollars in a vain attempt to buy off the Palestinians.Well, looks like good intentions don't count for much in a Middle East long wracked by tribal and sectarian strife. Now, there's talk of a civil war between the PLO and Hamas.From the Associated Press:
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip - Palestinian security foiled the second attempt in two
days to kill top commanders loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas in what officials
in his Fatah party said Sunday was a "clear conspiracy" against their
leaders.Gaza security chief Rashid Abu Shbak, a central figure in the power
struggle, was the target of an attempted bombing Sunday, security officials
said.The discovery came a day after Abbas‘ intelligence chief, Tareq Abu Rajab,
was seriously wounded and one of his bodyguards was killed when a bomb loaded
with metal pellets ripped through an elevator shaft in his Gaza
headquarters.Abbas, a political moderate, was elected in separate presidential
elections last year and wields significant authority, including formal control
over some security forces."Civil war is the red line that nobody dares cross, no
matter which side they are on ... Civil war is forbidden," Abbas said on the
sidelines of a World Economic Forum meeting in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of
Sharm el-Sheik.The 3,000-member Hamas militia was deployed for the first time
last week, despite orders from Abbas not to form the unit. In response, forces
loyal to Abbas came out in large numbers.Fatah officials suspect Hamas was
behind both incidents over the weekend but have stopped short of openly accusing
the militant group of involvement.
For all the liberal catterwalling about Iraq, at least it has a new government founded on the principles of democracy and peace. The same cannot be said for Palestine.
posted by Mike's America
Ohio Muslim Leader Says 9/11 Planned by Americans, Praises Al-Qaeda-Linked Yemenite Sheikh
He is widely respected as a "moderate" Muslim leader. He has never attracted the attention of authorities, and why should he? He hasn't blown anything up, after all.
Yet Sultan has asked Tariq Ramadan to reconsider his call for the setting-aside of traditional Islamic penalties (stoning for adultery, amputation for theft, etc.). He seems to revere Qaradawi, who has justified suicide bombing and violent jihad, as an authority. But no one in America thinks of that sort of thing as any cause for concern.
"Columbus, Ohio Muslim Leader Says 9/11 Planned by Americans, Praises the Wanted Al-Qaeda-Linked Yemenite Sheikh Al-Zindani," from MEMRI, with thanks to all who sent this in:
Dr. Salah Sultan is president of the American Center for Islamic Research (ACIR), a non-profit organization registered in Ohio and located in Columbus. On his website, he asserts that the main purpose of the ACIR is to "serve Allah (God) in the best way possible through the principles laid out in the Quran and Sunnah," to address misconceptions and extremism, to build bridges with non-Muslims, and to provide fatwas. 
Dr. Sultan, who has been called "one of America's most noted Muslim scholars,"  is signatory to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) 2005 fatwa against terrorism,  and is a former professor and president of the Islamic American University in Michigan.  He is president of the American Institute for Religious and Cultural Studies, and active in the European Council for Fatwa and Research (headed by Islamist sheikh Yousef Al-Qaradhawi  whom he calls "our great scholar"  );the Fiqh Council of North America; and the International Association of Muslim Scholars.  He previously served on the board of directors of Islamic American University, and on the Muslim American Society Board of Trustees.  Dr. Sultan's resume states that he also serves on the board of trustees of the International Union for Muslim Scholars, and is a member of the Council of Indian Scholars and of the Association of Scholars in Germany. 
There is a lot more to his resume at MEMRI, attesting to his influence in the American Muslim community.
According to his online resume, Sultan's "vision" is: "To live happily. To die as a martyr." 
On May 17, 2006, Dr. Sultan appeared on the Saudi Prince Walid bin Talal-owned Al-Risala TV channel.  In his appearance on Al-Risala TV, Dr. Sultan praised Yemenite sheikh Dr. Al-Zindani, who has been categorized by the U.S. government as a "Specially Designated Global Terrorist" because of his loyalty to Osama bin Laden and his support of Al-Qaeda.  According to the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Al-Zindani "has a long history of working with bin Laden, notably serving as one of his spiritual leaders. In this leadership capacity, he has been able to influence and support many terrorist causes, including actively recruiting for Al-Qaeda training camps." 
In March 2006, Al-Zindani appeared on Yemenite TV at a Hamas fundraiser.  TO VIEW THIS CLIP, VISIT: http://www.memritv.org/search.asp?ACT=S9&P1=1086.
The following are excerpts from Sultan's May 17, 2006 address on Al-Risala TV. TO VIEW THIS CLIP, VISIT: http://www.memritv.org/search.asp?ACT=S9&P1=1143.
Salah Sultan: "The film 'The Siege,' starring Denzel Washington, portrayed the Muslims in a very bad light. They are shown calling for prayer, performing the ablution, praying, and then planning multiple bombings - a government building, a security agency, the FBI, a bus carrying young men and women, adults and children. They bombed shops.
"The film came out in April 1999. It paved the way for 9/11, since it was filmed in Brooklyn, New York. The truth is that immediately after 9/11, I said people should view these events in the context of 'The Siege,' because these events were identical.
"This scenario... I still believe to this day... This scenario still baffles me. I share the view of many Americans, French, and Europeans, who say that 9/11 could not have been carried out entirely from outside [the U.S.] - by Muslims or others. The confessions by some people could have been edited. But even if they were not edited, I believe that these people were used in a marginal role. The entire thing was of a large scale and was planned within the U.S., in order to enable the U.S. to control and terrorize the entire world, and to get American society to agree to the war declared on terrorism - the definition of which has not yet been determined.
"The U.S. remains the only country to determine who is a terrorist, and what is the definition for terrorism, and it can pin it on anyone. The most recent instance is the case of Dr. Al-Zindani, who has been accused of terrorism, even though he is known worldwide for his refinement, virtue, and broad horizons."
Saturday, May 20, 2006
Dealing with the crazy world after Iraq.
by Victor Davis Hanson
National Review Online
How does the United States deal with a corrupt world in which we are blamed even for the good we do, while others are praised when they do wrong or remain indifferent to suffering?We are accused of unilateral and preemptory bullying of the madman Mr. Ahmadinejad, whose reactors that will be used to “wipe out” the “one-bomb” state of Israel were supplied by Swiss, German, and Russian profit-minded businessmen. No one thinks to chastise those who sold Iran the capability of destroying Israel.Here in the United States we worry whether we are tough enough with the Gulf sheikdoms in promoting human rights and democratic reform. Meanwhile China simply offers them cash for oil, no questions asked. Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez pose as anti-Western zealots to Western naifs. The one has never held an election; the other tries his best to end the democracy that brought him to power. Meanwhile our fretting elites, back from Europe or South America, write ever more books on why George Bush and the Americans are not liked.Hamas screams that we are mean for our logical suggestion that free American taxpayers will not subsidize such killers and terrorists. Those in the Middle East whine about Islamophobia, but keep silent that there is not allowed a Sunni mosque in Iran or a Christian church in Saudi Arabia. An entire book could be written about the imams and theocrats — in Iran, Egypt, the West Bank, Pakistan, and the Gulf States — who in safety issue fatwas and death pronouncements against Americans in Iraq and any who deal with the “infidel,” and yet send their spoiled children to private schools in Britain and the United States, paid for by their own blackmail money from corrupt governments.You get the overall roundup: the Europeans have simply absorbed as their own the key elements of ossified French foreign policy — utopian rhetoric and anti-Americanism can pretty much give you a global pass to sell anything you wish to anyone at anytime.China is more savvy. It discards every disastrous economic policy Mao ever enacted, but keeps two cornerstones of Maoist dogma: imply force to bully, and keep the veneer of revolutionary egalitarianism to mask cutthroat capitalism and diplomacy, from copyright theft and intellectual piracy to smiling at rogue clients like North Korea and disputing the territorial claims of almost every neighbor in sight.Oil cuts a lot of idealism in the Middle East. The cynicism is summed up simply as “Those who sell lecture, and those who buy listen.” American efforts in Iraq — the largest aid program since the Marshall Plan, where American blood and treasure go to birth democracy — are libeled as “no blood for oil.” Yet a profiteering Saudi Arabia or Kuwait does more to impoverish poor oil-importing African and Asian nations than any regime on earth. But this sick, corrupt world keeps mum.And why not ask Saudi Arabia about its now lionized and well-off al-Ghamdi clan? Aside from the various Ghamdi terrorists and bin-Laden hangers-on, remember young Ahmad, the 20-year-old medical student who packed his suicide vest with ball bearings and headed for Mosul, where he blew up 18 Americans? Or how about dear Ahmad and Hamza, the Ghamdis who helped crash Flight 175 into the South Tower on September 11? And please do not forget either the Saudi icon Said Ghamdi, who, had he not met Todd Beamer and Co. on Flight 93, would have incinerated the White House or the Capitol.
So we know the symptoms of this one-sided anti-Americanism and its strange combination of hatred, envy, and yearning — but, so far, not its remedy. In the meantime, the global caricature of the United States, in the aftermath of Iraq, is proving near fatal to the Bush administration, whose idealism and sharp break with past cynical realpolitik have earned it outright disdain. Indeed, the more al Qaeda is scattered, and the more Iraq looks like it will eventually emerge as a constitutional government, the angrier the world seems to become at the United States. American success, it seems, is even worse than failure.Some of the criticism is inevitable. America is in an unpopular reconstruction of Iraq that has cost lives and treasure. Observers looked only at the explosions, never what the sacrifice was for — especially when it is rare for an Afghan or Iraqi ever to visit the United States to express thanks for giving their peoples a reprieve from the Taliban and Saddam Hussein.We should also accept that the United States, as the world’s policeman, always suffers the easy hatred of the cops, who are as ankle-bitten when things are calm as they are desperately sought when danger looms. America is the genitor and largest donor to the United Nations. Its military is the ultimate guarantor of free commerce by land and sea, and its wide-open market proves the catalyst of international trade. More immigrants seek its shores than all other designations combined — especially from countries of Latin America, whose criticism of the United States is the loudest.Nevertheless, while we cannot stop anti-Americanism, here (a consequence, in part, of a deep-seeded, irrational sense of inferiority) and abroad, we can adopt a wiser stance that puts the onus of responsibility more on our critics.We have a window of 1 to 3 years in Iran before it deploys nuclear weapons. Let Ahmadinejad talk and write — the loonier and longer, the better, as we smile and ignore him and his monstrous ilk.Let also the Europeans and Arabs come to us to ask our help, as sphinx-like we express “concern” for their security needs. Meanwhile we should continue to try to appeal to Iranian dissidents, stabilize Iraq and Afghanistan, and resolve that at the eleventh hour this nut with his head in a well will not obtain the methods to destroy what we once knew as the West.Ditto with Hamas. Don’t demonize it — just don’t give it any money. Praise democracy, but not what was elected.We should curtail money to Mr. Mubarak as well. No need for any more sermons on democracy — been there, done that. Now we should accept with quiet resignation that if an aggregate $50 billion in give-aways have earned us the most anti-American voices in the Middle East, then a big fat zero for Egypt might be an improvement. After all, there must be something wrong with a country that gave us both Mohammad Atta and Dr. Zawahiri.The international Left loves to champion humanitarian causes that do not involve the immediate security needs of the United States, damning us for inaction even as they are the first to slander us for being military interventionists. We know the script of Haiti, Mogadishu, and the Balkans, where Americans are invited in, and then harped at both for using and not using force. Where successful, the credit goes elsewhere; failure is always ours alone. Still, we should organize multinational efforts to save those in Darfur — but only after privately insisting that every American soldier must be matched by a European, Chinese, and Russian peacekeeper.
There are other ways to curb our exposure to irrational hatred that seems so to demoralize the American public. First, we should cease our Olympian indifference to hypocrisy, instead pointing out politely inconsistencies in European, Middle Eastern, and Chinese morality. Why not express more concern about the inexplicable death of Balkan kingpin prisoners at The Hague or European sales of nuclear technology to madmen or institutionalized Chinese theft of intellectual property?We need to reexamine the nature of our overseas American bases, elevating the political to the strategic, which, it turns out, are inseparable after all. To take one small example: When Greeks pour out on their streets to rage at a visiting American secretary of State, we should ask ourselves, do we really need a base in Crete that is so costly in rent and yet ensures Greeks security without responsibility or maturity? Surely once we leave, those brave opportunistic souls in the streets of Athens can talk peace with the newly Islamist Turkish government, solve Cyprus on their own, or fend off terrorists from across the Mediterranean.The point is not to be gratuitously punitive or devolve into isolationism, but to continue to apply to Europe the model that was so successful in the Philippines and now South Korea — ongoing redeployment of Americans to where we can still strike in emergencies, but without empowering hypocritical hosts in time of peace.We must also sound in international fora as friendly and cooperative as possible with the Russians, Chinese, and the lunatic Latin American populists — even as we firm up our contingency plans and strengthen military ties of convenience with concerned states like Australia, Japan, India, and Brazil.The United States must control our borders, for reasons that transcend even terrorism and national security. One way to cool the populist hatred emanating from Latin America is to ensure that it becomes a privilege, not a birthright, to enter the United States. In traveling the Middle East, I notice the greatest private complaint is not Israel or even Iraq, but the inability to enter the United States as freely as in the past. And that, oddly, is not necessarily a bad thing, as those who damn us are slowly learning that their cheap hatred has had real consequences.Then there is, of course, oil. It is the great distorter, one that punishes the hard-working poor states who need fuel to power their reforming economies while rewarding failed regimes for their mischief, by the simple accident that someone else discovered it, developed it, and then must purchase it from under their dictatorial feet. We must drill, conserve, invent, and substitute our way out of this crisis to ensure the integrity of our foreign policy, to stop the subsidy of crazies like Chavez and Ahmadinejad, and to lower the world price of petroleum that taxes those who can least afford it. There is a reason, after all, why the al-Ghamdis are popular icons in Saudi Arabia rather than on the receiving end of a cruise missile.So we need more firm explanation, less loud assertion, more quiet with our enemies, more lectures to neutrals and friends — and always the very subtle message that cheap anti-Americanism will eventually have consequences.
©2006 Victor Davis Hanson