Friday, June 30, 2006
By: Efraim Karsh, Special To The Evening Bulletin
At a time when more than half of the American public believes the Iraq war has not made the United States safer, and nearly two-thirds says it is not worth fighting anymore, one needs a good deal of intellectual courage to describe the war as "noble." But then, Fouad Ajami, a professor of Middle East studies at Johns Hopkins University, has never shied away from speaking his mind, even if it meant digressing from the received wisdom. He did so for the first time some 25 years ago in "The Arab Predicament," a scathing indictment of pan-Arabism, and has been challenging the cliches of Middle East scholarship ever since.Now Mr. Ajami takes on the latest controversy surrounding America's policy in the Middle East, and, true to form, he does so with customary erudition and verve. The Foreigner's Gift: The Americans, the Arabs, and the Iraqis in Iraq (Free Press, 378 pages, $26) offers a beautifully written account, based on six trips he made to Iraq in the aftermath of the defeat of Saddam Hussein's regime, of the alternating moods, hopes, fears, and disillusionments among Iraqis, and Arabs more generally, since this momentous event.As is vividly illustrated by the book's title,Mr. Ajami makes no bones as to where his sympathies lie. By deposing a bloodthirsty tyrant and enabling his brutalized subjects to put him on trial, he argues, the United States has established, for the first time in modern Arab history, "the precedent of holding a ruler responsible for the follies and crimes of his regime," without which there can be no civil society. This, together with the liberation of Iraq's long-oppressed Shiite and Kurdish communities to play their overdue roles in their country's future, has sown the seeds of Iraq's potential transition, if not that of the wider Middle East, to a freer and more and accountable political system.Mr. Ajami is by no means oblivious to the immensity of the task undertaken by the United States, nor does he preclude the possibility of a colossal failure. On the contrary, as a longtime critic of pan-Arabism, he is keenly aware of the malignant hypocrisies that continue to mar Arab politics to the present day, not least the total indifference of the Arab regimes to the fate of ordinary Iraqis, their tacit endorsement of Islamist terrorism so long as it is not directed against themselves, and their readiness to espouse virulent anti-Americanism despite a heavy reliance on U.S. political, military, and financial support. He is particularly scathing of President Mubarak of Egypt, who "took America's coin but ran afoul of America's purposes," and Jordan's King Abdullah II, a quintessential product of the "elite American prep schools and the ways of modernity" who "opened the door to bigotry, lent it his authority." He is similarly contemptuous of the hypocrisy of Sheik Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a spiritual guide of the Muslim Brothers and one of today's most influential Islamic thinkers, who in the summer of 2004 stipulated that the killing of American civilians in Iraq was "obligatory on all Muslims," even as he was living "in the safety in Qatar - among Americans of every profession present in that principality." And when terror came to Qatar the following year - in the form of a car bomb attack on a British theater group performing in the emirate - Qaradawi minced no words in condemning "such criminal deeds."If, today, America is reviled in the Arab and Muslim worlds, it is not because of "the culture of terrorism that had put down roots in the Arab world," let alone its specific policies, but because, as the pre-eminent world power, it blocks the final realization of this same age-old dream of regaining "the great tolerant civilization of the early caliphate." That this is not a vision confined to a tiny extremist fringe was evidenced by the overwhelming support for the September 11 attacks throughout the Islamic world, well beyond the confines of the Middle East, in the admiring evocations of Mr. bin Laden's murderous acts during the crisis over the Danish cartoons, and in the significant reservoirs of sympathy, shown in recent polls, among Muslims in Britain for the "feelings and motives" of the suicide bombers who attacked London last July.In the historical imagination of many Muslims and Arabs, Mr. bin Laden represents nothing short of the new incarnation of Saladin, defeater of the Crusaders and conqueror of Jerusalem. In this sense, the house of Islam's war for world mastery is a traditional, indeed venerable, quest that is far from over. To the contrary, now that this war has met with a determined counterattack by the United States and others, and with a Western intervention in the heart of the House of Islam, it remains to be seen whether this "noble" endeavor, to use Mr. Ajami's words, "would prove to be a noble success or a noble failure."The New York Sun
In an article titled “Iranian missiles in Syria and the Bekaa capable of reaching France, Great Britain and Germany,” al Muharrer weekly "wrote that “the analysis of Dr Walid Phares, Senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies in Washington, demonstrate that the ultimate strategic aim of the Ahmedinijad regime is to deploy its missiles in Syria, and in some locations in Lebanon as a way to put a number of European countries and the Sixth Fleet under its reach.” The article says it has confirmed this analysis with sources from Western defense in the US, Britain and within moderate Arab countries. Arabic -July 1, 2006. (Read article in Arabic at Download al_muharrer_quote1.pdf).
Regardless of the article's sources, the gist of it focus on the convergence of analysis between the US, Europe and a number of Arab Governments that Iran is strategically decided to expand its military influence in the region and it will use its strategic relations with Syria to perform future deployments.
Posted by Walid Phares at 07:05 PM
Friday, June 30, 2006 12:01 a.m. EDT
"Not everything is fit to print. There is to be regard for at least probable factual accuracy, for danger to innocent lives, for human decencies, and even, if cautiously, for nonpartisan considerations of the national interest."
So wrote the great legal scholar, Alexander Bickel, about the duties of the press in his 1975 collection of essays "The Morality of Consent." We like to re-read Bickel to get our Constitutional bearings, and he's been especially useful since the New York Times decided last week to expose a major weapon in the U.S. arsenal against terror financing.
President Bush, among others, has since assailed the press for revealing the program, and the Times has responded by wrapping itself in the First Amendment, the public's right to know and even The Wall Street Journal. We published a story on the same subject on the same day, and the Times has since claimed us as its ideological wingman. So allow us to explain what actually happened, putting this episode within the larger context of a newspaper's obligations during wartime.
We should make clear that the News and Editorial sections of the Journal are separate, with different editors. The Journal story on Treasury's antiterror methods was a product of the News department, and these columns had no say in the decision to publish. We have reported the story ourselves, however, and the facts are that the Times's decision was notably different from the Journal's.
According to Tony Fratto, Treasury's Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, he first contacted the Times some two months ago. He had heard Times reporters were asking questions about the highly classified program involving Swift, an international banking consortium that has cooperated with the U.S. to follow the money making its way to the likes of al Qaeda or Hezbollah. Mr. Fratto went on to ask the Times not to publish such a story on grounds that it would damage this useful terror-tracking method.
Sometime later, Secretary John Snow invited Times Executive Editor Bill Keller to his Treasury office to deliver the same message. Later still, Mr. Fratto says, Tom Kean and Lee Hamilton, the leaders of the 9/11 Commission, made the same request of Mr. Keller. Democratic Congressman John Murtha and Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte also urged the newspaper not to publish the story. (yet the times claims it was all only halfhearted)
The Times decided to publish anyway, letting Mr. Fratto know about its decision a week ago Wednesday. The Times agreed to delay publishing by a day to give Mr. Fratto a chance to bring the appropriate Treasury official home from overseas. Based on his own discussions with Times reporters and editors, Mr. Fratto says he believed "they had about 80% of the story, but they had about 30% of it wrong." So the Administration decided that, in the interest of telling a more complete and accurate story, they would declassify a series of talking points about the program. They discussed those with the Times the next day, June 22.
Around the same time, Treasury contacted Journal reporter Glenn Simpson to offer him the same declassified information. Mr. Simpson has been working the terror finance beat for some time, including asking questions about the operations of Swift, and it is a common practice in Washington for government officials to disclose a story that is going to become public anyway to more than one reporter. Our guess is that Treasury also felt Mr. Simpson would write a straighter story than the Times, which was pushing a violation-of-privacy angle; on our reading of the two June 23 stories, he did.
We recount all this because more than a few commentators have tried to link the Journal and Times at the hip. On the left, the motive is to help shield the Times from political criticism. On the right, the goal is to tar everyone in the "mainstream media." But anyone who understands how publishing decisions are made knows that different newspapers make up their minds differently.
Some argue that the Journal should have still declined to run the antiterror story. However, at no point did Treasury officials tell us not to publish the information. And while Journal editors knew the Times was about to publish the story, Treasury officials did not tell our editors they had urged the Times not to publish. What Journal editors did know is that they had senior government officials providing news they didn't mind seeing in print. If this was a "leak," it was entirely authorized.
Would the Journal have published the story had we discovered it as the Times did, and had the Administration asked us not to? Speaking for the editorial columns, our answer is probably not. Mr. Keller's argument that the terrorists surely knew about the Swift monitoring is his own leap of faith. The terror financiers might have known the U.S. could track money from the U.S., but they might not have known the U.S. could follow the money from, say, Saudi Arabia. The first thing an al Qaeda financier would have done when the story broke is check if his bank was part of Swift.
Just as dubious is the defense in a Times editorial this week that "The Swift story bears no resemblance to security breaches, like disclosure of troop locations, that would clearly compromise the immediate safety of specific individuals." In this asymmetric war against terrorists, intelligence and financial tracking are the equivalent of troop movements. They are America's main weapons.
The Times itself said as much in a typically hectoring September 24, 2001, editorial "Finances of Terror": "Much more is needed, including stricter regulations, the recruitment of specialized investigators and greater cooperation with foreign banking authorities." Isn't the latter precisely what the Swift operation is?
Whether the Journal News department would agree with us in this or other cases, we can't say. We do know, however, that Journal editors have withheld stories at the government's request in the past, notably during the Gulf War when they learned that a European company that had sold defense equipment to Iraq was secretly helping the Pentagon. Readers have to decide for themselves, based on our day-to-day work, whether they think Journal editors are making the correct publishing judgments.
Which brings us back to the New York Times. We suspect that the Times has tried to use the Journal as its political heatshield precisely because it knows our editors have more credibility on these matters.
As Alexander Bickel wrote, the relationship between government and the press in the free society is an inevitable and essential contest. The government needs a certain amount of secrecy to function, especially on national security, and the press in its watchdog role tries to discover what it can. The government can't expect total secrecy, Bickel writes, "but the game similarly calls on the press to consider the responsibilities that its position implies. Not everything is fit to print." The obligation of the press is to take the government seriously when it makes a request not to publish. Is the motive mainly political? How important are the national security concerns? And how do those concerns balance against the public's right to know?
The problem with the Times is that millions of Americans no longer believe that its editors would make those calculations in anything close to good faith. We certainly don't. On issue after issue, it has become clear that the Times believes the U.S. is not really at war, and in any case the Bush Administration lacks the legitimacy to wage it.
So, for example, it promulgates a double standard on "leaks," deploring them in the case of Valerie Plame and demanding a special counsel when the leaker was presumably someone in the White House and the journalist a conservative columnist. But then it hails as heroic and public-spirited the leak to the Times itself that revealed the National Security Agency's al Qaeda wiretaps.
Mr. Keller's open letter explaining his decision to expose the Treasury program all but admits that he did so because he doesn't agree with, or believe, the Bush Administration. "Since September 11, 2001, our government has launched broad and secret anti-terror monitoring programs without seeking authorizing legislation and without fully briefing the Congress," he writes, and "some officials who have been involved in these programs have spoken to the Times about their discomfort over the legality of the government's actions and over the adequacy of oversight." Since the Treasury story broke, as it happens, no one but Congressman Ed Markey and a few cranks have even objected to the program, much less claimed illegality.
Perhaps Mr. Keller has been listening to his boss, Times Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr., who in a recent commencement address apologized to the graduates because his generation "had seen the horrors and futility of war and smelled the stench of corruption in government.
"Our children, we vowed, would never know that. So, well, sorry. It wasn't supposed to be this way," the publisher continued. "You weren't supposed to be graduating into an America fighting a misbegotten war in a foreign land. You weren't supposed to be graduating into a world where we are still fighting for fundamental human rights," and so on. Forgive us if we conclude that a newspaper led by someone who speaks this way to college seniors has as a major goal not winning the war on terror but obstructing it.
In all of this, Mr. Sulzberger and the Times are reminiscent of a publisher from an earlier era, Colonel Robert McCormick of the Chicago Tribune. In the 1930s and into World War II, the Tribune was implacable in its opposition to FDR and his conduct of the war. During the war itself, his newspaper also exposed secrets, including one story after the victory at Midway in 1942 that essentially disclosed that the U.S. had broken Japanese codes. The government considered, but decided against, prosecuting McCormick's paper under the Espionage Act of 1917.
That was a wise decision, and not only because it would have drawn more attention to the Tribune "scoop." Once a government starts indicting reporters for publishing stories, there will be no drawing any lines against such prosecutions, and we will be well down the road to an Official Secrets Act that will let government dictate coverage.
The current political clamor is nonetheless a warning to the press about the path the Times is walking. Already, its partisan demand for a special counsel in the Plame case has led to a reporter going to jail and to defeats in court over protecting sources. Now the politicians are talking about Espionage Act prosecutions. All of which is cause for the rest of us in the media to recognize, heeding Alexander Bickel, that sometimes all the news is not fit to print.
In addition since the Times story has ran 32 countries Banking systems have requested removal from the Swift system citing threats and fear of attacks from terrorist groups.
The N.Y. Times cares nothing for the public good or any of our lives. All they care about is carrying out an Agenda of biased red journalism against the current President of the United States.
If people die in the process because of the Times complicit aid to the orginizations of terror, not only do they not care. They intend to propagandize those deaths as proof against the administration.
The N.Y. Times is NOT the old grey lady. She is the Islamic Whore !
What this decision does is win the Republicans the election in the fall. The President overstepped his authority by setting up military trials without the consent from congress. He will now ask for that consent.
The resulting debate will be a circus like you have never witnessed. The Democrat Left is screwed. They can't refuse to allow some form of military trial without losing what little credibility they think they have that they can protect the american public, while at the same time they have been screaming for gitmo to be closed but have no clue on how to do it. This debate will show that and their weakness in their lack of resolve and ability to fight the war on terror.
This verdict may look like a defeat but its gonna give benefits in spades LOL
Thursday, June 29, 2006
We also need to not go to the polls in the next two elections, and allow the Democrats to win control of congress and the White House. By 2009 several things will start to happen. The first will be an economic crash, due to the massive tax increases. The second and most important thing that will occur is we will suffer a MASSIVE terrorist attack inside the US more than likely a Biological or Nuclear one.
Then and only then will the Press and Half our government believe that we are at WAR. When a Million people lie Dead in our Streets they might take it seriously. But then Again they may Not.
By Yossi Klein Halevi
Why Israel's attack on Gaza isn't enough
JERUSALEM — What's the news?" we ask each other, and everyone understands that the question refers to Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier kidnapped by Hamas. Though the old socialist Israel is barely a memory, in times of crisis we again become collectivized.
Nothing unites Israelis in outrage more than the seizure of hostages. Next week, on July 4, Israel will mark the thirtieth anniversary of the Entebbe operation that freed over a hundred Israeli hostages, and little has changed since then in the national ethos of rescue. The last Zionist ideal still shared by most Israelis is the determination to fight back. An Israeli soldier held hostage is a taunt against the Zionist promise of self-defense, an unbearable reminder of Jewish helplessness.
Our obsession with hostages is a tactical weakness but a strategic strength. It allows terrorists a stunning psychological advantage: With a single random kidnapping, they hold an entire society emotionally hostage. Strategically, though, hostage-taking only strengthens Israeli resolve.
And resolve is precisely what the public now expects of its government. So far, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has responded well. He began by issuing two policy guidelines in dealing with the hostage crisis. The first is that Israel won't negotiate over Gilad's release and won't exchange prisoners. The second is that Hamas leaders — "political" as well as "military" — will be held personally accountable for the fate of Gilad.
If Olmert's government hopes to retain its credibility among Israelis, it needs to maintain those two principles.
In recent months, the public has become increasingly disillusioned with the government's failure to adequately respond to the almost daily rocket attacks on Israeli towns and villages, especially Sderot. No Israeli town within the 1967 borders has experienced the kind of relentless attacks that Sderot has suffered. Even Hizbollah's Katyusha rocket attacks on the northern town of Kiryat Shmona in the early 1980s occurred in waves, with periods of reprieve between them. In the ten months since the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, though, Sderot has barely known a day of peace.
After the withdrawal, Israelis expected the government to enforce a policy of zero-tolerance for Palestinian attacks emanating from Gaza, even for attacks that didn't cause fatalities. Instead, the government responded unevenly, often ignoring rocket attacks that caused no damage.
Many Israelis see Hamas's raid on an Israeli military post within the 1967 borders as a result of the weakness Israel has projected. In yesterday's letters column in the daily Maariv, for example, the hardline consensus was almost unanimous. "We told you so," wrote one reader who identified himself as "right wing." "Why doesn't Israel shut off electricity and water to Gaza?" demanded another reader. "Enough words, it's time to act," insisted a third.
That perception of weakness could have far-reaching domestic consequences. The premise of Olmert's centrist party, Kadima, is that only a hawkish approach on security will convince Israelis to implement a dovish policy on territory. Given the Sderot precedent, though, Olmert is failing to uphold that centrist doctrine. For Olmert to win the public's agreement for another unilateral withdrawal, he needs to begin proving that he is capable of defending Tel Aviv from Palestinian rockets. And the place to begin convincing Israelis is Gaza.
The military invasion of Gaza that began last night, and whose purpose is to surround the area where Gilad is presumably being held, must only be the first step. A brief invasion, a "show of force," is hardly adequate. Instead, Israel needs to resume its policy of systematically targeting Hamas leaders, just as it did several years ago, culminating in the assassination of Sheik Yassin. That policy drove most of Hamas deep underground and led to the cease-fire between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Resuming assassinations against Hamas's political echelon is, of course, a declaration of war against the Hamas regime. But given its official sanctioning of kidnapping, Hamas has already declared war against Israel. Hamas's adoption of the tactics of Al Qaeda in Iraq comes as no surprise. After the killing of Zarqawi, Hamas issued a statement mourning his death and urging continued "resistance," thereby making the Hamas regime the world's only openly pro-Al Qaeda government. Unfortunately, the international media missed the significance of that moment.
That lapse in media judgment is worth recalling in the coming days, when much of the media will be presenting the "prisoners' document" — a set of demands drawn up by Hamas and Fatah members imprisoned in Israel — as a historic Hamas concession, offering "tacit" recognition of Israel. In fact, the document does nothing of the sort. Nowhere does the document recognize the right of Israel to exist. Instead, it calls for Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 borders, followed by the "right" of Palestinian refugees to resettle in Israel and demographically overwhelm the Jewish state. The prisoners' document, in other words, is a plan for the phased destruction of Israel — precisely why Hamas can endorse it.
Driving on the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway, I saw this graffiti: "Olmert, gadol alecha" — which roughly translates as, "Olmert, the job is bigger than you are." For Olmert to disprove that growing suspicion among Israelis, he must commit himself to the destruction of the Hamas regime. Sooner or later, Israel will have no choice but to adopt that policy. The only question is whether Olmert will still be prime minister when that happens.
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Mr. Bill Keller, Managing Editor
The New York Times
229 West 43rd Street
New York, NY 10036
Dear Mr. Keller:
The New York Times' decision to disclose the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program, a robust and classified effort to map terrorist networks through the use of financial data, was irresponsible and harmful to the security of Americans and freedom-loving people worldwide. In choosing to expose this program, despite repeated pleas from high-level officials on both sides of the aisle, including myself, the Times undermined a highly successful counter-terrorism program and alerted terrorists to the methods and sources used to track their money trails.
Your charge that our efforts to convince The New York Times not to publish were "half-hearted" is incorrect and offensive. Nothing could be further from the truth. Over the past two months, Treasury has engaged in a vigorous dialogue with the Times - from the reporters writing the story to the D.C. Bureau Chief and all the way up to you. It should also be noted that the co-chairmen of the bipartisan 9-11 Commission, Governor Tom Kean and Congressman Lee Hamilton, met in person or placed calls to the very highest levels of the Times urging the paper not to publish the story. Members of Congress, senior U.S. Government officials and well-respected legal authorities from both sides of the aisle also asked the paper not to publish or supported the legality and validity of the program.
Indeed, I invited you to my office for the explicit purpose of talking you out of publishing this story. And there was nothing "half-hearted" about that effort. I told you about the true value of the program in defeating terrorism and sought to impress upon you the harm that would occur from its disclosure. I stressed that the program is grounded on solid legal footing, had many built-in safeguards, and has been extremely valuable in the war against terror. Additionally, Treasury Under Secretary Stuart Levey met with the reporters and your senior editors to answer countless questions, laying out the legal framework and diligently outlining the multiple safeguards and protections that are in place.
You have defended your decision to compromise this program by asserting that "terror financiers know" our methods for tracking their funds and have already moved to other methods to send money. The fact that your editors believe themselves to be qualified to assess how terrorists are moving money betrays a breathtaking arrogance and a deep misunderstanding of this program and how it works. While terrorists are relying more heavily than before on cumbersome methods to move money, such as cash couriers, we have continued to see them using the formal financial system, which has made this particular program incredibly valuable.
Lastly, justifying this disclosure by citing the "public interest" in knowing information about this program means the paper has given itself free license to expose any covert activity that it happens to learn of - even those that are legally grounded, responsibly administered, independently overseen, and highly effective. Indeed, you have done so here.
What you've seemed to overlook is that it is also a matter of public interest that we use all means available - lawfully and responsibly - to help protect the American people from the deadly threats of terrorists. I am deeply disappointed in the New York Times.
John W. Snow, Secretary
U.S. Department of the Treasury
Dean: 'We're About to Enter the '60s Again'
By Randy Hall
CNSNews.com Staff Writer/EditorJune 28, 2006(CNSNews.com) -
America is about to revisit one of the most turbulent decades in its history, Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean told a religious conference in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday. "We're about to enter the '60s again," Dean said, but he was not referring to the Vietnam War or racial tensions. (Yet that's what his party is trying to recreate)
Dean said he is looking for "the age of enlightenment led by religious figures who want to greet Americans with a moral, uplifting vision.""The problem is when we hit that '60s spot again, which I am optimistic we're about to hit, we have to make sure that we don't make the same mistakes," (like believing and following ASSHOLES like you Howard) Dean added. See VideoAnger over the Vietnam War and the country's escalating racial tensions made the late 1960s one of the most painful eras in American history. (so why is your party trying to FABRICATE anger and a false sense of failure about Iraq, just like they created a FALSE sense of failure over Vietnam? as for Racial Tensions it seems like your party is also trying to do this again except this time your labeling people Racists if they want secure borders) Republican Richard Nixon was elected president in 1968, following the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Sen. Robert Kennedy, as well as the riot-marred Democratic National Convention in Chicago.
Later in his speech Tuesday, Dean appeared to backtrack. "I'm not asking to go back to the '60s; we made some mistakes in the '60s," (and your repeating them again today) he said. "If you look at how we did public housing, we essentially created ghettoes for poor people" instead of using today's method of mixed-income housing. (in other words todays policy of mixing the Ghetto into the Middles Class with Section 8 Housing) Another mistake Democrats made in the '60s, Dean acknowledged, was that "we did give things away for free, and that's a huge mistake because that does create a culture of dependence, and that's not good for anybody, either," (except by creating a perminant brainwashed voting base for Democrats) he noted, a reference to the Great Society welfare programs created by Democratic President Lyndon Johnson in the mid-1960s."Those mistakes were not the downfall of our program," Dean added. "They helped a lot more people than they hurt. (tell that to the 70% of african-american children growing up in single parent households) But we can do better and we will do better and our time is coming." See Video
Alternating between references to the "McCarthy era" of the 1950s, which he accused the Bush administration of reviving, (history has PROVEN McCarthy was right, just as it will with Bush) the decade of the 1960s and the current era, Dean explained that he was "looking to go back to the same moral principles of the '50s and '60s." That was a time that stressed "everybody's in it together," he said. "We know that no one person can succeed unless everybody else succeeds." (sounds like the words of Karl Marx) Dean's comments Tuesday came at a religious gathering convened in the nation's capital to discuss ways of eliminating poverty. After stating that America "is about as divided as it has been probably since the Civil War," Dean declared that "we need to come together around moral principles, and I'm talking about moral principles like making sure no child goes to bed hungry at night." (where are kids going to bed hungry in america howard?) "I'm talking about moral principles like making sure everybody in America has health insurance just like 36 other countries in the world," (who's healthcare systems are all failing) he added. "This is a moral nation, and we want it to be a moral nation again."As one method of accomplishing that goal, the DNC chairman called on Congress "to raise the minimum wage until we have a living wage in this country." (which always causes Higher Unemployment Rates) He dismissed criticism of a minimum wage hike as "economists' mumbo-jumbo.""We're simply asking to give the people who are working for minimum wage the same raise that Congress has had every year for the last 20 years,"(How about letting the American People OPT OUT of the Social Security System Just like Congress has done instead) he said.Dean also stated that the Democratic Party helped give people "the opportunity to become middle class" during the 1960s." (the FACTS say differently Howard) I do think that empowering people to help themselves is what we should be doing in the 21st century," he added, stating that the Democratic Party now emphasizes the value of work."If you work hard, you ought to be able to support your family," (except if you work you pay 50% of your income in taxes and the Democrats want to continue to raise those TAXES) the DNC chairman noted, and "in America, you need the opportunity to work hard, and that means some level of support from government -- no handouts, but some level of support so that you really do have a genuine opportunity to contribute to the country."The DNC chairman pointed to President Bush's tax cuts as a major obstacle to what he called "tax fairness." (redistribution of wealth) He also criticized the Republican Congress for being "the biggest 'big government' government we've ever had," though he did make at least one positive comment about the GOP."How about if I'm a wild-eyed radical liberal who is willing to say the conservatives had some good ideas?" Dean told his audience. "But let's go back and make what we wanted to work, using some of their ideas to make sure that the mistakes don't get made again," (like what and how? give facts and examples Howard) he added."It's nice to see that Howard Dean's hostility to the religious community ends when people of faith vote Democrat," (but in Deans eyes if you don't vote Democrat your part of the loony religous right) Republican National Committee spokesman Josh Holmes told Cybercast News Service.Holmes added he was not surprised that "Howard Dean's political perspective is derived from a 1960s counterculture view of the world. What is surprising -- and disturbing -- is that he can urge a massive expansion of government and denounce the Democrat mistake of creating a 'culture of dependence' in the same speech.""He may want to revisit that mistake to update his talking points and the Democrat policy manual," Holmes said.Before leaving Tuesday's conference, the DNC chairman thanked those in attendance for giving him "a big lift.""I came in the wrong door when I first got here," Dean said. "I came in the back, and everybody was talking about praising the Lord, and I thought, 'I am home. Finally, a group of people who want to praise the Lord and help their fellow man just like Jesus did and just like Jesus taught.' Thank you so much for doing that for me." (what an ASS)
Israeli Troops Enter Gaza; Bridges Hit
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) -- Israeli tanks and troops entered southern Gaza and planes attacked three bridges and knocked out electricity to the coastal strip early Wednesday, stepping up the pressure on Palestinian militants holding captive a 19-year-old Israeli soldier.
The ground troops and tanks began taking up positions in two locations east of the Gaza town of Rafah under the cover of tank shells, according to witnesses and Palestinian security officials. Palestinians dug in behind walls and sand embankments, bracing for a major Israeli offensive.
The Israeli strikes came amid intensive diplomatic efforts in the Arab world and by the United Nations. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged Israel to "give diplomacy a chance."
Trying to defuse building tensions, negotiators from the ruling Hamas movement said Tuesday they had accepted a document implicitly recognizing Israel. But two Syrian-based Hamas leaders denied a final deal had been reached.
Israel said only freedom for the captive soldier, Cpl. Gilad Shalit, could defuse the crisis, not a political agreement.
The Israeli military said in a statement that the object of the attacks on the bridges was "to impair the ability of the terrorists to transfer the kidnapped soldier." Knocking down the bridges cut Gaza in two, Palestinian security officials said.
UPDATE: Home Fly-By Sends Message to Syrian Leader
By JOSEF FEDERMAN
Associated Press Writer
Israeli warplanes buzzed the summer residence of Syrian President Bashar Assad early Wednesday, military officials said, in a message aimed at pressuring the Syrian leader to win the release of a captured Israeli soldier.
The officials said on condition of anonymity that the fighter jets flew over Assad's palace in a low-altitude overnight raid near the Mediterranean port city of Latakia in northwestern Syria. Israeli television reports said four planes were involved, and Assad was home at the time.
The flight caused "noise" on the ground, the military officials said on condition of anonymity, according to military guidelines.
The officials said Assad was targeted because of the "direct link" between Syria and Hamas, the Palestinian militant group holding Cpl. Gilad Shalit, 19, in the Gaza Strip. Syria hosts Khaled Meshaal, Hamas' exiled supreme leader.
There was no immediate reaction from Syria.
The flyover was the second time Israel has buzzed Assad's summer palace. In August 2003, warplanes reportedly flew so low that windows in the palace shattered. At the time, Israel said the flyover was aimed at pressuring Assad to dismantle Palestinian militant groups based in his country.
In October 2003, an Israeli warplanes bombed an Islamic Jihad training base deep in Syria. It was the first attack on Syrian soil in more than two decades.
The airstrike followed a suicide bombing by Islamic Jihad that killed 19 Israelis in a restaurant.
Wednesday, June 28, 2006; Page A24
FOR THE PAST quarter of a century, the federal government has banned oil and gas drilling in most U.S. coastal waters. Efforts to relax the ban have been repelled on environmental grounds, but it is time to revisit this policy. Canada and Norway, two countries that care about the environment, have allowed offshore drilling for years and do not regret it. Offshore oil rigs in the western Gulf of Mexico, one of the exceptions to the ban imposed by Congress, endured Hurricane Katrina without spills. The industry's safety record is impressive, and it's even possible that the drilling ban increases the danger of oil spills in coastal waters: Less local drilling means more incoming traffic from oil tankers, which by some reckonings are riskier. Although balancing energy needs with the environment is always hard, the prohibition on offshore extraction cannot be justified.
The House of Representatives is about to vote on this question, probably tomorrow. A bipartisan bill would maintain a ban on drilling within 50 miles of the shoreline and allow states to extend that to 100 miles. But it would lift the congressional restriction on drilling beyond that perimeter. This compromise would give states that are unwilling to countenance the perceived environmental risks a reasonable measure of control over their coasts. But it would also open the way to more drilling.
The economic benefit of that drilling would be especially pronounced if it were aimed at natural gas extraction. Despite all the rhetoric about energy independence, it doesn't make much difference whether the United States gets its oil from its own coastal waters or whether it buys it on world markets. There is one global price for oil; producing more from U.S. waters will bring down that global price, benefiting all consuming countries rather than just U.S. consumers. But natural gas is traded globally only in small quantities, in liquefied form; nearly all of the gas consumed in the United States is produced domestically or in Canada. So producing more natural gas in U.S. coastal waters would bring down U.S. natural gas prices rather than world prices. Because natural gas is much cleaner than its main alternative, coal, this would have environmental as well as economic benefits.
Unfortunately, the House legislation is flawed. It diverts billions of dollars' worth of oil and gas royalties from the federal government to the states, even though the waters from which the resources will come are federal. The states nearest to the oil rigs may feel they carry most of the perceived environmental risks, and some sharing of revenue may be justified to bring them along, but the House bill leans too far in that direction. We hope the bill passes tomorrow, but we also hope this flaw is fixed before it becomes law.
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Unambiguously taking within its reach the publication of the NSA terrorist surveillance story (though arguably not the Times's more recent terrorist banking story), Section 798 reads, in part:
Whoever knowingly and willfully communicates, furnishes, transmits,This law, passed by Congress in 1950 as it was considering ways to avert a second Pearl Harbor during the Cold War, has a history that is highly germane to the present conduct of the Times. According to the 1949 Senate report accompanying its passage, the publication in the early 1930s of a book offering a detailed account of U.S. successes in breaking Japanese diplomatic codes inflicted "irreparable harm" on our security.
or otherwise makes available to an unauthorized person, or publishes, or uses in
any manner prejudicial to the safety or interest of the United States or for the
benefit of any foreign government to the detriment of the United States any
classified information . . . concerning the communication intelligence
activities of the United States . . . shall be fined not more than $10,000 or
imprisoned not more than ten years, or both [emphasis added].
UPDATE: Here is a great Post to match this one It gives the facts and the basics that all "REPORTERS" need to LEARN My Republican Blog
I'll keep this at the top awhile
Jun 27, 6:33 PM (ET)By BRIAN SKOLOFF
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) - Rush Limbaugh will likely have to wait several days to find out if he violated his deal with prosecutors in a prescription fraud case when authorities found him in possession of a bottle of Viagra that was apparently prescribed to someone else, a spokesman for the state attorney's office said Tuesday.
Limbaugh, 55, was detained for more than three hours Monday at Palm Beach International Airport after he returned on his private plane from a vacation in the Dominican Republic. Customs officials found Viagra in his bag, but his name wasn't on the prescription, Palm Beach County sheriff's spokesman Paul Miller said.
Limbaugh's lawyer, Roy Black, said the prescription was written in his doctor's name "for privacy purposes." The conservative radio host was released without being charged and investigators confiscated the Viagra, which treats erectile dysfunction.
Limbaugh joked about the search on his radio show Tuesday, saying Customs officials didn't believe him when he said he got the pills at the Clinton Library and he was told they were blue M&Ms. He later added, chuckling: "I had a great time in the Dominican Republic. Wish I could tell you about it."
It is generally not illegal under Florida law for a physician to prescribe medication in a third party's name if all parties are aware and the doctor documents it correctly, said Mike Edmondson, a spokesman for the state attorney in Palm Beach County. He would not discuss specifics in the Limbaugh case Tuesday.
The sheriff's office was continuing its investigation and would turn the case over to prosecutors in several days, Edmondson said. The alleged violation could be a second-degree misdemeanor if Limbaugh's doctor doesn't confirm the prescription.
Under last month's deal with prosecutors, authorities will dismiss a "doctor shopping" charge if Limbaugh doesn't get arrested for 18 months, among other terms. Prosecutors had said he illegally deceived multiple doctors to get overlapping painkiller prescriptions. Limbaugh denied the charges but admitted he was addicted to painkillers.
This latest case may simply be dismissed if prosecutors can confirm with Limbaugh's doctor that the prescription was indeed for Limbaugh, said Kendall Coffey, a former U.S. attorney in Florida.
"It's perhaps a little embarrassing but not highly incriminating," Coffey said.
In addition, possession of Viagra is in a "completely different universe than a matter that would involve Schedule Two (controlled) substances such as OxyContin" Coffey added.
According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, Viagra is not considered a controlled substance because "it's not something you can be addicted to," said DEA Investigator Maria Gilbert.
The Food and Drug Administration oversees regulations concerning non-addictive drugs that are not considered controlled substances, Gilbert said. A telephone call to the FDA was not immediately returned Tuesday.
By MICHAEL FREUND
For the first time since the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, the US State Department has begun to sharply increase the number of entry visas granted to Saudi Arabian nationals seeking to visit the United States, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
Figures obtained by the Post reveal that after three years of steady decline, 2005 saw the number of US visas issued to Saudis remain relatively stable, while this year the number has more than doubled.
In an e-mail to the Post, Amanda D. Rogers-Harper, a spokeswoman for the US State Department, confirmed that as of June 10, a total of 18,683 non-immigrant US visas had been issued to Saudi citizens since the start of the current fiscal year.
"This," she noted, "is twice as many as the 9,338 issuances to Saudis" in the corresponding period last year, marking an increase of over 100 percent in just the past 12 months.
The US government's fiscal year begins October 1.
By contrast, the number of visas issued to Saudis in all of fiscal year 2005 was 22,521, which was nearly equal to the 22,235 that were granted the year before.
"We are pleased to see an increase in visa applicants at posts around the world, including Saudi Arabia," Rogers-Harper said, adding that this year's increase could be attributed to "a new student scholarship program funded by the government of Saudi Arabia, which encourages students to pursue their studies in the US.
"We hope to see a continuation of this positive momentum," she added.
In 2001, the US granted 83,761 non-immigrant visas to Saudis, but that number plummeted after 9/11. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers who carried out the attacks were Saudi citizens.
Subsequently, in fiscal year 2002, the number of visas given to Saudis slumped to 30,065, followed by a further decline in 2003 to 23,254.
Asked what measures were being taken to ensure that potential terrorists do not exploit the increase in the number of visas to the US, Rogers-Harper said: "The security of our visa processing continues to be of paramount concern to the Department of State and the Bureau of Consular Affairs. All applications are carefully screened in real time against a database and name-check system that has been dramatically expanded since September 11, 2001.
"The department," she continued, "has also increased data-sharing with other agencies and law enforcement organizations to ensure that those who receive US visas have been fully screened against these databases."
Figures regarding the number of Saudi applications for visas that were turned down were unavailable, as the State Department declined to release them.
"We do not release refusal rates for any posts around the world because they are constantly changing and there are different types of refusals, including a number of temporary categories," Rogers-Harper said.
Monday, June 26, 2006
U.S. Senate votes to fully back U.N. peacekeeping
Fri Jun 23, 2006 5:50 PM ET
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Senate has agreed to let the United States pay its full share of U.N. peacekeeping costs, which would stop a buildup of back payments to the world body.
An amendment tucked into a defense policy bill that the Senate passed on Thursday would raise the cap for U.S. dues from the current 25-percent share of the U.N. peacekeeping budget set by Congress to the 27 percent the United Nations has said Washington owes.
Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware, top Foreign Relations Committee Democrat, cited State Department figures that put U.S. arrears to the United Nations because of the 25 percent cap at $48 million as of January.
Congress passed a law in 1994 that limited U.S. payments to 25 percent of the U.N. peacekeeping budget, even though the U.N. General Assembly, which apportions payments based on a country's wealth, had said Washington should pay 31 percent.
Congress temporarily raised that to 27 percent starting in 2001 to comply with an agreement to pay arrears negotiated by Richard Holbrooke, former U.S. ambassador the United Nations. That congressional authorization has expired.
"At a time when U.N. peacekeeping operations around the world are having a positive effect on countless lives -- from Haiti to Democratic Republic of the Congo, to Kosovo -- we must not shortchange these critical missions," Biden, who pushed the measure, said in a statement.
Washington is pressing for U.N. financial reforms, Biden added, so "we certainly should not fall deeper into arrears on our obligations."
The House of Representatives has not yet acted on a measure to adjust peacekeeping costs.
The United Nations currently has 15 peacekeeping mission with nearly 75,000 troops and police plus another 12,000 civilians. The largest operation is in the Congo with 17,000 troops and police followed by Liberia with 15,800 and southern Sudan with some 9,300.
The cost over the last year, ending in June, was $4.9 billion.
Seven militant groups announced their desire to join the political process in
accordance with the reconciliation project and said they were ready to enter a
truce and stop the violence.MP Hassan al-Sinaid-whose close to PM Maliki-said
third parties conveyed the message of the seven groups confirming that they were
not involved in Iraqi bloodshed suggesting they're eligible to benefit from the
initiative.Al-Sinaid said it was possible that Maliki would meet representatives
of these seven groups either directly or indirectly, because he's concerned
about the success of the initiative and is keen to gather support for it.
Al-Sinaid adds "al-Maliki believes in political measures now, and not only in
military ones".According to those third parties, the militant groups consider
the initiative tempting which encouraged them to respond positively, and at the
same time pointed out that it's possible to win other groups into the project as
they will not find a good reason to say no.Initial information indicates that
the seven groups are: the brigades of the 1920 revolution, the army of Mohammed,
Heroes of Iraq, the 4/9 organization, Al-Fatih brigades and finally the general
command of armed forces.The demands of these groups can be summarized by:
putting a timetable for withdrawing foreign troops, recognizing the acts of
resistance as a legitimate right [still a controversial point with no clear
definition or guidelines stated as of now], reviewing the deba'athification law,
preserving the unity of Iraq, preventing foreign infiltration, releasing
innocent detainees, providing jobs, respecting the citizens and compensating the
affected and finally disbanding the militias.
This announcement seems to have been preceded by a lot of work but a declaration of amnesty was the militants' condition to join the reconciliation project mostly to save face.
So far, everybody in Iraq feels good about Maliki's plan and expressed their hopes for it to meet success and ease the suffering of the Iraqi people; everybody except for the Sadrists and the association of Muslim scholars who both criticized the plan and said it wasn't acceptable and expected it to fail.The question is do they are expecting it to fail only because they think it is not framed in a workable way or because they wish for it to fail?I'm afraid the latter is the likely answer.Oh, and did I forget to mention the BBC?
Posted by Mohammed @ Iraq The Model
The time to replace the State Department’s failed strategy of “talk forever--act never” has come. The report that Pyongyang has fueled a nuclear capable Taepodong-2 missile that could reach the west-coast mainland highlights the degree to which the State Department strategy of talk and bluff has failed.
For 13 years the has talked loudly about a North Korean nuclear weapons and ballistic-missile threat. For 13 years the North Korean dictatorship has lied and hunkered down and continued to build nuclear-weapons and ballistic missiles.
The strategy of talking has failed.
We are now at the crossroads where we have to either embrace a strategy of preemption or revert to a strategy of defensive measure. President Bush’s pledge in his 2002 State of the Union “Axis of Evil” speech that “the will not permit the world’s most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world’s most destructive weapons” led him and his administration to insist over and over that their doctrine was preemption.
Now we are faced with a direct threat of a missile launch. Will the State Department adhere to the Bush doctrine or will it go back to a defensive strategy?
The American public is being reassured that we have a ballistic-missile defense that will work. No serious person believes this. None of the tests have been robust enough or realistic enough to assure us that we could intercept the North Korean ICBM no matter where it was aimed.
In the immediate and present danger, the should not wait to attempt to shoot the missile down after it is launched. There is no proven reliable technology and no evidence that we could succeed. Instead, we should destroy the missile on its site before it is launched. Our ability to preempt the launch is nearly certain.
We can’t afford failure.
Imagine the North Korean dictator in a moment of insanity has placed a nuclear weapon atop of the Taepodong-2. Imagine he believes that taking out Seattle is the best way to impress us with how serious he is. Imagine that we allow this missile to be fired because we want to be in State Department language “prudent, cautious, reasonable, and multilateral.” Imagine what the “6/21 Commission to Investigate the Loss of Seattle” would report about 13 years of diplomatic failure and the failure of the United States to implement President Bush’s pledge.
America’s actions must be decisive. We are faced with a brutal, totalitarian dictatorship about which we know little. It is acting in defiance of all of its own international commitments. The time for talk is over. Either they dismantle the missile or we the should dismantle it.
From an American viewpoint of saving American lives and American cities certain preemption is much less risky than uncertain defense. That is a simple but painful fact. It is one Washington should act upon.
Sunday, June 25, 2006
Secret diplomatic efforts were underway on Sunday night in order to secure the release of the kidnapped IDF soldier, cpl. Gilad Shalit.
PM Olmert said in the cabinet meeting on Sunday that Israel was not going to negotiate for the release of the IDF soldier, and was not going to exchange Palestinian prisoners for the soldier.
Despite an intelligence warning of an imminent attack in the area, the IDF was caught off guard early Sunday morning when Palestinian gunmen, among them Hamas operatives, tunneled across the border from the southern Gaza Strip and assaulted a military post near the Kerem Shalom crossing. Two soldiers were killed and a third was captured in the attack.
"We intend to respond to this morning's incident in a way in which all involved... understand that the price will be painful," Defense Minister Amir Peretz announced at a news conference in Tel Aviv.
Shalit is the first soldier to be seized by Palestinian gunmen since Cpl. Nachshon Wachsman, a 19-year-old Israeli-American, was abducted 12 years ago. Wachsman was killed, along with three of his captors, when commandos stormed the house where he was held in an attempt to free him; one of the commandos was also killed.
Ground troops, backed by tanks and Apache helicopters, moved nearly a kilometer into Gaza when it became apparent that Shalit was missing, IDF officers said. Soldiers uncovered the tunnel's entrance, which was some 500 meters from the security fence. A senior Southern Command officer said this initial incursion was limited to a search of the area.
Halutz said Hamas was involved "from head to foot, literally" in the attack.
Hamas' military wing, which renounced a shaky 16-month-old truce on June 9 and openly resumed firing Kassam rockets, confirmed its participation. The Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) and a previously unknown group, the Islamic Army, said they also took part.
"This operation is a natural response to the Israeli crimes of killing women and children and the assassination of two leaders," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said.
"Our fighters infiltrated the Israeli military location near so-called Kerem Shalom," said PRC spokesman Abu Mujahid. "They succeeded in blowing up several Israeli vehicles and clashed with Israeli soldiers. The battle is still going on. The number of fighters is bigger than ever. We have some martyrs who fell during the battle."
"It was a very complicated and well-studied operation. The details are going to shock the Zionists. There are many surprises that are going to be announced about the planning and the process and the battle itself," he said.
Kochavi said the highly coordinated attack began at approximately 5:30 a.m. when seven or eight gunmen wearing olive green fatigues emerged from a tunnel into an IDF position between Kerem Shalom and the Sufa crossing. The tunnel's exit was 300 meters from the security fence and actually opened up behind a tank, a decoy armored personnel carrier and a fortified guard tower.
Upon exiting the tunnel, the group broke into three smaller units. One attacked the decoy carrier, destroying it. A second group of two gunmen attempted to storm the guard tower, igniting a fierce exchange with the four soldiers manning it. Kochavi said one of the gunmen was killed on the steps leading up to the tower and the other as he attempted to flee.
The third group attacked the tank from behind, throwing grenades and firing a rocket-propelled grenade. Barak and Slutsker were killed and the driver was seriously wounded. At this point, the gunmen captured Shalit and dragged him into Gaza.
Murtha says U.S. poses top threat to world peace
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
MIAMI — American presence in Iraq is more dangerous to world peace than nuclear threats from North Korea or Iran, Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., said to an audience of more than 200 in North Miami Saturday afternoon.
Murtha was the guest speaker at a town hall meeting organized by Rep. Kendrick B. Meek, D-Miami, at Florida International University's Biscayne Bay Campus. Meek's mother, former Rep. Carrie Meek, D-Miami, was also on the panel.
War veterans, local mayors, university students and faculty were in the Mary Ann Wolfe Theatre to listen to the three panelists discuss the war in Iraq for an hour.
A former Marine and a prominent critic of the Bush administration's policies in Iraq, Murtha reiterated his views that the war cannot be won militarily and needs political solutions. He said the more than 100,000 troops in Iraq should be pulled out immediately, and deployed to peripheral countries like Kuwait.
"We do not want permanent bases in Iraq," Murtha told the audience. "We want as many Americans out of there as possible."
Murtha also has publicly said that the shooting of 24 Iraqis in November at Haditha, a city in the Anbar province of western Iraq that has been plagued by insurgents, was wrongfully covered up.
The killings, which sparked an investigation into the deadly encounter and another into whether they were the subject of a cover-up, could undermine U.S. efforts in Iraq more than the prison abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib in 2004, Murtha said.
"(The United States) became the target when Abu Ghraib came along," Murtha said.
This man is the BIGGEST ASSHOLE to walk the face of the earth, Now how do we keep him infront of the camera 24/7 from now untill the November elections. He's creating votes for the Republicans better than any paid campaign could ever dream for.
How To Beat 'Cut And Run'
If Rove can successfully con Democrats into ignoring Iraq and reciting their laundry list of other priorities, Republicans win.
By Jonathan Alter
July 3-10, 2006 issue -
For more than a quarter century, Karl rove has employed a simple, brilliant, counterintuitive campaign tactic: instead of attacking his opponents at their weakest point, the con-ventional approach, he attacks their strength.(no he attacks what the opponents "claim" as their strengths, and shows why it's a weakness) He neutralizes that strength to the point that it begins to look like weakness. When John McCain was winning in 2000 because of his character, Rove attacked his character. (John McCain has no character he's an opportunistic egomaniac that wants to abolish the first amendment) When John Kerry was nominated in 2004 because of his Vietnam combat experience, the Republicans Swift-Boated him. (no when the Dems decided to find someone in their party with veteran status to run for President because we're in a war, they chose a War Protester that betrayed his fellow vets and actually took a purple heart for getting hit in the ass with rice after he shot the bag) This year's midterm elections will turn on whether Rove can somehow transform the Democrats' greatest political asset—the Iraq fiasco—into a liability. (shouldn't be hard since Iraq is NOT A FIASCO)
After escaping indictment, (A crime has to be commited to escape an indictment, since NO crime was commited in exposing the political motives of Joe Wilson and his CIA desk clerk wife, there was no indictment to escape) Rove is focused again on what he does best: ginning up the slime machine. (no pointing out facts) Anyone who dares criticize President Bush's Iraq policy is a "cut-and-run" Democrat. (no when you scream defeat and demand withdraw thats called "cut and run") The White House's object here is not to engage in a real debate about an exit strategy from Iraq; that would require acknowledging some complications, like the fact that Gen. George Casey, commander of the multinational forces in Iraq, believes it's time to start bringing some troops home. (except as the General really said "since more and more Iraqi troops are reaching operational levels we MAY be able to lower troop numbers") The object is instead to either get the Democrats tangled up in Kerryesque complexities (buffoonery) on Iraq—or intimidate them into changing the subject to other, less-potent issues for fear of looking like unpatriotic pansies.
These are the stakes: if Rove can successfully con Democrats into ignoring Iraq and reciting their laundry list of other priorities, Republicans win. (no if we can keep them talking about Iraq we win) It's shameful that the minimum wage hasn't been raised in nine years and that thousands of ailing Americans will ultimately die because of Bush's position on stem-cell research. (yes the President wants people to die) But those issues won't get the Congress back for Democrats. Iraq can.
You would think it would be the GOP running away from the war. (why? we're winning) Instead, in gamblers' parlance, Republicans "doubled down" on Iraq. After the good news about Zarqawi's death, they bet that by uniting behind Bush, they would shift the blame to the squabbling Democrats, even though the Democrats have no power at all to change—or even affect—policy on the ground. (thank God) Rove's notion is that strong and wrong beats meek and weak. (no strong and right beats whiney & stupid)
It almost worked. It looked recently as if Democrats were so fearful of being cast as war weenies that they would change the subject. Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid & Co. held a press conference on the Democratic issues for the fall that barely mentioned Iraq. (they also didn't mention anything else of any substance either) Hillary Clinton tried to focus on a lengthy list of worthy issues that, except for the mistreatment of veterans, had little to do with the war.
Why are Democrats having so much difficulty holding Bush accountable for his myriad failures? (because his list of failures include a Strong Economy, Lowest Unemployment in 50 years, and Success in Iraq) I think it's because they've lost touch with the basic merits of accountability, particularly on education, where they let interest-group politics trump tough judgments on performance. (as the Democrat controlled public schools churn out high school students that can't read, write, or do math at level higher than 8th grade)
But then, some Senate Democrats got smart for a change. They recognized that the party out of the White House doesn't need a detailed strategy for ending a war, just a general sense of direction. (wrong) When Dwight Eisenhower ran for president in 1952, his plan wasn't any more specific than "I will go to Korea." When Richard Nixon was asked how he would end the Vietnam War in 1968, he said he had a "secret plan"—and got away with it. (times have changed) So now 80 percent of Senate Democrats are united behind something called the "Levin-Reed Amendment." The details of it (begin withdrawal without a firm timetable for getting out completely; diplomacy with the Sunnis; purging the Iraqi military and police of bad guys) (cut and run but they won't commit to when, make nice with the insurgents, and blame the Iraqi police and army for the problems) are less important than that they finally came up with something.
Of course parrying "cut and run" with "Levin-Reed" won't suffice. (especialy because "levin-Reed" is cut and run) But Sen. Joe Biden's riposte to the GOP's symbolic roll-call votes—"The Republicans are now totally united in a failed policy"—is a start. This isn't rocket science. Unless things improve dramatically on the ground in Iraq, Democrats have a powerful argument: If you believe the Iraq war is a success, vote Republican. If you believe it is a failure, vote Democratic. (thats right)
Isn't that irresponsible? Not in the slightest. It's only under Bush that criticizing the conduct of a war has been depicted as somehow unpatriotic. Lincoln was lambasted by opponents during the Civil War as was FDR during World War II. To take a lesser example, some of the same Sean Hannitys of the world who slam antiwar critics were blasting Bill Clinton's Bosnia policy in 1999 when U.S. planes were in the air over Belgrade. (with no UN mandate, I thought you guys thought that was important? Plus we still have troops there - when are you going to demand their pullout?)
We'll see this summer if Democrats begin to get up in the morning, look in the mirror and say, "This isn't about us. It's about them." We'll see if, when Karl Rove wants to talk about Iraq, the Democrats respond with three familiar words: "Bring it on." (yes please do)
Saturday, June 24, 2006
United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan has calledon Israel to respect international law and not to endanger civilians. UN Under-Secretary General Ibrahim Gambari also called on Israel once again to stop the assassinations, which cause killing of civilians. He spoke at a briefing in the Security Council. He noted, however, that in the past month 176 rockets had been fired into Israel, and that few of them had caused injury and damage. Gambari neglected to report that the rockets fired by Palestinians from Gaza have killed ten thirteen people, including two Israeli Ethiopian immigrant children cousins, aged two and three, and a Moroccan Israeli child, aged 4. Gambari neglected to mention in his report that rockets came within a few feet of hitting schools in southern Israel while they were in session.
What a MAROON
Sunday marks the 10th anniversary of the bombing of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia
An act of terrorism that took the lives of 19 servicemen stationed in the kingdom to enforce the no-fly zone in southern Iraq.
With orders from President Clinton to "leave no stone unturned," then FBI Director Louis Freeh (now an FDD Senior Advisor) led the investigation into the attack, promising the airmen's families that he would bring the perpetrators to justice.
It soon became clear that all the evidence pointed in one direction: Iran. But, as he writes in today's Wall Street Journal, the Clinton administration refused to face that reality -- and even impeded his investigation:
It soon became clear that Mr. Clinton and his national security adviser, Sandy
Berger, had no interest in confronting the fact that Iran had blown up the
Towers. This is astounding, considering that the Saudi Security Service had
arrested six of the bombers after the attack. As FBI agents sifted through the
remains of Building 131 in 115-degree heat, the bombers admitted they had been
trained by the Iranian external security service (IRGC) in the Beka Valley, and
received their passports at the Iranian Embassy in Damascus, along with $250,000
cash for the operation from IRGC Gen. Ahmad Sharifi.
We later learned that
senior members of the Iranian government, including Ministry of Defense,
Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS), and the Spiritual Leader's office
had selected Khobar as their target and commissioned the Saudi Hezbollah to
carry out the operation. The Saudi police told us that FBI agents had to
interview the bombers in custody in order to make our case. To make this happen,
however, the U.S. president would need to personally make a request to Saudi
Crown Prince Abdullah.
So for 30 months, I wrote and rewrote the same set of
simple talking points for the president, Mr. Berger, and others to press the
FBI's request to go inside a Saudi prison and interview the Khobar bombers. And
for 30 months nothing happened. The Saudis reported back to us that the
president and Mr. Berger would either fail to raise the matter with the crown
prince or raise it without making any request. On one such occasion, our
commander in chief instead hit up Prince Abdullah for a contribution to his
library. Mr. Berger never once, in the course of the five-year investigation
which coincided with his tenure, even asked how the investigation was going.
Freeh's outrageous story -- and the lessons the Iranian Mullahs drew from it -- is here and is well worth considering as an emboldened Iranian regime seeks the power to kill not tens or hundreds, but millions.
Posted by Bill McCarthy
UPDATE: The Whole Story
Fri. 23 Jun 2006
The Wall Street Journal
CommentaryBy LOUIS J. FREEH
June 23, 2006; Page A10
Ten years ago this Sunday, acting under direct orders from senior Iranian government leaders, the Saudi Hezbollah detonated a 25,000-pound TNT bomb that killed 19 U.S. airmen in their dormitory at Khobar Towers in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. The blast wave destroyed Building 131 and grievously wounded hundreds of additional Air Force personnel. It also killed an unknown number of Saudi civilians in a nearby park.The 19 Americans murdered were members of the 4404th Wing, who were risking their lives to enforce the no-fly zone over southern Iraq. This was a U.N.-mandated mission after the 1991 Gulf War to stop Saddam Hussein from killing his Shiite people. The Khobar victims, along with the courageous families and friends who will mourn them this weekend in Washington, deserve our respect and honor. More importantly, they must be remembered, because American justice has still been denied.Although a federal grand jury handed down indictments in June 2001 -- days before I left as FBI director and a week before some of the charges against 14 of the terrorists would have lapsed because of the statute of limitations -- two of the primary leaders of the attack, Ahmed Ibrahim al-Mughassil and Abdel Hussein Mohamed al-Nasser, are living comfortably in Iran with about as much to fear from America as Osama bin Laden had prior to Sept. 11 (to wit, U.S. marshals showing up to serve warrants for their arrests).Solemn and PersonalThe aftermath of the Khobar bombing is just one example of how successive U.S. governments have mishandled Iran. On June 25, 1996, President Clinton declared that "no stone would be left unturned" to find the bombers and bring them to "justice." Within hours, teams of FBI agents, and forensic and technical personnel, were en route to Khobar. The president told the Saudis and the 19 victims' families that I was responsible for the case. This assignment became very personal and solemn for me, as it meant that I was the one who dealt directly with the victims' survivors. These disciplined military families asked only one thing of me and their country: "Please find out who did this to our sons, husbands, brothers and fathers and bring them to justice."It soon became clear that Mr. Clinton and his national security adviser, Sandy Berger, had no interest in confronting the fact that Iran had blown up the Towers. This is astounding, considering that the Saudi Security Service had arrested six of the bombers after the attack. As FBI agents sifted through the remains of Building 131 in 115-degree heat, the bombers admitted they had been trained by the Iranian external security service (IRGC) in the Beka Valley, and received their passports at the Iranian Embassy in Damascus, along with $250,000 cash for the operation from IRGC Gen. Ahmad Sharifi.We later learned that senior members of the Iranian government, including Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS), and the Spiritual Leader's office had selected Khobar as their target and commissioned the Saudi Hezbollah to carry out the operation. The Saudi police told us that FBI agents had to interview the bombers in custody in order to make our case. To make this happen, however, the U.S. president would need to personally make a request to Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah.So for 30 months, I wrote and rewrote the same set of simple talking points for the president, Mr. Berger, and others to press the FBI's request to go inside a Saudi prison and interview the Khobar bombers. And for 30 months nothing happened. The Saudis reported back to us that the president and Mr. Berger would either fail to raise the matter with the crown prince or raise it without making any request. On one such occasion, our commander in chief instead hit up Prince Abdullah for a contribution to his library. Mr. Berger never once, in the course of the five-year investigation which coincided with his tenure, even asked how the investigation was going.In their only bungled attempt to support the FBI, a letter from the president intended for Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, asking for "help" on the Khobar case, was sent to the Omanis, who had direct access to Mr. Khatami. This was done without advising either the FBI or the Saudis who were exposed in the letter as providing help to the Americans. We only found out about the letter because it was misdelivered to the Spiritual Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, who then publicly denounced the U.S. This was an embarrassment for the Saudis who had been fully cooperating with the FBI by providing direct evidence of Iranian involvement. Both Saudi Prince Bandar and Interior Minister Prince Nayef, who had put themselves and their government at great risk to help the FBI, were now undermined by America's president.The Clinton administration was set on "improving" relations with what it mistakenly perceived to be a moderate Iranian president. But it also wanted to accrue the political mileage of proclaiming to the world, and to the 19 survivor families, that America was aggressively pursuing the bombers. When I would tell Mr. Berger that we could close the investigation if it compromised the president's foreign policy, the answer was always: "Leave no stone unturned."* * *Meanwhile, then Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Mr. Clinton ordered the FBI to stop photographing and fingerprinting Iranian wrestlers and cultural delegations entering the U.S. because the Iranians were complaining about the identification procedure. Of course they were complaining. It made it more difficult for their MOIS agents and terrorist coordinators to infiltrate into America. I was overruled by an "angry" president and Mr. Berger who said the FBI was interfering with their rapprochement with Iran.Finally, frustrated in my attempts to execute Mr. Clinton's "leave no stone unturned" order, I called former President George H.W. Bush. I had learned that he was about to meet Prince Abdullah on another matter. After fully briefing Mr. Bush on the impasse and faxing him the talking points that I had now been working on for over two years, he personally asked the crown prince to allow FBI agents to interview the detained bombers.After his Saturday meeting with now-King Abdullah, Mr. Bush called me to say that he made the request, and that the Saudis would be calling me. A few hours later, Prince Bandar asked me to come out to McLean, Va. on Monday to see Prince Abdullah. When I met him with Wyche Fowler, our Saudi ambassador, and FBI counterterrorism chief Dale Watson, the crown prince was holding my talking points. He told me Mr. Bush had made the request for the FBI, which he granted, and told Prince Bandar to instruct Nayef to arrange for FBI agents to interview the prisoners.Several weeks later, agents interviewed the co-conspirators. For the first time since the 1996 attack, we obtained direct evidence of Iran's complicity. What Mr. Clinton failed to do for three years was accomplished in minutes by his predecessor. This was the breakthrough we had been waiting for, and the attorney general and I immediately went to Mr. Berger with news of the Saudi prison interviews.Upon being advised that our investigation now had proof that Iran blew up Khobar Towers, Mr. Berger's astounding response was: "Who knows about this?" His next, and wrong, comment was: "That's just hearsay." When I explained that under the Rules of Federal Evidence the detainees' comments were indeed more than "hearsay," for the first time ever he became interested -- and alarmed -- about the case. But this interest translated into nothing more than Washington "damage control" meetings held out of the fear that Congress, and ordinary Americans, would find out that Iran murdered our soldiers. After those meetings, neither the president, nor anyone else in the administration, was heard from again about Khobar.Wrong MessageSadly, this fits into a larger pattern of U.S. governments sending the wrong message to Tehran. Almost 13 years before Iran committed its terrorist act of war against America at Khobar, it used its surrogates, the Lebanese Hezbollah, to murder 241 Marines in their Beirut barracks. The U.S. response to that 1983 outrage was to pull our military forces out of the region. Such timidity was not lost upon Tehran. As with Beirut, Tehran once again received loud and clear from the U.S. its consistent message that there would be no price to pay for its acts of war against America. As for the 19 dead warriors and their families, their commander in chief had deserted them, leaving only the FBI to carry on the fight.The Khobar bombing case was eventually indicted in 2001, thanks to the personal leadership of President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. But justice has been a long time coming. Only so much can be done, after all, with arrest warrants and judicial process. Bin Laden and his two separate pre-9/11 arrest warrants are a case in point.Still, many stones remain unturned. It remains to be seen whether the Khobar case and its fugitives will make it onto the list of America's demands in "talks" with the Iranians. Or will we ultimately ignore justice and buy a separate peace with our enemy?Mr. Freeh was FBI director from 1993-2001.
Hamas Video Hamas video just released on their web site focuses on the broader Palestinian Islamic ideology, promising the eventual conquering and subjugation of Christian countries under Islam. The way Israel "ran" from Gaza after terror is presented as the prototype for future Israeli and Western behavior in the face of Islamic force.
The video is a collection of statements by Hamas terrorist leader, Yasser Ghalban, killed last week by Palestinians, in the ongoing internal fighting.
To view this video, anticipating Islam's conquering of US and Britain, click here.
The following is the transcript of selections from the Hamas video:
"We will rule the nations, by Allah's will, the USA will be conquered, Israel will be conquered, Rome and Britain will be conquered…The Jihad for Allah... is the way of Truth and the way for Salvation and the way which will lead us to crush the Jews and expel them from our country Palestine. Just as the Jews ran from Gaza, the Americans will run from Iraq and Afghanistan and the Russians will run from Chechnya, and the Indian will run from Kashmir, and our children will be released from Guantanamo. The prisoners will be released by Allah's will, not by peaceful means and not by agreements, but they will be released by the sword, they will be released by the gun".
The video identifies itself as from the "Al-Qassam Brigades Media Office." "Al-Qassam Brigades" is the name the Hamas calls its military wing.(www.palestine-info.net) June 22 2006:
It's amazing how many statements from the mouth of this Terrorist seem like they were written by a Demorat speach writer.
Outrageous! From the Irish Indie - and hat-tip to the reader who sent it in...!
SIX United States soldiers on their way home from service in Iraq were placed under citizen's arrest after an anti-war activist (Hibernian Moonbat) spotted them walking around a town in their uniforms.
Shannon-based "peace activist" Conor Cregan aka dingbat said yesterday that he briefly detained the six on Thursday afternoon after finding them walking on the Limerick Road leading out of Ennis. "I placed the soldiers under citizen's arrest because these soldiers are not supposed to be walking freely on the streets of Ireland in uniform. It is a breach of the Irish Constitution and Irish neutrality,"he said. The six were part of a group of 238 troops who were forced to stay overnight on Thursday in due to technical problems experienced by their aircraft at Shannon airport. They were staying at the West County Hotel in Ennis and met Mr Cregan near the hotel on a public footpath. He said yesterday: "I immediately called for the six to stop and said to them 'I am placing you all under citizen's arrest. Do not move'."
The men remained on the footpath as Mr Cregan contacted emergency services. "I was put through to Ennis garda station, but the garda on duty made light of the matter," Mr Cregan said.
Green party leader Trevor Sargent said yesterday that US troops walking in uniform in this country "was a flagrant breach of Irish neutrality. An army of another country can't flaunt itself in uniform and it was an important gesture by the anti-war activist to ensure that the law is being upheld," Mr Sargent said.
So, this is how Ireland treats US soldiers fighting against the Islamic killers in Iraq? Sickening. Cregan was lucky he wasn't swotted like the pesky little flea he transparently is!
Posted by DV on June 24,
Friday, June 23, 2006
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and to strengthen the rights of the American people against the taking of their private property, it is hereby ordered as follows:
Section 1. Policy. It is the policy of the United States to protect the rights of Americans to their private property, including by limiting the taking of private property by the Federal Government to situations in which the taking is for public use, with just compensation, and for the purpose of benefiting the general public and not merely for the purpose of advancing the economic interest of private parties to be given ownership or use of the property taken.
Sec. 2. Implementation. (a) The Attorney General shall:
(i) issue instructions to the heads of departments and agencies to implement the policy set forth in section 1 of this order; and
(ii) monitor takings by departments and agencies for compliance with the policy set forth in section 1 of this order.
(b) Heads of departments and agencies shall, to the extent permitted by law:
(i) comply with instructions issued under subsection (a)(i); and
(ii) provide to the Attorney General such information as the Attorney General determines necessary to carry out subsection (a)(ii).
Sec. 3. Specific Exclusions. Nothing in this order shall be construed to prohibit a taking of private property by the Federal Government, that otherwise complies with applicable law, for the purpose of:
(a) public ownership or exclusive use of the property by the public, such as for a public medical facility, roadway, park, forest, governmental office building, or military reservation;
(b) projects designated for public, common carrier, public transportation, or public utility use, including those for which a fee is assessed, that serve the general public and are subject to regulation by a governmental entity;
c) conveying the property to a nongovernmental entity, such as a telecommunications or transportation common carrier, that makes the property available for use by the general public as of right;
(d) preventing or mitigating a harmful use of land that constitutes a threat to public health, safety, or the environment;
(e) acquiring abandoned property;
(f) quieting title to real property;
(g) acquiring ownership or use by a public utility;
(h) facilitating the disposal or exchange of Federal property; or
(i) meeting military, law enforcement, public safety, public transportation, or public health emergencies.
Sec. 4. General Provisions. (a) This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.
(b) Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:
(i) authority granted by law to a department or agency or the head thereof; or
(ii) functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budget, administrative, or legislative proposals.
(c) This order shall be implemented in a manner consistent with Executive Order 12630 of March 15, 1988.
(d) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity against the United States, its departments, agencies, entities, officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
GEORGE W. BUSH
THE WHITE HOUSE,
June 23, 2006.