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Wednesday, June 30, 2004

The Untouchable Chief of Baghdad

The "news" we read in our newspapers is brought to us by grizzled veterans of war reporting ... NOT!

The WaPo's bureau chief is a 31 year old who until three years ago reported on the industry. If you want to read about how this war is being mis-reported read on. The original article can be read HERE

By Eric M. Johnson 06/29/2004

Iraq veterans often say they are confused by American news coverage, because their experience differs so greatly from what journalists report. Soldiers and Marines point to the slow, steady progress in almost all areas of Iraqi life and wonder why they don’t get much notice – or in many cases, any notice at all.

Part of the explanation is Rajiv Chandrasekaran, the Baghdad bureau chief for the Washington Post. He spent most of his career on the metro and technology beats, and has only four years of foreign reporting, two of which are in Iraq. The 31-year-old now runs a news operation that can literally change the world, heading a bureau that is the source for much of the news out of Iraq.

Very few newspapers have full-time international reporters at all these days, relying on stringers of varying quality, as well as wire services such as Reuters and Agence France-Presse, also of varying quality. The Post's reporting is delivered intravenously into the bloodstream of Official Washington, and thus a front-page article out of Iraq can have major repercussions in policy-making.

This effect is magnified because of the Post's influence on what other news organizations report. While its national clout lags behind the New York Times, many reporters look to the Post for cues on how to approach a story. The Post interprets events, and the herd of independent minds bleat their approval and start tapping on their keyboards with their hooves.

Chandrasekaran's crew generates a relentlessly negative stream of articles from Iraq – and if there are no events to report, they resort to man-on-the-street interviews and cobble together a story from that. Last week, there was a front-page, above-the-fold article about Iraqis jeering U.S. troops, which amounted to a pastiche of quotations from hostile Iraqis. It was hardly unique. Given the expense of maintaining an Iraq bureau with a dozen staffers, they have to write something to justify themselves, even if the product is shoddy.

This week, Chandrasekaran has a Pulitzer-bait series called "Promises Unkept: The U.S. Occupation of Iraq." The grizzled foreign-desk veteran -- who until 2000 was covering dot-com companies -- now sits in judgment over a world-shaking issue, in a court whose rulings echo throughout the media landscape. He finds the Bush Administration guilty. Such a surprise.

Before major combat operations were over, Chandrasekaran was already quoting Iraqis proclaiming the American operation a failure. Reading his dispatches from April 2003, you can already see his meta-narrative take shape: basically, that the Americans are clumsy fools who don’t know what they’re doing, and Iraqis hate them. This meta-narrative informs his coverage and the coverage of the reporters he supervises, who rotate in and out of Iraq.

How do I know this? Because my fellow Marines and I witnessed it with our own eyes. Chandrasekaran showed up in the city of Al Kut last April, talked to a few of our officers, and toured the city for a few hours. He then got back into his air-conditioned car and drove back to Baghdad to write about the local unrest.

"The Untouchable 'Mayor' of Kut," his article's headline blared the next day. It described a local, Iranian-backed troublemaker named Abbas Fadhil, who was squatting in the provincial government headquarters. He had gathered a mob of people with nothing better to do, told them to camp out in the headquarters compound, and there they sat, defying the Marines of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade.

Chandrasekaran was very impressed with the little usurper: "'We thank the Americans for getting rid of Saddam's regime, but now Iraq must be run by Iraqis,' Fadhil thundered during a meeting today with his supporters in the building's spacious conference room. 'We cannot allow the Americans to rule us from this office'....Fadhil has set up shop in an official building and appears to have rallied support across this city of 300,000 people.
"The refusal of Marine commanders to recognize Fadhil's new title has fueled particularly intense anti-American sentiments here," Chandrasekeran continued. "In scenes not seen in other Iraqi cities, U.S. convoys have been loudly jeered. Waving Marines have been greeted with angry glares and thumbs-down signs."

Readers must have concluded that Kut was on the verge of exploding. The entire city was ready to throw out the despised American infidel invaders and install their new "mayor" as their beloved leader.

What utter rubbish. In our headquarters, we had a small red splotch on a large map of Kut, representing the neighborhood that supported Abbas Fadhil. When asked about him, most citizens of Kut rolled their eyes. His followers were mainly poor, semi-literate, and not particularly well-liked. They were marginal in every sense of the word, and they mattered very little in the day-to-day life of a city that was struggling to get back on its feet.
We knew the local sentiment intimately, because as civil affairs Marines, our job was to help restore the province's water, electricity, medical care, and other essentials of life. Our detachment had teams constantly coming and going throughout the city, and Chandrasekeran could have easily accompanied at least one of them.

Since he didn't, he couldn’t see how the Iraqis outside of the red splotch reacted to us. People of every age waved and smiled as we rumbled past (except male youths, who, like their American counterparts, were too cool for that kind of thing.) Our major security problem was keeping friendly crowds of people away from us so we could spot bad guys.
None of those encouraging things made it into the article. Nor did anything about how we had been helping to fix the city’s problems as soon as we arrived. Just a quick-and-dirty sensationalistic piece about a local Islamist thug bravely going toe-to-toe with the legendary United States Marines. The general reaction to Chandrasekeran’s article was either laughter or dumb bewilderment.

Soon afterwards, a Marine commander met privately with Fadhil and told him he would be forcefully removed if he did not leave the government building. Fadhil, chastened, asked if he could slither into exile without the appearance of coercion, so he could save face. The commander agreed. Suddenly faced with a real confrontation, the "mayor" had backed down, and he left without any riots or bloodshed. The Americans took over the office that Fadhil said we should never occupy. The Post didn't cover any of that, either.

Don't take my word for it that the Post’s reporting is substandard and superficial. Take the word of Philip Bennett, the Post's assistant managing editor for foreign news. In a surprisingly candid June 6 piece, he admits that "the threat of violence has distanced us from Iraqis." Further, "we have relied on Iraqi stringers filing by telephone to our correspondents in Baghdad, and on embedding with the military. The stringers are not professional journalists, and their reports are heavy on the simplest direct observation." Translation: we are reprinting things from people we barely know, from a safe location dozens of miles away from the fighting.

Bennett flatly concedes that they have a “dim picture” of what is happening in Iraq, (not that you would know it from the actual news articles he approves for publication.) "The people of Iraq...are leading their country, and ours, down an uncertain path. This is a story waiting to be told."

Waiting to be told? They have four or five full-time reporters there at any given time. What are they doing, if they're not telling the story of Iraq's new birth?

Bennett might have added that not only are the reporters "distanced" from Iraqis, they're distanced from Iraq itself. Covering it from Baghdad is like covering California from a secure bunker in south-central Los Angeles. Sure, a lot happens in L.A., but you're going to miss important things if you don't go to San Diego or San Francisco, or even Bakersfield once in a while.

Chandrasekeran’s meta-narrative admits of no ambiguity. For him and his reporters, they report in straightforward, declarative sentences, with none of the caveats that Bennett mentions. The Americans are still bumbling, the Iraqis continue to seethe. So it shall be in the Washington Post, until Iraq succeeds and they can no longer deny it, just like journalists were forced to admit reality at the end of the Cold War. Or else their words will have their effect, and Western journalists have to flee the country as it disintegrates.

Since I saw Rajiv Chandrasekaran's integrity up close, I haven't believed a word he writes, or any story coming out of the bureau he runs. You shouldn't, either.

Eric M. Johnson, a writer in Washington D.C., participated in Operation Iraqi Freedom as a Marine Corps. reservist.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Clinton by Mark Steyn

If you want a succinct and hilarious review of "My Life" you can't do better than Mark Steyn. Click HERE.


The New York Post’s Deborah Orin has a fascinating story about the media blackout of the Saddam torture videos. It turns out that the Saddam regime videotaped its torturers at work. Literally thousands of videos exist of hands being cut off, prisoners being beaten, shot or beheaded and women being raped in front of their husbands.

Now this is a story, right? Well, not so fast. The mainstream media, having regaled us with the Abu Ghraib prison scandal in which people are shown standing on a box, wearing women’s underwear and wearing dog collars held by a female guard, are suddenly shy.

While there are occasional references to Saddam’s tortures and mass graves, they are buried somewhere on page 14 and given passing reference. To compare that to Abu Ghraib, keep in mind that the reports of abuses by American guards was released by the Pentagon in January of this year. It was not given much coverage. But when the media got hold of pictures the story exploded and kept exploding despite the fact that nothing new was being added to the incessant front page media exposure. The main story was the pictures.

Well, now we have pictures of Abu Ghraib under Saddam. The Pentagon has literally thousands of videos. Access to these videos isn't hard to get; two U.S. Senators gave a press conference showing some of the videos. The result of this juicy bit of news: nothing, zero, nada.

Is this deliberate? You bet. Everything that shows in the press is deliberate. Nothing shows up in the front pages by accident. So the decision to “spike” this story, despite graphic pictures is a deliberate political act.

The whole story can be read HERE. But here are a couple of interesting parts.

Last week, The Post revealed that reporters were ignoring a gruesome video of torture by Saddam's thugs while obsessing over prisoner mistreatment by a small group of U.S. troops at Abu Ghraib jail where the photos are less upsetting.

That prompted Laura Daniel to write New York Times public editor Daniel Okrent to complain, to no avail.

"I don't think the NYT needs to cover the video — but I do think it should make periodic mention of Saddam's torture — which, in fact, I believe it has, and does," Okrent emailed back.

"That's intellectually dishonest, and he knows it," retorts Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), who co-hosted an airing of the Saddam torture video on Capitol Hill with Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman (Conn.).

"There's no question if we had pictures of American soldiers chopping off hands, they would air it. It's just a double standard . . . The idea that if you mention [Saddam's torture] you have somehow checked your box of being fair is ridiculous," he adds.

By contrast he points to "front-page, eye-catching, big headlines that say, 'America bad, America fails.' What is the overall message that's getting out? It's not what's mentioned in paragraph 13 — 'Oh, by the way, Saddam was bad, too.' "

Last fall, when Fox broke the story of the Saddam torture videos, the Times ran all of five paragraphs back on Page A-14 with a small picture — versus, so far, 181 stories on Abu Ghraib, more than 40 on the front page

… says former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, who did a tour in Baghdad training Iraqi policemen, that video isn't even the tip of the iceberg. He has 30 or 50 DVDs that show the same kind of Saddam torture and much worse.

"I've had guys from the NYPD, veteran homicide cops, whose stomachs turn when they watch it. What went on at Abu Ghraib under Saddam was 1,000 times worse, but we don't see it. They write a paragraph about it," Kerik says.

…"When Ted Kennedy says Abu Ghraib has reopened under 'U.S. management,' the guy hasn't got a clue. It just shows what kind of world of unreality he lives in. His whole agenda is political," Kerik adds.

And there are other Saddam horrors on tape. Former Pentagon spokeswoman Torie Clarke says there are thousands of tapes of rapes by Saddam's thugs, since one of his pet practices was to rape wives in front of their husbands. Sometimes the rapes were videoed from a few different angles.
In case a husband got out of line again, he'd be sent his wife's rape tape, she says.

We are in a war. Our troops are being killed. Yet the media give us no context for the war. Instead, we are constantly told we can’t win, Iraq is a “quagmire,” that we are committing atrocities in Abu Ghraib, and Iraqis were happy and prosperous under the benevolent rule of Saddam Hussein according to the chronicler of the left, Michael Moore.

There are literally thousands of newspapers, radio and TV stations in the U.S. Why are these very graphic, very “juicy” (from a news perspective) pictures not getting the attention of Abu Ghraib? There are two primary ones that I can think of: first, the news industry is populated by people who are to the Left of the residents of Berkeley. Showing Saddam torturing prisoners would help George Bush, and there is no inclination to help Bush. Remember that this is an election year. For proof, I refer you to the economic news. Last year when the economy was in recession and job losses were mounting, the economy was topic “A” in the news. Now that economic growth is higher than it has been for 20 years and hundreds of thousands of new jobs are being created every month, the economy has disappeared from the news.

The second reason is the New York Times. Despite its modest national circulation, the NY Times sets the agenda for the major newspapers and TV networks, with the solitary exception of Fox News. For the mainstream press, if it isn't in the Times, it didn't happen. And the current publisher of the NY Times sided with the Communist North during the war in Viet Nam. That’s all you need to know about the Times.

Deborah Oren concludes: “Most of the press still isn't ready to face up to how to report the real horrors of what terrorists do. It would be a good start if newspapers like the Times would admit there's a problem when they downplay those horrors.” I think the press is aware of the horrors … and doesn’t care.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Mark Steyn on the 9/11 Commission

No thanks to the Virginian Pilot I find myself in the position of being much better informed on world events than most of the people I meet. That's because I scan literally dozens of news and analysis sources via the worldwide web.

Based on recent reports I apparently know more about the connections between various terrorist factions than the typical member of the 9/11 commission or their staff. I also know what I don't know and am willing to admit it, a serious defect on the part of the 9/11 commission as well as the mainstream media.

A really wonderful example of the knowledge that's available, without deploying the resources of the Federal Government and millions of dollars is illustrated by the following article by Mark Steyn, a Canadian who lives in the US and should be considered a national treasure.

How the Sept. 11 commission blew it

June 27, 2004


Been following the 9/11 Commission? Me neither. But every so often I zap the remote and every third channel seems to be carrying Bob Kerrey or Richard Ben Veniste badgering some federal, state or local official about his or her agency's preparedness for the events of Sept. 11.

Well, the other week the showboating hacks of the Ben Veniste Anti-Social Club stopped preening themselves on Wolf and Larry and the other cable yakfests long enough to issue a 9/11 interim report. And for me it raises serious questions about whether America's commissions are ready for the challenges of this new war on terror. I'm tempted to call on the president to appoint a blue-ribbon commission to lead a thorough investigation into blue-ribbon commissions. Perhaps he needs to consider appointing a cabinet-level Secretary of the Department of Commissions to coordinate commission strategy.

The big news out of the report was, as the Washington Post headline had it, "Al-Qaida-Hussein Link Is Dismissed." As it happens, the report didn't "dismiss" anything, but you can't blame the media for rushing out special commemorative editions and sending out 11-year old newsboys to shout, "Uxtry! Uxtry! New Bush Lie! Vote Kerry!"

The actual report put it this way:

"We have no credible evidence that Iraq and al-Qaida cooperated on attacks against the United States."

That means what it says: As intelligence types always say, the absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence. And, insofar as there was a lack of evidence, it was only for specific links between Saddam and specific attacks against the United States.

But what nobody except Michael Moore and the rest of the conspirazoids would dispute is that there is a significant accumulation of circumstantial links between al-Qaida and Iraq -- including meetings between Osama bin Laden himself and Iraqi officials, the presence of al-Qaida operatives at Iraqi embassy functions, the presence of al-Qaida associates within Iraq, etc. The Czechs are sticking to their story that Mohammed Atta met with a big-shot Iraqi in Prague.

Meanwhile, the CIA is sticking to its story that Mohammed Atta was in America at the time of the alleged meeting -- the basis for this assertion being that his U.S. cell phone was used that day. That, of course, is no proof of anything, except perhaps of what's wrong with U.S. intelligence. Oh, and also of the inadequacy of U.S. immigration "records."

But, by now the New York Times, Washington Post and the rest of the gang were in full "Bush Battered By Devastating 9/11 Report!" mode, even as the commission chairmen patiently tried to explain that, in fact, they largely see eye-to-eye with the battered presidential liar on this one. Well, they should have thought about that before they put their carelessly worded typescript on the photocopier.

A couple of days later, on June 21, commission member John Lehman went on "Meet the Press" and mentioned a lieutenant-colonel in Saddam's Fedayeen who had significant ties to al-Qaida, including sitting in on a three-day meeting in Malaysia in January 2001 with several of the 9/11 hijackers. This, said Lehman, is "new intelligence, and this has come since our staff report has been written."

Really? I mentioned the lieutenant-colonel in question in a column in the Australian a month ago. I first heard of it months before that. And I'm just a third-rate pundit, not a big commission with gazillions of dollars and unlimited access.

The reality is this: There are connections between Saddam and al-Qaida. A mere 14 months after the liberation of Iraq, we don't yet know enough to reach a definitive conclusion about those connections. The jury is still out, and so should the commission's camera-hoggers have been.

These poseurs have blown it so badly they've become the definitive example of what they're meant to be investigating: a culture so stuck in its way it's unable to change even in the most extreme circumstances. Take this example from their report on Sept. 11:

FAA Command Center: "Do we want to think about scrambling aircraft?"

FAA Headquarters: "God, I don't know."

FAA Command Center: "That's a decision somebody's going to have to make, probably in the next 10 minutes."

FAA Headquarters: "You know, everybody just left the room."

What's going on there? Well, the guys at HQ didn't understand this was their rendezvous with history, and they were unable to rise to the occasion. Isn't that just what the 9/11 Commission's done? They were appointed to take a cool, dispassionate look at the government's response to an act of war, but they were unable to rise above the most pointless partisan point-scoring.

But I'd go further. I'd say the underlying assumption behind all the whiny point-scoring is false, and deeply dangerous. Most of what went wrong on Sept. 11 we knew about in the first days after. Generally, it falls into two categories: a) Government agencies didn't enforce their own rules (as in the terrorists' laughably inadequate visa applications); or b) The agencies' rules were out of date --three out of those four planes reached their targets because their crews, passengers and ground staff all blindly followed the FAA's 1970s hijack procedures until it was too late, as the terrorists knew they would.

The next time a terrorist gets through and pulls off an attack, it will be for the same reasons: There'll be a bunch of new post-9/11 regulations, and some bureaucrat somewhere will have neglected to follow them, or some wily Islamist will have rendered them as obsolete as his predecessors made all those 30-year old hijack rules. That's the nature of government: 90 percent of its agencies just aren't very good and, if you put your life in their hands, more fool you.

Giving bureaucrats new acronyms and smarter shoulder insignia won't make America more secure. What makes America more secure is going to where the terrorists are, killing large numbers of them, and fixing -- or at least neutralizing -- the dysfunctional states in whose murky waters they breed. Remember Sheikh Muqtada al-Sadr, the Khomeini-wannabe with the 10,000-strong Mahdi Army? He threw in the towel last week. And, of that 10,000, the 1st Armored Division estimates it killed "at least several thousand."

You haven't heard about that on the network news? Well, there's a surprise.

A Few on the Left See the Essential Truth

THE NEW REPUBLIC is a Left wing organ so it can be safely assumed that it is not hospitable to the Bush administration.

However, there are members of the Left, as well as moderate Democrats like Joe Lieberman, who see the geopolitical situation we face vis a vis global terror in its proper context.

Fareed Zakaria writes in TNR

...since we are listing mistakes, the biggest one many opponents of the war are making is to claim that Iraq is a total distraction from the war on terrorism. In fact, Iraq is central to that conflict. I don't mean this in the deceptive and dishonest sense that many in the Bush administration have claimed. There is no connection between Saddam's regime and the terrorists of September 11. But there is a deep connection between his regime and the terrorism of September 11. The root causes of Islamic terrorism lie in the dysfunctional politics of the Middle East, where failure and repression have produced fundamentalism and violence. Political Islam grew in stature as a mystical alternative to the wretched reality--secular dictatorships--that have dominated the Arab world. A new Iraq provides an opportunity to break this perverse cycle. The country is unlikely to become a liberal democracy any time soon. But it might turn out to be a pluralistic state that gives minorities limited protections, allows for some political participation, and has a reasonably open society. That would be a revolution in the Arab world.

No article in TNR would be complete without its share of denigrating the conduct and honesty of the Bush administration, but it's refreshing to have a disagreement on the tactics of handling terrorism instead of attacks on "BushHitler" and "brownshirts."

Accepting terrorism as a police problem and our willingness to accept pinpricks, losing a few sailors here, a few marines there, a blown up embassy, got us to 9/11. That strategy has failed, and failed spectacularly.

The Left today has no solution to the war we are in. They never gave their full support to the US in past wars (remember that the Left was against the fight against the Nazis until the USSR was attacked and Stalin gave the order for an about-face on World War II).

They have no solutions ... but they are first class ankle biters.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Virginian Pilot Tries – and Fails – To Cover Its Ass

What constitutes a relationship, the deluded chimps at the Pilot ask.

Trying a comeback from its lying headline” No “ON IRAQ: No Links to al-Qaida”(June 16, 2004) the Pilot’s editorial board is reduced to parsing the term “relationship.”

Now, I’ll put my cards on the table: I have been impatient with the administration’s statement that while there is a relationship between Saddam and al-Qaeda, there is no connection between Saddam and 9/11. To this point, we have not discovered papers that showed Saddam meeting bin Laden in an Afghan cave to plot the highjackings. We have, however, plenty of evidence that they cooperated in terrorist training, providing safe havens for terrorists, proving funding for terrorist activities in the Middle East, conspiring to destabilize the Saudi government and a number of other activities. There is peripheral evidence that is beginning to surface that Saddam knew of the 9/11 plot before it happened.

WE also have the testimony of Russian President Putin that Saddam, all by himself, was going to attack the U.S. here or abroad. Meanwhile, the press is playing word games.

The critical point is that while there has been cooperation and coordination we have not documented its extent.

The hapless fools at the Pilot apparently had the misfortune of putting this editorial in print before they had a chance to read the latest revelation from the NY Times, a paper whose editorial position the Pilot seeks to imitiate. Andrew McCarthy who led the 1995 terrorism prosecution against Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman click here
Has the lowdown on this latest admission of the media’s willful editorial lying.

A week ago, the New York Times reported, in a screaming page-one headline, that the 9/11 Commission had found "No Qaeda-Iraq Tie." Today, in a remarkable story that positively oozes with consciousness of guilt, the Times confesses not only that there is documentary evidence of at least one tie but that the Times has had the document in question for several weeks. That is, the Times was well aware of this information at the very time of last week's reporting, during which, on June 17, it declaimed from its editorial perch that the lack of a connection between Saddam Hussein's regime and Osama bin Laden's terror network meant President Bush owed the nation an apology.

Today, the Times concedes that the Defense Intelligence Agency is in possession of a document showing that, in the mid-1990s, the Iraqi Intelligence Service reached out to what the newspaper euphemistically calls "Mr. bin Laden's organization" (more on that below) regarding the possibility of joint efforts against the Saudi regime, which was then hosting U.S. forces. To be clear, the document records that it was Iraq which initiated the contacts, and that bin Laden finally agreed to discuss cooperation only after having spurned previous overtures because he "had some reservations about being labeled an Iraqi operative[.]"

Why does it matter who was enticing whom? On June 17, when, despite having this document, it was trashing the whole notion of an Iraq/Qaeda connection, the Times asserted without qualification that: The 9/11 Commission had found that any collaboration proposals had come from bin Laden's side; all such proposals had been declined by Saddam; and this scenario undermined the Bush administration's rationale for deposing the Iraqi regime. (The Times on June 17: "As for Iraq, the commission's staff said its investigation showed that the government of Mr. Hussein had rebuffed or ignored requests from Qaeda leaders for help in the 1990's, a conclusion that directly contradicts a series of public statements President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney made before and after last year's invasion of Iraq in justifying the war.")

Even now, the Times feebly endeavors to minimize the importance of the collaboration evidenced by the newly reported document. It says the information indicates "that Iraq agreed to rebroadcast anti-Saudi propaganda, and that a request from Mr. bin Laden to begin joint operations against foreign forces in Saudi Arabia went unanswered. There is no further indication of collaboration." (Emphasis added.) Nevertheless, the reader who has the patience to wade through several paragraphs of the Times disingenuously letting itself off the hook for refusing for weeks to report on this document will learn that what the newspaper really means when it says bin Laden's suggestions "went unanswered." In actuality, "the document contains no statement of response by the Iraqi leadership under Mr. Hussein to the request for joint operations[.]" Translation: Maybe there was a response and maybe there wasn't, but this document does not tell us one way or the other.

Why is this important? Because it is the continuation of a pattern — another instance of an effective but misleading tactic repeatedly used by the Times, the intelligence community, the 9/11 Commission staff, and all the Iraq/Qaeda connection naysayers. To wit: When they can't explain something, they never say they can't explain it; they say it didn't happen — even if saying so is against the weight of considerable counterevidence.

Best example? The 9/11 Commission staff, as gleefully reported by the Times last week, has concluded that there was not a meeting between top-hijacker Mohammed Atta and Iraqi Intelligence Officer Ahmed al-Ani in Prague five months before the 9/11 attacks. There is an eyewitness (a watcher for Czech intelligence) who says he saw them together, and there is substantial corroboration (including an entry in al-Ani's appointment calendar that he was to meet with a "Hamburg student," a pair of highly suspicious trips that Atta undoubtedly made to Prague in 2000 right before coming to the United States, and the fact that no witness has been found who can say he saw Atta in the U.S. when the Czechs say he was in Prague). Did the 9/11 Commission staff actually interview the eyewitness? No. Did the staff or the Times discuss the corroboration that supports the occurrence of the Prague meeting? No. Did either of them grapple with what is to be inferred from Atta's trips to Prague in 2000? No — not a word about them. Just a flat conclusion that the meeting never happened.

Since it's Clinton week, maybe it's best to put it this way: For the Times and its allies, Iraq and al Qaeda are like the former president's trysts: If there ain't a blue cocktail dress, it never happened. If there isn't a photograph of Atta and al-Ani poring over diagrams of the World Trade Center, we just conclude that they never saw each other, and we see no reason to acknowledge that there's considerable evidence that they probably did.

This morning's report is more of the same. We know there were numerous contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda after the collaborative proposals discussed in the newly reported document. How does the Times know that Saddam never responded to bin Laden's overtures? It doesn't. Neither do I. Neither do you. That's why it's called an investigation. The idea is to keep digging until you know. To the contrary, the Times's idea is: bury it, pretend you don't even know the things you do know, grudgingly admit the bare minimum, and use the enormous weight of your own inertia to make the whole thing go away. Thus we get hilarious paragraphs, like this one in today's story:

Members of the Pentagon task force that reviewed the document said it described no formal alliance being reached between Mr. bin Laden and Iraqi intelligence. The Iraqi document itself states that "cooperation between the two organizations should be allowed to develop freely through discussion and agreement."
(Emphasis added.)

That's a good one: a "formal alliance" between terrorists to terrorize. Did the Times expect a signing ceremony? What next? "The FBI's organized crime unit concluded today that there probably is no Mafia because the evidence does not describe any formal alliance between shadowy figures who, Vice President Dick Cheney claims, refer to themselves as 'Gambinos' and 'Bonannos'...."

And then of course we have years of testimony from the Clinton administration.

Just two examples: during President Clinton's eight years in office, there were at least two official pronouncements of an alarming alliance between Baghdad and al Qaeda. One came from William S. Cohen, Mr. Clinton's defense secretary. He cited an al Qaeda-Baghdad link to justify the bombing of a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan.

The other pronouncement is contained in a Justice Department indictment on Nov. 4, 1998, charging bin Laden with murder in the bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa.
The indictment disclosed a close relationship between al Qaeda and Saddam's regime, which included specialists on chemical weapons and all types of bombs, including truck bombs, a favorite weapon of terrorists.

And there you have it.

The Pilot says “Meetings and contacts, however, hardly constitute a relationship in all but the most narrow technical definition of the word. By that standard, the United States has a relationship with North Korea, or even al-Qaeda, thanks to intelligence contacts, but we certainly don’t do business with either of them.”

To suggest that this is the sort of relationship Saddam and al-Qaeda had is as bizarre as the accusation of former Vice President Gore that his opponents are Brown Shirts, or the accusation of Judge Calabresi that President Bush is a Hitler or a Mussolini.

The Left has become unhinged in their hatred. And that is dangerous for any society.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Elite Media = Evil Media?

When you get tired and your eyes skim what you are reading sometimes you get a word slightly wrong. Reading a response by a commentator about media bias who referred to the “elite media” I read the words “evil media.” Elite … evil; I suddenly realized that this is what the media has become: evil.

Evil: that’s a very serious charge. Unless you’re Michael Moore or Al Gore speaking to a meeting you had better be prepared to defend yourself. So let me explain.

The news media are populated by the Left. A 2003 study by researchers at Stanford University and the University of Chicago showed that the media are much father to the Left than the American people. A Measure of Media Bias
To quote the authors:

“Journalists as a group are more liberal than almost any congressional district in the country. For instance in the Ninth California District, which includes Berkeley, twelve percent voted for Bush, nearly double the rate for journalists. In the eighth Massachusetts District, which includes Cambridge, nineteen percent voted for Bush, more than triple the rate of journalists. In the 14th California District, which includes Palo Alto, 26 percent voted for Bush, more than four times the rate of journalists.”

Having demonstrated the identification of the Left with the media, the rest of this essay will identify the Left and the media as having the same identity. The “media” is simply the Left with a printing press.

The Left sees the War on Terror, especially the pre-emptive invasion of Iraq as a catastrophe. There are a number of reasons for this, but the primary one is a combination of a visceral hatred of conservative American values and a vested interest in multinationalism with its center in the United Nations.

The Left despises Red State America as a bunch of ignorant yahoos who marry their cousins, handle snakes on Sunday and shoot Bambi for sport.

They also believe that we must outgrow nationalism. They have managed to overlook the fact that the foremost forum for multinationalism. the UN, is dominated by despots who shot their way into power, literally rape and pillage their subjects and hate the United States with a passion that only envy and lust can explain.

Strobe Talbott Deputy Secretary of State under Clinton summed it up best: "Nationhood as we know it will be obsolete." Time Magazine, July 20, 1992.

Now comes George Bush; lone cowboy. After 9/11 he is determined that this unprecedented attack on America will not be followed by ineffectual responses. George Bush: “When I take action, I’m not going to fire a $2 million missile at a $10 empty tent and hit a camel in the butt.” That does not sound like UN Speak.

Worse yet, despite rejection of pre-emptive action against Iraq by France, Germany and Russia and without UN approval, Bush invades Iraq and drives Saddam from power.

There can be no doubt that the Iraqi people are better off having had Saddam’s brutal dictatorship removed. But just as the immediate aftermath of Word War II was hunger, fear and scattered resistance, the aftermath of the war in Iraq is much the same. The exception is that whereas Germany and its allies were defeated in world War II, here we have only defeated Saddam. Neighboring countries such as Iran and Syria are essentially in a state of cold war with the US, aiding and abetting the killers who roam Iraq. This must be dealt with, but the left has spent its time backbiting.

For the Left, the focus is on the upcoming election. It’s a choice between Bush and Kerry; between Red State America and the Left. It’s too late to give a charisma transplant to Kerry. In fact the less he campaigns, the better he polls. So the Left is determined to drag Kerry over the finish line over the prostrate body of George Bush. And if that means giving a win to those who literally shoot from “Holy Sites” and take shelter behind women and children, it’s OK with the Left. Those who piously invoke the Geneva convention grow strangely silent before those whose interpretation of the Geneva Convention allows for beheading their captives.

The left are willing to throw away the lives of a thousand fighting men who died in the War on Terror. They will consign to the memory hole the 3,000 who died on 9/11.

Those who are willing to do this are evil. If for the sake of domestic politics you will objectively side with the most brutal murderers and dictators you are evil. It’s not a judgment call any more, you have sided with the enemy. Go, for I no longer want to know you.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

The Truth

Via Instapundit

Professor HAIM HARARI, a theoretical physicist, is the Chair, Davidson Institute of Science Education, and Former President, from 1988 to 2001, of the Weizmann Institute of Science.
During his years as President of the Institute, it entered numerous new scientific fields and projects, built 47 new buildings, raised one Billion Dollars in philanthropic money, hired more than half of its current tenured Professors and became one of the highest royalty-earning academic organizations in the world.

Throughout all his adult life, he has made major contributions to three different fields: Particle Physics Research on the international scene, Science Education in the Israeli school system and Science Administration and Policy Making.

A View from the Eye of the Storm Talk delivered by Haim Harari at a meeting of the International Advisory Board of a large multi-national corporation, April, 2004

As you know, I usually provide the scientific and technological "entertainment" in our meetings, but, on this occasion, our Chairman suggested that I present my own personal view on events in the part of the world from which I come. I have never been and I will never be a Government official and I have no privileged information. My perspective is entirely based on what I see, on what I read and on the fact that my family has lived in this region for almost 200 years. You may regard my views as those of the proverbial taxi driver, which you are supposed to question, when you visit a country.

I could have shared with you some fascinating facts and some personal thoughts about the Israeli-Arab conflict. However, I will touch upon it only in passing. I prefer to devote most of my remarks to the broader picture of the region and its place in world events. I refer to the entire area between Pakistan and Morocco, which is predominantly Arab, predominantly Moslem, but includes many non-Arab and also significant non-Moslem minorities.

Why do I put aside Israel and its own immediate neighborhood? Because Israel and any problems related to it, in spite of what you might read or hear in the world media, is not the central issue, and has never been the central issue in the upheaval in the region. Yes, there is a 100 year-old Israeli-Arab conflict, but it is not where the main show is. The millions who died in the Iran-Iraq war had nothing to do with Israel. The mass murder happening right now in Sudan, where the Arab Moslem regime is massacring its black Christian citizens, has nothing to do with Israel. The frequent reports from Algeria about the murders of hundreds of civilian in one village or another by other Algerians have nothing to do with Israel. Saddam Hussein did not invade Kuwait, endangered Saudi Arabia and butchered his own people because of Israel. Egypt did not use poison gas against Yemen in the 60's because of Israel. Assad the Father did not kill tens of thousands of his own citizens in one week in El Hamma in Syria because of Israel. The Taliban control of Afghanistan and the civil war there had nothing to do with Israel. The Libyan blowing up of the Pan-Am flight had nothing to do with Israel, and I could go on and on and on.

The root of the trouble is that this entire Moslem region is totally dysfunctional, by any standard of the word, and would have been so even if Israel would have joined the Arab league and an independent Palestine would have existed for 100 years. The 22 member countries of the Arab league, from Mauritania to the Gulf States, have a total population of 300 millions, larger than the US and almost as large as the EU before its expansion. They have a land area larger than either the US or all of Europe. These 22 countries, with all their oil and natural resources, have a combined GDP smaller than that of Netherlands plus Belgium and equal to half of the GDP of California alone. Within this meager GDP, the gaps between rich and poor are beyond belief and too many of the rich made their money not by succeeding in business, but by being corrupt rulers. The social status of women is far below what it was in the Western World 150 years ago. Human rights are below any reasonable standard, in spite of the grotesque fact that Libya was elected Chair of the UN Human Rights commission. According to a report prepared by a committee of Arab intellectuals and published under the auspices of the U.N., the number of books translated by the entire Arab world is much smaller than what little Greece alone translates. The total number of scientific publications of 300 million Arabs is less than that of 6 million Israelis. Birth rates in the region are very high, increasing the poverty, the social gaps and the cultural decline. And all of this is happening in a region, which only 30 years ago, was believed to be the next wealthy part of the world, and in a Moslem area, which developed, at some point in history, one of the most advanced cultures in the world.

It is fair to say that this creates an unprecedented breeding ground for cruel dictators, terror networks, fanaticism, incitement, suicide murders and general decline. It is also a fact that almost everybody in the region blames this situation on the United States, on Israel, on Western Civilization, on Judaism and Christianity, on anyone and anything, except themselves.
Do I say all of this with the satisfaction of someone discussing the failings of his enemies? On the contrary, I firmly believe that the world would have been a much better place and my own neighborhood would have been much more pleasant and peaceful, if things were different.

I should also say a word about the millions of decent, honest, good people who are either devout Moslems or are not very religious but grew up in Moslem families. They are double victims of an outside world, which now develops Islamophobia and of their own environment, which breaks their heart by being totally dysfunctional. The problem is that the vast silent majority of these Moslems are not part of the terror and of the incitement but they also do not stand up against it. They become accomplices, by omission, and this applies to political leaders, intellectuals, business people and many others. Many of them can certainly tell right from wrong, but are afraid to express their views.

The events of the last few years have amplified four issues, which have always existed, but have never been as rampant as in the present upheaval in the region. These are the four main pillars of the current World Conflict, or perhaps we should already refer to it as "the undeclared World War III". I have no better name for the present situation. A few more years may pass before everybody acknowledges that it is a World War, but we are already well into it.

The first element is the suicide murder. Suicide murders are not a new invention but they have been made popular, if I may use this expression, only lately. Even after September 11, it seems that most of the Western World does not yet understand this weapon. It is a very potent psychological weapon. Its real direct impact is relatively minor. The total number of casualties from hundreds of suicide murders within Israel in the last three years is much smaller than those due to car accidents. September 11 was quantitatively much less lethal than many earthquakes. More people die from AIDS in one day in Africa than all the Russians who died in the hands of Chechnya-based Moslem suicide murderers since that conflict started. Saddam killed every month more people than all those who died from suicide murders since the Coalition occupation of Iraq.

So what is all the fuss about suicide killings? It creates headlines. It is spectacular. It is frightening. It is a very cruel death with bodies dismembered and horrible severe lifelong injuries to many of the wounded. It is always shown on television in great detail. One such murder, with the help of hysterical media coverage, can destroy the tourism industry of a country for quite a while, as it did in Bali and in Turkey.

But the real fear comes from the undisputed fact that no defense and no preventive measures can succeed against a determined suicide murderer. This has not yet penetrated the thinking of the Western World. The U.S. and Europe are constantly improving their defense against the last murder, not the next one. We may arrange for the best airport security in the world.. But if you want to murder by suicide, you do not have to board a plane in order to explode yourself and kill many people. Who could stop a suicide murder in the midst of the crowded line waiting to be checked by the airport metal detector? How about the lines to the check-in counters in a busy travel period? Put a metal detector in front of every train station in Spain and the terrorists will get the buses. Protect the buses and they will explode in movie theaters, concert halls, supermarkets, shopping malls, schools and hospitals. Put guards in front of every concert hall and there will always be a line of people to be checked by the guards and this line will be the target, not to speak of killing the guards themselves. You can somewhat reduce your vulnerability by preventive and defensive measures and by strict border controls but not eliminate it and definitely not win the war in a defensive way. And it is a war!

What is behind the suicide murders? Money, power and cold-blooded murderous incitement, nothing else. It has nothing to do with true fanatic religious beliefs. No Moslem preacher has ever blown himself up. No son of an Arab politician or religious leader has ever blown himself. No relative of anyone influential has done it. Wouldn't you expect some of the religious leaders to do it themselves, or to talk their sons into doing it, if this is truly a supreme act of religious fervor? Aren't they interested in the benefits of going to Heaven? Instead, they send outcast women, naïve children, retarded people and young incited hotheads. They promise them the delights, mostly sexual, of the next world, and pay their families handsomely after the supreme act is performed and enough innocent people are dead.

Suicide murders also have nothing to do with poverty and despair. The poorest region in the world, by far, is Africa. It never happens there. There are numerous desperate people in the world, in different cultures, countries and continents. Desperation does not provide anyone with explosives, reconnaissance and transportation. There was certainly more despair in Saddam's Iraq then in Paul Bremmer's Iraq, and no one exploded himself. A suicide murder is simply a horrible, vicious weapon of cruel, inhuman, cynical, well-funded terrorists, with no regard to human life, including the life of their fellow countrymen, but with very high regard to their own affluent well-being and their hunger for power.

The only way to fight this new "popular" weapon is identical to the only way in which you fight organized crime or pirates on the high seas: the offensive way. Like in the case of organized crime, it is crucial that the forces on the offensive be united and it is crucial to reach the top of the crime pyramid. You cannot eliminate organized crime by arresting the little drug dealer in the street corner. You must go after the head of the "Family".

If part of the public supports it, others tolerate it, many are afraid of it and some try to explain it away by poverty or by a miserable childhood, organized crime will thrive and so will terrorism. The United States understands this now, after September 11. Russia is beginning to understand it. Turkey understands it well. I am very much afraid that most of Europe still does not understand it. Unfortunately, it seems that Europe will understand it only after suicide murders will arrive in Europe in a big way. In my humble opinion, this will definitely happen. The Spanish trains and the Istanbul bombings are only the beginning. The unity of the Civilized World in fighting this horror is absolutely indispensable. Until Europe wakes up, this unity will not be achieved.

The second ingredient is words, more precisely lies. Words can be lethal. They kill people. It is often said that politicians, diplomats and perhaps also lawyers and business people must sometimes lie, as part of their professional life. But the norms of politics and diplomacy are childish, in comparison with the level of incitement and total absolute deliberate fabrications, which have reached new heights in the region we are talking about. An incredible number of people in the Arab world believe that September 11 never happened, or was an American provocation or, even better, a Jewish plot.

You all remember the Iraqi Minister of Information, Mr. Mouhamad Said al-Sahaf and his press conferences when the US forces were already inside Baghdad. Disinformation at time of war is an accepted tactic. But to stand, day after day, and to make such preposterous statements, known to everybody to be lies, without even being ridiculed in your own milieu, can only happen in this region. Mr. Sahaf eventually became a popular icon as a court jester, but this did not stop some allegedly respectable newspapers from giving him equal time. It also does not prevent the Western press from giving credence, every day, even now, to similar liars. After all, if you want to be an antisemite, there are subtle ways of doing it. You do not have to claim that the holocaust never happened and that the Jewish temple in Jerusalem never existed. But millions of Moslems are told by their leaders that this is the case. When these same leaders make other statements, the Western media report them as if they could be true.

It is a daily occurrence that the same people, who finance, arm and dispatch suicide murderers, condemn the act in English in front of western TV cameras, talking to a world audience, which even partly believes them. It is a daily routine to hear the same leader making opposite statements in Arabic to his people and in English to the rest of the world. Incitement by Arab TV, accompanied by horror pictures of mutilated bodies, has become a powerful weapon of those who lie, distort and want to destroy everything. Little children are raised on deep hatred and on admiration of so-called martyrs, and the Western World does not notice it because its own TV sets are mostly tuned to soap operas and game shows. I recommend to you, even though most of you do not understand Arabic, to watch Al Jazeera, from time to time. You will not believe your own eyes.
But words also work in other ways, more subtle. A demonstration in Berlin, carrying banners supporting Saddam's regime and featuring three-year old babies dressed as suicide murderers, is defined by the press and by political leaders as a "peace demonstration". You may support or oppose the Iraq war, but to refer to fans of Saddam, Arafat or Bin Laden as peace activists is a bit too much. A woman walks into an Israeli restaurant in mid-day, eats, observes families with old people and children eating their lunch in the adjacent tables and pays the bill. She then blows herself up, killing 20 people, including many children, with heads and arms rolling around in the restaurant. She is called "martyr" by several Arab leaders and "activist" by the European press. Dignitaries condemn the act but visit her bereaved family and the money flows.

There is a new game in town: The actual murderer is called "the military wing", the one who pays him, equips him and sends him is now called "the political wing" and the head of the operation is called the "spiritual leader". There are numerous other examples of such Orwellian nomenclature, used every day not only by terror chiefs but also by Western media. These words are much more dangerous than many people realize. They provide an emotional infrastructure for atrocities. It was Joseph Goebels who said that if you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it. He is now being outperformed by his successors.

The third aspect is money. Huge amounts of money, which could have solved many social problems in this dysfunctional part of the world, are channeled into three concentric spheres supporting death and murder. In the inner circle are the terrorists themselves. The money funds their travel, explosives, hideouts and permanent search for soft vulnerable targets. They are surrounded by a second wider circle of direct supporters, planners, commanders, preachers, all of whom make a living, usually a very comfortable living, by serving as terror infrastructure. Finally, we find the third circle of so-called religious, educational and welfare organizations, which actually do some good, feed the hungry and provide some schooling, but brainwash a new generation with hatred, lies and ignorance. This circle operates mostly through mosques, madrasas and other religious establishments but also through inciting electronic and printed media. It is this circle that makes sure that women remain inferior, that democracy is unthinkable and that exposure to the outside world is minimal. It is also that circle that leads the way in blaming everybody outside the Moslem world, for the miseries of the region.

Figuratively speaking, this outer circle is the guardian, which makes sure that the people look and listen inwards to the inner circle of terror and incitement, rather than to the world outside. Some parts of this same outer circle actually operate as a result of fear from, or blackmail by, the inner circles. The horrifying added factor is the high birth rate. Half of the population of the Arab world is under the age of 20, the most receptive age to incitement, guaranteeing two more generations of blind hatred.

Of the three circles described above, the inner circles are primarily financed by terrorist states like Iran and Syria, until recently also by Iraq and Libya and earlier also by some of the Communist regimes. These states, as well as the Palestinian Authority, are the safe havens of the wholesale murder vendors. The outer circle is largely financed by Saudi Arabia, but also by donations from certain Moslem communities in the United States and Europe and, to a smaller extent, by donations of European Governments to various NGO's and by certain United Nations organizations, whose goals may be noble, but they are infested and exploited by agents of the outer circle. The Saudi regime, of course, will be the next victim of major terror, when the inner circle will explode into the outer circle. The Saudis are beginning to understand it, but they fight the inner circles, while still financing the infrastructure at the outer circle.?

Some of the leaders of these various circles live very comfortably on their loot. You meet their children in the best private schools in Europe, not in the training camps of suicide murderers. The Jihad "soldiers" join packaged death tours to Iraq and other hotspots, while some of their leaders ski in Switzerland. Mrs. Arafat, who lives in Paris with her daughter, receives tens of thousands Dollars per month from the allegedly bankrupt Palestinian Authority while a typical local ringleader of the Al-Aksa brigade, reporting to Arafat, receives only a cash payment of a couple of hundred dollars, for performing murders at the retail level.?

The fourth element of the current world conflict is the total breaking of all laws. The civilized world believes in democracy, the rule of law, including international law, human rights, free speech and free press, among other liberties. There are naïve old-fashioned habits such as respecting religious sites and symbols, not using ambulances and hospitals for acts of war, avoiding the mutilation of dead bodies and not using children as human shields or human bombs. Never in history, not even in the Nazi period, was there such total disregard of all of the above as we observe now. Every student of political science debates how you prevent an anti-democratic force from winning a democratic election and abolishing democracy. Other aspects of a civilized society must also have limitations. Can a policeman open fire on someone trying to kill him? Can a government listen to phone conversations of terrorists and drug dealers? Does free speech protects you when you shout "fire" in a crowded theater? Should there be death penalty, for deliberate multiple murders? These are the old-fashioned dilemmas. But now we have an entire new set.

Do you raid a mosque, which serves as a terrorist ammunition storage? Do you return fire, if you are attacked from a hospital? Do you storm a church taken over by terrorists who took the priests hostages? Do you search every ambulance after a few suicide murderers use ambulances to reach their targets? Do you strip every woman because one pretended to be pregnant and carried a suicide bomb on her belly? Do you shoot back at someone trying to kill you, standing deliberately behind a group of children? Do you raid terrorist headquarters, hidden in a mental hospital? Do you shoot an arch-murderer who deliberately moves from one location to another, always surrounded by children? All of these happen daily in Iraq and in the Palestinian areas. What do you do? Well, you do not want to face the dilemma. But it cannot be avoided.

Suppose, for the sake of discussion, that someone would openly stay in a well-known address in Teheran, hosted by the Iranian Government and financed by it, executing one atrocity after another in Spain or in France, killing hundreds of innocent people, accepting responsibility for the crimes, promising in public TV interviews to do more of the same, while the Government of Iran issues public condemnations of his acts but continues to host him, invite him to official functions and treat him as a great dignitary. I leave it to you as homework to figure out what Spain or France would have done, in such a situation.

The problem is that the civilized world is still having illusions about the rule of law in a totally lawless environment. It is trying to play ice hockey by sending a ballerina ice-skater into the rink or to knock out a heavyweight boxer by a chess player. In the same way that no country has a law against cannibals eating its prime minister, because such an act is unthinkable, international law does not address killers shooting from hospitals, mosques and ambulances, while being protected by their Government or society. International law does not know how to handle someone who sends children to throw stones, stands behind them and shoots with immunity and cannot be arrested because he is sheltered by a Government. International law does not know how to deal with a leader of murderers who is royally and comfortably hosted by a country, which pretends to condemn his acts or just claims to be too weak to arrest him. The amazing thing is that all of these crooks demand protection under international law and define all those who attack them as war criminals, with some Western media repeating the allegations. The good news is that all of this is temporary, because the evolution of international law has always adapted itself to reality. The punishment for suicide murder should be death or arrest before the murder, not during and not after. After every world war, the rules of international law have changed and the same will happen after the present one. But during the twilight zone, a lot of harm can be done.

The picture I described here is not pretty. What can we do about it? In the short run, only fight and win. In the long run ? only educate the next generation and open it to the world. The inner circles can and must be destroyed by force. The outer circle cannot be eliminated by force. Here we need financial starvation of the organizing elite, more power to women, more education, counter propaganda, boycott whenever feasible and access to Western media, internet and the international scene. Above all, we need a total absolute unity and determination of the civilized world against all three circles of evil.
Allow me, for a moment, to depart from my alleged role as a taxi driver and return to science. When you have a malignant tumor, you may remove the tumor itself surgically. You may also starve it by preventing new blood from reaching it from other parts of the body, thereby preventing new "supplies" from expanding the tumor. If you want to be sure, it is best to do both.

But before you fight and win, by force or otherwise, you have to realize that you are in a war, and this may take Europe a few more years. In order to win, it is necessary to first eliminate the terrorist regimes, so that no Government in the world will serve as a safe haven for these people. I do not want to comment here on whether the American-led attack on Iraq was justified from the point of view of weapons of mass destruction or any other pre-war argument, but I can look at the post-war map of Western Asia. Now that Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya are out, two and a half terrorist states remain: Iran, Syria and Lebanon, the latter being a Syrian colony. Perhaps Sudan should be added to the list. As a result of the conquest of Afghanistan and Iraq, both Iran and Syria are now totally surrounded by territories unfriendly to them. Iran is encircled by Afghanistan, by the Gulf States, Iraq and the Moslem republics of the former Soviet Union. Syria is surrounded by Turkey, Iraq, Jordan and Israel. This is a significant strategic change and it applies strong pressure on the terrorist countries. It is not surprising that Iran is so active in trying to incite a Shiite uprising in Iraq. I do not know if the American plan was actually to encircle both Iran and Syria, but that is the resulting situation.???

In my humble opinion, the number one danger to the world today is Iran and its regime. It definitely has ambitions to rule vast areas and to expand in all directions. It has an ideology, which claims supremacy over Western culture. It is ruthless. It has proven that it can execute elaborate terrorist acts without leaving too many traces, using Iranian Embassies.. It is clearly trying to develop Nuclear Weapons. Its so-called moderates and conservatives play their own virtuoso version of the "good-cop versus bad-cop" game. Iran sponsors Syrian terrorism, it is certainly behind much of the action in Iraq, it is fully funding the Hizbulla and, through it, the Palestinian Hamas and Islamic Jihad, it performed acts of terror at least in Europe and in South America and probably also in Uzbekhistan and Saudi Arabia and it truly leads a multi-national terror consortium, which includes, as minor players, Syria, Lebanon and certain Shiite elements in Iraq. Nevertheless, most European countries still trade with Iran, try to appease it and refuse to read the clear signals.

In order to win the war it is also necessary to dry the financial resources of the terror conglomerate. It is pointless to try to understand the subtle differences between the Sunni terror of Al Qaida and Hamas and the Shiite terror of Hizbulla, Sadr and other Iranian inspired enterprises. When it serves their business needs, all of them collaborate beautifully.

It is crucial to stop Saudi and other financial support of the outer circle, which is the fertile breeding ground of terror. It is important to monitor all donations from the Western World to Islamic organizations, to monitor the finances of international relief organizations and to react with forceful economic measures to any small sign of financial aid to any of the three circles of terrorism. It is also important to act decisively against the campaign of lies and fabrications and to monitor those Western media who collaborate with it out of naivety, financial interests or ignorance.

Above all, never surrender to terror. No one will ever know whether the recent elections in Spain would have yielded a different result, if not for the train bombings a few days earlier. But it really does not matter. What matters is that the terrorists believe that they caused the result and that they won by driving Spain out of Iraq. The Spanish story will surely end up being extremely costly to other European countries, including France, who is now expelling inciting preachers and forbidding veils and including others who sent troops to Iraq. In the long run, Spain itself will pay even more.

Is the solution a democratic Arab world? If by democracy we mean free elections but also free press, free speech, a functioning judicial system, civil liberties, equality to women, free international travel, exposure to international media and ideas, laws against racial incitement and against defamation, and avoidance of lawless behavior regarding hospitals, places of worship and children, then yes, democracy is the solution. If democracy is just free elections, it is likely that the most fanatic regime will be elected, the one whose incitement and fabrications are the most inflammatory. We have seen it already in Algeria and, to a certain extent, in Turkey. It will happen again, if the ground is not prepared very carefully. On the other hand, a certain transition democracy, as in Jordan, may be a better temporary solution, paving the way for the real thing, perhaps in the same way that an immediate sudden democracy did not work in Russia and would not have worked in China.

I have no doubt that the civilized world will prevail. But the longer it takes us to understand the new landscape of this war, the more costly and painful the victory will be. Europe, more than any other region, is the key. Its understandable recoil from wars, following the horrors of World War II, may cost thousands of additional innocent lives, before the tide will turn.

9/11 Staff Reports Exciting but Unpersuasive

The staff of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, popularly known as the “9/11 Commission” has recently issued “Staff Statements” number 15, 16 and 17. They can be a good read.

Staff Statement number 17 is entitled “Improvising a Homeland Defense.” This reports details how the highjackers dropped off the FAA radar screen by the simple expedient of turning off the aircraft’s transponders. A transponder is a radio transmitter that tells the FAA air traffic system not only the plane’s position but also its identity and altitude. According to the report the FAA system relies primarily on transponder signals rather than primary radar that bounces a radar beam off of an aircraft.

The Statement then takes us into virtually a minute-by-minute account of the FAA’s actions and that of the military. They report that the highjackers gave the impression that this was an “ordinary” highjacking.

8:24 am - From American flight 11: “We have some planes. Just stay quiet, and you’ll be O.K. We are returning to the airport.”

8:34 am – from American flight 11: “Nobody move please. We are going back to the airport. Don’t try to make any stupid moves.

8:46 am – American flight 11 hits the World Trade Center.

Elapsed time from ordinary highjacking to impact: 13 minutes.

8:51 am - United 175 changed transponder codes – refuses to answer ATC controller.

8:55 am – Controller-in-charge notifies New York Center that United 175 has been highjacked.

9:03 am – United 175 hits the World Trade Center.

Elapsed time from suspicion of highjacking to impact: 8 minutes.

This is no only fascinating reading, it underscores the incredible stupidity of those who are trying to blame the government for not reacting fast enough to prevent the destruction, like shooting the planes down. From the first hint of trouble at 8:24 am until the second plane hits the World Trade Center, we have exactly 39 minutes. From the time that American 11 hit the South Tower – signaling that this was no “typical” highjacking until the second plane hit was only 17 minutes.

It’s when the staff gets into making judgment calls that the wheels come of their credibility and their biases are exposed.

The staff dismisses the allegation, made by Czech intelligence agents that Mohamed Atta met with an Iraqi intelligence officer, thus dismissing an Iraqi connection to 9/11. Edward J. Esptein makes some excellent points about the staff’s role and its judgment.

For the original report by Epstein click
In Staff Statement #16, the 9-11 Commission's staff comes to the conclusion that the alleged 2001 meeting between hijacker Atta and an Iraqi official "never occurred." In reaching that conclusion the staff says it relied on written government documents, a FBI liaison, and its own "judgment calls."

Yet, just four months earlier, CIA director Tenet,testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee about the same meeting, and came to a different conclusion about whether it occurred: "We can't prove that one way or another." Presumably Tenet had access to the same documents and intelligence reports as the Commission staff.

It is up to the Commission to determine whether the Staff or the CIA Director is correct. What key facts are missing in Staff Statement #16 that the Commission needs to know to make this judgment ?


It is the business of the staff to produce evidence
for the committee members to appraise, not to make
"judgment calls" without presenting any evidentiary basis. The staff omits at least seven facts in "Staff statement #16" that the full Commission deserves to know to render its own judgment.

They are:

1) Atta made 2 prior trips to the Czech Republic in 2000 at a time he was engaged in the 9-11 plot. They were the first two trip Atta made outside of Germany after he obtained his US visa.

2) In applying for his Czech visa (BONN200005260024), Atta identified himself as a" Hamburg student."

3) An eyewitness identified Atta as the person meeting the Iraq official, Al-Ani,on the outskirts of Prague on April 9th.

4) Atta's whereabouts is unknown to the FBI on the day in question. The FBI found no witness to his whereabouts between April 4, 2001 and April 11th.

5) The FBI has not been able to determine Atta's purpose in withdrawing $8,000 in cash from his bank account on April 4th.

6) There is no chain of evidence showing that Atta himself was in possession of a cell phone on which billing records indicate calls were made from Florida on April 9th. It is possible he left the phone behind (since it did not function in Europe) and it is possible the phone was used by his roommate or others. The billing records show the whereabouts of a phone, not of Atta.

7) A surreptitious search of the Iraq Embassy (presumably conducted after the defeat of Iraq) showed, according to a Czech official, that Al-Ani had scheduled a meeting on April 8, 2001 with a"Hamburg student." The staff report makes no mention either of the appointment book or of the "Hamburg student."

Frank Gaffney, writing in Fox News, believes that the desire to deny an Iraqi connection is due to the mindset of the man who wrote the report, Douglas MacEachan.

9/11 Commission Fails to Connect Terror Dots

The 9/11 Commission’s (search) conclusion that “We have no credible evidence that Iraq and Al Qaeda cooperated on attacks against the United States” does not augur well for the rest of the panel’s inquiry.

If the members of the commission could not connect dots that are all too obvious – or recognize their staff’s inability to do so – it seems likely that their work will fall short in other important areas as well.


This sort of proof-by-assertion is all too familiar to those who used to confront the unwillingness of some in the U.S. intelligence community to recognize that the Soviet Union was a state sponsor of terror and a serial violator of arms control agreements. Perhaps, as the communists used to say, the similarity is “no accident.”

As it happens, the staff member who reported to 9/11 Commission members yesterday that there was no “collaborative relationship” between Iraq and Al Qaeda was none other than Douglas MacEachin (search) – a man who once held senior positions at the CIA, including posts with the Office of Soviet Analysis from 1984-1989, the Arms Control Intelligence Staff for the next few years, and the job of Deputy Director for Intelligence from 1992 until 1995.
In these capacities, MacEachin appeared to colleagues to get things wrong with some regularity. For example, he was reflexively averse to conclusions that the Soviets were responsible for supporting terrorism. He reportedly rejected as “absurd” analyses that suggested Moscow was illegally developing bioweapons. And, as DDI, he forced CIA analysts to tailor their assessments to please Clinton administration policy-makers.

In short, in the old days, MacEachin refused to believe the Soviets were a threat. Now, he offers support to those who insist that Iraq was no threat. There may be a role for a "see-no-evil" sort of guy, but it should not be at the Central Intelligence Agency — and certainly not at a commission whose charter is to connect the dots, no matter where they lead.

Even as the press had a feeding-frenzy over MacEachin’s statement absolving Saddam of ties to Al Qaeda, fresh evidence of malevolent intentions toward the United States that would have made anti-American collaboration between Saddam and Al Qaeda only natural was supplied by an unlikely source: another old intelligence hand, Russian President Vladimir Putin.

According to Putin, his intelligence agencies shared sensitive information with the Bush administration after the Sept. 11 attacks and before the United States went to war with Iraq in March of 2003. According to Putin's intelligence, Saddam Hussein’s regime was crafting plans to execute terror attacks against America, both inside and outside of this country.

Thus far, Putin has not elaborated on whether Al Qaeda was also involved with these particular plans. At the very least, however, this information confirms the Bush team’s contention that Saddam dealt deeply in terror and its judgment that to leave Saddam in power would be to invite murderous attacks in the future.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

NY Times Loses Remaining Credibility

This morning's lead editorial in the New York Times is another vicious attack on the Bush administration, titled "Show Us the Proof." The theme of the editorial is that President Bush and Vice-President Cheney are lying when they insist that there were ties between Saddam Hussein's government and al Qaeda. The editorial begins:

When the commission studying the 9/11 terrorist attacks refuted the Bush administration's claims of a connection between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden, we suggested that President Bush apologize for using these claims to help win Americans' support for the invasion of Iraq. We did not really expect that to happen. But we were surprised by the depth and ferocity of the administration's capacity for denial. President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have not only brushed aside the panel's findings and questioned its expertise, but they are also trying to rewrite history.


For the entire article that shows the Times lying click Here

However, the conclusion is clear:
As a news organization, the New York Times is illegitimate. It no longer seeks to inform its readers; rather, its daily effort is to misinform and mislead them. You simply can't believe anything you read in the Times.

Jack the al Qaeda

Paul Johnson was murdered yesterday. He was murdered in a particularly brutal way: his head was sawed off. To celebrate and publicize this crime, the perpetrators then placed his severed head on his body and photographed it. Those pictures were then published on the Internet. You can see them HERE. Careful! Very graphic.

As I saw these pictures, I am reminded of a book I read recently: “Portrait of a Killer.” It’s about Jack the Ripper. What made Jack the Ripper famous was the brutality of his crimes; his victims were mutilated and dismembered. In addition, the killer lusted for publicity and wrote dozens of letters to the police bragging of his deeds.

There is a disturbing parallel between Jack and the moral monsters that beheaded Paul Johnson. The poor women who were Jack’s victims in the seedier parts of London were as good as dead when he approached them. Paul Johnson was as good as dead when he was abducted. The depraved minds that mutilated their victims did so with a purpose: they have a message to send.

For Jack, one of his pleasures was taunting the police. For the Islamofacists who sawed off Paul Johnson’s head, the message is “fear me.”

The police never apprehended Jack. But there was only one of him. Unfortunately for us, Radical Islam has spent the last quarter century creating thousands of would-be Jack the Rippers. We have no choice about fighting them. If we turn away, we will become victims who will, like the women Jack preyed upon, die screaming.

Friday, June 18, 2004

From Little Green Footballs - a Marine's Story

For a direct link: CLICK.

No One Asked Us
By Major Stan Coerr, USMCR

George Bush coalesced American support behind invading Iraq, I am told, using two arguments: Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and the capability to deliver them, and Iraq was a supporter of Al-Qaeda terrorism, and may have been involved in the attacks of 9/11. Vicious words and gratuitous finger-pointing keep falling back on these points, as people insist that “we” were misled into what started as a dynamic liberation and has become a bloody counterinsurgency. Watching politicians declaim and hearing television experts expound on why we went to war and on their opinions of those running the White House and Defense Department, I have one question.

When is someone going to ask the guys who were there?

What about the opinions of those whose lives were on the line, massed on the Iraq-Kuwait border beginning in February of last year? I don’t know how President Bush got the country behind him, because at the time I was living in a hole in the dirt in northern Kuwait. Why have I not heard a word from anyone who actually carried a rifle or flew a plane into bad guy country last year, and who has since had to deal with the ugly aftermath of a violent liberation? What about the guys who had the most to loseâúõwhat do they think about all this?

I was there. I am one of those guys who fought the war and helped keep the peace. I am a Major in the Marine Reserves, and during the war I was the senior American attached to the 1 Royal Irish Battlegroup, a rifle battalion of the British Army. I was commander of five U.S. Marine air/naval gunfire liaison teams, as well as the liaison officer between U.S. Marines and British Army forces. I was activated on January 14, 2003, and 17 days later I and my Marines were standing in Kuwait with all of our gear, ready to go to war.

I majored in Political Science at Duke, and I graduated with a Masters degree in government from the Kennedy School at Harvard. I understand realpolitik, geopolitical jujitsu, economics and the reality of the Arab world. I know the tension between the White House, the UN, Langley and Foggy Bottom. One of my grandfathers was a two-star Navy admiral; my other grandfather was an ambassador. I am not a pushover, blindly following whoever is in charge, and I don’t kid myself that I live in a perfect world. But the war made sense then, and the occupation makes sense now.

As dawn broke on March 22, 2003, I became part of one of the largest and fastest land movements in the history of war. I went across the border alongside my brothers in the Royal Irish, following the 5th Marine Regiment from Camp Pendleton as they swept through the Ramaylah oil fields. I was one those guys you saw on TV every night- filthy, hot, exhausted. I think the NRA and their right-to-bear-arms mantra is a joke, but by God I was carrying a loaded rifle, a loaded pistol and a knife on my body at all times. My boots rested on sandbags on the floor of my Humvee, there to protect me from the blast of a land mines or IED.

I killed many Iraqi soldiers, as they tried to kill me and my Marines. I did it with a radio, directing airstrikes and artillery, in concert with my British artillery officer counterpart, in combat along the Hamar Canal in southern Iraq. I saw, up close, everything the rest of you see in the newspapers: dead bodies, parts of dead bodies, helmets with bullet holes through them, handcuffed POWs sitting in the sand, oil well fires with flames reaching 100 feet into the air and a roar you could hear from over a mile away.

I stood on the bloody sand where Marine Second Lieutenant Therrel Childers was the first American killed on the ground. I pointed a loaded weapon at another man for the first time in my life. I did what I had spent 14 years training to do, and my Marines - your Marines - performed so well it still brings tears to my eyes to think about it. I was proud of what we did then, and I am proud of it now.

Along with the violence, I saw many things that lifted my heart. I saw thousands of Iraqis in cities like Qurnah and Medinah - men, women, children, grandparents carrying babies - running into the streets at the sight of us, the first Western army to arrive. I saw them screaming, crying, waving, cheering. They ran from their homes at the sound of our Humvee tires roaring in from the south, bringing bread and tea and cigarettes and photos of their children. They chattered at us in Arabic, and we spoke to them in English, and neither understood the other. The entire time I was in Iraq, I had one impression from the civilians I met: Thank God, finally someone has arrived with bigger men and bigger guns to be, at last, on our side.

Let there be no mistake, those of you who don’t believe in this war: the Ba’ath regime were the Nazis of the second half of the 20th century. I saw what the murderous, brutal regime of Saddam Hussein wrought on that country through his party and their Fedayeen henchmen. They raped, murdered, tortured, extorted and terrorized those in that country for 35 years. There are mass graves throughout Iraq only now being discovered. 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, out of Camp Pendleton, liberated a prison in Iraq populated entirely by children. The Ba’athists brutalized the weakest among them, and killed the strongest.

I saw in the eyes of the people how a generation of fear reflects in the human soul.

The Ba’ath Party, like the Nazis before them, kept power by spreading out, placing their officials in every city and every village to keep the people under their boot. Everywhere we went we found rifles, ammunition, RPG rounds, mortar shells, rocket launchers, and artillery. When we took over the southern city of Ramaylah, our battalion commander tore down the Ba’ath signs and commandeered the former regime headquarters in town (which, by the way, was 20 feet from the local school.) My commander himself took over the office of the local Ba’ath leader, and in opening the desk of that thug found a set of brass knuckles and a gun. These are the people who are now in prison, and that is where they deserve to be.

The analogy is simple. For years, you have watched the same large, violent man come home every night, and you have listened to his yelling and the crying and the screams of children and the noise of breaking glass, and you have always known that he was beating his wife and his children. Everyone on the block has known it. You ask, cajole, threaten and beg him to stop, on behalf of the rest of the neighborhood. Nothing works. After listening to it for 13 years, you finally gather up the biggest, meanest guys you can find, you go over to his house, and you kick the door down. You punch him in the face and drag him away. The house is a mess, the family poor and abused — but now there is hope. You did the right thing.

I can speak with authority on the opinions of both British and American infantry in that place and at that time. Let me make this clear: at no time did anyone say or imply to any of us that we were invading Iraq to rid the country of weapons of mass destruction, nor were we there to avenge 9/11. We knew we were there for one reason: to rid the world of a tyrant, and to give Iraq back to Iraqis.

None of us had even heard those arguments for going to war until we returned, and we still don’t understand the confusion. To us, it was simple. The world needed to be rid of a man who committed mass murder of an entire people, and our country was the only one that could project that much power that far and with that kind of precision. We don’t make policy decisions: we carry them out. And none of us had the slightest doubt about how right and good our actions were.

The war was the right thing to do then, and in hindsight it was still the right thing to do. We can’t overthrow every murderous tyrant in the world, but when we can, we should. Take it from someone who was there, and who stood to lose everything. We must, and will, stay the course. We owe it to the Iraqis, and to the world.

Stan Coerr is a SuperCobra attack helicopter pilot and Forward Air Controller, and was recently selected for Lieutenant Colonel in the Marine Corps Reserve. He lives in San Diego.

The Iraq Al Qaeda Connection is NOT Obscure

BECAUSE the headlines thoughout the country, taking their cues from wire service reports and the New York Slimes, have chosen to lie about the relations that Saddam had with Al Qaeda, it is neccessary to review what we know.

A good start is Andrew McCarthy's article in national Review Online. Click HERE.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Virginian Pilot 9/11 Commission Headline Lies

There are two headlines in today’s Virginian Pilot. The top one is a lie.

“ON IRAQ: No Links to al-Qaida”

As is so often the case, the real story is not the news; it’s the press’ spin on the news.

During the Clinton Presidency, the press reported the Clintons’ “spin” – which they knew to be a lie – not with outrage (that’s reserved for Republicans) but with a sense of admiration: see Clinton lie about having sex with Monica; isn’t it amazing how he can say that with a straight face? What a man! See Clinton redefining the meaning of “is.” Isn’t that just marvelous? The press suspended its judgment about the morality of the issues of lying, perjury, even rape. With almost no exceptions, it viewed these issues in a moral vacuum, judging only their political impact. Of course that was when their man was in office.

Having abandoned its vaunted neutrality the press has decided, like the woman who has lost her virtue, that it enjoys its freedom to be a whore.

I have read the 9/11 Commission reports that were released on June 16. You can find them here

On page 5 of Staff Statement No. 15 the staff of the 9/11 commission states that “We have no credible evidence that Iraq and al Qaeda cooperated on attacks against the United States.” In this same paragraph, the commission staff states that “Bin Laden also explored possible cooperation with Iraq during his time in Sudan, despite his opposition to Hussein’s secular regime….A senior Iraqi intelligence officer reportedly made three visits to Sudan, finally meeting Bin Laden in 1994….There have been reports that contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda also occurred after Bin Laden had returned to Afghanistan ”

After the press willfully misinterpreted a single sentence in this report, the co-chairmen of the 9/11 Committee issued a statement defending the Bush administration in its characterization of the connection between al Qaeda and Iraq. The administration never claimed that Iraq was behind the 9/11 attacks. It has claimed that there were ties between many of the terror groups in Middle East, including al Qaeda and Iraq, but also including Iraq and Palestinian terrorists.

Unlike the headline, the reports state that there are links between Iraq and al Qaeda but the 9/11 commission is not charged with determining this. In fact, reading the reports one is struck by the commission’s single-minded focus on 9/11 and Bin Laden. Reading reports 15, 16 and 17; the commission has a laser beam on Osama bin Laden. Everyone else is a bit player in the commission’s drama.

But before we conclude that the staff report is the final word on terrorist connections, it is useful to understand how tenuous the commission staff ‘s ability to connect the dots.

I found the following paragraph fascinating:

“By this time U.S. intelligence learned that a year-and-a-half before the bombing of the Saudi National Guard facility, al Qaeda leaders and members of other aligned groups had decide to attack U.S. targets in Saudi Arabia and directed a team to ship explosives there. The shipment was a case study in collaboration: Bin Laden supplied the money for purchasing the explosives; the Sudanese Ministry of Defense served as the conduit for bringing them to Sudan; they were stored briefly in the warehouse of one of Bin Laden’s business facilities; transported in a Bin Laden company truck under cover of Ministry of Defense invoice papers; moved to a warehouse provided by the Ministry of Defense at Port Sudan on the Red Sea; and then transported on a Bin Laden-owned boat to Islamic army operatives residing in Yemen. From there they were moved by land to the eastern part of Saudi Arabia…...”

Before I end this paragraph, keep in mind that the 9/11 commission is critical of the FAA and US Air Force for not connecting the dots on 9/11; for not immediately realizing that these highjackers were not like dozens of highjackers before them; for losing the planes when the highjackers turned the planes’ transponders off; for not knowing what was on the minds of these particular thugs before they drove their planes into the Word Trade Center; for not directing the Air Force to blow American passenger planes filled innocent civilian out of the air within minutes of realizing the planes had been highjacked.

So with this amazing bit of hindsight in mind, here is how the staff report ends the previous paragraph:

“…Bin Laden’s role and his organization’s role in this attack remains unclear…”

The people who come to these conclusions make Inspector Clouseau look positively clever.

There is at least one additional piece of interesting information given no coverage in the press as they comb these reports with the sole purpose of impeaching the Bush administration. THE PERSON WHO ORIGINALLY CONCEIVED OF THE CONCEPT OF THE 9/11 ATTACKS, KHALID SHEIK MOHAMMED (KSM), WAS NOT PART OF OSAMA’S AL QAEDA ORGANIZATION WHEN THE PLAN WAS FIRST PROPOSED. KSM was a terrorist long before he pitched his idea to Bin Laden, who, according to Staff Statement No. 16 was at first non-committal.

Why is this important? The attempt to narrow the focus of the War on Terror to al Qaeda is ridiculous. The War is a global war and, just as Word War II involved numerous countries, the War on Terror involves numerous organizations. The attempt by the press and the Left to isolate al Qaeda as the sole source of Islamic terror is neither accurate nor particularly helpful.

Perhaps as a result of its charter, the commission has self-imposed blinders. The reports really do not address the issue of Islamic terrorism except in a very peripheral way. It is solely interested in convicting Osama bin Laden.

I predict that there will be very little that will result in the way of the management of homeland security as the result of the 9/11 Commission. The lessons we learned from that day of terror have already been applied to our defense posture. The focus of the report on al Qaeda may even have a negative effect. Those who learn to read between the lines of this blinkered glimpse of the world of terror will realize that the threat is much larger than one man and his relatively small organization.

Based on the headlines showing the willful obtuseness of the mainstream media, I hope the innate wisdom of the American people, the Internet and the “new media” will help a majority see this truth. Otherwise this war may be lost.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Is the War on Terror "Self Declared?"

Glenn Frankel of the Washington Post Foreign Service began his front-page article on Israeli treatment of prisoners with this:

NABLUS, West Bank -- The accounts of physical abuse of Iraqis by American guards at Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad sounded achingly familiar to Anan Labadeh. The casual beatings, the humiliations, the trophy photos taken by both male and female guards were experiences he said he underwent as a Palestinian security detainee at an Israeli military camp in March of last year.

The third paragraph begins:

Many of the questions raised by the Abu Ghraib scandal, and by the United States's self-declared war on terrorism, are the kinds that Israel has been wrestling with for decades.

“Self declared?” Has 9/11 really slipped into the media’s memory hole already? Has Frankel not heard of Osama’s declaration of war against the US? Have thousands of deaths from terrorist attacks, going back to the Reagan administration simply slipped his mind?

It takes a certain kind of mind to refuse to accept that we are at war after being attacked. The kind of mind that is so hidebound that it defines war as uniformed armies marching across a border. If it isn’t the Germans invading France or Grant taking Richmond, it isn’t a war. Everything else is a matter for the cops. Blow a hole in the Cole: send the FBI to Aden. Kill 3,000 people by ramming passenger planes into tall buildings: ask why and ask the Afghans to extradite Osama bin Laden.

Frankel continues:

Where is the line in a democracy between coercion and torture?

Why the reference to “democracy?” If a terrorist chops off your fingers or hooks your private parts to an electrical generator, isn’t it torture? If a terrorist uses a dull knife to saw off your head, isn’t it torture? If you are raped in Saddam’s rape rooms is it different than if you are raped by democrats? Is torture in a democracy different than torture in a theocracy, in a dictatorship, in a terrorist cell?

What kinds of interrogation techniques are morally acceptable when dealing with a suspect who may have knowledge of a "ticking bomb" -- an imminent attack? And what about the damage those techniques inflict on relations between an occupying power and its subjects?

The damage that the Abu Ghraib activities have inflicted are largely confined to the US, and even here they are largely the property of the Liberal media. Polls have shown that the average American is tired of the issue, believes that it is being dealt with and believes that it is being exploited by the media for political purposes.

The average Iraqi, accustomed as he is to Saddam’s brutality, wonders what all the fuss is about.