Friday, June 30, 2006
Wisconsin's Ward Churchill? UW-Madison lecturer on Islam is leading 9/11 conspiracy theorist who thinks the U.S. government blew up the Trade Center a
Remember how upset we all got about Churchill, who was just a prof from another state who was in town for one lousy speech? Wait until you hear about Barrett, who is teaching a large Introductory to Islam class to UW-Madison undergrads this fall. (He estimates it will have about 200 students).
Barrett, who started a national group on 9/11 conspiracy theories, doesn't believe the terrorists caused the World Trade Center attacks. He thinks the government used a controlled demolition to do it (with Dick Cheney the likely mastermind) and he thinks that Mohammad Atta was probably a government pawn and patsy. He thinks that al-Qaida as we know it is a myth fabricated by the government (or at the very least a US government front group and he calls it al-CIA-duh to underscore his point). He also believes that many of the 9/11 hijackers are alive and that the 9/11 terrorist attacks have nothing to do with Islam. He compares those who believe the terrorists caused 9/11 to the "good Germans" who bought into Nazi ideology and says we're a bunch of stupid racists for believing the "Big Lie" that the terrorists, not the government, caused 9/11. He thinks the war on Terror and 9/11 are both "Orwellian hoaxes." He refuses to say that bin Laden is evil.
In a presumably tongue in cheek letter to the Secret Service after he says a fellow 9/11 conspiracy theorist had weapons confiscated by them after predicting Bush would be shot for treason, Barrett predicts that a majority of Americans will soon eagerly anticipate Bush's execution for the mass murder of Americans on 9/11 (read the whole letter at the end of this posting). It also discusses Bush being gassed, hung, and electrocuted.
I repeat. This guy is teaching Introduction to Islam at UW-Madison this fall.
Click on the link and keep scrolling, this story is fascinating.
UPDATE: for those of you new to The Virginian, please look around. I'm interested in the reason this old story is getting attention. Feel free to leave comments.
Welcome! My name is Larry Bailey, and I am a retired Navy SEAL Captain. I was in Vietnam in 1967 and participated in the Dominican Republic invasion in 1965. I also commanded the SEAL school in Coronado, CA.
I am the President of an organization named Vietnam Vets for the Truth, LLC. Please note the similarity in names with a group much in the news, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth; I wish to emphasize that we are completely different and separate groups that were organized independent of one another. We do, however, support them completely.
We are an incorporated 527 PAC composed of Vietnam veterans opposed to John Kerry.
We will hold a rally we call “Kerry Lied . . . While Good Men Died” on Sunday, September 12, at 2 PM just north of the US Capitol building in the Upper Senate Park. Ten speakers will tell some of the true stories about the virtues of Vietnam veterans and contrast them with the lies told by John Kerry. We will identify those speakers in a few moments.
Much has been said by the news media about the Swiftees being a front for the Bush campaign. We know those guys, and we know that is not true. More importantly from our perspective, we have no connection whatever to the Bush administration or the Bush campaign. In fact, we never even TALK to anyone connected with either the Republican Party or the Bush/Cheny campaign. And regarding fundraising, the most any single donor has contributed is $1000.00, while the least is $2.50. We have raised about just a bit over $70,000, with the average contribution being just under $100.00.
I know this is hard for many reporters to understand or believe, but this is not a matter of politics. We would be doing this same thing if John Kerry were a Republican. And as much as we respect the office of the Presidency, if the President himself called and asked us to cease and desist, we could not do so. This is a matter of honor--a matter of Kerry’s betrayal, a matter of concern for our country. And it is also deeply personal.
The Swiftee officers knew Kerry in Vietnam; they ate with him, slept in the same quarters with him, and watched him on patrol. We will leave to them the comments about his actions in Vietnam, because they observed him there; we did not. Our quarrel with John Kerry is based solely on his actions when he returned from Vietnam. I want to summarize two of those things for you very briefly.
NUMBER 1 - John Kerry joined—no, he FORMED—VVAW, part of the radical left wing of the anti-war movement, and the things he said and did make him responsible, more than any other individual, for the false image of Vietnam veterans as babykillers or violent misfits prone to drug abuse.
John Kerry told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971; he told America and the world; and most despicably, he told our wives, our parents, and our children that we were rapists, torturers and murderers. And he told other outrageous lies, as well.
He said America’s actions in Vietnam were criminal.
He said most troops in Vietnam were on drugs.
He said the Vietnamese people didn’t care whether their government was democratic or Communist.
He said America “murdered” over 200,000 Vietnamese every year.
He said he was ashamed of his service, which must have been a lie, because he now says he is proud of it.
These and other things Kerry said were a smear on the laudable service of a generation of young Americans in Vietnam. We have carried the stain of his lies for decades, but the smear on our dead brothers, whose names are carved on a black granite wall, is far worse.
NUMBER 2 - The insult to us and to our dead comrades is not the worst part of John Kerry’s action. The worst part is that he gave aid and comfort to our enemy while America’s sons were still dying. All the false things he said about us encouraged our enemy to be patient, even when their losses were devastating. We believe there are thousands of names on that black granite wall because of John Kerry and others like him.
Kerry went to Paris in 1970 to meet with our enemy’s representative, Madame Nguyen Thi Binh, in violation of US law, while hostilities were ongoing and while he was still a commissioned officer in the US Naval Reserve. Kerry returned to the US and publicly advocated the enemy’s position and decried our own.
Our POWs heard the words of John Kerry from their interrogators as they were pressured and threatened to confess to committing non-existent war crimes.
This is a story of betrayal. John Kerry betrayed us, he betrayed his country, and, because of his status as a Naval officer, we believe his betrayal was far worse than Jane Fonda’s.
But we have never forgiven, we have never forgotten, and America needs to face these facts before the November election.
My fellow Vietnam veteran, Terry Garlock, who first proposed the idea of the “Kerry Lied” Rally, will now share his observations. He will be followed by another “winner” of the Purple Heart, Attorney Dexter Lehtinen of Miami and by VVT’s volunteer Media Affairs Director, Jeff Epstein, who is NOT a veteran. But I’ll let him address that issue.
The Supreme Court’s decision to impose by judicial fiat a treaty that no politically accountable official would dare propose — a one-sided compact wherein the United States gives elevated due process to al Qaeda’s terrorists while they continue slaughtering civilians and torturing their captives to death — is an abomination.
To begin with, the Court had no business deciding this case at all. Not only did it target the president’s commander-in-chief authority to determine what is militarily necessary in wartime, it also imperiously slapped down the U.S. Congress. In last December’s Detainee Treatment Act (DTA), Congress — acting on its constitutional prerogative — rescinded the unprecedented jurisdiction that the Supreme Court, in the 2004 Rasul case, had tried claimed over alien enemy combatants captured in wartime and held outside the U.S. (that is, outside the jurisdiction of U.S. courts). This Court, however, acknowledges no limits on its powers — whether imposed by Congress or by the English language, which it had to torture in order to construe the DTA’s unambiguous limitation of its jurisdiction as an invitation to meddle.
And meddle it did. It rewrote legislation that clearly authorized the military commissions for captured terrorists that President Bush ordered in late 2001. It rewrote the Geneva Conventions. And it claimed for itself the mantle of final authority over both international relations and military necessity — matters in which it is wholly lacking institutional competence and which the Framers committed singularly to the chief executive.
The result was somehow to find that the military commissions are unauthorized under federal law and unfair under international law. Never mind that they guaranteed our enemies the rights to counsel, to the presumption of innocence, to proof beyond a reasonable doubt before conviction, to the privilege against self-incrimination, to confront the government’s witnesses and summon witnesses in their defense, and to prepare a defense with broad discovery of the government’s evidence and investigative file.
How could this conceivably be insufficient due process for alien combatants with no legitimate claim on Bill of Rights? The Court fretted that the procedures might not permit captives like Salim Ahmed Hamdan — the driver and bodyguard of Osama bin Laden — to be present at every stage of their trials. This is perhaps the most deplorable of the excesses endorsed in Justice John Paul Stevens’s majority opinion (joined by Anthony Kennedy, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Stephen Breyer). First, the concern is sheer speculation. There hasn’t been a commission trial yet, and there is no way to know whether Hamdan would have been excluded from any part of a trial, much less whether the degree of exclusion would have been unjustifiable. Second, the rules allow for the combatant’s military lawyer to be present even when he is not. But third, and most fundamentally, safeguarding national security is the highest obligation of government. The commissions wouldn’t have guaranteed Hamdan’s right to be present at every stage of the trial in order to preserve the government’s ability to conceal from the enemy, during wartime, our national-security secrets, as well as our methods of obtaining them. Protecting Americans from attack depends on that ability. But five justices of the Supreme Court, completely unaccountable to the Americans whom the government is obliged to protect, have subordinated that obligation to the hypothetical interests of enemy operatives who have no judicially enforceable rights under American law.
In deciding as it did, the Court also ignored its own venerable precedent — of over a half-century’s standing — that the Geneva Conventions, even when they do create binding obligations on governments, do not create judicially enforceable rights for individuals. Disputes over their application are, rather, to be worked out diplomatically, among the political representatives of sovereigns. Moreover, the Geneva Conventions were irrelevant to Hamdan’s case. He is a terrorist combatant who fails to meet the conventions’ definition of a prisoner of war; consequently, he is not entitled to the conventions’ POW protections. In order to get around this inconvenient fact, the Court had to invoke (and distort) “Common Article 3” of the conventions, which applies only to civil wars taking place within the territory of a single country, as opposed to international conflicts. The Court argued, absurdly, that because al Qaeda is not a nation, it cannot be in an international conflict: so the global War on Terror is not “international,” despite having been fought in the United States, Somalia, Yemen, Kenya, Tanzania, Afghanistan, and Iraq. As for Article 3’s requirement that the conflicts to which it applies be confined to a single country, the Court’s majority found an easy way to get around it: by ignoring it.
Hard as it may be to believe that the Court, without any grounding in either American law or the Geneva Conventions, has effectively signed a treaty with al Qaeda for the protection of its terrorists, there may be a silver lining. The case implicates only trials of enemy combatants, whom the president remains authorized to detain until the end of hostilities — however long that takes. In addition, the Court held that military commissions would be permissible if Congress authorized their precise terms and procedures. Sens. Lindsay Graham and John Kyl, who were the engines behind the Detainee Treatment Act that the Court cashiered, have already indicated they are ready to get to work on this. Arlen Specter also has a proposal. There is no issue more important than national security, and with the 2006 elections beckoning it is essential that Republicans move quickly on legislation. Our elected representatives need to be on record, now, about what rights they would give to Qaeda terrorists in wartime.
As yesterday’s decision again demonstrates, this Court would rather impose its preferences on us than simply follow the law. We should find this unacceptable in any case. But when the consequences of the Court’s arrogance rise to the level of life and death, there is only one word to describe what it is: an outrage.
The Geneva Convention for a Non-State Entity
Today's Supreme Court ruling seems to me a remarkable point in the development of a kind of quasi-sovereignty for non-state organizations.
Were there to develop an Anti-Qaeda force, a private military to pursue Al Qaeda and win the war on its own terms, then their members would also have the Geneva Conventions apply to them, were they ever to be apprehended or detained by the US, yes? In other words, if the Geneva Convention now applies to a non-state that is a non-signatory in the eyes of the US, does it not then apply to ALL non-states that are non-signatories?
This is quite a large new degree of sovereignty that has been granted to non-state organizations. How will the concept of citizenship evolve with decisions like these?
If protections that normally accrue to states after debate and ratification can now be given over to non-states which have no mechanism for ratification, let alone debate, one can easily imagine a scenario in which non-state organizations form themselves and immediately possess the rights of a state, with no corresponding need to adhere to any laws in their own activities.
If this is the case, then we have the answer to the war: it will be privatized, and its ultimate victories won by uninhibited private military actors, not the hamstrung citizen militaries of nation-states.
Any legal minds out there are welcome to comment.
From The Belmont Club:
I certainly do hope that legal minds chime in. From a layman's point of view the answer to Chester's rhetorical 'if al-Qaeda is protected doesn't that mean any privately organized violent effort is similarly protected' must logically be "yes". Some time ago I conjectured that al-Qaeda's asymmetrical advantages were in retrospect evanescent because any anti-Muslim organization could emulate them.
Long before a faculty lounge in Islamabad or Riyadh realizes it can build a bomb alone and secretly, the same thought will have occurred to individuals in Tel Aviv, New Delhi or Palo Alto. Any Islamic group that believes it can attack New York deniably should convince itself that no similar group can nuke Mecca at the height of the pilgrim season. In fact, the whole problem that Coll describes should be generalized. The only thing worse than discovering that New York has been destroyed by persons unknown is to find that Islamabad has been vaporized by a group we've never heard of.
Any environment capable of producing terrorism on a scale which could destroy America would be sufficiently powerful to destroy Islam -- and destroy it first many times over. Any weapon that AQ Khan can make can be bought by believers and infidels alike. The theorists of asymmetrical terrorist warfare forgot that its military effectiveness depends on the very restraints that it, itself, dissolves. ...
Fit and Unfit to Print
June 30, 2006; Page A12
'Not everything is fit to print. There is to be regard for at least probable factual accuracy, for danger to innocent lives, for human decencies, and even, if cautiously, for nonpartisan considerations of the national interest."
So wrote the great legal scholar, Alexander Bickel, about the duties of the press in his 1975 collection of essays "The Morality of Consent." We like to re-read Bickel to get our Constitutional bearings, and he's been especially useful since the New York Times decided last week to expose a major weapon in the U.S. arsenal against terror financing.
President Bush, among others, has since assailed the press for revealing the program, and the Times has responded by wrapping itself in the First Amendment, the public's right to know and even The Wall Street Journal. We published a story on the same subject on the same day, and the Times has since claimed us as its ideological wingman. So allow us to explain what actually happened, putting this episode within the larger context of a newspaper's obligations during wartime.
* * *
We should make clear that the News and Editorial sections of the Journal are separate, with different editors. The Journal story on Treasury's antiterror methods was a product of the News department, and these columns had no say in the decision to publish. We have reported the story ourselves, however, and the facts are that the Times's decision was notably different from the Journal's.
According to Tony Fratto, Treasury's Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, he first contacted the Times some two months ago. He had heard Times reporters were asking questions about the highly classified program involving Swift, an international banking consortium that has cooperated with the U.S. to follow the money making its way to the likes of al Qaeda or Hezbollah. Mr. Fratto went on to ask the Times not to publish such a story on grounds that it would damage this useful terror-tracking method.
Sometime later, Secretary John Snow invited Times Executive Editor Bill Keller to his Treasury office to deliver the same message. Later still, Mr. Fratto says, Tom Kean and Lee Hamilton, the leaders of the 9/11 Commission, made the same request of Mr. Keller. Democratic Congressman John Murtha and Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte also urged the newspaper not to publish the story.
The Times decided to publish anyway, letting Mr. Fratto know about its decision a week ago Wednesday. The Times agreed to delay publishing by a day to give Mr. Fratto a chance to bring the appropriate Treasury official home from overseas. Based on his own discussions with Times reporters and editors, Mr. Fratto says he believed "they had about 80% of the story, but they had about 30% of it wrong." So the Administration decided that, in the interest of telling a more complete and accurate story, they would declassify a series of talking points about the program. They discussed those with the Times the next day, June 22.
Around the same time, Treasury contacted Journal reporter Glenn Simpson to offer him the same declassified information. Mr. Simpson has been working the terror finance beat for some time, including asking questions about the operations of Swift, and it is a common practice in Washington for government officials to disclose a story that is going to become public anyway to more than one reporter. Our guess is that Treasury also felt Mr. Simpson would write a straighter story than the Times, which was pushing a violation-of-privacy angle; on our reading of the two June 23 stories, he did.
* * *
We recount all this because more than a few commentators have tried to link the Journal and Times at the hip. On the left, the motive is to help shield the Times from political criticism. On the right, the goal is to tar everyone in the "mainstream media." But anyone who understands how publishing decisions are made knows that different newspapers make up their minds differently.
Some argue that the Journal should have still declined to run the antiterror story. However, at no point did Treasury officials tell us not to publish the information. And while Journal editors knew the Times was about to publish the story, Treasury officials did not tell our editors they had urged the Times not to publish. What Journal editors did know is that they had senior government officials providing news they didn't mind seeing in print. If this was a "leak," it was entirely authorized.
Would the Journal have published the story had we discovered it as the Times did, and had the Administration asked us not to? Speaking for the editorial columns, our answer is probably not. Mr. Keller's argument that the terrorists surely knew about the Swift monitoring is his own leap of faith. The terror financiers might have known the U.S. could track money from the U.S., but they might not have known the U.S. could follow the money from, say, Saudi Arabia. The first thing an al Qaeda financier would have done when the story broke is check if his bank was part of Swift.
Just as dubious is the defense in a Times editorial this week that "The Swift story bears no resemblance to security breaches, like disclosure of troop locations, that would clearly compromise the immediate safety of specific individuals." In this asymmetric war against terrorists, intelligence and financial tracking are the equivalent of troop movements. They are America's main weapons.
The Times itself said as much in a typically hectoring September 24, 2001, editorial "Finances of Terror": "Much more is needed, including stricter regulations, the recruitment of specialized investigators and greater cooperation with foreign banking authorities." Isn't the latter precisely what the Swift operation is?
Whether the Journal News department would agree with us in this or other cases, we can't say. We do know, however, that Journal editors have withheld stories at the government's request in the past, notably during the Gulf War when they learned that a European company that had sold defense equipment to Iraq was secretly helping the Pentagon. Readers have to decide for themselves, based on our day-to-day work, whether they think Journal editors are making the correct publishing judgments.
* * *
Which brings us back to the New York Times. We suspect that the Times has tried to use the Journal as its political heatshield precisely because it knows our editors have more credibility on these matters.
As Alexander Bickel wrote, the relationship between government and the press in the free society is an inevitable and essential contest. The government needs a certain amount of secrecy to function, especially on national security, and the press in its watchdog role tries to discover what it can. The government can't expect total secrecy, Bickel writes, "but the game similarly calls on the press to consider the responsibilities that its position implies. Not everything is fit to print." The obligation of the press is to take the government seriously when it makes a request not to publish. Is the motive mainly political? How important are the national security concerns? And how do those concerns balance against the public's right to know?
The problem with the Times is that millions of Americans no longer believe that its editors would make those calculations in anything close to good faith. We certainly don't. On issue after issue, it has become clear that the Times believes the U.S. is not really at war, and in any case the Bush Administration lacks the legitimacy to wage it.
So, for example, it promulgates a double standard on "leaks," deploring them in the case of Valerie Plame and demanding a special counsel when the leaker was presumably someone in the White House and the journalist a conservative columnist. But then it hails as heroic and public-spirited the leak to the Times itself that revealed the National Security Agency's al Qaeda wiretaps.
Mr. Keller's open letter explaining his decision to expose the Treasury program all but admits that he did so because he doesn't agree with, or believe, the Bush Administration. "Since September 11, 2001, our government has launched broad and secret anti-terror monitoring programs without seeking authorizing legislation and without fully briefing the Congress," he writes, and "some officials who have been involved in these programs have spoken to the Times about their discomfort over the legality of the government's actions and over the adequacy of oversight." Since the Treasury story broke, as it happens, no one but Congressman Ed Markey and a few cranks have even objected to the program, much less claimed illegality.
Perhaps Mr. Keller has been listening to his boss, Times Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr., who in a recent commencement address apologized to the graduates because his generation "had seen the horrors and futility of war and smelled the stench of corruption in government.
"Our children, we vowed, would never know that. So, well, sorry. It wasn't supposed to be this way," the publisher continued. "You weren't supposed to be graduating into an America fighting a misbegotten war in a foreign land. You weren't supposed to be graduating into a world where we are still fighting for fundamental human rights," and so on. Forgive us if we conclude that a newspaper led by someone who speaks this way to college seniors has as a major goal not winning the war on terror but obstructing it.
* * *
In all of this, Mr. Sulzberger and the Times are reminiscent of a publisher from an earlier era, Colonel Robert McCormick of the Chicago Tribune. In the 1930s and into World War II, the Tribune was implacable in its opposition to FDR and his conduct of the war. During the war itself, his newspaper also exposed secrets, including one story after the victory at Midway in 1942 that essentially disclosed that the U.S. had broken Japanese codes. The government considered, but decided against, prosecuting McCormick's paper under the Espionage Act of 1917.
That was a wise decision, and not only because it would have drawn more attention to the Tribune "scoop." Once a government starts indicting reporters for publishing stories, there will be no drawing any lines against such prosecutions, and we will be well down the road to an Official Secrets Act that will let government dictate coverage.
The current political clamor is nonetheless a warning to the press about the path the Times is walking. Already, its partisan demand for a special counsel in the Plame case has led to a reporter going to jail and to defeats in court over protecting sources. Now the politicians are talking about Espionage Act prosecutions. All of which is cause for the rest of us in the media to recognize, heeding Alexander Bickel, that sometimes all the news is not fit to print.
Thursday, June 29, 2006
Excerpt (read the whole thing):
Hateful chatter behind the veil
Key suspects' wives held radical views, Web postings reveal
From Thursday's Globe and Mail
MISSISSAUGA — When it came time to write up the premarital agreement between Zakaria Amara and Nada Farooq, Ms. Farooq briefly considered adding a clause that would allow her to ask for a divorce.
She said that Mr. Amara (now accused of being a leader of the alleged terror plot that led to the arrests of 17 Muslim men early this month) had to aspire to take part in jihad.
"[And] if he ever refuses a clear opportunity to leave for jihad, then i want the choice of divorce," she wrote in one of more than 6,000 Internet postings uncovered by The Globe and Mail.
Wives of four of the central figures arrested last month were among the most active on the website, sharing, among other things, their passion for holy war, disgust at virtually every aspect of non-Muslim society and a hatred of Canada. The posts were made on personal blogs belonging to both Mr. Amara and Ms. Farooq, as well as a semi-private forum founded by Ms. Farooq where dozens of teens in the Meadowvale Secondary School area chatted. The vast majority of the posts were made over a period of about 20 months, mostly in 2004, and the majority of those were made by the group's female members.
The tightly knit group of women who chatted with each other includes Mariya (the wife of alleged leader Fahim Ahmad), Nada (the wife of Mr. Amara, the alleged right-hand man) Nada's sister Rana (wife of suspect Ahmad Ghany), as well as Cheryfa MacAulay Jamal (the Muslim convert from Cape Breton, N.S. who married the oldest suspect, 43-year-old Qayyum Abdul Jamal). The women's husbands are part of a core group of seven charged with the most severe crimes -- plotting to detonate truck bombs against the Toronto Stock Exchange, a Canadian Forces target, and the Toronto offices of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.
The women were bound by the same social, political and ideological aims. They organized "sisters-only" swimming days and held fundraisers for the notorious al-Qaeda-linked Khadr family. With the exception of the occasional Urdu or Arabic word or phrase, their posts are exclusively in English.
After their husbands were arrested, most of the women refused to tell their stories to the media; reached at her home in Mississauga, Ms. Farooq would not comment on her posts.
But in the years leading up to the arrests, they shared their stories with one another.
She knows it freaks her husband out just thinking about it, but 18-year-old Nada Farooq doesn't care: She wants a baby. It is mid-April, 2004, and the two have been married for less than a year. In the end, the jihad clause was not included in a prenuptial agreement.
Like many students at Meadowvale Secondary School, Zakaria Amara is busy worrying about final exams and what, if any, university to go to. But Ms. Farooq -- the Karachi-born daughter of a pharmacist who now hands out prescription medicine to soldiers at the Canadian Forces Base in Wainwright, Alta. -- has already done a fair bit of daydreaming about what it would be like to have a child. She even has a name picked. If she has a boy, she wants to name him Khattab, after the commander of the mujahedeen in Chechnya who battled Moscow until he was assassinated in 2002.
"And i pray to Allah my sons follow his footsteps Ameeen [Amen]," she writes at the on-line forum she founded for Muslim teens in Mississauga's Meadowvale area. Her avatar -- an on-line symbol used to indicate personality -- is a picture of the Koran and a rifle.
(All postings in this story have been rendered as they appeared on-line.)
There is nothing casual about Ms. Farooq's interpretation of Islam. She reiterates the belief that jihad is the "sixth pillar" of the religion, and her on-line postings are decidedly interested in the violent kind. In the forum titled "Terrorism and killing civilians," she writes a detailed point-by-point explanation of why the Taliban is destined to emerge victorious in Afghanistan.
Virtually every other government on the planet, however, she only has disdain for.
"All muslim politicians are corrupt," she writes. "There's no one out there willing to rule the country by the laws of Allah, rather they fight to rule the country by the laws of democracy." She criticizes Muslims in places such as Dubai for spending money on elaborate buildings while Iraqis are being killed.
Ms. Farooq's criticism is often directed first at other Muslims. When another poster writes about how he finds homosexuality disgusting, Nada replies by pointing out that there are even gay Muslims. She then posts a photo of a rally held by Al-Fatiha, a Canadian support group for gay Muslims. "Look at these pathetic people," she writes. "They should all be sent to Saudi, where these sickos are executed or crushed by a wall, in public."
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
THERE ARE MANY MOMENTS IN MY LIFE, now more than before, when I wish I could hear within myself a clear call to an abiding faith. But I would be a hypocrite to claim that I do. I've listened deeply for a long time, but I just don't hear it consistently. Grace and belief for me seem to be always approaching or alwys retreating and while I wish they would linger longer, they seem born to roam as far as my soul is concerned. I am, however, mindful and grateful that they do seem to arrive when I need them the most.
That said, I understand that many, many people do hear it and live by what they hear. That's why it strikes me that this continuing assault on various icons such as the Ten Commandments by the transnational secularists of this country must be seen as a deep insult by both people of faith and those of good will. It's all part of the unremitting assault on the few remaining islands of our shared nobility that can only be seen as mean-spirited, small-minded, petty, controlling, feeble and nasty.
Please read the whole thing because no matter the level of you personal faith, you will not fail to be touched by the article and the comments that follow.
I don’t have a strong opinion on the abortive flag-desecration amendment; but I do have a strong opinion on the judicial usurpation of politics: I am against it and regard it as an incipient despotism of a particularly subtle and dangerous sort. Thus I find myself inclined to support almost anything that demonstrates, or has the effect of demonstrating, some resolution on the part of the Legislative branch to restore the proper balance of constitutional interpretation. Alas, it appears that not only is our National Legislature lacking in the requisite resolve; it lacks also the necessary guile and enterprise. Judicial usurpation is in practice a difficult and complicated problem, but in principle it boils down to this: the Courts have arrogated a power which the Constitution does not grant them; the power, namely, of final authority over what the Constitution means. They have become, on a vast collection of issues — particularly the sort of issues that really roil our politics because they implicate matters that go to our very identity as a people — our Lawgivers. They have, at various times, announced their authority — to decide who is and who is not a person afforded the protection of law; to overturn duly-enacted and popular law on the grounds that it derives from the moral and religious sensibilities, notwithstanding that this very act of overturning itself derives from the judge’s moral sensibilities; to simply remove the most important word from the First Amendment — the first word — and thereby render a whole other amendment (the Tenth) void; to make the Establishment Clause the antagonist of the Free Exercise Clause, with the former emphatically holding the upper hand*; to call upon, based on the judge’s discursive divination, trends in foreign jurisprudence to fetter the self-government of Americans; to interfere in the governance of private enterprise based on the principle of equal protection, but, on the same principle, to establish in law racial privilege. It is likely that I have forgotten other outrages as well.
I don’t know if the Flag Amendment would have done anything to correct the Judicial Usurpation. I find it, in fact, rather unlikely, and thus do not much lament its failure. But there is not doubt that the condition of the Republic, under the gathering despotism of the courts, is a thing to be observed with dread and indignation. The Right has been content, for the most part, to envisage the correction of the trend in the confirmation of better judges. I admit that this seems the easiest and least radical method, and I will cheer it warmly if successful; but if past experience is any guide, it also seems less than promising. We have, it is true, two capable new justices whose philosophy is a marginal improvement; but what American republican, sensing his liberty being drained away by the courts, can have much confidence that a true correction can come voluntarily from the selfsame class — a class segregated from the people themselves — that has, for some 40 years, made this usurpation its business?
There was once a movement, born of desperation and a sense of embattlement at being on the losing side of historical forces. This movement saw itself as the inheritor and the guarantor of true American tradition and identity, and it sought to restore those things to their rightful primacy in national life. But because the movement did feel embattled, and because it did view itself as the victim of powerful forces, it chose to not merely fight its foes, but emulate them. It saw the prime virtue of its enemies as their ability to win, and if they could just crack the code — if it could grasp the very methodology of victory — then they would turn the tables, and victory would be theirs.
The history of the John Birch Society is a colorful one, and it is easily-forgotten today what a powerful force it once seemed. In the era of its genesis, conservatism was on the ropes — an incoherent public ideology, discredited, if conceived at all, by its popular (and incorrect) association with the Great Depression, and its somewhat more deserved opprobrium for prewar isolationism. The march of history seemed to be on the side of the statists, and the great questions of the day revolved about how, rather than whether, the state would manage the lives of the people. Against this, the conservative was ill-equipped; and so he often enough took his refuge in anger, in symbolism, and in isolation from the public square.
The American left today is not quite in the position of the American right circa 1960. But it is suffering nonetheless, having been in slow decline for the past quarter-century. Even when it wins the Presidency, it loses the Congress: and even when the President is the inept, uncommunicative George W. Bush, it still cannot make a dent in the ascendancy of its enemies. The end result of this is a group of Americans, identifying as members of the left, that is strikingly similar to the conservative movement of a generation past: inchoate, angry, and prone to “irritable mental gestures which seek to resemble ideas.”
Consider the average member of this group. He (or she) remembers the era of leftist dominance of American politics — and he remembers the beginning of its end, on election day 1980. He is around 50 years old. He is professional living in a coastal enclave, mostly on the Pacific coast or the northeast. His political consciousness was formed by the McGovern and Carter campaigns — and of course the American retreat from Vietnam. He may have grown up in Iowa, or Texas, or Missouri, or Utah — but he went to college elsewhere, and fell in love with the people in California, or New York, or Boston, who were so much more progressive and intellectual than the hayseeds back home. His initial concept of conservatives, which he’s never really abandoned, was formed by Nixonian malfeasance: they’re all crooks and corrupt, in his mind. The ascent of Reagan in 1980, and later the 1994 revolution, came as a profound shock — how could America forget so soon? He is well-off: and the bulk of his working career — and hence the font of his personal prosperity — was spent in the boom markets of the 1980s and 1990s, under Republican national governance in one form or another. He doesn’t think about the implications of that much.
But for all his generally good circumstances, he’s been on the political and cultural losing side all his adult life. He’s tired of it. And he’s found a website which, at last, makes him feel empowered. He is, in short, the typical member of the so-called netroots: the left-wing movement, organized around blogs, that seeks to “take back” this country from its usurpers. The netroots is a movement born of desperation and a sense of embattlement at being on the losing side of historical forces. It sees itself as the inheritor and the guarantor of true American tradition and identity, and it seeks to restore those things to their rightful primacy in national life. Critically, it choose to not merely fight its foes, but emulate them. It sees the prime virtue of its enemies as their ability to win, and if they can just crack the code — if it can grasp the very methodology of victory — then they will turn the tables, and victory will be theirs.
Sound familiar? It is — to us. To the left, it’s all very exciting, and all very new. And so we see the self-proclaimed netroots go through a trajectory very much like what the Birchers went through, albeit in highly compressed time. The elements are all there: the resentment, the conspiracy-mindedness, and especially the leaders with stupefyingly poor judgment married to Napoleon complexes. I’ve noted before that they are “frank proponents of outright mimicry of the mechanisms of GOP ascendacy.” Add to this the horrifying, alienating statements ranging from the mockery of dead Americans at war to the derision of political opponents’ personal sorrows. Add to this the demonization of the very people who should, in a sane world, be their friends — The New Republic chief among them — and the formula is complete. Messianism and paranoia marry to make this.
There’s already some evidence of pushback. The journalistic establishment won’t take the abuse forever. The purported agents of the Communist — sorry, the vast right-wing conspiracy won’t endure the smears indefinitely. And the left’s political establishment won’t kowtow endlessly — and certainly not so long as the netroots keep losing. For the sake of American civic life, one hopes this is true.
But for the sake of the enemy — we conservatives of all stripes — we need merely note that whereas they have a pint-sized Welch, they have no Buckley.
The issue of taxes is one. From the NY Post:
No sooner had Warren Buffett made the single largest philanthropic donation in history than he was talking up the death tax.
After signing over $30.7 billion to the Gates Foundation - and thus depriving the government of upward of $17 billion, depending on when he ultimately expires - Buffett told reporters, "I would hate to see the estate tax gutted. It's a very equitable tax."
It's understandable that Buffett believes the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will do a better job spending his fortune than the U.S. Congress. For the impoverished, disease-stricken of Africa, the Gates Foundation is a far more reasonable source of hope than, say, the United Nations.
Less understandable is Buffett's opinion of the death tax, which he describes as an equalizer for newborns.
"It's keeping with the idea of equality of opportunity in this country - not giving incredible head starts to certain people who were very selective about the womb from which they emerged," he said Monday.
In fact, some Americans work their whole lives just for the satisfaction of knowing they're leaving their children with greater comfort than they themselves had.
Their children, that is, are their favor- ite charity - and there's nothing wrong with that.
Actually, it seems that even Buffett feels this way. Before signing over $30 billion in Berkshire Hathaway stock to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, he made $1 billion pledges to foundations run by his children, Susie, Howard and Peter.
"Tax documents show that in 2004, Peter Buffett and his wife Jennifer each took a $40,000-a-year salary for what they reported was 30 hours a week each of work on the foundation," The New York Sun reported Monday.
And Buffett directed his benefactors to ensure that the gifts "must continue to satisfy legal requirements qualifying my gifts as charitable and not subject to gift or other taxes."
In this way, the Buffett children are getting tax-free cash infusions to their respective foundations. (Presumably, the gifts were made irrespective of the "womb from which they emerged.")
No one questions that, once he's gone, Buffett will be remembered as an exemplary humanitarian.
But for those not rich enough to start foundations, what legacy can they leave?
Buffett thinks Uncle Sam is entitled to posthumously snatch 55 percent of their wealth.
What's "equal" about that?
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Which gets us to the actions of the MSM and especially the NY Times:
There would be no problem with the NYT's leaks, or acceding to demands that every enemy combatant be provided with the full panoply of procedural protections, requiring that captured terrorists only be asked their name, rank and serial number -- if they have any of those -- and insisting that gentlemen don't read other people's mail for so long as one was willing to pay the price. The problem is that many of the very same persons who want to restrict society's ability to make war also want casualty free wars, no collateral damage to enemy targets and a guarantee of safety not only to the population of the US and Allied Countries, but even to civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is not principled behavior. It is infantile behavior.
Really principled behavior requires a willingness to sacrifice and suffer in exchange for restricting certain methods of warfare in order to preserve certain principles. Do we think wiretapping the enemy without warrants is dangerous? Then let's restrict it, fully understanding that it will make the war longer, allow threats to form undetected, even cost "innocent lives". Either that or embark upon some tradeoff with which society feels comfortable. But never, never is it possible to demand the free lunch. To say: bring the boys home but don't abandon Iraq; we support the troops, but don't allow them to shoot unless actually shot at; prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction but leave it to the United Nations. Each of these demands spoken simultaneously contains the seed of a contradiction. The intelligent thing is to recognize this and make intelligent choices about what we are prepared to give up and at what price. The alternative is to do what has been done up until now. Make impossible demands and insist that they all be fulfilled.
The sermon of last Sunday described the travails of one parish priest in the diocese, originally from Vietnam (though the homily was delivered by someone else), who managed to organize an escape for his entire family in 1981, minus his parents, who were too old to make the attempt. They were betrayed at the last minute, and as they were wading out the boat, the government troops arrived and opened fire on them. The future priest was struck glancingly in the head and temporarily lost his sight and struck out swimming for the boat which by fortune or providence he found. Once out of the sight of land, another menace appeared: pirates, men who habitually preyed on desperate families escaping the worker's paradise. And the story went that the entire boatload went down on their knees and prayed; and again, whether by fortune or providence a squall swept in and hid them from the brigands. And as I was listening to the account it struck me, that just as the Vietnamese priest's freedom was not free; neither were the "principles" of the antiwar movement who condemned him to that fate which he had such difficulty escaping. One can always march for Ho Chi Minh again; and march in the name in principle. But it should never be possible to march in ignorance. "Principle" has a price though you may never know who pays.
Suing the NY Times for Pain and Suffering
The answer is that you can sue pretty much anyone for anything. There are cases which are dismissed out of hand, but rarely are, even if you become a litigious pest – as some people do.
You then have the opportunity for to force them, or their attorneys to appear in court and file motions for dismissal. At which point you can present your case as to why the NY Times has placed you in peril and can ask for class actions status because they have placed an additional 300 million other people in peril based on the same set of circumstances.
Now some people who are not on the cutting edge of civil law can argue that this is ridiculous. But let me give you a counterexample that illustrates how a groundbreaking attorney can - as they say - break new ground. A case was made that stockbrokers, who are typically paid on commission and do not receive a dollar of salary, who work long hours, set their own schedules and who make incomes that place them in the top 5% of all income earners in the US – are non-exempt employees entitled to overtime pay. The very thought of this is insane to people inside the industry. But a lawyer found the rules defining exempt and non-exempt employees and got a court to agree to hear the case. As a result, several major Wall Street Firms settled for literally hundreds of millions of dollars. It’s as if the president of IBM was suddenly allowed to get overtime if he worked past 5 o’clock.
The fact is, that people can feel mental anguish as well of physical peril as the result of the NY Times actions. A case can be made that this corporation has every right to expose us to anguish and danger under the First Amendment (as a part of the free press), but they cannot do this without paying us for that fear and danger.
Monday, June 26, 2006
From the Desk of Bill Keller
Executive Editor, The New York Times
With my hectic schedule of Pulitzer committees and Columbia Journalism School symposia, I don't always have time to answer my mail as fully as etiquette demands. Lord knows I'll be in the Audi headed to a Friday night ACLU cocktail benefit in the Hamptons when my Blackberry starts beeping and I have to pull over on the Long Island Expressway, and it turns out to be a text message from some idiot in Wistucky bitching about the last Krugman column. But our story about the government's surveillance of international banking records has generated a few questions and concerns that I take very seriously. As the editor responsible for the difficult decision to publish that story, I'd like to offer a personal response. I'll type v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y so you morons with questions and concerns finally understand.
Some of the incoming mail quotes the spittle-flecked words of conservative bloggers and TV or radio pundits who say that drawing attention to the government's anti-terror measures is unpatriotic and dangerous. (I could ask, how does somebody that retarded get my email? Cripes, I'm going to have a long chat with Network Services this week.) Some comes from not-quite-as-stupid readers who have considered the story in question and still wonder whether publishing such material is wise. Hey, go figure. Thankfully some comes from a better class of readers who are grateful for the information, and attach e-Vites to fabulous midweek gallery openings on the Upper West Side.
It's an unusual and powerful thing, this freedom that our founders gave to the press. Who are the editors of The New York Times (or the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Jihadi Accountant and other publications that also ran the banking story) to disregard the wishes of the President and his appointees? I'll tell you who we are, pal. We are journalists - the people whom the inventors of this country specifically appointed to be the protectors of this little experiment we call the "human race" against the privations of out-of-control Texas Oil Nazis. And if you check your Constitution, I don't think you'll see anything in there about the right to clog up the press's inbox with your stupid Rush Limbaugh talking points.
Read the rest...
So I receive a phone call from a reporter at ABC News. They are working on a story about Haditha, and the reporter’s comments to me go something along the lines of; “I am particularly interested in your recent pieces on Haditha in which you say that in order to understand what happened, we must first understand the men involved, the dynamics of the system in which they operate, and the realities of ground combat.”
The reporter’s referencing of my own comments are somewhat paraphrased, but his following questions are clearly etched in my mind verbatim:
“Don’t you think the killings at Haditha [November 19, 2005] are the result of a wrong war and a failed policy?” he asks. “Much like the tragedy of My Lai [the killings of unarmed civilians by U.S. soldiers in the village of My Lai, Vietnam in 1968] was the result of a wrong war and a failed policy?”
I was taken aback for about as long as it takes to silently mouth the words, “This is going to be too easy.” After all, it’s one thing to read and listen to politicized versions of news stories spun by the various national news organizations. But to actually experience the machine as it begins to process what they plan to feed the masses is quite another. It wasn’t a first for me, nor will it be the last I’m sure. But I was temporarily surprised by the reporter’s lack of perspective, his obvious agenda, and his attempt to put words in my mouth. And by the way, this was no recent J-school grad. This guy was seasoned.
My response was quick.
“Of course not,” I said. “What happened at Haditha has absolutely nothing to do with what is or is not a good or bad war, or a failed or successful policy. In fact, no war is good. We’ve certainly had tremendous strategic success in Iraq. And Haditha has nothing whatsoever to do with politics.”
Read the rest...
Why do they hate us? No, I'm not talking about Islamofascist terrorists. We know why they hate us: because we have freedom of speech and freedom of religion, because we refuse to treat women as second-class citizens, because we do not kill homosexuals, because we are a free society.
No, the "they" I'm referring to are the editors of The New York Times. And do they hate us? Well, that may be stretching it. But at the least they have gotten into the habit of acting in reckless disregard of our safety.
By Michael Barone; read the whole thing.
We are now engaged in a third war and this time a significant part of society wants us to lose. Oh, they'll deny it. The want us to "withdraw" or "redeploy" 4000 miles away. And the reason is that they don't believe that America and Democracy is better than Iraq under Saddam or dictatorship. They believe that putting women's panties on prisoner's heads is the moral equivalent of torturing someone followed by cutting his throat.
Diana West has a good article on the subject at Townhall.com (excerpt):
The question is, did, for example, bombing Dresden to defeat Hitler or, in the Pacific War, dropping two nuclear bombs to force Japan to stop fighting, make the Allies into barbarians?
I think most people would still say, "of course not," and argue that such destructive measures were necessary to save civilization itself -- and certainly thousands of mainly American and Allied soldier's lives. But if this argument continues to carry the day, it's because we still view that historic period from its own perspective: namely, as one in which Allied lives -- our fathers, husbands, brothers and sons -- counted for more than Axis lives, even those of women and children.
How quaint. That is, this is not at all how we think any more. If we still valued our own men more than the enemy's and the "civilians" he hides among -- and now I'm talking about the war in Iraq -- our tactics would be totally different, and, not incidentally, infinitely more successful. We would drop bombs on city blocks, for example, not waste men in dangerous house-to-house searches. We would destroy enemy sanctuaries in Syria and Iran, not disarm "insurgents" at perilous checkpoints in hostile Iraqi strongholds.
In the 21st century, however, there is something that our society values more than our own lives -- and more than the survival of civilization itself. That something may be described as the kind of moral superiority that comes from a good wallow in Abu Ghraib, Haditha, CIA interrogations or Guantanamo Bay. Morally superior people -- Western elites -- never "humiliate" prisoners, never kill civilians, never torture or incarcerate jihadis. Indeed, they would like to kill, I mean, prosecute, or at least tie the hands of anyone who does.
This, of course, only enhances their own moral superiority. But it doesn't win wars. And it won't save civilization.
Why not? Because such smugness masks a massive moral paralysis. The morally superior (read: paralyzed) don't really take sides; don't really believe one culture is qualitatively better or worse than the other. They don't even believe one culture is just plain different from the other. Only in this atmosphere of politically correct and perpetually adolescent non-judgmentalism could anyone believe, for example, that compelling, forcing or torturing a jihad terrorist to get information to save a city in any way undermines our "values." It undermines nothing -- except the jihad.
Do such tactics diminish our inviolate sanctimony? You bet. But, so what? The alternative is to follow our precious rules and hope the barbarians will leave us alone -- or, perhaps, not deal with us too harshly. Fond hope. Consider the 21st century return of (I still can't quite believe it) beheadings. The first French Republic aside, who on God's modern green Earth ever imagined a head being hacked off the human body before we were confronted with Islamic jihad? Civilization itself is forever dimmed -- again.
Sunday, June 25, 2006
Thank you for continually contributing to the deaths
of my fellow soldiers. You guys definitely provide a
valuable service with your paper. Why without you how
would terrorists stay one step ahead of us? I would
love to hear a response as to why you deemed revealing
this program a necessity, but that will probably come
as soon as the government decides to finally put you
guys behind bars where you belong.
Once a week Paul and his sister come to my house to clean it. They're recent arrivals to America from Russia and work at cleaning houses in order to support themselves and take courses at night at Irvine's community college. They're part of a larger group of Russians that live, not in the astronomically expensive beach towns along Southern California's solid gold coast, but inland where life is considerably cheaper.
Paul and his sister, both in their late 20s, come from a country where they learned in childhood that politics can be, well, a touchy subject. They clean houses for their living and hence might be thought of by some as, well, less than "acceptably intelligent." They never struck me that way, but I know from conversations here and there about my smug and self-satisfied town, how much the population values "intelligence" as measured in testable IQ , and which, as an article of faith, they claim not to believe in. "Intelligence" to these souls is measured it seems not in IQ points per se but in party allegiance. Much simpler than a test you see. Very simple: Democrat = "Intelligent," Republican = "Dumb." This is not a scientific question, you understand. It is a religious belief. Alas, this part of their all-too-secular faith has this week has cost them all significant control of the United States for at least a decade and possibly a generation or more. Yet, they are all so smart they cannot see this -- even now.
Paul, my non-fluent, English challenged, house cleaner is smart enough to see this shadow religion of his employers and, what's more, smart enough to be very careful about discussing politics. After all, one false move in Laguna Beach and he might be out of a job. Not that he couldn't replace it, but who needs the aggravation?
So I was surprised last Tuesday when I was standing in the laundry room of my home and Paul entered to say, "The election, today, right?"
"That's right. The election is today," I said and waited.
"Always. It is the duty," I said dropping quickly into the pompous, "of an American to vote. Your one duty above all others."
"I will be American by the next election and I will vote always."
"Great." And then it got sort of quiet.
After a long moment of just looking carefully at my face, Paul said, "So.... who?"
He smiled and relaxed. "Good. Very good. I would too and will when I can vote. I will vote always."
"He won't get to run again."
"Oh, yes. I remember. But I will still vote."
"Really. For who, the Democrat or the Republican?"
He looked at me and thought about it.
"Not for either. I will vote always for best, always. In Russia when I was small there it was always the party this and this..."
"This and that..."
"Yes. But I don't like the Party. I think. I think I must vote for best."
"Did I vote for the best, Paul?"
"Why do you think so?"
"Because he makes freedom. He does not say freedom only, but makes freedom. In my country, a lot of people say things of freedom and make nothing."
"So you think the war for Iraq is good?"
"Yes, very good for them I think. Here I think, people do not like the war that makes freedom."
"I think you're right."
"But they do not know. They have too much too long. Me, I remember first no freedom and then freedom quick. When freedom came I knew what I wanted in it."
"What was that?"
"To come here. To be here. Quick to America."
"Why so quick?"
He shook his head and looked at me as if I was the one who didn't understand English.
"Because in Russia, freedom can go away. Here never. If I vote for best."
Those "Weather Balloon" Labs ... Again
No, we’re not going to let that one go. How stupid are the MSM pundits? Apparently the story was to good not to print.
From Captain's Quarters:
On the question of the mobile labs in particular, that question hardly seem closed. As shown here five weeks ago, the Iraqis themselves apparently thought that these mobile labs served a military purpose, belying the common wisdom that they amounted to nothing more than hydrogen generators for weather balloons. The Iraqi document translated by Joseph Shahda and confirmed by two independent translators was addressed to the Military Industrialization Commission, the Iraqi bureau tasked with managing their WMD programs, and discussed an order for two of the labs in late 2002, when Iraq was busily preparing for the impending American invasion.
The key portion of the memo deals with the payment for the two labs:
1. Develop and enlarge existing laboratories, 178,000,000 Dinars
2. Prepare MOBILE LABORATORIES , In Iraqi Dinar 128,413,00 + 273,445 Euros with 10 Dinar/Euro, 27,344,500, 155,757,500 Dinars.
Total 333,757,500 Dinars
Twenty-seven million Euros at that time equalled roughly $33 million per laboratory. Given that the MIC had to be rather occupied with fighting the Americans and that the MIC would have little to do with Iraqi weather observation, having them spend $33 million on two devices for hydrogen production seems highly suspicious. No one has ever explained a need for mobile hydrogen production in Iraq, either. Iraqi oil production would naturally produce plenty of hydrogen, certainly more than enough for any weather balloons -- and it would be much less expensive to transport hydrogen in tanks than to produce it in mobile laboratories. Hydrogen production does not require precision rotation or vibration, nor does it need an X-ray tester, all of which are listed in the memo as components of the labs.
In order to believe that these facilities were meant for peaceful purposes, we have to believe that the bureau that ran the Iraqi WMD program suddenly concerned itself with weather observation to such an extent that it spent $66 million for two trailers, for the sole purpose of producing hydrogen locally when it could easily and cheaply been transported in tanks from its oil refineries, all while the Iraqi command watched the Americans debate an invasion of Iraq all summer long. The alternative to this scenario is that the US hid that memo in a stash of captured documents, sat on them for over three years, had to release them untranslated only after Congress forced them to do so, and then hoped that some civilian might get around to reading it in a document dump of thousands of such documents, in the off chance that they could then finally use that false information to bolster their WMD argument.
Can anyone buy that with a straight face? Apparently Drumheller can, and the rest of the WMD deniers.
What a Conspiracy Looks Like
Believe it or not, this is a factual rendering of a conspiracy theory that's believed by many people. These people could be your neighbors.
These people could be living in Florida planning to blow up the Sears tower.
These people could be editors of the NY Times, the LA Times or the Wall Street Journal.
These people could be living next to you.
America has a mental health problem.
2006-06-23) — Under a secret program launched in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks, which killed 3,000 people on American soil, The New York Times gained access to private information from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and disseminated it periodically on paper and electronically to al Qaeda and other terror organizations.
News of the covert ‘intel-sifting and sharing’ program follows revelations by the Times and other major media operations that the Bush administration ordered monitoring of major international bank transactions after the 9/11 attacks, which toppled two of the tallest buildings in the United States.
Last year, the Times revealed that the Bush administration was eavesdropping on phone calls to and from suspected terrorists in an effort to prevent another attack like 9/11, in which a civilian jetliner was used in a missile strike on U.S. military headquarters at the Pentagon.
Times executive editor Bill Keller, in a hastily-called news conference, assured Americans that the scope of the intel-sifting and sharing program is “strictly limited” and that the results are “crucial to the success of the war on the war on terror.”
But the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) raised questions today saying “the civil rights of Americans must come before the strategic interests of ‘Big Media’.”
“Our basic rights are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” said an ACLU spokesman. “The New York Times’ disclosure to our enemies of U.S. anti-terror tactics threatens every American’s enjoyment of those three rights.”
The ACLU and Democrats in the Senate called for an immediate investigation to determine the scope of the Times’ intel-monitoring capabilities.
“We want to know the extent of the safeguards they have in place,” said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY, “We need to ensure that the program doesn’t facilitate another civil rights violation like 9/11, which caused many New Yorkers to leap from the windows of two major office buildings in order to avoid being burned to death in a fire kindled by jet fuel.”
File under "humor," mordant.
NY Times Provides Intelligence to the Islamofascists
And from Scrappleface:
NY Times Program Expands Executive Editor Authority
By Scott Ott, Editor-in-Chief, ScrappleFace.com
News Fairly Unbalanced. We Report. You Decipher.
(2006-06-24) — A secret New York Times program for fighting ‘the war on the war on terror’ represents a “radical expansion of executive editor authority” according to a legal analyst who studied the parameters of the “intel sifting and sharing program” that the Times uses to disseminate U.S. national security information to international terror groups.
Unhindered by the courts or the Congress, Times Executive Editor Bill Keller continues his campaign for greater personal power to unilaterally prosecute the anti-anti-terror battle, according to the unnamed analyst.
“It’s unprecedented that a single man should have so much control over the lives of millions of Americans with no Constitutional checks and balances,” the source added. “Bill Keller does as he pleases, providing crucial intel to al Qaeda, which for all intents and purposes, is his own private militia.”
A spokesman for Mr. Keller insisted that he needs broad executive editor powers in order to “protect our loved ones from those who would threaten them by sifting their banks records, listening to their overseas phone calls, or interfering with their religious obligations.”
Anyway, Sen. Kerry doesn't want to waste time "redeploying" to Okinawa. When America "redeploys," it's not going to take a connecting flight via Japan and risk its luggage getting "redeployed" to Bratislava. No, sir, in John Kerry's America, we "redeploy" nonstop, straight back to Main Street in time for the Redeployment Day parade.
You gotta hand it to these guys: "Redeployment" is ingenious. I'll bet the focus-group consultants were delirious: "surrender," "lose,","scram," "scuttle ignominiously," "head for the hills" all polled poorly, but "redeploy" surveyed well with all parts of the base, except the base in Okinawa, where they preferred "sayonara" -- that's "redeploy" in any language. The Defeaticrats have a clear message for the American people. Read da ploy: No new quagmires.
This is the most artful example of Leftspeak since they came up with "undocumented immigrant." In fact, if it catches on, I'll bet millions of fine upstanding members of the Undocumented-American community now start referring to themselves as Redeployed Mexicans.
The only teensy-weensy problem is this: If America ever adopts the Kerry plan, the Murtha plan or some variation thereof, does anyone think al-Jazeera, the BBC, Le Monde, Der Spiegel et al will be using the word "redeploy" in their headlines? Or will they use a word closer to what's actually going on?
In a sense, the Democrats have already psychologically redeployed. Last week they unveiled their "New Direction for America." It's a six-point plan, two of whose points are "Cut College Costs" and "Ensure Dignified Retirement." On the first point, it's true the education system remains a problem: Many hardworking Americans are trapped in low-paying dead-end jobs as U.S. congressmen because an inadequate education left them with the impression Okinawa's in the United Arab Emirates. On the second point, I'm all in favor of a "dignified retirement": Why not try it on Kerry as a pilot program? As for the other four points, none has anything to say about national security or foreign policy.
The Defeaticrats' "New Direction for America" foresees a future for this country as a kind of Lesser France. That would be problematic enough: The dependency culture favored by the Dems has mired much of Europe in permanent double-digit unemployment, a moribund economy and unsustainable social programs. Presumably, Nancy Pelosi and Co. would respond by saying that their pledge to "give America a raise" -- i.e., increase the minimum wage -- shows that their party is in tune with real people's real needs rather than a lot of foreign adventuring that's got nothing to do with how real people really lead their really real lives. Sorry, it doesn't work like that. Not even the Democrats can redeploy from the whole planet.
If you were a 5-year-old boy standing in the London streets in 1897 for Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee parade and marveling as the hussars and lancers of the mightiest empire the world had ever known passed before your eyes, it would have seemed inconceivable that you'd be celebrating your 80th birthday in a decrepit ramshackle broken-down strike-bound basket case of a state. Permanence is the illusion of every age. And, if you're interested in a "dignified retirement," you might want to give some thought to the shape of the world the day after tomorrow.
Today, lots of experts crank out analyses positing China as the unstoppable hegemon of the 21st century. But the real threat is not the strengths of your enemies but their weaknesses. China is a weak power: Its population will get old before it gets rich. Russia is a weak power: If Africa has health crises, the Middle East has Islamists and North Korea has nukes, then Russia's got the lot: a dying population whose men have a lower life expectancy than Bangladeshis with a Muslim separatist movement sitting on top of the biggest pile of nukes on the planet. Europe is a weak power, remorselessly evolving month by month into Eurabia.
Islam is a weak power: In the words of Dr. Mahathir Mohammed, the former prime minister of Malaysia, one of the least worst Muslim nations in the world, "We produce practically nothing on our own, we can do almost nothing for ourselves, we cannot even manage our wealth." But in Iran they're working full-speed on nukes that will be able to hit every European city.
North Korea is a weak power: Its population is starving but it's about to "test" the latest variation on its aptly named No Dong missile. I mean "test" in the sense that I test my new shotgun by firing it through your kitchen window. They're going to launch it and see where it comes down -- maybe Tokyo, maybe San Diego; maybe they'll aim for Los Angeles but it'll fall in Vancouver. Hey, that's why we call it a "test," right?
The danger we face is not a Chinese superpower or an Islamist superpower: If it's a new boss, you learn the new rules and adjust as best you can. But the greater likelihood is of a world with no superpower at all in which unipolar geopolitics gives way to nonpolar geopolitics, a world without order in which pipsqueak thug states that can't feed their own people globalize their pathologies. There would be more stories like that one the other day about the three decapitated policemen whose heads were found in the Tijuana River. But Pelosi would carry on talking about college tuition as the world sinks into economic decline, arbitrary bombings and kidnappings, and the occasional nuking.
Kerry gets all huffy if he thinks you're questioning his patriotism, so let's be charitable and assume the Defeaticrats are simply missing the point: For the rest of the world, what's at issue in the Iraq war is not the future of Iraq but the future of America. Can the world's leading nation still lead or is Kerry's Vietnam Syndrome "seared" (as he'd say) into its bones? Luxembourg can be Luxembourg. America doesn't have that option. In a nonpolar world, there's nowhere to redeploy to.
I wish I could take credit for this idea, but one of my blog readers noted and documented similarities between the Scottsboro and Duke rape cases. There are huge and obvious differences between the cases, to be sure, but the similarities are instructive.
Both Scottsboro accusers were considered low-class or “white trash.” In the Duke case the accuser was a stripper, not exactly a high-class profession. In Scottsboro, Price came up with the plan to frame the teens because she feared she’d be charged with violating the Mann Act. The Duke stripper may have accused the men of rape to avoid arrest for a probation violation stemming from a 2002 drunken car chase with the police.
In Scottsboro, both accusers showed signs of recent sexual intercourse but no forcible rape. Price had sex with her married boyfriend, and Bates with her boyfriend two days before the incident. Medical examinations revealed small amounts of non-motile sperm in each woman and no physical trauma, inconsistent with a recent brutal gang-rape.
In the Duke case, semen found in the accuser belonged to her “boyfriend” and not to any of the three indicted lacrosse players. According to a recent defense motion in the Duke case, the accuser’s medical exam showed no signs of rape. The accuser told the examining nurse that she hadn’t been choked and that no condoms, fingers, or foreign objects were used during the alleged rape. The nurse noted that her body appeared normal.
At least one Scottsboro defendant had an alibi but was put on trial anyway. In the Duke case, at least one of the indicted men has an alibi but still may face a trial.
In Scottsboro, Bates changed her story and admitted she’d made it up. In Durham, Kim “Second Stripper” Roberts initially said no rape occurred and called the allegations a “crock” but changed her mind after she decided to financially benefit from the scandal.
In 1931 Scottsboro, politically powerful whites resented blacks. In 2006 Durham, politically powerful blacks resent white Duke elites. The district attorneys in both cases used racial and class resentment to political advantage.
The Scottsboro case was an egregious miscarriage of justice and so is the Duke case. Nine black teens were arrested and charged with rape because they were black; three white men were arrested and charged with rape because they are white. Race relations may have improved in the last 75 years, but when we allow race-fueled hysteria to deny men justice progress is impeded.
And time begins to reverse.
Saturday, June 24, 2006
The terrorists also understand that their overtly fascistic ideology — intolerance for other religions, execution of the apostate, subjugation of women, killing of gays, and theocracy — will never earn the proper Western revulsion once reserved for a similar reactionary Nazism, since it butts up against the pillar of multicultural tolerance; no non-Western people can be any worse than the present-day West.
How do you arrange a marriage, insist on a beheading for adultery, conduct a proper honor killing of your daughter, or calmly call Jews “pigs and apes” when the wider Westernizing world broadcast into your living room, car, and workplace thinks you are some groveling zombie? Can an Airbus or Compaq be constructed according to the principles of Sharia? How can you demand amoxicillin as your birthright, but hate the system of free thinking and rationalism that created it?
A Cindy Sheehan or Noam Chomsky still resonates with a minority of the public because he can; thanks to Western capitalism and freedom, both jet at will around the globe, live comfortably, and count on the tolerance of the Western bourgeoisie society that they so roundly condemn. But should the Islamist endanger that comfortable embryo — as they almost did on 9/11 — then folks like these would be as quickly forgotten as were Neville Chamberlain and Charles Lindbergh by 1941.
As for Iraq , while the post-Saddam reconstruction may not have started out as the new ground zero in the war against Islamist terrorism, it has surely devolved into that, as the Islamists themselves concede. In the short term, because they understand that the juggernaut of Western capitalism, freedom, and choice will spell their death knell, the jihadists have imported and adopted as their own every conventional Western munition, repackaged every Western self-critique, manipulated every Western media outlet, and tried to boomerang every Western liberal virtue and humanitarian protocol back at its creators. And, if the polls on Iraq are any indication, such a strategy has worked, for a time, brilliantly.
But these are ultimately not acts of confidence, but of desperation. As an al Zarqawi knew, the world is evolving; if for the present we can keep our heads, then for eternity the Islamists will eventually lose theirs.
Thursday, June 22, 2006
Thanks for Nothing
Amnesty International USA issued the following statement in response to the alleged killing and torture of two U.S. soldiers in Ramadi, Iraq.
"Amnesty International, first and foremost, extends its sincerest condolences to the families of Pfc. Kristian Menchaca and Pfc. Thomas L. Tucker for their tragic loss. We are deeply disturbed by reports that these two soldiers were brutally tortured. These reports, if proven true, may rise to the level of war crimes.
Amnesty International condemns the torture or summary killing of anyone who has been taken prisoner and reiterates that such acts are absolutely prohibited in international humanitarian law. This prohibition applies at all times, even during armed conflict. There is no honor or heroism in torturing or killing individuals. Those who order or commit such atrocities must be prosecuted to the full extent of the law without recourse to the death penalty.
The reports, as best I understand them, are that the soldiers were severely tortured before death, their throats slit, after which they were beheaded, then mutilated to the point where only DNA testing could positively identify the bodies. The bodies themselves were then surrounded with antipersonnel devices in a locality frequented by civilians to kill and mutilate anyone who might render assistance or simply catch the unwary.
Let's assign these reports the notation of A. Let's assign the existence of a war crime the notation of B. What I think Amnesty International is saying is that if A then maybe B. However, the truth value of the proposition of the last sentence is not contingent. Rather it is absolute. "Those who order or commit such atrocities must be prosecuted to the full extent of the law without recourse to the death penalty." C. Do C whatever anyone else thinks; whatever else the laws of a sovereign Iraq may specify. C.
My own testament, for the record, are that if I should ever be tortured, have my throat slit, beheaded, mutilated and then have booby traps planted round my corpse so that they might kill any relatives and friends -- should any of this ever happen to me -- that Amnesty International kindly refrain from extending it's "sincerest condolences" and weasely condemnations and offering its insulting and gratuitous advice. I don't want them. I would much rather lie forgotten in some open field than have one of Amnesty International's sick letters on my casket. Not that they would write it.
Mr. Murtha has been recommending redeployment to Okinawa ever since his rebirth as a dove last year, so what he said on "Meet the Press" was no slip of the tongue.
Let us be clear about the Murtha "strategy." It is insane. It would be easier to defend Germany from Chicago; Alaska from Miami, or Hawaii from Pittsburgh than to defend Iraq from Okinawa.
It would take 10-12 hours -- and six refuelings -- for F-16s to fly from Kadena AFB on Okinawa to Baghdad (assuming China and India would grant overflight rights, a dubious assumption). Mr. Murtha may regard this as "very quickly," but the Air Force does not.
As Bugs Bunny would say: "What a maroon!"
Because he is a retired Marine Reserve colonel who served in Vietnam, Rep. Murtha is regarded as one of the Democrats' leading strategic thinkers. This, sadly, may be the case.
Mr. Murtha sounds less like a Marine colonel these days, and more like a male Cindy Sheehan. Has he become senile? Or was he always this stupid?
In either case, voters in his district should take a close look at Diane Irey, the Republican who hopes to put an end to the embarrassment to Pennsylvania Jack Murtha has become.
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Well, this headline is a play on the Democrats new slogan: "A New Direction for America."
As Lileks says:
The minimum wage was indeed a New Direction -- last century, anyway. But when the unofficial GOP slogan is "Fight and win the War on Terror by blowing up more bad guys real good," a call for a wage boost is like running against FDR with a pledge to reduce postal rates.
The Dems' manifesto goes on. My, it does go on.
"Lower Gas Prices and Achieve Energy Independence." By cutting the gas tax? More nukes? ANWR? Faster, pussycat! Drill! Drill! Right? Alas: They will "crack down on price gouging," presumably by hiring 100,000 people to roam the land looking at gas station signs and comparing notes. They will use federal funds to "develop American alternatives." Because there's a magic fuel just waiting to be invented, if only we spend enough money. Forget hydrogen cells; we're going to spend $230 billion on hydrogen stem cells. Everyone will be driving a Ford Embryo by 2016.
"Cut College Costs." Why? Because it's the job of the federal government to regulate the cost of a four-year degree in English lit, with a minor in textile history.
"Ensure Dignified Retirement." Again, sounds great. Mandatory fedoras for men; a 50 percent reduction in Viagra commercials. But no: The Democrats wish to "prevent the privatization of Social Security," because you cannot be trusted with your own money. It's an interesting definition of dignity: waiting by the mailbox for your government check.
Anything on the war? No. The Dems slam President Bush for not adjusting Pell Grants for inflation, but the manifesto says nothing about Terror, the War On. We're supposed to intuit that they'd redeploy to Camp Murtha, from which we can strike Iraq with only a fortnight's delay. Let no one mistake their position: They have risen to the challenge of these perilous times, and come out against excess CEO compensation. No doubt this means they'll be hard on Iran.
Those mullahs are pulling down millions.
The West’s plight vis-à-vis radical Islam is therefore akin to Hercules’ epic encounter with the multi-headed Hydra-monster. Every time the mythical strongman lopped off one of the monster’s heads, two new ones grew in its place. To slay the beast once and for all, Hercules learned to cauterize the stumps with fire, thereby preventing any more heads from sprouting out.
Similarly while the West continues to lop off monster heads like figurehead Zarqawi, it is imperative to treat the malady — radical Islam — in order to ultimately prevail. Victory can only come when the violent ideologies of radical Islam are cauterized with fire.
But alas, the Hydra-monster is myth, while radical Islam is stark reality.
Winning hearts and minds may be very well, but hearts and minds who embrace death for you if you don't believe as they do, may be impossible to change by being kind and doing good. The horror of total war may be looming in our future.
The law [the Geneva Convention], however, is not an end in itself. It is a means to other ends. In the case of the Geneva Conventions, that end is the civilized conduct of warfare. The privilege of honorable treatment is the reward for conducting oneself with honor.
If the whole point of the rules is to promote human dignity, those who find themselves outside the protection of the rules belong in a black hole. The problem is not that the rules are wanting. It is that they don’t countenance barbarians.
It is that they understand repaying torture and slaughter with privilege guarantees only more torture and slaughter. More unspeakable inhumanity.
UPDATE: The Wall Street Journal chimes in:
June 22, 2006; Page A16
The Pentagon yesterday announced the names of seven Marines and a Navy corpsman charged with the April 26 kidnapping and murder of a 52-year-old Iraqi man in the town of Hamdania. The accusations are grave and, if proved, will almost certainly lead to severe sentences. We suspect no parallel process is taking place among Iraqi insurgents for the weekend murders near Yusufiya of U.S. soldiers Thomas L. Tucker and Kristian Menchaca.
That's a distinction worth pondering the next time you hear Iraq war critics carp at the U.S. refusal to apply Geneva Convention privileges to enemy combatants. The Convention extends those privileges to combatants who abide by the laws it sets for war, including the treatment of prisoners.
Combatants who fail to obey those laws -- by not wearing distinctive military insignia or targeting civilians -- are not entitled to its privileges. If they were, the very purpose of the Convention would be rendered a nonsense. And this is why the U.S. has refused Geneva privileges to the enemy combatants at Guantanamo, which we hope is an argument heeded by the Supreme Court as it decides the Hamdan case.
Especially so given the kinds of combatants the U.S. and the rest of the civilized world now face in Iraq. Privates Tucker and Menchaca were not simply ambushed, taken prisoner and killed. "The torture was something unnatural," said Major General Abdul Azziz Mohammed Jassim of Iraq's Defense Ministry, hinting at the state of the soldiers' remains. The corpses were so mutilated that they could only be positively identified through DNA testing.
Here, then, is the enemy we face in Iraq: Not nationalists or extremists or even fanatics, but something like a band of real-life Hannibal Lecters for whom human slaughter is both business and religious fulfillment. Following the killing, an Internet statement said to be from the Mujahadeen Shura Council praised Abu Hamza al-Muhajir -- who is Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's successor as head of Al Qaeda in Iraq -- with "the implementation of the sentence." Note the legalistic pretensions: This is the kind of "justice" Iraqis could expect should the insurgents come to power. And it is the enemy that might well come to power if the U.S. left Iraq prematurely, as many Senate Democrats urged yesterday.
Garrison Keiller … what is it about him?
Keiller’s “humor” was never self deprecatory. It was always of a sneering kind; the humor of the country boy gone to the city who uses the folks back home as props and butts for his jokes.
Ed Driscoll has some commentary on Keiller, a take-off on a piece from Slate. But this little rant will tell you who the man was behind the bland voice making fun of the Minnesota rubes:
In 2004, Keillor wrote the following passage about [Minnestoa Senator] Coleman's voters:
...hairy-backed swamp developers and corporate shills, faith-based economists, see-through fundamentalist bullies with Bibles, Christians of convenience, freelance racists, hobby cops, misanthropic frat boys, lizardskin cigar monkeys, jerktown romeos, ninja dittoheads, the shrieking midgets of AM radio, tax cheats, cheese merchants, cat stranglers, taxi dancers, grab-ass executives, gun fetishists, genteel pornographers, pill pushers, chronic nappers, nihilists in golf pants, backed-up Baptists, Crips and Bloods of the boardroom...
Read the whole thing, it's not long...