Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Bush's Plan for Victory

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I didn't hear Bush's speech, but did get a chance to read it. He touched on just about all the points of debate and seemed to answer a lot of questions. It was designed to raise morale, which was needed. I hope it works.

Particularly interesting was his synopsis of the enemy, which he divided into three groups. The first group he called Sunni "rejectionists" and the third the "foreign fighters". As has been the strategy from early on, he put a face and a name to the al-Qaida presence by demonizing al-Zarqawi.

The second group he called the "Saddamists". Here's how he described them:

The second group that makes up the enemy in Iraq is smaller, but more determined. It contains former regime loyalists who held positions of power under Saddam Hussein -- people who still harbor dreams of returning to power. These hard-core Saddamists are trying to foment anti-democratic sentiment amongst the larger Sunni community. They lack popular support and therefore cannot stop Iraq's democratic progress. And over time, they can be marginalized and defeated by the Iraqi people and the security forces of a free Iraq.

He placed no face or name to this group. No mention of al-Douri. Matter of fact, the mere mention of any Saddam component to the insurgency is relatively new-- previous characterizations have usually focused on al-Qaida. Why is this important? Keep in mind that by all accounts, Saddam allowed Zarqawi into the country before the invasion (he had already been accused of killing our envoy Laurence Foley). Likewise, by all accounts Saddam had placed his barbaric lieutenant Izzat al-Douri into the position as commander of the insurgency. Ergo, al-Douri would become Zarqawi's handler.

Following that logic, it would appear the black hat belongs on al-Douri. Bush's speech left vague the question of who's really in command, perhaps on purpose. Average Iraqis are probably better served thinking foreign fighters are causing the most trouble, as are Americans.

But if the worse case happens and the insurgency triumphs in expelling our forces, what might transpire? Would al-Douri's "Saddamists" continue to insist they had been converted and engage in a group hug with Zarqawi's mujahadeen, all praising Allah for the great victory over the infidels? Perhaps for a short while, but the better odds favor al-Douri dispatching his useful idiots posthaste, followed by a new and improved Ba'ath party.

The end game is no more clear than before. The only clear thing is the need for victory.

MORE 11/30

Although Bush's speech was meant to look forward not back, it really told us nothing new (other than the feeble attempt to recognize Saddam's operational henchmen as part of the insurgency). It's doubtful there was enough stirring content to evoke the necesary surge of patriotism needed to radically change the minds of the 60 percent of Americans who think Iraq was a big mistake. Perhaps the only way Bush might win back the mob would be to announce we've found the WMD smoking gun.

This Newsmax story details an interview between former NBC anchorman Tom Brokaw and former weapons inspector David Kay regarding stacks of regime documents recovered after we liberated Baghdad, which had Kay convinced beyond all doubt. Don't trust Newsmax? Try the original source, NBC News. Wha? The story is no longer available? Imagine.

Fortunately it's been kept alive by Freepers.

When you add this interview to the recent story by Stephen Hayes about those very same documents, which now sit in a DoD warehouse in Qatar, it becomes really interesting. One has to wonder--if a respected former UNSCOM weapons inspector was so convinced by what he saw, what happened?

Imagine the swell of support Bush could grab if conclusive WMD proof appeared. Just imagine. The Dems' Bush-lied house of cards would come tumbling down hard, dealing their party a serious future blow. They'd be seen as a sack of unpatriotic quitters not willing to protect America (say, Hillary has refused to walk out on that anti-war limb, maybe she knows something). It would also give the military an unparalleled gush of pride and fight, and turn around Bush's poll numbers overnight. So. what's holding everything back?

As Newsmax suggests, only two choices seem to be possible, 1) he had em and moved em, or 2) he had people working round the clock to forge documents. Only number one makes any sense, although with Saddam it's hard to tell. I'd add a third choice--he had em, he moved em, we know it, but can't do anything about it because we're being blackmailed.

No-Fly Zone Brouhaha

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Private pilots are mad about a new "Temporary Flight Restriction" (TFRs) surrounding a home owned by Vice President Cheney in Maryland, about 30 miles east of Washington, DC. Puzzling, since I thought the VP had to live in the VP residence when he's not safely ensconsed in the secure location, that is.

I'm chuckling trying to imagine Cheney getting in the ole limo and commuting to work every morning along with the rest of us working stiffs. "Hey-- learn to drive that crate, ya bastrd".. "..ah go f*ck yourself". He might fit right in.

But back to the story. The pilots are mad because TFRs are essentially "no-fly zones" and if a Cessna wanders into one unannounced bad things can happen, all the way from the loss of pilot's license to being shot down by an F-16. Busting a TFR is serious, and the enforcers have no sense of humor.

The AOPA claims unfairness, since the TFR around Cheney's Jackson Hole home is taken down when he's not there, opening the airspace, but not so on the DC version. The pilots are likely going to lose this battle since it's unlikely the Secret Service would consider telegraphing Cheney's movements around DC by raising and lowering the TFR. It's a sad fact, but the wild blue yonder is getting smaller by the year.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Goss-- "We know more than we can say"

The CIA Director was referring to Bin Laden, Zawahiri and al-Zarqawi. It's not the first time he's made that claim. Detractors might say it's a stall tactic--that he has nothing, or that he's helping Bush prolong the GWoT while we're still in Iraq. If Bin Laden and Zawahiri are caught or killed, people will think the WoT is over, and it won't be.

Supporters might argue Goss is simply doing what spooks do and playing head games with UBL and his state sponsors. There is probably some truth to both outlooks.

In his summer interview with Time, Goss also said the following (which he's essentially still saying now):
But when you go to the very difficult question of dealing with sanctuaries in sovereign states, you're dealing with a problem of our sense of international obligation, fair play.

That's as clear as he can be-- these two fellers are either in Pakistan or Iranian Baluchistan, and we simply cannot roll tanks in there to get them. Yet.

Or for the conspiracists, maybe these AQ slugs have some powerful leverage over us that keeps them alive. That's usually how things work in the mean ole world.

BTW, out of fairness I'm posting a decent picture of Goss, because the picture included with the ABC story looks like it was taken after a two chili bowl-three beer lunch.

UPDATE 11/30

Harry Reid says Osama is dead. If so, wonder if the CIA will send a criminal referral to Justice to prosecute him for spilling top secret intel? Agents could be compromised by this admission. If not, he's an irresponsible imbecile and should step down.

Even Ben Franklin might be confused

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"Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both."

Condi Rice:
"You can't allow somebody to commit the crime before you detain them, because if they commit the crime, thousands of innocent people die," she told the USA Today daily.
"We have never fought a war like this before," she said referring to the global war on terrorism.

If Franklin could return for a brief visit, wonder if he'd revisit his famous quote in light of WMDs and Islamofascists? The issue of security versus liberty is perhaps the most vexing side effect to result from 9/11. I suppose Ben might be just as vexed as the rest of us.

Don't throw me in the heap of those cheerleading the Patriot Act or other security measures, it's more like cautious pragmatism. Who wants a security-police state? But who wants law enforcement to trail people like Mohammed Atta or Ramzi Yousef, waiting until they set off the attack before rounding them up? The moderm potential for damage seems to partially trump Franklin's quip.

Finding the correct balance appears incredibly difficult. We've seen two paths used these past 12 years, the Clinton law enforcement approach and the Bush CIA round-em-up secret detention approach. The score is plain to see, however it's the long term consequences and potential for abuse that worries people.

Events like this are bound to increase:

That Monday, when a guard asked if she had her ID with her, Davis just said, "Yes."

"And he said, 'May I see it?' " she recalled, "and I said no."

The guard told her she had to leave the bus, but she refused. Two officers with the Federal Protective Service were called.

"I boarded the bus and spoke with the individual, Deborah N. Davis . . . asking why she was refusing," wrote the first Federal Protective Service officer in an incident report posted on Scannell's Web site. The officer was not identified.

"She explained she did not have to give up her rights and present identification," the officer wrote. "I informed her she was entering a federal facility and that the regulations for entrance did require her to present identification, before being allowed access."

"She became argumentative and belligerent at this time," the officer wrote.

Eventually, one officer said, "Grab her," and the two officers took hold of her arms and removed her from the bus, Davis said.

Comparing her to Rosa Parks is just plain ole moonbat propaganda, but take a closer look. How many of us might be tempted to do the same thing, especially since the woman was riding a CITY bus passing through the federal facility and she was bound for a stop on the other side? There is something heroic in defying the man-- our nation began that way.

My pragmatic side says the Arvada transit system could have prevented this by not allowing such a route to exist, and that's the way I'd approach this. But nevertheless the woman was still confronted. How do we fight terrorism without trampling individual liberty?

Some are more fatalist and say the final solution is unavoidable, that we're on course to an eventual Biblical prophecy summed up in the Revelation. I say God gave us the ability to think and reason, and we shouldn't just give up. In a world of bad men and horrible weapons, we need good men with new ideas.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Climate of corruption mode

The news of Duke Cunningham's downfall must be sending a tsunami through the republican party about now. The left will attempt to make him a reality poster child for their constant insinuations about the real reason we went to Iraq--enriching fat cat republicans and defense contractors. I can hear the PA annoucement at RNC headquarters--calling Doctor Daniels, Doctor Jack Daniels.

What Cunningham did was pathetic and stupid. Don't these guys understand the media always assumes republicans are guilty until proven innocent? I'm glad he's taking his lumps like a man and admitting he was wrong, unlike other spineless politicians who lack contrition. No matter, the media will be in their full-tilt "climate of corruption" mode for awhile.

It already shows in the AP story. Other than lumping Cunningham with Tom Delay and Scooter Libby (as if either had any connection to his case), was it really necessary to characterize the Congressman thusly:

Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, an eight-term congressman and hotshot Vietnam War fighter jock,

Cunningham, a swaggering former flying ace with the Navy during the Vietnam War,

Should have just said it straight out, "republican war hero prick got what he deserved".

MORE 11/29

Apparently the "climate of corruption" is a bit more serious in the great white north.

How many little pictures = a big one?

Blackfive has a link to a CS Monitor story today about Ohio Marines returning from the front in Iraq. It was yet another in a parade of stories coming from soldiers returning from that country, stories that are at odds with the mainstream media and pundits and politicians here at home.

I suppose one could make the argument that each soldier only has the "small picture", a myopic view of their own experiences. I suppose one could say there is some comfort for a soldier to think the time spent there was not in vain, and some good was accomplished. Thing is, when all the positive stories are added up, it paints a compelling picture, despite the nightly roadside bomb report on CNN.

Now, after reading that link, see what lefty America-hating cartoonist Ted Rall thinks about our returning troops. You might want to grab the barf bag first.

hattip, Blackfive, Michelle Malkin

This is your Captain speaking....

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Was talking with a pilot friend the other day and asked him, "would you set foot on a plane with no pilot?" The answer of course was no. But one day we may all have to make the choice. The future of aviation (and a lot of other industries) is moving toward less human intervention. Pilot-less aircraft are already being tested between California and Australia. No paying passengers yet, but it's only a matter of time. If you've been to a major airport like Dallas-Fort Worth, you've probably already ridden on pilot-less trains.

We've had UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) for years, but so far they've been confined to the defense sector. But, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand that skyrocketing personnel costs are the major drag on airline bottom lines.

Pilots will be in good company, though. It's likely that air traffic control will become largely automated before we see robot planes. Matter of fact, there is even technology available that would allow airplanes to separate themselves. Add to that totally automated aviation weather forecasting, and you have the perfect trifecta.

Wonder if all the UAVs will interfere with those flying cars we were promised?

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Ramsey Clark, friend of dictators world wide

Saddam's defense team will ask the judge to add Ramsey Clark to their team today. Clark is a former Attorney General under Johnson and proudly calls himself an anti-war super liberal, but why would he want to defend a murderous slug like Saddam?

"Our plan is to go to court in Baghdad on Monday morning representing the defense counsel as defense support. A fair trial in this case is absolutely imperative for historical truth to justice obviously,"

'Historical' is an intersting word choice. So far the Iraqi tribunal has only charged the Butcher with a crime committed in the early 80s. It's possible they didn't want to allow his defense team a chance to call former Reagan era officials, namely Rumsfeld, who supposedly helped Saddam in his fight against the Ayatollah.

If Clark does have an angle, I suppose it's to help the defense team defeat the first charge, forcing the tribunal to add a later charge where they'll get a chance to call Rummy and others. Embarrassing republicans is always job one for these guys.

Meanwhile Henchman One, aka al-Douri, is apparently alive enough to order hits on Saddam's trial judges and others. Due to such stuff, the lawyers are expected to request a three month delay today, and they'll probably get it. It might be for the best, since the December election will presumably create a legal government in Iraq which would provide more legitimacy.

If Clark tries to turn the trial into a Rummy-bash (aka Bush bash) I hope he sees the irony of such a thing. Saddam didn't allow trials of this nature, and people like Clark were killed.

MORE 12/2

Hitchens says Clark has already admitted Saddam's guilt on the first charge, using the obtuse argument the killings were justified due to the ongoing Iran-Iraq war. Let's keep this in perspective--the anti-war activist is using a war, started by Saddam, to justify the killing of 146 people. Some lawyer. Some peacenik. But hey- gotta get that first case thrown out no matter how it's done, because it's the only way to bring the real criminals to the stand...Rummy...Cheney... Bush (HW version). Right, Ramsey?

Dead man walking

The latest from Iraq:

The men who were arrested for plotting to kill the judge were carrying a document from former top Saddam deputy Izzat al-Douri ordering them to kill Raed Juhi, said Col. Anwar Qadir, a police commander in Kirkuk, where the men were arrested Saturday.

Al-Douri is the highest ranking member of the Saddam regime still at large and is believed to be at least the symbolic leader of Saddam loyalists still fighting U.S. forces and the new government in Iraq.

Al-Douri is apparently a man who will fight to the death, and beyond. Despite the presence of Zarqawi, there is no question who the real enemy is in Iraq. Clue--the leader sits in a cell in Baghdad.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

The greater good

MacRanger's latest post is a bit reflective about Able Danger and other recent 'conspiracies'. He asks the question, "do we really want to know the truth?" Maybe he was in a Jack Nicholson kinda mood.

He points out that sometimes leaders must make a choice regarding "the greater good", whereby "brutal honesty" with the population might be worse than some fictional story. My problem with the greater good argument is that it requires a person or small group to decide that question, and such actors might have trouble defining the term good.

Mac alludes to well-known conspiracies in the last 10 years, Oklahoma City, TWA800, Able Danger, and I'd add the first WTC bombing, too, and wonders if the reason we never saw closure was because of the greater good theory. Assuming the public stories surrounding these events were all tissues of lies, let's examine and speculate on exactly what the greater good might have been.

On the first WTC attack and Oklahoma City bomb--if evidence was found that Iraq or another terrorist state was involved, was the greater good really served by indicting and convicting individual suspects rather than going after state sponsors?

On TWA 800, the pivotal piece of evidence involved traces of explosive residue on seat fabrics in the section over the center wing tank. The FBI came up with a thin story about a bomb sniffing dog exercise, and the CIA literally made a cartoon to explain away the eye witnesses who saw rising streaks before the crash.

If state sponsors were behind any of the above events, surely the public would have clamored for war back in the mid 90s, de facto starting the GWoT then instead of after 9/11. Instead. we ccntinued the law enforcement approach and the attacks kept coming.

Forward to Able Danger. What if Shaffer's group uncovered data that conclusively showed Atta met with al-Ani in Prague or with other AQ members elsewhere? Bush would have his AQ-Iraq connection and the "Bush lied" meme would swirl right down the drain. One might ask, since Bush holds the greater good card now, why doesn't he act? We can only assume that unless the AD crew are complete frauds, there is some type of greater good card in play right now. Let's hope it's the public's greater good they have in mind, not their own.

Now, pop some corn and grab a beer, the game's coming on.

Colin Powell takes a swipe at Micheal Moore

Yes, he was actually cracking on the Bush adminstration's response to Murtha, where McClellan accused Murtha of aligning himself with Moore. But in the process of lambasting the administration's response, the former Secretary of State offhandedly smacked down our friendly filmmaker:

"To attack him the way he was attacked, accusing him of being a Michael Moore, was disgraceful and was not worthy,"

I couldn't help but wonder what Moore thought of that! Powell went on to say that Murtha "is a great friend", but disagreed with his position regards redeployment.

Powell has always tried to maintain an image as statesman first, republican second. The left loves this, especially his partial mea culpa regarding his UN dog and pony show prior to invasion. Some might call it 'talking out of both sides of your mouth', but whatever it is, it appears to have a nullifying affect across the political spectrum. Just when the left thinks Powell is about to fire all his howitzers at Bush, he backs up and agrees with the policy.
This strategy, if it is one, has been widely viewed as a novel way to criticize the right without actually criticizing himself, ie, 'I was in favor of toppling Saddam but not the way Bush did it'.

We've been told Mrs. Powell won't allow Colin to run for President. We'll see, but I think he'd be a strong candidate in 2008 if he got the necessary kitchen pass. Thing is, I wonder if the requisite bridges leading to nomination have already been burned?

What in the world is a holiday tree?

The city of Boston recently decided their annual Christmas tree, donated by loggers in Nova Scotia every year since 1918, was to be called a "holiday tree" as opposed to a Christmas tree. I'm fairly Jeffersonian in terms of separation of Church and State, but Christmas is not just a religious holiday in America. As an example, I once asked a co-worker why we got the day off for Christmas and not Easter. His response--Easter was a "religious holiday". But to call a Christmas tree by some other name suggests that Boston was discriminating against other "holiday trees". Let's see, was it the Hannukah Tree? No. Was it the Ramadan Tree? Uh, nope. Was it the Kwanzaa Tree? I don't think so.

This kind of "we better not offend anyone" political correctness is insidious and must be nipped in the bud. As the Nova Scotian said:

The Nova Scotia logger who cut down the 48-foot (14-meter) tree was indignant and said he would not have donated the tree if he had known of the name change.

"I'd have cut it down and put it through the chipper," Donnie Hatt told a Canadian newspaper. "If they decide it should be a holiday tree, I'll tell them to send it back. If it was a holiday tree, you might as well put it up at Easter."

Such clear thinking is sorely lacking in most governments these days.


It'll be a Christmas tree, dangit.

MORE 11/30

Denny Hastert is putting his foot down on the Captitol -- it's a Christmas tree. Just do it, Denny.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Thanksgiving in Syria

DEBKAfile ran a story yesterday about a possible US Army incursion into Syria while chasing enemy elements from Iraq. The soldiers allegedly exchanged fire with Syrian forces, and there were casualties. Most news organizations sat on the story, not particularly trusting DEBKAfile as a source. Today the London Telegraph picked up the story with more detail:

Major General Amid Suleiman, a Syrian officer, said that American cross-border attacks into Syria had killed at least two border guards, wounded several more and prompted an official complaint to the American embassy in Damascus.

I can imagine McClellan might have a lousy Monday, trying to explain how we're not really at war with Syria (even though we are, in a de facto kinda way).

"No one in the administration has any problem with acting tough on Syria; it is the one thing they all agree on," said Edward Walker, a former US ambassador to Egypt and Israel, who is now head of the Middle East Institute think-tank. "I've heard there have been some cross-border activities, and it certainly makes sense as a warning to Syria that if they don't take care of the problem the US will step up itself."

Reports say these incursions are about chasing "al-Qaida" elements. But really, what would Syria want with AQ? Syria is a socialist pan-Arabic Ba'athist state. Why wouldn't the Syrians be shooting at the fundies as they ran across the border? They appear to have more in common with the Soviet Union than Saudi Arabia.

It's true that Syrian Ba'athism was often at odds with the Iraqi version, but with push coming to shove it's possible they have mended fences. The recent operations in Tal Afar netted only a handful of foreign jihadists--most were Iraqis. However, we do know some foreign fighters have entered through Syria. We might conclude then that Syrian complicity in helping further this human transit amounts to providing Iraq with ordnance to prolong the war, with a goal of their own self-preservation. That would certainly explain why Iraqi fighters, AQ or otherwise, have been allowed to escape across the border-- and why our troops are now "misfiring" rounds across that same border.

Today Iraq, Tomorrow the Solar System!

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Bush bashing has reached a new level of absurdity, thanks to a former Canadian Defense Minister. Let's just say "moonbat" is a most appropriate description.

Paul Hellyer, Canada’s Defence Minister from 1963-67 under Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Prime Minister Lester Pearson, publicly stated: "UFOs, are as real as the airplanes that fly over your head."

Fine so far, many people believe in Aliens. Mr. Hellyer continues:

"The secrecy involved in all matters pertaining to the Roswell incident was unparalled. The classification was, from the outset, above top secret, so the vast majority of U.S. officials and politicians, let alone a mere allied minister of defence, were never in-the-loop."

Stupid question, how then do you know anything about it? Oh well, continuing:

"The United States military are preparing weapons which could be used against the aliens, and they could get us into an intergalactic war without us ever having any warning. He stated, "The Bush administration has finally agreed to let the military build a forward base on the moon, which will put them in a better position to keep track of the goings and comings of the visitors from space, and to shoot at them, if they so decide."

That dastardly Bushitler is not only waging war against the world, he wants to blow up the entire galaxy. He must be stopped.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

No holiday for the Plame Game

Joe Wilson is pontificating again, this time explaining away Tony Blair's role in ousting Saddam.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair was "double crossed" by aides to US President George W. Bush who pushed for war in Iraq, the former US diplomat in the eye of the CIA-leak storm said in a radio interview.

"I watched the way that the British built their case, and it was a disarmament case as best I could see it," said Joe Wilson, whose wife Valerie Plame saw her role as a CIA agent leaked to the media.

Wilson is making the strange case the Blair government was so ignorant they allowed themselves to become useful idiots for the Bush neocons in the quest to topple Saddam. The trap was apparently set at the infamous Bush-Blair meeting in Crawford in 2002, mentioned often by the left as part of the Downing Street Memo discussions. His argument is rather strange and absurd.

The well-rehearsed script so far has been that Blair was just as guilty as Bush...that they both knew there were probably no WMDs, so decided to "sex-up" the known intelligence and use it as causus belli, presumably because they knew all other ways were illegal. Why, though? In Bush's case conventional liberal wisdom says to enrich Halliburton, but few have explained just how this helped a British Liberal Party PM. Wilson is the first neo-lefty to offer some support for Tony, which is strange since Wilson was around in 1998 when Blair bombed Iraq during Desert Fox. If Blair bombed because he believed there were weapons then, will Wilson soon be rebuking Clinton for hoodwink?

His semi-defense of Blair could be partisan, or it could be an effort to steer the Iraq argument towards an Israeli construct -- that Sharon was actually the man behind the curtain all along. There's been talk around the blogospere (at least part I visit) about an anti-semite angle, making a case that Scooter Libby, himself Jewish, was singularly obsessed with Wilson after he began dropping Sharon stink bombs during TV interviews in early 2003. Tom McGuire's blog has all the in-depth.

Don't know about anti-semite, but I'm ready to believe that Israel was more involved than we've been told, yet not ready to believe there's anything wrong with it, especially in a post 9/11 world. An ally is an ally. Who doesn't recall the Iraqi Scud missiles falling on helpless Tel Aviv neighborhoods in 1991? The war never ended for Saddam. To say he posed no threat to Israel or the region would be naive.

Even if Bush hoodwinked Blair into working for Sharon, let's review the events to unstable pan-Arabic dictator who openly encouraged Palestinians to murder Jews now sits in jail. The Syrian Army was kicked out of Lebanon, and Libya was disarmed. A.Q. Khan's network was exposed, and the concept of democracy gained steam on the Arab street, due in part to the purple fingers in Iraq. The Israelis gave back some conquered territory but themselves remain on dry land, as opposed to being "pushed out to sea". Hard to argue those accomplishments only benefitted Israel. To say that Blair would not have been thrilled with this outcome back in 2002 would be itself rather strange and absurd.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Have a happy and factually correct Thanksgiving!

Every year about this time we see stories crop up about the factual account of Thankgiving. There are a multitude of accounts on the web proclaiming to reveal the "real truth".

This account seems to be accurate based on the known writings of 17th century Pilgrims and explorers. But, what's really important is not whether Thanksgiving was called Thanksgiving, or whether they actually ate Wild Turkey or deer meat, or whether it became a yearly tradition or a sporadic event. It's the giving thanks part that matters.

Thursday the family and I will heartily salute Miles Standish and Tisquantum, and drink a toast to our country's history. We'll give thanks to God for this great country, home and hearth. I sincerely hope you all do the same, and with vigor.

Terrorist Hub and Spoke


Suspected dirty bomb terrorist Jose Padilla was finally indicted this week, albeit not for dirty bombs. The more interesting news might have been the individuals indicted with Padilla, specifically a Mr. Kifah Wael Jayyousi. Mr. Jayyousi has had some interesting jobs, most notably as a maintenance superintendent at school systems in both Detroit and Washinton, DC. If he is indeed involved in Islamic terror, that alone is disturbing.

It's also been stated that Mr. Jayyousi was a Palestinian born in Jordan. He had ties to several Muslim charities, which led in part to his indictment. But the allegation that jumped out at me was this:

All four men are also connected to Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, the spiritual leader of the Armed Islamic Group, (who was jailed for life due to his part in the 1993 WTC bombings. The Armed Islamic Group's magazine, Islam Report, was published by Jayoussi . (See below article to read both The Call of Islam and the Islam Report

Ah yes the Blind Sheik, Abdul Rahman. It seems his name has been on the lips of every known terrorist to operate in the USA the past 15 years. Some of the more famous would include 1993 WTC bomber and opertion Bojinka author Ramzi Yousef (along with several charged with him), a group charged with attempting to blow New York City tunnels, and if we can believe Colonel Shaffer and his Able Danger crew, one Mohammed Atta. Yousef was one of the architects of 9/11 (KSM took over the plot and bin Laden simply endorsed it).

The next dot has been the source of much consternation. The FBI has yet to convince everyone beyond the shadow of a doubt that Atta did not meet with Iraqi ISS agent al-Ani in Prague prior to 9/11. The Czechs have never fully backed off their initial claim, although admittedly that could be related to avoiding national embarrassment.

Mr. Jayyousi is the latest in a line of persons suspected or prosecuted for ties to terrorism claiming Palestinian roots. Along with links to Rahman, the Palestinian connection seems to link many of the more notorious operators. Saddam was a large backer of the Palestinian cause. If Able Danger ever gets explored as it should, perhaps some of these dots will get connected.

I won't even go into the mystery of why the current adminstration seems to have no desire to get to the bottom of AD, sitting on the sidelines as the DoD stipped LTC Shaffer's security clearance (leaving him unsuited for his own job) in part due to "stealing government pens" years ago. You'd think such a serious charge would have roadblocked that clearance request long ago, like before he was promoted.

MORE 11/24

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As mentioned above, Jose Padilla was not charged with planning a radiological "dirty" bomb, one of the main reasons he'd been held since 2002 as an enemy combatant, detained by the military with no access to the justice system.

This New York Times story provides more details as to why he's now being charged. I'll try to summarize it briefly. Constitutional advocates had been going after the Padilla case as an illegal detention, and had appealed to the courts to stop it. The 4th District Court of Appeals recently ruled against them, saying Padilla's detention was legal. Had they ruled otherwise the adminstration would have taken it to the Supreme Court, but since they won the earlier decision they decided it was best to indict him now than risk their opponents going to the SCOTUS, the result of which could set precedent.

The question still dangling is why they couldn't bring the dirty bomb charges against Padilla. Simple--the only prosecution witnesses able to testify about the plots are Khalid Sheihk Mohammed and Abu Zubaydah, the two most guarded al Qaida captives we have. So guarded, we don't even know where they are. The Times article explains why they can't be allowed to testify:

They said any effort to introduce testimony by Mr. Mohammed and Mr. Zubaydah against Mr. Padilla could have opened the way for defense lawyers to expose details about their detention and interrogation in secret jails that the Central Intelligence Agency has worked hard to keep out of public light.

The fact that the evidence against Mr. Padilla in connection with the bombing plot depended so directly on prisoners from Al Qaeda meant that the obstacles to bring charges against him were even higher than those that prosecutors have confronted in their case against Zacarias Moussaoui, who has pleaded guilty to his role in the Sept. 11 hijackings.

Clearly, the administration believed that if they used these two as prosecution witnesses against Padilla their lawyers would turn the trial into a media circus involving waterboarding, torture and secret gulags. Also, someone might find out where they were being held. But there appears to be more:

A senior American official said, "There has been no reason to doubt that the accusations against Padilla in relation to the bombing plot were genuine."

The official said the administration had determined that concerns about subjecting Mr. Mohammed and Mr. Zubaydah to cross-examination by defense lawyers would be insurmountable.

In other words, the dirty bomb threat was quite genuine, however any information these guys might spill during cross examination was deemed the greater threat. Did you catch that?

John Kerry was elected

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To be a jury foreman, that is. In one of those, "can you believe this?" stories, Kerry was selected for a jury near his home turf, and was of course selected as the foreman. Can you imagine him NOT being selected?

Aside from the legitimate question as to whether famous people can serve on juries wihtout tainting the fair dispensation of justice, the story quickly devolves into just another run of the mill Bush-bash:

"I just found him to be a knowledgeable, normal person," said Cynthia Lovell, a nurse and registered Republican who says she now regrets voting for President Bush in last year's election. "He kept us focused. He wanted us all to have our own say."

The hits just keep comin'.

Can you imagine having your case tried and discovering John Kerry or some other famous person was on the jury? It would seem a rather large distraction. According to the story, the lawyers from each side didn't complain about him being on the jury, which may or may not have any significance. Imagine how the press might react if one side wanted to kick candidate Kerry off the jury.

But Kerry did his duty as a citizen, as all Americans should:

"I was a little surprised," Kerry said of being selected for jury duty.

"I enjoyed it," he said. "It was very, very interesting and very instructive."

Agreed. Everyone should go through it once. As an aside, this suggests Kerry had never served on a jury previously. Wonder how many politicians would say the same? Probably a sizable number. But in politics, everything has a purpose. I'll bet dollars to doughnuts his advisors figured this might help. Remember, he still wants to be elected to a much higher office.

The issue of famous people serving on juries is a legitimate topic for discussion. My beef here is the politicization of something that shouldn't be--Kerry serves and the media quickly seizes on one jurist with an anti-Bush bent, which de facto helps Kerry's party score political points. I'm a bit surprised the reporter didn't remind us about those three purple hearts.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Chavez's sneaky oil stunt

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As promised, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez made good on an earlier promise to sell heating oil on the cheap to poor people in the United States. As you may recall, he made the statements during the Katrina episode, as gas and oil prices began spiking. Chavez seems to be adroit at using his oil as a geo-political weapon, similar to other thugs around the world. Getting this concept into the head of a leftist has always been a tough task, though.

Although Hugo has a frosty relationship with the current administration, he appears to have previous connections with the Massachusetts "super-liberal" who helped organize the price-cut. The story fingers Congressman William Delahunt as arranging the deal in a "lengthy" meeting with Chavez earlier this year. Joe Kennedy's name was also dropped, as he's in charge of the non-profit energy company distributing the fuel oil. I'm attributing no wrong-doing to either Delahunt or Kennedy, just the usual partisan point-scoring. The only twist is that this point-scoring comes with the help of a foreign government leader, one considered not so friendly by the State Department. Don't forget Chavez' recent disruption of Bush's trip to peddle the Free Trade Area in Argentina, which turned into a mess, thanks in part to Chavez.

Although it's obvious what Chavez is trying to do, I have some logistical questions. Will there be a means-test to determine who is "poor" enough to qualify for the discounted oil? If so, is it fair for one family to miss getting the cheaper oil because they made 1 dollar too much last year? If there isn't a means test, is it fair for rich families in the designated areas to get a discount while poor people a county away get nothing? Liberals are never good at defining cutoff points.

Perhaps the overall strategy is SOS--just another attempt to make Bush look bad. But somehow I keep hearing the old saying, "beware of Greeks bearing gifts". I've placed my Citgo credit card on death row.

Amazing Christmas lights display

Impressive! Check out this video of a house with lights choreographed to music.

Amazing Christmas lights display

Think the neighbors enjoy this, too? Or perhaps it exists only in cyberworld..

Intelligent design - a generally accepted theory

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The issue of Intelligent Design, ID, is one I've generally stayed away from, mainly because I believe the issue is best taught at home or in church. Our public schools should stick with known science, which amounts to generally accepted theories. This topic has nothing to do with evolution, a generally accepted theory which I think should be allowed in classrooms. But, I believe many of the anti-ID zealots have lost the forest looking for trees.

The generally accepted theory about the origin is the big bang, yet the first chapter of Genesis comports with this (the earth was without form and void, and darkness was on the face of the deep). "Darkness" simply means the absense of light, which equates to the absense of energy. Whether God created it with a bang or not is irrelevant to me.

An intelligent designer makes the most logical sense to explain all that is. To think otherwise requires belief in an incredible set of statistical coincidences. Therefore, ID should represent the "generally accepted theory" at this time, making it ok for mention in public school classrooms during any mention of the big bang (not necessarily usung Biblical references). When science can establish a generally accepted theory on what existed before the big bang, I'll take notice. Otherwise, I suggest mentioning ID in discussions of the origin, but if that's not possible, then don't cover the topic at all.

X marks the bias?

Drudge is running an exclusive about a CNN live broadcast of Vice President Cheney giving a speech tonight. For some reason a big black "X" kept flashing on the screen directly over the V.P.'s face. In all my years I've been watching TV, I've never seen this effect (although I still haven't, just taking Drudge's word for it).

Unless I hear a truly credible explanation, such as a believable malfunction, I am delinking CNN from my news links. Wow, that'll fix em, what with all my traffic! He haw! Anywho, an apology will not do, since an apology proves someone deliberately did it.

MORE 11/22

CNN is indeed saying it was a technical problem. Based on the almost subliminal time period mentioned, I'm not convinced this is alarming. It does seem highly unusual and coincidental, however.

Monday, November 21, 2005

The question

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Soapbox time on the war conundrum.

In my mind, the question is not about whether our actions to remove Saddam made us safer--we can argue the point ad infinitum. No, the question is whether leaving Iraq immediately will make us safer.

There's a lot of liar, liar these days. But I think both sides would agree the last thing anyone wants is more casualties. We are a compassionate nation, focused more on the individual than any other nation on earth. The concept of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness still lives (even if we're no longer allowed to talk about that pesky "creator" anymore). Nobody wants our troops to die for a worthless cause, even if they signed up voluntarily.

My question requires a risk/reward process. Specifically--will the reward of pulling our troops before Iraq is stabilized outweigh the risk that such a move will lead to the erosion of security in the entire region, along with a massive moral victory for both tinhorn regimes and Jihadists the world over?

Quote history of conquest if you must, but I contend this war is different than any before it in one aspect-- WMD. Never before have guerrilla forces had the ability to inflict mass casualties without large armies. No, we didn't find WMDs in Iraq, but leaving it open for terrorist business hardly seems a good idea. And we can't forget the oil. Any regime we leave behind will be flushed in petroleum cash. That's a tad different than North Korea, who possesses no such strategic resources to enact worldwide blackmail.

When we left Vietnam there was little chance the Vietnamese would send terror squads to lower 48 to blow up national landmarks. Our departure left us with a medium-long term loss in that we failed to stop the domino from falling, but the fall did not threaten us directly. Leaving Iraq offers no such guarantees--it's not the same domino. That's the main reason my vote goes to staying the course-- at least long enough to give their government a chance.

Keep in mind if we choose to leave Iraq, it will not stop there. The forces of terrorism will employ the same strategy in every location until we're completely out. The domino effect in reverse, if you will.

MORE 11/21

Apparently this lady agrees with me (or vice versa, depending on perspective). Somehow it just doesn't give me a warm fuzzy.

Alpha Charlie


Cheney weighed in last night. Despite CNN trying to "X him out", he agrees with the above opinions. That's hardly surprising. I find it interesting that Hillary is in agreement with him.

Cheney discussed the WMD question and said something he'll get thrashed for:

shrugged off the failure to find weapons of mass destruction. "We never had the burden of proof," he said, adding that it had been up to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to prove to the world that he didn't have such weapons.

The left will say that Bush/Cheney "didn't let the inspectors finish their work", ie Hans Blix. They have a point, although the success of international inspection teams working in totalitarian regimes is ripe for debate. We saw evidence of that when Libya admitted a nuke program despite years of IAEA inspections. In Iraq's case, their yellowcake at al-Tuwaitha was tagged and sealed by IAEA. Had Saddam been trying to build a bomb he'd need that pile of YC intact to act as a decoy to the inspectors, allowing him to slide the real stuff in under the table. These guys are gangsters, remember.

Former UNSCOM weapons inspector Bill Tierney, a controversial figure similar to Scott Ritter but on the opposite side, certainly thought Saddam had a weapons program. He was quite pessimistic that international bodies alone could disarm thugocracies. Butler, Kaye and Duelfer, much less incendiary in their public political views, all thought Saddam would eventually restart his WMD programs, and all agreed that he needed to go.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Not a very good week for Zarqawi

Despite the fact that the MSM seems to think the daily roadside bomb report warrants top headlines (or stories about Bush's falling poll numbers or Plamegate), they've been relatively quiet about a soap opera going on around the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, Abu Musab Zarqawi. Suffice it say, he had a really bad week.

First, he sent out some of his close friends to bomb a few hotels in Jordan. Supposely the attack was going to show Jordan they should not cooperate in the WoT. One could hear the backfire all the way across the pond, as the hapless bombers only killed their fellow Muslim countrymen, some in the process of getting married. The female suicider on his almighty hit team had trouble pulling her rip cord, yet miraculously managed to miss her meeting with Allah and was subsequently captured. Forced to testify on Jordanian TV with her suicide belt, she proceeded to make the whole organization look like it was being run by Pee Wee Herman.

In the bloody aftermath we found out that Israeli and Jordanian spies were attending a meeting at one of the bombed hotels, but were unscathed in the blasts, which killed over 50 innocent people. Realizing what a disastrous move he'd made, Zarqawi issued one of the most ridiculous statements ever, suggesting to the world his brave mujahadeen actually meant to target the spies but instead only got some brothers and sisters. "No offense", he said. The result was 200,000 angry people marching in the streets of Amman yelling "burn in hell, Abu Musab Zarqawi".

It got worse. Realizing his rep was rapidly disappearing down the commode, he decided to fight back by threatening to behead King Adbullah, who had earlier called his followers "insane" (way to go, King). That prompted a statement from Z-man's own family, renouncing him for his role in, well, just about everything he's done lately.

Pay close attention to this line in the renouncement story:

The statement is a serious blow to al-Zarqawi, who no longer will enjoy the protection of his tribe and whose family members may seek to kill him.

Presto, not more than a day later we learn he may already be dead, killed in an explosion in Mosul. Boy those guys sure work fast.

Personally I'm not getting up hopes just yet. The Middle Eastern press seems to fact check less than the New York Times and has reported his death before- several times. Add to that the incredible growing leg story (he apparently lost a leg fighting in Afghanistan, but was seen with legs in the Berg beheading video) as well as several previous captures by the coalition and we need to wait awhile for confirmation. Like for the DNA lab report.

Perhaps he's moved to the same state of death as his partner in crime, former Ba'athist strongman Izzat al-Douri. Izzat's condition is not considered serious, since our forces continue to search for him. Wonder what the Butcher thinks of all this?

Strangely, it might not be the best thing if Z-man kicked the bucket, since he was rapidly becoming a PR drain for AQ. His bumbling was surely making Bin Laden and Zawahiri pull out more than the normal amount of beard hairs, and they probably wanted him out anyway. The replacement might be worse. Still, I think most would take that chance to see this guy in a box, or doing the perp walk somewhere.

MORE 11/20

Reports are now that eight high-ranking bodies have been found in Mosul, and the USA has DNA samples for testing. We'll know soon.

UPDATE 11/20

Didn't take long for the White House to throw some water on the hot coals.

By the way, my rather flippant style in writing this story deserves some explanation. Zarqawi is no doubt a ruthless killer and many families have been made to cry due to his barbarity. However, I wanted to point out that he's not immune from making errors in judgment, in this case some big ones. He is the enemy, and we should celebrate their misfortunes whenever possible. That will escape many on the port side who have confused the enemy for a prominent domestic figure.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Where has this been?

The Fishkite blog found this CNN story from 1999 that suggests Saddam may have had just a tad more love towards Bin Laden/al-Qaida than we've been led to believe. Read it and be dazzled..

Dissing the Boss

There's a story making the rounds today about how the prudish Senate republican leadership torpedoed a resolution that would have recognized the lifetime achievements of rocker Bruce Springsteen. The repubs refused to bring it to a vote.

Surely there's more to this story. If not, then we should seriously question the leadership of the Senate. More than a few republicans have fond recollections of the Born to Run days. There's a stinking rat here somewhere, just not sure which corner it's coming from.

MORE 11/19

I just knew there was more to this story.

Friday, November 18, 2005

It's nice to know our representatives can agree on something

Their own pay. In the midst of all the brouhaha over the Iraqi troop pullout vote, Congress allowed their annual cost-of-living increase of 3 percent to go through unimpeded. This is an automatic raise, unless they vote to stop it. Neither side took the opportunity.

You'd think there would be good bipartisan reasons to attempt it--the minority party has whined about the out of control spending, so making an issue of the pay raise could have painted the majority right as spending hypocrites. On the flip side, the right could have garnered a huge PR win by advocating to chop the increase to show they want spending back under control. Guess it's more fun to yell and catcall about the war.

"Z-man lied, Muslims died"

Think we'll be hearing that little ditty at the next Bushitler or boob flash rally? Should we expect to see placards with Zarqawi's face superimposed on Hitler's body with catchy captions like "Z-fuhrer"? Shall we alert the DC cops to be ready for a massive peace rally on the Mall with flower children carrying signs saying, "what's next Z-man, puppies and kittens?" Nah, just ain't gonna happen. Perhaps it should.

Abu Musab Zarqawi groaned out one of the most BS-riddled statements in the history of statements today. Let's take a look-see:
"Your star is fading. You will not escape your fate, you descendant of traitors. We will be able to reach your head and chop it off," al- Zarqawi said, referring to the king.

He was referring to his buddy King Abdullah of Jordan, who recently poked fun at the Z-man by basically calling his followers insane.
Al-Zarqawi said the bomber who detonated his explosives in the Radisson SAS hotel on Nov. 9 was targeting a hall where he claimed Israeli and American intelligence officials were meeting.

Doubtful. It fell into his lap after the bombing, and he's covering his stupidity by pretending they were on the original target list. If true he wouldn't have needed to bomb the other hotels and risk killing innocent Muslims, which he did. Meanwhile, the spooks are still alive. But this cockamamie tale is consistent with the incredible one told by the Jihadi-lady bomber. I thought lying was a sin in Islam?

It continues:
"We didn't target them. Our target was halls being used by Zionist intelligence who were meeting there at the time," he said. "Our brothers knew their targets with great precision."

Al-Zarqawi accused the Jordanian government of hiding casualties among Israeli and American intelligence agents, and he insisted al-Qaida in Iraq was not targeting fellow Muslims.

"We want to assure you that ... you are more beloved to us than ourselves," al-Zarqawi said, addressing Jordanians.

Great precision? Did he hire this guy as a consultant?

I know this is a deadly serious matter, and innocents were killed, innocent Muslim fellow-countrymen, that is. But this is really quite beyond belief. His team couldn't even find the right places to explode in, and a couple even had trouble exploding. I can imagine Osama and Zawahiri in their caves hanging their heads and mumbling to each other.

Is this the same al-Qaeda that pulled off major bombings all over the world? Does the precision of this compare in any way to the near flawless precision of Septemeber 11th? Should this tell us anything? I know one thing it tells me, this guy is nowhere near the top of the food chain.

MORE 11/18

Bias or something else? This Guardian story covers the same material and is also a feed from the AP. The Guardian tells an untold part of the story:

Earlier Friday, thousands of flag-waving Jordanians thronged downtown Amman in the ``March of the Nation,'' a noisy, emphatic demonstration against the hotel attacks.

``Al-Zarqawi, you coward, what brought you here?'' the angry crowd shouted.

``Cease, cease, al-Zarqawi, you are a villain!'' the throng chanted. ``Cease, Cease, you terrorist, you are a coward!''

Good for them. Maybe our protesters will join them in arms over here soon, protesting the brutality of Islamofascism. Ahem.

Comparing the stories made me wonder whether the Breitbart version purposely cut off mention of the massive protest for any particular reason. The latest version of the Breitbart story now has mention of the protests, but it's not quite as dramatic as the Guardian version. Ironically all three stories originated with the AP, written by the same guys.

Hey dems, heads up!

Catch! Here comes the ball, it's flying your way. Don't drop it, now!

Yep, it's put up or shut up time in the US House. The repubs have put this Iraqi troop thing to a vote, to be held this evening.

Here are the dems' options as I see them. They can vote YES (remove troops immediately), which will probably be defeated because they are the minority. If things get better later in Iraq, they will look like utter buffoons down the line. In that respect, they'll have to hope things get worse to save their reps. How defeatist.

On the other hand, they can always vote NO. That leaves them looking like hypocrites. If things get better, they'll salvage some rep, but if things get worse they'll be blamed.

Can you think of any other options? I'd like the hear em.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Murtha's Move

Shall we consider this proposal serious? Murtha has been billed as one of the more "hawkish" doves the House port siders have to offer. He did a few hitches in Vietnam and is a decoated Marine, therefore the repubs best respect this man. They've already skated around the issue, with Bush saying he "respectfully disagreed", while his spokesman McClelland said Murtha was joining with the likes of Micheal Moore.

Personally it appears to me a political stunt. The dems smell blood in the water and they've decided to pounce while the pouncin' is good. Why wait til the December elections and have to contend with Iraqis holding up more of those darned purple fingers? The press also helped out by liberally applying the word "hawkish" in front of Murtha's name in just about every story.

I did find something interesting in the article. It relates to how they put Murtha's proposal in context with what "the American people think" based on an Iraq war poll taken Monday (have you ever been polled? I haven't either):

Monday's poll found that 19 percent of Americans want to see the troops come home now and 33 percent said they wanted them home within a year. Only 38 percent said they should remain "as long as needed."

Weird, the highest percentage was the only figure to get the word "only" in front of it. Now I grant you, adding 19 and 33 gets a majority 52 percent wanting troops to come home, but hey, 100 percent want the troops to come home, it's just a matter of whether you think they can accomplish their mission or not. Stats are funny, though. Add the 33 and 38 and get a whopping 71 percent of the people think the troops should stay for at least another year.. The power of the pen is mighty indeed.

New frontiers

Every day we seem to enter a new frontier in American politics. One day it's ex-presidents breaking age-old protocol to attack a sitting president. Next it might be an ex bureau chief writing a book or articles blaming their former associates. On another it might be United States Senators making claims that a sitting president lied to them, followed by the sitting Vice President firing back in kind. Or another Senator blasting his brethren. Meanwhile our troops remain in harm's way, scratching their heads as the bullets whiz past. What's up with the near-WWE style politics?

Perhaps Bin Laden figured way back that secular western governments will fail when pressed due to their open democracies and secular tendencies balanced against a need for security. The WoT is more a conflict between two opposing ways of life rather than just suicide bombers or cruise missiles. Sept 11 exposed some cracks in our off-battlefield armor. But is our current political climate unhealthy?

I certainly can't excuse myself from participating in the daily Iraq war smack downs. This is the biggest story of our times, and I don't understand those who can simply ignore it. Then again, I do. The decorum was already deteriorating before the war, now it's nearly over the top. Many people have simply tuned out to preserve their sanity. Unfortunately that works in the terrorists' favor.

Both Bin Laden and Saddam knew that winning a war with America revolved around hitting us in our achilles heel. Our will to fight can be--Americans have always been reluctant warriors. Keep us from winning quick and easy on the battlefield and you've got a chance. Maybe they checked with the Vietnamese.

Are the democrats doing their part in that process? Politically speaking, they are wandering well out onto a thin limb by voicing things like "lied" and "withdrawal" at this point. For example, if by some chance we find that WMDs were present but moved out of Iraq before the invasion while they are simultaneously still yelling 'Bush lied', their party will go down in a flameball worse than the Hindenberg.

On the other hand, if correct they'll take power for years to come, so I guess they might feel the reward is worth the risk. Thing is, the risk for the American people is much greater. The democrats need to be very careful here. They need to convince everyone using solid evidence, not ramblings. Look at history and study the ramifications of our leaving war zones due to political pressure. It ain't good. Add to that the WoT is a new frontier featuring a new breed of terrorists who don't fear death and are determined to win with any weapon possible and who possess unsufferable patience.

In the end, Bush will lose Iraq if he does nothing from here on. Stump speeches are nothing but preaching to the choir. The democrats are backing him into a political corner for their own self aggrandizement and the terrorists are licking their chops, while his fellow republicans are getting weaker-kneed. Something has to be done by someone. Even if the democrats are successful in bringing down Bush it's a zero sum game for America, since a retreat from Iraq only causes more problems by emboldening our enemies. The question is, what can Bush do?

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

A journalistic winter of discontent?

It's been a weird year for weather, a weird season for politics, and a weird year for reporters. It got weirder today when Bob Woodward came out of the Woodwork on Plamegate, and announced he'd testified before Fitzgerald.

Now, a Federal Judge has placed WaPo reporter Walter Pincus in contempt of court for his refusal to give up sources in the Wen Ho Lee story, which I previously commented on here.

What we are seeing now regards confidential sources might well be unprecidented, not in the relationship structure, but in the nature of the relationship. As Woodward pointed out in a 2003 interview on MSNBC while discussing the outing of Deep Throat (hat tip JustOneMinute):

MR. WOODWARD: Well, you talk to people, you talk to somebody in the White House or the CIA or the Democratic Party, and you say, "I've heard or I understand; what are you hearing?" And one of the discoveries in all of this is that reporters, in asking questions, convey information to even somebody like Karl Rove. Where did he first learn important elements of this? From a reporter.

In other words, there is sometimes no other way to get important information (like Watergate) to the public. While this is generally good, it can also be generally bad in that these sources might not be trustworthy or reporters might get used. That last point is exactly what the left claimed occurred with Judith Miller regards the WMD stories. Woodward and his three Bush books are probably next on that hit list, which might be why he dummied up so long.

The Wen Ho Lee story could potentially damaging to democrats, while Plamegate's target is Bush/Cheney. Let's cook some corn and watch how the Washington press establishment handles these two stories. After all, with every passing day they are becoming the very story itself.

Woodward enters the Plamegate fray

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Out of the blue we now have Bob "Deep Throat" Woodward entering the Plame game. Apparently an administration source came forward earlier this month and tipped Fitzgerald that he'd given Woodward a scoop about Plame sometime in mid June 2003. Woodward was subsequently deposed, but has signed a confidentiality agreement with his source that precludes him naming names. Rove's people say it's not him. Wonder whom?

Interestingly, Woodward spoke to Scooter Libby in June 2003 while doing research for his book "Plan of Attack". Woodward had questions written down regards Plame, Wilson and yellowcake, but he doesn't remember asking them. Speaking of amnesua, it was alleged that Woodward tipped off fellow WaPo reporter Walter Pincus about Plame's role in Wilson's little escapade, yet Pincus can't rememeber any such thing.

This is getting stranger and stranger.

UPDATE 11/16

Is Woodward going to be tarred as another Judith Miller? Perhaps. Matter of fact, the follow-up Post apology column already broaches it:

The disclosure has already prompted critics to compare Woodward to Judith Miller, the former New York Times reporter who left the paper last week--after serving 85 days in jail in the Plame case--amid questions about her lone-ranger style and why she had not told her editors sooner about her involvement in the matter.

There does seem to be a strange symbiotic connection between the two. Both are (were) known as veteran journalists with reputations for being on top of high-profile stories through the years. Both had recently done a lot of work with Bush administration officials, Miller for her book "Germs" as well as numerous WMD articles published in the Times, and Woodward for his two behind the scenes books about Bush's run to the WoT and Iraq.

Woodward's stall tactic certainly kept him out of the Grand Jury room, and he was allowed to limit his testimony to just the conversations he had with the Bush officials. Miller had to go to jail for 85 days to make sure her testimony was similarly limited.

The expert bloggers are all over this, as left and right dance around claiming bizarro victories of some sort. But truthfully, The crux of the matter is why Miller and Woodward would be so afraid of sitting before a unfettered Fitzgerald, lobbing questions in all directions. Was it really just to defend the age-old reporter-confidential source relationship, or something a tad more important?

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Rockefeller unplugged

There is a chinook going around the conservative blogosphere about Senator Rockefeller's comments on Fox News Sunday regards a solo trip he took around the Middle East in January 2002 to warn those nations that Bush was going after Saddam.

According to Macsmind, that might be illegal. I don't know, but it certainly doesn't sound very ethical. Let's assume for a moment he told the head of state of Syria, Assad, that Bush was definitely going to take out Saddam. How do you think the Ba'athists in Syria would have reacted? What actions might they have taken?

Democrat strategist Bob Beckel recently slipped out a little gem while on Sean Hannity's radio show. He admitted to believing that Saddam probably moved his weapons to a nearby country before the attack, perhaps to Syria. Gee Bob, where would you ever get that idea?

RIP, Adrian

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News of the passing of Bellevue Baptist Church Pastor Emeritus Adrian Rogers has reached many by now. I'd like to pass along condolences. Although not as well known as others, Pastor Rogers was certainly one of the top "hellfire and brimstone" preachers in the world. Adrian's sermons always reminded me that deep down it's really about "right and wrong", not "right and left".

RIP, Adrian Rogers.

A parting shot at Miss Run Amok

I've heard many on the right say, "who cares about Miller, why all the fuss?" Sure, she's managed to gain more than her fifteen minutes, but her connection to current events cannot be overlooked, nor can the treatment being heaped on her by her former "friends" in the mainstream media.

Recently Miller sat down with the WaPo's Lynne Duke for a long interview covering the saga of "Miss Run Amok". The painted picture was certainly not flattering, and at times snarkish. Especially the innuendo about her personal life and professional desires.

But on page five she finally got to Miller's reportage of Saddam Hussein and AQ:

But in her reporting, there was something else on which Miller relied as much, if not more: her personal belief in the danger that Saddam Hussein posed to the world.

It was personal, for she had been detained for a day by Hussein's security forces back in the 1980s, she says. And it was personal because, as she writes in her 1996 book on Islam, "God Has Ninety-Nine Names," an Iraqi source once told her "that I was on a very short list of writers who are considered the regime's 'eternal enemies.'

Keep in mind Miller was one of a select few Americans who received a letter with white powder in 2001. It turned out to non-lethal. Ok, Miller continues:

"I had my own independent knowledge of Saddam Hussein. I was on record in 'Saddam Hussein and the Crisis in the Gulf,' talking about this horrible regime and its use of chemical weapons against its own people. . . . I feared there was nothing he wouldn't do if he had access to such weapons. I was genuinely fearful of what he might do to American forces, to American installations in the Middle East and, if there was an al Qaeda link -- and I didn't know that and I never wrote that -- what he might do in the United States. My own reporting on Iraq made me fearful of Saddam Hussein."

And so fighting him, fighting his terror, became a passion. Fighting chemical and biological threats became a passion. Fighting al Qaeda became a passion.

The criticism has been that her personal contacts and ideology allowed for biased reporting and manipulation by adminstration strategists. I'm not discouting that, but check out this perspective regarding the digging prowess of other MSM reporters associated with the stories swirling around Miller. hat tip Instapundit

After all is said and done, Ms. Miller retains her passion about the threats she reported on:

"But I will make no apologies for my continuous commitment, my desire to pursue stories about threats to our country," she says emphatically, almost frantically, her crusading eyes brimming with tears.

This story is an illustration in revisionism, and is one among many that have tried to push the perception that the "real threats" were not people like Saddam, rather people like Miller and Ahmed Chalabi. It's a convenient way to gloss over past reporting failures conducted by just about every other MSM outlet from the 90s through the invasion by saying, "hey, look over there, it's Judy Miller". Case in point:

She was among the key journalists writing of the danger of Iraq's WMD in several articles that quoted Bush administration officials and made the case, now discredited, for the United States' war in Iraq. To be fair, Iraq's possession of WMD was the conventional wisdom of the pre-war period. The Washington Post was among the newspapers reporting that story.

But Miller's work stood out...

In other words, "we admit to getting it wrong, be she was wronger". As Miller has previously said (and the left has parroted in their own way from the get-go), Bush was going after Saddam regardless of whether the NYT or WaPo agreed.

The Homecoming..

The new republican plan to get the troops out of Iraq clearly telegraphs our intentions to the terrorists, something Bush has consistenly refused to do. Notice how the plan hindges on 2006. Coincidently, that's when many of these bozos are up for re-election. By doing this the Senate repubs appear to be jettisoning Bush and washing their hands of any further war actions.

Giving the enemy a target year ensures that more troops will die, since we assume the enemy actually wants to win the war. When the escalating death tolls appear, and they will happen in the midst of the 2006 Congressional campaign season, our heroic republican Senators will have it fixed so their competitors can't run TV ads depicting them as "war mongers with no exit strategy while more troops die in vain for a lie".

In sum, it's a squirrelly plan. On it's face it attempts to put pressure on the fledgling Iraqi government to take over, but that same government is still new and is being rocked by terrorists. Saddam is yet to be tried and hanged. There is just no way anyone should be talking publicly about a go-home date for our troops--even if we actually have one.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Gotta love the mainstream media

Check out this picture of Bush's speech today at Elmendorf AFB. Notice how the AP photographer managed to frame the couple sitting to Bush's left. Notice the gentleman appears to be sleeping.

At least Fox's lead story was about the speech.

Let's head over to CNN and see what's on their front page...Probably something about Bush, right?

Sure is:

Ah yes, the lonesome loser shot. "Bush's approval rating at all-time low" calls the headline. The Elmendorf speech, apparently the same feed from AP that Fox ran, was buried down in their "politics" section. Apparently CNN thinks a speech from the Commander-in- Chief addressing charges by some democrats that he lied about going to Iraq is just politics, yet the intial charges themselves are considered "news".

But hey--there was plenty of interactive video to watch about Bush's horrible poll numbers.


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Apparently the Coalition is not buying this al-Douri death thing since they are still looking for him.

"Officials believe that al-Duri still has access to funds that he personally transferred to Syria," the US military said. "This money was looted from Iraq during the Saddam Hussein reign and is now being used to recruit and finance numerous insurgent attacks in Iraq."

So, unless there is a black-ops program for ghostbusting we don't know about, this story was likely a fake.

There's an interesting little morsel in the article worth mention:

A trusted aide of Saddam since the very beginnings of his rise to power, Ibrahim was a natural choice for the sensitive mission of leading an underground resistance network.

He was seen as the man who could potentially serve as a link between the Saddam regime and radical Al-Qaeda Islamic fighters.

Seems they are suggesting a Saddam-AQ link before the invasion. We've been told the Islamists would never want to fight with the Ba'athists, no matter what.

Jihadi-bomber lady's story sounds like a story

I'm having a hard time completely buying the story of the would-be Iraqi suicide bomber lady caught in Jordan. Does this make any sense:

"My husband wore a belt and put one on me. He taught me how to use it, how to pull the (primer cord) and operate it," she said, wringing her hands.

"My husband detonated (his bomb). I tried to explode (my belt) but it wouldn't. I left, people fled running and I left running with them."

Muasher said al-Rishawi's husband noticed her struggle and pushed her out of the ballroom in order not to attract attention before blowing himself up.

Jon Lovitz would be proud. First she says her husband blew himself up, then her belt failed. Then she says her husband pushed her out of the room, presumably because hers failed to ignite. This was done before he blew himself up (of course), yet I'm thinking if a woman standing in a crowd had tried to pull a cord inside her gown, and was having trouble, and her husband then "pushed" her out of the room, somebody might notice.

Since he pushed her out of the room, that means he left and came back. Presuming someone saw this happen, why wouldn't they have already alerted security? She also says she panicked and ran out with "everyone else". Why run out when you're already out? She had to be at least some distance from her husband's bomb lest she be injured.

Finally, why would the husband push this woman out at all? Why not just allow her to be blown up with his bomb, since she was going to die anyway? Surely he had to assume the Jordanians could capture her. Now we've got the woman and her unexploded bomb with all it's components to study. Thanks dude.

I think it was more like this--moments before zero hour she got a burst of sanity and thought "what the hell am I doing standing here with RDX strapped on my body?", at which point she pushed her own butt out the door as fast as possible.

MORE 11/14
I was remiss in forgetting to post the link to this story. In looking for it this morning, it can no longer be easily found. Corresponding versions from CNN and Haaretz do not have all of the above comments. If memory serves, my source was AP.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Saddam's legal team heading for the hills

Whether it's a strategy or just a reaction to events, eleven hundred lawyers in Saddam's legal team have withdrawn from the case. Let me repeat, 1100. I have trouble paying for one, but then again I don't have access to a UN-run slush fund. Eleven frickin hundred!

In my post below about killing all the lawyers, my suggestion was that Saddam's inner circle arranged the murders to force a change of venue--out of Iraq. If true, today's revelation suggests the rank and file legal team weren't part of that circle, and were not about to be blown away for the cause.

Either way, the result appears as intended--no lawyers, no fair trial. Wonder if that subject came up during Kofi Annan's unannounced trip to Baghdad last week?

UPDATE 11/13

We get word the trial will go forward, in Iraq. If the 1100 bail out or his other counselors fail to show, the Iraqi court will appoint new ones.

Funny, though. If the above comes to pass the trial will take another hit in the schedule, prolonging Saddam's life even further:

We have many legal experts and lawyers, and (the court) will choose from among them" to defend Saddam and the others, he said.

That could result in further delays, Juhi conceded, saying replacement lawyers could ask the court to postpone the trial to give them time to prepare their case.

Saddam could refuse the new lawyers, further delaying the trial. Or the next batch may refuse to defend him, or more might get dead.

Compare the Ba'ath Party trials to a chronology of the Nuremberg trials after World War II, where ten defendants were hanged about a year and a half after it commenced. The formation of the new German government was well behind what we've seen in Iraq. The only difference appears to be the level of violence, probably the main reason the trial has taken so long. Right?