Wednesday, May 31, 2006

"We trust the Americans more than Iraqis"

That's what Barzan Hassan, Saddam Hussein's half-brother, said in court Tuesday during the never-ending Saddam trial. This oddly humorous and ironic statement was made in reference to an allegation that a prosecution witness was paid to lie about the Dujail incident:
He even called for U.S. officials -- whom he has repeatedly accused of interfering in the trial -- to help with the investigation.

"We trust the Americans more than Iraqis," he said.
In today's session he began lecturing Judge Abdel-Rahman was rebuked and summarily tossed out. Again.

Meanwhile things just couldn't get much worse on the PR front over there. In the midst of the Haditha story we now learn American troops allegedly shot and killed two women, one supposedly pregnant, who didn't slow down for a marked checkpoint in the Sunni triangle. It's likely an accident, but the liberal media and their Iraqi insurgent comrades will no doubt put it to great use (while this will go virtually unnoticed).

But it also sounds like the kind of sick stunt a Saddamist or AQ gang might stage to help maximize the current propaganda value of Haditha. Pregnant women involved in suicide attacks at checkpoints are not unheard of, so let's wait for the investigation on this one, too. Remember, Barzan said he trusts us to do investigations.

While all hell breaks loose in Iraq and Iran, the 'enemy' here has also been active. Apparently some in the lefty tinfoil hat league have decided the 'shots fired' incident at the Rayburn office parking garage at the US Capitol last week was actually an espionage shootout involving intelligence services from three countries. Sounding like a snippet from knock-off Tom Clancy novel (with George Bush and Tony Blair the supervillians, of course) this version of events also manages to mix in the freezer cash of Congressman Jefferson, but not quite in the way MacRanger had earlier suggested.

You'll have to read it to believe it. Important safety tip--you might want to avoid food or drink while doing so.

Taking recent events into context the Butcher couldn't hope for much better, could he?

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

A lush green future

The rather ominous headline reads: "global warming boosts poison ivy". The story then goes on to tell us that rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere could contribute to a near super strain of poison ivy:
"The fertilization effect of rising CO2 on poison ivy ... and the shift toward a more allergenic form of urushiol have important implications for the future health of both humans and forests," the study concludes
Well, ok. But surely the fertilization effect would have similar effects on other plants. I'm a little rusty on the ole biology, but I do recall something about photosynthesis sucking out CO2 and puffing back oxygen. Therefore, while the poison ivy was growing to obscene levels due to extra carbon, wouldn't corn, soybeans, rice, bushes and trees also benefit similarly? How about azaleas and bermudagrass? Wheat?

Come to think of it, it does seem the hedge out front grows faster than it used to. Maybe the time is right to invest in yard tools.

One final note. The article mentions the increasing CO2 as being "a greenhouse gas" as if we need to eliminate it. Thing is, it's a natural part of the atmosphere, averaging around 0.035%. Another naturally occurring gas often deemed to be pure greenhouse evil is methane, which averages around 0.0002%, just slightly more than Krypton.


Yet another flying car idea. This one called the Transition, dubbed a 'personal aerial vehicle', could drive to an airport and fly to a destination, allowing the flyer to avoid rental car charges. It's the latest in a line of many previous failures in this department, but eventually they'll get it right. And the very same ingenuity will save us from global warming.

MAD AT MAX 5/31/06

While on the subject, Drudge is flashing a story about an organized protest against NOAA regards Katrina, including the demand that Administrator Conrad Lautenbacher and National Hurricane Center Director Max Mayfield resign.

Why? Due to their complicity in allowing Katrina and the other hurricanes to form last year, of course. Had they only been preaching more about global warming these storms would have been, would have been, well, the same. But, moonbats so inclined would have had the necessary ammo to justify blaming Bush for both the aftermath AND the storm itself.

Max Mayfield's job description talks about the forecasting of hurricanes for the protection of life and property, not taking a few contradicting studies and making political statements. What would they have him to do, advise everyone to board up the windows and leave town, then vote Green Party at the next election?


The science writer for the Houston Chronicle has a blog, and has weighed in on the protest over Max Mayfield and Katrina (which only drew 30 people).
It's actually a pretty interesting site for those who like science stuff.

A closer look at Moussaoui

As one who thought Zacarious Moussaoui was mostly an underling in the hierarchy of al Qaeda jihadists, Monday's Weekly Standard column by Thomas Jocelyn provided me a "head scratching" moment:
There are good reasons to believe this lone juror and the Times got it wrong. A host of unchallenged facts tie Moussaoui to the man who acted as a handler for the 9/11 hijackers, Ramzi Binalshibh, in the months leading up to the attack. And while some have tried to portray Moussaoui as merely an al Qaeda wannabe with a penchant for self-aggrandizement, his ties to Ramzi Binalshibh alone should be enough to convince anyone of his participation in the 9/11 plot.
His column is in response to the latest Bin Laden audio, a strange admonishment of the US government for trying to have Moussaoui french fried for his purported role in the plot. Recall that UBL said:
"I am the one in charge of the 19 brothers and I never assigned brother Zacarias to be with them in that mission," he said, referring to the 19 hijackers.
Mr. Jocelyn's article skillfully parses the testimony taken from the two primary planners/handlers of September 11th pertaining to Moussaoui, KSM and Ramzi Binalshibh, which differed somewhat. He then takes this UBL statement to task:
"Brother Moussaoui was arrested two weeks before the events, and if he had known something even very little about the Sept. 11 group, we would have informed the leader of the operation, Mohammad Atta, and the others to leave America before being discovered," Bin Laden said.
The parts in bold come close to representing legal-speak. Knowing and receiving money from Binalshibh DID represent knowledge of A plan, however, it didn't represent knowledge of THE plan, nor does it suggest he knew the number of conspirators, their locations, or the execution date/time. And while the rest of the attackers trained and lived together in small groups, he was presumably acting alone, as far as know.

The bigger question might be why. Why did UBL feel the need to issue what amounts to a "set the record straight" supplemental audio, with no other specific threats? Here are my speculative guesses. Feel free to agree, add to, mock, ignore or correct.

1. To stem embarrassment. After Zacarious botched his assignment he proceeded to refuse counsel, changed his story, announced his intention to die as a martyr then celebrated when he realized he would live. His troubled past was used as a crutch for his becoming a terrorist, hardly the recruiting picture bin Laden would seem to desire.

Some suggest he was a favorite of UBL who wanted him placed on the team but KSM, knowing he was an idiot, stuck him harmlessly out of the way. It would seem a useless risk to take, but sometimes the boss has to be pleased.

2. To use as a propaganda tool. As Richard Miniter pointed out in the New York Sun, Debra Burlingame thinks his life sentence has provided bin Laden a useful propaganda tool. However, it's not clear to me whether he has much propaganda value, since most Americans would agree his goals were to kill as many infidels as possible, regardless of complicity in 9/11.

The propaganda aspect of the tape was stronger on the Gitmo angle in the face of mounting international pressure to close the camp. But why throw Moussaoui in? Americans are generally happy he's off the streets.

3. He was trying to cover the existence of a fifth squad on 9/11. If that's the case, why talk about it? It's been said he was perhaps a reserve pilot, there to plug holes in case others fell out. Maybe, but there's a problem with that, too.

According to the FBI Moussaoui was asking for instruction on the Boeing 747. The aircraft used on 9/11 were 757s and 767s. The avionics systems aren't the same.

He was bluffing that "second wave" attack groups are still in place. We know from watching terrorist operations in Iraq that they like to use tandem attacks. KSM did describe a second wave in his confession but said it was scuttled after our rapid response. Based only on the phrasing, "I never assigned brother Zacarias to be with them in that mission" it would leave open the possibility there were/are other missions Zacarious WAS assigned to.

5. He was signalling sleepers. Perhaps it's too risky to use the go-phone with the NSA program in place.

Despite his connections to Binalshibh and the conflicting testimony of the planners, it still seems a combo of numbers one and two above are the most likely, but number five can't entirely be ruled out. More than likely he felt the need to mention Zacarious to cover his mistake of assigning him into America in the first place against the advice of KSM.

Monday, May 29, 2006


This is the day to remember our fallen soldiers, which since Memorial Day 2002 has included civilians as well, specifically those on Flight 93. My salute goes out, feeble as it might be, to all--including their families.

But not all pay the ultimate price. Jessica Clements was profiled on 60 Minutes Sunday during a feature about wounded vets. If her attitude doesn't lift your spirit, nothing will.

She's one among many. Here's more, including a quiz passed on by the NeoCon Blogger involving another Jessica.

3 PM LOCAL 5/29/06


Sunday, May 28, 2006

Don't ask, don't tell

Not what you think. It's a move sure to drive privacy advocates crazy. The feds will use the state secrets provision to seek dismissal of two lawsuits against the government for the alleged NSA collection program. It's anticipated the feds will step in on behalf of the telephone companies, who are being sued for the same thing.

Let's try to follow the national security bouncing ball. Former NSA Chief Michael Hayden was involved with the initial surveillance program through orders from Bush a month or two after 9/11. Negroponte, who also served as Ambassador to Iraq, was obviously onboard with the program early on.

With Goss out, Bush wanted Hayden for CIA Chief, keeping the circle small. In the run-up to his confirmation someone re-leaked the NSA collection program to USA Today, and the media storm ensued. The adminstration then agreed to brief the Intelligence Committee members of both House and Senate about the program, they did, and Hayden sailed through confirmation by a landslide. The media yawned as the storm subsided.

That leads us to this:
Director of National Intelligence John D. Negroponte invoked the state-secrets privilege on behalf of the administration, writing that disclosure of such information would cause "exceptionally grave damage" to national security.
Justice Department attorneys said in their legal brief that the legality of the president's actions could be properly judged only by understanding "the specific threat facing the nation." They noted: "That understanding is not possible without revealing to the very adversaries we are trying to defeat what we know about them and how we are proceeding to stop them."
That sounds a tad specific, perhaps enough to shut the partisan traps of a few congressmen who were formerly trying to score points against Bush. And apparently it worked.

Perhaps we're better off not asking or knowing, but such possible threats give one a renewed appreciation for the men and women searching them out on the front lines. Assuming the threats exist, of course.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

War, what is it good for?

The title of this post was the refrain of a popular song (done by Edwin Starr) in the early 70s when Vietnam was eroding into chaos and the streets were filling with young protesters.

We may be on the verge of a re-awakening as news of the Haditha story trickles out, ramping up the pressure to call the choppers and grab the last man. But is history repeating itself? Is this the same ole song, different day?

In his speech Thursday Tony Blair asked (then answered) the question, "is what we're doing worth it?". Perhaps his answer was partially affected by this repugnantly God-awful event, which occurred while he was in Baghdad:
An Iraqi tennis coach and two of his players were killed because they were wearing shorts, apparently in violation of a warning by Islamic extremists.

Gunmen stopped the car in which the athletes were riding and asked them to step out before shooting them Wednesday, Manham Kubba, secretary general of the Iraqi Tennis Union, said Saturday. The coach, Hussein Ahmed Rashid, was Sunni, and the two players were Shiite, Kubba said
Think it can't come to a neighborhood near you? Be careful. Western civilization is currently suffering from a very poor self-image, largely due to the guilt associated with our own successes compared to the rest of the planet. Add in liberal does of moral relativism and breakdown of the traditional family along with a loss of faith in a greater good, and we've put ourselves into a weak position.

Our soldiers are fighting, but will western civilization in general back the fight to protect our way of life? It's not apparent whether folks realize that unfettered Islamofascism represents a trip back to the seventh century for all--no women's rights, no gay rights, forced religion. The things they accuse Bush of doing.

Iraq might not have had WMDs, but Saddam was a terrorist. Leaving his terrorist and pan-Arabic sympathizers to run the country would be a setback for the entire region. The consequences of leaving seem to range from in the worst another larger regional war involving Israel to in the least a world where a majority of the oil was controlled by the likes of Chavez, Osama, and Ahmadinejad. Our fighting men and women are working to stop those outcomes in favor of peaceful democracies. God be with them all.

corrected to give proper song credit..


Memorial Day 2006 featured many coordinated attacks in Iraq, including one that killed two members of a CBS News crew.

Judging by the targets, mostly Sunni, the attacks had a distinct Hezbollah/Iranian flavor. Southern Iraq is also becoming more unruly due to the influence of Iranian-backed militias. Crunch time is fast approaching. What are we going to do?

MORE 5/29

Many are circulating this column. It would be nice to get some Islamic feedback on it's premise. Wonder what CAIR thinks of it, for example?

Friday, May 26, 2006

Walton: Don't concern yourself with Judy

Friday afternoon is typically the time when interesting things get dumped on the media, leaks and such. With a long weekend one might expect a few today, and perhaps this development in the case of the United States versus Scooter Libby qualifies.

The presiding judge Reggie Walton ruled that some of the notes taken by Time journalist Matt Cooper requested by the Libby team be turned over. That had to be a set back to some in the media, however in the same decision he overruled a similar request involving Judith Miller and NBC reporter Andrea Mitchell.

As usual, Just One Minute has the best right-leaning coverage and the order itself, so it's prudent to let Mr. Mcguire and friends figure out what this might mean to Cooper, Libby and Rove. But his first glance reaction to the denial of the Miller notes seems to invite comment:
Huh? Presumably Ms. Miller is going to be asked about why she was talking to Libby at all. Presumably she will be asked why there are entries for "Valerie Flame" and "Victoria Wilson" in her notebook, and to explain her testimony that she may have discussed Ms. Plame with other sources. But the judge can't conceive of cirsumstances in which she will be asked whether she was actually working on a story?
It might help to speculate on Miller's mindset around May through June of 2003. Among her extensive reporting of the Middle East and Iraq war she had previously published a book in 2001 entitled "Germs" discussing germ warfare. Ironically, shortly after she was a recipient of an anthrax letter, although the powder was inert. She had just returned from Iraq in May 2003 after a stint with Army Task Force Alpha looking for WMDs. She had a lot invested.

One might imagine with her personal reputation on the line she'd have been more interested in discussing the NIE with Libby as opposed to "Valerie Flame". After all, finding the WMDs would help debunk the Plame story and recapture her reputation.

An alternative theory might be that Miller was beginning to sense a double-cross and was open to any revenge stories against the administration. However, even if the Plame story turned out true her rep would still need rehabilitating, the kind only a WMD smoking gun story could provide. Revenge doesn't seem to sqaure with her spending time in jail.

Speaking of jail, during her time there Scooter sent her the now-famous "root of the Aspens" letter inviting her to identify him as a source and return to freedom. In that letter he also said the following,
"You have stories to cover--Iraqi elections and suicide bombers, biological threats and the Iranian nuclear program."
Of course, it was the rest of that paragraph that was sliced and diced including "Out west, where you vacation, the aspens will already be turning. They turn in clusters, because their roots connect them. Come back to work--and life." which prosecutor Fitzgerald later asked her to explain.

The truth is often whispy and amorphous. Sure, this whole sordid affair could be the result of a corrupt administration protecting a false story about invading Iraq for nefarious purposes, as the left says. But Libby's subterfuge also brings about the possibility he was signaling Miller about future stories to come, something in line with her expertise in WMDs. He named both Iran and Iraq. A stretch? Perhaps. But hey, you ARE just reading a blog here. It's not like this is the New York Times.

Immigration man

What's happening in the United States Congress regarding immigration is historic and will affect our childrens' future. If you don't believe it, think back to the last time 'reform' was passed in 1986 and consider the outcome--our current pickle. Therefore, it's our civic duty to understand what's going on and communicate our resulting views to those who vote. After all, they work for us. Ahem.

The Senate just passed their version of the bill. Our Tennessee lame duck Senator Frist voted in the affirmative, while his not so lame duck colleague Lamar Alexander punched the nay button. You can figure out the politics on that one.

The competing bills in the House and Senate are in many respects similar but have some glaring differences, show-stoppers, perhaps. Found this helpful at first glance, but it doesn't take into account side effects such as what Senator Sessions talked about, among other things.

I've voiced my opinion to my elected representative in DC, which is not really far askew from this one. And if a goofball like myself can contact a congressman, surely anyone can.

cross posted at Mainstreet Journal

Tipping point

Yep, it's a rather tired cliche, but perhaps still the most appropriate to describe the situation in Iraq and the greater Middle East at the moment.

President Bush and Prime Minister Blair stood up in front of the press and talked about Iraq Thursday evening. Both said the words they needed to say, and answered questions.

Both appeared a little weary, but to be fair, Blair probably had some jet lag. Whether planned or off-the-cuff, both men admitted some of their mistakes. The media will happily run to press with their scoop, but perhaps the scoop was part of the plan.

For example, Blair just returned from Baghdad where he spoke with the new government, coalition leaders, troops and few Iraqi civilians. Was the serious and conciliatory tone of the press conference a reaction to what he learned on his trip? Clearly the jury is still out on whether Iraq can succeed.

Speak of the devil, the Saddam Hussein jury is still out as well. After his court session today, a CNN reporter managed to get a behind the scenes view of the man who still considers himself the president, after all the cameras had been unplugged:
A few other journalists and I excitedly crouch, crowd and climb chairs to see the forbidden. We see a court now informal with the departure of the chief judge and a behind-the-scenes glimpse of Hussein. His defense lawyers stand in line to greet him.

One by one, faces filled with a kind of reverence, they kiss his cheeks and exchange words. Hussein looks pleased and relaxed, smiling and chuckling with his new cohorts. For just this moment, the Saddam Hussein of old is back, literally holding court
One might take his enthusiasm juxtaposed with Thursday's somber press conference as a scorecard of the war, but there's no need to get all 'Murtha' about it yet.

After all, we're still trying to win this war. Bush and Blair's genuineness was perhaps an attempt to recapture the confidence of the masses before it's too late. Right now the average American, Brit, or Aussie parent might conclude this war is not worth losing a son or daughter over. Without WMDs many question the need.

But for others it's more. It's about solving the case of who really attacked us on 9/11 and why. Despite the 9/11 Commission Report we don't conclusively know the answer to that yet. Dan Darling at the Weekly Standard reminds us that Iran was mentioned in that report, with the commissioners recommending further investigation. Middle East experts such as Ken Timmermann and Michael Ledeen have speculated on the possibility Iran harbored al Qaeda, even Bin Laden, both before and after the attack.

Another who made that claim was Yossef Bodansky. Hardly a neocon cheerleader, his book "The Secret History of the Iraq War", written in 2004, took Bush to task for many of the mistakes that have led to our current predicament in 2006.

However, he also detailed the connections between Iraq, Syria, Iran and various and sundry terrorist groups both before and after 9/11, including an explanation of the pre-planned insurgency and necessary symbiosis between Ba'athist hooligans and the Islamists.

If we tie up all the loose ends a case might be made that the 9/11 attackers were more than just a score of martyrs and their eccentric cave dweilling handler, but rather a network of states with common enemies. If true, western leaders must feel this fact is not suitable for public consumption, probably for good reason.

However, the byproduct of such a narrow focus (and a robust insurgency) has led to a diminution of support for the Iraq effort. Perhaps that's why Tony Blair is here to see Bush, and perhaps why he said the following at the press conference:
And one of the things I think that certainly for our people they find most difficult to understand is they will say: Well, is it -- can it be worth everything that we are doing? I mean, it's such a huge sacrifice that is being made. Can it be worth it?

And I think the answer to that is: It is worth it to those engaged in this violence and terrorism to try to stop us, and we should have the same faith and confidence in our determinations to succeed, as they have in their determination to make us fail.
On the dawn of Memorial Day weekend our western leaders are huddling over strategy while trying to put their best face forward in a show of unity and steadfastness in the face of adversity. Iraq is at a tipping point, and with it the entire Middle East. Their leadership and motivation will determine the outcome.

HADITHA 5/27/06

Hate to do it, but have to pose the question--was the rather somber and serious Bush/Blair press conference and subsequent rare apologies to the press on earlier mistakes an attempt to get out ahead (or salvage our war efforts) before the Haditha can of worms explodes all over the media? Just say it ain't so.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Signed, sealed and undeliverable

Bush made a move to quell the "Constitutional Crisis" today by ordering the subpoenaed evidence the FBI removed from Jefferson's office locked in the Solicitor General's safe for 45 days.

(ed- by the way--dig that sneaky picture AP used for this story posted to the left for reference. Since a caption was not included it was evidently a stock photo chosen for the impact and not related to this story. Matter of fact, a caption contest would surely include something about deals and devils. It's done here all the time, but hey--this is a darn blog.)

Some folks on the right aren't happy with this move. As for me, unless something else is uncovered I think it's a good thing. The cooling off period will wipe the crisis off the front page and hopefully put Jefferson back on it where he belongs. He won't be able to whine about GOP racism, and the MSM has lost a huge diversionary story and is now forced to go back and report on the scandal. Sure, this order could certainly protect republican congresspeoples under investigation, but that's a topic to be left for the lefty blogs and MSM.

Cooling off periods. Cooling off periods. Say, whatever happened to the Ports Deal cooling off period?


MacRanger has a fascinating if not unbelievable post tying this whole mess to Africa and a rather well known ex CIA operative and her husband. Keep your mind open and take a look.


Gateway Pundit makes the point, and quite nicely.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

"We Syrians know these things"

That was the response given by Mustafa Setmariam Nasar to a fellow jihadist when questioned about his western-like romantic ways with his Spanish born wife.

Nasar, sometimes called the red-headed terrorist was recently the subject of a story by the WaPo's Craig Whitlock, who called Nasar the architect of modern small-group jihad. More here.

But while Whitlock loosely covered the man's background, he curiously left out a thing or two. Regarding his terrorist training background, here's what the story said:
"According to his own written accounts, he fled the country after that, then trained in camps in Jordan and Egypt."
However, this profile was taken from the Jamestown Foundation's site for Global Terrorism Analysis:
Nasar joined the Syrian jihadist movement al-Tali'a al-Muqatila ("The Fighting Vanguard") and deepened his military expertise at the hands of refugee Syrian military officers in Jordan and Egyptian and Iraqi instructors in Baghdad and Cairo. Specializing in explosives engineering and urban guerrilla warfare, Nasar trained recruits in the military camps of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan and Baghdad..
Why would they remove Baghdad? Do they know something the Jamestown Foundation doesn't?

The WaPo article does mention an Iraq connection when it says Nasar visited "northern Iraq" after fighting with the Taliban. The geographic descriptor is an attempt to keep him out of Baghdad. Interestingly, while it seems clear he was in Baghdad during the Hussein regime receiving terrorist training in the 80s, there is confusion on whether he entered Iraq the second time after he left Afghanistan in 2001. The US State Department had tied him to al-Zarqawi, but Nasar denies it, saying:
"an honor I was not granted to share in since I had difficulties in getting to Iraq, and because of my isolating myself to devote my time to filling one of the Muslims' most important gaps—the analysis of our past experiences, drawing lessons from them, and examining the nature of the confrontations and battles that await us, since I am one of the few that are left among the mujahideen specializing in this"
Not entirely convincing with his Syrian past and all, especially considering how many jihadis flowed across that border. Perhaps he was lazy as well as romantic. Or perhaps this better explains it:
In public statements and in interviews with Arab media, Nasar said he was happy to work with al-Qaeda but emphasized that he was an independent operator.
Two other notorious superterrorists have displayed similar traits complete with the occasional disagreement with their bearded boss--Ramzi Yousef and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the architects of 9/11.

IRAQ NEWS 5/24/06

Tariq Aziz took the witness stand in defense of his former (and current) boss Wednesday. He didn't have anything earth-shattering to say, all in all a fairly predictable testimony to the Butcher. It was just like old times. He appeared a bit sick wearing his hospital gown, but is clearly lucky to be alive based on his doctor's original assessment.

Meanwhile the Iraqi government announced the capture of a wanted man, one Bashar Sabawi Ibrahim Hassan al-Tikriti, the son of Sabawi Ibrahim Hassan al-Tikriti (of course), who was the 6 of diamonds in the deck of cards. His son wasn't a card.

The Treasury Department had flagged him as a receiver of regime funds over a year ago. It's pretty clear the Tikriti clan has had their arms around this insurgency for quite some time. That's actually a good sign, because if Saddam's clan can be rounded up and brought to justice much of the support for the Islamic fighters will dry up.

Iran begs for talks, Bin Laden begs to differ

After his rambling letter to the president, Ahmadinejad now appears eager to follow it with some face-time. They'd like to meet. Talk. Drink some chai. Maybe sprinkle some anthrax in Bush's Baagh Lava. Just kidding.

Actually, Bush should respond to the invitation. The meeting should be held in Antarctica, since that's the only continent on earth Bush can't piss off. Plus, there are no indigenous Muslim terrorists there. But better yet, Al Gore couldn't resist crashing the event to convince them global warming was the bigger problem.

It might be funny watching the talking media heads trying to brave the sub zero winds while simultaneously doing sidebar reports on Gore standing on ice caps talking about global warming with a healthy coat of hoar frost in his hair.

As to Bush's discussion points, here they are, reading as Bush might say them:

> One, get out of Iraq. Quit backing al-Sadr, the SCIRI, and the Badr boys. Pull out the spies and stop sending ordnance. Let Iraq have their own government.

> Two, a public thank you for our removal of their arch enemy Saddam would be nice. We promise to be gracious when saying "you're welcome".

> Two-B, a public apology for taking our embassy employees hostage would be nice. We promise to be gracious when saying "apology accepted".

> Three, if you want nookular power you'll accept the light water reactors, otherwise you'll be getting a visit from Mr. Cruise no matter how much bluffing you do.

> Four, if you're hidin' al-Qaeda, expel them and fight terrorism along with us.

> Five, disband your phoney Mullahocracy and allow a real democratic vote. Let your people live free and let women attend soccer games. Your people are proud Persians and are fully capable of self-rule.

> And six, let Israel be. Give up the idea of pushing them into the sea and cut ties with the terrorists who would do it. Work with us to find a sensible place to put the Palestinians. We've already made it clear what the alternative will be.

If Bush's schedule is too booked to attend a meeting, he could choose the alternative of replying to the letter. Here's a draft version already completed and ready to go.

Stangely, as if on cue, Usama also sent us a message on Tuesday. Apparently he just wanted us to know Zacarious wasn't one of the nineteen 9/11 brothers, making it clear we shouldn't have tried to have him french fried. Maybe he's been in the caves too long, since he doesn't seem to realize that Americans generally felt he wanted us dead either way.

Otherwise, the letter contained no threats, no truce offers. It was just sorta a 'hi-howdy do, just letting you know I'm still here and you're still stupid' kind of thing. Unless it was yet another coded message to start the next big attack.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Every man has his price

It looks like a very quiet end to the Wen Ho Lee lawsuit. If your memory has faded, Lee was the Los Alamos scientist accused of transferring state secrets to China back in the 90s. More background here, which includes the now popular buzz phrase "a chilling effect".

Funny, Mr. Lee's case was looking good as of late last year, but now he appears ready to accept some form of a settlement. Wonder how large the check will be?

Guess that precludes any jail time for the likes of James Risen and Walter Pincus. It also precludes the public from ever knowing which democratic operatives leaked, and why. Finally, it precludes a Supreme Court chilling effect on the practice of getting out the truth or trash on folks using anonymous government sources. You've still got the courts for redress.

CNN had a reporter involved, Pierre Thomas, and their report on the story is here. Interestingly, they made the natural connection between the Plame leak and the Lee story, but only in context of cases involving the shielding of journalistic sources. They played the disassociation game thusly:
Unlike that criminal probe, Lee's case is a civil lawsuit brought by a private citizen and involves whether he has the right to learn what officials might have told reporters.
Libby is also a private citizen and former government worker who's been accused of something, but he's asking the court to compel the journalists to divulge whether they had prior knowledge about Plame's identity:
For Libby, that means raising questions about whether Miller, Russert and Cooper could have learned about Plame and her CIA connection from other reporters at their respective news organizations or government officials besides Libby.

Jeffress also wanted one page of undated notes kept by NBC's Andrea Mitchell that seemed to be of a conversation she had with Libby
In other words, if Libby can prove that the reporters he spoke with already knew Plame was married to Wilson, and.. if it can also be proved that in conversation he only vaguely acknowledged their assertion, well it might be exculpatory. Or conspiratorial.

Ironically, Tim Russert was on Sean Hannity's radio show this afternoon and a caller asked why he failed to tell the truth in the matter. Mr. Russert replied that neither he nor NBC ever lied, and that Libby called to complain about one of his TV shows on another subject, not to discuss Plame.

As to any effects of Lee's case on Libby's, probably none if he settles. But it might represent a model depending on how the court of public opinion judges the many leaks from both sides and the political circumstances in play next year.

MORE 5/23

Hmm. Based on the MSM's desire to settle the Lee case out of court, wonder if this development will have any impact on their feelings about fighting the Libby case while simultaneously being subpoenaed to give up their leak sources?

Keep in mind the judge in the Lee case already ruled the involved reporters were compelled to testify, and we know about Judy Miller, so precedent is set. I'd say a deal might become possible at some future point unless Fitzgerald can elevate the Plame case past Libby. Otherwise it could be a standoff.

A culture of denial

“Nothing I have learned in the last 48 hours leads me to believe that there was any necessity to change the precedent established over those 219 years,” said Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert. Talking about immigration? Taxes? Campaign finance reform?

Nope. William Jefferson.

After headlining the story “Jefferson: Probe Won’t Force Resignation” and reminding us the Congressman recently was seen videotaped taking a bribe, the AP writer seems obsessed with the FBI’s search warrant executed on Jefferson’s Capitol Hill office, even quoting an unamed source with the “Senate Historical Office” to point out its rarity. Doesn’t the House have a historical office?

We were told of the statement issued by Nancy Pelosi's office regarding the search, which reads in part:
"Justice Department investigations must be conducted in accordance with constitutional protections and historical precedent."
Wait, what was the story here? Oh yes, down at the bottom of the article we find a few reasons for the search, like:
The plan was for Jefferson to use the cash to bribe a high-ranking Nigerian official to ensure the success of a business deal in that country, the 100-page affidavit said.

All but $10,000 was recovered Aug. 3, when the FBI searched Jefferson’s home in Washington. The money was stuffed in his freezer, wrapped in $10,000 packs and concealed in food containers and aluminum foil.
Many might remember Congressman Jefferson as the one who during the heights of the Katrina crisis commandeered National Guard personnel to ferry him out to his waterlogged home, where he exited with a large object and a few suitcases. Meanwhile people were sitting on rooftops waiting for rescue, but hey, that was Bush’s fault, right?

The story could possibly put a dent in the dem's likely fall campaign slogan about a republican 'culture of corruption', although the parsers are already hard at work. According to a very balanced New York Times story on this, here's what Representative Rahm Emanuel said about it:
"They are different scales," Mr. Emanuel said. "One is a party outlook and operation; the other is an individual's action. They have institutional corruption."
In other words, when our guys go bad they're on their own. Vote for us.

The real story here might be the reaction from both parties to the office search warrant. Right or wrong, many Americans probably won't have much sympathy for Congresspeople complaining about having their off-limits offices open to criminal search warrants, especially when the average American isn't allowed similar sanctuaries.

Yes, protections are needed and for valid reasons, but does that mean we allow our Reps to use their offices as evidence shields? That hardly sounds constitutional, either. Alberto Gonzales gave the following reason: "unusual steps that were taken in response to an unusual set of circumstances; I'll just say that." Ok Mr. AG, the ball is in your court. Show us the money.

MORE 5/24/06

Instapundit and Michelle Malkin has their usual tasty assortment of links and comment on this story. Which one? Not Jefferson's cold hard cash story, but the one emerging as the main focus for the MSM--Alberto Gonzales' saturday night raid on Jefferson's House of Representatives office. Outrage is flowing from both sides of the aisle, but most of the constituents aren't buying it.

Meanwhile, since this post was talking about denial, doesn't it seem the democrats are much better at it? Recall if you will the last Louisiana Congressman to resign his post. Bob Livingston. Remember his crime?

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Politician, heal thyself

Chocolate City mayor-reelect Ray Nagin came out with praise for the President in his acceptance speech, then said,
"This election is over, and it's time for this community to start the healing process."
It's not clear whether he meant healing from Katrina, the election, or his own previous comments.

But you gotta take some pity on the poor guy. According to Drudge he did more than defeat the entrenched white democrats of New Orleans, he defeated Howard Dean. We can only speculate at this point as to why the DeanNC would want Landreiu over Nagin from a national perspective. Surely part of it were those goofy tirades and the memories of a parking lot full of unused buses.

Maybe it was race. People across America were pretty much amazed that an electorate who watched their city get nearly wiped out by a preventable flood would desire the same failed government back in power, especially after those racially divisive public comments.

Perhaps the national party figured a new face might help mute the criticism, which will surely come if another hurricane comes remotely close and parts of the city go back under water. Oh how the national spotlight's gonna shine. Again.

Or maybe it was in deference to those southern voters with the rebel flags on their pick-em-ups that Howard once spoke so fondly of. Let's see what develops from the Drudge story. My earlier portayal of Dean as 'crazy like a fox' might be in serious jeopardy.

THIS JUST IN.. 5/22/06

Uh oh.

WHOOPS? 5/22

Drudge has retracted his earlier story about democrat operatives being sent into NOLA to hijack the election.

A pushback was not unexpected, but it must have been pretty iron clad for Drudge to figuratively fall backwards down the stairs tripping over himself. Of course this means the 'crazy like a fox' theory on Dean is still in play!


Wonder who those "well-placed DRUDGE REPORT sources" were? They sure left him twisting in the breeze as they dashed for the doors immediately upon hearing from the DNC. But, if the only threat was from a lawsuit it's doubtful Drudge would have wilted so fast, especially if his sources had been willing to back him up.

(ed--won't such attack dog tactics against members of the media have a chilling effect on the public's right to get erroneous information off the internet? I think so.)

Wide open spaces

I liked that song. Liked the whole CD, pretty much. The Dixie Chicks were country-unique. My brother even remembers seeing them in Texas at a bonfire party back before they were rich and famous. Don't recall him saying anything ahout their outspoken opinions on anything other than the fiddle and banjo.

After their Bush trash in London it's admittedly hard to think of them the same way. It's one of those things--no matter what people say an actor or musician's personal opinions can affect their fans. I still listen occasionally, but every time it brings to mind politics. I get enough of that here.

If Natalie Maines was to somehow stumble across this blog, perhaps while googling for lefty sites or forehead cream, she might respond by telling me to go get in the trunk with Earle. It wouldn't be the first time a woman has conveyed that sentiment but is 'copping an attitude' toward the fans really a good idea?

Sure, everyone has the right to a free speech opinion about the war, the president, Ray Nagin or Ted Kennedy. But isn't it kinda dumb to tick off half your audience or constantly shove your politics in their faces? Got news for Ms. Maines, people generally don't go to concerts to get their political marching orders or to be told they are idiots.

The Chicks are featured in Time magazine this month for reasons I won't go into (I don't really know). But it's not hard to believe they might be local newsroom heroes to some, on par with Stephen Colbert. I can imagine some Time news elites perhaps thinking of them as a sappy bunch of red state hillbilly trash before their brave and courageous truth to power moment overseas. I could be wrong, but the article did say this:
And however you vote, it's tough to deny that by gambling their careers, three Texas women have the biggest balls in American music.
Personally I've never much cared for that visual being applied to women. As to their new CD/single, this statement from a DJ sums up my own feelings better than I could:
It is, as one country radio programmer says, "a four-minute f--- you to the format and our listeners. I like the Chicks, and I won't play it."
There's your trouble.

Howard Dean, democrat operative

General Hayden is a certainly a cool cat. He said the right things and even put the CIA itself in perspective when he said "we need to get them out of the news". Indeed. His confirmation is all but confirmed, according to the WaPo, further evidenced by the dying media storm.

Democrat heavyweight Jay Rockefeller, one of the most vocal critics of the NSA surveillance program to date, was absent from the hearings due to recent back surgery, but he prepared questions for the hearing and will vote by proxy. That didn't stop him from commenting to the press, but it's likely his rather benign comments won't satisfy the passionate detractors in his party.

Then we have DNC chairman Howard Dean. He's over in the corner screaming about Hayden 'not being fit' for the job because of his involvement with the surveillance program and is trying to get 100,000 people to sign a petition supporting Hayden's rejection. Did he not get the memo?

Such a dichotomy might suggest he's a republican operating under deep cover, or that the dems are simply too afraid to fire him for fear of the potential embarrassment with campaign season kicking in. Or maybe it's something else entirely.

Although his rhetoric might represent a rant to the right, it amounts to gospel for the far left base. Those folks are the ones most likely to sit down a sign a check to the DNC, so he's only preaching to the choir. With Howard running interference it frees up the Congressional dems to take moderate stances on certain issues with the goal of gathering undecided voters. They've gotta have 'em to win.

So, assuming they really want to win, and of course they do, Dean would have been fired last year if he was dragging down the plan.

MORE 5/21

Guess this was Dean's New Orleans evacuation plan. If true it would seem to invalidate the above thesis in favor of a larger conspiracy.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

The hopeful quagmire

Patrick Cockburn of the London Independent flat out says it --Iraq has devolved into a sectarian civil war featuring widespread ethnic cleansing. According to his account it's absolute chaos.

Sidebar--if ethnic cleansing is going on does that mean the American left (who largely supported Clinton's war to stop Milsevic's ethnic cleansing in Kosovo) will have a change of heart and get behind Bush to stop it in Iraq as well?

Silly notions aside, Mr. Cockburn suggests that most of the recent violence began after the Golden Mosque bombing in Samarra back in February. Shall we even bother to ask what happened to that investigation? Right after the attack the Iraqi government quickly announced that ten suspects had been rounded up, but it's becoming likely those were just the usual suspects. Recall it was not a suicide bombing, which seems to rule out al Qaeda. That only leaves Iranists or Saddamists, which makes it likely we'll never find out.

It's just part of the overall dearth of information the average American has available to determine what's actually going on over there. Judging by the polls it seems evident that most believe the daily flow of blues coming from the mainstream media. And lately we've seen a surge, low-lighted by Murtha and his new Mei Lei massacre to countless stories about middle class Iraqis fleeing for their lives. Meanwhile, stories like this one from Amir Teheri and correspondences from soldiers (ht Gateway Pundit) are usually left buried in blogs.

Despite the sagging support Bush can reasonably keep boots on the ground through Halloween, but if the elections flip left how long can he withstand the pressure from a press-fueled bloviating cabal of Murtha-Kerry-Reid-Pelosi, especially if his poll numbers are still teetering around the Mendoza line? The mid-terms are likely to be billed as a referendum on Iraq, and if the anti-war side wins (as in Spain and Italy) Bush will be hard-pressed to ignore them.

Our longevity in Iraq was a question Bill O'Reilly put to Don Rumsfeld Friday night, and his answer wasn't nearly convincing enough. Militarily, this guy has a plan he thinks might lead to victory from our perspective. Yet from an Iraqi perspective, this guy says it won't work, and that the new government needs to be more representative, which is a bit hard to understand. Nobody ever seems to agree on that place.

The new government was convened today, which sounds like a giant step beyond Saddam, who remains in jail 'ready to die'. Despite all the trials and troubles that seems to be worthy of at least some resepectful applause.


Saddam's greatest courtroom hits, so far.

Friday, May 19, 2006

English as a first language

On Thursday the Senate voted to make English the A-number Primo language of America. Actually, they are deeming it "the national language" as opposed to the "official" language:
..the Senate yesterday voted to make English the "national language" of the United States, declaring that no one has a right to federal communications or services in a language other than English except for those already guaranteed by law.
It's more a practical application than anything else. I can't help but wonder how it might affect my local ATM, which prevents access to my own money unless I indicate my preference of English or Spanish. Is it not "racist" to discrinimate against those who wish to converse in German or Japanese, or Farsi? Harry?

The open borders crowd keeps repeating it-- "America is a land of immigrants". True enough, but America is also supposed to be a MELTING POT. English was chosen way back for practical not xenophobic reasons. The majority already spoke it, and a common language facilitated commerce, politics and progress. It's worked pretty well so far.

Wonder if the sanctimoneous set realizes that English is already the official language of worldwide aviation? Yep, if you want to fly IFR (talking to air traffic) into Berlin or Hong Kong or Nairobi, ya gotta know English. Maybe Harry also believes the ICAO (UN organization that governs international aviation) are a pack of racists.

Which brings to mind an old joke. A German pilot once called the Berlin tower and requested take off clearance in German. The controller answered, "if you want clearance, speak in English". The pilot angrily protested that he was a German pilot, in a German airplane, operating at a German airport, and demanded a reason why he should not be able to converse in his native tongue. At that point a very dry voice came on the frequency, clearly of English descent, and said, "because you lost the bloody war".

The realpolitik of Illegal immigration

Michelle Malkin is highlighting an LA Times story that supports President Bush's oft-repeated claim that the illegal immigrants "do jobs Americans won't do":
Yesterday, the Los Angeles Times ran a piece of open-borders propaganda masquerading as journalism, which featured a Riverside, Calif., landscaper named Cyndi Smallwood who claims she can't find workers to dig ditches even at $34 an hour.
Her excellent rebuttal makes two strong points. One, that the LA Times either purposely misled or was just downright sloppy on reporting this story, and two, that the real problem with illegal immigration is not at the border, but well inland.

Ms. Smallwood is but one of millions of contractors, small business people and corporations would simply cannot resist the temptation to hire a pool of people eager and ready to work hard without much complaint. If succombing to this temptation means they must offhandedly betray their country by ignoring the hiring laws, so be it--good workers ARE hard to find. Besides, if they won't do it their competitors will. Baby needs new shoes and the mortgage is due.

None of this would be possible if the federal government hadn't officially looked the other way since the last reform laws were passed in 1986. The nasty side effect has been to produce an outrageously arrogant Mexican government who's leader Vincente Fox knows the extent of the barrel he's got us over. He knows how many Cyndi Smallwoods exist out there. He's got some cards to play.

Tancredo's vision is correct--if we were to enforce the law on hiring illegals the job market would dry up and many would go back home. However, the lobby consisting of activists like Ms. Smallwood is large and powerful, and lots of money is involved.

Therefore when the dust settles we'll probably end up with a border wall and better security to appease the vocal conservatives, with a guest worker program featuring delayed amnesty to appease the business class. The republicans will try to make it happen before November, because if they wait too long the democrats might seize Congress and it's likely they will push for immediate amnesty with rhetoric such as, "Jose has been acting like a model citizen for 15 years yet can't even vote...". Ah yes, voting.

The democrats probably see those 11 million illegal aliens as 11 million unregistered democrat voters. Let's face it, based on the show of force on May 1, if the dems give all those people amnesty which side do you think they will forever be beholden to in the voting booth? And how close have the past few elections been?

No matter which side prevails, realpolitik stands to win the day.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Turks just say no

Ankara streets were flooded with protesters today over the 'Allah Akbar' headscarf murderer who shot a high ranking Turkish judge Wednesday:
Broadcast pictures showed the police shielding the ministers as they forced their way up to the praying platform, showered by slogans of thousands chanting, "Murderers out," "Murderer prime minister," "Murderer government" and "Turkey is secular and will remain secular."
If you missed it, the judge was shot in court (along with four others) by a Turkish lawyer shouting the Islamofascist rebel yell death cry, presumably because the judge recently refused to rule in favor a teacher who wanted to wear his head scarf. Turk lawyers were none too happy with their colleague.

Now, despite what you might think about the validity of Turkish rules regarding the wearing of religious hats, ripping bullets into innocent people while praising the Lord just can't become an accepted way of problem solving. The good thing about this rally is the fact Turkey is 99 percent Muslim.

Hopefully today's gathering can be an example to the Europeans. Similar rallies should have occurred across the continent after the Van Gogh killing and cartoon riots, yet this is the more typical response. And yet Turkey is having trouble getting into the EU.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Spicoli to play Richard Clarke

Sean Penn may be a fine dramatic actor but in recent years he's joined a club of others who've allowed their leftist politics to outshine their performances.

Word from Brian Ross's ABC News blog (wow, he sure is popular these days) is that Penn will play former government counter-terrorism czar Richard "Against all Enemies" Clarke, most recently made famous for his apology to the victims' families during the 9/11 commission hearings.

Of course, any film about Clarke should begin with Ramzi Yousef and Abdul Yasin bombing the World Trade Towers in 1993. The next sequence could be cruise missiles raining down on Saddam's Mukhabarat headquarters in Baghdad, with Penn in the background explaining why. Perhaps then it could flash forward to Clarke's role in the White House command center after TWA800 crashed and a dream sequence on how he came up with the goofy zoom-climb theory, later turned into video by the CIA.

Then it could go into his advisory role on bombing Baghdad again in 1998, and his dissertation on Bin Laden's Fatwar. And of course any Clarke movie wouldn't be complete without his role in fruitlessly chasing Bin Laden all over the Middle East after the Africa Embassy bombings, ending with that crazy comment about how the bearded one just might "boogie to Baghdad" if they fired at him and missed.

Canadian maverick Paul Haggis of "Crash" fame will direct. Since one of his previous films was "Flags of Our Fathers", which was about the Iwo Jima flag raising event, this might be a patriotic movie about the GWoT, right? We can't exactly predict the screenplay, but based on Penn's pre-war trips to Iraq, and based on this:
Haggis is also co-founder of Artists for Peace and Justice, a member of the board of directors for the Hollywood Education and Literacy Project, the Environmental Media Association, the President's Council of the Defenders of Wildlife and the advisory board of the Centre for the Advancement of Non-Violence.
Somehow it seems likely they'll focus more on Condi, Rummy and Bush. It's just a feeling.


The movie "American Zeitgeist", a documentary on the roots behind the WoT, will premiere in New York City on June 15. Richard Clarke and Noam Chomsky are among the honored guests invited to speak, along with a debate between Hitchens and Mahmood Mamdani after the flick.

The film begins with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, evidently attempting to explain how things came to be in 2006. Personally I think they should have gone back to the creation of Israel in 1948, but that's just me.

But don't second guess yet. Here's what the web site has to say about "Fahrenheit 9/11":
As for Michael Moore, his Fahrenheit 9/11—apart from the salute it may deserve as the most financially successful documentary ever made—is the work of a bloviating idiot. It would have been worthwhile if he had attempted to apply a dose of real research before taking on a topic he knows nothing about. There, it has been said. A 3-minute cartoon-style cowboy sequence to explain the situation in Afghanistan? C'mon!
Maybe they're just trying to sucker us conservatives in..

When old news becomes news again

Everybody's aware of the NSA surveillance story and the subsequent USA Today follow up. By now you've probably also heard of the class action lawsuit filed against Verizon, Bellsouth and AT&T for 200 billion bucks for allegedly giving away our phone calling records.

You may also know the USA Today didn't break any news whatsoever, but if not feel free to read on.

It was back around Christmas of 2005 when the New York Times gave us this very same information:
As part of the program approved by President Bush for domestic surveillance without warrants, the N.S.A. has gained the cooperation of American telecommunications companies to obtain backdoor access to streams of domestic and international communications, the officials said.
Sound familiar? So why has it taken five months for lawyers to get riled up enough to file suit?
"We intend to make the phone companies understand the financial risks and exposure they have if they do not, No. 1, end this program and, No. 2, find a way to settle it," he said.
Perhaps this was a stunt to help Quest corner the the telephone market. More likely it was a stategic leak from some entity to shoot down General Hayden's nomination as CIA Director. It will be interesting to see how Congress reacts in the hearings. Despite all the furor they don't seem to be any hurry to shut this program down or to impeach Bush for starting it.

Speaking of the president, he's said little about the program's effectiveness so far but here's what a former telecom worker told the Times in the 2005 story:
"If they get content, that's useful to them too, but the real plum is going to be the transaction data and the traffic analysis," he said. "Massive amounts of traffic analysis information - who is calling whom, who is in Osama Bin Laden's circle of family and friends - is used to identify lines of communication that are then given closer scrutiny."
Personally speaking, this number tracking thing designed to flag al Qaeda seems way too intrusive. I'm longing for the good old days when only corporate America tracked my entertainment choices, where three unchosen credit bureaus have the power to decide whether I'll get a loan or not, where only the IRS knows my salary, and where only my bank and the furniture store knows my social security number.


A very good read-in to the Hayden confirmation bowl.


This guy sounds pretty cool:
"We're going to do exactly what [the president] said and not one photon or one electron more," Hayden said he told NSA employees when briefing them.
Just what the leakers didn't need--a by-the-book kinda guy.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Speaking of domestic spying..

Amidst the caterwauling about Bush's NSA surveillance program the media has largely been silent about another snoop story, this one involving a communist Chinese spy ring busted in Los Angeles last year:
Chi Mak is thought to have supplied China with sensitive information about the electrical systems of U.S. warships and submarines, including details of the Virginia-class submarine, and information on a new electromagnetic catapult to launch jets from aircraft carriers.
Maybe the MSM sharks are a little gun shy. The last time they covered a story about Chinese espionage it involved Wen Ho Lee, who's turned out to be a major pain in the side.

ht Formerspook

Flight 77 video to be released

The government will today release surveillance video of American flight 77 striking the Pentagon.
"We fought hard to obtain this video because we felt that it was very important to complete the public record with respect to the terrorist attacks of September 11," said Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, a group that sued for the release of the video.

"Finally, we hope that this video will put to rest the conspiracy theories involving American Airlines Flight 77," he said in a statement.
As conspiracies go, this one was always pretty lame. It'll be interesting to see if this quells the tide or goes over about as convincingly as the recent British government report on UFOs. For the hard core group pushing this stuff, my guess is the latter.

The video will appear here, and is also here.


From preliminary views from Fox News coverage I tend to agree with Judge Napolitano in that this video is liable to spur on the conspiracists.

One Pentagon survivor said:
Tom Bortner, a Pentagon attack survivor, said he thinks the speed of the plane is what prevented the attack from being captured on more surveillance cameras on the premises.
Unfortunately, Barbara Olsen was not available for comment. But this sounds correct, since reports indicate the aircraft was travelling over 400 knots on impact. That would make it near impossible to discern from a half second increment, limited focal length camera.

Seems to me there's an easier way to prove this was flight 77. The FBI probably holds FAA radar tapes made on 9/11 as evidence somewhere. Although the jihadi pilots had turned off the plane's transponder, the "primary target" would have appeared on FAA radar and could be identified as a blip coming low from the west and arcing in towards the Pentagon.

Funny that some of the same folks who readily believe a missile hit the Pentagon with very little evidence won't consider that a missile could have hit TWA Flight 800 in 1996 despite hundreds of witnesses and a peculiar government explanation.

Monday, May 15, 2006

We the people of the United States...

In order to form a more perfect union, have spoken on immigration. That voice DOES NOT include illegal aliens or lawbreaking corporations, by the way. With that I begin my pre-Bush speech immigration rant.

Personally the main thing bothering me is the lawlessness. Laws have to mean something, and gulp, that even includes traffic laws. If I get pulled over for speeding while keeping up with other traffic, I'm still breaking the law.

But kneejerk reactions are not gonna help much, either. Building a border wall or sprinkling National Guard troops along it amounts to putting a band aid on a broken arm. It's not a bad thing, it just won't fix anything. As long as US companies and corporations continue offering clandestine jobs with a wink to the INS and DOJ, the migrants will keep coming. If we fortify the Mexican border they'll just herd them onto boats and enter via Canada somewhere. Where there's an under the table job, there's a way. So yep, any meaningful immigration reform must target the 'Acme Meatpackers' of the world as part of the crack-down.

What about the illegals already here, shall we round them up and deport them? Well, yes, sort of. How about ordering them to report to specified locations all across the country by a certain date/time. We can call it the 'get in line and 'pay the fine' notice. If they miss the deadline they'll be considered in default, and if caught, arrested.

Catching them would include any routine traffic stop, a visit to a hospital, visit to a driver's license bureau, fishing license, random INS visits to worksites, etc. The offenders would be placed on the next van to the border.

For those who register and get squared away, they either apply for guest worker status or citizenship. If it's the latter, they take a number behind those in the legal lane. The guest worker thing would time out after several years, and if they overstay and are caught it's back to border and adios permanently.

Hey, I realize it's a pretty complex issue, but we here on the internet have a solution for everything! Besides, slavery was a similar conundrum--we kept putting it off and putting it off until it finally exploded in our faces, then we eventually solved it. In truth our elected politicians should look on this as their chance to shine. Let's see if any of them do.


Bush managed to hit some good hot buttons such as employer accountability and stopping the catch/release, but as to the former I don't recall any specifics about penalties.

I gave him some points for trying to emphasise respect and good ole fashioned civility in this debate, but he could have also used that same bully pulpit to chastise employers who knowingly hire illegals and perhaps the illegals themselves for breaking our laws. But a baby step is a baby step.


A quick (and non scientific) stroll around the blogosphere and MSM shows that Bush's speech was more a pop fly to short center than a home run. There were even a few fissures created in conservative blogland, rather silly, but such is life.

Meanwhile, some of the well-known liberal blogs are not talking about the border speech much at all. Guess they didn't want to remove any screenspace from their nonstop coverage of Rove/Libby/NSA. HuffPo had a lead story about Cheney being worth 100 million, then below has an apologista story from Castro refuting he's worth nearly a billion. They have no clue who really wears the black hat.

As to the MSM, a mixed bag with fairly balanced coverage from the WaPo and Times, with Reuters showing their subtle bias again. Their article was hardly backed up with anything substantive to support the headline, but guess I shouldn't be real surprised.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Saddam's secret weather balloon program

On the eve of the resumption of Saddam's trial, Captain Ed is all over another DOCEX document related to the suspected bio-weapons mobile labs Colin Powell spoke of prior to the invasion. Conventional wisdom has overtaken this story, and the MSM already considers it water over the bridge. Matter of fact, the WaPo threw cold water on the story as recently as last month, just in case.

This new document goes over several items related to the laboratories that don't appear consistent with a weather station, such as vibration sensors and machines to measure X-rays.

I don't suggest to have the answer, but as a person having some knowledge of the weather business here's my two cents. First, the National Weather Service doesn't use hydrogen generators in their balloon-based upper air network (NWS balloon shown in picture, not Iraqi balloon), they use cylinders. Surely the Iraqis could have just as easily saved the trouble and done the same.

But even if they wanted mobile production capability, one of the commenters over at CQ had a good point:
If your planning on using air-burst chemical or biologic’s, you’d damned well better have good meteorological data/information of where the product is going to travel.

If the vehicles could provide a ‘dual-use’ function of both gathering pre-battlefield data and/or be utilized in the production of chemical or biologic’s, you’ve a classic ‘two-fer.’
Yes, fallout and dispersion rates are something you'd need to know about. For example, the NWS used to maintain a weather station in North Las Vegas at the Nuclear Test Site in support of the underground nuke tests.

Whatever the case, these Iraqi "weather labs" weren't part of the World Meteorological Organization's network of official weather sites, which are fixed locations. It would be most interesting to find out more about the meteorological services of Iraq and whether these mobile units might have been used to help predict sandstorms, for instance. Otherwise, it seems more likely they would be used in support of military activies. More to come.


It's not easy to find a good history of Iraq's meteorological services using the standard search engines. The World Meteorological Organization isn't much help, either. Did find this, which relates to Iraqi Scud missile batteries:
Iraq established its Scud operational unit—Brigade 224 (Unit 224)—in 1976 following training and successful Scud firings under the supervision of Soviet experts. The unit ultimately consisted of three missile battalions, a technical battalion, a meteorology battery, and a maintenance and repair workshop.
It's quite possible these mobile labs were used by meteorologists in support of Scud firings. As we know, missiles can be loaded with a host of agents, but that really doesn't the support the allegation these were bio weapons production labs.


Recapping the old LA Times story from 2003, the US Army itself had 19 mobile hydrogen generators for filling artillery weather balloons, although they were much more contained and efficient. The Army never used them in the field, since helium is the preferred gas to fill weather balloons. The NWS has used both helium and hydrogen in the past, exclusively from cyclinders.

It makes sense to think the Iraqis would want a self-contained unit for field operations rather than relying on cylinders, which might run out. However, this also makes sense:
The CIA noted that Iraq never declared the vehicles to United Nations inspectors, something they would have faced no risk in doing if they were truly for hydrogen production. CIA officials also said the design of the trailers was unnecessarily elaborate and cumbersome for hydrogen production.

"If they wanted to produce hydrogen, they could have produced it more efficiently," said one CIA official, who noted that smaller, safer, portable systems are commercially available.
Certainly if these were mobile bio labs a cover story would be needed. Although my jury is still out pending any further information, right now the available evidence strongly points toward the cover story being accurate.

A cultural identity crisis

Does the west have a cultural identity crisis? Are we dying on the vine? A bizzare story hit the press today about Hugo Chavez's attendance at an 'unofficial summit' held in Austria, where he said the following:
Chavez said in Vienna yesterday that the 'final hours of the North American empire have arrived ... Now we have to say to the empire: "We're not afraid of you. You're a paper tiger."'
By the way, Blair refused a state visit, but not surprisingly London Mayor Ken Livingstone rolled out the "red" carpet for el Hugo on his way back to Venezuela.

This would-be dictator is not ignorant. He shares an inate ability with other politicians of being able to read the tea leaves. His arrogant message deep in the heart of Old Europe is clear evidence the people there have lost their spine. Chavez was probably trying to rile up the disaffected immigrant masses to further destabilize the continent, and he was doing it right in their faces.

We've used that tactic in Iraq to pit the Sunnis against the Ba'athists--divide and conquer. If Chavez can help to further the divide between the European countries chalk one up for their side. And make no mistake, he's on 'their' side. While there he warned against attacking Iran and threatened repurcussions from his country if we do. He should have been frog-marched out the front door for those comments.

But the Euros have other problems. Recently Vladimir Putin was forced into making a plea to the women of Russia--make more babies, please:
Describing the issue as contemporary Russia's most acute problem, he told Russian couples he would more than double to 1,500 roubles ($55.39) monthly payouts to families for the first baby and then double that to 3,000 roubles for a second child.
It's all about TFR (total fertitily rate) which needs to stay a little over 2 to maintain a population. Russia is running about one and a quarter while also battling a low life expectancy, especially for males. What's it mean? Let's go to the scoreboard--Russia is losing 700,000 comrades per year, and could lose a staggering 40 million from their population rolls by the middle of the century if the current trend continues.

The European continent faces similar issues. Their initial response was to encourage immigration, which would help fill the population gap but more importantly help fund their vast social safety net. The results so far have been uncertain. Old Europe is less a melting pot than America, and as we've seen via the cartoon riots, Paris riots, and terrorist attacks the assimilation leaves a lot to be desired. Despite that, we're told most Europeans despise Bush's handling of the WoT.

We could even bring Dan Brown into this debate. The goal of the DaVinci Code, other than to make money, seems to be to undermine most of European history along with making Christianity appear based on a lie. Advertently or inadvertently, if successful that helps the axis.

To be fair, the jury is still out on whether the movie will have much impact at all. It's pretty ridiculous to assume Leonardo DaVinci, who lived centuries after Christ, would have any better insight into what happened than someone today. Maybe he was a dissafected artist tired of the rigors of the church and was only exacting some clever revenge.

But it goes towards cracking another brick in the culture wall. All things being equal, a faith-based society, even if the faith is wrongheaded, will usually win against a faith-less society since armies tend to fight harder when they have something to fight for. An asterisk may appear if all things aren't equal, in other words, if the faith-less society has better weaponry and shows the will to use it. But guns alone won't do it.

In my mind the WoT remains a war of good versus evil, not based on individual persons
but of ideologies. Hardcore Wahhabism/Salafism is not congruent with "good" when compared to any democratic society built on individual human rights. We're not hammering that point hard enough, while others are hammering their totalitarian points on a daily basis.

But it's hard to hammer anything when western society doesn't have a clue about what our shared values are, or whether we even have any. Or whether that's a good thing or bad thing.