Tuesday, July 31, 2007

There she goes again


She being Heidi Cullen from the Weather Channel. Or excuse me, Doctor Cullen:
I suggested there’s a disconnect when they use their A.M.S. seal for on-camera credibility and refuse to give viewers accurate information on climate. The society has a very clear statement saying that global warming is largely due to the burning of fossil fuels.
Well. Sounds almost like a reiteration of her original and rather draconian opinion except in a bigger forum. By the way, here's a link to the AMS position on climate change, and a key excerpt:
Important goals for future work include the need to understand the relation of climate at the state and regional level to the patterns of global climate and to reverse the decline in observational networks that are so critical to accurate climate monitoring and prediction.
In other words they're admitting that quality instruments are important. Oddly there was no mention of the quality of instruments back in the 1500s. Or 100 BC. That would be most helpful in determining precisely how fast previous global warmings have occurred when our current fossils were still alive.

The New York Times story also tells the fascinating tale of how Dr. Cullen was discovered, almost reminiscent of Jayne Mansfield in the diner, except unlike Jayne the good doctor sacrificed important worldwide climate work to become a TV star. There's even a near unbelievable claim that before the Weather Channel talent scouts came calling she'd never even heard of TWC before. What kind of self-respecting weather nerd is that? However, the biggest hoot was saved for last:
Actually, a lot of my friends are relieved that there’s at least one scientist out there doing this.
Just imagine the reaction from TV weatherman land..."of course you know, THIS means war"! And ratings, baby!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Hannity and Flight 800

New York Newsday:
Yet 11 years after the center fuel tank of TWA Flight 800 caught fire, killing 230 people, the Federal Aviation Administration still does not require commercial jetliners to carry devices to make the fuel in their tanks inert, and Hurd is angry about it.
He has that right, his son died on the flight. As for those of us not directly affected this is perhaps more a curiosity.

Normally air disasters prompt a substantial knee-jerk, first from the NTSB then from the FAA, who ultimately may issue directives or advisories followed by fleet retrofitting, all designed to mitigate future recurrences. But not in this case. Indeed the NTSB's recommedations remain "open unacceptable".

In the litigation-crazy world of aviation one might think this 'oversight' represents gobs of low-hanging liability fruit. The answer might lie in statistics. See, up until flight 800 no other US commercial jet had ever disintegrated itself due to a fuel tank explosion while in-flight. The odds simply don't favor another recurrence, or if you prefer, the first occurrence.

There are conspiracies galore attempting to explain this rarity, perhaps more than any crash prior to 9/11. There have also been a few books and mainstream exposes over the years, most recently on the cable show "Seconds from Disaster". CNN also did a feature last year on the 10th anniversary, both pooh-poohing everything but the probable cause.

On Sunday night Sean Hannity featured the crash on his "Hannity's America" program. He devoted all of about six or seven minutes to the segment, which was not nearly enough to explain such an issue. For brevity's sake we'll try not to waste seven minutes of your time in proving the piece was a worthless piece of crap due to his avoidance of just about every compelling reason why some believe the crash was not a spontaneous fuel tank explosion. If you feel compelled to waste more time on the subject the links above are recommended, or simply click the tag here.

Actually, six or seven minutes would have been enough had he just focused on the most obvious oddity--the backdrop graphic used throughout the piece that said "CIA Animation" seen above. A clever (or brave) host might have simply asked why the CIA was involved in explaining a civil air crash and whether that's ever happened before. Precedent would suggest Langley has no statutory authority in civilian crashes nor would they in domestic terrorism cases. He could have asked George Tenet why he forgot to mention 800 in his lengthy book, or why the infamous "Wall" of separation between CIA and FBI was temporarily suspended.

"Why dwell on such things"? Fair question. We all prefer truth over truthiness and my knowledge of aviation is just enough to make me dangerous. There's also the guilty pleasure of watching the "9/11 truthers" foam at the mouth over melted Trade Center steel while expressing not one whit of interest in the first passenger jet to ever spontaneously explode then be explained away by the very organization they blame for our current blow back.

Alright, yes, there's obviously a political component since if the crash was actually a covered-up terrorist attack it would shine new energy efficient light on the road taken to arrive at our current predicament, a road paved with players who aspire to re-enter the palace gates.

But the old saying "be careful what you wish for" has some basis. As Mac Ranger once opined, there are certain events that can be classified loosely as "for the greater good" where the truth might actually do more damage than the cover-up. Such a precept might well explain what's going on here.

So, barring any unforeseen major blockbuster revelations about 800 (which are about as likely as a DoD press conference announcing the truth about space aliens) it's time to move along. Hopefully the victims' families can live with the explanations they've been given. And we can also hope that it doesn't happen again before the 'needed repairs' are completed. Ahem.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Dueling desecrations

This is the tale of two episodes of Qu'ran abuse. The first comes from a Pace University student who evidently flushed the holy book down a campus commode, eerily reminiscent of the Newsweek non-story that caused riots last year.

The other comes from a high-profile gay liberal, who claims to have burned a rare copy of the Qu'ran valued at 60,000 dollars, purportedly to protest Islam's treatment of homosexuality.

The student has been charged with hate crimes. The liberal activist? We don't know since the story hasn't gained national attention yet.

In the case of Mr. Merrill the story appeared to be a press release with no independent corroboration offered that he even burned the book aside from his own word. But it's the thought that counts, anyway, right? The Merrill story also included no reaction from the local Imam over such a blasphemy. However, we WERE informed of this:
Notably, another form of Merrill's activism is his altruism. All proceeds from works sold at his show at Broadway Gallery benefit the Williams Institute UCLA Sexual Orientation Legal Think Tank.
Yet in the Pace student story the reporters felt compelled to quote Ibrahim Hooper:
He said CAIR decided to speak out about the Pace incidents because Muslim students are impacted by the creation of what could be viewed as a hostile campus environment.
We patiently await charges to be filed against the gay activist, which, if they ever occur will undoubtedly be blamed on Bush.

MORE 7/30/07


Perhaps the Pace student made a mistake by not loudly announcing he was "expressing himself" while hitting the flusher. Or simply wrapped the Qu'ran in an American flag and lit it on fire.

This certainly shouldn't give readers the idea I'm in favor of Holy book massacres. It's sometimes painful to see my own religion mocked (happening again soon) and I was against the Mohammed cartoons in principle as a matter of disrespect. But since when does disrespect equate to jail time? And they talk about Bush's creeping fascism.

Mining for the truth

It was said here, there, and everywhere--would Alberto Gonzales get in front of Congress and lie about something so easily fact-checked? Apparently not:
If the dispute chiefly involved data mining, rather than eavesdropping, Mr. Gonzales’ defenders may maintain that his narrowly crafted answers, while legalistic, were technically correct.
Mr. Feingold certainly seems disappointed and no, we haven't heard the last of this. But it's funny, guys like him and Mr. Schumer and Mr. Reid and Mr. Leahy would be the first to lambaste Bush for not doing more to protect America if Mr. bin Laden succeeds in attacking us again by avoiding the countermeasures we've put in place.

Gonzo pleaded with the Senators to take the session behind closed doors to better explain things but doing so takes the dog and pony show out of the public eye, which is apparently all the Democrats care about. No doubt part of that equation is appeasing the mighty nutroots and their passion for impeachment. They need to just do it.

Instead we now we have the Times heralding another classified aspect of the program for all the world to take notes about. Frankly, it didn't take a rocket scientist to guess that Gonzo's parsed remark might have something to do with data-mining the internets, since we've all heard stories about how the bad guys like to embed messages in JPEG files, etc, but such things were not going to be opined about here. Thanks to the Times and the Democrats, no worries.

ONE COULD ARGUE 7/29/07

Those who believe the GWoT is really nothing more than a vast CFR/Trilateral Commission conspiracy designed to create a one-world government and remove our liberties might suggest that Bush and Congress have allowed this dog and pony show to proceed in order to gain public backing for the proposed reforms of the FISA laws, which anonymous administration sources now say are woefully outdated.

One would, of course, also have to believe that all the previous terror attacks, or at least 9/11, were inside jobs pulled off by the internationalists to make the case.

Since rational people reject such thinking our current situation seems to break down as follows--we really are falling behind in intercepting cues about future attacks due to rapidly advancing technologies, a slow bureaucracy and a sticky civil liberties issue; the terrorists are aware and working OT to exploit it; the Democrats are loathe to act because they believe the greatest threat resides in DC. Not a very good scenario.

MORE 7/29/07


It appears the Democrats could well be snookered. If they proceed to appoint a Special Counsel that person could not divulge the details of the program Gonzo was referring to without leaking national security information in violation of the law. That doesn't make for a very compelling public case. If they try using impeachment Congress would have to hold the sessions behind closed doors for the very same reasons, leaving a doubt as to whether the public would trust such a process without being told the facts, which could not occur. Hmm.

While George Tenet's book might seem off topic it might also provide needed context here. We know Comey and Ashcroft were less than enthused about Cheney's tactics. We also know that Powell and Armitage were at odds with Cheney. On page 375 Tenet says:
--but Powell and his deputy, Rich Armitage, were two of my closest colleagues in the administration.
He has nothing good to say about Scooter Libby either, more evidence of the internal war and perhaps even a casus belli for the Plame game. New guy James Comey appeared to be solidly on Tenet's side of the divide in early 2004 when this whole ball of strings exploded.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

One of these days..








I'm gonna get me one of those.

Til then here's some tune-age. Sara Evans, the pride of Boonville, MO, is associated by some with Sean Hannity but was well-known to country fans before he started promoting her. I'm sure his influence didn't hurt, though.



Speaking of country music, Fred Thompson's old flame was one hot commodity on Music Row back in the 80s. The title somehow sounds fitting, even if it's not.

Finally, sticking with the country theme I've never been a huge Hank, Jr fan but this video is hard not to admire, if nothing else to marvel that technology can bring a father and son together in this fashion.



Cheers!

Friday, July 27, 2007

A faithful follower of Brother John Birch?

That's the gist of today's feature story on the Blog Report (formerly the Daou Report) regarding CNN and radio talk show host Glenn Beck:
Giving a nut like Beck his own show, despite humiliating ratings, where he can feature the John Birch Society as a legitimate, sensible group, should be enough to make everyone ask, “What liberal media?”
Hey, CNN has come a long way, baby. Surely there are those who long for the days when they had a stranglehold on cable news to deliver Turner's 'moderate' worldview, and when Fox was just a glimmer in Murdoch's eye.

The Carpetbagger folks should be thanking Fox News. After all, it was they who forced CNN, CBS and others to turn back starboard to save their dismal ratings because the majority of viewers were simply sick and tired of being spoon-fed a leftist blame-America-first slant 24/7. Think Fairness Doctrine, guys!

I listen to Beck's radio show sometimes. I also listen to Thom Hartmann and Randi Rhodes of Air America sometimes, both of whom walk that narrow path along the edge of sanity. At least Beck admits it. Labeling him as some kind of voice of the right is just as absurd as calling Olbermann the voice of the left. I thought stereotyping was supposed to be bad.

But the broader issue is the subject of the interview, illegal immigration. Since it appears a preponderance of liberals are in favor of open borders and unfettered access we can conclude they probably have no big problems with the dissolution of sovereignty to that end, ie, North American Union stuff. That should render as hilarious their rantings about Bush's plan to take over the world via PNAC.

In other words, it's OK for the USA to have our way with Canada and Mexico (and all their oil) so long as the Democrat voter rolls are increased in the process--but how dare we influence other areas of the world!

Frankly, I don't buy most of what Beck and his Birch buddies are selling--it seems like overhyped half-truth for the most part. But hey, it's part of the dialogue, right? It's an opposing viewpoint that must be respected and appreciated, just like the La Raza folks and the truthers, correct? It's part of the crushing of intolerance. And last I recall that's what the left claimed to stand for.

Gonzomania

The Democrats are having high fun with Alberto Gonzales. After all, he's given them ample opportunity with his hair-splitting and parsing. Here's my take.

We all know this is largely about politics. What we're seeing is payback, the circle of life in DC. As far as the US Attorney firing thing, fine--have at it. Problem is now they're fiddling with intelligence programs designed to protect Americans after 9/11. It's nigh on six years after the event so perhaps they think it's fair game but perhaps it's time to move some of these sessions behind closed doors for the public good.

There's also a hypocrisy component. We've not heard even one disparaging remark from the corporate-hating left about Jim Comey's new position with Lockheed Martin, the flagship company of the military industrial complex and one that shares more in common with Halliburton than say Ben and Jerry's. Clearly the BDS tent is so big that perhaps even Newt would be invited in if he would just speak enough truth to power.

And where are the Hispanic Rights advocates rushing to the defense of the Attorney General as he's being hectored by old white guys?

But enough. The issue at hand is whether Gonzales lied about the nature of the double top-secret surveillance program that was supposed to be kept secret but was exposed by the New York Times to accomplish exactly what we're seeing here today. Yes, Schumer, Olbermann and friends are on a defcon five head explosion alert but as the Justice Department spokesman said:
"The disagreement that occurred in March 2004 concerned the legal basis for intelligence activities that have not been publicly disclosed and that remain highly classified," Roehrkasse said
Those desiring a rational discussion of this topic should first read Mr. Comey's testimony from his May Senate appearance while considering this--the so-called hospital drama (which is sure to be in a movie one day starring James Brolin) occurred in March 2004. Mr. Comey--confirmed by the Senate as Deputy AJ on December 9, 2003--barely had time to properly arrange the pictures on his desk when he was handed the AJ hat in the CIA/Plame leak matter. On December 30th he appointed his Southern District of New York friend Patrick "Fitmas" Fitzgerald to investigate the White House, knowing full well Armitage was the leaker. Wonder what kind of discussions these two might have been having about Comey's life in the new administration?

As the new guy Comey couldn't have known as very much about the TSP (or whatever it was called) compared with Ashcroft, who had already renewed it dozens of times. Where is Ashcroft, by the way?

And it's interesting that Mr. Comey didn't highlight the emergency meeting held in the Situation Room in the White House during his testimony. Why was he so suspicious of his new employer after only a few months on the job? One doesn't frantically call the FBI Chief and become belligerent about visiting the White House without moral support on a whim. Again, it makes a person wonder about his mindset and whether the ongoing Plame investigation had any bearing.

We must wonder whether Comey was ever told precisely WHY the TSP was put in place before he made his gallant stand? It's somewhat telling that after meeting with Bush that Friday he altogether abandoned the idea of quitting (as did all the others) and continued happily on at DOJ for another year. So as Yoda said, "I am wondering, why are we here?" Well, maybe because it's dramatic and because Gonzales has done some weird and shifty parsing.

Frankly it's hard to believe he would outright lie on such a matter. He cannot be that stupid. It may well be his attempt to cover some other more deeply clandestine program (was the TSP just a shell to fool the Islamic nuts trying to kill us?) without perjuring himself but if so they're all treading some very dangerous ground. It certainly seems the Dems don't care and would love nothing better than seeing every clandestine program plastered front and center of the Times or Post if they could score one single point against Bush.

Here's my bottom line. If Gonzo lied to Congress he should be Gonezo. Plain and simple. If such occurs hopefully Bush will act on behalf of the party, the DOJ and America and do the right thing. We really don't need another useless SC investigation. If he didn't lie he should stand and fight those smug bastards.

MORE 7/27/07

Tom Maguire, who also seems cozy with the notion that Gonzo might be parsing to cover the real program, points to the words of Jane Harmon, at one time a proponent of the program and surely someone who knows of what Gonzales speaks. "Selectively declassifying" can only mean the program was multi-faceted and Gonzo was talking about one of the other facets. That makes him a parser, not a liar, similar to Clinton. Sort of.

Speaking of the NSA, Taxing Tennessee links to an ABC story about how bloggers are going to be treated no differently than the big boys regards FOIA requests and disclosing classified information. Hopefully that means we'll get treated just like the New York Times and Washington Post--in other words, nothing will happen. Then again, in order to leak one must have something important to leak in the first place. The only leaking that goes on around here is, well, never mind.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Fred can handle it

One of the things that has drawn me to Fred Thompson as a candidate is his very calm demeanor when answering questions and dealing with the press. Admittedly it's almost calm to the point where people will accuse him of being boring, nevertheless such a trait works extremely well when dealing with emotional or complicated issues. Or with the unhinged.

You've probably seen the video by now, posted here and here just to name two sites. Cliff notes version, Thompson artfully handles a young lady who asks him about his CFR membership and their secret advocacy of the North American Union by pointing out he's also a member of the AEI. All very calm and with a grin.

Of course the young lady got what she wanted--police (jackbooted thugs if you're a liberal) escorted her out the front door while she rather pathetically screamed that Thompson wasn't a true conservative and the obligatory horse malarky about WTC Building 7, inside jobs, et al. The video also made it to CNN, although they only showed her melodramatic exit with no context.

Yeah, she's a Ron Paul fan, which was evident from her crack about Thompson's faux conservatism. The question is whether Paul knows what's being done in his name?

But does Paul even know what HE'S doing in his own name? Hot Air just featured a post on whether the Paulster actually understands that the Alex Jones radio show, where he's appeared several times, is a twoofer show. Not to pat myself on the back too much (hey YOU won't do it) but I wondered this same thing awhile back. Certainly if he doesn't he has no business running for president, and if he does, he has no business running for president.

FREDDIE, FREDDIE.. 7/27/07

Is right. Question is, can he do anything about it. BTW, I'm in favor of the Repubs doing the YouTube debates (and Thompson should join in). Our future leaders should not be afraid to answer any questions, no matter how trivial, dumb, conspiratorial or hostile. They'll be dealing with much worse if they get elected.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Of sly snakes and connections

"the mother of all battles has continued, and will continue." -- Saddam Hussein, Ramadi, November 1992

"He's determined to beat the US and 'topple the White House into the dust,'" -- Hussein Kamal, Iraqi defector, 1995

"The world is safer without Saddam Hussein" -- George W. Bush, 2007.

How many remember the strange defection of Iraqi General Hussein Kamel Hussein? This guy was either an enigma, a hero, or a complete idiot. Married to Saddam's daughter Raghad, herself a member of Iraq's new 41 most-wanted list, Kamel was in charge of the Ministry of Defense during his tenure with the Butcher. His legendary demise was the stuff of spaghetti westerns--lured back to Iraq only to be killed in a 13 hour gun battle on his farm after regime goons tried to arrest him.

Middle east experts such as Juan Cole love to remind us that most of the information used by Bush to indict Saddam came from Ahmed Chalabi and the INC, filtered through the office of Vice President. But they cannot claim such with Kamel, who defected straight out of Baghdad. And his tale was a double-edged sword:
HUSSEIN KAMEL: No, Iraq does not possess any weapons of mass destruction. I am being completely honest about this.
And then:
SADLER: Was it a viable project?[The "Supergun"-ed]
KAMEL: Yes. It was meant for long range attack and also to blind spy satellites. Our scientists were seriously working on that. It was designed to explode a shell in space that would have sprayed a sticky material on the satellite and blinded it.
He defected in August, 1995. That was a tumultuous year all around. While America was reeling from the April Oklahoma City bombing and facing a government shutdown later that year the CIA was busy blowing a coup attempt with Ahmed Chalabi in March, where CIA agents were later investigated by the FBI on rumors they planned to illegally kill Saddam in the process. The lessons from that debacle factored into later decisions on removing the Butcher.

Speak of the devil, he was busy putting down an uprising in Ramadi and tasking Uday to form the Fedeyeen Saddam. Earlier in the year Ramzi Yousef was captured in Islamabad in February, then later in November a massive bomb blew up at the Saudi National Guard barracks in Riyadh and several American soldiers were killed. Of that attack Kamel said:
He wants everybody to think it's the Iranians behind the attack. He is using them as a smoke screen, hoping to fool the world.
Of note, a previously unknown terror group calling themselves the "Islamic Change Movement" took credit and would later suggest another attack was imminent the day before TWA 800 crashed on July 17, 1996 (Saddam's Liberation Day in Iraq) along with a few other minor attacks. They were supposedly affiliated with Hizballah or AQ but little was known of them and they were never a major factor in any further events. Perhaps Kamel was correct on that one.

But perhaps the most damning aspect of Kamel's confessions centered on Saddam's goals for the middle east:
Saddam wants to dominate most major sources of oil in the Middle East. That is why he attacked Iran in the 1980s. When that failed, he set his sights on Saudi Arabia. He invaded Kuwait not only to seize its oil wells, but to use Kuwait as a springboard for the conquest of Saudi Arabia.

Following the Gulf war, the Bush administration made the mistake of not eliminating Saddam, something the Iraqi leader deemed "decadent Western weakness."
He seemed more than happy to relay such damaging information as he did in this UN debriefing, which probably caused some trepidation within the ranks of western leaders. They certainly did not believe his proclamation about WMDs, witnessed by Clinton's 1998 cruise missile party called Operation Desert Fox and Hans Blix's later uncertainty as chief of UNMOVIC in 2003. Ironically, the 1998 bombing became a cause celebre for UBL, strengthening his fatwa to kill Americans "anywhere they are found". And nobody seriously questioned whether Saddam deserved his thumpin' back in 1998.

If he wasn't believable on WMDs, what about all the rest? It's easy to dismiss everything he said as disinformation and to suggest Saddam sent him as a method actor designed to snooker the UN and prove his disarmament. His subsequent death after being "lured" back to Baghdad was perhaps a part of the script Kamel never got to see, a plot hardly out of character for Saddam. Or maybe he played the part just a bit too well. Surely Raghad knows. Has she ever been questioned?

Whatever the case Kamel's impressions of Saddam were not earth-shattering and fit rather nicely with all previous notions about the man. Yet even in 2007 Americans are still divided about how much threat he posed and whether he was in league with terrorists bent on harming America. That's really the bottom line of the entire Iraq war debate, right?

Now, as everyone must be wondering at this point, what does George Tenet's book say?! He devotes a whole chapter to the 'connection question', emphatically stating there was no "authority, direction or control". But it's interesting to watch how he got to that point. On page 343 he tells the story of a September 2002 meeting between Scooter Libby and VP Cheney with CIA experts at Langley:
The briefing was a disaster. Libby and the vice president arrived with such detailed knowledge of people, sources, and timelines that the senior CIA analytic manager doing the briefing that day simply could not compete. We weren't ready for this discussion.
But wait. Only four pages later Tenet describes a Langley meeting on August 15th, 2002 between the notorious Douglas Feith and his Office of Special Plans and CIA analysts about the connection. Tenet basically did what everybody does nowadays--he smacked Feith around like a neocon pinata and insinuated he and his amateurish team had no business telling real intelligence professionals about anything. He even mocked the DIA briefer Christina Shelton, who later corrected Tenet in the WaPo. But let's keep this in sequence...he was mocking this group in August then blown away by Scooter Libby's knowledge in September?

Tenet explains their being blown away by the fact they just weren't concentrating much on Iraq in 2002, preoccupied by the real threat from Sunni terrorism all over the world. Odd, since Saddam was himself a Sunni who had dabbled in terrorism. His assertion is also seemingly refuted by the late 90s reporting of ABC's Sheila MacVicar and the information contained in CIA Alec Station Chief Michael Scheuer's first book, which discussed a relationship.

Matter of fact, that relationship was the driving force behind Clinton's bombing of the al-Shifa pharmaceutical plant in Khartoum in 1998 based on the premise that Iraqi WMD scientists were helping bin Laden. Tenet is clearly trying to suggest it was an agenda-driven administration who trumped the connection, forcing CIA to take their eyes off the bin Laden ball, when in fact it seems more like a massive covering of butts based on past knowledge.

His book is like a roller coaster--he's pretty respectful to the president throughout but not so with Bush's team. On one page he'll insinuate they might have 'fixed' the intelligence then on the next he'll drop a bomb supporting the connections. Example, on page 351 he drops what should have been a big bomb by telling us about a rather stunning development before the invasion in 2002:
What was even more worrisome was that by the spring and summer of 2002, more than a dozen al-Qa'ida -affiliated extremists converged on Baghdad, with apparently no harassment on the part of the Iraqi government.
He goes on to name names:
More al-Qa'ida operatives would follow, including Thirwat Shihata and Yussef Dardiri, two Egyptians assessed by a senior al-Qa'ida detainee to be among the Egyptian Islamic Jihad's best operational planners, who arrived by mid-May 2002.
Try Googling those two guys. You'll get nothing from the MSM, just stories by "neocon war hawks". Strange that Bush himself wouldn't have mentioned them at the time. Maybe they couldn't. But doesn't that deserve at least one 60 Minutes expose?

Tenet goes on to mention the efforts of former Sudanese president Hassan al-Turabi to bring together the Islamic terror world, mentioned heavily in Yossef Bodansky's book about bin Laden in 2000. He then moves to Ibn Sheikh al-Libi, infamous for being captured in Afghanistan after 9/11 who told CIA Saddam was training terrorists in chemical weapons then recanted after the Iraq war began. Tenet suggests he doesn't know which lie was a lie, but the Senate Phase II report, pushed by the Democrats, clearly assumed it was the former. And that's the big problem with AQ and the Iraqis, they were liars.

Despite all the blah, blah it's starting to look like conventional wisdom cement is setting around the events leading to the war. Such conceptions are hard to change on a broad scale without help from the major media and that's not likely to happen with a presidential election looming. For instance, the revelation by Tenet that scores of suspected AQ operatives were arriving in Baghdad in 2002 should have been a major story then and certainly deserves investigation now with our troops fighting in Iraq and the Democrats trying to pull them out. For some reason we get nothing.

Monday, July 23, 2007

On airport security

Drudge has a sensational story up he titled "stunning security breach at Phoenix Airport". The video of the story is available at the link. Be sure to watch the following interview with the Phoenix Mayor at the end of the main report for added context.

As someone who's spent a fair portion of my career behind a security wall I'm here to tell you there are no absolutes. "We're safe" is the kind of language a politician uses when in front of the watchdog media crew or political debate. Life itself has never been "safe".

That's not to excuse security breaches, only to say that people make mistakes. Tired employees working their first mid shift with no sleep sometimes doze off. Security cameras fail. Expired ID badges are missed. People can pay off the guards or lie on applications. People are people. The alternatives are quite intrusive, such as full body-scanning equipment reminiscent of an Arnold movie or biometric national ID cards, etc.

Should Sky Harbor beef up their protocols? Maybe. Perhaps they could start wanding the employees and contractors who come and go every day, just to make sure. After awhile it's likely things would slip back into a complacency mode again if noting happens because maintaining daily vigilance is tough.

We also have to consider the comments from the Mayor, who said there are other measures in place, presumably cameras but probably stuff we don't know about. He also mentioned a sensible caveat: beware the contractor or union rep trying to gain more money or bigger contracts by floating sensational stories to the press, who often place scoops over facts. Even us pipsqueak bloggers understand that concept.

Bottom line--what better example of the need for the traveling public to remain vigilant and report suspicious behavior? Hopefully Congress is listening.

MORE 7/24/07

Presumably the Democrats in Congress shot down the immunity provision in the bill because they were afraid the civil liberties of Muslims or other minorities might be trashed, which was good for those who may be racially profiled and wrongfully accused. I do have sympathy. Thing is, this seems to leave the traveling public at the mercy of large political advocacy groups with lawyers on retainer who can easily sue an individual into oblivion just for reporting something unusual. Unlike the Democrats in Congress, I have more sympathy there.

So lawyers, why not this: drop the immunity provision but force lawsuits against the traveling public to be filed ONLY by the individuals targeted. In other words, prohibit advocacy groups like CAIR from filing on behalf of their members. The member would have to get their own lawyer and could not accept financial help from advocacy groups or even pro-bono assistance on such cases.

That would remove the bullying effect but retain the right of redress. To further protect the "good Samaritan" the plaintiffs would automatically pay court costs of the defendants if they lose. If the plaintiff wins have a set damage cap based on a person's net worth. Draconian? Unconstitutional? Backdoor tort reform? I welcome your opinion.

BREAKTHROUGH? 7/24/07

Hot Air says so, but the devil is in the details. Our nearby Congressman Chairman guy Bennie wanted to stipulate between terrorist activity and common criminal activity, giving immunity only for the former. Good grief, what a mess, having Grandma trying to figure that out as Omar drives off with 10,000 pounds of fertilizer.

But on the same token, I don't like Grandma being able to sick the FBI on Omar just because she doesn't like Omar, with no fear of recrimination. Seems we need some kind of provision to where there would be immunity on the front end but if the person reporting turns out to be an abuser they could then be brought up on criminal charges whereupon the door to civil court would swing wide.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

White House: Bush may attack

Pakistan.

Well. This has to be welcome news for our friends on the left. For years they've been arguing on message boards, chat rooms, talk radio, blogs, and cable TV that America's priorities are all wrong in the GWoT, that we need to be going after the terrorists that attacked us on 9/11. We've been lectured and hectored that they aren't in Iraq, they are in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Or, in the spirit of the late Ma Richards, "it's al Qaeda, stupid."

So let the spin begin, and there's certainly a variety of directions it could go. Start with the latest NIE, which pointed to a resurgence of AQ in the tribal areas. Musharraf has done little to stop them to date and we've been reluctant to violate his sovereignty due to the fear he could get removed in a coup leaving the Pakistani nuclear football (or is it a soccer ball?) in the hands of bin Laden acolytes. However, recent events surrounding the Red Mosque and now clashes along the border may be a signal that things are about to change, no matter what the official line might be.

Another is the inherent risk involved with going after Iran. A buildup in Pakistan while the political winds are blowing us out of Iraq would be a potential death knell in the GWoT. Weakening the enemy on our right flank keeps the Ayatollahs at bay since a weakened force in Afghanistan means more resources to keep tabs on them. But maybe this is part of the overall strategy? Time for a well-placed "hmm".

Guiltily speaking, the politics here is perhaps the most interesting aspect. The left (and a few former righties) have lately been running around telling anyone who'll listen that the next terror attack will be an inside job created by Bushitler goons to allow him to declare Marshall Law and actually officially become Bushitler, or in Bushspeak, "Dictator Guy". High hilarity in light of the NIE and the Taliban, who are simultaneously running around threatening more spectacular attacks. Following that "logic" would presumably render the Taliban as CIA black ops units--for those scoring at home.

But if Bush takes Iran off the table and simply swarms Pakistan in a chase for UBL and Zawahiri their conspiracy theory goes down the drain. After all, it would represent the heights of hypocrisy to suddenly change tactics and begin loudly complaining about chasing AQ and UBL since they've been asking for exactly that since 2002. Their only remaining play would be to whine "what took so long" or claim he waited until the approaching election, which aren't nearly as strong.

And if, like they believe, we get hit again after going into the territories it would be risky to blame it on an inside job. That's a big kerplunk. (Side note--this is no endorsement of the left's whacky attack/dictator theory, only pointing out the politics of it, which is not meaningless. The biggest inside job is actually being run by the enemy right now through the US media and left wing establishment).

Of course there's no problem with this on the right since we're all chickenhawk warmongers anyway. Many of us have wondered for years why Bush couldn't do some cross-border Rambo action into Waziristan and Baluchistan, the latter a well-known hotbed of terrorism since the early 90s and boyhood home to KSM and Yousef.

Alas, with everything else in this GWoT it's hard to gage whether we're just bluffing Musharraf or this is the real thing. Maybe Bush is resigned to the fact we'll have to draw down troops in Iraq and this is a last-ditch to keep from losing the war and his legacy along with it. For all we know both China and Russia are involved in this international conflict in a clandestine manner (think polonium-210), which complicates matters even more.

We'll have to wait and see. Discussing the politics might seem trivial and shallow but America has not been so ideologically fractured since the Civil War. The aftermath of another terror attack might depend on the mood of the country and how well we can all work together to get through it. Bush might figure it's better to go down chasing bin Laden and Zawahiri while diverting jihadi and media attention off Iraq for awhile. Capturing bin Laden or Zawahiri might do wonders for American resolve about now.

Government versus private

This is going around..



Too bad Newt's virtually unelectable. Out of the box thinking usually doesn't fare well in the government, as he discovered.

Unrelated, but yesterday was the anniversary of Neal Armstrong's first moon walk. Rick Moran had a good piece on it, in case you missed it. In somewhat of a related topic, this essay from Laura Armstrong (no relation to Neal) from Power Line explains my generation better than anything I've seen written before.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Campaign buttons

The political world was slightly abuzz Friday at the sight of Hillary's cover shot in Harper's Bazaar magazine. Guess Bill was right. Hey, at least she wasn't pole dancing. Maybe she has a different take on campaign buttons.

Thing is, we've already seen Hillary's boobies, at least the version carved for posterity and on display in the Museum of Sex in Manhattan. From what I can see there's something proportionally amiss between the two versions, unless perhaps Hillary's been to the doctor lately. Or maybe she's just doing the ole squeeze play for the camera.

I think Harry Reid needs to get right on top of that because it could be a coverup. Er, an uncoverup. Seriously, is there anything this woman won't do to get elected?

At any rate, this ridiculous post can only be saved by some musical accompaniment. Ever been to Shamballa?



Me, neither. By the way, the video's not an endorsement of Buddism or Hillary's boobs. Just a good ole song. Happy Saturday!

MORE 7/21/07

Just to be totally "upfront" the picture at Mac's place was obviously a photoshop with the main story being her low cut appearance on C-SPAN Wednesday, so my story was somewhat misleading. Guess that makes me a boob. Sorry for any confusion.

Jefferson, GTMO, and saving the Republic

Back in the early 1800s a former president said the following in a private correspondence made public years later:
The laws of necessity, of self-preservation, of saving our country when in danger, are of higher obligation. To lose our country by a scrupulous adherence to written law would be to lose the law itself, with life, liberty, property and all those who are enjoying them with us, thus absurdly sacrificing the end to the means.
Thomas Jefferson was responding to a question from John Colvin regarding whether persons of high charge should act immediately to prevent calamities or stick with the writ of law to the bitter end, regardless of consequence. Most have heard Lincoln's mention of the Constitution not being a "suicide pact" to justify his actions in saving the Union during the Civil War. This debate was raised again in World War II with FDR's actions and has been a constant subject since 9/11 regards President Bush's various methods of confronting suicidal Islamic terrorists. Jefferson again:
The question you propose, whether circumstances do not sometimes occur, which make it a duty in officers of high trust, to assume authorities beyond the law, is easy of solution in principle, but sometimes embarrassing in practice. A strict observance of the written laws is doubtless one of the high duties of a good citizen, but it is not the highest.
The left continually suggests Bush should be impeached due to transgressions involving the various programs he's put in place, one being the detainee facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. There is certainly merit to this discussion on both sides but it's become so encased in partisan mud that rational debate is nearly impossible.

Today's New York Times features a story about the recent judicial setback suffered by the administration regards enemy combatants being held at GTMO:
Advocates for detainees have criticized the tribunals since they were instituted in 2004 because the terror suspects held at Guantánamo have not been permitted lawyers during the proceedings and have not been allowed to see much of the evidence against them.

P. Sabin Willett, a Boston lawyer who argued the case for detainees, called the ruling “a resounding rejection of the government’s effort to hide the truth.”
The story has a definite overtone of hostility towards the administration, which seems par for the course for the Times based on past practices. For some reason it's devoid of any meaningful speculation from anyone who might back the government's position and only talks of the consequences for the detainees, leaving non-lawyerly bloggers to construct hypotheticals in an effort to understand what might be going on here.

For example, let's suggest that several suspected terrorists are overheard by NSA speaking back and forth to terrorists in Europe and America about hidden bombs or biological agents. The wiretaps and signals intelligence are backed by clandestine CIA and DIA agents working in the local population under cover. Acting on all that intelligence the military sends in a Special Ops team to engage the cell, which results in a firefight along with the deaths of several troops and more than a few of the "suspected" terrorists. The survivors are cuffed and shipped to GTMO.

Upon their arrival they are immediately provided with taxpayer-funded civil rights attorneys who begin preparing their defense. While almost unheard of in previous wars it's still not stratospherically absurd, since it's a form of check and balance on the military and intelligence services and the GWoT is unlike any previous war. Under previous court rulings our hypothetical detainees were not privy to the means and tactics (or much of the other intel) used to break up their base and elicit their capture.

Since the Times piece focused on impacts to the terrorists and didn't bother discussing impacts on us peons out here in flyover country we're left to wonder whether the new ruling might allow civil rights attorneys access to ALL the intelligence files, including means and tactics used to gather the information? That's what if looks like. If so, it's a huge win for the Ramsey Clark set, who've long sought to know every little thing the government does regardless of consequence.

Should we applaud if some of these attorneys happen to leak their discovery findings to liberal-minded papers like the New York Times in an effort to inflict petty partisan political damage or stop what they consider to be erroneous procedures not in line with the Constitution? What if the government is still trying to track down the embedded cell members here in America or Europe? It's hard to imagine running a successful war in such a manner. As they say, when it comes to an attack the terrorists need get lucky only once, whereas we have to be right every rime. It's also hard to imagine this debate occurring in the aftermath of another attack on say, New York.

Jefferson talked of salus populi in the breadth of his reply, boiling it down thusly:
It is incumbent on those only who accept of great charges, to risk themselves on great occasions, when the safety of the nation, or some of its very high interests are at stake. An officer is bound to obey orders; yet he would be a bad one who should do it in cases for which they were not intended, and which involved the most important consequences.
This is not to definitely say he would approve of Bush's present actions or those of FDR or Lincoln. But it's highly suggestive that he might.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Around the horn

It's Friday. Here's a few things that seem newsworthy despite not getting any major play in the mainstream media along with some odds and ends.

ANTI-SHIP BALLISTIC MISSILE
Bill Gertz from the Washington Times (yes, it's a Moonie paper) has a couple of interesting tidbits this morning.
The new anti-ship ballistic missile poses a serious threat to U.S. ships because "the U.S. does not have anti-missile capabilities to defend large U.S. ships against this threat, so vulnerable targets, most importantly aircraft carriers, will have to remain out of missile range in order to survive," the report said.
Gertz describes the Chinese DF-21 missile as the first anti-ship ballistic missile designed to target US aircraft carriers. This is the same type missile Iran claimed to have been developing a year or so ago. Big, if true, since it would probably rid out carriers from going into the Persian Gulf or other places in range of this weapon. But it could also be disinformation.

THE REAL DEAL WITH THE DUBAI PORTS DEAL?
According to Rowan Scarborough, who used to work with Gertz at the Times,
..the administration wanted the deal to go through because the UAE government had agreed to let the United States post agents inside its global port network who could report on world shipping.

Dubai Ports currently runs port facilities at key U.S. intelligence targets, including Venezuela, China, Pakistan, India and Saudi Arabia.
While it may or may not be true, it makes a lot of sense. It also points out how things aren't always as they seem in this global war on terror, and how the Bush administration might be trying to think out of the box to thwart attacks.

THE JOHN DOE PROVISION SHOT DOWN
This is making absolutely no headlines at the New York Times or Washington Post, which is strange since New York Congressman Peter King sponsored the amendment in a 9/11 security bill and both the cities where those papers reside were targets of the 9/11 attack (while we're at it, there should be a bill passed to prevent officials from ever calling it a "tragedy").

There is certainly a slippery slope potential in such a thing but the good outweighs the bad. "Jihad by the mouth" is a reality, and if people have to think twice before reporting suspicious behavior on the plane, train or bus it could have a huge chilling effect, supporting future attacks. Besides, whenever Susan Collins, Olympia Snow and Chuck Hagel vote yea it says something.

PEACE IN OUR TIME
Jude Law is the next celebrity to board the peace train by traveling to "the most dangerous areas of Afghanistan" in filming a UN documentary in support of their Global Peace Day on Septmeber 21st. While nobody in their right mind would disagree with such a concept a Blue Star Mom puts some context on the matter and speaks for a lot of us with family members out serving the country:
We ALL want peace. Those of us with loved ones in harms way want it more than anyone other than our Troops. No one wants peace more than the fighting men and women.

You can preach to the choir - but how do you get the other side to stop killing?
THE REF'S ON THE TAKE!
Allegedly so. All I can say is this...he must have been one of the officials at the last Grizzlies game I attended. The calls made in the last five minutes were visibly crappy even from our vantage point, and they definitely affected the outcome. Heh, of course, that's what every fan says. But, if true just more to fuel the perception that the NBA is becoming a gang of thugs.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Plame dismissal and Armitage

Her lawsuit was tossed by a Roberts appointed FISA Court judge, no less. But a strange thing happened on the way to press. From the London Guardian:
U.S. District Judge John D. Bates dismissed the case on jurisdictional grounds and said he would not express an opinion on the constitutional arguments. Bates dismissed the case against all defendants: Cheney, White House political adviser Karl Rove and former White House aide I. Lewis ``Scooter'' Libby.
Uh, what happened to Armitage? That slippery son-of-a-gun gets out of everything!

But wait, here he is!
U.S. District Judge John D. Bates dismissed the case on jurisdictional grounds and said he would not express an opinion on the constitutional arguments. Bates dismissed the case against all defendants: Cheney, White House political adviser Karl Rove, former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby and former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage.
The first version seemed strange--Matt Apuzzo of the AP has been very fair and would never leave out such a fact, So the exit question, as those Hot Air guys like to say, is this...why did the Guardian drop mention of the person who actually leaked her name? Don't strain yourself.

MORE 7/19/07

Headline at Huffpo:
Judge Dismisses Plame Civil Suit Against Cheney, Rove, And Libby"
Headline at MSNBC:
Libby, Cheney, Rove civil suit dismissed
Both weren't as obvious as the Guardian, which simply truncated mention of Armitage altogether. They'd probably defend by citing space limitations, deadlines, major known names, etc. And admittedly it's not a huge deal, just another example of subtle bias.

MORE 7/19/07

From the decision:
As for the duo's tort claims, the Court referred them to the Federal Torts Claims Act which it says is the exclusive means of obtaining relief for such claims (relief available only against the government, not individuals) and they failed to avail themselves of their administrative remedies under that Act.
For example, if an Air Traffic Controller allows two planes to get too close on a busy sector resulting in a crash the victims' families can sue for damages but they won't be suing the individual. To allow otherwise would invite instant chaos. There are exceptions in cases of negligence but such is usually decided by government lawyers upon a review of the employee's actions.

For example, in the case of the controller the government lawyers could decide the employee was negligent or reckless and deny a government defense, forcing him/her to hire their own lawyers. Otherwise, the government provides everything to protect employees from vindictive and frivolous lawsuits, as it should be.

Since they avoided that option it strongly suggests the preference was to go for the biggest possible media impact by naming names instead of the rather generic-sounding "Plame-Wilson versus the US Government" nomenclature describing a Tort claim.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Sock puppetry in Iraq

Abu Omar al-Baghdadi. Purported leader of the former Mujahideen Shura Council and later the Islamic State of Iraq. Never photographed, only heard. Apparently now there's a reason--he's a sock puppet.

So says the recently captured number one Iraqi member of al Qaeda in Iraq (short of Baghdadi) Khaled Mashhadani, who claims they used a local actor to voice over the big guy's internet rantings to give them that hometown feel.

Well. Guess that solves the mystery of whether the Iraqi government captured him or not. Or whether he was formerly a big-wig in Saddam's Army. Or whether he was actually the son of Revolutionary Command Council leader Izzat al-Duri.

But how about the biggest rumor of them all--that Mashhadani himself is actually the big, bad Baghdadi?

At this point it's probably best not jump ahead of ourselves. Baghdadi first surfaced after the death of his beloved leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Everyone suspects the Z-man was behind the shellacking of the Golden Mosque, which started Iraq on it's current road to civil war. But...we were just told by the New York Times that Zarqawi wasn't so hot for Usama and might have been more of a rival. They did this to provide a separation between the 'real AQ' in the caves and the version present in Iraq to undermine Bush's latest rhetoric.

But let's stop and clear this up once and for all. When Bush says the "folks in Iraq" committing suicide bomb attacks are the same folks who "attacked us on 9/11" he doesn't mean they are literally the same flesh. He doesn't mean they are all hail from Saudi Arabia like a majority of the 9/11 hijackers or that they come from Pakistan tribal areas. He means they are of the SAME IDEOLOGICAL STRIPE. Why is that so hard to understand, fractured as it is coming from Bush, for the tougher and smarter set?

Back to Baghdadi. Another weirdity is that he was thought to have been the leader of the Mujahadeen Shura Council, which calls into question whether it even existed or not:
Furthermore, when the Council was formed a statement on a Jihadist website announced that Zarqawi had stepped aside as “emir” of the Council in favor of an Iraqi named Abdullah Rashid al-Baghdadi. This statement is likely symbolic, but shows a recognition of the growing discontent with “foreign” elements of the Iraqi insurgency.
This is still in line with him being fictitious especially with the last sentence mentioned they replaced Zarqawi to create a more native feel to AQ in Iraq.

There were several reasons to create a Mujahadeen leader to replace Zarqawi with a more local flavor. By saying he was a former Republican Guard member that sets him up as a local Sunni patriot with status and prestige due to his former position, not someone taking orders from a cave. This would be fine with the US media, who largely paint the insurgency as home-grown anyway. The question of whether he was still loyal to the Butcher despite his fightin' for Allah was one the MSM would never ask nor answer anyway.

Surely the left will use this to claim further proof of how transparent AQ in Iraq really is while simultaneously trumping up the latest NIE report saying bin Laden still wants to open some cans of jihadi whoopass on us. Maybe the ties are closer than they think.

It's been reported that Izzat al-Duri actually helped organize the insurgency before and after the invasion with help from the Fedyeen Saddam paramilitary group and with Saddam's blessing. Matter of fact it's also been reported, not so widely, that Saddam was moving towards a more Islamic feel for years prior to 9/11, which seems to fit in nicely with all this Shura Council Baghdadi nonsense. At the same time the cave dwellers have been more than happy to come along for the Iraq ride, which helps Bush. They basically said nothing when Hizballah was attacking Israel last summer. Just sayin'.

More later. Meanwhile check out Debbie's place, which is chock full of links.

Brattleboro awakens

There are few better examples of run-amok liberalism than allowing people to walk around a city in the buff. It would surely require a real cutting-edge sense of open-minded courage from the city leaders and populace to not demand changes, right? And, while such activity might appeal to the lecherous depths in nearly every soul (admittedly not that deep for most of us guys) we know that bodies are not created equal:
The disrobing has resumed this summer.

But many locals say it has gone too far. Some cite a case in which a senior citizen from Arizona strolled through the center of town wearing only a waist pack and sandals.
It's sneeringly called "freedom of expression" when the main participants are youngsters with good body mass index ratios but nothing screams "emergency session of the city council" more than a disgusting old fart walking down main wearing only a fanny pack.

Just who might be running such a city council? But of course:
Brattleboro, the first permanent English settlement in the state in 1724, is home to a community of writers, artists and musicians as well as transplanted entrepreneurs from Boston and New York.
Yep, and where the official city slogan is, "where it can ALL happen". Perhaps they should now consider changing it to, "where we've covered our butts and so should you".

For some strange reason this reminds me of "Mars Attacks" when the UFO worshippers got zapped by the aliens because they foolishly believed any beings from outer space had to be super intelligent and therefore peace-loving. Not exactly the same, yet a form of high-IQ naiveté just the same.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Breaking: BFD

A conference call announcing the endorsement of Hillary Clinton by Joseph Wilson was just held with bloggers to hear the breaking news. This is a huge deal for Candidate Clinton and a big endorsement for her candidacy. That it was broken on the blogs sends a powerful signal. I'll provide the transcript as soon as it is available.

Wilson has known Clinton for over a decade. He said she is not the aloof rock star that walks on stage, gives her speech, then walks off with her bodyguards without feeling or thought.
As to shock value, it ranks right up there with Bernard Kerik endorsing Rudy. As to irony it's fitting, both being somewhat detached from the truth, so to speak. From a conspiracy viewpoint just remember that Time reporter Matt Cooper, who penned the story "War on Wilson?", which kick-started the whole Plamegame thing, is married to longtime Hillary strategist Mandy Grunwald.

But in terms of the upcoming Democrat primaries it's significant. If blogs are any indication then Democrats more closely followed the story than conservatives and many of those are likely primary voters. Many haven't warmed to Hillary due to Iraq, and Wilson--well--he's "Debunker One".

In terms of usefulness to the Republicans down the road, it just might carry a lot of weight as well. A whole lot.

MORE 7/16/07

Not exactly related, but did anyone else think Graham was just one more misplaced word away from getting his neck wrung right there on TV? His fear of Webb was palpable, even if he defended himself fairly well. Wonder if the realization that Webb carries a pistol has anything to do with it?

WILD HARE 07/17/07

The American Thinker has an interesting piece on newly released but formerly redacted court documents in the Libby case involving Richard Armitage. Clarice Feldman, the writer of the piece, ends with this opinion:
Each bit of information makes this prosecution look more focused on finding a scapegoat--Libby- than on finding out the truth.
Let's say for a moment that Fitz knew going in that 1) no crime had been committed but 2) the Democrats and others would howl if he didn't accomplish an investigation. It seems beyond odd that Armitage was never charged with perjury after telling the Grand Jury he didn't leak to anyone except Novak. He boasted that he didn't even need a lawyer.
This begs the question of a scapegoat alright, but doesn't clear up why.

Also, as the story eludes, maybe there was more to Matt Cooper's role than was initially suspected. Maybe that's why Rove was never frogmarched. Fitz is no moonbat. He's prosecuted his share of terrorists--the biggest and the baddest. It's not a given that he was on the dark side in this (that would be Wilson's, not Cheney's-just to be clear).

Sunday, July 15, 2007

More from Tenet

With all the recent buzz about new threats can we believe George Tenet's book? There sure are some tender morsels in there, problem is, one of the tenderest was debunked before the book tour concluded (Perle's comment about Iraq on 9/11). However, since it appears things are perhaps beginning to once again "blink red" maybe we can believe a few things in there, with proper corroboration.

For example, he details a quest bin Laden undertook prior to 9/11 to acquire nukes. A meeting apparently took place between a group of Pakistani nuclear scientists and the evil Emir in his Afghanistan cave freak complex where, according to western intelligence sources, bin Laden claimed he might already have nuclear fuel.

In discussing that possibility Tenet rather amazingly mentioned a character oft-spoken about here (but hardly anywhere else)--one Mubarak al-Duri. Al-Duri is an Iraqi who attended school in Arizona in the late 1980s and fell in with some unsavories at the tail end of the Afghanistan Jihad.

Tenet mentions him alongside a Syrian named Mohammed Bayazid, another US-trained jihadist-sympathizer. Bayazid had suspected ties to the Benevolence International Foundation based near Chicago, whose executive director was charged with perjury in 2002 while the government claimed his charity had long running ties to al Qaeda, including a funding link to the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center as well as activities in Bosnia. Bayazid once obtained an Illinois drivers license listing the BIF office as his home address.

Ironically, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, as the newly appointed US Attorney based in Chicago in 2002, was heavily involved in bringing the BIF case. Fitzgerald was also involved in the 1993 WTC and Bojinka cases against Ramzi Yousef. Fitzgerald was also involved in the Libby perjury case. The man really gets around.

Al-Duri's 15 minutes of fame (so far) came from being mentioned by the 9/11 Commission as UBL's "WMD procurement agent" but they spoke of him mainly in the footnotes. Does that mean he's just a footnote?

It seems only a coincidence that al-Duri shares the same sirname as the former head of Saddam's Revolutionary Command Council Izzat al-Duri, since a connection has never been made nor inferred by anyone of importance despite Izzat's possible access to WMDs (back when Saddam had them, of course).

Tenet's story does seem to jibe with press accounts. He claims, beginning on page 270, that the FBI interviewed Bayazid and al-Duri in Sudan before 9/11 based on an intelligence report (mentioned in the link above) regarding the former's name floating to the surface in a story about UBL trying to obtain nuclear materials from Sudan. But that's where the strangeness begins.

According to our former DCI the US couldn't get enough evidence to secure an extradition of either of these men at the time. Later, after 9/11 and after receiving the report about UBL's cave meeting with the Pakistani nuclear guests the Feds apparently began shaking the trees looking for sympathizers who spoke good english. They suddenly recalled the two men.

Stunningly, even after 9/11, they still couldn't get an extradition. So they went to plan B and returned to Sudan with the hopes of 'flipping' the men to our side. Here's an independent recount of the event:
Cloonan and several FBI colleagues arrived in Sudan that month to interrogate several longtime Al Qaeda members residing in Khartoum. The interviews were conducted at safe houses arranged by Sudanese intelligence. The Mukhabarat brought the suspects to the FBI. Among those Cloonan questioned were Mohammed Bayazid, a Syrian American whose alleged ties to Bin Laden dated to the war against the Soviets in Afghanistan after Moscow's 1979 invasion. Bayazid allegedly sought to obtain uranium for Al Qaeda.

Another person interrogated was Mubarak Douri, an Iraqi who was regarded as part of Bin Laden's business infrastructure. Cloonan said Douri and a second Iraqi laughed when he pressed them about possible Bin Laden ties to Saddam Hussein's regime. "They said Bin Laden hated Saddam," the retired FBI investigator recalled. Bin Laden considered Hussein "a Scotch-drinking, woman-chasing apostate," the Iraqis told the former federal agent.
To no avail. Apparently these dangerous villains will be there smiling and waving should we ever decide to save Darfur.

Confused a bit? If so, here's a recap. We have bin Laden desirous of nukes prior to 9/11 and hinting to a delegation of Pakistani scientists he might already have the nuclear fuel on hand to git-r-done. We have a previous report of him possibly acquiring said fuel in Sudan years earlier, at which point a man's name came up--a man who attended college in the US; had the same last name as a reviled member of the Ba'ath Party in Iraq; and who the 9/11 Commission called al Qaeda's WMD procurement agent. Yet the government still didn't have enough to extradite?

By the way, the fact al-Duri says he wasn't tied to Saddam really tells us nothing based on his suspected status. It also does nothing to destroy Saddam's links with terrorists other than AQ. Tenet's book lays out the case that Saddam was aware of Abu Zarqawi's entrance into his country from Afghanistan in 2002, something deemed impossible by a recent New York Times hit piece on the Commander-in-Chief. Thomas Joscelyn offered some insight on that charge today.

But forget any Iraq ties--it's simply astonishing these men never had the pleasure of experiencing CIA Airlines firsthand, if for nothing else to fulfill the media hype about renditions, torture and such. Must be a very good reason.

Or not. As we've been told, Bush is simply making all this stuff up to cover his own world conquering mendacity.

FURTHERMORE 7/15/07

Speaking of the CIA, from today's London Times on Carlos the Jackal:
He eluded the CIA and French intelligence with the help of Colonel Muammar Gadaffi, the Libyan leader, Saddam Hus-sein in Iraq and a network of bases behind the Iron Curtain.
OK, the Iraq mention is obvious. What about the Russian thing? Putey was once KGB, and so forth.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

It's a wild world

So said Cat Stevens, aka Yosef Islam.



What a talent he possessed back when he was an infidel. Not quite the same these days. Guess you don't know what you've got til it's gone...



Too bad she's also gone Muslim. Just kidding. But apparently she did change her name at some point, once calling herself Joni Anderson in the early days. It didn't take a genius to see the raw talent, regardless of the name.

Advice for John McCain

How seriously should McCain consider advice provided by the Huffington Post? Not very, even if it comes from Thomas Edsall, a Joseph Pulitzer II and Edith Pulitzer Moore Professor at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism and longtime Washington Post political reporter.

Mr. Edsall clains to have spoken to the big strategists who've informed him the only way McCain can save his day is to take a heavyweight Bush-bashing position and fill the following gaps:
  • 1) to describe the administration and the Republican congressional leadership as enmeshed in self-dealing and corruption;
  • 2) prepared to assertively blame the White House for a sea of red ink;
  • and, 3) determined to call out Republicans for allowing themselves to become a wholly-owned subsidiary of K Street, the lobbyists' corridor.
In other words, become a Democrat!

Geez, a man with Mr. Edsall's resume should know that McCain has not exactly been silent on Bush's strategery. He can't possibly backtrack on his "last man standing on Iraq" position in any way whatsoever lest everyone, including the Democrats, charge him with extreme hypocrisy (McCain would not do it anyway). Mr. Edsall conveniently left out the main salvo that sent McCain's ship to the bottom--his support of the immigration reform bill, which is irretractable in the minds of many primary voters.

The Democrats and Mr. Edsall (redundant?) know Johnny Mac has little hope at the nomination. This article appears more like a last-ditch effort to get some mileage out of him before he fades into the distance by appealing to his well-known ego in hopes he'll consider flame-throwing the party on the way out, damaging Freddie and Rudy. Sort of like a condemned pirate shooting his crewmates the moon at the end of the plank before being made to jump. Good try, though.

John McCain would be much better off ignoring these Democrat Sirens singing on the hillside and stepping back into his Senate role to devote full attention on helping America avoid defeat at the hands of morons like Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer. At this point there's no better way to protect an already honorable legacy.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Of staged attacks and noble lies

This might be an appropriate post for Friday the 13th. Hot Air is highlighting Ron Paul's appearance on the Alex Jones radio show where he essentially agreed with Cindy Sheehan's contention the next terra attack in the US will be staged by the neocons. So deep is the BDS they probably wouldn't believe in Bush's demise if Air Force One was shot down on live TV.

But I must cut Ron Paul some slack. First, not all his ideas are off the wall. He believes strongly in US sovereignty, which is good. Secondly, he might not actually be aware of how loony Alex Jones really is. But the slack-cutting ends there.

Paul is more concerned we may use any variety of casus belli reasons Iran has given us to take out Tehran's nukes and save the Iraq mission before the Democrats can manage to pull out the rug, an act which be believes would destabilize the world economy by devaluing the dollar and skyrocketing the oil prices due to a closure of the Straits of Hormuz.

Oddly, he seems to think his alternative of an ignominious retreat into an isolationist cocoon would be A-OK and have absolutely no effect on world markets whatsoever. Apparently he also seems to ignore the handy side effects of leaving, like an energized international jihad, vast new training grounds for both Hizballah and AQ terrorists (all fueled with Iraq's oil money) and a greatly threatened Israel. It's a show-stopper for me.

None of that means the government doesn't keep secrets--they clearly do. What our modern truth patriots don't understand is that it's not just Republican governments--ALL governments do it. If you want to have some fun engage a garden variety 9/11 truther in a discussion about TWA 800, the Oklahoma City bombing or the 1993 World Trade Center attack. Most will quickly change the subject because they know it's a dead end as far as implicating Bush/neocons. Ask them why there wasn't a 9/11-like commission to investigate Oklahoma City, for example.

They might want to bring up the long forgotten anthrax letter attacks, admittedly one of the weirder crimes of the last fifty years. Does anyone else find it strange that George Tenet spent 500 pages discussing his tenure at CIA but didn't once mention the letters? Sure, he deals with international issues not domestic but for awhile there were strong indications the powder came from a foreign source, even AQ. He could have discussed that aspect but not mentioning anything made it look all the more suspicious.

Not surprisingly Alex Jones and his crack truth squad have their own blame-America-first theories about the letters, mostly in the same neighborhood as the 9/11 tales. Recently a poster at Daily Kos highlighted one of them:
This is superweapons-grade anthrax that even the United States government, in its openly proclaimed programs, had never developed before. So it was obvious to me that this was from a U.S. government lab. There is nowhere else you could have gotten that."
It's notable that the New York Times, priding itself as the leader of national intelligence leaks, passed on the story. Perhaps even they were spooked by the story's origination on a less than mainstream web site or maybe it the Alex Jones thing again. Or maybe they know well that Mr. Boyle is a known leftist who opposed the first Gulf War and had issues with the "good war" in Afghanistan. Or maybe such disturbing stories just don't sell many newspapers.

Whatever the case the Kos Kid passed along his smoking gun explanation by suggesting the attacks specifically targeted Senators Leahy and Daschle in an effort to get them to come in line on passing the Patriot Act, calling the two Senators "leading opponents" of the bill. Yep, Leahy was the same guy Cheney once told to "F-off".

Circumstantially weak. The Senate anthrax letters were mailed shortly after the following news blurb was released on October 4th, which left no indication Leahy and Daschle were about to scuttle the bill. Besides, dig deep into the conspiracy and you'll find they make a big deal out of the fact Cheney carried around a bio-protection suit all the time after the attacks. Was he afraid he was going to attack himself by mistake, or was he actually brewing it up in the backseat of the VP limo? Another inconsistency--why would we use anthrax with a clear US fingerprint, not say Iraqi or Iranian fingerprints?

Not to say the case hasn't been a strange journey. First they said the powder was so finely-milled it could have only been made by a few countries in well-funded bio-labs. Ironically it was Bob Woodward who helped shoot down that story only a few days later. Then the FBI implicated Steven Hatfill as a person of interest, basically ruining his career. A few years later they admitted they couldn't reverse engineer the powder. Only recently they've said it was something any microbiologist could have whipped up leaving the impression it could be done with a home chemistry set.

In a previous post the name Dr. Anthony Fauci was mentioned with a promise of more in a later post. Well, this is the later post. Dr. Fauci was one of many dignitaries in attendance at the prestigious Aspen Ideas Festival held recently. So what, you say? Turns out he was also one of the folks who wrote Judge Reggie Walton a letter in support of leniency for Scooter Libby at sentencing. Dr. Fauci detailed his work with Libby after the letter attacks as Scooter was working on ways to combat bio-terror threats. While that may place him squarely inside the Alex Jones conspiracy matrix it might actually endear him to the rest of the country. It doesn't debunk this theory, though.

All this boils down to the value of secrecy. Just because we're kept from the whole truth doesn't mean the government is necessarily up to no good. Thomas Jefferson kept his Louisiana Purchase deal secret from Congress and several presidents shielded the public from a host of skirmishes that transpired with the Soviet Union during the cold war. Everyone recalls Jack Nicholson's immortal words about 'the truth' and in that vein it's possible some of the controversial mitigation efforts undertaken by Bush after 9/11 were in response to the second attack just as much as the first. Woodward once quoted Bush as saying he couldn't be "brutally honest" about such matters. Scooter probably knows, which is probably the reason he won't be going to jail. But that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Ipods and thunderstorms

Here we go again.
Thunderstorms and Ipods not a good combination
We've seen this headline before with cell phones, now Ipods. Surely Iphones will be next.

The seminal sentence in the story was right there at the top: "he had been jogging in a thunderstorm". Hello, McFly! There's no evidence using electronic devices attracts lightning. But it does seem to enhance the resulting damage. Otherwise, motherly advice remains intact.