Sunday, October 31, 2010

Defining Sanity

Here's Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington saying--with a straight face--that the rally for sanity was really a rally against 'demonizing your opponents':


Perhaps she doesn't read her own site? Or the comments? And really, based on this headline, on her site, constructed around a rather suspect CBS count of Beck's rally...
Rally Attendance OBLITERATES Turnout To Glenn Beck Rally
...has she learned nothing from yesterday's teachable moment? Everybody knows that using all caps on the internet means screaming.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Restoring Sanity, but Where?

According to the WaPo's coverage of Stewart's 'Restoring Sanity' rally:
The "Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear" is billed as a correction to what Stewart, Colbert and their fans consider the extremism and dishonesty that have infected the American political system, especially the self-righteousness and fear-mongering they see in the right-leaning Beck and his employer, Fox News. The rally is scheduled to include musical interludes by such reliable openers as the Roots and professional rally balladeer Sheryl Crow. The event also will be emphatically covered by ratings and Web-traffic hungry mainstream media -- including The Washington Post -- that Stewart and Colbert vigorously mock.
So there's your only-mentioned target of insanity. The big question is will they pick on Olbermann (Olberdouche), Maddow (Madcow), Matthews (Tingles), and Schultz (Sgt Schultz). Surely they are also visions of insanity in America circa 2010. Oh, and this.

WHAT'S WRONG WITH A LITTLE INSANITY? 10/30/10

This week's musical selection, dedicated to Jon Stewart and insanity in general..at least in music.



How many other rock bands could yodel?

MORE 10/30/10

Seems HuffPo bused in 10,000 non-partisans, according to HuffPo. Personal anecdote--heard a CBS radio news report around 3 pm local time that mentioned the crowd being mainly liberal, and of course they used a soundbite of someone saying the right has become too radical. As predicted this was nothing more than a moderate democratic rally timed to GOTV on Tuesday.

I kept waiting for them to lampoon the fear of Sarah Palin, Dick Cheney, Halliburton, or Social Security reform, or Global Warming, but didn't see it. The bigger question is whether this very large crowd will make Tuesday's results a lot closer. Gut instinct says the races will be closer than the media narrative.

MORE, FOR SOME REASON 10/30/10

Funny how it's OK for these folks to express fear:
GORDON PETERSON: Nina, columnist Paul Krugman says if the election goes as expected, his advice is be afraid, be very afraid. Should we take his advice?

NINA TOTENBERG, NPR: I am already afraid, very afraid. I mean, it’s not like governance has been going great. I think we’ll, I don't know whether I should be afraid, but there will be gridlock.
But that's not the kind of fear Stewart and Colbert were lampooning--that's the fear they were actually projecting by holding the rally. They really are afraid to lose one-party Democratic rule.

The same stuff was said in 1995 when Gingrich and crew rolled in to the House but the result was a stiff-arm of Clinton, more fiscally responsible government, and a decent economy up until 2000. Some of these folks need to stop fearmongering over the fearmongering.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Age of Civility

This is apropos for a Friday going into the election next week..



HT Verum Serum

Aviation Update

Question--does the confirmation of an explosive material found in the cargo consist of a Fed Ex(?) cargo flight out of Dubai (with the package originating from Yemen) have any bearing on the downing of UPS flight 6, which took off from the same airport on September 3 only to be tragically downed by a fire in the cargo hold?

They are largely blaming the UPS crash on a shipment of lithium batteries or electronics but no official cause of the fire has been released. Today's activities don't necessarily say anything about that event but it does seem a rather strange coincidence, considering there was also a Lufthansa MD-11 freighter that crashed in Riyadh earlier this summer.

MORE 10/30/10

CNN has more on the devices:
The devices were "professionally" loaded and connected using an electric circuit to a mobile phone chip tucked in a printer, Dubai police told WAM, the official news agency for the United Arab Emirates.

They were packed in toner cartridges and designed to be detonated by a cell phone, a source close to the investigation told CNN. Police said they were tipped off about the possibility of an explosive device in postal packages onboard a FedEx flight from Yemen headed to Dubai.
The next question is where the trigger (detonator) man would be, whether in a foreign country or America, and what is the range of the remote device. UPS has a facility in Louisville, Fed Ex in Memphis, would someone actually wait for the plane to taxi into the ramp area to push the button or would they do it while in-flight? Timing is probably no coincidence either--we are about to enter the Christmas package rush season.

No doubt these are the kind of questions Aulaqi wants us chasing our tails over. Like Abdulmuttalab, it really doesn't matter if the bomb goes off so long as the message of capability is received. But if UPS 6 was actually a successful attack (and they likely know it by now) expect an all-out effort to eradicate this Yemeni cell in the very near future, perhaps even using cruise missiles, etc.

MORE 10/30/10

Here's a timeline of events issued by CBS News. Notice where the timeline begins, and what happened a day afterward.

(and more here, from NBC).

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Traditional Muslim Garb in Memphis

Irony strikes in Memphis:
A man in traditional Muslim clothing caused a “security scare” at Memphis International Airport Tuesday morning, officials said.
Seems the poor guy got sick and went into the lavatory, taking awhile, then bumped the seat cover on the way out. When the flight attendants went in and saw the place a bit rumpled they snatched the family off the plane for questioning. Just an innocent reaction ala Juan Williams, or should they be fired for profiling? Isn't that exactly what they did? Or does a suspicious person going into a bathroom signal anything unusual (part 5 of that video series is here, which includes a very prescient remark by the Filipino police chief)?

Meanwhile, Memphis is becoming a sort of airline security focal point. The pilot who refused to be nude-scanned on his way to a flight last week is now suing Big Sis over 4th Amendment violations. My question is who decides to pull people out of line for the digital strip search and what's the criteria? And does the scanner have a USB port...

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Defining the Enemy

It's nice to see our POTUS is finally clearly defining the "enemy" and encouraging punishment. No more talk about meetings without preconditions and that girly-man stuff.

And that "you're either with us, or against us" device to show his resolve--brilliant. No more mealy-mouthed moral equivalency. Everyone knows the panty-wastes who don't display the core American values of amnesty and border chaos have a thumpin' comin'!

As to the king thing, well Bushitler got reamed for admitting he could do more as a dictator but our current occupant is a man of dreams.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Hello, First October Surprise

This one's against Harry Reid:
An aide to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid repeatedly lied to federal immigration and FBI agents and submitted false federal documents to the Department of Homeland Security to cover up her illegal seven-year marriage to a Lebanese national who was the subject of an Oklahoma City Joint Terror Task Force investigation, FoxNews.com has learned.
Let's follow this bouncing ball--she entered a sham marriage with a Lebanese citizen in 2003, who had arrived in 2000 to attend college in Oklahoma City. They stayed married while he did who-knows-what trying to earn his permanent resident card while she got a job with the National Council on La Raza in 2006, then later a job as a PR person for Harry Reid in October 2008. One month later she was busted by the FBI for the sham marriage while her 'husband' had begun to draw the attention of the Joint Terrorism Task Force in Ok City.

The scandal here seems to be whether the FBI told Reid's office about this in 2008 because according to Fox she remained in his employ until just recently. One could ask whether that was due to her ties with La Raza or just a desire to avoid bringing the husband's Middle Eastern baggage into Reid's press coverage, especially from the Oklahoma City area.

Who knows what'll happen next (assuming this gets much coverage outside of Fox). Reid might point out how he tried to save the illegal alien population of the world through amnesty, which would have presented this tragedy from happening, which was actually caused by Sharon Angle for opposing illegal aliens. All while claiming no knowledge of the staffer's problems.

Still, it seems pretty weak as October surprises go, especially for Democrats--after all if the president can have an illegal alien aunt and suffer no political damage then Angle shouldn't hope for much. And surely the Dems will soon turn the focus of evil towards Fox News for reporting it.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Dissecting Their Dissection

What a bizarre spectacle: two days after NPR fired Juan Williams they actually held a roundtable discussion on their "Tell Me More" show to ponder the legitimacy of the firing. Wow, they really are fair and balanced!

The panelists included Richard Prince, an editor at the WaPo (where Williams has worked), John Watson, a professor of communications/journalism ethics at American University, and Asra Nomani, a Muslim author, who said this [emphasis added]:
What I believe Juan Williams did was express, unfortunately, the position of many Americans in their distrust of Muslims. I am Muslim. My father's name has Muhammad in it. We would be profiled if we go through airports because, you know, I buy tickets at the last minute and I fall into the classic profile that you have.

But I got to tell you, when I went to Great Falls Park the other day, and I saw a woman in an full-face veil and her husband had a little leather bag that wasn't looking like a picnic basket, I felt a little nervous. And there was a park ranger behind me who clearly was on their tail.

What Juan Williams expressed, I believe, is the sentiment of many people and including Muslims. Muslims profile each other all the time. When you walk into a mosque and you see other Muslims, you say, oh look, he looks like a Jihadi. Or, that's a niqab, a woman who wears a full-face veil. It doesn't mean, you know, that we need to go to the point of civil liberties, you know, offensive or anything like that.

But Juan Williams was basically, I think, having a commentary that is very true in America today. And I believe, unfortunately, that NPR short circuited a conversation that we really need to be having.
She seems to be saying that it's almost like the N word thing with blacks--only Muslims can talk that way about other Muslims. It's ironic that another minority can get fired for crossing that line but the story runs deeper (as the panelists reveal later)...it's about 'serving two masters'. At any rate as Muslims keep exploding or opening fire at various intervals in the states as we continue killing them with prejudice overseas, and while sweeping generalizations about all of this are fast becoming thought crimes, it seems we really do need a national conversation here. Surely when imam Rauf pops back up after the election he'll probably be making the same point, albeit while blaming America somehow.

But what about the conversation on race? Williams is black. The NPR moderator posed the question; here's another snippet:
Mr. PRINCE: Well, I think race is always a part of a lot of these discussions. I think it's disingenuous, however, to say that there was a racial element here and not at FOX. I mean, FOX is hardly an exemplar of diversity in terms of its news and so forth.
This from the WaPo editor--answering a question about whether NPR might have Shirley Sherroded their lone black commentator and he immediately diverts to Fox News. Just like a message board.

The professor and the editor provided their takeaways at the end--here's mine: with all these conversations Americans are supposed to be having about controversial issues how about one on the media? Maybe Gwen Ifill from PBS could be the moderator, or wait, maybe a panelist.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Next Time use the Replay

Hard to conceal the sinful glee of seeing the Yankees go down in flames in Bush Country last night. Nick Swisher once again gets hit by a pitch but this time he doesn't complain and a run scores while 6 umpires stand there doing their best impressions of Sgt Schultz, as if it was perfectly natural for a thrown ball to defy physics and change direction all by itself.

As John Smoltz said, baseball should use instant replay for situations where runs are scored on controversial calls. Sounds reasonable assuming the umpires' union doesn't file a grievance. It's silly to have replay capability and not use it, such as with the clear fan interference on Cano's home run in an earlier game, yet another gift run given to the Bronx Bombers in October.

Whatever the case, the Giants have a potential to make this World Series a real ratings yawner with a win today. One has to think the network honchos at Fox are secretly rooting for a Philly victory to keep the east coast megalopolis interested but maybe if Frisco does win they can generate interest by juxtaposing politics into the mix. How about pictures of Dubya rooting for Texas versus pictures of Jerry Brown or Nancy Pelosi or Babs Boxer at Giants stadium (assuming they actually go to games)? Hey, liberals can get into the playoffs too--who can forget watching Jane Fonda doing the "Tomahawk Chop"?!

Maybe Fox can scroll something like "Bush Country versus the Ninth Circuit" or the "it's the battle between the rednecks and the fruits and nuts"! Of course none of that would be necessary for us purist (but biased) baseball fans...just seeing Josh Hamilton float a few balls in McCovey Cove would be enough.

And with that comes our musical selection this week...

Former Times Honcho Defends Williams Firing in Times

Feel free to read the article, explaining that Juan Williams had violated one too many of NPR's rock solid ethics rules that never applied to any of their other journalists. In other words, not only was Williams either crazy or out for money, but he was a screw-up who couldn't follow orders directions.

But this is the coup de grace of the article:
Before joining NPR in January 2009, Ms. Schiller was the senior vice president and general manager of NYTimes.com.
For those of us who didn't know that was quite an LOL. Not only that, but before working for the Times she was a honcho at--wait for it--CNN. Yep. People used to call it the Communist News Network, well according to her online bio she had the cred:
Ms. Schiller earned her master's degree in Russian from Middlebury College in 1984 and her bachelor's degree in Russian and Soviet Studies from Cornell University in 1983.
OK, OK! Certainly one cannot judge this woman and her career solely based on her resume. And just because her background includes time at two of the more liberally-tilted media outlets in the country doesn't mean she was brought into NPR as part of some clandestine war on Fox News like Linda Douglass (former MSM reporter) and Anita Dunn (a war that has now apparently become a quagmire). It's just a little cartoonish, that's all.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Doc Comparison

The New York Times is all over the unauthorized leak of DoD Iraq war documents (most likely by a radical gay soldier upset over DADT), with a front page blitz on the torture, abuse, and civilian death counts. And wow, timed perfectly with the mid-term elections and Bush's book tour!

Funny, the Times sat along the wall like an ugly shy girl at a party when the DoD released the captured documents contained in the Project Harmony database, many of which suggested Saddam had dealings with Islamist terrorist groups (conventional wisdom = impossible) including the Taliban.

Ironically, when the Times finally came to the dance floor they were actually instrumental in getting the site taken offline because of a proposed article based on one of the docs dubbed a 'nuclear primer'. Yes, it's a nutball world.

As to Assausage, it seems almost impossible to believe that the US Government cannot stop this geek from blasting out info that would get an average American jailed or an enemy combatant blown to smithereens. It's almost as if someone in a high place wants this to happen, or the internet is now more dangerous and powerful than the entire US national security apparatus. Either way it's troubling, not so much about the document content but the idea that no government will have control over its own secrets anymore. That might sound great in Utopia but in the real world people will die as a result.

MORE 10/23/10

It appears the documents do not represent our deepest, darkest secrets on Iraq but rather are more a compendium of incident reports. Search for the following figures and you'll come up with a goose egg:

> Rahib Taha ("Dr. Germ", released for unknown reasons)
> Huda Ammash ("Mrs. Anthrax", released for unknown reasons)
> Abu Ibrahim (a little known bomber who was actually the originator of Bojinka in 80s)
> Raghad Hussein (Saddam's daughter, exiled in Jordan and subject of Interpol notices)
> Izzat Ibrahim al Douri (high level Ba'ath Party figure involved in insurgency, still loose)
> Mohammad Yunis (another high level Ba'ath figure involved in insurgency, still loose)
> Tahir Habbush (head of the IIS, still on the lam)
> Abdul Yasin (helped mix the first WTC bomb in 1993 and also still on the loose)

But the point of Wikileaks both here and in the Afghan dump was not to confirm the reasons for going to war or the evil of the enemy, but to confirm the horrors of war itself. And we don't really need a leak for that.

Break Time

Comedy of yesteryear, when times were also turbulent, but different somehow...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Questions for the Questioners

Valerie and Joe Plame are back out on the media circuit pimping their movie "Fair Game" (starring a star-struck Naomi Watts and Sean Penn), which conveniently opens right before the mid-terms. For those who've purposely forgotten--never mind.

Their interview today with Wolf Blitzer today was incendiary--Joe called both Dick Cheney and Scooter Libby "traitors" but the questions were fairly puffballish. So, since they are intent on bringing this tired story back to the forefront again here's a few suggestions for future interviewers as to questions as yet answered...
  • For Joe-- why were you less than truthful to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence?
  • Joe again--don't you think your finding that Iraq sent a delegation to Niger in 1999 was somewhat a confirmation of Cheney and the Brit government's concerns about uranium?
  • For Val-- why did you tell Henry Waxman's committee one thing and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence another about who recommended Joe for Africa? Who actually recommended Joe for Africa?
  • For Val and Joe--what do you think Andrea Mitchell meant when she told Don Imus that 'everybody knew' that Valerie was CIA, at least those who covered Washington?
  • For Val--how involved were you in the meeting between Joe and New York Times columnist Nic Kristoff in the month before all this started?
  • For Joe--when did you first become involved with the Kerry campaign?
  • For Joe--since you went to Niger in March 2002 and was a TV consultant leading up to the Iraq invasion, why did you wait until WMD stockpiles were not found to go public with your charges?
  • For Val and Joe--why did you appear in Vanity Fair magazine after the initial leak if you were worried about contacts and sources?

-----------------------------------------------------
As to Rachel Maddow's retraction (after saying a GOP congressmen got advanced warning of an attack on the Murrah Federal Bldg).. well, at least she retracted it, albeit without much of an apology.

But after seeing the commercial on how diligent she digs into stories perhaps she can now lean forward into the question why Nichols went to the Philippines and who he might have met there. Or why the media basically blacked out the story about mobster Joe Scarpa Jr tipping off the FBI to a secret cache of explosives hidden in Nichols Kansas home and what was found on them, and whether that led credibility to the other stuff Scarpa told them about Ramzi Yousef's intentions.


Nothing but the truth will do.

Self Evident

At least three times now in recent weeks the president has quoted the Declaration of Independence and left out the word "Creator" while speaking at fundraisers. What does that tell us?

Maybe it tells us he needs contacts to read the teleprompter. But missing the same word? What are the odds? It's not hard to pronounce, like corpsman, and after all, he's not Bush. Is he pandering to the atheists? No, they can't hold that much electoral sway. Maybe he's being sensitive to the Muslims? Nope, they believe in a Creator, too. Hmm, maybe he's just a moron.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Rethinking Palin

Sarahcuda seems to be on the move...towards a run for president. Let me be the first to say my opinion stated here was that she would not run, or if so, would not get nominated, much less elected. But what do I know? There was a time I thought Obama had no chance against the mighty Clinton machine.

Palin is showing herself to be a very strong individual, a person of character and grit with a sunny, positive attitude. Those are the exact kinds of qualities Americans gravitate towards in a leader. This article linked off Drudge seems to nail the latest developments in the Palin odyssey:
She’s Ronald Reagan — at least a smidge. Palin frequently invokes the name of the 40th president. Of course, she can’t match his decades of debating public issues before winning the presidency in 1980. But like RR, Palin has been maligned and downgraded by the media and punditocracy. But when Reagan stood next to Jimmy Carter and got to make his case in his own words, opinions changed.
They called RR a warmongering dummy for years and all he did was win two elections. The big question with Palin is whether she might 'go rogue' if the establishment GOP locks her out next year, which is certainly possible. The Christine O'Donnell flap about the 1st Amendment and other recent 'foupas' made by socially conservative candidates suggests a possible split on the right at some point.

If nothing else it would be interesting to see whether three parties could exist in our current two party system. Just guessing again here, but probably not, although not sure which conservative entity would emerge against the Rush Limbaughs and Karl Roves. Anyway, my other prediction regards Palin is still in play.. (and no, I don't frequent the dog track).

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

So Much for that Central Front

Barack Obama gained the presidency by being the only liberal candidate who didn't have Iraq baggage and by claiming that Bush had abandoned the 'central front in the war on terror'--Afghanistan. Here's Obama making his case:



How could someone who said "this is a war we have to win" allow the enemy to make a peace agreement so our forces can leave:
The Taliban leaders coming into Afghanistan for talks have left their havens in Pakistan on the explicit assurance that they would not be attacked or arrested by NATO forces, Afghans familiar with the talks said. Many top Taliban leaders reside in Pakistan, where they are believed to enjoy at least some official protection.

In at least one case, Taliban leaders crossed the border and boarded a NATO aircraft bound for Kabul, according to an Afghan with knowledge of the talks. In other cases, NATO troops have secured roads to allow Taliban officials to reach Afghan- and NATO-controlled areas so that they can take part in discussions. Most of the discussions have taken place outside of Kabul, according to the Afghan official.
While it's a near surety that most Americans are tired of this war (whether they think it's important or not) there's no way America can leave or even wind down operations there without bringing bin Laden and Zawahiri back with us. Right?

Or is it conceivable, assuming peace breaks out over there, that our sycophant press could let Obama get away with such a blatant stunt, which would strongly suggest his surge was essentially performed to make it appear he was upholding a campaign promise with no intentions of ever 'winning' there? OK one sycophant won't--we already know Bob Woodward isn't onboard.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Whose Fault Again?

Local story here about a Baptist Church reaching out to the Muslim community for some interfaith peace, love and understanding..
"The best way to express our support and extend a warm hand of fellowship to our Muslim neighbors here in Memphis was to get together and break bread," said Dr. Billy Bickers of the Prescott Baptist Church.
Maybe that's what Jesus would do. Or maybe He would reflect what another Baptist preacher in Dallas said recently, it's hard to know. We do know that Islam in America is not going anywhere soon, so we need to find a way to coexist. But coexisting isn't a one way street. Is it really helpful for Muslims to react this way:
The Islamic faith has been under attack in recent months...

..the Mid-South Islamic community says it is tired of the discrimination and hateful acts.

"I pay taxes, I vote, I've served in the military, I was born in this country and because I wear a head scarf I'm somehow different? If I take off my head scarf and walk down the street nobody is going to look at me twice,” said American Muslim Maureen Ameen.
Yes, well major Nidal Hasan served in the military and paid his taxes before opening fire and blasting 40 of his fellow soldiers while yelling Allahu Akbar. Just today four Muslims were found guilty in New York for conspiring to blow up a synagogue. The Times Square bomber was recently convicted and sentenced to life--he proclaimed pride in being a terrorist, just like Ramzi Yousef did in 1997. Meanwhile the underwear bomber and others remain on trial or await their day in court. They are all Muslims, killing in the name of Islam.

Interfaith dialogue is imperative but until Muslims start walking out when people like Imam Rauf claim America was partly to blame for 9/11 there will never be any true hope for peace, love and understanding here on our shores. It's only human nature for non-Muslims to wonder if guy walking down the street with the headscarf might explode or open fire out of the blue after almost two decades of attacks in the name of Islam. And the US media and shows like 'the View' need to stop pretending that Islam is the one 'under attack' while ignoring the steady stream of attacks in the name of Islam. Neither America nor American Islam can continue to prosper living outside this reality.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Pass the Shovel Please

Righty blogs are in a buzz over the admission from Times writer David Brooks that Obama told him there really wasn't such a thing as 'shovel ready' while he was telling America to plow borrowed money into those magical shovels.

OK, let's be real: Obama and friends most likely used the same tactic to sell ARRA that Bush and friends used to sell the Iraq war (the Iraqi oil would pay for a large chunk of the cost, etc), ie., politicians are generally in the business of promising miracles through hoodwink, especially when the situation is dire or deemed as such. The 2000 page ARRA set a land-speed record for passing through Congress and was clearly written well in advance, just like most of the Patriot Act. It was a reaction to fear, unless you believe in the Illuminati.

But did Brooks really break a story? Here's Obama in the WaPo in December 2009, ten months ago and about ten months after George Soros handed him the finished bill (sorry, couldn't resist), talking about shovels:
"The tension we've been seeing is that what is good for the longer term may not work as an immediate short-term stimulus. We're still getting slapped around in the Recovery Act for this," Obama said. "The term 'shovel-ready' -- let's be honest, it doesn't always live up to its billing."
Other than vintage Obama--the all knowing SpockYoda figure floating above the maelstrom telling everyone what to do, then explaining how and why everyone failed when his advice tanks--let's be clear here...that's about as close as he gets to admitting failure (in this case by saying others were lying to him about the term). But those in the know like Brooks were no doubt smiling because they knew it was a game all along.

BTW, this was the same event in which Obama said the Chinese were rebuilding faster because they aren't 'burdened' with democracy. Ironically, SpockYoda also said the following in the same article:
But at the same time, Obama made it sound as if he was not keen on doing more of the road repavings and other faster-acting repairs that have dominated the infrastructure, which he said "may duplicate needs of the past as opposed [providing] vision."
Which is strange considering the 50 billion planes, trains and automobiles "roads, railways and runways" stimulus package he's proposing, apparently just to smack around the GOP on the never-ending campaign trail. And here the Apollo Alliance was taking the credit for the infrastructure funding in the original ARRA, which they apparently helped draft. Or in other words, Obama may have promised change but he didn't mean changing the way politicians operate. His goal has always been about spreading the wealth around, globally. Tactics that work towards that goal won't change.

Speaking of which, the real failure of the ARRA is yet to be determined, and that is, did it grease enough palms to keep the House and Senate in Democratic hands come November? We shall soon find out.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Side Tracks

Confusing the Mumbai Story

The WaPo and other outlets are having some fun with ProPublica's story alleging that the wife of Mumbai terror plotter David Coleman Headley (aka Daood Gilani) told the FBI about his ties to AQ three years before the attack:
Three years before Pakistani terrorists struck Mumbai in 2008, federal agents in New York City investigated a tip that an American businessman was training in Pakistan with the group that later executed the attack.
The impression being left that since the attack occurred and people died, the FBI failed or was negligent or even complicit. There's no mention of Bush but the inferences are there--he was president.

Yet buried deep in the story (page four of the WaPo's internet version) is this paragraph:
As the plot took shape in 2008, U.S. anti-terrorism agencies warned Indian counterparts at least three times about a suspected Lashkar plan to attack Mumbai, according to Indian and U.S. officials. There has been speculation in news reports and among anti-terrorism officials that the United States got that information by monitoring Headley, either as an informant, an ex-informant or a suspect.
Emphasis added for obvious reasons. In other words, we probably did have the guy under surveillance but because Headley was dealing with our 'ally' in Pakistan it was a fairly sensitive operation and remains so today. But after reading only the first two pages how many people would be left with that impression?

Americans Flunk Test on Climate Talking Points

The NY Times is exasperated over a recent Yale University study whose conclusion reflects poorly on Joe and Jane Sixpack's knowledge of climate science, or perhaps more accurately, their knowledge of climate science talking points:
But climate skeptics have made some specific inroads. As the report’s authors found, 42 percent of those surveyed “incorrectly believe that since scientists can’t predict the weather more than a few days in advance, they can’t possibly predict the climate of the future.” More than a third (37 percent) think climate models are too unreliable to predict the climate of the future. And one-third believe, incorrectly, that most scientists in the 1970s were predicting an ice age.
They use "incorrectly" as if it might mean something. For instance on their first point, it's an entirely plausible conclusion for the average person to think scientists can't accurately predict the weather more than a few days in advance just by watching the forecast. Extending it out further, well, just look at the accuracy of the past several Atlantic hurricane forecasts.

Yes, weather is not climate (until it's convenient) but it seems logical to question the accuracy of long range climate forecast trends based on the uncertainty of short range weather models. To call it "incorrect" would be to say climate models are 100 percent accurate, a postulation that cannot be proven in the study.

As to the last assertion, some people may have keen memories of the Newsweek article predicting an ice age in the 70s, or they've heard about it in modern press reports. To say there was a consensus about an ice age back then is incorrect; to say there was a consensus on it going either direction back then would be entirely inaccurate. Finally:
But 55 percent believe, incorrectly, that the Earth’s climate is now hotter than it has ever been before, and about two-thirds believe, incorrectly, that the climate has always oscillated gradually between eras of warmth and eras of cold.
Hmm, no shock that people might think the Earth has never been warmer based on an almost weekly diet of media trickery for going on two decades now. The shock is that only 55 percent believe it, most likely understanding that our observations only go back about 120 years. As to oscillations, any kid knows the climate oscillates because, gee, we're no longer in an ice age. They seem to be focusing on "gradual" because if people believe climate moves along on a geologic scale then there's no reason to change the way we live.

But if people can be convinced that the next climate swing will be linear, a never-ending upward swing due to AGW that will result in a ball of hot gas or approximate the surface of Venus--in our kids' lifetimes--then there's certainly reason to buy curly light bulbs, trade in the Hummer, support cap and trade and vote for Democrats in the mid-terms. Then again, believing in such an apocalyptic future sounds a bit silly and superstitious right, sort of like something religious extremists like Christine O'Donnell might believe in--fireballs and brimstone and such. Right?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Neither Confirmed nor Denied

While reading Woodward's book about Obama's dealings with Af-Pak I noticed a new story on Fox reporting from London that General Petraeus, while speaking to a military think tank, dropped a few nuggets about negotiations between the Taliban and Karzai (us):
First Petraeus went on the record about US involvement in assisting the budding peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government.

“We do facilitate several on-going initiatives,” he said. He went on to say that it would be hard for a Taliban figure to travel through Afghanistan to Kabul if NATO was not a “witting” participant.
He went on to downplay the efforts as nothing formal, saying that it would be hard for any Talibanis to reach Kabul without help from NATO forces and that we've killed a bunch of their hierachy of late. But it does shockingly suggest that an entity created by entities in Pakistan, who supported the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11, and who've shown little compunction to change their ways, might soon be sitting across the peace table from messers Karzai or Holbrooke. While I'm only about half-way through "Obama's Wars" there does seem to be a central theme--not about winning--but about getting out. 2011 is fast approaching.

Hollywood Bob's beyond top secret inside edition (no doubt sprinkled with heaping helpings of literary licensed BS) doesn't go into detail about the Taliban's past as others have. Since we are told repeatedly by the smart people to "know thine enemy", it might behoove everyone to resolve the history of the Taliban before we negotiate peace with them.

So back to the past. The debate about Iraq's involvement with WMDs is officially over--it ended in 2005 when president Bush replied, "nothing" when quizzed about Saddam's connections to 9/11. What Bush didn't negate was the role Iraq played as to international terrorism at large, including possible arrangements with the Taliban. Strangely, Dubya's 2005 admission was made before the captured Iraqi documents stored in the Project Harmony database were fully translated.

The GWoT is full of loose ends. Apart from the more recent truthery questions we still don't know much about legacy operators such as master bomb maker Abu Ibrahim, a Palestinian last seen in Iraq. Or Abdul Yasin, an Iraqi-American involved with mixing the bomb ingredients in the first WTC attack. Or Mubarak al-Duri, who was described by the 9/11 Commission as a WMD procurement agent for bin Laden--again, last seen heading to Iraq. In other words, history doesn't stop at the Bush inaugural.

We never learned why legacy Arab terrorist Abu Nidal "killed himself" in August 2002 with several bullets to the head after a friendly visit by the Muhkabarat intelligence. There were rumors circulating in the region that the sickly 65 year old former master terrorist was going to spill the beans on Saddam's connections to Islamic terrorism in exchange for better health care in the west. Hey, some Muslims believed he was a double agent--so why wouldn't Saddam have wanted him dead as his usefulness had run out?

Nidal's demise seemed to tie in nicely with a report in late 2003 from the London Telegraph that 9/11 lead hijacker Mohammed Atta had visited Baghdad sometime before July 1, 2001 to meet with the terrorist emeritus for some kind of final blessing after showing off his terror skills. Western liberal media outlets jumped on the story and tamped it down quickly, and it went away. In truth the document which purported such could have been a fraud sold to someone who wanted badly to believe since there was conveniently also something about Niger and uranium just as the Plame scandal was beginning to get legs. But it was never officially confirmed as fraud, as is the case with so many of these things.

Years later Ron Suskind wrote a book claiming the White House ordered George Tenet to forge a hand-written document between Tahir Habbush, the head of Iraqi Intelligence (IIS), and Saddam claiming a link between Atta and Iraq. This seemed to tie directly into the Atta in Baghdad claim. Suskind's anonymous CIA sources provided no documented physical evidence. Even a copy of such a letter on White House stationery would be hard to authenticate in this day and age, but of course many on the left wanted to believe Suskind's story (and by extension Habbush) because it condemned the "real" enemy within.

Admittedly, it's strange that Habbush, the Jack of Diamonds on the 55 card most-wanted deck, has never been found, since he alone could probably confirm any links with entities such as the Taliban or bin Laden or other Islamic groups (EIJ). Then again, he could also lie, since he was basically a paid liar. According to reports he was supposedly providing insider information to western intelligence in early 2003 like another Iraqi higher-up Naji Sabri, and both of them claimed Saddam had no WMD stocks. But who can refute the position of George Tenet, that both might have been telling us exactly what Saddam wanted them to tell us? How does an objective person trust a proven liar on a subject that would clearly call for a lie?

For instance, it is beyond dispute that Mohammed Atta spent 11 days in Spain in July 2001, yet it's still inconclusive as to where he was the entire time or whom he met. The CIA depended on the testimony of Ramzi binAlshibh, who claimed they met privately and with no one else, but how can anyone trust information coming from coercion? We have been told that 'torture' is unreliable.

Anyway, at least one journalist bothered to wonder about the trip:
The second one was just after most of the contingent of muscle hijackers had arrived in Florida in July. During that second trip, July 7 to July 19, Atta clocked 1,908 kilometers on his rented Hyundai and changed hotels frequently -- except for five nights, where he vanished from all hotel registries.
Another fabulous revelation that didn't receive much coverage occurred even earlier. The Instapundit pointed to a story in the Nashville Tennessean (now disappeared) about a Judge working for the CPA in Iraq who had been given evidence of a link between the terror moguls:
So today he brought me the proof, and there is no doubt in my mind that he is right.

The document shows that an Iraqi intelligence officer, Abid Al-Karim Muhamed Aswod, assigned to the Iraq embassy in Pakistan, is ''responsible for the coordination of activities with the Osama bin Laden group.''

The document shows that it was written over the signature of Uday Saddam Hussein, the son of Saddam Hussein. . . .

That is the story of the ''Honor Roll of 600,'' and why I believe that President Bush was right when he alleged that Saddam was in cahoots with Osama and was coordinating activities with him.

It does not prove that they engaged together in any particular act of terror against the United States.

But it seems to me to be strong proof that the two were in contact and conspiring to perform terrorist acts.
Instapundit mentioned he had once clerked for this Democratic judge and also mentioned the possibility somebody was trying to dupe him with disinformation but the story met the fate of so many others--it just died away without being confirmed or denied, just like the story about Uday Hussein's newspaper mentioning a possible bin Laden attack on America before the attack, which found its way into the Congressional Record.

Yes, yes, bloggers and other non-official sources have been harping on these things for years, to no formal conclusion. Back to evidence. What does the Project Harmony document trove reveal? According to the Joint Forces Command's analysis released in 2008 they revealed that Iraq was more than happy to work with various terrorists:
In same folder is a copy of an order from the Presidential Secretary to the IIS, directing a task for the Afghan Islamic Party. The task is not specified, but the relationship with an organization the IIS identifies as an "extreme political religious movement" is explicitly described.

42 Other documents in this folder include the following:
• A memorandum from the IIS to the Presidential Secretary discussing cooperation with Islamic Organizations in Egypt (Jamaal Islamiya) in planning for an insurgency against the Egyptian government.
• A memorandum asking that the IIS Directorate be kept informed on all
non-Iraqis training in Saddam Fedayeen camps.
• A list of 100 non-Iraqi Fedayeen in Iraq that details when they had finished
their commando courses and the operations in which they had already
participated.
• A memorandum discussing a letter sent by Tariq Aziz [Deputy Prime
Minister] to Egyptian Islamic Groups, encouraging their cooperation
in "acts of insurgency against the Egyptian Government.
The Afghan Islamic Party is led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and is/was just as religious as the Taliban. For some reason the mainstream media headlines ignored these items and crowed about there being "no smoking gun link between Saddam and al Qaeda". That certainly helped Obama get elected although he surely knows all about these details by now.

Other documents also pointed to several meetings between Iraq and agencies allied with Zawahiri Islamic Jihad and the Taliban, especially a meeting between Iraq's VP and later Habbush and one of the founders of the Taliban Fazlur Rahman of Pakistan:
Fazlur Rahman: I am the one who started with this issue, the relation between Taliban and Iraq, and it is our idea. The brothers in Afghanistan are facing the pressure of America, and are struggling against America and aim to have some connections between Afghanistan and Iraq, and it is a good start to establish the relations with Iraq and Libya and our association has taken this responsibility upon her. I already met with Mr. the Vice-President and the previous head of the directorate, may God rest his soul (translator’s note: apparently the head of the directorate passed away) and both proposed that Hekmatyar and the Taliban should get to an agreement. I spoke with the Taliban about this issue and they started meeting with delegations from the Islamic Party, and I met Mullah Omar and his reply was positive.
Keep in mind this purported meeting would have occurred after bin Laden's World Islamic Front fatwa against America in 1998, which Ray Robison believes was signed by Fazlur Rahman even though the Rahman on the letter identified as a terror leader in Bangladesh. Neither confirmed nor denied.

But let's say there were connections made on behalf of the Taliban by Rahman to garner support from Saddam. The Taliban was Sunni and operating on Iran's eastern flank (Iran was backing the Northern Alliance) so it would have made some sense aside from the bin Laden angle. Remember Richard Clarke's famous quote about how UBL might "boogie to Baghdad" if we shot and missed, must have been some consensus then about Iraq and the Taliban.

As to the Butcher, he operated as do all thugs and mobsters--by mutual back-scratching. Iraq would have expected Rahman to lobby for lowering the UN sanctions (which according to David Kay and Charles Duelfer would have opened the door for new WMD programs) and perhaps help AQ put the pressure on America as to the no-fly zones. Again, neither confirmed nor denied.

Why go over all this stuff? Mysteries are interesting but they also relate to our present situation. American citizens are living happily under a conventional wisdom that Bush lost Afghanistan by diverting resources to Iraq in a fruitless endeavor to take out the Dorito-eating non-threat who couldn't possibly work with Islamists--just name your favorite conspiracy reasons. Woodward's book carries a similar meme (so far) and will probably get few raves in Bush circles. And we have a president who owes his very office to the fact he once called Iraq a 'dumb war' and continues to heap blame on his predecessor for going into Iraq and neglecting the real war on the real central front of the war on terror in Afghanistan.

So why, according to Woodward's recent interviews, is the man who had the superior judgment to say Iraq was a non-factor and who pointed us to the real enemy in Af-Pak already "psychologically out" of Afghanistan? Has the greater threat already been diminished to the point America can now 'absorb' the kind of attacks he expects going forward?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Politics of Terrorist Trials

Robert Gibbs was hit with a question today in the daily briefing--paraphrasing--"when will the trial for al-Nashiri be conducted?" He gave the same stock answer the families have heard for 10 long years. Ten long years ago today, as a matter of fact. Obama waxed reflective:
“I will never forget meeting with some of the families of the victims of this bombing in February 2009. I am deeply grateful to them for their sacrifice, and their efforts to keep the memory of this tragic event alive in our nation’s conscience.
They probably haven't forgotten, either:
Obama called a meeting of the Cole families and made us feel comfortable that something would be done. Now I see that it was a political stunt and how disingenuous he was on this issue. Supposedly we had a contact person at the White House. Obama told us we would always have an open phone. After the announced decision I tried calling this guy and am not getting any response at all. It seems this administration does not care.
Hmm. According to this story everyone is ready to go:
“We don’t have a date yet” for reviving the charges, the official said. When he and other military officials have asked about the delay, they’ve been told, “The administration wants to wait until after the election to go forward,” the official added.
Today it was announced that lawyers for Major Hasan have asked for a 30 day delay (until after the election). Nobody seems to know much about the trial of Underbomber Abdulmutallab other than he's fired his lawyers and wants to defend himself--usually a sign he wants the opportunity to rant off a diatribe like Little Rock recruiter jihadist Abdulhakim, whose own state trial is also languishing and under a gag order (apparently for everyone except the suspect).

Maybe the Ghailani trial (Embassy bombings) has provided enough negative PR already this close to the mid-terms. But fret not--no matter what happens (guilt, innocence, hung juries) these guys will all remain locked up for life. And their brothers on the battlefield will be killed on site. There will be no stealing of democracy!

Sure, it's troubling if Justice is delaying justice for political reasons. Not surprising, but troubling nonetheless because it shows an apparent disregard for the importance of this fight. But if true it's not entirely clear whether that reluctance would be over the right's reaction to trials in federal court (Nashiri is to be tried in a military tribunal) or the left's anger over all things terrorism and torture in general and their perception that the administration has failed miserably in their responsibility to frogmarch enough Bush criminals.

Most likely it's the latter. Not that Obama wouldn't delight in frogmarching a few Republicans this close to the mid-terms if he could, but when the shoe is on the other foot it sometimes tends to produce a clearer view. Besides, there's always hope.

MORE 10/13/10

Here's an MSNBC article on the Cole by Michael Isikoff rehashing the "Bush ignored Richard Clarke" meme that invariably comes up in leftist circles, the crux being that bin Laden was able to use the non-response to the Cole as a recruiting tool before 9/11.

So let's get this straight. Attacking Muslim lands to strike back after attacks is a recruiting tool for the jihadists. NOT striking back after attacks is a recruiting tool for the jihadists.

While 'stale' might not be the best term to describe the situation after the Bush folks came in it was close--there was no outrage or public cry to revenge the attack outside the national security sector. The public was resting from the election snafu and had still not figured out AQ was at war with the west and what it meant, nor, apparently had the new administration. Imagine for a second had Bush come on TV and announced he was invading Afghanistan in June 2001 due to the Cole attack, and how the left would have reacted.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Throwing the Book at Him

Let me first say I deplore throwing anything at a president in public, including shoes. But the story about the book thrown at president Obama (and no, not by an Orly Taitz judge) is puzzling in its lack of coverage in the national media. Per JOM, the NY Times kinda picked up the story sorta:
Obama seemed not to notice the book that landed near him on an outdoor stage after he finished speaking to a large crowd Sunday. The president had turned his back to shake hands with people on another side of the stage.
In other words, the thrown book did not faze the fearless commander-in-chief, who was too busy talking with constituents to notice. Except for the fact the Brit story showed a picture of the book flying past his head while he was smiling and facing the crowd as did a video of the event. His back was not turned to the book, he just didn't react to it. Does the Times newsroom not understand the digital age? And here they said McCain was a tech loser.

Ironically, Bill O'Reilly was trying to convince Bernie Goldberg this evening that the elite media is no longer in the tank for this president based on Bob Schieffer's 'grilling' of David Axelrod on Sunday--maybe Bill should review this story and compare it to the reaction of anything thrown at Bush. Anyway, they haven't released the name of the culprit yet...
Spokesman Ed Donovan said the man had written the book and hoped the president would read it. Donovan said agents concluded the man posed no danger.
And no, there is absolutely no truth to the rumor that the book thrower was actually O'Reilly himself in disguise and the book was Pinheads and Patriots.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Stealing Our Democracy

How dare they! How? Desperate times and all. Here's the theme of a new DNC ad against those evil repukes:
"Stop stealing our democracy"
Hey, everyone knew the party of ends justify means...the party of 'I won'...the party of personal destruction cough Palin cough O'Donnell would play the Bush card--they made a promise. No shocker.

Yeah, one could question whether the DNC is even aware that we don't have a democracy but rather a constitutional republic, but that begs another question--how could so many holders of JDs get it so wrong? Perhaps they purposefully meant to equate America to dime a dozen third world "democracies" run by tinpots. Maybe that's where the true hope and change lies.

But the bigger question is why in the world would the president want to wage open warfare with the US Chamber of Commerce--during a recession? Seems just a tad counter-productive, especially since he has two more years to work with them in his laser-like focus on jobs, jobs, jobs and they represent the folks who create lots of jobs, jobs, jobs. So it's very very weird, even from an Axelrod political perspective or even a D'Souza analyzed anti-colonialist viewpoint, unless they are simply figuring their target voters have no clue what a chamber of commerce is or does. Just associate them with Rove and they become evil and must be defeated at all costs (unlike say, the Taliban)!

And that leaves another question, whether this new attack signifies a coming scorched-earth strategy should the Republicans take back control of Congress. Over the past few days there have certainly been stories about 'hand to hand combat' and 'play(ing) hell' by both Obama and Biden in describing how they will guard the change in a post GOP apocalypse (victory) world. And here it seems like just yesterday they were whining about a lack of cooperation from the minority party while condemning them as a party of fear. Go figure.

Oh well, who knows. This is Obama, the enigma. Maybe it's not really a sign of the coming revoluciĆ³n but just some pot rattling to turn out the base, sort of like getting rid of a warmongering general as NSA in favor of a political hack (thanks to the awesomely fortuitous timing of Bob Woodward's new manuscript) a month before the mid-terms and the effect it might have on certain voters. Politics as usual, in other words, the kind of undeliverable Obama said he wouldn't deliver but did. Then again, something about this smacks to a certain degree of truth.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Side Tracks

Yes, some considered their music sappy and their image overly WASPY, but was there a better female vocalist in the modern era? Certainly she had the best voice of any female drummer in history.



RIP, Karen Carpenter.

Friday, October 08, 2010

AfPak Countdown Clock Ticking

Sometimes employees working in jobs they hate will start "countdown clocks" as they move towards retirement, ticking off the days, hours and minutes until the party. Obama seems to have one for Afghanistan--2011. According to Woodward's book he gave himself two years to get something done lest he lose his own base.

Now today we learn that National Security Advisor James Jones is stepping down to be replaced by his deputy Thomas Donilon. Interesting, because this is the same Jones mentioned in Hollywood Bob's book:
James Jones

A variety of administration officials reportedly expressed scorn for Obama's national security adviser, James Jones, who allegedly became so distrustful of the President’s political aides that he began calling them the "Politburo" and the "Mafia”.

But Robert Gates, the Defense Secretary, reportedly worried that General Jones would be succeeded by his deputy, Thomas Donilon, who would be a "disaster".
Goodbye General Jones--Secretary Gates can't be far behind you.

The NY Times explains Donilon's overall worldview and gives a hint of why Gates believed he would be a disaster:
As deputy national security adviser, Mr. Donilon has urged what he calls a “rebalancing” of American foreign policy to rapidly disengage American forces in Iraq and to focus more on China, Iran and other emerging challenges. In the Afghanistan-Pakistan review, he argued that the United States could not engage in what he termed “endless war,” and has strongly defended Mr. Obama’s decision to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan next summer.
So as the deadline approaches they throw in a guy who favors withdrawing from the central front in the WoT to send a hopeful message to the far left base (many of whom supported Obama when he said AkPak was the central front in the GWoT and a necessary war) in an effort to butter them into voting en masse again.

But will they buy it? There's no guarantee Obama will actually follow through and abandon the central front in the WoT. This is a battlefield he swore was crucial to our security and the same one he claimed Bush had abandoned, to our detriment. How can he do the same? From simply a political standpoint that wouldn't play well going into 2012 not to mention putting the US and our NATO allies at actual risk--look at the recent terror threats in Europe.

So once again he presents an enigma. It certainly appears the military has stepped up the drone attacks in the territories, which makes sense if they believe there's a real chance the 2011 deadline will be enforced; our allies the Pakis are responding by cutting off supply lines and flinging rhetoric to hurt the commander-in-chief while Karzai talks of dealing with the Taliban to end the conflict.

All of this, taken in context with the Wikileaks revelations about Pakistan and even older history detailing Pakistan's involvement with creating the Taliban (and even some strange meetings with Saddam) seems to make perfect sense--as Obama was quoted as saying in Woodward's book, "the cancer is in Pakistan". And he's right--a real ally would not act as they have. They are the ONLY reason we are still in Afghanistan right now.

But at the same time they are nothing to be trifled with, as can be seen. It's why he says "Pockeston" while pronouncing most other country names in the American dialect--a shameless attempt to curry favor with a dangerous nuclear-armed Muslim country. It seems to have failed.

Obama has no choice but to play his game to completion, whether that game be continuing to attempt the phony-baloney engagement with Islamabad or cutting a deal with Karzai that has the Taliban (and ISI) giving up a prize like Zawahiri so we can chopper out. Whatever the case, nothing will be clear until after the mid-terms.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Aviation Update

The story getting all the play is the passenger aboard Qantas flight QF-29 en-route from Melbourne to London with a stop in Hong Kong who yelled out "you will all die" as he ran up and down the aisles terrifying passengers. One mysterious passenger named "Helen" is being quoted far and wide as saying this:
'He was praying in what was believed to be Hebrew and yelling out that he was going to kill himself and all the passengers would die,' said Helen, who had been sitting in Premium Economy.
Some of the more obscure sites and message boards are taking this to mean the man was an Israeli. Yet did "Helen" even hear the man at all? Here's how a Brisbane paper put it (emphasis added):
But an Australian passenger, Helen, said another woman on the flight told her a man, whom she believed was praying in Hebrew, suddenly started shouting: "I'm going to kill myself, you are all going to die, it will be God's will, what will be will be, I'm going to open the door."
So prudence would say wait until further information to make any judgments about crazed Israelis. That's surely what Obama would recommend if it appeared the nut was a Muslim.

BTW, there's really less to worry about as some might think:
Question: Can you address the recent incident where the woman tried to open an airplane door in flight? Were the passengers in any danger? How hard would it be for someone to get a door like this open?

—Anthony Hazzard, Marlboro, N.Y.

Answer: Pressurization exerts a very strong force against the inside of the plane, sealing the doors shut and preventing them from being opened in flight. You can twist the handle and tug on it all you want, but it's impossible for a human, or even several humans, to overcome this pressure. Still, it's not recommended that you play with the door handle at any time as unauthorized tampering with aircraft equipment may result in arrest..
Then again, it would be pretty upsetting nonetheless.

______

Still not much news about the UPS cargo crash in Dubai. Many are hinting at an age old problem--exploding lithium batteries, although nobody is saying how many if any were on the aircraft. According to some sources the recorders were sent to the US, presumably to be examined by the NTSB, but as of today their website still indicates the UAE is doing the investigation. As with many other international incidents this is falling into a black hole but it's unclear whether that void is due to security fears or litigation fears.

______

Finally, another incident made news today:
About 100 passengers on Bermuda-bound US Airways flight 1070 were evacuated from the plane at about 11:15 a.m. and towed to an isolated area at the airport in order to be searched after a man in a US Airways uniform allegedly had wrong identification to prove he was a real employee.

The man had ID that allowed him into the airport but two US Air baggage handlers noticed the man with no employee tags loading the plane with them.

When they questioned the man he allegedly took off on a baggage cart.
This could have several explanations, at least one of which is very troubling. We'll see if they find the guy. It could be something innocent or just plain stupid. Or maybe just another crazed Israeli.

Return to Able Danger

Captain Ed's recent blurb on the Able Danger thing, including the DoD's subsequent purge of Tony Shaffer's new book for mentioning said subject, brings to mind the strange downfall of Pennsylvania Congressman Curt Weldon, once front and center on trying to bring the case to a national audience:
Mr. Speaker, back in 1999 when I was Chair of the defense research subcommittee, the Army was doing cutting-edge work on a new type of technology to allow us to understand and predict emerging transnational terrorist threats. That technology was being done at several locations, but was being led by our Special Forces Command. The work that they were doing was unprecedented. And because of what I saw there, I supported the development of a national capability of a collaborative center that the CIA would just not accept. In fact, in November 4 of 1999, 2 years before 9/11, in a meeting in my office with the Deputy Secretary of Defense, Deputy Director of the CIA, Deputy Director of the FBI, we presented a nine-page proposal to create a national collaborative center. When we finished the brief, the CIA said we did not need that capability, and so before 9/11 we did not have it.
Later in his House speech Weldon dropped the bomb:
What I did not know, Mr. Speaker, up until June of this year, was that that secret program called Able Danger actually identified the Brooklyn cell of al Qaeda in January and February of 2000, over 1 year before 9/11 every happened. In addition, I learned that not only did we identify the Brooklyn cell of al Qaeda, but we identified Mohamed Atta as one of the members of that Brooklyn cell along with three other terrorists who were the leadership of the 9/11 attack.

I have also learned, Mr. Speaker, that in September of 2000, again, over 1 year before 9/11, that Able Danger team attempted on three separate occasions to provide information to the FBI about the Brooklyn cell of al Qaeda, and on three separate occasions they were denied by lawyers in the previous administration to transfer that information.
This was a big story in the right blogosphere in 2005. A subsequent Senate investigation found that Able Danger had not identified Atta or any other 9/11 hijackers.

But in a story never really told in the national media, one year after his speech Weldon was hit with an FBI corruption investigation during the latter stages of his 2006 reelection campaign, something that certainly helped political novice and former Vice-Admiral Joe Sestak unseat the 10 term veteran in his conservative district. Oddly enough, Sestak was backed by former Clintonistas such as Sandy Socks Berger and the chief Clintonista himself.

Sure, Admiral Sestak could have ridden the 2006 anti-Bush wave to victory without help from the FBI. And granted, Weldon was at times a little bit out on the edge and is now evidently an 'arms dealer' or something. As of 2008 the investigation was still continuing. Able Danger could have simply been an exercise in hindsight or a small group with a political axe to grind.

But it doesn't help that a guy convicted of pilfering and destroying documents from the National Archives became one of the principle backers of Weldon's challenger after Weldon started speaking out against his former colleagues (and him) by suggesting a program existed that could have thwarted the attacks before Bush took office but was ignored. At last check Hillary was still dispelling rumors about being on the 2012 presidential ticket, wink, wink.

MORE 10/7/10

Additional info here, including a tape of Tony Shaffer. His takeaway--everyone at the 9/11 Commission had an agenda to cover someone's ass, according to one of the commissioners. This is quite unsurprising since the first rule of a bureaucrat or politician is to CYA. And that's likely the bottom line here--nothing nefarious, they just missed it and didn't want it surfacing after the fact.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Shahzad Gets Life; What of Abdulmuttalab?

The verdict is in on the Times Square failure, Faisal Shahzad, and it's life without parole. Not sure why after hearing the one hour anti-American diatribe a judge wouldn't declare him a traitor and immediately sentence him to death, because if this guy can't get death or be called a traitor, who can?
Remaining defiant, and smirking as the sentence was read, he told the court: “Brace yourselves, because the war with Muslims has just begun.” He later continued: “The defeat of the U.S. is imminent and will happen in the near future.”
Some people still think we're at war, apparently. Notice he said "the Muslims" not "extremists". Well, maybe part of his punishment can be regular visits from Imam Rauf to discuss moderation, that is if they'll let him into the Supermax--where they simply must send Shahzad to join the Shoe Bomber, right? After all, both are remorseless thugs who call themselves soldiers for Allah but who didn't kill anyone.

Meanwhile, what about someone else who didn't kill anyone, the Underbomber?
A 23-year-old Nigerian, Farouk AbdulMutallab, charged with trying to blow up an international flight near Detroit, United States on Christmas day, 2009 will be arraigned in court for the first time since January. This follows disclosures that his lawyers have talked to prosecutors several times about a plea deal.
Why no appearances since January? Shahzad's crime happened in May 2010 and he was found guilty and sentenced in the same time interval it took for Underoo to make two court appearances. Was Shahzad processed through the criminal justice system at warp speed for political reasons to show how us just how great civilian trials are for terrorists?

And on the same token, is Abdulmichelob's due process being duly slowed because he was an embarrassment? Are they afraid of any stories about a plea deal with an important mid-term election coming up? Or is it just the lawyers?

Monday, October 04, 2010

Clinton's Fault

Interesting study from the American Sociological Review about the sub-prime mortgage mess:
Predatory lending aimed at racially segregated minority neighborhoods led to mass foreclosures that fueled the U.S. housing crisis, according to a new study published in the American Sociological Review.
Since their perspective is unsurprisingly lefty it's refreshing to see an admission of one of the main problems--too many defaults from the target group Carter and later Clinton were trying to "help".

Of course the sociologists came out with a stock rationale for those defaults--predatory lending--but subtract the idiotic boilerplate and the remainder nicely defines the problem and part of the reason for the subsequent great recession. That's not to say the MBS and other instruments created by banks and financial institutions weren't also to blame but they were clearly in response to the government's vision of affordable housing fueled by powerful lobbies, not the other way around.

That's why a job at one of the GSEs, like Fannie Mae, became a plum or maybe even more during the halcyon days of Clinton.

At any rate, perhaps someone can make sure the President of the United States gets this report because he's still out blaming the worst economic crisis since the depression on the 'failed policies' of George W. Shrub. Sounds like Clinton was at least half responsible, if not more, yet returning to his policies is what Obama is suggesting we need to do to fix everything.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Siddiqui: HIG Group Interrogation?

We know the German of Afghani descent who purportedly spilled the beans on a Mumbai style terror plot in Europe was taken to Bagram AFB after being caught. But how did he get there? Was he rendered?

Stories are vague about where and how he was captured. Most now say:
Siddiqui, 36, was picked up in Kabul in early July.
The paper of record and spilling top secret info mirrored that account. Yet earlier reports said:
Intelligence and law enforcement authorities in the US and Europe said the threat information is based on the interrogation of a suspected German terrorist allegedly captured on his way to Europe in late summer and now being held at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan.
Emphasis added. If he was training in Waziristan then technically Afghanistan would have been "on the way". But that's a darned long walk.

What about the info? As Tom Maguire asks, how did they get it? Did Obama's crack new HIG terror interrogation team (the one as yet formed during the Christmas Day underbomber attempt) kick into gear?
Members of the new interrogation unit will have the authority to travel around the world to talk to suspects and will be trained to handle certain high-interest people, such as al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Linguists and cultural and interrogation specialists will be assigned to the group and will have "some division of responsibility" regarding types of detainees, a senior administration official said. Most of the group's members will work there full time, although they will have part-time support from the FBI.

Interrogators will not necessarily read detainees their rights before questioning, instead making that decision on a case-by-case basis, officials said. That could affect whether some material can be used in a U.S. court of law. The main purpose of the new unit, however, is to glean intelligence, especially about potential terrorist attacks, the officials said.
So was he Mirandized? Martinized? Anything? Where's that old time curiosity? Ya know, that opportunistic duty to point out any contrast between humane interrogation and the torture tactics of Bush, Cheney and the Yoo?

Surely it doesn't take a blogger to figure it out. As made clear by the warnings on European travel an attack may still come at any minute. Chest thumping about new tactics--only to have people die via the same 'thwarted' attack--would be bad form. So when (and if) this blows over there will be plenty of time to herald the new methods (probably a few days before the election in the New York Times and concurrent with the early snippets of Bush's memoirs).

But Axelrahm best be careful, especially if Siddiqui was indeed rendered then later slapped around to any level, which will no doubt come out via some channel eventually. The Andy Worthingtons of the world are always lying in wait to proclaim outrage over our treatment of terrorists, especially those named Siddiqui and our gulag at Bagram, no matter how much support they threw towards the One when he was the One.

Also, now that everyone knows he's in Bagram everyone will also be waiting and wondering when he'll be departing for trial somewhere.

MORE 10/4/10

CNN relays an interview with a family member of Mr. 'Sidiqi' (spelled differently than previous reports and unlike the AQ mistress), who says he's basically one halo short of an angel. The Germans say otherwise, that he's been on their radar since 9/11.

The story did confirm he wasn't technically rendered as in a CIA airplane, although he was evidently grabbed by a bunch of guys who put a black bag over his head. According to a letter sent out he hasn't been tortured yet but he had seen Cheney wandering the halls with a menacing glare. OK, I made that last part up.