Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Aviation Update

Another horrible loss re QZ8501.  Sympathies to the families--there's no reason they should have to see images of bodies floating in the ocean on TV networks and major web sites.

Thoughts so far...

1.  It appears the aircraft did not come straight down like another AF447 event.  Sonar reports show it about 60nm away from the last known radar position, which means the crew might have fought the plane and tried to make some kind of crippled ditching.  Reports that some victims were 'holding hands' at the end makes it appear the aircraft might have been intact until the end, ie, no explosive decompression or hull damage at altitude.  The geo-position of the bodies in proximity to the wreckage depends on the currents in that area.  After three days there is going to be some drift.  Autopsies would confirm whether anyone left the aircraft before it crashed.     

2.  It's not immediately known (haven't seen it reported at least) whether the captain or first officer was flying the plane.  Also, are there any suspicious names on the manifest?   The FBI in Washington probably ruled out terrorism last week, but to be honest, this looks more weather-related.  Leaving two hours before scheduled departure time is unheard of in the US, but maybe they knew the storms were coming and tried to beat them.  It would be interesting to know where and when the crew got their takeoff weather briefing.  There should be a dispatch release or something similar.  Such a thing is required in the United States. 

3.  If the initial leaked graphic of the radar track of the aircraft's last known position is accurate then the pilot busted his ATC clearance by climbing beyond his assigned FL320 altitude (it showed 36,300 feet).  They had asked for FL380 and a slight left turn, but according to reports ATC didn't get back with the clearance until after they had disappeared off radar.  This suggests something was going on that demanded they climb immediately, without clearance, unless they were in an updraft and couldn't help it.  Such might explain the very low ground speed.  Such also suggests a stall within an area of either ice crystals or supercooled water droplets, bringing icing into the picture, or extreme turbulence.     

4.  At any rate, the speculation will be over soon.  It shouldn't take long to find the black boxes, which should largely solve this mystery.  The families and the rest of the world should know some details fairly soon.   Now, if they can just find MH370.

Enhanced Infrared Satellite photograph with two black circles indicating departing and destination airports with black line the approximate flight track.  Red colors equate to colder temperatures, which translates to higher cloud 'tops' and stronger storms.  Weather is always changing--on this particular morning the storms along the route were building not decreasing.

MORE  1/1/15

Sigh.  It was hoped the information flow on this event would be better after the absolute nightmare of erroneous information and corrections with MH370.   Now, after CNN and other media outlets picked up a report about a sonar-identified location, the 'official' source of info claims no such thing occurred and the wreckage has not been located.   Without a partially intact fuselage resting on the bottom all of the above speculation is obviously suspect.

We do know a few things.  Bodies were found, reportedly only 6 miles from the last radar location.  According to this chart the current is fairly weak in the Java Sea.  This brings an explosive decompression or other structural failure situation back into play, if the bodies found to date were ejected from the aircraft before impact.  Had the aircraft come straight down in a dive the destruction would have been fairly complete and the remains in quite a different state than found so far.  This scenario also brings pilot suicide or terrorism into play.

That said, if the aircraft came straight down it should be in the general vicinity of the last radar hit (which is not being reported officially--primary radar would have recorded something beyond the last secondary hit).  If sonar is not picking it up that could mean there are no large pieces left due to the aircraft being in a nose-down attitude descending at a high rate of speed.  This was the case with the Air Algerie MD-83 that crashed in a thunderstorm in Mali this past summer.

Matter of fact the Mali crash could turn out to be quite similar since both aircraft were above FL300 in cruise when they tried to circumnavigate thunderstorm complexes.  However, according to the interim French BEA report the cockpit voice recorder on the Air Algerie plane had malfunctioned and was taping multiple layers of conversations over itself through several flights instead of erasing and recording as designed, leaving a jumble of conversations.  They do have the FDR, but without the cockpit conversations it will be harder to understand the crew's thinking or whether there were any unusual sounds before they went out of control.

One thing seems fairly certain.  If it's unclear what happened they will do everything possible to push the pilot error or weather-related probable causes as those are the safest findings for everyone involved and people tend to accept those explanations.  Considering terrorism, one of the reasons KSM and Yousef planned their "Operation Bojinka" with up to a dozen aircraft being blown up simultaneously was because they knew the authorities could not cover up the findings.  The same thing occurred on 9/11--after the first plane impacted the tower everyone was watching as the second one came in so there was no denying what had occurred.

Still, this feels more like a weather-related crash.  If so, and if the AF447 cause wasn't to blame, then it might go against the long-held reasoning that tropical thunderstorms contain weaker updrafts than mid-latitude varieties.  But maybe the science isn't completely settled yet.    

MORE  1/3/15

Looks like Air Asia was flying an illegal route.  Maybe that had something to do with them leaving 2 hours before scheduled flight time.  Meanwhile, experts are speculating that since the ELT did not activate it means the airplane did a Sully Sullenberg splashdown on the ocean.  OK, but how does that explain pieces of the aircraft they are now discovering, sheared from the fuselage?  That doesn't comport with a splashdown-sinking, it more comports with the aircraft plunging after an upset and surpassing its aerodynamic limits and breaking up before impact.

That might also explain why the ELT didn't activate--perhaps the antenna was broken off before impact.  And finding people, God rest their souls, still strapped in their seats on the surface doesn't line up with an intact splashdown and sinking.  It does line up with a breakup before impact and perhaps the main wreckage is closer to the position of the last radar indication than earlier thought.  The current in the Java Sea would float everything still on the surface east over time. 

Anyway, if weather turns out to be a causative factor here's hoping the aviation industry in Asia adopts the US model on weather avoidance, which has produced an incredible safety record over the past decade plus. 

Monday, December 29, 2014

Year in Review

This is making the rounds.  Frankly I think we all need a dose of this kind of satire more often than not, and Dave Barry is the master.

Will post just one snippet..
Elsewhere on the political front, Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee release an explosive and controversial report alleging that the CIA repeatedly poured buckets of ice water on people’s heads.
CIA defenders claim this was done for a good cause, although nobody is sure what it is. Former Vice President Dick Cheney, appearing on NBC’s Meet the Press, bites the head off a live rabbit.
Oddly, you won't find that snippet in the WaPo's version of Barry's column.  You'll need to go to the Miami Herald version.  Why would the WaPo edit the part about the torture report? Wait, they also left out a paragraph about the Sony hack. And his ribbing of the names of Southeast Asians.

Ah yes, a fitting end to the year.

Friday, December 26, 2014


You gotta love this explanation for Obama's Friday get-out-of-town presser last week where he called on only female reporters..
I thank President Obama for the "teachable" and empathy building moment. The question is, moving forward, what are we going to do about this in our workplaces, classrooms and communities?
Obviously this "diversity coach" needs some education on Chicago politics. The White House press room is full of female reporters who get called on during every press conference, including April Ryan from National Urban Radio, to whom Obama seemed to go off-script and give the last question.

The AP, Reuters, CNN, PBS, New York Times, Real Clear Politics, Washington Times, and several other media outlets routinely send female reporters to the briefings and presidential press conferences and they do get called on.  Good Lord, for years the matriarch of the press room was this lady, who had to be called on or else.  

If one were in a snippy mood one could ask why there haven't been more opportunities overall for all reporters, male and female, especially ahead of important elections.   Or one could ask why one major network ranked well behind the others in getting questions at all. 

But digressing aside, the diversity coach seems so mixed up in fantasy between presidential adoration and gender issues she can't begin to understand what a press conference is all about.  As mentioned by others, the questions he received from the 8 print/radio reporters didn't really get any important topics fully addressed, which becomes a disservice to the public for whom reporters supposedly work.  It's not as if ongoing domestic unrest, a cyber attack, and continuing conflicts with Putin and ISIS, Obamacare signup numbers and the 'end' to the war in Afghanistan (coming next week) somehow don't matter. 

And therein lies the real teachable moment--a president and his staff figuring out a way to dodge those important questions they knew would be raised by the legacy TV media while simultaneously leaving the impression that anyone who dare raise a question about the all-female strategy might be a bigot or mysogonist.  If there's any schooling to be done here it needs to be to flow to people like the CNN op-ed writer or various other "Grubers" who think a presidential press conference should be about celebrating diversity rather than speaking truth to power. 

Monday, December 22, 2014

Say wha?

CNN is all giddy reporting a warm and fuzzy Christmas tale about the president's double-secret Cuban deal:
It might be the most bizarre of the closely guarded secrets from last week's historic agreement between the United States and Cuba: How did the leader of a Cuban spy ring serving life in a California federal prison manage to impregnate his wife 2,245 miles away in Havana?
The story goes on to ask "why", as in why would the US Government allow an incarcerated Cuban spy to impregnate his Cuban intelligence officer wife 5-7 months before a deal? Their answer:
"In light of Mr. Hernandez's two life sentences," Fallon said, "the request was passed along by Senator [Patrick] Leahy, who was seeking to improve the conditions for Mr. Gross while he was imprisoned in Cuba."
The discretion on both sides makes sense.
Nice of the CNN reporter to provide that important context about it making sense. 

Now, does it really make any sense? Why wouldn't we just say "wait until the deal is done" since it seemed like a done deal anyway 6 months ago?  Cuba had no incentive to mistreat Gross anyway, they needed him in good enough shape to allow the deal to get done because had he died in prison before the announcement the entire thing would have been a bit more problematic.  The admin could have had one of their water boys tell Castro to pound sand, that Gross better get good treatment or the deal is off.  They needed him healthy.

Without that reason, what else makes sense?  How about Cuba insisting on letting the intelligence officer go to the prison for a conjugal as a sign of good faith--and she did. And she got pregnant. And now they have to make up a story to explain the baby bump. 

If the artificial insemination story is really true then it requires timing on the part of Obama; in other words they were always planning to break this news after the mid-terms so they timed the insemination to the expected announcement date minus about 6+ months.  Either that or the wife got knocked up by somebody else and the Cubans enlisted the US to help run a cover story. Which would be rather disgusting, our govt helping Fidel run commie agitprop.

But hey, we don't battle communism or stand strong for human rights anymore, we embrace those kinds of governments now because that's the new way to battle human rights, through capitalism.  And because of cigars and rum. 

Oh, as to the Senator implicated in helping this ruse come off, "Leaky Leahy" was the one Cheney told to F off back in the day.  Leahy once supported his friend Dick Durbin when he called our troops at GITMO "Nazis".  Apparently he prefers Marxists in Cuba over Nazis.  But America doesn't care.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Presidential Holiday Message

The prez gave a Friday afternoon press conference ahead of his AF1 departure to a Hawaiian vacation.  He wished everyone a merry Christmas at the end.  But interspersed within the presser were what sounded like some subtle messages.

First, his opening statement.  He reviewed his awesome year, reflecting on how things had markedly improved across the board.  In other words, why did a bunch of racist crackers shellack him in November?

In the open section he took questions only from preselected female reporters.  He didn't take any questions from the front row mainstream alphabet media reporters from CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, or Fox.  Taking away those reporters makes a presser very tame--some of the women he picked were literally gushing.  But c'mon, it's never that hostile.

But speaking relatively, it's true that guys like Ed Henry, Jon Karl and Major Garrett have asked tough questions throughout the year.  So it appears they were punished.  Or as the president half-joked, they had been 'naughty'.  No questions for you. 

This brings to mind the recent comments from former ABC reporter Ann Compton about the cuss-word tantrums the White House has had over coverage on what they consider phony scandals.  And it certainly fits the premise of Sharyl Attkisson's book: do something we don't like, get cut off.  Merry f'ing Christmas. 

As to the Sony hack, that was also curious.  He was unusually adamant--they were wrong.  No ifs ands or buts.  And not only that, they should have called him beforehand to discuss it because he would have set them straight.  This despite Sony's explanation that it was the theater chains who refused to show the film, leaving them no choice.  But remember what the studio heads were quoted as saying in the leaked emails about Obama.   Apparently he was paying attention, so they were punished. 

During a question about his failure to allow the Keystone pipeline, he didn't say anything about falling oil prices not making it feasible, or the environmental disaster some in his circle wet their pants over, or the inherent hazard of transporting by rail rather than pipeline (because the oil is coming out either way) no, he essentially said it would be a negligible change, create few jobs, and would mainly benefit Canada.   This is the same president who just relaxed our stance with commie Cuba over nothing, and there he was off-handedly dissing Canada.  When did it become bad to help a great and loyal trading partner and become more energy independent to boot?  What did Canada do to himThis?  Good Lord.  
At the end he acknowledged the press has a job to do and likes to report on all the latest blow-ups, blood and guts, but then he gave them a tip--
In other words, report my rosy, shiny, happier news or maybe you'll keep getting shut out. Mihalo and goodbye.  

MORE  12/22/14

The Hollywood folks don't miss stuff like this.   Just wondering how they think calling Franco "Flacco" was helping Denzel.  Maybe they don't realize who Joe Flacco is, unless I'm missing something.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

First Amendment Hypocrisy

Dean Obeidallah has his shorts in a bunch over at CNN calling out conservatives for hypocrisy because some have criticized Sony over pulling "the Interview" (a comedy that allegedly ends with NorK leader Lil Kim Jong Un's head catching fire and exploding) but the same people called for pulling a 2006 movie his girlfriend starred in called "Death of a President", which featured the assassination of Dubya.

So let's get his outrage straight.  A comedy featuring the current NK leader's death is the same as a docu-drama about the death of the US president.   Just imagine his reaction had Dinesh D'Souza's last movie ended with Obama getting shot by a firing squad or something.  Hell, D'Souza was sent to jail for investigating the president's anti-imperialist background alone.  Oh sorry, for a campaign violation, ahem.

And of course Hollywood would only make such a movie if the firing squad was a band of rogue Teabaggers wearing don't tread on me t-shirts.  But Hollywood and the Obama State Department were all-in on blowing off Kim's head.  Hey, the administration made a point today to vigorously defend Hollywood and creative people everywhere in exercising their first amendment rights.

Which is odd, because the same people have completely forgotten what they said caused Benghazi and the other uprisings on Sept 11, 2012--an ugly video about Mohammed.  The same people even made a TV commercial at taxpayer expense to be shown in Pakistan begging forgiveness and separating the US from that ugly Mohammed film from Nakoula, who was tossed in jail.  Oh right, for a previous warrant, ahem.  The president even told the UN that the future doesn't belong to those who slander the Prophet of Islam.  He was right, Nakoula's future certainly got worse.

The administration even took the unprecedented step of asking You Tube to take his video down

So Dean, if you're looking for some hypocrisy, whoops there it is. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Executive Actions on Cuba...

Today the president announced a plan to reward Cuba with US recognition in return for doing... well, nothing:
“This is being done because we believe the policy of the past has not worked and we believe the best way to bring democracy and prosperity to Cuba is through a different kind of policy,” a senior administration official told reporters on a conference call under White House ground rules that did not permit the official to be identified.
Outraged right wing hacks immediately weighed in with their displeasure, like Democratic Senator Menendez:
“Let’s be clear, this was not a ‘humanitarian’ act by the Castro regime. It was a swap of convicted spies for an innocent American,” said Senator Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey and the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. “President Obama’s actions have vindicated the brutal behavior of the Cuban government.”
So, when do we normalize relations with the North Koreans and set up an embassy? And if not, why not?

OBAMA LIBRE!  12/18/14

Politico paints a picture of the true portrait of an emerging president, finally unencumbered by the messiness of posturing (lying) before elections.

So maybe it's worth throwing this out there.   There were interactions between the Weathermen and Cuban intelliegence (back when Obama was 7), the same Cuban intelligence running the 3 spies Obama just released in exchange for Alan Gross (he's already released the other 2 members of the Cuban 5, and we can all believe in this mystery US asset hostage held for 20 years when we see him).  Ayers is still proudly a "small-c communist" and openly advocated for Hugo Chavez only a few years back.  Of course it's probably racist to even mention their names in the same paragraph.  Viva, and onward to our new progressive future!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Have they learned nothing?

This was the large font headline glaring on CNN that triggered this post..


Why does any reputable news organization even need to ask after everything that has occurred since 9/11?

And yet here they are, blasting such a lame ass question on the web page as if this action was somehow beneath the Talibani warriors, our noble trading partners for Beau Bergdahl.   All while the Democrats give the bastards who drew up the 9/11 attack a report on how they were interrogated.  Which mainstream media anchors will probably refer to as upholding American values.   Hands up, don't shoot, I can't breathe, indeed.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Cheney on MTP

He simply didn't come off looking good, appearing to defend the indefensible.  Of course this was NBC's goal.

But let's face it, rigidly defending some of the things they did to 'the bastards' who pulled off 9/11 cannot be open-ended.  Where Cheney goes wrong is the idea that enhanced interrogation methods should be forever etched into our usual and customary interrogation tool box.  It has been proven that most terrorists can be broken down through the usual methods when given time.  Besides, some actually believe in American exceptionalism (as opposed to Democrats who are conveniently using it for political reasons now).

But therein lies the issue--time.  After 9/11 the powers-that-be, including her holiness Nancy Pelosi and his majesty Jay Rockefeller, were all for thinking outside the box to get what we could out of these barbarians before another mass casualty attack occurred.  Now in the comfort of time (and no major attacks) it's safe to play the torture card to get themselves on the right side of history for future political use. Yes, they are craven.

But as long as Cheney continues to remain unflinchable when discussing 'the program' the Democrats will keep playing the card with their willing buddies in the media.  The NY Times has had the terror report on its front pages since it came out Tuesday.   

Not to mention playing it also gives the media and Democrats a diversion from Obama's own hypocritical (and possible unconstitutional ) memos on immigration, the possibility that the IRS gave records of conservative groups to the White House and Justice Department before the 2012 election, the Benghazi hearings, or Obama's recent announcement of sending more troops to the war he ended in Iraq while retaining more in the war he was going to responsibly end in Afghanistan in less than a month.

They've succeeded in moving the news from the GOP shellacking over Obama's failures to GOP torture and black civil rights, neither of which are really deserving of headline news right now.
But the odd thing is, while the talk has shifted back to terrorism vis a vis torture none of the media talking heads have mentioned the few major terrorists captured in the Obama era, such as Ahmed Warsame and Anas al-Liby who were both interrogated for weeks on Navy vessels, or Abu Khatalah of Benghazi fame who was put on a slow boat from Africa.  Hopefully there was no stress involved.  Was Red Cross or consular access allowed?  Nobody cares enough to make it a story. 

The talking heads were also not talking about Adnan Shukrijumah, called a Saudi citizen by some, who reportedly died during a raid in Pakistan last week, pulled off without any US help. Does it signal better US-Pakistani relations?  Josh Earnest had no clue when asked on Friday.  They also seem uninterested in whether the terrorist crossed the Mexican border several times in discussing with AQ terrorists a plot to attack Oprah Winfrey's studios and the Willis Tower on Obama's hometown, an attack evidently thwarted by authorities before it could occur.  Sounds like huge news, eh?  And how did the authorities thwart it? At least something to run down.  But the administration and press appear to be running away from it.  Why?

Legitimate reasons of security?  Or is it something as simple as a focus on it would negatively impact a president who recently allowed illegal aliens to get green cards and benefits?  Oh well, back to NY Times saturation coverage of Dick Cheney's torture era.     

Friday, December 12, 2014

Somebody finally asked...

...the White House to clarify whether top tier core-AQ terrorist Adnan Shukrijumah was killed in a raid by the Pakistanis last weekend or not:  

It's pretty amazing the White House spokesman would have to 'take the question' to get Major Garrett some 'clarity' on whether the guy is dead or not.  Don't they know by now?  Why wouldn't they be heralding it as a major blow in the GWoT?  Garrett was saying that CBS News was getting their confirmation from senior government officials.  But both the Rewards for Justice and FBI most-wanted terrorist sites show no change.

I don't pretend to know what's going on here.  I do know that many terrorists have "died" and come back to life--the most recent being the Khorasan (Core-AQ) bomb maker supposedly killed by US air strikes in Syria last month but now reportedly still alive.  So proclaiming AQ leaders dead, especially when the Pakistanis are involved, is probably risky.     


Here's another clip of a US Government official being asked to confirm the death of Shukrijumah..

She's fumbling around over details about the death of a major Core-AQ terrorist?   Hmmm.

Why is the administration downplaying this?   Most believe he was killed.  Could it be something to do with the Pakistan-US relationship?  As Garrett pointed out, it sounds like a positive development. Yet the spokespeople are giving nothing.  It's been a week, they clearly have no intention of using this as PR.  So why not?   

Could it be because Shukrijumah allegedly crossed the US-Mexico border several times--even possibly flying an aircraft into a US airport--before his demise?  And that the administration would rather lose the PR value from the killing of a major AQ kingpin than admit that said kingpin was crossing the 'secure' southern border?  And targeting Oprah, of all people!  Yeah, must be the latter.

Notice also how no US journalists smell a story here.  None of them followed up on Garrett's question to Earnest; none followed up on the Arab journalist's question to Psaki.  So the story about the takeout of a major Core-AQ terrorist is just going to vaporize into the ether.  

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Speaking of Waterboarding

This was a brief blip in the Brit press in 2009:
Dick Cheney, the former US vice-president, suggested waterboarding an Iraqi prisoner whom White House officials suspected might possess knowledge of a potential connection between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda, it has emerged.
Two senior intelligence officials said that the April 2003 request was made regarding Muhammed Khudayr al-Dulaymi, head of the M-14 section of the Mukhabarat secret police, whose responsibilities included chemical weapons and contacts with terrorist groups.
There's that al-Dulaimi name again.

This story was covered here at the time. There wasn't much on the web on Khudair Dulaimi then--nothing has changed today, although the Emptywheel did a "what happened to.." story on him back in August.  They don't know much either. 

An earlier Telegraph story from 2003 suggested he was an important thug in Saddam's crime family and perhaps an outreach link between the regime and terrorists, which is no doubt why Cheney's office had interest.
He also worked closely with the Saddam Fedayeen and foreign fighters in the run-up to war, building the contacts vital for the resistance.
Of course the notion that Saddam would even allow an AQ-like figure in his country is preposterous!  We all know he had no use for terrorists.  Curiously the Telegraph piece mentions the following:
His name is on a second, unpublished, list of most-wanted Iraqis who do not appear in the original deck of cards of 55 former regime leaders, although no photograph has been circulated.
Hmm, that's news.  Who else was on the second secret list?  Was it people involved in this?  Here's the final sentence, rather prescient:
Documents found in the suitcase of Saddam's vice-president, Taha Yassin Ramadan, when he was captured last month detailed plans by Ba'athist cells for establishing links with radical Islamic leaders and reorganising the party.
And that's exactly what Izzat al-Duri and friends have done.

Anyway, despite a lack of reporting we have a few scraps to puzzle over. The 2003 Telegraph article dated September gives no indication Dulaimi was in captivity, matter of fact quite the opposite, but the 2009 Telegraph story on Cheney's alleged request says he was in captivity in April 2003, or at least that's when the request was received.  So one of them, at least, is wrong. 

One can imagine that since he was also on some kind of double secret most-wanted list and no picture was ever distributed it's possible he never actually existed.  Maybe he was made up by Iraqis interested in selling information.  We could say the CIA made him up to justify the war and be right, according to most Democrats at least.  Or maybe someone at Langley was trying to snooker Cheney.  April 2003....that was about the same time Joe Plame Wilson was starting to whisper "Bush lied, people died" to Nicholas Kristof at the Times after his colleague Judy Miller found nothing much in Iraq. We all know what happened next.

If he did exist and was what they said he was, surely he was non-harshly interrogated and jailed, but it seems likely that had they found anything such as a link between Saddam and AQ other than that visit by Egyptian Islamic Jihad members to Baghdad before the invasion it would have been made public long ago.   But it's hard to say.   Maybe somebody can ask Cheney.  Or maybe we can get George Ramos to ask Obama, since he's the only one with balls enough to ask real questions anymore.

IS THE GWOT OVER?  12/12/14

Listening to the screed from Feinstein announcing her release of the CIA hit job report (a remarkable journey into the world of hypocrisy and denial) the question should be asked--do these Democrats think the threats are over?  Do they really believe Obama 2012?   If another massive 9/11 scale attack were to happen tomorrow what would DiFi say about belly slapping KSM?   It's as if some Democrats have gone bonkers since the mid-term shellacking.

Speaking of which, CNN had a top headline today about a gripping story that everyone is talking about-- Mohammed Atta in Prague.
A recently released CIA cable casts heavy doubt on a key claim used by the Bush administration to justify the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. It discounts intelligence that said Mohammed Atta, one of the 9/11 ringleaders, met with an Iraqi official in the Czech Republic a few months before the attacks.
The Bush administration -- which maintained that Atta had met with Iraqi agent Ahmad al-Anian in Prague in April 2001 -- had used the report to link the September 11 attacks to Iraq. CIA Director John Brennan included a portion of the cable in a letter to Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan. Levin, the retiring chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, made the letter public on Thursday.
Well, it's nice to see Brennan included a "portion" of the cable in his release.  Fact is Carl Levin has been pressing this for a long time and probably wants Cheney locked up. The thing is, the story was pretty much debunked a long time ago. 

These Democrats and their sycophants in the media are so desirous for stories bashing Republicans they've resorted to re-hashing old bashes.  At the same time they've almost completely ignored the Gruber hearing on Tuesday, the Benghazi hearing on Wednesday, and the latest revelations from Lerner's emails, Obama increasing troops in Iraq, Iran cheating on their nuke framework agreement, and the lies told about immigration.   Utterly amazing.  But it's worse--it's dangerous for America.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

"Torture" Tuesday

The Senate Democrats' Bush torture report is scheduled for release today.  Thankfully all our foreign posts and overseas military have been placed on the appropriate defcon.  Not a good time to be a hostage held by Islamists, but maybe it's never a good time.

We know Dems like Feinstein and Levin are salivating for its release but the reaction from State and the White House has been curious.  Lots of political posturing in the days leading up, including a call from John Kerry with the blessing (or maybe urging) of the White House begging asking DiFi to delay the report until something is fixed, presumably something overseas, although both now claim they are 120 percent behind the release.  Does that mean something was fixed in the report, like maybe something Lerch said or did back in 2002 when the Democrats were cheerleading the 'torture' program?   Back when he was for the harsh interrogation before he was against it? 

Or was something fixed outside the report?  The Kerry call was reportedly last Thursday, a day before a flurry of activity occurred on the international terror front. Congress authorized a billion dollars for the Pakistani Army upon the departure of one of their generals who spent the previous week in DC gladhanding.  Then a Taliban bigwig was sent back to the Taliban. A day later we tried a raid to save one of our hostages held by AQAP in Yemen, just as the Pakistanis announced they had taken out AQ number 3/4 Adnan Shukrijumah, while the administration quietly transferred a pack of Gitmo detainees to Uruguay (whose president said they could immediately go free upon their arrival).  Then we launched a drone attack over Pakistan and killed another AQ bigwig along with some Talibanis.  Are the ducks now in a row?    

No doubt Cheney, Rodriquez, Hayden, and even Bush don't care about the ducks or anything else--they know this is an attempt to get some slimy Democrats back on the side of the angels, so they have been hitting the media circuits begging asking them to stand down.   Hell, did they not see Zero Dark Thirty?

Unless its much worse than ZDT.  Cause let's face it, everyone already knows we slapped around and dunked and were generally rude to a lot of AQ Muslims back when we thought a bigger attack was coming.  So unless there's evidence the CIA chopped off some arms or toes or put someone in a chipper-shredder or killed some family members it's hard to imagine a huge public outcry from this.  We know about waterboarding.   Will the report make figures like KSM sympathetic to more than just Rosie O'Donnell?

Seems the government is more worried about how terrorists might react to it than Americans, as if they think ISIS might freak out and cut someone's head off.   They don't need no stinkin' terror report to be mad--Obama always seems to need a new cause for any possible Muslim violence as if the terrorists really are on the run.  That way if something happens it can be blamed on a hateful video released report documenting Bush torture (even if the planning was ongoing for five months) and not his awesome foreign policy, which was evidently to outreach a hand of friendship while apologizing.  

Keep in mind the CIA spied on Congress in the investigation phase of the report, so there are obvious sensibilities in play.  Clearly the CIA thinks the Democrats are throwing them under the huge Obama bus.  Is that ever a good idea?   Does the president think the CIA will be more effective upon this release after their director likely misled Congress about whether his agency officers spied on Senate computers?   Does the internal division this report may engender in an already dangerously divided nation even matter to the Democrats?  Or is this being oversold?   

We wait and see.  

RELEASED  12/9/14

The Senate released the report and the NY Times has a summary, which seems to be that the CIA was a pack of lying sadists after 9/11, and the program was probably racist.  Brown lives matter.  Hmm, wonder what Valerie Plame and Jessica Chastain think about all of this?  She and Chastain's character are the only heroic CIA officers allowed to exist at the moment.

And how can John Brennan, who was involved in the 'torture', be allowed to continue running the agency?  Has he blackmailed somebody?   Good grief this is weird.

MORE  12/9/14

The reaction has been about as expected.  Leftist outrage, followed by McCain outrage, followed by more leftist outrage.  The Times, Post and Huffpo's front pages are virtual liberal sexual events.

Of course that means I'm defending 'torture'.  No, I'm defending fair play.  Aside from these sanctimonious Democrats crowing about upholding our values, did they blink when we killed Anwar Awlaki's teenage son or other innocents in the path of the hellfires?  Did they say anything when we took terrorists Warsame and al-Libi to Navy ships for weeks of interrogation?   Would they have us go back to the 90s when Clinton outsourced interrogation to countries like Egypt or Syria?

They are treating the CIA like a pack of sadists, not professional spies trying to ascertain where the next shoe was going to drop after 9/11.  Shoe, like shoe bombs, or worse.  Feinstein, Rockefeller, Levin and company are doing this purely for politics and bail their own reps out.   Nothing positive will come from this because at some point a president is going to be faced with a decision to use harsh interrogation to get time-critical info out of a detained terrorist as the CIA, DIA, NSA and other intel outfits tell him about chatter indicating a major attack.  Doing nothing, or sending Ali Soufan in to establish a rapport over a period of months, is not going to work.    

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Shukrijumah Nailed?

Most people are probably saying "Shukra who?" For that reason this story won't produce much positive PR for the administration--not as much as it should.  But the US intelligence people know all about Adnan Gulshair el-Shukrijumah and if the story is confirmed they were high-fiving each other this morning...
An Al-Qaeda leader accused of planning to bomb the London Underground and New York Metro has been killed during a raid in Pakistan, the country's military said. Adnan el Shukrijumah, chief of global operations for the terrorist group, was killed along with two other suspected militants in Shinwarsak, South Waziristan, early this morning.
The 'most wanted' terrorist was found hiding in a compound after fleeing from a North Waziristan tribal district where the army launched a major operation against militant bases in June.
This guy was alternately called "Jafar the Pilot" among others, but whatever name he was called they always considered him one of the most dangerous "Core-AQ" guys still on the loose.   Ashcroft once called him "a clear and present danger".  He was alleged to have been behind a plot to bomb subways here in the U.S. in 2009.  Before that he was linked with fellow Floridian Jose Padilla in a the dirty bomb plot.  He's been linked with the Saudi conspiracy.  And in the so-called far right lunatic orbits he was even alleged to have been involved in the anthrax letter attacks of 2001.  That's the kind of Carmen Sandiego figure he was.

Long War Journal once called him an AQ subject-matter-expert on North America before the bin Laden raid, where after he was reported to have been elevated to a senior AQ position.  He's definitely a number three or four man in that outfit.

He's also been mentioned lately on the web, one just a week ago via Judicial Watch involving a 2010 plan to attack Oprah Winfrey's studio and the Sears Willis Tower in Chicago. El-Shukrijumah allegedly met with terrorist operators in a planning meeting near El Paso prior to the event and perhaps again about another plot in March of this year.  Guess it's not wise to be caught messing with Oprah.

Weirdly, the administration has not confirmed or commented on this yet.  Pakistan is reporting it and most of the major networks have picked up their press release, so it's hard to believe this is a ruse.  The NY Times has an interesting factoid:
It comes just over a week after a trip to Washington by the Pakistani Army chief, Gen. Raheel Sharif, who met with Secretary of State John Kerry and American military leaders in a visit intended to repair a strategic relationship that has long been scarred by acrimony and mistrust.
Hey, that's the same John Kerry who recently begged Diane Feinstein not to release the Bush terror report--at least not yet--to protect some sensitive relations overseas. Hmm, the Democrats desperately need that report out before Christmas or the GOP congress coming in next year will likely mothball it forever. What did that Pakistani general talk about with Kerry?  Does this help clear the path?   And if so, was it really that easy to take this sucker out all along?

If you're still not convinced this relatively unknown terrorist was a big fish try reading this. Also, the first time Shukrijumah was mentioned in a post here about 4 years ago there were visits from about every alphabet agency in the United States, the first and last time that has happened.  Obviously they were trolling the depths of the web looking for anything they could find on the guy.

At any rate, if there's any doubt about this it will probably be shortly erased. His brother and mother still live in Florida, and somebody will surely be asking for comments. According to them he's been out on a pilgrimage for Allah, selling Korans, etc.   So we'll see.

MORE  12/6/14

Normally I don't post WND stories due to their less-than-spectacular reputation, but that doesn't mean they are always wrong.  They've been on the Shukrijumah story for a long time, so let's cut to some quotes. First, regards the recent visit by the Pakistani general:
It comes days after Pakistani army Chief Gen. Raheel Sharif returned from a week-long visit of the U.S., the first by an army chief in four years. On Thursday, the U.S. Congress extended $1 billion in operational support to the Pakistani army despite recent tensions and mistrust. 
So on Thursday the Congress ponys up a billion to Paki, then on Friday night the Pakistani military suddenly finds and kills one of the top AQ terrorists in the world, after all these years. Amazing.
In April 2001, Shukrijumah spent 10 days in Panama, where he reportedly met with al-Qaida officials to assist in the planning of 9/11.
That's a new one on me.  But one of his advantages was said to be his ability to blend in with Central/South Americans.  More..
Following 9/11, el-Shukrijumah was reportedly singled out by bin Laden and al-Zawahiri to spearhead the next great attack on America.
The fact this story isn't A1 number one shows how far away terrorism is slipping from the minds of Americans.  Not a bad thing, but it can be.  The odd thing is the lack of response from the White House--they may be waiting for absolute confirmation but this news, more than anything else, supports the idea that "core" AQ is actually on the run and decimated. AQ isn't dead by a long-shot, but the Afghanistan franchise just took a body blow.

MORE  12/7/14

Not surprisingly Peter Bergen writing in CNN celebrates the death and all but licks the president's private parts while declaring an already decimated Core AQ decimated.  Michelle Malkin, one of the few writers who've covered the Shukrijumah story over a number of years, is not as convinced.

She's correct about AQ and other terror leaders tending to die and come back as zombies, only to die again and come back.  The most notable might be Iraqi Izzat al-Douri, who has "died" at least twice (maybe more) since the 2003 invasion only to recently be implicated as a cog in the wheels of ISIS.

It is kind of weird that the US has not weighed in yet.  Rewards for Justice and the FBI terror web sites still show Shukrijumah as alive and wanted as of the time of this post.  Maybe the webmasters don't work the weekend. We'll see what happens Monday.

Meanwhile, this story from the Times is interesting:
LONDON — In a fresh spur to warming relations between Pakistan, Afghanistan and the United States, the American military has returned to Pakistan a senior militant leader who was captured under murky circumstances last year and whose case symbolized the deep distrust between the three countries.
Pakistani and Western officials said the United States had flown Latif Mehsud, a senior Pakistani Taliban leader being held by the Americans at Bagram Airfield, back to Pakistan on Friday. Mr. Mehsud’s release was ostensibly part of an continuing process to repatriate foreign prisoners from American detention facilities in Afghanistan before the conclusion of the formal combat mission at the end of this month.
So the US repatriated Mehsud, a captured top level Talibani (whom they actually captured from Afghanistan/Karzai govt after they had captured him from the Taliban) while also forking over a billion dollars to the Paks on Friday.  Less than a day later the Pakistanis reportedly take out a top level AQ operator who has eluded capture since 9/11.

Then today the US reportedly used drones in Pakistani territory to allegedly take out another top level AQ figure along with four top tier Taliban guys..
A top al-Qaeda leader was among five militants killed today in a US drone attack in Pakistan’s troubled North Waziristan region, a day after the chief of the terror group’s global operations was also killed in a Pakistani military operation.
Umer Farooq, believed to be in charge of al-Qaeda’s operations in Pakistan and Afghanistan, was killed in the strike that took place in the Khar Tangi area of Datta Khel district in the region, where the Pakistani military has been battling Taliban and al-Qaeda-linked militants since June. A security official said Farooq was among five people killed when two missiles fired from the drone hit a compound.
Farooq is not listed on the AQ most-wanted sites, so if he was a bigshot he wasn't worth much money.  But obviously something changed very recently and this horse-trading is what success looks like now.  It would be nice to see a body or two.

Meanwhile the story about the capture of the AQ operative sent to Libya by Zawahiri to set up an AQ branch after Daffy was taken out (and before Benghazi) remains in a black media hole.  Long War's Tom Joscelyn explains the significance.  Of course, the big story yesterday was the failed hostage rescue in Yemen.

All this activity must mean something.  Again, the Democrats are desperate to get their torture report out before the Senate shuts down for the year, which according to outgoing Senator Udall will 'shock and disgust' the American people.  But it's not going to do much shocking or disgusting if AQ and ISIS terrorists are simultaneously lopping off heads and killing hostages, while WMD-linked terrorists are still running around loose with intentions of blowing up Oprah Winfrey's studios.  So it looks like some loose ends are trying to be tied up quick. 

Side Tracks

Sometimes things Mrs AC is watching on the tube while yours truly pecks away at the PC can sink in.  The Twilight series is the ultimate multiple-part chick flick, but I found myself irritatingly humming one of the song tracks from the show and had to run it down.  It was written by composer Carter Burwell..

Turns out Carter Burwell and I go way back.  He wrote the score to the 1987 Coen Brothers classic "Raising Arizona"..

There's some variety for ya. 

Petraeus did what?

This Fox News story on Benghazi is perplexing.  Catherine Herridge, who has done yeoman's work on the story from day one, is reporting that certain House members are claiming CIA Director David Petraeus sold them a bill of goods in closed testimony in the days immediately after the attack..
Newly declassified testimony shows at least five Republican lawmakers on the House Intelligence Committee suggested former CIA Director David Petraeus provided bad information, or even misled them, after the 2012 Benghazi attack when he blamed an obscure Internet video and downplayed the significance of mortar attacks that night.
Very interesting. Why?  Because the previous narrative was that Petraeus was speaking truth to power in front of Congress on the matter.   Not only that, but the highly contested "CIA talking points" formulated ahead of UN Ambassador Rice's TV blitz on the Sunday talk shows indicated some displeasure from the Director because...
Petraeus was, according to Hayes, shocked to see references to “al Qaeda, Ansar al Sharia, jihadists, Islamic extremists” etc. mysteriously gone from the rewritten talking points. Which we already knew, kinda sorta, based on what Peter King revealed about Petraeus’s closed-doors testimony to the House Intelligence Committee last November.
Now suddenly we find out Peter King is saying he thinks the general was deceiving them?  And Mike Rogers is saying he wasn't straight with them, the same Mike Rogers who was the first to say it was a planned attack not a response to a You Tube clip?  Somewhere along the way the same guy decided it wasn't worth pursuing anymore and authored a dismissive report he knew the left-media would seize to make the GOP look like a pack of nutty conspiracists. 

Meanwhile it's still a mystery as to why General Petraeus suddenly disappeared into the ether following his initial involvement.  Maybe it has something to do with his subsequent shameful departure from CIA as the president won reelection.  Somehow his Deputy Mike Morell took over as the face of the event after the first week, the same guy who told Congress he didn't know who changed the talking points after he'd changed them.  He subsequently bailed out and landed a cushy consulting job with ex-Hillary staffers.

As Sharyl Attkisson asked in her book, it's logical to ask whether Petraeus was compromised at the time due to the investigation into his extra-marital affair.  As of 9/11/12, it appears the FBI knew about the affair, as did Eric Holder (former congressman Eric Cantor was informed by an FBI agent in October). Who else knew during the week after the attack?  Maybe Trey Gowdy will stumble across something, if they let him.

While we wait it's worth pointing out that the State Department was weirdly mum when asked about this report the other day (emphasis added):
Abd al-Baset Azzouz, the alleged leader of al-Qaida in Libya accused of involvement in the 2012 murder of the U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens, was captured in Turkey, according to media reports. A Turkish daily reported that Azzouz, an al-Qaida operative who allegedly headed the terrorist organization's Libya branch, and was involved in the murder of the U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens in a raid on the embassy in 2012, was arrested two weeks ago and extradited to the U.S.
Damn!  Well, there's some disagreement on where he was taken, but why would the administration miss an opportunity to trumpet the capture of another Benghazi suspect?  Hmm, could it be this..
The suspect, also known as Abdulbasit Azuz, was designated a "global terrorist" in September by the U.S. State Department. The department said in a notice that Azzouz "committed or poses a significant risk of committing, acts of terrorism that threaten the security of U.S. nationals or the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States." British media outlets have reported that he oversaw hundreds of al-Qaida recruits at a training camp in eastern Libya. Eastern Libya is a nexus of training grounds for the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), which splintered from al-Qaida, according to David Rodriguez, head of U.S. Africa Command.
As stated over and over on this blog--ISIS (AQI) fighters were involved in Benghazi at the same time we were aiding them to fight Assad in Syria, before they got out control and started lopping off heads.  So it's a little inconvenient to admit that this recent capture was sent to Libya in 2011 to start an AQ cell, which turned into an attack on our embassy.  But yeah, for the most part this Benghazi stuff is just a phony scandal that has been officially dismissed by the Rogers report. We must get back to the national conversation on race, which became important after the mid-terms. 

Monday, December 01, 2014

Ex-Saddamists: ISIS are useful idiots

Keen Middle Eastern observers saw this coming awhile ago, heck even some goofy bloggers saw it--the ISIS army were set up by ex-Saddam Baathists to be useful idiots to get their power back.

Now we have some quotes to support it.

First, Saddam's daughter Raghad, still living the high life in Jordan despite an Interpol "red notice"on her in 2007:
Dr. Salah Al-Mukhtar, an ardent Ba’athist diplomat under the former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, revealed that a secret meeting gathered between Raghad Saddam Hussein- the eldest daughter of the former President of Iraq- and Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, the notorious former Iraqi vice-president in Amman, the capital of Jordan.
“…In a very near future, ISIS forces will retreat from areas they had occupied in Mousl and Nineveh provinces in northern Iraq and we (Ba’athist remaining forces loyal to late Saddam Hussein )will take control of those two strategic cities,” Dr. Al-Mukhtar quoted the daughter of former Iraqi president as saying in the Amman clandestine meeting.
So the lady with the red notice (which means countries are asked to help locate a person) and number 16 on Iraq's Most Wanted list meets the man with a 10 million US bounty on his head (and number one on the list) in the capital of Jordan and nobody notices them?  Readers can draw their own conclusions.  Here's what old Izzat's pals have had to say on the ISIS problem:
Former General Muzhir al Qaisi told the BBC in the summer that the Baathists are much stronger than the 'barbarians' of IS, who could never have taken Mosul alone, and they could easily defeat them if they needed to. Clearly, they are waiting for an incentive.
That's in private; in public Izzat always lays on the praise to the mighty warriors.

So it appears the plan was to use the rabid fighters to help win the battle, then later offer the West and others a way to solve their problem through bargaining, maybe into a Joe Biden-inspired sectioning plan, that includes getting rid of the jihadies.   Just don't say that Saddam's Baathists won't work with Islamists--that's outrageous

But will it work?   One can always count on guile, subterfuge and lies when dealing with these guys, but if Baghdad were to be weakened it's possible a war-averse (especially Iraq war) president may be in a position where his hands are tied.


Reportedly the wife and child of Abu Bakr Baghdadi was captured over a week ago trying to enter Lebanon from Syria...
..they had false identification papers and were arrested in coordination with a unspecified foreign intelligence agency. Al-Dulemi is an Iraqi national and there is some suggestion that the Lebanese had help from the Iraqi government.
Hmm. "al-Dulemi"? Is that the same surname as "al-Duleimi"? They are pronounced similarly and likely refer to the same tribe, one of the biggest in the region. Those who remember the Saddam trial might recall that his lawyer's name was Khalil al-Duleimi.  So what are the odds of any relation?

Meanwhile the Daily Mail questions whether this is actually Saja al-Duleimi, since a woman by that name was traded for 13 Christian Nuns by the al-Nusra group "in December" (they didn't say the year). If it was this December, that's obvious. If it was December 2013 not sure why it couldn't be possible--Baghdadi would want his woman back and she would have been a prime target for the competing al-Nusra.

Speaking of trades, some are speculating there might be another trade in the works--remember, despite all the domestic nonsense going on here in the States there is still an American female hostage being held by ISIS.

The bigger question might be why she was going to Lebanon with her son in the first place. Escaping?  That would be a rather bad PR event for the Caliph Guy.   But figuring out these folks is never easy.  Saddam's son-in-law Hussein Kamel defected to Jordan in 1995, told a bunch of stories, then went back only to be killed by Saddam.  You just never know.

MORE  12/3/14

CNN throws wet blankets all over the story with a series of "ifs" and "buts".   The NY Times also expresses skepticism that al-Duleimi is who she was billed to be, echoing the government of Iraq.  None of this should be surprising.   

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Days of Thumpings Past

Actually "thumping" was a Bush term to describe his mid-term loss in 2006; Obama prefers "shellacked", but thumping just worked better in the title.

So what am I rambling about?

Every so often it's interesting to check the stat counter to see why people have actually stumbled onto this blog.  Doing the analysis doesn't take very long, there's not much data to peruse, but sometimes it can bring enlightenment.  Not the George Harrison type, the political type.

For instance, someone recently hit a 2010 post entitled "A Birther Thread".  The post wasn't an endorsement of birtherism, just observations of why the left was suddenly churning up birther stories at a particular time in 2010.   I offer this:
Perhaps they want to move the dialog back towards crazy as the new GOP House enters on duty next week. We know there are some congressmen who are birthers. Time will tell how far this goes or whether they attempt to smear the entire caucus by association, which could tell us something about Obama's feelings on working with Boehner and company in general. Marginalizing them on the front end doesn't really signal bi-partisanship.
Indeed, here's Abercrombie--someone present when Obama, Sr. was bamboozling Stanley Ann into producing Obama, Jr.--talking about the strategy he wants Obama to pursue in 2011:
Seeking consensus doesn't mean rolling over, Abercrombie said. The governor is among those calling for a more combative style from Obama, saying the president needs to resurrect Harry Truman's "give them hell" approach.
So you have that.
In other words, no more than a month after Obama got his first mid-term shellacking of 2010 his minions were doing the same thing they did after 2014's shellacking-- starting a fight. They threw a bunch of feces on the wall trying to marginalize the victory and tear apart the new GOP caucus with a wedge issue. Sound familiar?  Hopefully somebody was taking notes.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Side Tracks

Here's more Sekulow rock..

For purists here's the actual Styx version.  ACLJay is not the best rock drummer in the world but he manages to keep time pretty well-- not bad for a lawyer. 

Will the President weigh in on Austin?

At the moment this is being typed it appears a right-leaning extremist might be responsible for shooting up several government buildings, including the Mexican consulate, and possibly a bank, in downtown Austin, TX overnight.   Why a right wing extremist?  Speculation based on 1) the race and age of the shooter, already released (comically, almost immediately, unlike other recent shooting events), and 2) the targeting choices.

But as the leader of the free world once warned, it is not wise to 'jump to conclusions' in the early stages of such events. Somebody forgot to tell the Austin Police Chief..
Authorities have not offered a motive, but the police chief said that the shooter's "violent anti-government behavior" -- as evidenced by attacking buildings that belong to Mexico's government, the U.S. government and, in the police headquarters, the city government -- may have come from ongoing and often vitriolic debates in society.
"Our political discourse has become very heated and sometimes very angry, and sometimes the rhetoric is not healthy," Acevedo said, adding that the divisive immigration debate "comes to mind," given that the federal courthouse and Mexican Consulate were targeted. "... I would venture, based on my training and experience, that the political rhetoric might have fed into some of this."
All based on speculation, as he admitted.   But he went there.  Gee, is it relevant that the chief's last name sounds Hispanic?  No, we obviously can't go there.  
At any rate, if this does turn out to be a crazed right winger and if the president decides to weigh in, how will he handle it?  Will he rightfully condemn the violence and end by saying the police were brave and that we are fortunate to have folks on the front line to stop such violence?  Or will he condemn the action then backtrack and try to project empathy and understanding for those in society who think the government is too big or acting lawlessly by allowing illegals privileges, etc?  Will there need to be a 'national conversation' going forward, as Holder said about Ferguson?

It will be interesting to watch considering the shooter committed a crime while firing about 50 rounds less than what was fired in Ferguson while only being responsible for property damage and no deaths.   It's entirely possible he was making a violent statement, some might even call it a protest instead of violence. 

Oh, and not to ignore some hypocrisy on the right.  It was noticeable all morning that Drudge was completely ignoring the story.  It's obvious why CNN was all over it, top page lead story--they think they've finally found their Tea Party Terrorist--but the other MSM outlets were not as excited.  Fox covered it, but not top story.   But not mentioning it at all, and rather prominently, looks like an attempt by Drudge to suppress an embarrassing story.  The fact the suspect allegedly shot up and tried to light fire to the Mexican consulate only a short time after the president took controversial executive actions giving privileges to illegal aliens made it a legitimate big story.

EPILOGUE  11/29/14

It was interesting to watch how the media used that speculative comment from the Austin Police Chief  about the shooter being anti-government.  Many liberal blogs and some MSM outfits referred to the comment to frame their story similar to TPM, ie,

 "Before identifying McQuilliams, police had previously told the press that the shooting suspect had a criminal record and possibly held anti-immigration and anti-government views."

The link of course goes to one of their previous stories quoting the police chief, who was throwing up a wild guess based on targeting and race.  So the speculative comment gets lumped with a known fact to form a sort of pseudo narrative before all the facts come in. 

In truth, Mr. McQuilliams seemed a bit flighty based on the few internet clips available off Facebook.  We presume he wasn't part of a greater plot or the story wouldn't be dead as a doornail today.   And no reason for the big shots in DC to comment either--not that they wouldn't waste a crisis to make a political point--but it's clear America wasn't paying much attention so any comments would come off as an obvious attempt to spin.

Speaking of the media, the Washington Post put up a great investigative story yesterday about the killing of an unarmed black woman (with an infant in her car) shot by white cops a few years ago in DC.  For some reason there was no national outrage.  But everyone knows why.   And that's why the WaPo could almost be called courageous for printing the story at this particular time and date.        

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Correct Outrage

Jack Cashill highlights the seminal question everyone should be asking about Ferguson--what should officer Wilson NOT have done?   His step by step analysis is laughably logical and should be obvious to anyone with a functioning brain (with the exception of the parents of a lost child, who deserve slack), ie, the Ferguson shooting was not controversial. An 18 year old man was shot after robbing a convenience store, then refusing a police officer's instruction, then assaulting him and grabbing for his gun.

On the other hand, this one was:
A rookie officer pulled the trigger, said Jeffrey Follmer, president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association.
Police were sent to the Cudell Recreation Center at Detroit Avenue and West Boulevard about 3:30 p.m. when someone called 9-1-1 to report a "guy with a gun pointing it at people." The caller told dispatchers twice that the gun was "probably fake," but that detail was not relayed to the responding officers, Follmer said.
The protesters need to mobilize in Cleveland around this case, which is not only heartbreaking but also raises much more pertinent questions about policing in America especially in minority neighborhoods. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Sharyl Attkisson Update

She's a busy woman at the moment.   A best-selling book while stories she writes about in said book are breaking all around her.


The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence declassified and released their report on Benghazi in what appeared to be a Friday doc dump.  Mainstreamers and blogs like TPM and Huffpo have spent the last several days making it sound like the report officially justifies the president's calling it a 'phony scandal'.

From reading the report's 37 pages a few things come to the front.  One, just as CNN reported in 2012 initially after the event (to almost zero fanfare) members of AQ in Iraq were involved in the attack.  That would be our modern-day ISIS (or Isil, if you prefer Obama-speak).  Those guys weren't there on vacation.  Clearly they and their AQ buddies were there because weapons were likely being funneled out to the 'freedom fighters' in Syria.  The HPSCI report confirms this while dismissing any conspiracy theories that the CIA annex was itself being used to actually funnel the weapons.  They determine that CIA was there to observe and spy on the weapons transfers.

Also, the idea that a bunch of guys walking around suddenly got mad and grabbed their RPGs and mortars and attacked America because of a hateful video was completely waxed in this report. 

Two, the report condemns the process that CIA Deputy Mike Morell used to override the CIA's initial September 12th conclusion that the attack was not spontaneous, not based on a protest, and contained AQ elements.  Morell claims to have later ignored people actually on the ground in Benghazi in the days following, eventually finding himself in the middle of an inter-agency process of developing talking points. He blames this failure on judgment gleaned over his 30 year career.  The White House has persistently said they didn't change the talking points, Morell did, which can also be called plausible deniability.  Morell is now retired from CIA and working with Phillipe Reines at Beacon Global.

But yeah, the overarching conclusion of Rogers' report is that nothing untoward occurred. 

So far Attkisson has not weighed in on the HPSCI report.  She was on Howie Kurtz' Media Buzz this morning but mainly stuck to Fast and Furious (F&F).  Her eventual take will be interesting, since it does appear that Mike Rogers and company, despite clearing up some items regarding the video and leaving open the question of why the talking points were changed, were trying to send a message that Benghazi was nothing more than a tragic attack spun up politically by the right, just as Obama said.  They had to know their conclusion would be spun that way.   

Which is odd, since John Boehner appointed Trey Gowdy to run a Select Committee on the matter just a few months ago.  When Gowdy was last asked about Benghazi by Megyn Kelly on Fox he said they were more or less operating on the down-low without public hearings.  Then this report comes out.  His Select Committee issued a curt statement the other day, saying they will take the report into consideration.  Yeah. John Boehner, like Rogers, is a member of the Gang of Eight and would certainly have known more about what happened than Gowdy, yet he formed the Select Committee anyway almost surely knowing Rogers' report would be fodder for the left wing press.  Something sounds fishy.

Fast and Furious..

As Attkisson alluded in her appearance on Media Buzz, Judicial Watch managed to get a pack of emails through a FOIA request (part of the information the president had hidden behind executive privilege) that outline how DOJ media spinners reacted to the F&F story.  They rake Attkisson pretty good therein, calling her "out of control" and claim they will contact Bob Schieffer at CBS to apparently rein her in.  There are other offhand references to her, with some references to Fox's Greta Van Sustern along with friendly mentions of various AP and WaPo reporters.  At one point Eric Holder says "wow" when notified of an AP story from Pete Yost that snarkily mentions Bush's "Wide Receiver" gun walking program.   Attkisson has been tweeting up a storm on this, referring to this post on her website.

But in sum, there's not much contained in these emails other than a lot of duplication (this is how the administration can later tell reporters they released "thousands of pages of documents" to make it sound more impressive, they repeat pages of the same emails over and over each time someone replies to the same thread).  The main takeaway is watching these taxpayer funded press flacks strategize about how they will go on defense, then "offense", at one point suggesting the Attorney General should blame the publicity of the case on the NRA for trying to destroy the ATF (they say such a thing would have to be managed carefully). But it's likely nothing different than the daily happenings in any press flack office in government or industry.  Of course the Obama administration was supposed to be different.  
The bottom line to F&F seems to be all about what Holder knew and when he knew it, and whether the president knew and used Nixon-esque executive privilege to keep anyone from finding out.  This perhaps goes toward a theory they were trying to use ATF to create a gun-control play, ie, hopes that stories about US-sold guns being used in violent crimes in Mexico might spur the grubers for more gun control. 

Keep in mind F&F ramped up in late 2009 after a blizzard of contacts between US and Mexico where guns were mentioned.  The president met with Mexican president Calderon in April and in another visit in August (North American summit meeting) where gun violence came up.  Hillary visited Mexico in March then met Calderon again in July, blaming America for the gun violence.  The president is still using this blame game meme.  President Calderon then visited America in 2010 and bashed the Arizona immigration law on the floor of the House (again before F&F was a story) and proceeded to say..
Calderon also told Congress Thursday that the fight against narcotics traffickers along the border can only succeed if the United States reduces its demand for illegal drugs. Calderon called on Congress to reinstate the assault weapons ban. "The Second Amendment is not a subject open for diplomatic negotiation, with Mexico or any other nation," Cornyn said. He said the United States must stop the flow of assault weapons and other arms across the border.
To be clear, when they blame America they are blaming the lack of gun laws, not the ATF for failing to catch the straw purchasers or the Mexican government for allowing the gun runners unfettered re-access to Mexico. So it's natural to assume that after the president and secretary of state spent the spring and summer of 2009 blaming America for Mexico's gun problem and vowing to help stop it, there might be some questions about whether F&F was one of their answers.  If so, there's no way Holder couldn't know about it from the very start.

It seems unlikely a single field office would do that on their own, but maybe they were just trying to score brownie points.  And while the press flacks seemed ready and willing to have Holder use the scandal to attack the NRA (part of going on offense), which makes it sound like gun control might have been a goal, they just as easily could have been opportunistic.  In the end the presidential executive privilege is what makes this seems more nefarious, but as Attkisson points out the bulk of her mainstream cohorts never seemed to smell any rats as they would with a GOP version in the West Wing.  Many probably root for more gun control. 

At any rate, reading through about 3/4ths of Attkisson's book her take is certainly interesting and unsurprising, but have not seen any true smoking guns yet.  The evidence provided that her PCs were hacked or commandeered by shadowy US agencies is not overpowering, however it reads as entirely plausible based on how the AP and James Rosen were treated along with the Snowden leaks.

Even if it turns out she's a closet conservative and has overreacted to some of the treatment given her the story she tells of how newsrooms operate, especially her explanation of how stories would be covered if the situations were reversed (say Mitt Romney was in the White House), ring absolutely true.  Managed media bandwagon outage and saturation coverage only occurs when the big media gatekeepers want it to occur, usually when a conservative does something wrong (fulfills media-created public perception).  Stories like Gruber upset that continuum and the gatekeepers work to downplay them, often in concert with administration officials (many of whom are buddies or even husbands/wives), but this is becoming harder to do in an an age of open internet