African-American Representative Corrine Brown (FL) issued a half-hearted apology to a Bush representative for attacking him with a racial epitaph, calling the Bush team “a bunch of white men,” and then telling Mexican-American Assistant Secretary of State Roger Noriega, “You all [whites and Hispanics] look alike to me.” Brown’s apology was anything but, quickly glossing over her own racism to again attack the Bush administration over Haiti.
Haitian politics aside this is a typical political press reaction and a double standard of racism: Were a Republican to say such a thing it would make the airwaves to the point that a resignation or firing would be all but ensured. But when a Democrat says it all they have to do is issue a less than sincere apology. There’s never a resignation or firing even demanded. Recall Senator Ted Kennedy a few months back called a group of Bush judicial nominations, which included a Hispanic and African American woman, “Neanderthals,” but the media and Liberal community made not even a gasp of outrage.
Brown made the statement during a Wednesday briefing on Haiti with Assistant Secretary of State Roger Noriega, a Mexican-American, and the Florida congressional delegation. During the meeting, attended by about 30 people, Brown sat across the table from Noriega and launched an attack on President Bush's policy on Haiti.
She said Republican leaders were "racist" in their policies toward the Caribbean nation, which is almost entirely black, and called the president's representatives "a bunch of white men."
After the dressing down, which sent a hush over the hour-long meeting, Noriega responded that he would relay her comments to Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, both high-level African-American members of the Bush administration.
Participants in the meeting said Noriega later told Brown: "As a Mexican-American, I deeply resent being called a racist and branded a white man."
Noriega also pointed to Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, a Republican member of the delegation who was born in Cuba, and asked whether he appeared to be a white man. Diaz-Balart's brother, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, is also a congressional member from the state.
Brown's response, according to witnesses, was: "You all look alike to me."
"It simply mystifies me how President Bush, a president who was selected by the Supreme Court under more than questionable circumstances — in my district alone 27,000 votes were thrown out — is telling another country that their elections were not fair and that they are therefore undeserving of aid or international recognition," Brown said.
Well, lucky for Corin Brown that President Bush does not run the country like Aristide runs Haiti or else a bunch of thugs would have by now beaten Brown into submission. For the record the Bush administration features, for the first time ever, African-Americans in two of the most powerful positions on the planet, Secretary of State and National Security Advisor. But Democrats don’t want facts; they just want to play the race card. The Bush administrations reluctance to help Aristide has nothing to do with race and everything to do with the fact that the Haitian leader is one-election dictator. But that’s been covered enough already.
Surgeons cut, soldiers fight, mechanics fix, accountants account and spies spy. In what has got to be the most pointless story of the day the UK spy agency, MI6 (of James Bond fame), stands accused of spying on the office of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, headquartered in NYC. Claire Short, a former minister, Iraq war opposer and frequent pain in the side of UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, told the BBC radio network that she had personally seen transcripts of taped conversations in the months leading to war. Really? Imagine that? Claire naturally offered not one shred of evidence; it goes without saying that in doing so she is revealing classified information and as such probably breaking UK law.
Prime Minister Tony Blair branded Short's allegations deeply irresponsible but refused to confirm or deny them, saying that to do so would violate his government's policy of not discussing intelligence matters. He said at a news conference that Britain's intelligence services always act in accordance with domestic and international law, and those who disclose intelligence activities, whether intentionally or not, undermine the essential security of the country.
The United Nations reacted sharply to the allegations, asserting that any attempt to eavesdrop on the secretary general would constitute a violation of three international treaties that govern diplomatic relations.
"From our point of view it is indeed illegal" to spy on U.N. premises, said Annan's chief spokesman, Fred Eckhard. But he noted that there was little the United Nations could do about it. "The United Nations doesn't have a police force or any other means of enforcing these laws," he said.
Eckhard stopped short of accusing the British of spying. "We have seen today's media reports alleging that the secretary general's phone conversations were tapped by British intelligence. We would be disappointed if this were true," he said in a statement. "Such activities would undermine the integrity and confidential nature of diplomatic exchanges."
Stephen Dorril, author of a history of Britain's secret intelligence service, MI6, said it was not a surprise to learn the British had spied on U.N. officials. He said the CIA and MI6 had a long history of collaboration, including asking for help in spying operations that might be deemed illegal for the host nation.
There are several points to be made here:
First, big deal. Second, it would be the epitome of naivety to think that only the US and UK spy on the UN; but not France, Russia, Germany or Syria for that matter; or that the UN does not itself have either its own members act as spies or use spy material from a collaborator nation. Third, Kofi Annan is not an American citizen but is a guest in our country, so while CIA-MI6 collaboration may seem distasteful to UN-lovers, they’re not breaking any US law. Fourth, since the UN is so shocked that countries spy for information to create advantage, and happen to be breaking international treaties, where is their shock in learning that spy agencies in France and Russia, for starters, actively passed information onto Saddam Hussein (1, 2, 3, 4) about British and American intentions and thus endangered the lives of soldiers who fought in Iraq?
The Bush administration decided to continue the eventual banishment of “dumb” or “persistent” land mines, but appealing to Pentagon and military concerns will not place restrictions on “smart” land mines, which defuse within predetermined time period of their setting and placement. As the Washington Post words it, Former President Bill Clinton signed the executive order during his tenure to ban all anti-personnel land mines – but not anti-vehicular land mines – by 2006, “depending on the success of Pentagon efforts to develop alternatives.” In other words this was typical Clintonianism – he had no intention of actually banning land mines, and knew the Pentagon would not develop alternatives by 2006. It’s very similar to how Clinton signed the Kyoto treaty knowing it would never pass Congress (indeed, Kyoto failed 98-0). Clinton thus avoided making actual policy decisions while appearing squeaky clean; a politically smart but gutless strategy.
Bush’s new order, in fact, strikes a proper balance between military and humanitarian concerns. Bush is actually expanding the Clinton order to include all “dumb” land mines, even those used against armored vehicles. Nonetheless, the humanitarian groups, citing 10,000 killed annually by land mines, are not looking for compromise, and care not one bit about American military concerns or winning wars, and so are attacking Bush’s new policy as a step backwards. Of course, as far as the land mine issue applies to the US military it is a red herring – the US military is being punished and pressured to accept a world-wide land mine ban because a bunch of irresponsible third-world governments apply no restrictions during their placement of land mines. Furthermore, third world governments are the most likely to not comply with any land-mine ban while responsible Western governments will. The rule thus fails to punish those it was originally intended to apply towards.
A senior State Department official, who disclosed Bush's decision on the condition that he not be named, said the new policy aims at striking a balance between the Pentagon's desire to retain effective weapons and humanitarian concerns about civilian casualties caused by unexploded bombs, which can remain hidden long after combat ends and battlefields return to peaceful use.
The safety problem stems from dumb bombs, which kill as many as 10,000 civilians a year, the official said. Smart bombs, he added, "are not contributors to this humanitarian crisis."
Bush's decision drew expressions of outrage and surprise from representatives of humanitarian organizations that have pressed for a more comprehensive U.S. ban on land mines. They say the danger to civilians and allied soldiers during and after a war outweighs the benefits of such weapons. They also dispute the contention that unexploded smart mines are safe, saying there isn't enough evidence to know.
"We expected we wouldn't be pleased by the president's decision, but we hadn't expected a complete rejection of what has been U.S. policy for the past 10 years," said Steve Goose, who heads the arms division of Human Rights Watch.
"It looks like a victory for those in the Pentagon who want to cling to outmoded weapons, and a failure of political leadership on the part of the White House. And it is stunningly at odds with what's happening in the rest of the world, where governments and armies are giving up these weapons."
The policy has been under review since Bush took office in 2001. With two wars in the interim and the nation still engaged in a worldwide battle against terrorist networks, officials said Bush is particularly sensitive to Pentagon arguments for retaining some types of land mines.
By focusing on eliminating dumb -- or what the administration calls "persistent" -- land mines, Bush and his aides intend to make the case that they are addressing the root cause of the humanitarian problem.
"It's a different formula from the past," the senior official said, "but it comports with the reality of the humanitarian crisis, which is that persistent mines are the ones that are causing the casualties and polluting lands and preventing recovering from wars."
But critics noted that the United States tried with little success to draw a distinction between smart and dumb mines in international treaty negotiations in the mid-1990s.
"The rest of the world rejected this distinction for a number of reasons," Goose said. "Some were technical, based on concerns that smart mines would still have an unacceptable failure rate. Some were political, along the lines of 'How can you expect other nations to give up their antipersonnel mines but allow the United States to keep theirs, claiming they're more technologically advanced?' "
Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), a leading opponent of land mines, noted "some positive aspects" to Bush's decision. But he said, "On the whole, it is a deeply disappointing step backward."
Everywhere you look there’s someone on the Left trying to make America as powerless as possible. Those “governments and armies” giving up land mines are generally the Western countries that spend only about 1 percent of their GDP on military defense, because they know that the US military will protect them. As with our pharmaceutical industry the US taxpayer subsidizes most of Western and world defense. The reaction by the “humanitarian” groups uncovers their socialistic principles. Aside from the fact that people aren’t losing legs from US land mines but rather from those placed by third-world governments, they consider it unfair that the US has the financial means to adopt “smart” land mines. So instead of asking the third-world to follow the US lead the “humanitarians” instead wish to drag everyone down and ban mines altogether. Next, they’ll go after guns, missiles, artillery, etc., because, you know, there was no death or war before the invention of gun powder... Their utopian vision is a complete waste of time, however, because just as with any arms control agreement dictators tend to break the rules.
WASHINGTON -- Barely half of all black, Hispanic and Native American students who entered U.S. high schools in 2000 will receive diplomas this year, according to a new report that challenges conventional methods of calculating graduation rates.
Of all students who entered ninth grade four years ago, 68 percent are expected to graduate this year. The rates for minorities are considerably lower -- 50 percent for blacks, 51 percent for Native Americans and 53 percent for Hispanics -- according to a measure devised by the nonprofit Urban Institute in Washington.
Methods of calculating graduation rates are a perpetual subject of debate, and there are many differences in the ways states and school systems report data. By any measure, though, blacks and Hispanics graduate at lower rates than whites.
Did you notice what’s purposely missing from this report? Asians.
Why is it that Asians - a minority - are able to take full advantage of this our education system, graduate high school (usually at a higher percentage than Whites) and get into college, whereas Blacks and Hispanics are not? It has nothing to do with race or a lack of opportunity, as the Asian students thrive in similar conditions where many more Blacks and Hispanics do not. I suppose the next argument by the defenders would be that’s not a fair comparison because you have to look at how poverty and other social conditions compare between Blacks, Hispanics and Asians.
But this begs another question: We’ve had affirmative action in place for several generations. Why is it that in the same environment of affirmative action the Asians have been more successful and passed this success down to their offspring but Blacks and Hispanics have not? We have tax funded programs to help minority students at the federal, state and county levels across the country. One cannot use the argument that we need more affermative action when the Asian minority students are doing so well. Does there not come a point where we begin to address any adverse effects of affirmative action? And at what point does it become the crutch for cultural problems which no tax-funded program can solve?
On NBC’s Today Show for Katie and Matt lobbed soft balls for Sarah and James Brady to knock out of the park, specifically regarding how wicked Republicans, like House Speaker Dennis Hasert, were considering blocking an expansion of the 1994 Assault weapons ban. Sarah Brady spread the oft repeated lie that a repeal or limitation on the bill would allow anybody to purchase “AK-47s and UZIs.” Sigh…. After cursing out Katie and Matt for, naturally, allowing such a statement to go unchallenged, my girlfriend wisely turned the television to the off position.
Anyway, I’ll let the master of the gun control argument, John Lott, Jr., inform my readers of why Mrs. Brady’s statement was so ridiculously false:
The most-charitable interpretation is that the ban's proponents know nothing about guns. "Assault-weapon ban" conjures up images of machine guns used by the military, which are surely not very useful in hunting deer. Yet, the 1994 federal ban had nothing to do with machine guns, only semiautomatics, which fire one bullet per pull of the trigger. The firing mechanisms in semiautomatic and machine guns are completely different. The entire firing mechanism of a semiautomatic gun has to be gutted and replaced to turn it into a machine gun.
Functionally the banned semiautomatic guns are the same as other non-banned semiautomatic guns, firing the exact same bullets with the same rapidity and producing the exact same damage. The ban arbitrarily outlaws 19 different guns based upon either their name or cosmetic features, such as whether the gun could have a bayonet attached.
With the sniper trial now going in Virginia, the media understandably focuses on the so-called "sniper rifle." Yet, the .223- caliber Bushmaster rifle used in the sniper killings was neither a "sniper" rifle nor an "assault weapon." In fact, it is such a low-powered rifle that most states ban it even for deer hunting precisely because of its low power, too frequently wounding and not killing deer. Ironically, the much-maligned AK-47, only new semiautomatic versions of the gun were banned, uses a .30-caliber bullet that is actually well suited to hunting deer.
The law never had any effect on crime. Banning a few percent of semiautomatic guns when otherwise identical guns are available only changes the brand criminals use. But despite the apocalyptic claims, the law didn't even do that much. Even President Clinton, who signed an "assault-weapon ban" into law, complained in 1998 how easy it had been for gun manufacturers to continue selling the banned guns simply by changing the guns' names or by making the necessary cosmetic changes.
The banned guns were seldom used in the commission of crimes to begin with. A 1995 Clinton administration study found that fewer than one percent of state and federal inmates carried a "military-type" semiautomatic guns (a much broader set of guns than those banned by the law) for crimes they committed during early 1990s before the ban. A similar 1997 survey showed no reduction in this type of crime gun after the ban.
Only two studies have been conducted on the federal law's impact on crime, one of which also examined the state assault-weapons laws. One study was funded by the Clinton administration and examined just the first year the law was in effect. It concluded that the ban's "impact on gun violence has been uncertain."
The second study was done by me and is found in my book The Bias Against Guns. It examines the first four years of the federal law as well as the different state assault-weapon bans. Even after accounting for law enforcement, demographics, poverty, and other factors that affect crime, the laws did not reduce any type of violent crime. In fact, overall violent crime actually rose slightly, by 1.5 percent, but the impact was not statistically significant. The somewhat larger increase in murder rates was significant.
The bans have now been in effect for almost a decade, without any evidence of any benefits. Increased crime is not the biggest danger arising from not extending the law. Politicians who have claimed such dire consequence from these mislabeled "assault weapons" have put their reputations on the line. If the extension fails, a year after that voters will wonder what all the hysteria was about.
Fueled by false images of machine guns and sniper rifles, the debate next year is likely to be very emotional. Let's hope that the politicians at least learn what guns are being banned.
Not yet, John...
US officials say that nine Iraqi scientists formerly involved with Saddam Hussein’s WMD programs have been murdered in the past four months. The US believes that it is a concerted effort by Baath insurgents to conceal information about Iraqi WMD.
The last killing was that of Iraqi aeronautical scientist Muhyi Hussein.
Majid Hussein Ali, a professor at the College of Science at Baghdad University, was found dead in the Raghibah Khatun.
He had been shot twice in the back. The assassins are believed to be former members of Saddam Hussein's government.
The killing appears to be part of an effort to systematically eliminate Iraqi scientists and technicians involved in Saddam's nuclear program.
The scientist had been involved in nuclear physics research, notably nuclear centrifugal force.
Although the reason for the assassination campaign is unclear, U.S. officials believe the killings represent an effort to conceal the scope of Iraq's nuclear program.
Former CIA weapons inspector David Kay said in October that two Iraqi weapons scientists who had been cooperating with the U.S. military were shot, and one of them was killed.
The murdered scientist was shot in the head outside of his apartment.
"We think it was because, in fact, he was engaged in discussions with us," Kay said.
The Left has a problem with the Bush administration cracking down on illegal immigrants from Brazil. Apparently, so does the Arizona Republic newspaper, which headlines its article: “Terror ties? No, but US detaining Brazilians.” That’s quite the misleading headline, of course. It makes one think that our Special Forces are infiltrating Brazil and kidnapping its citizens. The article should read: “Terror ties? Possibly, but US detaining Brazilian ILLEGAL ALIENS ENTERING COUNTRY ILLEGALLY.”
Did I mention they’re illegals? Because the Arizona Republic and the porous, open-border liberal activist community sure don’t ever mention it.
FLORENCE - Attorneys for the U.S. Department of Justice are using an executive order signed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to override immigration judges' decisions and hold scores of undocumented immigrants from Brazil, despite acknowledging the detainees have no terrorism ties.
An order signed by Attorney General John Ashcroft in October 2001 expanded the government's power to detain immigrants who "may pose a threat" to the nation, even if a judge orders they be released on bond. In recent months, the government has broadly used the power, designated for "national security" cases, to deter an influx of Brazilians crossing the U.S.-Mexican border illegally through Arizona.
"Essentially, the attorney general wrote himself a regulation that gives him the right to ignore and make a mockery of an immigration judge's decision," said Cesar Ternieden, a Florence-based immigration attorney. "It's a clear violation of due process."
So sayeth a person who has absolutely no problem with illegal aliens taking advantage of weak US law, created by people like Mr. Ternieden, and coming to the country illegally. Try to curb illegal aliens and you’re just a mean Republican.
Despite the highly inaccurate headline slant at least the remainder of the article highlights exactly why we need to crack down on Brazilian illegals over other groups. Indeed, you could say Brazilians need to be scrutinized as though they were from Syria or Saudi Arabia because there’s one more very important fact that the article avoids – the higher percentage that a Brazilian national could be a member of al Qaeda or similar terrorist organization.
What pro-illegal immigrant advocates don’t want you to remember is that Brazil makes up part of the infamous Tri-border – a lawless triangle on the borders of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay which terrorists from al Qaeda, Hezbollah and even the Irish Republican Army use to train and recruit more terrorists. As I wrote about it a year ago it’s an Islamic community of 30,000 strong, many expatriates of the Lebanese civil war. Attorney General John Ashcroft isn’t cracking down on Brazilians because he just doesn’t like Brazilians, he’s doing it first because it’s his damn job, and second because there’s a higher percentage that a Brazilian entering the country illegally could be a Tri-border terrorist than a Mexican or other Latin illegal.
But even without that fact Ashcroft and the border patrol have a duty to curb illegal immigration and ending people-smuggling operations:
"It's not a situation of targeting Brazilians; it's targeting a smuggling organization," said Victor Cerda, general counsel for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Cerda said a smuggling organization in southern Arizona catering to Brazilians was advertising the $10,000 to $30,000 bond posted in many cases as simply, "the admission price to enter" the country.
Cerda, the top attorney for ICE, said the influx of Brazilians poses a threat to national security because it consumes resources along the Southwest border.
While about 99 percent of all undocumented immigrants caught crossing the Southwest border are Mexicans, the number of Brazilians arrested in Arizona skyrocketed from 97 in 2000 to 1,397 in 2003.
Unlike Mexicans, who typically are returned across the border the same day, Brazilians and all "OTMs," or "other than Mexicans" as they are known within the Border Patrol, require additional paperwork and are housed in detention centers when space is available. When immigrant detention facilities reach capacity, many OTMs simply have been handed a slip of paper with instructions to return for a court date.
Last year, about 95 percent of Brazilians did not show for their hearings, compared with 86 percent of those issued such notices from all the countries combined, according to ICE officials.
"The word had basically gotten out on the streets of Brazil that . . . if you're caught, you'll be able to get out," said Russell Ahr, an ICE spokesman in Phoenix. "It was a joke. No one was showing up."
An analysis by ICE, the agency charged with immigrant detention and removal, showed that from August 2002 to September 2003, 346 Brazilians were released from the agency's custody in Arizona. Of those, 194 were ordered removed from the United States. As of October, ICE agents had physically removed one person.
David V. Aguilar, chief of the U.S. Border Patrol's Tucson sector, wrote in a sworn declaration filed in Arizona immigration courts that a change in Mexico's visa requirement with Brazil, coupled with a "well-established" people-smuggling network in Sonora, has contributed to the increase in the number of Brazilians.
"They are aware that despite the fact they have been apprehended, they most likely will be released on bond," he wrote, saying that the Brazilians are "coached" on how the system works by smugglers, who charge up to $12,000 for a trip from Mexico into the United States.
Border Patrol union members say many Brazilians are released before an initial appearance because there just isn't any place to hold them.
For years, the Border Patrol has employed a "catch and release" policy when detention centers, which have a capacity of about 1,940 in Arizona, overflow. Immigrants are fingerprinted, processed through a database to check for a criminal record and then told to return for a deportation hearing.
"They are turning them loose because of a lack of detention space," said Mike Albon, spokesman for Local 2544, which represents 2,000 agents in Southern Arizona. "Once someone is apprehended and not deported . . . they are on the ground and they can go wherever they want."
Immigration attorneys and civil rights activists argue that the government is targeting disenfranchised groups, like Brazilians, who are less established in the United States than migrants from other Central and South American countries.
It’s offensive to call these advocates “immigration attorneys” or “civil rights activists”. Let’s call them what they are – illegal immigration apologists. These advocates care not one iota about our national security. They don’t care if an al Qaeda terrorist has pretty good odds to use the Brazil-Mexico link to sneak into the country. Were it up to them anybody could illegally enter the country and then immediately apply for government welfare, and then car bomb the federal building from which they applied for it.
If you need a refresher on the situation in Haiti you should read yesterday’s commentary from the Wall Street Journal. In a nutshell President Bill Clinton restored “President” Jean-Bertrand Aristide to power in 1994 in reaction to badgering from the Congressional Black Caucus. Indeed Aristide is an elected president only in the same technical manner that Saddam Hussein was – one man, one vote, one time while using security forces to, a-hem, “persuade” its citizens to vote for the incumbent. Aristide has been become the equivalent of a dictator while his American Democrat supporters find it increasingly difficult to make apologies for his abuses. Even though this action occurred under Clinton it is difficult for Bush to reverse American foreign policy in Haiti, no matter how much he hates Aristide. On top of that, chaos in Haiti equates directly to boats of Haitian refugees attempting to sneak into South Florida, and heaven knows the Coast Guard is busy enough as it is.
The problem in Haiti has brought about a myriad of interesting, ironic and hypocritical stances from various global leaders. For starters the French government is calling on Aristide to resign, and has already dispatched 4,000 French soldiers off island as a precautionary measure and to show the Aristide government that they mean business. This is the same French government, mind you, that refused to send one soldier to Iraq’s border to convince Saddam Hussein to resign. But I guess Aristide has no oil with which Haiti can bribe French companies and officials.
At least the Congressional Black Caucus is being consistent, although their hypocrisy shows in a different way.
As more voices called on the U.S. administration to ensure the rebels do not take control, 19 members of the Congressional Black Caucus paid a quickly arranged visit to the White House, where they met with Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice before spending a half-hour with Bush.
Caucus members wanted Bush to "take action toward stopping the killing in Haiti," said Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-Fla.). "We want to make sure we don't allow thugs to storm Port-au-Prince while the United States sits idly by, working on a diplomatic resolution."
Yes, but Rep. Meek had no problem with thugs controlling Iraq, a country of 26 million. Meek voted against the 2002 House resolution authorizing Bush to use force to remove Hussein from power, and voted no in 2003 to give US soldiers in Iraq the additional funds they need to fight. Fortunately, both times he was on the losing side of the vote. Meek and the Congressional Black Caucus had no problems with the US “working on a diplomatic resolution” indefinitely in Iraq – something that was impossible in Iraq. Why does the Congressional Black Caucus demand liberty and freedom for Haitians, but not for Iraqis?
(Washington Post, p1) Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.), the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, frequently calls companies and chief executives "Benedict Arnolds" if they move jobs and operations overseas to avoid paying U.S. taxes. But Kerry has accepted money and fundraising assistance from top executives at companies that fit the candidate's description of a notorious traitor of the American Revolution.
Executives and employees at such companies have contributed more than $140,000 to Kerry's presidential campaign, a review of his donor records shows. Additionally, two of Kerry's biggest fundraisers, who together have raised more than $400,000 for the candidate, are top executives at investment firms that helped set up companies in the world's best-known offshore tax havens, federal records show. Kerry has raised nearly $30 million overall for his White House run.
Bar none, the best way to take down Democratic John Kerry is to point out his outrageous levels of hypocrisy. If there ever were ever a candidate who espoused to the ‘do as I say, not as I do’ rule it is John Kerry. The “everybody does it” rule, or claiming that Bush may do the same, is irrelevant since it is John Kerry and no one else who has defined a company moving offshore to reduce its tax burden as the epitome of unpatriotic. Conservatives, capitalists and anyone whose economic principles aren’t in line with the socialist wing of the Democratic Party know it natural law to want to reduce one’s tax burden. If you are capitalist you understand that attacking a company for moving overseas or offshore is to attack the symptom, not the cause. The cause of the problem is an uncompetitive tax rate. It is the government’s job to make its climate business friendly, not the job of Xerox, Coke or IBM.
Kerry has taken aim at "Benedict Arnold" companies as part of a much broader political and policy debate over stemming the flow of well-paying U.S. jobs overseas, a chief cause of unemployment, especially in the hardest-hit manufacturing sector. Kerry's solution, detailed in a speech yesterday in Toledo, is to enforce trade agreements, track and slow the outsourcing of U.S. jobs, and stop government contracts and tax incentives from going to companies that move operations or jobs offshore.
So by Kerry’s ever-broadening definition, is any company that moves its jobs overseas, even though it may still pay full tax, also unpatriotic? Again, manufacturing or information technology jobs moved overseas is a symptom of today’s global economy. There are workers overseas willing to do labor that American citizens are simply not willing to do, and not for the rate of pay that those overseas will work at. It is an individual worker’s responsibility, not Wal-Mart’s, to ensure that their skill set is competitive. Nobody has the right to a job. The job belongs to the company, not the worker. Nobody has the right to learn a trade at 20 and expect to never ever update or expand their skills until retirement, or the government to “protect” – a socialist word for hold hostage – a worker’s job. Furthermore, those overseas jobs, by increasing the worker’s standard of living in that foreign country, helps the American economy when that worker purchases American products. Finally, if Kerry gets his way and limits corporations from sending their work overseas he will make them unprofitable and thus contribute to the bankruptcy of those companies, ensuring far, far more layoffs than occur by moving a percentage of them overseas. It’s basic economics, something John Kerry and many Democrats lack knowledge of.
Oh, and it's only fitting that Kerry voted for the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), but is now conveniently attacking it for political gain.
Kerry has come under attack from President Bush, as well as some Democrats, for criticizing laws he voted for and lambasting special interests after accepting more money from paid lobbyists than any other senator over the past 15 years. Some Democrats worry that Kerry is leaving himself open to similar attacks on the latest issue. [See past posts on Kerry’s campaign finance bents and outright violations here and here. Oh, and here. Oh, yea, here and here too.]
Given the vast sums raised during the presidential campaign as well as the growing number of companies with offshore operations, it seems almost inevitable that candidates would receive contributions from some of them.
Bush has taken exponentially more from these companies than Kerry, though the president has not made a major campaign issue out of clamping down on them.
On Monday, Kerry was asked why two of his biggest fundraisers were involved with "Benedict Arnold" companies. "If they have done that, it's not to my knowledge and I would oppose it," Kerry told a New York television station. "I think it's wrong to do [it] solely to avoid taxes."
Then he sought to clarify his position: "What I've said is not that people don't have the right to go overseas and form a company if they want to avoid the tax. I don't believe the American taxpayer ought to be giving them a benefit. That's what I object to. I don't object to global commerce. I don't object to companies deciding they want to compete somewhere else.''
See how Kerry dances. Note that last paragraph, by the way. Kerry says the American taxpayer should not be giving benefits to those not paying taxes, yet the Democrats, for the most part, has no problem opening our borders and allowing millions of illegal aliens to receive federal and state benefits.
According to federal election records, Kerry has received $119,285 from donors employed at what Citizen Works describes as the "25 Fortune 500 Corporations With the Most Offshore Tax-Haven Subsidiaries." The list does not include nearly all of the companies that shave their tax bill by moving jobs and operations overseas, so Kerry has actually raised substantially more from firms qualifying as "Benedict Arnolds."
Kerry has also received $20,100 in donations directly from individuals at companies with mailing addresses offshore to avoid paying U.S. taxes, records show.
"Senator Kerry has made it crystal clear that he's going to close these loopholes, forever," said Chad Clanton, a Kerry spokesman. "Nothing will stop him. Period."
But he’ll take their money. The vast majority of Democrats in Congress backed the campaign finance reform act on the belief that when a politician takes money from a special interest or corporation they are indebted to them and thus will curb the country’s interests to protect the special interest. Yet Kerry wishes to convince you that he will take offshore money and then destroy those givers at a later date?
Kerry’s hypocrisy will continue, to be sure.
Claudia Rosett of the WSJ opines she'd like to see former Iraqi Survey Group head David Kay investigate the corruption behind the United Nations Oil-for-Food program, which former dictator Saddam Hussein used for seven years to bribe influential world officials and keep himself in power. Rosett was the first of the mainstream investigative journalists to look into the corruption. As she writes today the latest sexy news of bribery, uncovered by Iraqi documents published by Al Nada, is just the icing on the cake. For 18 months Rosett says she has tried to get the UN accounting to add up, and it's far from doing so - perhaps off by $5 billion.
the U.N. Compensation Commission states on its Web site that oil sales under Oil-for-Food totaled not Mr. Annan's $65 billion, but "more than US$70 billion"--a $5 billion discrepancy in U.N. figures. A phone call to the UNCC, based in Geneva, doesn't clear up much. A spokesman there says the oil total comes from the U.N. in New York, and adds, helpfully, "Maybe it was an approximate figure, just rounded up."
OK, but in some quarters, if not at the U.N., $5 billion here or there is big money. Halliburton has been pilloried, and rightly so, over questions involving less than 1% of such amounts. One turns for explanation to the U.N. headquarters in New York, where a spokesman confirms that though the U.N. program ended last November, the former executive director of Oil-for-Food, Benon Sevan, is still on contract, still drawing a salary, but Mr. Sevan's secretary explains he is "not giving interviews anymore." The spokesman, also still on salary, answers all requests for clarification with "I don't know," and "You have the Web site."
All right. The Web site brings us a U.N. update issued Nov. 21, 2003, when the U.N. turned over the program to the CPA, which tells us that $31 billion worth of supplies and equipment had been delivered to Iraq, with another $8.2 billion in the pipeline. That comes to $39.2 billion. Again, even if you add in, say, $2 billion for U.N. commissions, that's still about $5 billion short of the $46 billion Mr. Annan says was used for supplies--which might make sense if the program at the end had been swimming in loose cash, except that Mr. Sevan was lamenting toward the end that there was not enough money to fund all the supply contracts he'd already approved.
Returning to the U.N. Web site, nothing there discloses the amount of interest paid during the course of the program on the Oil-for-Food escrow accounts. That should have been substantial, because these U.N.-managed Iraq accounts in the final phases of the program held balances of about $12 billion. Or so we've been told. I first got that number by phoning the U.N. back in September 2002. That was well before Mr. Sevan stopped giving interviews, and I spoke with Mr. Sevan himself. He told me the Oil-for-Food accounts at that point contained balances of about $20 billion. The next day, someone in his office revised that down to about $15 billion. Later that afternoon, someone in the U.N. controller's office revised that down to $9 billion. When I protested that these discrepancies were getting large, we ended up haggling over the phone for a while, and finally settled on an official total of about $12 billion in the Oil-for-Food accounts.
I'm still not sure what to believe, however, given that the U.N. treasurer, Suzanne Bishopric, assured me at the same time, in September 2002, and again in early 2003, that the accounts had been diversified among "five or six" banks, and to date we have still heard mention of only one--a French bank, BNP Paribas. So, in some fit of arithmetic absent-mindedness, did Ms. Bishopric lose track of the number of banks, confusing one with five or six?
It's a little hard to know whether oil sales were actually $65 billion or $70 billion, whether there were five or six banks or just one, whether at least that one bank, BNP, ever paid significant interest on balances that toward the end of the program totaled $20 billion or $15 billion or $9 billion or $12 billion, and whether humanitarian import contracts were funded to the tune of $39.2 billion or $46 billion. Mr. Annan assures us the program has been audited many times, even if it was done in confidence, in-house, backed up by member nations that may have had their own interests to consider, such as one of Saddam's favorite trading partners, France.
You can find Rosett's previous articles here, here and here. Similarly, Therse Raphel had a scoop a few weeks ago.
A few days ago the NY Times headlined that German intelligence gave the CIA the first name and telephone number of an al Qaeda operative who would later become a pilot-hijacker on September 11. Today the German interior minister noted that the NY Times neglected to publish a few important facts:
During a U.S. visit to discuss the use of biometric technology in the war against terror, German Interior Minister Otto Schily denied that his country knowingly passed on information on a Sep.11 hijacker to the CIA.
Schily however was much more unequivocal that Germans had "no idea" that a man whose first name and telephone number they passed on to U.S. authorities long before the Sep.11 terrorist attacks would turn out to be a key player in the plot.
The New York Times reported earlier Tuesday that German intelligence officials gave the CIA the above information on Marwan al-Shehhi in March 1999 and asked the Americans to track him. The story, citing a senior German intelligence official, said that after the Germans passed on the information to the CIA, they did not hear form the Americans about the matter until after Sep. 11.
"Your article was a little bit misleading," Schily told a small group of reporters including one of the authors of the New York Times article, Reuters reported.
The information was the earliest known clue the U.S. received about any of the hijackers and has now become a crucial element of an independent U.S. commission's investigation into Sep. 11, 2001. U.S. officials say al-Shehhi was the pilot who flew the second plane into the World Trade Center.
A United Arab Emirates native, al-Shehhi moved to Germany in 1996 and became a key member of the al Qaeda Hamburg cell at the heart of the Sept. 11 plot. Mohammed Atta, one of the plot leaders, was his roommate.
Schily added that the indication that German intelligence officials had made a link between the name and an upcoming attack "is not true. At that time we had no idea that (it) could be a thing like this (the Sept. 11 attacks)." The minister said that Germany gave the information on al-Shehhi to the U.S. as part of "routine" data exchanges, adding that authorities were unable to connect the rather common Arabic name "Marwan" to a family name.
CIA director George Tennet (photo) also rejected suggestions that his agency had failed to act on the German tip. Speaking before an annual Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on global threats on Tuesday, Tenet said, "In 1999 the Germans gave us a name -- Marwan, that's it, and a phone number. And we didn't sit on our hands."
Yeah, that makes a difference from what the Times originally reported.
The man who voted for the Patriot Act but who now opposses it; voted for No Child Left Behind but now opposes it; voted against Gulf War I, for Gulf War II and then back to against continuing support of Gulf War II; opposed Reagan's rescue mission in Granada but now supports it; blasts PAC money while taking it; attacked those who inserted Vietnam into presidential campaigning in 1992 but now practices it, (and this is the short list), has flip-flopped on yet another issue.
After the latest suicide bombing in Israel Kerry said that the Israeli security fence seperating the country from West Bank Palestinians is a "legitimate act of self defense." Naturally in October 2003 Kerry opposed this same fence.
It has been rare for Democratic candidates to issue statements on incidents like bombings in Israel over the past few months. Kerry's statement, highlighting the justification for the fence, came a week before the crucial March 2 "Super Tuesday" primaries, which include New York with its high concentration of Democratic Jewish voters, some political observers noted.
In his October speech to a conference held by the Arab American Institute in Michigan, Kerry stressed the fence's negative aspects.
"I know how disheartened Palestinians are by the Israeli government's decision to build the barrier off of the Green Line – cutting deep into Palestinian areas," Kerry said. "We don't need another barrier to peace. Provocative and counterproductive measures only harm Israelis' security over the long term, increase the hardships to the Palestinian people, and make the process of negotiating an eventual settlement that much harder."
His Democratic defenders insist that Kerry was speaking figuratively last October. Too bad for them Israel's security fence was in construction back then, so there's nothing figurative about it. Kerry is shameless. Nothing he says shocks me anymore. I never thought we'd see a guy who could top Bill Clinton on saying anything to get elected, depending upon his audience.
The Wall Street Journal reminds us how Haiti became a fiasco in the first place; labels Aristide what he is - a one man, one vote dictator-crat; notes that the international community, expressing a usual lack of leadership, is waiting on an American response; and that John Kerry opposed democracy in Iraq but supports the dictator Aristide in Haiti... oh, yeah, and he wants to be your next president.
Bill Clinton dispatched 20,000 U.S. troops to Haiti in 1994 to restore Jean-Bertrand Aristide to power against a military junta. He did so largely at the behest of the Congressional Black Caucus, whose Members hailed Mr. Aristide as a democrat who deserved American financial and moral support. Prominent Democrats were Mr. Aristide's benefactors in Congress, while others became his lobbyists in Washington and won lucrative Haitian phone contracts.
Most of them have stayed silent, or actively supported the former priest, even as he steadily became one of the nastier rulers in the Western hemisphere. His paramilitary squads have terrorized the political opposition. Such prominent opponents as radio host Brignol Lindor have turned up dead. Mr. Aristide controls the national police, as well as large chunks of the economy.
No wonder so many Haitians who once supported Mr. Aristide have joined the rebellion against him. The armed rebels now advancing toward Port-au-Prince may number only a few hundred. But they have met little resistance because most Haitians agree with their cause. The opposition includes the Group of 184, a civic group that wants elections as well as the right to congregate without being attacked by Aristide gangs.
Yet even now we hear that the U.S. must intervene to support Mr. Aristide because he is a "democrat" who was "freely and fairly elected." Four prominent Congressional Democrats, including John Conyers, recently sent a letter to President Bush opposing any "international military force" unless it props up Mr. Aristide.
But Mr. Aristide forfeited his right to claim democratic legitimacy when he sabotaged senatorial elections in 2000. Even the U.N.'s Kofi Annan frowned on the results. In protest, Haitians boycotted the presidential elections later that year and no more than 10% showed up to elect Mr. Aristide to his second term. Insisting on U.S. support for such a leader isn't "democracy" but a debasement of it. It's a signal to the Aristides and Mugabes (Zimbabwe) of the world that once they make it into office, they're free to tyrannize as they please.
The Iranian mullahs also won an election last week, though everyone seems willing to call that a fraud. Perhaps Tehran's clerics should retain the law firm of Patton Boggs, or former Congressmen Ron Dellums, Michael Barnes and Joe Kennedy, who have all put in a lucrative good word for Mr. Aristide in Washington.
It's hard to see how Haiti escapes further violence as long as Mr. Aristide stays in power. Yesterday he begged the international community to bolster his police, while also threatening the U.S. with another flood of "boat people" refugees.
Meanwhile, the Haitian rebels rejected a U.S.-brokered international peace plan because it didn't require Mr. Aristide to resign. They rightly fear that Mr. Aristide could manipulate any foreign military force to disarm them while strengthening the strongman's police to strike back once the foreigners leave. "There must be no more delays. Our answer remains the same. Aristide must resign," says Maurice Lafortune, president of the Haitian Chamber of Commerce and another member of the democratic opposition.
It's worth noting, by the way, how desultory the "international community" has been in meeting this crisis. The U.N. is waiting on Uncle Sam, as ever. The French have 4,000 troops on nearby islands, but they have no great desire to rescue Mr. Aristide. The Canadians are also fed up, and even the feckless Organization of American States has roused itself to denounce his depredations.
One man who still hasn't figured this out is Senator John Kerry. Despite (or perhaps because of) his long tenure on the Senate's Western Hemisphere subcommittee, Mr. Kerry criticized the Bush Administration yesterday for cutting off aid to Mr. Aristide and said the U.S. should force the rebels to back off. He told the New York Times that if he were President he'd threaten to deploy international peacekeepers to keep Mr. Aristide in power.
So while Mr. Kerry voted against $87 billion to build a free and stable Iraq, he's all in favor of deploying troops to prop up a Haitian leader whose tyranny has lost him the support of most of his own population.
My feelings on Bush’s formal adoption of a constitutional amendment to haven’t changed – as a conservative I think it’s unwise to give the federal government more power, in this case to “define” marriage. If they can define it some other yahoo can come along and change it, tax it, etc. Having said that there’s a few things to point out here, first and foremost this fallacy that Bush is pushing a divisive cultural war on Americans.
In today’s Washington Post, Bush-hater Dana Milbank writes in his “news analysis” – basically editorial creep disguised as front page objective news – that Bush “has shown he is willing, if necessary, to rekindle the culture wars in 2004.” Bush didn’t rekindle jack, he’s responding. He didn’t initiate this, the Left did. (More on Milbank journalism here)
You may recall in Massachusetts that liberal activist judges, aka the judicial branch of government, anointed themselves as a second legislative branch of government and re-wrote Massachusetts law and thus told the voting populace of Massachusetts, the majority of which is against gay marriage, to stick it. You might further recall that a mayor of San Francisco is right now breaking California law by issuing illegal marriage licenses. Would the Left be so high horse about this if a Georgia activist judge or Atlanta mayor re-wrote or broke law to give 16-year-olds AK-47s? You laugh but the Second Amendment doesn’t have age requirements and mentions no types of arms.
As for Bush, he couldn’t ignore the issue. Ignoring it would have caused him attacks from both sides – Right and Left – instead of just Left. On the positive side a constitutional amendment could at least settle the issue once and for all (could) – it will either pass, and individual states can decide to give state (but not federal) benefits and recognition, or it won’t pass and will be seen as a referendum in favor of gay marriage. Of course, the latter may just invite more activism and law-breaking from government officials. Personally I don’t really care one way or the other if gays marry. But we have to respect state and federal law. And for Bush to not respond to judges and mayors breaking law is to invite tyranny on a multitude of issues, not just politically correct notions of marriage.
Finally, as said above, I don’t like empowering the feds with cultural power, but I also find ridiculous this outrage on the Left that Bush is warping the constitution by proposing an amendment. There’s a reason why our founding fathers wrote the amendment process into the constitution without limits about what we could or could not amend. They say Bush is warping the process is silly. Amendments are the process. You have the right to propose amendments limiting Americans to driving only red cars but that doesn’t mean it will earn the majority votes in the House and Senate and then get two-thirds of the states to ratify it as required by the constitution.
I haven’t seen Mel Gibson’s movie “The Passion,” but will make the effort to do so just to see what all the fuss is about. It’s just a day old but already people seemed polarized over it; mirroring our current political climate they either love it or hate it. What I find bizarre is the type of attacks Gibson and his movie are under – regarding the media and social elites they seem to run under two themes: that the movie and it’s maker Gibson are either anti-Semitic (an odd charge as Gibson seeks to do for a Jew, Jesus Christ, what Stephen Spielberg did for Normandy – display an event with realism) or that the movie and it’s maker are violence obsessed (a very odd charge as since when has the liberal media complained about violence in the movies?). I mean if the movie sucks, just say it sucks; why does Gibson have to become the scorge of the media to boot?
The NY Times calls the film “harrowingly violent; the final hour of "The Passion of the Christ" essentially consists of a man being beaten, tortured and killed in graphic and lingering detail.” Really? Jesus was beaten, tortured and killed? What would we do without NY Times columnists!? This just in from the Times – a movie about Jesus’ birth was “just some baby in a manger.”
Look, people tend accept the fallacy that modern times are more violent than the past. Perhaps it plays into liberal institutions like gun control – if we had more gun control there’d be less violence, they say. The truth is that the Romans, like so many other cultures, would imprison you, beat you, spear you, or execute you at the drop of a hat - you didn't have to claim to be the son of God. The past, whether in Palestine, Rome, Scotland, Spain, Constantinople, or ancient Japan, was far, far more violent than today – and there was no helicopter to fly you to the nearest hospital for life-saving treatment. Naturally, any movie about the past is going to tend to be violent.
Moving on, the Times conclusion is even more bizarre: “In most movies — certainly in most movies directed by or starring Mr. Gibson — violence against the innocent demands righteous vengeance in the third act, an expectation that Mr. Gibson in this case whips up and leaves unsatisfied.”
Again, don’t they get it? Gibson wanted to portray the Crucifixion with the same realism that Spielberg, no doubt critically acclaimed by this same Times among others, portrayed WWII. Saving Private Ryan didn’t feature a soldier saying, “OH, NO, sarge I’ve been shot!” as you’d find in some circa 1950s war flick, but instead shows a guy picking up his own arm; Just like “The Passion,” in “Ryan,” the lead character dies. Where were these compliants of violence in "Schlindler's List"?Sure it’s depressing, but it’s war and history.
One last note regarding elite critics’ hypocrisy – this World Net Daily article notes how past movie columnists and critics who praised realism and violence in such films as “Gladiator” bash Gibson’s movie for that same violent realism.
[Catholic League president William] Donohue points to New York Daily News reporter Jami Bernard, who voted the "super-violent" film "Gladiator" the best picture of 2000, but brands Gibson's film "a compendium of tortures that would horrify the regulars at an S&M club."
Yet, Donahue says, Bernard is a big fan of the Marquis de Sade – the pervert who wrote the book on S&M – and that is why she liked 'Quills.'"
Reviewer Peter Rainer, the Catholic leader noted, also condemns "Passion" for delving into "the realm of sadomasochism," yet commended director Steven Spielberg for the "gentleness" he brought to the bloody war hit "Saving Private Ryan."
Richard Corliss of Time, he noted, thinks the only people who will be drawn to Gibson's film are those "who can stand to be grossed out as they are edified."
Yet, said Donahue, Corliss called the "body halvings, decapitations, [and] unhandings" of "Gladiator" a "pleasure that we get to watch."
Newsweek's David Ansen says "The Passion" will "inspire nightmares," though he hails as "a must-see" movie a film about incest, "The Dreamers."
David Denby of the New Yorker cites "The Passion" as being so violent it "falls into the danger of altering Jesus' message of love into one of hate."
Says Donahue: "This is the same guy who said of 'Schindler's List' that 'the violence [is] neither exaggerated nor minimized."
Truth be known I’d say the critics’ complaints about violence were a mask for any film that forces them to uncomfortably view Christ’s death. Liberal columnists and elites are uncomfortable about religion to begin with, unless that is, they’re comparing the Taliban to John Ashcroft. And if in “The Passion” Jesus had been a pimp for Mary Magdalen, or something like that, no doubt the elites would be showering it with artistic praise.
Democrats have been milking comments that Education Secretary Rod Paige made about the National Education Association, calling the union a "terrorist organization," for all they are worth. For his part Paige’s comments are ill advised and just play into the hands of the liberal media, but you’ve got to love Paige’s insult-laden “apology” (if one can call it an apology):
"It was an inappropriate choice of words to describe the obstructionist scare tactics the NEA's Washington lobbyists have employed against No Child Left Behind's historic education reforms. I also said, as I have repeatedly, that our nation's teachers, who have dedicated their lives to service in the classroom, are the real soldiers of democracy, whereas the NEA's high-priced Washington lobbyists have made no secret that they will fight against bringing real, rock-solid improvements in the way we educate all our children regardless of skin color, accent or where they live. But, as one who grew up on the receiving end of insensitive remarks, I should have chosen my words better."
Obstructionist scare tactics! That’s an apology? Too funny. Good for Paige to label the union for what it is and not, hat in hand, beg for forgiveness from almighty NEA and their cronies in the Democratic Party. The Democrat-NEA iron curtain has had control of our country’s education system for decades so they’ve only got themselves to blame if it’s totally screwed up. President Bush, attempting triangulation to earn moderate appeal, signed off with ultra-liberal Senator Ted Kennedy on the No Child Left Behind act, and what does the GOP get in return for feeding the inefficient education system even more taxpayer money? Grief and backstabbing.
Anyway, like Wile E. Coyote’s bomb exploding in his face, the Democrats have opened another door for their own to be attacked, as Drudge pointed out today. It seems Sen. and presidential hopeful John Kerry used the terrorist label just as loosely and with just as much contempt as Rod Paige:
In Jan. 1996, commenting on the federal government shutdown, Kerry called the House Republicans 'legislative terrorists,' who used federal workers as pawns and disrespected them. Asked about his terrorist comment, Kerry explained, 'Terrorists hold hostages, and the Republicans are holding the government hostage'...
Well, if Paige has issued an apology, shouldn’t Kerry be held to the same accountability? Don’t hold your breath. The only good thing is that it’s just another in a long series of examples where Kerry has said one thing but done another.
It matters not, and is barely worthy of the news cycle. In fact, had a Democrat said such things about a more conservative friendly group one must wonder if the media would have even bothered reporting it.
This election isn’t going to be won or lost on tasteless analogies. The Democrats want to paint Bush as an AWOL liar, and his staff as dangerous neo-cons, because they know that the electorate is going to be made fully aware of Kerry’s long career in making our country weaker by opposing the strengthening of the military and intelligence community. Kerry, as pointed out in today’s Washington Times, opposed the development of all those successful weapons systems we used to defeat al Qaeda and Taliban in Afghanistan and Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party in Iraq.
The Massachusetts senator voted against defense appropriations bills that included money for weapons such as the Patriot missile, the Tomahawk cruise missile and the B-2 stealth bomber — all of which military leaders say have become integral to the U.S. force and were crucial to winning the 1991 Gulf war and last year's war in Iraq.
According to voting records, Mr. Kerry also favored cutting or canceling spending on the Apache helicopter, the M-1 Abrams tank and a wide range of fighter jets.
"That's the game they play," Mr. Kerry told reporters yesterday while campaigning in New York. "They haven't come to you and said we need this [weapons] system and John Kerry voted against the system. They're saying he voted against defense ... and I'm not going to let them nickel-and-dime us on one system or another that was an individual vote."
[Mr. Bush's campaign chairman, Marc] Racicot also said Mr. Kerry is trying to "cloud the issue" by complaining that Republicans are attacking his patriotism rather than his votes on defense issues in the Senate.
"We have praised repeatedly Senator Kerry's service in Vietnam," Mr. Racicot said. "This is not a discussion about anything other than his record."
The Center for Security Policy has analyzed more than 75 votes over the past decade cast by Mr. Kerry and other senators. The Washington-based conservative think tank gave Mr. Kerry one of the lowest ratings of any senator.
Among the votes the group evaluated were nine Mr. Kerry cast against developing a missile-defense system envisioned to protect the United States from nuclear attack. Also noted are the six times in the past 10 years he voted to freeze or reduce defense spending. Mr. Kerry also cast two votes to loosen trade controls over "dual-use" technology such as U.S.-made high-speed computers that can also be used by enemies to build high-tech weaponry.
Republicans have also produced a proposed bill that Mr. Kerry authored in 1996 to cut the deficit. The proposal, which would have cut spending on defense and intelligence by $6.5 billion, never attracted a co-sponsor or came to a vote.
"This bill was so reckless that it had no co-sponsors," said Mr. Racicot.
Mr. Kerry yesterday said embracing every weapons system proposed doesn't make Republicans stronger on defense.
"That's not the measure of whether you're strong on defense," he said.
Well, what is a measure of strong defense for Kerry? Trying to eliminate successful military systems? How does that make us stronger, Sen. Kerry? This is the legislative record of John Kerry, and he can’t hide it. Kerry’s defense – that his votes should be viewed as line item rather than as whole – is very weak. The bottom line is that had Kerry gotten his way over the past two decades of his senatorial career the US might not have the capability to have been successful in Iraq and Afghanistan. Foreign policy philosophy aside nobody short of an enemy of the US could argue that not having the M-1 tank, Apache helicopter or Tomahawk cruise missile – all which Kerry voted not to fund – would be a good thing. War hero or not, you have to hold John Kerry accountable for his lack of judgment on our national defense.
Today’s biggest story comes from the NY Times which claims that German intelligence gave the CIA the first name and phone number of one of the 9-11 hijackers in March of 1999, more than two years before the attack.
The Germans themselves have for a long time been under fire for their own failures in penetrating the Hamburg cell, from which three of the four hijack pilots originated including Mohammed Atta. The young men who would move on to their infamous marks were first recruited by a vocal and recurrent speaker of the radical al Quds mosque in Hamburg, Mohamed Heidar Zammar. After September 11, Zammar fled to Morocco where he was captured and then handed over to Syria. Had either the German intelligence or CIA infiltrated the Hamburg cell 9-11 might have been stopped or severely limited. Cracking the Hamburg cell would have eventually led to the 9-11 mastermind, Khalid Mohammed, long before he was finally captured in March of 2003.
In March 1999, German intelligence officials gave the Central Intelligence Agency the first name and telephone number of Marwan al-Shehhi, and asked the Americans to track him.
The name and phone number in the United Arab Emirates had been obtained by the Germans by monitoring the telephone of Mohamed Heidar Zammar, an Islamic militant in Hamburg who was closely linked to the important Qaeda plotters who ultimately mastermined the Sept. 11 attacks, German officials said.
After the Germans passed the information on to the C.I.A., they did not hear from the Americans about the matter until after Sept. 11, a senior German intelligence official said.
"There was no response" at the time, the official said. After receiving the tip, the C.I.A. decided that "Marwan" was probably an associate of Osama bin Laden, but never tracked him down, American officials say.
The Germans considered the information on Mr. Shehhi particularly valuable, and the commission is keenly interested in why it apparently did not lead to greater scrutiny of him.
The information concerning Mr. Shehhi, the man who took over the controls of United Airlines Flight 175, which flew into the south tower of the World Trade Center, came months earlier than well-documented tips about other hijackers, including two who were discovered to have attended a meeting of militants in Malaysia in January 2000.
The independent commission investigating the attacks has received information on the 1999 Shehhi tip, and is actively investigating the issue, said Philip Zelikow, executive director of the commission.
American intelligence officials and others involved with the matter say they are uncertain whether Mr. Shehhi's phone was ever monitored.
An American official said: "The Germans did give us the name `Marwan' and a phone number, but we were unable to come up with anything. It was an unlisted phone number in the U.A.E., which he was known to use."
Officials involved with the work of the joint Congressional investigation made it clear that the publication of a more complete version of the story was the subject of a declassification dispute with the C.I.A. A former official involved with the Congressional inquiry acknowledged that having a telephone number for one of the hijackers was far more significant than simply having a first name.
Since the Sept. 11 attacks, the C.I.A., F.B.I. and other government agencies have been heavily criticized for failing to put together fragmentary pieces of information they received from a wide array of sources in order to predict or prevent the terrorist plot. The joint Congressional panel that investigated the attacks concluded that American authorities "missed opportunities to disrupt the Sept. 11 plot by denying entry to or detaining would-be hijackers; to at least try to unravel the plot through surveillance and other investigative work within the United States; and finally, to generate a heightened state of alert and thus harden the homeland against attack."
Until now, the most highly scrutinized failure has related to the C.I.A.'s handling of information about a meeting of extremists in Malaysia in January 2000 that involved two of the men who would become hijackers, Khalid al-Midhar and Nawaq Alhazmi. Although the C.I.A. identified the two men as suspected extremists, the agency did not request that they be placed on the government's watch lists to keep them out of the United States until late August 2001. By that time, they were both already in the country. In addition, while the two men lived in San Diego, their landlord was an F.B.I. informant, but the bureau did not learn of their terrorist links from the informant.
But unlike the leads to Mr. Midhar and Mr. Alhazmi in San Diego, the earlier information about Mr. Shehhi could have taken investigators to the core of the Qaeda cell at a time when the plot was probably in its formative stages. According to testimony in Germany in December in a criminal case related to the Sept. 11 attacks, Mr. Shehhi was one of only four members of the Hamburg cell who knew about the attacks beforehand.
This is somewhat of a parting shot by the German intelligence who are tired of taking the bull brunt of not infiltrating the al Quds mosque where so many of these al Qaeda radicals originated. Ironically, it was this same NY Times that in July of 2002 fingered the German intelligence, the BND, as the main bungler of intelligence failures. Whether the Germans handed the CIA the first name and telephone number or not (a big deal, sure) Hamburg is Germany’s back yard and German intelligence, not the CIA, is responsible for terrorists within German borders.
The Germans must have known something was up or else they wouldn’t have had an investigation on Zammar since 1997; the Germans learned Zammar’s full role as an al Qaeda recruiter after a 1998 investigation into Mamdouh Mahmud Salim, an al Qaeda founder. Salim also led them to Mahmoud Darkazanli. Most inexcusable is allowing Zammar to flee after 9-11. But in Germany, even after 9-11, the law does not consider one a terrorist until an attack is actually performed. Here’s a key paragraph from the 2002 article:
Germany accuses the CIA of not disclosing information, but what the NY article fails to mention today it mentioned in 2002 – Germany had the first names not one, but three 9-11 planners; Germany also complained when the US tried to take matters into their own hands:
After Mr. Salim's 1998 arrest, the German police tapped the telephones of both Mr. Darkazanli and Mr. Zammar. One of those taps led to three young Arab students.
On Feb. 17, 1999, Mr. Zammar visited the apartment on Marienstrasse in Hamburg where the students lived. There, he met with the residents — Mr. Atta and two other men implicated in planning the attacks, Ramzi bin al-Shibh and Said Bahaji, according to the weekly magazine Der Spiegel.
While there, Mr. Zammar received a telephone call in which the police overheard him referring to the three men by their first names. The police put the apartment on their watch list, but did not follow up and identify the three men mentioned by Mr. Zammar.
About this time, American investigators took matters into their own hands. An investigator familiar with the episode said the German police discovered that American agents had been questioning people in Hamburg about Mr. Darkazanli and Mr. Zammar without informing the German authorities.
The discovery drew sharp complaints from the Germans, the investigator said.
American investigators contend this was a critical period in the formation of the Hamburg cell, which provided three of the four suspected hijackers on Sept. 11. Mr. Shibh and Mr. Bahaji disappeared just before the attacks and have been charged with conspiracy by the Germans.
A senior German intelligence official said that the light surveillance of the Marienstrasse apartment suggested that Mr. Atta and the others were inconspicuous students. Early in 2000 a judge refused permission to extend the monitoring, ruling that the police did not have evidence of a crime.
But some Americans say the Germans may have had the opportunity to crack the plot.
"If you were on top of these guys you would have gotten quite a bit," an American official said.
The CIA might be right about Shehhi’s unlisted phone number being useless to them, but that sounds like an empty defense. Maybe it was a lack of Langley managerial support to pursue this lead, maybe it was arrogant dismissal because the lead came from a competing foreign agency, or maybe it was just another in a series of blunders by the CIA, which in hindsight mind you, seem obvious – for whatever reason the Western intelligence community failed as a whole. I believe it was culture. Politicians, judges and law enforcement managers not on the beat (basically the bureaucrats) were more worried, and some still are, about not making wake, not insulting or upsetting the culturally sensitive issues. Political correctness in law enforcement created a culture of timidity, and fear of career-ending retribution for mistakes. As a result they chose to take no chances, to never follow intuition or rock the boat.
“But it's [the war on terror] primarily an intelligence and law enforcement operation that requires cooperation around the world…” – Senator John Kerry in a January debate.
Keep Kerry’s quote in mind as you read this Washington Post article about how Clinton administration officials, primarily Janet Reno, restricted the CIA and intelligence community from acting effectively against Osama bin Laden during the 1990s. The Democrats truly believe that the government should pursue the war on terror as a law enforcement issue, and not a war. But, as this article makes clear, we tried that for 8 years and the result was terror attack after terror attack, climaxing with 9-11.
[The ban on assassinations does not apply to military targets such as bin Laden] Yet the secret legal authorizations Clinton signed after this failed missile strike required the CIA to make a good faith effort to capture bin Laden for trial, not kill him outright.
Beginning in the summer of 1998, Clinton signed a series of top secret memos authorizing the CIA or its agents to use lethal force, if necessary, in an attempt to capture bin Laden and several top lieutenants and return them to the United States to face trial.
From Director George J. Tenet on down, the CIA's senior managers wanted the White House lawyers to be crystal clear about what was permissible in the field. They were conditioned by history -- the CIA assassination scandals of the 1970s, the Iran-contra affair of the 1980s -- to be cautious about legal permissions emanating from the White House. Earlier in his career, Tenet had served as staff director of the Senate Intelligence Committee and director of intelligence issues at the White House, roles steeped in the Washington culture of oversight and careful legality.
Some of the most sensitive language concerned the specific authorization to use deadly force.
Clinton's national security aides said they wanted to encourage the CIA to carry out an effective operation against bin Laden, not to burden the agency with constraints or doubts. Yet Clinton's aides did not want authorizations that could be interpreted by Afghan agents as an unrestricted license to kill. For one thing, the [Janet Reno] Justice Department signaled that it would oppose such language if it was proposed for Clinton's signature.
The compromise wording, in a succession of bin Laden-focused memos, always expressed some ambiguity about how and when deadly force could be used in an operation designed to take bin Laden into custody. Typical language, recalled one official involved, instructed the CIA to "apprehend with lethal force as authorized."
At the CIA, officers and supervisors agonized over these abstract phrases. They worried that if an operation in Afghanistan went badly, they would be accused of having acted outside the memo's scope. Over time, recriminations grew between the CIA and the White House.
It was common in Clinton's cabinet and among his National Security Council aides to see the CIA as too cautious, paralyzed by fears of legal and political risks. At Langley, this criticism rankled. The CIA's senior managers believed officials at the White House wanted to have it both ways: They liked to blame the agency for its supposed lack of aggression, yet they sent over classified legal memos full of wiggle words.
Clinton's covert policy against bin Laden pursued two goals at the same time. He ordered submarines equipped with cruise missiles to patrol secretly in waters off Pakistan in the hope that CIA spotters would one day identify bin Laden's location confidently enough to warrant a deadly missile strike.
But Clinton also authorized the CIA to carry out operations that legally required the agency's officers to plan in almost every instance to capture bin Laden alive and bring him to the United States to face trial.
This meant the CIA officers had to arrange in advance for detention facilities, extraction flights and other contingencies -- even if they expected that bin Laden would probably die in the arrest attempt. These requirements made operational planning much more cumbersome, the CIA officers contended.
In fashioning this sensitive policy in the midst of an impeachment crisis that lasted into early 1999, Clinton's national security adviser, Samuel R. "Sandy" Berger, struggled to forge a consensus within the White House national security team. Among other things, he had to keep on board a skeptical Attorney General Janet Reno and her Justice Department colleagues, who were deeply invested in law enforcement approaches to terrorism, according to senior officials involved.
As the months passed, Clinton signed new memos in which the language, while still ambiguous, made the use of lethal force by the CIA's Afghan agents more likely, according to officials involved. At first the CIA was permitted to use lethal force only in the course of a legitimate attempt to make an arrest. Later the memos allowed for a pure lethal attack if an arrest was not possible. Still, the CIA was required to plan all its agent missions with an arrest in mind.
Some CIA managers chafed at the White House instructions. The CIA received "no written word nor verbal order to conduct a lethal action" against bin Laden before Sept. 11, one official involved recalled. "The objective was to render this guy to law enforcement." In these operations, the CIA had to recruit agents "to grab [bin Laden] and bring him to a secure place where we can turn him over to the FBI. . . . If they had said 'lethal action' it would have been a whole different kettle of fish, and much easier."
After all I've read on 9-11, intelligence failures, etc., I'm throughly convinced that Janet Reno was the weakest attorney general we've ever had, and one of the biggest reason why the US was not able to get a handle on Islamic extremism during the 1990s, essentially allowing it to become a major problem from what could have been managable. Even the Clinton people, like Sandy Berger, hated Reno.
The current crop of Democratic presidential candidates assails the Bush administration for preemptive force and what they consider to be hasty use of military force. As John Kerry indicated in January, they see the war on terror as nothing more than a massive manhunt for a few bad individuals, hence their over-reliance on diplomacy and law enforcement and reluctance to use military force. Had the Clinton administration not hamstrung the CIA there might never have been a 9-11 to react to. But they didn’t and 9-11 did happen. So the question becomes: do you want to elect for president a guy who says he’ll return us to the more ineffective 1990s method of fighting terrorism? Those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it, only in this case, it will be at our gravest expense.
I don’t recall Liberals and Democrats complaining in 1992 when Ross Perot took so many conservative and independent votes from George Bush Sr. that Bill Clinton captured the election with a plurality of just 43 percent. And I don’t think the Left would condemn any attempt by a conservative such as John McCain running for president as an independent. But to listen to the amount of complaining on the Left because independent Ralph Nader has decided to run for president you’d think they thought that they think John Kerry (or Edwards, but really John Kerry) is entitled to every liberal and center-left vote. But of course they do! The liberal media, as Howard Kurtz notes in his column, is particularly outraged:
"Some of Ralph Nader's best friends are desperately trying to persuade him not to run for president this year," the New York Times warned.
The Washington Post carried a similar message: "The backlash is already underway. On the Internet, in newspapers and magazines, erstwhile supporters have been urging the former Green Party presidential candidate to forgo this year's race -- all in the hope of aiding the Democratic presidential nominee."
The Nation, which first published Nader in 1959, issued its own plea: "For the good of the country, the many causes you've championed and for your own good name -- don't run for President this year."
[NBC Meet The Press interviewer Tim] Russert read the Nation editorial and played the RalphDontRun video, which said that if Nader had sat it out last time, President Gore would be running for reelection.
"That's the liberal intelligentsia," Nader said dismissively, which wants to "block the American people from having more choices and voices."
You gotta love Nader’s comeback at the ‘liberal intelligentsia’ – he hit the nail on the head. The far Left academia wants to the government to be the primary decision maker in you everyday life. The government, not the market, should persuade you into buying that eco-car over the SUV, the government should ensure that you don’t eat unhealthy fatty foods and tax those who do, the government should tell you what doctor you can see, the government will tell you what school you must send your kids too, etc. Ironically, I would consider Nader, for the most part, to be one of those very liberal intelligentsia he criticizes.
In any event, Nader has just as much right to run as anyone else. Still, the liberals whine.
I’m not sure how bad this will hurt the Democrats one way or the other. With Howard Dean out some on the far Left are looking for an alternative to John “Cash and” Kerry, whose hypocrisy reigns supreme as a guy who takes special interest money while attacking others for doing the same. Nader, more than anything else, made his mark as anti-special interests. He truly does have the potential to get liberal votes on this issue, considering all the trouble Kerry has had with campaign finance scandals. The thing is: are these voters who would have otherwise voted for Kerry, or are they the disillusioned who wouldn’t have bothered to vote for anyone to begin with? If the former, it hurts Kerry (or Edwards, whatever), if the latter it doesn’t matter.
We’ve seen how liberal billionaires like George Soros are spending millions on Democrats (who, again, attack Bush for special interests but have no problem taking money from the Soros/Buffett crowd). I’d like to see a wealthy conservative step up and offer Nader millions for TV ads so that Democrats have a taste of their own medicine.
Mix Johnny Cochran’s infamous “race card” with the Vietnam War and you get the current strategy of Senator John Kerry and Democratic Party – call it the Patriot card. Kerry never misses a moment to interject his Vietnam service while at the same time hiding behind a party that attacks Bush personally for his service in the air national guard. However, simultaneously should any opponent dare to criticize Kerry’s post-Vietnam War behavior or his decades-long record of slashing budgets for our military and intelligence agencies Kerry plays this Patriot card, claiming Republicans are attacking his patriotism. The Democrats, like Cochran during the OJ trial, know if they shout this untrue fabricated accusation long enough people might believe it.
Kerry had taken umbrage at statements that Sen. Saxby Chambliss made earlier, predicting trouble for the Massachusetts Democrat in Georgia's primary because of a "32-year history of voting to cut defense programs and cut defense systems."
In the letter to Bush Saturday, Kerry wrote: "As you well know, Vietnam was a very difficult and painful period in our nation's history, and the struggle for our veterans continues. So, it has been hard to believe that you would choose to reopen these wounds for your personal political gain. But, that is what you have chosen to do."
"Saxby Chambliss, on the part of the president and his henchmen, decided today to question my commitment to the defense of our nation," Kerry said while campaigning in Georgia, one of 10 states choosing electoral delegates on March 2.
Kerry told a news conference he voted for the largest defense and intelligence budgets in American history, although sometimes he "voted for common sense to make changes."
In his reply letter Sunday, Racicot said, "Our campaign does not condone any effort to impugn your patriotism. Your letter claims that supporters of our campaign questioned your service and patriotism. In fact, that simply wasn't the case."
"Our campaign is not questioning your patriotism or military service, but your votes and statements on issues now facing our country," said Racicot, former governor of Montana. "Senator Chambliss addressed your Senate record of voting against the weapons systems that are winning the war on terror."
Countered Kerry spokesman David Wade: "The Republicans need to answer to the American people for their craven tactics that degrade our democracy and question the patriotism of those who stand up and ask questions about the direction of our country. ... John Kerry takes a back seat to no one when it comes to maintaining the strongest military on the face of the earth and keeping our promises to America's veterans."
It takes a lot of gall for Kerry to accuse Republicans of “reopening” Vietnam-era wounds when it is Kerry above all others who mention Vietnam at every moment of opportunity. Truly disgusting. Kerry’s defense is weak – Republicans, or John Edwards for that matter, have every right to attack, for example, Kerry’s 1995 attempt to cut $1.5 billion from our US intelligence budget. Even as late as the 1990s, even after Islamic extremists tried to knock down the WTC in 1993 Kerry nonetheless saw the intelligence community, not the Islamic nuts trying to kill us, as the biggest threat to democracy. Kerry’s a war hero and patriotic, but the Democratic Party is exemplified by people like Kerry, who view everything through Watergate/Vietnam lenses and whose liberal, politically correct, weak defense strategy helped foster an environment that made 9-11 possible.
A year ago I would have wagered that bin Laden is already dead, considering that he failed to show his goat-beard mug via video for two years after being a camera hound throughout the 1990s. Audiotapes just don't fit his narcissist style. In any event until we know we just don't know, you know? So, while I'm optimistic about this news article claiming the US military has surrounded him, take it with a grain of salt. Having said that, if he is alive it really is just a matter of time, as it was for Saddam Hussein, Khalid Mohammed, Ramzi Binalshibh, et. al.
A BRITISH Sunday newspaper is claiming Osama bin Laden has been found and is surrounded by US special forces in an area of land bordering north-west Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The Sunday Express, known for its sometimes colourful scoops, claims the al-Qaeda leader has been "sighted" for the first time since 2001 and is being monitored by satellite.
The paper claims he is in a mountainous area to the north of the Pakistani city of Quetta. The region is said to be peopled with bin Laden supporters and the terrorist leader is estimated to also have 50 of his fanatical bodyguards with him.
The claim is attributed to "a well-placed intelligence source" in Washington, who is quoted as saying: "He (bin Laden) is boxed in."
The paper says the hostile terrain makes an all-out conventional military assault impossible. The plan to capture him would depend on a "grab-him-and-go" style operation.
"US helicopters already sited on the Afghanistan border will swoop in to extricate him," the newspaper says. It claims bin Laden and his men "sleep in caves or out in the open. The area is swept by fierce snow storms howling down from the 10,000ft-high mountain peaks. Donkeys are the only transport."
The special forces are "absolutely confident" there is no escape for bin Laden, and are awaiting the order to go in and get him.
"The timing of that order will ultimately depend on President Bush," the paper says. "Capturing bin Laden will certainly be a huge help for him as he gets ready for the election."
The article says bin Laden's movements are monitored by a National Security Agency satellite.
A couple of weeks ago Lt. Col. Bryan Hilferty predicted that the military would capture bin Laden by the end of 2004. This report also comes on the heels of reports of a US offensive within Pakistan, and of Pakistani military maneuvers against pro-Taliban forces in Northwest Pakistan, near the Afghan border, a suspected hiding place for al Qaeda/Taliban leaders since the end of the war in Afghanistan - so, this report isn't far fetched. We'll see what happens.
Thanks to Rush Limbaugh for pointing out this Boston Globe story in which a CBS producer not only exhibits bias in favor of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, but actually coached Kerry in order to produce a better soundbite.
DAYTON, Ohio -- John F. Kerry, wrangling with rival John Edwards over jobs and trade in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, arrived in this city with 26 percent unemployment yesterday and scored some political points off the Bush administration -- though not quite in slam-dunk fashion.
"Just a couple of days ago, the administration promised America several million jobs over the course of the next months, and I immediately said that those predictions would fall short based on the promises they made with respect to the tax cut, which was supposed to give a million jobs -- it lost a million -- and the next tax cut was supposed to produce a million jobs, and it lost a million," Kerry told reporters, going on to cite more statistics and insist that his plan is better than Bush's.
Kerry's remarks lasted three minutes, yet it left TV reporters without a soundbite until one CBS News producer asked the Massachusetts senator to try again.
"They don't know what they're talking about in their own economic policy," Kerry said of the Bush team. "Today it's one thing, tomorrow it's the next."
Take two was the sort of succinct, wry comment for which Edwards, not Kerry, became known among many Wisconsin voters in the run-up to their primary Tuesday, which Kerry won despite a surprising surge from the North Carolina senator.
That’s absolutely pathetic. The media doesn’t even try to hide their wishful thinking for a Kerry presidency, and are now actively trying to help him secure the nomination. What’s worse, the Boston Globe reporter finds no shame in this and other than matter of fact reporting doesn’t even bother addressing the less than professional behavior by the CBS producer.
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