Friday, April 30, 2004

"We stand on the eve of an anniversary in this country -- the day that major combat operations were declared over in Iraq and the president declared, 'mission accomplished,"' - John Kerry, full of manure again.

President Bush never declared "mission accomplished." Kerry knows this, of course, and is attmpting to stuff the "mission accomplished" banner that hung on the superstructure of the USS Abraham Lincoln into Bush's mouth. This is an old partisan attempt to imply that Bush last May declared victory.

Here's what Bush said: "Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed. And now our coalition is engaged in securing and reconstructing that country." Bush added, "We have difficult work to do in Iraq. We're bringing order to parts of that country that remain dangerous. We're pursuing and finding leaders of the old regime, who will be held to account for their crimes. We've begun the search for hidden chemical and biological weapons and already know of hundreds of sites that will be investigated. We're helping to rebuild Iraq, where the dictator built palaces for himself, instead of hospitals and schools. And we will stand with the new leaders of Iraq as they establish a government of, by, and for the Iraqi people. The transition from dictatorship to democracy will take time, but it is worth every effort. Our coalition will stay until our work is done. Then we will leave, and we will leave behind a free Iraq."

What, in any of those statements, would lead anyone except for the most partisan proponent of half-truths to think that Bush had personally declared "mission accomplished"? Quite the contrary, Bush spent the majority of his May 1, 2003 speech preparing America for the work ahead.



The only solution to Iraq is getting Iraqis to secure themselves from the tyrants that wish to subdue them under the yoke of militant Islam or a return to oppressive Baathism. That's why Marine Lt. Gen. James Conway brokered a deal and subsequently withdrew US Marines from Fallujah. The question is: is this a realistic goal at this time? We're only a few weeks removed from bands of insurgents overrunning positions held by Iraqi security forces, who fled in panic. Sure, this time it won't be a group of green Iraqi soldiers taking over but rather units of the same professional soldiers who once kept all of Iraq in check - former Republican Guard. So, again, it will either work or it won't.

Either way, the circumstances leave a bad taste in my mouth because we have (once again) declined to respond with overwhelming violence to the insurgency. This sends messages to them that 1) as in the past (Beirut, Somalia for starters) we lack the stomach for a fight, 2) their tactics of terror and using civilians as human shields are successful and should thus continue, and 3) most importantly, they beat us. These are not the messages that the US government wants to convey to the world's terrorists.

Three cases in point: The insurgency felt so much respect for the agreement that they opened fire on the Marines as they withdrew; the perpetrators who executed and mutilated the bodies of American civilian contractors have gone unpunished; and Muqtada al-Sadr continues with impunity to call for attacking coalition forces.

One possible sticking point could be a U.S. demand for insurgents to turn over those responsible for the March 31 killing and mutilation of four American contract workers, whose bodies were burned and dragged through the streets. That triggered the siege of Fallujah. However, the United States has been under intense pressure from the United Nations, its international partners and its Iraqi allies to end the bloodshed, in which hundreds of Iraqi civilians are believed to have died.

The commander of the proposed force, Maj. Gen. Jassim Mohammed Saleh, a veteran of Saddam's Republican Guard, met with tribal leaders in a mosque on Friday morning. He wore his uniform from the former Iraqi military with his general's insignia. "Fallujah residents have chosen Maj. Gen. Jassim Mohammed Saleh to form and lead a unit that will be in charge of protecting the city," said Iraqi Brig. Gen. Shakir al-Janabi, who expects to be part of the new force. "Our force will handle the security issue today in cooperation with Iraqi police."

Negotiations were also taking place in the southern city of Najaf, where tribal leaders and police discussed a proposal to end a standoff between soldiers and militiamen loyal to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. Ahmed Shaybani, a spokesman for al-Sadr, told The Associated Press that talks were under way between Najaf police and tribal leaders. He said a proposal emerged under which al-Sadr followers would hand over security to the Najaf police and Sadr's Mahdi army would leave the city. Shaybani said the proposal would be accepted if the Americans agreed not to enter Najaf and did not act in a hostile way toward its holy sites. Al-Sadr would remain in the city.

In a sermon at a mosque in nearby Kufa, al-Sadr remained defiant. "Some people have asked me to tone down my words and to avoid escalation with the Americans," al-Sadr said. "My response is that I reject any appeasement with the occupation and I will not give up defending the rights of the believers. America is the enemy of Islam and Muslims and jihad is the path of my ancestors."

Lt. Col. Pat White said U.S. forces were holding back to give talks a chance and out of respect for Friday, the Islamic day of prayer. "We want to show that we respect what that day means to the Islamic world," White said, adding that U.S. forces will closely monitor the speeches that clerics give at prayer services.

Sure, Friday's "Islamic day of prayer" is so very holy to the extremists that they spend this day trying to kill American soldiers with Kalashnikov rifles and hand grenades. Once again our overly politically correct culture shows more respect for Islam than the practicers of it. We're always holding ourselves back. This isn't a matter of pride. We're putting a heck of a lot of trust in Iraqi's like General Saleh, who may or may not secure Fallujah with the same veracity that the US Marines would use. You cannot "contain" extremists. We've certainly learned that lesson. So if the former Republican Guard forces cannot keep Iraq's Sadrs in check we may end up right back where we started in a few weeks, months or years.



There were 190 acts of international terrorism in 2003, a slight decrease from the 198 attacks that occurred in 2002, and a drop of 45 percent from the level in 2001 of 346 attacks. The figure in 2003 represents the lowest annual total of international terrorist attacks since 1969. A total of 307 persons were killed in the attacks of 2003, far fewer than the 725 killed during 2002. A total of 1,593 persons were wounded in the attacks that occurred in 2003, down from 2,013 persons wounded the year before. In 2003, the highest number of attacks (70) and the highest casualty count (159 persons dead and 951 wounded) occurred in Asia. There were 82 anti-US attacks in 2003, which is up slightly from the 77 attacks the previous year, and represents a 62-percent decrease from the 219 attacks recorded in 2001.
Measuring attacks in numbers or body counts doesn't automatically equate to success or failure, but this trend seems significant and a direct result of a more aggressive preemption strategy against terrorists and their state sponsors.



It's not as though the Iraqis weren't already distrustful enough already, but with the release of CBS News photos of Iraqi captives being tortured and humiliated America has lost any progress it has made in the past 13 months earning the Iraqis' trust. The punishment of those seven officers involved must be harsh and swift to send a message throughout the military and to the public, both Iraq's and ours, that our military is a professional organization. Indeed, the antics of these seven is something you'd expect from our enemy, not from our own soldiers.

It appears that the top commander in Iraq, Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, is taking this very seriously, having suspended the general in charge of the Abu Ghraib prison and replaced her with the commander of Camp X-Ray in Guantanamo, Cuba. This is nothing short of a public relations nightmare. It was stupid enough to turn the infamous Abu Ghraid prison, a place of torture and infamy under Saddam Hussein, into a US detention. This prison should have been bulldozed down from the start as an act of goodwill and faith to the Iraqi community. Instead, not only did we let it stand but the Iraqi's will now associate the prison with US abuses too.

According to sealed charging papers that were provided to The Washington Post, soldiers forced prisoners to lie in "a pyramid of naked detainees" and jumped on their prone bodies, while other detainees were ordered to strip and perform or simulate sex acts. In one case, a hooded man allegedly was made to stand on a box of MREs, or meals ready to eat, and told that he would be electrocuted if he fell off. In another example, the papers allege, a soldier unzipped a body bag and took snapshots of a detainee's frozen corpse inside. Several times, soldiers were photographed and videotaped posing in front of humiliated inmates, according to the charges. One gave a thumbs-up sign in front of the human pyramid.
What burns me additionally is the cowardly and weak defense those accused are using. The soldiers are claiming that more than they are involved, including superiors. If this be the case those person's must also be punished. But, the "just following orders" defense doesn't fly. Likewise, claiming that they were softening the Iraqis up for future interrogation doesn't fly. These weren't sleep deprivation or psychological tactics; they were cruel and unusual. You can scare a prisoner without hooking up electrodes to their genitals.

The lawyer for Staff Sgt. Ivan L. Frederick II, Gary R. Myers, said in a telephone interview, "We are strongly urging the general [Sanchez] to treat this as an administrative matter, just as all the senior people have been treated." The soldiers "were provided no guidance on how to run the prison while they were there," Myers said. "They came under the influence of the intelligence community, whose interests may not be necessarily consistent with good prison management. The prison was set up in such a fashion that the intelligence community had far too much influence.
Provided no guidance? It shouldn't take specialized POW training to know the difference between professional behavior and conduct unbecoming. If someone told them to strip the Iraqis and have they form a human pyramid or simulate sex acts they should have halted action right there and reported it to superiors. If they did then those superiors need to go down as well. But "following orders" isn't a defense. It's not like they could claim they wouldn't have been shot for refusing the order, or something. Rest assured that Al Jazeera, Abu Dhabi and every other Islamic media mouthpiece will show these images over and over. They'll portray them as the rule, not the exception they are.



There's a disconcerting article in USA Today detailing how the Feds are having so much difficultly in cracking terrorist communications embedded in Internet media. Muslim extremists are now very experienced in hiding plots and plans within text and picture files. During the 1990s at least three al Qaeda affiliate terrorists, including the 1993 WTC bomber Ramzi Yousef, used sophisticated encryption software to embed messages. In the case of Yousef it took the government more than a year to crack two of the files. And that was almost 9 years ago; technology has drastically improved in that time.

"It‘s brilliant," says Ahmed Jabril, spokesman for the militant group Hezbollah in London. "Now it‘s possible to send a verse from the Koran, an appeal for charity and even a call for jihad and know it will not be seen by anyone hostile to our faith, like the Americans." Extremist groups are not only using encryption to disguise their e-mails but their voices, too, Attorney General Janet Reno told a presidential panel on terrorism last year, headed by former CIA director John Deutsch. Encryption programs also can scramble telephone conversations when the phones are plugged into a computer.

Here‘s how it works: Each image, whether a picture or a map, is created by a series of dots. Inside the dots are a string of letters and numbers that computers read to create the image. A coded message or another image can be hidden in those letters and numbers. They‘re hidden using free encryption Internet programs set up by privacy advocacy groups. The programs scramble the messages or pictures into existing images. The images can only be unlocked using a "private key," or code, selected by the recipient, experts add. Otherwise, they‘re impossible to see or read.

"You very well could have a photograph and image with the time and information of an attack sitting on your computer, and you would never know it," Venzke says. "It will look no different than a photograph exchanged between two friends or family members."

U.S. officials concede it‘s difficult to intercept, let alone find, encrypted messages and images on the Internet‘s estimated 28 billion images and 2 billion Web sites. Even if they find it, the encrypted message or image is impossible to read without cracking the encryption‘s code. A senior Defense Department mathematician says cracking a code often requires lots of time and the use of a government supercomputer. It‘s no wonder the FBI wants all encryption programs to file what amounts to a "master key" with a federal authority that would allow them, with a judge‘s permission, to decrypt a code in a case of national security. But civil liberties groups, which offer encryption programs on the Web to further privacy, have vowed to fight it.

Officials say the Internet has become the modern version of the "dead drop," a slang term describing the location where Cold War-era spies left maps, pictures and other information. But unlike the "dead drop," the Internet, U.S. officials say, is proving to be a much more secure way to conduct clandestine warfare.

"Who ever thought that sending encrypted streams of data across the Internet could produce a map on the other end saying ‘this is where your target is‘ or ‘here‘s how to kill them‘?" says Paul Beaver, spokesman for Jane‘s Defense Weekly in London, which reports on defense and cyberterrorism issues. "And who ever thought it could be done with near perfect security? The Internet has proven to be a boon for terrorists."

I don't buy the civil libertarians' argument: As it stands for decades the FBI has had the ability to go to a judge or FISA panel (3 judges), get a warrant and bug a telephone, cellular phone, baby monitor, whatever, and we have yet to slip into the Orwellian world so many have promised. It seems to reason that Internet communications should enjoy no special favoritism which other communications do not have, especially when it comes to combating terrorism. Eventually, when terrorists pull off some catastrophic attack which they've planned for by exploiting the Internet, the public will pressure Congress, the civil libertarians - who as usual don't even seem to be willing to compromise on the issue - will lose, and the FBI will get the technology they need to combat this, including the idea of a master key.

Having said that, terrorists do not have the ability to invent their own telephone system, but they do have the ability to create their own software containing no master key for encryption cracking. Much like gun control, then, the solution becomes useless because just as criminals don't bother registering their guns (or in some cases even purchasing them) so too will terrorists not bother with software containing a master key. And thus, even if using such master keyless software were made illegal it wouldn't stop terrorists - they're already breaking law, and will not be halted by more of them.

No, we've entered a new realm of technology and communication. We're going to have to find a better way to crack this tough nut than through legislation.



Using media influence the 9-11 Commission got what it wanted - a meeting with President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. For months the commissioners insisted that it was absolutely necessary to their work to have this meeting. Well, how important could it have been when two of the commissioners, including one of its cochairs, left in the middle of the meeting?

Both early-departing panelists, former Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey and ex-Indiana Rep. Lee Hamilton, insisted they had prior commitments - but their sudden slip out the side door of the White House left Washington and some fellow commission members in shock. Kerrey dashed to handle a private business matter - lobbying Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) for more money for his employer, the New School University in Manhattan.

Hamilton bolted so that he could introduce the Canadian prime minister at a ceremonial event at the Woodrow Wilson Center, which employs Hamilton as its director.

The sudden walkouts while Bush and Cheney were still testifying are all the more surprising because the commission had lobbied for months for unlimited time with the president with all 10 commissioners able to participate.

Fellow Commissioner John Lehman became an apologist for Kerrey and Hamilton, saying, "We all have day jobs." Day jobs? One would think investigating the failures that led to the 9-11 attacks and making recommendations for improvements would be the commissioners' day job; one would think that their work on the 9-11 panel would take priority over rubbing elbows with lobbyists or foreign dignitaries. The commissioners cannot have it both ways, attacking people for not being at their beck and call and then failing to give them proper attention when they make time for the commission.



Christopher Hitchens debunks a myth:

I continue to be amazed at the way in which so many liberals repeat the discredited mantra of the CIA to the effect that Saddam Hussein's regime was so "secular" that it not only did not collaborate, but axiomatically could not have collaborated with Islamists. If you can imagine a Hitler-Stalin pact (which, admittedly, a lot of American leftists still cannot), you can probably imagine collusion between discrepant factions with common interests.

In any case, the Saddam regime was not as "secular" as all that. The campaign of extermination waged in northern Iraq by Saddam's army was titled "Anfal" after a verse in the Quran that supposedly licenses total war. The words "Allahu Akbar" were placed on the Iraqi flag after the defeat in Kuwait. The Baath Party became the open patron of Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Palestine. The rhetoric of the Saddamist leadership was exclusively jihadist for the last decade, with special mosques built all over the country in honor of the regime. Now comes a document from the files of the Iraqi secret police, or Mukhabarat, dated March 28, 1992, and headed routinely, "In the Name of Allah, the Merciful and Compassionate." It is a straightforward listing of contacts and "assets," quite unsensational until it comes to the "Saudi front," where we find the name "Osama bin Ladin/he is well-known Saudi businessman, founder of Saudi opposition in Afghanistan, had connection with Syrian division." Of course, this is not a smoking gun.



Anti-Semitism, once just a European disease, has gone global. The outgoing prime minister of Malaysia gets a standing ovation from leaders of 57 Islamic countries when he calls upon them to rise up against the Jewish conspiracy to control the world. The French ambassador to London tells dinner party guests that Israel is a "[expletive] little country . . . why should the world be in danger of World War III because of those people?"

Ah, those people. Kofi Annan's personal representative in Iraq now singles out the policies of the world's one Jewish state -- and only democratic state in the Middle East -- as "the great poison in the region." The Egyptian government daily Al-Gumhuriya is less diplomatic, explaining in an article by its deputy editor that, "It is the Jews, with their hidden, filthy hands, who . . . are behind all troubles, disasters and catastrophes in the world," including, of course, the attacks of Sept. 11 and the Madrid bombings.

It is in this kind of atmosphere that Israel offers unilateral withdrawal from Gaza -- uprooting 7,000 Jews, turning over to the Palestinians 21 settlements with their extensive infrastructure intact and creating the first independent Palestinian territory in history -- and is almost universally attacked.

That's Charles Krauthammer's view on the all to eager biased hatred of Israel. His theme is taken by a recent statement of Lakhdar Brahimi, who claimed that Israeli policies, not the Islamic extremists pledged to destroy the state, are the "real poison" of the region. Meanwhile Israel is preparing to make a huge concession to give up Gaza. That's gratitude for you.


Thursday, April 29, 2004

Here’s how Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld summed up his feelings about media bias:

There are two ways, I suppose, one could inform readers of the Geneva Convention stipulation against using places of worship to conduct military attacks. One might be to headline saying that ‘Terrorists Attack Coalition Forces From Mosques.’ That would be one way to present the information. Another might be to say: ‘Mosques Targeted in Fallujah.’ That was the Los Angeles Times headline this morning.



FALLUJAH, April 29--A new agreement to end the siege of Fallujah was announced Thursday under which a force of former Iraqi soldiers and commanders will replace U.S. Marines in and around the embattled city. The plan amounts to a reformation of a segment of the Iraqi Army which was disbanded after U.S. forces toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein. The force, composed of Sunni Muslim soldiers, would ultimately take responsibility for stabilizing the Sunni stronghold and subduing, if necessary, any insurgent activity. Lt. Col. Brennan Byrne, a top Marine commander in Fallujah, said that under the agreement, a new "Fallujah Protection Army" of between 900 and 1000 troops will form a subordinate command reporting to Lt. Gen. James P. Conway, the commander of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, which is in charge of Western Iraq, including Fallujah.

Is it good news that the US Marines have cut a deal with former Iraqi army officers that will replace American with Iraqi troops in Fallujah? Well, it will either work or it won't. Getting the Iraqis to the point of securing themselves has been the key objective since last year. But given the dismal performance by Iraqis in the past few weeks this could be a huge mistake. The only alternative to clearing out the insurgency before the June 30 transfer of power, pointed out in another Washington Post article, is a full scale invasion by the US Marines into a city of tens of thousands of noncombatants. The national and local Iraqi authorities are worried that such a siege will kill too many civilians, and so this deal was born. But should the Fallujah Protection Army perform as poorly as past Iraqi security groups the insurgents will still be around to cause trouble, and we'll be right back where we started.

Even so, the senior military and civilian officials in Baghdad and Washington are committed to resolving both crises before June 30, when the occupation authority is set to hand over limited sovereignty to an interim Iraqi government. "There's really no way that we can leave this as a mess for the new government," the senior U.S. official in Washington said.

U.S. military officials in Iraq said that because of political sensitivities, overall policy decisions about the standoff in Fallujah are being made by the White House, and Marine commanders have been reluctant to make public pronouncements about what should be done. But privately, many say they believe the only way to eliminate the insurgency is through a series of large raids.

"The only way to ensure that we really get these guys is for us to go in and take them out," a Marine officer said.

[In Najaf] U.S. officials regard Sadr's Mahdi Army militia as both an immediate security threat -- it has mounted sophisticated and deadly attacks on U.S. forces -- and a long-term risk to Iraq's political transition. The officials expressed concern that Sadr could use his militia to intimidate voters and candidates during elections, now proposed for January.

"We can't leave a thuggish individual with his own gang of thugs in charge of a major city and leave it for the new government to deal with," the senior U.S. official in Washington said.

In addition to demanding that Sadr disband his militia, occupation officials have insisted that he surrender to face charges related to the slaying of a rival cleric. Army Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, the chief U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad, said this month that soldiers were under orders to capture or kill Sadr.

Such statements are no longer being made by American officials, who are keen to find a negotiated settlement with Sadr. U.S. officials express hope that other, more senior Shiite clerics will persuade him to back down. For now, though, military commanders and civilian officials appear willing to wait for negotiations to play out, even as a spokesman for the occupation authority warned this week that Sadr's militiamen were stockpiling weapons in mosques, shrines and schools, creating a "potentially explosive situation."

"It'd be great if we resolve Najaf, but to the extent that we've isolated or neutralized Sadr, at least we have the problem contained," a senior State Department official said.

This is another gamble. It troubles me that the Bush administration are forcing the Marines to stop short. Clearly, the Marines don't want to. Nobody wants Iraqi civilians to become human shields for insurgents, and no American wants more Marines to die in battle, but this problem is not going to go away. So, we'll give them a chance, but if the former Iraqi army cannot clean out the city then the US Marines will have to because we cannot expect Iraq to grow into a Western model of government - the whole point of this war - as long as Shiite radicals like Sadr and Sunni extremists or disgruntled Baathists are still around. This is all very unlike US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, but I find it difficult to think that he's on the losing side of a debate on military strategy. No doubt there's election politics at play here, but delaying what might be the inevitable seige could be much worse come November than dealing with it now. So this is the last chance for the Iraqis to prove themselves capable of killing militants - if they fail we'll have no choice but to send in the Marines. However, if they succeed, then it's a huge victory. We'll see what happens.



Up until this war began the perception of the Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS, or Mukhabarat), Saddam’s secret police, was that they were nothing more than a group of keystone cops, and certainly no match for the CIA or another professional Western intelligence agency. Trained by the Soviets and Russians, the Mukhabarat is deadly. It was a mistake to underestimate them. A Pentagon report finds that Saddam’s former spy agency is behind much of the coordinated insurgent attacks against coalition forces. Their goal – spread dissent via chaos.

The report states that Iraqi officers of the "Special Operations and Antiterrorism Branch," known within Mr. Hussein's government as M-14, are responsible for planning roadway improvised explosive devices, or I.E.D.s, and some of the larger car bombs that have killed Iraqis, Americans and other foreigners. The attacks have sown chaos and fear across Iraq.

In addition, suicide bombers have worn explosives-laden vests made before the war under the direction of M-14 officers, according to the report, prepared by the Defense Intelligence Agency. The report also cites evidence that one such suicide attack last April, which killed three Americans, was carried out by a pregnant woman who was an M-14 colonel.

Officials who have read the study said it concludes that in Falluja, which is currently encircled by the Marines, an estimated 1,500 to 2,000 hard-core insurgents, including members of the Iraqi Special Republican Guard who melted away under the American-led offensive, are receiving tactical guidance and inspiration from these former intelligence operatives. "We know the M-14 is operating in Falluja and Ramadi," said one senior administration official, speaking about another rebellious Sunni Muslim city nearby.

The report does not imply that every guerrilla taking up arms against the Americans is under the command of the M-14, nor that every Iraqi who dances atop a charred Humvee is inspired by a former Iraqi intelligence agent. But the assessment helps explain how only a few thousand insurgents, with professional leadership from small numbers of Mr. Hussein's intelligence services and seasoned military officer corps, could prove to be such a challenge to the American occupation. "They carefully laid plans to occupy the occupiers," said one United States government official who has read the report. "They were prepared to try and hijack the country. The goal was to complicate the stabilization mission, and democratization."

As the American-led coalition military approached Baghdad last spring, the M-14 put into place "The Challenge Project," in which Mr. Hussein's intelligence officers scattered to lead a guerrilla insurgency and plan bombings and other attacks, the report states. The M-14 officers, according to the report, were sent "to key cities to assist local authorities in defending those cities and to carry out attacks."

The operation was designed with little central control, so community cells could continue to attack American forces and allies even if Mr. Hussein was toppled, and in the event that local commanders were then captured or killed.

The document says that "cells of former M-14 personnel are organizing and conducting a terrorist I.E.D. campaign against coalition forces throughout Iraq. The explosives section of M-14 prepared for the invasion by constructing hundreds of suicide vests and belts for use by Saddam Fedayeen against coalition forces." The Fedayeen are former government paramilitary forces that attacked American forces on the initial offensive toward Baghdad, and are said to be among the insurgents still fighting today.

The report says that under Mr. Hussein, M-14 was responsible for "hijackings, assassinations and explosives," and that its officers are responsible for "the majority of attacks" today. In one detailed section, it describes how M-14 organized "Tiger Groups" of 15 to 20 volunteers trained in explosives and small-arms who would organize and carry out bombings, including suicide attacks.

Once more, play the broken record: a big reason we’re having to deal with this now is because we failed to address it last year. Hoping not to have to confront the militants we delayed military entry into hotbeds like Fallujah. It was delusional and stupid. They had that many more months to organize themselves. We’re paying the piper. This is an insurgent war - and the future of war at that; we have to fight insurgents with insurgents. If there was ever an argument to double or triple the size of our special forces this is it.



As the Supreme Court reviews the constitutionality of holding enemy combatants in legal limbo while the military holds and interrogates them it’s worth remembering that the persons being held are not very nice people. I don’t mean not very nice as in they cut in front of you in the grocery express lane or don’t say “God bless you” after you sneeze. They aim to kill you. So while one can have a nice debate over the legal plight of those detained, they need to recognize that these are people who don’t believe in debate. Cutting them loose on a legal technicality is no victory for liberty and freedom. Quite the opposite – these are killers who target you because you don’t believe in the same warped religious viewpoint as they. It’s hard enough figuring out which of them are professional terrorists and which were poor Afghan kids who joined the Taliban for money without the civil libertarians working to free them prematurely. Indeed, that’s already a problem, as Newsweek discovered – some fighters that the military released have simply returned to Afghanistan to fight with other militants against the coalition forces and new Afghan government.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld alluded to the problem last month, telling reporters there had been "a mistake in one case" and that a detainee let go last year "has gone back to being a terrorist." But administration officials tell NEWSWEEK that military intelligence has identified at least three additional "revolving door" cases of Gitmo detainees' returning to the battlefield. One released prisoner, Mullah Shehzada, is serving as a "senior" Taliban commander. The officials say that alarming development—as well as information developed about four released detainees sent back to Britain—shows that the Gitmo population is far more dangerous than most of the public understands. Administration officials are especially aghast over the released British prisoners, who U.S. intelligence says are hardened Islamic extremists trained in urban warfare and assassination techniques at Qaeda camps before 9/11; one of them met several times with Osama bin Laden. "Rumsfeld has really been flagging this one hard in interagency meetings—that we need to be careful about who gets released," says one senior administration official.

So why were they let out? A Pentagon spokesman says the screening process at Gitmo "is as stringent and thorough as possible, but it's not foolproof," adding that some of the prisoners were well versed "in counterinterrogation techniques and deception." The spokesman refused to say whether authorities at Gitmo have tightened up their procedures. Other sources tell NEWSWEEK that the British prisoners fit into a different category: they were released because of intense pressure from a British government worried about a political backlash over the holding of British citizens in a U.S. detention facility.

These are innocent people caught up in an overzealous dragnet. They are illegal fighters who did not abide by the international laws of war under the Geneva Conventions. They wear no uniform or unique insignia to separate themselves from civilians. Indeed they hide amongst civilians and use them for human shields. Ironically, the legal utopians fighting to protect them ensure that democracy and liberty is in more danger, not less.



When the Bush administration initially refused to allow US National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice to testify before the 9-11 Commission the media created a flurry of press that forced the administration to capitulate. Funny, though, that when Democrats are faced with a similar situation the media doesn't flurry so much. During his testimony Attorney General John Ashcroft released a Justice Department memorandum from 1995 showing that one of the 9-11 commissioners, Jamie Gorelick, then the number two in the Justice Department, was an integral part of promoting the division of information between law enforcement and intelligence gathering, known commonly as "the wall." This wall has often been cited as the primary component that facilitated success for the 9-11 hijackers. But, fellow commissioners and Democrats immediately rallied to Gorelick's defense, with the head of the commission even bizarrely and audaciously claiming that it was nobody's business but the commission's. In response Ashcroft has released more 1990s memos to pressure Gorelick to testify.

As the No. 2 person in the Clinton Justice Department, Ms. Gorelick rejected advice from the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, who warned against placing more limits on communications between law-enforcement officials and prosecutors pursuing counterterrorism cases, according to several internal documents written in summer 1995.

"It is hard to be totally comfortable with instructions to the FBI prohibiting contact with the United States Attorney's Offices when such prohibitions are not legally required," U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White wrote Ms. Gorelick six years before the 2001 terrorist attacks in New York and at the Pentagon.

"Our experience has been that the FBI labels of an investigation as intelligence or law enforcement can be quite arbitrary, depending upon the personnel involved and that the most effective way to combat terrorism is with as few labels and walls as possible so that wherever permissible, the right and left hands are communicating," she wrote.

Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, said yesterday that Ms. Gorelick's policies regarding the wall contributed to "blinding America to this terrible threat."

"These documents show what we've said all along: Commissioner Gorelick has special knowledge of the facts and circumstances leading up to the erection and buttressing of 'that wall' that, before the enactment of the Patriot Act, was the primary obstacle to the sharing of communications between law enforcement and intelligence agencies," Mr. Cornyn said.

In a June 19, 1995, memo, Ms. White recommended a series of changes to a Gorelick policy that went beyond legal requirements in separating law- enforcement and intelligence agencies.

For instance, Ms. White said the local U.S. Attorney should be notified as soon as "criminal law enforcement concerns exist" while investigating terror suspects.

Deputy Director Michael Vatis rejected her recommendation.

"Notifying the [U.S. Attorney] as soon as law enforcement concerns exist — but before [the criminal division] thinks that the investigation should 'go criminal' — is simply too early," wrote Mr. Vatis, who was concerned that Ms. White's proposal could result in "prejudicing a possible criminal prosecution."

In a handwritten note to Attorney General Janet Reno, Ms. Gorelick wrote, "I have reviewed and concur in the Vatis/Garland recommendations for the reasons set forth in the Vatis memo."

The extent of Ms. Gorelick's involvement, spelled out in these memos, in buttressing the law enforcement-intelligence wall also raises questions about statements she has made recently defending herself and distancing herself from the decisions about the wall.

Asked by CNN's Wolf Blitzer earlier this month about whether she had written a memo helping establish the wall, she replied: "No, and again, I would refer you back to what others on the commission have said. The wall was a creature of statute. It's existed since the mid 1980s. And while it's too lengthy to go into, basically the policy that was put out in the mid-'90s, which I didn't sign, wasn't my policy by the way, it was the attorney general's policy, was ratified by Attorney General Ashcroft's deputy as well in August of 2001."

While one cannot say that had there been no wall 9-11 wouldn't have been a success, it cannot be denied that the wall was detrimental to the cooperation between law enforcement and intelligence gathering that might have uncovered the 9-11 plot. In her own words Gorelick has conceded that the wall was an issue. Why then, is she so unwilling to defend her position? And why do the Democrats protect her? And why is the media not in uproar as they were with Rice? And why do the 9-11 commissioners think that they are all above the scrutiny of the American people?



In seven months we’ll discover how much of a big deal it is that to date we haven’t found Saddam Hussein’s expected stocks of weapons of mass destruction. The operative word there is “expected,” for a variety of reasons. First, everyone did expect to find them. Whether you’re a president from Texas or a senator from Tax-achusetts you’re on record before March 2003 talking often about the dangers Saddam’s WMDs posed. Likewise, intelligence agencies in this country and in, say, France, all believed that Saddam Hussein was hiding WMD. Indeed, the amounts quoted by all parties usually came from reports written by United Nations weapons inspectors. But another reason I use the word “expected” is because the public expected to see footage of American GIs standing around captured stores and stocks of obvious weaponry.

But it wasn’t thus. The real mistake by the Bush administration and by our intelligence services was how they prepared the public. If we believe Bob Woodward’s account, a large heaping of burden belongs on CIA Director George Tenet, who reportedly told a skeptical Bush that as far as finding WMD it was a “slam dunk.” But Bush makes the call, and so the buck will stop with him, at least come November. With hindsight pundits can declare that Bush’s gambit of relying mostly on the WMD argument instead of arguing war for other reasons – primarily to change the political makeup of the Middle East and to combat terrorism by spreading secular democracy – failed him. But that’s too easy, because again, we all expected to find WMD. So the real failure was in arguing WMD they neglected to really define what WMD is.

And here’s the point. The WMDs in Iraq have likely already been found – not in the form of ready-made warheads, but rather existing as precursors and methods of production. Kenneth Timmerman has a full feature on exactly what has been found. You see, years ago the dictators of the world discovered how they could skirt international inspectors and nonproliferation agreements with dual-use technology. The pesticide can quickly become a nerve agent; the legal missile easily converted to an illegal range; the medical equipment altered to become part of a uranium enrichment process. Saddam’s WMD is all there, all right, hiding in plain sight:

The Iraq Survey Group (ISG), whose intelligence analysts are managed by Charles Duelfer, a former State Department official and deputy chief of the U.N.-led arms-inspection teams, has found "hundreds of cases of activities that were prohibited" under U.N. Security Council resolutions, a senior administration official tells Insight. "There is a long list of charges made by the U.S. that have been confirmed, but none of this seems to mean anything because the weapons that were unaccounted for by the United Nations remain unaccounted for."

Both Duelfer and Kay found that Iraq had "a clandestine network of laboratories and safe houses with equipment that was suitable to continuing its prohibited chemical- and biological-weapons [BW] programs," the official said. "They found a prison laboratory where we suspect they tested biological weapons on human subjects." They found equipment for "uranium-enrichment centrifuges" whose only plausible use was as part of a clandestine nuclear-weapons program. In all these cases, "Iraqi scientists had been told before the war not to declare their activities to the U.N. inspectors," the official said.

When former weapons inspector Kay reported to Congress in January that the United States had found "no stockpiles" of forbidden weapons in Iraq, his conclusions made front-page news. But when he detailed what the ISG had found in testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence last October, few took notice. Among Kay's revelations, which officials tell Insight have been amplified in subsequent inspections in recent weeks:

A prison laboratory complex that may have been used for human testing of BW agents and "that Iraqi officials working to prepare the U.N. inspections were explicitly ordered not to declare to the U.N." Why was Saddam interested in testing biological-warfare agents on humans if he didn't have a biological-weapons program?

"Reference strains" of a wide variety of biological-weapons agents were found beneath the sink in the home of a prominent Iraqi BW scientist. "We thought it was a big deal," a senior administration official said. "But it has been written off [by the press] as a sort of 'starter set.'"

New research on BW-applicable agents, brucella and Congo-Crimean hemorrhagic fever, and continuing work on ricin and aflatoxin that were not declared to the United Nations.

A line of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones, "not fully declared at an undeclared production facility and an admission that they had tested one of their declared UAVs out to a range of 500 kilometers [311 miles], 350 kilometers [217 miles] beyond the permissible limit."

"Continuing covert capability to manufacture fuel propellant useful only for prohibited Scud-variant missiles, a capability that was maintained at least until the end of 2001 and that cooperating Iraqi scientists have said they were told to conceal from the U.N."

"Plans and advanced design work for new long-range missiles with ranges up to at least 1,000 kilometers [621 miles] - well beyond the 150-kilometer-range limit [93 miles] imposed by the U.N. Missiles of a 1,000-kilometer range would have allowed Iraq to threaten targets throughout the Middle East, including Ankara [Turkey], Cairo [Egypt] and Abu Dhabi [United Arab Emirates]."

In addition, through interviews with Iraqi scientists, seized documents and other evidence, the ISG learned the Iraqi government had made "clandestine attempts between late 1999 and 2002 to obtain from North Korea technology related to 1,300-kilometer-range [807 miles] ballistic missiles - probably the No Dong - 300-kilometer-range [186 miles] antiship cruise missiles and other prohibited military equipment," Kay reported.

The ISG also found a previously undeclared program to build a "high-speed rail gun," a device apparently designed for testing nuclear-weapons materials. That came in addition to 500 tons of natural uranium stockpiled at Iraq's main declared nuclear site south of Baghdad, which International Atomic Energy Agency spokesman Mark Gwozdecky acknowledged to Insight had been intended for "a clandestine nuclear-weapons program."

But what are "stockpiles" of CW agents supposed to look like? Was anyone seriously expecting Saddam to have left behind freshly painted warehouses packed with chemical munitions, all neatly laid out in serried rows, with labels written in English? Or did they think that a captured Saddam would guide U.S. troops to smoking vats full of nerve gas in an abandoned factory? In fact, as recent evidence made public by a former operations officer for the Coalition Provisional Authority's (CPA's) intelligence unit in Iraq shows, some of those stockpiles have been found - not all at once, and not all in nice working order - but found all the same.

The materials that constitute Saddam's chemical-weapons "stockpiles" look an awful lot like pesticides, which they indeed resemble. "Pesticides are the key elements in the chemical-agent arena," [Douglas] Hanson says. "In fact, the general pesticide chemical formula (organophosphate) is the 'grandfather' of modern-day nerve agents." [Hanson was a U.S. Army cavalry reconnaissance officer for 20 years, and a veteran of Gulf War I]

Caches of "commercial and agricultural" chemicals don't match the expectation of "stockpiles" of chemical weapons. But, in fact, that is precisely what they are. "At a very minimum," Hanson tells Insight, "they were storing the precursors to restart a chemical-warfare program very quickly." Kay and Duelfer came to a similar conclusion, telling Congress under oath that Saddam had built new facilities and stockpiled the materials to relaunch production of chemical and biological weapons at a moment's notice.

At Karbala, U.S. troops stumbled upon 55-gallon drums of pesticides at what appeared to be a very large "agricultural supply" area, Hanson says. Some of the drums were stored in a "camouflaged bunker complex" that was shown to reporters - with unpleasant results. "More than a dozen soldiers, a Knight-Ridder reporter, a CNN cameraman, and two Iraqi POWs came down with symptoms consistent with exposure to a nerve agent," Hanson says. "But later ISG tests resulted in a proclamation of negative, end of story, nothing to see here, etc., and the earlier findings and injuries dissolved into nonexistence. Left unexplained is the small matter of the obvious pains taken to disguise the cache of ostensibly legitimate pesticides. One wonders about the advantage an agricultural-commodities business gains by securing drums of pesticide in camouflaged bunkers 6 feet underground. The 'agricultural site' was also colocated with a military ammunition dump - evidently nothing more than a coincidence in the eyes of the ISG."

That wasn't the only significant find by coalition troops of probable CW stockpiles, Hanson believes. Near the northern Iraqi town of Bai'ji, where Saddam had built a chemical-weapons plant known to the United States from nearly 12 years of inspections, elements of the 4th Infantry Division found 55-gallon drums containing a substance identified through mass spectrometry analysis as cyclosarin - a nerve agent. Nearby were surface-to-surface and surface-to-air missiles, gas masks and a mobile laboratory that could have been used to mix chemicals at the site. "Of course, later tests by the experts revealed that these were only the ubiquitous pesticides that everybody was turning up," Hanson says. "It seems Iraqi soldiers were obsessed with keeping ammo dumps insect-free, according to the reading of the evidence now enshrined by the conventional wisdom that 'no WMD stockpiles have been discovered.'"

At Taji - an Iraqi weapons complex as large as the District of Columbia - U.S. combat units discovered more "pesticides" stockpiled in specially built containers, smaller in diameter but much longer than the standard 55-gallon drum. Hanson says he still recalls the military sending digital images of the canisters to his office, where his boss at the Ministry of Science and Technology translated the Arabic-language markings. "They were labeled as pesticides," he says. "Gee, you sure have got a lot of pesticides stored in ammo dumps."

Again, this January, Danish forces found 120-millimeter mortar shells filled with a mysterious liquid that initially tested positive for blister agents. But subsequent tests by the United States disputed that finding. "If it wasn't a chemical agent, what was it?" Hanson asks. "More pesticides? Dish-washing detergent? From this old soldier's perspective, I gain nothing from putting a liquid in my mortar rounds unless that stuff will do bad things to the enemy."

The discoveries Hanson describes are not dramatic. And that's the problem: Finding real stockpiles in grubby ammo dumps doesn't fit the image the media and the president's critics carefully have fed to the public of what Iraq's weapons ought to look like.

Saddam’s weapons have likely been found, but they aren’t sexy, and because they don’t meet to standards of Western irrefutable evidence of our skeptical press, most of which opposed the war and certainly who never vote Republican, these findings are ignored. Hanson’s point is of high significance. The media in its reporting stops short. If it can be either pesticide or an illegal agent the skeptics label it the first, simply because it might be, but stop short of asking why a military compound would need such large stocks of pesticide. If the mortar shells found by the Danes wasn’t a chemical agent, what was it? No matter. Years from now, well after this election, the picture will be complete. We’ll then learn that Saddam had his weapons – hidden in plain sight within 55-gallon drums.


Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Medal-gate is amusing, explains Jonah Goldberg, because it is of John Kerry's creation and because, more importantly, it pretty much sums up what John Kerry is: "A walking contradiction." It's not so much what happened that matters, it is how John Kerry has spent three decades twisting what happened.

The superficial details of "Medalgate" are fairly easy to explain for anybody not determined to make Kerry sound consistent. From 1971 until about a decade later, Kerry wanted people to think he threw his medals away in protest of Vietnam. In a 1971 interview, Kerry insisted that he "gave back, I can't remember, six, seven, eight, nine" of his medals. Around 1984, when Kerry ran for the Senate, the times changed and he wanted people to believe he kept the medals and "only" threw away the ribbons. Why? Because his union supporters in particular and voters in general were no longer enamored with the excesses of the antiwar movement. A decade later, he told the Boston Globe that the only reason he didn't chuck the medals was that he didn't have time to go home and get them. And this month Kerry told the Los Angeles Times, "I never ever implied that I" threw away the medals. Because Kerry "flooded the zone" with every possible version of events, it's impossible for him not to contradict himself. His only defense is a screaming offense.
Read the whole thing. Kerry is both proud of his Vietnam service but ashamed of it. He's both running on it and running from it.



These are the crucial months in Iraq. The events in Najaf and Falluja will largely determine whether Iraq will move toward normalcy or slide into chaos. So how is Washington responding during this pivotal time? Well, for about three weeks the political class was obsessed by Richard Clarke and the hearings of the 9/11 commission, and, therefore, events that occurred between 1992 and 2001. Najaf was exploding, and Condoleezza Rice had to spend the week preparing for testimony about what may or may not have taken place during the presidential transition.

And for the past 10 days, all of Washington has been kibitzing over the contents of Bob Woodward's latest opus, which largely concerns events that happened between 2001 and 2003. Did President Bush eye somebody else's dinner mint at a meeting? Was Colin Powell in the loop on Iraq? When did Bush ask the Pentagon to draw up war plans?

This is crazy. This is like pausing during the second day of Gettysburg to debate the wisdom of the Missouri Compromise. We're in the midst of the pivotal battle of the Iraq war and le tout Washington decides not to let itself get distracted by the ephemera of current events. – NY Times columnist David Brooks

Brooks is, of course, exactly right. The Beltway has its priorities all out of wack when they’re more abuzz about the past then what is happening right before their eyes in the present, especially considering at this very moment the US military is pounding the hell out of militants in Fallujah and Najaf.



In 2002 Senator John "Flip Flop" Kerry voted for the US Patriot Act. Like many Democrats Kerry quickly turned on it for political gain, basically labeling it an intrusion against civil liberties even though all the act did was give the Feds the same abilities against terrorists they already had for mobsters. As the campaign ensued John Kerry raised his rhetoric against it, saying a few months ago that it was time to replace "the Patriot Act with a new law that protects our people and our liberties at the same time."

But that was yesterday, and as the running joke goes if you don’t like Kerry’s position just wait a week for him to change it. According to the LA Times, Kerry’s slipping back into the pro-Patriot camp, ever so quietly. Why? Because polls show it's popular. The public was paying attention during the 9-11 Commission hearings, and it’s clear that one thing they learned was that the Patriot Act can’t be all that bad if the commission came to pretty much a unanimous defense of it – indeed, even Janet Reno, appearing before the Commission, said that “everything that's been done in the Patriot Act has been helpful."

You know John Kerry has a big problem when on the issue of terrorism he appears to the left of Janet Reno.

"There's a dangerous trap here for Democrats," said Jim Mulhall, a Democratic strategist working with independent groups targeting Bush. "It's a terribly unfair characterization, but - if Democrats are not careful, they will sound more like they're worried about technical concerns than they are about locking up terrorists."

Kerry, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, has recently been couching his positions on the law as "fixes," whereas in December the Massachusetts senator called for "replacing the Patriot Act with a new law that protects our people and our liberties at the same time." Kerry has even argued that his ideas would make the law, bashed repeatedly last year by nearly all the Democratic presidential contenders, tougher than it is currently.

Some who agreed with Kerry's early tough stands against the law's potential intrusions on civil liberties now say they are not quite sure where the senator stands.

"I'm concerned where Kerry will ultimately come down," said Laura Murphy, director of the Washington office of the American Civil Liberties Union. "There's going to be a bump in support [for the Patriot Act], and Kerry needs to come out informed and swinging the way he did in December."

Syrup for your waffles, Senator Kerry? What’s so terribly unfair about this? Democrats on the Hill are more concerned with technicalities – and demonizing John Ashcroft – than they are about locking up terrorists. I love it.

There's another point to be made here too - this is the LA Times noting a major shift in Kerry’s positions - not Fox News or the WSJ editorial staff. Likewise, John Kerry can’t win for losing – the usual liberal groups are troubled by Kerry not being liberal enough! That’s a hoot. There seems to be a growing buyer's remorse among the Democratic faithful. They're not real excited by Kerry, and all the position changes are hurting him even among Democrats.



The NY Times has a review of former Bush advisor Karen Hughes’ new book. The review? Bad. The reviewer? None other than Ron Suskind, author of a Bush-bashing book. That hardly seems like an objective review. Oh, and don't ya know it - the NY Times neglects to mention the Suskind caveat until the tagline.



It may sound cold but you know the war on terror is going well when Syria becomes a victim. Perhaps only second to Iran (or third to Iran and Saudi Arabia), Syria is home to a large amount of Islamic terrorists, albeit most linked to the Shiite radical Hezbollah. In what is suspected to be an al Qaeda linked attack terrorists indiscriminately opened fire in the diplomatic quarter of the Syrian capital. A former United Nations building may have been the target. Syrian soldiers battled the terrorists near and around the Iranian, UK and Canadian embassies.

Syria's ambassador to Washington, Imad Moustapha, said soon after the attacks that "we are not clear who may have been targeted. It may have been one of the Western embassies, or maybe the perpetrators were unhappy with Syria's cooperation against al Qaeda. It could be part of the same wave of attempted terrorist attacks that were planned in Jordan. It is still too early to tell."

He later told the Associated Press that "unidentified terrorists" attacked a building that once housed the U.N. Disengagement Observer Force, which monitors a troop-separation agreement between Israel and Syria in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

Smoke was said to have appeared over the neighborhood, apparently coming from a building that witnesses initially identified as one used by the United Nations. The U.N. Development Program and children's advocacy arm also maintain offices in the Mazza neighborhood, a U.N. spokeswoman in New York said.

While the attack is directed at Western presence inside Syria it is nonetheless an affront to Syrian authority. Very interesting. Naturally, as Syria acts to put it down it will instigate attacks against the Syrian government itself, which is exactly what is happening in Saudi Arabia.

This attack comes on the back of Jordan's fortunate unraveling of a chemical plot against the ruling family. Authorities estimate that had the chemical attack been successful it would have killed anywhere between 20,000 and 80,000 Jordanians.

Remember, terrorism does not exist for the sake of itself. It is not mindless, senseless killing. It seeks a political objective. When terrorists start redirecting resources away from the US or UK and towards Arab governments in Jordan, Syria and Saudi Arabia it is because they have not achieved the political objective they had hoped to gain from attacking the West. American, UK and most Western nation resolve has remained strong. Thus, having failed in the West, with the Spanish exception, the terrorists are turning to weaker links - Arab governments on the cusp, which cooperate (barely) with America in the war against terror.



"Upon my return from Afghanistan to Iraq, I met with Abu Mus'eb al Zarqawi. He had with him Muwaffaq Adwan, Jordanian national, whom I used to know before from Afghanistan. Abu Muse'eb assigned me to go to Jordan, with Muwaffaq Adwan. Our mission was to instigate military work on the Jordanian arena... After this, Muwaffaq [Adwan] and I started to collect the necessary information on the targets... We collected around 20 tones of chemicals, sufficient to carry out all operations on the Jordanian arena. I started to manufacture and prepare them. [TV Commentator: During this period, Jayyousi was in contact with Abu Mus'eb al Zarqawi I, through messengers, most of whom came through Syria, arranged for by Suleiman Khaled Darwish, Abu al Ghadiyyeh. They carried the necessary money.] Al Jayyousi: I sent to Abu Mus'eb to provide me with the required funds and documents. He started sending me money through messengers, payments of ten and fifteen thousand, until I had a total of about $ 170 thousand, I bought a large quantity of the material with this money. He used to provide me through these messenger, with fraud passports, identity cards, cars registrations, and all that is necessary."
The above is an excerpt from a transcript of the confessors of the discovered chemical plot against Jordan. Jordanian officials say that a recently uncovered terror attack was designed to spread a toxic cloud of gas around major population centers including the US embassy. In the taped confession the perpetrator, Azmi Jayyousi, said he was under direct orders of Abu Zarqawi, the al Qaeda linked mastermind behind numerous terrorist plots. Jayyousi says he met Zarqawi in Baghdad to hatch out the plan. What's notable about this is that Jayyousi and Zarqawi plotted this attack before the US invasion of Iraq in March of 2003. Indeed, by Jayyousi's confession the plot took a year and a half to concoct, and during this time Zarqawi was in Baghdad corresponding with Jayyousi in Amman, Jordan.

If this is the case it seems very unlikely that Iraq's security services would not have known about it. After all, under Saddam Hussein Iraq was a typical paranoid dictatorship of Stalinist influence. Their eyes and ears were everywhere, and Zarqawi came to Baghdad for a leg amputation from injuries he suffered in Afghanistan. Certainly the Iraqi government would have had reason and ability to track Zarqawi, a foreign militant, following such major surgery.

Curiously, (or predictably) almost every media outlet has left out this important timeline.


Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Courtesy of National Review editor Rich Lowry:

1. It is so typically Kerry that he would say for months that he would not question Bush’s National Guard service and then when he finds himself in a tight spot, immediately question Bush’s National Guard service. The Bush campaign is going to get a lot of mileage out of the line of attack that you can’t believe anything Kerry says—because it is true.

2. I was on the Alan Colmes radio show last night with Susan Estrich. The discussion really brought home to me the odd position liberals find themselves in with regard to Kerry’s service. On the one hand, they say Kerry’s combat experience in Vietnam is a tremendous testament to his toughness and moral character. On the other hand, they believe Vietnam was a deeply dishonorable and even criminal enterprise. So why is it an asset to have served there? Both Susan and Alan stand by Kerry’s war crime allegations from 1971. So I asked Alan why he would support a man who has confessed to committing atrocities in Vietnam. Alan’s answer was that everyone committed atrocities in Vietnam and U.S. soldiers are committing atrocities in Iraq even today. And this is the year liberals are supposed to be portraying themselves as pro-veteran and pro-military service!

3. John Kerry is in a tough spot. On the one hand, he wants his Vietnam experience to be his foremost national security credential. On the other, he doesn’t want anyone to focus on his activity in the immediate aftermath of his service. He really can’t have it both ways. So long as he makes the aspects of Vietnam he wants to emphasize a big issue, it’s perfectly legitimate for his critics to make those aspects he doesn’t want to focus on a big issue. For Kerry, Vietnam may turn out to be much closer to a wash than a big advantage, which could be devastating to his candidacy.



"His problem is not what he did or didn't do with his medals or his ribbons. It's that he's not consistent with himself. He is debating himself." - Nicolle Devenish, communications director for the Bush-Cheney campaign, commenting on John Kerry's meltdown on Good Morning America.
I wouldn't say what he did or didn't do isn't a problem, but Ms. Devenish hits the nail on the head: it's just another case of John Kerry contradicting himself on yet another issue. (My favorite Kerryism being: "I actually voted for the $87 billion before I voted against it." Whatever, senator. Who ya foolin'?)

It's not the Bush administration that made Vietnam a central plank of this election campaign, it was John Kerry himself, who shamelessly interjects it even when it has no relevance. Consider Kerry's comparison of Louisiana to Vietnam last week: ""I looked out at the [Mississippi river] shoreline and I commented that parts of it looked a lot like the rivers and coastline that I went through in Vietnam." How pathetic. It's obvious why he's doing this. Kerry served in Vietnam, Bush didn't - ergo, Kerry would make a better commander in chief. I guess by such standards Abraham Lincoln was a failure. But Bush no longer needs to prove his abilities as commander in chief. After two wars Bush has earned experience that no president in decades earned.

John Kerry attacks George Bush for Vietnam. Bush attacks Kerry for what Kerry did after Vietnam. That's the difference, because Kerry's actions, whether it be indirectly aiding North Vietnam by helping collapse American public support for the war, or gutting defense and intelligence budgets as a senator, has been far from presidential. And as far as the medals go, Kerry put himself in this hole because of past lying to journalists about it. It was ABC News, not the Bush administration, that went after John Kerry. Why? Because just a few short months ago Kerry lied to ABC News anchor Peter Jennings about it.

Contradicting his statements as a candidate for president, Sen. John Kerry claimed in a 1971 television interview that he threw away as many as nine of his combat medals to protest the war in Vietnam... And in an interview with ABCNEWS' Peter Jennings last December, he said it was a "myth."... The statement [that Kerry threw his medals over the White House fence] directly contradicts Kerry's most recent claims on the disputed subject to the Los Angeles Times last Friday. "I never ever implied that I did it, " Kerry told the newspaper, responding to the question of whether he threw away his medals in protest.
Not only did Kerry imply it, he fabricated it. As far as ABC News is concerned Thou Shalt Not Lie To Peter Jennings.

Kerry's appearance on Good Morning America yesterday only made matters worse. He was evasive, defensive, and seemed to be accusing anchor Charlie Gibson of being a right-wing hack. That's a hoot!

GIBSON: 1984, senator, to the present. you have said a number of times, as brian pointed out as recently as friday with the ""los angeles times,"" have you said a number of times that you did not throw away the Vietnam medals themselves. but now this interview from 1971 shows up the in which you say that was the medals themselves that were thrown away.

KERRY: no, I don't.

GIBSON: can you explain?

KERRY: absolutely. that's absolutely incorrect. Charlie, I stood up in front of the nation. there were dozens of cameras there, television cameras, there were -- I don't know. 20, 30 still photographers. thousands of people and I stood up in front of the country, reached into my shirt, visibly for the nation to see, and took the ribbons off my chest, said a few words and threw them over the fence. the file footage, the reporter there from the ""Boston globe,"" everybody got it correctly. and I never asserted otherwise. what I said was and back then, you know, ribbons, medals were absolutely interchangeable . senator simmington asking me questions in the committee hearing, look ad at the ribbons and said what are those medals? the u.s. navy pam let calls the medals, we referred to them it is a symbols, representing medals, ribbons, countless veterans through the ribbon -- threw the ribbons back. everybody did. veterans threw back dog tags. they threw back photographs, they th rew back their 14's. there are photographs of a pile of all of those things collected on the steps of the capitol. so the fact is that I have -- I have been accurate precisely about what took place. and I am the one who later made clear exactly what happened. I mean, this is a controversy that the republicans are pushing , the republicans have spent $60 million in the last few weeks trying to attack me. and this comes from a president and a republican party that can't even answer whether or not he showed up for duty in the national guard. I'm not going to stand for it.

GIBSON: senator, I was there 33 years ago and I saw you throw medals over the fence and we didn't find out until later -

KERRY: no, you didn't see me throw th. Charlie, charlie, you are wrong. that's not what happened. I threw my ribbons across. all you have to do -

GIBSON: someone else's medals, correct in?

KERRY: after -- excuse me. excuse me, charlie. after the ceremony was over, i had a bronze star and a purple heart given to me, one purple heart by a veteran in the v.a. in new york and the bronze star by an older veteran of world war ii in Massachusetts. i threw them over because they asked me to. i never --

GIBSON: let me come back to the thing just said which is the military --

KERRY: this is a phony -- charlie, this is a phony controversy.

GIBSON: the military makes no distinction between ribbons and medals but you are the one who made the distinction. in 1984 --

KERRY: no . we made no distinction back then, charlie. we made no distinction.

GIBSON: senator, i don't want -- i just want to ask the question. in 1984 when you were running for the senate, that was the first time that you called someone in from labor because they were upset that you had thrown ribbons away.

KERRY: no.

GIBSON: you called them and you made the distinction and said i didn't throw my medals away. 'i just threw the ribbons away.' you made the distinction.

There's more there, but the gist is typical John Kerry. The man has two defenses, both weak: He screams "nuance" or "Republican attack machine." That's all the man knows. Kerry's argument here is that the military makes no distinction between medals and ribbons. Whatever, senator. Clearly, he wanted people to believe he threw his medals over the wall. When the press called him on that, he changed it to throwing someone else's medals over the wall and his ribbons. As Charlie Gibson pointed out it is John Kerry who keeps changing his story, John Kerry who made the distinction between medals and ribbons, John Kerry who voted alongside other Vietnam vets the night before to throw away their medals but somehow forgot to bring them the next morning. Kerry's problem is that people are starting to figure out he has no core value and is the worst political opportunist who changes position because it suits him at that time - with exception of, I suppose, raising taxes and gutting military budgets. You might hate Bush or disagree with him. But you know where the man stands and what he believes in. Not so with Kerry.



[Wash Times] In the campaign Web site's "D-Bunker" section, which aims to set "the record straight" about him, staffers have been updating the section on the "right-wing fiction" that "John Kerry threw away his medals during a Vietnam war protest."

Last week's explanation was: "John Kerry is proud of the work he did to end the Vietnam war. ... John Kerry threw his ribbons and the medals of two veterans who could not attend the event. ..."

Over the weekend, staffers added the clause, "he has been consistent about the facts and symbolism of the medal-returning ceremony." That whole clause since has been removed from the D-Bunker section.

"Only the Kerry campaign would find it necessary to debunk their own debunker," said Ed Gillespie, chairman of the Republican National Committee.



The NY Post has a thought about who should replace John Negroponte as US ambassador to the United Nations – former NYC Mayor Rudi Giuliani.

And Giuliani, once upon a time, was a damned fine prosecutor - just the ticket for an organization mired in a scandal of gargantuan proportion: Saddam Hussein's oil-for-food rip-off. Certainly, Secretary General Kofi Annan wants the covers kept on the scam. No surprise there.

After all, Annan's son worked for a company deeply implicated in the enterprise, which saw the diversion of billions of dollars meant for sick and hungry Iraqi women and children into the pockets of favored U.N. companies and individuals - and, especially, Saddam himself.

Just last night, ABC News - citing American and European intelligence sources - reported that at least three senior U.N. officials, including the under-secretary general who ran the program, are suspected of harvesting multi-million dollar bribes from the regime.

Or a man less inclined to make the everyday moral compromises that led Pat Moynihan, after leaving the ambassadorship, to term the United Nations "a theater of the absurd, a decomposing corpse and an insane asylum." And Jeane Kirkpatrick to characterize the organization as "nothing other than the executive committee of the Third World dictatorships."

Rudy, after all, is the fellow who back in 1995 bounced the odious Yasser Arafat out of Lincoln Center, right on his bloodstained kaffiyeh.

Kofi & Co. were letting Baghdad off the hook regarding its refusal to honor a dozen U.N. resolutions meant to keep Saddam on his side of Iraq's borders. And out of the international terrorism business. Oil for food? Oil for cash for Kofi and his cronies is more like it. The United Nations is a fetid swamp. Let Rudy drain it.

I hope the Bushies read the NY Post...



Every few weeks some nincompoop prophesizes declining reenlistment figures and asserts that the US military will have no choice but to soon institute a military draft. The notion is hogwash, of course. Schmucks like NY Rep. Charles Rangel turn it into a racial argument: that only poor minorities join the service and, at that, only for college money (tell that to Pat Tillman’s family). But regardless of this fallacy, there is a flip side to Rangel’s argument – the military can only accept so many persons, so if you institute a draft you therefore box out many Americans who want and need that economic incentive. Funny, guys like Rangel used to call the draft racist, not they call a lack of a draft racist. Well, which is it?

Anyway, moving on to the point: we learned from 90 months of fighting in Vietnam that a volunteer army works much better than one of forced conscription. The draft proponents scare tactics – that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, on top of US presence in the Balkans or North Korea, is going to lead to a dearth of recruits for our military. Well, as the new numbers for enlistment show, it’s just not true.

As of March 31 - halfway through the Army's fiscal year - 28,406 soldiers had signed on for another tour of duty, topping the six-month goal of 28,377. The Army's goal is to re-enlist 56,100 soldiers by the end of September. The Marines, which along with the Army have borne the brunt of combat in Iraq, said they have already fulfilled 90 percent of their retention goal for the fiscal year for getting Marines to re-up after their initial commitment. The Air Force and the Navy said they, too, are exceeding goals for getting airmen and sailors to re-enlist.

Some contend a poor job market and re-enlistment bonuses worth thousands of dollars are keeping soldiers in the Army. Col. Joseph Anderson, commander of the 101st's 2nd Brigade, said it is more about camaraderie, patriotism and duty. The only Army division to not meet its goal in the six-month period was the 82nd Airborne Division, whose members have been sent to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq since the Sept. 11 attacks. The division wanted to re-enlist 1,221 soldiers, but got only 1,136.

At Fort Campbell, soldiers from the 101st spent seven months in Afghanistan after the Sept. 11 attacks. The entire division of about 20,000 soldiers was sent to Iraq last year for major combat, and the last planeload returned home in March. A grueling year in Iraq claimed the lives of 61 Fort Campbell soldiers, and hundreds more were wounded. In the six-month period ending March 31, the 101st topped its goal of re-enlisting 1,591. It got 1,737 to sign up for another tour of duty.

Sure, as soldiers get older they may opt out for family and monetary reasons. Nonetheless our services are just fine.



Certainly by now there should not be many apologists for the communist state of North Korea, but after today the apologists who cringed when Bush called labeled the regime a member of the Axis of Evil have even less to defend. In a rare outpour of international support countries are attempting to send large amounts of humanitarian aid to North Korea following horrible explosion that destroyed 40 percent of the town of Ryongchon. But the North Korean government is purposely slowing the rate at which supplies can enter the country.

Despite North Korea's unusual request for international assistance, officials in Pyongyang rejected a South Korean offer on Monday to rapidly transport emergency medical and other aid supplies over land, a route that would have gotten supplies to Ryongchon in about 24 hours.

Instead, South Korean officials say, Pyongyang is demanding a slower sea route to avoid a breach of the heavily guarded Demilitarized Zone dividing the North and South. By sea, the shipments could take two days or more, South Korean Red Cross officials said.

The North Korean government also rejected an offer from Seoul to dispatch a floating hospital to help treat the wounded. The European Union agreed over the weekend to offer emergency aid, but on Saturday, North Korean authorities declined a request from diplomats touring the blast site to visit the Shinuiju hospital, sources in Pyongyang and others familiar with the tour said.

North Korea has, however, accepted truckloads of aid from neighboring China, its only major ally, largely consisting of food supplies that were distributed Monday with great fanfare. But North Korean authorities, who strictly control the movements of citizens, turned down a Chinese offer to treat patients at better-equipped hospitals on its side of the border, located only a bridge-crossing away from Shinuiju. Aid groups are now calling for foreign doctors and medical equipment to be sent into the North. But so far, only North Koreans have been allowed to deal directly with patients, relief workers say.

"Just like the Americans got together and made huge donations after 9/11, we are feeling the same," said Yoon Byung Hak, an officer with the South Korean Red Cross in Seoul. "We think of North Koreans as [the] same people. For us, blood is thicker than nation-state boundaries. Reaction today has been unexpectedly strong."

That's noble of the South, but clearly North Korea's regime feels otherwise.


UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi's comment, reported yesterday, that's Israel's policies were a "the great poison in the region [Middle East]" should really come as no surprise considering the backwards priorities of the institution.

After more than a month of negotiations, the [U.N. Human Rights] commission on its final day could no longer avoid the ethnic cleansing in Sudan, which has left 30,000 dead and 900,000 in deplorable conditions. The U.S. proposal to condemn "the grave violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in Darfur," and to call on the government of Sudan "to ensure all attacks against civilians are stopped" was defeated. Instead, the resolution announced: "the Commission expresses its solidarity with the Sudan in overcoming the current situation."

The Sudan result was actually better than the commission outcomes on gross human-rights abuses in China and Zimbabwe. Resolutions on these states were blocked by the success of procedural no-action motions.

Consideration of the human-rights situation in Iran didn't even make it to the floor. This was despite a report from one of the commission's working groups describing a legal system with the following features. "[E]vidence by a man is equivalent to that of two women"; punishments for sins "against divine law" are "the death penalty, crucifixion, stoning, amputation of the right hand and, for repeat offences, the left foot, flogging..."; and "criminal proceedings in their entirety are...concentrated in the hands of a single person since the judge prosecutes, investigates and decides the case." Iranian impunity from U.N. concern has practical results. Shortly after a meeting in Iran with the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression in November 2003, one person disappeared.

Israel was treated somewhat differently by the U.N.'s primary human-rights body, which is composed of a majority of Asian and African states and whose membership includes countries with such appalling human-rights records as China, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Zimbabwe.

Keep those things in mind every time John Kerry says he would run to the UN, beg forgiveness, and put them in charge of Iraq. Read the whole commentary by Anne Bayefsky to understand exactly why putting the UN in control of Iraq would be a disaster.

Monday, April 26, 2004

The United Nations top envoy to Secretary General Kofi Annan and guy the Bush administration reluctantly agreed to allow to assist the political transformation of Iraq called Israeli policies in the Middle East a "great poison" to French interviewers. Is Lakhdar Brahimi really a person we want having any influence in Iraqi affairs, someone who blames the Jews first? Reading his comments one would think that Brahimi is just a hack for Yassir Arafat.

The UN undersecretary-general and special adviser to Mr Annan, said his effort to help establish an interim government in Iraq was being made more difficult by Israeli policy towards the Palestinians. 'There's a lot of hatred because the very violent and repressive security policy of the Israeli government as well as this determination to occupy more and more Palestinian territory does not make matters easier,' he said.

'The problems are linked,' he said. 'There is no doubt that the great poison in the region is this Israeli policy of domination and the suffering imposed on the Palestinians as well as the perception of all of the population in the region, and beyond, of the injustice of this policy and the equally unjust support... of the United States for this policy.'

Here is a top envoy to the UN calling US support of the secular liberally democratic Israel "unjust." Who should the US support? Hamas terrorists? Illegitimate, illiberal regimes in Syria or Iran? This gets to the root of my problem with the United Nations. It is filled with persons like Brahimi who make no differation between use of force to promote democracy versus dictatorship; who promote stability over liberty; who morally equate illegitimate regimes in Syria to democratically elected ones in Israel. For people like Brahimi Israel is the problem because if it didn't exist there would be more "stability" in the Middle East, even if less freedom. He regards any attempt by Israel to defend itself from Palestinian terrorists trying to destroy it as somehow immoral or wrong. People like Brahimi repeat "Gaza" and "West Bank" like broken records but dismiss the fact that Arabs tried to destroy Israel during the 20 years prior to Israel taking the territory in 1967.

Brahimi's comments not only encourage the radical Islamicists seeking to destroy Israel, but are factually incorrect as well. Israel is the most powerful military nation in the Middle East - if they really wanted to "occupy more and more Palestinian territory" couldn't they do so rather easily? Indeed, just the opposite is occurring: the Israeli government is preparing to relinquish full control of Gaza just as Brahimi gives the UN's green light to radicals to bomb Israelis. Finally, by linking Israel to Iraq Brahimi is actually ensuring more chaos in both. The terrorists in both want no interim government in Iraq, so they will seize on Brahimi's comments and escalate attacks in both places.

What a fool. The US should not be dealing with Brahimi after his misguided and hateful comments.



Based on advice from military leaders the Bush administration decided that a full invasion of Fallouja, where the radical Shiite cleric Muqtada Sadr and his militia are holed up, is not at this time necessary. Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt announced that joint patrols between US troops and the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps were one part of a compromise reached to secure the city.

U.S. forces said they were encouraged by negotiations and that joint teams of American and Iraqi forces would begin patrolling industrial neighborhoods in the eastern and northeastern parts of the city beginning at noon Tuesday. Anyone carrying a weapon inside Fallouja after that would be "considered hostile," Kimmitt said.

The agreement was announced as 67 families were allowed to return to the city and a day after Bremer visited the area and promised at least $20 million in economic aid.

The two-track U.S. strategy of threatening a major attack while working diplomatic channels with tribal and local leaders is unfolding while the cease-fire around the city is repeatedly broken and insurgents — numbering as many as 2,000 — have not given up their caches of heavy weapons.

Kimmitt said Sunday that the cease-fire was broken 13 times over 24 hours and that U.S. forces surrounded a house and killed 25 insurgents after seeing a man run into the building with a mortar tube.

Despite that confrontation, Kimmitt said: "The coalition is showing a tremendous amount of flexibility. That patience is not everlasting."

We'll see how this goes down, but it could be a costly mistake, one of which we should have already learned from past events. So many times it seems that our Western thought creeps into a situation where we cannot think as Westerners. Militants are not curbed by compromise, instead they see it as a weakness are further encouraged to commit violence.

"Do not be afraid of alienating already hostile areas," says military strategist and former Lt. Col. Ralph Peters. The militants in Fallujah are simply biding their time, using this "truce" - which they've already broken nine times - to prepare themselves for future fighting. While the US troops show patience the enemy prepares for combat.

In the last two weeks, Sadr's followers — many rushing here from Baghdad, Fallouja and other areas of Iraq — have fortified their positions in the city and the neighboring town of Kufa, including at Najaf's gold-domed shrine of Imam Ali, one of the most revered mosques in the world.

Sadr's forces have evicted more than 100 rival Shiite clerics and shrine employees, replacing them with their own armed militiamen, who roam the rooftops and courtyards of the shrine with rifles and rocket-propelled-grenade launchers hung over their shoulders.

The cleric's followers also were stockpiling weapons in mosques, schools, graveyards and private houses around the city, according to U.S. intelligence reports and local residents.

Najaf "has a lot of history," Lakhdar Brahimi, the United Nations special envoy to Iraq, said in an interview broadcast Sunday on ABC's "This Week" news show. "Sending the tanks rolling into a place like this, you know, is not the right thing to do. And I think the Americans know that extremely well now."

"This can be the most brilliant operation in history, but if the Ali shrine goes up in flames, that's all anyone is going to remember," said Phil Kosnett, a State Department official who heads the Najaf office of the Coalition Provisional Authority.

Some shopkeepers said they had been accused of collaborating with U.S. or coalition troops and threatened with closure. Numerous critics and journalists have been detained by the militia over the past two weeks. At least one guard who attempted to challenge the takeover of the Ali shrine was arrested by militiamen, according to the man's father, who asked not to be named for fear of retribution.

"The situation is so bad," said one fabric salesman who also did not want to be identified. "Sadr is following the example of Saddam Hussein. They are two faces of the same coin."

Will we ever learn? Someone needs to remind Lakhdar Brahimi that the United Nation's passive attitude led directly to death of 22 people, including the head of the headquarters, Sergio Vieira de Mello. Instead of seeing the UN's refusal to protect themselves as an olive branch, as thedelegatesates had thought, the militants saw their unwillingness to defend themselves as an exploitable weakness. Too many times in Iraq the coalition forces have shown restraint over a bogeyman of what might happen instead of reacting to what is happening. Sadr's militia is not much different from the Taliban, the theocratic thugs ruling Iran, or Saddam Hussein. It does the American and Iraqi people no good to allow them to live longer so they can prepare our demise. The longer we wait the worse it will be when conflict finally comes.



There are flip-flops and “nuanced” position changes, and then there are lies. One finally caught up with John Kerry with ABC News’ release of a 1971 interview in which the former Vietnam war veteran told journalists he gave back his war medals by throwing them over the White House fence shortly after his return from the war. The war medal issue has, of course, plagued Kerry for decades. First he said they were his, but years ago – after journalists noted they remained framed in his office – Kerry changed the story to saying they were another veteran’s medals. Since then, and as recently as last Friday, Kerry has adamantly argued that any claim that he threw out his medals, not someone else’s, is nothing but a “right-wing” or biased partisan attack. Yet here is his caught on tape saying they were his medals. This isn’t a flip-flop. It’s an active deception he instigated.

"I gave back, I can't remember, 6, 7, 8, 9 medals," Kerry said in an interview on a Washington, D.C. news program on WRC-TV's called Viewpoints on November 6, 1971, according to a tape obtained by ABCNEWS. Throughout his presidential campaign, Kerry has denied that he threw away any of his 11 medals during an anti-war protest in April, 1971. His campaign Web site calls it a "right wing fiction" and a smear. And in an interview with ABCNEWS' Peter Jennings last December, he said it was a "myth."

But Kerry told a much different story on Viewpoints. Asked about the anti-war veterans who threw their medals away, Kerry said "they decided to give them back to their country." Kerry was asked if he gave back the Bronze Star, Silver Star and three Purple Hearts he was awarded for combat duty as a Navy lieutenant in Vietnam. "Well, and above that, [I] gave back the others," he said.

The statement directly contradicts Kerry's most recent claims on the disputed subject to the Los Angeles Times last Friday. "I never ever implied that I did it, " Kerry told the newspaper, responding to the question of whether he threw away his medals in protest.

The disputed incident happened 33 years ago this past weekend, on April 23, 1971, when Kerry led the group Vietnam Veterans Against the War in a protest against the war they fought. Many veterans were seen throwing their medals and ribbons over the fence in front of the U.S. Capitol. At the time, The Boston Globe and other newspapers reported that Kerry was among these veterans. "In a real sense, this administration forced us to return our medals because beyond the perversion of the war, these leaders themselves denied us the integrity those symbols supposedly gave our lives," Kerry said the following day.

But in 1984, when he first ran for the U.S. Senate, Kerry revealed he still had his medals. According to a Boston Globe report on April 15, 1984, union officials had expressed uneasiness with Kerry's candidacy because he had thrown his medals away. Kerry acknowledged the medals he threw away were, in fact, another soldier's medals. He reportedly invited a union official home to personally inspect his Silver Star, Bronze Star and three purple hearts, awarded for his combat duty as a Navy lieutenant.

In the 1971 Viewpoints interview, he made no mention of the ribbons or the medals belonging to another veteran. And in 1988, Kerry again clarified his statement by saying he threw out ribbons he had been awarded for three combat wounds, but not his medals. "I was proud of my personal service and remain so," he told the National Journal. Eight years later in 1996, Kerry said while he did throw out his ribbons, he didn't throw out his own medals because he "didn't have time to go home [to New York] and get them," he told The Boston Globe.

Kerry's campaign Web site says he "is proud of the work he did to end the war. The Nixon Administration made John Kerry one of its targets and Republicans have been smearing him ever since. John Kerry threw his ribbons and the medals of two veterans who could not attend the event, and said, 'I am not doing this for any violent reasons, but for peace and justice, and to try to make this country wake up once and for all.'"

A spokesperson for Kerry's campaign said he didn't make a distinction between medals and ribbons, but Kerry plans to respond on Good Morning America.

Another “nuance,” Senator Kerry? No distinction between medals and ribbons? What a cowardly defense. The Kerry camp can split hairs and play games with semantics all they want but Kerry clearly wanted people to believe at the time of the event that they were his medals.


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