Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Well, at least she’s an honest communist – get a load of this admission from Senator Hillary Clinton:

Headlining an appearance with other Democratic women senators on behalf of Sen. Barbara Boxer, who is up for re-election this year, Hillary Clinton told several hundred supporters -- some of whom had ponied up as much as $10,000 to attend -- to expect to lose some of the tax cuts passed by President Bush if Democrats win the White House and control of Congress.

"Many of you are well enough off that ... the tax cuts may have helped you," Sen. Clinton said. "We're saying that for America to get back on track, we're probably going to cut that short and not give it to you. We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good."

“Not give it [your own money] to you”... Generally the smarter Democrats know how to avoid advocating redistribution of wealth when stumping. Sheesh! The “common good”? Who defines that? Well, Hillary and the Democrats, of course, silly! You see, individual Americans are too stupid or selfish to know what’s best for them, including how best to spend the money they earn, which is why we have Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party to tell us what’s best. And even when the wealthiest Americans already pony up about half of their salary Hillary and company don’t think that’s enough.

“Common good”... That’s a hoot. Sounds like something a founder of Communism would say. Thanks Hillary, in one simple statement you’ve reminded all Americans which party stands for the failed ideological values of Vladimir Lenin.

By the way, those Bush tax cuts so often demonized by the Democrats are responsible for today’s news of a two-year high consumer confidence rating. The economy is growing while Treasury receipts (money taken in from taxes) is higher than expected. That’s right, the tax cuts are resulting in more money for the government – just as it was in the Coolidge, Kennedy and Reagan tax cuts.



Founder of what I would call the best voice of conservatism, The National Review, William F. Buckley called it quits citing aging more than anything else. The NY Times says Buckley’s departure “represents the exit of one of the forefathers of modern conservatism.” I wouldn’t agree with that. He’s well respected and certainly a forefather of conservatism, but the term “modern” is relative. Modern to the Reagan movement, yes. Modern to the post 9-11 world, no. Despite my recognition of Buckley as one of the great conservative writers and thinkers I do have a problem with people who accepted this war in Iraq but now try to distance themselves from it (Andrew Sullivan, among others, seems to do this from time to time, although Buckley’s comment is much more sure):

As for conservatism today, Mr. Buckley said there was a growing debate on the right about how the war in Iraq squared with the traditional conservative conviction that American foreign policy should seek only to protect its vital interests. "With the benefit of minute hindsight, Saddam Hussein wasn't the kind of extra-territorial menace that was assumed by the administration one year ago," Mr. Buckley said. "If I knew then what I know now about what kind of situation we would be in, I would have opposed the war."
Asked whether the growth of the federal government over the last four years diminished his enthusiasm for Mr. Bush, he reluctantly acknowledged that it did. "It bothers me enormously," he said. "Should I growl?"

Criticize Bush on spending, by all means. Too much of his daddy in him there, and, I suppose, it only goes to show you how much Dick Morris’ “triangulation” – taking your opponents issues away – during the Clinton years will, unfortunately, affect future politics in regards to spending.

But even “with the benefit of minute hindsight,” I find it hard to believe that someone who supported the war would now oppose it. First, what did Buckley expect? To liberate a country of 26 million with less than 800 dead? Historically, that’s unprecedented. And I don’t care about the empty arguments criticizing our bitter compromises or propping “interim governments” or what have you, this was liberation. Things are not going to go perfect; it is, after all, a friggin war! But, you can’t point to 300,000 dead in mass graves by the hands of Saddam Hussein and rationally conclude anything else than this being a war of liberation. What we do now will have positive ramifications for the entire region in the years ahead, although like South Korea, people might call it a “stalemate” and that sort of nonsense for decades. (Not to go off on too much of a tangent but that’s what they taught me the Korean War was when I was in high school – a “stalemate.” Yet look at those two countries today and tell me today who won and who lost, who prospers in democratic capitalism and who suffers under oppressive socialism).

WMD? In the least covered bombshell of the month, or year, last week Charles Duelfer told the media that his inspections team had found “10 or 12 sarin and mustard rounds” in Iraq. Well, I assure you Saddam Hussein didn’t produce a dozen chemical shells and call it quits. There’s more where that came from, and they’ll be found. But even if not, or if too many years from now, we at very least know that Hussein kept the methods of production and precursors never declared to the UN in clear violation (including live C. botulinum Okra B and other biological nasties). European intelligence gurus said yesterday that Niger was involved in illegal sales of uranium to five countries, including Iraq, three years before the Iraq war. Saddam was waiting us out, that’s all.

Ties to al Qaeda? Don’t get me started. At minimum, the 9-11 commissioners are saying there was a relationship, only that the relationship was not likely behind 9-11. Possible still was the Mohammed Atta meeting with an Iraqi case officer in Prague, two hijackers supported by a Lt. Col. in Saddam’s Fadayeen (Shakir), the Zarqawi connection, and Saddam Hussein’s support of terrorists like Abu Abbas and Abu Nidal. Speaking of, hijacker Ziad Jarrah’s uncle was Assem Omar Jarrah, who worked for Abu Nidal. Saddam harbored Nidal until he was conveniently murdered by Iraqi agents in 2003 – one heck of a coincidence, eh? Then throw in Abdul Rahman Yasin, a 1993 WTC bomber whom Saddam supported in Iraq after he fled the US. That’s just for starters.

Finally, what of the alternatives to war? It was the status quo, at best. It was what we now know to be a fully corrupt UN Oil-for-Food program that enriched the Hussein regime and the masses of all too willing unscrupulous partners from Paris to Moscow to Damascus (all three Security Council members, two with veto power). It was a sanctions regime responsible for the death of tens of thousands each year, precisely linked to that corrupt UN program and to futile “leadership” of Kofi Annan and company, who inexplicably allowed Iraq’s dictator a say in how the program was run. It was a regime destined to pass rule from an oppressive dictator to a pair of sons considered even more sadistic than the father. It was a regime that gradually but steadily aligned itself with Islamic extremism. It was, most of all, a regime anchored to the worst element of Western rule – our push for stability.

What is stability without liberty? Nothing. Liberty is a manifest endowment from the “Creator,” as our founders termed it, but it does not come cheap. Blood is spilled to earn it, whether in Washington DC in 1776, Paris 1789, or Berlin 1989. For decades the US and our Western allies have purposely refused to forcefully push liberty upon the Middle East even as we did in South America, Asia, the Pacific Rim, and Eastern Europe. What breaks the modern conservative from the Buckley generation, and certainly from the global Leftists who have the gall to call themselves “liberals”? The understanding, delivered by President Bush in the most important speech since Reagan uttered “tear this wall down,” that “Sixty years of Western nations' excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle East did nothing to make us safe, because, in the long run, stability cannot be purchased at the expense of liberty.”

Our failure to recognize this led directly to 9-11. We can either force liberty upon all – and yes, sometimes it regretfully requires violent force – or we can sit back and allow liberty’s alternative of tyranny to be forced upon all. There is no alternative. A natural vacuum will always seek filler.



The instant reading of yesterday's Supreme Court rulings on terror suspects is that they were, as the Associated Press asserted, "a setback to the Bush Administration's war against terrorism." After reading the opinions, we'd say it's more accurate to call them a modest but important victory for the Presidency. The Court's three rulings will surely complicate U.S. detention policy, at least at the margins. But at the same time they uphold the longstanding and proper deference that the Supreme Court has shown throughout its history to the executive branch on national security, especially in wartime. That includes decisions on how to define and handle a dangerous enemy. For a change, this particular Court actually restrained itself.

Most important, the Court upheld the authority of the Commander-in-Chief to detain enemy combatants, including U.S. citizens. That's the key finding of Hamdi, and the implicit basis of Padilla, which the Court threw back to the lower courts on jurisdictional grounds. It's true that in its Guantanamo ruling--Rasul v. Bush--the Court has opened the door to a flood of litigation by ruling that both U.S. citizens and foreigners detained as terrorists can challenge their treatment in the federal courts. This pretty much guarantees that the 600 or so Guantanamo detainees will bring 600 or so habeas corpus cases--perhaps in 600 or so different courtrooms, with 600 or so different judges demanding 600 or so different standards of what evidence constitutes a threat to the United States. Justice Antonin Scalia's dissent shreds the majority's messy reasoning.

But the solution here is for Congress to step in with legislation consolidating all of the Gitmo cases in a single court. Arlington, Virginia would be a good choice, as that's where the detainees' ultimate warder, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, is located. It also has the advantage of being located in the jurisdiction of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which has already examined these issues in a serious way.

At the same time, however, yesterday's Hamdi decision suggests that the courts must give considerable deference to the executive in handling these habeas petitions. While Hamdi concerned a U.S. citizen-detainee, it isn't likely that the non-citizens at Gitmo can expect more favorable treatment. And anyone who reads Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's plurality opinion can only conclude that Yaser Esam Hamdi--or anyone else--is unlikely to be sprung from detention anytime soon. Yes, Justice O'Connor wrote that "a state of war is not a blank check for the president when it comes to the rights of the nation's citizens." But she also outlined the extraordinary deference that must be given the executive branch. "The Constitution would not be offended," she wrote, "by a presumption in favor of the Government's evidence, so long as that presumption remained a rebuttable one and fair opportunity for rebuttal were provided." And "once the Government puts forward credible evidence that the habeas petitioner meets the enemy-combatant criteria, the onus could shift to the petitioner to rebut that evidence with more persuasive evidence."

In short, the burden is on the petitioner in these cases to prove that the government's designation is wrong. Just to be sure the ACLU gets the point, Justice O'Connor added that "the full protections that accompany challenges to detentions in other settings may prove unworkable and inappropriate in the enemy-combatant setting." Even more striking, Justice O'Connor all but invited the Administration to set up a military court to hear Hamdi's plea. That suggestion goes a bridge farther than even President Bush has dared. His controversial 2001 order establishing military tribunals to try enemy combatants specifically excluded U.S. citizens even though there is ample legal precedent for their use. The Court's ruling is also an implicit suggestion that the military is capable of adequately reviewing challenges brought by the Gitmo prisoners.

All in all, the Court stepped away from the chaos of making judges the arbiters of American security. That's a welcome victory for the Presidency, no matter who wins in November.

That’s an interesting view from the Wall Street Journal, and I would tend to agree that the press spin of a major Bush setback in the war on terror is overplayed. As the WSJ argued, Justice O’Connor seems to be enhancing the prospects of a military tribunal system to deal with the detainees – the very thing the civil libertarians oppose. Furthermore, the Bush administration and future presidents will be more likely to hold detainees in places where US sovereignty does not exist – Diego Garcia, Afghanistan, Qatar, etc.

Also, while Hamdi and other Taliban and al Qaeda fighters will get to petition their status it won’t automatically lead to their release. In fact, it could do the opposite. Persons that the military would have eventually released as non-threatening may now be formally charged, tried and spend their lives in jail.

As for Bush and the Pentagon I think there’s another aspect that is totally missed – they may have never intended to keep the Gitmo terrorists held indefinitely, only as long as possible. Let’s be clear here: we’re in new territory. Really, only Israelis have had ample experience in dealing with Islamic militants. The war in Afghanistan and the resulting detainees are truly a “first wave” of subjects for our military and leaders to learn from.

Yes, I say learn from. Consider how in just the last few decades how much our law enforcement has learned from serial killers. It went from an unexplained phenomenon to an advanced scientific study. Our law enforcement agencies, by studying killers like Manson, Bundy and DeSalvo, have produced advanced and almost preemptive profiles to aid in catching these killers. The thousands of Islamic extremists, under direct scrutiny of the military, CIA and FBI, offer a similar opportunity to profile these killers and learn exactly what makes them tick. Now, I can’t argue without evidence that any tactics by Bush officials to delay the legal status of the detainees was for this purpose, but it’s certainly a consequence.



Well, the hypocrisy of French President Jacques Chirac never ceases to amaze me. Today is a double whammy. First, Chirac is in a tiffy because George Bush dared suggest that the world and Europe would be much better off if the European Union gave membership to Turkey.

Bush said Tuesday that Turkey belongs in the EU and that Europe is "not the exclusive club of a single religion" in what amounted to a rebuff to the French leader. In an address at Istanbul university, Bush refused to back down in the face of Chirac's criticism that Bush had no business urging the EU to set a date for Turkey to start entry talks into the union. "America believes that as a European power, Turkey belongs in the European Union," Bush said. Turkey was a bridge to the wider world, Bush said. "Your success is vital to the future of progress and peace in Europe and in the broader Middle East," he said. He said that Turkish EU membership would be a "crucial advance" in relations between the Muslim world and the West because Turkey was part of both. Bush held up Turkey as an example of a Muslim democracy. "Including Turkey in the EU would prove that Europe is not the exclusive club of a single religion, and it would expose the 'clash of civilizations' as a passing myth of history," Bush said.
Who could argue with that? Well, the French, of course!

"If President Bush really said that in the way that I read, then not only did he go too far, but he went into territory that isn't his," Chirac said of a remark Bush made over the weekend. "It is not his purpose and his goal to give any advice to the EU, and in this area it was a bit as if I were to tell Americans how they should handle their relationship with Mexico."
Oh, reallllllly!? This coming from a man who never misses an opportunity to stick his nose in American affairs. Just a few weeks ago Chirac was complaining about US deficits and telling Bush how to run the American economy, and the European Union is so obsessed with America’s tax system that it seriously mulls fining the US because its lower taxes aren’t “fair” to the tax-happy Europeans. Well, pass the tissues and fix your own economy, Jacq! Furthermore, the last time I checked, the European Union was NOT synonymous with France. There are more states than just France that make up the European Union, yet Mr. Chirac takes it upon himself to speak for all of them. What arrogance!

The truth of the matter is that Chirac is angry because on Iraq Bush got more out of NATO than Chirac wanted to give. NATO leaders agreed to help train Iraqi security forces, and pledged 3,000 more troops for Afghanistan’s September elections. Two former dictatorships turned fledgling democracies which Chirac had nothing to do with.

Still, Chirac saw fit to block a US proposal to send NATO’s new rapid reaction force to secure Afghan elections. Keep in mind that France is not even a full military partner of NATO.

France's opposition to a proposal that could help resolve NATO's problems finding troops to make the September polls safe exasperated Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who pushed the idea hard at a meeting of allied defense ministers. A senior U.S. official said Rumsfeld had suggested that the alliance could sometimes use its Defense Planning Committee -- on which France has no seat because it is not part of NATO's integrated military structure -- to authorize an NRF deployment. Chirac told a news conference that the NRF -- set up last year with a heavy French contingent but not due to become fully operational until October 2006 -- should only be used when there is a serious security crisis, not for Afghan-style missions. "The NRF is not designed for this. It shouldn't be used just for any old matter," he said. He has added that an overt NATO presence in Afghanistan could in itself exacerbate security problems during the elections. The NRF is being set up to give NATO the military capability to do what it could not do after the Sept. 11 attacks on U.S. cities in 2001: strike back quickly and forcefully when an ally is attacked by a distant foe. A cutting-edge multinational force with warships, fighter planes and eventually over 20,000 troops, it will be lethal, agile and ready to be deployed to hotspots within five days.
For the French under Chirac, Afghanistan’s transition to democracy is just “any old matter” not worthy of French assistance. That’s pathetic. Just a few years back Afghanistan became the single most important hot zone on the planet because it was a harbor for international terrorism. But to Chirac keeping Afghanistan as far as possible from that previous dangerous form of rule, and keeping the terrorists out of that country, is just not a big deal. Once again the French government proves with deeds that they want nothing to do with the democratization or liberalization they take for granted on a daily basis.



Rather than genuflect before the world and apologize for an institutional bias towards Israel, as it is often complained, we should instead embrace them as the first (and until Iraq the only) democratic regime in the Middle East. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my studies it’s that the Arab bias against Israel is not rational and so trying to placate it with logic is useless. The regimes that surround Israel oppose that state not because of West Bank or Gaza occupation (a ruse), but rather because of the reason they opposed it from 1948 on – there’s Jews ruling themselves on their Muslim land! How dare those Jews! But every time the US tries to portray itself as fair – as though we’d prefer to balance a democratic regime to a despotic Syria, for example – we only further legitimize the illegitimate regional governments and strengthen the position of the Islamic radicals. Israel should be recognized for what it is – a democratic state and first victim of what is now a global jihad against secular democratic rule.

That’s why it’s so frustrating when I read that a bunch of hand-wringing, worry wart legislators are seriously considering banning the US military from purchasing Israeli-manufactured ammunition because of political correctness.

Since the Army has other stockpiled ammunition, "by no means, under any circumstances should a round [from Israel] be utilized," said Rep. Neil Abercrombie of Hawaii, the top Democrat on the House of Representatives Armed Services subcommittee with jurisdiction over land forces.

The Army contracted Israel Military Industries Ltd. in December for $70 million in small caliber ammunition. The Israeli firm was one of only two worldwide that could meet U.S. technical specifications and delivery needs, said Brigadier Gen. Paul Izzo, the Army's program executive officer for ammunition. The other was East Alton, Illinois-based Winchester Ammunition, which also received a $70 million contract.

But some Israeli military generals were upset. IDF Col. Moshe Lesheme told WND, "Israel has been at the forefront of the war on terror since it founding 50 years ago. We pioneered many of the anti-terror and urban-warfare techniques that the U.S. military has no problem using in Iraq and Afghanistan. Israeli firms have created an enormous amount of military technology that enhanced the American military. And now suddenly our bullets are illegitimate?"

"It is decisions like these that feed the Palestinian propaganda machine and demean Israel," said Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America. "It makes it seem like there's a difference between terrorism against Israelis and terrorism against anyone else. And that is simply unacceptable."

The Israelis are right. Not only should we buy their bullets we should coat them in pig fat. Just kidding. But my point is that we will never succeed in trying to get Arab despots and Islamic radicals to like us by selling out Israel. These regimes and Islamic militants don’t hate us because we’re allied with Israel, they hate us for the same reason they hate Israel – It’s natural for despots to fear and hate the liberty that would subvert their rule!



With the Palestinians unable to carry out a single suicide bombing in Israel since March, and Hamas halted from unleashing the large-scale revenge attacks called for after its top terrorist leaders were assassinated, Middle East analysts and politicians are beginning to debate whether the intifada – the terrorist war against Israel started by PLO leader Yasser Arafat after rejecting offers at the Camp David peace summit in 2000 – is coming to an end. At this time last year, there were 20 suicide bombings killing 141, while 2002 saw 25 such attacks in which 147 Israelis were killed. So far this year, there have been only two bombings in Israel proper, killing 19.
Until I read this I hadn’t realized that almost four months had gone by without an attack on Israeli territory. That’s pretty amazing, considering all that has been going on. Often unstated in all the controversy surrounding Israel’s decision to build a wall separating their state from ‘Palestine’ is that suicide bombers do not infiltrate Israel from Gaza, and haven’t in a long time, because there’s always been a wall between Gaza and Israel. It only stands to reason that a similar wall between Israel and the West Bank would have similar results. Here’s more:

Israel says its tactics are clearly working, and that life in the Jewish state may gradually be restored to the way it was before the violence started in 2000. The security fence completed in Gaza and the one being constructed in the West Bank are credited with keeping suicide bombers out, and raids in Palestinian areas and targeted killings of top terrorist commanders seem to be putting Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades on the run and unable to orchestrate attacks.

The question is whether the trend marks the end of the intifada, or is merely a lull while the terrorists, temporarily decapitated, regroup and rethink. "There is no doubt that efforts by the PLO to dictate the terms of our surrender and bring about our collapse have failed, they have accomplished none of their goals," chief Sharon spokesman Raanan Gissin told WND. "Therefore, one can say the intifada has failed, and is now even turning against its own initiators."

Gissin points out that while Israel "always has and will continue to live with the threat of terrorism," the Jewish state turned the tables on the jihadists with its forceful anti-terror campaign, and he says the violence will continue to decline. Gissin says the Palestinian terror apparatus has been hit badly, Arafat has been internationally isolated, and the Palestinian economy has nearly crumbled as a result of the PLO's strategic decision to launch a terrorist offensive against the Jewish state instead of peaceful negotiations. Ironically, explains Gissin, the intent of the intifada was to demoralize Israel, destroy its economy, bring it to its knees, and force it to surrender to Palestinian demands.

Sources close to Hamas, which is responsible for many of the suicide attacks, say that in the West Bank, where most terror operations originated, the organization has been very badly damaged. "There is no money to finance operations," said one. "Many of the leaders are gone and it is difficult to replace them. Hamas needs at least two years to rebuild."

Well, I wouldn’t count those chickens just yet, but something big has changed in the Middle East. Perhaps, too, some foreign fighters – backed by foreign governments – that would normally cross into Israel are instead in Iraq. In any event, until the profiteers of terror, including Syria and Iran, no longer find terrorism against Israel in their profit or best interests Israel will always fear the suicide bomb.

Speaking of the wall transforming the intifada, Israeli security forces responded to militant's rocket attacks at Israel by invading with heavy armor the cite of the launch.


Monday, June 28, 2004

The Supreme Court ruled on a trio of terror-related cases today, resulting on anything from a “mixed bag” to a loss for the Bush administration, depending upon whose spin you want to believe. First, on the case of Yaser Esam Hamdi, an American citizen captured fighting for the Taliban, the court ruled that the Bush administration did have the power to hold either US citizens or foreign nationals without charge or trial, but unfavorably to Bush, that those detainees can challenge their status in US courts (as long as they were held under US power – more on that in a moment). In a third ruling the Supreme Court sidestepped the suit of Jose Padilla, saying the case was improperly filed and that it incorrectly cited Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

"Due process demands that a citizen held in the United States as an enemy combatant be given a meaningful opportunity to contest the factual basis for that detention before a neutral decision maker," an 8-to-1 majority held in the case of Yaser Esam Hamdi, a Saudi-born United States citizen seized in Afghanistan in 2001. Only Justice Clarence Thomas dissented from the basic outlines of the decision. Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote that the campaign against terrorism notwithstanding, "a state of war is not a blank check for the president when it comes to the rights of the nation's citizens."

In the Guantánamo case, the court ruled, 6 to 3, that federal courts have the jurisdiction to consider challenges to the custody of foreigners. The finding repudiated a central argument of the administration. "Aliens at the base, like American citizens, are entitled to invoke the federal courts' authority," Justice John Paul Stevens wrote for the majority. "United States courts have traditionally been open to nonresident aliens." The dissenters were Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Justices Thomas and Antonin Scalia.

And in the other case involving an American citizen, José Padilla, the court ruled on what at first glance was a technical issue: that Mr. Padilla filed his habeas corpus petition in the wrong court. A 5-to-4 majority said he should have filed in federal court in South Carolina, since he has been held in a brig in Charleston, rather than in the Southern District of New York. The majority said, too, that the proper target for his case is not Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld but, rather, Cmdr. Melanie Marr, who is in charge of the brig. "This rule serves the important purpose of prevent forum shopping by habeas petitioners," the majority held.

In the cases of Hamdi (and Padilla), both American citizens, the ruling that the executive branch can hold enemy combatants during war without trial or charge so long as they have access to challenge their status in American courts seems like a good compromise. However, it’s disconcerting to me that the court bestowed the same privilege upon 600 foreign nationals, not American citizens, who were either part of a government – the Taliban – never recognized by the international community (minus Pakisan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates [pre-9-11]) or are full fledged terrorist members of al Qaeda, in both cases meeting the definition of illegal combatants.

From a practical standpoint even if the Bush administration knew they were going to lose this legal fight the fact that they’ve been able to detain the combatants for two years and interrogate them freely is a victory. It takes time to break down a terrorist, so had the administration allowed them all legal counsel right off the bat, and the detainees known this, then they’d have disclosed less.

Also from a practical standpoint this ruling probably doesn’t change much because the administration (and future presidents) will simply enter into agreements with other countries to hold the terror suspects. I’m not exactly sure where the legalities begin and end but we’ve previously held combatants in Diego Garcia (under British control), Syria and other Arab states, and other undisclosed countries. Because the ruling only covers detainees under US authority, the obvious step will be to transfer the most dangerous suspects from Guantanamo Bay to another area not under US sovereignty.

Now, from a legal standpoint I think Mark Levin, a lawyer and columnist for National Review, makes some valid arguments:

The idea that foreign combatants have access to U.S. civilian courts because they're held at GITMO is nuts. I suppose the Pentagon will have to make sure future foreign detainees are held outside U.S. controlled terroritories, but back to the basics. As Clarence Thomas points out in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, "Congress, to be sure, has a substantial and essential role in both foreign affairs and national security. But it is crucial to recognize that judicial interference in these domains destroys the purpose of vesting primary responsibility in a unitary Executive."

[Further citing the dissent of Clarence Thomas]: "The President, both as Commander-in-Chief and as the Nation's organ for foreign affairs, has available intelligence services whose reports are not and ought not to be published to the world. It would be intolerable that courts, without the relevant information, should review and perhaps nullify actions of the Executive Branch taken on information properly held secret. Nor can courts sit in camera in order to be taken into executive confidences. But even if courts could require full disclosure, they very nature of executive decisions as to foreign policy is political, not judicial. Such decisions are wholly confided by our Constitution to the political departments of the government, Executive and Legislative. They are delicate, complex, and involve large elements of prophecy. They are and should be undertaken only by those directly responsible to the people whose welfare they advance or imperil. They are decisions of a kind for which the Judiciary has neither aptitude, facilities nor responsibility and which has long been held to belong in the domain of political power not subject to judicial intrusion and inquiry."

There's a mindset, which is on display even today as these cases came down, that the courts are more just and thoughtful and wise than the other branches of government. Even here, where foreign combatants have been removed from the battlefield and placed in military detention, the notion is that judges should have a prominent role, where the Constitution provides none. It is the job of the Executive to ensure national security, especially during war, and there must be some overriding basis for finding otherwise. Detaining 600 foreign combatants for 2 years does not, in my view, come close to such a justification. During Vietnam, World War II, and other wars, the U.S. detained POWs for much longer periods, and no one contends they had a right to judicial review in our civilian courts, do they?

That’s reasonable to me; Levin’s point about previous wars is also important – how many thousands of German troops were held without access to US courts? Still, democracy, liberty etc., survived and blossomed in the years after the war.



It’s official, Iraq is a sovereign nation. The Bush administration and their Iraqi counterparts surprised all by transferring power from the Coalition Provisional Authority to the Iraqi interim government two days ahead of schedule. The move was highly secret and conducted to offset any attempts of insurgent violence scheduled on June 30.

Almost simultaneously, in Turkey, President Bush won support from NATO members to assist in training the Iraqi security forces. Just two weeks ago the measure seemed unreachable, as (of course) France was blocking the move, but the official transfer of sovereignty enabled the new Iraqi prime minister, as opposed to Bush, to make the request directly to NATO. While largely symbolic the difference allows NATO leaders to reply to an Iraqi request, not American.

"We've decided today to offer NATO's assistance to the government of Iraq with the training of its security forces," a statement by the 26 heads of state meeting in Istanbul said. "We therefore also encourage nations to contribute to the training of the Iraqi armed forces."

Details of the agreement, including who will be trained, where and when, still must be worked out by the governments, officials said. But the White House described the move as giving President Bush the international imprimatur he had long sought for post-invasion operations.

The White House views the agreement on training for Iraq, which follows NATO's decision to take over an international security force in Afghanistan, as a crucial step in its effort to guide the alliance away from its historic emphasis on the defense of its own territory and instead toward taking the offensive against terrorism around the world.

Bush plans to use the centerpiece address of his five-day overseas trip to hold up the secular democracy in Turkey, NATO's only majority-Muslim member, as a model for Iraq and the greater Middle East. Bush tried to make the same point by holding a meeting Sunday with Turkish religious leaders that included a rabbi, an Islamic cleric and an Armenian Orthodox patriarch.



Nothing is certain, but certainly it’s not a good sign for the Iraqi insurgency, specifically the Islamic extremist sect of it, that they are now taking Muslims hostage in Iraq. Sure, there will likely be more Western non-Muslims taken hostage and murdered in the future, but it cannot help the insurgent’s public relations effort, which claims it is fighting an occupation, when it takes three Turkish, one Pakistani and one Muslim US soldier hostage. The US Marine was identified on al-Jazeera television as Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun; the US military says Hassoun has been missing since June 21. The group claiming responsibility call themselves the Islamic Response group, a takeoff of the National Islamic Resistance of the 1920 Revolution Brigades, a group that revolted against British rule after WWI.

Earlier Sunday, another Arab satellite television network, al-Arabiya, broadcast a video of a Pakistani hostage whom kidnappers identified as a driver for the U.S. military. A group led by Abu Musab Zarqawi, a Jordanian who has asserted responsibility for much of the recent violence in Iraq, announced Saturday that three Turkish workers were also being held.

On Sunday, Turkey rejected demands to withdraw its citizens from Iraq, which the kidnappers wanted. Turkey has no troops in Iraq, but Turkish contractors and employees work in the country. The kidnappers, believed to be part of the same group that beheaded a South Korean and an American, said they would kill the hostages if the Turkish workers were not withdrawn by Tuesday night.

Also, two separate shellings of the Green Zone, the heavily guarded U.S. compound in central Baghdad, resulted in no reported injuries. But the day's violence underscored the fragile security situation in the country, as the U.S. transfer of political authority to the interim Iraqi government on Wednesday approaches.

Iraqi police said they had arrested three men in Baghdad who were carrying rockets and weapons en route to attacking a police station. Separate attacks in the northern cities of Mosul and Irbil killed two people and injured five Kurdish militiamen, according to wire service and local reports.

The boys killed Sunday were swimming along a bank of the Tigris River as the heat from the sweltering 108-degree day began to ebb when two mortar shells apparently aimed at the U.S. compound across the river fell short of their target. One of the shells created a crater at the water's edge. Hazim Ghafif, 24, who makes his living washing cars along the riverbank, said he stopped a passing car and carried youths, who he said appeared to be about 6 or 7, to be transported to the hospital. Two older boys were killed by the blast, he said. "This is violence and chaos, nothing else," Ghafif said. "Those against the Americans feel they have to do it because of the approaching end of American authority."

Even the Iraqis are starting to get it – with each passing day, especially once the Iraqi elections occur, the insurgents will be seen as thugs fighting fellow Iraqis and Muslims, not an American “occupation.”



Over the last year or so persons opposed to the war in Iraq have often pointed to the controversial claim that Iraq had attempted to acquire uranium from Africa, specifically Niger, as proof positive that the Bush-Blair camp trumped up charges that Saddam Hussein was actively seeking nuclear power. The controversy surrounds documents, later proven as forgeries, that Niger was responding to a request by Hussein for uranium, and that Iraq had sent delegates to secure it. Before the discovery of forged documents Bush uttered his 16-word truth spun as a lie in his 2002 State of the Union Address: “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.” It was true. The UK government had learned this. Nonetheless the issue suddenly became the forged documents instead of the uranium. The critics of the president had their opportunity. This included Ambassador Joe Wilson, ultra antiwar advocate, who wrote his now famous NY Times op-ed reassuring the American public that under no circumstances was Niger going to sell its uranium – hey, they promised. But note, the British intelligence claimed, as quoted by Bush, that it wasn’t just that Iraq was trying to secure uranium from Niger, but from Africa. A frustrated Tony Blair continues to this day to assert that the forged documents were not the only piece of evidence his intelligence services used to verify the claim.

Today, a story in the Financial Times seems to vindicate both Bush and Blair:

Illicit sales of uranium from Niger were being negotiated with five states including Iraq at least three years before the US-led invasion, senior European intelligence officials have told the Financial Times. Intelligence officers learned between 1999 and 2001 that uranium smugglers planned to sell illicitly mined Nigerien uranium ore, or refined ore called yellow cake, to Iran, Libya, China, North Korea and Iraq.

These claims support the assertion made in the British government dossier on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programme in September 2002 that Iraq had sought to buy uranium from an African country, confirmed later as Niger. George W. Bush, US president, referred to the issue in his State of the Union address in January 2003. The claim that the illicit export of uranium was under discussion was widely dismissed when letters referring to the sales - apparently sent by a Nigerien official to a senior official in Saddam Hussein's regime - were proved by the International Atomic Energy Agency to be forgeries. This embarrassed the US and led the administration to reverse its earlier claim.

But European intelligence officials have for the first time confirmed that information provided by human intelligence sources during an operation mounted in Europe and Africa produced sufficient evidence for them to believe that Niger was the centre of a clandestine international trade in uranium.

According to a senior counter-proliferation official, meetings between Niger officials and would-be buyers from the five countries were held in several European countries, including Italy. Intelligence officers were convinced that the uranium would be smuggled from abandoned mines in Niger, thereby circumventing official export controls. "The sources were trustworthy. There were several sources, and they were reliable sources," an official involved in the European intelligence gathering operation said.

Don’t expect this important item to get it’s fair share of the 24-hour news coverage.



Bill Kristol points out last week’s obvious error by the NY Times, in it’s reporting of the Saddam-Osama link:

Here is the New York Times, editorializing in high dudgeon on June 17:

Now President Bush should apologize to the American people. . . . Of all the ways Mr. Bush persuaded Americans to back the invasion of Iraq last year, the most plainly dishonest was his effort to link his war of choice with the battle against terrorists worldwide. . . . Mr. Bush and his top advisers . . . should have known all along that there was no link between Iraq and Al Qaeda.

Here are excerpts from a front-page article by Thom Shanker in the New York Times one week later, on June 25:

Contacts between Iraqi intelligence agents and Osama bin Laden when he was in Sudan in the mid-1990s were part of a broad effort by Baghdad to work with organizations opposing the Saudi ruling family, according to a newly disclosed document obtained by the Americans in Iraq. . . .[more in link]

So much for "no link between Iraq and al Qaeda." So much for the claim of the Times editorial, and of its page-one headline the same day mischaracterizing the 9/11 Commission staff report. We look forward to the editors' apology.

More important, we look forward to the Bush administration seriously and relentlessly engaging the debate over the Saddam-al Qaeda terror connection. We hope we do not wait in vain. The terror link issue, by contrast, should be a clear winner. Saddam and Osama had a "relationship" in the past, and sought continuing "cooperation" between their two "organizations." Could the president of the United States have simply left Saddam in power, with sanctions coming off, reconstituting his weapons programs, confident that Saddam and al Qaeda would not work together again in the future? Would this have been a reasonable course of action? This is a genuinely important debate for the country to have in this election year. It is a good debate for the Bush administration--if it has the wit and the nerve to engage it.

Kristol is right – this really is a no-brainer. Just by reading the news every day as an amateur I have collected piece after piece of evidence showing a relationship between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. A professional should have no problem coming up with the talking points for the 2004 election debates. The Bush administration need not prove that Saddam had anything to do with 9-11 (not as likely), nor do they even need to prove that Saddam actively supported them (more likely). He only need show that there was a cooperative relationship between the two (a certainty); that Saddam turned a willing blind eye to any terrorists operating in his country (and not just with Al Qaeda [Abu Nidal, Abu Abbas, Abu Zarqawi]); that Saddam was seeking opportunity to use al Qaeda as a conduit of aggression against the US, its allies and their interests.



Remember Moqtada al-Sadr? A few weeks ago and months ago he was the single biggest thorn in the side of the US military. His Mahdi Army, a professional sounding name for a group of thugs with AK-47s, had secured Kut, Karbala and Najaf, among other places. His movement was inaccurately portrayed by the media as the beginning of a popular Shiite revolt, not allied with either the Baathists or foreign terrorists, against US occupation. While al-Sadr is still wanted for the 2003 murder of a local Shiite leader, he is nothing more than just another has-been forming a political party for the upcoming elections. In just two months the US used a steady supply of cash and controlled force to turn the tide against Sadr. The US military is already studying the lesson of success for future application.

As described by top commanders in Iraq and senior policy makers in Washington, the campaign was a mix of military tactics, political maneuverings, media management and a generous dollop of cash for quickly rebuilding war-ravaged cities — a formula that, if it survives the test of time, could become a model for future fighting against the persistent insurrections plaguing Iraq.

As quickly as the military spent its ammunition, though, it spent its money in an effort to heal some of the wounds it was inflicting, and those dealt by the militia as well. From the moment the Americans recaptured Kut, the first town where they reclaimed control, officers switched from military to civil operations. Having scattered the enemy, they pulled them back together and put them to work in an amusement park destroyed in the fight. "These are young men who have been poisoned, unemployed, disenfranchised and very poorly led," General Dempsey said. "We found a local tribal sheik who said he could corral them. We hired him to repair the amusement park, and he in turn hired these young men." The example was repeated in Diwaniya and all across south-central Iraq, where General Dempsey spent several hundred thousand dollars to pay locals to remove rubble, rebuild roads and finance claims for damaged homes and businesses.

"We never had an operation to go after Sadr inside the holy city," said Maj. Gen. John Sattler of the Marine Corps, director of American military operations for the Middle East. "We did not want to endanger the holy shrines. We stayed clear of those." So the plan focused on chipping away at the Sadr militia with controlled strikes, and working behind the scenes with more moderate Shiite clerics to isolate him and undercut his local support. "The more he and his followers occupied towns like Najaf and Kufa, the more Iraqis were becoming fed up with the negative impact on their towns," General Sattler said. "We felt very strongly he was being marginalized."

"What Moktada al-Sadr was trying to do was take a very narrow uprising — it was not a broad-based popular uprising; it was narrow — and demonstrate his ability to stand up to the coalition and in so doing broaden his support base," General Dempsey said. "We decided that we can't allow that to happen. It had to be dealt with very aggressively, very rapidly, very decisively." His division would retake Kut, Diwaniya, Karbala and then Kufa and Najaf, and in that order. He issued the order, and 19 hours later a brigade and 112 combat vehicles had made the 180-mile trip from Najaf to Kut. The Americans first had to cross a bridge that engineers said could withstand the weight of their tanks — maybe. Instead, General Dempsey sent smaller, armor-plated Humvees of the Second Light Cavalry charging over the bridge into the militia forces. The heavier tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles sidestepped 46 miles north to a stronger bridge at Numaniya and then back south along the river bank to Kut, attacking simultaneously and catching the militia fighters in the pincer.

Within 48 hours, the Americans recaptured the municipal building, the local TV station and bridges in and out of Kut. The Americans then took back Diwaniya, relieving a Spanish brigade that then withdrew after the new Spanish prime minister summoned them home, and securing a provincial capital that sits between two of the occupation forces' major supply routes. The offensive into Karbala presented the Americans with their first battle in a town with a shrine, as Sadr militiamen had taken over a holy site and the adjacent main thoroughfare. Seventy-two hours of intense fighting brought hundreds of Iraqi casualties, but the militia still could not be dislodged. "We didn't want to take our combat vehicles right up to the shrine, so we conducted a feint," General Dempsey said. "We ran a tank company team on each side of the ring road, north and south of the holy shrine."

The militiamen left the mosque area to confront the rolling and dismounted troops, not knowing that General Dempsey had put a pair of AC-130 gunships aloft to attack the exposed militiamen with devastating Gatling guns, cannons and howitzers. "By the next day," General Dempsey said, "they had disappeared."

Yet another goal was to discredit Mr. Sadr inside Iraq. Brig. Gen. Mark P. Hertling, a First Armored Division assistant commander whose responsibilities include information operations, said the Americans "advertised" what Mr. Sadr had done on radio and TV and with handbills and posters. The list of accusations included stealing money from shrines and mosques to finance his organization, running an illegal religious court in all the major cities, using amusement parks in Kut, Najaf and Karbala to store weapons, establishing illegal checkpoints to shake down travelers and ruining businesses during pilgrimage periods in Najaf and Karbala.

Sadr is still around, of course, and could make another try later. But for now his movement is contained to shrine of Najaf. However, time is not on his side. With every day of training the Iraqi forces will get better. If Sadr tries at a later date to gain power the Iraqis will be able to respond.



As all the world focuses on Iraq and as the media and Left make a coordinated effort to undercut a Bush victory in November not many are paying attention to Sudan. But what does one expect from an elitist community that would much prefer plugging Michael Moore’s new anti-Bush screed disguised as “documentary”? Why bother covering actual atrocities when the new Leftists can instead fabricate ones against Bush. Beyond a statement on today’s media, Sudan offers a lesson on the United Nations itself. Sudan has for several years in a row been voted by fellow third-world despots as a member on the UN’s Human Rights Commission. One would hope that a committee labeled for human rights might actually be concerned with human rights, but such hope is misguided. This is because the UN, other than being a massive, bureaucratic and corrupt institution, has a fatal flaw of giving voice and legitimacy to all countries, no matter how illiberal is their rule or how non-representative is its government. Sudan is the pinnacle of UN failure, exemplified today: this “human rights” committee member issued a warning to it’s citizens this weekend – a warning to shut up.

The Sudanese government dispatched 500 men last week to this sweltering camp of 40,000 near El Fashir, capital of North Darfur state, the refugees and aid workers said. The men, some dressed in civilian clothes, others in military uniforms, warned the refugees to keep quiet about their experiences when Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan visit the region this week.

Darfur has been the scene of more than 16 months of conflict between residents of the region and Arab militiamen backed by the government. Aid workers say 30,000 people have been killed by the militia and more than 1.2 million forced to flee their homes.
"They kicked us and said, 'Stop talking,' " said Malki Ali Abduallah, 25, who fled the fighting six months ago with six children and a cooking pot. "I said, 'No, no, no. I am angry. I am tired. I don't want to be quiet. "You already stole my life. What else can you take?" she recounted saying, sweating in the 115 degree midday heat as 40 people gathered around her in support, many telling similar stories.

Near the crowd, however, stern-faced men wearing safari outfits, pilot sunglasses and leopard-skin slippers listened in and made calls on cell phones. The villagers and the aid workers said the men were among those dispatched by the government. The men also told the villagers that they would impersonate victims when the U.S. and U.N. delegations arrived and tell them that the government had done nothing wrong and that rebels operating against the government in the region were to blame, the villagers and aid workers said.

That’s our UN. We haven’t much choice about involving ourselves with the institution. Isolation from the UN would cause more cases of Sudan than less. However, we can analyze how are involved with the UN. Put simply, does it make sense to follow the advice of candidate John Kerry, who urges more empowerment for the UN, without any reform of that body? Don’t count on such questions aimed at Kerry during presidential debates, but the Bush people should use Sudan as an example of the world we face because of the corruptibility of the UN. It was a noble cause, and created as such, but the world body is now nothing more than a venue for dictators to excuse one another from their atrocities.



"The U.S. has done more than anyone else in Darfur, and the Bush administration has done more than any other administration about Sudan," says Nina Shea of the human-rights group Freedom House. The United States has pledged nearly $200 million in aid to the region. The European Union so far is kicking in a little more than $10 million — from all 25 countries in the EU combined. It is the United States that is pushing hard for a tough U.N. Security Council resolution that will call on the Sudanese government to end its support for violence and allow aid to flow into Darfur. This is consistent with the administration's history of involvement in Sudan.

Negotiations between the North and South had been bumping along ineffectually for years, until President Bush appointed former Sen. John Danforth — now the U.S. representative to the United Nations — as his special envoy to the country. High-level Bush officials were engaged in the peace talks on a daily basis, and finally a cease-fire was forged this May. The Sudanese government has repeatedly proven itself susceptible to international pressure throughout the years, which is why there is hope for Darfur — if only the world can be bothered to create the pressure.

There as yet is no "CNN effect" in Darfur, the sense of urgency that comes from international media attention. The press has mostly been AWOL, with the exception of New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, whose searing reports have made him a one-man call-to-action. The Muslim world has reserved its outrage for the prison abuses at Abu Ghraib, even though a spoonful of the same condemnation applied to Sudan could help save hundreds of thousands of Muslim lives. As for the United Nations, it recently welcomed Sudan onto the U.N. Human Rights Commission, where, with China and Cuba, it will have lots of nasty company.

Unfortunately, Sudan doesn't make natural fodder for Bush-bashers, or we might hear more about the issue. For the President's critics the word "diplomacy" means one thing — strong-arm Israel. And "multilateralism" tends to mean only appeasing France. So the administration's diplomatic achievement in Sudan might as well not exist, and its effort to muster other international actors, from the United Nations to Europe, behind a multilateral diplomatic and humanitarian aid initiative in Darfur is ignored. In this case, cries of "blood for oil" would have to be directed at China, which is obstructing diplomatic pressure on Sudan because of its oil business there — so, predictably, there are simply no cries of "blood for oil."

-- Rich Lowry



Is there anything interesting in "My Life" by Bill Clinton? Oh, yes. Page 870. The Clintons are in New Zealand and finally get to meet "Sir Edmund Hillary, who had explored the South Pole in the 1950s, was the first man to reach the top of Mount Everest and, most important, was the man Chelsea's mother had been named for." Hmm. Edmund Hillary reached the top of Everest in 1953. Hillary Rodham was born in 1947, when Sir Edmund was an obscure New Zealand beekeeper and an unlikely inspiration for two young parents in the Chicago suburbs. I mentioned this in Britain's Sunday Telegraph eight years ago this very week, after this little story was trotted out the first time, but like so many curious anomalies in the Clinton record, it somehow cruises on indestructibly. By the time Sir Edmund shuffles off this mortal coil, the New York Times headline will read: "Man for Whom President Rodham Named Dies; Climbed Everest in 1947."
-- Mark Steyn



"They dare not admit the truth lest they look like complete fools for launching our country into a reckless, discretionary war against a nation that posed no immediate threat to us whatsoever." -- Al Gore- June 24, 2004

“Even if we give first priority to the destruction of terrorist networks, and even if we succeed, there are still governments that could bring us great harm. And there is a clear case that one of these governments in particular represents a virulent threat in a class by itself: Iraq. As far as I am concerned, a final reckoning with that government should be on the table.” -- Al Gore, Remarks To The U.S. Council On Foreign Relations, Washington, DC, February 12, 2002

"Iraq's search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to deter and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power." Al Gore, Sept. 23, 2002.

“…if you allow someone like Saddam Hussein to get nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles, chemical weapons, biological weapons, how many people is he going to kill with such weapons? He’s already demonstrated a willingness to use these weapons; he poison gassed his own people. He used poison gas and other weapons of mass destruction against his neighbors. This man has no compunctions about killing lots and lots of people. So this is a way to save lives and to save the stability and peace of a region of the world that is important to the peace and security of the entire world.” – Al Gore to CNN’s “Larry King Live,” December 16, 1998

Courtesy of writer Tim Blair.


Friday, June 25, 2004

Charles Deulfer, who just replaced David Kay as the chief US inspector for Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, has located almost a dozen chemically filled shells. Deulfer says Iraqi insurgents are also seeking the weapons for use against US and coalition troops.

"What we are finding is that there are some networks that are seeking to tap into ... this expertise, and try to use it against the United States," Mr. Deulfer told Fox News Channel's Brit Hume. "And we are very concerned about that. That is a problem." Mr. Deulfer said that investigations into arms laboratories in Iraq and interviews with former Iraqi arms specialists revealed that "former experts in the WMD program are being recruited by anticoalition groups."

On the chemical munitions, Mr. Deulfer, who replaced David Kay as the head of the Iraq Survey Group earlier this year, said that the group has uncovered 10 to 12 bombs filled with blistering mustard gas or the nerve agent sarin. "We're not sure how many more are out there that haven't been found, but we've found 10 or 12 sarin and mustard rounds," he said. "I'm reluctant to judge what that means at this point, but there's other aspects of the program which we still have to flush out."

Funny. Just yesterday Al Gore said there was no WMD in Iraq. Funny too how few media outlets are reporting Deulfer’s discovery.



"Adversary's Tactics Leave Troops Surprised, Exhausted" – Washington Post, Page 1

BAQUBAH, Iraq, June 24 -- The 1st Infantry Division soldiers who walked off the battlefield Thursday, exhausted by the frantic pace of combat and a baking summer sun, had seen nothing like it in their three months here. In dawn-to-dusk fighting, more than 100 armed insurgents overran neighborhoods and occupied downtown buildings, using techniques that U.S. commanders said resembled those once employed by the Iraqi army. Well-equipped and highly coordinated, the insurgents demonstrated a new level of strength and tactical skill that alarmed the soldiers facing them.
"Iraqis Back New Leaders, Poll Says" – Washington Post, Page 19

A large majority of Iraqis say they have confidence in the new interim government of Prime Minister Ayad Allawi that is set to assume political power on Wednesday, according to a poll commissioned by U.S. officials in Iraq. The results are a significant victory for the United States and the United Nations. Together they negotiated with squabbling Iraqi factions in an attempt to cobble together a viable government that balanced disparate ethnic and religious groups. The first survey since the new government was announced by U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi about three weeks ago showed that 68 percent of Iraqis have confidence in their new leaders. The numbers are in stark contrast to widespread disillusionment with the previous Iraqi Governing Council, which was made up of 25 members picked by the United States and which served as the Iraqi partner to the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority. Only 28 percent of Iraqis backed the council when it was dissolved last month, according to a similar poll in May.
Page 1 versus page 19 priorities: So, tell me again that the major media isn’t actively attempting to portray Iraq as a lost cause...

Were we to stop just a few paragraphs into the Post’s coverage of Baqubah battles we might be convinced that the Iraqi insurgency had just executed the second Tet offensive. That Vietnam battle was for the North Vietnamese a loss militarily – the US forces effectively and quickly drove the enemy out of their position – but the media helped destroy public confidence in the war by their coverage of it.

A “new level of strength and tactical skill” by Iraqi insurgents was not unexpected. The military knows that as June 30 approaches, and every day until January elections, the insurgency will sow as much chaos in Iraq as possible. The insurgency, more complex and fractured than that name suggests, has turned their attacks on the Iraqi population in the hopes that doing so will delay elections. Once elections occur the insurgency can no longer claim to be a “popular” movement (it never was) against an “occupation.” It will then be killing democratic Muslims.

By the end of the day, infantry and armored patrols had driven the insurgents from the battered center of the city, though some remained in control of two police stations in districts long hostile to the U.S.-led occupation. Two U.S. soldiers were killed in the fight, including a company commander struck by a rocket-propelled grenade. "They were definitely better than what we normally face," said Lt. T.J. Grider, 25, whose platoon fought for more than 12 hours. "But I think what we did today was pretty significant."

Coming less than a week before the U.S. occupation formally ends, the attacks brought into sharp focus the threat that lies ahead for Iraq's interim government and the challenge that remains for U.S. forces who will stay here to defend it. The U.S.-trained Iraqi police were routed or abandoned their posts rather than face a more capable foe, and military commanders here said the battle for this city 35 miles northeast of Baghdad was far from over.

In recent weeks, young company and platoon commanders here have been told to prepare for the June 30 handover to the interim Iraqi government by giving the Iraqi police more authority on the streets. But the inability of the police to stand up to the insurgency Thursday will slow the process, soldiers said. "That changeover is going to be a little tougher," said Van Hecke, a West Point graduate. "But I guess some can say the only reason they are doing these attacks is because we are here. There are two sides to every coin."

With only two hours of sleep over the past two days, Grider cleaned his M-4 rifle on the sofa of a common room as night fell. "Jeopardy" played on the television as he tested the infrared scope. He said he was on standby, prepared to lead his platoon out if called on later in the evening. "I don't know what's going to happen," said Grider, a West Point graduate from Chicago. "You have to give Iraqis a chance to do it themselves. That's going to happen over the next few weeks, and they'll prove they can do it or our mission will stay pretty much unchanged."

God bless our soldiers; they have a pure perspective that our negative press not only lacks, but often rejects. These guys and gals are hard core and know the sacrifices, but they also realize what they need to do to get the Iraqis standing on their feet.

Meanwhile, the Iraqi population is fully embracing the new Iraqi government. Perhaps we’ve turned that corner, finally, and the common Iraqi will now cast aside skepticism and believe what we say – we want them, not us, to rule Iraq:

But 73 percent of Iraqis polled approved of Allawi to lead the new government, 84 percent approved of President Ghazi Yawar and almost two-thirds backed the new Cabinet. These impressive showings indicate that the new leaders have support spanning ethnic and religious groups, U.S. officials said. "What comes across in the poll and what we've sensed for a while is that Iraqis remain open-minded about the new government," a senior coalition official in Baghdad said in an interview.

Four out of every five Iraqis expected that the new government will "make things better" for Iraq after the handover, with 10 percent expecting the situation to remain the same and 7 percent anticipating a decline, the poll shows. U.S. officials are particularly encouraged because the poll showed high name recognition for the new leadership, in contrast with many members of the former council, U.S. officials said. More than 70 percent of Iraqis polled have heard or read a significant amount about the new leaders, who were named about three weeks ago.

"That's huge penetration -- and it happened quickly," said the coalition official, who asked for anonymity because of the rules on naming officials in Baghdad. "It's partly because Allawi is on all the Arab media every day talking about security. He's visiting sites, and there are constantly images of the prime minister tackling security, which is what Iraqis care most about right now. It resonates, and it comes across in these figures."

Despite the growing number of attacks on Iraqi security forces, including several yesterday, public confidence in the new police and army has reached new highs, the poll shows. Seventy percent of Iraqis polled supported the new army, and 82 percent supported the police.

A great sign. Keep your fingers crossed. In the meantime we need to keep Allawi protected as though he were President Bush himself.



“Thus, for all these reasons, President Bush and Vice President Cheney have decided to fight to the rhetorical death over whether or not there's a meaningful connection between Iraq and al Qaeda. They think that if they lose that argument and people see the truth, then they'll not only lose support for the controversial decision to go to war, but also lose some of the new power they've picked up from the Congress and the courts, and face harsh political consequences at the hands of the American people. As a result, President Bush is now intentionally misleading the American people by continuing to aggressively and brazenly assert a linkage between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein.” – former Vice President Al Gore yesterday.
Somebody send Al “Jazeera” Gore a copy of today’s NY Times:

[NY TIMES, today] WASHINGTON, June 24 — Contacts between Iraqi intelligence agents and Osama bin Laden when he was in Sudan in the mid-1990's were part of a broad effort by Baghdad to work with organizations opposing the Saudi ruling family, according to a newly disclosed document obtained by the Americans in Iraq. The document states that Iraq agreed to rebroadcast anti-Saudi propaganda, and that a request from Mr. bin Laden to begin joint operations against foreign forces in Saudi Arabia went unanswered. There is no further indication of collaboration.

A translation of the new Iraqi document was reviewed by a Pentagon working group in the spring, officials said. It included senior analysts from the military's Joint Staff, the Defense Intelligence Agency and a joint intelligence task force that specialized in counterterrorism issues, they said. The task force concluded that the document "appeared authentic," and that it "corroborates and expands on previous reporting" about contacts between Iraqi intelligence and Mr. bin Laden in Sudan, according to the task force's analysis.

The document, which asserts that Mr. bin Laden "was approached by our side," states that Mr. bin Laden previously "had some reservations about being labeled an Iraqi operative," but was now willing to meet in Sudan, and that "presidential approval" was granted to the Iraqi security service to proceed. At the meeting, Mr. bin Laden requested that sermons of an anti-Saudi cleric be rebroadcast in Iraq. That request, the document states, was approved by Baghdad. Mr. bin Laden "also requested joint operations against foreign forces" based in Saudi Arabia, where the American presence has been a rallying cry for Islamic militants who oppose American troops in the land of the Muslim pilgrimage sites of Mecca and Medina.

Interesting that the NY Times admits it has had this document in its possession since April. Only now do they release it. Writer Ed Morrissey points out the sheer hypocrisy of the NY Times, for just a week ago demanding Bush apologize for asserting the linkage when the Times was sitting on this report. But which do you think will get greater press coverage – this new report or Al Gore’s outrageous and false accusations?

Gore is the one misleading the America public by claiming that an “extensive independent investigation by the bipartisan commission formed to study the 9/11 attacks has just reported that there was no meaningful relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda of any kind.”

The 9-11 Commission said nothing of the sort. Commission Chairman Thomas Kean responded to press spin with the following: "Were there contacts between al Qaeda and Iraq? Yes. What our staff statement found is there is no credible evidence that we can discover, after a long investigation, that Iraq and Saddam Hussein in any way were part of the attack [9-11] on the United States."

Even if Saddam Hussein did not plan 9-11 with al Qaeda, there is ample evidence that Iraq was involved with al Qaeda in terrorism, including giving housing and money to support Abdul Yassin, one of the 1993 WTC bombers, while he hid in Iraq. Gore purposely confuses the difference between Iraq and 9-11 connection (and there are some) and Iraq and al Qaeda connection (there are many). 9-11? We haven’t found anything fully substantial yet to tie Saddam to 9-11. But contacts? A relationship? Yes.

Commissioner John Lehman elaborated further last Sunday’s Meet the Press:

“Well, I really totally disagree with what I thought was outrageously irresponsible journalism, to portray what the staff statement--and again, this is a staff statement; the commissioners have not addressed this issue yet--to portray it as contradicting what the administration said. There's really very little difference between what our staff found, what the administration is saying today and what the Clinton administration said. The Clinton administration portrayed the relationship between al- Qaeda and Saddam's intelligence services as one of cooperating in weapons development. There's abundant evidence of that. In fact, as you'll soon hear from Joe Klein, President Clinton justified his strike on the Sudan "pharmaceutical" site because it was thought to be manufacturing VX gas with the help of the Iraqi intelligence service. Since then, that's been validated. There has been traces of Empta that comes straight from Iraq, and this confounds the Republicans, who accused Clinton of doing it for political purposes. But it confirms the cooperative relationship, which were the words of the Clinton administration, between al-Qaeda and Iraqi intelligence.

The Bush administration has never said that they participated in the 9/11 attack. They've said, and our staff has confirmed, there have been numerous contacts between Iraqi intelligence and al-Qaeda over a period of 10 years, at least. And now there's new intelligence, and this has come since our staff report has been written because, as you know, new intelligence is coming in steadily from the interrogations in Guantanamo and in Iraq and from captured documents. And some of these documents indicate that there is at least one officer of Saddam's Fedayeen, a lieutenant colonel, who was a very prominent member of al-Qaeda. That still has to be confirmed. But the vice president was right when he said that he may have things that we don't yet have. And we are now in the process of getting this latest intelligence.”

Al Gore is setting himself up to look even more off his hinges than he already was. Furthermore, Al Gore himself is a party to previously backing the linkage between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. The Clinton administration we so far as to push this relationship in a legal indictment against Osama bin Laden.

The text of the 1998 Grand Jury indictment, announced at a press conference by then Attorney General Janet Reno and U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White, is as follows: “4. Al Qaeda also forged alliances with the National Islamic Front in the Sudan and with the government of Iran and its associated terrorist group Hezballah for the purpose of working together against their perceived common enemies in the West, particularly the United States. In addition, al Qaeda reached an understanding with the government of Iraq that al Qaeda would not work against that government and that on particular projects, specifically including weapons development, al Qaeda would work cooperatively with the Government of Iraq.”

Just this March, before the 9-11 Commission, Clinton’s secretary of defense, William Cohen, cited the relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda as a reason the Clinton administration decided to bomb a pharmaceutical factory in Sudan:

”But to give you an example, this particular facility [al Shifa], according to the intelligence we had at that time, had been constructed under extraordinary security circumstances, even with some surface-to-air missile capability or defense capabilities; that the plant itself had been constructed under these security measures; that the--that the plant had been funded, in part, by the so-called Military Industrial Corporation; that bin Laden had been living there; that he had, in fact, money that he had put into this Military Industrial Corporation; that the owner of the plant had traveled to Baghdad to meet with the father of the VX program; and that the CIA had found traces of EMPTA nearby the facility itself. According to all the intelligence, there was no other known use for EMPTA at that time other than as a precursor to VX.

Under those circumstances, I said, "That's actionable enough for me," that that plant could, in fact, be producing not baby aspirin or some other pharmaceutical for the benefit of the people, but it was enough for me to say we're going to take--we should take it out, and I recommended that.

Now, I was criticized for that, saying, "You didn't have enough." And I put myself in the position of coming before you and having someone like you say to me, "Let me get this straight, Mr. Secretary. We've just had a chemical weapons attack upon our cities or our troops, and we've lost several hundred or several thousand, and this is the information, which you had at your fingertips--you had a plant that was built under the following circumstances; you had a manager that went to Baghdad; you had Osama bin Laden, who had funded, at least, the corporation; and you had traces of EMPTA; and you did what? You did nothing?" Is that a responsible activity on the part of the Secretary of Defense? And the answer is pretty clear. So I was satisfied, even though that still is pointed as a mistake--that it was the right thing to do then. I believe--I would do it again based on that kind of intelligence.

Are Janet Reno, Mary Jo White, and Bill Cohen all liars too, Al? If the Bush administration is lying about the Iraq-al Qaeda connection, as Al Gore asserts, than so was the Clinton administration. And as a member of that administration, so was Al Gore.



“I am convinced that our founders would counsel us today that the greatest challenge facing our republic is not terrorism but how we react to terrorism, and not war, but how we manage our fears and achieve security without losing our freedom.” – Al Gore.
Frankly, I probably shouldn’t spend so much time retorting the crazed accusations of a washed-out, bitter beyond repair, politically irrelevant has-been that is Al Gore. But, being the former vice president for eight years, his comments give revelation to how we got to this point, and why attack after attack by terrorists throughout the 1990s were never properly responded to. It also gives evidence why we cannot afford the Democratic Party to gain the Oval Office, at least not until a more rational Democrat comes to power.

Note to Mr. Gore: our founding fathers used musket and cannon to defeat their enemies. Our third president, Thomas Jefferson, passed legislation (the Alien and Sedition Acts) that makes the Patriot Act meek in comparison.

Thank God Gore lost the election.



"After the events of Sept. 11, 2001, and before the start of the military operation in Iraq, [Russian] intelligence repeatedly received information that the official services of the Saddam regime were preparing terrorist acts against military and civil targets on the territory of the United States and beyond.” – Russian President Vladmir Putin, last week.



North Korea yesterday threatened to test a nuclear weapon. Iran announced that it would resume building equipment necessary to craft nuclear weapons. And what did one expect considering the international community’s conduct in the prelude to war in Iraq? Since he made the comments critics have lambasted President Bush’s argument that the UN risked irrelevancy by not acting to enforce ten years worth of sanctions against Iraq. Critics further portray Bush as currently eating his words because the UN is assisting in Iraq’s political reconstruction. But the attack skewed the context. Bush’s comments were in relation to the Security Council enforcing policy in a future unforeseen crisis. His September 2002 remark: “Are Security Council resolutions to be honored and enforced, or cast aside without consequence? Will the United Nations serve the purpose of its founding, or will it be irrelevant?” The world was watching, as certainly were North Korea and Iran. Because the international community refused to stand up to Saddam Hussein with even the threat of force other dictators have no fear of defying international peace initiatives. North Korea and Iran are the fruit of that seed.

Of the pair Iran is far more dangerous. It’s announcement was fact, whereas North Korea was a simple threat uttered during six-way talks with the US, South Korea, China, Russia and Japan, made as what one Bush administration official called “a fairly transparent ploy” to argue “why we should accept their proposal right away.” The North Korean government wants major economic concessions in return for just suspending their nuclear development, not for abandoning it, which is what the US is backing.

The official said that the bulk of the meeting, which he described as "thorough and serious," covered a U.S. proposal floated on Wednesday to allow other nations to supply energy aid to North Korea if it agreed to the complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantling of its suspected nuclear programs. "It is similar to things they have said before. Threats that North Korea has made before have really gotten them nothing; they have only increased North Korea's isolation," the official added. "The way out of that is not to threaten but rather to accept our proposals and resolve all these issues."
Unlike the case of Iran, the US has some major allies to make North Korea think twice about truly mass producing nuclear arms. Should they do so both Japan and South Korea will have little choice but to reply in kind. Iran, however, is isolated. While Iran’s announcement was a slap in the face of the British, French and Germans, who have all tacked a less aggressive stance than the Bush administration, Iran must surely feel that Europe lacks the backbone to reply with anything other than toothless retaliation. Ironically, Iran’s actions have grudgingly pushed the Europeans into the arms of the Bush administration. How’s that crow taste, Chirac?

European officials and arms-control specialists called Iran's move a major setback and a reflection of the difficulties faced by those working to check Iran's nuclear ambitions as evidence mounts that the country is concealing information from international inspectors. John R. Bolton, undersecretary of state for arms control, told Congress that Iran's move is a "thumb in the eye of the international community." Bolton said the United States is determined to take the matter soon to the U.N. Security Council.

In a letter to the French, British and German foreign ministers, Iran said it will resume centrifuge production -- a move that would bring the country a significant step closer to making highly explosive nuclear material.

"All Iran would have to do now is put uranium into the centrifuges, and then they can start producing a key ingredient for nuclear weapons," said David Albright, a former nuclear inspector.

In diplomatic terms, Iran's defiance was seen as a direct challenge to the United States, which is trying to convince allies that it is time to punish Iran at the Security Council. U.S. and European officials, working in concert, claimed a victory last week when the International Atomic Energy Agency's 35-member board censured Iran for failing to comply fully with agency inspectors trying to determine whether the country is hiding a weapons program. The board asked Iran to stop all enrichment production and to reconsider design and construction of a heavy-water nuclear reactor. In the past 18 months, inspectors have uncovered an escalating series of contradictions in Iranian statements, along with evidence that nuclear specialists consider strongly suggestive of a clandestine nuclear weapons program, as the United States has asserted.

The ball is back in the court of the Europeans. How shall they respond? At this point only the harshest answer will do. If we are to stop the defiance of every tinpot dictatorship the Europeans and UN must swallow their bitter pill and back the Bush administration’s demand to bring the matter before the Security Council for the purpose of sanctioning Iran. If not, our dangerous planet just became more so.



As we neared three years of fighting in World War II, Patton was stalled near Germany for want of gas, V-2 rockets began raining down on England, and we were fighting to take the Marianas in preparation for future B-29 bases. In comparison, what exactly is our current status in this, our confusing third year of war against Islamic fascists and their autocratic sponsors? Despite all the near paralysis over the 9/11 Commission, Abu Ghraib, denials about the obvious prior "ties" between Saddam's Iraq and al Qaeda, various "letters of conscience" posted by hypercritical legal grandees, former diplomats, generals, and D.C. apparatchiks, things in the strategic sense are ever so slowly looking up for the United States.
Victor Davis Hanson’s usually great Friday column.


Thursday, June 24, 2004

It’s a toss up whom the conventional bureaucratic and media forces hate more, John Ashcroft or Don Rumsfeld. They, especially the media, hate Ashcroft because he’s religious, and by their logic any person working in government who is of deep faith will be unable to make decisions without that faith affecting the process. Tell that to our religious founding fathers, eh? Rumsfeld is a different case altogether. The conventional bureaucracy hates Rumsfeld because he’s not a career bureaucrat, like them, but a corporate man trying to bring the enterprising skills of a CEO to the Pentagon. Rumsfeld doesn’t just obediently sign off on multi-billion dollar arms programs, like the Crusader howitzer, but instead asks why we need a weapon originally designed to fight the Soviets when the existing howitzer is working just fine. This ruffles the feathers of congressional leaders and lobbyists, in perpetual cahoots to make money and score political points by telling constituents about the new factory and jobs, etc. The media hates Rumsfeld for precisely the reason I like him: He’s direct, apolitical, non-politically correct, and most of all understands the post-9-11 world.

So, even though a batch of recently released White House memorandums on the treatment of Afghan and Iraqi detainees showed that senior administration officials had not condoned torture as official policy, it should not be surprising that the media is nonetheless gunning for Rumsfeld in an attempt to tie him to abuses at Abu Ghraib.

First they portray Rumsfeld as bungling and indecisive, then they portray him as calculating and so ambitious he desires the military to overtake intelligence and judiciary. Well, which is it?

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and his senior aides emerge as central players in the government's struggle over nearly three years to decide how far it could go to extract information from those captured in Afghanistan and Iraq and others imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The result, seen in the documents and in the officials' statements, is a trail of fitful ad hoc policymaking in which interrogation tactics were authorized for a time, then rescinded or modified after the Pentagon's lawyers or others raised legal, ethical or practical objections. Some practices authorized in the field were pulled back at the Pentagon level, and decisions on how to treat detainees were sometimes made case by case.

Rumsfeld, for example, approved in December 2002 a range of severe methods including the stripping of prisoners at Guantanamo, and using dogs to frighten them. He later rescinded those tactics and signed off on a shorter list of "exceptional techniques" suggested by a Pentagon working group in 2003, even though the panel pointed out that, historically, the U.S. military had rejected the use of force in interrogations. "Army interrogation experts view the use of force as an inferior technique that yields information of questionable quality," and distorts the behavior of those being questioned, the group report noted.

Part of the Pentagon leadership's drive for more leeway in interrogations can be traced to a historic change during Rumsfeld's tenure: the military's dramatically enhanced role in collecting and analyzing intelligence that can be used to thwart terrorist networks worldwide. To accomplish this, Rumsfeld has begun an unprecedented drive to build a Pentagon-based human intelligence apparatus that could one day rival the CIA's clandestine case officer program. This intelligence-gathering mission trumps most other priorities, including the desire to bring alleged wrongdoers to trial for their role in terrorist plots.

A suspected Iraqi member of the terrorist group Al Ansar did not receive such a thorough legal review, defense officials said. The man -- identified by U.S. News & World Report as Hiwa AbdulRahman Rashul -- was picked up by Kurdish soldiers in June or July of 2003 and taken outside Iraq by the CIA for interrogation. In October, the CIA's general counsel told the CIA's directorate of operations that it had to bring the man back to Iraq, since all Iraqi detainees were to be accorded treatment under the Geneva Conventions. Tenet asked Rumsfeld not to give the prisoner a number and to hide him from international Red Cross officials. He became lost in the system for seven months and was not interrogated by CIA or military officials during that time.
In his investigation into the abuse of detainees at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, Army Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba had criticized the CIA practice of maintaining such "ghost detainees" and called the practice "deceptive, contrary to Army doctrine and in violation of international law." Rumsfeld was asked at a news conference last week, "How is this case different from what Taguba was talking about, the ghost detainees?"

"It is just different, that's all," Rumsfeld replied.

"But can you explain how and why?"

"I can't."

Rumsfeld did a poor job explaining the ghost detainee case. First, the director of the CIA felt the detainee important enough to ask Rumsfeld to apply a CIA policy. Secondly, Hiwa AbdulRahman Rashul, as a terrorist member of Ansar al Islam (aka Al Ansar, and affiliated with the al Qaeda network), is by very definition an unlawful combatant. Whether or not the military’s policy banned ghosting Iraqis the Geneva Conventions should not apply to such an illegal combatant.

The paragraphs above underscore a major point: this is terra incognito for the United States. Our country has never before been in this situation. In previous wars our enemies wore uniforms, took orders from a known and recognized command and control apparatus, did not conceal their weapons, and (generally) obeyed the international rules of war. Past opponents may have skewed the last one, especially in prisoner treatment, but for the most part followed the Geneva Conventions enough so that they in turn were applied to them. Not so anymore. Our enemies disregard all rules of warfare by design. So, it’s not so much indecision or confusion, but rather that our State, Justice, Defense and intelligence departments are trying to figure out the best way to stay true to our beliefs while not simultaneously aiding the enemy.



What is torture? It’s different things to different people. But, one does not have to be an apologist of torture to note that while the abuses in Abu Ghraib were offensive, wrong and punishable, they seem to be far from the torture that runs rampant in other societies. Likewise, the a set of 24 methods which Donald Rumsfeld approved for interrogating Iraqi prisoners – and not to be confused with the abusive actions of seven soldiers at Abu Ghraib – cannot be considered torture. To understand this one should compare American “torture” to the torture of Saddam Hussein.

Rumsfeld: approved of “removing a detainee from the standard interrogation setting and putting him in a less comfortable room.”

Saddam era: “There was a machine designed for shredding plastic. Men were dropped into it and we were again made to watch. Sometimes they went in head first and died quickly. Sometimes they went in feet first and died screaming. It was horrible. I saw 30 people die like this. Their remains would be placed in plastic bags and we were told they would be used as fish food ... on one occasion, I saw Qusay [President Saddam Hussein's youngest son] personally supervise these murders." [Iraqi witness]

Rumsfeld: approved of “replacing hot rations with cold food or military Meals Ready to Eat.”

Saddam era: “The star witness against the government of Iraq hobbled into the room, her legs braced with clumsy metal callipers. "Anna" had been tortured two years ago. She is now four years old. Her father, Ali, is a thick-set Iraqi who used to work for Saddam's psychopathic son, Uday. Some time after the bungled assassination of Uday, Ali fell under suspicion… So the secret police came for his wife. Where is he? They tortured her. And when she didn't break, they tortured his daughter. "When did you last see your father? Has he phoned? Has he been in contact?" They half-crushed the toddler's feet. Now, she doesn't walk, she hobbles, and Ali fears that Saddam's men have crippled his daughter for life.”

Rumsfeld: approved of “adjusting the temperature to uncomfortable levels or introducing an unpleasant smell.”

Saddam era: “When I attended fourth grade in 1981, my teacher called me to the front of the class and asked: "Do your parents say anything bad about the government?" The whole class was staring at me. Stunned and scared, I answered, "No." But when one of my classmates said in passing that Iran was not so bad, she disappeared the next day, along with her family.” [Zainab Al-Suwaij, executive director of the American Islamic Congress]

Rumsfeld: approved of “reversing sleep cycles from night to day.”

Saddam era: “I was greeted at al-Radwaniya [prison] with what is known as "The Reception." They took my clothes off, laid me down on my back and dragged me by my legs across hot pavement until my back was a bloody mess. Then they made me roll in the sand. And just to make sure that the wounds got infected, I had to climb a 15-foot ladder and jump repeatedly into a pit of sewage water filled with blood and who knows what else. All because I wanted to stop playing soccer.” [Former Iraqi national soccer player Sharar Haydar]

Rumsfeld: approved of “deceiving detainees into thinking they were being questioned by people from a country other than the United States.”

Saddam era: “At one point, the interior minister becomes angry that a car apparently belonging to Uday Hussein, elder son of Saddam, gets precedence over his own vehicle in entering a security area. One of two guards at the gate begs forgiveness from Hasan, pleading: "Sir, I did not realize that you were with Mr. Uday. ... I didn't realize. Please, please, in the name of Saddam Hussein, please." The guard, continuing wherever possible with his appeals, is stripped of his epaulet, then his shirt and his beret, and the beatings begin — with wooden poles, sticks and cables. After about 15 minutes, as he lies prone, the attention of the police officers and the cameraman switches to another victim... The man, who gave his name as Ali, said, "We were beaten everyday like this for a month."... Police, Ali said, would show films of the beatings to Hasan, and if he thought a prisoner had escaped too lightly, that man would be pulled out of his crowded cell and beaten again.”

And Saddam era: “Farris Salman is one of the last victims of Mr. Hussein's rule. His speech is slurred because he is missing part of his tongue. Black-hooded paramilitary troops, the Fedayeen Saddam, run by Mr. Hussein's eldest son, Uday, pulled it out of his mouth with pliers last month, he said, and sliced it off with a box cutter. They made his family and dozens of his neighbors watch."

And Saddam era: “This is a regime that will gouge out the eyes of children to force confessions from their parents and grandparents. This is a regime that will crush all of the bones in the feet of a two-year-old-girl to force her mother to divulge her father’s whereabouts. This is a regime that will hold a nursing baby at arm’s length from its mother and allow the child to starve to death to force the mother to confess. This is a regime that will burn a person’s limbs off to force him to confess or comply. This is a regime that will slowly lower its victims into huge vats of acid, either to break their will or simply as a means of execution. This is a regime that applies electric shocks to the bodies of its victims, particularly their genitals, with great creativity. This is a regime that in [the year] 2000 decreed that the crime of criticizing the regime (which can be as harmless as suggesting that Saddam’s clothing does not match) would be punished by cutting out the offender’s tongue. This is a regime that practices systematic rape against its female victims. This is a regime that will drag in a man’s wife, daughter, or other female relative and repeatedly rape her in front of him. This is a regime that will force a white-hot metal rod into a person’s anus or other orifices. This is a regime that employs thalium poisoning, widely considered one of the most excruciating ways to die. This is a regime that will behead a young mother in the street in front of her house and children because her husband was suspected of opposing the regime. This is a regime that used chemical warfare on its own Kurdish citizens - not just on the fifteen thousand killed and maimed at Halabja but on scores of other villages all across Kurdistan. This is a regime that tested chemical and biological warfare agents on Iranian prisoners of war, using the POWs in controlled experiments to determine the best ways to disperse the agents to inflict the greatest damage.”

Can we have some context now?


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