Fighting to Win
Monday, November 29, 2004

Efforts to freeze terror funds unsuccessful

From The Jerusalem Post:
In a panel discussion for reporters, Rachel Ehrenfeld, director of the American Center for Democracy and the Center for the Study of Corruption and the Rule of Law, said European Union officials have repeatedly shied away from defining what terrorism is. Therefore, efforts to crack down on terror-financing activities are thwarted from the start, she said. Political rivalries, particularly European resentment of US-led initiatives, are also impeding efforts, she added.
As such, only $211 million of terrorist-related assets, out of billions, have been frozen in the three years since the September 11, 2001, attacks, Ehrenfeld said.


Left leaning press in France in decline

This sounds familiar:
Le Monde, like other French national dailies, has been experiencing financial hardship of late.

It has cut 90 staff after newsstand sales fell by more than 10 percent in a year to bring circulation down to around 340,000, and is looking for an investor to take a one-third stake for around EUR 50 million (USD 67 million).

It also had its reputation as a paper of reference badly damaged by a book, "The Hidden Face of Le Monde", published last year with allegations of bias, editorial arrogance and ambitions of influencing politics rather than reporting it. The newspaper strongly rejected the attacks.

Le Monde's rivals are faring little better in the marketplace.

Cash-strapped Liberation, which puts itself further to the left, fears its own independence may be called into question if a businessman, Edouard de Rothschild, sees through plans to grab a third of its capital in return for EUR 20 million (USD 27 million).


Tracking down terrorists in Mosul

From The New York Times:
At first the suspect was merely one of 115 Iraqis whom American troops corralled for questioning on Saturday night in a particularly nasty part of Mosul. But his belligerence stood out. And then he made his move.

Sitting where the troops had ordered him to sit - in front of an open-air cigarette store - the suspect flicked out of his pocket several folded sheets of handwritten notes. It was clear he hoped the pages would land unnoticed amid the clutter of the store just a step away.

They did not. A soldier scooped them up and handed them to an Iraqi interpreter working for the Americans. "Who has this? He is an insurgent!" shouted the interpreter, known only to the soldiers as Jeff the Fighting Kurd.

Jeff and another interpreter quickly translated the pages for the American officers who gathered around.

One passage mentioned a proposal for a large-scale attack against American troops, according to the interpreters. Another urged attacks on the families of Iraqis thought to be working for the Americans. Another described "how to get money and use the money for jihad," an interpreter said. And still another underscored the importance of "bringing information about who is working for the U.S. forces."

An American commander told embedded journalists not to report other passages - more specific, descriptive and pointed - for fear of jeopardizing efforts to gather intelligence and prevent attacks on American forces.


The Ukrainian elections

David Satter in the Wall Street Journal explains that since the demise of the Soviet Union, Ukraine has been ruled by an oligarchy of criminal clans.
A result of the absolutization of power in the former Soviet Union is that democracy has taken root only in the Baltic republics. In the other republics -- with the possible exceptions of Moldova and Georgia -- elections exist to confirm a decision that the authorities have already made. Until a few days ago, it appeared that Ukraine was about to strengthen this tradition. It was symbolic of the cynicism of the present Ukrainian leadership that the deputy head of Mr. Kuchma's administration reacted to the apparent poisoning of Mr. Yushchenko that has left his face pockmarked and partially paralyzed by suggesting that he should hire a food taster.

The popular revolt against the falsified election results in Ukraine has now spread from Yushchenko partisans to members of parliament, journalists working for state TV, and even members of the security forces. It could, if successful, reverse the relationship between rulers and ruled in Ukraine in a way that is dramatic enough to change the entire political psychology of the former Soviet space. It is for this reason that Mr. Putin has been so adamant in congratulating Mr. Yanukovich on his "victory." The example of a free Ukraine will morally isolate the Russian leadership, making clear that Russia can either join the civilized world or preserve authoritarian rule, but not do both. In this, Ukraine may repay a country that brought it communist enslavement with an example of freedom, and with the preconditions for a new start.



The Appeasement of Iran

Micheal Ledeen on the "negotiations" with Iran:
No serious person can believe that the negotiations are going to block, or even seriously delay, the Iranian race to acquire atomic bombs. The European posturing is the Western counterpart of the Iranian deception, a ritual dance designed to put a flimsy veil over the nakedness of the real activities. The old-fashioned name for this sort of thing is "appeasement," and was best described by Churchill, referring to Chamberlain's infamous acceptance of Hitler's conditions at Munich. Chamberlain had to choose between war and dishonor, opted for the latter, and got the former as well. That is now the likely fate of Blair, Chirac, and Schroeder.

They surely know this. Why do they accept it?

Read the whole thing.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Violence at the Ukrainian polls

The Sunday Telegraph details the extent of the Ukrainian election fraud:
It was 5.30pm on election day in Ukraine when the thugs in masks arrived armed with rubber truncheons.

Vitaly Kizima, an election monitor at Zhovtneve in Ukraine's Sumy region, watched in horror as 30 men in tracksuits stormed into the village polling station.

"They started to beat voters and election officials, trying to push through towards the ballot boxes," he told The Telegraph.

"People's faces were cut from blows to the head. There was blood all over."

The thugs - believed to be loyal to the pro-Russian presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovich from his stronghold, Donetsk - were repulsed only when locals pushed them back and a policeman fired warning shots.
Maya Syta, a journalist working at polling station 73 in a Kiev suburb, witnessed ballot papers destroyed with acid poured into a ballot box. "The officials were taking them out of the box and they couldn't understand why they were wet," she said.

"Then I saw they started to blacken and disintegrate as if they were burning. Two ballots were wrapped up into a tube with a yellow liquid inside. After a few moments they were completely eaten up."
The most common trick was "carousel" voting, in which busloads of Yanukovich supporters simply drove from one polling station to another casting multiple false absentee ballots.

In another brazen fraud recorded by observers from the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, voters were given pens filled with ink that disappeared, leaving ballots unmarked and invalid.
Despite talk of an East-West showdown, many Ukrainians protesting about the election result say that Mr Yanukovich's criminal background is unacceptable, not his bias towards Russia.

The prime minister was twice convicted for robbery and battery in his youth and is seen as the protege of a group of business oligarchs known as "the Donetsk fellas" from the eastern region where he was once governor.

"How could they dare try to impose such a bandit on us?" asked Yuri, who was ferrying protesters to Kiev's Independence Square yesterday in a car festooned with orange streamers. "We will never accept it."


Iraqi elections will be held

From the BBC:
The interim deputy prime minister [Mr. Saleh] of Iraq has said that postponing the forthcoming Iraqi elections would be giving in to terrorism.
Speaking on the Breakfast with Frost programme, Mr Saleh condemned the insurgency.

"They do not want to see a functioning democracy right at the heart of the Islamic world," he said. "We will not let them succeed."
But he added: "Most Iraqis, including those in Falluja and Mosul, according to opinion polls, want to take part in elections."

His comments were endorsed by the former British envoy to Baghdad, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, who also appeared on the programme.

"If you allow violence to dictate the timing of the election, that will encourage violence," said Sir Jeremy. "There will be violence whenever you hold them."


Iran playing the IAEA like a fiddle

Iran Vows Not to Give Up Centrifuge Demand:
Iran toughened its position over its nuclear program Sunday, vowing to maintain its demand to exempt 20 centrifuges it says it wants for research despite international efforts to save a deal committing Tehran to freeze uranium enrichment and all related activities.
Asefi said Iran won't give up on its position on the centrifuges, even if time was running out for a final agreement.

"We are negotiating with Europeans to specify the way we are going to use the 20 centrifuges. ... What is important is the legitimate right of our country, and we won't give (that) up," he said.
As the board awaited a formal Iranian response, France, Germany and Britain toned down language in a proposed Security Council resolution in an attempt to entice Tehran to sign on to full suspension. The confidential draft, made available to The Associated Press, weakened language on how any freeze would be monitored by the agency. It was said by Western diplomats to be unsatisfactory to the United States.
"We are not worried about referral to the U.N. Security Council," Asefi said. "But we prefer that negotiations be continued within the framework of the IAEA because otherwise the capabilities of the agency and Europe will be in doubt."


UK may send more troops to Iraq

From The Telegraph:
The government is preparing to send up to 1,000 more British troops to Iraq in the run-up to the first democratic elections there for more than 50 years.
Defence chiefs are convinced that insurgents will intensify attacks against coalition forces across the country to delay and disrupt the elections, called for January 30.
It's important that the coalition forces do not allow the insurgents to regroup after the United States marines' successful attack on Fallujah.

"Both the British and American forces must now press home this advantage. Keeping the insurgents at bay will be vital if the elections are to be democratic and successful and achieving that will require extra troops."

The officer said he expected coalition forces to mount attacks against insurgent strongholds in central and northern Iraq.


The once and future authoritarian Russia

A New York Times editorial on the state of freedom of the press in Russia:
A recent analysis of press freedoms in the former Soviet Union by the Committee to Protect Journalists in New York has determined that only the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania cultivated an independent media. The remaining 12 nations have found ways to thwart, control or even kill journalists who dare to investigate the powerful.

The worst of the lot is Turkmenistan, where a dictatorial leader appoints editors and throttles independent voices. The autocratic leader of Belarus has driven the last independent newspaper out of print and onto the Internet, to which few of his citizens have access. Ukraine, where the latest election has drawn angry protesters into the streets, also has a questionable record on press freedoms. President Leonid Kuchma, whose chosen replacement is being touted as the winner in a faulty election, was implicated in 2001 in the unsolved killing of a journalist.

By far the most disappointing of the former republics, however, is Russia. As Ann Cooper, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, puts it, the message from the Kremlin is: "You can kill a journalist and get away with it."

Already, President Vladimir Putin's Russia has failed to solve the murders of 11 important journalists. The most recent was in July: Paul Klebnikov, an American editor at Forbes Russia, was gunned down outside his office in Moscow.

Economic freedom isn't doing any better. The Financial Times on the destruction of Yukos:
Whatever the outcome the latest move by the company's managers signals the approaching finale of one of the most dramatic sagas in the short history of Russian capitalism. It started 16 months ago with the arrest of two key shareholders the oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky and close associate Platon Lebedev who are standing trial for tax evasion and fraud.

The attack was seen largely as politically motivated and investors were initially prepared to separate the action against the shareholder from the company.

But over the past year Yukos, once the largest and most profitable Russian oil company, has been reduced to the most plagued stock in the market.

Its market capitalisation has fallen from more than $30bn (€22.5bn; £16bn) to $2bn, its tax liabilities climbed to $25bn and Yuganskneftegas, its main production asset, is being put up for a forced sale at $8.6bn, well below its fair value of $15bn estimated by Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein. The planned merger between Yukos and Sibneft to create a world leader is a distant memory.

Background on the Yukos Affair here, published Nov. 2003:
YUKOS has become Russia's most successful oil company. Just a month ago, it merged with Sibneft to form the world's fourth largest oil company. It introduced Western accounting standards and management, pioneered shipping Russian oil to the U.S. market, and launched a private consortium to build a pipeline from western Siberia to the arctic port of Murmansk. It has also bought hundreds of millions of dollars worth of U.S. oil equipment. Over the years, YUKOS paid billions of dollars in taxes and gave hundreds of millions to charity. It was also the company most independent from the government, and the attack on YUKOS suggests that other companies may soon be on the chopping block.

Politically well-connected businessmen, associated with government-dominated oil companies and banks, have conspired to dismantle YUKOS by bringing apparently trumped-up charges of past irregularities against YUKOS's principal shareholders.
With the attack on YUKOS, the ex-KGB faction in the Kremlin has reverted to state-led repression against private capital and independent power centers. A crackdown on the independent media has been going on for three years.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Sharansky: Measure freedom, not elections

Natan Sharansky in the Jerusalem Post:

What was not understood then, or often even now, is that a non-democratic Palestinian regime will, by its nature, always threaten Israel. Non-democratic regimes always need to mobilize their people against external enemies to maintain internal stability. This is why the regime in Egypt, having lost Israel as a political enemy by signing a peace treaty, sponsors what is perhaps the most rabid anti-Semitic incitement on earth. That is also why the Saudi regime funds a Wahhabi fanaticism at home and abroad that is terrorizing our entire world. And that is why the Palestinian Authority used all the resources, not to improve the lives of Palestinians but rather to strengthen hatred toward Israel.
We should be under no illusions about the upcoming Palestinian elections. The winner of these elections, like the elections that were regularly held in the Soviet Union, will not have anything to do with democracy. The winner will be chosen well before Palestinians go to the polls.

Free elections can only be held in a free society where people can express their views without fear of being punished, let alone killed. Indeed, free elections are never the beginning of the democratic process but one of its crowning achievements.

Still, whoever emerges from the elections in January should be given an opportunity to win the trust of the free world, including Israel.

Why? We should not accept the results of the Palestinian elections for the same reason we did not accept the results of the Ukrainian elections.


Our role in Iraq

Charles Krauthammer in the Washingting Post says there is a civil war in Iraq and we are the ones fighting it:
People keep warning about the danger of civil war. This is absurd. There already is a civil war. It is raging before our eyes. Problem is, only one side is fighting it. The other side, the Shiites and the Kurds, are largely watching as their part of the fight is borne primarily by the United States. Both have an interest in the outcome. The Shiites constitute a majority of Iraqis and will inevitably inherit power in any democratic arrangement. The Kurds want to retain their successful autonomous zone without worrying about new depredations at the hands of the Sunni Arabs.

This is the Shiites' and Kurds' fight. Yet when police stations are ravaged by Sunni Arab insurgents in Mosul, U.S. soldiers are rushed in to fight them. The obvious question is: Why don't we unleash the fierce and well-trained Kurdish pesh merga militias on them? (Mosul is heavily Kurdish and suffered a terrible Kurdish expulsion under Hussein.)

Yes, some of the Iraqi police/National Guard units fighting with our troops are largely Kurdish. But they, like the Shiites, fight in an avowedly nonsectarian Iraqi force. Why? Because we want to maintain this idea of a unified, non-ethnic Iraq. At some point, however, we must decide whether that is possible, and how many American lives should be sacrificed in its name.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

A tribute to America's cowboys

One Cowboy Left

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

A documentary about soldiers by soldiers

This looks interesting:

Desert Sky: the untold story of the 159th Aviation Brigade in Iraq
A year in the life of the world's largest Air Assault Helicopter Brigade told by soldiers

More info here.


Palestinian leaders aren't talking about peace

Steven Stalinksy of MEMRI in The New York Sun:
Yasser Arafat's death has created an unprecedented amount of optimism in the West regarding the establishment of a Palestinian state and the possibility of peace. Yet amongst Palestinian Arab officials there is little talk of peace, as numerous officials have endorsed the continuation of Arafat's "jihad" against the Jewish state.

Some members of the Palestinian Arab establishment close to Arafat are now stating in public that he never really wanted peace, and instead used the peace process as a strategy to destroy Israel in phases. The Palestinian ambassador in Iran, Salah Al-Zawawi, explained in an interview on Iranian Al-Alam TV on November 12 that Arafat "knew that this path is the path of martyrdom and jihad. He knew that this great cause requires martyrs, not leaders...He fought the jihad and we saw him in many battles...If you ask me what will surely be the end of this Zionist entity, I will say to you that this entity will disappear one of these days... It's a matter of time...Our phased plan, which I already mentioned, is to establish an independent sovereign Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital..."


It's About Time

U.S. Eyeing New Tact in Respect of Iran: Aim Is To Reach Out to Democrats
The State Department is looking at ways to reach out to Iranian democrats inside the country to see who would be willing to accept outside support in their efforts to reform and change the Islamic republic.

"We are exploring ways to begin working with groups inside the country," the chief of the State Department's Middle East Partnership Initiative, Scott Carpenter, told The New York Sun yesterday.

While the president's nominee for secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, has yet to sign off on a new Iran policy, the recent interest in reaching out to Iranian democrats in itself represents a change for Foggy Bottom, which until now has shied away from any open contact with or support for Persian activists inside the country.


A new Russian empire?

Ralph Peters on the importance of the outcome of the Ukrainian elections:
This is the biggest test for democracy on Europe's frontier since the fall of the Soviet Union. Russia always seemed fated for a hybrid government — part elections, part strongman rule — but Ukraine could go either way. Especially in the country's west and center, Ukrainians have struggled for freedom for centuries.

But Russia regards Ukraine as its inalienable possession, stolen away as the U.S.S.R. collapsed.

Fatefully, the ties were never severed between the successors of the KGB in Moscow and Kiev. Now the grandchildren of the Russian thugs who mercilessly put down Nestor Makhno's Ukrainian revolt against the Bolsheviks, who slaughtered Ukraine's prosperous peasantry and murdered Ukraine's intelligentsia are back at work.

This election may have been Ukraine's last chance.
Disgracefully, the international community appears ready to give Putin a free hand in subverting the freedom of a sovereign, democratic state. President Bush values his relationship with Putin, although Putin hasn't hesitated to undermine Washington's policies.

While constructive cooperation makes sense, there are times when the United States must draw a line — unless we intend to make a mockery of our support for freedom and democracy.

This is one of those times. President Bush should not let a bunch of gangsters in Kiev and the sons of the KGB in Moscow destroy the hopes of a major European state. Ukraine isn't Russia's to steal.

Anne Applebaum on the The New Iron Curtain:
In the Sumy region, they record, a member of the electoral commission was beaten up by unidentified thugs. At one polling station, "criminals" disrupted the voting and destroyed the ballot boxes with clubs. In Cherkassy, a polling site inspector was found dead. More "criminals" broke polling station windows and destroyed ballot boxes. In the Zaporozhye region and in Kharkov, observers saw buses transporting voters from one polling station to the next.
It can't be a coincidence that if the Ukrainian election is settled in Moscow's favor, it will mark the third such dubious vote in Russia's "sphere of influence" in the past two months, following the polls in Belarus and the separatist province of Abkhazia, not counting the irregularities that were belatedly uncovered in the election of Putin himself.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

The legal rights of terrorists

Over the last year the courts have given unprecedented rights to alien enemy combatants. Bruce Fein urges congress to address this issue:
Congress should enact legislation denying alien enemies captured in the war against global terrorism the right to challenge the legality of their detention in federal courts by writs of habeas corpus. Congress should also by statute ratify President George W. Bush's orders creating military commissions for the trial of enemy aliens accused of war crimes, and a Combatant Status Review Tribunal to vet Guantanamo Bay detainees to verify their status as enemy combatants. The proposed laws would both help to defeat the uniquely savage global terrorist enemy while conferring more liberty than would be lost.
Without legislative intervention, Henry Mark Holzer outlines where the courts are headed:
If, under the Supreme Court’s decisions in Hamdi, alleged enemy combatants, wherever held by the United States, are entitled to due process, and under Rasul they are entitled to seek habeas corpus relief from federal district courts, and under Odah they are entitled to unfettered representation by counsel, then, next there will be court decisions entitling them to the full range of constitutional criminal procedural guarantees under the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments:
  • no unreasonable searches and seizures;
  • warrants issued only on probable cause specifically describing the places to be searched and the things to be seized;
  • no double jeopardy;
  • no self-incrimination;
  • speedy and public jury trials;
  • confrontation by witnesses;
  • compulsory process for obtaining witnesses, appointed counsel;
  • Miranda warnings, and much more.

The Hamdi, Rasul and Odah decisions are a travesty of justice and national security, and a potentially fatal one for the United States.


More of the same

Interim Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, outlining his views on the conflict with Israel, told parliament on Tuesday that he would follow in Yasser Arafat's footsteps and demand that Israel recognize the "right of return" of Palestinian refugees. He also appeared to send the message that he'll stand tough in future talks with Israel.
At a memorial ceremony for Arafat at the Palestinian parliament, Abbas said he would walk in the footsteps of the late Palestinian leader. "We promise you (Arafat) that our heart will not rest until we achieve the right of return for our people and end the tragic refugee issue," he said.

So much for a new opportunity to negotiate peace.


CAIR threatens critics

David Frum reports on CAIR's attempt to silence its critics by threatening to sue for libel:
Two weeks ago, the National Post and I were served with a notice of libel by the Canadian branch of the Council on American Islamic Relations, or CAIR. The Post and I are not alone. Over the past year, CAIR's Canadian and U.S. branches have served similar libel notices on half a dozen other individuals and organizations in the United States and Canada. Each case has its own particular facts, yet they are linked by a common theme: That we defendants have accused CAIR (in the words of the notice served on me) of being "an unscrupulous, Islamist, extremist sympathetic group in Canada supporting terrorism."

Lawyers for individuals and newspapers served with libel notices will normally urge their clients to avoid any comment on the matter--to avoid even any acknowledgement that they have been served. This is usually good advice. A notice of libel is not a lawsuit, but a warning of a lawsuit to come. If the potential defendant keeps quiet, the potential plaintiff will often drop the suit altogether.

But wise legal advice often comes at a cost, a cost in public information. So I was heartened that the National Post's lawyers have encouraged the paper and me to continue with this important story.

He details a long list of facts about CAIR's history and its leadership.
These are the facts behind the commentary that the National Post and I have published. They are facts that the Canadian public and Canadian officials are entitled to know. The National Post and I are confident that Canada's courts will agree that no proper interest would be served by suppressing them.


Confronting Iran

Anton La Guardia in the Telegraph:
The [British] Government pins its hopes on European "critical engagement" with Teheran. It will not be easy, though. One senior British source described bargaining with the Iranians thus: "It's like agreeing to buy a car for £1,000, handing over the money and finding the car has only three wheels. You then agree to pay £100 for the wheel, only to find it has a bald tyre. It never stops."

In its deal, the EU-3 finds itself paying ever more for the same goods: Iran had already promised to "suspend all uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities" in October 2003, but dragged its heels, then reneged last summer.

The Europeans at first gave Iran just a vague promise of "easier access to modern technology and supplies" once the enrichment programme had been permanently halted. Now they have agreed to "move ahead with projects and/or measures that can be implemented in advance of an overall agreement". Senior officials say these could include an EU trade deal and the supply of civilian aircraft.

The Europeans know the agreement is just a stopgap until Mr Bush decides what to do. Iran is fast becoming one of the most pressing foreign policy questions of his second term.


Beginning of the end for the dollar bears?

The Weekly Standard has an article on the the falling dollar as has almost every other paper and magazine over the past couple of weeks. In the US even fairly large currency moves are usually met with, at most, a small blurb in the business section. This many articles in the mainstream press usually indicates the end of a move.


UN backlash

A bill was expected to pass in the New York legislature this month approving a project to expand the UN headquarters. Instead it ran into opposition as conservatives voiced their disapproval of the UN as such. The New York Sun reports other legislators are joining the fight:
Anti-U.N. sentiment is spreading in the state Legislature, with at least one Democrat, Assemblyman Dov Hikind of Brooklyn, joining the opposition to expanding and renovating the world organization's headquarters on the East Side of Manhattan.

Mr. Hikind, the deputy majority whip, told The New York Sun yesterday that he will fight any legislation that helps the United Nations, which he called a "cesspool" of racism, anti-Semitism, and opposition to Israel. He predicted other members of the Assembly majority will take the same position.
"I intend ... to get up on the floor and to speak out as strongly as I possibly can against this cesspool called the United Nations," Mr. Hikind said. "I intend to speak on the subject and to do everything humanly possible to stir things up and get people excited. I don't want to do anything to help the United Nations."
"The United Nations is certainly viewed by many as a den of iniquity," Senator Serphin Maltese, a Republican of Queens, said. "When they refer to one of our closest allies, Israel, as some kind of Zionist oppressor, it certainly rubs me the wrong way. ...I'm not particularly enamored of the United Nations as a deliberative body. It's certainly not fulfilling the promise of 1948."

I can only hope that this widens into support for a complete U.S. withdrawal from the United Nations. We need a more principled foreign policy. One that doesn't include supporting and sanctioning an organization that works against our interests and doesn't share our values.


Allawi on the elections

Good news: the current Iraqi government is dismssing Western concerns that less than full participation will undermine the election results.
On his arrival Monday, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari shrugged off calls by some Sunni Muslims for Iraqis to boycott the elections, set for Jan. 30.

"They do not represent all Sunnis. If they want to prove their popularity, the only way is through the ballot box," Zebari said.

In Baghdad, Allawi also dismissed boycott advocates as "the eventual losers," and said his government was determined to hold the elections on time.


Bush is taking on the Establishment

It's time the Washingtong bureaucracy fully supported the President's agenda regardless of their personal beliefs. James Glassman calls for the Gossification of the executive branch:
Worse, many, if not most, career civil servants at middle and upper levels resist implementing policies they don't like and do their best to shape their own.

Such bureaucrats often lean left - because federal jobs attract people who believe in a missionary government and because Democrats controlled Washington almost continuously for a half-century. But the White House seems finally to be making bureaucratic transformation a top priority.

The next target has to be State. My brief experience on an advisory board examining public diplomacy revealed foreign service officers seething with contempt for Bush, whom they consider an uncultured, unilateralist dolt.
Indeed, the White House should put someone like Bolton in the No. 2 post of every department and key agency, with explicit responsibility for rooting out administration opponents and gaining control of policy. How to do that when bureaucrats have the equivalent of academic tenure? Make their lives miserable, transfer them or re-educate them. But don't leave them in place.

Particularly in need of transformation are the Labor Department, which is practically a union local; Justice; Treasury; Education; the Food and Drug Administration; the Environmental Protection Agency; and the SEC.
The attitude of many top bureaucrats can be summed up thus: "This is 'my' agency. The politicals are only renting a room for a while. I can ignore them and subvert them. Eventually, they will leave, and I'll still be here doing the real policymaking."

Fred Barnes says the President "has not been broken by establishment forces" and is leading the insurgency against them:
Contrary to the doubters, the establishment does exist and does throw its weight around. It consists of the permanent bureaucracy, much of the vast political community of lobbyists and lawyers and consultants, leftovers from Congress and earlier administrations, trade groups and think tanks, and the media. The establishment can and does shape the zeitgeist in Washington and, importantly, a huge chunk of the Senate is establishment-oriented and dozens of senators themselves members of the establishment. It's become more Republican in recent years but is still center-left in ideological tilt. But it's liberal in a reactionary way, passionately opposing conservative change.

In the eyes of the establishment, the Bush tactics, the Bush agenda, and Mr. Bush himself are over the top. The president is girding for battle. He's aiming to consolidate control of his administration, drive out recalcitrant (read: establishment) elements, and make the permanent government heel, especially at the CIA and State Department. He's kept his White House staff intact, from political adviser Karl Rove to speechwriter Mike Gerson to budget chief Josh Bolten, as a kind of headquarters cadre. The White House aides who've departed, such as national security adviser Condoleezza Rice and counsel Alberto Gonzales, were dispatched to take over Cabinet agencies.
If Mr. Bush is anxious his insurgency might fail, he hasn't let on. On the contrary, he exudes confidence that, despite the establishment, he'll succeed in his second term. Mr. Bush did make one bow to the establishment last week. He showed up in a tuxedo at the British embassy for a party honoring Ms. Rice. "One tux a term," a White House official said. "That's our idea of outreach to the Washington community."

Monday, November 22, 2004

Interview with Iraq's election chief

Hussain Hindawi, president of the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq, is tasked with making sure next year's elections come off as scheduled. Despite the continuing violence across the country, Hindawi, a former journalist who recently returned to Iraq, remains optimistic elections can be held on Jan. 30, 2005.
Q. How do you respond to recent calls by six Sunni Muslim groups to boycott the elections?

A. We have nothing to say to them. Everything is very clear. The voting mechanisms are very transparent using the criteria of the United Nations.

Q. How is the conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, related to what you are doing here?

A. Iraq's foreign minister Hoshar Zebari said this is a political conference to discuss the aspects of the elections that we are not involved in. This is related to security. Many countries will offer support for the Iraqi people and for the government. In addition, the Iraq government has refused to allow the insurgents to be involved in the political process. France proposed that they participate in this meeting, two weeks ago, and the Iraq government refused. So they agreed that any kind of discussion about this is a governmental issue.

Q. What deadlines do you need to meet to hold the election on January 30?

A. Today, we'll finish certifying the political entities. We're giving people another 10 days to register individual candidates. Then we will have a period of probably several weeks to give people a chance to object to the list. We have more than 150 political entities registered and 55 more individuals registered at the moment.


Allawi on Fallujah

From the Washington Times:
Allawi was defiant in his defense of the Fallujah operation, describing it as an unqualified success.

"We went to Fallujah and we broke their back," he said."We found enough weapons there to destroy an entire country."

He said that because of the success in Fallujah, "those who will try to obstruct democracy and election are finished. ... They don't have a safe haven anymore."

Allawi also criticized the Sunni association, accusing some of its members of inciting violence.

"Those who call for violence will be dealt with by force. The judicial system also will deal with those who allow themselves to stoke hatreds," he warned. "I hope that those who call themselves the Association of Muslim Scholars rise to the standards set by Islam as a religion of love and tolerance."

Letters from Marines over at The Corner seem to corroborate the amount of weapons that were found.


Regime change in North Korea?

From the New York Times:
After weeks of reports from North Korea of defecting generals, antigovernment posters and the disappearance of portraits of the country's ruler, the leader of Japan's governing party warned Sunday of the prospects of "regime change" in North Korea.

"As long as Chairman Kim Jong Il controls the government, we have to negotiate with him, but it is becoming more doubtful whether we will be able to achieve anything with this government," said Shinzo Abe, acting secretary general of the Liberal Democratic Party, on Fuji TV, referring to talks on North Korea's abductions of Japanese in the 1970's. "I think we should consider the possibility that a regime change will occur, and we need to start simulations of what we should do at that time."


The forward march of elections

Meyrav Wurmser points out that supporting elections and supporting freedom are not necessarily the same thing:
The Bush administration, which remains committed to a vision of a free and democratic Middle East, must be certain not to legitimize oppression by endorsing Palestinian elections now. In the process of building a free and democratic society, elections are the last — not the first — step. Elections should come after limits on governmental institutions are in place and the basic freedoms of individuals have been guaranteed. Western recognition of this masquerade of freedom would only serve to strengthen the undemocratic nature of Palestinian society.

Even if elections will renew hopes for an Israeli-Palestinian dialogue, peace must not come at the price of liberty. Only a free Palestinian society can confront Arafat's legacy of terror, chaos, corruption, and poverty.


Confronting Iran

Jerusalem Post reports:
Pentagon officials are said to be discussing possible military action to neutralize Iran's nuclear weapons threat, according to a report in London's Observer. US administration sources are quoted as saying that air strikes – "either by the US or Israel" – to wipe out Iran's fledgling nuclear program would be difficult because of a lack of clear intelligence about where key components are located.

Instead, sources quoted by the paper said the Pentagon is considering strikes in support of regime change, including attacks on the leadership, as well as on political and security targets.


The State of Middle East studies

Martin Kramer reports on the Middle East Studies Association conference that took place in San Francisco last week:
This evening, the participants in the annual Middle East Studies Association (MESA) conference in San Francisco will assemble in plenary session, to hear an address by MESA's president, Laurie Brand. The title: "Scholarship in the Shadow of Empire." (Presumably that's the American empire, not the Abbasid.)
In the spring of 2003, Brand was in Beirut on sabbatical leave. As Operation Iraqi Freedom got underway, she penned an anti-war letter (scroll to last item) addressed to Secretary of State Colin Powell, on behalf of "Americans living in Lebanon." The letter cited various far-out predictions (e.g., over a million Iraqis might die because of damage to Iraq's water supply), added that "'regime change' imposed from outside is itself completely undemocratic," and ended in these words: "We refuse to stand by watching passively as the US pursues aggressive and racist policies toward the people around us. We reject your claim to be taking these actions on our behalf. Not in our name." Seventy Americans signed it.
There's irony here too, since Brand may be the most taxpayer-subsidized academic in Middle Eastern studies. She's held four Fulbright fellowships, for research in Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, and Tunisia, and she's received at least three major U.S. government regrants, mostly for work in Jordan. She's been on government-funded lecture junkets to Kuwait, Jordan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Oman. And her own bio lists her as a past consultant to the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Department of State, and the U.S. Information Agency. Support for U.S. policy isn't a prerequisite for any of these subsidies and perks, and Brand didn't sign away her rights when she took them

And The New York Sun is reporting on how the chairman of the Middle East studies department at Columbia, Hamid Dabashi, responds when a student criticizes an essay he wrote:
Mr. Dabashi published [an essay] in an Egyptian newspaper, Al-Ahram, implying that Israeli soldiers from Africa suffered from racism.

... Mr. Dabashi describes his encounter in East Jerusalem with a "white soldier in a position of obvious authority and two black soldiers beholden to him."

After he asked the white soldier a question, "We were like three mesmerized pigeons now under the spell of a cobra - waiting for his move," he wrote.

In the essay, Mr. Dabashi also says Israel has "melted" the humanity of Muslims "in this fearful furnace into nullity beyond human recognition."

He continues: "What they call 'Israel' is no mere military state. A subsumed militarism, a systemic mendacity with an ingrained violence constitutional to the very fusion of its fabric, has penetrated the deepest corners of what these people have to call their 'soul.' "
Victor Luria, a graduate student, sent an e-mail to Mr. Dabashi criticizing his essay:
In his letter, Mr. Luria accused Mr. Dabashi - whom the student said he has never met - of "lying" about racism in Israel.

"I served in the israeli army, and I was under the command of a black officer (although such racist terms and categories are entirely a product of your mind - we never refer in Israel to whites and blacks)," his e-mail reads. "I have rarely seen such a revolting excerpt of anti-semitism as your article in Al-Ahram."
Mr. Dabashi's response:
The following day, according to the date stamp on an e-mail obtained by the Sun, Mr. Dabashi forwarded the student's letter to several top Columbia officials, including Mr. Brinkley [Columbia's provost].

"Given the military record of this person, I also feel physically threatened," he wrote. "I would be grateful if Columbia Security were also to be informed of this slanderous attack against my character and appropriate measures taken to protect my person from a potential attack by a militant slanderer."

The professor concluded that "for the time being," he would refrain from contacting the police. Mr. Brinkley apparently dismissed Mr. Dabashi's concerns about security. In his response, sent to the professor and the student, he said he found "nothing threatening" in Mr. Luria's message.

Mr. Dabashi is so wrapped up in his loony world view that because Victor Luria has served in the Israeli army he is a militant who might attack him. This is what Israeli students are experiencing in our Universities. It's disgusting.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Who's afraid of Fox?

Canada's broadcast regulator has said Fox News will be permitted to air in Canada soon. The largest Canadian media union isn't happy:
"The entry of Fox News, the ferociously right wing U.S. television news channel, into the Canadian broadcast marketplace, makes it incumbent upon government to maintain and reward Canadian ownership of our primary cultural messengers," Mr. Murdoch added.

"It is critical government assure Canadians that their voice will not be lost in the din of table-thumping rants of polarizing news outlets. The current budget process is an ideal time for Mr. Martin to not only announce that there will be no sell-off of Canadian cultural messengers, but that the talented Canadians who work in the audio-visual sector will find increasing support for their work.

"We need to bolster our own cultural forces to ensure that we are not over-run by the bulldozer of loud-talking American network bullies. It's that direct and that simple," Mr. Murdoch said.


Clueless in Iran

Nicholas Schmidle: Iran’s paradoxical views of America
Just beneath the veneer of avid pro-Americanism, the Iranian mind is crowded with a vivid sense of nationalism and memory of past American deeds. Kaveh, a doctoral student at Tehran University's faculty of law, illustrates the complexity of Iranian relations with the United States. One evening, Kaveh railed against the Islamic regime. "This government is not a 'national' government," he said. "They only care about their family, friends and their pockets." The next night, Kaveh knocked at my door and handed over a note. It explained that he thought my room was under surveillance and our conversations were being recorded. He wanted to resume our discussion "on tape," but this time, direct his diatribe toward the America government. It quickly became apparent to me that he was as passionate in his criticism of the U.S. as he was of his own government. "The United States is only looking to establish an economic and militaristic foothold in the region," he contended. "They want Iraq to be another Okinawa."


Confronting Iran

Caroline Glick in the Jerusalem Post:
The Weekly Standard this week explained that light water reactor fuel of the type that the Europeans have agreed to give Iran can be used to produce bomb material within nine weeks. Since the IAEA inspectors only visit Iran every three months, it would be a simple matter to divert enough light water fuel to produce a bomb between inspections. And so, the agreement itself holds the promise of direct European assistance to Iran's nuclear weapons program.
First, by bringing Britain into the talks with Iran, the French have managed to ensure that the Americans, if they decide to do something about Iran's nuclear weapons programs, will be forced to act without British backing and at the expense of the British government, thus causing a serious fissure in the Anglo-American alliance. Straw's statement is breathtaking in that it shows that on the issue of Iranian nuclear weapons, the British prefer to see Iran gain nuclear weapons to having anyone act to prevent them from doing so.

Chirac's statement exposes, once again, France's main interest in international affairs today. To wit: France wishes only to box in the US to the point that the Americans will not be able to continue to fight the war against terrorism. The French do this not because they necessarily like terrorists. They do this because as Chirac has said many times, he views the central challenge of our time as developing a "multipolar" world. France's obsession with multipolarity stems from Chirac's perception that his country's primary aim is not to free the world from Islamic terror, but to weaken the US.
So where does this leave the Jews who, in the event that Iran goes nuclear, will face the threat of annihilation? Crunch time has arrived. It is time for Israel's leaders to go to Washington and ask the Americans point blank if they plan to defend Europe as Europe defends Iran's ability to attain the wherewithal to destroy the Jewish state. It must be made very clear to the White House that the hour of diplomacy faded away with the European Trio's latest ridiculous agreement with the mullahs. There is no UN option. Europe has cast its lot with the enemy of civilization itself.

Friday, November 19, 2004

An Iraqi's opinion of Chirac

From Iraq the Model:
The French government keep surprising me with their intentionally stupid and vicious arguments and I don’t know what to say about it or if it’s even necessary to say something at all. But then I’m an Iraqi citizens and these people are taking about Iraq and usually how the war brought nothing good to Iraq or the world, and I just can’t stay silent about it. I know there’s almost no chance that you’ll read my words Mr. Chirac, but it doesn’t matter, as I’m not writing for you anyway. You live in a different world.

In the past, I used to swallow my anger and frustration because I could get killed if I messed up with one of Saddam’s personal friends, but now Saddam is gone and I’m not afraid and I won’t stay silent anymore. This is a difference Mr. Chirac, and it’s a great one, probably just to me and the rest of Iraqis but not to you, and you just have to understand that it’s not all about you and your European dream which no one want to steal from you by the way.

The world is certainly not a better place after the war Mr. Chirac, but that’s your world, while our world, Iraqis as well as tens of millions of oppressed people everywhere who are dying for some help, is certainly MUCH better now, and I’m sure the Americans and the British world as well as most countries (including yours) is better and safer and will keep getting better. However I agree with you, as your world, your own personal world, the world of your fellow corrupt politicians in France, Russia, Germany, China and the stinking UN, your fortune and your influence is definitely suffering. I’m even surprised that you ‘saw’ that Saddam’s departure was positive “to a certain extent”, and I can’t wonder why is that! Is it because it left you with some bills you don’t have to pay?!


The real tragedy

A Marine killed by an insurgent pretending to be dead.

As the war continued to take its toll, parents in Live Oak and Gilroy learned this week that their only sons had been killed in Iraq.

Marine Lance Cpl. Jeramy Ailes, 22, of Gilroy was killed Monday in Al-Fallujah by small arms fire.

``They had finished mopping up in Fallujah and they went back to double-check on some insurgents. From what we gathered, somebody playing possum jumped up and shot him,'' said his father, Joel Ailes, who learned of his death Monday evening. ``It's extremely hard.''


British assist Palestinians in adding terrorists to PA police force

Palestinian militants eyed for security
A secret plan to incorporate fighters from the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade and other militants into the official Palestinian security system is starting to take shape here, as British security experts help to create a training infrastructure for Palestinian police forces.
Gunmen who have become increasingly violent and apparently beyond the control of the official security forces will be given uniforms and disciplinary training, the source said.
We're not going to be vetting who the Palestinians choose to bring to the training center," the senior British official said. "So it's up to the Palestinians to select who they want trained, and we have no idea who they'll choose."
Hard-line Al Aqsa members have stepped up their rhetoric against the leadership of Mr. Abbas and his aides, with one 29-year-old representative of the brigades in Bethlehem telling reporters on Tuesday that his men "want to kill" Mr. Abbas, the newly chosen Palestine Liberation Organization chairman.

Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade is a terrorist organization.

Meanwhile, where do you think this money will end up:
America will be handing over $20 million to the PA, Galei Tzahal (Army) Radio reported early this morning. US Secretary of State Colin Powell will inform PA leaders of the White House gesture during his upcoming visit to Ramallah next week.

Update: Bush's plan to aid Palestinians runs into opposition
Under pressure from key lawmakers, the Bush administration said on Thursday it would work with Congress on plans to resume direct U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority.

The State Department told key congressional committees on Wednesday it intended to rush $20 million to the authority to help organize elections in January and pay Palestinian salaries, and that it would not need congressional approval to do so.
Other lawmakers demanded greater oversight to ensure that U.S. taxpayer money would not be siphoned off by corrupt officials or used by terrorist groups.


The nature of the enemy

These are the actions of the "insurgents" some think are entitled to Geneva Convention protections:
The group led by al Qaeda ally Abu Musab al-Zarqawi said it beheaded two Iraqi soldiers in broad daylight in Mosul, a statement found on an Islamist Web site on Friday said.

"They were both slaughtered in Mosul in front of a large group of people," the statement by Al Qaeda Organization of Holy War in Iraq said.

We are not "better than them" if we ask our troops to risk their own lives to show mercy to, or treat, wounded terrorists of this type. I'd like to know the answer to this question Thomas Sowell asks, "Why any such terrorists should be captured alive in the first place is a real question".


Chirac's New World Order

Chirac calls for overhaul of 'archaic' United Nations
The French president said the Security Council "is no longer really representative of the world today", and called for an increase also in the number of non-permanent members.

Chirac ... followed on from comments he made on Thursday in London suggesting the need for a new world order.

"It's the international community and the UN which, alone, has the power to say if intervention is necessary," he said.

"The principle of the right to intervention should be strictly laid down by international law which is expressed today through the United Nations."


Iran: getting closer?

Diplomats: Iran Is Readying Nuke Processes
Iran is using the last few days before it must stop all uranium enrichment to produce significant quantities of a gas that can be used to make nuclear weapons, diplomats said Friday.

Iran recently started producing uranium hexafluoride at its gas processing facilities in Isfahan, the diplomats told The Associated Press. When introduced into centrifuges and spun, the substance can be enriched into weapons-grade uranium that forms the core of nuclear warheads.


That amount, converted to uranium hexafluoride and repeatedly spun in centrifuges, theoretically could yield more than 200 pounds of weapons-grade highly enriched uranium, enough for about five crude nuclear weapons.


Annan Threat

From Cox & Forkum:


Natan Sharansky at The White House

Joel Rosenberg reports on Natan Sharansky's meeting with the President yesterday:
"I [Natan Sharansky] told the president, 'There is a great difference between politicians and dissidents. Politicians are focused on polls and the press. They are constantly making compromises. But dissidents focus on ideas. They have a message burning inside of them. They would stand up for their convictions no matter what the consequences.'

"I told the president, 'In spite of all the polls warning you that talking about spreading democracy in the Middle East might be a losing issue — despite all the critics and the resistance you faced — you kept talking about the importance of free societies and free elections. You kept explaining that democracy is for everybody. You kept saying that only democracy will truly pave the way to peace and security. You, Mr. President, are a dissident among the leaders of the free world.'"


He is convinced that democratic institutions can take hold throughout the Middle East. He concedes it will not be easy, but argues the key is bold moral leadership from the West of the kind that Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher demonstrated in the 1980s.

"Everybody knows that weapons of mass destruction are very dangerous in the hands of terrorists," says Sharansky, his passion as strong as his accent. "But very few people understand how powerful weapons of mass construction can be in the hands the free world. There are so many skeptics, so many people who doubt whether Iraqis and Palestinians really want to live in freedom, or whether democracy in the Middle East is really such a good idea. But I lived under a totalitarian regime. I know the horrors of these regimes from the inside. I know they can be transformed. They won't be perfect, and they won't agree with us on every issue. But it is better to have a democracy that hates you than a dictatorship that loves you."

Sharansky cites the example of post-World War II Germany. Many doubted a true democracy could ever take root amidst the ashes of the Third Reich. But it has. True, most Germans opposed the recent war in Iraq and increasingly side against the U.S. in international policy debates. But so what? Sharansky asks. At least they are not carpet-bombing the whole of Europe.


Clean up CIA and State Department

Clifford May:
Early in the Bush administration, a retired foreign service officer who continued to maintain close ties with the department told me that many employees at State were simply refusing to put energy into furthering Bush policies of which they disapproved. She asked one why he didn’t resign as a matter of principle. “Easy for you to say,” came the reply. “You don’t have kids to put through college.”

Others referred to Bush and his foreign-policy team as “the Christmas help,” meaning they were confident this President would soon be gone and then they’d be able to get back to business as usual.

The few Bush loyalists — and those who don’t believe they’re entitled to veto the decisions of a sitting President — were referred to as “the American interests section.”

Can such a state of affairs continue? Unfortunately, it can. But it shouldn’t, certainly not now, in this critical era.

Now is the time for these public servants to return to doing the jobs the public pays them to do. The intelligence agencies must find better ways to ferret out useful information and supply it to the White House — whose occupant has been re-elected by a majority of Americans. Diplomats need to implement and defend the policies of the President they serve — whether or not they voted for that President.

Sure, these professionals should be encouraged to advise, question and offer alternative approaches. But when the President says, “Here’s what I’ve decided,” the only responses are “Yes, sir,” or “I quit.”


The State of the UN

From Arafat to al-Zarqawi
by Dore Gold
Indeed, Mr. Annan always reminds foreign leaders that the U.N. is "the source of international legitimacy." But if it repeatedly confuses the aggressor and victim who is defending himself, how can the U.N. represent justice of any sort? The U.N. General Assembly, despite appearances, is not a world parliament creating law, but rather a body that generates an amalgamation of the interests of its largely authoritarian majority, with no checks and balances protecting the constitutional rights of member states. Unfortunately, the U.N. Secretariat too often reflects the lopsided moral universe that the General Assembly has erected.

But if the U.N.'s moral code leads it to be ineffective, at best, in places like Darfur, Sudan, and even tilt in favor of the aggressors, what does that mean for the future of global stability? The handmaiden of terrorism is moral relativism that fails to distinguish between the suicide bomber driving his car to a civilian target and the pilot who destroys him before his attack. For the loss of moral certainty cripples nations, undermining their will to defend themselves.

It is here that the U.N. has a potentially destructive role. And, if generally, the U.N. insists that it is the sole clearinghouse for effective action of any sort against aggression, proliferation, terrorism, and even genocide, and yet the best that the U.N. Security Council can provide is paralysis, then that is a certain recipe for world chaos and not world order.


More on Defending those who defend us

What a sad state of affairs for the American Fighting Man (and all those we put in harm's way to fight for our safety). They fight one way to stay alive but can't count on their officers defending them on principle.

Some Additional Reflections on Fallujah
The MSM and other TV/Radio outlets have been putting Colonels and other officers on their programs to "defend" the Marine who is being accused of war crimes by the left. By and large I wouldn't expect much in the way of solace coming from these military talking heads. Why? They are officers. With the exception of the SEAL Teams and perhaps other SOF units, officers and enlisted are trained separately. Officers are trained to be aware of their own accountability and liability for the actions of the enlisted in their command. Enlisted are trained to shoot people and blow stuff up. Enlisted people are taught by senior enlisted people, many with combat experience from other conflicts, to put security rounds into tangos after assaulting through a target. Officers are not. So don't listen to what you hear from former officers on TV, because it's not an officer's job to shoot people, it's his job to direct those in his command and to get direction from those who command him.

Read the whole thing.


The Facts

War Crimes?
Oliver North has the full context
For the record, here are the facts, because facts -- not rumors or emotions -- really are important. Here is what those who were there told me:

Read the whole thing.
Why didn't the original story include the fact that a Marine in the same unit had been killed 24 hours earlier while searching the booby-trapped dead body of a terrorist?

Within hours of the videotaped incident in the mosque, another Marine was killed and five others wounded by a booby-trapped body they found in a house after a gunfight. Why was this not made part of the original story?

But Falklands veteran Quintin Wright says that this is just what soldiers are trained to do

They're Called Security Rounds

'Supporting the troops'?


CIA vs. The White House, Round 2

Another CIA leak?
Nuclear Disclosures On Iran Unverified
The information provided by the source, who was not previously known to U.S. intelligence, does not mention uranium or any other area of Iran's known nuclear program, according to the official with access to the material. It focuses instead on a warhead design and modifications to Iran's long-range Shahab-3 missile and a medium-range missile in its arsenal. The Shahab-3 has a range of 800 miles and is capable of hitting Israel.

The official said the CIA remains unsure about the authenticity of the documents and how they came into the informant's possession. A second official would say only that there are questions about the source of the information.


The lack of certainty about the source who approached U.S. intelligence had kept officials from talking publicly about the information, and Powell's comments caught the small group of informed officials by surprise and angered some of them.


Defending those who defend us

Marine just doing his job
by Diana West
In the space between the fog of war (lethal confusion, peril and instant reflexes) and the edited news break (carefully scripted and produced filler between Viagra commercials), a young Marine hangs out to dry.
What I'm getting at, in this land of free speech and home of brave Marines, is my unequivocal belief that Marine X committed no "war crimes" in that fortified Fallujah mosque last week where he shot and killed a prone and wounded terrorist. He was just doing his job — his hellishly dangerous job — and thank God for him.
Seeing may be believing, but a minute of video doesn't tell the whole story. And the whole story is not that an American soldier stormed a house of worship to shoot a pious Fallujah citizen in cold blood — the "war crime" we are led to imagine has happened. The mosque served as a fort; the citizen was an apparently wounded, apparently dangerous combatant; and the Marine was fighting the urban war of his life.
In other words, I have heard nothing, nada, zilch that indicates this Marine was doing anything besides trying to preserve life and limb in his unit while fighting to wrest control of Fallujah for liberated Iraq.


The media vs. our troops

U.S. Media Do the Terrorists' Bidding
by Michael Reagan
Are the media on our side? If so, why are they doing the bidding of a bunch of murderous thugs who enjoy lopping off innocent peoples’ heads?

We are once again getting the answer loud and clear: To the media, U.S. troops in Iraq are always wrong, and the enemies is usually shown, not as a terrorists, but a victims of unwarranted U.S. aggression.

Consider the firestorm that erupted when a young U.S. Marine, wounded the day before, was videotaped in the act of shooting a so-called insurgent who may or may not have been armed or booby trapped, waiting for a chance to blow Marines and himself to kingdom come.


But that hasn’t prevented the media from showing the film over and over again without telling the other side of the story – that the situation could well have been one of kill-or-be-killed – as happened time and again to Marines during the battle for Fallujah.


Embedded reporters: endangering our troops

The Deadly Price of Embedding
Douglas MacKinnon in the New York Post
Friends I have spoken with at the Pentagon feel betrayed by a tape that is not only easily misunderstood, but one they feel now irresponsibly fuels the hate of our enemy. Nor is this the first time they've seen embedded reporters increasing the dangers to our troops.

How easy it must be to guess as to the motives of this Marine from the comfort of news studios thousands of miles from Fallujah, where the only danger the journalist faces is if he or she might burn themselves when they take their popcorn out of the microwave.

Should it be proven that the Marine knowingly killed an unarmed and wounded insurgent, then clearly punishment is warranted. That said, every benefit of the doubt should be given to this Marine before a kangaroo court of journalists and pundits pass sentence on someone fighting for liberty while in Hell on Earth.

And how is a Marine supposed to know the enemy is unarmed and not booby-trapped? He shouldn't have to risk his own life to find out.

I don't know what happened, but I do know that a rush to judgment is always wrong. Just a day earlier, another Marine from the same unit was killed while trying to treat the body of an insurgent that had been booby-trapped. What seems crystal clear from 8,000 miles away can get you killed in a nano-second in battle. The Marine Corps has promised an investigation, and the media must let it play out.
A number of sources at the Pentagon have told me that most of the troops on the ground in Iraq view the embedded reporters as an obstacle to their mission who occasionally put their lives in danger with their tactics.

One example comes from the first few days of the war, a battle with Iraqi forces aired live by all the cable networks. As I watched the battle live at 3 a.m. East Coast time, I was shocked to see reporters trying to interview soldiers as they fired on the enemy. These soldiers had to turn from the enemy to face the embedded journalist, thereby putting their own lives in danger to take a question. And after the four-hour battle, the troops' commander observed that, had the TV cameras not been there, then the fighting would have been concluded in 15 minutes.

He also relates how embeds demoralize the troops with their "anti-US, anti-military" reporting. These are serious issues - to undermine a soldier's belief in his cause and his prospects for victory in a combat zone can cost him his life.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Anti-UN sentiment growing?

This report was in the New York Post this morning:
State lawmakers have quietly agreed on a bill that would allow the United Nations to begin planning a controversial major renovation and expansion of its Manhattan headquarters, The Post has learned.

The legislation, which the state Senate is set to approve today, grants the United Nations Development Corp. permission to undertake the required environmental and land-use review processes for the project, which has drawn local opposition

It didn't get approval:
Senate suspends U.N. expansion proposal amid criticism
United Nations' request Thursday to allow the international body to expand its Manhattan building was met by an undiplomatic response from critics in Albany: Handcuff the secretary-general and move to France.


"Why this city or state would want to do anything for the U.N. is beyond me," said state Sen. Martin Golden, a Brooklyn Republican. He cited the U.N.'s oil-for-food program, which is being investigated by Congress for alleged corruption including reports that former Iraq President Saddam Hussein manipulated the $60 billion program.

"If this was Enron ... we would be taking these people out in cuffs," Golden said in an interview. He said he expects to derail the U.N. expansion project because, now that the issue is public, people will oppose the help because the United Nations has refused to join the United States in fighting the Iraq war.

Senate Majority spokesman Mark Hansen said the bill is expected to be back on the Senate floor in December. The Assembly is expected to pass the measure next month.

The United Nations Development Corp. referred questions about the Senate action to the New York City Economic Development Corp. A spokeswoman there said she didn't immediately know what the U.N. would do if the Legislature failed to approve the measure.

State Conservative Party Chairman Michael Long offered an alternative to handcuffing leaders of what he called the "corrupt" organization: "We should be considering moving the United Nations to France."

He said the U.N. "is not supportive of the United States, folded up shop when its members were attacked (in Iraq), does not pay for its support (and) is a burden to the residents of New York and the United States." The political leader said the Legislature "should be chastised for considering it."


Sharon to Abbas: change the culture of violence

From Jerusalem Post:
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon offered Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Mahmoud Abbas a test on Thursday: End incitement against Israel in the Palestinian media and education system in order to prove that the new Palestinian leadership is ready for peace.
"The poisonous incitement on television and in the educational system, demonizing Israel, Israelis, and Jews, is the root cause of the suicide bombers and the terrorism, and it is more dangerous than any weapon," Sharon said, addressing Likud activists at the party's Tel Aviv headquarters. "The summer camps and the classes that encourage terror must stop. All this must be done before the first stage of the road map is implemented, as a test to reveal the true face of the Palestinian leadership."

A sample of what is shown on Palestinian Television can be seen here:
View Short Clips, all from Official Palestinian Television

Update: Incredibly, the Associated Press thinks changing a culture is easier than disarming militants:
Saying there was no longer a Palestinian peace partner, Sharon developed a "unilateral disengagement" plan, under which Israel would evacuate Gaza and four West Bank settlements and continue building a West Bank barrier to separate Palestinians from Israel.

Palestinians see the plan as an Israeli effort to strengthen its hold on parts of the West Bank they want for a future state.

Sharon has said he intends to push forward, but hinted he would coordinate the withdrawal if a new Palestinian leadership cracks down on terror.

On Thursday, he appeared to soften that demand, saying disarming militant groups was "a complicated process." Instead, he proposed two easier tests: ending anti-Israel propaganda in the Palestinian media and changing the Palestinian education curriculum to eliminate the "demonization of Israel, the Israelis and the Jews."


A promising sign?

MEMRI has a translation of an essay by Egyptian intellectual Dr. Amr Isma'il.

'Why Can't We [Arabs] See Things as the Rest of the World Sees Them?'
Why can our brain not understand that democracy has proven itself to be the best regime and that it has brought progress and prosperity to those countries that have adopted it? Why can our brain not understand that democracy is not just the election ballots, but is an entire framework, the most important [aspect] of which is freedom of choice, in religion, in belief, in attire, and in the freedom to express political and cultural opinions, even if they differ from what is accepted, as long as they do not incite to violence. Why don't we understand that democracy is complete equality between people, regardless of sex, color, or religion...


What's inside Zarqawi's Headquarters

Military Believes Zarqawi Headquarters Found:
In the house, the soldiers found letters reportedly written by Zarqawi to his lieutenants, medical supplies from the U.S. Agency for International Development and boxes of ammunition from the Chinese and Jordanian armies and nearby they discovered medical supplies from the International Red Cross. The ground offensive led by U.S. Marines has "broken the back of the insurgency" in Iraq, disrupting rebel operations across the country, he said.
The house used by Zarqawi, a simple cement structure, was on a block that Army Maj. David Johnson described as a "one-stop shop for terrorists."

"That part of town is the most dangerous place on earth," said Johnson, a historian attached to 1st Infantry Division's Task Force 2-2, which conducted the raid.

Uniformed insurgents in black masks attacked troops from the neighborhood for several days, ambushing them with more than 15 rocket-propelled grenades, mortar rounds and sniper fire. U.S. warplanes and artillery subsequently bombed the area.
Iraqi security forces, acting as translators, identified the letters, which were written in black ink on white paper, as correspondence between Zarqawi and his top aides.

The letters reportedly contained requests for financing and weapons, Johnson said.

The soldiers also found bicycles and messenger notes with instructions such as, "Go to the flour factory. There is something there for you."

An underground tunnel ran from a dirt fighting position outside the house to a walled courtyard. Soldiers hauled out boxes filled with passports and identification cards.

In warehouse buildings not far from the house, soldiers found a classroom with drawings of U.S. F-16 and F-18 fighter planes, a repair shop for anti-tank rounds and a factory for making car bombs that had a Ford Explorer inside with Texas license plates. A garage with a roll-up door had been turned into a makeshift mosque.

Update, from the New York Times:
Several command and control centers operated by insurgents have been discovered in Falluja, a top Marine officer said today, but he denied reports that one of them was the headquarters of the Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

A great amount of intelligence material was recovered at the centers, including computers and ledgers listing fighters, the officer, Lt. Gen. John F. Sattler, commander of the First Marine Expeditionary Force, said at a briefing outside Falluja, west of Baghdad.


'Supporting the troops'?

Thomas Sowell:

During the recent election campaign, it has been a liberal mantra that they "support the troops" while opposing the war in Iraq. Just what does supporting the troops mean -- other than just a throwaway line to escape the political consequences of a long history of being anti-military?

It certainly does not mean making the slightest effort to understand the pressures and dangers of combat, so as to avoid the obscenity of sitting in peace and comfort while second-guessing at leisure some life-and-death decisions that had to be made in a split second by men 10,000 miles away.


The rules of war, the Geneva Convention, do not protect soldiers who are not wearing their own country's uniforms. To get the protection of rules, you have to play by the rules.

Terrorists are not enemy soldiers covered by the rules of war. Nor should they be. They observe no rules.


Why any such terrorists should be captured alive in the first place is a real question. Maybe they have information that could be useful. But every terrorist our troops try to capture alive increases the risk of death for American combat troops.


Finally, CIA going on the offense

CIA plans riskier, more aggressive espionage
Director Porter Goss told his new chief of spy operations this week to launch a much more aggressive espionage campaign that would use undercover officers to penetrate terrorist groups and hostile governments such as North Korea and Iran, according to a senior U.S. official with direct knowledge of Goss' plans.

The risky new strategy would be a sharp departure from the CIA's traditional style of human intelligence, in which field officers under flimsy cover as diplomats in U.S. embassies try to recruit foreign spies and gather tips from allied intelligence services. Those methods don't work with terror groups or in countries where the United States has no embassies, such as prewar Iraq or present-day North Korea and Iran.


"Our core business in my view is close-in access to the plans and intentions" of adversary states and terror groups, Goss said in his speech. He said he expects the strategy to yield successes, but also painful failures he will have to explain to Congress. Goss said he would give his field officers "more autonomy" to do their work and pledged to back them if they fail. "We're going to encourage and expect calculated risk-taking that will be rewarded," he said. "I know it won't go right all the time. When it goes wrong, it will be supported."


Death by Self-Destruction

There is a "defense" of the Marine videotaped shooting a wounded combatant in the Wall Street Journal today titled Death by Adrenaline by Edward N. Luttwak. First he explains the physiological state that a soldier is in when he is in a kill-or-be-killed combat zone, and the effect all that adrenaline has on one's judgment and actions.
That is why fighters kill surrendering enemies -- they are still chemically compelled to kill, and have someone to kill in front of them. A moment later, with the effect dissipated, that same fighter becomes a person once again or, in the case at hand, a disciplined and presumably decent Marine who would never dream of killing a defenseless, harmless, wounded prisoner.

Is the "case at hand" about a Marine killing "a defenseless, harmless, wounded prisoner"? Only Kevin Sites, and various media who have echoed him, think this combatant was a prisoner. Later, Luttwak acknowledges the combatant was not a prisoner, so why does he confuse the issue by implying it here. As far as the combatant being harmless, that has to be a judgment left up to those who will pay with their lives if they are wrong. He then mentions the booby-trapped bodies that the Marines have been encountering,
But it is quite unnecessary to add any further explanation, or excuse for that matter. For the U.S. Marine Corps -- as for any decent and law-abiding military force -- the deliberate, cold-blooded, killing of unarmed prisoners is murder full stop, and must be punished as such.
Is this at all relevant to this incident? Apparently not -
But that is irrelevant in this case (unless the anonymous Marine happens to be a common murderer by some remote chance) because the incident took place on the battlefield in an unsecured environment before prisoners were taken.
He then offers his defense explaining this adrenaline fueled "compulsion to kill is entirely involuntary and inevitable" in infantry combat. He concludes,
it was a pool of unpatriotic American television reporters and the Marine officers who started an immediate judicial investigation, for strict American legalism is alive and well even in the Marine uniform.

Those are two things for which we can be very thankful. The last thing we would want are patriotic reporters who would conceal errors, embarrassments and crimes in our armed forces, thus favoring their present reputation at the expense of their improvement, or military officers who would condone atrocity. ... We want both the unvarnished truth from our media and strict legalism in our armed forces. But the anonymous Marine cannot be punished for an inevitable consequence of his duty as a combatant in war.
We can be thankful for pool reporters who produce out-of-context videos that the enemy uses as propaganda. I think not. The military has a moral responsibility to protect our troops. Although the military needs to have internal checks and balances to ensure errors and crimes are reported and dealt with, when we have soldiers in combat fighting for their lives this should not be a process reveled in by worldwide media. It endangers the lives of our troops.


Our Enemies the Saudis

Nibras Kazimi in the New York Sun:
If the Saudis had an equivalent for the 'freedom of speech' bit in the Bill of Rights, it would stipulate that all free speech is prohibited, unless it calls for jihad against the United States.

On Friday, November 5,26 leading Wahhabi clerics in Saudi Arabia issued an open declaration in the form of a religious promulgation, inciting the Iraqi people to fight the American forces. They state that the religious justifications for participating in a jihad are self-evident, and that it does not require an overall leadership to coordinate the efforts. They implore Iraqis not to inform on the insurgents or participate in the government's efforts to quell the terrorists. In this decree, the Saudi clerics beseech the Iraqis not to get embroiled in sectarian Shia/Sunni or Arab/Kurdish conflicts and to focus their wrath against the Americans and "the Jews who are infiltrating into Iraq." They call upon all Muslims to support the anti-American insurgency, and to provide alms and charity for "victorious" towns like Fallujah. Four of its 10 paragraphs read like a political memorandum to Abu Musaab Al-Zarqawi, imploring the guerrillas to project a civilized and civilian-friendly demeanor that would come in handy when administering the country once victory over the "occupiers" was achieved.

These latest religious edicts emanating from Saudi Arabia and Zarqawi's pledge of allegiance to Mr. bin Laden mark a dramatic shift in policy for the Wahhabi-Salafist alliance. Just a year ago, a Saudi medical doctor traveled to Iraq to scout possibilities for jihad, and he penned his observations is a 20-page pamphlet entitled "The Iraq We Hoped For...And the Road to Jerusalem." The author, Dr. Saud bin Hassan Mukhtar, laments the absence of Saudi money, preachers, and fighters from a scene exceptionally ripe for armed struggle against the Americans. ... But all the evidence indicates that Iraq is now the new Afghanistan as far as Al Qaeda is concerned.

And guess who signed the Saudi religious edict? Well, among the 26 names who all signed as "Sheikh and PhD" are Safar bin Abdel-Rahman Al-Hawali, 54, and Salman bin Fahed Al-Audah, 49.The activities and influence of these two as the ideological mentors of Mr. bin Laden and Al Qaeda have been well reported by the Western press. Both were arrested back in 1994 because they grew too hostile for the comfort level of the Saudi royals and were pardoned and released five years later by Crown Prince Abdullah.

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