October 12, 2002


: A bomber blew himself up in a mall in Finland, killing at least seven and injuring scores of others. In Bali, Indonesia, two bombs ripped up a couple of tourist spots, killing at least 54 and injuring more. Recently off the coast of Yemen, terrorists blew up a bomb next to a French tanker, while US Marines have fended off a couple of terror attacks during military exercises in Kuwait. All this while the US government has grown increasingly concerned that al Qaeda is ramping up for another round of attacks.

Sounds to me like that round of attacks is upon us. Oh yeah, there's that business going on back in the DC area too. Something about a sniper so brazen he kills his victims while a state trooper looks on.

It may be a coincidence that the DC sniper is active while all this other stuff is going on. But that's getting harder and harder to believe.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:44 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 11, 2002


: This time, the killer committed his crime in full view of a Virginia state trooper, and still got away. He's clearly escalating things, and even attacking in the rain which indicates to me that he's practically yelling to us all that we're not safe anywhere at anytime.

Do you want to know how irrational the Death card killer is making people behave around here? This morning I left a little after 10 to go to the airport for a business trip. A minute or two into my drive, the news broke on the radio that there had been another shooting, this one in Fredericksburg, Virginia at a gas station, at around 9:30. I looked at the gas guage in my car, and noted that it was due for a filling. I did the math--the killer hadn't had more than 30 minutes to get to my area, which is more than an hour away. But when I stopped to get gas, I was constantly looking over my shoulder, not standing in one place too long. As I finished up, a man pulled up in a late model Cadillac and seemed confused. He asked me if I could help him with his gas cap--it seemed to be stuck. I helped him, but as I did I just kept thinking that I wanted to get into my car. Keep in mind that I knew the killer hadn't had anywhere near enough time to get from his most recent shooting to where I was. Didn't matter.

As I drove on to the airport I continued listening to the news, which aired multiple versions of a description of the vehicle that authorities were looking for--a white panel van with a ladder rack on the rear and a ladder on top. I must have counted a dozen or more vehicles fitting that description on the way to the airport. If that's the type of vehicle the killer is running around in, no wonder he hasn't been caught. They're everywhere. As for that vehicle narrowing down the type of work he must do, I don't think so anymore. He could be a delivery guy for any one of several firms, or a plumber, landscaper, cable guy, electrician, home improvement contractor, basement waterproofing contractor, or just about anything else that involves carrying around tools or needing space to move large objects around.

As for my business trip, it's taken me to Charlotte, North Carolina. The contrast between home and here couldn't be more stark. In the Baltimore/DC area, you don't see many people eating outside at sidewalk cafes and the like lately. It's just too dangerous. And people seem to be walking the streets less. But here in Charlotte, I went walking through the downtown area to go to dinner, and people were everywhere, strolling, window shopping, and eating outside since the weather here today was perfect. This killer must be having the sadistic time of his life. He's killing with impunity and altering how people are living their lives.

I hope this shooter makes a mistake soon, because that's the only way I think they'll catch him.

One funny note, though, that prooves I've spent too much time in blogdom lately. As I checked in to my hotel, I idly looked over at a rack of envelopes labelled "Express Check-In" at the top. The envelopes presumably contained room keys, and were alphabetically arranged according to guests' last names. One said "Reynolds," and I immediately thought to myself "Does that mean InstaPundit is in town, too?" I've got to spend more time away from the blog.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:26 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack


quietly supporting the US war effort against Iraq may be a weird plan to merge Jordan and post-Saddam Iraq as a Hashemite kingdom.

According to the linked story which claims to be based on a StratFor report, the plan is the work of Vice President Cheney. It's...interesting.

"First, the creation of a new pro-US kingdom under the half-American Abdullah will shift the balance of forces in the region heavily in the US favour," the report says. After eliminating Iraq as a sovereign state, there would be no fear that one day an anti-American government would come to power in Baghdad, as the capital would be in Amman.

"Current and potential US geopolitical foes Iran, Saudi Arabia and Syria would be left isolated from each other, with big chunks of land between them under control of the pro-US forces," according to Stratfor.

"Equally important, Washington would be able to justify its long-term and heavy military presence in the region as necessary for the defence of a young new state asking for US protection and to secure the stability of oil markets and supplies. That in turn would help the US gain direct control of Iraqi oil and replace Saudi oil in case of conflict with Riyadh," it adds.

The richest oil areas would not go to the Hashemite kingdom but to a widely autonomous Kurdish region that still will be formally a part of the Hashemite state. To make sure the Kurds don't upset US ally Turkey by declaring an independent state, US will have the excuse of deploying its forces in the Kurdish region, with new bases located just next to oil fields in areas such as Kirkuk.

"Washington then will be able to offer the new Hashemite kingdom as a model for other Arab states, combining what the Arab masses see as the advantages of a traditional monarchy with the benefits of a US alliance," the report says.

"The potential combination of educated Iraqis, US aid and military assistance, and oil revenues might help the new state become a beacon for the Arab world to follow," it adds. Were more states to adopt this example, the geopolitical influence of both Saudi Arabia and Egypt would decline, making it easier for Washington to deal with them.

"In case of a future conflict with Saudi Arabia or Iran, US forces would be in the ideal position to strike not only from sea but also from land by using new bases in the Hashemite kingdom and the Kurdish region," the report reveals.

Benefits for Israel: "Iraq, arguably Israel's most determined foe, will be eliminated and Baghdad's end will deprive the Palestinians of much financial and other assistance, which can reduce the effectiveness of attacks against the Jewish state."

Benefits for Jordan: "King Abdullah will vastly expand his role and prominence in the region with a joint Hashemite state, becoming the second-most important US ally after Israel. In addition to his huge territorial gains, he also will get a chunk of Iraqi oil.

"And Palestinians, who currently make up half of Jordan's population, will become a minority in the new state, with much less potential to stir up trouble," the report adds.

I don't think I'm buying this. Though the Middle East unquestionably needs reordering, I don't see the Bush team getting this ambitious. But if it marginalizes the Palestinians then it has at least one selling point. A democratic Iraq would be better, but in that part of the world extremely difficult to actually put together. I do hope the administration is thinking this big, though.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:06 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


: The Nobel Prize now signifies total failure.

Yasser Arafat is a Nobel laureate, having won the prize a few years ago. Has he created any peace?

Jimmy Carter is now a Nobel laureate. His presidency helped bring about the assymetric warfare we're dealing with today, in his continual display of weakness in the face of the Ayatollah.

Alfred Nobel is probably rolling over in his grave today. He created the Nobel Prize to rehabilitate his family name (he invented dynamite, one of the world's most useful substances but which got a bum rap as a tool of war) and to honor achievement. In awarding Arafat and now Carter, the Nobel rewards murder in one case and incompetence in the other.
Posted by B. Preston at 09:49 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


still staggers the conscience:

The incident began when a man was apparently injured after he just missed boarding a bus north of Tel Aviv. Witnesses said he tried to board the bus through the rear as it pulled from a station, but the driver shut the door and the man fell and was motionless.

"We shouted to the driver to stop, to help the wounded man. We didn't know it was a terrorist," passenger Miriam Salem said. The man indeed turned out to be the bomber.

A bystander tried to resuscitate the man and another passenger placed a bandage under his head, passenger Yael Ben-Zur related. But then they opened the man's shirt and saw the suicide belt.

The driver and another man grabbed the militant's hands to keep him from detonating the charge and people on the bus tried to move away form the man.

"We gave everybody time to run away and when we were alone with him and he began to move his legs, and signaled he wanted to get up, we became afraid that we would explode with him," driver Baruh Neuman said.

The Israelis released the man and moved away. The militant was able to get up and walked toward the passengers. He then set off what is estimated to have been an 11-pound bomb packed with small metal balls. A 71-year-old woman who lived in Ramat Gan was killed along with the bomber.

Hamas declined identifying the attacker, but a spokesman for Israeli police said he was Rafik Hamad, 31, a father of four from the West Bank village of Hablah near Qaliqilya.

The whole was staged to take advantage of people's willingness to help a perfect stranger, even in the midst of a brutal war. Sick.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:14 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


, to authorize military action against Iraq. The Democrats mostly played to home audiences, with a majority of them voting against it while enough did go along to give it a healthy margin. The Senate is next of course, and I suspect it will pass the force authorization by a much narrower margin

As for Iraq, it's up to its old games. Today, they opened up a suspected nuke site to reporters, but not to inspectors who might actually know what they're looking at. Has there ever been a more blatant display of comtempt for the intelligence and worldly knowledge of journalists than how Iraq tends to treat them? I can't think of one, at lease outside the blogosphere. During the Gulf War, we had the infamous "baby milk factory" bombing, duly reported by CNN's Peter Arnett and others, which actually had a handwritten sign hanging in the background with "Baby Milk Factory" scrawled on it. Why, pray tell, would a factory in Iraq have such a sign--in English? How would people who actually work there could benefit from this sign? You'd think they knew where they worked, and probably didn't read English. Put the two facts together, and suspicion should bubble up in any reasonable mind. Still, the reporters lapped it up at the time.

Iraq also promised, again, that it has no WMD program, but then threatened to use...something nasty...if the US attacks:

"If the Americans commit another such crime against us, we will teach them something they will never forget," Gen. Abdel Tawab Mullah Huweish said at a news conference in Baghdad.

What do you suppose he's talking about? I mean, there's a lot of unforgettable stuff about the first Gulf War. Who can forget that a million man army, vaunted as the best in the region, got whipped in less than 100 hours of ground combat? Who can forget the sight of hundreds of fearsome Iraqi soldiers surrendering to Italian news crews? Who can forget that the "mother of all battles" turned into the mother of all routs right before our eyes?

Unforgettable things, to be sure, but I don't think the general means to teach us just how fast an army can implode. Sounds like a threat to use those WMDs Iraq doesn't have.

But back to politics. House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt supported the force authorization, but added a caveat:

"Completely bypassing the U.N. would set a dangerous precedent that would undoubtedly be used by other countries in the future to our and the world's detriment," said Gephardt.

I'm glad Gephardt supported force, because I think that a strong show of force may be the only thing standing between Saddam and nuking an American city, but Gephardt's insistence that the UN must first do its thing seems disingenuous. The Kosovo campaign was carried out by President Bush's predecessor without a UN mandate--in fact, the Clinton/NATO team went right around the UN to run that mission, and earned UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's condemnation for it. It's very tough to make an argument that Kosovo was somehow more important to our national security than Islamic terrorism is, doubly so when you consider that we suffered a string of terror attacks at home and abroad before and after we bombed Kosovo. But we bombed Kosovo anyway, and Gephardt was there in full support. So were most Dems, though the Republicans were a little bit skeptical.

I guess I'm just curious about how these folks see the world. Apparently it's fine to bomb a country behaving badly without a UN mandate if that country poses no threat to us, but less fine to bomb a country that actually poses a threat whether the UN backs it or not. It's a real head scratcher.

To be fair, there are some Democrats who get it. Yesterday I mentioned Senator Dodd. Rep. Tom Lantos, with whom I've agreed maybe twice before but that's probably pushing it, also sees things pretty clearly:

"It is only when the Iraqi dictator is certain of our willingness to wage war if necessary that peace becomes possible," said Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif.

Yup. Reagan called it "Peace through Strength," but the idea predates him by millenia. If you want hostile people to leave you alone, don't be a 90-pound weakling. Don't be a whiner, and don't show them that you're scared, even though you may be terrified inside. Show strength, and be ready to fight if need be, and you probably will win without having to.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:06 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 10, 2002


: If you're interested in digging deep into the Oklahoma City bombing, investigative reporter Jayna Davis' website looks like a must-read. There isn't much there yet, since it appears to be a pretty new undertaking for her, but I bet before long she'll have some strong content up.

If you're not familiar with her, Davis was an investigative reporter for the Oklahoma City NBC affiliate when the bombing occurred, in April of 1995. She has pursued the case relentlessly ever since, developing a very detailed and believable hypothesis that Iraq was in fact behind the bombing. In her version of the story, Tim McVeigh and Terry Nichols were "lilly whites"--men with no criminal record or previous ties to Islamic terrorism, so their actions leading up to the bombing wouldn't arouse anyone's suspicions. She's currently helping a couple of Congressional investigations sort out what she believes really happened and who was really responsible.

My own take--well, the federal indictment handed down against both McVeigh and Nichols accuses them and "others unknown" of planning and executing the bombing. I've looked into the case myself to some depth, having stumbled into it by accident this past summer, and I think there are more questions than answers, more than seven years after the bombing. I do think McVeigh and Nichols are just the tip of the iceberg, and that the true depth breadth of the plan was likely covered up for political reasons. It remains covered up to this day, though the Bush administration has shown a willingness to investigate it quietly.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:23 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


is consistent with the prior six, increasing the likelihood that the Tarot card killer is responsible. Two states plus the District, four counties--multiple sites for a killer that seems determined not only to taunt the police, but to engineer his kills so as to maximize the difficulty in persuing the case. Along with local authorities, you have a couple of layers of state authority working with several layers of federal authority. That may, in the long run, be a recipe for catching him, but for now it seems to me to be a recipe for turf battles.

At this point, I may utter the single most inappropriate thing I've ever stated on this blog, but here goes: I read this quote at the end of a synopsis of the past week's events:

Robert K. Ressler, a former FBI profiler, interviewed [serial killer David] Berkowitz after his arrest.

"He said this was a stimulating thing for him to see the letters in the paper," Ressler said. "Even though he's the only one who knows, notoriety becomes very satisfying to an inadequate loser. It's a way of imposing power and control over society."

Read those last two sentences again. After reading them, I immediately thought of anonymous bloggers who stir up trouble and pick fights with bigger bloggers who actually use their real names. Like I said, it's highly inappropriate, but that's what I thought of when I read it.

Release the hate-mail hounds.
Posted by B. Preston at 04:04 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack


: I'm not a liberal, as least not as defined by current standards. Anti-monarchist, free-market both economically and philosophically, generally in favor of more individual freedom and therefore less government, human rights and free speech, religion, press and assembly as the cornerstones of real liberty--that's what I believe in and would have had me tagged with the "L" word in, oh, 1850 or so. But today such beliefs make one a conservative, which is fine with me. I say all this to say that I find much to admire in Jonathan Chaitt's argument that liberals, today's liberals, should support the war against Saddam. I do think, though, that Chaitt is wrong about one thing: his audience.

Today's "liberals" are, for the most part, quite illiberal in many regards. They do not favor free markets for capital or ideas, many don't even really favor true human rights or basic freedoms like speech and assembly. Today's liberals tend to litigate as opposed to persuade, and tend toward favoring the heavy hand of government regulation over letting the marketplace decide what's best. They are every bit as liberal as the Democrat Party is "democratic"--the party of quotas and political speech regulation and hate crimes legislation and so forth.

I think Chiatt is right, but by accident: liberals, as classicly defined, should support the war. It's in the national interest, it's in the interests of civilization and it's in the interests of human rights to oust Saddam. So liberals should favoring regime change in Baghdad. In fact, we already do.
Posted by B. Preston at 03:48 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


(I've been busy, let me tell ya), I ran across a post that caused me to almost ask out loud: Why does the FBI get all those millions for demonizing Steve Hatfill, when a blogger can come with a more plausible origin for last year's anthrax attacks on her own? Scroll down to the "Note."
Posted by B. Preston at 03:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


: Quick, which party tends to get stereotyped as "homophobic"--never mind the utter mindlessness of that adjective? Which party would you expect to run an ad subliminally suggesting that an opposing candidate is gay? I bet you guessed wrong...

The Dems have outdone themselves with this one in Montana.
Posted by B. Preston at 01:57 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 09, 2002


why it's best for America to show a unified front to the world--it makes war less likely. Sen. Christopher Dodd, Connecticut Dem, says he'll support the war powers resolution because:

"Ultimately, my main reason for supporting the resolution is that I believe the chances of avoiding war with Iraq are enhanced if this country is united as a nation."

Precisely. If we are determined to disarm Saddam, and demonstrate a terminal resolve to do so, we probably won't have to: his lieutenants will bump him off to avert war. Or they'll refuse to fight when it comes. But if we go in showing division, we give Saddam and his henchmen reason to hope they can defeat us, making the situation much more dangerous than it has to be.

Kudos to Sen. Dodd.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:09 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


on the area shootings: the Tarot card with the inscription "Dear policeman, I am God" is legit. A woman was picked up and detained today for questioning when she was seen driving in near an area where a man was seen walking while carrying a long black bag. No further shootings today, likely because the killer is still revelling in his new found infamy. Dateline ran an entire hour on it last night, all the local stations lead with it, and it's on the front pages of just about every newspaper in the country.

Maryland Gov. Parris Glendenning seems to have found a way to make himself appear smaller than he already did, this time by repeatedly calling the killer a coward in public speeches. It's one thing for a blogger such as myself to call the killer cowardly--which he is--but it's another thing entirely for the governor to do it. It seems to me to have been an unnecessary taunt. This killer is already mocking the police and escalating the spree beyond most people's imagination--we don't need pols mouthing off and making things worse, but then what would pols do in a situation like this if mouthing off were off limits?

One thing I noticed early on is that this killing spree is bringing out all the usual anti-gun rights canards. Maryland GOP gubernatorial candidate Bob Ehrlich is suddenly on the defensive--he supports the 2nd Amendment--in a state where gun laws have the undeserved reputation of doing some good. None of the gun grabbers seem to have noticed that the killing is taking place in one of the nation's tightest anti-gun states, a state which is third in the nation in murder and first in robbery. Ehrlich has a tough sell on his hands in Montgomery County and elsewhere in the state though, and he has powerful enemies--the Brady Campaign is airing ads attacking his pro-gun stance. The ads started running shortly before the shooting spree began, but they remain on the air now.

What's good for the goose isn't good for the gander, though. Lots of advocacy groups similar to the Brady bunch are running anti-Ehrlich ads, but one group that's running ads in line with a project Ehrlich supports--a road connecting a couple of major highways that should alleviate the schlerotic traffic around here--is being taken to court. A group of local activistist is taking the Citizens for Quality Living, which supports the inter-county connector road project, to court under accusations that the group is violating, well, one of the arcane campaing finance laws written so that equal application is all but impossible. It seems to be another case of liberals not liking the democratic process, and trying to litigate it away. Let's hope they lose this one.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:48 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack


"charity" Benevolence International has been indicted on a range of charges, including providing support to terrorists. Benevolence is one of the organizations with ties to Florida, and possibly to Jose Abduyah Padilla and Terry Nichols.

If the charges pan out, Benevolence International Foundation seems to be the garden that brought forth al Qaeda:

"In fact, funds were being used to support al Qaida and other groups engaged in armed violence overseas. In addition, in an effort to conceal donors who knowingly supported terrorism, Arnaout is charged with commingling charitable contributions intended for humanitarian purposes with contributions intended to support armed violence."

"The documents recovered in the Benevolence International Foundation's Bosnia offices provide, for the first time, documentary proof of the founding of al Qaida and the oath sworn by al Qaida members," [Attorney General John Ashcroft] added.

"The documents uncovered from the Benevolence International Foundation, headed by the man charged in the indictment today, show the American people and the world for the first time tangible proof of the founding of the world's most dangerous terrorist network and the oath of allegiance its members pledge.

"It is chilling that the origins of al Qaida were discovered in a charity claiming to do good."

Stay tuned.
Posted by B. Preston at 09:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


is one of the most respected men in the world. He is the Secretary of State of the United States, the first black man to hold that position. Though many, including myself, often disagree with Powell on a range of issues, his integrity has never been in doubt. You'd think these things would make Powell one of the most respected figures in the black community. You'd think so, wouldn't you. But to singer Harry Belafonte, Powell is no better than a "house slave."

When people make comments like this, it's nearly impossible to take them seriously when they open their mouths about anything else.

UPDATE: Powell responds:

"If Harry had wanted to attack my politics, that was fine. If he wanted to attack a particular position I hold, that was fine," Powell said. "But to use a slave reference, I think, is unfortunate and is a throwback to another time and another place that I wish Harry had thought twice about using."
Posted by B. Preston at 09:42 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack


: Did you see the 60 Minutes story about the Palestinian Authority's close ties to Saddam Hussein? I did--it was devastating. Yasser Arafat isn't amused--he's threatening to sue CBS for airing the story.

It's called a free press, Yasser. Get used to it.
Posted by B. Preston at 09:26 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


, er, I mean McDermott, says President Bush is trying to have himself crowned Emperor of America. Really--I wish I were just making it up, but that's what he actually said.

At the heart of the debate, McDermott said, is whether Congress or the president has the power to declare war.

"This president is trying to bring to himself all the power to become an emperor — to create Empire America," he said.

Not surprisingly, McDermott--best known for accusing President Bush of lying about Saddam during a visiting Baghdad--has found some support for his interesting theory at Democrats.com.

One more time, these people aren't fringe loonies. McDermott is currently serving in Congress. Democrats.com counts DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe and former President Clinton among its supporters, and is connected to Democrat candidates and office-holders nationwide. They may not be mainstream Democrats, but they're by no means irrelevant either.
Posted by B. Preston at 05:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


three men that it claims were trying to set up an al Qaeda base in Beirut. Frankly, I'm surprised that there wasn't already an al Qaeda base in Beirut.
Posted by B. Preston at 05:28 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


, fortunately less successful than yesterday's which left a Marine dead.
Posted by B. Preston at 05:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


to Palestinian terrorists' families has been nabbed by Israel.

Raked Salim, head of the Arab Liberation Front in the West Bank, was arrested October 2 by Israeli secret service agents and soldiers, based on information obtained from documents Israel seized from Yasser Arafat's headquarters in Ramallah.

Sounds like the house arrests of Arafat are starting to pay off.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:50 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


some idiots.

The Transform Columbus Day Alliance actively rejects the celebration of Christopher Columbus and his legacy of domination, oppression, and colonialism.

By saying NO to Columbus we are saying YES to a new future in the Americas.

A future of mutual respect, collaboration and equality.

A future that respects:

the rights of indigenous peoples
the natural environment
democratic & economic justice over corporate globalization
gender equity over global patriarchy
free and equal speech over hate speech

What the #$%% is "equal speech?"
Posted by B. Preston at 12:42 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack


wildest allegation against Yasser Arafat yet: He tried to assassinate Secretary of State Colin Powell during his MidEast peace mission last spring. Given Arafat's bloody history, it's hardly beyond the pale for him. He's a ruthless killer, the father of all the terrorism surrounding us today.

But why would he want Powell killed in such a way that looks so obviously like Islamic terrorism? If it had happened, no one in their right mind would have thought Israel was behind it. In fact, such an act would almost surely have sparked an immediate, all-out war with the US and Israel facing off against Arabia. Not Saudi Arabia--Arabia. Then again, if you listen to Usama bin Laden's rhetoric, that's just the war that the terror masters want. They believe all Muslims will rally to the sword and kill all us kaffirs. Problem for them is that while they're rallying we're dropping daisy cutters on them, but then battlefield tactics have never been their strong point.

If this story is true and Arafat did try to kill Powell, it shows once and for all who's side he's really on and how reliable a "partner" he can ever be in any "peace process."

(thanks to Chris)
Posted by B. Preston at 12:55 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack


, suggesting that the FBI is still ignoring foreign, even Iraqi, links. It's another Pravda link. Three in one night from the former mouthpiece of Soviet communism. This story goes into some detail into allegations that 9-11 hijacker Muhammed Atta got the anthrax used in the attacks from Iraq.

Something about this whole question of anthrax, Iraq and possible links to al Qaeda has been bugging me for a while: Shortly after 9-11 reports swirled around that Muhammed Atta met with an Iraqi intel agent in Prague, perhaps as many as four times. While Czech officials stand by the story to this day, our own government seems uninterested, at least publicly. You'd think that given the debate about Iraq currently underway in Washington, administration officials would be eager to prove this link one way or the other. But we hardly ever hear anything about it.

This suggests to me that, though the Czechs are among our best European allies and are undoubtedly sincere, this story hasn't checked out very well. Either that, or the administration is waiting to use it at a more strategic moment. It's hard to make much more of it than that, but it's difficult to imagine the Bush team having such a solid link between Saddam and 9-11 and not using it as the trump card by now. Getting whatever authority the president wants from Congress would be a slam dunk, and the Baghdad Boys would seem even more craven than they already do.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:43 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


was found at the middle school in Prince George's County where the 13 year old was shot Monday. Let's hope there's a fingerprint on it. The location of the casing suggests that the shooter was truly hunting this time--on foot in a wooded area about 140 yards from the victim, as opposed to shooting from a vehicle for a quick getaway. This, plus the fact that he's failed to kill his most recent victims, suggests to me that he's changing his tactics or being forced to change them. Maybe his driver has backed out on him, or maybe the heightenend police presence around the area is making him change things up. He didn't shoot anyone today, but I expect he'll be back before too long.

What a horrible situation this is. The community is pretty much helpless right now, just hoping the killer makes a mistake that leads to him. Outdoor activities at school are, for now, a thing of the past. No one seems ready to panic yet, but the unease and anxiety are bubbling up. Whoever is behing all this, we all just hope he's caught or killed soon--preferring the latter.

As for whether or not to define these attacks as terrorism, former FBI profiler Clint Van Zandt characterized them as such after Monday's school shooting, noting that there was both a message as well as a mission involved. The mission is to spread terror, and the message is that no one is safe. I half expect the next victim to be shot within their own home. I'm also inclined to see things the way James Robbins sees things: in a time of war, given the location and effectiveness of the attacks and the skill of the killer, terrorism should be our default assumption until proven otherwise. If it is terrorism and linked to al Qaeda, it's particularly diabolical for its very randomness.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:11 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 08, 2002


An American citizen, living in Yemen, published an article by that title in a Jewish newspaper's web site.

As you might expect, he's getting death threats, lawsuit threats, and a generally hard time for airing his views. You have to admire his courage, publishing such thoughts where he lives and works, which is for the Arab TV network Al-Jazeera.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:56 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


use the WMD's he's so desparate to have. CIA Director George Tenet aired this assertion in a letter to Congress.

In a letter, George J. Tenet, the director of central intelligence, told lawmakers that the CIA believes Saddam Hussein is, for now, "drawing a line short of" using weapons of mass destruction to launch terrorist assaults. But, according to the letter, if the Iraqi leader concluded that a U.S.-led attack against Iraq "could no longer be deterred, he probably would become much less constrained in adopting terrorist actions."

So Tenet has joined the ranks of folks who think Saddams' possession of WMDs should deter us from taking him out. Yeah, that'll send just the right message to all the other tinhorn dictators out there, won't it--get WMDs and the US will leave you alone no matter how much a menace you may become.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't Tenet head the same CIA that missed, oh I don't know, dozens of signs that al Qaeda was about to his us on our own soil? And isn't he, if memory serves, a Clintonista holdover?

We should take his assessment for all it's worth given these two facts, which taken together mean that Tenet's point of view isn't worth much.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


show new construction underway at Iraqi nuclear facilities. I'm sure it's for peaceful, humanitarian purposes. Nothing to see here, move along.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:39 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


according to the reliable StratFor, which says that a military coup is imminent.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:28 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


is not a popular man. Most of us in the West want him dead. So, apparently, do most of the people in his own country and they're trying to make it happen. The latest: an Iraqi military pilot tried crashing a plane into one of Hussein's palaces. He crashed, but failed to take out the dictator.

Interestingly though, Hussein seems to be popular with Pravda, which is where the linked story comes from. Pravda describes attempts on Hussein's life as "terrorism," and "subversive."

While we're on the subject of Saddam Hussein, Iraqi opposition groups are claiming to have wounded Saddam's youngest son Qusay. His wounds aren't apparently enough for us to cheer, though. Just a slight wound to the arm.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:25 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 07, 2002


, but I'm ready to officially call the sniper attacks in this area "terrorism." Today, some animal shot a 13-year-old boy in the chest as he made his way to school, and either the same animal or a copy-cat shot a man in Washington while he was sitting in a car. So far, five dead, three wounded, and the police don't seem to be any closer to knowing what's going on. Not that I'm blaming the police, mind you--they simply can't be everywhere at once, and since the shooter has managed to stay at some distance from his victims and out of sight, it will be tough to find and apprehend him. If he stops now, he may never be caught. But he doesn't seem to be in any mood to stop.

I have to wonder if this sniper would be hunting people in this area if we could hunt back. This sniper is, so far, smart and skilled. Would he dare take pot shots at innocent people if there was even the possibility that someone nearby was armed? I don't think so, because this sniper is also cowardly. He shoots and runs, secure in the knowledge that no one will be shooting back. He knows he's shooting at disarmed targets, because it's illegal for law-abiding citizens to protect themselves with a concealed firearm. Only snipers can do that.

This morning as I drove to work, I felt like I was a target for the first time I can remember. It actually occurred to me that the sniper could be waiting in any of the bushes or hedgerows I passed, could be waiting in an alley for a car to move slowly by, or could be watching any of the gas stations my wife and I normally use. So far he hasn't come this far north, but he hasn't strayed very far south either. I can't say it makes me feel vulnerable, just irritated and a little bit angry. And sad, for the victims and their families.

I'm not inclined to believe that this killer is a member of al Qaeda. It seems to me more like something a wannabe would pull, maybe a freelancer like those people arrested in Oregon and Michigan last week, or just an anti-American nut who's finally found his moment. It would be simpler if this killer were just like the 9-11 killers, but I don't think he is. That doesn't make him any less a terrorist.
Posted by B. Preston at 05:44 PM | Comments (12) | TrackBack


, and goes by the name of Quaoar.

Yes, Quaoar. A name only Barbara Walters could love.

Just to let you on the inside a bit, there was some internal debate around these parts that Quaoar could be a new planet. But a) it turned out to be too small, therefore b) making it a planet opens up the floodgates for about a zillion planets down the road. That's because it resides in the outer fringes of the solar system, in a region called the Kuiper Belt. The Kuiper Belt is the home of comets and other detritis left over from the formation of the solar system. It's likely to be full of objects like Quaoar, some bigger and most much smaller. If Quaoar is designated a planet, then pretty soon we'll be swimming in planets, as Hubble and other telescopes hunt down other Kuiper Belt objects.

Besides, Pluto's hold on planet status is tenuous at best.
Posted by B. Preston at 05:09 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack


to Americans via Al Jazzeera TV, warning of new attacks.

But--we don't see him, because it's an audio-only gig. And--there's nothing on the tape to indicate when it was recorded.

Sounds like another al Qaeda special effects production to me.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:10 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


may be weakening, as several members of his upper command have reportedly been contacting opposition groups to secure post-Saddam deals for themselves.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:04 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 06, 2002


was terrorism, with tactics similar to those used against the USS Cole.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


: One of the things that has bothered me most, post 9-11, is the way our "allies" around the world react whenever America decides to move. As soon as we seem poised to even think about acting, we hear a German government minister liken President Bush to Hitler, we hear the French natter on about unilateralism, and we hear from lefties in England, Canada and even here decry our "jingoism," our cowboy diplomacy, whatever.

When I hear such talk, the term "ingrates" usually leaps to mind. I mean, don't these people know that, if not for American leadership for the past half century, Communism would've enslaved them all by now? Don't they know Europe would probably have engulfed itself in a couple more world wars by now? Don't these people know that we rebuilt their ruined countries, rehabilitated their governments, and protected them from external enemies long enough for them to get on their own feet--even long enough to see the enemies collapse? I've found the whole sorry display shocking, to be honest.

But I shouldn't have. There's nothing shocking about it at all. Ingratitude is the way of world, and always has been.

In ancient times, there was a man you might call a doctor. He was also a teacher, a rabble-rouser and a few other things that the authorities didn't care for, but he occassionally healed people. One day he met a man who'd been paralyzed for 38 years, and the doctor healed him, and in doing so ended up breaking a very narrow interpretation of the law. The newly healed man didn't even bother to find out the name of this genius doctor until running into him later, and when questioned by the doctor's enemies, ratted him out. "Yup, that's the fellow that healed me. Yup, he broke the law when he healed me. That fellow right there--he's the one." Nearly four decades of paralysis ended--you'd think the doctor would've at least gotten a thank you card or something. Instead, he got a snitch.

On another day, the same doctor came across a group of men stricken with a hideously disfiguring--and incurable--disease. The disease had been incurable, that is--the doctor healed them. Of the ten healed, only one even said "Thanks." Just one--the other nine took the healing and ran.

So ingratitude isn't just a post-modern problem, and as much as I personally hate to admit it, isn't unique to the French. It's one of the most common reactions to assistance in the world. Has been for a very long time.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:29 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


: Yes, I do have some minor differences with President Bush. I wish he were a bit more conservative. I wish he'd not have done that steel tarriff bit a few months ago. I wish he'd have prosecuted the White House vandals, and made more of that sorry episode at the time. I wish he'd come out swinging on occasions where he seems hesitant to come out at all. There is at least one thing that I consistently like about him though.

He makes the Tom Daschle's of the world crazy, turns them into raving lunatics. Noemie Emery has chronicled when and how the man some call "Shrub" has managed to flay his opponents.. It's a thing of beauty.

(thanks to Chris)
Posted by B. Preston at 11:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack