February 14, 2003

THE WAR WILL BE OVER BY MARCH 28

Of this year, that is, according to UPI Hears. For you math-challenged out there, that means the war will have to get started up pretty soon. John Prados at TomPaine, a site that keeps spamming me under the mistaken impression that I'm one of its fellow lefties, thinks it will start this very weekend. His logic is flawed--he thinks Bush will start the war because the Iraq situation refutes his North Korea position rather than confirm it, which is actually the case--but he may be right in spite of it. I guess we'll know by Sunday.
Posted by B. Preston at 05:03 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

SADDAM'S BAN

According to Reuters "news organization," Saddam has banned the production and import of weapons he shouldn't have anyway. Well, first off it's a little late for this gambit, isn't it? Twelve years after the rest of the world said he couldn't have them, he finally makes it his official policy.

Second and more perhaps more germane to the current situation, his new ban apparently says nothing about exporting the WMDs he already has...
Posted by B. Preston at 11:00 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

SADDAM'S ENABLERS

France and Germany have evidently bonded like no time in the past two centuries, and the glue that holds them together is their anti-war position regarding Iraq. In undermining the UN's ability to rein in its most flagrant law-breaker, France may be destroying the one source of global influence it still has, which is its permanent position and veto power on the UN Security Council. So with so much to lose--its influence over global affairs, a post from which to hector the American hegemony it seems to fear, and in the end risking the very system of international law and accountability for which it constantly mouths support--why is Paris so hasty to appease Saddam? And why is Germany so eager to play along? Why is Belgium acting like their lapdog?

Turn over a few rocks here and there and the reasons become clear: Both France and Germany (and Belgium, it turns out) may have a serious stake in seeing Saddam survive. Oil contracts, to the tune of billions, are part of the equation, but the three European nations have a dark legacy with Iraq. They have been among Saddam's principal suppliers in the fields of nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) weapons technology. A declassified Defense Intelligence Agency document links Belgium and Germany to Iraq's NBC programs before the Gulf War:

THE AL-QA'IM CHEMICAL COMPLEX WAS BUILT BETWEEN 1980 AND 1983. THE
PRIME CONTRACTOR WAS "SYBETRA," A BELGIAN CONSORTIUM WHICH WAS
CREATED BY "SOCIETE GENERALE" SPECIFICALLY FOR THIS CHEMICAL
COMPLEX PROJECT. SYBETRA HEADQUARTERS WAS LOCATED AT 187-189
CHAUSSEE DE LA HULPE, B-1000, BRUSSELS, BELGIUM.


Societe Generale is a major congolmerate that controls a huge slice of Belgium's insurance, banking and industrial concerns. It has offices throughout Europe and in the US. Sybetra, the subsidiary of Societe Generale, lost badly on the Al-Qa’im project due to delays in its long construction timeline. But company personnel worked on the Al-Qa'im complex until 1988, just two years before Iraq invaded Kuwait.

The same declassified document reveals that in 1989 Iraq decided to build a duplicate chemical weapons complex. It had bought the Belgian designs for the first plant, and contracted a German firm, Kloeckner Ina., to build the duplicate, which was at the same Al-Qa'im site. Work halted in 1990 due to UN embargoes against Iraq stemming from its invasion of Kuwait. In the late 80s, Kloeckner also helped Iraq rebuild its tank forces.

As for France, according to Dr. Khidir Hamza, the head of Iraq’s nuclear weapons program from its inception in 1968 until defecting to the US in 1994, the French helped build the Osirak nuclear reactor. Israel destroyed Osirak (which the Iraqis called Tammuz-1) in 1981, fearing it was secretly being used to produce nuclear weapons. Those fears were well-founded: according to the High Energy Weapons Archive, a nuclear weapons history web site, the type of reactor Iraq had obtained from the French…

was an extremely inappropriate choice for a nation just beginning a peaceful nuclear program. The 70 MW power of the MTR made it one of the largest of this type in the world. An MTR is typically only needed by nations with advanced power reactor programs that need to study how reactor materials behave under intense and prolonged irradiation, or require large amounts of special isotopes. Of course this was exactly Iraq's plan - to use it for irradiating a blanket of unsafeguarded uranium to produce the special isotope Pu-239.

For his part, Saddam Hussein did not pussy-foot around about his intentions. Just before flying to France to close the Osirak deal in September 1975, he gave an interview to a leading Arabic language newsmagazine from Beirut in which he declared that his country was engaged in "the first Arab attempt at nuclear arming."


France, despite a bout with misgivings in the late 70s, commenced construction of Osirak in 1979. Though Israel sabotaged Osirak and later destroyed it in a widely condemned air raid, France maintained an engineering presence there until 1989.

According to Dr. Hamza, the French knew all along that Iraq's nuclear program, ostensibly purely peaceful in intent, was in fact a weapons effort. In fact, Dr. Hamza also alleges that France’s continued presence at Osirak was meant to deter the International Atomic Energy Agency, the body that oversees compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty which Iraq had signed in 1969, from discovering the plant’s true purpose. France was, as I've noted before, one of three "friendly states," and along with Germany and Russia supplied the bulk of Iraqi armaments and assistance.

So that gets us up to 1990, the year of Iraq's invasion of Kuwait that brought about the Gulf War and subsequent UN resolutions against Iraq's weapons programs that allowed Saddam to retain power. And to be fair, up to this point France, Germany and Belgium were hardly alone as Western powers helping Saddam build his army. British, American and other firms from throughout the West helped in various ways. Notably, Iraq acquired anthrax via an American source, the Centers for Disease Control, though the Iraqi government apparently lied about its intentions for using the anthrax it obtained. But the US government never knowingly supplied Saddam with any weapon of mass destruction. Were the French similarly duped about Osirak? Not according to Dr. Hamza, who alleges that France knew all along that the Osirak reactor would become a nuclear weapons factory. The problem is he has never been able to supply any hard proof. A liberated Iraq in the hands of American leadership could change that.

After the Gulf War the trail goes cold. Ostensibly, the West stopped trading with Saddam after the Gulf War, both in terms of weapons as well as oil and more mundane commerce. But there are hints that some clandestine weapons trade continued, most notably between Iraq and Germany. According to papers filed on behalf of American Gulf War veterans in a lawsuit alleging that Iraqi chemical weapons may have caused “Gulf War syndrome,” German firms account for the majority of all weapons trade with Iraq prior to the Gulf War. In fact, 14 of the alleged chemical weapons suppliers are German, with no other state coming close. The US accounts for just two firms, which supplied little by comparison to the entire factories built under German contracts. It’s no stretch to imagine that with so many companies doing business in Iraq before the Gulf War, Germany would see fit to bend the rules and allow their trade to continue under cover. And there’s that business of the second Al-Qa’im chemical weapons plant. The DIA says construction halted in 1990. It’s reasonable to speculate that, again under cover, Germany resumed construction some time in the 1990s. And according to recent intelligence, Al-Qa’im has been completed. By whom, if not the original German firm? Iraq claims the plant has purely peaceful purposes. But that’s what they said about the Osirak nuclear power plant, too.

France, Germany and Belgium are currently leaving no option untried in their quest to halt a US-led invasion of Iraq should it become necessary. Their behavior, at least on the surface, seems irrational, but if they all fear exposure it makes sense. If Germany and Belgium really did help build Iraq’s chemical weapons factories, and if France really did knowingly help Iraq join the nuclear club, fear that definitive proof would surface in a liberated Iraq could drive them to destroy their relations with the US and Britain, risk fracturing NATO over the issue of protecting Turkey from Iraqi counter attack, and even risk destroying the United Nations, their greatest source of global influence. They act like they’re guilty of something; assisting Iraq’s acquisition of weapons of mass destruction may be their crime.

Posted by B. Preston at 09:38 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

February 13, 2003

WORTH NOTING

I stumbled across this bit from cosmologist Alan Sandage while doing research on the scientific work of Edwin Hubble:

It was Hubble's mastery of the language that gave some of his papers such dominance over prior work by others. Often the problem had in fact been solved, but without the same elegance of style, power of presentation, and excellence of summary possessed by Hubble when he was at his best. Clearly, the lesson for students is learn to write at the same time that you learn to do great science. (italics in the original)


Substitute "Reynolds" for "Hubble," and "blogging" for "science" and you've got some understanding of why InstaPundit is indeed the Grand Central Station of the blogosphere. He writes well, gets to the point, and moves on.
Posted by B. Preston at 02:34 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

OLD SMELLY'S NEW FACE

It seems US intel suspects Osama has changed his look to avoid capture. I didn't see the photo that this story says was broadcast on TV last night, though.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:33 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

No Title

FROM MY SOURCES IN BAGHDAD...

...here's what's on TV this week:

SUNDAY:

8:00 - My 33 Sons

8:30 - Osama Knows Best

9:00 - I Dream of Mohammed

9:30 - Let's Mecca Deal

10:00 - The Kabul Hillbillies

MONDAY:

8:00 - Husseinfeld

9:00 - Mad About Everything

9:30 - Monday Night Stoning

10:00 - Win Bin Laden's Money

10:30 - Allah McBeal

TUESDAY:

8:00 - Wheel of Terror

8:30 - The Price is Right if Osama Says it's Right

9:00 - Children are Forbidden from Saying the Darndest Things

9:30 - Taliban's Wackiest Public Execution Bloopers

10:00 - Buffy the Yankee Slayer

WEDNESDAY:

8:00 - Beat the Press

8:30 - When Kurds Attack

9:00 - Two Guys, a Girl, and Pita Bread

9:30 - Just Shoot Everyone

10:00 - Veilwatch

THURSDAY:

8:00 - Fatima Loves Chachi

8:30 - M*U*S*T*A*S*H

9:00 - Veronica's Closet of Long, Black, Shapeless Dresses and Veils

9:30 - Married with 139 Children

10:00 - Eye for an Eye Witness News

FRIDAY:

8:00 - Judge Saddam

8:30 - Suddenly Sanctions

9:00 - Who Wants to Marry a Terrorist Millionaire?

9:30 - Cave and Garden Television

10:00 - No-Witness News

SATURDAY:

8:00 - Sponge Bob Square Turban

8:30 - Who's Koran Is It Anyway?

9:00 - Teletalibans

9:30 - Camel 54, Where Are You?
Posted by B. Preston at 09:19 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

WHEN IT RAINS, IT POURS

More evidence that Saddam and al Qaeda are deeply linked. Saddam's even been wiley enough to trade in some of his socialism for Koranic doctrine:

Iraq's ruling Ba'ath Party was indeed once hostile to Islamic fundamentalism. But times have changed. The Iraqi media often refer to their leader as the great Mujahed (holy warrior) Saddam Hussein. His speeches are peppered with Koranic

references; his regime has launched a "faith campaign"; senior Ba'athists are learning the Koran by heart, and religious instruction is being stepped up in schools.

In the late 1990s, senior Iraqi defectors reaching Lebanon, Turkey, northern Iraq, and Europe even began to suggest that Saddam's embrace of Islam and his hatred of America had caused a seismic shift in Middle Eastern politics, resulting in an alliance of convenience.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:57 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 12, 2003

No Title

CRETINS

Wishing that anyone goes deaf is as beneath contempt as the French/German Axis of Weasel's latest machinations.

(via Hanks)
Posted by B. Preston at 05:50 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

NORTH KOREAN NIGHTMARE

The mad regime in Pyongyang has an untested missile that can reach the western US. Thanks to Appeasement '94 (otherwise known as the Agreed Framework), they can probably put a nuke on it. The evil that men do lives after them....and their feckless administrations.
Posted by B. Preston at 02:26 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

ECHOES FROM THE YOUNG UNIVERSE

Pretty cool fundamental research on the microwave background was released yesterday. The pic isn't that pretty, but the science in it is about as deep as it gets.
Posted by B. Preston at 01:55 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

BENEATH CONTEMPT

A few US Congressmen from both major parties have gone on record about German, French and Belgian betrayal. I particularly like Tom Lantos' comments:

The House International Relations Committee's top Democrat, Rep. Tom Lantos of California, said Tuesday he was "particularly disgusted by the blind intransigence and utter ingratitude" of Paris, Berlin and Brussels.

"If it were not for the heroic efforts of America's military, France, Germany and Belgium today would be Soviet socialist republics," Lantos noted. "The failure of these three states to honor their commitments is beneath contempt."
Posted by B. Preston at 12:34 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

ALTERMAN TO LIMBAUGH: GO DEAF!

Lefty Eric Alterman sinks to a new low, which is saying something.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:49 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

AN IDLE THOUGHT

Miguel Estrada's confirmation mess may be the Hispanic version of John Kenndy's phone call to Martin Luther King. If so, the Dems are really flirting with electoral disaster.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:38 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

"THE ONLY PEOPLE WE NEVER SHOULD HAVE FREED...

...are the French." Good line.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:34 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

IS THE TAPE REAL?

You know which tape I'm talking about--Osama's latest hit, or should I say the late Osama's latest hit. You see, I'm still inclined to think he's dead. Which begs the question, who is that ranting on the latest tape, which purports an alliance between Osama and Iraq lots of us have long suspected? And why aren't we treated to moving pictures of weird beard any more? Well, there are several possibilities.

As my family has gotten older, I've noticed a certain convergence in traits among us. For instance, if my sister calls me on the phone, unless she tells me who she is I really can't tell if I'm talking to her or our mother--their voices are virtually indistinguishable. Both also have the habit of saying "Hi, it's me," which is no help at all in figuring out who it is on the other end of the line. And keep in mind, I use my hearing for a living--I mic interview subjects, mix sound tracks, even write scores once in a while, so I have a fairly skilled pair of ears. But I can't tell my sister's voice from my mother's voice over the phone, because they sound exactly alike and have the same flavor of Texan to their speech. If I had voiceprint technology, I could nail down enough differences to tell them apart, but I don't.

The US government does, and says it's in the process of analyzing "Osama's" latest. But they're up against a problem here too--the quality of the recording. It's garbage. It's clear enough for translation, but may not be clear enough to voiceprint. We'll know soon enough, but this brings up another question--why can't a multimillionaire afford a better recorder? We know he has access to video gear, and even if all he has for audio recording is a lousy micro cassette recorder, his video camera can make a decent audio recorder. In fact, in most cases video cameras record audio much more clearly than any cassette recorder. So what gives?

Which brings us to the question of image, or lack thereof. Why don't we see him on camera anymore? The last few videos the al Qaeda hit factory has produced have been obvious fakes--they matted Osama out of a real background and pasted him onto another backgroung to make it look like he was either in a different place or a different, more recent, time. They know they can't get away with this hackery anymore--America is home to Hollywood after all, and the average American can spot bad movie-making a mile away.

Al Qaeda obviously has something to hide with regard to "Osama's" latest work. Let's posit that he's alive. I see three possibilities to explain why he's not on camera: 1) he's wounded or ill, and doesn't want the al Qaeda faithful to see him and lose heart; 2) he's had his appearance altered and doesn't want to show off his new puss and thereby expose himself to arrest or assassination; or 3) something about his surroundings makes him reticent to show them on camera. Perhaps he's in Pakistan, enjoying the hospitality of the ISI, and doesn't want it known outside his little road trip groupies.

But let's posit that he's dead. That answers the question of why he doesn't appear on video anymore--dead men make lousy TV anchors. So who's on the tape? 1) An impostor with a knack for imitation, al Qaeda's answer to Rich Little; or 2) a close relative who sounds just like Osama. A cousin? A brother? A son? These would suggest that more of the bin Laden clan is involved with his campaign than we've been led to believe. This would also help explain why a multimillionaire keeps making such awful recordings.

UPDATE: Iraq to Osama: "Shut up! Not helping!"
UPDATE II: It seems some bin Laden relatives have turned up on a list of al Qaeda financiers.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:10 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

MICHAEL KELLY TAKES ON JOSCHKA FISCHER

Fischer is Germany's Foreign Minister, and the head of that country's Green Party. The Greens, along with the Social-Democratic Party, make up Germany's shaky coalition government. Fischer has an unsavory past when it comes to terrorism. Which explains, in part at least, why he remains unconvinced by Colin Powell's masterful UN presentation of a week ago: having been aligned with terrorists himself, and perhaps having committed an act of terrorism, Fischer has a soft spot in his heart for terrorists.

Not that this relevation is new--the story of Fischer's past has been around for months, and even made its way into the JYB. But at this critical juncture, it's worth a reminder, and Kelly has provided it.

UPDATE: A former KGB general adds that Fischer was almost certainly part of the reds' terrorism network in Western Europe during the Cold War.
Posted by B. Preston at 09:33 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 11, 2003

I GOTTA MOVE BACK TO TEXAS

They're positioning anti-aircraft missile launchers around DC.

Okay, this won't actually drive me to move out, but on a serious note did anyone ever think it would come to this? The sad irony is that any planes the launchers would be ordered to shoot down would be our own, probably with our own citizens on board, but in the control of fanatics. Or they could be owned by Americans but unwittingly rented by terrorists to crop-dust the area with biochem weapons. However the launchers might be used, it's a sad commentary on the state of things in early 2003. Let's just get this war overwith already--our "rush" towards it has already lasted about 12 months too long.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:58 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

QUOTABLE LETTERMAN

"The last time that France needed more proof, it rolled right into Paris with a German flag on it."

--Dave Letterman, Feb 10
Posted by B. Preston at 10:21 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

CHARLES OF ARABIA?

It's a good thing the British monarchy is irrelevant. Prince Charles, the future Charles III, ithces for Islam. Which is weird, considering that among his future offices is head of the (Christian) Church of England. He's become known for unfavorably comparing Western values to Islamic ones, with possible ramifications for England's future:

The denigration of the West at the expense of a foreign tradition that Charles engages in occurs quite commonly among the West's intellectual elite. For some it is Islam, for others Tibetan Buddhism, Maoist thought, or American Indian spirituality. In all cases, the alien is assumed superior to the familiar. Arthur Schlesinger replies to this that there remains

a crucial difference between the Western tradition and the others. The crimes of the West have produced their own antidotes. They have provoked great movements to end slavery, to raise the status of women, to abolish torture, to combat racism, to defend freedom of inquiry and expression, to advance personal liberty and human rights.


Should Charles persist in his admiration of Islam and defamation of his own culture, it could be, as The Independent puts it, that his accession to the throne will indeed usher in a "different kind of monarchy."


Yeah, that "different kind of monarchy" has a name: caliphate.
Posted by B. Preston at 04:13 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

THE FRIENDLY STATES

Dr. Khidir Hamza led Iraq's efforts to build nuclear weapons for 20 years. Here's his take on French and German resistance to war against Saddam:

What has become obvious is that the U.N. inspection process was designed to delay any possible U.S. military action to disarm Iraq. Germany, France, and Russia, states we called "friendly" when I was in Baghdad, are also engaged in a strategy of delay and obstruction.

In the two decades before the Gulf War, I played a role in Iraq's efforts to acquire major technologies from friendly states. In 1974, I headed an Iraqi delegation to France to purchase a nuclear reactor. It was a 40-megawatt research reactor that our sources in the IAEA told us should cost no more than $50 million. But the French deal ended up costing Baghdad more than $200 million. The French-controlled Habbania Resort project cost Baghdad a whopping $750 million, and with the same huge profit margin. With these kinds of deals coming their way, is it any surprise that the French are so desperate to save Saddam's regime?

Germany was the hub of Iraq's military purchases in the 1980s. Our commercial attaché, Ali Abdul Mutalib, was allocated billions of dollars to spend each year on German military industry imports. These imports included many proscribed technologies with the German government looking the other way. In 1989, German engineer Karl Schaab sold us classified technology to build and operate the centrifuges we needed for our uranium-enrichment program. German authorities have since found Mr. Schaab guilty of selling nuclear secrets, but because the technology was considered "dual use" he was fined only $32,000 and given five years probation.

Meanwhile, other German firms have provided Iraq with the technology it needs to make missile parts. Mr. Blix's recent finding that Iraq is trying to enlarge the diameter of its missiles to a size capable of delivering nuclear weapons would not be feasible without this technology transfer.

Russia has long been a major supplier of conventional armaments to Iraq--yet again at exorbitant prices. Even the Kalashnikov rifles used by the Iraqi forces are sold to Iraq at several times the price of comparable guns sold by other suppliers.

Saddam's policy of squandering Iraq's resources by paying outrageous prices to friendly states seems to be paying off. The irresponsibility and lack of morality these states are displaying in trying to keep the world's worst butcher in power is perhaps indicative of a new world order. It is a world of winks and nods to emerging rogue states--for a price. It remains for the U.S. and its allies to institute an opposing order in which no price is high enough for dictators like Saddam to thrive.


This was at the height of the Cold War and after and probably past the Gulf War. France and Germany more or less collaborated with the USSR to arm Iraq, while our troops defended both against the USSR. Some allies.
Posted by B. Preston at 03:00 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

A TALE OF TWO STORIES

On January 23rd, the NY Times published the following: Iraq Says Its Scientists Have Refused Private Interviews by U.N. Weapons Inspectors.

Iraqi scientists have refused to be interviewed in private by United Nations weapons inspectors, a top Iraqi official said tonight, apparently voiding for the moment a central demand of the inspectors and the Bush administration.


On February 10, ABC News published the following: Iraqi Intimidation.

In the last 10 days, United Nations inspectors have been given what are described as "important, new and credible leads" from a recent defector, who also told ABCNEWS that Iraqi scientists involved in the nuclear, chemical and biological weapons program were systematically intimidated.

The defector, interviewed by ABCNEWS in an undisclosed European country, is an engineer described as close to several of the weapons scientists who, he said, live in fear.
Many of the scientists are eager to cooperate with the United Nations, but the intimidation is so effective that the scientists are terrified of meeting in private with the inspectors. One scientist who met with the inspectors this week was so frightened, it took an hour for him to stop shaking, according to U.N. sources.


It seems to me the second story makes sense of the first.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

THE TANGLED WEB OF TERRORISM

From UPI:

While Washington has yet to deliver convincing proof of Baghdad's connections to al Qaida, Saddam Hussein will have a harder time denying reports from Manila about his links to another Muslim terrorist group. The Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs said that it has intelligence reports linking an Iraqi diplomat in Manila to the Abu Sayyaf Group, blamed for a bomb blast that killed a U.S. soldier in Zamboanga City in October 2002. A U.S. Special Forces soldier and two Filipinos were killed when the bomb exploded outside a karaoke bar. A second American soldier was wounded in the blast. According to Foreign Affairs Secretary Blas Ople, military intelligence officials traced phone calls between Iraq's Second Secretary Consul Husham Z. Hussain and ASG guerrillas. Ople said that Hussain "knows that we are monitoring his activities. The intelligence reports are very detailed but I am not allowed to fully disclose it because it will compromise their assets and sources of information."


Abu Sayyaf is, among other things, al Qaeda's Philippine branch office. It's also the group to which one Ramzi Yousef belonged. Yousef is the convicted mastermind behind both the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and Project Bojinka, a planned simulaneous attack on a dozen US airliners crossing the Pacific. Bojinka was foiled, leading to Yousef's arrest. According to some research I've run across here and there, Bojinka might have been one of two reasons that Terry Nichols traveled to the Philippines in the months prior to his attack on the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995. The other reason, according to many sources, would have been to receive training on making the ANFO bomb that he and Timothy McVeigh used in Oklahoma City.

If Saddam has hard ties to Abu Sayyaf, that puts him a step closer to Oklahoma City, and ties him to the 1993 WTC blast. That's two terrorist attacks on US soil with possible ties to Saddam.

UPDATE: Here's an interesting piece about suspicions that US law enforcement was aware of the threat to the Murrah Building long before April 19, 1995. Its angle is that white supremacists living in Elohim City, Oklahoma had been planning to blow it up since 1983 (which seems to be true), and that the McVeigh/Nichols attack was the fulfillment of that long plot. April 19 was significant in this scenario because a confederate of Elohim City was executed for an unrelated crime on that date. It is apparently true that McVeigh had close connections to Elohim City (which was more or less a racist commune), but it's equally apparent that US intel sources also had some warning that something big was about to happen in the heartland, and that it had radical Islamic fingerprints. In particular, the Saudis had reportedly warned a CIA agent that Iraqi agents were in place and about to strike just a day or two prior to the deadly explosion. Which story is true? Well, they aren't necessarily mutually exclusive. White supremacists and radical Islamicists had a confluence of interests, which was opposition to the US government. It's not unreasonable to imagine them working together, with the American contingent providing the necessary mobility and access that US citizens have, while the Islamicists may have provided training and other support. Oklahoma City is sort of like a fractal--the more closely you examine it, the more confusing detail you see.

(thanks to Chris and Dave)
Posted by B. Preston at 12:29 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

SO IF ALL YOUR FRIENDS DECIDED TO JUMP OFF A CLIFF, WOULD YOU JOIN THEM?

Apparently as long as the decision was reached multilaterally, the NY Times' answer would be an emphatic yes.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:46 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

NATO'S CENTER OF GRAVITY SHIFTING EAST?

According to this report, the Pentagon is looking at reducing the US presence in Germany and heading to Poland and other post-communist states. The Pentagon swears it's not payback for Germany's recent shenanigans, and I swear I had no inkling of the plan when I wrote this. Besides, I have our troops leaving Germany for post-Saddam Iraq.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:41 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

CHINA'S SHAKY FOUNDATIONS

Very interesting piece examining China's role in world affairs. From economics to Asian politics to the war on terrorism, Communist China is careful to project an image of responsibility and accessibility, and overall health, that seems to be at odds with the facts. Sounds like the USSR, circa 1978.

(thanks to Chris)
Posted by B. Preston at 11:04 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

CHATTERBOX TURNS HAWK

Slate's Tim Noah says Colin Powell persuaded him to support war on Iraq. My fellow conservatives, especially the ones who all along have doubted Powell's loyalty or hinted that he's been insubordinate toward President Bush, this is why he's on the team. Powell can persuade the Bush-haters (and to be fair to Noah, those who are merely anti-Bush without hating him) that the administration is following the appropriate course. Without Powell, public support on the Iraq question probably wouldn't be as healthy as it is today.

Now, if we could just find a British version of Powell to save Tony Blair...
Posted by B. Preston at 12:27 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 10, 2003

CALL ME CRAZY...

...but when I see that China is sending 100 journalists to Iraq to cover the coming war, my hackles rise. Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't China's media fairly strictly state-controlled? This is the country that blocks blogs, after all. Do they really need 100 journalists to essentially tell whatever story China's oligarchy deems politically correct?

You know what I think? I think these "journalists" are no such animal. They're observers. Spies, sent to watch American tactics up close and personal. That's what I think.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:59 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"...going to war without France is like going deer hunting without an accordion. You just leave a lot of useless noisy baggage behind."

--JED BABBIN, a former Deputy Undersecretary of Defense, on MSNBC's 'Hardball' with Chris Matthews

(via ShopTalk)
Posted by B. Preston at 09:04 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

February 09, 2003

IRAQ, AL QAEDA, SMOKING GUNS AND BLOWN UP BUILDINGS

I've been talking in this space for nearly two months now about evidence that Iraq and al Qaeda are linked. Long before that, I devoted much of this space to examining the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, which I have come to believe bears the fingerprints of Iraqi involvement. To get a deeper look at the second issue, go read this piece by Jeffrey Goldberg. I won't quote any of it; it's logic is dependent on reading the whole piece. It makes a strong case that Saddam linked up with al Qaeda in the early 90s, shortly after the US-led coalition drove him out of Kuwait.

Since the end of that war, in 1991, Saddam has done everything he can to a) break up the international coalition arrayed against him and b) counter US and British efforts to constrain him. To break the coalition, he plays on the sympathy of the French, Russians and Germans, trots out video of children "starved by the UN sanctions," and exploits fissures in international opinion. His useful idiots in Paris and elsewhere never pause to consider that since his hand is on Iraq's tiller, he's the one starving the children. But never mind that for now. One of the things that has constrained him militarily has been the presence of US troops in Saudi Arabia. That force's purpose has been to keep Saddam bottled up and to keep a close eye on his activities.

Enter Osama bin Laden, fresh from claiming credit for defeating the Soviet Union in Afghanistan (apparently suffering from short-term memory loss, and therefore failing to acknowledge that it took a superpower's backing to keep the mujihadeen going all those years). Bin Laden sets his sights on America, for defiling the holy soil of Saudi Arabia, his former homeland and the central state in Islamic thought. Our crime: basing non-Islamic troops on Saudi soil.

So on the one hand you have a freshly defeated tyrant in Baghdad who'd like nothing more than to get America off his back, so that he might reassert himself in the region and punish those local rulers who sided with us in the Gulf War. On the other hand, you have a spoiled rich kid with delusions of grandeur who hates America because it has the gall to base its infidel troops (Some of whom are unveiled women! How awful!) on sacred land. And he'd like to see at least one of the coalition allies--the House of Saud--brought low for aligning itself with the Great Satan. The House of Saud also happens to be a personal nemesis of Saddam's, for the same reason.

The question isn't whether these two could ever find common ground. The question is, once the inevitable alliance has been established, who gets to lead it? Who is the real kingpin, Osama or Saddam? Or is there still a third party pulling the puppet strings behind them?

So bearing all of this in mind, and noting the technological similarities between bombs used against American targets in Oklahoma City in 1995, the World Trade Center in 1993, the African embassy bombings in 1998 and the Khobar Towers Air Force barracks in Saudi Arabia in 1996, it's unreasonable to assume absent some proof that these attacks aren't related. And if the attacks are related, they probably have a common source, which is the alliance dating from the early 90s in the aftermath of the Gulf War. That alliance sometimes calls itself al Qaeda, and sometimes has no name but features a Baghdad address.

Interestingly, the 9-11 attacks are dissimilar to the other attacks I've mentioned. But that shouldn't lead us to think that 9-11 isn't also a result of the terrorist alliance. In Iraq there's a terrorist camp called Salman Pak, and according to scads of credible reports, Salman Pak features a jet airliner fuselage. Some Iraqi defectors report witnessing Arabs from places beyond Iraq, training at Salman Pak to hijack civilian aircraft with short knives on that fuselage.

Megalomaniac seeks revenge for humiliation on the world stage. Egocentric holy warrior seeks to drive infidels from sacred soil. It all makes perfect sense.

(thanks to Chris for the link, and Mike S. for some useful insight)
Posted by B. Preston at 12:24 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack